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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Book Club | February 2019 Roundup

As February is the shortest month of the year, we decided to throwback to our 2018 book club theme 'short stories' with the simple prompt 'under 200 pages'.

Thank you to everyone who shared photos and mini reviews over on social media throughout the month. We loved seeing your picks for our February prompt and were impressed by just how quickly some of you finished reading them!

Below are a selection of our favourite images and mini reviews shared over on Instagram - there will also be a roundup of photos in our latest newsletter which hits inboxes tomorrow morning.





The @bloggersbookshelf February Book Club prompt is 'Under 200 Pages', so it's the perfect time to read Ghost Wall, the latest release by one of my favourite authors, Sarah Moss. 🦊 I read this 150 page novella in a single breathless sitting, and enjoyed every second of it. Ghost Wall follows Silvie and her parents as they join an archeological experiment, trying to recreate Iron Age living in the Northumberland countryside. Ghost Wall is filled with tension, and commentary on class, gender, and how history is a narrative. Moss creates a story about how we need our identities, and grip desperately to them even when they crush us. #bookstagram #bookshelfbookclub #februarysbooks19 - Day 12 - Book and a candle #bookobsessed #shelfie #igreads #instareads #bookbloggers #booklovers #bibliophile #bookish #bookcommunity
A post shared by Isabelle 🦊 Folded Paper Foxes (@foldedpaperfoxes) on


THE LAST QUESTION BY ISAAC ASIMOV


"Originally published in the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly, The Last Question is a very short story (according to Goodreads it's only 9 pages long!) that you can read online. It's very Sci-Fi, but this mind-blowing wee story somehow fits science, technology, philosophy and theology all into a very short space of time ('space and time' may or may not be a very apt turn of phrase for this tale - you'll have to read it to find out). A friend recommended it to me, and I'm glad I sat down and read it. If you're interested, you can find it here online, and it will only take about 15 - 20 minutes to read." - @anjalikay





Finished @bloggersbookshelf prompt for February already. I’ve read a few of Shirley Jackson’s writing in the past, being a fan of eerie and Gothic stories. Wanting to read more of her work I chose ‘We Have Always Lived In The Castle’ which has the same underlying eerie tone to it. It’s a grim comedy of sorts. Macabre and polite are the two words that pop into my head when thinking about what I just read. The narrative is told through the perspective of Merricat, the youngest of what is left of the Blackwood family. She showcases her observations of her day-to-day with a childlike voice addressing the theme of being an outsider in a small town. “‘I can’t help it when people are frightened,’ says Merricat. ‘I always want to frighten them more.’” . . . . #readinggoals #yeg #books📚 #bookshelfbookclub #bloggersbookself #2019readingchallenge #shirleyjackson #penguinclassics #edmontonpubliclibrary
A post shared by SnacksandReads (@snacksandreads) on

 

STARGIRL BY JERRY SPINELLI


"I was startled at first to start reading this book and discover it wasn't from the perspective of the title-named Stargirl, but rather from a boy called Leo who is at the school that Stargirl comes bursting into. But once I got over that initial that-wasn't-what-I-was-expecting feeling, I settled in for the story which was around 186 pages. Very briefly, it tells the tale of a high school in Mica, Arizona, who is heavily impacted by the sudden appearance of home-schooler, Stargirl. She explodes into their lives in a shower of quirky clothes, a ukulele, and a question formed around her by the entire student body: Who is Stargirl? Why is she so different? It's a beautiful wee story about non-conformity, about standing out because you're different, and for fearlessly being yourself. 5/5 from me, and I recommend picking up before the movie comes out later this year." - @anjalikay





February’s @bloggersbookshelf Book Club theme is ‘under 200 pages’, which was the perfect opportunity for me to read The Last Battle. I finally decided to read The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time last year and it’s been really interesting to finally read these stories everyone else read as children as an adult! This last book wasn’t my favourite in the series. It felt a little bit flat to me, with less of the magic from the earlier novels, and almost like Lewis was trying to tell two stories in the space of one, but I enjoyed reading about my terrible boy Eustace Scrubb again, and I’m really glad to have finally read this series! Now I know what all the fuss is about! - Want to join in with our book club next month? March’s theme is ‘a book with an animal or creature in the title’. - #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookstagram #bookbloggers #currentlyreading #instabooks #reading #books #bookworm #booklove #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #vsco #vscocam #vscobooks #igreads #booklover #narnia #thechroniclesofnarnia #thelastbattle #cslewis
A post shared by Anastasia Gammon (@stasialikescakes) on

 

STARERS BY NATHAN ROBINSON


"This month I chose to read Starers by Nathan Robinson, a book which had been sitting on my Kindle for quite a while. The story centres around the Keene family whose lives are shaken by an ominous crowd of people gathering around their house, simply staring. As soon as I started reading the book I found that it wasn’t exactly what I had expected but I was kept intrigued by the mystery of where the 'Starers' came from and why they were so transfixed by the Keene household.  Overall I think the idea behind the book was interesting, unique and certainly creepy, but sadly I just didn’t love it." - @sawyerandscout 





JASON AND MEDEA BY APOLLONIUS OF RHODES


"Hard to read as all older classics are but still good and a great telling of Jason and Medea’s tale. I’ve heard all about Jason and Medea but never actually read their story so it was fun to read part of a new myth I wasn’t familiar with. It’s an odd section of the Golden Fleece expedition but I enjoyed it and now want to find a copy of the full version!" - @sofilly


We'll be introducing March's book club tomorrow so don't forget to check back!

