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Every Day | David Levithan | Reviewed by Kath

Friday, 31 January 2014

Every Day | David Levithan | Reviewed by Kath

image via goodreads
Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .

I’ve heard countless amounts of praise for David Levithan’s books and have meant to pick one up for ages, and I am SO glad that I picked up Every Day! Every Day is the tale of A, someone who jumps from body to body, day to day. A is not defined by gender, or sexuality, A just is.

I really enjoyed this book, but at times it didn’t seem very well thought out or the plot got a little confusing. A falls in love with Rhiannon really quickly, which you can sort of understand given his life, but what is much more surprising is how fast Rhiannon reciprocates. She hardly had any ‘freak out’ period, and as someone who is a firm believer in characters needing a ‘freak out’ period this bothered me. Also it raised a lot of questions about the precise nature of what A can do – they don’t entirely make sense beyond the simple notion of body jumping and if you have a tendency to over-think things that could ruin this book for you.

However, beyond these problems, Every Day is quite exceptional. The reader gets to glimpse a little bit of each of the different lives A gets to live each day – each so different: happy, touching, sad, harrowing, but each exceptional in an ordinary way. A touches each of these lives in a different way, some good, some not so.  A’s lives his life without being judgemental about much of the lives he inhibits, and without being overtly preachy teaches the reader a lot about acceptance. A person is not defined by the gender they are assigned, or the one that they choose. A person is not defined by their sexual orientation. A person is not defined by their body shape. A person is not defined by their lifestyle choices.


Ultimately, this is what this book is about, but that doesn't mean that Levithan forgoes the story to get his point across. It’s touching and I would encourage you to read it. 

This post was written by regular reviewer Kath, get to know her here.
4 comments
172 Hours on the Moon | Johan Harstad | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

172 Hours on the Moon | Johan Harstad | Reviewed by Niina

172hoursonthemoon

NASA decides to do the first expedition to the moon in many decades and to get people interested in the moon and space again they host a competition. Three teenagers are going to get the opportunity to join the rest of the expedition and visit the moon. The three lucky winners are Mia from Norway, Midori from Japan and Antoine from France. But the expedition doesn't turn out to go as planned because something really frightening is waiting for them on the moon.

This book wasn't what I expected at all! I was expecting a young adult science fiction novel about some teenagers traveling to the moon, but this is a pretty creepy horror story set in space. I also have something to admit, this book did actually creep me out (a lot). So yes, I guess Johan Harstad succeeded with hiss goal to write a scary book.

So, what did I think about the other aspects of the book? Let's just start with my favorite subject, the characters. I have to say that I wasn't too impressed with them or how Harstad portrayed them. They were so stereotypical and pretty un-original. Stereotypical characters are never interesting or engaging so I never started caring or being interested in them. It's a shame because the characters are usually the main part of a reading experience for me. That's a bit sad because this novel has some other good things going for it. Because let's be fair, it has a really original and interesting story-line with quite a few unexpected twists. I mean, how can you not like the idea of a ghost story set on the moon? That's pretty brilliant (and creepy). And I'm pretty impressed about the fact that I was a bit scared while reading this because I'm not easily scared (hello, my favorite genre is zombie novels, I'm used to creepy).

Over all I did think this book was worth reading. I enjoyed the original story-line and Harstad kept me interested in how it all would end through the entire book. But oh how I wish that the characters were as original as the story. It especially shines through in the first third of the book were we mostly just get to know the characters. That part was a bit boring and hard to get through. But after a while the story gets interesting and it ended up being an entertaining and interesting read. So, I give 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad 3/5 stars.

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here

3stars
2 comments

Monday, 27 January 2014

Batpants and the Vanishing Elephant | Jeremy Strong | Reviewed by Laura


Batpants is back again for another adventure, but this time she has a friend in tow. A mega-massive delivery turns up on their drive and only one thing could fill that box - an elephant (named Fudge). Suddenly one day the elephant vanishes! Kidnapped for the ransom of 2 MILLION pounds - there's only one thing to do, they much save Fudge!

This is another hit from Strong, another hilarious, mind-boggling plot line which keeps all children engaged and entranced. I loved the story line, much more dramatic they previous books, kidnapping (or elephant-napping), ransom and saving the day all whilst maintaining it's usual humorous style.

