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Will Grayson/Will Grayson | John Green & David Levithan | Review

Monday, 30 September 2013

Will Grayson/Will Grayson | John Green & David Levithan | Review

Will Grayson Will Grayson header
Meet Will Grayson. Nerdy, lovable, an over-thinker and over cautious. 

Meet will grayson. Closed off, manic depressive and introverted…

…wait, what? Two Will Grayson’s? This is about to get complex.

Will Grayson or what I like to call uppercase Will, is a typical high school student, navigating life with his larger-than-life gay best friend Tiny Cooper, dealing with girls and his love of obscure bands.
Lower case will grayson doesn't care for much, other than conversing with his only real friend, Isaac, over the Internet. He’s a complex character, is snarky and sarcastic, with a dull and pessimistic outlook on life.

The novel alternates between the two boys stories and perspectives – don't worry you'll be able to tell the difference between the two straight away – with each playing out almost like separate short stories both in style and even typeface. That is until one cold night on the street corner in Chicago, when the two Graysons paths cross and their lives are turned upside down.

So what’s my verdict?

I'm no stranger Green or Levithan, so I knew reading their two writing styles colliding together – much like the Wills themselves – would create something a little special.

First up, upper-case Will Grayson, who leads the novel and is Green’s typical nerd boy who’s a little unlucky in love, but a likeable character. Lower-case will grayson is a whole other story. Much more complex, a little emo but saddening-ly lonely, his character is the most interesting to me.

The book is so character focused there isn't much of a plotline but that doesn't really matter too much in this context. The switch in scenes and locations are simply a backdrop to a YA story about friendship, relationships (of the hetrosexual and LGBT kind) and muddling through the minefield of being teenager.

Despite the book being called Will Grayson/Will Grayson, I feel the ‘/’ should represent a not so little character called Tiny Cooper. As upper-case Will’s best friend, he’s just as much of a main character as both of the Graysons themselves. His over the top personality and close to ridiculous antics prove to be the glue that holds the story together once two Wills meet.

The book can get heavy at times, particularly on lower-case will grayson’s chapters, but the humour is also there in sarcastic and silly doses (Green’s typical humour is particularly prevalent during his chapters). I'm also impressed with how well the LGBT aspects of the novel are handled by the two authors, the issues aren't preached by two adults but spoken and dealt with realistically through the voices of their characters.

I have a funny feeling this will be a Marmite type of novel. As I said before there’s not much of a plot to drive the stories, though in my opinion the character development alone is to keep a reader turning pages.

Reading Soundtrack:

Loser: Beck; Aftermath: Adam Lambert; Falling Apart: The All-American Rejects; When I Come Around: Green Day; Are We All We Are: Pink; Just Keep Breathing: We The Kings

For lovers of

Green & Levithan’s novels – An Abundance of Katherines & Boy Meets Boys in particular and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Ria, get to know more about her here!
*cover image via GoodReads
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Group Collaboration | Popular Books We Haven't Read

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Group Collaboration | Popular Books We Haven't Read

This month we're talking about those popular books that we haven't read. Whether they've been sitting on our shelves for years and we just haven't found the time or we just don't get the hype...
Here are our top picks!

alison group

cat group

ria group

laura group

anjali group

emily group

ALEXANDRA GROUP

lulu group

niina group

erin group

laura c group

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Next month we have a Halloween themed post planned where we will be talking Favourite Villains!
Send us your opinions via Twitter, Goodreads or email bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com
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Contributors - Alexandra, Laura, Ria, Anjali, Laura C, Lulu, Niina, Cat, Alison, Emily, Erin
Font used for graphics - KB So Thinteresting
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Being A Booktuber | Interview with Heba aka Hebdanchannel

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Being A Booktuber | Interview with Heba aka Hebdanchannel

Welcome to another instalment of Being A Booktuber! Today's interview is with a new booktuber named Heba. Here's what she had to say about her passion for reading, starting out on YouTube and the idea of being Katniss Everdeen...

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- Hi Heba, you're new to the world of Booktube - could you tell our readers a little bit more about the girl behind Hebdanchannel?

Hi everyone! My name is Heba and am a medical student. I live in a crazy adventurous country, where I learned so many crazy languages. I speak 4 so far and am learning 2 others, that are, Japanese and Malay. My hobby is to read books more than anything in the world and that hopefully wont change.

- Where does your passion for reading come from & why did you decide it was time to start your own book channel?

Well, it all started in primary school, a small bus (actually a library in a bus) used to come to our school monthly, whenever that bus came to us, I used to feel these unexplained excitement and rush immediately to the bus and grabbed any book possible. My teacher encouraged me along the way to read more children story books. Moreover, in my last year in primary school my teacher used to always encourage me to read books and that's where this teeny tiny passion originated.

Regarding why I decided whether it was time to start a book channel or not. Well, that is a hard question to answer. I actually don't really know. I'm the kind of people who does things out of whim, but I have an intention, and that is to expose people to reading. I know lots of people who "hates" reading which is really a sad matter, if I started this book channel, these people might start to re-think, open their mind and start to read.

- Were you nervous about posting your first video? How did you overcome this?

I was not nervous, I was very excited and I had to calm myself from time to time. 

- Which 3 Booktube channels are your biggest inspirations?

Actually they're only two so far. One called Thereadables and the other called booksandquills. Quite pretty ladies.

6148028- If you had to a favourite of all the books you've read so far in 2013 which one would make the cut?

Catching fire!

- Now for a couple of fun questions! If you could swap lives for the day with any fictional character who would you choose?

For sake of fun, I'd choose to be Katniss. I have no other character in mind at the moment

- If you had the chance to invite 5 fictional characters to a dinner party who would you choose and why?

Katniss, I like her rudeness, its endearing :p. Charlie from the perks of being a wallflower, I want to talk to him more that's all. Peeta, he seems to be a nice calm guy. I can't think of the other two, but perhaps by time they'll just pop up.

- Last up, we're always looking for blog & YouTube recommendations to pass onto our readers - any channels, besides your own of course, that you think we should check out?

Thereadables and booksandquills!

Find Heba's channel here

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I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Heba for taking part in this interview.
If you are a booktuber or book blogger and would like to be featured in a similar post we'd love to hear from you - just email us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com for information!

Interview & post by Erin 

Logo images c/o Heba, Catching Fire cover via goodreads.com
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Rot & Ruin | Jonathan Maberry | Review

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Rot & Ruin | Jonathan Maberry | Review



“Often it was the most unlikely people who found within themselves a spark of something greater. It was probably always there, but most people are never tested, and they go through their whole lives without ever knowing that when things are at their worst, they are at their best.” - Jonathan Maberry, Rot & Ruin
Yes! I finally have another zombie review for you! It's been too long since I last reviewed a zombie novel, because we all know that it's my favorite genre (okay, maybe you didn't know that, but now you know). And do you want to know what the best thing is? It's a review of a really good zombie novel! I guess that kind of spoiled the surprise, but oh well, I guess the five stars at the bottom of this post are pretty revealing as well...

