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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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Friday, 22 June 2018

The Trilogy of Two | Juman Malouf | Review


Identical twins Sonja and Charlotte, twelve-year-old musical prodigies, learned to play before they learned to talk, but lately, mysterious things have begun to happen when the girls pick up their instruments...

Abandoned at birth by their parents, Sonja and Charlotte were found one night by Tatty, the Tattooed Lady from a travelling circus, with nothing but a note and locket from their biological mother. Tatty raised them as her own and Sonja and Charlotte have grown up quite happily among their friends in the circus, with Tatty as their mother. Both girls have grown to become very accomplished musicians but something strange has started happening when they play their instruments. Audiences float in the air, the weather changes, and the girls can't believe that they are responsible.

Sonja and Charlotte have often dreamed of bigger things but after accidentally revealing their magic in the wrong place, they find themselves having to flee their circus home for far more unfamiliar territory. The girls must journey through dangerous lands they never believed existed to escape capture, to find Tatty after she is taken from them, and to return something very precious that has been taken from children all over the land, and, along the way, they find out a few things about themselves.

The Trilogy of Two is a classic adventure story, full of twists and turns, perilous journeys through uncharted lands, magic, and mystical beasts. Sonja and Charlotte travel through many different places and get into many different scrapes, as all protagonists of children's books should, and meet a lot of different obstacles along their way. The world of The Trilogy of Two is weird, wacky, and colourful, filled with shapeshifting boys, magical musicians, and hidden worlds. There is a lot to keep track of in Sonja and Charlotte's story, and at times it can get confusing, trying to keep up with all the twists and turns the story takes, but there is never a dull moment or time to be bored. 

Sonja and Charlotte themselves have a lot to learn, and a lot of growing up to do over the course of their story. There are bumps along the way and the girls are not always the most likeable of protagonists but if they were, how would they have room to grow? And as they find out the truth about who they are and the powers they have, the girls do begin to grow and find out just how powerful they really are. There are a lot of supporting characters in this story, helping Sonja and Charlotte on their way, but they are at the heart of it and it's their sisterly bickering and bonding that propels the story forward, meandering as it may be at times.

The Trilogy of Two packs a lot of story and character in its pages, and that can make it difficult to read at times, but the creativity of the world in which it is set, and the fast paced twists and turns that take the reader through that world, are sure to keep younger readers entertained, just as long as they can keep the plot and all the different characters straight as they read. This book is a lot of fun, and the illustrations throughout the novel are a sweet addition, but be prepared to be bombarded by this strange and wonderful world, in a way that might confuse while it entertains.

This book was provided for review by the publisher but all opinions are the reviewer's own.
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Thursday, 21 June 2018

The Trials of Apollo - The Hidden Oracle | Rick Riordan

You may be wondering why I have a random Greek statue above unless you've read the title that is... This here is Apollo and he's who I wanted to talk to you about, don't worry I did crop out his private parts - he wasn't wearing a leaf and neither was the chrome version in the book!

It's no secret I'm a major fan of the Percy Jackson series, as I couldn't stop raving on about them last year when I finally got around to reading them. After I'd finished the series I was obsessed but I didn't really think to look into any other Rick Riordan books (well I did I just had a whole other TBR pile to think about instead). That is, however, until now...

I finished the first book The Hidden Oracle in The Trials of Apollo series in around 24 hours, it was excellent. The only problem I found was that I didn't realise all of Rick Riordan's book sort of lead one after the other. So because I was reading the first book in the latest series in parts of the book it referenced to a few of the errr 11 books I hadn't already read that had happened after the Percy Jackson series. In saying that it wasn't too much trouble, as most important events were explained enough that you could understand what was happening.


How do you punish an immortal? By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go... an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.


The book begins when the God Apollo has been turned mortal and sent down to Earth by Zeus to make up for his wrongdoing, something that has happened twice before although this time he retains none of his Godly powers. With a few new and old pals, yes Percy has returned for a small part, he works to solve the mystery of the disappearing demigods from Camp Half-Blood which unsurprisingly intermingles with the wrongdoings that got him there.

The main reason I loved this book what the way Apollo told the story. While Percy Jackson's narration was fine and dandy, Apollo's is hilariously great and I especially loved some of the parts he talked about himself as others would talk about Apollo. E.g. "I settled down on my bed in the Me cabin." instead of the Apollo cabin.

If you haven't read any of Rick Riordan's books I definitely recommend them, especially if you love Greek mythology like me. Also, another quick recommendation to the Greek myth lovers the audiobook Mythos read by Stephen Fry is excellent and totally great for learning about smaller myths rather than stories about the big 12!
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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Invisible Child and The Fir Tree | Tove Jansson | Review


I'm here today with something a little bit different. This book actually contains two short stories from the Moomin universe which have been repackaged into this stunning charity edition. 

Beautiful cover aside, this book is hoping to do some good with at least £4 from each book going towards Oxfam projects around the world which support women and girls. How could I not pick this up? At least this time my shelves would have a gorgeous new addition AND my money would be going towards something good. There's got to be some pluses to a book buying addiction, right?

Moving onto the stories themselves, I have to admit I wasn't really sure what to expect. I have very vague memories of the Moomins from when I was a child but nothing concrete. The odd story, a TV show perhaps. I was going in with very little knowledge (or memory) of what happened in this universe. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by how genuinely lovely these stories were. They filled me with the strange sense of nostalgia and warm-hearted-ness that all good children's stories should, leaving me with a definite smile on my face. 

I already know that I just have to re-read The Fir Tree closer to Christmas to help me get into the festive spirit and that I will be turning to The Invisible Child, over and over again. This is a really lovely story about a young girl finding happiness in her new life with the Moomins after being treated horribly elsewhere.

This won't take particularly long to read but I can't recommend checking it out enough. Grab a cuppa and get ready to smile. You know you want to.

Kelly x
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Sunday, 17 June 2018

Send Us Your Thoughts On Our June Book Club Pick!