This time however I do have to say, I think they enjoyed the illustrations just as much as the story, every time they burst into giggles seeing Batpants swinging through the air or aiming tomatoes at her latest victim. A humorous story must always be matched with equally witty and funny illustrations.

I especially liked the huge twist which came towards the last few chapters of the book, I won't give anything away but I definitely did not see it coming! It did however fit in well with the story line and made everything fall into place perfectly. Even if I did spy lots of shocked faces in my audience as I read through this book.

Again another to recommend, especially if you have children around the 7-8 year mark (Or of course a class full of them!) - brilliantly funny and entertaining for parents too. 


5/5
This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
No comments
Blogger’s Bookshelf Review Round Up #13

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Blogger’s Bookshelf Review Round Up #13

Review Round Up #13
It’s that time of the month again! Check out the posts you’ve missed below…
Erin interviewed author of The $7.50 Bunny That Changed The World, Gretta Parker for us.

Ria also shared her pledge to change her reading habits and read more diversley in 2014.

Our blogger’s shared their confessions on ‘Reading Ahead’, and also gave up the last update on their 2013 Reading Challenge.

As the year drew to a close, our group collabs focused on looking back at our Favourite Reads of 2013 and looked ahead to our 2014 Reading Goals!

Our February group post is titled 'I'll be spending Valentine's Day with...' and as the title suggest we wanna know which fictional book character you wish you could spend February 14th with!

Let us know your opinions by email, tweet us or on our GoodReads page!
1 comment
There's More To Life Than Cupcakes | Poppy Dolan | Joint Review By Laura & Ria

Thursday, 23 January 2014

There's More To Life Than Cupcakes | Poppy Dolan | Joint Review By Laura & Ria

*image via GoodReads

"Ellie Redford has a husband, a job and a home. According to the rest of the world, it’s baby o’clock already. Shame life doesn’t come with a recipe…

Ellie knows that starting a family with lovely husband Pete would be an amazing adventure. Pete would make a brilliant dad and she’d have an excuse to eat shed loads of Cherry Bakewell. But Ellie’s bestie would rather she was up at 3am with a bottle of Malibu, not formula. And with redundancies looming, Ellie’s boss isn’t exactly going to throw her a shower if she disappears for a year, with pay. 

While Ellie juggles her feelings (and everyone else’s) as competently as a drunken clown, she finds herself signing up for a baking class, alongside the young, free and sizzling hot Joe. As they work buns and shape tarts, is there more to their friendship than a shared appreciation of Paul Hollywood? 

Ellie’s soufflés may be rising, but her personal life is one big soggy mess. If she doesn't make a decision soon, she may just lose everything that matters to her. Maybe it's time to take off the pinny and face up to the truth: there’s more to life than cupcakes..." 
- summary via GoodReads

How (if at all) did the plot surprise you, or stand out to you? 

Laura: I wouldn’t say the plot surprised me, I would say that it was a storyline that I hadn’t read about before, it’s not my usual plot – I normally got for the meeting point and start of relationships rather than the already happily married stories. So as I hadn’t read many stories like this before, it was interesting to see how the storyline developed and where it was heading although like all chic-lit it was quite easy to work out the ending.

Ria: I thought the plotline itself and its shift focus towards a woman already in a happy and committed relationship was really refreshing, so much chic-lit is focused on how to get into a relationship with little written on what actually happens after the ‘happily ever after’. The baby storyline was also something I’d never seen from this genre and liked the inclusion of all the different viewpoints on whether Ellie should or shouldn’t become a mum. 

Did you find the characters realistic and, if so, how? 

Laura: I did find the characters realistic and I can imagine for some people they would be quite relatable. As Pete and Ellie let the baby issue erupt within their relationship, their situation and reactions towards each other would be extremely relatable and realistic to many couples in similar situations. I did really think Pete was the sweetest husband therefore I found Ellie somewhat frustrating at times (I couldn’t help taking Pete’s side), along with her flirtatious nature with her new friend.

