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.


Friday 31 January 2020

Book Club | January 2020 Roundup

We can't believe January is already over and our first book club prompt of 2020 is complete! Our theme for the month was to pick up books by authors whose works we love and below you can find some of the titles shared over on Instagram. Thank you to everyone who joined in this month, we're looking forward to seeing which books you choose for our February theme!

When I was deciding which of our book club prompt ideas we should use for 2020's list I knew revisiting the work of authors we already love would be perfect for January! My pick for the month was After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid, whose novels The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones & The Six and Maybe In Another Life I thoroughly enjoyed reading last year. After I Do did not disappoint and was another great read; my first 5 star find of 2020! 🌟 It would also be a fantastic choice for our November prompt 'food on the cover'. - Erin @sawyerandscout . . . Don't forget to share your January book club picks with us before the 31st. Be sure to tag @bloggersbookshelf 😊 . . . #bookstagram #bookbloggers #bookclub #bloggersbookshelf #instabooks #goodreads #reading #2020books #currentlyreading #readingrecommendations #taylorjenkinsreid #welovebooks #bookcovers #kindlereads #ukbloggers #nzbloggers
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The Toll by Neal Shusterman

"Shusterman has an incredible way of making you think about life, morality, death and the meaning of it all. He has a way with words and while reading The Toll I often, once again, found myself writing quotes down, or taking a photo of the page to come back to later. There are also laugh out loud moments and moments where you have to stop reading to just pause and take it in. Not many authors can do that. While I didn’t love The Toll as much as the previous two, it’s still a fantastic book and I highly recommend reading this series (and pretty much anything that Neal Shusterman writes)." - Anjali

Our first prompt of the year for the @bloggersbookshelf Book Club was to read a book by an author you love, which was the perfect opportunity for me to finally read Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe because I’ve never met a book of hers that I didn’t love! Paradise Lodge is the second of Stibbe’s novels about Lizzie Vogel, and in this instalment Lizzie is 15 and in danger of being taken out of her O Level classes because she is spending too much time at the old people’s home where she has landed her first job, and not enough time at school. With a full cast of fun and interesting characters and Stibbe’s trademark sense of humour, Paradise Lodge is perhaps my favourite of her books yet and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Lizzie Vogel novel, Reasons to be Cheerful, which I will definitely be buying very soon! - #vsco #vscocam #bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub #bookreview #afterlight #bookstagram #vscobooks #bookworm #booklove #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #igreads #booklover #tea #teastagram #cupoftea #acupoftea #teatime #timefortea #abookandacupoftea #acupofteaandabook #ninastibbe #paradiselodge
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Here's a quick reminder of our upcoming prompts...

We'll be introducing February's book club tomorrow so don't forget to check back! Use the hashtag #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month. 

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Features | Debuts I Loved in 2019

There's nothing better than finding a new author you love but with my towering TBR I'm more often than not choosing my current read from the backlist, so it's rare that I get around to reading an author's debut novel in the year that it's actually released. To be honest, it's rare that I get around to reading my favourite authors' fifth or sixth novel in the year that it's released. But last year I did actually manage to read a few novels by brand new authors when they actually came out, so here are my top five debut novels of last year that you should read immediately if you haven't already.

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

I reviewed No Big Deal for Blogger's Bookshelf when I read it last year but let me use this opportunity to remind you just how much I enjoyed it. No Big Deal is a fun novel full of heart, with a fat girl at the centre of the story who knows she doesn't need to change in order to be happy. A UKYA classic in the making but with a message even us adults need to hear once in awhile too.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Okay, chances are you've either already read Red, White & Royal Blue or you're completely sick of everyone talking about it. I was starting to sway into the latter camp when I finally picked it up last year but immediately realised that McQuiston's enemy-to-lovers romcom about the son of the President of the United States and an English prince falling in love is absolutely worth the hype.

A Gift in December by Jenny Gladwell

A Gift in December is the story of a heartbroken investigative journalist whose editor sends her to find a story in the presumably tame annual presenting of a Christmas tree from Norway to the UK, and find a story she does, just not the one anyone was expecting. This is the perfect festive read, full of mystery, romance, and lots of Christmas cheer, but certainly good enough to be read all year round.