We really hope you're enjoying our June BB book club pick Meet Cute, a YA anthology which was chosen by Sophie. There's just under a week left to make sure your opinions are featured in our June roundup and infographic and we can't wait to hear your thoughts - click this link to complete the Google form.

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Friday, 15 June 2018

Leah on the Offbeat | Becky Albertalli | Review


“Imagine going about your day knowing someone’s carrying you in their mind. That has to be the best part of being in love- the feeling of having a home in some else’s brain.” 
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. 

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended. - Goodreads 


I seem to be reading a lot of LGBT books this year, and I wonder why that is. Perhaps there are more of them than there used to be, or they're on my radar more because so many of them are just such good reads. *Shrugs* Who knows. What I do know is that I am totally cool with that, and if YA books continue to be anything like Leah on the Offbeat, then bring.it.on.

After reading Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda earlier in the year, I absolutely loved the character of Leah Burke, so when I saw that Becky Albertalli had written another book from Leah's perspective, I was super excited. And she did not disappoint.

Leah is a brilliant gem of a character and I love her. She is this sassy, kick-ass drummer of a teen, who rocks her own style, and while she hasn't come out to her friends, her mum knows she's bi and is 100% supportive of that. Leah has a great way with words and I found myself laughing out loud at points, and then getting really emotional at times. Her banter with her friends and potential boyfriends/girlfriends is excellent, and Albertalli writes it wonderfully.
“I'm basically your resident fat Slytherin Rory Gilmore.” 
It's your typical great teen novel, in a way, with high school ending, prom to worry about, break ups and make ups, road trips to colleges they might be attending, and a whole lot of drama. But it's also this sweet story of a girl figuring out who she is, not for herself necessarily - she already knows that - but perhaps who she is in relation to others.

Oh, and I have to mention that we do get a lot of Simon in this book, which is wonderful because I didn't want his story to end either. Being in the same tight circle of friends as Leah, we discover more about Simon and his relationships, and what their plans are after they graduate. We're one year on from the events in Simon Vs so in a way, it feels like a sequel even if it's Leah's story, Leah's focus, and not Simon's.

One last thing before you rush out to get yourself a copy: the geek in this book was my all time favourite thing ever. Do you know how many references there are to Harry Potter? So.Many!
“You can’t just like Harry Potter. You have to be balls-out obsessed with it.” 
Other wonderfully geeky things that Leah brings up include (but not limited to): Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (the Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice musical that I basically grew up on), Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Love Actually, Grease, and Star Wars movies, Hamilton the show, HGTV, Roswell (okay, not specifically the show but it's a street name in the book and I like to think it's in reference), Gilmore Girls, Doctor Who, and even things like fan fiction and OTP (one true pairing). It was a top-notch geeky book, and I loved everything about it.

If you read and loved Simon Vs then you need to pick up Leah on the Offbeat.

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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Features | Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge Update #3


A Book About Mental Health | Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman (2015)

I have to confess, this book had been sitting on my shelf (or rather floor...) part-read for a rather long time after I'd started reading it on a train in 2015 (my makeshift train ticket bookmark was still inside!) and then set it aside to finish at a later date. Cut to two and a half years later when I finally decided to pick it up and start again, and I'm so glad I did! The book follows Caden's experience, switching between the real world and a world that feels very real to him and is one of my top reads of the year so far.

A Book Made Into A Movie You've Already Seen | Stories Of Your Life & Others, Ted Chiang (2002)

I had a few books in my collection that would work well for this prompt but since I've been enjoying short stories so much recently I opted for Stories Of Your Life & Others. Story Of Your Life, the fourth tale in the collection was the inspiration for Arrival (2016) starring Amy Adams and was one of three tales in the book that I really enjoyed.

A Novel Based On A Real Person | Chasing Forgiveness, Neal Shusterman (2015)

Based on true events this YA novel deals with the themes of loss, family and forgiveness, telling the story of Preston Scott who was just twelve years old when his father murdered his mother. The book was originally published back in 1991 under the name What Daddy Did, but I picked up a secondhand copy of a more recent edition on Amazon.

A Book By A Local Author | Sunflowers In February, Phyllida Shrimpton (2018)

Originally I'd been looking at lists of authors from the general East Anglia area for this prompt but nothing was really jumping out at me. Then, whilst browsing the Waterstones events pages one day I landed on this YA title by Essex-based Phyllida Shrimpton and it turned out my local library already had the book on order so I reserved it straight away!

Personally I'm not 'double-dipping' with the challenge, but if you're taking part and are looking for ideas this one also fits several other prompts including 'a book about death or grief', 'a book with characters who are twins' and 'a book that's published in 2018'.

True Crime | Adnan's Story, Rabia Chaudry (2016)

Like most people I listened carefully to each episode of Serial's first season so this book has been on my TBR for quite a while. I'd recently discovered my local library didn't have a hardback or paperback copy, however they did have the audiobook version which is read by the author so I ended up listening to it instead. I actually think in the end this format was the perfect way to read this book!

A Book With Alliteration In The Title | The Gender Games, Juno Dawson (2017)

Although I've enjoyed lots of Juno's YA novels, this was the first of her non-fiction titles I've picked up and it was such an interesting read. In the book, which is subtitled 'the problem with men and women from someone who has been both', Juno discusses the topic of gender, looking at society's expectations and drawing on her own personal experiences.


If you're taking part in the Popsugar 2018 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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Friday, 8 June 2018

A Thousand Perfect Notes | C.G. Drews | Review


Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to plat hour after hour, day after day.

Beck is a talented classical pianist and his entire life is filled with practice and competitions and piano music. The other thing that Beck's life is filled with is pain. Pain inflicted by his mother, who beats him when he doesn't play, and beats him even worse when he makes a mistake while playing. Beck's life revolves around the piano and he hates it. He hates the practice and the competitions and his mother's bitter anger, the way that she forces him to be the great pianist she once was. The only time Beck doesn't hate the piano is when he is composing his own music, something his mother won't allow.