Ria: I think Ellie, during her mild baby/pregnancy panic stages, did feel fairly realistic and I can imagine there are plenty of people who go through exactly the same thought process as her. I did however, feel she got a bit over-dramatic at points and her rushed judgement left me siding with everyone else except her sometimes – not something you want with a lead protagonist! The supporting characters were certainly a mixed bag, but despite all their eccentricities and problems the majority of them felt like people you could very well meet everyday. 

How did you find the writing style? Do you think it fits well into the Chick-Lit genre and why? 

Laura: I definitely think the writing style fits in, I thought it was really easy to read, flowed really well and I found myself reading 50 pages before I’d even realised it. The reason I head back to the chic-lit genre is because it is so easy to bury yourself in, after a long stressful day, I often want something easy to read, something that isn’t too challenging but yet still creative with vocabulary or style. This books definitely fits in with this genres writing style.

Ria: I think Poppy’s writing style fit perfectly within the genre. I really like the use of contemporary references – particularly the bits about Great British Bake Off! – as well as the more heartfelt moments where Ellie was showing her more logical side. 
The dialogue flow between the characters was great too, especially between Ellie and her close friends. 

Was there any aspect of the story, or characters, that you felt was missing from the story? Why? 

Laura: There is nothing that immediately jumps to mind when answering this question, it had all the usual features that were needed. Maybe a little more humour, I do like a chic-lit book with a touch of humour.

Ria: I’d have liked to have seen Ellie’s rational and reasoning side come out more often – particularly when it came to poor Pete – but I guess when people are firing questions about whether you have a bun in the oven left, right and centre it’s bound to drive you a little insane. 

What was your overall verdict on the book? 

Laura: I did really enjoy this book, it definitely fitted well with the genre that it was aiming for. I enjoyed the different storyline and many of the characters. But as previously mentioned I did find one character frustrating and did put me off when reading.

Ria: I thought the book was a really good, ‘pick me up’ read. The storyline was certainly pretty unique for a typical ‘chic-lit’ book and the characters heart warming. As I said, Ellie can get pretty frustrating at times, but it all adds to the drama of the novel – and the ending will more than make up for it! 

This was reviewed by regular reviewers Laura and Ria. Get to know them here.

*Review copy c/o Novelicious Books. All opinions have not been influenced and are 100% our reviewers own.
2 comments
Impostor | Susanne Winnacker | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Impostor | Susanne Winnacker | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com

impostor

Tessa, a Variant, is a teen with a special and unique skill; shape-shifting. Working for the FEA, aka Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, Tessa is called upon to assist in catching a serial killer by posing as one of his victims who has been left in a coma. Tessa must go undercover posing as Madison, living the other girl’s life amongst her unsuspecting family and friends who have been led to believe that she has made a miraculous recovery, searching for clues as to who the murderer is before it’s too late.

The story set off to a promising start with strong opening paragraphs and an intriguing concept but unfortunately my interest did start to waver a little when I found that I was around a quarter of the way through the book and yet Tessa’s important mission still had not begun. This was in part due to the ample character and world-building, a necessity as this book is the first in a planned series.

There seemed to be a fair amount of emphasis on the relationships and interactions between Tessa and her fellow Variants at the FEA which I’m sure will be of importance throughout the rest of the series however these sections of the book were my least favourite. On the other hand the premise that Tessa would have to use her unique Variant skill to impersonate Madison, effectively making her a target of the mysterious serial killer herself was certainly very intriguing and I was looking forward to discovering how her dangerous mission would play out.

As a main character I didn’t really connect with Tessa although it was possibly more difficult to get to know her as she was impersonating someone else for a huge part of the novel. As I mentioned earlier I didn’t feel much of a connection with the other FEA characters either and therefore wasn’t overly interested in their personal stories. Not feeling invested in the characters, the element that was driving me to read on was the mystery of the serial killer. Unfortunately I did find the final reveal a little underwhelming and predictable which was a shame, although I did enjoy looking out for clues along the way.

On the whole Impostor was a fairly enjoyable quick read and an intriguing start to a series which has the potential to become a favourite amongst YA Science-Ficiton fans. Although I myself wasn’t a huge fan of the characters I found the mystery element enjoyable and appreciated the unique idea behind the book.

3stars
No comments
The Beautiful Land | Alan Averill | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Beautiful Land | Alan Averill | Reviewed by Ria

The Beautiful Land book cover
Takahiro O’Leary (or just plain Tak) is an explorer…a time-travelling one at that!

