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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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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Daisy Jones & The Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

Cover image via goodreads.com

This month I read Taylor Jenkins Reid's most recent release Daisy Jones & The Six for the third time and realised that I had never posted a review of this book, despite it being one of my absolute favourites. This time around I wanted to share not a full review, but some of my thoughts as this book certainly deserves a spot in our BB archives.

Set during the 60's & 70's the book tells the story of how Daisy Jones, a beautiful young woman with a natural talent for singing, and rock band The Six came together and rose to fame. It's an intense ride and includes all of the highs and lows experienced along the way, told through a series of interviews with members of the band as well as family members and those who worked with them during their career. The main charcters are Billy Dunne (frontman of The Six) and Daisy herself, but there are a whole host of other interesting people to be found within the pages of this book too. I'm sure I'm not alone in listing Camilla, Karen and Simone as particular favourites.

As mentioned in my review of The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid has a way of making all of the characters she creates feel genuinely real. For me, one of the most effective ways she makes the story feel more realistic is by including contradictions between the different characters versions of events. One moment you'll hear something stated as a fact from one character only for another character to say the complete opposite just seconds later. You're left never really knowing exactly what happened and these moments are some of my favourites from the book.

One of the most unique things about Daisy Jones & The Six is the interview format. In a recent review over at This Splendid Shambles Anjali mentioned that for her the format of the book took away some of the emotion and therefore her connection to the characters. Whilst I would personally pick up a title in this format ordinarily, I can fully appreciate that it isn't for everyone. I have read Daisy Jones both as an ebook and as an audiobook and would suggest that listening to the audiobook would likely make the story more enjoyable for you if the interview format doesn't sound like your thing. With it's full cast of characters who bring extra personality to the story, to me it feels just like listening to a captivating podcast series about a real band and it's definitely my favourite way to read this book; I could happily listen to it over and over!

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Wednesday, 20 May 2020

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires | Grady Hendrix | Review

Review copy c/o Quirk Books via Netgalley

Back in 2014 I shared a review of Horrorstör, a brilliantly unique and cleverly designed title from Grady Hendrix, so when I saw this new release pop up on Netgalley I was intrigued to find out more. This title has been hugely popular since it's release last month, with an average Goodreads rating of over 4 stars, and plenty of positive reviews. I'm not usually one to pick up vampire novels so I wasn't quite sure what to expect but based on what I had heard I knew it would have some gory moments.

Set in the 90's this novel follows Patricia Campbell, a housewife who gave up her career as a nurse to settle down and start a family. With her husband always busy with work and her teenage children wanting her to stay out of their business, Patricia's life just isn't quite going as planned. She spends her time looking after her family and attending social events with her neighbours, including a book club with several other women. While this might seem pretty normal, this is not your average suburban book club as secretly the small group of women get together regularly to discuss their shared love of true crime. Little do they know, some of the things found between the pages of the books they've read together may just come in handy in real life someday.

After a very unusual and disturbing incident, Patricia meets a newcomer to town named James Harris, who says he is a relation of a local lady that has recently passed away. James claims to have a medical condition due to something that happened during his childhood causing a serious issue with his eyes that means he has trouble going out in the sun. Soon he has an overly-polite Patricia roped into helping him out with chores and even inviting him for dinner with her family.

Patricia's mother-in-law, who is staying with the family as she can no longer live alone, has a lot to say about the new addition to town but they quickly dismiss her thinking that she simply has him confused with someone else. Of course, as time passes and more disturbing events occur in the local area, including kids going missing on the other side of town, Patricia with the help of a whole bunch of vampire novels, starts to piece together various information that suggests not only may James not be who he seems, but that he may not even be human.

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires is a tricky one for me to review as whilst I found the concept interesting and there were parts I liked, there were also parts that I didn't really enjoy. Right from the prologue the book really draws you in and is an intense ride but it does get pretty gory and dark rather early on and there were scenes that I found uncomfortable to read, so if that's not your thing this probably isn't the book for you. I feel that I should also mention the book includes themes of abuse and sexual assault.

