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 31 May 2020

Book Club | May 2020 Roundup

It's book club round up time again! This month our theme was books with a number in the tile and there were a huge range of titles to choose from. These are a few of the posts shared over on a Instagram during May.

“I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it's not faith, right?”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Finished my first @bloggersbookshelf Book Bingo square last week, AND our book club theme for May: A book with a number in the title. Double whammy.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was a good book, and was written in such a creative way. I really enjoyed it, but I think the style (sort of interview - transcription style) brought it down a star. It was a neat way to write a story, but I suspect it would be better on audiobook (which I've heard is fantastic).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Check out my full review on the blog! Link in profile.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ----------⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bloggersbookbingo #bloggersbookshelf #bloggersbookclub #nzcontentcollective #yabookstagram #bookstagram #books #book #bookaholic #booksofinstagram #confessionsofabookaddict #bookaddict #bookworm #bookreview #booklover #instaread #readthisbook #fiction #ya #lblogger #lifestyleblogger #nzbloggers #bookworm #bibliophile #igbooks #bookphotography #whattoread #epicreads
A post shared by Anjali-This Splendid Shambles (@anjalikay) on

The @bloggersbookshelf Book Club theme for May is ‘a book with a number in the title’, so I thought it would be a fun idea to suggest some books that I’ve read over the years that fit this category.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ BB has already done a post with 12 suggestions of books, and while some of these will double up, you might find a book (or two or three) that you can read this month. I’ve included a couple of thoughts for each book, as well links to my full reviews where possible.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These four books are just a sneak peek of the 15 in the post! You can find the link to the blog post in my profile.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ---------- ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #nzcontentcollective #yabookstagram #bookstagram #books #book #bookaholic #booksofinstagram #confessionsofabookaddict #bookaddict #bookworm #bookreview #booklover #instaread #readthisbook #fiction #ya #lblogger #lifestyleblogger #nzbloggers #bookworm #bibliophile #reader #igbooks #bookstack #amreading #bookphotography #whattoread #epicreads #bloggersbookshelf
A post shared by Anjali-This Splendid Shambles (@anjalikay) on

This month’s @bloggersbookshelf #bookshelfbookclub theme is ‘books with a number in the title’ and I chose to read Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot. This is the fourth novel in the Heather Wells mysteries series, which follows ex teen pop star Heather Wells at her new job working in a residence hall at New York College, which is quickly dubbed Death Dorm thanks to an unfortunate event during Heather’s first semester at the college. In this fourth instalment, Heather’s pop star past crashes into her current life when her ex-boyfriend, boy band member Jordan Cartwright, and Jordan’s new wife, pop star Tania Trace, are witness to a shooting, and filming of their new reality show is moved to Heather’s dorm so she and Jordan’s brother, Cooper, can help protect them from a threat Tania seems to know more about than she’s willing to let on. The first three novels in this series were a lot of fun and this one is no different. With romance, murder, and pop star silliness, I really couldn’t ask for more entertainment in a book. And there are five of these! - #vsco #vscocam #bloggersbookshelf #bookreview #bookstagram #vscobooks #bookworm #booklove #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #instabooks #bibliophile #igreads #booklover #coolgirlsread #booklife #bookobsessed #readeverywhere #readmorebooks #idratherbereading #bookaddict #literarylifestyle #readingbringsjoy #megcabot #heatherwellsmystery #size12andreadytorock
A post shared by Anastasia Gammon | Writer (@stasialikescakes) on

