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.



Friday, 17 May 2019

Love Lie Repeat | Catherine Greer | Review

Three girls, loyal to each other - that never happens. All the groups of three implode eventually. Two in, one out. Change. Betrayal. Again. And again.

But not us. I make sure of it. I make Ash and Ruby see that our power is in our three-ness. We can do what no other trio can.

Together, we’re strong.

Thick, thin, boys, mothers, divorce, other girls, secrets, lies, all of it.

I'll keep us together.

Watch me. - Goodreads

I gave this book a three-stars which sort of feels like a cop-out for me not deciding how I really felt about it. It was good, but not excellent. It was intense, but not thrilling. It was complicated, but at the same time simple. It was everything a three-star book could be.

The story follows Annie, a troubled teen who has a tense relationship (or lack-there-of) with a father who left her family and now has a young pregnant wife; a weird power-heavy relationship with her two 'best friends' (who are 100% more like frenemies the whole book); and an almost controlling relationship with Trip, the eventual love-interest.

As the story unfolds, we follow Annie through these relationships as she gives us hints and clues as to what this hidden secret is on the fringes of each interaction. There's something she's hiding, something in her past which has shaped her and thoroughly influenced who she is today, and we get these bits of information every now and then so we can try and piece together what's going on.

The characters in this story weren't enjoyable ones (though perhaps that's the point). They're grappling with ridiculous troubles 16-year-olds shouldn't have to be grappling with, they're vindictive, scheming little so-and-sos, and I didn't really care for any of them.

Yet somehow the story was gripping, and I read this book in one sitting. As you can probably tell, I'm torn about this book. Was it good? Sure, it was a decent story and I liked reading it. Would I read it again? Probably not. Would I read another book by Greer? Yeah! Sure would. This was her debut novel, and for a first book it's pretty good.

Have you read Love Lie Repeat? What did you think? 
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Thursday, 9 May 2019

5 Books on the Top of My Wish List

If you don't already know I've put myself on a book buying ban for 2019 and boy has it actually been way easier than I thought. I haven't been perfect, I may have bought 4 kindle books for a total of $22 this entire year so far. The problem I'm finding though is I'm mostly ignoring what books are coming out/have come out so today I've scrolled through Book Depository and my Goodreads wishlist to come up with 5 books that I really want to buy but are avoiding and will probably borrow from the library once it's back open again. (Our city library is currently indefinitely closed due to earthquake damage cry). Some of these totally haven't come out recently oops!

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak (Out Oct 2018)

Love The Book Thief so totally want to try Markus' new book!

The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance. At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle. The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome?

Things Are What You Make Of Them by Adam J. Kurtz (out 2017 oops)

Adam has some of the best advice for creatives so can't wait to get stuck into this.

From the creative mind and heart of Adam J. Kurtz comes this quirky, upbeat rallying cry for creators of all stripes. Expanding on a series of popular guides he's created for Design*Sponge, this handwritten and heartfelt little book shares wisdom and empathy from one working artist to others. The advice is organized by topic, including: (How to) Get Over Comparing Yourself to Other Creatives, Seeking & Accepting Help from Others, How to Get Over Common Creative Fears (Maybe), How to Be Happy (or Just Happier). As wry and cheeky as it is empathic and empowering, this deceptively simple, vibrantly full-color book will be a touchstone for writers, illustrators, designers, and anyone else who wants to be more creative--even when it would be easier to give up act normal. 

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt (Out 2017 again oops)

I swear this was to do with a comic con (hence unCONventional) but according to the blurb it doesn't seem like it, I guess I'll find out!

Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing...until author Aidan Green - messy haired and annoyingly arrogant - arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi's life is thrown into disarray. In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned. Things like falling in love...

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman (Out 2017 I give up)

Can't deny another historical fiction novel, and this one includes a zoo!?

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes. With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell (out August 2019 woo)

A comic by Rainbow Rowell what more needs to be said?

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1. But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye. Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . . What if their last shift was an adventure?

If you have any recommendations of new books let me know, not that I can buy them but I sure can borrow them from the library!