Overall, the book got off to an intriguing start and the way the story played out was definitely disturbing, living up to its horror genre. Unfortunately I didn't really feel much of a connection to any of the characters which I think took away somewhat from my enjoyment. However, I loved the book club element and the fact that I wasn't ever 100% sure how things would play out definitely kept me on my toes!

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Saturday, 16 May 2020

Bookish Links #56


1. Classics can be tricky, but there's one out there for everyone! In this post Holly shares six that she enjoyed.

2. How amazing are these book shelf inserts? If you're looking for a craft project to tackle this month perhaps these will inspire you.

3. Over at This Northern Gal, Kelly reviewed The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

4. Obviously, we hope that you're joining in with our BB book club, but here are 6 more to try out too.

5. Looking for advice on how get your book published? This post is for you.

6. Whilst we can't go on any real holidays right now, this post has some reading recommendations to take you on a literary vacation instead!

7. Sophie shared a review of creative title Find Your Artistic Voice.

8. If you're watching Normal People, you'll enjoy this interview post over on the Waterstones blog.

9. This post features 4 short but highly recommended audiobooks, all under 4 hours.

10. Our last link this month is to our very own archives! Anjali has been very busy tidying up all of our post labels, post images and links to make it easier to find what you're looking for on BB (thank you Anjali!)
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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Features | April Reads


April saw me turning to what I thought would be easier reads, with a mix of mostly YA and Contemporary tales. Within the YA genre I finally got around to reading two titles that had been sitting unread on my Kindle for years; My Life Next Door (Huntley Fitzpatrick) and Alex, Approximately (Jenn Bennett). I actually ended up really enjoying both of them, so on the one hand it's a shame I didn't read them sooner, but on the other hand they were perfect picks for lockdown!

For our April book club theme 'written by a POC', I chose to revisit Malorie Blackman's Pig Heart Boy; a story I remembered form when I was younger. It was interesting to read this book again as an adult and I thought the audiobook format was great.

Whilst I did really enjoy most of the books I picked up in April, my favourite had to be my re-read of The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid) via audiobook. If you had asked me a month ago which book I preferred between Daisy Jones and Evelyn Hugo, I think I would've told you Daisy, but after revisiting Evelyn's tale I remembered just how much I loved it, so for now it sits in the top spot!

If you missed my review of The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo you can find it in the BB archives.
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Sunday, 10 May 2020

Features | 2020 Book Club Illustration Challenge (January - April)


Back in January I decided that I wanted to set myself an extra book club challenge for 2020. Alongside reading books to fit our list of monthly prompts I wanted to also create a design/pattern inspired by each one and share them over on my Instagram account @sawyerandscoutdesign. As we're now over a third of the way through the year, I thought it might be nice to share a roundup of the designs so far, with a little bit about the process of creating each one.


January - A Book By An Author You Love

Inspired by: After I Do (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

When I was thinking abut ideas for my January design I had just watched a brilliant Skillshare class from Teela Cunnigham to learn the basics of Procreate. The class included four projects, one of which showed how to create this type of decorated lettering design with florals. I had so much fun with the class project that I decided to use the technique for my book club piece too, and have used it on many other occassion since as it's such an enjoyable process!

I knew that I wanted to keep to some sort of colour palette for these book club pieces throughout the year and so the colours used here determined what that palette would be for the rest of 2020. I'm still really happy with how this one turned out, although less happy about how much the quality seems to have been affected when uploading to Instagram! As I have discovered a love for creating this type of design, and find them very relaxing to work on, I have a feeling this may not be the only piece in this style for the book club project.



February - A Book With A Tree or Leaves On The Cover

Inspired by: A Place For Us (Fatima Farheen Mirza)

For my February design I wanted to take direct inspiration from the cover of the book as it related to the prompt, and also really liked the idea of it representing the family tree as the book itself is centred around a family.

I really struggled with how to use my newly created colour palette for this design, and made various versions in different colour combinations before finally settling on a simple blue and pink palette. For the lettering, I drew up my own letters for the book title, something I hadn't tried before... as you can probably tell by how shaky and uneven they are! I think that the piece would have looked much better without the lettering, and perhaps with a few more details added into the branches, so I may at some point revisit it and create an updated version. As you'll see from the next two designs, this was the point where I realised I may not want to include the book titles and authors in every month's design.



