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We love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more, all penned by our team of six writers.

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Monday, 27 February 2017

Bookish Links #27


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

1. Rereading Has Arrived! - unless you've been hiding away from the internet this month chances are you will have already seen our first link of the roundup. Earlier in February Goodreads announced that they have finally added a rereads feature to the site, something users have been keen to see introduced for years. Are you excited to track your rereads? Let us know in the comments!

2. Blogger Must-Reads - we really enjoyed Charlotte's roundup of books that are must-reads for bloggers. Covering topics from general blogging to social media, photography, branding and even motivation there's a whole bunch of awesome recommendations for you to check out.

3. Literary Tea - if you're looking for the perfect place to take a literary-themed break this South Wales B&B which is hosts a Harry Potter inspired tea service could be the one!

4. Political Reads - we all know that recent political news has been anything but positive. This list from Rachel over at Book Riot shares several reading recommendations to help us all understand the US political system a little better. Have you read any of these titles?

5. Margot & Me - Juno Dawson has long been one of our favourite authors here at BB so naturally we're excited about the recent release of her latest novel Margot & Me. You can find out more about the book in this interview from Refinery29.

6. Bookshop Love - we loved Jade's bookshop bucket list post inspired by Jen Campbell's amazing title The Bookshop Book. Have you visited any of the bookshops on her list?

7. Author Aspiration - if you're hoping to make 2017 the year you finally pen your first novel, you may find the tips in Jenny's post helpful. If you have any of your own top tips don't forget to share them with us in the comments!

8. Review Styles - looking to switch things up and write your next book review in a different style? Molly shares five ideas to help get you out of a blogging rut. Which style of review is your favourite?

9. 2017 Asian YA/MG Releases - we're always on the lookout for information about upcoming must-read releases and loved Eri's list of Asian YA and MG books. We definitely found a whole bunch of new titles to add to our TBR lists thanks to this post and hope you will too!

10. Rife: Twenty Stories From Britain's Youth - for our final link of this roundup we wanted to share Amber's great news. In her a recent blog post she revealed that she will be writing an essay for a new book focused on what it's like to be a young person in the UK today - congratulations Amber, we look forward to reading it!

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!  
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The Magician's Land | Lev Grossman | Review

Friday, 24 February 2017

The Magician's Land | Lev Grossman | Review




Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory--but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.


No longer living in the land he loves, Quentin heads back to Brakebills to where it all began. There he works as a professor, until one day he's thrown into yet another adventure. This time he's taken back to places he visited in his younger days, and he's reminded of those loved ones he's lost, those he's left behind.

Back in Fillory, the remaining kings and queens have their own quests. Fillory is dying, and they have to save it. Coming at it from both sides, Quentin and his have to find a way to save the land the love, even if that means giving up everything.

While the first book is mainly from Quentin's perspective, and the second adds in Julia's, The Magician's Land brings in the thoughts and perspective from Eliot, Quentin's school friend and High King of Fillory. While Eliot is the intelligent one, the immature one, the crazy one, he still loves his land, and he and the others left in Fillory work hard to fix it. It was fun reading from Eliot's perspective, as he's a character that I enjoyed in the series. 

The creatures in this book (and series) are so creative, and yet so simple at times. Grossman's writing and creativity shines through and it makes for an exciting and vivid read.

This final book is a lot shorter than the first two in the series, but it's still packed with great characters, plot twists, adventures and creativity. I thought it was a brilliant way to end a fantastic series, and while I will miss reading about Quentin and Fillory, it was a joy to read.

If you're after a series about magic, about friendship, about love and loss, about creating your own way in the world (or in another), or you just love a good fantasy story, pick up the first in this series, The Magicians, and have a read.

You can read my review on BB of the first in this series, The Magicians, here,  and the second in this series, The Magician King, here. 

Image from Goodreads. 

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The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) | Ainslie Hogarth | Review

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) | Ainslie Hogarth | Review

book2 *Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) is a dark story told through the diary entries of a girl named Noelle who takes on a summer job working at an inn that was the site of some truly terrible murders back in the 90’s. At the beginning of the book we learn that Noelle and several others were found dead at the inn following a party held to commemorate the murders and Noelle’s cryptic diary is the only real evidence left behind. Now a filmmaker is keen to bring the story to the big screen with a Horror movie adaptation, and the detective who brought the diary to his attention has gone missing adding another layer of mystery to the story.

