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.


Monday 30 March 2015

Guest Post | Craft Book Collection

In my last review I talked about Cut Out + Keep: Around The USA In 50 Craft Projects, the latest edition to my craft book collection. Today I thought I would follow on from the review and share another sneak peek at some of the craft books I own!

Patch!, Cath Kidston (2011)
In true Cath Kidston fashion this book is full of pretty projects to decorate your home and give as gifts to family & friends. Patch! details the 'traditional tecnhiques' such as Crazy Patchwork and Hand Applique and also comes with some samples of Cath Kidston's famous fabrics to use on a patchwork tote bag or cushion.

Tutorial highlights include: the Triangle Patch Pillowcase - a striped and checked triangle patchwork cover with a nautical feel, the Child's Pentagon Ball - a clever patchwork toy that's safe for toddlers, and the Bunny Sweater - an applique project that adds a floral rabbit design and elbow patches to a simple grey jumper.

Print Workshop, Christine Schmidt (2011)
This book details all kinds of printmaking techniques from classic to modern, and includes in depth guides on how to use them to create original pieces. A glossary for printing terms and templates to get you started are also provided at the end of the book.

Tutorial highlights include: the Water-Slide Decal Jars - cleverly created using packing tape these are perfect for kitchen decor, the Moon + Trees Solar-Plate Print - a beautiful design transferred using sunlight and the Veggie Picnic Set - created with stamps made from sweet potatoes!

Making Stuff, Ziggy Hanaor (2006)
Subtitled 'an alternative craft book', Making Stuff features a whole host of unique project ideas from a selection of different crafters covering clothing, jewellery, home decor and kids projects. In addition to these ideas the book also includes how-tos for the basics of knitting, sewing, crochet, applique and more.

Tutorial highlights include: the Puppet Junkie, a great upcycling idea that uses 'junk' to create unique puppets, Record Breaking Notebooks - another clever upcycle using old record sleeves, and the Eco Shopper - a tote cleverly made from a bed sheet.

Wild Jewellery, Sarah Drew (2012)
This unique title is perfect for those that love both upcycling and jewellery making as it is full of tutorials and inspiration for turning found objects into wearable statement pieces. The ideas are split into three sections based on where you will find the materials to make them; Beside The Seaside, Into The Woods & Urban Day Out.

Tutorial highlights include: Crocheting With Plastic - a unique twist on this classic craft and Free-form Wirework - a technique that allows you to turn simple twigs into a pretty beaded bracelet.

Makery, Kate Smith (2012)
With beautiful photography and an easy-to-follow layout the first Makery book shares ideas for fashion, gifts and the home - there really is something for everyone! Again the basics are covered, this time through simple step-by-steps and line illustrations, and a fold out of patterns is included for some of the projects.

Tutorial highlights include: Shrinky Dink Jewellery - rubber stamps are used to create intricate designs on these unique pieces and Book Ends - a unique take on the classic fabric cube book ends these are adorned with text from a favourite book!

Craft Show & Sell, Jayne Torie (2014)
If you're looking for a beautifully designed book full of tips on building your own craft business and selling both online and at fairs Craft, Show & Sell is the book for you. Covering everything from creating the right workspace to branding, photography and promoting on social media the book has a little bit of everything, there's even a few useful storage tutorial ideas thrown into the mix as well!

Tutorial highlights include: the Lino Block Rubber Stamp - perfect for creating your own unique packaging, and the Pinterest famous Upcycled Storage Jars - these glass jars adorned with pastel bunnies are both handy and adorable!

Do you have any favourite craft books?
Group Collaboration | Favourite Fictional Side-Kicks

Saturday 28 March 2015

Group Collaboration | Favourite Fictional Side-Kicks

This month's group post looks at the often forgotten heroes of the fictional world, the side-kicks!

We're shifting focus away from the heroes and heroines of our favourite novels to shine the spotlight on the characters who perhaps don't get as much love. Whether they're prepping our main character ready for a battle to the death, or offering a shoulder to cry on in tough times, the fictional side-kick is always there to lend a hand. After all a protagonist is really nothing without their support system right?

Let take a look at who our bloggers picked as their favourite fictional side-kicks...


Who are your favourite fictional side-kicks?

Our April group post will have us asking you guys which fictional characters you would invite to your fantasy dinner party! If you'd like more information about getting involve email us at

*all book covers via GoodReads, Hunger Games image via Uplifting Words Online
Contributors: Ria, Anjali, Cat, Erin
No comments

Friday 27 March 2015

Red Queen | Victoria Aveyard | Reviewed by Anjali

*Review copy c/o Netgalley

“In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. 
Right now, I don't know if I'll ever smile again.”

