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Guest Post | An Evening With Rainbow Rowell

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Guest Post | An Evening With Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell (stage)
A few weeks ago we headed off the Waterstone's Piccadilly for 'An Evening With Rainbow Rowell' which was hosted by the lovely (& hilarious!) Bim Adewunmi who led the evening's questions to Rowell. In the UK to celebrate not only the release of latest novel Landline but also the success of her three previous novels, Rowell talked all topics from growing up to identity to fanfiction and magic phones!

On Attachments...
Her first foray into writing was Attachments, which was a novel that was five years in the making. The setting, a newspaper office just starting to embrace the Internet and email at the turn of the Millennium, originated straight from Rowell’s own career as a journalist in Omaha and like the story, they too hired an IT security guy to filter and check employees emails.
A relative newcomer to the writing world, she admitted to feeling daunted by the task of writing a traditional novel, before deciding instead to pen the emails between Beth and Jennifer first before writing Lincoln’s story around them. She was keen to explore the idea of giving Lincoln attributes so often seen in young female characters in literature, showcasing his anxieties and struggles with identity throughout the novel. She ended up enjoying writing the male voice so much that it became the reason why Eleanor & Park was written from a dual perspective.

On Eleanor & Park...
Compared to the five year writing process of Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell's second novel, came into her head relatively unplanned. The world Eleanor lives in within the novel was one very similar to what Rowell experienced early on in her teenage years, with elements of the pain and insecurities Eleanor faces very much feelings she once held about her own life. Her sentiments towards Eleanor as a character were echoed as she answered the question 'If you could give advice to one of your characters, what would you say?', admitting she would simply let Eleanor know 'It gets better'.

With the exciting news that Dreamworks had acquired the rights to make Eleanor & Park into a movie, it was only natural for Rowell, as an author, to feel protective over her two characters and their story. So much so that her final challenge to the studio over the negotiation table for the rights was that she would be allowed to write the entire screenplay for the film...to which they agreed!

Rowell was also sure to voice her concerns to Dreamworks, to ensure the adaptation is as faithful as possible, not just in terms of the story but the casting of her two leads, with Eleanor as a larger, red headed girl and Park as an ethnic Korean boy. Despite her initial doubts, she's also spoke of her excitement to challenge Hollywood stereotypes on the 'boy meets girl' story and is keen to see Eleanor and Park's relationship played out not just as 'chubby girl falls in love with a skinny Asian boy' - a description she admittedly sees far too often in magazines as the summary of her novel - but as a story of two people, one living with hope and one without any hope, falling in love and taking a chance on each other.

Rainbow Rowell (q&a)

On Fangirl...
Perhaps her most popular novel Rowell spent a fair amount of time talking about Fangirl, her second YA novel. The idea came about from Rowell’s own love of fanfiction which she was not afraid to admit! Although at first her agent wasn’t keen on the idea - the conversation evidently went something like this; RR: 'It's about a girl who write fanfiction', Agent: 'Oh no...', RR: 'And she writes slash fiction!' - she was determined to create a main character who also loved that world.
Taking inspiration from the world of Harry Potter, Rowell created Simon Snow, the series that Fangirl’s protagonist Cath is obsessed with since her own love on fanfic was partly born out of the release of the final Harry Potter book and films.

“I went online and typed in ‘best Harry Potter fanfics’ and basically read that for like a year.” - RR

Although J. K. Rowling’s famous creation may have been part of the inspiration behind Rowell’s third novel she also admitted to writing X-Men fanfic as a child, casting herself as the main character before anyone even knew what ‘fanfic’ was! She also talked about how she didn't feel the pressure to create perfect fanfic for Fangirl but instead wanted to capture the way a US kid would try to write a story set in the UK.

One of the audience questions on the night was ‘Why twins?’ and although not a twin herself Rowell discussed how she has always been fascinated in twins and how they differ so much from each other, touching upon the subject of identity which fascinates her. Growing up she was always compared closely to her own mother who looks-wise she is almost an exact copy of, she talked about how this led to people expecting certain things of her, presuming that her personality would be an exact copy too. Her experience of this led to her feeling it can be hard to find your own identity when you’re compared to someone else so often leading to identity being a topic explored in all of her novels to date.

When talking about Cath’s personality specifically Rowell stated that she too suffered with social anxiety, and liked the idea of Cath moving away into a fictional world to find comfort. She also said that compared to how parts of her life were reflected in Eleanor (of Eleanor & Park) Cath and the world of Fangirl represent a more joyful time in her own life. Plus, those amazing emergency dance parties Cath has? Those were a real thing when Rowell herself was at college!

