One Italian Summer | Keris Stainton | Review

Friday, 28 April 2017


Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had?

Every year Milly and her family visit Rome, stay with her mum's sister and her fiancé, visit the hotel where Milly's dad worked in his youth. This year Milly's aunt is getting married and its the first summer since her dad died unexpectedly. For the first time in their lives, Milly and her two sisters will be visiting Italy without their dad and, still grieving, they know that nothing will be quite the same.

On top of dealing with her own uncertainty about the future, the changes she has seen in her sisters, and the grief still overwhelming all of their family, Milly has the added bad luck of knowing that Luke will be there. Luke, her cousin's best friend who she has known and had a crush on for many years, and who she thoroughly embarrassed herself in front of after her dad's funeral...

One Italian Summer was mostly a fun, quick read, that immediately made me wish I was in Rome eating ice cream and pushing through the crowds of tourists at the Trevi Fountain too. There was an undercurrent though, a constant theme throughout the story, of the overwhelming grief this family is feeling in this beautiful place that meant so much to Milly's dad. The fun parts of the book felt bubbly and alive, and the parts about their grief winded me and at times made me shed real tears.

There are a lot of different threads going on in this novel and, honestly, at times it did start to feel a little much for such a short book. Milly has a lot going on and it did leave me feeling that there were certain aspects of her life I would have liked to have seen more of or that I could have done without. 

For example, Milly used to be in a band but since her father died she no longer talks to those friends. This was so briefly touched upon, however, that I often completely forgot about it until the next time it was mentioned. On the other hand I really enjoyed the way that the novel deals with Milly's growing sense of her own sexuality. Milly's interactions with Luke and their history felt very realistic, particularly because Stainton doesn't shy away from Milly's sexuality. That was refreshing to read. And, as I touched on above, I felt that Milly's grief was beautifully handled throughout the novel.

All in all, One Italian Summer is something a little different and, although I had my small complaints, I would still absolutely recommend it for all its positive aspects, which definitely outweigh them.

Group Collaboration | How Do You Choose Your Next Read?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

It's group post time again and this month we're talking ideas on how to select your next read. The responses we received share favourite ways to choose what to read next, along with those that haven't worked out quite so well.

We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the suggestions below and of course your favourite way/s to choose your next read!


ARCs & Blogging

Of all the responses we received to this month's prompt one of the most popular answers was that ARCs take priority when choosing what to read next. As many of our readers are fellow bloggers we completely understand choosing ARCs over any other reads in order to stick to a blogging schedules.

"If I have an ARC that I've been sent, I'll read those first, in order of receiving them."

"Review copies always come first, and then books I've been dying to read that I own."

"I normally read according to my book blogging schedule actually! The free slots I have I just pick up books from my bought pile."

Library Loans

Another popular response was that library loans were a priority due to the time constraints and those pesky late fines! 

"Next in line is always whichever library book is due next. Because late fines. Eek.

"[After ARCs] it'll be any books I have out from the library (because we don't want to add to the already-growing late fines!), and then books that have been sitting unread on my shelf for too long."


Follow Your Mood

It seems that a lot of bibliophiles find that the types of books they pick up change along with their mood or other factors like the time of year but if you have lots of unread books sitting on your shelf it can still be tricky to choose. If you manage to narrow it down by mood but you're still stuck between a few different choices why nottry out the first chapter of each and opt for the one that interests you most.

"I often find it's best to look at my bookshelves or scroll through my Kindle for inspiration and pick up whichever title appeals most at the time."


TBR Jars

Another popular idea is the 'TBR jar' where you write out the names of the books on your shelves, fold them up and put them in a pretty jar to be picked out at random when you can't decide what to read next. Unfortunately, whilst this sounds like a brilliant idea it does have it's flaws as a couple of our readers highlighted. If you're more of a mood reader a good tip to try is to colour coding the pieces of paper you add to the jar, selecting a different one for each genre or even length of book.

"I tried doing a TBR jar a few years ago, as I loved the idea, but it never really worked because there was always a book I really wanted to read next."  

"I tried a TBR jar once. It didn't last long, because I was never in the mood to read what I pulled out."


If You Liked That...