This YA novel is an incredibly unique read with the diary format and addition of annotations and directorial notes about the potential movie adaptation. Personally I loved this idea and enjoyed the extra layer the annotations brought to the story. Unfortunately the format did not always translate successfully in the electronic uncorrected proof copy I read however I believe it would definitely have worked better in the print version.

The book is packed full of mysterious and gory scenes with hints of the paranormal and also touches upon Noelle’s home life and relationship with her father. Whilst I really liked the unusual concept of the book I found that I didn’t connect with Noelle and because of this couldn’t fully enjoy reading the story from her point of view.

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) is a unique, intense and quick read packed with gory scenes and an intriguing mystery element. Unfortunately overall the book just wasn’t for me, but if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind read and don’t mind a little gore you may enjoy this one.
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Monday, 20 February 2017

The Invisible Library | Genevieve Cogman | Review


Summary:

Irene is a Librarian, but not for just any library. The Library she works for is actually another dimension that has access to many, many others. When a specific book or iteration of a work is found, the Librarians are sent to the dimension to recover it. Sometimes Librarians are left in these dimensions as watchers, people who keep tabs on a world for when another Librarian is sent in search of a book. For this case, Irene is sent with an apprentice, Kai, to a world where chaos is a lot more prevalent than she would like. Naturally, something goes very, very wrong.

Review:

This was a genuinely delightful read. The world alone is completely fascinating to me. The notion of the Library as kind of an axis dimension where all others are in contact with it. The idea of Librarians protecting rare books and using a rare magic called The Language. Dragons being creatures of pure law and order. Fae being creatures of pure chaos. Magic combined with technology and steampunk. There was nothing about this world that I did not absolutely love!

The inclusion of the chaos made the world so much more fun, too. Just some of the very random elements that came into play would make me laugh out loud. Sometimes it was delightful absurdity, other times it was genuine "what the heck am I reading" laughter. Who could have predicted that one of the detective's enemies would have attacked him with a giant robotic centipede? 

There was one scene in the book that completely derailed the story for me. I won't get into too many details but it was Irene and Kai's first full night after things went so very wrong. Suffice it to say, the dialogue, the situation, just the entire scene felt really out of place and awkward and I was tempted to put the book down at that point. Still, I am glad I continued as the rest of the book was on track and interesting.

If you are at all interested in worlds with chaos, magic, steampunk, technology, mystery, dragons, fae, evil villains and, of course, lots and lots of books, I highly recommend The Invisible Library. It has a stumbling spot or two, but is ultimately a fun read. 
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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Group Collaboration | Guilty Pleasure Reads

Earlier this month we asked our team of bloggers and readers to anonymously tell us all about their favourite titles that fit the description of "guilty pleasure" reads. Here are the results...

guilty pleasure

Something, such as a film, television programme, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard. - source

guilty pleasure reads 2
guilty pleasure reads 4
guilty pleasure reads 3
guilty pleasure reads 1

For more guilty pleasure reads check out these posts from around the web:

Thank you to all of our anonymous contributors!

In March we'll be talking Favourite Female Authors! 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 page for updates!
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Friday, 17 February 2017

Features | Spring Releases 2017


The sun is shining! Or at least, it is where I am, as I'm writing this. It will probably be raining again by the time this posts but that is not the point! The point is that spring will be here soon and the horrible drudgery of winter will be over for another year! (It's possible I am being a little dramatic but I am just so done with winter.) The sudden burst of sunshine is making me think ahead to spring with great anticipation not just for the warmer weather but also, of course, for all the new books that will be coming out then. Here are the six I'm most looking forward to.