One of the big things to come out of Fangirl was Rowell’s new found love of writing Fantasy as she thoroughly enjoyed creating the Simon Snow chapters and writing the dynamic between those characters. This has gone on to influence her future plans as she is soon going to be working on both a YA Fantasy novel and a Fantasy graphic novel.

On Landline...
Not wanting to give away any spoilers Rowell didn’t speak too much about her latest release a short adult novel titled Landline which features a magic phone that allows main character Georgie to speak to the younger version of her now husband. She did however explain that the novel was partly inspired by the telephone conversation chapters written for Eleanor & Park which Rowell admitted she really enjoyed writing, despite thinking that her editor would ask her to cut them down!
How about the mystery of how this clever phone works? Rowell advised ‘It’s a magic phone, just get over it and accept it!’, feeling that it was silly to try and come up with a plausible explanation instead believing once you get past the fact it isn’t explained you will be able to just enjoy the story.

Rainbow Rowell (E&R)

Thank you to Rainbow Rowell, Bim & Waterstones Piccadilly for hosting such a great event!

This post was written by BB creators Ria & Erin
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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Paradigm | Ceri A. Lowe | Reviewed by Anjali




"What if the end of the world was just the beginning?"

When the storms hit, no amount of preparation could have stopped the death and destruction that they brought. Alice Davenport arrives home one day to discover that her mother is missing, the people in her building have disappeared and the storms are only getting worse. As the water rises, and races down the no-longer-recognisable streets, taking everything and anything - including bodies - along with it, Alice is finally rescued and taken to a safe place, along with any remaining survivors. Paradigm Industries, the organisation providing safety, food, shelter, community and family in an underground bunker that stretches for miles, is all Alice knows now. Years later, she is selected to be one of the first people out into the world again, to asses the storm damage, and to create a new future...

87 years later, Carter Warren is finally awoken from 15 years of being frozen in the Catacombs. He steps out in the world ready to make a difference, ready to step into the shoes that his parents couldn't fill. But only something is different now. While he is in the running to become (no, not America's Next Top Model) the Controller General, Carter discovers that 15 years is a long time to be away, and he begins to question every thing and every person he thought he knew. To fix any chance they have of creating a better future, Carter has to understand the past...

Written in third person from the perspectives of Alice and Carter, the chapters alternate between the two characters; Alice, whose world has been destroyed and is in need of a completely new system...and Carter, several generations later, who is starting to realise that that system is no longer working. While the characters themselves didn't really have me captivated or falling in love with them, I liked Carter better, but Alice's story line more. I think that perhaps that's because the majority of dystopian novels are set in what is already a dystopian society; it's already run by manipulating, controlling people who have put forward rules and regulations, and feed lies to people...it's already that world that we are in when we start reading. But with Paradigm, Lowe takes us back to the beginning of what will be a dystopian-like society. It's the beginnings of something new, and it's not very often that we get to read about the makings of societies like these. 

But Alice's character...? Meh. Didn't really like her. But her story was better. Carter was more likeable, I thought, but I was more interested, like a said, in Alice's story. Strange, but true. 

If you're a fan of the dystopian genre, and would like to read something a little different, then give Paradigm a read. It came out in June this year, so it's available now. 



Thanks to Ceri Lowe and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review. 
This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from Good Reads





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Handbag Workshop | Anna M. Mazur | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Handbag Workshop | Anna M. Mazur | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, image via Goodreads

handbag workshop anna m mazur craft book

Bags are definitely something I’d love to have a go at making myself and so when I saw this tutorial book pop up on Netgalley I was excited to learn more about the craft.  

Handbag Workshop shares a whole range of impressive ideas and inspiration for every skill level. The book is split into three sections based on the reader’s ability level meaning that there is a project for everyone to try out. Patterns and full colour photographs for the step-by-steps are both included making the tutorials easy to follow.

Unfortunately the designer inspired ideas found in this book, for the most part, weren’t suited to my personal taste however I was impressed by the handmade designs, and the work that goes into them - especially those found in the advanced section! If I were to attempt to make one of the bags I think I would opt for the stylish suede ‘Tiffany-Inspired Reversible Tote’ as I like both the simplicity of the outside of the bag and the practicality of this very wearable design.

Although the designs themselves perhaps weren’t all for me the basics, tips and tricks offered were informative and could be applied to other projects. I loved learning about how bags are constructed and have definitely taken away some useful information for my own future projects. If you’re looking to try out this impressive craft or improve upon your bag-making skills this could be the book for you!


Handbag Workshop is due for UK release in November and can be pre-ordered on Amazon now!