Another great way to choose your next read is to look for recommendations based on other books you've adored. Websites like Goodreads and Amazon have handy sections suggesting similar reads and bookstores usually have a recommended section but we really love What Should I Read Next? for finding new favourite books.

"I often look at books which have been recommended by friends, or in book stores or online. 'If you liked ... you'll like ...' invariably I do like!"


Take A Chance

If you really can't make up your mind why not leave it to chance? We loved this suggestion of numbering the books and asking someone else to pick at random, or using a dice to decide!

"If I can't figure out what kind of book I'm in the mood for, I give myself 5 or 6 options and then tell my husband to pick a number between 1 and 6. If he's not around, I roll a 6 sided die."


Image via unsplash.com
Thanks to Rachel, Anjali, Lili and all of this month's anonymous contributors.


If you'd like to get involved in our next group post drop and email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or keep an eye out on our Twitter page (@blog_bookshelf) for updates!

Features | YA Mini Reviews (Faceless, Nerve, Margot & Me)

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

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Faceless, Alyssa Sheinmel (2015)

Following a freak accident whilst out running Maisie is left with some serious injuries that lead to her becoming the recipient of a face transplant. Trying to rebuild her life with a new face, Maisie feels lost and alone - Faceless tells the story of how she rediscovers her identity.

I found Maisie’s story to be unique and was pleased to see an important and fascinating subject like this being explored, particularly within the YA genre. Following Maisie on her post-transplant journey was incredibly thought-provoking and I would definitely recommend picking this one up!

Finding Shelter | Jesse Freidin | Review

Monday, 17 April 2017

*Image and book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

A collection of mini-biographies, photos and short stories about people who volunteer at their local animal shelters.

Review:

This is a relatively short book that is full of love. The love people have for helping animals find homes and the love that the animals have for the humans who help them. All of the stories and photos in this book center around dogs. Some cats get mentioned, but this is completely a book for dog lovers. Still, it's such an inspiring book that I've actually looked at volunteering at local shelters myself (nearest one is, sadly, a two hour bus trip one way). But there are so many stories about how the little things you can do make a big difference to a dog's life. More often there are stories about what those same dogs can do for you.

If you are a dog lover or are in need of some heartwarming stories, I cannot recommend this book enough. This is a great book for animal lovers and it will remind you that there are good things going on in this world. 

Bookish Links #29

Sunday, 16 April 2017


Another month, another list of Bookish Links! Here's some of the articles we've been enjoying lately...

1. Writing A Novel - we're kicking off this month's list with a link to BB writer Anastasia's new blog featuring following the process of penning her very own novel. Head on over to her blog to find out more!

2. Book Club Alert! - Belletrist is a brand new online book club created by actress Emma Roberts and producer friend Karah Preiss. Their first book club pick is Joan Didion's South & West and you can find out more about why Emma chose this title over on their website.

3. New Parent? - if you're struggling to balance your ever-growing TBR pile with life as a parent Heather has some great tips in this recent video.

4. Reads For 20-Somethings - Nylon shared a list of thirty-two books they believe every woman should read in their twenties. Do you agree with their choices, or would you add any different titles to the list?

5. A Trip Back In Time - in this post Jenna talks about why she loves Historical Fiction and includes some of her top recommendations

6. Music & Books - we really enjoyed Maha's interesting thoughts on how books are just like songs!

7. In Need Of A Break? - this Buzzfeed article shares 18 Airbnbs that are perfect for book lovers! Which book-filled getaway is your favourite?

8. Read, Review, Repeat - over on her personal blog BB writer Anjali recently talked about reviewing books. Do you like to review everything you read? Let us know!

9. Series Love - in this post Anisha shares a list of popular series she wants to read. Which ones would make your list? Let us know in the comments!

10. Speaking Up - our final link of the roundup is from Hazel who shared her inspiring personal experience, discussing how YA title The Upside Of Unrequited helped her to stand up to body shamers.

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!   

Features | My Goodreads Reading Challenge Obsession

Friday, 14 April 2017


This year I'm taking part in the Goodreads reading challenge for the first time. For a few years now I've set myself an informal goal to read at least 52 books every year, but I never had any desire before to make it official in any way and I certainly didn't mind too much if I didn't achieve it. It's a pretty arbitrary goal anyway. What do I really achieve if I read a book a week? Well, currently I have over 80 books, in real piles on my bedroom floor and virtual piles in my Kindle and iBooks apps, that I haven't read yet. Somehow I just keep acquiring them faster than I can read them so I thought perhaps this year, in an effort to really drive myself to read them all, I would make it official. I would declare my intent to read at least 52 books online for all to see!