There are two blood-castes: the Reds and their common way of life, who serve the elite Silver, with their Royalty and magical, superhuman powers. Seventeen-year-old pick-pocketer Mare Barrow is a Red, and lives with her family in the Stilts. One day she is given a job in the Silver palace, and quickly discovers that she has powers of her own. To cover up the fact that there is a Red with powers like a Silver, the King and Queen make a deal with her: She is to marry their youngest son, Prince Maven, and pretend that she is a Silver who was simply raised by Reds. And in return, they will bring her brothers home from the ongoing war, where Reds are made to fight for the Silvers. She agrees, and Mare is thrown into a world of royalty, of lies, of Princes, of powerful abilities. As she finds herself getting deeper and deeper into a society that is not her own, she risks everything to join the Scarlet Guard, a rebellion group of Reds wanting to take down the Silvers, for their rights, for justice, for freedom.

I loved this book. It was like X-Men meets The Selection (Keira Cass). Why The Selection? you ask. As Mare enters the Palace and her powers come to light, she joins the other girls who are there for the Princes, who are to choose a wife. There is immediately a rival, who is chosen by Prince Maven's older brother Cal, to be his wife. As Mare goes from day to day trying to learn how to be a Silver lady, is painted with pale make-up every day to hide her red-blooded blushing face (Silvers have silver blood), and navigates her way from library lessons to fighting ones, she battles with the fact that her family still don't know what is going on with her, her best friend has joined the Scarlet Guard, and her feelings for Maven's brother Cal, are stronger than she'd like.

With superpowers like X-Men, typical love triangles, upper and lower castes, an older mentor/librarian with connections to the Royal family, and a main character with Katniss-like rebellion involvement, Red Queen was an awesome read and a great addition to the YA Fantasy/Dystopian world. Why only give it 4 stars then? I think it was probably because I called what would happen at the end (something that, I think, reading other people's reviews, was a huge shock and twist). But it was great, and if you like the dystopian genre, mixed with a little bit of superhuman powers, then do give Red Queen a read. Victoria Aveyard has done a fantastic job at creating this world, especially for her debut novel.

Image from Good Reads.  

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Material Girls | Elaine Dimopoulos | Reviewed by Christina

Material Girls is written in dual perspective and alternating chapters. The first is of Marla, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been "tapped" to one of the top fashion designers and gets to decide which trends are released and which are sent back to the drafters in the basement to be redesigned. The other perspective is Ivy Wilde, a famous pop singer who is desperate to stay relevant and will do anything to remain top dog. 

The world in which Material Girls is set is a fascinating one. Teenagers, once they reach the ripe age of thirteen are "tapped" into one of the creative industries to take high-powered jobs and become influencers of culture. Instead of living an ordinary school life, these teenagers enter the working world and take on the responsibility of being trendsetters to ensure the "silents" remain rich. Whilst both girls have jobs that are highly lusted after and are at the top of their fields, they're pawns in a strictly controlled game and are easily replaceable, despite what they'd like to believe. I expected this book to have a lot more fluff, but it actually contained a lot of layers and a lot of important messages that I enjoyed learning. The concept of this book is perhaps one of my favourite aspects of it, as it was so unique but still held relevance to society today. The two main characters in this book were perfect for their roles, both seeming shallow and egocentric in the beginning, they both evolved in very different ways throughout the book and the ending wasn't too surprising. 

I really enjoyed reading this book and will be buying a paperback copy as soon as the book comes out. I would definitely recommend reading this book if you're interested in fashion, pop culture, or just good YA writing. 

*I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion.
No comments
Guest Post | 'Under My Skin' Tour with James Dawson

Saturday 21 March 2015

Guest Post | 'Under My Skin' Tour with James Dawson

Last week I popped down to my local Waterstones in Oxford to see James Dawson as part of his book tour for the release of his latest book, 'Under My Skin'. Here's the mini lowdown on the evening as he talked feminism, his own writing journey and crazy characters.

On 'Under My Skin': Dawson opened the evening by reading an extract from his latest YA novel, 'Under My Skin, a book about a young girl who succumbs to the bidding of an evil tattoo. The passage he read leads up to the end of the first act and climactic turning point in the novel towards the darker themes readers will have seen in his previous novels, 'Cruel Summer' and 'Say Her Name'.