My pick for our May book club theme 'a number in the title' was One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This book tells the story of Emma Blair, a young woman whose husband, her high school sweetheart Jesse, is tragically involved in a helicopter accident on thier first wedding anniversary. Several years later Emma has managed to piece her life back together after losing Jesse and has found love again with her fiance Sam, but when out to dinner with her family she receives a phone call that changes everything. As with all of Taylor Jenkins Reid's novels I have read so far, I really enjoyed One True Loves and sped through it in just a couple of days. The characters felt realistic and the story draws you in right from the first chapter. I'd definitely recommend adding it to your TBR! - Erin (@sawyerandscoutdesign) . . . . #bookstagram #bookbloggers #bookclub #currentlyreading #bloggersbookshelf #instabooks #reading #kindlereads #ukbloggers #nzbloggers #ebooks #taylorjenkinsreid #onetrueloves #bookcovers #beautifulbooks #favouritebooks
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We'll be introducing June'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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Saturday 30 May 2020

Features | May Reads

The first book I picked up this month was my book club selection One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The book tells the story of Emma Blair a young woman whose husband, her high school sweetheart Jesse, is tragically involved in a helicopter accident on thier first wedding anniversary. Several years later Emma has managed to piece her life back together after losing Jesse and has found love again with her fiance Sam, but when out to dinner with her family she receives a phone call that changes everything. As with all of Taylor Jenkins Reid's novels the characters felt realistic and I really enjoyed it.

Whilst I wasn't surprised that I found One True Loves to be a great read, I was a little surprised at just how much I enjoyed The Nightingale. This is the first Kristin Hannah book I've picked up and after already being slowly drawn more towards the Historical Fiction genre it was Heather over at Bookables enthusiasm for this novel that saw me finally decide to read it. The book is set during the second world war and focuses on the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, living in France. I've never really read anything like before and whilst it had many truly heartbreaking moments, the story was very engaging and well-written. I'd definitely be interested in reading another Kristin Hannah book in future.

Another interesting read from this month was The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires (Grady Hendrix), which I recieved via Netgalley for review. Going into this read I knew it was a vampire story and that there would be some gory moments but there were a lot of other elements I wasn't expecting too. Overall I had mixed feelings about the book but if you'd like to find out a bit more about The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires, you can find my review in the BB archives.

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Friday 29 May 2020

Feature | P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han - Book and Netflix Movie Thoughts

It took a while, but I finally read P.S I Still Love You, by Jenny Han. *applause*

I read To All the Boys I Loved Before back in 2018, and Sophie and I watched the movie and chatted about the book and film on our podcast. TATBILB was really enjoyable (both book and movie, actually), but I didn't get round to reading P.S I Still Love You until this month. A few hours after I finished reading the book, I watched the movie. And I have thoughts.

Spoilers are likely in this post! You've been warned!

The book

While P.S I Still Love You was a good story, I didn't like it as much as I did To All The Boys. I remember liking Peter way more in the first book than I did in book two, but I really liked John Ambrose McCLaren in P.S I Still Love You. So that was an annoying internal conflict. But as the story went on, I did find myself rooting for Peter over John. Which I think was how it was meant to be, so I guess that's good?

My main gripe with the story is that the part that I really enjoyed the most was when the group of friends (and ex-friends) get together to open their time capsule they buried under Lara Jean's neighbor's tree house (which is getting taken down in the near future). After opening the time capsule that they buried about 5 years prior, they decide they should play a last game of Assassin. The game goes like this: everyone puts their own name into a hat, and everyone draws a name from the hat. Whoever you draw, that's your target, and you need to place two hands on their shoulders to get them out. You then take the name that they had, and try to get that person out. Each person's home is safe house, as is school. The last person standing gets to have one wish granted from anyone in the group.

I love the idea of this game! I really wish that the game was something that ran through the entire story, rather than starting half way through and ending with about a quarter of the book to go. It's a concept that I think could have made the book a lot more quirky and fun. Not that it wasn't fun, but it would have made it that little bit more entertaining.

Having said that, I did really like the addition of John Ambrose to the story, and some of the side stories that were going on, like Gen's family troubles, Lara Jean visiting Stormy at the Belleview retirement home etc. Overall, I did enjoy it (probably a 3.5 - 4 star), but not as much as TATBILB.

