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WELCOME TO BLOGGER'S BOOKSHELF...

where our team of writers love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.

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Monday, 11 December 2017

BB Book Club | January's Book Is...

As we mentioned in our big book club announcement post (catch up here if you missed it!) our theme for the year is Short Stories which can include anything from novellas to poetry collections, flash fiction, novels under 200 pages, graphic novels and short story collections like our first pick; Tales Of The Peculiar by Ransom Riggs.


Before Miss Peregrine gave them a home, the story of peculiars was written in the Tales.

Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. The origins of the first ymbryne. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of the Peculiar—known to hide information about the peculiar world—first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. - Goodreads

Suggested by Ria, this beautifully illustrated short story collection is a spin-off from the popular Miss Peregrine's series. With an intriguing premise that promises unique stories set in a wonderfully mystical world we think this is the perfect title to launch our book club and can't wait to dive in!

tales of the peculiar

Don't worry if you haven't caught up on the rest of the series yet, not all of us have either and this is one of the reasons we think it's a great choice for our first BB Book Club pick! It isn't essential to have read the Miss Peregrine's series in order to enjoy these short stories and we think it's going to be interesting to hear from both those who are familiar with this world and those who aren't.

We would love it if you'd like to join in and read along any time over the next month, then complete this Google form by 19th January to share your opinions with us. You can also use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub to share your book photos and thoughts with us!

You can pick up a copy of Tales Of The Peculiar over on The Book Depository who ship worldwide.



We'll be introducing February's book selection, chosen by Anjali, at the end of January - so don't worry if our first pick doesn't sound like your thing!
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Friday, 8 December 2017

Features | Even More Holiday Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

The last two years I've shared some holiday gift ideas for book lovers on this blog and as the holidays are all about tradition, I'm here to share some more today! If you've got a book loving friend/relative and no idea what to buy them, I am here to help.


Literary Emporium are particularly great at enamel pins and this year they've started selling some inspired by gothic novels, dystopian novels, and now Shakespeare's heroines. These three are just a few examples of a much wider selection available on their website and I think one of these pins inspired by your loved one's favourite novel would be a gorgeous gift.


You can never go wrong with a beautifully designed copy of someone's favourite book and this collaboration between Vintage Classics and MADE.COM definitely fits the bill. Unfortunately these are the only three novels to have been given the MADE.COM treatment so far but if you know someone who loves any one of these three titles, then I'm sure these gorgeous covers would be a welcome addition to their collection.


If you know someone who A) likes to carry a book with them at all times and/or B) likes to keep those books pristine, a pouch to keep their book safe in their bag might be just the gift they never knew they needed. There are hundreds of book sleeves to choose from on Etsy and around the web, these just being three adorable examples. And, if you're the sewing type, you could even make one yourself!


If dystopian and gothic literature aren't your friend's bag, Fable & Black do a whole host of super cute pins to choose from. Some, such as this Howl's Moving Castle pin are still specific to certain books, but many others, equally as adorable, are more general to all book lovers, and every one would look perfect on a book lover's jacket or backpack.


My last suggestion, and, I think, the most lovely, is a special edition of a favourite children's book. The novels we loved as children often remain the most special to us and I think a beautiful hardback edition of someone's childhood favourite is always going to be a winner. Puffin Classics do a wide range of hardbacks with pretty patterned designs, including this edition of Charlotte's Web and many more besides. If you want something even more special, design house MinaLima and Harper Collins have released a few of these gorgeous interactive, illustrated versions of popular fairytales and stories, each as stunning as this copy of The Beauty and the Beast. And last but not least is the Puffin in Bloom collection, all of which have covers every bit as beautiful as this edition of Heidi.

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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Guest Post | 4 Literary Female Characters That Will Inspire You



You have to agree that 2017 has been the year of Diana a.k.a Wonder Woman. To be honest, I have not been keeping track of the DC /Marvel superhero movie releases over the last couple of years. However, her sword-wielding ways, her smarts and her heart for people definitely got my attention. The movie made me think about other fictional female characters who may not necessarily superpowers but are still outstanding and make us want to become better versions of ourselves. Here are some of my favourites:

Anetka Kaminska | Coal Miner's Bride (Dear America Series) (2000)

As an adult, I have fallen in love with the Dear America series (and its spin-offs) which sheds light on historical events through the everyday lives of early teens. The one book in this series that stuck with me after reading it a few years ago is Anetka's story. Thirteen-year-old Anetka is forced to leave Poland for Pennsylvania, US after being 'sold' as coal miner's bride in exchange for passage to the US. Through her diary entries, we get to know her struggles as an immigrant, a young wife and mother to three girls. I was floored by her resilience and how she was able to deal with her own insecurities in fitting into her new roles and still remain sane.