The only thing about his life that Beck doesn't hate is his little sister, Joey, a ball of light, snark, and glittery rain boots, who above all else he has to protect from the piano. Then he meets August. August is full of life and energy and, unlike Beck, she doesn't seem to hate anything. Strangest of all she wants to be Beck's friend. Beck tries his hardest to persuade August that they can't be friends but she won't give up, and, despite Beck's best efforts, she starts to persuade him not to give up either. That makes one more person Beck doesn't hate.

The root of the story lies in the conflicts of Beck's life. Beck hates playing the piano but at times, especially when he is composing his own music, that hatred blurs into passion. Beck knows that to stand up to his mother will only result in stricter punishment, but he wants to be able to stand up to her anyway. Beck doesn't want August to know the truth about his home life but, against his better judgement, he does want to be her friend. In the end Beck has many decisions to make, and none of them are easy. Despite his dark humour and stubborn will to push August away, Beck is an easy character to warm to, and that just makes his story all the more heartbreaking to read.

A Thousand Perfect Notes is a story of love, pain, and perseverance, about a boy trapped in a horrible situation, who doesn't want to be saved. Beck's story is painful and hard but, thanks to Joey and August, it also has laughter and hope. Using her own unique voice, C.G. Drews fills these characters with humour and light, a necessary balance from the darker subject matter. The passages describing the frantic fury of Beck's piano playing are particularly absorbing and viscerally emotive and the descriptions of Beck's Australian home give the book a grounding sense of place. This story will make you cry, it will make you smile, and above all it will make you feel. That may be a cheesy thing to say but this is anything but a cheesy book.
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Thursday, 7 June 2018

BB Book Club | Some iconic Meet Cute's from other books

In honour of our book club book of the month, Meet Cute, I thought I'd bring to you some of my favourite iconic meetings of characters that I've read so far. The thing about books is most the time characters have met before, so rarely do we have meet-cute scenes especially in YA, it's all about the story and the journey characters have together.

In film and television, a meet cute is a scene in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time.


5. Maddy and Olly in Everything, Everything. Hello, if you could meet and technically not meet at the same time while still being adorably cute this is it. Friendship formed with a sheet of glass in between.

4. Louisa and Will in Me Before You. Or should I say the scene where we fell in love with Louisa and her awkwardness and really wanted to love Will but couldn't? Literally the whole world went crazy about this couple for a few months and their first meeting was far from perfect - and I think that's what makes it so great.

3. Elena and Gabe and Troy in Kindred Spirits. If there was ever a perfect meet-cute bonding over a fandom in 60 perfect pages it would be this. Not all meet-cute's involve two people, some involve three people and a cold sidewalk outside a cinema. If you haven't read this piece of cuteness you should, you don't even have to like Star Wars to love it.

2. Number two is actually many a meet-cute if I say Count Olaf you may know what I mean. Not all meet-cute's result in love, some result in hate. Obviously in A Series of Unfortunate Events, the first time the Baudelaires and Count Olaf meet is the most iconic moment in the series and it's the first time we meet Count Olaf too. But why this is so high on the list is the number of times the Baudelaires and Count Olaf first meet in his many disguises we could almost lose count.

1. Finally, at number one is one of the most iconic meeting's of all: Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Who can deny the thousands of memes displaying the famously made up version of the conversation between the two - "And you are?" "Your future Husband". Hot damn, I'm not a super Romione shipper but how can you deny that first step in what will be one hell of a journey for the two of them.


These are just some of the few I could remember but yours would probably be different - so let me know! What do you think is the most iconic meet-cute scene? 


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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

As Old As Time | Liz Braswell | Review


One of the best things about having friends who are also massive bookworms is that they know that the way to your heart is through books. My friend Sam actually bought me a whole heap of books for my birthday so I've been slowly making my way through them, lucky girl that I am. Some of them were books that she knew I would love, while others were more of a wildcard choice.

One such wildcard choice was As Old As Time, a Beauty and the Beast retelling which I probably wouldn't have picked up by myself. I'm so glad that I gave it a chance however as it was really good.

If I'm perfectly honest, I found the start of it a little slow as Braswell told the recognizable story of Beauty and the Beast. I'm a bit of a Disney fanatic so knew this bit really well, which did not make for an exciting read. These were interspersed with stories about Belle's parents which were completely new and much better at captivating my attention. Without giving away any spoilers, things took a turn for the dramatic around 150 pages in and this is where I really started to love As Old As Time.

Liz Braswell took a familiar story and really made it her own, showing off her considerable imagination and creativity. While she stayed true to the essence of the story and its characters, she expanded them in ways I would never have managed. As Old as Time gave this classic love story a serious upgrade and I loved it!

The author also didn't shy away from looking at some hefty moral issues that were left in the shadows in Beauty and the Beast, especially in regards to the original curse and ideas of responsibility. This was actually one of my favourite parts of the book, and the one that stayed with me the longest.

Kelly x
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Sunday, 3 June 2018

Bookish Links #43


1. Time For Books - we all know that life can get busy and reading sometimes has to take a backseat. If you're struggling to find a balance you'll love Anna's top tips for finding time to read.

2. Bucket List - earlier this year Taiwo shared five books that are on her reading bucket list. Which books would you choose?

3. UpcycledLibrary - this Etsy shop stocks a whole range of items made from used books including jewellery and prints.

4. YA Quotes - we enjoyed Christina's list of ten gorgeous sentences from YA literature. Which ones would make your list?

5. TBR Troubles? - Laura recently shared her advice on how to avoid getting overwhelmed by your TBR pile.

6. Heartbreakers - in this post Aycan lists five YA titles that have broken her heart. Which other books would you add to the list?

7. Journaling Tools - if you love to book journal this guide from Modern Mrs Darcy is definitely one for you!

8. The Princess Saves Herself In This One - Vada shared some of her favourite poems from this popular Amanda Lovelace title.

