where our team of writers love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.



Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Features | 5 Ways To Step Out Of Your Reading Comfort Zone

Image by Kari Shea on Unsplash

This year I've really enjoyed starting to break away from my usual go-to genres and have discovered some great reads along the way. With the new year fast-approaching many readers will be thinking about setting new reading goals for 2018 and continuing to step out of my reading comfort zone will definitely be one of mine. If stepping out of your reading comfort zone is high on your to-do list for the year ahead here are a few ideas to help you get started...

Ask For A Recommendation

Sometimes bookshops or libraries can be kind of overwhelming if you want to leave the comfort of your favourite section. If you’re shopping with friends or family, why not ask them to pick out something a little different for you? If you’re browsing alone ask a bookseller or librarian, it’s likely they love books just as much as you do and would be happy to share their favourites with you. Many bookshops also have signs highlighting staff-recommended titles on the shelf edges which can be a real help if you're stuck for ideas.

Hit The Charity Shops

Charity shops are a brilliant place to buy books without breaking the bank, plus you’re giving back to charity whilst picking up new reads; it's a win-win! If you want to try out a new genres and authors but aren't sure where to start this is a great way to do it - you never know, you might just stumble across something you love! If you don’t end up enjoying the books you can always donate them back to the charity for someone else to buy and enjoy.

Challenge Yourself

There are lots of online reading challenges you can join in with and share updates on your blog or social media throughout the year like I've been doing here during 2017. If you're not sure where to start I'd recommend having a look at the Popsugar Reading Challenge which has a wide variety of prompts each year, many of which are sure to help you step outside of your comfort zone. Why not download the 2018 challenge list to use as a starting point for your search for new reads?

Sign Up For A Surprise

Subscription boxes are everywhere these days, we’ve even shared several in past editions of our Bookish Links series, although sadly I'm yet to try any out for myself. Book And A Brew send out a monthly mystery hardcover plus a box of tea and Bookishly select a mystery vintage book along with stationery and your choice of tea or coffee. Alternatively try a blind date book from The Book Matchmaker where you have just four words to base your selection on! Again, these come with tea or an alternative hot drink to enjoy whilst you read and are beautifully wrapped making them great gifts too.

Join A Book Club

Book clubs are perfect for discovering titles that you never would have picked out for yourself and it can be really interesting to hear other people's opinions and interpretations. Whether it be a work/school book club, a celebrity one or even our soon to be launched BB book club (hint hint!) they are a great way to step out of that comfort zone and try books you’ve never heard of or wouldn’t normally consider. Why not start with our January book club pick?

What are your top tips for stepping out of your reading comfort zone?
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Monday, 11 December 2017

BB Book Club | January's Book Is...

As we mentioned in our big book club announcement post (catch up here if you missed it!) our theme for the year is Short Stories which can include anything from novellas to poetry collections, flash fiction, novels under 200 pages, graphic novels and short story collections like our first pick; Tales Of The Peculiar by Ransom Riggs.

Before Miss Peregrine gave them a home, the story of peculiars was written in the Tales.

Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. The origins of the first ymbryne. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of the Peculiar—known to hide information about the peculiar world—first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. - Goodreads

Suggested by Ria, this beautifully illustrated short story collection is a spin-off from the popular Miss Peregrine's series. With an intriguing premise that promises unique stories set in a wonderfully mystical world we think this is the perfect title to launch our book club and can't wait to dive in!

tales of the peculiar

Don't worry if you haven't caught up on the rest of the series yet, not all of us have either and this is one of the reasons we think it's a great choice for our first BB Book Club pick! It isn't essential to have read the Miss Peregrine's series in order to enjoy these short stories and we think it's going to be interesting to hear from both those who are familiar with this world and those who aren't.

We would love it if you'd like to join in and read along any time over the next month, then complete this Google form by 19th January to share your opinions with us. You can also use the hashtag #bookshelfbookclub to share your book photos and thoughts with us!

You can pick up a copy of Tales Of The Peculiar over on The Book Depository who ship worldwide.

We'll be introducing February's book selection, chosen by Anjali, at the end of January - so don't worry if our first pick doesn't sound like your thing!
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Friday, 8 December 2017

Features | Even More Holiday Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

The last two years I've shared some holiday gift ideas for book lovers on this blog and as the holidays are all about tradition, I'm here to share some more today! If you've got a book loving friend/relative and no idea what to buy them, I am here to help.

