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.


Saturday, 15 August 2020

Bookish Links #59

1. If you’re looking for some brilliant booktube channels to subscribe to, you’ll love this post from Esmée.

2.  In this epsiode of Rants & Reviews, Anjali and Sophie look back on their 2020 reads so far.

3. This post over at Book Riot shares some of the statistics from the results of the CCBC’s 2019 survey on diversity in children’s and YA lit.

4. Feeling an end of summer reading slump coming on? This Buzzfeed post lists 7 YA books to reignite your love of reading. 

5. Anika also has some great tips for how to read more books!

6. If you're looking for TBR inspiration, Bee recently shared some of the books on her to buy list

7. This post from The House That Lars Built is full of fantastic tips for journaling!

8. This donation page over at Roundtable Books is a great way to help families, schools and food banks access inclusive books.

9. Laura’s post sharing a self-guided walking tour of literary Oxford is one to bookmark for a future trip!

10. This cute ‘Shh I’m reading’ wall hanging would be perfect for a reading nook!

This month’s beautiful bookstagram accounts to follow:

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Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Features | July Reads

For me July started out as a good reading month full of many beautifully written books, from the verse format of Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo), to the lyrical feel of Girl, Woman, Other (Bernadine Evaristo) and poetry collection Surge (Jay Bernard). Towards the end of the month and heading into August I've hit a little bit of a slump, but luckily I still have quite a few titles to share with you today.

Clap When You Land (Elizabeth Acevedo) is a book that everyone has been talking about lately and I can confirm that it’s definitely deserving of the hype! The book shares the story of two teenage girls, one living in the Dominican Republic, the other in the USA, who are brought together by the tragic loss of their father. I absolutely loved the dual narration and the way the book was written so beautifully in verse. It was such an enjoyable reading experience that I sped through the book in two days and am looking forward to reading more of Elizabeth Acevedo’s work in future.

My library reservation for Girl, Woman, Other (Bernadine Evaristo) also arrived this month and, similarly to with Clap When You Land, I can certainly understand why so many people have rated this book so highly. Girl, Woman, Other is a collection of short stories each focusing on a different character, mostly Black British women, and I really loved the clever ways that they were all connected together. I’m sure many of you have already picked up this Booker Prize winning novel, but if you haven't I would definitely recommend adding it to your summer TBRs.

My book club pick for July (books with maps) was Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Although I don’t read a huge amount of YA Fantasy, I had heard such amazing things about this 2018 release and I wasn’t disappointed. Alternating between the perspectives of Zelie, Amari and Inan, this book takes you on an action-packed adventure filled with many exciting moments alongisde some very heartbreaking ones. I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives and each character’s arc as well as the writing style, in particular the descriptions of the story’s setting. At the time of writing this post I’m part way through reading the sequel Children Of Virtue and Vengeance.

I also picked up a couple of other enjoyable YA books this month, including the latest releases from Jenn Bennett and Juno Dawson. Chasing Lucky* (Jenn Bennett) follows budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin as she moves back to the small town she grew up in and is reunited with her childhood best friend Lucky. This a contemporary novel with themes of first love, friendship and family, and I adored the small town setting as well as the fact that the Saint-Martin’s run a bookstore (!). Overall I didn’t enjoy Chasing Lucky quite as much as Alex, Approximately (which I read a a few months ago) but I liked the way the story unfolded and it was still a cute summer read.

Wonderland (Juno Dawson) is a YA re-telling of Alice in Wonderland with themes of gender, privilege, mental health and relationships. I thought the way that the characters from the original story were incorporated into this new version was clever and enjoyed the little mentions of characters from other books in the London Trilogy too. Again, I didn’t love it quite as much as Juno’s previous release Meat Market, but it was still a great read and one to add to your summer reading lists.

Over in non-fiction I borrowed Caroline Hirons' recent release Skincare: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide, via my library app. I won’t say too much about he book here as I’m hoping to share a full review soon, but I can confirm that I read it in just two days and immediately ordered both a copy of the book and a bunch of new skincare products to try!

