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.



Sunday, 20 May 2018

Send Us Your Thoughts On Our May Book Club Pick!

We really hope you're enjoying our May BB book club pick The Skeleton's Holiday and can't wait to hear your thoughts! There's just under a week left to make sure your opinions are featured in our May roundup and infographic - click this link to complete the Google form.

the skeleton's holiday leonora carrington book club

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Friday, 18 May 2018

Of Fire and Stars | Audrey Coulthurst | Review

Of Fire and Stars | Audrey Coulthurst | Review on Blogger's Bookshelf

“Princesses don't play with fire.” 

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.

But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other. - Goodreads

While the prospect of the book was great - a young adult fantasy novel where the princess gets the girl - it fell short for me. The promise of a sweet romance in amongst castles, princes, lords and ladies was the only thing this book delivered for me, unfortunately.

Denna and Mare's budding romance was what held this book together, and I did really like their story line. Mare works with the horses and is forced to teach Denna how to ride. She's pretty stand-off-ish at first (and quick frankly, rude and immature), but as the pages go on, their friendship develops. I enjoyed how their relationship was strained at the beginning, and how it took an appropriate amount of time for them to realise they were something more than friends. Too often YA books are 'hello-I hate you-you did something cute- I love you now' in a matter of pages, but I think that Of Fire and Stars drew it out a little, making it at least a little more realistic.

The fire element that Denna possesses did not feel like a main part of the story to me. A princess with a secret fire ability is definitely intriguing and I'm all over that for a plot line. Unfortunately, I didn't feel as thought it was a major aspect. It even bored me a little. Very little happens in terms of the fire powers.

Speaking of which, very little happens in the entire story. Most of it is spent on horseback, with rumours in the background of various things which may or may not happen, the adults in the story not really worth their weight in salt (that's the saying, right?), and a lack of character development or plot tensions.

I truly wish that I had enjoyed it more than the measly 2 stars I gave it on Goodreads.

I always like to add into my reviews that my opinions of a story should never dissuade you from picking up a novel. Just because Of Fire and Stars wasn't for me, doesn't it mean it won't be your next favourite read. The romance is sweet, the horses are war-ready, the castles are towering, and the fire (when used) is burning. It's not a long read (my copy was around 400 pages), and it's easy to fly through.

Have you read Of Fire and Stars? What were your thoughts? 
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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Leaving | Tara Altebrando | Review

the leaving tara altebrando book review

Eleven years ago a group of six five-year-olds mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Now teenagers, five of the missing children find themselves back in their hometown, reunited with the families they left behind but unable to remember anything about what happened to them.

After so many years have passed most people never expected the kids to return and of course everyone has a different opinion on what happened to them. Dubbed ‘The Leaving’ based on a comment one of the children made to her mother shortly before disappearing, theories range from them being locked in a basement somewhere to being abducted by aliens. Unfortunately, with their memories gone the truth is a little more complicated to uncover.

Taking place over just fifteen days the story follows three main characters, with chapters alternating between their different points of view. We are introduced to Scarlett and Lucas, two of the kids who return from ‘The Leaving’, as well as Avery, the younger sister of Max who is still missing. Although I wasn’t crazy about Avery as a character, I really loved the fact that her point of view was included as part of the story. I found it interesting to hear from someone who remembered the event and to learn more about the huge effect Max’s disappearance had on her childhood. Whilst sometimes multiple points of view can be confusing or sound too similar in this case I felt the three voices were clearly defined. One element that added a distinction was the unique styling choices, particularly in Scarlett’s chapters, with the use of different fonts, unusual spacing and shading which seemed to fit well with the idea of this character’s memory loss.

The Leaving is a quick and addictive read with mystery element that will keep you guessing. I really enjoyed following the small clues dotted throughout as the characters remembered snippets of the past and I was keen to find out what had happened to both Max and the rest of the group. Without giving away any spoilers, I can understand why some readers may be disappointed by the way the story plays out in the end, however I don’t think this takes anything away from how enjoyable the overall journey is.

