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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.

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NEWSLETTER

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Group Collaboration | Books We Vow To Read In 2018

Every January we join readers across the globe in setting brand new reading goals for the year ahead. As always, we asked you to share some of the books you plan to read over the next twelve months and you sent us lists featuring some amazing reads. We'd like to wish you all the best of luck with your reading goals for 2018 and hope you enjoy your picks!

books we vow to read in 2018 blogbooks we vow to read in 2018 blog books we vow to read in 2018 blog books we vow to read in 2018 blogbooks we vow to read in 2018 blog

Cover images via Goodreads & Amazon

Thank you to this month's contributors: Rachel, Lucy, Erin, Hannah, Ria, Aimee, Sophie, Anjali


If you would like to get involved with BB in future, sign up to our newsletter for updates!

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Friday, 19 January 2018

Love, Hate, & Other Filters | Samira Ahmed | Review


Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York but her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes...

More than anything, Maya wants to go to New York for college to study filmmaking. Her parents want her to stay close to home, study to be a doctor, and meet a nice Indian boy. Maya can't think of anything she wants less. Then she meets Kareem. Maya's mother makes no secret of the fact that she likes Kareem and, in an unfamiliar twist, Maya agrees. She likes Kareem too. But then there's Phil, the boy Maya has had a crush on for years, who maybe has a crush on her too. Maya knows which boy she should want but that isn't always how things work.

But just when Maya starts to figure things out, everything changes. A suicide bomber who shares Maya's last name attacks in a city far away but the shockwaves hit Maya and her family hard in their small town. Maya and her family face horrible prejudice in the name of revenge for something they had no part in and in the wake of someone else's tragedy all Maya's plans and dreams are turned upside down by her parents' fear.

Love, Hate & Other Filters is really a book of two halves. It begins as a high school romance, with Maya trying to make the choice between Kareem, who her parents like and who understands what it is to be an American child of Indian parents, and Phil, who she has known forever and who her parents would never approve of for their daughter. It begins as the story of a girl who sees filmmaking as her life and her passion and whose parents see it as a nice hobby for her to have while she trains to be a doctor. It's a coming of age story, with Maya trying to make her own path and go after the life she wants and the person she wants to be, even against her parents' wishes.

Then the terrorist attack happens and, just as these things do in real life, it completely changes the story out of nowhere. This is no longer a story about a girl trying to choose between two boys, it's now a story about a girl facing abuse for her religion and ethnicity from a boy at school who thinks that she deserves to be prosecuted for the actions of others. It's now about Maya's parents refusing to let her go to New York, not because they don't approve of her passions, but because they fear for her safety. The second half of Love, Hate & Other Filters is a heartbreaking story of prejudice and fear.

The switch between these two halves is sudden and jarring. The reader sees some of the lead up to the attack but it still feels like a shock when it happens, and the fallout that Maya and her parents experience is truly upsetting. Maya's entire life is thrown out of balance because of the reaction of one boy at her school to this attack and it's hard and important to read about. 

It's easy to see that the jarring nature of the switch in tone makes a point about how these things come from nowhere, but at the same time, the message of this story may have been stronger if more time had been dedicated to the events after the attack, rather than spending quite so many pages on Maya's love triangle. It feels like a slightly missed opportunity that she has already pretty much made her choice between the two boys before this huge change happens in her life, although, of course the events after the attack do still have some bearing on the ultimate outcome. Nevertheless this is most definitely a timely novel, which makes some extremely important observations, and I would certainly recommend it.
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Thursday, 18 January 2018

Let Me Introduce Myself... | 5 Favourite Genres


Well hello there! I haven’t done a first post in years, this is kind of weird. I’m Sophie, the newest member of the team, usually writing over at sofilly.com. In case you don’t read my blog, I thought my first post would be the perfect time to introduce myself by sharing some of my favourite books.

