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, 18 March 2018

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

broadcast liam brown book club
The idea behind MindCast is simple. We insert a small chip into your skull and then every thought, every feeling, every memory is streamed live, twenty-four hours a day. Trust me - within a few months you'll be the most talked about person on the planet. 
After your positive feedback on our short story collection picks we really hope you're also enjoying BB book club's first short novel selection! We can't wait to hear your thoughts, but be sure to send us your feedback ASAP as there's only a week left until we share this month's book club infographic!

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Friday, 16 March 2018

In Search of Us | Ava Dellaira | Review

To seventeen-year-old Angie, who is mixed-race, Marilyn is her hardworking, devoted, white single mother. But Marilyn was once young, too. When Marilyn was seventeen, she fell in love with Angie's father.

In Search of Us tells two parallel stories, of a mother and daughter, and of love and trauma that span generations. The first story follows Angie, a seventeen-year-old, mixed-race girl who has always believed that her father, James, died before she was born. Until she finds out that her mother, Marilyn, lied about James's brother also being dead. With the news that Angie's uncle is still alive and living in LA, Angie doesn't know if she can believe what Marilyn tells her anymore, so she enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend, Sam, to drive her to LA so she can find out the truth about her family, and possibly find the father she never got to meet.

The second story follows Angie's mother, Marilyn, before she was Angie's mother, when she was seventeen, and her own mother, so determined for Marilyn to succeed, moved the two of them in with Marilyn's uncle in LA. All Marilyn wants is to get out of LA and leave her acting career and her alcoholic uncle behind. Until she becomes friends with the boy who lives in the apartment below her uncle's, James, Angie's dad. Marilyn falls in love, not only with James, but with his whole family, who make her feel at home in a way her own family never has, and over one summer Marilyn falls in love and begins to set out and choose her own path.

In alternate chapters we see Angie desperately search for the uncle who might lead her to the father she no longer believes is dead, and learn why Marilyn kept the summer she spent with James a secret from her daughter. Both girls are searching for different things. Angie, for a father who she can talk to about her African-American heritage in a way she can't with Marilyn and who can alleviate the difficulties she faces as the black daughter of a white woman. Marilyn, simply for an escape from her controlling mother, trying to live her dreams through her daughter at Marilyn's expense, and her volatile uncle who tries to forbid her from seeing James.

Angie and Marilyn's stories are both full of longing and desperation, one looking to get away from a family and the other looking to find one. Although the two stories are different, they weave together to eventually reveal the truth of what happened to James, and for both girls to learn what they need to carry on. The writing is vivid and beautiful, bringing to life both the LA setting and the characters' emotions in a way that is easy to get lost in. Personally, I thought James and Marilyn's love story was the most engrossing of the two, but neither story can really exist without the other, just as Marilyn and Angie would not exist as they are without each other. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about the things we unwittingly pass down through generations, and I highly recommend it.
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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | Benjamin Alire Sáenz | Review

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz flatlay

I have so many mixed feelings about this book. It was one of those books that you take forever to get into, to the point where I almost put it down and stopped reading for good. But then once you get past a certain chapter it's super enjoyable and really easy to fly through, where I practically took 2 weeks to read the first half and a few hours to read the second half.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

I did, however, really enjoy how it was laid out in mini-chapters, some being only a page or two long. This may have added to the fact that it was easy to put down as I usually like to finish a chapter before putting it down but with small chapters I could read like 5 pages a night and which meant it took forever to get through it. 

The problem I now have with YA, being an almost 24-year-old, is that it's been a while since I was 15 years old and sometimes it takes a while for me to connect with the characters this age. Does anyone feel the same way? That being said, once I'd connected with my wee 15-year-old self, I really enjoyed the characters of Ari and Dante, I related so much to some of the loneliness and the fear of being needy. The story didn't have one major plot, but instead lots of mini storylines that all got tied up in the end (sort of like a happily ever after, but not really) so the story followed how the two boys developed. Their friendship, their relationship with their families, their coming of age and learning about themselves. I won't go into too much detail as it will spoil the book, and we don't want that, so I'll just leave you with this; if you feel like you're not enjoying it - push through! Also, the wee doggie, legs, is wonderful! 

Have you read this? What did you think?

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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Extinction Trials | S. M Wilson | Review

Stormchaser and Lincoln are doing what they can to forge a life in a ruined world. There is not enough food, not enough space, not enough time... When a new competition to explore an uninhabitable continent is announced, the two jump at the chance. For Lincoln, the potential prizes could answer his prayers. For Stormchaser, the trip might just answer her questions. Before that, they will have no choice but to face unimaginable dangers in a land where nothing is certain.

With a plot like that, it is probably of no surprise to you that The Extinction Trials is fast paced and exciting. It is truly an adventure tale, and one that had me wanting to bite my nails in excitement.

