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WELCOME TO BLOGGER'S BOOKSHELF...

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.

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Friday, 17 May 2019

Love Lie Repeat | Catherine Greer | Review


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

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

Together, we’re strong.

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

I'll keep us together.

Watch me. - Goodreads


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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Books on the Top of My Wish List


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


Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak (Out Oct 2018)

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

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


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

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

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


Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt (Out 2017 again oops)

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

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


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

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

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


Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell (out August 2019 woo)

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

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


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

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Friday, 3 May 2019

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


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

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Book Club | May 2019 - From The Penguin Modern Series


For our 2019 BB Book Club we've put together a printable list of twelve different prompts. On the 1st day of each month, we'll be introducing you to the month's prompt and the books team members each plan to read, along with some other suggested reads we think you'll love. Of course, these are just ideas so please feel free to interpret the prompts however you wish!

We're also inviting you to share photos and mini reviews of your book club picks on social media using #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

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


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


What we'll be reading...


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

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

Anjali's Pick: Fame by Andy Warhol

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

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

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


Other suggested reads...

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

 
Use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month!
 
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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Book Club | April 2019 Roundup

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

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





A post shared by Rachel (@booksinmyhallway) on


Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis


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



View this post on Instagram

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

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








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

Romanov | Nadine Brandes | Review


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

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

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

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

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

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Friday, 19 April 2019

Features | An Evening with Sarah J Maas


Sarah J Maas ended her Kingdom of Ash tour here in Auckland, New Zealand.

I headed along to the one-hour event (way to short a time, I have to say!), and gathered together with about 200 others. This was definitely the biggest author event I've ever been to (hearing Justin Cronin a few years back happened in a library and there were about 50 people, and going to Oxford and hearing R.J. Anderson was about 50 as well), but it was such a fun feeling being surrounded by so many who loved the worlds that Maas has created.

She chatted most about her Throne of Glass series, as the tour was for the final book in this series, Kingdom of Ash, but did also throw in some bits and pieces about her other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses.

One of the most amusing and interesting things she talked about right at the beginning was the drama that happened just two days before the book went to the printers last year: there were too many pages (coming in at over 1000!) and the glue they were going to be using to bind it all up wasn't strong enough! All the editing had already been long finished, and there was nothing that could really be easily cut out to lower the page numbers. Instead, they had to figure out ways to lose about 10 pages by making the font smaller, and narrowing the margins. It now comes in at just under 1000 pages, but it had never occurred to me that gluing a book would have any issues!


Sarah also talked about the importance of strong, kick-ass female characters, something her books are full of. As a child she would love watching movies like Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and always pretend she was Indiana or Luke running around doing cool things. When she got older and discovered things like Buffy and Sailor Moon she learnt the importance of strong female characters leading the way, and now writes some of the strongest female characters in YA.

As well as some questions from Kiran Dass, who was chairing the event, there was time at the end for just a few questions from the audience. One of them was 'If all your characters were in the Hunger Games, who would win?' Sarah thought about it for a minute or so and then grouped some of her characters together from each series, and then made super groups of characters crossing over into each series (some from one joining forces with some from the other), and some characters she said wouldn't even make it through and would be the first to die. Ha!

In January 2020 Maas is releasing her first 'adult' genre book, called House of Earth and Blood, the first in a new series called Crescent City. While it's labelled 'adult', it's on a similar maturity level as ACOTAR, so, she explained, didn't really feel like she was branching out into another age group. But adult or young adult, I'm looking forward to seeing what that book will bring.

Now just to actually finish both the Throne of Glass and ACOTAR series... eek!
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The Hobbit | J.R.R. Tolkien | BBC Radio 4 | Dramatised Audio Book | Review

Listening to dramatised audio books seems to be becoming a habit.

This is the third BBC Radio 4 dramatised production* of an audio book I've 'read' now, and, much like the others, it didn't cease to entertain.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my favourite books; I remember being read it as a child of probably 8 or 9, going on to re-read it for myself, then having it as an English book one year in high school (I got all high marks for my assignments because I both loved the book and knew it so well already). Since the high school reading, I've probably read it once more, but have been meaning to re-read it for the past few years. When I spotted this BBC Radio 4 dramatised version of the audio book at the library, I thought it would be a fun way of 'reading' it once more.