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

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Attachments | Rainbow Rowell | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 21 July 2014

Attachments | Rainbow Rowell | Reviewed by Ria

*image via GoodReads
Fresh out of his latest graduate degree, Lincoln O’Neill is a down and out 28-year-old who’s landed a job at a small town newspaper as their Internet Security Officer. Contrary to his cool job title suggests, Lincoln’s night shifts are usually spent whiling away the hours eating his mother’s home cooked meals at his desk, whilst he checks on the occasional inappropriate email and sends out warnings to staff using the word f*ck. Lincoln’s job is mind-numbingly boring but at least it keeps his mind off his end of a relationship blues/existential crisis.

That’s until, he spots Beth and Jennifer’s emails start getting flagged in the system. Normally he’d send the two a warning email, but their chatting yet charming exchanges about work, relationships and their personal life have him grinning from ear to ear as he reads them. Beth’s emails in particular catch his eye, and very soon Lincoln finds himself falling hard for someone he’s never even met.

So what’s my verdict?
Set in 1999, Attachments is a lovely snippet of nostalgia from the era when the Internet and emailing was still a brand new and a bit of a scary novelty. Despite the throwback to this era, the story, themes and the characters are pretty timeless. Our lead character, Lincoln isn’t really a broken or angsty like a lot of guys (and gals) you see in these rom-com-esque novels. He’s a little down and out from a break up, may be having a bit of a quarter-life crisis (not helped along by his sister constantly on his case), and honestly just seriously lost. Normally I get annoyed at characters like Lincoln, but I just felt a bit sorry for him at the beginning – and also quite empathetic as I’m feeling those post-grad feels too Lincoln!

Beth and Jennifer on the other hand are the optimistic souls of this book and you can seriously tell Rowell had fun with their exchanges. The emails feel just as natural as a face-to-face conversation, even when one of the two starts to write in prose. Seeing the two women from this perspective allows us to step into the same shoes as Lincoln and, just like him, I found myself falling for their friendly banter and sillier moments.

I actually found myself grateful to have a burst of the informal exchanges from the two women, whilst reading the book. It was a nice break from my brain fretting about how Lincoln was coping and his unrequited crush on Beth. Which is why it was interesting to see this dynamic switch, as Lincoln finally decides to become the leader of his own destiny in the book, whilst Beth and Jennifer are left to cope with some unpleasant situations.

Overall, Attachments is a really lovely and super quick contemporary read. As I said before the story and themes are pretty timeless, and there’s a sense of familiarity about the whole novel, which does mean I pretty much predicted the ending. Despite this the light-hearted conversations and more comedic story lines were definitely my favourite parts, and I do have a soft spot for it’s unique format and happily ever after ending!

For lovers of…You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
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Group Collaboration | Literary Journeys

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Group Collaboration | Literary Journeys

Summer-time means holiday and travel time for the majority of us and for July's group post we'll be delving into the world of literary journeys. Our favourite books transport us to different worlds but our bloggers are focusing on the journeys their favourite characters take...
July group post journeys 1 July group post journeys 2 July group post journeys 3

Thanks to this month's contributors - Ria, Anjali, Cat, Erin
*book images via GoodReads
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Our next group post delves into a debate, as we get some opinions on Amazon vs Independent bookshops. Do you love the convenience and of buying your books from big corporations like Amazon? Or does your allegiance lie with the guy behind the counter of your favourite Independent bookshop? Drop us an email - bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com - or tweet us @blog_bookshelf for more information and to have your answer included in the post!
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Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Emma from Reviews With Emma

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Emma from Reviews With Emma

Welcome to another Being A Book Blogger feature! Today we're talking with the lovely Emma from Reviews With Emma who also recently guest posted for us here at BB. Here's what she had to say about switching from lifestyle blogging to book blogging, TV adaptations and the appeal of YA...


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BB: For any of our readers who haven’t discovered your blog yet could you tell us a little bit about yourself & Reviews With Emma?

I am an avid reader and at the point of me making my blog, I didn't have any friends who really read as much or loved reading as much as I did and I wanted somewhere were I could talk about what books I love and which ones I didn't. I didn't start my blog off with the intention of becoming a book blogger, in fact I was more of a lifestyle blogger, but after a blogging break over the winter I decided that actually I wanted to just focus on books.

BB: Where does your passion for reading come from?

I'm not really sure, I guess I have just always grown up reading or having people read to me. My Mum and Dad are both avid readers so I guess that where I get it but also the form of escapism is something I really appreciate and wouldn't be able to live without.

BB: On your blog you mainly share reviews of YA books, specifically fantasy and contemporary YA – how did you get into these genres? Do you remember which books made you fall in love with YA?

