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.


Wednesday 25 June 2014

The Handmade Marketplace (Second Edition) | Kari Chapin | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley
Find it on Goodreads

The Handmade Marketplace (2nd Edition) is an informative and inspiring book all about selling your own crafts and handmade goods. The book is well thought out with the chapters following topics in an appropriate order for those starting out on a new business venture.

Amongst the chapters is advice on topics such as branding, pricing, working with others, hiring help, dealing with customers and marketing techniques (including blogging). The book also talks about how to find inspiration for your work and how you can turn your ideas into a reality that could become your source of income. Scattered in between these sections are profiles on successful small businesses and quotes from fellow crafters sharing tips and advice based on their own experiences - The Handmade Marketplace certainly stresses the importance of community and working with others to improve your own skills.

If you are just starting your own craft business, or are considering the idea, this would be a great title to pick up for tips on how to get set up. This book is not just for beginners though - as someone who has been selling handmade online for a few years I feel that there is always more to learn and I definitely found some great tips within The Handmade Marketplace! The addition of advice from successful sellers was particularly interesting to read as they provided a real insight into the reality of selling handmade.

Information aside, the book is laid out is an easy to read format with a pleasant colour scheme and overall nice appearance perfect for a reference book.

The only real downside for me was one that unfortunately couldn’t be helped. As the author is based in the US for some topics such as self-employment and taxes she is only able to provide information relevant to that area of the world. Of course, this is totally understandable as it would be impossible to include information for every country where someone might read the book (!) but this small section of information didn’t apply to me as a UK resident so I skipped over it. Having said that this small detail shouldn’t put you off of picking up this useful title and I would still recommend this book if you sell, or want to sell, handmade wherever you are based.

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here

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'The ABC Of It : Why Children's Books Matter' | New York Public Library Exhibition | By Ria

Monday 23 June 2014

'The ABC Of It : Why Children's Books Matter' | New York Public Library Exhibition | By Ria

nyplbooks-exhibition entrance
High on the list of places I really wanted to visit on my recent trip to New York was to head to the beautiful New York Public Library and see the Rose Reading Room for myself. The room was unfortunately closed for repair (sad face) but what I did stumble upon was this small exhibition housed in the lower ground floor of the building.
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The ABC Of It…’ exhibition takes us on a literary journey into the history and importance of children’s books. The exhibit starts with earliest examples of moral stories and early folklore told to children and adults alike, before delving into the beginnings of formal children’s writing and publishing. We see first edition copies of childhood favourites such as Dr Suess’ ‘Cat In The Hat’ and even a letter from Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) to his muse for the Wonderland books, Alice Liddell.
The exhibition also delves into the societal, technological and political influences on children’s books, which not only demonstrates the development of literary publishing for young readers but the shifting moods of the history of the world.
nyplbooks-comics graphic novels nyplbooks-comic books nyplbooks-banned books nyplbooks-harry potter
Personal highlights from the exhibit include seeing the development of the comic book genre, from the newspaper back pages to fully fledged graphic novels; a section on the publication of the Harry Potter series in the US, a sight not often seen here in the UK; and a rather poignant section and list of every banned and challenged book deemed unfit to be read by young readers – the list includes such classic as ‘Perks of being a wallflower’, ‘Where the wild things are’ and even the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Overall, I’m glad I got to stumble upon this exhibition. It was such a fantastic demonstration of the influence children’s literature has had on the generations gone by and how it still continues to influences the readers of the future.

If you want to read more about my NYC experience I'm doing a little mini series on my blog!

*not sponsored! As I said in the post I simply stumbled upon this during my travels

This was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
Group Collaboration | Book To Film Adaptations

Saturday 21 June 2014

Group Collaboration | Book To Film Adaptations

With Summer now just round the corner our June group post is shining a light on the time we'll all most likely be spending watching those big Summer blockbusters in the cinema! Our theme runs accordingly and we got our bloggers to share which Book to Film Adaptations they're most looking forward to watching in the coming months and beyond! Plus we'll also get their opinions on some of the most recent adaptations that have hit the big screen too...
June Book to Movie Adaptations 1 June Book to Movie Adaptations 2 June Book to Movie Adaptations 3