Cover image via Goodreads

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Friday, 11 May 2018

Features | Bookish Podcasts

Podcasts are the in thing now, right? Who would have guessed seventeen years ago when the first iPod was released that there would soon be so many podcasts on every available topic? Honestly, there are so many to choose from these days that it can get overwhelming! So I'm here to recommend just a few podcasts with a literary twist, for all kinds of book lovers.

Bonnets at Dawn takes an in depth look at the lives and works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, comparing them through research, conversations, and interviews with writers, historians, and various members of the Austen or Brontë fandom world, to determine once and for all who is the queen of English literature. Recently the podcast has also started to expand to include other writers, like Elizabeth Gaskell and Louisa May Alcott, and it's a must listen for anyone interested in female writers of the past.

Book Riot's Hey YA is the podcast for people who want to stay up to date with what's going in the world of young adult literature. Every week hosts Kelly Jensen and Eric Smith discuss YA book news, talk about topics relevant to readers and the industry, and recommend books both old and new. If you're passionate about YA and the topics that often surround it then this is the podcast for you.

In each episode of First Draft with Sarah Enni Sarah talks to writers of young adult and middle grade fiction about their books, their lives, and how they write. If you're a reader of YA or middle grade books then there's a good chance that Sarah has spoken to one of your favourite authors, and if you're interested in finding out about the process behind some of your favourite books, or just in how published writers work, then you'll definitely find something interesting in these conversations.

With each episode of What Page Are You On? hosts Alice Slater and Bethany Rutter pick a literary theme and discuss books they've read and would or would not recommend that fit within that theme.  Like a little book club of two, Bethany and Alice have discussed themes including true crime, books set in the eighties, and ghost stories, and have also recently started a book club for readers to get involved in too.

Witch, Please began as two scholars re-visting each of the Harry Potter books and movies in order to discuss them as literary texts but once they ran out of books and movies the hosts, Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, expanded the series to encompass all that the Wizarding World has to offer, from fan families, to brand loyalty, to book design. Hannah and Marcelle, joined by occasional guest hosts, are here to discuss everything there is to discuss about the world of Harry Potter under a feminist literary lens.
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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Women & Power | Mary Beard | Review

Not many people know that I am a big classics nerd. So much so that my degree is actually in both English and Classical Studies. It's probably why I'm such a big fan of Mary Beard and why I practically begged for a copy of Women & Power for my birthday.

Women & Power is an adaption of lectures that Mary Beard has previously given (oh how I wish I could have been at those!), all wrapped up in a gorgeous new cover. In a little more than 100 pages, Mary Beard discusses the way society treats powerful women, and the alarming parallels with the classical world. A particular focus is that of public speaking, and how the world makes it challenging for women to speak up, especially if what they are saying deviates from the status quo.

Looking back through history and classical literature offered a new lens to view the issues that are prominent in our society. Mary Beard is clearly highly educated and constructs a fantastic argument, though she doesn't lose sight of the fact that not everyone is as versed in classics as she is. Whether or not you know much about the Greco-Roman world, you'll still be able to follow the examples you give. I loved this book so much that I immediately passed it to my friend to read; she's no classicist, but she was just as blown away by it too.

Even though I didn't 100% agree with everything that was said in Women & Power, I did love it. It was such an interesting perspective and a voice that should definitely be listened to. This was a fantastic piece of non-fiction for me!

Kelly x
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Sunday, 6 May 2018

Bookish Links #42

1. Tag! - if you're looking for a bookish tag with some great questions you'll love this one Jenna shared earlier this year.

2. Fictional Travel - in this post Malanie shares ten bookish settings she would love to visit. Which places would make your list?

3. Heart-Melting Reads - if YA is your thing you'll love this list of four YA titles that melted Aycan's heart!

4. Live Or Die-Brary - this episode of The Popcast tackles all things books!

5. Grab A Pen! - we enjoyed Emily's post on annotating her books and how her views on this have changed. Do you ever write in your books?

6. Feminist Reads For All - split into sections for kids, tweens, teens and adults, Amanda has a feminist reading recommendation for every age group.