Rot & Ruin is the first book in the series about Benny Imura by Jonathan Maberry. The story is set around 15 years after the zombie apocalypse in a small town in central California. There isn't a lot of people left in the world and most of those people live in small towns behind fences and high walls. When Benny Imura turns 15 he's required to get a job so he can earn his rations of food and necessities. After a few failed attempts on different jobs Benny gets asked by his older brother if he wants to join the family business. Benny thinks that all his brothers job is about is hunting down and killing zombies. But when Benny gets to tag along one of his brothers trip out to the world on the other side of the fences, the rot and ruin, he realizes that there's so much more to his brother and the job he calls the family business.

Like I've already admitted, I truly enjoyed this book! Rot & Ruin consists of everything that makes a good zombie novel! It's fast paced, exciting and filled with action. But it also touches important issues about humanity and about how people face extreme situations. I also really enjoyed the characters in this books. I think the main character Benny Imura is a really good example of good character development. The other characters are also well-written. They're different, interesting and have a lot of depth to them and they're never predictable or too stereotypical. I also like Jonathan Maberry's writing-style. He doesn't try too hard, but he never gets sloppy. To be honest, I don't have anything negative to say about Rot & Ruin. It's a well-written young adult book filled with interesting characters. It also have an interesting story-line and good pacing. It's a book that keep me up all night so I could read just one more chapter...

If you are a fan of zombie fiction and you haven't read this book yet I recommend that you pick it up right at this moment! Because I'm pretty sure you're not going to be disappointed! And if you're not into zombie fiction, why not give it a try? There's actually a chance that you might like it as well! So, it's not a surprise to anyone that I give Rot & Ruin 5/5 stars!

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.
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Guest Post | An Evening With Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Guest Post | An Evening With Neil Gaiman

NGpic

On Sunday 18th August Neil Gaiman was in his home town of Portsmouth as part of his UK book tour. During the day a naming ceremony was held in Gaiman’s honour for a new street sign was unveiled, named after the book he was on tour to promote – The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and in the evening an audience at Portsmouth Guildhall were treated to ‘An Evening with Neil Gaiman’. In an intimate setting guests listened to a conversation between Neil Gaiman and Dom Kippin, who is apparently something to do with the Arts in Portsmouth, Neil read extracts from The Ocean at the End of the Lane and his upcoming children’s book Fortunately the Milk, and answered questions from the audience. You can catch a round-up of the evening on my blog here, but I thought that I would treat Blogger’s Bookshelf readers to some answers from Neil from some of the most important and interesting questions he was asked that night.

Neil on his Portsmouth memories


DK: You once wrote us a quote for Southsea Library about your connection to Southsea, and when you went visiting there with your grandparents and how important is was to you.

NG: It really was. You know, Portsmouth and particularly Southsea was sort of… it was personal mythology in a peculiar kind of way for me. Part of it is just because it was such an incredibly formative period of my life. It was a strange place where as far as I was concerned anything that included grandparents got weird and got weird in really interesting ways.

DK: It crops up in your books too doesn’t it?

NG: It does. While most of my books are whole cloth exercises in imagination there is this weird little thread leading to The Ocean at the End of the Lane which are more personal fabrications. Violent Cases which was my first graphic novel was one of them. That’s set here and tells a story of my encounter with a guy who claims to be Al Capone’s osteopath. It was at the Queens Hotel! We all had our birthdays at the Queens Hotel. And ate jellies. And watched a magician that I was terrified of do pretty unconvincing magic. It wasn’t the magic I was terrified of… it was the man. So all of that stuff… along with Al Capone himself found its way into Violent Cases.

Neil on Ocean at the End of the Lane 


DK: It was just a short story for your wife?

NG: It was. My wife, last year, went off to Melbourne, Australia to write and record an album. And I went to Florida to write a number of things including Nightmare in Silver my Doctor Who episode with the Cybermen in it.

Up until that time, Amanda and I had been very good at being in a relationship which is quite often long distance – if you marry someone who is a touring rock star you expect it. But we always stay in touch, whether its email, photographs whatever. What I didn’t realise was at the point at which she started making her album, finishing writing the songs, rehearsing them and taking them into the studio and recording her album, she was a single minded… as single minded as I’ve ever seen anybody become. Astonishingly she was doing her bit in the marriage by sending me a text every couple of days saying ‘I love you, albums going great’. And I started missing her and I thought I want to send her something, I’ll write her a short story. To remind her that I exist. I thought I’ll put things in it that she’ll like. She doesn’t really like fantasy very much…. Even though she married me. So I thought okay there won’t be a lot of fantasy I’ll make it very much based in real life, lots of me in – she likes me, I’ll put in honesty she likes stuff that feels honest, and I thought… even though I am male, and I am English, I’ll put in those ‘feelings’ that she likes, I can do that, how hard can it be?

And that was my idea, and it was going to be a short story and I thought it would probably take me a week to write. And I spent it writing it. Then I looked up after ten days and thought, well ok, it’s going to be a novelette. And I looked up after another ten days and thought ok it’s a novella. I sent off an email to my Editor and said I seem to be writing a novella, I’m not sure what we’ll do it with it but… I’m just warning you. And I kept writing it, and didn’t actually get to finish it to send to Amanda in Melbourne because by the time I finished it she had finished making her album, come back and was mixing it in Dallas, Texas. I flew into Dallas and I started typing it. At the end of the stay in Dallas, I got to type the end and I did a word count and sent a really surprised email off to my editor saying, look, I’m really sorry about this but I’ve just written a novel none of us were expecting and I hope that’s ok. They were much nicer about it than I expected.

DK: It’s definitely a book for adults rather than a book for children even though the main protagonist is a child?

NG: I think so, yeah. I did think a lot while I was writing it about who it was for, and whether it was an adult book or a kid’s book, and the conclusion that I came to was that it’s basically a book for adults. I’m writing it for people who get to remember childhood rather than be there experiencing it. People go 'oh that’s because it has sex in and nudity and weirdness' and I say no it’s actually not, I think kids are probably fine with that stuff, it’s because it has a certain amount of hopelessness.

Coraline, which is definitely a book for kids, even though it’s very very scary, is all about hope – it’s all about the idea that you can deal with things that scare you, you can be smart you can be dangerous, you can be tricky and you can keep on going and you can deal with things. Ocean at the End of the Lane is much darker and it says you turn up in this world and… you’re here without instructions, and get through as best as you can and sometimes there are sacrifices that have to be made.

Neil answering questions from the audience


Audience Member: When you were reading to your children when they were younger, what books did you like to read to them?