It's working. I've already read 18 books. I'm 4 books ahead of schedule. But the thing is, it's mostly working because I've become more than a little bit obsessed with it. There was a little jolt of joy when the Goodreads sidebar first told me I was ahead of schedule. A little flash of pride when I saw I was 2 books ahead now. Then there was a quick stab of panic when I saw that the number had gone down from 4 to 3. There was a week where I checked almost every day to see when exactly the number goes down. Is it Saturday or Sunday when I go from being 3 ahead to only 2? When do I need to make sure I finish this book by to keep my lead?

The last time I recall feeling obsessed with reading in this way was when, at about five years old, I decided I needed to be "better at reading" than one of the boys in my class. He didn't realise we were in a competition any more than the Goodreads challenge does. It's entirely possible that this competitive reading is unhealthy and I shouldn't be encouraging it in myself but I did have a reading age of 16+ at age 11 as a result of that one-sided competition so I can only conclude that this sort of thing works.

I also like that I can see all the books I've read so far in neat little rows on my Goodreads challenge page. It's nice to have a quick overview of the sort of books I'm reading right now. Perhaps we'll say that that is the reason I've become obsessed and not just because it feels good to be ahead of the fairly arbitrary goal that I set myself and that no one else really cares about. Let's pretend it's because I like the organisation of it all instead.

Are you taking part in the Goodreads reading challenge? Are you also oddly obsessed with it? Is this normal? Please tell me I'm not alone!

Features | Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge Update #2

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

not if i see you first

Since my first Popsugar challenge update I've managed to cross four more challenge prompts off the list making a total of nine so far. If you're taking part in Popsugar's 2017 Reading Challenge let me know which prompts you've crossed off the list and which books you're planning to pick up next! 

A Book By Or About A Person Who Has A Disability | Not If I See You First, Eric Lindstrom (2015)

This Contemporary YA title introduces Parker, a teen who lost her eyesight after being involved in a car accident. The novel explores what daily life is like for Parker and how she refuses to let her disability hold her back - the perfect fit for this challenge prompt!

Chainmail Bikini | Hazel Newlevant | Review

Monday, 3 April 2017


Summary:

A collection of comics about women in gaming by women in gaming. The type of gaming includes: video games, LARP-ing, and tabletop gaming.

Review:

I first learned about this book when I saw a kickstarter campaign for it. I couldn't afford to help it out, but I was very happy to see it get funded. When I found a copy of this book at my local comic book shop, I had to pick up a copy and I am so very happy I did.

A lot of the stories in this collection are about the trials and tribulations a lot of women go through in the gaming community. One or two of them end there, but the rest show signs of hope and change in their communities. This includes fictional and non-fictional stories about women and LGTBQ gamers finding where they belong, in all the right ways. There is a place for everyone at the gaming table. 

Some of the stories were more about how gaming had affected the author individually. From one author who talked about living with severe OCD to another who talked about how defeating gaming monsters helped her stay strong against real ones. Other stories talked about how the authors find themselves and who they want to be in the characters they play as. 

This is an incredibly moving anthology that I think all gamers, or those interested in gaming, should read. I identified with more of the stories than I thought I would and I cannot recommend this book enough. 

Features | YA Book Recs Based on Your Favourite Drink

Friday, 31 March 2017


That's right, today I am going to recommend a YA book to you based only on your favourite drink. Whether that drink is a steaming chai tea latte or an ice cold coke, I've got the book for you. You might think it sounds silly but trust me, there is some real beverage based book science going on here. So without further ado, please pick your favourite drink and let me introduce you to your new favourite book...

 
Black coffee - The Raven Boys

If you like your coffee dark and strong then Maggie Stiefvater's tale of magic, boarding school boys, and the search for a long dead king is the perfect series for you.

 
Cappuccino - Just One Day

Gayle Forman's warm and complex story of the one day in Europe that changes the rest of Allyson Healey's life is the perfect accompaniment for a classic cappuccino.

