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.


Saturday 31 August 2019

Book Club | August 2019 Roundup

It's book club roundup time again, and we have a short and sweet one for you this month! Here are a few of the books shared for our August theme 'water on the cover'...

I missed a couple of months of the @bloggersbookshelf book club but I’m back with A Year of Marvellous Ways for this month’s theme: books with water on the cover. A Year of Marvellous Ways is a little bit difficult to describe. It’s about an 89 year old woman called Marvellous Ways, a 27 year old soldier called Francis Drake, their lives, their friendship, the sea, and magic. It’s an unusual novel, one which I’m sure has charmed a lot of people and will continue to for a long time to come. It charmed me in places too but unfortunately the parts I liked and the parts I didn’t seemed to even out, leaving me with an opinion as hard to put into words as the story itself. Still, if you like unusual, literary novels with a splash of whimsy and magic, this is probably a good one to look in to! - #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookstagram #bookbloggers #bookreview #reading #books #bookworm #booklove #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #vsco #vscocam #vscobooks #igreads #booklover #tea #teastagram #cupoftea #acupoftea #teatime #timefortea #abookandacupoftea #acupofteaandabook
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Summer Of Salt By Katrina Leno

"I really wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I'd heard really good things about it. The world and characters created by Leno were certainly intriguing and I also liked both the unique setting of By-the-Sea and the addition of magical elements. Overall Summer Of Salt was an enjoyable read." - Erin

We Were Liars By E Lockhart

"If you're after a story about family, friends, love and adventure, manipulation and lies, complete with a thousand questions about what really happened to Cady the Summer of 15, then grab a copy of this book." - from Anjali's recent review

We'll be introducing September's book club theme 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 23 August 2019

We Were Liars | E. Lockhart | Review

The perfect pick for August's Book Club Theme: A book with water on the cover! 

In We Were Liars, Cadence Sinclair is the eldest granddaughter to a millionaire, and heir to his a private island, where she and her extended family spend every summer. Each year Cady goes to Beachlands; she and The Liars - her cousins Johnny and Merrin, and friend Gat - swim, explore, go in the boats across to the town, play with the younger children, avoid family fights and spend time between the family houses on the island. One year, 'Summer 15' - the summer they were all 15 - Cady awakes on the beach in nothing but her underclothes. The following months, Cady asks her mother just what happened that year- why she was alone on the beach at night, wearing barley anything, why her head hurts so much - and each day her mother tells her, but each day she forgets. Her migraines take over her life, and while the doctors give her medicine for them, they can't find the source, and put it down to head trauma from her accident.  

The following summer, Cady goes on a trip around Europe with her father, missing her time with her friends on the island. 'Summer 17', she returns to the island with her mother, only to find her grandfather's house gone, a huge fancy one in its place. While the Liars comment on her change of hair, and worry about her headaches, they are the same to Cady despite them not returning her emails for the past 2 years. The summer continues, her friends seeming to go off a lot without her while she wallows in her bed, clutching her head in pain.  

I really enjoyed this book.  I feel I can't say too much without giving crucial parts away, but it was full of interesting characters and personalities, first loves and heart aches, full of insanely-rich-family drama, and adventures around what sounds like an amazing island. It was well written (and well read), from the perspective of Cadence, and the only reason I didn't give it a 5 star rating was because I called what happened long before Cady did, and I felt like the end chapters were a bit too drawn out.  

If you're after a story about family, friends, love and adventure, manipulation and lies, complete with a thousand questions about what really happened to Cady the Summer of 15, then grab a copy of this book. Considering it won the Goodreads Choice Aware in 2014, you know it's going to be a good one, right? 

Have you read We Were Liars

Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash; Book cover from Goodreads
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Friday 16 August 2019

A Sky Painted Gold | Laura Wood | Review

As Lou is swept into the Cardew siblings' dazzling world of moonlit parties, unrivalled glamour, and whispered secrets, can she stay true to her self... and her heart?