An employee of Axon Corporation, he’s tasked with the job of exploring alternative timelines and dimensions. It’s a great job until he finds out the company’s goal is to create a monopoly over the entire world and place themselves as kings of a new reality by changing the course of time itself. Tak decides to take matters into his own hands not only to save the world but the woman he loves too.

Samira Moheb is that woman. An Iraq war veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress and depression, the last thing Sam expects to storms back into her life again is Tak. Especially when he’s seemingly speaking nonsense about alternative realities and a crazy corporation on the verge of taking over the world. 

Tak’s plan is to use the time travel device he called The Machine – conviniently stolen from Axon – to transport them both back to stop all this mess from happening. What they, and Axon themselves, didn’t count on was the darker and more psychotic motives of The Machine’s inventor, Charles Yates, who’s plans are far worse than making a quick buck or monopolising the free world.

It’s now up to Tak and Sam to do much more than save each other…they need to save reality itself.

So what’s my verdict?
The Beautiful Land has been one of the most surprising books I’ve read in a long time. Despite a plotline that sounds like it would be formulaic, the story feels fresh and Averil’s thrilling take on the time-travelling genre is something I’ve never encountered before with some incredibly interesting characters.

Sam character in particular is one of the most interesting female protagonists I’ve read in a while. Deeply wounded with the psychological scars of war, she battles with depression and post-traumatic stress throughout the whole book. Yet she pushes through and proves that she’s stronger than she thinks, not because she’s this ultimate warrior hero – and she certainly never admits to be one! - but because she has to to get past the physical and mental pain of their journey.
Tak O’Leary is equally as interesting. On the surface he presents himself as the hero and pivot the story winds itself around, but right from the beginning of the book we see that he too is battleing with plenty of inner demons and needs saving just as much as Sam. The pair make sacrifices for each other throughtout the book and you root for them to win right from the get-go.

Averil’s writing is fantastic, the book is dark, vividly gorey, and transports you into cruel and dangerous settings right alongside Tak and Sam. It will mess with your mind and take you on a thrilling ride. A definite recommend from me!

Reading Soundtrack:
Kanye West: Power; Paramore: Let The Flames Begin; You Me At Six: Rescue Me; Imagine Dragons: Radioactive; We The Kings: Any Other Way; Panic! At The Disco: This Gospel; Lykki Li: Tonight 

For lovers of…Doctor Who, Inception, and the works of Robert J.Sawyer (both TV and books).

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Ria, get to know more about her here!
*image © Ria Cagampang
No comments
Group Collaboration | 2014 Reading Goals

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Group Collaboration | 2014 Reading Goals

Welcome to our first group collaboration of 2014!

Following last January's theme we're once again talking reading goals for the year including the 5 titles we 'vow to read' in 2014. Here's what the team have chosen...

2014goalsria

2014GOALSLUCY

READINGGOALSCAT

2014GOALSLAURA

2014GOALSKATH

2014GOALSERIN

2014GOALSANJALI

2014GOALSALI

READINGGOALSNIINA


Have you read any of these books? What are your 2014 goals?
Don't forget to let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

Contributors - Ali, Lucy, Kath, Laura, Ria, Anjali, Cat, Niina, Erin
All book cover images via Goodreads | Font for graphics Brain Flower via dafont.com

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Next month's topic is called Fictional Dinner Date - if you'd like to be involved drop us an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com for more details.


2 comments
Archetype | M.D. Waters | Reviewed by Kath

Friday, 17 January 2014

Archetype | M.D. Waters | Reviewed by Kath

*ARC c/o Dutton Books



Archetype begins with Emma waking up after a terrible accident, unable to remember anything – even her husband, Declan. She recovers physically, but has terrible nightmares and confusing reoccurring memories playing out in her head. Emma is loved and doted on by Declan, but as time goes on she realises the memories he has fed her are not true, and she begins to find out that other parts of her life are just as inaccurate.

I’ll be honest – within the first few pages of this book, I was certain that I wasn’t going to like it. It started off very wordy, using longer words that weren’t really needed. Everything was described in ways that took a few sentences, when they could have taken a few words. Thankfully, as this book moved forward and the plot began to take off that thinned a little.