This month's contributors - Ria, Anjali, Cat, Erin, Lucy

movie frame graphic here
movie posters via IMDB
Paper Towns book cover via GoodReads


Our next group post is all about the journeys from our favourite books. We'll be delving into both fiction and non-fiction to pick out our favourite journeys and travel stories, and we'd love to hear your thoughts! Drop us an email - - or tweet us @blog_bookshelf for more information and to have your answer included in the post!
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What Type Am I? | Renee Baron | Review by Niina

Wednesday 18 June 2014

What Type Am I? | Renee Baron | Review by Niina


What Type Am I? Discover Who You Really Are by Renee Baron is an introduction to the Myers-Briggs personality types. It's an easy and fast read and covers the basics about temperaments and personality types.

I got interested in temperaments and personality types a few years ago when I started researching the theories behind the Hogwarts houses (oh the things you learn through Harry Potter). Back then I was mostly reading about the temperaments but got interested in learning more about the Myers-Briggs personality types. So I read a few reviews about different books on the subject and found out that a lot of people thought that What Type Am I? Discover Who You Really Are was a good introduction on the subject.

So what do I think about the book? Just like a lot of other people I do think that this is a really good and easy introduction! The book is really easy to read and understand, and every chapter has a lot of illustrations that explain the different types further. But when you read this book you have to be aware of the fact that the information in it is pretty basic. This is not the book to read if you're interested in-depth descriptions. But I do still really think this a good place to start if you are a beginner on the subject and want a fun introduction. Then you can always read other more in-depth books or do more research online when you know the basics. I also enjoy using the book as an reference if I want a quick introduction on one specific personality type or if I want to explain a type for someone who doesn't know a lot about personality types.

But like I said before, do keep in mind that descriptions in this book are pretty basic and limited. This book doesn't give you a full insight and understanding of the personality types but it's a good place to start if you're interested in the subject!

I think it's really hard to rate non-fiction books because it all depends on your interest and your previous knowledge in the subject so I'm not giving out any stars in this review.

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.
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Sunday 15 June 2014

Outside In | Maria V Snyder | Review by Anjali

I did a brief review of the first of this series, Inside Out, on my blog the other day,  and Niina reviewed it last year, so you can jump back to that post and see what she thought. While I won't say too much about this, the second of the Insiders series by Maria V. Snyder, I will say that I did enjoy it.

Outside In continues the story of Trella the scrub. In the aftermath of the rebellion and the change of how things happen on the Inside, Trella continues to learn more and more about her world and the people in it. She explores even more of Inside than she thought was possible and discovers things she doesn't understand, meets people she never thought she would meet, and sees things that she could never really imagine before.

Outside In introduces some new characters to the world we read about in Inside Out, and I actually liked them enough to care if they died (that's kinda how I judge the coolness of characters...Would I care if they were suddenly slaughtered, murdered or fell off a cliff?). Trella was a pain in the butt in the first third of the book and I just got annoyed at her all the time, but thankfully her friends were pretty nifty characters so that made up for her.

The love interest, Riley, was cute in my head, but was super lame on paper. He was a strong sort of character in that he knew what he was doing and he just wanted the best for people etc etc - you know, all those good qualities in a dystopian male love interest - but he was just a little lame. He had a soft toy sheep called Sheepy for goodness sake! Cute if you're like...10 years old, but not when you're 17/18. And it wasn't like it was a one time 'here's my childhood toy, isn't it cute' kinda thing. It was mentioned nearly every conversation he had with Trella. So that was frustrating...but if you took out that, then it was okay.

The story went in a direction I wasn't really prepared for, in that the Inside, where they live, wasn't what I thought it was. But I think I was okay with that? I haven't really decided, to be honest, but there we have it. I don't know what else to say without giving anything else away, but it was a good second book, and while I have no idea if there's a third on or not (I can't seem to find it on Good Reads), if there was, I'd read it. I think if you read Inside Out, then you have to Outside In. It does answers questions and round some things off nicely.

This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from Good Reads. 

Complicit | Stephanie Kuehn | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Complicit | Stephanie Kuehn | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, image via Goodreads

Today’s review is going to be a rather short and rather tricky one to write as the less you know about this book before reading it the better!