 
Frappuccino - To All the Boys I've Loved Before

For a sweeter than sweet drink you need a sweeter than sweet book, and it doesn't get much sweeter than Lara-Jean's plan to avoid embarrassment when her love letters accidentally getting sent out.

 
English breakfast tea - I Capture the Castle

There's no beverage more British than a cup of good old fashioned English breakfast tea and there's little more British than Dodie Smith's classic story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain finding her way in her family's crumbling old castle in the English countryside either.

 
Hot Chocolate - Anna and the French Kiss

Both sweet and comforting, and just the thing to warm the cockles of your heart no matter the time of year. Mix the two together and you can't get a more cozy evening.

 
Chai tea latte - Born Confused

A beautiful blend of Indian and American culture, a Starbucks chai tea latte is warming, delicious, and a little sweet, and so is the story of Dimple Lala finding her place in the world.

 
Iced tea - Wing Jones

If the sweet, refreshing taste of a cold iced tea is your choice then I recommend the sweet, refreshing Wing Jones, who might just be your new favourite book character.

 
Coca Cola/Pepsi - Vivian Versus the Apocalypse

Just looking at that gif is making my mouth water. If you're also craving an ice cold coke then why not accompany it with a story all about a great American apocalypse?

 
Pumpkin spice latte - Fangirl

This one's easy. There is a drink featured in this book called the 'pumpkin mocha breve' so you can see my reasoning on that one, but I also think that the pumpkin spice latte is a pretty millennial drink and this is a pretty millennial book (meant in the best way).

 
Peppermint mocha - Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

And of course, if you try and get your hands on this holiday classic all year round then you're going to love this story of two strangers getting to know each other through increasingly elaborate Christmas themed dares.

Now go forth, read your new favourite book, and thank me later.

Being A Book Blogger | Interview with Jackie aka Bookworm Mom

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

It's been a little while since our last Being A Book Blogger post but the series is back today to introduce you to Jackie who blogs over at Bookworm Mom!

BB: Hi Jackie! Could you tell us a little bit more about you and your blog 'Bookworm Mom'?

Hello! So, about me. I'm 31 years old and live in North Carolina with my husband Eric and our two sons, Chris and Logan. We are a house full of bookworms! My husband doesn't get much time to read with his crazy work schedule, but my sons are starting to devour books faster than I do. I love it! I work part time in childcare at my church. When I'm not reading or blogging, I love spending time with family and friends and catching up on my favorite TV shows. As for my blog, I started Bookworm Mom about a year and a half ago. I post book reviews and promo posts for my favorite authors like cover reveals, release blitzes, and things like that. There are also some weekly features I participate in sometimes and am going to start writing some discussion posts as well.

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BB: How did you get into book reviewing and what is your favourite thing about being a book blogger?

When I first started my blog, I wanted a place to be able to promote my favorite authors. I started with the cover reveals and things like that. Not long after that I started to discover posts from authors saying they needed reviewers for their upcoming release, so I started signing up for ARC's and it just took off from there.

My favorite thing about being a book blogger by far is discovering new authors. I've found so many new authors that I've come to love that I probably wouldn't have discovered without being a member of this community. I also love making new book friends.

BB: Which books have been your favourite reads of the year so far? Are there any upcoming releases you can't wait to read?

My favorite books that I've read so far this year are A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole (this one absolutely wrecked me!), Trucker by Jamie Schlosser, and Switch by Adriana Locke.

There are so many books coming out this year that I'm looking forward to. Out of the Ashes and Blue Balls by R.C Boldt are at the top of my list. Also on my list are Swear by Adriana Locke, Dropout by Jamie Schlosser, Edge of Brotherhood by Molly E. Lee, and Rebel by Rebecca Yarros. There are just so many! <3>
<3>

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BB: On your blog you mention that your two sons are also fans of reading. Do they have any favourite children's books or series?

My sons are 11 and 9 and pretty much have the same taste in books. Logan, my 9 year old, reads the books that his older brother used to read. Logan enjoys the Magic Tree House series, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the I Survived... books, the Geronimo Stilton series, and books along those lines. Chris, my 11 year old, read all of those books also but he has started to expand on what he reads. He loves the Goosebumps books while Logan finds them scary and creepy. Chris also enjoys reading the Harry Potter books, the Percy Jackson series, and the middle school series by James Patterson, and has recently started reading the Eragon books.