In Emma’s world, women are owned by men, their bodies subject to the every whim of their husband – or rather, their highest bidder. This is the result of a historical population boom which was then followed by a fertility decline. Women who can reproduce are in short supply, and just like any type of expensive capital, belong to the richest in society. It’s a glimpse into a terrifying but thankfully fictional future, and a very unique plot for this story.

Without giving too much away, throughout the book you have two different camps of people vying for Emma, her mind and her body. For a good portion of the book I was confused who to like, who to trust and it felt like there were way too many twists and turns for my liking. As a reader, I had no real sense of what’s going on until about half way through, which meant that I wasn’t hooked until half way through (but from then I most definitely was). However on completion of the book I realise it had to be that way – I was just as confused as Emma was, learning things as she did. It certainly made the book have a lot of suspense.


One of my reading goals for this year was to read things I wouldn’t typically pick up, and I wouldn’t usually pick up an adult dystopian/science fiction novel. It’s great to have finished one of such a book before January is even over. I really enjoyed this book, and am impatiently waiting for its sequel!

This post was written by regular reviewer Kath, get to know her here.
No comments
Angelfall | Susan Ee | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Angelfall | Susan Ee | Reviewed by Niina

angelfall

“I never kid about my warrior demigod status." 
"Oh. My. God." I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper. "You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.” - Susan Ee, Angelfall

It's been six weeks since earth was attacked by angels, and it's not looking good for the humans. Penryn and her family are leaving their home to find a safer place to stay. On their journey through he night Penryn sees something terrifying, a single while feather falling from the sky.

I wasn’t quite sure about picking up this book because a novel with angels didn’t sound like my cup of tea at all. But after reading only positive reviews about this book I caved in and decided to give it a try. And boy, was I pleasantly surprised! The thing that usually scares me a bit about novels with angels is that they’re going to have a strong religious message and that’s not something I’m that interested in reading. But that’s not really the case with Angelfall by Susan Ee. The novel even has something as original and refreshing as an angel who isn’t sure if he believes in God or not.

But let’s leave the whole discussion about religion because I guess everything is open for everyone's own interpretation. So, let’s talk about my over all thoughts about the book instead. You know what my first thought was after I finished reading it? Wow! This is what I hoped Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor to be (I’m one of those few people who was quite disappointed with that book). Angelfall is a fast-paced, original and apocalyptic urban fantasy. Being a person who usually enjoys apocalyptic novels way more that urban fantasy I found it to be a refreshing take on the genre. To be completely honest, this is not a perfect novel. The characters are to some extent a bit stereotypical and Susan Ee’s writing style isn’t mind-blowing (but absolutely good enough). But over all this was a very fun and pleasant reading experience. The story includes some interesting and very original plots and it’s a true page-turner and I also really enjoyed the apocalyptic take on urban fantasy. So, I really recommend Angelfall to anyone who’s looking for a fun, fast-faced and original urban fantasy to read. I give Angelfall by Susan Ee 4/5 stars.

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.
4 comments
Guest Review | Before I Go To Sleep | SJ Watson

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Guest Review | Before I Go To Sleep | SJ Watson

before i go to sleep

Christine has suffered a terrible brain injury. One that affects her memory in an entirely unique, and seemingly untreatable way. Every day for 20 years she wakes up with no memory, believing herself to be either a child, or a young woman, no older than University age. And every day she stumbles to the bathroom in a strange house and discovers the truth – she is 47 and most of her life is missing. Every night when she goes to sleep her mind erases the day before, along with her long-term memories. Every morning is truly a fresh start. Relying on her husband, Ben, to fill in her life story, Christine is in a very vulnerable position. This becomes even more apparent when she is visited by a doctor – Dr Nash, and discovers a diary with the words DO NOT TRUST BEN scrawled across the front page. But why? How can Christine even be sure that she can trust herself?

The Thriller/Mystery aspect aside, Before I go to Sleep is an exploration of a lost identity. What can we base our sense of self on if not our memories? Christine has no idea who she is. She has spent years relying on someone else to tell her who she is – what she likes to do, what she has done in the past, what her hopes for the future were. Not only that, but she has no hope for ever forming a new sense of identity as every night her memories are erased. It’s a scary concept that one can lose themselves so completely.

