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.


Tuesday 31 July 2018

How to be a Grown Up | Daisy Buchanan | Review

Do you ever feel like you haven't quite figured out this grown up thing yet? I definitely do. In fact, I even wrote a whole post about being an almost grown up a few years ago (which you can find here, if you are interested) and most of the things I said then are still very much true. Sometimes it feels like everyone else took an exam on adulting and I'm just winging it. 

Luckily for me, Daisy Buchanan clocked on to this culture of improvisation and wrote a whole book all about facing the real world. How to be a Grown Up is for the twenty-somethings who haven't quite figure things out yet. With chapters on money, style, love and plenty of other topics, this book is full of plenty of comforting, supportive and down-right hilarious advice which comes from Daisy's own experiences. The fact that the chapters are rooted in her own life make How to be a Grown Up feel like you are sat with an old (and incredibly wise) friend with a cup of coffee, trying to put the world to rights.

The fact that Daisy made these mistakes and came out of the other side means that this book is not at all preachy but truly and utterly reassuring. I finished reading this book feeling like I had just been wrapped up in a giant hug and immediately wanting to pass my copy of How to be a Grown Up on to all of my friends. It's the book you need if you ever feel like you haven't quite figured something out. 

A word of warning however: this book is hilarious and should be read by everyone BUT some of these chapters aren't family friendly. Save this one for your 20 -something friends. They'll love it.

Kelly x
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Friday 27 July 2018

Love Her Wild | Atticus | Review

There is nothing
prettier in the
whole wide world
than a girl
in love
with every breath she takes.”
Canadian Instagram sensation, Atticus, has been making people swoon over his words for years now, and lucky for us, it doesn't look like he'll be stopping any time soon. If you're unfamiliar with Atticus, he is an anonymous short-form poet, who shares his stunning words on Instagram (and now also Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest). Check out this interview with him on The Globe and Mail to read more about why he keeps his identity a secret, and why he writes what he does.

" Love Her Wild, Atticus captures what is both raw and relatable about the smallest and the grandest moments in life: the first glimpse of a new love in Paris; skinny dipping on a summer’s night; the irrepressible exuberance of the female spirit; or drinking whiskey in the desert watching the rising sun. With honesty, poignancy, and romantic flair, Atticus distils the most exhilarating highs and the heartbreaking lows of life and love into a few perfectly evocative lines, ensuring that his words will become etched in your mind—and will awaken your sense of adventure." - Goodreads

Love Her Wild is his first book, which is a compilation of some of his best words, interspersed with his signature black and white, whimsical photos. The book is cut up into three sections: Love, Her and Wild. Love focuses on first loves, lost loves, heartbreaks and butterflies; Her is about a girl, her soul, her personality, her being; and Wild is more about nature, being in it, seeing it, experiencing it via someone else.

What good are wings without the courage to fly?” 

I've never been a big poetry fan. I enjoy it, but most of the time it's too long and I struggle if there's no Dr. Seuss like rhythm (thanks, parents). What I love most about Atticus' poetry is how in just a few words he captures your attention, makes you think, encourages, and gives hope, and, of course, those warm fuzzies. It's short, it's bittersweet, it's to the point, it's wonderful.

The hardest
we all
must take
is to blindly
trust in
who we are."

If you've discovered Atticus on Instagram, then do pick up a copy of his book. While the internet is great for sharing these poems, there's something about holding a collection like this in your hands, and having the chance to go back to the words time and time again.

His second compilation, The Dark Between Stars, comes out in September, and I've pre-ordered a copy. I think I could get into poetry after this, and I'll gladly take suggestions.

Check out Ria's poetry post: Falling Back In Love With Poetry.
Also read Blogger's Bookshelf very own poetry using book spines in this fun collaborative post here.
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Wednesday 25 July 2018

Art Starts With A Line | Erin McManness | Review

*Review copy c/o Netgalley

It’s been a little while since I last reviewed an art/craft book but as soon as I saw Art Starts With A Line I was drawn in by the beautiful pastel cover design. Written and illustrated by Erin McManness, the owner of greeting card and gift company Paper Raven Co, the book shares a range of tips and techniques for mastering the art of line drawing and is a perfect guide for beginners.