Use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month.

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Friday, 22 February 2019

Stargirl | Jerry Spinelli | Review


Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli was my pick for February's book club theme: books under 200 pages. At  only 186 pages, it was the perfect fit.

This short little book tells the story of a high school in Mica, Arizona that is hugely impacted by the sudden appearance of home-schooler, Stargirl. She bursts into their world in a flare of colour, ukuleles and a certain spark that no one can truly put out. The story is told from the perspective of Leo, a kid in tenth grade who, like the rest of the school, becomes caught in Stargirl's crazy.

“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.” 

As Leo gets to know Stargirl a little better, he tries to figure out what makes her tick, what makes her do things like sing happy birthday to every kid in school on their special day, or write imaginary cards to strangers, or leave little token presents on the front porches of the people who live in the town. Who is Stargirl, really? And why isn't she like everyone else?

This was an adorable look at a girl just being her grand self, and a school who tries to fit her into a box, into a mould, that she would only break if they ever managed to squash her into one. It's a story about non-conformity, and what happens if you try and stifle people's creativity and spark and passions. It's a story about knowing who you are, recognising that might not be quite like everyone else, and embracing that. It's a story about high school and peer pressure, about first loves, about friendships; it's about throwing caution to the wind and being free enough and brave enough to be unashamedly yourself. And it's wonderful.

For a book of only 186 pages, there's a sure a heck of lot in it, and all of it is brilliant. Later this year the movie adaptation of Stargirl is being released, and Grace VanderWaal is playing Stargirl, and I already know that's a perfect casting choice. I'm looking for to it!

Have you read Stargirl? What did you think? 
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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Green Dawn at St Enda's | Tracey Iceton | Review

I'm finally back with a new review for you! Now, I know I have been a little belated but that is because I've been reading this monster of a book for weeks. This book is truly epic and has so much in it that it has taken me quite a while to get through but it is worth all of the time spent on it!

This book tells the story of William Devoy, who is shipped off to a boarding school in Ireland by his distant father. There, he begins to understand his father's love for the country he fled from. Searching for adventure, the five years at the boarding school set William on a new path. A dangerous and daring one.

This is the story of a young boy but it is also the story of a fight for Irish independence. This is a period of history that I am woefully uneducated on so a lot of what I was reading simultaneously captivated and surprised me. It's certainly inspired me to do a little more research so that I can learn a little bit more and it was the perfect backdrop for this story. It elevated this coming-of-age story into something completely beguiling. I was drawn into these pages and I wanted to take my time with the story that was unfurling.

William's story isn't one to be raced through. It is to be savoured. He is the kind of character who infuriates a reader and has a reader rooting for them simultaneously.  He is believably and understandably flawed, which is a real testament to Tracey Iceton's incredible writing talent.

In summary, this is one of the more daring and creative novels that I have written in a while. It couldn't have been pulled off by anyone who didn't have a real flair for writing and it is clear that Iceton has just that. I don't want to give away much more about it but if you like historical fiction, you really must check it out.

Kelly x
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Friday, 15 February 2019

Features | The Great YA Romance Showdown of 2018


It's the day after Valentine's Day and love, I'm sure, is still in the air. Luckily for us all YA literature is full of swoon-worthy first loves and young romances, perfect for the holiday just been. But today I want to take you back all the way to two months ago. 2018 brought three well-loved YA romances to the big screen (or the... Netflix screen...) and today, of course, in the true spirit of Valentine's Day, I'm going to pit them against each other and make you pick your favourite. That's what Valentine's Day is all about, right?


In the red corner, Willowdean & Bo from Julie Murphy's Dumplin'. Dumplin' is less about Willowdean's love story with Bo and more about her love story with herself, but while Willowdean is learning to live with the loss of her aunt and learning to love every part of herself, Bo is always there, already loving Willowdean just as she is. It isn't just Bo who convinces Willowdean that she's perfect just the way she is but it sure does help that he never doubts it, or her.


In the blue corner (obviously), Simon & Blue (Blue is here represented by Simon's laptop just in case any of you reading this have yet to read the book or watch the film. You're welcome.) from Becky Albertalli's Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon and Blue may not know each other's identities for most of their novel but they understand each other and know each other's loves, worries, and secrets. The fact that they communicate anonymously over email means that they're free to tell each other everything they never tell anybody, and it means when they do eventually find out each other's true identities, they're already well on their way to falling in love.