BB: Just for fun, if you could invite five fictional characters to a dinner party who would you choose?

Oh wow, that would be fun. Let's see. I would invite Lawson Briggs (Laws of Attraction, RC Boldt) for entertainment for sure. He is hilarious and would be a blast to have as company. Layken (Slammed, Colleen Hoover) would also make good company and I'm sure we'd have a lot to talk about. Lincoln (Swing, Adriana Locke) would make the list as well. He is very charismatic and goofy. It'd be really interesting to have him and Lawson in the same room. Rimmel (#Nerd, Cambria Hebert) would also be invited. She and I have so much in common. It would be a lot of fun to get to know her and talk books together. Josh (Full Measures, Rebecca Yarros) would be invited, too.

<3>BB: Finally, we would love some recommendations, which book blogs are your favourites to read?

Book Reviews by Di
Bookworm Brandee
Lisa K's Book Reviews 
Because Reading
Bookmark Lit
Lola's Reviews

Where To Find Jackie Online: Blog | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

We'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Jackie 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!

Group Collaboration | Favourite Female Authors

Saturday, 25 March 2017

This month's group post coincides with Women's History Month, so we thought it'd be a good opportunity to highlight our favourite female authors. We asked our contributors to list off their favourite female authors from any genre, debuts or veteran, cis or trans, LGBTQ authors, and women colour.

Here are some of their answers...


These are just a some awesome female authors who deserve to be celebrated, but we'd love to see more. So feel free to leave more names in the comments!

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Next month we'll be discussing how we choose our next read. If you'd like to be involved with this and future group posts drop an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or keep an eye out on our Twitter for updates!

Vicious | V.E. Schwab | Review

Friday, 24 March 2017


The Story
Victor and Eli are college students about to submit their proposals for their yearly projects. Eli has this interest in EOs – ExtraOrdinary people. Victor starts looking into adrenaline. But when their interests collide in one of Eli’s theories, they find themselves risking death to see if this seemingly supernatural mix of adrenaline and death make someone an EO.
They succeed.
10 years later, Victor has just sprung himself and one other, a man named Mitch, out of jail. They pick up a girl from the side of the road and together they track down Eli who has turned more into a villain than Victor ever thought he could. Can they stop Eli killing people? Is Victor’s ExtraOrindary gift one that will help or hinder?
My Thoughts
I really enjoyed Vicious, by V.E. Schwab. Definitely not as much as some of Schwab’s other books (I loved A Darker Shade of Magic), but it was still very good. I loved the X-Men kind of idea, and Victor and Eli were a little like Professor X and Magneto: friends with a fall out and general love-hate dramas.
Schwab does this fantastic job of making neither of them really the ‘good guy’. Even though the majority of the time the story is from Victor’s perspective, and you’re routing for him, the things he does are terrible, and you have to disagree with a lot of his tactics and reasons for doing things. Schwab writes it really well, this sort of tension between using their powers for good, or what they think is the good, and using them for destructive endeavours.
The other characters were also really neat. Mitch was this typical muscle side-kick kind of character, and Sydney, the little girl was sweet but strong at the same time.
The plot was a great one, and while I’m not often a fan of flash-back style writing, it worked so well in this book, and when the past finally caught up with the present, it fitted everything together really wonderfully.
If you’re a fan of Schwab’s writing, and you haven’t read Vicious yet, then do pick it up. She has a great writing style and she really draws you in with her stories and characters.

Have you read Vicious? Or any of Schwab’s other books? 

I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live In It: Stories From An Online Life | Jess Kimball Leslie | Review

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

*Review copy & cover image c/o Netgalley

i love my computer because all my friends live in it

In I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live In It, author Jess Kimball Leslie shares a variety of stories all about the internet. From Bette Midler fan forums to working in social media, online dating, the introduction of emails on-the-go and even online pet adoption, the book is a fun and nostalgic look back at how technology has shaped her life.