Anita Hemmings |The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe (2016)

Anita is passionate about going to college and will do everything to make it possible including passing herself as a white person. Being a "high yellow", a black person who so light-skinned that she can be passed off as being Caucasian, she and her brother take the chance to further their education at prestigious schools. However, this janitor’s daughter is in danger of being exposed when finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families in her senior year.
You will enjoy Anita’s journey in her last year of college and she manages to navigate sticky situations with her determination to graduate and have a “normal” life. Set before the turn of the 20th century,  this atmospheric book will make you privy to how people were dealing with the industrial revolution in the backdrop of major issues of the day like slavery and racism.

Ramatoulaye | So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (1979)

Ramatoulaye is a Senegalese schoolteacher who is grappling with the death of her husband and dealing with her co-wife. In this book, she pours her heart in this lengthy letter to her best friend Aissatou, who is now an ambassador in America as a cathartic means.
Through Ramatoulaye, we learn about the challenges that women faced in post-colonial period attempting to have it all. Readers will empathise with her situation and make you appreciate some of the everyday opportunities we have to make a difference but some may still be denied in some other parts of the world. This is one of the books that exemplifies the phrase, 'dynamite comes in small packages'. Originally published in 1979 in French, Ba is able to articulate the women's issues powerfully in this missive form and which is still relevant in 2017.

Rachel | Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh (2017)

Rachel is excited about returning to Kenya in the 1950s after spending most of her teenage years in Britain following the untimely death of her mother. While staying with her grandparents inhibited by their strict rules, she is eager to return to the familiarity of her childhood. When she finally sets foot in Kenya, she soon realised that things are not the same as the Mau Mau freedom fighters threaten the settlers' stay in the Kenyan colony.
Through Rachel's naive eyes, readers will be given glimpses into the relationship dynamics between the Kikuyu people and the settlers in the backdrop of impending independence (unknown to the characters). Her free spirit and courage are seen in the way that she treats the Kikuyu and is constantly concerned for their welfare. But at the same time, she does not shy away from questioning important issues.

This post was written by guest blogger Lillian:

Lillian prides herself in living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world: Kenya, plus owning more books than shoes. She has not met a brooch that she has not liked. She still harbours the dream of ordering vegetarian paella in impeccable Español. You can compare bookshelves on Goodreads or read about her bookish adventures at Kerry’s Blog.
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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Goodbye Days | Jeff Zentner | Review



Sometimes you just know that a book is going to break your heart.


Sometimes you go ahead and read it anyway.


Goodbye Days is that kind of book. The novel starts when Carver is left reeling after the death of his three best friends. A series of deaths that he might have caused. He didn’t mean to of course, but he was texting his friends near to the time of the accident that killed them...


He’s not the only one who thinks he might be guilty either. Some of his friends’ family members certainly do and, worst of all, there might even be a criminal investigation into the accident. How can Carver even begin to heal when he is stuck in that moment over and over again? And then his friend’s grandmother asks him for a goodbye day: a chance to say goodbye to Blake, her grandson with Carver at her side.


If you couldn’t tell from that brief summary, this book is intense. In the best possible way, it breaks your heart over and over again. I was even crying in the car home while I read it (don’t worry I wasn’t driving). But it also pieces it together again with little snippets of loveliness that you will treasure.

Goodbye Days is definitely hard to read in places but it is also utterly beautiful. I would definitely recommend reading it - just keep some tissues on hand!


Kelly
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Monday, 4 December 2017

Introducing The Blogger's Bookshelf Book Club!



To celebrate five whole years of Blogger's Bookshelf we've decided to embark on a new adventure by starting our very own online book club! We're always looking for new ways to collaborate and share the love of books so a book club seemed like the perfect next step for BB.

We'll be taking it in turns to select the book club reads every month throughout 2018 and to keep things interesting we've also chosen a simple overall theme we'll all have to stick to when we make our selections. The theme we've chosen is 'Short Stories' which may include a wide variety of reads such as novels under 200 pages, novellas, graphic novels, poetry collections and of course, short story collections. We're excited to discover new reads that fit the theme and by keeping the reads nice and short and we hope you'll be able to find a little time to join in too.

