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.


Sunday 30 June 2019

Book Club | June 2019 Roundup

We're halfway through our list of book club prompts for 2019! June's theme was translated books. Here's how Team BB got on with their picks...

A post shared by Ria Cagampang ✨ (@rcagz) on

Us Against You By Fredrik Backman

"For our June book club prompt I decided to pick up Us Against You, the sequel to Beartown which was one of my absolute favourite reads of last year. They're heavy reads which tackle difficult topics but overall I thought the sequel was just as gripping as the first book." - Erin

We'll be introducing July'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 28 June 2019

Features | Delightful Dedications

They're short, they're snappy, they're delightful. Dedications are a great way to start a book. 

Not only does a dedication give you some insight into an author's life (especially if they give a reason for the dedication), but they can often be quirky, funny, have inside jokes that only the dedicate-ee (not a word?) gets, or perhaps gives a tip of the hat to past books in a series, but they're often heartwarming and a beautiful way to begin a book.

Just like the acknowledgements at the end of a novel, I always find myself reading the dedication. Over the years I've read some truly beautiful ones, some quirky ones, and a couple of very out-there ones. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the dedications that can be found in the first pages of some of the book on my shelf. Enjoy!

The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket | The End, by Lemony Snicket:

A note: While we're on the subject of Lemony Snicket, you should check out all the rest of his dedications in A Series of Unfortunate Events. They're just as golden as these ones.

The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis:

Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman:

The Selection, by Kiera Cass:

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab:

Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson:

The Bane Chronicles, by Cassandra Clare:

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling:

A Note: Perhaps my favourite of all time.

Fun fact about me: I actually have a book dedicated to me (and my sister). Okay, so it was a book written by my dad, but it still counts, right?

What about you? Do you have favourite dedications?

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Wednesday 26 June 2019

Features | An Unintentional Book Buying Ban

As I write this post, we're 166 days into 2019 and as yet I haven't added any new books to my collection this year. Not even one little Kindle Daily Deal purchase...

Whilst a book buying ban wasn't on my bookish goals list for 2019 (please ignore how badly I'm doing with my reviews goal...) I've somehow ended up on an unintentional ban, but that doesn't mean I've been reading less.

One of the big contributors to my lack of spending on books has been downloading Borrow Box, the app my local library uses for ebook and audiobook loans. Earlier this year I picked up a paperback copy of Maureen Johnson's Truly Devious from the library and having enjoyed it so much I was keen to pick up the sequel right away. Unfortunately, my library didn't have a physical copy, but I discovered they did have the ebook available through Borrow Box and this made my decision to sign up and try out this alternative way to borrow books. Whilst reading on my phone's tiny screen isn't necessarily my preferred way to consume books, I have really enjoyed the convenience of using Borrow Box. So far, I've borrowed around 8 ebooks and 5 audiobooks, with several more on reserve at the moment.

Another thing I believe has changed my bookish spending habits this year is my reading spreadsheet. This was something I set up at the beginning of 2018 as a way to track not just my reads across the year but also the books I purchased and whether I read those new additions or not. Last year I read around 65% of the books I bought and I feel like this percentage was so high because I was keeping track of them all. I've also gone on to read approximately another 10% of the books this year, leaving just 25% still sitting on the TBR unread, where I feel that previously this number would have been much higher.

So when will the ban be broken? Well, I currently have my eye on pre-ordering The Toll (Neal Shusterman) which is due out in November... 
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Friday 21 June 2019

Rebel of the Sands series | Alwyn Hamilton | Review

Amani Al'Hiza is a gifted gunslinger, but being born in the unforgiving Miraji desert, there are ways women like her are expected to behave, and Amani doesn't exactly do as she's told. The desert is a place where mythical beasts are all too real, and the children of the Djinn who made the world with their magic are known to live among the humans, marked by their parents with strange powers as well as physical markers, like brightly coloured hair or golden skin, but there is little magic in Amani's life in Dustwalk, until she meets Jin. Jin takes Amani away from Dustwalk, on the back of a mythical horse, and straight into a rebellion Amani is not entirely prepared to deal with.