I don’t often read a lot of poetry but when I saw Surge (Jay Bernard) listed in the Award Winners section of my library app I was intrigued by the description and decided to reserve it. At the time it was available it wasn’t the next book on my TBR but I decided to have a quick look anyway and was so drawn in by the author’s note that I ended up reading the whole book in two sittings that same day. The collection includes several poems influenced by tragic events such as the New Cross Massacre and Grenfell. It’s only a short read but it’s full of powerful words.

The final book I wanted to talk about this month is This Lovely City by Louise Hare. I was admittedly initially drawn in by the beautiful cover design and when I read the blurb I knew I had to read this debut novel. The book tells the story of Lawrie who has arrived in England on the Empire Windrush following World War II and centres around his relationship with Evie, the girl next door. When Lawrie finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, he is caught up in a police investigation and the book explores the topics of discrimination and racial bias in the UK. I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated from the perspectives of both Laurie and Evie and really enjoyed the story in this format. If you are interested in learning about the more recent Windrush scandal I would also recommend both the BBC drama Sitting In Limbo, based on the true story of Anthony Bryan, and documentary The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files (available on iPlayer in the UK).

*Review copy of Chasing Lucky provided by Netgalley/Simon & Schuster Children's UK
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Saturday, 1 August 2020

Book Club | August 2020 - With Sunshine Or Clouds On The Cover

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For our 2020 BB Book Club, we've put together another printable list of twelve different prompts, one for each month of the year. Just as we did in 2019, 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 pick on social media using #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

Our prompt for August is...  

With Sunshine Or Clouds On The Cover

What we'll be reading...

Erin's pick: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

"I read The Nightingale back in May and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would pick up another Kristin Hannah novel for this month's book club. The Great Alone promises a dramatic family story set in Alaska, focusing on love, loss and survival."

Anjali's pick: A Monster Calls by Patricks Ness

"While the clouds on this cover are incredibly sinister, it's a book I've been meaning to read for years and years. I recently got myself a copy at a book fair, so this is the perfect opportunity to read it!"

Other suggested reads...

- North Of Happy by Adi Alsaid
- Chasing Forgiveness by Neal Shusterman
- I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
- The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh
- My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
- American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
- The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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

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Friday, 31 July 2020

Book Club | July 2020 Roundup

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Our book club theme for July was 'books with maps' and there were so many great titles to choose from. Here are a few of the books Team BB read for the challenge...

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Our July book club theme is 'books with maps' and my pick was Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, which certainly didn't disappoint!⁠ ⁠ Alternating between the perspectives of Zelie, Amari and Inan, this YA Fantasy book takes you on an action-packed adventure filled with many exciting and also heartbreaking moments. I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives and each character’s arc as well as the writing style, in particular the descriptions of the story’s setting.⁠ ⁠ I've just started reading the sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance and can't wait to find out what will happen next! - Erin⁠ ⁠ Don't forget to share your July book club picks this week using #bloggersbookshelf 📚⁠ ⁠ -------------------⁠ ⁠ #bookclub #bookstagram #onlinebookclub #bookswithmaps #instabooks #bookbloggers #childrenofbloodandbone #yafantasy #yalit #beautifulbooks #bookswelove #currentlyreading #bookcovers ⁠ ⁠

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(I received this novel for review via Netgalley.) I had to try and create my own @cosyreads style cosy photo for this book! Our @bloggersbookshelf Book Club theme for this month is ‘a book with a map’, and The Ship of Shadows sure fits that bill! Following Aleja, a girl desperate for adventure, who accidentally finds herself part of a real pirate crew on a real magical ship, The Ship of Shadows is a joyful middle grade story, full of fun, friendship, and lots of cake! I don’t generally read a lot of middle grade fiction but I couldn’t resist this novel set on board a magical pirate ship, and I’m glad I didn’t! This novel is so much fun, I’d recommend it for anyone who spent their childhood with their head in books, dreaming of adventure! If you want to know more, you can read my full review on the @bloggersbookshelf blog now! - #bookshelfbookclub #bloggersbookshelf #bookreview #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #bibliophile #igreads #booklover #coolgirlsread #theshipofshadows