Complicit is a dark story which centres around Jamie and his complicated relationship with sister Cate. After the tragic loss of their mother, the siblings suffered a tough time which resulted in Cate going away to Juvie. When Cate returns she contacts Jamie, determined it seems to disrupt his now comfortable life without her.

As Jamie suffers amnesia due to his complicated childhood he is a somewhat unreliable narrator and the writing style reflects this as it too can be confusing at times as we piece together the story alongside him. Cate is also an interesting character who brings a completely different dimension to the story.

The book is a fairly quick read at just over 250 pages and will definitely appeal to those who enjoy a mystery. If there’s one thing Complicit does have it’s a powerful ending… My advice? If you’re intrigued by Jamie's story pick up the book, but don’t read the synopsis!


This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here
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The Bone Season | Samantha Shannon | Reviewed by Ria

Monday 9 June 2014

The Bone Season | Samantha Shannon | Reviewed by Ria

*image via Goodreads

Paige Mahoney is a clairvoyant and in this world her gift is seen as a threat which could have her arrested. The only place she can call home is within the depths of London's criminal underground, hiding from the city's security force - Scion - as part of the an illegal ring of clairvoyants called the Seven Seals. Her job, as a clairvoyant dreamwalker is to break into other people's minds.

But Paige is soon captured by the Scion police after using her gift in public and is taken to Oxford, where she meets an even bigger foe…the Rephaim. This new species are an ancient race who have been collecting voyants for centuries to train them to become their own personal army.

Paige is hellbent on getting her freedom back at any cost, even if it means learning something about her mysterious Rephaite keeper, Warden, and indoctrinate herself into this twisted new life.

So what’s my verdict?

After the absolute onslaught of hype and promo for this book, I think it’s safe to say I had big expectations for The Bone Season, and it did start of well. Paige Mahoney is a tough, Irish born and bred female protagonist who’s not afraid to look you in the eye when she’s angry, I loved her resilience and slightly roguish quality in the way she acted during the book. 

The first few chapters were cinematic but once the story reached Oxford and the plot lines with the Rephaim, I felt the pace slow to a point where I wasn't quite sure what was going on. There’s no doubt Samantha Shannon has created a universe that is rich detail, but keeping up with the different traits of certain clairvoyants, the entire history of the Rephaim and Scion can feel a bit overwhelming and there were times where I wished information was actually held back a little to keep a little mystery about the world.

Despite this, I can't fault intricate detail of Shannon’s universe, she’s really thought of everything in terms of history, current society (both the good and bad aspects) and even colloquial slang. I also found myself intrigued by the colourful host of diverse characters throughout the book, all of whom I'm hoping we'll get to see more of – especially Paige’s criminal cohort of the Seven Seals, all of whom seem like a pretty fascinating bunch. 

All in all, what really drew me into The Bone Season is the world and concept of the novel. Clairvoyancy is a facet of fantasy I haven't personally read, especially in this depth, so it was refreshing and original to me. I'll also give Shannon credit for the last few chapters of the book, I definitely felt the writing found its footing but it’s a shame it didn't happen sooner for me. Hopefully the second book in the serious, The Mime Order, will focus more on driving the plotline and characters forward, now the world of Scion and the Rephaim have been established, and I definitely see potential for the sequel to be greater.

Reading Soundtrack:
House of Cards: Radiohead; Fire: Kasabian; Spectrum: Florence + The Machine; Bad Blood: Bastille; Death Rattle: Mallory Knox; Vox Populi: 30 Seconds To Mars; Room To Breathe: You Me At Six

For lovers of…The Discworld series, Neil Gaiman, and JK Rowling.

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
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The Woman in Black | Susan Hill | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday 4 June 2014

The Woman in Black | Susan Hill | Reviewed by Niina


“A man may be accused of cowardice for fleeing away from all manner of physical dangers but when things supernatural, insubstantial and inexplicable threaten not only his safety and well-being but his sanity, his innermost soul, then retreat is not a sign of weakness but the most prudent course.” - Susan Hill, The Woman in Black 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is a classic ghost story set on the English moor. Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor who travels from London to attend the funeral and tie up the loose ends after the death of Mrs. Alice Drablow, one of his company's clients. When Arthur arrives in Crythin Gifford, an isolated small town he discovers that the people who live there seem reluctant to talk about Mrs. Drablow and her estate, Eel Marsh House.