I didn’t expect to like this book. I thought that it would get very repetitive as Christine went through the same emotions every morning. However, SJ Watson managed to delicately balance this. You feel Christine’s sense of desperation and frustration with the constant recycling of information but without becoming bored with it as the reader.

One criticism would be that I definitely wouldn’t recommend it if you are, for example, a neuroscientist. I’m sure all the flimsy peusdo-science will annoy the heck out of you. However, if you are happy to suspend your scepticism, then I would recommend this novel.

Before I go to Sleep is a rollercoaster ride of a book. Christine experiences just about every emotion, fresh, as if for the first time, childlike. As the reader, you are with her every step of the way, even if it is one step forward, two steps backwards. Her story is deeply compelling and will have you hooked through to the end.


This post was written by guest reviewer Ali - find her blog here
Image c/o Ali


4 comments

Monday, 13 January 2014

This Morning I Met A Whale | Michael Morpurgo | Reviewed by Laura


This a fictional retelling of the day in which a whale swam up the River Thames. Michael spots this whale on the shores, he is worried as he knows whales should not be in the river and thinks the experience must be a dream.  The whale however comes with a plea and a warning, explaining that humans must correct the damage they have already done to the world or the world will not last.  Michael promises to retell this warning to others.  Within a few hours rescuers are desperately to get the whale back to open waters, Michael joins them to try and help his new friend beat the receding tide.

This book caught my eye because of the absolutely gorgeous illustrations that it holds, Christian Birmingham really brings this book to life with the images that go through this story. They captivate and promote emotional and match the detailed writings of Morpurgo. 

This story is based around the real life events of 2006 when a Northern Bottlenose Whale arrived in the River Thames, we all know how that story sadly ends and this story does not bend away from the truth. It was still heart-breaking even though I knew it was coming. The detail, emotion and friendship that Morpurgo writes, tugs on the heart strings and makes you only wish that there could be a happier ending. 

There is a clear message within this story, the whale has traveled all that way for a purpose and that is to warn us how much damage we are doing to the world. He is putting the job in our hands, it is then our chance to make a change, to put things right and great a cleaner, safer world for all livings things. This whale sacrificed it's life in a bid to help us make the difference. This is a very powerful and clear message in the book which empowered many children in my class. With responses of 'We need to make the oceans cleaner' 'we need to save the animals' coming from around the room. 

I would highly recommend this book, Michael Morpurgo's writing gets me every time but this has an especially powerful message which is important for all children to learn. 

5/5

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
No comments
Dickens at Christmas | Charles Dickens | Reviewed by Kath

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Dickens at Christmas | Charles Dickens | Reviewed by Kath

DSCF5011
I saw this beautiful collection of Dickens Christmas stories in Waterstones in mid-November, and was desperate to buy it. It’s beautiful, right? It features Dickens Christmas stories – A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Battle of Life, The Cricket on the Hearth, and The Haunted Man, but also stories that Dickens wrote for the special seasonal editions of his periodicals All the Year Round and Household Words and a festive tale from The Pickwick Papers. And although it’s not Christmas anymore, Dickens is a timeless author that really doesn’t need to be confined to one time of year.

I haven’t really read much Dickens. I’ve read Oliver Twist, but it was a few years ago. Does this make me a bad Brit? Oops. But this collection was so beautiful, and I’ve wanted to read more classic literature that I literally couldn’t let this pass me by.

The first story featured is from The Pickwick Papers and honestly I found it quite hard to get through. However, straight after that it went straight into A Christmas Carol, which I really enjoyed. This was probably in part because I knew the story, but it allowed me to immerse myself in Dickens writing style and from there I was able to enjoy the other stories. My favourite of the stories was probably The Haunted Man. It’s much more of a grisly tale than the much loved A Christmas Carol. However, it’s a truly moving tale and I absolutely loved it.


I am so glad I bought this collection of stories. It looks beautiful on my bookshelf and I’m sure I’m going to bring it out every winter to read it through. 

This post was written by regular reviewer Kath, get to know her here.
7 comments
Red | Alison Cherry | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Red | Alison Cherry | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley
red alison cherry
Image via Goodreads

Felicity St. John lives in Scarletville, a town where redheads hold all the power and girls like Felicity rule the school. What her classmates don’t know is that Felicity is hiding a big secret – her natural hair colour is strawberry blonde and if anyone in Scarletville found out it would be a huge scandal.

