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.


Tuesday 30 June 2020

Book Club | June 2020 Roundup

Our theme for June's book club was to read a book written by an author with the same initals as you. Here are a selection of the books chosen by Team BB and our readers...

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

"The Other Alcott tells the story of Little Women author Louisa May Alcott's younger sister May, an aspiring artist and the inspiration behind Amy March. I picked up this book, having read Little Women earlier this year, as I thought that the concept was really interesting and whilst I enjoyed the idea of May trying to find her own voice and chasing her dream to become a successful artist, sadly, on the whole, the book just wasn't for me. Having said that, I found the author's note explaining how she came to tell this particular story and which parts were inspired by real events/people etc, an interesting addition." - Erin

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I found it really tricky finding a book to match this month's Book CLub theme - an author who shares your initials. Apparently there aren't too many A-Ks out there.⁠ ⁠ But I settled on a book I've been meaning to read for a while (the joys of book club!): These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.⁠ ⁠ Are you joining us for Blogger's Bookshelf Book Club this month? What are you reading? - Anjali (@anjalikay)⁠ ⁠ You can find the link to the June Book Club post on the blog in our profile.⁠ ⁠ ----------⁠ ⁠ ⁠ #bookstagram #bookbloggers #bookclub #bloggersbookshelf #instabooks #reading #bookcovers #prettybooks #beautifulbooks #booklovers #shareyourbooks #books #bookworm #readingchallenge #bbloggersbookclub #thesebrokenstars

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These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

"Like I mentioned in the above Instagram post on Blogger's Bookshelf, I really struggled to find my initials this month! Luckily, I remembered I had These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman (and Meagan Spooner, but her initials don't match mine) on my shelf which I was keen to read. I've had it for a while now, so it was a joy to finally have an excuse to pick it up (not that I should have needed one, but you know, so many books). Overall I did really enjoy it! Science Fiction usually isn't my jam as a book genre, but I found it really worked for this book and I want to read the next ones now!" - Anjali

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer 

"Joining the rest of the book community wanting to reread Twilight before Midnight Sun came out. It’s been I think around 10 years since I read it so I don’t really remember all the storyline. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it although that was very much ignoring the whole Edwards a creepy stalker... have talked for like 3 days ‘Bella you are my life now’ what a weight on your shoulders!" - Sophie

We'll be introducing July'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 27 June 2020

Features | 10 Of My Favourite Reads Of The Year So Far

As we are now halfway through 2020 (and hopefully halfway to our reading goals!), I wanted to share 10 of my favourite reads of the year so far. Whilst I have re-read a few titles that I love, this list only includes books that were new to me in 2020, and I’ve kept them all in order of date read. It goes without saying that I would highly recommend picking up copies of any of these books if you haven’t read them yet.

1. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My January book club pick for our prompt ‘by an author you love’ was After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This book follows Lauren and Ryan who, after growing apart, decide to take a year out of their marriage in an attempt to find their way back to each other. Whilst I had expected to enjoy the book, I didn’t know I would love it as much as I did. It ended up being an easy 5-star rating and a great start to my reading year.

2. Meat Market by Juno Dawson

I’ve been a fan of Juno Dawson’s writing for years and her 2019 release Meat Market certainly didn’t disappoint. Tackling the darker side of the fashion industry, this novel follows Jana as she unexpectedly becomes a model and has to navigate her way through this unfamiliar and often scary situation. The book is formatted as Jana telling her story for a documentary which I really loved. Side note; I recently ordered a copy of Dawson’s latest release Wonderland and I can't wait to read it!

3. No Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy is the only non-fiction title to make this list but it was the easiest 5-star rating of the year so far. The book focuses on the work of the Equal Justice Initiative and in particular the story of Walter McMillian, a black man who was sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman; a crime that he did not commit. The work that Bryan Stevenson and the EJI have done, and are continuing to do, is incredibly inspiring and this book is such an important and informative read.

4. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Ria kindly gifted me a copy of Friday Black after it made her 2019 favourites list and I’m very grateful to her for doing so. This unique collection of twelve short stories was an amazing debut release that has stuck with me long after reading, and is a book I’m sure that I will revisit. I found it to be a captivating read and enjoyed the writing style so I’m also looking forward to reading any future releases from Adjei-Brenyah.

5. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Set in the same neighbourhood as Thomas’ brilliant debut, On The Come Up tells the story of aspiring rapper Bri. Having read and highly rated Angie Thomas’ first novel The Hate U Give I was excited to read this one too and wasn’t disappointed. I’m also looking forward to the release of Concrete Rose early next year, a new novel which tells the story of Maverick Carter, a name fans of The Hate U Give will recognise.