He went on to describe Under My Skin as a 'teenage feminist version of Jekyll and Hyde' drama and talked of how he wanted to write a novel centered around the different representations of women in the media, as well as the choices young girls have between acting like some sort of saint or choosing to appear more provocative (Sally and Molly-Sue represent these juxtaposed opposites in the book) In addition to this, with Sally, Dawson, wanted to explore the idea of not having control over your body and the peer pressure voices in your head, in this case the voice in Sally's head is the confident and provocative Molly-Sue. 

Dawson admitted Molly-Sue was one of his favourite characters to write as, unlike his other novels, she was present as the villain in the story throughout the entire plot of the book. He also loved her devil-may-care attitude and the fact that she also represented the dark side that everyone harbours within. In his own words Molly-Sue is the voice in your head "when you're stood on the right side of the escalators on the tube in London and someone is just stood in your way and you have to stop yourself from wanting to push them down the stairs..."

Feminism & women in YA: Dawson lead into this part of the Q&A discussion by asking the audience how many of them would call themselves a feminist - rather reassuringly the whole group (which consisted primarily of teen readers) put their hands up *throws confetti*.

He went on to speak about strong female characters’ in YA and how, nowadays, we see them written as female warriors wielding weapons. Dawson made the point that very rarely do we see the ‘strong female character’ not in battle armour anymore and very often don't consider someone like Hazel in TFIOS in the same way. Sally, for him, represents this more vulnerable side of a strong female character, where she doesn't need to be a warrior to be brave. He amusingly commented that she can’t exactly start attacking her enemy in the book like Katniss or Tris as "...Molly Sue is literally 'under her skin'. What can she do? Start stabbing and poking herself or something?".

Though the feminist issues were important for him to consider whilst writing, he implores to us that we as readers shouldn’t read too much into it - "Ultimately it is a book about me torturing a teenage girl with a demonic tattoo."

From teacher to author: Dawson was also asked about his transition from teaching into becoming a full-time writer. As a teacher, he at first juggled writing and his full time job, utilising the long Summer holidays he has to start on his first novel - though he did confide that he pulled a sickie and took a week off when nearing the end of writing Hollow Pike!
He made the point that he was first and foremost an avid reader of YA fiction, and was inspired by fellow writers such as Malorie Blackman and Phillip Pullman, before venturing into writing himself. Keeping on the feminist theme for his debut novel, Hollow Pike, Dawson admitted he wanted to fill the void that books like Twilight had in regards to the importance female relationships.

He commented that his second novel, Cruel Summer, was the hardest to write because of the twists and turns of a murder mystery, quick turnaround and that fact he was still settling into the fact he was now writing full-time.

In contrast, 'This Book Is Gay' was described as a whole different experience altogether, requiring him to heavily rely on others input and stories as he felt that he couldn’t speak about LGBTQ issues on behalf of an entire community. Despite being offered the option to write personal book on his experiences with coming out and he admitted he simply couldn’t do that on his own. Though a stressful process it’s the book he feels the most proud of, not only because of the stories in it but the overwhelming amount of positive feedback from individuals and the LGBTQ community as a whole.

Future plans: Rather excitingly Dawson also revealed plans for his upcoming book releases, which he likened to ‘phase 2’ of the Marvel Movie Universe. His noted that the next few books will follow a different set of themes to previous ones, starting with his next novel ‘All of the Above' - due to be released this September.

'All of the above' is planned to be a more serious romantic novel rooted in the real world exploring themes of bisexuality as the main character, Toria, falls in love with a girl and a boy. Dawson revealed the book will be written in prose but it will also see him writing poetry - as part of Toria's way of dealing with her romantic struggles. As a much more character driven novel rooted in the real world, there will be no freaky ghosts, mad killers or demonic tattoos in this one!

There are also two more books due in 2016, one of which will be a non-fiction title about mental health - presented in a similar format to This Book Is Gay - with a focus on such topics as eating disorders, anxiety and depression.

Thanks to Waterstones Oxford for organising such a fantastic event and for James Dawson for being such a great speaker on the night - and generally rather lovely when I spoke to him! 
No comments
Being A Book Blogger | Interview With Amber aka The Mile Long Bookshelf

Thursday 19 March 2015

Being A Book Blogger | Interview With Amber aka The Mile Long Bookshelf

Welcome to our latest Being A Book Blogger post, today featuring Amber, the girl behind The Mile Long Bookshelf. Here's what she had to say about reading soundtracks, upcoming releases and her unique book blogging journey...