This audio book was a joy to listen to; while there aren't as many voices as there are characters (there are 13 dwarves for goodness sake! That would be a huge cast!), it's done in such a way that you don't really notice it at all. There's a narrator, of sorts, and Bilbo does all his thinking out loud for the benefit for the listeners. Dramatised versions, if you're not familiar, also include things like sound effects and music to fill in some of the scenes when written descriptions or visual aid would normally be used. This means it's basically like watching a movie version, just without the visual aspects.

There were some parts which were a bit odd to me - like some of the pronunciation of names - and some voices which didn't seem quite right, however, on the whole it was a very enjoyable production, once again, from the BBC Radio 4 team.

The dramatised version is abridged, so it's shorter than the 'normal' audio book, coming in at just 3hours 42minutes, so you can easily get through it in a day.

You can actually listen to the full production for free online, or check out your local library to see if they have a copy on CD or Overdrive.

Have you listened to The Hobbit? 

*Check out Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and also Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. 
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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo | Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

the seven husbands of evelyn hugo taylor jenkins reid

The internet was right, The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is a great read.

After opening with a New York Tribune clipping announcing that famous Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo will be auctioning off some of her most famous gowns to raise money for breast cancer research, we are introduced to magazine reporter Monique who, much to the surprise of both herself and her boss, is personally asked for by Evelyn to cover the event. As it turns out Evelyn has an ulterior motive; she wants Monique to write her life story and share it with the world.

The book spans several decades of Evelyn’s life, following her rise to fame and all of the heartbreak along the way, with each section relating to one of her seven famous marriages which were the subject of many newspaper headlines. By the end of the novel we also find out why Evelyn was so set on Monique being the one to tell her mysterious life story; an extra little twist that provides added intrigue throughout.

My favourite thing about the book would have to be how real the characters felt. This is something I know many people have noted about Evelyn in particular, as well as the characters of the author's latest release Daisy Jones and the Six (which I'm currently twenty-something in the library queue for, but am looking forward to reading!).

Whilst Historical Fiction is not usually a genre I reach for, I found that I really enjoyed the old Hollywood setting. The book tackles a range of important topics in an interesting way and is an immersive and addictive read. With complex and intriguing characters, the journey through Evelyn's life really makes this novel special.
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Monday, 15 April 2019

Features | A Storytelling Podcast


 "Sit back, let go and imagine your life."


Today I wanted to talk about something a little different but hopefully still relevant to our readers who of course, love a good story!

Not too long ago I stumbled upon an immersive storytelling podcast called Imagined Life which launched in late 2018. Each episode tells a unique tale of the pre-fame days of someone who has gone on to become a household name, addressing the listener as if it is your life story that is being told. At the beginning of each episode you are not told who 'you' are but as you progress through the episode there are clues along the way to help you try and figure out your identity.

The stories generally share the lives of these people before they became famous, and often beyond, ranging from heartbreaking to inspiring and everything in between. Each person featured is a recognisable name and every one of them has a unique tale of how they became to be so well-known. I won't give any specific examples here, as that would definitely take away the enjoyment of guessing if you're planning to listen to the podcast, but it's safe to say they will all (or, almost all) be names you're familiar with.

Whilst I generally tend to enjoy chatty podcasts or those telling stories through interviews, I've become a little obsessed with the storytelling style of Imagined Life and have loved the guessing game element... although there have been a few that have had me stumped until the last 5 minutes or so! Of course, the episodes are scripted dramatisations and can't be 100% accurate to the real events but each episode is clearly well-researched. Each of the stories would be an interesting tale if simply told in a more traditional way however they are all the more enjoyable thanks to the immersive storytelling style.

I've definitely learnt a lot of interesting facts through listening to this podcast, particularly about people who I would recognise but have never researched further. Not only have I enjoyed listening to the episodes, but it has also inspired me to go on to read more about some of the people featured after becoming aware of their fascinating backgrounds and unique roads to fame.