The book begins with a guide to tools and materials, covering pens, pencils, paints and more, showing the different effects that can be created. It then splits into sections focusing on a range of different subject areas including borders, lettering, plants, animals and even iconic landmarks. There is also a short but informative section discussing how to work digitally with step-by-step guides on scanning and editing in Photoshop.

art starts with a line illustration book review

One of my favourite things about the book is the fact that the author encourages an interactive experience with sections to practise the various techniques right there on the pages - although sadly as I had a digital copy I had to dig out a sketchbook instead! I also really enjoyed the design of the book overall and how some of the ideas such as the illustrated borders are incorporated into it.

Whilst the majority of the content covers basic techniques there are also elements that I’m sure will appeal to those simply looking to improve upon their illustration skills or find new inspiration. Although I don’t use a bullet journal or scrapbook myself I can certainly see how this would be a great little guide full of ideas on how to jazz up your pages and make more personalised designs. I also think the techniques included in Art Starts With A Line would be fantastic for using on homemade cards, or even to create unique pieces of illustrated art for your home.
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Monday 23 July 2018

BB Book Club | August's Book Is...

book club travelling in the dark

'Set in the wild and unreliable landscape of southern New Zealand, Travelling in the Dark is an evocative story of a woman coming to terms with her past.'

I'm going to be really honest with you and admit that I really struggled with what to pick for this months book club. Don't get me wrong, I adore a good short story collection but as five out of seven of our BB book club titles so far have been anthologies I knew that I wanted to switch things up for August's pick. Whilst this seemed like a great plan in theory, all of the potential ideas I had noted down over the last 10 months or so seemed to be short story collections so I took to the bookshops for inspiration. Even after perusing all (yes, all) the shelves at my local Waterstones I was still lacking inspiration until I stumbled across this Instagram post showcasing the newly released Fairlight Moderns collection.

The collection features five novellas set in different locations across the globe and whilst I know we're told we shouldn't judge books by their covers, with beautiful designs like these it would have been difficult for them not to catch my eye! I headed over to the publisher's website, read the descriptions of all five titles and decided that Travelling In The Dark sounded like an interesting story. As Team BB is currently a combination of bloggers based in the UK and New Zealand and the book was penned by Emma Timpany, who was born in NZ and now resides in the UK, I took this as the first sign that it would be the perfect for pick for the book club! The second sign was when I realised that I recognised the author's name as there's another BB connection; Emma edited Cornish Short Stories which features The Haunting Of Bodmin Jail by Team BB's very own Stasia.

If you'd like to read along with this month's selection, head over to Book Depository (who offer free worldwide shipping), Amazon or your local bookstore to pick up a copy.

Once you've read the book you can share your thoughts through this Google form, by the 24th of August deadline. This month we've included many of our usual feedback questions but also taken inspiration from the book club notes on the publisher's website.

You can also use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub to share your book photos, thoughts and mini reviews with us, and sign up for our newsletter to make sure you don't miss out on any future updates!

If this month's book doesn't sounds like your kind of thing check back next month for Ria's next pick!
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Sunday 22 July 2018

BB Book Club | July 2018 Roundup | Portuguese Irregular Verbs

This year we decided to launch our very own online book club, with a new book for you to join us in reading every month. Our July title was Portuguese Irregular Verbs, a quirky short story collection selected by Anjali. Here's our July infographic to tell you a little bit more...

Reader's comments & favourite quotes:

"I really enjoyed this quirky book. Von Igelfeld was super odd but also brilliant in an endearing way." - Anjali @ This Splendid Shambles

And as we lost the words, we lost the texture of the world that went with them.