9. Thriller - we loved this list of 50 amazing thriller audiobooks, perfect for your commute!

10. Lifestyle Books - our final link this month is to Ella's list of eight awesome lifestyle titles to add to your collection.

Links From The BB Archives... Magic Outside Hogwarts | Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein | Laugh Out Loud Literature

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Friday, 1 June 2018

The Prince and the Dressmaker | Jen Wang | Review


Paris, at the dawn of the modern age: Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion! Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? - Goodreads
This year I wanted to try and get into graphic novels, or at least have a go at reading one. I saw this one in the library and decided to pick it up. I am well pleased that I did, because not only were the illustrations beautifully drawn, but the story was super sweet.

Frances is working as a seamstress when she is given the job of making a dress for a new client. While most of Paris can't handle it's uniqueness, Frances soon gets approached by a man who says his client would like Frances to work for them, for a great deal more money than she's currently getting paid. She accepts, and off she goes.

As it turns out, her new client is the Prince, and he wants her to create gowns for him to wear out as he dresses up as Lady Crystallia. As the story goes on, there's ups and downs, the meeting of famous people, the hopes and dreams of people shattered and stitched together again.

While the story was very sweet, it was very predictable, and I did struggle with the dialogue, as it was not the language of 'Paris, at the dawn of the modern age'. But it was a great coming-of-age and who-am-I story, and very beautifully drawn; Jen Wang is very talented!

If you're thinking of trying your hand (or eye?) at graphic novels for the first time, then The Prince and the Dressmaker was a good one to start with, I think. 3.5 stars from me.

Have you read The Prince and the Dressmaker? What did you think? 
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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Features | 5 Books That Surprised Me

books coffee reading
Photo by Aga Putra on Unsplash

Today I wanted to share five titles that all fall under the category of 'books that surprised me'... in a good way! Each of the five titles below are books that I wasn't sure would be my kind of thing or didn't know much about going into, but ended up enjoying much more than I had expected to. I've included a brief synopsis of each book along with the star ratings I gave them at the time - hopefully you'll find something new here to add to your TBR!

Sidekick, Auralee Wallace ★★★★★

This novel introduces us to Bremy, the daughter of a very rich family who has left behind her socialite partying lifestyle for independence in the big city. Living undercover and struggling to make rent, an unusual series of events lead to Bremy becoming the sidekick to local superhero Dark Ryder.

Here We Are Now, Jasmine Warga ★★★½

In this YA novel we meet teenager Taliah, who has been sending letters to rock star Julian Oliver - who just happens to be her father - for several years. Having received no response it's a pretty big surprise when he shows up on her doorstep and asks her to travel back to his hometown with him to meet her grandfather who is sadly nearing the end of his life.

Ketchup Clouds, Annabel Pitcher ★★★★

Ketchup Clouds tells the story of Zoe, a young girl with a big secret; she killed her boyfriend. Bursting with guilt and not knowing who to turn to Zoe starts to tell her story through a series of letters written to Stuart Harris, an inmate on Death Row.

Everything All At Once, Katrina Leno ★★★★

In this 2017 release we meet Lottie who has always struggled with anxiety but is going through a particularly tough time after the recent death of her aunt, a famous author. Before she passed away Aunt Helen created a series of letters for her niece, each designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone.

Far From The Tree, Robin Benway ★★★★★

This YA Contemporary tells the story of three siblings meeting for the very first time having grown up separately. Whilst Grace and Maya were adopted at birth, their older brother Joaquin grew up in the foster system but may have finally found a real home. The book follows the trio as they get to know each other and decide to search for their birth mother.

Are there any books that really surprised you?
 
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Monday, 28 May 2018

BB BOOK CLUB | JUNE'S BOOK IS...



314 pages of cuteness, 14 different popular YA authors tell stories about couple's first meeting. At times romantic and witty, epic and every day, and heartbreaking and real - every romance has to start somewhere.


Readers will experience Nina LaCour's beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard's glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon's imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno's story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick's charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.


If you'd like to join us and read along during the month go and pick yourself up a copy whether from your local bookstore or library. This may not be the shortest book but it doesn't mean you have to read the entire thing, pick a story or two that takes your fancy. Do, however, remember to tell us what you thought about them by using the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and submitting your feedback to the google form here by the 25th June.


Not into the lovey-dovey YA mushiness? Be sure to check back at the end of the month as Anjali's July pick might be more your style!
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Sunday, 27 May 2018

BB Book Club | May 2018 Roundup | The Skeleton's Holiday

This year we decided to launch our very own online book club, with a new book for you to join us in reading every month. May's title, selected by Ria, was The Skeleton's Holiday a short story collection from the Penguin Modern Classics collection. Here's our May infographic to tell you a little bit more...

bb book club may 2018 the skeletons holiday

Reader's comments and favourite quotes:

"So I smell a bit strong, what? Well I don't eat cakes!" Whereupon it tore off it's face and ate it.


"I'd recommend this book, but only to people who would appreciate the strangeness of it. The surreal genre is incredibly weird, and a bit morbid, but sort of delightful at the same time. I guess fables are like that." - Anjali @ This Splendid Shambles

"I love how surreal and a bit weird all the stories were." -  Ria @ Thoroughly Modern Millenial

The skeleton was as happy as a madman whose straightjacket had been taken off.


"It was a really interesting collection of stories, and also a bit disturbing!" - Cat

"It was a nice quick read!" - Sophie @ Sofilly

It was two cabbages having a terrible fight. They were tearing each other's leaves off with such ferocity that soon there was nothing but torn leaves everywhere and no cabbages.


Thank you to everyone who read along with us this month! If you would like to get involved with next month's BB Book Club check back here tomorrow where Sophie will be introducing her selection for June.

You can also sign up to our mailing list to make sure you don't miss out on any future book club updates!

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Friday, 25 May 2018

From Twinkle, with Love | Sandhya Menon | Review


Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen.

