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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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