Each new book will be introduced in a post by the team member who has selected it, we'll then be inviting you to read it along with us over the following few weeks, with a Google form for you to submit your thoughts for the final roundup. There may also be additional posts inspired by the book club pick throughout the month and updates via our new newsletter (also launching next month) so make sure you're subscribed if you don't want to miss out!

We'll be announcing January's book next week and hope that you'll join us on our new adventure, whether it be every month or a handful of times throughout the year.

Happy reading!

- Team BB
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Friday, 1 December 2017

The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher | Ahn Do-hyun | Review


"The life of the salmon is a predictable one: swimming upstream to the place of its birth to spawn, and then to die."

Translated for the first time from Korean to English, The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher is a sweet fable about life and its meaning, all from the perspective of a silver fish.

As we follow Silver Salmon through his life, we learn, as he does, that he's different from other salmon, that he thinks differently, questions why certain things are done, wonders why a salmon's purpose in life is to swim upriver to the place they were born just to spawn and then die. Surely there's more to life than that?

As Silver Salmon loses his friends, gains others, falls in love, learns about the world, and avoids attacks from eagles and bears, he learns about his past and his ancestors who dared to leap above the rapids and finally make it home.

While it is a fable, a short story written to make you think about its morals and life lessons, it's beautifully written and so on-point with life (human life, that is) that it really does make you pause every so often and really take in what Do-hyun is saying. Filled with stunning illustrations, The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher is a wonderful look at what it means to grow up and live this crazy life.

A short book just over 100 pages, this fable is a wonderful wee read that I recommend picking up if you have a spare hour or so.
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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Bookish Links #36



1. Wizards Unite - we're sure you've all heard by now but we just had to include a link to the news about the upcoming Harry Potter augmented reality game. Will you be playing?

2.  Lit Chat - we enjoyed reading Emma's post about Lit Chat, a set of cards featuring reading-themed questions. We're looking forward to future posts inspired by the cards!

3. Graphics - in a reading slump? Graphic novels may be the answer! Check out this post from The Ardent Biblio to find out how.

4. Bookstagram - we've been enjoying following the picks from Emma Roberts book club Belletrist so we really loved this EW post listing all of the book recommendations from her Instagram account. Your TBRs are about to get a whole lot longer...

5. Making Time For Books - in this post Hannah shares her top five tips for finding time to read as a parent.

6. Dystopia/Utopia - if you can't decide what your next read should be check out this list of feminist Utopian and Dystopian reads recommended by Lotte.

7. For John Green Fans - looking for post-Turtles All The Way Down reads? Jamie has you covered with this list!

8. Reading Harry Potter - we loved reading Janssen's interesting post all about introducing Harry Potter to children.

9. Travel Companions - if you're heading out on a roadtrip over the holiday season you'll love this list of audiobook picks from Emma over at A Beautiful Mess.

10. Books To Gift - our final pick is Lauren's post filled with awesome bookish gift ideas. You're sure to find a title here for everyone on your Christmas list!

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!    
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Monday, 27 November 2017

We're Recruiting For 2018!



Going forward into the new year we're looking to recruit a new member (or members) to our team of writers!

We're ideally looking to find someone who is keen to share their unique ideas and points of view, who is organised, creative, enthusiastic and of course loves talking all things books! If this sounds like you here's a little more information...

- the role would involve writing content for the blog on a fortnightly basis (we ask for 1 post per fortnight on an assigned day of the week, the day is negotiable)

- all content must be book-related but can include everything from reviews to features, lists, interviews, short stories, news, poems and event write-ups

We would also love for you to be involved in contributing to our upcoming book club and newsletter (however this is completely optional if you are unable to commit the extra time).

If you think you would be a good fit for our team we would love to hear from you! Please email us your details (including your name & blog link if you have one) and we will get back to you very soon.

We look forward to hearing from you!

- Team BB

*Image via unsplash.com
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Friday, 24 November 2017

Genuine Fraud | E. Lockhart | Review


An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.

Jule, a scrappy fighter and an expert at blending in, and Imogen, an unsatisfied heiress, bonded over their shared history, both orphans and both determined to get away from their pasts and become someone new, Imogen and Jule share everything. Clothes, money, lavish homes in London and Martha's Vineyard. They're as close as best friends can be. Or, they were. Or... were they?

