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 July 2020

Book Club | July 2020 Roundup

Our book club theme for July was 'books with maps' and there were so many great titles to choose from. Here are a few of the books Team BB read for the challenge...

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Our July book club theme is 'books with maps' and my pick was Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, which certainly didn't disappoint!⁠ ⁠ Alternating between the perspectives of Zelie, Amari and Inan, this YA Fantasy book takes you on an action-packed adventure filled with many exciting and also heartbreaking moments. I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives and each character’s arc as well as the writing style, in particular the descriptions of the story’s setting.⁠ ⁠ I've just started reading the sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance and can't wait to find out what will happen next! - Erin⁠ ⁠ Don't forget to share your July book club picks this week using #bloggersbookshelf 📚⁠ ⁠ -------------------⁠ ⁠ #bookclub #bookstagram #onlinebookclub #bookswithmaps #instabooks #bookbloggers #childrenofbloodandbone #yafantasy #yalit #beautifulbooks #bookswelove #currentlyreading #bookcovers ⁠ ⁠

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(I received this novel for review via Netgalley.) I had to try and create my own @cosyreads style cosy photo for this book! Our @bloggersbookshelf Book Club theme for this month is ‘a book with a map’, and The Ship of Shadows sure fits that bill! Following Aleja, a girl desperate for adventure, who accidentally finds herself part of a real pirate crew on a real magical ship, The Ship of Shadows is a joyful middle grade story, full of fun, friendship, and lots of cake! I don’t generally read a lot of middle grade fiction but I couldn’t resist this novel set on board a magical pirate ship, and I’m glad I didn’t! This novel is so much fun, I’d recommend it for anyone who spent their childhood with their head in books, dreaming of adventure! If you want to know more, you can read my full review on the @bloggersbookshelf blog now! - #bookshelfbookclub #bloggersbookshelf #bookreview #bookstagram #beautifulbooks #bibliophile #igreads #booklover #coolgirlsread #theshipofshadows

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What are you currently reading? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ One of the books that I added to my 'to be REread' book list at the start of the year was The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson. I read it years ago but never got around to reading the rest of the series, even though I really enjoyed it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Also, the @bloggersbookshelf Book Club theme for July is 'a book with a map in it' (which this one does), so it's the perfect time to re-read! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, tell me: what are you reading this week? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ---------- ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #thenameofthestar #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

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We'll be introducing August'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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Friday 24 July 2020

The Ship of Shadows | Maria Kuzniar | Review

Aleja whiles away her days in her family's dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she's only ever read about in books. After all, she's always been told that girls can't be explorers.

Aleja dreams of living the adventures she reads about in her favourite books, especially those of the famed British explorer, Thomas James, and she loves to hear the stories of pirates and magic that men tell each other in her family's tavern. She longs to board a ship of her own and sail the world, just like James did. Aleja's grandmother says girls shouldn't go chasing after adventure but Aleja doesn't believe her. Aleja knows that girls can do whatever they set their mind to, and although the men in the tavern don't always believe in the magic stories they tell, Aleja knows that they're wrong too. Magic is real and she hopes to find it as much as she hopes to explore the world.

Aleja's wishes all seem to come true when she finds herself on The Ship of Shadows, a temporary and accidental part of Captain Quint's crew. Aleja is soon setting sail to mysterious locations, helping to solve important riddles and clues, and having all the adventure she could ever want, and more besides. Maybe a little too much. Captain Quint has many secrets, and it turns out that being a pirate on a magical ship is most definitely not without peril. Not least of which is the terrifying pirate hunter on the ship's tail!

The Ship of Shadows is a fun and fantastical middle grade adventure, filled with magic, daring, friendship, and cake. Aleja's thirst for knowledge and adventure may land her on Captain Quint's ship, but it's the friendships she makes onboard that truly propel the story forward and that, along with Quint's mysteries, will keep readers eagerly turning the pages to find out how the adventure ends. Or, indeed, if it ends at all. Aleja is a charming narrator and, along with the rest of the crew, makes this an easy and fun read, perfect for all ages, because, I mean, who doesn't love reading about pirates sailing on a magical ship, full of hidden rooms, adorable, shape-shifting shadows, and oh, did I mentioned the copious amounts of cake?

Aleja is a dreamer, and although those dreams may seem at first almost impossible to achieve, and then, more dangerous than she might ever have imagined, she never gives up on those dreams, on her friends, or on herself. She certainly never entertains the idea that she should be denied adventure (or trousers) just because she happens to be a girl. I suspect all bookish children (or adults who were once bookish children themselves) will see a part of themselves reflected in Aleja, and I hope that she will inspire many of them to chase their own adventures! Although, perhaps not by running away on pirate ships. I have no doubt that she will. 

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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Saturday 11 July 2020

Bookish Links #58

1. It may no longer be pride month, but this awesome list of YA books with LGBTQIAP+ protagonists contains 46 books to enjoy at any time of year.

2. This Ally Box book subscription created by Onikah Asamoa-Caesar is such a brilliant idea. Find out more in this interview.

3. If you're looking for a cute summer read, Say Yes Summer could be it! Click here for Jen's review.

4. Whether you're working from home, or back to your commute, we recommend adding the Southbank Centre's Book Podcast to your feed and catching up on past episodes.

5. Blogger and author C.G. Drews shared a great post on ways we can all keep supporting diverse books.

6. If you've been looking to try out some new recipes you'll love these cookbook recommendations from Book Riot.

7. And whilst you're over at Book Riot, this interview with one of Team BB’s favourite authors Neal Shusterman is also an interesting read.