I discovered this ‘tag’ of sorts through a tweet from @acaseforbooks and basically the gist is you share not necessarily your favourite all-time books, but the books that would give someone else the exact idea of what sorts of books get you going. So, without further ado, here’s a summary of the kind of books I’m into, and what sort of genres you can expect from my future posts!


Harry Potter and the Nostalgic Childhood

Let’s start out with a biggie that shaped my life and introduced my love of reading. Harry Potter is my all-time favourite book world, while the books may not be my favourite books of all time they still mean so much to me. I call this genre my nostalgic genre, all the books from my childhood and teen years that instantly take me back. The books I could read again and again and quote half the book without even thinking.

See the Harry Potter series, and Lola Rose by Jaqueline Wilson (and the other JW books).


A Court of Fantasy

I’m incredibly picky about the types of fantasy books I enjoy, but finding the first novel to a huge series of fantasy novels is one of my favourite things. I love magic, human/animal beasts, humans with powers, certain non-sparkly vampires, and Greek gods. The books that transport you to another world where your 9-5 job doesn't exist and you don't have any homework to do, the places where everything is possible once you've got past a full on war or two - you know the kinds. The books that allow your imaginations to run wild, who knows what a high fae looks like? It's fun to see what others imagine too.

See the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Percy Jackson, and The Mortal Instruments series.


Awkward Anna and Perfect Life

Young Adult is my favourite genre, and probably still will be for a fair few more years even though most YA books are based on two or three different storylines and are sort of aimed at people younger than myself. You know the ones; the ones all over the internet that everyone is reading and posting on their gorgeous flatlays because the covers are usually rather attractive. I admit I have bought a few of these solely for their covers without really knowing what the story is about. It's because it's YA I know I'll usually 95% of the time really enjoy it.

See Anna and the French Kiss series, Everything Everything, certain John Green novels, and Rainbow Rowell novels.


The Book Historian

Similar to Fantasy, while I love select Historical fiction I'm not a fan of most. I have particular parts of history that I enjoy reading about, not because of the suffering and tragic stories these people went through, but because these timelines interest me the most. These are obvious if you look at the books I enjoy in this category; mostly World War II, with a little of black history (slavery, segregation etc). I enjoy learning about these points in history and while most are fictional tales I'm more likely to take information in if they're fictional stories rather than non-fiction textbooks.

See The Book Thief, The Secret Life of Bees, and Maus.


Under Italian Skies with a Gorgeous Italian

You can usually never go wrong with a cheesy romance novel. It's obvious what's going to happen; introduce a lonely woman (usually in a new job or new place or freshly single), walks in prince charming, they hate each other, they love each other, something bad happens, then they live happily ever after. You know the ones. I can't help but enjoy most of these, usually they're the type of books I grab when I've just finished an intense read, maybe something historic or a long action-filled fantasy. Having a brain-numbing book for your brain to switch off during is sometimes rather useful, it's like watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, you don't really care what's happening but they're entertaining you enough to keep your mind at ease and relax.

See Under Italian Skies, and select Nicholas Sparks novels.


Are you into any of these genres too? Whats your five favourites that describe you, I'd love to get to know you!


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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Even The Darkest Stars | Heather Fawcett | Review

 
One of my favourite things about the FairyLoot boxes is that they introduce me to books that I wouldn’t usually pick up. In this case, they introduced me to a book that I probably wouldn’t pick up and ended up loving.

The book in question?

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett. This is a fast paced adventure story about Kamzin, who has already dreamed of being the Royal Explorer. When the opportunity comes to join an expedition up an untrekable mountain, she is desperate to join. It just so happens that it is nowhere near as simple as she initially thought.

This truly is a great adventure, full of exciting twists and turns. Some of them were a little predictable but there were plenty more to keep me entertained. I particularly used the way Heather Fawcett handled magic in this story. It was truly intriguing. One of my favourite things however had to be the way she wrote dragons. Rather than the epic beasts they usually are in fantasy books, they were more like cute little house pets with chores of their own to do! It was so unusual and I absolutely loved it.