Told as a series of diary entry letters to her favourite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, With Love follows Twinkle Mehra, a high school student with big plans for her future. Twinkle wants to be a film director and make films that will change the world. She also wants to change herself. Twinkle wants to be the shiny new future Twinkle and she wants to be that person right now, someone who her old best friend, Maddie, will want to spend time with again, and who the other students in her year won't ignore any more. Twinkle wants to be seen and the first person she wants to see her is her long time crush, Neil Roy. If she could get Neil to go out with her then she would definitely be one of the in crowd and get to spend time with Maddie again.

So when Neil's twin brother, Sahil, asks Twinkle to make a movie with him that the whole school will see, she jumps at the chance. A chance to direct her first ever feature film, to get closer to Neil through Sahil, and for everyone else to see what she can do. It all seems to fit together so perfectly, until Twinkle begins to realise that getting back her friendship with Maddie might not be as easy as she hoped, and that there is a little more than sibling rivalry between Neil and Sahil, and she might be falling for the wrong brother. 

Twinkle is a girl who knows exactly what she wants for her future, it's her present that is a little more confusing. In many ways, the relationship at the heart of this book is not between Twinkle and any boy, but between her and her best friend, Maddie. Twinkle's despair at her best friend finding a new group of friends who don't really get Twinkle is something that I'm sure a lot of teenagers will relate to, and it's great to see a teen story in which friendship is the driving force behind much of the action. Even Twinkle's crush on Neil, and her reluctance to fall for his brother, Sahil, are largely down to the fact that she thinks Maddie's new friends will accept her if she's Neil's girlfriend. It's not a great reason to date someone, but that's something Twinkle has to learn herself.

Twinkle makes a lot of mistakes, in fact, not just thinking that Neil is her ticket to being Maddie's best friend again, but she learns from every one of them, and that's a great thing to see in a story like this. Twinkle becomes so focused on what this film could mean for her that she forgets about the friends she's making along the way, and when Twinkle lets her pride in her film go to her head and she starts to treat her actors a little less than kindly, she soon learns that being good at something is no excuse to treat other people badly, and that there are right and wrong ways for a film to make an impact. Given that the film is such a crucial part of the story's plot, it's a shame that the reader doesn't experience more of the scenes actually being shot, but the real story here is in Twinkle's relationships, not least the strained ones she has with her parents, who never seem to be around for her in the way that she wants them to be.

Twinkle is a girl with a lot of ambition, and this is truly a story of her making mistakes and learning how to fix them, and that's a plot I can get behind. The fact that she makes some excellent friends and gets to have a heartwarming romance, while she gets a head start on making her dreams come true, is just icing on an already delicious cake. 
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Thursday, 24 May 2018

Features | How I track my reading - Bullet Journalling


As a kid I used to be a part of a reading challenge with my local library, the challenge was to read 6 books over the 6 week summer holidays. We had little booklets to track them with and each week we'd have a librarian check them over and give us a sticker if we were on track. At the end of the 6 weeks if we managed to reach our target we got a reading challenge medal!

Nowadays the targets are a little higher with my reading challenges, this year I'm planning on 45 books. For the past 4 years, I've been increasing it by five books a year and I've been hitting it each time so fingers crossed I make it! Not only do I track my reading on Goodreads but I also use my bullet journal.

Above is the tracker I have for this year, although I will say this photo was taken in March so quite a few books have been added to it since then. Why I do this as well as tracking on Goodreads I hear you ask?

It's cuz it looks damn pretty that's why. Plus it's easier to look back on. Last years page I can easily flip back on whenever I like and see all the books I read instead of figuring out dates and months on Goodreads. As well as the problems when it comes to rereading! I've lost track how many times I've read Harry Potter and it's hard to keep track of that on Goodreads.

Of all the trackers in my bullet journal, which is a lot as I do like to track, this is probably my second favourite page behind my mood tracker!

Do you just use Goodreads to track your reading, or do you use something else? 

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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Features | Bookish Confessions


I fancied doing something a little different today so I thought I would share some of my deepest, darkest secrets with you all today. Yep, today I'm talking about my bookish confessions.

Being a book blogger, there is a certain pressure to meet expectations. You should have endless shelves of pristine books. Those shelves will be beautifully organised, perhaps by colour or genre. They will be filled with all of the newer releases, which you have managed to read all of. Don't forget the classics though - you should have read them too!

That is not how my life looks. For starters, I work a full time job around blogging so I don't have that much time for reading (especially if I want to keep on top of things here and at This Northern Gal). I also don't have the money or shelf space to keep on top of all of the newest books. Things look decidedly less polished outside of the internet!

Here are my confessions. Try not to judge me too hard.


  1. I don't like Austen (though I didn't mind Northanger Abbey).
  2. I'm not really a fan of Shakespeare either.
  3. I don't like romance. I avoid A LOT of popular books because of this.
  4. I write in my books. I know, I know but I just can't help it. In my defence, I don't do this to all of my books.
  5. I fold corners.
  6. I would never, ever fold a corner in someone else's book.
  7. My shelves are a mess. There are books crammed into every available space and no real system.
  8. I have series where the covers don't match.

What are your bookish confessions? Comment below or tweet me to join in!

Kelly x
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Sunday, 20 May 2018

Send Us Your Thoughts On Our May Book Club Pick!

We really hope you're enjoying our May BB book club pick The Skeleton's Holiday and can't wait to hear your thoughts! There's just under a week left to make sure your opinions are featured in our May roundup and infographic - click this link to complete the Google form.

the skeleton's holiday leonora carrington book club

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Friday, 18 May 2018

Of Fire and Stars | Audrey Coulthurst | Review

Of Fire and Stars | Audrey Coulthurst | Review on Blogger's Bookshelf

“Princesses don't play with fire.” 

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.

But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other. - Goodreads



While the prospect of the book was great - a young adult fantasy novel where the princess gets the girl - it fell short for me. The promise of a sweet romance in amongst castles, princes, lords and ladies was the only thing this book delivered for me, unfortunately.