Amani knows what she wants, and what she wants is to get out of Dustwalk. From there things start to get tricky, and a whole cast of characters arrive to help her figure out what's next, not just for her but for the world they're living in. From her claustrophobic life in Dustwalk, Amani finds herself working with the rebellion against the Sultan. To liberate the desert she grew up in, Amani must become more comfortable with death, magic, ghouls, and enemies all around her than she ever has before. From working deep within the rebellion to spying from inside the palace walls, and working with those strange magical Demdji children of the Djinn, Amani must truly become the Blue-Eyed Bandit if she ever hopes to help make the change Miraji needs to see, whatever that may mean.

Amani quickly becomes embroiled in the rebellion's plot to overthrow the Sultan, in favour of one of his least favoured sons, as this series takes her from the small desert town she has always known, to the splendour of the Sultan's palace, and to far away lands she never dreamed of visiting, building a fantasy world that weaves Middle Eastern influences with Cowboy Westerns and plenty of magic. The world of Rebel of the Sands is one unlike anything I've ever read before and Amani is a character unlike any I've ever read before either.

Whether you're interested in the magic of the Demdji and the Djinn who bore them, Amani's desert gunslinging, unique fantasy lands, intense romances, or political intrigue and regal rebellion, this series has a lot to offer. Gripping from the first page, these novels are a fast paced fantasy adventure with unique characters in a unique world. I flew through each and every one of these books and my only disappointment is that it had to end. The ending itself, you can find out by reading them. I think it is more than worth the adventure of the journey.
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Friday 14 June 2019

Features | 3 Reasons I Read Novel Acknowledgements (and a bonus)

I never used to read the acknowledgements.

But I've grown to love them, and now it's rare that I end a book without reading the thanks from the author/s which fill a page or two at the back.

Acknowledgements are fun to read because they're not only are a way, albeit small, to celebrate the fact that an author has completed a book (no mean feat!), but they tell you a lot about how the author came to finish their stories, and how we eventually got to hold it in our hands. While some authors take up pages to write their acknowledgements, never leaving anyone out, some keep it short and simple and clump everyone into larger groups. But whatever way they thank, it's so neat to be able to see just who was involved 'back stage', those people who the author counted on to get the story out of their minds and onto paper. Without those people, it's often likely we wouldn't read the book we hold.

Here are three reasons I read novel acknowledgements (and maybe you should, too!):

1. Author support 

Authors love to thank the people who have supported them in the colossal journey that is book writing. You know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? It also takes a village to publish a book. Perhaps even a city. Usually the acknowledgements are filled with those support people who have either aided the author in their every day lives (perhaps a partner doing more around the house, doing the school runs; or friends giving them plot hole solutions or character development ideas; the dog/cat who provided top-notch cuddles when things were getting difficult), or have worked with the author to get it published (the editor, the team of people in marketing at the publishing house etc).

2. Author insight

In any story you're gong to get a little bit of the author's personality, their likes and dislikes, their morals and values interwoven into their books. But in the acknowledgements you also get things like their journey to the end result you're holding, how long it's been stewing in their minds, why they wanted to write this particular tale. You sometimes even get a little bit of their writing process, or specific locations they most like to write and muddle over words and sentences. It's an insight into the author and how they created what they've created.

3. Author shoutouts 

One of my favourite things to read in the acknowledgements are other author shoutouts. Especially in Young Adult/YA books, the community of authors seems quite tight nit. If you're ever on Twitter and you follow a YA author or two, then you might see them tagging each other, responding to each others tweets, encouraging them in their stories, giving shout outs of their own. I love seeing the names of other authors that I've read in the acknowledgements of the book I've just finished. It's so neat to know that authors have each others' backs, and they're willing to bounce ideas off one another, help each out, call each other and generally be a squad of kick-butt storytellers.