I read a lot of YA because I fit into that category myself and so the characters are more easily identifiable (well, most of the time!). Fantasy has always been my favourite ever since Harry Potter came out and contemporary books give me a nice light break in between my slightly darker fantasy reads!

BB: Of all your reviews so far which are you most proud of, and which did you find the most difficult to write?

I am quite proud of my Throne of Glass review and City of Heavenly Fire review. I can't pinpoint a specific review that I found really difficult to write but occasionally if I really love or hate a book I can't put my feelings into words, which is irritating, so I end up choosing to not post a review on my blog but Goodreads instead until I can fathom my thoughts.

BB: Which five books are at the top of your TBR list right now?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, We Were Liars by E Lockhart and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

emma books

BB: You have also blogged about TV series such as Merlin, Game Of Thrones and How I Met Your Mother. If you could choose one book that hasn’t yet been adapted to be turned into a TV show which one would it be and why?

Ah! Oh my goodness, this question is so hard because I feel like so many book to film adaptations are so bad, I think that Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas would be pretty cool and because it would be a TV series, hopefully they would be able to do the book justice, but I'm not sure if it would translate well to screen, I'd still watch it though!

BB: Just for fun, if you could swap lives for the day with any fictional character who would it be and why?

Hermione Granger, of course

BB: Finally, which bloggers (other than yourself of course!) would you recommend our readers go and subscribe to?

I follow, bloggersbookshelf (of course ;), myfriendsarefiction and priceiswong to name a few and I'm subscribed to a bunch of BookTubers, like Peruse Project, Sarah Churchill, ABookUtopia as well as a few more!


Visit Emma's blog here: Reviews With Emma

Social Media links:
Twitter - https://twitter.com/reviewswithemma
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/emmamazey

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I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Emma for taking part in this interview.
If you are a booktuber or book blogger and would like to be featured in a similar post we'd love to hear from you - just email us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com for information!

Interview & post by Erin
Cover images via Goodreads
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I Still Dream About You | Fannie Flagg | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

I Still Dream About You | Fannie Flagg | Reviewed by Niina

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“Hazel always used to say There's not enough darkness in the entire universe to snuff out the light of just one little candle.”  - Fannie Flagg, I Still Dream About You

Maggie Fortenberry is a former Miss Alabama who seems to live a perfect life. She's a successful and charming real estate agent that still looks beautiful after so many years. But Maggie's life hasn't turned out the way she imagined and she feels like there's nothing left in this life for her. So charming and lovely Maggie Fortenberry starts planning her own death. 


I picked up I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg because I really enjoyed A Redbird Christmas by the same author (read my review of A Redbird Christmas here). A Redbird Christmas is in my opinion the ultimate feel-good novel so I was expecting the same thing from I Still Dream About You. The plot in this book might seem a bit depressing, because let's be honest, it's a story about a person who wants to die. But this novel is not depressing at all, it's a funny and heart warming story. Some might think that it's wrong to write such an easy going book about a serious subject like someone wanting to kill themselves. But I don't think there's any rules about how your allowed to write about difficult subjects. 


I mostly really enjoyed reading I Still Dream About You, I especially enjoyed the characters. Because if there's something Fannie Flagg is good at, it's creating fun, interesting and original characters. Even if I didn't personally like every character I found them interesting. I also really liked the fact that the city of Birmingham, Alabama where Maggie lives almost was like a living character in the novel. Fannie Flagg makes me want to become a real estate agent in the south (even if it doesn't seem to be the easiest thing to be). 


But even if I Still Dream About you was an enjoyable read I was a little bit disappointed. The story-line wasn't as original and interesting as I thought it would be. Even if it was a fun story I felt like it was lacking something. I also felt like the ending was a little bit simple and that Fannie Flagg took the easy way out while writing it. The book pretty much ended the way I thought it would end (even if there was a small little twist). So yes, I Still Dream About You is a fun book that makes you smile, but it's nothing life changing or a story that I will remember the rest of my life. If you've never read anything by Fannie Flagg before I would recommend A Redbird Christmas instead, but if you're a fan, I think you'll really enjoy I Still Dream About You as well. I give I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg 3,5/5 stars.


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




3halfstars


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Monday, 14 July 2014

Chocolate Wishes | Trisha Ashley | Reviewed by Laura

For Chloe her life revolves around chocolate. she creates sweet chocolatey heart shaped treats to sell all containing words of wisdom.  Her life however is about to take a turn as a new vicar turns up at the village, an ex band member, who is also Chloe's first love and the man who broke her heart many years ago.  The saying goes 'Some people never change' but maybe that is just a tired cliche. 