"I had no idea what to expect from Portuguese Irregular Verbs but found it to be a unique read with some quirky characters!" - Erin @ A Natural Detour

Thank you to everyone who read along with us this month! If you would like to get involved with next month's BB Book Club check back here tomorrow where Erin will be introducing her selection for August.

You can also sign up to our mailing list to make sure you don't miss out on any future book club updates!

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Friday 20 July 2018

Features | A Summer Reading List

The sun is out and summer holidays are here. Long days and breaks from school or work mean plenty of time to relax and enjoy your favourite hobby. They also mean it's time to get serious about summer reading and I am here to help you build your perfect summer reading list.

The first thing you need for a comprehensive summer reading list is a cosy classic. My recommendations are I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith or Emma by Jane Austen, but any comfy story from a bygone era featuring lots of important walks in the countryside and innocent misunderstandings that almost ruin everything will do.

The next thing every summer reading list needs is a romance to make you swoon. For this I recommend Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins or Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, two sweet high school romances guaranteed to give you that summer love feeling.

No summer reading list is complete without a mystery to keep you gripped at the side of the pool. For an update on a classic mystery duo, go with Brittany Cavallaro's Sherlock Holmes retelling, A Study in Charlotte, or for something a little more mind-bending try Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart.

Summer days are good and long, giving you plenty of time to sink your teeth into something a bit more epic. If you're looking for a fast-paced, political fantasy, I recommend the Rebel of the Sands series by Alwyn Hamilton. If complex heists are more your thing then you can't go wrong with Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows duology.

Finally, what would a summer reading list be without a little bit of magic? My recommendations for modern stories with just a hint of the supernatural are Wing Jones by Katherine Webber, which features a small dose of corner of the eye magic, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, which features more than a small dose of straight on supernatural.
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Tuesday 17 July 2018

Know Your Place | Edited by Nathan Connolly | Review

Know Your Place is a collection of essays on the working class, which have all been written by the working class. A variety of writers share their thoughts on what it means to be working class and how it has impacted them, all of them brought together by the great editing work of Nathan Connolly.

I have always been a fan of this book, even before I read it. In fact, I liked it so much that I donated to the Kickstarter campaign as soon as I heard the pitch about it.

Despite a clear focus to the theme of working class, each of these essays bring something new to the topic. Throughout the collection, everything from mental health to the seaside and food is discussed in an interesting and informative way. Many of the essays brought up topics and connections that I wouldn't have considered by myself. It was certainly thought-provoking and meant that Know Your Place had my full attention every time that I picked it up and began to turn its pages.

I enjoyed each of the essays in Know Your Place, though for varying reasons.  I might not have agreed 100% with all of them but it is always good to read some opinions that are not your own.

However, I do have some favourites in the collection that I would wholeheartedly recommend. The first of these is 'The Pleasure Button' by Laura Waddell, which was an illuminating read about the relationship between money, food and enjoyment. I also loved Sian Norris' 'Growing Up Outside  Class', about the intersection between sexuality and class, and 'What Colour is a Chameleon?' by Rym Kechacha. This is about the way language has developed and how we choose to adapt. Both of these were truly fascinating reads.

I'm so glad that I picked up this book and took the time to read it. It is not often that I take the time to read non-fiction and Know Your Place has reminded me why I really, really should.

Kelly x
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Sunday 15 July 2018

Send Us Your Thoughts On Our July Book Club Pick!

We really hope you're enjoying our July BB book club pick Portuguese Irregular Verbs, a collection of unusual tales chosen by Anjali. There's just under a week left to send us your opinions to be featured in our July roundup and infographic so make sure you click through to the Google form if you'd like to get involved!

If you haven't had time to read the book don't worry, we'll be announcing August's pick in just over a week's time.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs

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Friday 13 July 2018

BB Book Club | UK vs USA Book Title Changes

If you missed this month’s Book Club announcement, we’re reading Alexander McCall Smith’s book, Portuguese Irregular Verbs. Head on back to that original post to get an overview of what it’s about.