Bonus: They're speaking to you

How neat is it when an author addresses you, the reader? Often near the end of the acknowledgements you might find a line or two that begins 'And to you, dear reader', or perhaps 'To my readers', or even something along the lines of 'Thank you, reader, for sticking with me throughout this series'. You know the ones I mean. Getting a shoutout like this is so neat; it connects the author and their support and their publishers with us, the readers.

Here's a snippet at the end of V.E. Schwab's acknowledgments in A Darker Shade of Magic, which I just love:

What do you reckon? Do you read the acknowledgements?
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Friday 7 June 2019

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy | Mackenzi Lee | Review

Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor - even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is the sequel to Mackenzi Lee's incredibly popular novel, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, (you can read Anjali's review of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue here) and it is every bit as exciting and endearing as its predecessor.

A year after her brother's unintentionally eventful grand tour, Felicity Montague is more determined than ever to follow Monty's example and live her life on her own terms. For Felicity this means studying medicine, opening her own practice one day, and very definitely never getting married. Unfortunately, living life on her own terms is far easier said than done. No matter how many medical schools Felicity applies to, the answer is always the same: women simply are not permitted to study medicine, and none of the men in charge seem particularly keen to change that. To make matters worse, the baker Felicity has been working for while trying to make her case to be allowed to study medicine has a question of his own and it's one that Felicity really doesn't want to answer.

At last though, it seems Felicity might have a chance to follow her dreams. An old friend is marrying a doctor Felicity greatly admires and she's had a tip that he might be more open to the idea of a woman working alongside him. There are only two problems with her plan. The first problem is that Felicity can't afford to go to Germany for the wedding. The second problem is that she hasn't spoken to Johanna in years so she isn't actually invited. The first problem seems to be solved when a mysterious young woman from Scipio's crew offers to pay Felicity's way if Felicity allows her to come, disguised as Felicity's maid, and Felicity is sure the second problem will be solved once she arrives on Johanna's doorstep. Unfortunately for Felicity, these soon turn out not to be her only problems.

Felicity Montague's character is perfectly summed up by the moment in the first chapter of this novel, in which she has just finished sewing up a wound on a man's finger and then been proposed to, and her first reaction to the proposal is to think that she would rather be tending to the finger again. She is a woman who doesn't quite fit in with the role society wants her to take, not least because she has no interest in marriage or romantic relationships at all, and her determination to be accepted into medical school, of course, lands her in plenty of trouble. Felicity makes plenty of mistakes along her road to what she thinks she wants, particularly taking the mysterious young woman, Sim, into Johanna's home without truly knowing her motives for wanting to be there, and underestimating Johanna herself because of her love of pretty things.

Felicity is, at times, stubborn, selfish, and difficult, and it is extremely refreshing to see a female character allowed to be those things. Of course, she learns her lessons in the end, but the place from which she starts makes watching her learn them, and watching her friendship with Sim and Johanna blossom, incredibly joyful. This is a novel that champions girls who know who they are and aren't afraid to show the world, even when the world doesn't like it. It also has pirates, magical sea creatures, adventure, intrigue, and a very large, very friendly dog. What's not to like?

If you enjoyed The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, you are sure to love The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, and if you haven't read either yet, I highly recommend you change that!

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Saturday 1 June 2019

Book Club | June 2019 - Translated Into Your Native Language

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 June is... Translated Into Your Native Language

What we'll be reading...

Ria's Pick: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

"I really loved the almost melancholic style of Kang's The White Book and a few much more 'literary-minded' friends have been recommending this to me for months! So I'm really looking forward to this one. The premise looks odd but in a super interesting (and potentially creepy) way too."

Anjali's Pick: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

"Ruby Red has actually be on my TBR list for a little while now and seems to be very popular (it's received a 4.12 star rating on Goodreads!); I'm really looking forward to getting into it! This time-travelling book was originally written in Geir's native language, German, and was translated into English by Anthea Bell."

Other suggested reads...

- Battle Royale (Koushun Takami) - review
- Beartown (Fredrik Backman)
- Sophie's World (Jostein Gaarder)
- 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
- The White Book (Han Kang) - 2018 book club roundup

Check out Goodreads list of 40 popular translated books for more ideas!

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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