Denna and Mare's budding romance was what held this book together, and I did really like their story line. Mare works with the horses and is forced to teach Denna how to ride. She's pretty stand-off-ish at first (and quick frankly, rude and immature), but as the pages go on, their friendship develops. I enjoyed how their relationship was strained at the beginning, and how it took an appropriate amount of time for them to realise they were something more than friends. Too often YA books are 'hello-I hate you-you did something cute- I love you now' in a matter of pages, but I think that Of Fire and Stars drew it out a little, making it at least a little more realistic.

The fire element that Denna possesses did not feel like a main part of the story to me. A princess with a secret fire ability is definitely intriguing and I'm all over that for a plot line. Unfortunately, I didn't feel as thought it was a major aspect. It even bored me a little. Very little happens in terms of the fire powers.

Speaking of which, very little happens in the entire story. Most of it is spent on horseback, with rumours in the background of various things which may or may not happen, the adults in the story not really worth their weight in salt (that's the saying, right?), and a lack of character development or plot tensions.

I truly wish that I had enjoyed it more than the measly 2 stars I gave it on Goodreads.

I always like to add into my reviews that my opinions of a story should never dissuade you from picking up a novel. Just because Of Fire and Stars wasn't for me, doesn't it mean it won't be your next favourite read. The romance is sweet, the horses are war-ready, the castles are towering, and the fire (when used) is burning. It's not a long read (my copy was around 400 pages), and it's easy to fly through.


Have you read Of Fire and Stars? What were your thoughts? 
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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Leaving | Tara Altebrando | Review

the leaving tara altebrando book review

Eleven years ago a group of six five-year-olds mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Now teenagers, five of the missing children find themselves back in their hometown, reunited with the families they left behind but unable to remember anything about what happened to them.

After so many years have passed most people never expected the kids to return and of course everyone has a different opinion on what happened to them. Dubbed ‘The Leaving’ based on a comment one of the children made to her mother shortly before disappearing, theories range from them being locked in a basement somewhere to being abducted by aliens. Unfortunately, with their memories gone the truth is a little more complicated to uncover.

Taking place over just fifteen days the story follows three main characters, with chapters alternating between their different points of view. We are introduced to Scarlett and Lucas, two of the kids who return from ‘The Leaving’, as well as Avery, the younger sister of Max who is still missing. Although I wasn’t crazy about Avery as a character, I really loved the fact that her point of view was included as part of the story. I found it interesting to hear from someone who remembered the event and to learn more about the huge effect Max’s disappearance had on her childhood. Whilst sometimes multiple points of view can be confusing or sound too similar in this case I felt the three voices were clearly defined. One element that added a distinction was the unique styling choices, particularly in Scarlett’s chapters, with the use of different fonts, unusual spacing and shading which seemed to fit well with the idea of this character’s memory loss.

The Leaving is a quick and addictive read with mystery element that will keep you guessing. I really enjoyed following the small clues dotted throughout as the characters remembered snippets of the past and I was keen to find out what had happened to both Max and the rest of the group. Without giving away any spoilers, I can understand why some readers may be disappointed by the way the story plays out in the end, however I don’t think this takes anything away from how enjoyable the overall journey is.

Cover image via Goodreads

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Friday, 11 May 2018

Features | Bookish Podcasts


Podcasts are the in thing now, right? Who would have guessed seventeen years ago when the first iPod was released that there would soon be so many podcasts on every available topic? Honestly, there are so many to choose from these days that it can get overwhelming! So I'm here to recommend just a few podcasts with a literary twist, for all kinds of book lovers.


Bonnets at Dawn takes an in depth look at the lives and works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, comparing them through research, conversations, and interviews with writers, historians, and various members of the Austen or Brontë fandom world, to determine once and for all who is the queen of English literature. Recently the podcast has also started to expand to include other writers, like Elizabeth Gaskell and Louisa May Alcott, and it's a must listen for anyone interested in female writers of the past.


Book Riot's Hey YA is the podcast for people who want to stay up to date with what's going in the world of young adult literature. Every week hosts Kelly Jensen and Eric Smith discuss YA book news, talk about topics relevant to readers and the industry, and recommend books both old and new. If you're passionate about YA and the topics that often surround it then this is the podcast for you.


In each episode of First Draft with Sarah Enni Sarah talks to writers of young adult and middle grade fiction about their books, their lives, and how they write. If you're a reader of YA or middle grade books then there's a good chance that Sarah has spoken to one of your favourite authors, and if you're interested in finding out about the process behind some of your favourite books, or just in how published writers work, then you'll definitely find something interesting in these conversations.


With each episode of What Page Are You On? hosts Alice Slater and Bethany Rutter pick a literary theme and discuss books they've read and would or would not recommend that fit within that theme.  Like a little book club of two, Bethany and Alice have discussed themes including true crime, books set in the eighties, and ghost stories, and have also recently started a book club for readers to get involved in too.


Witch, Please began as two scholars re-visting each of the Harry Potter books and movies in order to discuss them as literary texts but once they ran out of books and movies the hosts, Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, expanded the series to encompass all that the Wizarding World has to offer, from fan families, to brand loyalty, to book design. Hannah and Marcelle, joined by occasional guest hosts, are here to discuss everything there is to discuss about the world of Harry Potter under a feminist literary lens.
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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Women & Power | Mary Beard | Review


Not many people know that I am a big classics nerd. So much so that my degree is actually in both English and Classical Studies. It's probably why I'm such a big fan of Mary Beard and why I practically begged for a copy of Women & Power for my birthday.

Women & Power is an adaption of lectures that Mary Beard has previously given (oh how I wish I could have been at those!), all wrapped up in a gorgeous new cover. In a little more than 100 pages, Mary Beard discusses the way society treats powerful women, and the alarming parallels with the classical world. A particular focus is that of public speaking, and how the world makes it challenging for women to speak up, especially if what they are saying deviates from the status quo.