NG: Diana Wynne Jones is a glorious writer to read aloud, she is wonderful. What fascinated me when I was reading to my children was which books which I loved reading to myself as a kid worked well reading aloud and which didn’t. C.S. Lewis reads delightfully aloud. The Mary Poppins books read fantastically aloud. E. Nesbit? Waste of time. I have huge, fond memories of E. Nesbit, I still really like E. Nesbit… but I won’t read her aloud to a child at gunpoint.

Audience Member: You mentioned earlier that Ocean at the End of the Lane is particularly personal because it was like a love note to Amanda. Was that scary for you to put so much of yourself into your work and expose potentially vulnerable feelings and emotions to the world, because you shared them with everybody not just Amanda?

NG: Yeah. It was less so because I genuinely don’t know if I could have sat down and wrote a novel that was the thing that it became. The only way I sat down to write this novel was by telling myself it wasn’t. And it felt a lot safer, being vulnerable in a short story it felt a lot safer… you know the family is not my family and the things that happened in the story did not happen to me but the viewpoint character is basically very much a seven year old Neil. Having that definitely felt a lot like walking down the street naked. On the other hand, it’s also true that anytime I’ve ever done anything that really not only worked but pushed me as a writer, and where I had wound up with looking round at what I’d done thinking what just happened… progress that I made as an author tends to be progress that I’ve made from those times when I get brave and walk down the street naked.

Audience Member: What have you sacrificed the most to be a writer today?

NG: I don’t honestly know. I don’t know there’s a specific thing I can say this was a sacrifice to be a writer, because honestly I’m not sure I could have been anything else. The thing I definitely feel myself sacrificing sometimes was feeling part of it all. There’s a weird little level when you’re a writer when terrible things can be happening and three quarters of you is there going oh my gosh a terrible thing is happening, but part of you is going ‘oh ok that’s what blood looks like on the glass on the road and that’s what the hand looks like when the persons dead and ok that’s something I need to know’. Here I am getting my heart broken and I’m thinking ‘how does this work, how does this feel I’m going to need to write about this later’. There’s definitely a feeling involved of guilt, a feeling that one didn’t actually play ones part and be wholeheartedly a part of the human race… doing it almost, but there’s definitely a part of me sitting on the side taking notes going ‘ah this is brilliant I can use this!’

This post was written by guest blogger Kath.
Images c/o Kath.
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Monday, 23 September 2013

A million little pieces | James Frey | Review



James Frey wakes up on a plane having no recollection as to how he arrived there. He is missing some teeth, has a broken nose and a hole in his cheek - he is an alcoholic and a crack addict. He heads to a rehab centre, it's time to get sober or die.

Now obviously I'm reading this a long time after the whole scandal as to how much of this story is true or real. I went into reading this book with an open mind, even if it's not all true why does it matter? It's a story and this author has been through a hell of a time to get to where he is now, so even if only the first 10 pages are true it doesn't matter - because he made it.

This book is, heart-breaking, horrifying and compelling. There were parts of the book where it was so gruesome that I had to keep some a few paragraphs because I just couldn't read about how he got his teeth sorted without painkillers! This is what made this story what it was, it's brutal and to read it through the eyes of someone who has never experienced this kind of addiction - it's shocking to read.

I can't say that I enjoyed reading it all, tales of rape, fights, killings, drugs and death are not the easiest to read about - however they didn't stopped me from reading the whole thing. What nearly stopped me from getting to the end was the lack of punctuation - the English language student in me was crying a little inside. I saw past it and carried on reading and did feel a strong connection with the main character, I did want him to do it, I wanted him to survive rehab and not give it and most of all I wanted him to live. I think if any book can made me feel a connection like that then it must be good!

It's difficult to recommend this book to a certain type of book readers, because I find it hard to place it. I can only say that it's a book which will have an impact when you read it and make you see things very different. So give it a go.

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
1 comment

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Unravelling | Elizabeth Norris | Review



Unravelling, by Elizabeth Norris, is a teen thriller, sci-fi, crime story with a bit of romance and comedy thrown in. It tells of Janelle Tenner, a normal teenage girl with a part time job, a sort-of boyfriend, and a high school to go to. Her father is an FBI agent, her mother has Bipolar, and her little brother, Jared, has a bit of video game addiction. Her neighbour, Alex, is also her best friend, and life is good. Until one day, when she dies.

Crossing the road, Janelle is hit by a truck and can feel her life slipping away. She dies. Only she's brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a bit of a stoner outcast at school, and doesn't know a) how he did it, or b) why she was brought back. It seems like no coincidence that there is also a major FBI investigation happening, with unidentifiable victims that keep popping up with melting skin, and a 23 day countdown to what seems to be some sort of viral explosion. As Janelle tries to persuade Alex that she did actually die, they try to piece together all these events, while attempting to get answers out of Ben, staying secretive from Janelle's father, and figure it all out before the countdown ends the world turns to custard.

Written in first person, Unravelling was an enjoyable story. I actually really liked Janelle as a main character, and she reminded me of myself at times. Alex was your typical best friend, with humourous lines, and a 'I've always got your back' kind of attitude. The other characters involved were likeable enough, and the ones that you weren't supposed to like, you didn't. So props to Norris for that. I did find, however, that there were a few chapters that went on a bit, and there was a bit of a lull nearer the end, but the last few pages picked up, and there is a second book (called Unbreakable) that will continue the story.

Overall, I've given it a 3/5 stars. I did enjoy it, but it took about 2 weeks to read, and I can't quite figure out why. I really enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I didn't feel like I just had to know what happened next, or I had to keep reading deep into the night to finish the book. But if you like stories with a multi-genre type feel to them, do have a read. Who knows, maybe it'll become your favourite book?

Image from Good Reads
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Guest Post | Top 5 Books Of 2013 (so far!)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Guest Post | Top 5 Books Of 2013 (so far!)

Hello everyone! My name is Hayley and I blog at Water Painted Dreams but today I'm doing a wee guest post over here! I'm going to be talking about the top 5 books I've read this year. I've read a lot of great books so it's been hard to narrow it down but here we go.

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Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick is a non fiction work by an American journalist about North Korea. She recounts the stories of several North Korean defectors that she's interviewed. What I really liked about this is that it gave you a really well rounded view of life there. Because she had interviewed so many people you got stories about the poor and the rich. North Korea is such a horrible place to live and that's what made this book so captivating.

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Shades Of Grey by Jasper Fforde isn't anything like 50 Shades of Grey. It's actually a dystopian fiction. In this world your place in society is determined by your perception of colour. This book was so unique in it's writing style and it's bumped Jasper Fforde way up there onto my list of favourite authors. I don't really want to go too much into the plot as it would ruin it but of course, like all dystopian novels, there are some great, badass characters there to stick it to the man.

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Divergent by Veronica Roth is getting very popular at the moment because it's being turned into a movie and it definitely deserves the hype. You follow a young girl Tris as she grows up in a dsytopian world. Everyone is put into one of five factions. Later in life they get the choice to leave for another faction or stay with their parents. But what will Tris choose?