And in... another corner. Green maybe? It's Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky from Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Lara Jean and Peter K's relationship may start on unusual terms but what begins as a way to make Peter's ex jealous and throw Lara Jean's real crush off the scent soon turns into real feelings, creeping up on both of them when they didn't expect it, and when they start to be honest with each other and themselves, that's when the magic really happens.

Now, of course the real aim of this post is to encourage you all to read the books these wonderful films are based on if you haven't already, but also it is definitely to pit these couples against each other and declare one the victor, so vote below for your OTP!


Who is your teenage dream of 2018?

Willowdean & Bo
Simon & Blue
Lara Jean & Peter K
Created with QuizMaker
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Friday, 1 February 2019

Enchantée | Gita Trelease | Review


Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries - and magicians...

After the death of their parents, Camille is left alone to take care of her sister, whose health is suffering, and ward off her brother, whose vices have become a danger to them all. Life in 18th century Paris is not easy for the likes of Camille and her siblings and tensions between the rich and the poor have never been greater, but Camille has a rare talent. She is a magician. She uses her magic to turn discarded pieces of metal into coins, the spell holding just long enough for her to spend them and get away before the spell breaks and her trick is found out.

Camille's fake coins keep herself and her sister alive, but when her brother's gambling leads him into deeper and deeper trouble, Camille turns to a darker, far more difficult kind of magic to keep them safe. By day she is herself but at night she becomes the Baroness de la Fontaine, a regular at the court of Louis XVI, where Camille intends to use her magic in the gambling rooms to win enough money so she can move herself and her sister to safety. Camille has no love for the aristocrats of Versailles, and she soon finds out that it is a dangerous place to be a magician. Then, of course, back in Camille's real life, where she sheds the disguise of the Baroness de la Fontaine, there is a boy with a hot air balloon, who sees her for who she really is. It's not long before Camille's two lives begin to collide and Camille discovers that she is far from the only person hiding a secret at court.

In this reviewer's opinion, this novel has everything. The historical Parisian setting, the civil unrest, a charming inventor with a hot air balloon, the original court of frivolous socialites, palace intrigue, and more than a dash of magic. It's the perfect blend for a dazzlingly fun historical fantasy story but there is plenty of darkness too and Trelease combines the fear and the fun as effortlessly as she does the historical with the fantasy. Far more effortlessly than Camille combines her two opposing lives. In Camille's real life she faces the everyday hardships that led to the French revolution, and she despises the wealthy aristocrats who caused her late father to lose his printing business, but in her life as the Baroness de la Fontaine she begins to befriend some of those aristocrats, and to grapple with the fact that she enjoys their company far more than she ever would have expected.

Camille's story may be filled with magic, but her problems are very human, and it is impossible not to feel for her and her sister, and the friends Camille makes, who face not only a revolution that will change their way of life forever, but a scheme many of them aren't even aware they're a part of. Enchantée is an intoxicating read, every page full of magic and intrigue enough to keep the reader glued to the story until the very end. It's fast paced, exciting, and full of adventure. Trelease's writing makes it impossible to not feel a little swept away, if not by the glittering court of Versailles, then certainly by the dashing Lazare and his hot air balloon.

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions expressed are the reviewer's own.
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Book Club | February 2019 - Under 200 Pages


For our 2019 BB Book Club we've put together a printable list of twelve different prompts. On the 1st day of each month, we'll be introducing you to the month's prompt and the books team members each plan to read, along with some other suggested reads we think you'll love. Of course, these are just ideas so please feel free to interpret the prompts however you wish!

We're also inviting you to share photos and mini reviews of your book club picks on social media throughout the month using #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.


Our prompt for February is... Under 200 Pages

february bookshelf book club 2019

What we'll be reading...

This month we have three team members sharing their very different picks for our February prompt!


Erin's Pick: Starers by Nathan Robinson

"There were so many options on my list for this month's prompt but in the end I've decided to go for one that's been sitting on my Kindle for far too long. The premise of Starers, which features hypnotised strangers appearing outside a family home, sounds pretty Black Mirror-esque."

Anjali's Pick: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

"At only 186 pages, Stargirl is a short story about nonconformity. I'm looking forward to reading this one before the movie comes out later this year."

One of our team members has even picked a short book full of short stories too!

Ria's Pick: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

"I love me a good short story collection! So when I stumbled upon this and saw 1. it comes highly recommended by Roxanne Gay 2. has a great Kendrick Lamar as its epigraph I knew I had to pick it up and make it my February book club read."


Other suggested reads...

- Genesis (Bernard Beckett)
- We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
- The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald)
- Resurrection Bay (Neal Shusterman)
- Broadcast (Liam Brown) - 2018 book club roundup
- We Have Always Lived In The Castle (Shirley Jackson)
- The Strange Library (Haruki Murakami) - review

 
Use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month!
 
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