I picked this book up on a whim, it was on offer in my local supermarket and the front cover got me, plus it mentions chocolate and I was suddenly sold. The main character Chloe is very sweet and lovely, she's a strong woman who has brought up her younger brother after her own Mother left them. She is a strong minded woman, successful business woman who has made many sacrifices in order for her brother to have a good life. They live with their grandfather although they are definitely not the standard type of Grandfather you'd expect, he is in fact a Warlock. Which as you can imagine does not gel so well with the previous vicars in town.

The story line... I'm not really sure where to start with my comments. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it?! I found it to be incredibly detailed to the point where I really didn't feel I needed all the information that was given, some conversations between characters seemed just general chit-chat that as a reader I didn't care for. It took a long time for the story to get going, there was a lot of setting the scene a mist the characters. I can't say I really got into the story until probably 3/4 of the way through and by then it was almost too late.

The ending however I did really enjoy the pace seemed to pick up, the action came in leaps and bounds and finally all the characters settled down with the people they were of course supposed to end up with. Happily ever after.

If you like chic-lit and stories about chocolate then this book is perfect, although I wouldn't add it to the top of your to-read lists.


3/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Perfected | Kate Jarvik Birch | Reviewed by Anjali



In an almost dystopian-like America, girls are raised in kennels to become pets for the wealthy. When they are ready, they are bought, given names, introduced to family members and are integrated as pets into the household. Ella is no different. Raised in Greenwich Kennels, she's small and petite, graceful and beautiful and perfect, ready to do whatever it is she's told her, just as she was trained to do.

Bought by the Congressman, Ella moves into a fancy home where she is introduced to the Congressman's wife, his daughter Ruby and his son, Penn. Ruby is incredibly excited to have another pet (the last one they had had to be returned) and treats Ella with love and looks after her, and even takes her to her another girl's house to meet their own pet. Penn is distant at first, angry at his father for purchasing another pet, but over time his friendship with Ella grows, and blossoms into some more. Yup, it's a typical YA love story. But when Ella is kidnapped and thrown into situations where she has no idea what to do, she starts to realise that all that she was taught in the kennel isn't all there is to be known, and the world is a much bigger, a much darker place than she thought.

Ella as a character was annoying and a little infuriating, but that's really just because she didn't know anything - her only truth was what she learnt in the kennel, and while she was ignorant and clueless, it's how she needed to be, given her background. Ruby was a sweet kid, and with little friends she really did just need the company that Ella gave her. Ruby loved reading, and I think that's one of the main reasons I liked her so much. Also, she was kinda like me...only 10 years old. When she is talking to Ella at one time, for example: "'Oh my gosh,' she whispered, as if she was suddenly remembering something very important. 'I forgot to ask you what your favourite book is.'" Heh heh! I love it!

Another line I loved from Ruby: "'You can't swim or read and you've never had candy? How are you supposed to survive? Those are like the most important things.'"

Penn was a bit annoying that at first he didn't like Ella at all, and then suddenly he was basically in love. But I guess that's sort of standard YA love time line for you. You can go from 'I hate you' to 'I love you' in less than 20 pages sometimes.

Occasionally I have issues with the writing style of some novels, but not in Perfected. I found it easy to read, and everything flowed well. Despite me taking about a week to read it, if I had just sat down and read, it would have only taken about 2 hours. It was fast paced, and while there were times of more dull events, it didn't really seem that way.

Perfected,  by Kate Jarvik Birch, while a short YA novel, does a great job at looking at humanity, society, and freedom. I guess what I mean is that this story isn't set in a pre- or post-apocalyptic world, or an America gripped by plague or robots or zombies, there's no goodies and baddies, there's no different factions or groups...it's simply a society like our own where these pets are engineered to enhance people's lifestyles, and all it took was a law saying that this was okay. It's a bit of a scary thought really, but nevertheless I really did enjoy this novel. I hope there's another one, because the ending was not okay, and I need to know what happens next.


Thank you to Net Galley and Kate Jarvik Birch, who provided me with this book for an honest review. 
This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from Good Reads.





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2014 Reading Goals Update #2

Thursday, 10 July 2014

2014 Reading Goals Update #2

We last updated you on our 2014 challenges back in April, so today we're taking a look at what progress has been made since then...

challengeupdate2


Cat... 9/25 books read, 3/5 books vowed to read
After reading Yes Man I decided to go for another comedy and have just finished reading I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan, which was brilliantly funny. I would definitely recommend if you are a fan of Mr Partridge! Since I finished this I have begun A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks, which has been really engaging so far and only a few pages in! There are a number of characters who have been introduced and somehow their stories are interwoven. After I have finished this I will be heading back to my vowed book list!