Looking back through history and classical literature offered a new lens to view the issues that are prominent in our society. Mary Beard is clearly highly educated and constructs a fantastic argument, though she doesn't lose sight of the fact that not everyone is as versed in classics as she is. Whether or not you know much about the Greco-Roman world, you'll still be able to follow the examples you give. I loved this book so much that I immediately passed it to my friend to read; she's no classicist, but she was just as blown away by it too.

Even though I didn't 100% agree with everything that was said in Women & Power, I did love it. It was such an interesting perspective and a voice that should definitely be listened to. This was a fantastic piece of non-fiction for me!

Kelly x
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Sunday, 6 May 2018

Bookish Links #42


1. Tag! - if you're looking for a bookish tag with some great questions you'll love this one Jenna shared earlier this year.

2. Fictional Travel - in this post Malanie shares ten bookish settings she would love to visit. Which places would make your list?

3. Heart-Melting Reads - if YA is your thing you'll love this list of four YA titles that melted Aycan's heart!

4. Live Or Die-Brary - this episode of The Popcast tackles all things books!

5. Grab A Pen! - we enjoyed Emily's post on annotating her books and how her views on this have changed. Do you ever write in your books?

6. Feminist Reads For All - split into sections for kids, tweens, teens and adults, Amanda has a feminist reading recommendation for every age group.

7. Bookish Home Decor - these book blankets from SweetSequels are the perfect gift for your bibliophile pals!

8. TV To Book - in this post Kirstie reviews a graphic novel based on the characters from Once Upon A Time.

9. How To Read More - it's never too late to catch up on your reading goals for the year! These tips on how to read more may help you hit those 2018 goals.

10. A Spring Clean - if you keep promising yourself you'll clear out some of your book collection but haven't quite managed to action that yet, you might find this post handy.

Links From The BB Archives... John Green Reading Soundtracks | Requiem, Lauren Oliver | Reading Books You Don't Want To Read
 
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Friday, 4 May 2018

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | Mary Ann Shaffer | Review


“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” 

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. 

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. 

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. - Goodreads


After a weekend of reading and finishing the two books I had brought away with me (seriously, Anjali, only two!?), I was in need of another novel to pick up. Thankfully the house I was staying in was just as much a library as my own, and I was soon flicking my way through The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I recognised the title from a movie I had seen the trailer for, and thought it would be another great book to read before I saw the film. And how right I was.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a wonderful story about Juilet, the writer, who makes friends with strangers down in the Channel Islands. The story is told in letters - a format which I don't actually enjoy and the reason I didn't give this book 5 stars - as Juliet corresponds back and forth with the society, as well as her best friend Sophie, her publisher Sidney, and various other people in her life. 

When Juliet goes to Guernsey to meet the people she's only ever written to and to write her book about their society, their relationships grow, fall apart, come back together, and new ones are formed. There's a little more drama alongside the writing of her book, a few more stories to be told, a man to avoid, and a man to find.

While the letter form is not my favourite, Juliet's personality was really apparent in her writing, and I can only imagine she would speak like she writes. I really loved her as a character, and some of her expressions and sentence were gold. Here's a sample:


  • “I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with."

  • “That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” 

  • “Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.” 


The other thing I loved about this book was that it was about books. It was a story-lover, writing a book about people who made a club for reading and talking about books. Brilliant! 

The movie came out in late April, and while I haven't seen it yet, I'm so looking forward to it. It stars Lily James, Matthew Goode and Michiel Huisman, and while the trailer looked a bit different to the book, I hope it's just as good.

Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Seen the movie? 
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Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Features | On May's TBR

book stack may tbr 2018 bloggers bookshelf

Look at me, creating a TBR list for the fourth month in a row... who would have thought it? In addition to our May BB book club title, this month I've picked out five titles to read including library books, a couple of recent purchases and the final book from my 2018 sequels challenge...

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton (2018)

At the top of my TBR for the month ahead is this mystery thriller with a really intriguing setup and some serious Cluedo vibes. The book follows party guest Aiden who is trapped reliving the same day over and over again, each time in a different body or 'host', trying to stop the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle in order to escape the cycle. I actually already started reading this one in April and am really enjoying it so far - bonus points for the inside cover design too!

Thunderhead, Neal Shusterman (2018)

Thunderhead is the sequel to Scythe, a book Anjali and I both loved when we read and reviewed it here on BB earlier this year. Shortly after finishing Scythe I pre-ordered the paperback version of Thunderhead and can't wait to find out what will happen next!

They All Fall Down, Roxanne St Claire (2014)

Although I've not read the best reviews for They All Fall Down, it had been on my TBR list for years so when I saw it was available for just a couple of pounds on Amazon I couldn't resist adding a copy to my basket and hitting the checkout button. It's another book with murder mystery vibes but this time within the YA genre, and looks as thought it should be a pretty quick read.

Illuminae, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (2015) 

Another series I've been meaning to read for a while is the Illuminae files which I've heard nothing but good things about. A huge appeal of this series for me is the format as the story is told through documents such as interviews, emails, medical reports and chat room logs, something I've enjoyed other versions of in titles like Sleeping Giants (Sylvain Neuvel) and Dangerous Girls (Abigail Haas).

Sidekick Returns, Auralee Wallace (2015)

The final book from my 2018 sequels challenge as well as one of the titles on my Kindle list for the year, Sidekick Returns is the sequel to 2014's Sidekick which follows Bremy St James who leaves behind her socialite lifestyle in search of independence and manages to wind up becoming the sidekick to local superhero Dark Ryder.

Which books are on your TBR this month?
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Monday, 30 April 2018

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

the skeletons holiday leonora carrington penguin modern classics
Ring for your maid, and when she comes in we'll pounce upon her and tear off her face. I'll wear her face tonight instead of mine.
Chosen by Ria, our May book club selection is a wonderfully surreal collection of seven short stories. Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series, The Skeleton's Holiday by Leonora Carrington stands at just 48 pages and is available for the grand total of £1!