The movie

Having the book fresh in my head (like I said it was mere hours later that I watched the film after finishing the book) is something that rarely happens in my life. At the end of 2019 I read Let it Snow and then watched the movie that week, but other than that I can't think of anything recently that I've done this with. I think doing this - finishing the book and then really soon after watching the movie - has it's pros and cons. But that's a post for another day, perhaps. 

P.S I Still Love You the movie was a lot of fun. But there were so many things that were different to the book. To name a few: the way John Ambrose McCLaren re-enters Lara Jean's life is different than in the book. He still writes her back after he gets the letters from the first book, but then he shows up to volunteer at Belleview. In the book, he's Stormy's great-grandson (by marriage), so he meets Lara Jean when they're both their visiting her. In the book, John gives Lara Jean the snowglobe, in the movie she chooses it at a fair that she's at with Peter (also new to the movie). In the movie Gen and Lara Jean chat in the treehouse, which was a nice addition I have to say, and while their friendship isn't really restored, it seems more on the right track in the movie than in the book. Also in the book, the Covey family gets a dog, and he's not in the movie. I could go on with the differences, but I won't.

But I will say: the Assassin game they played in the book and that I enjoyed so much wasn't in the movie at all. I understand that they can't put everything in, but now all I want is to see Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher and Lara Condor running around the town trying to tag their friends. I think that would be awesome, and would make for some brilliant hilarity.

I do also want to mention there were some things in the movie that I'm discovering were pulled from book three, Always and Forever, Lara Jean, which I started after watching the movie. 


So all in all: I liked the book. I liked the movie. But I would have like the movie more if I hadn't read the book. And I would have like the book more if it involved the Assassin game more. 

Obviously, if you've read and enjoyed To All the Boys I've Loved Before, then do pick up this one. 

What are your thoughts about the book vs movie? Let us know!

Movie image: IMDB | Book image: Goodreads
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Wednesday 27 May 2020

Daisy Jones & The Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

Cover image via

This month I read Taylor Jenkins Reid's most recent release Daisy Jones & The Six for the third time and realised that I had never posted a review of this book, despite it being one of my absolute favourites. This time around I wanted to share not a full review, but some of my thoughts as this book certainly deserves a spot in our BB archives.

Set during the 60's & 70's the book tells the story of how Daisy Jones, a beautiful young woman with a natural talent for singing, and rock band The Six came together and rose to fame. It's an intense ride and includes all of the highs and lows experienced along the way, told through a series of interviews with members of the band as well as family members and those who worked with them during their career. The main charcters are Billy Dunne (frontman of The Six) and Daisy herself, but there are a whole host of other interesting people to be found within the pages of this book too. I'm sure I'm not alone in listing Camilla, Karen and Simone as particular favourites.

As mentioned in my review of The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid has a way of making all of the characters she creates feel genuinely real. For me, one of the most effective ways she makes the story feel more realistic is by including contradictions between the different characters versions of events. One moment you'll hear something stated as a fact from one character only for another character to say the complete opposite just seconds later. You're left never really knowing exactly what happened and these moments are some of my favourites from the book.

One of the most unique things about Daisy Jones & The Six is the interview format. In a recent review over at This Splendid Shambles Anjali mentioned that for her the format of the book took away some of the emotion and therefore her connection to the characters. Whilst I would personally pick up a title in this format ordinarily, I can fully appreciate that it isn't for everyone. I have read Daisy Jones both as an ebook and as an audiobook and would suggest that listening to the audiobook would likely make the story more enjoyable for you if the interview format doesn't sound like your thing. With it's full cast of characters who bring extra personality to the story, to me it feels just like listening to a captivating podcast series about a real band and it's definitely my favourite way to read this book; I could happily listen to it over and over!