6. A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Another book club pick to make this list is A Place For Us, my choice for the February prompt ‘a tree or leaf on the cover’. The story is centred around an Indian-American family living in the US and switches between past and present, as well as different character’s perspectives, to explore their complex relationships. This is not an action-packed book but instead takes you on a quieter journey which I really enjoyed.

7. Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Inspired by the events of the LA Riots in the early 90’s and the fatal shooting of Latasha Harlins, Your House Will Pay tells the story of two families, one African American and one Korean American, connected by the tragic death of a teenage girl. Having not heard much about it previously, I had no idea what to expect from this novel but it was an intense, heartbreaking and well-written read. The story has stuck in my mind ever since I finished reading it in March and I’m already planning on re-reading it sometime in future.

8. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

During the earlier part of the lockdown period here in the UK, I ended up reading several YA contemporaries in close succession. Having enjoyed most of them it wasn’t easy to choose which one/s should make this list but I felt that My Life Next Door was the one that stuck in my mind the most. This book, which tells the story of neighbouring families the Garretts and the Reeds, had been sitting unread on my Kindle for years, so I’m really glad I finally found time to read it.

9. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The second Taylor Jenkins Reid title to make the list is One True Loves, which I picked up for our May book club theme ‘a number in the title’. This book tells the story of Emma whose husband Jesse is tragically involved in a helicopter accident on their first wedding anniversary. Several years later Emma has managed to piece her life back together and is happily engaged to Sam, when she receives a phone call that changes everything. As with all of Jenkins Reid's novels the characters felt realistic and the story had a mix of heartbreaking and heartwarming moments.

10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale tells the heartbreaking and inspiring tale of Vianne and Isabelle, two sisters living in France during World War II and has been a hugely popular book within the book blogging community. I was captivated by this novel right from the start and thought it was engaging and well-written. I have been known to say that Historical Fiction isn't a genre that I typically go for and whilst this has been true in the past, I'm beginning to realise that perhaps it should be one I reach for more often.

Other books I’ve really enjoyed in 2020:
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Friday 26 June 2020

Melt My Heart | Bethany Rutter | Review

Lily Rose loves her own fat body, but she can't shake the idea that no one would ever choose her over her gorgeous twin sister, Daisy - not when they could have the thin twin. That is, until she meets Cal...

This is Lily's summer of new things. It's her last summer in the lovely seaside town she grew up in before she leaves for university in the autumn and, although she should be excited, she can't quite bring herself to be. She's spending the summer working with her best friend, Cassie, at Cassie's parent's ice cream stand; doing one new thing every day to prepare herself for the shock of moving away; and she's met a cute boy, Cal, who for once actually likes her rather than her twin sister, Daisy. But that's exactly what starts to cause problems. How can Lily tell Daisy that she's dating Daisy's crush? And why isn't she as into Cal as she should be? 

On top of that, results day is looming, and with it the end of the summer and the biggest new thing, leaving behind Lily's beloved home, the streets of which are being covered in hateful anonymous posters; Daisy, who isn't happy that they'll be attending different universities; and Cassie, the only person Lily ever really wants to spend her time with. Then, of course, there's the fact that Lily is keeping a secret. One much more important than dating Cal. She's not actually sure she wants to go to university at all.

Melt My Heart is a story of self-discovery. Over the course of one summer Lily is confronted with a lot of truths to face and decisions of how she will deal with them, and although these choices may overwhelm Lily, the narrative doesn't feel bloated or overly complicated. Each piece of Lily's summer weaves together to show the ultimate lesson she must learn, that she needs to trust her own feelings. Readers who enjoy coming of age stories will find a lot to love in watching Lily grapple with both the new things she chooses and the ones that surprise her, and although the ending seems to come quickly, it is anything but unsatisfying.

As with the protagonist of Rutter's last book, No Big Deal, Lily is fat, and although she has insecurities related to that, which are exacerbated by her skinny twin sister, Daisy, making comments she doesn't always realise are hurtful, Lily never considers losing the weight, and the narrative never suggests that she should. The only thing Lily needs to change is to trust herself more, and once she does, she finds rewards that any reader will agree she deserves. This is an ideal book for teen readers who are still discovering themselves, as that is exactly who Lily is, confident in some ways, but still growing in many others. Once again, Bethany Rutter has created a protagonist who feels like a real teenager, with all the confusion, pain, and joy that entails.