In short, it’s a book about a philology professor (philology is the study of written language), and his adventures. As part of July’s language-y theme, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the ways in which language works in the books we read. In a recent post called Book Titles In Other Languages, we took a look at the changes that book titles go through when they’re being translated into or out of English. 

In my research for that post I found quite a few book titles that didn’t change between languages, but rather changed across English itself, most commonly between the United Kingdom and the United States (and sometimes Canada, though Canada titles and US titles were often the same). 

A book's title will change when it is being published in a new country for a few reasons; the words aren't relevant or don't mean the same thing as they do in the original country, if it's a saying that's not well known or used in the new country then it might change, the overall concept is slightly different, or the publishers think it'll do better with an altered name. 

Check out this infographic of UK vs USA book titles that have changed names as they’ve travelled over the Atlantic. 

A few honourable mentions:

P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie have numerous titles between them that have changed.

Jenny Nimmo, the English author who wrote the Charlie Bone series, also had ‘Charlie Bone and the’ added to the beginning of most American versions, as well as a multitude of other alterations.

Further afield, Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally was originally called Schindler’s Ark, and was changed when the Australian novel was released in America. 

Can you think of anymore? Perhaps it’s an Australian or New Zealand novel that’s been changed up for the English or American market? Do share! 
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Thursday 12 July 2018

The Summer Of Us | Cecilia Vinesse | Review

I'd read one of Cecilia's books before, Seven Days Of You, and while it was alright I wasn't the biggest fan. But, as I felt it was just the storyline/setting and not the writing style that was putting me off I thought I'd try out her next novel The Summer Of Us*. Lucky I did as I really enjoyed it! 

Aubrey and Rae have been planning their trip around Europe practically from the moment they became BFFs in primary school. And, now, it ought to be the perfect way to spend their last summer together before university.

But things are more complicated at eighteen than they were at ten. There's Jonah, Aubrey's seemingly perfect boyfriend, and his best friend Gabe, the boy Aubrey may have accidentally kissed. And there's Clara, the friend Rae is crushing on, hard, even though there's no hope because Clara is definitely into guys, not girls.

Five friends. Ten days. Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Florence, Barcelona. And a messy, complicated, can-this-really-be happening love story, or two ... because how could there not be?

Europe and YA together create rather predictable storylines but hey ho this wasn't too bad. While you could guess how the book would end, the middle wasn't as easy to predict and parts were actually surprising to me. I enjoyed most of the interactions between the five friends, however, Rae and Aubrey's relationship mostly just irritated me. There were a few select moments where their relationship was actually a nice proper friendship but for most of the book, I felt they were really snippy with each other and not at all best friends. Oh and yes for the gayness, even though it felt a little awkward.

The thing I loved about this book is the trip they took. I can imagine if I still lived in England I might have gone on an interrailing trip after I finished High School like these guys. Imagine simply taking a train to different places all over Europe in a few weeks. That's not something that's easy now in New Zealand! I know things like this is possible but the fact that Aubrey and Gabe went on a day trip to Rome. A day trip to Rome??? I'd like to visit Rome one day, and books like these take you there for a short moment as they suck you in.

If you like fluffy YA and can deal with teenagers being a little bit dramatic then I totally recommend picking this up. Also be prepared to slightly have mini heart attacks every time a 17/18-year-old goes wandering alone around a foreign country where they can't speak the language... cuz I did that frequently!

*Received as a review copy, however, all opinions are my own.
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Sunday 8 July 2018

Bookish Links #44

bookish links

1. Decluttering Tips - we all need to declutter from time to time so if your book collection is in need of a cull you'll appreciate Emma's advice.