You can find out more about the podcast and listen to episodes over on the Wondery website.
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Friday, 12 April 2019

The Furies | Katie Lowe | Review


1998. A sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing. No known cause of death.

After the death of her father and sister in a car crash from which she was the only survivor, Valerie is starting over at Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls' school with a mysterious past. The history of Elm Hollow intertwines with 17th century witch trials and, far more recently, the disappearance of a student who was part of a secret society that Violet now finds herself invited to. Along with her new friends, Robin, Alex, and Grace, Violet meets their teacher, Annabel, in a secret part of the school each week to learn about women of art, literature, and history, including the school's own rumoured history of witchcraft that Annabel swears isn't real.

As Violet becomes entangled with her new friends, she starts to wonder about the girl they knew before, the one who went missing, who was Robin's best friend before Violet, and who apparently even looked a little like Violet. Robin envelopes Violet in her world of drinking, taking drugs, and spending time with older, university boys, and when this new world turns on Violet, Robin promises to make it right, using one of the rituals Annabel swore would never work. Violet falls further into the dark world that her new friends inhabit, tumbling deeper and deeper into the darkness, folding herself more and more into their group, until a body is found. Then, suddenly, Violet finds herself jealous of a dead girl, and unsure whether she can trust the friends she has become so linked to, after all.

The Furies is a dark, chilling tale of the intense friendships teenage girls can form and how that intensity can go horribly wrong. Annabel's lessons are meant to help the girls find a kind of power, but the power they try to harness is not the kind that Annabel intended. The novel is told from the perspective of Violet, older, looking back on the events of her teenage years, and it starts with the image of a dead girl on a swing. This vein of horror and decay permeates throughout the story, in the descriptions of the rundown seaside town surrounding Elm Hollow, in Violet's own home, where her mother has left her sister's bedroom exactly as it was the day she died, and even in Violet's interactions with her friends, shrouded in the smoke of cigarettes and pot, and flooded with wine.

This is a slow burn of a book, things take their time to come to fruition, but this works to give the sense of unease time to truly build. The girls' exploration into witchcraft and the myth of The Furies of ancient Greece being summoned to the school weave seamlessly into the almost claustrophobic friendship between the four girls, and make it all the more powerful that the true horrors in the story are not fantastical at all, but very human, and very real. Lowe's writing is extremely atmospheric, her descriptions enough to make anyone's skin crawl. The Furies is a dark and obsessive novel, perfect for fans of The Graces by Laure Eve, but who want something even darker than that.

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions expressed are the reviewer's own.
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Friday, 5 April 2019

Girl, Wash Your Face | Rachel Hollis | Review

Girl, Wash Your Face | Rachel Hollis | Review

I don't tend to read non-fiction books. 

Like at all. It's not that they don't interest me, or that I don't think they're worth the time; it's mostly due to the fact that I love fiction too much, and why would I spend my hours reading non-fiction when I could be reading about dragons? It's that kind of feeling.

But when I picked up Girl, Wash Your Face and flipped to the front page to check it out, I started reading and couldn't really stop. I had ordered it from the Book Depository for our April book club theme (a non-fiction title) but I semi forgot that I had done that so when it arrived and I opened the cover, I just kept reading. Which means when April rolled around I didn't have a book ready to go for the theme. Oops.

In Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis (founder of The Chic Site, and author of The Girls series) goes through a bunch of lies that she used to believe, the stories behind them, and how she overcame and worked through them. While I haven't, like I said, read many non-fiction books at all (I could probably count them on my fingers ... on one hand), I know that the majority of what she writes is nothing new; it's all fantastic, empowering stuff, that really makes you think, but if you're a connoisseur of the self-help or motivational non-fiction genre, then you may find yourself thinking you've heard all this before. And that's totally fine. The Goodreads reviews are really all over the place - some love it, others hate it - but I found it to be really helpful, and I'm passing it around my friend group.

The way Hollis tells her stories is funny and engaging, and she interweaves faith, relationships, family trauma, and life lessons throughout the whole book. With punchy one-liners, funny anecdotes, and a heap of tough-love, Girl, Wash Your Face was a great read (and that's coming from someone who doesn't read non-fiction!).