I've loved ghost stories as long as I can remember. I've always been interested and fascinated by the things that scare us. After years of watching too many horror movies and reading hundreds of pages of zombie fiction, I'm not easily scared. But there was something about The Woman in Black that I still found really creepy and I have to admit that I had to turn on all the lights when I was reading it home alone at night. The story-line is pretty predictable but I think Susan Hill did a great job with building that eerie feeling that a good ghost story needs. I also think that Susan Hills' writing's beautiful and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the house, the town and the people. I could clearly imagine everything in front of me. To be honest, not much happens in this novel but I still couldn't put it down. I just liked the eerie atmosphere in the story and I kind of enjoyed being a bit scared. I've read quite mixed reviews about The Woman in Black and I think the whole reading experience in this case depends on if you get the right feeling or not. If you don't get scared you're probably going to think it's a pretty boring book. 

So yes, I thought that The Woman in Black was a really enjoyable (and creepy) read. It's a short novel and a perfect read for a rainy day in October. I would recommend it to all of you (especially if you like classic ghost stories), but I still think a few of you won't like it as much as I did. But hey, it's a short book so it's worth taking a chance! I give The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 4/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.

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Penguin Clothbound Classics Collection | Reviewed by Laura

Monday 2 June 2014

Penguin Clothbound Classics Collection | Reviewed by Laura

I thought I would do a slightly different post today, to show you my small but growing clothbound collection. I recently moved and have finally managed to get these books out of their packing boxes, but I now also have room to display them nicely in my lively them in order to show them off in their full glory.

I received my first clothbound book a few years ago and ever since, every birthday or Christmas my collection steadily grows. I was first drawn to them when I spotted them in Waterstones, instantly falling in love with the detailed and beautifully illustrated covers of some of my favourite books.

I have to say I have only re-read Pride and Prejudice in the clothbound version, they just look too pretty and I'm scared of damaging them! But as a collector of books in general anyway I have to say I do enjoy walking into my living room and seeing this gorgeous collection. The prices of these vary quite substantially from when they are first released at £16.99 to them going down to around £11 when they have been out for a few months.

Has anyone else let this collection catch their eye? Do you have any other collections of books you collect?

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image are my own

Sunday 1 June 2014

The Giver | Lois Lowry | Reviewed by Anjali

I read The Giver for the first time when I was about 14 years old, and I remember loving it a lot. I think, looking back on it now, that was probably my first dystopian society type novel. I re-read this book last week, and while it was mostly familiar, there were things that stood out to me more this time round, perhaps because it was a second reading, or perhaps because I'm older now. Whatever the case, it's a great book.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry, tells the story of Jonas, a young boy who is about to become a Tweleve in their society. He lives with his mother and father and younger sister, Lily, who is a Seven. The day of the Ceremony of the Twelve - the day when all the Elevens move to become Twelves - Jonas is lined up with all the others in his age group, ready to receive their Assignments. Their assignments will tell them where and what they will be in their community, whether that be an Engineer, a Nurturer, helping the elderly etc etc. His friends before him receive their assignment, but when it comes to Jonas, he is skipped over and put on hold until the end. When he eventually is given his assignment, it is one of the highest honours - he is to become the next Receiver of Memories.

As Jonas spends his afternoons with the current Receiver (who tells him to call him Giver, as Jonas is now the Receiver), learning all about the life and times in the past before the 'Sameness' came to be, he realises that life as they know it is unfair, it's unjust, it should be different. The utopia that they live in is a big lie. While the story ends before he does much about it all, it's definitely a fantastic beginning to what is, I'm sure, a great series (I have yet to read the next ones).

With hidden secrets, painful memory transfers, lying parents, best friends who are just a little bit crazy, and the new knowledge he has been given, The Giver is a great, fast paced read that is short enough to read in one sitting. If this all sounded a little familiar, it may be because the movie is coming out later in the year. While the trailer looks a lot different to the book, I think that might be a post for later on.

If you like dystopian novels, with great characters, written by award winning authors, do give The Giver a read. While it's really aimed at a younger audience, it's still a fun book for those of us who are little older.

This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from Good Reads. 

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