Anjali... 24/45 books read, 1/5 books vowed to read
Out of the 5 I need to read: I've still only read 1! I read The Elite, by Kiera Cass and enjoyed that. I have nearly all the others on my shelf, but have yet to get around to reading them. Actually, you know what? I've just finished a book, so I'm going to pick up The Perks of Being a Wallflower right now. There. Make that 1 and a bit books I've read from my 'must read' list. Other books I've read this year that I've enjoyed have been Sidekick, by Auralee Wallace (so cool!); Into the Still Blue, by Veronica Rossi (the last instalment of the Under the Never Sky Trilogy); and I also re-read The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I read this book when I was about 13/14 I think, but it was great re-reading it.

Erin... 50/50 books read, 4/5 books vowed to read
Looking at the numbers you can see that I have 'officially' completed my 2014 challenge however it doesn't feel like I should have as so many of the books have been short craft titles or graphic novels.  Although I've finished my Goodreads challenge I'm not doing so well on the other goal I set myself over on my own blog, which was based around trying to read a whole list of books that I already owned - I've only read 9 of the 24. Favourite reads since our last update have been Sidekick by Auralee Wallace & Say Her Name by James Dawson.

Alison... 8/20 books read, 2/5 books vowed to read
 Since the last update I've only read another three books so I am falling behind slightly but I've got a holiday coming up so fairly confident that I'll catch up! I've just finished A Game of Thrones, one of the books I vowed to read this year, which I loved but I need something a little shorter before going on to the next in the series. I'm also looking forward to the Edinburgh International Book Festival next month. I've booked a few tickets, but mostly I'm excited about their amazing on-site book store which always inspires me to get reading and discover new books and authors.

goalsupdate2

Ria... 13/50 books read, 2/5 books vowed to read
I'm slowly crawling through my challenges, as reading for pleasure took a nose dive as I finished University! I am getting back on track and have read some fantastic novels since I finished school. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and The Virgin Suicides by Jefferey Eugenides have been my personal favourites. From my challenge list I recently finished Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. It was a much more pleasant experience to read than On The Road, but I knew Rowell wouldn't let me down when it came to a really great story with fantastic characters. As for the others on my list, I'm itching to get started on Say Her Name now that it's out. I've seen some really great reviews about it, though nearly all of them have to said to make sure to read it with the lights on to stave off the nightmares!

Kath... 41/75 books read, 2/5 books vowed to read
I wasn't completely sure that I'd get much reading done this year - but with 41 total books read so far I'm happy with my progress. All of my owned books are still in storage until next month, and I've been relying on my local library service to get my reading material. Luckily, they seem to have a fairly good selection. This does mean that I've only been able to get my hands on one of my books I vowed to read since the last update post, which was The Book Thief (it was amazing!).  My recent favourite books are without a doubt We Were Liars and Anna and the French Kiss. As I mentioned in April's update post, I'm trying to celebrate UK authors as much as possible, and that's definitely reflected in my reading and recommending habits.

Laura... 17/30 books, 1/5 books vowed to read
I have however still only read 1 out of my 5 books to read (Dawn French - A Tiny Bit Marvellous) oops. Better get on that.  My reading has slowed down quiet a lot of the past few months since moving house, all this decorating and unpacking has kept me away from my books (Especially as I had to find which box they were in!) It is however only 2 weeks until the summer holidays and I am off on holiday and shall be packing a whole pile of books to keep me company! I have recently read one of my favourite books of the year however I shall not say more than that as they'll be a review up soon :)



Thanks to everyone who contributed to this update post - see you in a few months for the next one! 
Images via Goodreads

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Now it's your turn to share! We'd love to know how you're getting on with your own goals and what books you've been loving in 2014 - don't forget to leave us a comment below :)

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The Virgin Suicides | Jeffery Eugenides | Reviewed by Ria

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Virgin Suicides | Jeffery Eugenides | Reviewed by Ria

The Virgin Suicides
“The girls took into their own hands decisions better left to God. They became too powerful to live among us, too self-concerned, too visionary, too blind.”

Set in the suburbs of 1970s America, The Virgin Suicides tells the story of the lives and losses of the Lisbon family over the course of 13 months. I say the lives and losses, as the novel chronicles the suicides of the 5 Lisbon girls, Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, Cecilia, over the course of that year through the eyes of the neighbourhood boys who watched them fall. The Lisbon girls before their demise were a source of much fascination from those who watched them from behind closed blinds, beside them in high school classrooms and across hazy residential streets. They were ethereal beings, initially barely distinguishable from one another, and deeply sheltered from the world.

So what’s my verdict?