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera - 21st February

After "borrowing" her father's credit card, Margot has to work in her family's grocery store to pay back her debts and she's willing to do anything to stop this punishment from ruining her reputation.
The Education of Margot Sanchez is described as 'Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx'. I'm actually not much of a fan of Pretty in Pink but this sounds like an interesting contemporary read and there's nothing I love more than that. Plus I've never read a novel set in the South Bronx and after watching the Netflix series The Get Down last year I am very interested in changing that.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han - 4th April

The third and final book in Jenny Han's series that started with To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Always and Forever, Lara Jean follows Lara Jean into her senior year of high school. Her father is getting married and now Lara Jean is the one who has to face the prospect of going away to college and leaving her family behind.
I devoured the first two novels in this series last summer and was so excited when Jenny Han announced this surprise third instalment. This series is a lot of fun and I can't wait to visit Lara Jean and her family again.

The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik - 6th April

The Other Half of Happiness is the sequel to Ayisha Malik's first novel, Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged and I actually am not going to tell you what this one is about because I don't think I can without spoiling the first book and the first book is excellent. Read Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged first and then join me in being very excited for this continuation of Sofia's story.

Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe - 6th April

Paradise Lodge, the follow up to Man at the Helm (both books feature the same protagonist but there's a 6 year gap between the two and they can be read as standalones), is the story of Lizzie Vogel, a 15 year old girl who gets a job at an old people's home in the 1970s because it seems a less exhausting option than becoming a punk or a full-time girlfriend.
Paradise Lodge actually came out last year so I'm cheating a little but the paperback comes out in April and I've been waiting for the paperback so it will sit nicely on the shelf with my copy of Man at the Helm. Nina Stibbe's writing is always sharp and hilarious and I'm really looking forward to reading her voice again.

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill - 20th April

Aurabel takes us back to the world of Laura Dockrill's Lorali. Two years after the events of the first book, we return to Lorali's story but also meet a new mermaid called Aurabel, who has a mechanical tail and a heart set on revenge.
Another sequel, I know, but Laura Dockrill's first book in this series Lorali was such a fun and unique read and I can't wait to read about Aurabel, the steampunk mermaid! If you haven't read Lorali yet I highly recommend it. I promise it is unlike any book you've read before. Unless you happen to have read a lot of books with chapters narrated by the sea.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 30th May

Dimple Shah is not on board with her parents desire to arrange her marriage so she's relieved when they agree to pay for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers because that must mean they respect her wishes on some level. Rishi Patel, on the other hand, is completely on board with his parents arranging his marriage and he happens to be attending the same summer program as the girl his parents want him to marry: Dimple.
When Dimple Met Rishi just sounds like so much fun. It's a story I've never read before and I've already seen some very positive reviews. Plus, and this is purely superficial, I love iced coffee more than I can say and that iced coffee on the front cover of this book looks delicious and I can't wait to read this book with a similar iced coffee in my other hand. I'm so excited.

What books are you looking forward to in spring? Will you be reading any of these? How do you feel about iced coffee? Let me know in the comments!
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The Magician King | Lev Grossman | Review

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Magician King | Lev Grossman | Review


Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the cutting edge of literary fantasy.


Now the kings and queens of a magical land, Quentin and his friends are living it up in Fillory. But Quentin longs for adventure, so when an opportunity to sail to a little island to gather up taxes from the people there arises, Quentin jumps on the ship with Julia and off they sail. From there, his adventure gets a little more extreme than Quentin first thought a tax-collecting trip would go. 

Thrown back to earth by complete accident on a quest to find magical keys, Quentin and Julia have to figure out how to get back to Fillory, and, like the description says, only the magic that Julia learnt on the streets from hedge witches can save them. 

This is yet another great book from Grossman. While the story is a lot more Fillory-based than earth-based, it was really cool to be able to jump into Grossman's creative mind and see how he creates this magical land. The Magicians is told from Quentins perspective, but in The Magician King, Julia has a voice and we learn all about the things she learnt and got up to while Quentin was at school at Brakebills with his friends. 

Side note: If you watch or have watched the TV show, The Magicians, based on this series, you may have noticed that the story of Julia in the show isn't in the first book. It's here in the second that we learn all about Julia, but they have pulled that from The Magician King and popped it in the show. 

The characters from the first book are still present (those that made it through the first book anyway - no spoilers here!), and with the addition of some new faces, this is a fun but at times intense read. If you've read The Magicians, don't stop there. The Magician King is a great sequel, and while I think I enjoyed The Magicians a little more, this second book is still a brilliant read.


Read review of the first in this series, The Magicians, here.