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Wednesday 20 May 2020

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires | Grady Hendrix | Review

Review copy c/o Quirk Books via Netgalley

Back in 2014 I shared a review of Horrorstör, a brilliantly unique and cleverly designed title from Grady Hendrix, so when I saw this new release pop up on Netgalley I was intrigued to find out more. This title has been hugely popular since it's release last month, with an average Goodreads rating of over 4 stars, and plenty of positive reviews. I'm not usually one to pick up vampire novels so I wasn't quite sure what to expect but based on what I had heard I knew it would have some gory moments.

Set in the 90's this novel follows Patricia Campbell, a housewife who gave up her career as a nurse to settle down and start a family. With her husband always busy with work and her teenage children wanting her to stay out of their business, Patricia's life just isn't quite going as planned. She spends her time looking after her family and attending social events with her neighbours, including a book club with several other women. While this might seem pretty normal, this is not your average suburban book club as secretly the small group of women get together regularly to discuss their shared love of true crime. Little do they know, some of the things found between the pages of the books they've read together may just come in handy in real life someday.

After a very unusual and disturbing incident, Patricia meets a newcomer to town named James Harris, who says he is a relation of a local lady that has recently passed away. James claims to have a medical condition due to something that happened during his childhood causing a serious issue with his eyes that means he has trouble going out in the sun. Soon he has an overly-polite Patricia roped into helping him out with chores and even inviting him for dinner with her family.

Patricia's mother-in-law, who is staying with the family as she can no longer live alone, has a lot to say about the new addition to town but they quickly dismiss her thinking that she simply has him confused with someone else. Of course, as time passes and more disturbing events occur in the local area, including kids going missing on the other side of town, Patricia with the help of a whole bunch of vampire novels, starts to piece together various information that suggests not only may James not be who he seems, but that he may not even be human.

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires is a tricky one for me to review as whilst I found the concept interesting and there were parts I liked, there were also parts that I didn't really enjoy. Right from the prologue the book really draws you in and is an intense ride but it does get pretty gory and dark rather early on and there were scenes that I found uncomfortable to read, so if that's not your thing this probably isn't the book for you. I feel that I should also mention the book includes themes of abuse and sexual assault.

Overall, the book got off to an intriguing start and the way the story played out was definitely disturbing, living up to its horror genre. Unfortunately I didn't really feel much of a connection to any of the characters which I think took away somewhat from my enjoyment. However, I loved the book club element and the fact that I wasn't ever 100% sure how things would play out definitely kept me on my toes!

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Saturday 16 May 2020

Bookish Links #56

1. Classics can be tricky, but there's one out there for everyone! In this post Holly shares six that she enjoyed.

2. How amazing are these book shelf inserts? If you're looking for a craft project to tackle this month perhaps these will inspire you.

3. Over at This Northern Gal, Kelly reviewed The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

4. Obviously, we hope that you're joining in with our BB book club, but here are 6 more to try out too.

5. Looking for advice on how get your book published? This post is for you.

6. Whilst we can't go on any real holidays right now, this post has some reading recommendations to take you on a literary vacation instead!

7. Sophie shared a review of creative title Find Your Artistic Voice.

8. If you're watching Normal People, you'll enjoy this interview post over on the Waterstones blog.

9. This post features 4 short but highly recommended audiobooks, all under 4 hours.

10. Our last link this month is to our very own archives! Anjali has been very busy tidying up all of our post labels, post images and links to make it easier to find what you're looking for on BB (thank you Anjali!)
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Thursday 14 May 2020

Features | April Reads

April saw me turning to what I thought would be easier reads, with a mix of mostly YA and Contemporary tales. Within the YA genre I finally got around to reading two titles that had been sitting unread on my Kindle for years; My Life Next Door (Huntley Fitzpatrick) and Alex, Approximately (Jenn Bennett). I actually ended up really enjoying both of them, so on the one hand it's a shame I didn't read them sooner, but on the other hand they were perfect picks for lockdown!

For our April book club theme 'written by a POC', I chose to revisit Malorie Blackman's Pig Heart Boy; a story I remembered form when I was younger. It was interesting to read this book again as an adult and I thought the audiobook format was great.