Literary Emporium are particularly great at enamel pins and this year they've started selling some inspired by gothic novels, dystopian novels, and now Shakespeare's heroines. These three are just a few examples of a much wider selection available on their website and I think one of these pins inspired by your loved one's favourite novel would be a gorgeous gift.

You can never go wrong with a beautifully designed copy of someone's favourite book and this collaboration between Vintage Classics and MADE.COM definitely fits the bill. Unfortunately these are the only three novels to have been given the MADE.COM treatment so far but if you know someone who loves any one of these three titles, then I'm sure these gorgeous covers would be a welcome addition to their collection.

If you know someone who A) likes to carry a book with them at all times and/or B) likes to keep those books pristine, a pouch to keep their book safe in their bag might be just the gift they never knew they needed. There are hundreds of book sleeves to choose from on Etsy and around the web, these just being three adorable examples. And, if you're the sewing type, you could even make one yourself!

If dystopian and gothic literature aren't your friend's bag, Fable & Black do a whole host of super cute pins to choose from. Some, such as this Howl's Moving Castle pin are still specific to certain books, but many others, equally as adorable, are more general to all book lovers, and every one would look perfect on a book lover's jacket or backpack.

My last suggestion, and, I think, the most lovely, is a special edition of a favourite children's book. The novels we loved as children often remain the most special to us and I think a beautiful hardback edition of someone's childhood favourite is always going to be a winner. Puffin Classics do a wide range of hardbacks with pretty patterned designs, including this edition of Charlotte's Web and many more besides. If you want something even more special, design house MinaLima and Harper Collins have released a few of these gorgeous interactive, illustrated versions of popular fairytales and stories, each as stunning as this copy of The Beauty and the Beast. And last but not least is the Puffin in Bloom collection, all of which have covers every bit as beautiful as this edition of Heidi.

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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Guest Post | 4 Literary Female Characters That Will Inspire You

You have to agree that 2017 has been the year of Diana a.k.a Wonder Woman. To be honest, I have not been keeping track of the DC /Marvel superhero movie releases over the last couple of years. However, her sword-wielding ways, her smarts and her heart for people definitely got my attention. The movie made me think about other fictional female characters who may not necessarily superpowers but are still outstanding and make us want to become better versions of ourselves. Here are some of my favourites:

Anetka Kaminska | Coal Miner's Bride (Dear America Series) (2000)

As an adult, I have fallen in love with the Dear America series (and its spin-offs) which sheds light on historical events through the everyday lives of early teens. The one book in this series that stuck with me after reading it a few years ago is Anetka's story. Thirteen-year-old Anetka is forced to leave Poland for Pennsylvania, US after being 'sold' as coal miner's bride in exchange for passage to the US. Through her diary entries, we get to know her struggles as an immigrant, a young wife and mother to three girls. I was floored by her resilience and how she was able to deal with her own insecurities in fitting into her new roles and still remain sane.

Anita Hemmings |The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe (2016)

Anita is passionate about going to college and will do everything to make it possible including passing herself as a white person. Being a "high yellow", a black person who so light-skinned that she can be passed off as being Caucasian, she and her brother take the chance to further their education at prestigious schools. However, this janitor’s daughter is in danger of being exposed when finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families in her senior year.
You will enjoy Anita’s journey in her last year of college and she manages to navigate sticky situations with her determination to graduate and have a “normal” life. Set before the turn of the 20th century,  this atmospheric book will make you privy to how people were dealing with the industrial revolution in the backdrop of major issues of the day like slavery and racism.

Ramatoulaye | So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (1979)

Ramatoulaye is a Senegalese schoolteacher who is grappling with the death of her husband and dealing with her co-wife. In this book, she pours her heart in this lengthy letter to her best friend Aissatou, who is now an ambassador in America as a cathartic means.
Through Ramatoulaye, we learn about the challenges that women faced in post-colonial period attempting to have it all. Readers will empathise with her situation and make you appreciate some of the everyday opportunities we have to make a difference but some may still be denied in some other parts of the world. This is one of the books that exemplifies the phrase, 'dynamite comes in small packages'. Originally published in 1979 in French, Ba is able to articulate the women's issues powerfully in this missive form and which is still relevant in 2017.