Told in reverse, Genuine Fraud begins with a young woman on the run and takes the reader backwards through not entirely reliable memories and increasingly complicated lies, through a close friendship brought to an unfortunate end, through the whole complex affair, from end to beginning and back again. 

There are so many twists and turns in this story that I hesitate to say anything about it at all for fear of spoiling anything. The narrative taking the reader back through time can be a little confusing but it means that the story gets to unfold in a way that leaves you never quite sure what's real and what isn't. As soon as one piece of the story falls into place, we're swept back two days or six weeks to reveal that something else entirely is actually the truth, but then again, maybe that isn't either. Piece by piece things click together until finally the last secret is revealed and we end up, once again, back where we started, at the end of the story.

One downside to the backwards narrative is that it makes it tough to really feel for the characters, as the reader isn't so much on the journey with them, but experiencing events in gradual backwards steps, as told by an extremely unreliable narrator. Genuine Fraud is a difficult novel to explain and, at least at first, a difficult novel to get to grips with, but it's so well written that it doesn't take long for the mysteries of the story to overtake any concerns about the characters. If you're anything like me, you'll be desperate to get to the middle of this complicated maze of lies and half-truths and find out what really happened to Jule and Imogen.
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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Archangel's Viper | Nalini Singh | Review



Sometimes, you accidentally start a book series at the wrong time. For me that was diving into the Guild Hunter series on one of the later books, Archangel's Viper, which was sent to me by the publisher. It meant that it took me a little while to get into the book but when I did, I really enjoyed it.

Archangel's Viper is about Holly Chang, a young woman who has become a supernatural creature after being tortured by an archangel. She's part vampire, part poisonous, part mystery to everyone. With a new and dangerous power coursing through her veins, Holly is one hell of a bounty. Venom, a centuries old vampire, is assigned to protect when people start coming for her. The two of them don't exactly get on but they do make a good team, especially when their questions unearthed a deadly mystery.

Urban fantasy isn't something I read that much of anymore but it was a great return to the genre for me. It was punchy, creative and exciting. There were intriguing characters, who kept me hooked. There were also slow burn romances, which are my favourite kind. Although they were hardly a surprise, that didn't make them any less entertaining!

Archangel's Viper is dangerous and addictive, making it the perfect kind of book to lose yourself in for a few hours. It's the kind of fun reading that helps you switch off from the real world for a little while.

It was a risk starting the series when it had already started but it paid off. Now, I'm intrigued enough to read more of the Guild Hunter novels and the writing of Nalini Singh.
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Get Involved | Your Favourite Reads Of 2017

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Get Involved | Your Favourite Reads Of 2017

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Friday, 17 November 2017

The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy | Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon | Review


"The most entertaining and engaging philosophy class you'll ever take!
In The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy, Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon introduce us to the grand tradition of examined living. With the wisecracking Heraclitus as our guide, we travel down the winding river of philosophy, meeting influential thinkers from nearly three millennia of Western thought and witnessing great debates over everything from ethics to the concept of the self to the nature of reality.
Combining Cannon's playful artistry and Patton's humorous, instructive prose, The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy puts the fun back into the quest for fundamental truths, imparting a love of wisdom to anyone willing to grab a paddle and join the ride."
Something a little different today on Blogger's Bookshelf: The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy. The 16th of November celebrates World Philosophy Day, so I thought it was the perfect time to share with you a recent purchase of mine.

Let's back track for a quick second.

After finishing high school back in 2008 (goodness, I feel old), I headed off to university not really knowing what I was going to do. I started with an English degree but quickly dropped that after not really enjoying the first semester. While I still kept the odd English paper here and there, I picked up a few Philosophy papers just out of interest's sake. Turns out that interest exploded in the following 3 years, and long story short, I have a BA in Philosophy. 

While I haven't done anything further (with few job prospects other than teaching), I still enjoy watching philosophy-related TED Talks and picking up the occasional book. This is one such book.


Discovered during a wandering journey through maze of shelves in the famous Powell's Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, this book practically leaped off the shelf at me and I couldn't not take it away. I'm so glad I did. 

The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy is a brilliant overview of many of the world's greatest thinkers. Becuase it's in cartoon/comic strip form, it makes for an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable read. We're taken through ideas and theories from early philosophers like Plato and Socrates, to modern day ponderers, all narrated and guided by Heraclitus. The ideas are laid out simply and are very easy to follow, the illustrations adding that extra something-something to the reading experience.