I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance subplot in Even the Darkest Stars but it didn’t take away from the fact that I did enjoy the book as a whole. Some of it bored me a little so I skipped it to get to the good stuff - the expedition itself.

Kelly x
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Thursday, 11 January 2018

Send Us Your Thoughts On Our First BB Book Club Pick!

book club tales of the peculiar

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
We really hope you've been enjoying reading our very first book club selection as much as we have and can't wait to hear your thoughts on the book. This is just a little reminder that you only have a week left to submit your feedback - click here to join in!

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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Power Plates | Gena Hamshaw | Review + Recipe Test

lentil stew with dumplings vegan gluten free

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

Power Plants is a new cookbook from The Full Helping’s Gena Hamshaw featuring 100 recipes that are nutritionally balanced and completely plant-based. Building upon the ideas the author has shared on her blog the book is also packed full with useful information on everything from macronutrients to advance prepping, batch cooking, freezing and even seasonal meal plan ideas.

The overall design of the book is beautiful with soft colours and photos that showcase the delicious nutritionally balanced dishes. I was a little disappointed by the lack of allergen key alongside the recipes, something which I’m used to seeing in the cookbooks I review. Although these can help to identify allergens at a glance, the layout of this book makes it easy to quickly scan the ingredients lists if necessary.

Instead of just sharing my top picks from the book for this review I thought I would try out one of the recipes and share the results with you. I chose the Curried Tomato Stew with Chickpea Dumplings (pictured above) as I’d never cooked anything like this before and loved the idea of making gluten free, vegan dumplings.

The instructions were really easy to follow and unlike with some ‘free from’ cookbooks none of the ingredients were difficult to track down, in fact I already had most of them in my kitchen. The finished stew tasted great and I’ll definitely be making it again in future, as well as attempting to cook more recipes from this book - I’m looking at you Golden Rice Bowls!

Overall I'm really impressed with the design, selection of recipes and amount of information packed into Power Plates. With little added extras such as the meal plans this book is a great introduction to plant-based eating.

powerplates
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Monday, 8 January 2018

How You Can Get Involved With BB This January

This is just a quick reminder that you only have a few days left to send us your responses for our January group post!

It's quick and easy to get involved, all you need to do is tell us the titles and authors of five books you 'vow to read' in 2018 via this Google form (also below). We'll be sharing your lists here on 14th January so we'll need your responses by this Friday.



If you're also joining in with our January book club, don't forget to send us your thoughts by 19th January!

- Team BB


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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Bookish Links #38


1. Writing Goals - if tackling your writing goals is top of your 2018 to-do list this is the post for you. Check out Loretta's top tips to help get you started!

2. 2018 YA Fantasy - this article over on Bustle shares twenty-seven upcoming YA Fantasy releases that are sure to make your 2018 TBR even more exciting!

3. A Christmas Book Haul - we loved Lauren's post about all of the amazing books she received for Christmas. We think Adultolescence in particular sounds like a great read!

4. Brains Over Brawn - if you're looking to read more books featuring awesome female characters check out Bec's list of her five favourites.

5. Bookish Crafts - how amazing is this personalised bookshelf quilt Carys shared over on Twitter?

6. Kick-Start 2018 - over at Daisybutter Michelle shared her six top picks to kick-start your 2018 reading. We love the sound of The Working Women's Handbook and would highly recommend another of her selections; Lauren Graham's Talking As Fast As I Can.

7. Books To Movies - if you can't resist a good book to movie adaptation you'll love Jamie's recent post which lists all of those due for release this year. Which adaptation are you most excited about?

8. Gripping Reads - we enjoyed this post where Anne shared recommendations for some real page turners!

9. More Recommendations - our final link this month is Estee's recent video on the books she read and loved in 2017. Have you read any of these books?