BB: Hi Amber! For any of our readers who aren’t already following your blog 'The Mile Long Bookshelf' could you tell us a little bit more about the girl behind the blog?

Hi Erin, thanks for having me on your blog today! I'm Amber, I'm 16 and can usually be found curled up on the sofa reading a book. But if I'm not doing that, which is rare, then I'm probably either blogging, drawing, playing guitar, messing around with a camera or tweeting. Or doing homework, but we won't talk about that. *shudder*

BB: You've been blogging since you were very young, how did you get into book reviewing?

I'm not sure what I was looking for but I was on Google one day and I stumbled across Chicklish, a book blog by authors Luisa Plaja and Keris Stainton. It's not around anymore but at the time they were looking for contributors to review books for them and so I applied. After reviewing for them for a while, I deleted the blog I already had and replaced it with another, called The Mile Long Bookshelf. I still reviewed for Chicklish, but The Mile Long Bookshelf gradually took over my life... not that I'm complaining. ;)

BB: Of all your reviews so far which are you most proud of, and which did you find the most difficult to write?

I quite like my review of A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson because I remember it being really easy to write and it seems to flow nicely - in my opinion, anyway! I'm equally happy with my review of Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne because I decided to go full-on fangirl with that one and professionalism flew right out the window. These days, nearly all reviews are difficult to write because I've been reviewing for so long that each time I worry I'm repeating myself. In answer to your question, if you see a short review on my blog, chances are it was a difficult one!

BB: We're always looking for new books to read - are there any upcoming releases you're really looking forward to this year?

Recently I read The Sky Is Everywhere and I fell in love with it straight away. The sequel, I'll Give You The Sun, comes out in April and I'm so excited! I'm also looking forward to The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt coming out in May. I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy a little while ago and it's such a fun, summery road-trip book - I have a feeling it'll be loved by many!


BB: You recently included the Divergent soundtrack in a favourites post. If you could create a short reading soundtrack for one of your favourite books which book/songs would you choose?

One of my favourite books is The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan. A few days after Eveny Cheval's seventeenth birthday, her aunt suddenly whisks her across the country to Carrefour, a mysterious town you need a key to enter into. When they arrive, everyone acts strangely around her, and it's not long before Eveny realises she isn't entirely normal, after all. She's one of the Dolls - a group which, on the surface, seems to be a group of high school queen bees, but that's not the only intimidating thing about them. They have powers, and someone wants them dead. It's such a fun mix of fantasy and contemporary, and there's a big focus on girl power. The soundtrack would have to be this one called Like a Girl which I found a while ago and am absolutely obsessed with!

BB: Just for fun - if you could swap lives for the day with any fictional character who would it be and why?

I was going to say Clary from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare but considering I'm really lazy sometimes, I don't think I'd be the best person for fighting demons... hmm. I think I'll go with Emma in Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton. I've always wanted to go there and the book gave me a serious case of wanderlust.

BB: Finally, which other book blogs or YouTube channels would you recommend our readers go and subscribe to?

For fun lifestyle posts, blogging tips and, of course, reviews, you should definitely check out Nose Graze. As for YouTube channels, make sure you're subscribed to Sarah Churchill - she makes awesome bookish videos!

Where To Find Amber Online: Blog | YouTube | Facebook | Twitter 

I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Amber 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 for information!

Images c/o Amber
No comments
A Fangirl's Guide To The Galaxy | Sam Maggs | Reviewed by Ria

Wednesday 18 March 2015

A Fangirl's Guide To The Galaxy | Sam Maggs | Reviewed by Ria

*image via GoodReads

Ever wondered how you go about packing for a convention? Or which episode of Doctor Who to start with (do you go with Classic Who? Or NewWho?) Or how to deal with Internet trolls getting all misogynistic in your personal space? Never fear, this book is here!

A Fangirl's Guide To The Galaxy is a whirlwind guide to to fandom life. Whether you're a self-confessed nerd girl, or are just dipping your toe into your first episode of Sherlock (good-effing luck to you my friend), this book will help you through the journey of living - and LOVING - the geek lifestyle. 

The book includes a breadth of resources including step-by-step chapters on topics such as conventions, cosplay and the fandoms themselves. As well as short interviews with women of the fandom, such as Beth Revis, Kate Beaton and Erin Morgenstern to help inspire you too.

So what's my verdict?

How do I preach the ways in which I loved this book? Because guys...I seriously love this book.
Fantastically detailed and incredibly up to date - there are mentions of the newest plans for the Marvel Movie Universe and references to Sherlock Season 3 - as I said in my intro 'Fangirl's Guide...' is your one stop shop to the geek-life.