Her second book, Girl, Stop Apologising, has recently been released, and I know I'll be picking up a copy for this month's Non-Fiction theme.

Have you read Girl, Wash Your Face? 
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Thursday, 4 April 2019

The Tattooist of Auschwitz | Heather Morris | Review


If you recall back in January the team at Bloggers Bookshelf brought you our Vow To Read selections for this year. I'm actually doing pretty well at my list and after finishing The Tattooist of Auschwitz near the start of March made it 3/5 read, and it's only the beginning of April!! Just watch me go downhill from here... the other two are sitting on my TBR pile staring at me every time I pick up another book instead of them. I can't help it if I have a review copy I need to read before a certain date, they'll always be more books I suppose. I should get around to them, but until then here's what I thought about The Tattooist and whether or not it met my expectations...


In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.


Before starting I'd heard a lot of good things and a few bad things so I went in with a lot of expectations, especially as my Mum had marked it 5 stars on Goodreads, and turns out they were met pretty well. I didn't realise until finishing that Heather Morris is actually a New Zealander, although now living in Australia, I assumed naively that she must be from Europe. I also discovered it was initially written as a screenplay which actually makes a lot of sense.

The writing style was rather different from what I've read in the past, especially historical fiction, and that must have been because of its screenplay heritage. The dialogue flowed the scenes and there were a smaller amount of scenic descriptions than you'd usually expect in a historical fiction novel. This actually made for easy reading and allowed you to flow from scene to scene easily even if there was an abrupt change of time or place.

The story was lovely although it was not that historically accurate as some lovely people on Twitter harassed me enough to let me know it wasn't after I posted my innocent one sentence review tweet. I didn't really mind that it wasn't historically accurate as it was the retelling of Lale's story from his memories. It's historical fiction, not a textbook about the happenings at Auschwitz.

I think the main thing that surprised me was what Lale was actually tattooing. I, again naively, thought he was some 'under the table tattooist' doing body art to the other prisoners without the guards knowing. A sort of last attempt at freely choosing what happened to their bodies, when in actual fact he tattooed the numbers onto each prisoner - the number that replaced their name. That didn't even cross my mind, so while it's not accurate down to the exact fact it definitely made me think differently about what happened during World War II and the Holocaust which I think was the general idea. 

I definitely do recommend it if you're into historical fiction, if you liked The Diary of Anne Frank and like to see a different perspective, or just want to learn more about what happened during that time.

Have you read it? What did you think?



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Monday, 1 April 2019

Book Club | April 2019 - A Non-Fiction Title


For our 2019 BB Book Club we've put together a printable list of twelve different prompts. On the 1st day of each month, we'll be introducing you to the month's prompt and the books team members each plan to read, along with some other suggested reads we think you'll love. Of course, these are just ideas so please feel free to interpret the prompts however you wish!

We're also inviting you to share photos and mini reviews of your book club picks on social media using #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

Our prompt for April is... A Non-Fiction Title



What we'll be reading...


Anjali's Pick: Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis

"I'm not good at reading non-fiction books, but about a month or so a go I read Hollis' book Girl, Wash Your Face, and really enjoyed it. When I saw that she had another book (just recently out!) I knew I had to get my hands on it. I've heard good things about this, despite it only being out for a week weeks now, and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it."

Erin's Pick: The People V. O. J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin

"I settled on True Crime for my non-fiction pick and The People V. O.J. Simpson is a title I've been meaning to read for a couple of years now. It comes highly recommended by a friend who was just as fascinated by the 2016 TV adaptation as I was so I'm hoping it'll be a good choice."

Ria's Pick: Becoming by Michelle Obama

"Michelle Obama is one of my biggest inspirations and publicly she exudes such an air of confidence, charisma and intelligence that I aspire to have. And yet, despite her public persona, I feel like there's so much more to her. So you can imagine I've been pretty excited to start on my non-fiction book club pick since I got it for Christmas!"

Other suggested reads...

- Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops (Jen Campbell) - review
- The Moth (Catherine Burns) - review
- This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor (Adam Kay)
- The Gender Games (Juno Dawson)
- This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare (Gabourey Sidibe)


Use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month!
 
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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Book Club | March 2019 Roundup

Our book club theme for March was books with 'an animal or creature in the title' and we saw quite a variety of different picks!

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




This month’s theme for the @bloggersbookshelf Book Club was a book ‘with an animal or creature in the title’ so Not Forgetting the Whale by John Ironmonger was a perfect fit. Not Forgetting the Whale tells the story of a city analyst called Joe and the tiny Cornish village he washes up in one day. Having created a computer program that has predicted the end of the world, and possibly caused an economic crash, Joe flees to the very end of the country, where he finds unexpected help, first from a whale, and then from a whole village of people. Not Forgetting the Whale is unlike any apocalyptic story I’ve read before, and, cheesy as it sounds, it did leave me feeling a little more hopeful for the human race. Also, if you’re looking for an accurate portrayal of small Cornish communities, this is it! - If you want to join in with our book club next month, the theme is ‘non-fiction’! - #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookstagram #bookbloggers #currentlyreading #instabooks #reading #books #bookworm #booklove #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #vsco #vscocam #vscobooks #igreads #booklover #notforgettingthewhale
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The Tusk That Did The Damage by Tania James

"Chronicaling the story of an elephant tribe in South India, and the humans that surround them, The Tusk That Did The Damage offers a multilayered look at wildlife conservation and poaching.

The book itself is told through the eyes of Gravedigger (once an orphaned elephant calf then sold into labor and exhibition, now infamous for his seemingly violent attacks on humans), the poachers who are spurred on by revenge for Gravedigger's misdeads, and white documentary filmmaker who both captures and entangles herself in tensions between Government, conservationists and the locals themselves).

I did struggle with the switching narratives initially. The three voices in the book are so distinct, it felt a bit jarring to go from the elephant's narration, straight into our filmmakers' dilemma. Not to mention the time jumps between certain chapters made it hard to gauge where in the story you were. As the book reached it's climax everything suddenly clicked though. And I found myself suddenly committed to finding out how all of this tension that had built would explode out." - @RCagz

Percy Jackson and the Sea Of Monsters by Rick Riordan


"This year I hope to read the five books in the Percy Jackson series, which has been a long time coming. I read the first in January, and the second in the series, Sea of Monsters, was a perfect fit for the March theme. Percy, now knowing that he is a half-blood (his father is Posiden, god of the sea), is deep into the land of gods, goddesses, mythological creatures and tales, and the adventure in this book involves a boat trip, a Golden Fleece, a cyclops (or two!), sheep of doom and various other slightly out-there concepts. While I didn't like Sea of Monsters quite as much as the first book (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) I did still really enjoy getting back to Percy's story. It's a 3/5 stars from me, but with the recommendation that this series is really fun to read and you should get on it if you haven't already." - @anjalikay





I’ve been busy and I have let Instagram go a little bit. But I haven’t let reading go. So for @bloggersbookshelf March prompt, “With an animal or creature in the title”, I read Fox 8 by George Saunders. I sort of forgot that I wanted to do the @bookriot Read Harder challenge as well. So this be ok also worked for the prompt “A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point of view character”. This quick read was an under 50 pages read. So the large bar of chocolate was barely eaten (yet). I typically don’t enjoy books from an animal’s point of view (or an inanimate object’s) but this one was fun and sweet. Through this 30 minute read, Fox 8 learns some lessons about humans (or yumans, as written). He’s a sweet and curious fox. Through his perspective we get to see ourselves. The grammar was entertaining, the ending was so sweet. The illustrations were a delight. What a great start to March. . . . #readandeat #bibliophile #reading #2019readingchallenge #bloggersbook #bookshelfbookclub #bookriotchallenge #readharder #readharderchallenge2019 #georgesaunders #fox8 #bookish #bookstagram #instabooks
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We'll be introducing April's book club tomorrow so don't forget to check back!
Use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub and tag @bloggersbookshelf to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month.

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