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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Sunday 14 June 2020

Bookish links #57

This month’s bookish links have been selected by Team BB in support of Black Lives Matter.

We recognise that there is so much more we can do as a team to educate ourselves and amplify black voices, and one way we can do so is by reading books and sharing recommendations with you here at BB. We must all continue to diversify our reading lists, keep listening, learning and sharing our support. Team BB are committed to doing so not just for now but for always, and hope that you will pledge to do the same.

Below you will find reading recommendations, blogs to follow and actions that you can take.

1. If you're looking to add to your TBR, we recommend this anti-racist reading list from Ibram X. Kendi shared over at The NY Times. You can also currently find the audiobook version of Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi for free on Spotify.

2. This beautiful illustration is packed full of non-fiction anti-racist books to add to your reading list.

3. This article over on The Guardian shares anti-racist books for children and teens...

4. and this post highlights 2020 releases by black authors featuring books from a variety of genres.

5. We also love this list of black authors to read in 2020 compiled by Megan over at The Spines.

6. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is another amazing book we highly recommend. You can find out more about the book and the work of the Equal Justice Initiative over on their website.

7. If you're keen to pick up copies of some of these recommended reads, please consider purchasing from a black-owned bookstore such as those listed here, here and here.

8. If you love poetry you'll enjoy this Instagram post featuring a list of amazing black UK poets.

9. Head over to The Black Curriculum website to find out more about their work and what you can do to help. You can also sign this petition to add more diverse books to GCSE reading lists in the UK.

10. If you are able to donate, please visit the People of Color in Publishing website to help support their work to make the publishing industry more diverse.

To conclude this month's edition of Bookish Links, we wanted to share some of our favourite bookstagram accounts. We're planning on making this a regular feature of the series going forward, so if you have any accounts you think Team BB and our readers need to see please let us know in the comments section below.

This month's beautiful bookstagram accounts to follow:
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Thursday 4 June 2020

Features | Book Suggestions for Completing the Far Left Column on Book Bingo

Have you completed a row on Book Bingo yet?

If you missed the memo, at the beginning of May we designed and posted a Book Bingo sheet for us to try and complete by the end of June. Despite the fact that a lot of us a lot more time on our hands at the moment, it can still be tricky deciding what to pick up and read, even without a Book Bingo sheet on the go!

I thought it would be fun to put together a couple of posts of suggestions of books that would fit some of the rows. If you're really stuck you can read all the books I suggest checking out and then boom! A complete row; go you! Gold star (virtually).

Some of the squares on our Book Bingo are about personal choice, or books that you've read in the past, so I'm not going to be suggesting books for those rows (I'm thinking about squares such as 'a genre you don't read very often' and 'recommended by a friend' because I can't comment on those for you). But let's get into it!

Left column

Non Fiction | Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

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.

Shout outs | Becoming by Michelle Obama; The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank; The Moth by Catherine Burns; The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy by Michael F Patton and Kevin Cannon.

A book with magic in it | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss 

I still can't quite comprehend how good this book was. Ever since discovering the YA genre, it's not often I dive into adult fantasy books, but I had heard some many great things about this book that I had to pick it up. I'm so glad I did, because it was amazing. The magic in this book is called Sympathy, which is sort of like magic and alchemy mixed together. Definitely recommend!

Shout outs | Harry Potter by JK Rowling; The Magicians by Lev Grossman; Carry On by Rainbow Rowell; Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Set in a big city | An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green

Hank Green's debut novel was amazing. Normally alien invasions and sci-fi genres don’t draw me in, but there was something about An Absolutely Remarkable Thing that was, shockingly enough, absolutely remarkable (and I’m 100% no one has made that joke before, she says sarcastically). It's set in many large cities around the world, but predominately New York and LA.

Shout outs | Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (London); Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (New York City); Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Singapore).

Featuring a mythical creature | Eragon, by Christopher Paolini

I was about 15 years old when I first read Eragon, and since then I've read it multiple times (although I haven't actually finished the series! Eek!) Whenever anyone says 'dragons' (which happens more in my life than you might expect), then I think of Eragon. Can I caution you, though? Don't watch the movie. 

Shout outs | Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan; Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller; Mythos by Stephen Fry.

A book with a number in the title | Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

There were actually so many books that I could suggest for this box! You can check out a long list which Erin put together for our Book Club May theme here. But if you haven't read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and you enjoyed YA fantasy mixed with great characters and spectacular heists, this is the duology for you. Get on it!

Shout outs: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid; Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte; One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus; Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.