2. Sparking Creativity - this post explores the somewhat unusual rituals used by a selection of famous authors.

3. By The Sea - summer is finally here and Jamie has your beach reading list covered!

4. Read More - Lizzie shared some great tips on how to find time to read more. Do you have any more to add to the list?

5. Reflecting On 2017 - Marie shared what she learnt about her reading over the course of last year.

6. Digital Books - are you a fan of e-readers? Amy recently shared six reasons why she's a firm fan of her Kindle.

7. Reads For Kids - if you're looking for an amazing children's book for your own family or to give as a gift Rosie has seven great recommendations.

8. Reviewing The Stats - always feeling like you never have anything to read? Kerri felt the same way and for this post over on Bustle she decided to explore why.

9. Feminist Fiction - Cia shared her top recommendations of books every feminist should read.

Links From The BB Archives... Wish You Were Where? | Jellicoe Road | Rose Under Fire

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Friday 6 July 2018

Features | Short Story Collections

I love short story collections at this time of year, when it's so hot I can barely concentrate on one thing for more than a few minutes before I'm desperate to run for the ocean, or just another iced coffee. A good short story can be perfect for reading on the beach, during holiday travel, or in a cool bath while you're calming your accidental sunburn (not that I speak from personal experience during this heatwave...) and I am here with suggestions to help you find the perfect short story collection to fit in between all your summer activities. Or to just read in one go while lounging in the garden.

Diving Belles by Lucy Wood

Diving Belles is a magical collection of short stories based all around the Cornish coast, featuring tales of giants, drowning houses, and lonely divers, every story is unexpected and enchanting. For dazzling seaside tales, Diving Belles is the one.

Summer Days, Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

Featuring stories from twelve well loved authors, including editor Stephanie Perkins, Summer Days, Summer Nights is a perfect mixture of YA summer romances to fall in love with, ideal for reading by the pool or on the way to your summer holiday destination.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke

A spin-off of sorts from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a collection of dark, magical tales, diving into the fairy tale world of Clarke's debut novel, but focusing this time on the many magical women of that world. Don't be turned away if you haven't read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, there are no spoilers here and this is perfect for reading under dappled sunlight streaming through the tree tops.

Cornish Short Stories edited by Emma Timpany and Felicity Notley

I might be a little biased, as I happen to be one of the writers included in Cornish Short Stories but this collection of stories set all around Cornwall is perfect for an afternoon spent traipsing on the moors, or settling down in a beach cave, away from the sea breeze.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

And last but certainly not least, one of my favourite short story collections, Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. A creepy collection of spooky and supernatural stories, ideal for reading in the cooling sunset hours, as the sky gets dark and the ghosts begin to take over...
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Tuesday 3 July 2018

Eve of Man | Giovanna & Tom Fletcher | Review

It would be exceptionally difficult not to have heard of Giovanna & Tom Fletcher at this point as these guys have a lot of strings to their bows. Among other things, they are both published and celebrated writers. Now, I haven't actually read any of their previous works but the synopsis of Eve of Man, their first joint novel, really caught my attention. It also helped that it has an absolutely gorgeous cover, which appealed to the bookish magpie in me.

When it was decided that my dad owed me a book, this was my first choice. I swiftly bumped it up my vast TBR and I'm glad that I prioritised it.

This is the story of Eve, the first female to be born in fifty years. Surviving against the odds, Eve is kept safe in a tower far above the violent riots of the city. She is happy in the knowledge that she can save the world, if she only does exactly what she is told.  Until she meets Bram and realises that she has been lied to. Now, she wants freedom and control - the two things she has always been denied.

This is a good book, which weaves in some interesting ideas about freedom and sacrifice that I found particularly interesting. I also loved the characters of Eve and Bram and how they interacted. It was a refreshingly positive relationship and I was definitely rooting for them. The dystopian society they had found themselves in certainly made it difficult for them to figure out their changing relationship. In fact, I would love to find out more about the world itself in the later books that we have been promised. I think it holds a lot of potential that I would like to see explored.

While this book didn't blow me away, I did really enjoy it and it was a lovely bit of escapism. I would recommend it, especially if you are lucky enough to have a holiday lined up. I think it would be the perfect read for devouring by the pool.

Kelly x

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