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What are you currently reading? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ One of the books that I added to my 'to be REread' book list at the start of the year was The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson. I read it years ago but never got around to reading the rest of the series, even though I really enjoyed it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Also, the @bloggersbookshelf Book Club theme for July is 'a book with a map in it' (which this one does), so it's the perfect time to re-read! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, tell me: what are you reading this week? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ---------- ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #thenameofthestar #nzcontentcollective #yabookstagram #bookstagram #books #book #bookaholic #booksofinstagram #confessionsofabookaddict #bookaddict #bookworm #bookreview #booklover #instaread #readthisbook #fiction #ya #lblogger #lifestyleblogger #nzbloggers #bookworm #bibliophile #reader #igbooks #bookstack #amreading #bookphotography #whattoread #epicreads

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We'll be introducing August's book club tomorrow so don't forget to check back! Use the hashtag #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf to share your photos and mini-reviews with us throughout the month.
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Friday, 24 July 2020

The Ship of Shadows | Maria Kuzniar | Review

Aleja whiles away her days in her family's dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she's only ever read about in books. After all, she's always been told that girls can't be explorers.

Aleja dreams of living the adventures she reads about in her favourite books, especially those of the famed British explorer, Thomas James, and she loves to hear the stories of pirates and magic that men tell each other in her family's tavern. She longs to board a ship of her own and sail the world, just like James did. Aleja's grandmother says girls shouldn't go chasing after adventure but Aleja doesn't believe her. Aleja knows that girls can do whatever they set their mind to, and although the men in the tavern don't always believe in the magic stories they tell, Aleja knows that they're wrong too. Magic is real and she hopes to find it as much as she hopes to explore the world.

Aleja's wishes all seem to come true when she finds herself on The Ship of Shadows, a temporary and accidental part of Captain Quint's crew. Aleja is soon setting sail to mysterious locations, helping to solve important riddles and clues, and having all the adventure she could ever want, and more besides. Maybe a little too much. Captain Quint has many secrets, and it turns out that being a pirate on a magical ship is most definitely not without peril. Not least of which is the terrifying pirate hunter on the ship's tail!

The Ship of Shadows is a fun and fantastical middle grade adventure, filled with magic, daring, friendship, and cake. Aleja's thirst for knowledge and adventure may land her on Captain Quint's ship, but it's the friendships she makes onboard that truly propel the story forward and that, along with Quint's mysteries, will keep readers eagerly turning the pages to find out how the adventure ends. Or, indeed, if it ends at all. Aleja is a charming narrator and, along with the rest of the crew, makes this an easy and fun read, perfect for all ages, because, I mean, who doesn't love reading about pirates sailing on a magical ship, full of hidden rooms, adorable, shape-shifting shadows, and oh, did I mentioned the copious amounts of cake?

Aleja is a dreamer, and although those dreams may seem at first almost impossible to achieve, and then, more dangerous than she might ever have imagined, she never gives up on those dreams, on her friends, or on herself. She certainly never entertains the idea that she should be denied adventure (or trousers) just because she happens to be a girl. I suspect all bookish children (or adults who were once bookish children themselves) will see a part of themselves reflected in Aleja, and I hope that she will inspire many of them to chase their own adventures! Although, perhaps not by running away on pirate ships. I have no doubt that she will. 

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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Saturday, 11 July 2020

Bookish Links #58

1. It may no longer be pride month, but this awesome list of YA books with LGBTQIAP+ protagonists contains 46 books to enjoy at any time of year.

2. This Ally Box book subscription created by Onikah Asamoa-Caesar is such a brilliant idea. Find out more in this interview.

3. If you're looking for a cute summer read, Say Yes Summer could be it! Click here for Jen's review.

4. Whether you're working from home, or back to your commute, we recommend adding the Southbank Centre's Book Podcast to your feed and catching up on past episodes.

5. Blogger and author C.G. Drews shared a great post on ways we can all keep supporting diverse books.

6. If you've been looking to try out some new recipes you'll love these cookbook recommendations from Book Riot.

7. And whilst you're over at Book Riot, this interview with one of Team BB’s favourite authors Neal Shusterman is also an interesting read.

8. We love this list of amazing books written by women of colour from Michelle over at Daisybutter.

9. Anika’s recent ‘Educate Yourself’ Stack also had us adding so many titles to our TBRs.

10. Finally, as lockdown continues in the UK why not treat yourself or a loved on to a surprise book?

This month’s beautiful bookstagram accounts to follow:

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