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If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch is a story about a young girl, Carey, and her mute little sister who have been kept in the woods in a trailer by their mother. They are found by social services and returned to their biological father who they have no real memory of. It's all about how they adjust back into society. For example they've never had toothbrushes and they don't know what pencils are. It's really harrowing.

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And last but not least: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is another book that's being made into a film. Something a little bit different though; this novel is narrated by death. He is telling the story of a young girl call Liesel in Nazi Germany. She has been sent to live with a foster family by her mother as her father is a communist and her mother senses the trouble this will bring. And as you can tell by the title she starts stealing books. It's a great book and I recommend this to everyone.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

This post was written by guest blogger Hayley, here's where you can find her online -
Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on instagram: whathayleydidtoday | Check out my youtube | Follow me on BlogLovin
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L. A. Candy | Lauren Conrad | Review

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

L. A. Candy | Lauren Conrad | Review

la candy review

Strangely enough I used to quite enjoy The Hills back in the day and as a fan of Lauren’s web projects such as tips & tricks site The Beauty Department, like many others I was intrigued to find out how good of an author she would make. Definitely not my usual kind of read, L.A. Candy is a book full of Hollywood clichés that have fuelled many a debate on just how much of this work of fiction is in fact not that at all.

The first book in the L.A. Candy series follows Jane and best friend Scarlett as they embark on a new journey becoming stars of their very own reality TV show. Jane is not the ideal character to lead this tale as she is, to put it bluntly, boring. The rest of the characters, including mean girl Madison and the extremely ditzy Gabby, are very stereotypical and hard to like with flat personalities that weren’t always consistent, making them appear less realistic.

The plot itself isn’t horrible but does lack excitement as to be honest not that much really happens until the end. The story has obvious hints of an autobiography and its easy to find yourself wondering which of Conrad’s real life TV co-stars inspired the characters in her novels. The novel could also be taken as Conrad’s clever way of commenting on the negative parts of her experience as a reality TV star via fictional characters, or striking back at MTV for her bad experiences.

Personally I think I would have enjoyed reading Conrad’s own story more than that of her fictional creations. Whilst there were glimpses of what goes on behind the scenes on a reality show like The Hills, I didn’t feel that I learnt that much about the process, something I believe would have made a more engaging read. The writing itself is fairly basic, easy to follow but nothing special in terms of imaginative ideas. In addition it included ‘text speak’ which I personally found quite annoying. Whilst I understand that this aspect may appeal to Conrad’s teenage target audience, to me it felt unnecessary and disjointed the flow of the story. On a more positive note Conrad clearly made a sensible choice in writing what she knows by choosing to focus her story on a reality show setup.

Although a quick and easy read, L.A. Candy doesn’t claim to be anything that it isn’t. If you have seen reality shows like The Hills then you'll be going into this book knowing what to expect.

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Literary Excursion to all things Beatrix Potter | by Anjali

Peter Rabbit, Mr.  McGregor, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Jeremy Fisher, and Tom Kitten are just some of the names you will probably remember from childhood. If not, it’s never too late to start reading the wonderful stories by Beatrix Potter. As a kid, I remember these adorable characters and their adventures, and gazing at the beautiful pictures throughout the books, and even watching them play out on TV. Even though I’m 22 now, I still love seeing the characters and flicking through a book now and then.

I’m going to tell you something that I don’t think I’ve actually said online in my blog before: I’m currently living in England (that everyone knows), but I live in a city called Gloucester. I’m telling you this because I need to for this post, and because I trust that you won’t hunt me down and stalk me. In Gloucester, just around the corner from where I work, there’s a little lane I call the Beatrix Potter lane. It’s not its real name, but on the corner on the tiny street there is an equally tiny shop and museum; it’s called The Tailor of Gloucester Beatrix Potter Museum and Shop. Basically it’s just a gift shop with all things Beatrix in it, but it’s there because it’s the exact same shop that she wrote about and drew in her book The Tailor of Gloucester. See why I had to tell you where I live now?

If you’re not familiar with the story, Wikipedia has a short plot summary you could check out. The story takes place in the shop, and though it is fiction, they have turned the shop into an iconic tourist attraction, with her stories and drawings, souvenirs and trinkets, badges and figurines. While there are always people buzzing around and clogging the alley way, I think it’s a fantastic idea to have a Beatrix Potter attraction there, as it not only provides a great place for people to come and visit (and get excited by the fact that they are pretty much stepping into The Tailor of Gloucester book), but it puts a little of Beatrix’s memory, life, and her stories into the city, and that’s something I think we should do with more fantastic authors.

Left photo: Painting of the shop from here
Right photo: Photo of the shop at the moment, taken by me


Speaking of which, this summer I had the opportunity to go to her house (called Hill Top) up in the Lake District of England. Long story short, we were heading up to Scotland for a holiday, and thought it was a great time to pop in on the way and check it out.


Hill Top, her home.
Photo taken by me.
It was really amazing, seeing the place where she wrote a lot of her beloved stories, and while, I discovered later, we weren't supposed to take photos, I did anyway. Please excuse their quality though; no flash and dim light, as well as sneaky photos, doesn't make for great pictures.

In the house, and a Jemima Puddle-duck badge I bought.
Photos taken by me. 
At the door we were greeted by a lady who gave us a copy of The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (again, if you’re not familiar, read here), and as we walked around the dark creaky, but awesome, house we could match up her drawings in the book with the actual décor and furniture of her home.  The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (also known as The Roly-Poly Pudding), was one that she wrote using her house as the setting. So, for example, there’s a spot upstairs, just at the top next to a door, where there is a hole in floor boards. This is where, in the story, the rats come in and out of. The vanity in this picture below is still there in all it’s glory, and as are many other things from the book. In each of the rooms there was a desk with some of her letters, drawings and original book layouts, which was amazing to see.

Photos from here. 
As well as her home, you could walk through her garden, and though the plants are obviously not the same ones, you could get a real feel of what it was like back then. Her house is in a little village in the middle of nowhere, but there are little Beatrix Potter things all over the town. Outside one of the houses, they have a Mr. McGregor that you can go and sit with (little bit creepy, but there we have it), and there is also a gallery where you can see her drawings and, of course, a gift shop where you can buy all sorts of Beatrix Potter goodies.  

Me with Mr. McGregor, and the garden outside her house.
Photos taken by me.


I really love going to places that are in books, or have been the inspiration for stories, but it’s even more amazing going to where authors lived, especially if they are early 1900s authors (her first story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published in 1902), and things have changed a lot since their time. It’s really nice that organisations like the National Trust can preserve places like this for future generations, and future book lovers.

If you haven’t seen the 2006 movie Miss. Potter, do have a watch. It’s pretty cute and you get a great sense of both her life, and her love for writing and drawing.