7. Bookish Home Decor - these book blankets from SweetSequels are the perfect gift for your bibliophile pals!

8. TV To Book - in this post Kirstie reviews a graphic novel based on the characters from Once Upon A Time.

9. How To Read More - it's never too late to catch up on your reading goals for the year! These tips on how to read more may help you hit those 2018 goals.

10. A Spring Clean - if you keep promising yourself you'll clear out some of your book collection but haven't quite managed to action that yet, you might find this post handy.

Links From The BB Archives... John Green Reading Soundtracks | Requiem, Lauren Oliver | Reading Books You Don't Want To Read
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Friday, 4 May 2018

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | Mary Ann Shaffer | Review

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” 

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. 

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. 

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. - Goodreads

After a weekend of reading and finishing the two books I had brought away with me (seriously, Anjali, only two!?), I was in need of another novel to pick up. Thankfully the house I was staying in was just as much a library as my own, and I was soon flicking my way through The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I recognised the title from a movie I had seen the trailer for, and thought it would be another great book to read before I saw the film. And how right I was.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a wonderful story about Juilet, the writer, who makes friends with strangers down in the Channel Islands. The story is told in letters - a format which I don't actually enjoy and the reason I didn't give this book 5 stars - as Juliet corresponds back and forth with the society, as well as her best friend Sophie, her publisher Sidney, and various other people in her life. 

When Juliet goes to Guernsey to meet the people she's only ever written to and to write her book about their society, their relationships grow, fall apart, come back together, and new ones are formed. There's a little more drama alongside the writing of her book, a few more stories to be told, a man to avoid, and a man to find.

While the letter form is not my favourite, Juliet's personality was really apparent in her writing, and I can only imagine she would speak like she writes. I really loved her as a character, and some of her expressions and sentence were gold. Here's a sample:

  • “I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with."

  • “That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” 

  • “Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.” 

The other thing I loved about this book was that it was about books. It was a story-lover, writing a book about people who made a club for reading and talking about books. Brilliant! 

The movie came out in late April, and while I haven't seen it yet, I'm so looking forward to it. It stars Lily James, Matthew Goode and Michiel Huisman, and while the trailer looked a bit different to the book, I hope it's just as good.

Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Seen the movie? 
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Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Features | On May's TBR

book stack may tbr 2018 bloggers bookshelf

Look at me, creating a TBR list for the fourth month in a row... who would have thought it? In addition to our May BB book club title, this month I've picked out five titles to read including library books, a couple of recent purchases and the final book from my 2018 sequels challenge...

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton (2018)

At the top of my TBR for the month ahead is this mystery thriller with a really intriguing setup and some serious Cluedo vibes. The book follows party guest Aiden who is trapped reliving the same day over and over again, each time in a different body or 'host', trying to stop the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle in order to escape the cycle. I actually already started reading this one in April and am really enjoying it so far - bonus points for the inside cover design too!

Thunderhead, Neal Shusterman (2018)

Thunderhead is the sequel to Scythe, a book Anjali and I both loved when we read and reviewed it here on BB earlier this year. Shortly after finishing Scythe I pre-ordered the paperback version of Thunderhead and can't wait to find out what will happen next!

They All Fall Down, Roxanne St Claire (2014)

Although I've not read the best reviews for They All Fall Down, it had been on my TBR list for years so when I saw it was available for just a couple of pounds on Amazon I couldn't resist adding a copy to my basket and hitting the checkout button. It's another book with murder mystery vibes but this time within the YA genre, and looks as thought it should be a pretty quick read.

Illuminae, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (2015) 

Another series I've been meaning to read for a while is the Illuminae files which I've heard nothing but good things about. A huge appeal of this series for me is the format as the story is told through documents such as interviews, emails, medical reports and chat room logs, something I've enjoyed other versions of in titles like Sleeping Giants (Sylvain Neuvel) and Dangerous Girls (Abigail Haas).

Sidekick Returns, Auralee Wallace (2015)

The final book from my 2018 sequels challenge as well as one of the titles on my Kindle list for the year, Sidekick Returns is the sequel to 2014's Sidekick which follows Bremy St James who leaves behind her socialite lifestyle in search of independence and manages to wind up becoming the sidekick to local superhero Dark Ryder.

Which books are on your TBR this month?
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