Whilst I was expecting the book to focus a little more on the history of the internet, including general experiences and examples of how it has changed our daily lives rather than such personal ones, the friendly tone and variety of essays made for an enjoyable read. The book is a fun trip back in time and will be particularly relatable for anyone who, like the author, grew up in the 90’s. Unfortunately the eARC copy I read didn’t include the images which I think will also add a little something extra to the overall experience. As with many non-fiction titles I found some of the sections to be a little more interesting than others but overall the book was a quick, fun read filled with stories that many people will be able to identify with.

Riven | Belinda Crawford | Review

Monday, 20 March 2017

*This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In the direct sequel to the book Hero we are brought back to the planet Jørn where Hero Regan and Fink are trying to adjust to life after the momentous events of the first book. Problem is, both of them seem to have developed some overly aggressive habits. Hero has occasional "tantrums" and physically lashes out at whoever is around. Meanwhile Fink is throwing his considerable weight around at anyone and everyone. To make matters worse, the Librarian has conscripted Hero for another task that will result in her going to the dangerous, inhospitable planet surface.

Review:

My favorite part of the first book was the technology and the world itself. Fortunately Crawford expands on both of them in this book. We get to learn a lot more about how the biotechnology of Jørn is designed, how it bears the signature of the one who works with it. We also get to learn more about how the cities hover above the surface and, in the last section of the book, what the surface of Jørn even looks like. I was very happy to read these developments.

The character work was a little less appealing in this book than in the first one. Hero and her best/only friend Norah have a lot of arguments that, from my perspective, seem more awkward than genuine. I do appreciate Timon's character being a nice balance to Hero's with, seemingly, no ulterior motive beyond racing. 

Overall, Riven is a good continuation of the series, but, like most second books, it's purpose is clearly to get from point A to point B and nothing else. One character, Timon, is more firmly established. We get to learn much, much more about the world of Jørn. We learn of some of the consequences of Hero's previous actions. But it's not as good as the first book, and probably won't be the best book of the series. 

Still, I enjoyed the read and do look forward to the next book. If you're interested in biotechnology science fiction, mutant species, alien worlds, this is a good series. 



Bookish Links #28

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Welcome to another round of Bookish Links - our monthly list of awesome links from around the web! Here are our top picks for March...

1. Spend Less, Read More! - we love shopping for books as much as the next person but it can get expensive with all the amazing titles on offer. Jade's post shares five great ways to save the pennies when it comes to buying books. Do you have any tips to add to the list?

2. Budget Buys - we also enjoyed Beth's post showcasing five titles she recently picked up from a local Oxfam bookshop all for under £10. Do you opt to buy second hand books?

3. More Titles For Your TBR - it wouldn't be a Bookish Links list without an article or two that will add at least five more books to your TBR pile, right? This month we're loving this recent list from Bustle which shares fifteen Contemporary YA picks all due for release in 2017. Which of these titles are you most excited about?

4. Addictive Reads - speaking of books to add to your TBR, we also loved this list of 'unputdownable' titles from Anne over at Modern Mrs Darcy. The seventeen titles featured are all books Anne read in twenty-four hours or less. Have you read any of these books?

5. Bookmark Love - this article showcases some fun and unique bookmark ideas with something for every type of bibliophile. Do you have any unusual bookmarks in your collection? Let us know!

6. Reading Goals - we loved reading about Emmie's idea to keep on track with her 2017 reading goals by documenting reading thirty books before June. How do you keep on top of your bookish goals? Let us know in the comments!

7. Manuscript Notebooks - these gorgeous bookish notebooks and journals from Manuscript were brought to our attention by a great post from Angela at Paper Lovestory. All of the products feature recognisable book covers and we think they would make perfect gifts!

8. Positive Portrayal - Puput recently shared her thoughts on the portrayal of girls in YA Lit and why she thinks we need to see a more positive representation with less stereotyping. If you have any top recommendations for books that feature strong female friendships or positive role models leave them in the comments section below!

9. New to YA? - in this handy post Nihaad shares her top five recommendations for YA newbies, featuring Historical, Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy and Non-Fiction subgenres. Which books would make your list?

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!  

Wing Jones | Katherine Webber | Review

Friday, 17 March 2017


That year she found the power to be extraordinary

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. When tragedy strikes, she discovers an extraordinary talent she never knew she had. Wing's running could bring her family everything it needs. It could also keep Wing from the one thing she truly wants.