If you live in England, or are visiting, and you’re a Beatrix Potter fan, do pop in a have a visit. It’s a National Trust property, and if you’re not a National Trust member, then there is a small fee, but it’s very cute, and if you don’t want to pay to look around the house, you can just walk on in and take a stroll around the garden. It’s very pretty.

And if you happen to be in Gloucester, again, do pop into the Beatrix Potter shop. It’s easy to find and there are signs everywhere. And, if you've spent all your money on cute things, come and find me and I’ll shout you a coffee. 
3 comments
The Cuckoo’s Calling | Robert Galbraith | Review

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Cuckoo’s Calling | Robert Galbraith | Review

The Cuckoos Calling

Lula Landry seems to have everything in life. Supermodel stardom. A handsome rockstar boyfriend. Freebies and fans. So why did she plunge to her death over the balcony of her lavish London apartment on a snowy winter night? A suicide driven by the trappings of fame? Or something a little more cold-blooded?

Cormoran Strike is a man who’s life is far from the glitz and glamour of Landry’s life. An ex-military man who served in Afghanistan, he lost his leg to a landmine and is scraping by as a private detective, just broken with his long-term girlfriend Charlotte and is now living out of his own office. But Strike’s life changes when John Bristow walks through his door. Unconvinced by the police’s ruling that his famous sister, Lula’s, death was simply a suicide, he seeks Strike’s help to delve back into the case.

By his side is an unlikely temp called Robin – oh the irony! Quick witted, consistently organised and resourceful, her arrival in Strike’s office as a secretary is timed perfectly as he wades into Lula’s world of excess, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll galore. The two meet every seedy millionaire, vapid model, pretentious designer and the unsavoury underground that comes with the territory to find out the truth.

So what’s my verdict?

Let’s address the giant Cuckoo in the room. Yes this is J.K.Rowling writing under pseudonym of Robert Galbraith but for the sake of an unbiased review let’s put that to one side.

The Cuckoo’s Calling starts out with necessary exposition on the night of the Lula’s death and an introduction to the kind of media circus that surrounded the character her whole working life. We then actually meet Robin first, fresh faced, newly engaged and heading to temp job that will hopefully fill her time until she moves onto something better. She’s a bright character and we can already gather that she’s no fool from the outset. Our introduction to Strike is less than favourable. Battered from his recent break up, balding, with the air of a broken Gene Hunt, he literally knocks Robin off her feet. The two’s unlikely friendship however provides a solid foundation for the story, with Robin providing to the Ying to Strike’s Yang.

The story itself plays out like a classic ‘whodunnit’, I could guess the ending and you will too if you pay close attention. The predictability of the culprit, however, doesn’t detract from the story itself. It’s a bumpy ride, filled with twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages right until the very end.
What I loved most about this though is the huge variety of characters weaved throughout the plot, whether primary or secondary, their voices rang out individually and colour the story immensely. Though Strike is, by default, the main character – and a fantastic one at that, with his initially grisly exterior masking a pained back story of a man who’s had to bounce back more than once in his life – but it’s actually Lula’s voice that rings the loudest for me. The quote below sums up her presence perfectly:
“The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them.”
We never get to know the actual Lula, but the picture built of her from those left behind is so rich that we feel like we do. This is the stand out thing about The Cuckoo’s Calling, the richly woven language, both favourable and grotesque, gives life to this novel.

Now addressing authorship of the book, which I funnily enough downloaded a free Kindle sample before it was announced Rowling was the true writer. Would I have gone on to read it if it wasn’t subtitled with her name? Probably not. Would I have missed out on a surprisingly good novel and be looking forward to reading what will hopefully be a great sequel next year? Definitely. It felt fresh, was much easier to read than The Casual Vacancy, and her subtle commentary on fame is rather telling.

Rowling’s nature to make an audience root for the unlikely hero is demonstrated perfectly with Strike, I felt sorry for him at many points in the book but the ending left me realising that he’s much smarter and much more capable than he looks. Definitely can’t wait to see how his character will develop as the series goes on!

Reading Soundtrack:

Beautiful Dirty Rich: Lady Gaga; Dreaming With A Broken Heart: John Mayer; The Fear: Lily Allen; Sweet Talk: The Killers; Skyscraper: Demi Lovato; Prodigal: OneRepublic; Everybody's Fool: Evanescence

For lovers of:

Ashes To Ashes, or Life On Mars, Dan Brown, Kathy Reichs and JK Rowling (of course!).
4 comments

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Book Confessions #1 - Do You Use A Bookmark?

Can you keep a secret?  

Welcome to a new series here at Blogger's Bookshelf where we will be sharing anonymous confessions about all things books! For our first installment we're talking about bookmarks and how we take care of our books. 

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"I hate bookmarks. They fall out all the time and they get in the way, and then I lose them. Yes, I dog ear my books. But I only fold a little bit over, and always on the bottom of the page, not the top, so it's not as bad...?" 

"If I'm in a rush and I don't have my bookmark to hand, I will bend my book so I don't lose my place!"

"Personally I don’t fold the pages of my books but I don’t have a problem with it either. I definitely don’t keep my books in pristine condition – I can’t resist breaking the spines!"

"I have no shame in folding my pages. In fact I prefer it a whole lot more to using bookmarks. I hate the idea of keeping a book pristine for looks and keeps. A book should be loved. There's nothing better than cracking a spine, folding pages and even highlighting quotes you love. My most favourite book in the world is about 5 years old. It's got cracked spine, numerous tears, a lot of folded corner marks and even coffee stains. It may sound completely silly of me to look after my books, but to me this is a way for my books to live. Nothing should stay perfect. If I'm borrowing from someone however, I'll respect them completely and use bookmark. But it makes me sad!"

"Oh I am so guilty of folding the corners of books, I know it should be an issue, but to me it isn't, I love a good worn, well read book. My Prisoner of Azkaban in fact has the first chapter missing (now this is a step too far) but you get what I mean?"

"I dog ear my books as well. Not only my books. I also dog ear books from the library. I don't really get the problem with doing it. It gives the books some character and they look read and loved! Yay for dog ears" 

How do you treat your books? Don't forget to leave us a comment!

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If you have a book confession of your own let us know via email & we may feature it in a future post! - bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com

Thank you to all of our anonymous contributors.
5 comments
Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Bex, Louise & Glynis aka Hanging On Every Word

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Bex, Louise & Glynis aka Hanging On Every Word

I'm really excited to share this week's interview post with you as for the first time in the series we are featuring a fellow collaborative book blog! Today we're talking to three lovely members of the Hanging On Every Word blogging team - Bex, Glynis & Louise.

Here's what the girls had to say about ebooks, favourite reviews and being part of a book blogging team...

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BB: Similarly to Blogger's Bookshelf, Hanging On Every Word is a collaborative blog. Could you tell us a little bit about where the idea came from and how you put together your team?