The Furies by Katie Lowe

Another one I reviewed last year, The Furies is a dark, witchy tale that I'm still thinking about all these months later. When Violet starts at a new school, desperate to leave her tragic past behind, she joins a secret society designed to encourage girls in academic pursuits, but the girls themselves have other ides, and it isn't long before Violet's desire to fit in takes her down a terrifying path.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

And finally, the very first book I read and reviewed last year, that I then spent pretty much the entire of 2019 wanting to re-read. Enchantée is the story of a girl who wants only to use her magic to make some money to support her sister, but who ends up instead caught up in the intrigue of the palace of Versailles, the life of a young man with a hot air balloon, and the French revolution.

I highly recommend all of these books and I'll be keeping my eyes out for the future novels of each and every one of these authors!
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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Features | Looking Back On Our 2019 Book Club

Ahead of our first 2020 book club roundup later this week, I wanted to share a quick look back at some of the titles I chose for our 2019 prompts. 

1 re-read, 2 sequels, 3 audiobooks, 6 YA books, 8 authors I'd never read before, 9 library loans, 11 books published in the last decade, 14 titles in total

Across the year's prompts I read four 4-star titles, the first being a re-read of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (Morgan Matson) for January's 'a roadtrip novel', followed by Us Against You (Fredik Backman) for June's 'translated into your native language. It was another YA title that became my third 4-star book club pick with Malorie Blackman's popular novel Noughts & Crosses which I enjoyed so much I ended up immediately reading the next book in the series too! I rounded out the year by finding another 4-star read to match December's prompt 'judge a book by it's cover' which saw me pick up The Gifted School (Bruce Holsinger).

At the other end of the ratings scale I found a few titles I didn't enjoy so much, which matched up with some of the prompts I struggled with choosing titles for the most, including 'under 200 pages', 'with an animal or creature in the title' and 'by an author with an alliterative name'. I was also a little disappointed that I didn't enjoy my pick for 'from the Penguin Moderns collection' more as I had been looking forward to reading it.

Although I completed all of last year's prompts, looking back on the list as a whole I can see that I didn't always make the best choices when it came to the book club. Going forward into our 2020 prompts list I've been keeping this in mind, making sure that I'm planning ahead as much as possible when it comes to selecting books. Here's to a more successful lineup of book club picks for 2020!
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Friday 17 January 2020

The Hunting Party | Lucy Foley | Review

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

Seven friends head to a secluded estate in the Scottish highlands for their annual New Year's Eve trip. Within days, someone goes missing, and when a body is found, everyone becomes a suspect. Among the group of friends are Miranda, the beautiful one who loves to be at the centre of everything; her husband Julien; her best friend since school, Katie; Nick and his boyfriend, Bo; Samira, her husband, Giles, and their newborn baby, Priya; and Mark and his girlfriend, the newest to group, Emma. It's Emma's turn to organise the group's New Year's Eve trip and, being the newest member of a group who have all known each other since their days at Oxford, she's keen to impress, and sure that the beautiful, modern lodge she has rented for the trip will be just the thing.

There are a few hiccups in Emma's plan, not least the unexpected Icelandic couple who are also staying at the lodge, despite the fact that Emma was promised their group would have the place to themselves, but the bigger issue by far is the glut of secrets being kept and tensions held, barely hidden beneath the surface of the groups' decade old friendships. Told via multiple points of view, the story unfolds both on the day the body is found and through flashbacks to the days leading up to the disappearance, slowly revealing first the suspects, and then the victim, until the threads that have held these friends together over the years are finally pulled taught enough to snap.

The Hunting Party is equal parts a murder mystery and an exploration of the kinds of harm we can do to those we love, aside from the obvious murder. This group of friends, bound together by marriage and more than a decade of shared memories, appears, from the very beginning, to be falling apart at the seams, grasping at an ease they no longer really feel with one other. Emma is desperate to fit in, Miranda is clinging onto her old role as the life of the party, Katie feels excluded as the only singleton, and those are only the three friends whose versions of events we see through their points of view. The other point of view characters are Heather, the manager at the lodge who has run away from an unspoken tragedy, and Doug, the gamekeeper who harbours a dark secret.

Unlike most traditional murder mysteries, the question at the centre of this novel is not only who committed the crime but also who the victim was, and as the mystery slowly unfolds itself, other mysteries begin to appear. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes and the isolated setting of the Scottish Highlands in winter is almost enough to set the tone for an unsettling story all by itself. And that's before the tension between the friends is kicked up a notch by a hunting trip and the unfurling of secrets that can't quite stay contained now that the group are all together again after a year of sporadic contact. Every part of this novel is steeped in tension, and, thanks perhaps to the unlikeable nature of many of the characters, the draw of watching that tension unravel the tenuous bonds between the group of old friends is difficult to resist.