Lou has always been fascinated by the grand Cardew house, standing empty on the small island across the causeway from her tiny Cornish village. So fascinated, in fact, that she often walks, or swims at high tide, across to the island to pick apples from the orchard, or, more recently, to sneak in through a broken window and read Agatha Christie novels from the house's vast library, or to write her own detective stories in her notebook. With the Cardew family never visiting their Cornish home, Lou has found it the perfect place to get away from  her many siblings for a few hours, and enjoy the quiet of the big house. Until, of course, the Cardews return, and Lou is almost caught redhanded.

Luckily for Lou, the Cardew siblings, Robert and Caitlin, don't seem to mind that she has been breaking into their house, and she soon finds herself in their inner circle, invited to all of Caitlin's grand parties, and even with her own bedroom in the house. Caitlin and Lou fast become friends, but things are more difficult with Robert, the lord of the house, who Lou finds more than a little rude. Lou is charmed by the house and by the Cardews' life, and it isn't long before she finds herself spending more time on the island sunbathing with Caitlin and bickering with Robert, than she does back at home with her newly married sister, Alice. As the summer goes on, Lou has to face the fact that eventually Caitlin and Robert will return to London, and she'll need to decide what her life will look like when those grand parties end.

A Sky Painted Gold is a perfect summer read. Lou's story is filled with the kind of glamour you might expect from a novel that takes place in a grand house in the 1920s, but it also has the heart and depth to back up that shining facade. Lou sees her sister Alice, happily married to her childhood sweetheart and, worried that that is the path expected of her too, throws herself into the escapism of the Cardews' lives, but, of course, she eventually learns that throwing these lavish parties is a kind of escapism for Caitlin too. Lou is sympathetic and, at times, naive, but she cares so deeply for the people around her that this, in turn, makes it impossible for the reader not to care about her. Even as Lou begins to worry that she might be little more than a novelty among her new friends, she still only wants to help them, even as it starts to damage her relationship with her own sister.

There is romance of more than one kind in this story, and Wood addresses many of the issues that faced young people of Lou's time, and still do today, but ultimately this is a true coming-of-age story, and amongst the fun and the frivolity and possible falling in love, Lou must really decide what she wants her life to be. She cannot party with the Cardews forever but she does not necessarily want to follow Alice down the aisle right away, either, and if there is one thing she learns from the Cardews it is that she can only put off thinking about it for so long. It is a delight to read about Lou's summer with the Cardews, truly a summer of self-discovery, and it is certainly a story that I will read again and again.
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Friday 2 August 2019

No Big Deal | Bethany Rutter | Review

'It's not my body that's holding me back. I think it's more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.'

Emily Daly is seventeen years old. She is funny and smart, she likes fashion and music, and she is fat. Emily likes her body and doesn't see why anyone else should have a problem with it, but Emily's mum is obsessed with dieting and desperate for Emily to join in with her newest diet plan, no matter how much Emily refuses. Although Emily knows she doesn't need to lose weight to be happy, doubts begin to crawl in when a boy rejects her at a party, seemingly because of her size, and are intensified when her best friend, Camila, a fellow fat girl, returns from holiday newly confident and newly thin.

Then there's Joe. Joe who likes the music Emily likes, and is possibly the cutest boy Emily has ever seen, and seems to like spending time with her too. Is it possible that he might like her the way she likes him? No matter how confident Emily is, it isn't always easy to ignore the fact that so many people seem to think she'd be happier if she lost weight, or the worry that Joe might not like her unless she does. With this new world of dating comes new insecurities, and the biggest challenge of all - remembering to love herself too.

No Big Deal feels like a UKYA classic in the making. It has the humour, heart, and authenticity that readers can expect from a contemporary YA story set in the UK, and a protagonist it is impossible not to root for, with a cast of friends and family to back her up. It is a fairly short read, with the pace to match, and will, I suspect, be read and re-read again and again by its fans. As a protagonist, Emily is a breath of fresh air: confident, self-assured in her own beliefs, but still with the realistic wobbles that all teenagers, no matter how confident, can certainly relate to. No Big Deal deals with important themes but, perhaps more importantly, it does so in a way that feels fun and, at times, intimate, in a very good way. It would be difficult for any adult to read Emily's story and not remember what it felt like to be seventeen, or for any seventeen year old to read it and not relate to some of Emily's struggles.