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Friday, 3 May 2019

One of Us is Lying | Karen M. McManus | Review

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them. - Goodreads

Earlier in the year, Sophie and I were given a Penguin Turning Pages box, which had a bunch of bookish goodies in it, a book (Invisibly Breathing, by Eileen Merriman) and the 2019 Penguin Teen Superproof. The Superproof had the first few chapters of 10 upcoming Penguin titles hitting the shelves this year, and one of them was Two Can Keep a Secret, by Karen M. McManus. The first few chapters intrigued me, so I added it to the TBR list and then discovered that she had written One of Us is Lying. While they're not connected stories, as we wondered they were, I still wanted to read One of Us is Lying before reading Two Can Keep a Secret, just in case. You know how it is.

I really enjoyed this book! Goodreads says it's a combination of Pretty Little Liars and the Breakfast Club, and I couldn't agree more. The whole story alternates between the four main characters' perspectives (obviously not Simon, because he dies in the first chapter), as they try and unravel what might have happened to Simon. Everyone is a suspect, everyone has secrets, and no one knows what's really going on.

It's a murder mystery, come teen drama, and I read it in about two sittings. I would have given it higher star rating (I went with 3.5/4 ish stars), but I called 'who done it' long before the characters figured it out, so it was less shocking when I got to the reveal. However! Still really enjoyable, and I can now read Two Can Keep a Secret knowing that if they were at all connected (still don't think they are), then it's all good and safe to read.

Rumour has it there actually will be a One of Us is Lying sequel, called One of Us is Next and it's due for publication in 2020.

Have you read One of Us is Lying? What did you think? 
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Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Book Club | May 2019 - From The Penguin Modern Series

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 using #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

Our prompt for May is... From The Penguin Modern Series

The Penguin Modern series consists of 50 small books that are priced at just £1 each. You can find a full list of the titles over on their website.

What we'll be reading...

Ria's Pick: The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master's House by Audre Lorde

"Audre Lorde's writing is prolific and I'm surprised I haven't delved into one of her most famous essays about the intersection between race and feminism. I've seen entire quotes emblazoned on the internet, so it'll be great to read the context around them."

Anjali's Pick: Fame by Andy Warhol

"Broken up into three sections - love, beauty and fame - this little Penguin Modern is a collection of vignettes by pop artist Andy Warhol. I have no idea what to expect but when I saw that Warhol was the author I was taken back to high school art days. Literally my only reason for picking it up, so we'll see how it goes!"

Erin's Pick: The Cracked Looking-Glass by Katherine Anne Porter

"After picking up The Skeleton's Holiday (Leonora Carrington) for our book club last year, I've been looking forward to reading another Penguin Modern as part of our 2019 prompts. The Cracked Looking-Glass (Katherine Anne Porter) became part of my collection last summer along with The Missing Girl (Shirley Jackson) when I had a couple of pounds left to use up a gift card and decided to spend them on more Penguin Moderns. I really enjoyed The Missing Girl - I'd highly recommend it if you're unsure which title to go for this month - and hope I'll love this one just as much."

Other suggested reads...

- The Skeleton's Holiday (Leonora Carrington) - 2018 book club roundup
- The Missing Girl (Shirley Jackson)

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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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Book Club | April 2019 Roundup

Our book club theme for April was 'non-fiction' and once again we saw a huge variety of selections from the BB community.

Thank you to everyone who shared photos and mini reviews over on social media throughout the month. We loved seeing your selections and finding new titles for our TBRs. Below are a selection of our favourite images and mini reviews shared over on Instagram.

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Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

"I have to be honest and tell you guys I didn't finish this book. Not because I wasn't enjoying, but just because I started it too late in the month. But the parts that I have read so far have been really great. Hollis breaks up the book in three sections: Part One - Excuses to Let Go Of; Part Two - Behaviours to Adopt; and Part Three - Skills to Acquire. In short, the book is full of stories from Hollis' life, and how she (and in turn, we) can better take hold of our lives and embrace the dreams and goals we have, no matter how big they are." -@anjalikay