While it's not a book that will interest the widest of audiences, if philosophy has ever ignited even an ember of interest in you, then this is such a fun way to get an overview of the thoughts throughout the ages. I highly recommend picking it up; I'm definitely going to be flicking back to this book in the years to come.


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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Features | Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge Update #5

I can't believe it's November already, where has the time gone? In my previous challenge update post I said that I was aiming to cross around seven more prompts off the list before the year is out and so far it's all going to plan, especially since I discovered that I'd missed a couple I could have crossed off earlier in the year!

My grand total is now at twenty-three and hopefully I'll be able to reach (or even pass) my target of twenty-five over the next six weeks, although I have to confess I'm also already planning which books I'll be picking up for the 2018 challenge!



A Book About Food | Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer (2009)

I'm not too sure where I first heard about this book but it had been on my TBR list for quite a while and I finally picked up a copy from my local library earlier this month. It's definitely not always an easy read but personally I found it to be an interesting and well-researched one.

A Book With Pictures | Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick (2016)

Looking at all of the books I've read this year so far I actually found a few autobiographies that would fit this prompt, including this essay collection from actress Anna Kendrick. The book includes photographs as well as illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.

A Book Where The Main Character Is A Different Ethnicity Than You | When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon (2017)

When Dimple Met Rishi was certainly one of the most highly anticipated YA releases of the year and like most other bloggers I couldn't resist picking it up. The book is a fun read with a pretty lovable cast of characters - you can catch Anastasia's review here, and Anjali's here!

A Book Of Letters | Everything All At Once, Katrina Leno (2017)

I'm bending the rules a little with this one as it's not strictly a book made up of letters, however the story does revolve around a series of letters left to the main character by her aunt. I knew nothing about the book beforehand and thanks to an interesting twist I was a little surprised by how the story ended up playing out!

A 2016 Bestseller | Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling (2015)

Honestly, I'm not very good at keeping up with bestseller lists so I had to do a little research for this one. According to the LA Times website, Mindy Kaling's second book (which I read earlier this year) was a hardcover bestseller in early 2016 - another prompt crossed off the list and I didn't even realise!


If you're taking part in the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge I'd love to hear from you. Let me know which prompts you've crossed off the list and which books you're planning to pick up next.
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Monday, 13 November 2017

Ruby the Foster Dog | Jimmy Wayne | Review

*Image and book provided via NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

Ruby has been in the shelter for several days now. She's seen some dogs go off with families and others go behind the door, never to be seen again. She prays to God to send her a family with a big back yard and kids to play with. What she gets is James, a crazy looking man walking through Texas with ski poles and goggles. He tells her he's walking half-way across America to raise awareness of foster kids who age out of the system with no families and asks her to join him.

Review:

This was such a cute, heart-warming story. It's based on the real-life 1700 mile walk the author went on back in 2010. We get to meet a lot of the people Wayne met and hear about the good and bad he had to go through during his walk and his own time in foster care.

Not all of the images showed up in my ebook copy, but I'm sure the publishers have fixed this. Additionally, what images I could see were very well done! Ruby looks absolutely adorable in all of them. 

I really enjoyed this children's book and its very positive, hopeful tone. There are ways to help foster kids and this book is a good way to raise awareness that not everyone has a home. It can be a difficult concept for kids, but this book is written at their level. 

If you're in need of a cute, feel-good book, this is a great pick-me-up and good for all ages!
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Friday, 10 November 2017

Features | Taylor Swift Book Recs


To celebrate the release of Taylor Swift's newest album (and because I will take any excuse to recommend books to you, dear readers) I am going to recommend an excellent book that I'm sure you'll love based only on your favourite T. Swift album. So take a quick pause from listening to Taylor's new songs and scroll down to find your favourite album and your new favourite book.

Taylor Swift - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Just a boy in a Chevy truck
That had a tendency of gettin' stuck
On back roads at night
And I was right there beside him all summer long
And then the time we woke up to find that summer gone

If the sweet romanticism and young heartbreak of Taylor Swift makes Taylor's debut your favourite of her albums, I recommend Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Benjamin Alire Sáenz's novel about two teenage boys grappling with identity, friendship, love, and growing up, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is every bit as lyrical and optimistic as Taylor's earliest work.

Fearless - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

'Cause I can't help it if you look like an angel
Can't help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain
So come feel this magic I've been feeling since I met you
Can't help it if there's no one else
I can't help myself

If the more confident Fearless is your favourite album then I recommend Anna and the French Kiss. Anna's love story with Étienne (and with Paris) is as full of romance, jealousy, and occasional teenage melancholy as this album. Just like Fearless, Anna and the French Kiss is upbeat and fun but doesn't completely do away with the inevitable heartbreak of being young and in love.