Wing Jones doesn't fit in at her Atlanta high school, a problem her brother has never had. Marcus is handsome, kind, and great at football. The students who are indifferent or outright cruel to Wing have no such problems with her big brother. Until Marcus makes one big mistake that has ramifications not just for his closest friends and family but for their whole community.

While struggling to deal with what her brother has done, Wing discovers for the first time in her life that Marcus isn't the only talented sportsperson in their family. Wing can run. Driven on by a dragon and lioness only she can see, Wing starts to think she might be able to help sort out the mess her brother has created, if only she can run fast enough.

I loved this book, I'll just say that straight away. The writing is beautiful. I could feel Wing's footsteps pounding the track on her midnight runs. I could feel her heartbreak over what her brother had done and the visceral shock of some of her fellow students' reactions. I loved Wing too. I loved watching her figure out this talent she never knew she had and pushing herself to be better. I can count the number of YA novels I've read about girls enjoying sport on one hand and I think Wing Jones is a great addition to that list.

One of the more unusual aspects of the book are the lioness and dragon who help Wing discover her talent. I have to admit that I wasn't too sure about these magical elements of the story when I first heard about them, but they are such a natural part of Wing's narrative voice that they blend right in. It seems no more strange when she talks of her dragon flying in the sky above her and her lioness nipping at her heels than when she talks about her laughter feathers tickling the shoulders of the boy she likes. This is just how Wing sees the world and it's a delight to see it that way with her.

Being half Ghanaian and half Chinese in 90s Atlanta is not always easy for Wing and it only gets harder as she deals with the aftermath of her brother's actions. She has her mother and her excellent grandmothers, she has her brother's girlfriend and best friend, who are both almost part of the family, but she doesn't have any real friends of her own she can talk to about what's happening. Ultimately running comes to her at a time when she needs help in an awful situation and it was really refreshing to read about a young woman finding herself in sport. I wish I'd had a few more Wing Joneses to read about when I was her age.

Wing Jones is an easy five stars for me and I highly recommend it for fans of Eleanor & Park and, well, everyone else too.

Three Dark Crowns | Kendare Blake | Review

Friday, 10 March 2017


When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

This book was such a great concept! I don't think I've read anything like it before. We've all read books about a girl needing to achieve some goal to get the crown and become Queen of a probably-riddled-with-monsters world, but a story in which there are already 3 queens who need to battle to the death to win the crown? Colour me intrigued.

The concept of the death-by-sister is something along the lines of: the girls train separately, living apart; there's Beltane, which marks the beginning of an Ascension year; and the Quickening, a time in which the sisters show the island what they're all capable of. When Beltane ends, and the Ascension year begins, the sisters have 1 year to rid the island of the other 2 sisters and become Queen.

Each chapter in this book alternates between the three sisters, Mirabella, Katharine and Arsinoe (in case you have to Google how to pronounce this name like I did, here's a handy YouTube voice clip). Each of the girls have their own community around them, helping them out, supporting them, training them up in their individual magical abilities.

Katharine's story begins the book, and we quickly learn that it has been a Poisoner Queen for hundreds of years now, and that they are the strongest group on the island. But Katharine and a select few know a secret: Katharine is not immune to poison like the rest of them. Each day she trains, ingesting poisons to help build a resistance, but every time she is ill and can't handle it.

Arsinoe is a naturalist, and while she trains with her best friend, Jules, and the people around her, she's not a very good naturalist at all. Arsinoe is still awaiting her familiar, an animal which naturalists connect with, share their power with and essentially become one with. Jules is said to be the strongest naturalist in years, her familiar being a big cat, but Arsinoe has nothing.

Mirabella is the sister believed to win the crown, as she's the only one who has any obvious power. Where the other 2 are weak and seemingly powerless, Mirabella is strong. She has a few friends close to her, her even help her escape her city at one point. They're the kind of friends one needs in a situation like this - will do anything for you.

“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends 
Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen” 

As the story goes, we follow each of the girls as they struggle with their powers (or lack thereof), we follow the suitors who are presented to the girls, we overlap occasionally in the first half, but usually stick to each character individually.