And you've done it! You've completed a column! Congratulations! I hope this has been helpful and at least given you some ideas for books to read.

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Wednesday 3 June 2020

Features | Book Suggestions for Completing the Central Column on Book Bingo

How is your Book Bingo sheet coming along?

If you missed the memo, at the beginning of May we designed and posted a Book Bingo sheet for us to try and complete by the end of June. Despite the fact that a lot of us a lot more time on our hands at the moment, it can still be tricky deciding what to pick up and read, even without a Book Bingo sheet on the go!

I thought it would be fun to put together a couple of posts of suggestions of books that would fit some of the rows. If you're really stuck you can read all the books I suggest checking out and then boom! A complete row; go you! Gold star (virtually).

Some of the squares on our Book Bingo are about personal choice, or books that you've read in the past, so I'm not going to be suggesting books for those rows (I'm thinking about squares such as 'a genre you don't read very often' and 'recommended by a friend' because I can't comment on those for you). But let's get into it!

Central column (with the free space!)

Featuring a sports team | Harry Potter (any) by JK Rowling

So right off the bat (ha, sports joke ... get it) I'm struggling with what to suggest for this one. Turns out I don't read a lot of books that have sports teams in them ... but this is the ideal opportunity to remind that you Quidditch is a sport, and it features not one but four sports teams ... even more if  you read Goblet of Fire. So maybe use this as an opportunity to re-read one of the Harry Potter books. You're welcome.

Shout outs | Check Please!, by Ngozi Ukazu (hockey)

One Word Title | Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

If you haven't already picked up Scythe by Neal Shusterman, now's your chance! Here at BB we really love this book. If you're not familiar with it, check out the discussion between Erin and I in 2018. The Arc of a Scythe triology was so good, and I remember just thinking about the story lines long after I had finished the books.

Shout outs | Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel); Dry, by Neal Shusterman; Stepsister, by Jennifer Donnelly (retelling); Cinder by Marissa Meyer (retelling); Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks (graphic novel).

FREE SPACE | All the books

A free space in Book Bingo means you don't have to read anything! Boom! But if you do want to read something, you can slot any book you'd like into this central square. Here are some quick fire suggestions that I've read in the past year that I really enjoyed.

Book cover: Goodreads | Movie cover: Rotten Tomatoes

Adapted into a TV show | The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Sometimes when they turn books into TV shows and movies it can be a real disaster. I do think, however, that they (the movie and TV people) are getting better at creating adaptations that not only live up to the book's epic-ness, but they are sometimes even better. I'm not saying that's the case with The Magicians, but I really enjoyed the trilogy by Lev Grossman, and I have really enjoyed the TV show adaptation (there have been tears, you guys).

Shout outs | Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin (although let's be honest, you've probably seen the entire show and never picked up the book right? Yup, same); A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness; Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; Anne of Green Gables, by L. M Montgomery.

Published in 2020 | Yes No Maybe So, by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Excuse my copy of this book. It's an ARC, hence the not-quite-finished cover, and it got bent in the post. If you're after a cute YA romance, check out Yes No Maybe So. It was a really sweet tale of Jamie and Maya, and they're adventures canvassing their neighborhood for an upcoming election. I didn't think it was as cute as some of Albertalli's other stories (like Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda), but it was still pretty cute!

Shout outs: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins; Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare; The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson.

And you've done it! You've complete a row! Congratulations! But in all seriousness, I hope this has been helpful and at least given you some ideas for books to read.

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Monday 1 June 2020

Book Club | June 2020 - Written By An Author With The Same Initials As You

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 June is...  

Written By An Author With The Same Initials As You

What we'll be reading...

Erin's pick: The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

"I honestly really struggled with what to read for this month's theme... even though I chose which of the prompt suggestions we would be using for the book club this year! I had a few ideas in mind but most of them were darker reads which I wasn't feeling like reading right now, so when I stumbled across The Other Alcott I decided to go with it. I'd never heard of the book before but the synopsis says that it tells the story of May Alcott, Little Women author Louisa May Alcott's younger sister, and the inspiration behind the character of Amy March."

Anjali's Pick: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman 

"It was so difficult finding an author with my initials, but Amie Kaufman is well known in the YA science fiction world, so I thought this was the ideal time to pick up one of her books. I have These Broken Stars on my shelf, and I haven't read it yet. Now's the time! Kaufman tends to write books with other people, and this one is no exception. These Broken Stars is co-written by Megan Spooner, and is a Young Adult, science fiction romance, set in space. I'll let you know how it goes!"

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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