Speak Now - To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Do you remember, we were sitting there by the water?
You put your arm around me for the first time
You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter
You are the best thing that's ever been mine

Just like Speak Now, Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy is all about young love, growing up, and drama the protagonist never wanted. If Speak Now is your favourite Taylor album I'm sure you'll enjoy the sweet, joyful story of Lara Jean dealing with her sisters, high school, and finding love in the most unexpected way.

Red - Just One Day by Gayle Forman

All I knew this morning when I woke
Is I know something now, know something now I didn't before
And all I've seen since eighteen hours ago
Is green eyes and freckles and your smile
In the back of my mind

Moving into pop territory but with one foot still firmly in the country music world, if the more mature and quietly experimental Red is your favourite era of Swift then I recommend Gayle Forman's Just One Day. Just One Day has all the same vibes of a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, figuring out who she is, and how, or if, her new experiences can fit into her old world.

1989 - The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Everybody here
Wanted something more
Searching for a sound we hadn't
Heard before

And if Taylor's total shedding of her country roots in 1989 means this is your favourite album, try The Geography of You and Me. Starting in New York, just like 1989, but taking the characters and the reader to all sorts of different places, The Geography of You and Me has the same feeling of exploration and discovery that is infused in every track of 1989.

Okay, you can go back to listening to the new album now.
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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Sky is Everywhere | Jandy Nelson | Review


Sometimes, you just want a fun, quick read. After reading I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson quite a while ago, I knew she was just the author to provide me with something like that for a recent holiday. Her writing is the ultimate in escapism writing, though it doesn’t shy away from dealing with the difficult topics.

The Sky is Everywhere explores grief and love and everything in between. Lennie Walker’s life is turned upside down when her sister dies at 19. Suddenly, she’s not quite sure what she is meant to be doing, how her life should like and how she feels, beyond the fact that she’s experiencing a pain that is greater than anything she had ever known.

While that summary might not sound like a “fun, quick read”, it really was. Of course, there were moments where my eyes were welling up and I just wanted to reach through the pages and hug Lennie. What happened to these characters was utterly horrible and unimaginable but The Sky is Everywhere is about the aftermath of that. It is about rebuilding a life, and finding ways to feel something other than grief. It’s about Lennie finding a way to carry on without her sister, while honouring and remembering. What results is a book about the messy reality of human emotion and relationships, which is completely endearing. I wanted to consume this book. A big part of why this works is the characters themselves, who are completely relatable, vibrant and vivacious. Lennie’s family are just screaming to be loved by readers and definitely made the book for me.

My favourite part of The Sky is Everywhere had to be the poetry hidden behind the chapters. These were poems that we had read about Lennie writing so getting to actually read them added an excellent layer to the book. It really helped to show her emotional turmoil and made the reading experience so much.. More. It was something that I really loved about this book and a big part of why I’m raving about it so much today!
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Monday, 6 November 2017

Bookish Links #35


1. A Thousand Perfect Notes - we're kicking off this roundup with a big BB congratulations to Cait who recently announced her debut novel is going to be published next year! The book's premise is very intriguing and we can't wait to find out more.

2. Writer's Block - we loved Lauren's Blogtober post on getting over the dreaded writer's block. Do you have any tips to share?

3. Picture Books - if you're looking for a little Christmas gift inspiration check out this roundup of new release picture books and novels for kids.

4. Pin It! - speaking of gifts, we love this adorable book pin from Punkypins on Etsy!

5. Booktube Recs - we're taking note of Kelly's top booktube recommendations! Do you have any favourite channels that aren't on her list?

6. Autumn TBR - we've also been taking notes on Emma's autumn reading picks for our own TBRs; so many amazing books to choose from!

7. Public Property - head on over to Amber's blog for a thoughtful piece on the idea of bloggers and authors being seen as public property.

8. Books + Cocktails - if you love a good cocktail you'll enjoy this post from The Ardent Biblio, perfectly pairing them with some great reads!

9. First Draft - this month we're sure many of our readers will be taking part in NaNoWriMo, and this post has some great inspiration from successful authors.

10. A New Challenge - the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge list has arrived! Will you be taking part next year?