All in all only one quote sticks in my mind that really summarises the voyeuristic nature of the book

“In the end we had the pieces of the puzzle, but no matter how we put them together, gaps remained, oddly shaped emptinesses mapped by what surrounded them, like countries we couldn't name.”
Looking from the outside, in there’s no real way of knowing the real story of what really happened. In fact, the novel itself can almost be likened to a suburban myth or cautionary tale. There’s an odd sense of melancholy and nostalgia as past events are recounted, and the use of a narrator recounting the story allows the reader to view the story just as the boys did all those years are. As I mentioned we never hear the story from the viewpoint of the girl’s, so the reader is left with the same hollow sense of closure of the story as the narrator, which actually works really well for this novel. We too view the Lisbon girls as a mystery, right until the end, and are left wondering whether the events we’ve been told are even true.

In regards to subject matter, suicide is never an easy topic to approach, but Eugenides manages to capture both the tragedy of the event with sensitivity. Issues concerning mental health and illness, which was in it’s early stages of discussion in the 70s, are raised but are mostly secondary to the haunting and almost dreamlike glimpse into the highs and lows of adolescent life. It’s not an easy read, but the language alone is enticing enough to keep you reading until the end and can, at times, be deeply moving, haunting and thought provoking.

Reading Soundtrack:
Sisters Of The Moon: Fleetwood Mac; There's A World: Next To Normal; Young: The Paper Kites; Pawn Shop Blues: Lana Del Rey; Settle Down: The 1975; So Far Away: Carole King; Wings: Birdy; Playground Love: Air

For lovers of…'Girl, Interrupted', The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath & The Perks of being a Wallflower

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

*Photo (c) Ria Cagampang
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Guest Post | Zombie Fiction

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Guest Post | Zombie Fiction


zombie books

My fascination with zombies started when I watched my first zombie movie many, many years ago. I'm a bit sad that I can't remember which movie it was (it might have been Dawn of the Dead) but I remember getting a bit too excited about the concept of a zombie apocalypse. My love for zombie movies naturally also turned into a love for zombie fiction.

Sometimes people look at me funny when I tell them that I read zombie fiction, because people in general seem to think that I'm in it for the blood and gore. Sure, I usually don't mind the blood and gore, but that's not what makes the zombie apocalypse interesting. It's the humans in the stories that makes the whole concept fascinating! I love stories about survival and coping with extreme situations and I think it's pretty fair to call a zombie apocalypse an extreme situation.

It's pretty easy to be a zombie fan these days, because zombies seem to be quite a thing at the moment (thank you The Waking Dead, I love you!). So there's a lot to choose from. So I thought it would be appropriate for me to tell you about my favorites books in the zombie genre!

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry: When Benny Imura turns 15 he joins his brother in the family business. Benny thinks that the only thing his brother does is to go outside the city's fences to kill zombies. But on Benny's first trip out in the big rot and ruin he learns that the family business is about so much more... I thought that Rot and Ruin had an interesting concept because it tells a story that takes places years after the first zombie outbreak. The main character Benny has pretty much grown up in a world with zombies. The book is fun and fast paced but also touches some important issues about humans and humanity! It's the first book in one of my favorite young adult zombie series (read my full review here).

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell: The Reapers are the Angels is something so unusual as a beautiful zombie story. The novel is actually really beautifully written and is filled with unique and quirky characters. It tells the story about Temple's journey through a zombie infested country, but Temple is just not any fifteen year old girl, she's one of the most interesting and engaging characters I've ever read about. The Reapers are the Angels is one of my favorite books of all time, it's amazing (read my full review here)!

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion: This is the novel made famous by the movie with the same title (that came out last year). The movie is good, but the books is better (as always). I was actually surprised that the movie was a comedy because I didn't get that vibe from the book. Sure, there's many funny parts in the book as well but it has a much more serious undertone. I love this book because I just think it's genius to write a love story between a zombie and human and make it believable (read my full review here).

World War Z by Max Brooks: This is a book for hard core zombie fans. It's written like a non-fiction book with interviews with people that had an active part in the war against zombies. It's a believable and amazingly detailed book. But some parts of the book suffer from too many military terms. But over all it's a really fun and interesting book, a must read for true zombie fans (read my full review here).

Feed by Mira Grant: Feed is the story about two siblings, Georgia and Shaun that are bloggers in a post zombie apocalyptic world. They get the big opportunity to be the official bloggers in one of the presidential candidates campaign and during this process they all learn that humans can be scarier than zombies. This book is so much fun! Zombies, politics, blogging and kick ass characters, what more can you ask for? (Read my full review here).