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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Friday, 5 January 2018

Features | New Year, New Reading Goals


Can you believe it's this time of year again already? It feels like only a few weeks ago I was writing about suggested reading goals for 2017 and saying exactly the same thing about how fast 2016 went. Time truly is a flat circle.

Now, on to more important things. Reading goals. Love them or loathe them, most readers have them. From something as simple as 'get through my TBR' to the more specific 'read more classics' or 'read more diversely', we all have some kind of challenge in the backs of our minds to improve our reading in the new year. Personally, I'm hoping to read some of the Brontës' novels this year, keep reading as much of my TBR as I can, and reread some old favourites. Nothing too stressful or demanding. (Hopefully the rest of my year will be the same!)

As for the Goodreads reading challenge, which I became somewhat obsessed with last year, I've set myself the same goal of 52 books again this year, mostly because I surpassed it quite easily last year and my real goal is not to get quite so obsessed with it this time. Wish me luck with that...

The thing about reading goals is that they should be fun. Now matter how challenging or not-so-challenging your goal, the idea should never be to make reading a chore. Remember this year, whatever your goals, that the most important one should always be to enjoy your reading. By all means, read more diversely, try to read more books than you've ever read in one year before, try your absolute hardest to read every unread book you own, but remember that as much fun as it is to challenge yourself, reading a book you really love is usually even more fun.

So, my reading challenge for you this year is to read books you know you're going to love. Read books whose descriptions mention all your favourite things, read books by your favourite authors, re-read books you've read a hundred times before. Enjoy your reading year as much as you possibly can. And throw in one or two other challenges too, because that's probably the best way to find those books that totally surprise you with how much you love them.
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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Release | Patrick Ness | Review


Before I left St Andrews, I got a little spendy in Toppings & Co - otherwise known as the best bookshop ever - and stocked up on some beautiful signed copies. One such book was Release. To be perfectly honest, I picked it up because I fell in love with A Monster Calls. It dug its hooks into my heart so deeply that I knew I wanted to read something else by Patrick Ness. Release seemed as good a place as any to make good on that promise.

Release is a microcosm of a book, with the entire narrative centred around one day. It just so happens that on that one day Adam Thorn’s life begins to change and that some things decide that they can’t stay buried any longer. It’s a day of heartbreak and loss - one that Adam will always remember.

Adam is a brilliantly vivid and likeable character, that you can’t help but root for. I was on his team from the very beginning, until the novel drew to an unwelcome close.

I would have been perfectly happy to continue reading his story far beyond the final page. But I also understand that a big part of the magic of Release is that you feel like you a seeing such a short period of time when everything suddenly gets shaken up. It is a really simple premise but Ness has managed to make something truly wonderful from it. It is obvious that he has complete control of his craft; it takes great skill to pull it off.

It is also brilliantly creative, with a healthy sprinkling of magical realism within it. As you probably know, I do enjoy that and Release was no exception to that rule.

If you're looking for an engaging and utterly lovely novel about the moment your entire life changes (and how on earth you are meant to deal with that),  you should definitely pick up Patrick Ness’ Release and read it.
Kelly x
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Monday, 1 January 2018

Get Involved | Which Books Do You Vow To Read In 2018?

Image via unsplash.com

Happy new year everyone! We hope you've had a lovely holiday season and are as eager to dive into your 2018 TBR piles as we are.

The time has arrived once again to share our reading goals for the year ahead! Every year we ask you to join in selecting five books you vow to read over the next twelve months and we can't wait to hear which books have made your 2018 lists.

It's quick and easy to get involved, all you need to do is tell us the titles and authors of your five picks via this Google form! We'll be sharing your lists here on 14th January so we'll need your responses by the 12th.

For updates on all things BB including how you can get involved in future collaborative posts subscribe to our shiny new mailing list! Don't forget to also send us your thoughts on our January Book Club pick Tales Of The Peculiar by 19th January.
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