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!    
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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Blogger's Bookshelf Birthday Scavenger Hunt Clues

You may have spotted our clues on Twitter for our big 5th Birthday Giveaway but here’s a quick round-up of all of them! If you're stuck check our Twitter feed for a few extra clues posted earlier in the week.






Don’t forget you have until midnight on the 10th November to enter the giveaway!

Best wishes,
Team Blogger's Bookshelf
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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Modern Watercolor | Kristin Van Leuven | Review

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com

Modern Watercolor is a fun title designed for both beginners and experienced artists looking to try something new. After running through the basics the book demonstrates how to paint a variety of different subjects including landscapes, flowers, animals, faces and even interiors. Also included are several tutorials designed to help you test out your new painting skills. My personal favourites were the sunset design and step-by-step wreaths (my first attempt is pictured above) – perfect for framing your favourite book quotes!

One of the things that makes this book a great guide for beginners is the range of advice included, starting with a whole host of tips and tricks covering everything from brushes, painting styles, colour theory, mark making and materials. In addition the wide range of subjects covered allows readers to try out different ideas in order to discover what kind of artwork they most enjoy creating.

Not only is Modern Watercolor packed full of information and ideas to inspire readers but it is also visually charming with plenty of example images and pages adorned with decorative polka dot borders. If you’re looking for a new creative hobby I’d definitely recommend picking up a copy of this book and trying it out for yourself!

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Monday, 30 October 2017

The Red Men | Matthew de Abaitua | Review

*Image and book provided via NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

In the near future the company, Monad, has revolutionized AI to the point where some people believe it came from the future. Nelson just wants to be a good family man and provide for his family and help his friend get a job to do the same. Unfortunately he gets caught up in a war, not just between the rival companies Monad and Dyad, but also between the AIs called Red Men and their real life counterparts. 

Review:

This was an interesting book. It felt like it was modeled after a 70's drug-trip dystopian movie. It goes back and forth between Nelson's perspective and his friend Raymond's with a couple other minor characters as well. I greatly appreciated Nelson's everyman perspective. He is genuinely a good person who wants to do the right thing, but wants to put his family's well being above all. I kinda wish we could've gotten to see the world from the perspective of a Dr. Easy robot. We got a monologue from the main AI, but I the things that the Dr. robots have to go through would have been really interesting. 

It took longer to read than I expected, and I felt frustrated with that at a few points, bored at others, but the ending was really worth it. I finished the book feeling like I had spent my time well. There were a few time jumps that I had a little trouble following, but overall the story was well paced with the occasional needed humor, there was just a lot of story. And this is the edition that had some stuff removed!

If you like corporate dystopia books or drug-trip books, you'll really enjoy The Red Men. I greatly appreciated the philosophical/ethical discourse about those who conquer, those who fight and those who remain quiet. I kinda wish this wasn't such a book for our times, but it's got some good messages for the world today. 

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

Riot Days | Maria Alyokhina | Guest Review


Activist and Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina writes a vivid and passionate account of her arrest, trial and imprisonment in a penal colony in the Russian Urals.

In 2012, in response to electoral fraud and the inevitable re-election of Putin, the band Pussy Riot staged a performance in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Maria and two fellow band members were later charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”. In reality, they had been trying to claim religion back from the claws of government.

Personal elements are kept to a minimum throughout Riot Days. In fact, the writing moves at such a pace that you don’t have time to get to know many of those around the activist. Peppered with references to a troupe of Russian protesters and dissidents who have inspired her, this is not a story of the individual, but a reminder to constantly fight for our freedom and history. Once injustice is normalised, atrocities no longer shocking, our lives are no longer our own. As Maria says to a guard asking her to end one of her many hunger strikes, “I protest wherever I can, wherever I need to. That’s my nature. I need to protest.”

From the absurdities of her trial, in which Maria and her fellow band member are placed in cages, to the horrifying conditions in prison, where sanitary towels are stuffed into gaps in the windows in an attempt to block out the bitter cold, this is a harrowing picture of human rights abuses in Russia. Towards the end of Maria’s book, she recounts a conversation with one of the friendlier guards in the colony. Irina Vasilievna, who has worked there for 40 years, exposes the reality that, “Nothing has changed. Look around you. Does it look like anything ever changes in this country?”

This lies at the heart of Riot Days, an urgent warning against the stasis not just gripping Russia, but waiting to creep in if we are not vigilant enough to stop it. This an important read at a time when Western headlines on Brexit and Trump are eclipsing stories around regimes giving less and less in the way of democracy.