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.
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Guest Post | Top 5 Books On My 'To Re-Read' List!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Guest Post | Top 5 Books On My 'To Re-Read' List!

re-read books

Within the book blogging world it's easy to get caught up in new releases, what's popular right now and out ever-growing TBR lists. So, today I thought I would take a step back from my (somewhat ridiculously tall) review books pile and instead talk about titles that I would love to re-read! Ignoring the contents of my Kindle I took to my bookshelf and selected the titles that I'd love to revisit. In no particular order here's the five that made the cut...

1. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (2011)

First read: in late 2012 as part of my first year joining in with the Goodreads challenge. I also reviewed it for BB last year!

Why re-read? This book is listed as my favourite on our 'Meet The Team' page here at BB and for good reason as I just loved reading it! I originally borrowed it from the library but last year added a copy to my collection with the intention of reading it again soon which I'm hoping to do this year. Fingers crossed I still love reading it just as much second time around!

2. Fight Club, Chuck Palaniuk (1996)

First read: in 2007 during lunchbreaks at college (this makes me feel old...)

Why re-read? I read this one before my book blogging days and although I briefly picked it up again for a Uni project (where I compared a scene from the film to the original script and chapter of the book it was adapted from) I'd like to go back and re-read the whole book again properly. I'm a fan of the film and tend to re-watch that once every few years and it's been about four since I dug out the DVD so it would be nice to revisit both at a similar time.

3. If You Find Me, Emily Murdoch (2013)

First read: in 2013 as an eARC which I reviewed for BB! 
 
Why re-read? A physical copy of the book (which was firmly on my 'to-buy' list) was kindly given to me as a birthday present earlier this year, by friends who had no idea I'd already read it! This paperback edition has an additional epilogue I didn't get to read first time round so I'm particularly looking forward to that when I finally get to a re-read the book. I'm actually quite proud of myself for not having taken a sneaky peek at the epilogue already!

4. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson (1971)

First read: in 2008 after first watching the film a year or two earlier

Why re-read? Just like Fight Club I read this one before I got back into reading regularly and therefore pre-book blogging. I carried this around with me for a while, enjoying reading again but after finishing it I promptly returned to buying non-fiction titles (mainly about film/crafts). Again, I'm interested to revisit it having read so many novels over the last few years to see if I'd still enjoy it now.

5. The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin (1972)

First read: in 2009 for a Uni project about utopia/dystopia

Why re-read? If I'm being honest I feel like I only really got the opportunity to skim read this one for the Uni project, however I remember finding it interesting which is why I recently picked up a copy for my collection. It's only a very short book so shouldn't take too long to re-read either!

Which 5 books would make your 'to re-read' list?

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Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #18

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #18

Review Round Up #18 It’s that time of the month again! Check out the posts you’ve missed below…
Regular reviewer, Ria, showcases and reviews the New York Public Library's 'The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter' exhibition. And with Summer just round the corner our blogger's shared their thoughts on the 'Book to Film Adaptations' they were most excited to see in the coming months and beyond in our June group post!

Our next group post is all about the journeys from our favourite books. We'll be delving into both fiction and non-fiction to pick out our favourite journeys and travel stories, and we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Drop us an email, tweet us or post to our GoodReads page by 16/7/14 to have your answer included in the post!
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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Guest Review | Throne Of Glass | Sarah J. Maas


This book was so epic that even after having finished it seven days ago I am still thinking about it. Celaena is one of the most arrogant and badass female protagonists that I've ever read about and I LOVED her. Honestly she has gone straight up into my top 5 favourite literary characters, she was completely brilliant, well-developed and had depth about her which many female protagonists in YA fantasy do not have. I loved that she could easily hold her own against anyone who tried to mess with her, she didn't need anyone else to protect her, but I also appreciated that despite this Celaena wasn't afraid of being feminine and appreciating clothes and typically girly things. She was also a massive bookwork, so thats always going to be a winner in my book! 
The 'love triangle' is something that I have usually come to dread in YA books because they are just so badly done and you end up hating both of the males. I am very glad to say that in Throne of Glass I honestly love both Dorian AND Chaol and I don't want to choose who was my favourite. They were both completely different but also so similar as they are both loyal and good and know how to hold a sword, they are both also very willing to protect Celaena when they really shouldn't. Nehemia was also a wonderful addition to this story and it was nice to see Celaena have a friend after everything she has been through and some of their conversations are hilarious. Although Nehemia is still somewhat of a question mark I think that only adds to her charm but hopefully we will find out more about her in the next book.

The world building in this novel was fantastic, everywhere felt threatening and you could never be too sure who to trust. I'm pretty sure I hate the King almost as much as Umbridge (and that's saying something) and all in all this is one of my favourite books of this year and if you have not read it yet THEN DO IT!
5/5 STARS

Image via Goodreads
This post was written by guest reviewer Emma, who blogs over at Reviews With Emma
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