March - A Book About Siblings

Inspired by: The Most Fun We Ever Had (Claire Lombardo)

I had been wanting to draw up a pattern using ginkgo leaves for a while (they're just so pretty!) so of course I jumped at the opportunity to do so for my March design inspired by The Most Fun We Ever Had. A ginkgo tree in the garden of the family home is mentioned several times throughout the novel, and both cover designs I've seen include ginkgo leaves in some way too.

As mentioned above, this was the month I firmly decided that I didn't want to include the book's title and author in each piece as the pattern felt like a strong enough design on it's own. Again, I played around with various colour combinations, but in the end really liked the idea of highlighting one of the leaves in each bunch with a pop of yellow. This is another design I think that I may revisit, perhaps using a different colour palette, in future.



April - Written By A POC

Inspired by: Pig Heart Boy (Malorie Blackman)

I had a vision for April's design even before I had picked up the book, but honestly I really struggled to bring it to life. I've never drawn a heart before (as you can probably tell!) and also wanted to experiment with using a bit more texture and shading. I really enjoyed using different brushes in Procreate to add a little depth and texture to the initial line drawing and would definitely use this technique again.

At first, I wasn't sure about how it had turned out. I couldn't decided whether it needed more detail/florals in the background and I can certainly see a few mistakes/bits I would change, but after sitting with it for a while I actually quite like it. This piece needed to feature a heart as the main focus, and I think I managed to achieve that, even if it isn't perfect!
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Friday, 8 May 2020

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo | Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review


Erin was right, The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is a great read.

In 2019, Erin reviewed The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, and I have to admit, while I enjoyed reading the review, as I do all our reviews, I didn't think I'd ever pick up this book. Historical fiction isn't a genre I usually spend much time in (unless it's YA historical fiction), nor is the adult genre in general. I'm definitely a Young Adults sort of reader, with a love for fantasy, too. But not general/contemporary adult fiction.

But then our Blogger's Bookshelf book club theme for May is 'a book with a number in the title' and I didn't have any books on my shelves that met the criteria that I hadn't already read. 'Perhaps it's time', I thought. 'Time to give Evelyn a chance.' I'm so glad I did.

You can head back over to Erin's review to find out a little more about the book, as I don't want to repeat things. But I did just want to make a few comments.

“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

Like I said, I'm not a big reader of the genres this book fits into usually, but from the first pages I was drawn into the story. In fact I actually started this book before the book club for May began (oops shh), and I did so accidentally. I had it on my Kindle and clicked open the first page and read it ... and found it very hard to put down. There were many nights in a row where I read for too long and spent too much time in the story.

For the most part, The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is a classic Hollywood tale, one you'd definitely see on the big screen. A beautiful girl wanting to be big in the film industry, does whatever she can to get there, even if that includes lying, cheating, sleeping, and marrying her way to the top. She makes it, of course she does, because she's strong and determined and passionate about chasing her dreams. But at what cost?

It was quite different to what I was expecting - although if you asked me what I was expecting, I don't think I could give you an answer - but it was captivating and heartbreaking all the same. While there was an ongoing question throughout the tale, I knew what it was going to be before it was revealed in the last few pages, and knew the answer from the moment a key character was introduced. Nevertheless it was still stunningly done, and I have to commend Reid on her writing and storytelling.

What I found most captivating about this book, and Erin mentions it in her review too, was the characters. Reid has this way of writing her characters with such depth it's like they were actually real people. While many characters were uncomfortable and unlikable, there were some that I really enjoyed reading about ... which of course made it all the more heart wrenching when those characters were ripped away. (If that seems like a spoiler, it's not really. The book covers Evelyn's entire life from when she was a young girl to the moment she employs a writer for her biography - it's a 70 something year timeline, people are going to die.)

In case it wasn't clear from the beginning, I really enjoyed The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, so much so that I'm going to check out some of Taylor Jenkins Reid's other books. Luckily, Daisy Jones and the Six has a number in it too, so I might just read another for book club!

Have you read The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo? What did you think?
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