Rachel | Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh (2017)

Rachel is excited about returning to Kenya in the 1950s after spending most of her teenage years in Britain following the untimely death of her mother. While staying with her grandparents inhibited by their strict rules, she is eager to return to the familiarity of her childhood. When she finally sets foot in Kenya, she soon realised that things are not the same as the Mau Mau freedom fighters threaten the settlers' stay in the Kenyan colony.
Through Rachel's naive eyes, readers will be given glimpses into the relationship dynamics between the Kikuyu people and the settlers in the backdrop of impending independence (unknown to the characters). Her free spirit and courage are seen in the way that she treats the Kikuyu and is constantly concerned for their welfare. But at the same time, she does not shy away from questioning important issues.

This post was written by guest blogger Lillian:

Lillian prides herself in living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world: Kenya, plus owning more books than shoes. She has not met a brooch that she has not liked. She still harbours the dream of ordering vegetarian paella in impeccable Español. You can compare bookshelves on Goodreads or read about her bookish adventures at Kerry’s Blog.
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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Goodbye Days | Jeff Zentner | Review

Sometimes you just know that a book is going to break your heart.

Sometimes you go ahead and read it anyway.

Goodbye Days is that kind of book. The novel starts when Carver is left reeling after the death of his three best friends. A series of deaths that he might have caused. He didn’t mean to of course, but he was texting his friends near to the time of the accident that killed them...

He’s not the only one who thinks he might be guilty either. Some of his friends’ family members certainly do and, worst of all, there might even be a criminal investigation into the accident. How can Carver even begin to heal when he is stuck in that moment over and over again? And then his friend’s grandmother asks him for a goodbye day: a chance to say goodbye to Blake, her grandson with Carver at her side.

If you couldn’t tell from that brief summary, this book is intense. In the best possible way, it breaks your heart over and over again. I was even crying in the car home while I read it (don’t worry I wasn’t driving). But it also pieces it together again with little snippets of loveliness that you will treasure.

Goodbye Days is definitely hard to read in places but it is also utterly beautiful. I would definitely recommend reading it - just keep some tissues on hand!

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Monday, 4 December 2017

Introducing The Blogger's Bookshelf Book Club!

To celebrate five whole years of Blogger's Bookshelf we've decided to embark on a new adventure by starting our very own online book club! We're always looking for new ways to collaborate and share the love of books so a book club seemed like the perfect next step for BB.

We'll be taking it in turns to select the book club reads every month throughout 2018 and to keep things interesting we've also chosen a simple overall theme we'll all have to stick to when we make our selections. The theme we've chosen is 'Short Stories' which may include a wide variety of reads such as novels under 200 pages, novellas, graphic novels, poetry collections and of course, short story collections. We're excited to discover new reads that fit the theme and by keeping the reads nice and short and we hope you'll be able to find a little time to join in too.

Each new book will be introduced in a post by the team member who has selected it, we'll then be inviting you to read it along with us over the following few weeks, with a Google form for you to submit your thoughts for the final roundup. There may also be additional posts inspired by the book club pick throughout the month and updates via our new newsletter (also launching next month) so make sure you're subscribed if you don't want to miss out!

We'll be announcing January's book next week and hope that you'll join us on our new adventure, whether it be every month or a handful of times throughout the year.

Happy reading!

- Team BB
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Friday, 1 December 2017

The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher | Ahn Do-hyun | Review

"The life of the salmon is a predictable one: swimming upstream to the place of its birth to spawn, and then to die."

Translated for the first time from Korean to English, The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher is a sweet fable about life and its meaning, all from the perspective of a silver fish.

As we follow Silver Salmon through his life, we learn, as he does, that he's different from other salmon, that he thinks differently, questions why certain things are done, wonders why a salmon's purpose in life is to swim upriver to the place they were born just to spawn and then die. Surely there's more to life than that?

As Silver Salmon loses his friends, gains others, falls in love, learns about the world, and avoids attacks from eagles and bears, he learns about his past and his ancestors who dared to leap above the rapids and finally make it home.

While it is a fable, a short story written to make you think about its morals and life lessons, it's beautifully written and so on-point with life (human life, that is) that it really does make you pause every so often and really take in what Do-hyun is saying. Filled with stunning illustrations, The Salmon Who Dared to Leap Higher is a wonderful look at what it means to grow up and live this crazy life.

A short book just over 100 pages, this fable is a wonderful wee read that I recommend picking up if you have a spare hour or so.
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