Rutter addresses a lot of issues facing teens, and everyone else, in No Big Deal, and, at times, yes, a few of these conversations can seem to have little to do with the plot at large, but they are important conversations to be having, not just for young people, and it is no small thing to see them had in a book for teenagers, at the heart of which is a simple message of loving, respecting, and trusting oneself. No Big Deal is the book I wish I had had as a teenager and Emily Daly is a protagonist all readers should look forward to meeting. The real triumph of No Big Deal is Rutter's ability to reach out, through her words, and tell the reader that they are not alone, and that they do not need to change for anyone. A message we all need to hear once in a while.

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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Thursday 1 August 2019

Book Club | August 2019 - With Water On The Cover

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

Our prompt for August is... With Water On The Cover

What we'll be reading...

Ria's Pick: Turning: Lessons from Swimming Berlin's Lakes by Jessica J. Lee

"I found this book almost by kismet on my recent trip to Berlin in an English language bookshop. Part-memoir, this personal reflection by Lee on her own time in Berlin, swimming in the lakes both within and surrounding the city feels like the perfect meandering Summer read!"

Erin's Pick: Summer Of Salt by Katrina Leno

"My library loans have lined up nicely this month as I just happened to have reserved Summer Of Salt which is perfect for this challenge. I've heard some great things about this short YA read and I enjoyed one of the author's other books Everything All At Once; which also happens to have water on the cover if you're stuck for ideas!"

Other suggested reads...

- Challenger Deep (Neal Shusterman)
- The Lido (Libby Page)
- The Water Cure (Sophie Mackintosh)
- The Woman In Cabin 10 (Ruth Ware)
- Second Chance Summer (Morgan Matson)
- We Were Liars (E Lockhart)

More ideas can also be found on these Goodreads lists:
- Cover With Body Of Water
- Popular Water On Cover Books
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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Radioactive Evolution | Richard Hummel | Review

Cropped cover shot from Word of the Nerd

Before this book I hadn't knowingly stepped into the genre that is LitRPG. You heard that right, books that are based around RPGs (role-playing games for those of you who don't know). To be honest with my love of video games I'm amazed I haven't stumbled into it before, the closest I've probably gotten is Ready Player One which isn't classed as LitRPG but is probably borderline.

Basically, LitRPG's are when games or game-like challenges form an essential part of the story and visible RPG statistics (for example strength, intelligence, damage) are a significant part of the reading experience. The first chapter of Radioactive Evolution* ends with the initial look into this game like form when Jared unlocks a dragon?!?!?

Sidekick Unlocked: Dragon

The idea of the whole story is so gamelike, from beating creatures and levelling up your skills to fighting the 'boss' creatures. Jared and Scarlett are on a big quest to unearth Scarlett's family of fire dragons from where they've been hiding in the earth's core, and on the way come across various obstacles to overcome from people, giant rats, and another dragon?!?! I will say that although I enjoyed the whole gamelike aspect it did give me the kind of stress that video games give you. Stressed throughout a fight in case you lose and have to redo the level, however, Jared can't redo the level he'll just die a regular human death because 'LIVES' DON'T EXIST! Super stressful.

The basis of this dystopian world is a virus has taken out most of the human race and in order to stay alive you must inject yourself with boosters every few months but of course the boosters are running out. The nanites from the boosters can allow you to connect with a creature, like Jared and Scarlett are connected, and allow you to increase your stats and you can even obtain special abilities from killing and extracting nanites from boss creatures. This may sound a little confusing but trust me Richard Hummel explains it much better throughout the book. I think the coolest part though is being able to connect with another creature, there's another bonding you meet further into the book which I won't go into too much as spoilers, but they bond with a big cat called Kitty - so it's not just dragons!

If you like any aspect of video gaming or dystopian stories with dragons I totally recommend Radioactive Evolution. Now I'm going to move onto the second book and the rest of the LitRPG genre.

If you could connect with a creature of some kind, what would you choose? I think I'd choose a big cat like Kitty!

*This book was given to me to review, but all opinions are my own

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