Bex: I decided I wanted to start a book blog but I knew I'd be unable to commit fully to it whilst working, writing my own blog, guest reviewing for My Keeper Shelf and being a mum. I tweeted out asking if anyone would be interested in getting involved and the response was phenomenal! I am also planning to be more active with the blog now I am back to being at home.

Louise: Me and Bex had talked about it quite a few times in the past because we're both book worms and constantly recommending books to each other. Eventually Bex set it at all up and where we'd talked about it on Twitter, other people saw and became interested and then there we were!

Glynis: Bex suggested it via Twitter and asked for anyone interested to let her know, so I did!

BB: What is your favourite part about being a member of a blogging team?

B: Being able to share some fantastic reads!

L: It's just really nice to be part of something as a team, blogging can help you feel really accepted and it's such a friendly hobby. It's nice that there's quite a few of us because it means the reviews are varied, for example I don't read a lot of 'classic' books but other members of the team do, so it's a real mix of book reviews. Also, not everyone always has time to blog so it's nice that when I don't have any content to go up, there's always someone else that has something written. Finally, it feels pretty cool being part of an online book club!

G: I like the variety of writing and reading styles, and it's nice to be part of a team. I like it when Bex includes her team in a #ff tweet each week!

BB: Tell us about how you got into reviewing, or which of your reviews so far are you most proud of?

G: I've been writing reviews on and off for years, but more so on a regular basis about a year ago. I like to publish my thoughts on each book I read as a way to relive the book.

L: Probably Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, simply because I struggled with it a little. It was such a diverse book for me that I found it tough to explain, but I was happy with the end result.

B: My Soul Beach review - although that will be updated shortly with a full review of the whole Soul Beach trilogy!

BB: We're always looking for recommendations, if you had to choose 3 favourite reads of 2013 so far what would they be?

G: Skellig by David Almond, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Witch Child by Celia Rees. All YA books!

L: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Rock Me by Cherie Lynn and About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk (which I've only began to read today but is already a firm favourite!)

B: Transcendence by CJ Omolulu - This just amazed me. It kept me completely captivated and I couldn't put it down! Soul Storm by Kate Harrison - The final book in the Soul Beach trilogy and a worthy ending! Brightest Kind of Darkness by PT Michelle - I reviewed this over on Lesley's blog (My Keeper's Shelf,) - such a fresh idea for a series!

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BB: Do you have any favourite book to film or TV adaptations?

B: I love the majority of the Agatha Christie adaptations although the most recent ones haven't been my cup of tea; so much has been changed from the books!

L: I really loved all the adaptions of Warm Bodies, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Whip It. I was a bit apprehensive about Warm Bodies because the book is so serious and they totally made the film from a romcom point of view, but it was still good. My most favourite would have to be Whip It though, if even because of the sexy male lead, Landon Pigg *drool*.

BB: Back in March we talked ebooks in a post titled 'Team Paper vs Team Plastic'. Where do you stand on this debate? Are you a fan of the ereader?

B: I go through phases. Sometimes I love physical copies and other times I love nothing more than my Kindle - it is definitely my favourite when it comes to travelling!

G: I love e readers. I like that I can access a dictionary whilst reading, share a quote via social media so my reading experience is shared. However, you can't display e books on shelves in your home, you can't hold or feel the pages, you cannot come across a book and find a receipt used a bookmark that reminds you of a happy moment in time. I like both books and e books and mix the two.

L: I'm a die hard fan of books as opposed to e-readers. I can understand the benefits of them, but being such a book worm myself, to me just holding the book in my hand is comforting. It's so nice to have a physical copy of a book and I just love that people own old copies of their favourite books that they've re-read over and over the years, pages creased, corners folded down, even stains in the book (normally hot chocolate or tea stains for me!). I've also kept battered old copies of books in the hope that I can one day give them to my future children to read - just the books that have a lot of meaning to me - and have books given to me from my family! I've even got books that I can just look at to be reminded of my childhood.

BB: Now for a couple of fun questions! If you could swap lives with any fictional character for the day who would you choose and why?

G: Anne Shirley of Green Gables. I love her passion for life, she lives it to the full. Imagine living on Prince Edward Island. And of course she gets her man. Yes I'd like to swap with Anne for a day!

B: Miss Marple - I'd love to know she works all these crimes out! Haha.

L: Definitely Angela from the I Heart Series. She lives in New York, has the coolest job ever, her best friend constantly styles her with amazing clothes and she's got a gorgeous other half who is a rockstar. So jealous.

BB: Which characters, from different books/series, would you like to see cross paths in a new story?

G: This is a tricky one. How about Jonathan Strange/Mr Norrell and Harry Potter? Perhaps HP could help the two magicians dispell the eternal darkness!

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BB: Which book do you wish you'd written?

L: Any of the I Heart series by Lindsey Kelk. I'm not 100% sure but I like to believe that she'd travelled to places like Las Vegas and L.A for inspiration for the books, and the books are just everything I'm about. Travel, being inspired, blogging and having a hot rockstar boyfriend. Which I don't have, YET, but will hopefully one day.

B: Probably predictable but any of the Harry Potter or Hunger Games series.

BB: Finally, apart from Hanging On Every Word of course, which other book blogs or booktube channels would you recommend our readers check out?

G: Librarian Girl and fellow collaborators' book blogs of course! I also like Wear the OldCoat and Classics Club.

B: My Keeper's Shelf, Books Biscuits and Tea, Reading In The Sunshine, Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Click here to visit Hanging On Every Word - don't forget to subscribe!


Find the girls' personal blogs:
Bex - Futures
Glynis - Librarian Girl
Louise - Inspire Magazine

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I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Louise, Bex & Glynis for taking part in this interview.
If you are a booktuber or book blogger and would like to be featured in a similar post we'd love to hear from you - just email us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com for information!

Interview & post by Erin 

Images via Hanging On Every Word & Goodreads
2 comments

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris | Jenny Colgan | Review

Anna Trent is furiously working away in a chocolate shop in Paris, stirring, creating and mixing the best chocolate in Paris. It's fair to say that this chocolate shop is a far stretch away from the one she worked in back in England, luckily Anna was given the chance of a life time as her old French teacher sends her on a trip, that will prove to be one of the toughest journeys she's been on.

Now I'm a complete novice when it comes to Colgan's books, I spotted this in the supermarket on special offer and the fact that it had the word 'chocolate' in the title totally swayed me into buying it, I'd not heard anything about it and went into reading it from a completely neutral standpoint. When I came out the other side having finished this novel, having cried, laughed and cried some more, I was on the 'OMG i love this book everyone has to read it' side. Yes I adore The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris was not what I expected, I thought standard chic-lit, soppy, romance, bit of a story line, easy to read and a bit puke worthy due to the over romance of it all. However this book had so much more to it. Heart-break, illness, a lifetime of lost loves and of course romance. I cried not just once but many times through this book (especially at the ending). It's a book that makes, you think, makes you realise that you can't waste a moment!