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Wednesday 15 January 2020

Features | A Year In Books - 2019

Since the beginning of 2018 I've kept a reading spreadsheet as a way to record my year in books so I thought it might be interesting to share a quick roundup from 2019.

According to my (possibly not very reliable) mathematics skills, I read a total of over 21,000 pages in 2019, including my longest read of the year American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. I also became an avid audiobook listener in 2019, with audiobooks totalling over 170 hours at normal speed (although I usually choose to listen at 1.25 or 1.5 speed!). Books I thought worked particularly well in audiobook format included Bridget Jones's Diary, Daisy Jones & the Six, The Rest Of The Story and They Both Die At The End.

Only 28% of the books I read were actually published in 2019, but since I didn't end up buying a single book all year it's more than I had expected! My most read genres were YA and Contemporary, and thanks to downloading Borrow Box my top formats were audiobooks and ebooks. Audiobook subscriptions can be expensive, especially if you get through a lot of books in a year, so I'd highly recommend this app if your local library uses it.

As well as sharing my overall top 5 reads of the year here on BB, I also mark my favourite book from each month on my spreadsheet, leading to the twelve titles listed above. Two of the titles (Harry Potter and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour) were re-reads, two were sequels to books I had previously enjoyed (Wilde About The Girl and Us Against You) and four were written by authors I had never read before.

My best reading month of the year ended up being November, with 14 books completed, although 4 of which I had started before November 1st. Choosing my top read from this month was pretty tricky as there were three 4 star titles (Naturally Tan, Genesis and The Toll) as well as a 4.5 star read (The Rest Of The Story), however I just loved They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera in audiobook format so much that I ended up rating it 5 stars.

One thing I would love to see change in 2020 is my average rating. Currently I'm not very good at DNFing (I just don't like to give up on books!) but I think this could really help increase the number from a 3.5, closer to a 4. I've actually decided to experiment with making another change when it comes to ratings in 2020... but more on that in another post!
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Sunday 12 January 2020

Bookish Links #52

1. Is one of your favourite books becoming a movie this year? Check out Jamie's post to find out.

2. We loved following Michelle's bookish content in 2019 and look forward to hearing about her 2020 reads!

3. Did you catch this list of recommendations from Barack Obama?

4. This quick quiz from Epic Reads will reveal which celebrity you would share a bookshelf with.

5. A list of amazing audiobooks to add to your 2020 TBRs!

6. Kelly reviewed 'Some Kids I Taught & What They Taught Me' over on her personal blog.

7. A bunch of beautiful books.

8. Amy shared her top picks from Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine book club.

9. If you're looking to add to your enamel pin collection in 2020 you'll love this post.

10. Books and food; what's not to love?
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Tuesday 7 January 2020

Group Collaboration | Books We Vow To Read In 2020

Once again it's that time of year where we share the books we 'vow to read' over the next twelve months. As always, we've each chosen five different titles spanning various genres. If you've read any of these titles, or have made your own list for 2020, let us know!
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Wednesday 1 January 2020

Book Club | January 2020 - Written By An Author You Love

Happy new year everyone! We're diving straight into our first 2020 book club prompt today.

For our 2020 BB Book Club we've put together another printable list of twelve different prompts, one for each month of the year. Just as we did in 2019, 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 #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram.

Our prompt for January is....  

Written By An Author You Love


What we'll be reading...

Erin's Pick: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"Two of my 2019 5-star reads were written by Taylor Jenkins Reid so it's no surprise I've decided to go with another one of her books for our January prompt. My library doesn't have a copy of After I Do, but since I didn't buy any books at all in 2019 I thought it was about time I treat myself to a title from my TBR."

Anjali's Pick: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

"Neal Shusterman is a fantastic writer and I've loved all the books that I've read by him so far. Really looking forward to reading The Toll, the final in the Arc Of A Scythe series."

Other Suggested Reads...

As we can't suggest specific titles for this month's prompt, instead we have compiled a short list of authors who have been popular with our team members over the years.
- Rainbow Rowell
- Juno Dawson
- John Green
- Nicholas Sparks
- Neal Shusterman
- V E Schwab
- Maureen Johnson

Use the hashtag #bloggersbookshelf or tag @bloggersbookshelf on Instagram to share your photos and mini reviews with us throughout the month!
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