Approaching a new fandom can be daunting, especially ones with a history spanning decades (like Marvel or DC Comics), hundreds of episodes (like Doctor Who or Supernatural), or they can just seem a bit intimidating to get into (Anime and Gaming). Which is why the ‘where to start’ guides on each fandom are great for those wading in for the first time and come with helpful pointers on which books/movies/episodes/comics/games to start with.

There's such a breadth of resources that I’ll keep coming to again and again, including websites, Youtube channels and blogs. Plus the book's own step by step guides are pretty slick. The Convention survival guide, in particular, is something I wish I had read before attending my first one back in 2013. The section itself includes a countdown on how you should prep, before, during and after conventions.

There's also some brilliantly written pieces on feminism, including a glossary of terms, popular feminist myths, and feminist critic. The book goes further into more issues than just ‘cis-gendered geek girls always get bullied by misogynistic geek guys’, covering additional topics about LGBTQ issues, healthy relationships (both platonic and romantic) and consent.

It's not all serious though - of course - there's some laugh out loud funny inside jokes and fandom references that put a smile on my face (and made me seriously snort on the bus) at many points.

What I love most about this book is that all the advice is offered out without that 'self-help-y' vibe you get from a lot of 'nerd' guides. There's no condescending tone or pandering to the masses by making fun of how weird being a geek is. If anything Maggs clearly celebrates how wonderful, inclusive and supportive fangirl culture can be.

Whether you're already well established within your chosen fandom or are just venturing into the wonderful world of geek-dom this is the perfect book for you. 

For lovers of...anything and everything nerdy/geeky, but especially useful for those delving into fandom life for the first time.

*disclaimer review copy c/o NetGalley
No comments

Monday 16 March 2015

Cut Out + Keep: Around The USA In 50 Craft Projects | Cat Morley & Tom Waddington | Reviewed by Erin


*Review copy c/o Laurence King Publishing
Although as yet I've never been to the US something I would absolutely love to do in the future is visit all 50 states. So, when I heard about Cut Out + Keep's new book recording their very own 50 states road trip through craft tutorials I was keen to get my hands on a copy!

The book follows Cut Out + Keep (an awesome craft tutorial sharing website) founders Cat Morley & Tom Waddington on an eight month journey across the US sharing a craft tutorial inspired by their experience of each state. Paired with the tutorials are informative snippets and photographs of the sights they visited along the way making this so much more than just another craft book.

The projects featured cover a wide variety of crafts from sewing to crochet, jewellery making, paper crafts and upcycling, meaning there truly is something for everyone. The design itself is colourful, fun and the tutorials are shared in a clear format making them simple to follow with step-by-step images and large photographs of the final pieces.

Of all the fun projects included in the book my favourite would have to be the Michigan inspired License Plate notebook (pictured above) as I think it's such a clever upcycling idea and love how the finished journals look. Other eye-catching ideas include the etched Wanted Sign Mirror (Utah), hand printed Roll-up Shopping Tote (Minnesota), upcycled Food Truck Napkin Holder (Ohio) and string art Neon Sign Chalkboard (Rhode Island) which I'm really looking forward to trying out for myself sometime!

If you're looking for an inspirational mix of craft and travel Around The USA In 50 Craft Projects would be a great book to add to your collection!

  This post was previously shared over on e-eliseetc

No comments

Saturday 14 March 2015

Bookish Links #1

Happy Saturday everyone! Lately we've been looking to add some more non-review content here at BB so what better way to kick off the weekend than with a few book-themed clickables! Here's a few bookish articles we've been enjoying this week...

1/ YALC Is Back! - last year's YA literature festival was such a success that the event will be back in 2015! Find out more about who will be there and how to book your tickets over in Fangirlish's latest post.

2/ Which John Green Heroine Are You? - we know a lot of our reader's are big fans of this YA author, find out which heroine you're most like with this fun quiz from Buzzfeed!

3/ Bookniture?! - if you want your home decor to show off your bibliophile status these clever books that transform into tables or stools definitely fit the bill!

4/ 1989 Book To Album - if you're T.Swizzle fan you'll love this Tumblr post from booksthatstartwitha which shares reading recommendations for each song on the album, perfect for choosing your next read!

5/ Penguin's Little Black Classics - these little gems celebrate 80 years of Penguin and retail for just 80p each. They've been popping up all over the internet this week but we really enjoyed Becky's post on her collection.