This was such a interesting concept and I really liked the idea. There are a few reasons I haven't give it more than 4 stars. At the beginning, it didn't really draw me in. It was sort of jarring to leap from one character to the next right at the beginning of the story, which once we started knowing more about the characters, it became a lot easier. I didn't like how sudden a certain sister jumped into bed with one of the characters - you literally met him like 5 minutes ago! - and thought that whole line of the story was super odd. The ending wasn't as 'OHMYGOSH' for me as it seems to have been for others (reading other people's Goodreads reviews), as I figured something wasn't quite right from about the half way point. However, I did really enjoy the ending, and it was a great hook for the next book.

While it wasn't a 5 stars from me, I will definitely be checking out the next in this series, One Dark Throne, which isn't set to release until later this year.

If you're after a fantasy-YA book which isn't like anything you've read before, definitely go and find a copy of Three Dark Crowns.


Image from Goodreads. 

Botanical Beauty | Aubre Andrus | Review

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

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

botanical beauty

Botanical Beauty is a colourful craft book focusing on creating your own spa experience at home. Filled with natural beauty recipes and craft ideas the book is aimed at teens, however many of the tutorials are suitable for all ages. As the book itself says “there’s a homemade beauty product for everyone”.

There are eighty recipes featured, each with full-colour photographs and easy to follow instructions. Alongside these are other crafty projects to try your hand at including Pedicure Slippers and Shower Poufs which compliment the product recipes nicely. Also included is some really useful information for beginners, breaking down the ingredients used and looking at the benefits of each one as well as how to properly store the finished products. There are lots of great tips scattered throughout the book and the importance of safe use when it comes to items such as essential oils and butter/wax was clearly noted. In addition, the final section of the book shares some cute ideas for packaging up your homemade products to give as gifts.

The majority of the ingredients and supplies used in the book are either things you will already have at home or items that are easy to get hold of and generally aren’t expensive. It's great that the author is showcasing natural ingredients although the use of nail polishes in a few of the tutorials felt a little out of place. It is also worth noting that some recipes use ingredients such as beeswax, milk powder, yoghurt and honey, so substitutions may be necessary if you are vegan or dairy free.

As someone who has an interest in crafts and non-toxic products, overall I found Botanical Beauty to be a fun book with a variety of great ideas that are perfect for anyone looking to try DIY beauty.

Contributor | Nicole Ciarcchella | Review

Monday, 6 March 2017


Summary:

After the Great Famine, the world was divided into different domes with each dome focused on one aspect of survival for the world.They are so focused that anyone trying to do anything else, anything considered unproductive (i.e. the arts) is exiled to the barren wastelands. Dara has grown up in the dome dedicated to engineering and has risen to the top three of her graduating class. She is given the chance of becoming assistant to Head Engineer Anderson, but competition is cutthroat. Still Dara only has eyes on becoming an effective Contributor to Magnum, one of the great Job Creators, the sole authority of her dome.  That is, until she finds a group of people who want more out of life than what the Creators want.

Review:

I do not have the best history with dystopian books with strong female leads; after a while they kinda all sound the same. Fortunately I found Contributor to be pleasantly different. To start with, we have a main character who, while sometimes naively good, has full belief in the system and wants nothing more than to Contribute and, perhaps, marry her boyfriend so that they can be great Contributors together. She has no thoughts of the system being imperfect. She has no notion of anything other than the Magnum and her reputation therein. 

Another difference, one that I so greatly appreciate, is that when she is introduced to concepts outside of what she knows, she doesn't immediately take up the cause. She is aware of this new aspect of the world, would enjoy partaking in some of their books, but she takes a realistic amount of time and experience to finally come around to wanting to help them. This isn't an immediate rally around one person to start the revolution. This is her getting to the place, mentally, where she can help the people who actually need help.

Best of all is HOW she helps. I get so tired of teenage protagonists acting as though the adults are just lazy or complacent and need someone to inspire them to action. In Contributor, information is what is vital. Dara has trusted adults and higher ups all her life, naturally she trusts them to know more than her. So she helps with information. Not with guts, not with promises of glory or inspiring speeches, information.

I have added the next book to my TBR list because I am very interested to see how Ciarcchella takes this. I have my theories and I need them confirmed. If you are at all interested in a different kind of dystopian story with a strong female lead, I highly recommend Contributor