8. We love this list of amazing books written by women of colour from Michelle over at Daisybutter.

9. Anika’s recent ‘Educate Yourself’ Stack also had us adding so many titles to our TBRs.

10. Finally, as lockdown continues in the UK why not treat yourself or a loved on to a surprise book?

This month’s beautiful bookstagram accounts to follow:

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Wednesday 8 July 2020

Modern Brush Lettering | Becki Clark | Review

Review copy c/o Netgalley
Modern Brush Lettering is a newly released guide on the art of brush lettering from Becki Clark, the designer behind the beautiful wedding stationery brand Olive and Bramble.

Starting with the basics, the book covers everything you need to know from tools and equipment, to handy tips and suggestions for words and phrases to use to practice these techniques. Not only does the book help readers to learn the basic skills for brush lettering, but also includes 20 creative projects to test out your new skills. From items that would be great for the home or as gifts, to items for special occasions, there is something for everyone here.

The projects are split into four sections each including five ideas taking inspiration from one of the seasons, which the author explains influence her own work. The tutorials include step-by-step instructions and images alongside tips and tricks, as well as gorgeous colourful photographs showcasing the finished designs.

The adorable handprinted ‘Ceramic Easter Bunnies’ found in the spring section and autumn-inspired ‘Enamel Cups’, both of which combine lettering with floral/botanical designs, were particular favourites for me. I also loved the fact that the author encourages readers to source items such as mirrors and frames from charity shops to upcycle for the projects, rather than purchasing new items to work with.

Modern Brush Lettering is a great introduction to the art of brush lettering and would be perfect for beginners as well as those looking for some fun new lettering project ideas.

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Saturday 4 July 2020

Features | June Reads

Having initially struggled with concentrating on books during the earlier days of lockdown, June unexpectedly saw me overcoming this and reading more books than any other month of the year so far.

The first book I wanted to talk about this month is Parachutes (Kelly Yang), a contemporary YA novel about teenagers Claire and Dani. Claire is a ‘parachute’, meaning that she has been sent to live and study in California whilst her parents remain at home in Shanghai. I decided to pick up this recent release as it sounded really interesting and I was so absorbed in the story that I ended up bingeing the audiobook over just one weekend. Whilst I really enjoyed the book, I wasn’t quite prepared for how heartbreaking parts of the story were going to be. Alongside themes of identity, wealth and friendship the book also tackles the topics of sexual harassment and assault, with the author’s note at the end of the novel revealing how her own experiences led her to tell this story. I can see Parachutes being very popular within the book blogging community and would definitely recommend adding it to your TBR.

Another audiobook I would highly recommend is the BBC dramatisation of Maya Angelou’s autobiographical title I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I haven’t yet read the full novel (although I do plan to do so), so I can’t speak for how this dramatisation compares, but I thought it was a great production of a powerful story. It’s only around one hour long and it’s certainly worth taking the time to listen to. I managed to get hold of the audiobook through my local library, but at the time of writing this post it is also now available over on the BBC website

I had been planning to pick up a Zadie Smith novel this year after hearing such good things about her writing, so when I noticed her short story collection Grand Union on my library app, I thought it would be the perfect introduction to her work. The book includes a varied and intriguing selection of 19 stories and it was unlike any other short story collection I’ve read. Based on this title, I’m looking forward to picking up one of Smith’s full length novels. I’m not too sure where to start, so if you have a favourite, or one you think I should read first, please leave a comment and let me know. 

Also over on my library app, I managed to get hold of a copy of Station Eleven author Emily St John Mandel’s latest release The Glass Hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book and it’s difficult to explain the plot, but similarly to with Station Eleven I found that I really enjoyed how St John Mandel connected together the different character’s stories whilst taking the reader on a journey. Another one to add to your summer TBRs!

Similarly, I also really enjoyed Shadow Girl (Liana Liu), a YA novel that's part ghost story, part teen drama and certainly wasn’t what I was expecting! When the opportunity arises for Mei to work as an academic tutor to eight year old Ella, she jumps at the chance to earn some extra money during her summer break. Mei is invited to the family’s summer home, a dream property on the beautiful Arrow Island where she even has her very own room for the first time in her life, but can things really be as perfect as they seem? I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about this 2017 release but I’m really glad I picked it up this month (especially as it had been sitting on my shelf for almost two years!).

I couldn’t let this month’s roundup go by without including a little bit about The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes (Suzanne Collins), the highly anticipated new edition to the Hunger Games series. Like many other fans of the original trilogy, I was curious to find out how this story would connect to Katniss’ and what else we would learn about the history of the Hunger Games. Whilst I didn’t dislike the book, for me it just didn’t pack the punch that the first two books in the series did. Without going into any spoilers, I didn't feel much of a connection to any of the characters but the parts of the novel I liked most were those that explained a little bit more about how things we saw in the original trilogy, such as sponsors, came to be.
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Wednesday 1 July 2020

Book Club | July 2020 - A Book With A Map

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 July is...  

A Book With A Map

What we'll be reading...

Erin's pick: Children Of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

"Whilst I don't read a huge amount of Fantasy I've heard amazing things about this book. When I recently found out that it includes a map I knew it would be perfect for this month's book club and I'm really looking forward to reading it!"

Anjali's pick: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

"I've actually read The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson before, but it was about 10 years ago now (ohmygosh) and I've added it to my To Be Re-Read list for 2020. It's a bonus that it has a map in the front! I'm really looking forward to re-reading this one, and then getting into books 2 and 3, which I actually have never read."

Other suggested reads...

- Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
- Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
- We Were Liars by E Lockhart
- The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
- Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
- Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
- Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
- Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
- Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales Of Food Love, edited by Elsie Chapman

For further ideas check out this post over on Book Riot.

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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