Don't forget to leave us your favourite bookish links in the comments!
1 comment

Wednesday 11 March 2015

All The Bright Places | Jennifer Niven | Reviewed by Christina

All The Bright Places moved me. So much. Theodore Finch is known for being a bit wacky & unpredictable. Nicknamed Theodore "Freak", Finch is used to being noticed for all the wrong reasons and spends most of his time thinking of ways to kill himself. Violet Markey can't wait for Graduation after the death of her sister. Although a typically "popular" girl, Violet is unhappy and can't see a way out. When the two meet in an unfortunate circumstance on the ledge of the school bell tower, it isn't clear who saved who but when the two otherwise strangers get together for a school project, they discover things about themselves and each other that they never knew. 

The two characters in this book are just lovely. I felt myself more drawn to Finch than I was to Violet, but I still loved them both just the same. I really enjoyed being inside each character's head and understanding their thoughts, as the story is told from alternating points of view. The adults in this book were probably the most disappointing aspect and whilst I understand that it was probably intentional that almost every adult in this book was useless, it really annoyed me and I wanted to scream at the school Counselor and Finch's mom numerous times throughout the book. The only adults in this book that were anywhere near acceptable were Violet's parents - who were going through a great deal themselves and despite wanting to protect their now only child, still managed to pull it together and actually be responsible adults. 

The plot held on to my heart throughout and ripped it out at the end with a sort of predictable conclusion. I saw it coming throughout the second-half of the book and understood the downward spiral, but I equally enjoyed watching it play out and dreaded what was coming. The quotes and references in this book were one of my favourite aspects - along with the facts about suicide as they added an extra layer to the story that I wasn't expecting. I don't like when people compare books to other books, but I would say that if you enjoy John Green's style of writing, you will enjoy All The Bright Places. 

Germ Magazine, the online publication that is written by Violet has actually been created IRL by Jennifer Niven, which I think is amazing! So if you've read this book, definitely check out the online Magazine too. I've also just heard that the book is being made into a film and that Elle Fanning is starring in it - so I'm super excited for that!

Trigger Warning: I wouldn't advise reading this book if you are at all sensitive to issues of mental health & suicide. 

This review was written by regular reviewer Christina, read more about her here
1 comment
Mini Collab | Top 5 Must-Read YA Dystopian Series

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Mini Collab | Top 5 Must-Read YA Dystopian Series

must read ya christina

Christina's Top 5: 

1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – my all-time favourite dystopian series (although I’ve only read the first two and half of the third) about a world in which cosmetic surgery is forced upon every teenagers’ life as they reach their sixteenth birthday. It’s an oldie, but a goodie!

2. The Rain by Virginia Bergin – a great dystopian duology about Ruby, a young teen who must learn to survive after the world discovers the rain is poisonous and one drop can kill you.

3. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau – one of the first dystopian books I read, this series is similar to Hunger Games but with a different twist.

4. The Program by Suzanne Young – a dystopian duology about a society in which suicide is an epidemic and The Program has been created to erase the minds of the “infected.”

5. Halo by Frankie Rose – again, another I’ve only read the first book in the series but this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. A dystopian book where the main character runs away from her town after killing her best friend in an organised fight to the death and must learn to survive outside of everything she has ever known.

must read ya erin

Erin's Top 5:

1. Unwind by Neil Shusterman - often overlooked this four book series has a very intriguing concept. Taking place in a world where parents can choose to have the teenagers 'unwound', a process where all of their organs are transplanted into different recipients, the series explores what is it to be human.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I couldn't make a top YA dystopian list without including one of the most well-known series and the first one of the genre I read!

3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - another popular series this trilogy follows groups of teens through various 'trials' in a future version of the world where a disease called the Flare has wiped out most of the population.

4. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau - this well-paced series follows Cia who is chosen to attend the prestigious University in a time where the current students will become the future leaders of this post-war world. With plenty of action and a few little twists along the way this series is a great read for fans of the genre.

5. Slated by Teri Terry - this UK-based trilogy is one of the more believable dystopian setups and effortlessly takes you alongside protagonist Kyla on her complicated journey after she has been 'slated' meaning her memories have been erased.

must read ya anjali

Anjali's Top 5:

1. Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare - one of my favourite fantasy series for teens and young adults. I love the story line, and the characters and yes, the books are better than the movie.

2. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth - in terms of dystopian series, Roth's books are at the top of that list for me. I read them in the space of about 2-3 days, and loved them. Having said that, I still haven't seen the movie.

3. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
- another great dystopian YA series, which I don't think gets enough credit. I really want to re-read these this year.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - it may be an obvious choice, but the books are just really great!