Image from Good Reads. 
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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Features | Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge Update #1

Although I didn't come anywhere close to completing the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge I've decided to take part again this year and thought it might be nice to share regular updates here along the way! These posts will be an overview of the challenge so far, looking at which goals I've managed to cross off the list and sharing book ideas for the various prompts. If you're also taking part in the challenge I'd love to hear which books you're including - get involved in the discussion by leaving your comment below!

A Book That Takes Place Over A Character's Life Span | Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden (1997)

I originally intended to use this book to fulfil the 'a book that's been on your TBR list for way too long' challenge but after reading it I felt it also fit this prompt well. At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to a young girl and across the 400-and-something pages we follow her journey to becoming a Geisha and life beyond - a very interesting read!

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Monday, 6 February 2017

The Waiting Room | Alysha Kaye | Review


Summary:

Nina and Jude are a happily married couple working on building a family. Then Jude gets hit by a truck and wakes up in The Waiting Room. This is the room where all souls go before they get reborn. The average wait time is 5-20 minutes. Jude ends up waiting for over 50 years, waiting for Nina. Next time, it's Nina's turn to pass away first. They are an anomaly in this system that no one fully understands, so Nina decides to start looking for answers every time they're in The Waiting Room.

Review:

I'm the first person to tell you that love stories aren't my thing. I don't even generally like love stories mixed in with my action/adventure/etc. stories. That being said, this book was a nice distraction. It was pleasant to read all the different iterations of their relationship. All the things that were different and all the things the same. We don't get a lot of answers about what The Waiting Room is or how it works. What we do learn, though, is interesting and optimistic. I appreciated that Nina and Jude didn't have a picture perfect relationship. They have their arguments each incarnation and between. This book is a very optimistic perspective on love and death. If you're in the market for a nice distraction with a central love story, I recommend this.


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Friday, 3 February 2017

Features | I Finally Read Jane Austen


I first tried to read Pride and Prejudice when I was about eighteen and I read maybe the first two pages before giving up. I've just never been very good at reading classics. I'm always letting the differences between the English of Jane Austen's day, for example, and the English I speak now get in the way. It's a habit I'm trying to break.

I've always felt a little bit guilty about never having read any of Jane Austen's novels. She was a big part of my English Literature course at university. In the first year we studied Sense and Sensibility. I watched the film, broke the spine on the book to make it look like I had read it, and stayed very quiet during our seminar on it. In the second year we studied Persuasion and I honestly don't even remember how I dealt with that, which probably means I skipped the seminar completely. In our third year we were offered a module just on Jane Austen's novels and when a friend of mine picked it I asked him why he wanted to torture himself like that. I was so wrong. Now I get it.

The biggest revelation I had from finally reading all six of her completed novels is that Jane Austen is funny. No one ever told me that. They told me she was important. They told me her works were classics and that I had to read them for that reason alone. I even heard, in turn, that her books were or weren't romantic. But no one ever told me that she makes jokes like this:
He had, in fact, though his sisters were now doing all they could for him, by calling him 'poor Richard,' been nothing better than a thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name, living or dead.'
No one ever told me that Jane Austen's heroes are kind and sensitive and her heroines are stubborn and eager to please and outspoken and shy and everything under the sun because no two of them are the same at all. They all have their own merits and flaws and they all have their own stories. No one ever told me how great her characters are full stop, honestly. I had no idea how much I would love Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, or Mr. Woodhouse, or Mrs. Jennings, but I do. Every one of them.

If you've never read Jane Austen, don't think of her like I did, as this great writer whose work you have to read just because everyone tells you so. Read her because her characters are complex and her writing is funny and smart. If you, like me, tend to read a lot of YA fiction, read her because it'll give you a relieving break from the insta-love that plagues a lot of otherwise great books. Just don't be afraid of Jane Austen. She's a lot more down to earth than your English teachers might have you believe.
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How You Can Get Involved In February's Group Post!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

How You Can Get Involved In February's Group Post!

Our topic for February's group post is Guilty Pleasure Reads! We'd love to hear about the books you consider guilty pleasures and will be sharing all responses anonymously here on February 18th.

To get involved all you need to do is submit your top choices via the form below!

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