Whilst I did really enjoy most of the books I picked up in April, my favourite had to be my re-read of The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid) via audiobook. If you had asked me a month ago which book I preferred between Daisy Jones and Evelyn Hugo, I think I would've told you Daisy, but after revisiting Evelyn's tale I remembered just how much I loved it, so for now it sits in the top spot!

If you missed my review of The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo you can find it in the BB archives.
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Sunday 10 May 2020

Features | 2020 Book Club Illustration Challenge (January - April)

Back in January I decided that I wanted to set myself an extra book club challenge for 2020. Alongside reading books to fit our list of monthly prompts I wanted to also create a design/pattern inspired by each one and share them over on my Instagram account @sawyerandscoutdesign. As we're now over a third of the way through the year, I thought it might be nice to share a roundup of the designs so far, with a little bit about the process of creating each one.

January - A Book By An Author You Love

Inspired by: After I Do (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

When I was thinking abut ideas for my January design I had just watched a brilliant Skillshare class from Teela Cunnigham to learn the basics of Procreate. The class included four projects, one of which showed how to create this type of decorated lettering design with florals. I had so much fun with the class project that I decided to use the technique for my book club piece too, and have used it on many other occassion since as it's such an enjoyable process!

I knew that I wanted to keep to some sort of colour palette for these book club pieces throughout the year and so the colours used here determined what that palette would be for the rest of 2020. I'm still really happy with how this one turned out, although less happy about how much the quality seems to have been affected when uploading to Instagram! As I have discovered a love for creating this type of design, and find them very relaxing to work on, I have a feeling this may not be the only piece in this style for the book club project.

February - A Book With A Tree or Leaves On The Cover

Inspired by: A Place For Us (Fatima Farheen Mirza)

For my February design I wanted to take direct inspiration from the cover of the book as it related to the prompt, and also really liked the idea of it representing the family tree as the book itself is centred around a family.

I really struggled with how to use my newly created colour palette for this design, and made various versions in different colour combinations before finally settling on a simple blue and pink palette. For the lettering, I drew up my own letters for the book title, something I hadn't tried before... as you can probably tell by how shaky and uneven they are! I think that the piece would have looked much better without the lettering, and perhaps with a few more details added into the branches, so I may at some point revisit it and create an updated version. As you'll see from the next two designs, this was the point where I realised I may not want to include the book titles and authors in every month's design.

March - A Book About Siblings

Inspired by: The Most Fun We Ever Had (Claire Lombardo)

I had been wanting to draw up a pattern using ginkgo leaves for a while (they're just so pretty!) so of course I jumped at the opportunity to do so for my March design inspired by The Most Fun We Ever Had. A ginkgo tree in the garden of the family home is mentioned several times throughout the novel, and both cover designs I've seen include ginkgo leaves in some way too.

As mentioned above, this was the month I firmly decided that I didn't want to include the book's title and author in each piece as the pattern felt like a strong enough design on it's own. Again, I played around with various colour combinations, but in the end really liked the idea of highlighting one of the leaves in each bunch with a pop of yellow. This is another design I think that I may revisit, perhaps using a different colour palette, in future.

April - Written By A POC

Inspired by: Pig Heart Boy (Malorie Blackman)

I had a vision for April's design even before I had picked up the book, but honestly I really struggled to bring it to life. I've never drawn a heart before (as you can probably tell!) and also wanted to experiment with using a bit more texture and shading. I really enjoyed using different brushes in Procreate to add a little depth and texture to the initial line drawing and would definitely use this technique again.

At first, I wasn't sure about how it had turned out. I couldn't decided whether it needed more detail/florals in the background and I can certainly see a few mistakes/bits I would change, but after sitting with it for a while I actually quite like it. This piece needed to feature a heart as the main focus, and I think I managed to achieve that, even if it isn't perfect!
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