5. Variant by Robison Wells - while this series is only two books long, I was immediately hooked on the first pages of Variant, and couldn't stop reading. A great couple of books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The whole time.

Which series would make your list?

This post was written by Christina, Anjali & Erin. Get to know them on our Meet The Team page!
Being A Book Blogger | Interview With Bee aka Vivatramp

Saturday 7 March 2015

Being A Book Blogger | Interview With Bee aka Vivatramp

Welcome to another edition of Being A Book Blogger where today I'm talking to Vivatramp's author Bee! Here's what she had to say about childhood favourites, book spine poetry and being Luna Lovegood for the day... 

bee vivatramp interview

BB: For any of our readers who haven't discovered Vivatramp yet could you tell us a little bit more about yourself and the blog?

Oh, hai! I'm Bee and I'm a Creative Writing undergraduate, lifestyle blogger and all round bookish person that lives by the seaside in the South West of England. Vivatramp is my little space of the internet where I share my adventures, snippets of creativity, general bookish musings, monthly goals and various lists.

BB: Where does your passion for reading come from and how did you get into reviewing?

I've always been fascinated by books, even from a very early age. My Grandma would read stories to me every night until I fell asleep. However, I think my passion for reading alone really stemmed from my Mum allowing me access to her 1970's copies of the 21 Famous Five books. I remember reading a few in a day, lapping up their adventures and forever being jealous that no one took me on picnics complete with lashings of ginger beer. Unfortunately, they still don't!

bee vivatramp interview

BB: Of all your reviews so far which are you most proud of, and which did you find the most difficult to write?

I'm quite proud of all of my reviews, so I wouldn't say that there is one that stands out for me. If I'm honest, I find that the hardest ones to write are the reviews for books I really liked. I never feel like I've put my complete adoration across!

BB: We're always looking for new titles to add to our TBR lists. Which 3 books do you recommend everyone should read?

This is such a hard question to answer! Submarine by Joe Dunthorne is one of the funniest yet most incredibly warm books I have ever read. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver is a really important short story collection for me, and you'll be hard pushed to find a better short story writer. I would also recommend Just Kids by Patti Smith. I have lost a lot of hours lately wishing I could be as articulate as her!

BB: As well as book reviews we also love that you share creative writing posts including a recent feature on book spine poetry. Could you tell us a little bit more about how you came across the idea?

I have always been interested in literature and the way in which we, as individuals, express ourselves so I used to actively seek out fun and new ways to combine those things. I'm not entirely sure where I came across this idea, because it's one of those that seems to have been on the internet for a very long time, but I'm so glad I did. There's a great video on it over on The Art Assignment's youtube, actually, that may prove to be useful:

bee vivatramp interview

BB: Do you have any particular childhood favourites that have stuck with you into adulthood?

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graeme has always been, and always will be, one of my favourite books. When I was younger, I was enthralled by the characters. I remember thinking Toad was very silly. However, as I've got older I've come to appreciate it for its veiled Edwardian critique of industrialisation and the unsettled class structure. It's a stunning read, and one that always feels like home to me.

BB: If you could swap lives for the day with any fictional character who would it be and why?

I would swap lives with Luna Lovegood, because I am a Ravenclaw with a desperate need to roam the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! I am so original, I know. I just can't help myself. I'm sorry.

BB: Last up, we have to ask... which book blogs are your favourites to read? Any favourite booktubers you think we should be subscribed to?

I'm going to be really honest here...I don't actually read many book blogs which is terrible of me, I know. I need to devote some time to finding some book bloggers that I really love! I do, however, love Jennie over at The Book Journal and Blair over at Learn This Phrase. As far as booktubers go, I have quite a few favourites. You should definitely be subscribed to WeLiveForBooks, foolishoats, frenchiedee, theheavyblanks, MercysBookishMusings, RonLit, SteveReadsBooks, readsusieread, StephanieSpinesandTim, OneSmallPaw and climbthestacks if you aren't already!

Where To Find Bee Online: Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Bee 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 for information!

Images c/o Bee
The Memory Keepers | Natasha Ngan | Reviewed by Ria

Wednesday 4 March 2015

The Memory Keepers | Natasha Ngan | Reviewed by Ria

*image via GoodReads

"No one can take your memories from you... can they?"

In a futuristic London, the world is divided. Living in the dirty slums of the South is Seven, a orphan and a thief, but what he trades and steals aren’t your average black market items. Seven steals memories. He’s a Skid Thief and pretty proud of his ability to surf the memories he illegally comes across.