If you'd like to join in and read along with team BB you can pick up a copy of the book online, at your local bookshop or library. We'd love to hear from you if you are reading the book over the next few weeks so please do remember to use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub to share any updates, photos or comments with us.

To send us your feedback on the book (which may be featured in our May roundup infographic) please complete this Google form by 25th May.

bloggers bookshelf book club

We hope that you're excited to read our May selection but don't worry if it doesn't sound like your thing - check back next month for Sophie's first BB book club pick! 
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Friday, 27 April 2018

Features | Does Fanfiction Count?


Many of the bookworms among us love to keep track of the books we read. Whether it's through GoodReads challenges, spreadsheets, pages in bullet journals, or just a vague recollection of the books we've read most recently. But there's one question I've seen pop up a few times now: does fanfiction count? I think the real question is, why wouldn't it?

The lines between fanfiction and literature have become increasingly blurred with the advancement of technology. Nowadays there are as many self-published books as there are traditionally published. A lot of them are only available as ebooks and plenty are available for free, so it isn't the absence of a physical book or the backing of a publisher that makes people question the validity of fanfiction, unless they also question the validity of these self-published ebooks. Many fic writers spend months crafting intricate, novel-length plots, just like writers of original fiction. Many fics go through a process of editing too, with the help of beta readers, just like self-published and traditionally published novels. So is the difference only that the characters in fanfiction are borrowed?

What about Death Comes to Pemberly and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? What about the countless further tales of Sherlock Holmes? These can be traditionally published because the original stories that inspired them are now in the public domain, and their authors no longer need to be protected from plagiarism, but when you put aside those all important copyright laws are they really any different to the 80,000+ word Harry Potter fanfiction you can find online? These books are fanfiction too, and it isn't anything new.

For as long as humans have been writing things down, and even before that, they've been adapting stories they heard before. You only need to look at the literally endless versions of the tales of King Arthur. Even the earliest written stories of King Arthur are adaptations of the stories that people used to tell each other face to face. Fairytale retellings aren't going away because they've always been here. The Brothers Grimm didn't write Cinderella, they just wrote down their own version of it. As long as people have told stories, they've been writing fanfiction, changing the endings of fairytales, adding their own characters, making up continued adventures for their favourite heroes. Maybe it is time to start counting fanfiction because, whether we know it or not, we already are.
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Thursday, 26 April 2018

We Own The Sky | Luke Allnutt | Review


I have very mixed feelings about We Own The Sky*. On one hand the story was really meaningful and definitely kicked you in the feels a lot, but on the other hand, it also felt rather cheesy which kind of ruined the meaningful storyline.


Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London townhouse and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.


Having gone through an experience similar to this book in recent years (minus the jet-setting off to Prague) I try not to pick up books that revolve around the cancer story. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that would be the case with this book as the blurb doesn’t really give much away. So sorry if that comes as spoilers to you but it’s hinted at in the first chapter and mentioned properly in the first few chapters of the book anyway and I couldn’t really form much of a review on it if I didn’t mention the fact.

Rob and Anna go through very different paths when it comes to dealing with wee Jack’s condition. I think it’s rather nice to see something true to real life rather than the whole ‘let’s make the most of it’ stories you tend to get in teenage cancer stories. Rob wants to do everything in his being to try cure Jack to the point where he’d happily remortgage or sell his house for treatments. Whereas Anna sees the analytical side, which sometimes is viewed as a rather cold perspective and often Anna is seen as being rather cold even when dealing with her dying little boy.

After the fact they follow the regular path parents take from losing many a child, they fight and then they split. But then the third section of the book they come back together and finally have this magical cheesy I forgive you please come back to me type sequence which I found was rather unnecessary. The book could definitely be ended at the end of section two.

I didn’t hate the book, I just found it hard to get into. There were a few minor storylines that were unnecessary and frankly the storyline that linked with the title didn’t really add much - it just added that cheesy happy ending. That aside, there were definitely very important meaningful parts of this book that are worth reading, especially if you haven’t gone through something like this. Everyone mourns in different ways so it’s nice to see that shown in at least 5 different ways throughout the novel, from the main story of Rob and Anna, the storyline of Nev and Josh, and the storyline of both Rob’s dad and Anna’s mum after losing their partners as well.

3/5 stars

* I was given this book for review purposes but all opinions are my own. 
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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Orphan Monster Spy | Matt Killeen | Review


I am having a real historical fiction moment right now. I just can't get enough of it, which is particularly surprising considering the fact that I don't think I've even picked up a historical fiction book over the last few years. Whatever the reason, I'm more than happy to indulge this fancy because it has led me to some fantastic books.

One such book is Orphan Monster Spy, the debut novel from Matt Killeen. I actually heard Matt speak at the Northern YA Literary Festival and decided right there and then that I needed to read his book and pronto!

Orphan Monster Spy is all about Sarah, a Jewish teenager. Her life takes a strange turn when she meets an even stranger man, who convinces her to infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school. There, she must use her skills to get close to one specific pupil, whose father just happens to be a Nazi scientist and owner of the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy everything. Sarah agrees and finds herself in considerable danger, fighting to survive a cut-throat school in a brutal world.

If you couldn't tell from that synopsis, Orphan Monster Spy is a fast-paced thriller that had me desperately turning the pages and devouring the story. I was completely and utterly hooked from the first few pages. It was so unpredictable that I could physically feel the tension - every time I thought things were safe, something new would be thrown into the mix!

This might sound like a lot but I thought that it really worked. A mahoosive part of this is the character of Sarah. Without giving too much away, Sarah's background is not only harrowing but also has given her the chance to develop the skills she needs to walk into a new life as a spy. Every time she is challenged, I was not only rooting for her but knew she had the experience necessary to give her a fighting chance. She was well constructed, believable and really rather amazing! If I get the chance to read more about Sarah, I will be a very happy reader.

Kelly x
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