Anna Trent is our leading lady and she is such a lovely character to follow, as she journeys across to Paris you feel her anxiety and nerves as she goes about living in a new city. Gradually more and more characters are introduced and there is only one that I disliked but all the other characters disliked her too. 

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris made me want to move to Paris and open up a chocolate shop even though I don't know the first thing about making chocolate (I do however know ALOT about eating it!).

Recommended for all chic-lit fans or fans of Paris as I'm sure there are lots of places you'd recognise if you have visited yourself. 

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
4 comments

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Breathe | Sarah Crossan | Review



Browsing through the dystopian genre on Goodreads a few months ago, I came across this book and saved it under 'to read'. A few weeks ago, I borrowed it from the library. I was looking forward to another good dystopian book about disaster and human-stupidity, but I was rather disappointed. 

Breathe, by Sarah Crossan, is set on a version of earth where everything has turned to poo. There are no trees on this earth, and, if you did a bit of biology, or environmental studies, you'll know that no trees means no oxygen. No oxygen means death. Earth's numbers rapidly decrease, and the few remaining survivors are chosen by state lottery to go and live in Pods in the hopes of survival. Portable oxygen tanks and masks are the usual look, and while it's not flattering, that's how they survive. That was ages ago, and now three teens change the course of the future and the way things are done. 

Quinn is a Premium living in the Pod. This means he is essentially the highest class, with the most access to oxygen and comfort. Bea, his best friend, is an Auxiliary. She lives in the Pod too, but is lower class, so she and her family have to pay for oxygen and make sure everything they do doesn't use too much. Alina is a rebel, living on the outside of the Pod, somehow just surviving. 

The story follows these three as they meet, journey outside the Pod, are taken to the rebel base (where Quinn and Bea discover a huge secret that the Pod Minister and other high-authority members of council knew about but didn't tell anyone), meet a crazy old woman, and accidentally start a war. The story is told from the perspective of all three main characters, each told in first person by alternating chapters. This was good, as we saw things from three different sides, but at times it got confusing, as I found their 'voices' were quite similar, and if I didn't really pay attention to the chapter title, then I had to remind myself who's eyes I was looking through. 

I didn't really enjoy the story. At first I was intrigued - a world without trees, who wouldn't be? - but as the story went on, I got a bit bored, and I didn't really care for the characters or their situations. It took me about a week to read 370 pages. It seemed like nothing really happened, looking back. It was a bit predictable as well: of course that character and that character are going to fall in love, of course that person was going to die, of course this was the general plot idea. While it was a bit of a disappointment, and I won't be reading the next one, I liked the concept. It got me thinking about what would actually happen if all the trees up and left the world. But other than that...nah. 

By all means, read it and do tell me what you think. Most of the people on Goodreads, that I can see, enjoyed it and gave it at least 3 stars. But I just don't think it was for me. 

Image from Good Reads
1 comment
Guest Review | Wonder | R. J. Palacio

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Guest Review | Wonder | R. J. Palacio

wonder r j palacio

August Pullman describes himself as an ordinary kid. He loves ice cream and Star Wars and playing with his dog, Daisy. But unfortunately, everyone else struggles to see him that way because August Pullman was born with severe facial deformities. At 10 years old he has undergone 27 surgical procedures, has gotten used to the stares and whispers and has never been to a mainstream school. However, one of these things is about to change when August in enrolled into Beecher Prep at the start of a new school year. He won’t be the only new kid there but he will be the only kid who looks like him.

Auggie, as he is known, is understandably terrified. Just because he is used to the way people react to him, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Now he must navigate school bullies, tested loyalties and increased family tensions not to mention school lessons.

Wonder is split into eight parts with each one narrated by either August or someone whose life he has touched. This method does lead to a certain lack of subtlety with multiple characters explaining the same thing. Although it is interesting to hear different points of view and it does help to develop the characters, it also goes some way to preventing the reader from drawing their own conclusions. One example where this is particularly true is in how Auggie describes his looks to the reader:

“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”

Simple. Effective. Over the course of the story he does describe some features, such as how he hates his fist-like ears, but for the first part of Wonder the reader is unencumbered by detailed description. However, in his sister Via’s section this is effectively undone almost instantly with a detailed breakdown of all of Auggie’s features. This may work for some people, of course you are curious and what August looks like is important, but it didn’t work for me I’m afraid.

Despite this, Palacio creates a believable, touching portrait of an extraordinary child in August. His personal strength is stated and applauded but not over sentimentally - bar the ending, but you can forgive Palacio that little moment of indulgence. The real strength of Wonder is how equally well developed each of the main characters or narrators are. The complex relationships that August has and that exist beyond him are portrayed realistically. August is brave, yes, but he can also be stubborn, petty, selfish even, like most 10-year old boys. Likewise, Via is a particularly well rounded and relatable character and this lifts the story and gives it depth. Wonder is full of equally heart-warming and gut-wrenching moments. Everyone will have their own, but the passage that I found most moving strangely did not involve Auggie but was about Via and her grandmother.

Wonder is an enjoyable and accessible read for all ages. It is by no means perfect and some may find the writing style too simplistic for their tastes but I would recommend this as an uplifting, easy read.

This post was written by guest reviewer Ali. Click here to visit her personal blog AlleyHope!
Image c/o Ali
1 comment
Code Name Verity | Elizabeth Wein | Review

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Code Name Verity | Elizabeth Wein | Review

Code Name Verity header
*image via GoodReads

“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.”

Our story starts in 1943 in an abandoned hotel in Nazi occupied France, where Queenie, a British spy, has been captured and tortured by the Gestapo. Her captors soon convince her to become a collaborator and she has been allowed to write down the events that led to her capture in the hope she will divulge some secrets about the British War Effort. 

But Queenie isn’t giving up her information that simply. She’s going to tell her story, but her story starts back home in England with her best friend Maddie. Fearless, flying Maddie who was the pilot who flew her to France in the first place.

The written account Queenie provides her Nazi captors is as much Maddie’s story as it is her own and actually start with Maddie’s upbringing and ambitions to one day fly aeroplanes. Queenie herself is not introduced as a character in Maddie’s story until much later, with the two of them meeting whilst serving together in the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). The two young girls are from completely different worlds (Queen is a from a Scottish legacy, Maddie country girl brought up by her Jewish grandparents) and if it weren’t for World War II, they may have never met. 

As well as detailing bits and pieces of the war effort to appease her captors, the account Queenie provides ends up becoming so much more than a forced confession but an incredible account of two best friends who make a sensational team.

So what’s my verdict?

I started Code Name Verity pre-LeakyCon and actually got to meet Elizabeth Wein at the convention. At the time I confessed to her that I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction – quite daring of me I know! – but I was enjoying what I read of her book so far. She urged me to go on and that if there was a book to get me into the genre she hoped this would be it. Luckily for her, she was definitely right about that.