Then there’s Alba White, the teenage daughter of London’s most unforgiving criminal prosecutor. She lives in the rich, over indulgent North, where you’re nothing if you’re not keeping up with appearances and you never stray too far from the status quo.

Their worlds collide on one fateful night, when Seven is sent on a thieving job to break into Alba’s father’s private memorium. She catches him red handed but instead of turning him in she offers him a deal. She’ll keep her mouth shut if he shows her how to surf memories - something her overbearing, high-society mother would never let her do. He agrees, but when they do, they uncover hidden secrets about Seven’s past and a classified government experiments surrounding The Memory Keepers…

So what’s my verdict?

After reading The Elites, I was super excited to get my hands on Ngan’s second novel. This one sits in the familiar yet fresh territory of dystopian/utopian fiction. You have your supposedly status quo world of a divided London with some serious income equality and crime problems. We have our two leads, Alba and Seven, in a sort a-typical Romeo and Juliet/two star crossed lovers from opposite ends of the social system type romance - though in this case it’s safe to say it was not love at first sight, more like love at first death threat. And we have our futuristic tech, memory surfing and memory trading. The premise of re-visiting and erasing memories certainly isn’t new, but the way Ngan presented it makes it feel fresh.

Now for a little detail. Seven is a character I feel like I’ve seen before, he’s a scruffy teenage orphan, cynical and extremely street-wise. A loveable rogue, I feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface of with Seven. Alba on the other hand for me is the more interesting of the two. She’s jaded about her privilege and her life in the North. Plus despite having two parents, she’s basically raised herself on her own moral code. Her rocky relationship with her mother, Oxanna, offers a nice dynamic shift from seeing a father-figure become the overbearing parent.

The plot, as I said, feels familiar. It’s fast paced, the secrets revealed aren’t wholly unpredictable but I like to think it’s because I was really clever and figured it out ;) What really drives this plot is Alba and Seven’s relationship with each other. The development in their relationship is what will keep you going and I found myself wanting to read on because I totally shipped them from the get-go. It helps that the story is written from a dual perspective so we get all their feelings and emotions as a running commentary to the plot. The ending and final 'battle’ do actually felt a bit rushed though, and despite what's everything Alba and Seven have gone though the resolution feels a mix too easy.

Ultimately The Memory Keepers feels like it’s aimed at a younger YA audience than The Elites. I for one would love to know more about the politics of the world and the inner workings of the criminal underground, but I get how hard that would’ve been considering the structure of the narrative. It's an interesting ride none-the-less and I'm itching to read more.

Reading soundtrack:
I Know Places: Taylor Swift; Sedated: Hozier; I'll Follow You Into The Dark: Death Cab For Cutie; Yellow Flicker Beat: Lorde; Love Is Blindness: Jack White; Temporary Bliss: The Cab

For lovers of...Divergent, The Body Electric (Beth Revis), and Delirium
1 comment

Monday 2 March 2015

The Island | Jen Minkman | Reviewed by Erin

At the beginning of this short dystopian novella we meet Leia and her twin brother Colin on their tenth birthday. In their society this is the day they officially become adults and leave home until they are older, married and can return. Skipping forward six years we rejoin the twins in their new lives, where they have learnt survival skills and mostly fend for themselves, following the rules set out by ‘The Book’. Just when you start to get a feel for where the story might be going things take a bit of a strange twist with the influence of a certain well-known Fantasy series creeping in to the story’s world-building.

At first I found the concept intriguing as it differs from other dystopian tales in that the main characters are only ten years old when their journey begins but for a short while it also felt familiar in terms of the way the world and characters were introduced. As the story progressed it took it’s unique turn. As for the twist, which I won't give away in this review, I had spotted some of the references, or clues, from the start but had no idea what part they would play, if any, in the origins of the world I was reading about.

Having read some online reviews I noticed that the author, Jen Minkman, had personally commented on them and learnt that the novella was originally written as an entry to a short story competition. This explains why the character development was a little disappointing and some parts of the story were not as fleshed out as they could have been.

Despite the fact that the book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting when I stumbled across it on the Kindle store I found the idea very unique and it definitely felt different to others in the genre. Although The Island isn’t necessarily a new favourite for me it did leave me feeling curious as to how the author came up with the idea and what may be revealed in the sequels – another novella and a full length novel.

If you’re looking for a quick, interesting read with a unique twist this may be the novella for you.

No comments
© Blogger's Bookshelf • Theme by Maira G.