All Felicity wants is to be crowned Miss Scarlet and use the pageant prize money to pursue her dreams of heading off to art school next year, something her overpowering mother would strongly disapprove of. Unfortunately for Felicity a fellow (non-redhead) student has discovered her big secret and is about to blackmail her, forcing Felicity to let go of her art school dream and damage relationships with those closest to her.

The unique premise of this book sounded like a lot of fun and with other reviewers comparing it to a mix of Drop Dead Gorgeous & Mean Girls, both films I love, I was certainly looking forward to finding out if Red would be as good as those. The book, intended as satire, looks at discrimination – in this case redheads are considered more important than those with other hair colours – and explores the lengths at which someone will go to hide a secret.

Raised by a pushy redheaded mother, who has been taking her to a secret salon to get her hair dyed red since she was only a baby, Felicity struggles to come to terms with the idea of living in a place where her "red cred" is irrelevant. As a protagonist I found Felicity difficult to route for throughout the book. Although I could completely understand that her extreme attitude was due to her upbringing and surroundings I still struggled to believe in the character.

Although I appreciate the idea behind Red, commenting on real-life issues, I unfortunately found the concept a little too difficult to buy into which left me unable to really enjoy the story.

Despite not falling in love with this book myself I do think it would probably be a fun, quick read for younger teens.

2stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here 

3 comments
Book Confessions #2 | Reading Ahead

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Book Confessions #2 | Reading Ahead

confessions 2

Back in September we posted the first in a new series here at Blogger's Bookshelf called 'Book Confessions' and in the first instalment we shared varied opinions on bookmarks and how we take care of our beloved books. This time we're talking about whether we read ahead, here's what our anonymous contributors had to say...


"I absolutely hate the idea of reading ahead. In stark contrast to my sister, who absolutely has to read the last sentence of any book. What’s the fun in that? That being said, if I've come to an important part of the story – a character I like has died or something – I skim the next few pages to find out the fall out. I don’t like the waiting!"

"I have not been tempted to read ahead after the incident of Harry Potter and the Order of Pheonix; I knew that an important character died and I was terrified of finding out from friends (as some were far ahead of me) so one evening the temptation was too much and I skipped forward to learn that Sirius (my love) was the one to go. I was so distraught that I accidentally let slip to a friend the next day and ruined it for her as well. I am now an advocate for never reading ahead."

"Sometimes I read the last sentence of a book before I start it! I think most people would consider that ‘cheating’ but occasionally I like to read a book thinking about how it’s going to get to that last sentence."

"The only reason I would ever read ahead is if one of my favourite characters suddenly dies. Then I flip to the back to see if I can see any dialogue from them, just to reassure myself that they are just pretending. Or not, as it is in most cases. I won't, however, read anything substantial. Just skim through to see if they are actually dead or not. I don't think I could ever even read the last sentence before reading the entire thing first."

"I used to be the worst for reading ahead. When I was young I read copious amounts of Point Horror – prime skipping ahead material – and I always ruined it for myself! I would always land on a major spoiler, not just the answer to whatever I was looking for. Now, I don’t allow myself to do it at all. Sometimes I’ll flick ahead through the pages, but I quickly realise what I’m doing and don’t let myself focus on anything. It’s tough though! This is another reason why I love my Kindle – it removes the temptation."

"I pretty much 90% of the time read ahead. I can't stop myself! If the storyline isn't going how I'd like I quickly skip to the end to see if it finishes nicely (thankfully most of the time I am left happy!). If the story is from different viewpoints, I normally skip through the characters I'm not fond of so I can get to the cool characters quicker - then I'll go back and read about those other characters. Sometimes in books shops I'll read the blurb and the last line before deciding if I want the book or not! I've never regretted it though, it doesn't ruin a book for me, I enjoy it just as much."

"I've never skipped so far ahead enough to spoil the entire book for myself...but my eye does do that involuntary thing of accidently reading the next few lines of a chapter before I've finished the page before. I've spoiled quite a few cliffhangers for myself this way but I can't help it! It's a biological reflex right??"