For me it did start a little slow – though this may have been the large break I had in the middle of reading the book – but once I fully immersed myself into the story I found myself stuck into a brilliantly written and heartfelt story of two wonderfully brave young women. Queenie, our main narrator, clearly admires Maddie and her confidence not only as a person but as a skilled pilot. But Queenie is also an astonishing woman in her own right, her talents lie in deception and her language skills in French and German prove to be more than useful to the Special Operations division of the military.

Unlike most fiction in this genre, the historical details provide a seamless backdrop to the main chatacter’s journey. The technicalities are there with types of planes, the airfields and dated slang but slotted in easily within the story and aren’t forced upon the reader.

Though Maddie and Queenie are obviously our main protagonists, the book plays host to plenty of others both allies and enemies. The most interesting characters for me were Queenie’s captors themselves. Though morally corrupt at face value, with Queenie living under their thumb for the majority of the book Wein does manage to give those in the Gestapo stronghold a voice too, with surprising effects.

Overall, I’d completely recommend Code Name Verity. The story is captivating and the ending with leave you heartbroken. It's great to read story set in this era with two strong female protagonists, who are both heroes in their own right. 

Reading Soundtrack:

Part Of Me: Katy Perry; Night & Day: Sarah Blasko; This Is The Thing: Fink; Night Terror: Laura Marling; There You'll Be: Faith Hill; Soldier On: The Temper Trap


For lovers of:

The Book Thief, Carrie's War, other WWII historical fiction and kick-ass female characters.
No comments
Guest Review | Lacey's House | Joanne Graham

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Guest Review | Lacey's House | Joanne Graham

Lacey's House - by Joanne Graham17882895
Image via Goodreads

After reading Lacey's House I sat for a while, totally speechless and dumbfounded. It took several minutes, a lot of 'several minutes' actually, to come back to my own life and its immediate demands. Believe me, I almost did it kicking and screaming!

For a debut novel, this is surely one of the best I have ever read! There is so much I want to, and can, say, but somehow my thoughts just drifted off in a multicolored hot air balloon over the Winscombe skies. There was simply none left for me to write a suitable review with.

Two women, young Rachel Moore and 84-year old Tracey Eleanor Carmichael, ended up living side by side in Apple Lane, Winscombe where Rachel moved into Dove cottage next to Tracey. The address was not only words to suit a chocolate-box address. Lacey's House would open up a journey for both to finally rise above: electric shock treatments; a lobotomy; a cruel life in an orphanage; an unknown mother who valued her alcohol addiction above everything else; a monstrous doctor; an ignorant vicious community; a village outlay in the form of a question mark; a woman talking to the dead at their graves, planting roses there because it was a hated flower for that particular deceased, since in real life her words was forced inside her head for safety reasons; a cat named Peachy. And then there was Charlie...

"That's the funny thing about small village life, reputations often last longer than the person themselves." But perceptions can be forced to change. When "Albert was dead lying on the floor of his house with his blood serving as a cushion for his head", the increasingly embellished tale of a witch, which was told to children in the dark of night, suddenly took a turn that would change lives forever. Without the truth, fiction is not possible. "This story... this story is different, tantalizing, compelling" Lacey herself said that, which saves me from using the publishing-industry's neologism to sing the praise of this 2012 Luke Bitmead Bursary Award-winning book. Although there's no love lost for sentimentality in the book, the same compassionate message is present as evident in my speechless state of wonder afterwards!

This tale proves a theory: Anything, from an unwanted -ism to an un-addressed emotion, forced underground, takes root and flourish. People sadly and often deny it. And if it is nourished well, deeply loved, it can push up beautiful flowers to face the sun. But to become beautiful, it needs strong roots underground, in the often dark, in the uncompromising toughness of the earth. It is the only way that the perfect flowers can rise above the surface and charm the world. Even well-nourished weeds have beautiful flowers.

This book addresses the wealth and strength of the human spirit in unimaginable ways. The elements used in the book, two vastly opposite life stories, with one common denominator namely the absence of love as children, are not unknown to the world at all, but the combination used in this narrative, makes it stand out way above the average novel in this genre.

The conclusion is surprising and original.

In the end it confronts us all, who we are and how we ended up as human beings and what became of us in the aftermath of those choices. It is not how and where we were planted,but how we utilized the nourishment bestowed on us to paint the picture we would ultimately call our chocolate-box address. What a difference attitude can make!

This post was written by guest reviewer Margitte - find more of her reviews on Goodreads
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Thin Space | Jody Casella | Review

Monday, 2 September 2013

Thin Space | Jody Casella | Review

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Image via Goodreads

When we first meet Marshall Windsor he is consumed by grief after losing his twin brother Austin just a few months ago in a car accident where he was driving. One month after the accident elderly neighbour Mrs. Hansel also passed away, but not before she explained the Celtic idea of ‘thin spaces’ to the boys. The theory is that if someone comes into the world and dies in the same place a small space where the living can step through and visit the world of the deceased is created. Convinced that she will create her very own thin space upon her death she shares the details with Marsh as a possible way for him to make peace with what happened to his brother.

The book kicks off with a short prologue which briefly explores the car accident that now haunts Marsh on a daily basis. Unable to find the thin space that Mrs Hansel believed her death would create for him and desperate to be re-united with his brother, Marsh has spent the last two months pacing around town barefoot in the middle of winter in the hope that he will stumble across another thin space. So, when Maddie and her family move in to Mrs. Hansel’s old house Marsh sees an opportunity to get back inside the room where she believed the thin space would be formed.

The concept of thin spaces was new and intriguing to me and therefore made the story stand out as something a little unusual and refreshing different within the YA genre. Not usually one to opt for anything ‘supernatural’ I actually really enjoyed this element as although it was important to the story it wasn’t always the focus and I didn’t feel as though it was overpowering.

As a main character I actually found Marsh very likable. Of course due to the point in his life that we enter the story his situation makes the reader instantly feel empathy toward him however also in general I found myself enjoying his narration. I also found the supporting characters to be well-rounded and described with just enough information to give the reader a good idea of who they are without feeling overwhelmed with unnecessary background information that would slow the story down.

Thin Space does come with a twist, a mysterious secret Marsh can’t bring himself to share, which I’m a little disappointed to say that I did predict before the reveal. Despite having a good idea of what the secret might be (there are definitely clues!) I was still kept intrigued to find out just how it would be revealed and what repercussions it would have. Following on with this theme the book concludes with a powerful one word ending that will leave you wondering just what might have happened next and hoping that things will work out for Marsh.

The writing style is very easy to follow throughout and I didn’t find myself getting confused or lost at all. Coupled with good pacing, a unique plot and a page count of only around 250, Thin Space is a quick and captivating read which is definitely worth picking up on it’s release next week.

Click here to pre-order your copy now!

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here
*Review copy c/o Netgalley

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