This post was written by guest blogger Lucy.

Review copy from NetGalley, cover image from goodreads.com.
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Friday, 27 October 2017

Features | Who's the Scariest Villain of Them All?


It is a time honoured tradition from children's books, through middle grade, and right up to YA, to give readers a villain so scary it causes actual nightmares. With Halloween fast approaching I thought it was time to pit a few of my personal favourite villains against each other and figure out, once and for all, who is the scariest villain terrorising us all through the written word.

Who is going to be the triumphant antagonist? Well, that's up to you. Read my run down of five terrifying contenders and then cast your vote using the handy little poll at the bottom of this post. Let's figure out which villain is really the stuff of nightmares.

1. Lord Voldemort - J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series

A man so terrifying people quite literally dare not speak his name, a man so evil he would kill a one year old baby to achieve his ends, a man so determined to bend the wizarding world to his own will that he cheated death and willingly got about looking like an evil snake for years. Lord Voldemort is a strong first contender.

2. The Witches - Roald Dahl's The Witches

With wigs and gloves to help them hide in plain sight, Roald Dahl's witches have been scaring generations of children since 1983. The Grand High Witch's dastardly plan to turn all the children in the world into mice and her fellow witches being more than willing to go along with this plan mean that these witches have definitely earned their place in this competition.

3. Count Olaf - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Speaking of disguises and of attacking orphans, Count Olaf might just have the previous two contenders beat. An expert at evading detection from the unobservant adults in the Baudelaire's lives, Count Olaf will use any method he can to hound those poor children from home to home in pursuit of their fortune and that kind of concentrated dedication is enough to strike fear into anyone.

4. The Wights - Ransom Riggs's Peculiar Children series

Another villain brought about by the desire for immortality, the Wights' slightly less evolved brethren, the Hollowgast, might seem like the scarier of the two, but a Wight is merely a Hollowgast who has consumed the souls of enough Peculiar people, and no one else in this competition makes a habit of eating children's souls. So that's something to consider.

5. Jadis the White Witch - C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

And the final contender for scariest villain of all, Jadis the White Witch. She plummeted Narnia into one hundred years of winter without Christmas and in my book that alone is enough to earn her the title of the most evil witch around. There is also the small fact that she bribed Edmund to deliver his sibling to her so that she could continue her reign unchallenged, but you know, winter really does get old fast.

So cast your votes below and let's settle this! Which of our contenders strikes the most fear into your heart? Who is the scariest villain of them all?


Who's the scariest villain?

Lord Voldemort
Roald Dahl's Witches
Count Olaf
The Wights
Jadis the White Witch
Survey Maker
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Thursday, 26 October 2017

Happy 5th Birthday Blogger’s Bookshelf (+ giveaway)


Five years ago, back in 2012, our little community book blog launched out into the Internet.

For us, those five years have gone in a flash. Not only have we accumulated nearly 900 posts, there are over 800 of you lovely lot following us on BlogLovin and over 750 of you on Twitter! We’ve covered almost everything under the sun from the hottest Young Adult novels to some fantastic classics, bone-chilling horror to heartwarming romance to the most far-flung fantasy.

Whilst we’ve evolved and changed in many ways, incorporating features, interviewing authors, and covering bookish events, we’ve also tried to ensure we keep true to line on our About Us page.

“Blogger's Bookshelf was born out of a collective love of literature.” 

We are first and foremost book lovers here at Blogger’s Bookshelf and we hope to share five more years (and beyond) of that love of books. To celebrate this landmark age we have a special giveaway to say thank you for reading and supporting us for five years...with a fun little challenge twist! Check out the rules below.

Rules: 
  • Find our FIVE Birthday presents hidden in some of our old review posts on the blog.
  • To give you a helping hand we'll be posting the five clues plus a quote from the book on Twitter from tomorrow 27th October to the 31st October and a quick clue round-up at the end of the week, so keep a weather eye out if you're stuck!
  • Once you've found them all, pop the book titles into the Rafflecopter below to be entered into our 5th Birthday Bundle Prize Draw, including:
    • A signed copy of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
    • A mystery book from our upcoming Team BB Book Club (more exciting news about this to come!)
    • A £5 Amazon Book Voucher
    • & much more...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until midnight on the Friday 10th November to enter, winners will be announced on Saturday 11th November.

We want to thank you again for supporting us for the last five years. Here's to many more years to come!

Best wishes,

Team Blogger's Bookshelf


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