View this post on Instagram

We’ve been reading non-fiction for this month’s @bloggersbookshelf Book Club and I’ve been reading about Gerald Durrell’s childhood adventures with the wildlife of Corfu. Gerald Durrell’s easy, humorous writing style makes even the story about his accidentally causing the kitchen to be covered in baby scorpions fun to read, although I have to admit, I found the gecko fighting a little more difficult. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two books in Durrell’s Corfu series. - Next month we’re choosing from the Penguin Modern series for our book club choices and I already have Daphne Du Maurier’s The Breakthrough ready to go! - #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookstagram #bookbloggers #currentlyreading #instabooks #reading #books #bookworm #booklove #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #vsco #vscocam #vscobooks #igreads #booklover #myfamilyandotheranimals #geralddurrell
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The People V. O. J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin

"It's been a pretty busy month so unfortunately I haven't quite found time to read all of my April book club pick (or do a huge amount of reading at all!). So far I've found the book to be an interesting read and am hoping to finish it soon." - Erin

Has anyone else got the Monday feels today although it's Tuesday? If so, you're not alone, I'm right there with you! - I finished Unnatural causes today and my gosh did it hit me in all the feels! Such a human journey through the life of a forensic pathologist and the stories of the dead he's been able to tell. Can't wait to type up my review! - I'm attempting to read only non-fiction this month, which is April's prompt from @bloggersbookshelf. Next on my pile is War Doctor by David Nott. I was gifted this read from @picadorbooks via the Swansea Bloggers Collective. It tells the true story of a front-line trauma surgeon. I have been hugely looking forward to reading this one and can't wait to share my thoughts with you all! - . . . . . #davidnotts #wardoctor #sbcollective #swanseawaterstones #gifted #nonfictionapril #bloggersbookshelf #proof #picadorbooks #picador #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #booksandcoffee #coffeestop #caffieneaddict #amreading #currentlyreading #currentread #tbr #costabreaks #reading #paperback #aprilreads #februaryrelease
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We'll be introducing May'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, 26 April 2019

Romanov | Nadine Brandes | Review

The history books say I died. They don't know the half of it.

Following the revolution that forced her father's abdication, Anastasia 'Nastya' Romanov and her family, under the watchful eye of Bolshevik soldiers, are exiled to Siberia to await their fate, but Nastya has a secret that just might save them all. With the spell master, Rasputin dead and all other spell masters either working for the Bolsheviks or hiding from them, Nastya is the only one able to use the spells Rasputin taught her to ease her brother's pain, which is why Nastya's father trusts her with their family's final hope - a matryoshka doll given to them by the greatest spell master in Russia. When she needs it most, the doll will reveal a spell to Nastya, but until then she must keep it hidden from the Bolshevik guards.

Nastya knows she can't trust any of the soldiers, even the ones who seem to be kind. She especially can't risk any of them finding out about the matryoshka doll or the spells she uses to help her brother, but there is one guard who does not always act like the others, who sometimes seems as though he might not be the loyal Bolshevik soldier he acts like. Zash has secrets of his own, including a hidden bottle of spell ink and the way he sometimes looks at Nastya. Nastya harbours hope that Zash will prove to be a friend, or perhaps even something more, despite his Bolshevik uniform, but when the firing squad come for Nastya and her family, Nastya is crushed to see Zash holding one of the guns.

The exile and execution of the Romanov family, and the persisting rumours of Anastasia's survival, have been the subject of many stories over the years since the real life event. What Brandes's interpretation brings to this well trodden story is the addition of magic and romance in the young Anastasia's life. Anastasia, or Nastya, as she is known throughout the novel, is, in Brandes's hands, a feisty and stubborn young woman, who cares for her family above everything else. The entire Romanov family are presented in this story as a close-knit and loving family, one who any reader would sympathise with, which makes it all the more upsetting when the inevitable happens, and Nastya and her family must face their execution.

Romanov is a fantastical mix of history and magic, combining a realistic interpretation of the Romanov family's exile with a wild story of spells and spell masters. It feels, upon reading, as though Brandes has done a lot of research into the Romanov family's final weeks, which is perhaps why the first half of this story, which is more heavily based on real events, feels like a slightly different novel than the second half, which definitely takes a turn away from the realistic. This is not a bad thing, it is simply one way in which the two sides of this story play together to present a story for Anastasia Romanov that feels as though it could be true, provided, of course, one accepts that Rasputin really was a spell master and that he taught the young Anastasia a few tricks of his trade before his own execution. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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