"If a character in a story that I really like suddenly dies, I freak out and flip to near the back of the book to see if I can find a section that says 'said Bob', or you know, so I know that they aren't actually dead. Of course, this didn't really work for Dumbledore..."

"I never read ahead! Do people really do that?? It would really feel like cheating to me!...Okay I'll admit it, I did read ahead once. I read the last page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before I finished the book. But come on, I had waited for that book for years!!"

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If you have a book confession of your own let us know via email & we may feature it in a future post! - bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com

Thank you to all of our anonymous contributors.
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Guest Post | Challenging My Reading Habits: My 2014 Diversity Pledge

Monday, 6 January 2014

Guest Post | Challenging My Reading Habits: My 2014 Diversity Pledge

diversity pledge
Towards the end of 2013 this video popped up in my Youtube recommendations. The title 'Discussion | Race, Gender & Reading Habits' by Booktuber Rincey Reads looked interesting and I decided to take a look. 

The discussion in the video, as the title suggests, revolves around her reading habits and diversity. She looked at her own book collection, both read and unread, and considered how many authors she reads that are of different genders and race. 

What she found was a surprising unintentional lack of diversity in her book collection and decides to challenge herself (and her viewers) to actively seek out books by 'people of colour' and consider diversity from now on. 

The video got me intrigued about my own reading habits, not just when it comes to diversity of authors but also of characters within the books themselves, in terms of gender, race, culture and also sexuality. The fact that I struggled to find books I wanted to include in my header photograph for this post is certainly telling. 

As a person of colour myself, I was a little ashamed that I read very little outside of the 'caucasian' author/lead protagonist bubble. Not that there's anything wrong with this but books do provide us a wonderful opportunity to learn about others, 'live other lives' and challenge our way of thinking.  

So I'm taking a stand. 

In 2014 I pledge to actively seek out more diverse books/authors and read them

This means more seeking out authors and books featuring people of different ethnicities, genders, sexualities, abilities, and considering more equal representation in my reading habits.

This doesn't mean ruling out the what I've been reading prior to this year as bad or never reading a book by a Caucasian author ever again. It does however mean being a bit more thoughtful when I'm meandering through the bookshelves at Waterstones or scrolling through GoodReads for books and authors that will give me a rounder view on the fictional world. 

A few links to help you if you want to join me on this pledge!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, both on here or on Twitter if you wanna chat!
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Saving Francesca | Melina Marchetta | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Saving Francesca | Melina Marchetta | Reviewed by Niina

savingfrancesca

“I can't believe I said it out loud. The truth doesn't set you free, you know. It makes you feel awkward and embarrassed and defenseless and red in the face and horrified and petrified and vulnerable. But free? I don't feel free. I feel like shit.”  - Melina Marchetta, Saving Francesca

One day Francesca's annoyingly confident and loud mother doesn't get out of bed. And suddenly Francesca has bigger problems than hating everyone at her new school, St Sebastian a former boys' school that has recently turned co-ed.

Melina Marchetta is definitely one of my favorite YA writers. One of her other books, Jellicoe Road, is one of the best YA novels I've ever read. One thing that Marchetta does brilliantly is the characters. Her characters always have depth and never feel one-dimensional. She truly knows how to write believable and likable teenage characters. They almost make me miss being sixteen. You know the wonderful time when your friends were your comfort zone and all your feelings were ten times stronger.

Melina Marchetta also knows how to touch important real-life struggles in an easy going yet touching way. In Saving Francesca the main character Francesca struggles with her mother's depression while she’s trying to find her self in a totally new environment. She’s forced out of her old group for friends, her comfort zone while her family life starts to scatter to pieces. And yes, Saving Francesca is both fun and touching. While reading it I laughed and then I cried a little.

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta is really close to getting 5 stars. Marchetta’s writing is as good as it gets in this genre. But I still feel that there’s something missing in this book when I compare it to Jellicoe Road (another book by Melina Marchetta). The story-line in Jellicoe Road is just something special, so original and moving. That being said, Saving Francesca is a great and really well-written YA novel! It's definitely one of my favorites in the contemporary genre! Saving Francesca gets 4,5/5 stars.

You can read my review of Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta here.

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.


4halfstars
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