I know that a lot of people have been comparing this to Jurassic Park and loving it as a result but since I've never seen that (I know!), I can't comment on it. However, I did love the inclusion of the dinosaurs, as it made for a really unique YA novel for me. It was like The Hunger Games, but with higher stakes and more chances of being ripped apart or squished. S.M Wilson didn't shy away from putting their characters in real, palatable danger, which meant that I was utterly hooked by the novel from the moment Stormchaser and Lincoln began their journey to the new continent until I finally turned the final page.

This is a brutal and heartwarming book, in all of the best ways. Like many pieces of dystopian fiction, it really questions what happens when a society is running out of options. I'm certainly excited to see what will happen in the upcoming sequel...

Kelly x
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Monday, 12 March 2018

Scythe | Neal Shusterman | Discussion

scythe neal shusterman review blogger's bookshelf
Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. - Goodreads 

First things first, what made you decide to pick up Scythe?

Anjali: I’ve only read Unwind by Neal Shusterman, but when I saw this book was coming out I knew I really wanted to read it. The themes and the ideas in the story really interested me, and it did not fail to live up the hype I had read around it either.

Erin: If you've read our Meet The Team bios you may already know that Neal Shusterman's Unwind series is one of my all-time favourites (I've also enjoyed a couple of his other books too!). I love his writing style and enjoy that he often tackles topics and themes that really make the reader think. The blurb for Scythe was super intriguing with a unique utopian concept so I automatically added it to my TBR.

Were there any characters you wanted to get to know better or that you hope to learn more about in the sequel?

Anjali: While we did get a little bit of Scythe Faraday’s story towards the end of the book, I’d like to know more about his past. I’d also be super keen to read about another junior Scythe who is a little older than Citra and Rowan, and what their experiences were like, looking back a few years on.

Erin: The character I found the most interesting was Scythe Faraday and in the sequel I would love to hear more about his story as well as Scythe Curie's. In the first book we learn that they are both well-known scythes and have been alive for a very long time so I think they must have a lot of fascinating stories to tell. If we don't get to explore their past lives further in Thunderhead, I think they could possibly make great companion novellas to the series.

Hypothetically, if this were to happen in real life, do you think the Scythedom would be a feasible solution?

Anjali: Stepping back from the story, and just looking at the idea of conquering death and how you’d deal with that as a society, hypothetically, I don’t think there would be a solution, feasible or not.

Even if rules or regulations like the Scythedom (people being selected for death to avoid overpopulation), or stopping people having kids, or capping the amount of times that people can ‘turn the corner’ to go back to a younger age, there would always be problems. Someone would get upset, someone would want to change the system, someone would think they could do it better. Humans, as great as we might think we are, are flawed. We’re incredible, complex beings, but we are flawed. Our birth and death are the bookends of our life, and without the stopper of death at the end of the shelf all the books fall off and create a big mess. Such would it be with ‘conquering’ death; a big mess, unlikely to have any real solutions.

Erin: The simple answer to this question is no. There are so many reasons - including some of those that Anjali has shared her thoughts on - why a Scythedom wouldn't work as a solution. I can't really ever see an idea like this being successful but as with any basis for a utopian world, even if there was a chance the concept worked for a length of time it certainly wouldn't be a feasible long-term solution.

Do you have a favourite quote from the book?

Anjali: There were many fantastic quotes throughout Scythe, but this is up there in the top 5:

“Hope in the shadow of fear is the world's most powerful motivator.”

Erin: If I had been able to get my highlighters on this book the pages would have been full of colour, but sadly I didn't think the library would appreciate my annotation! I also forgot to keep track of any quotes that stood out as I read because I was enjoying the book so much. I think I'll have to add a copy to my collection and re-read it, highlighters in hand, in the future.

Any final thoughts on Scythe?

Anjali: I loved this book. A lot. Few books I’ve read these days have really got me thinking, and, if my answer to question 3 is anything to go by (and I did chop it down to this paragraph!), Scythe really did. There were so many hints and nods to things in real life throughout the book, and of course, the whole concept of ‘conquering’ death that made me stop and think multiple times throughout the story. I really also enjoy Shusterman’s storytelling, and the characters he creates. Really looking forward to picking up Thunderhead. Would definitely recommend. 5 stars.

Erin: I found the whole concept of Scythe so interesting and thought-provoking which made the novel such an enjoyable read. Seeing how varied the scythes attitudes towards their job were was a particularly interesting aspect and I felt the diary entry snippets included throughout were a great addition to the story. Similarly to Anjali, I also rated the book five stars and can't wait to read the sequel!

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Friday, 9 March 2018

The Cruel Prince | Holly Black | Review

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black - Blogger's Bookshelf Book review
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. - Goodreads

I tried to write a synopsis of The Cruel Prince but I found myself unable to quite put into words the number of things that are going on in this story, and the detail in which Black so beautifully writes the world it's set in.

What I can say is that I loved this book. Holly Black, as Victoria Aveyard rightly puts on the back cover, truly is the Faerie Queen. The plot of  flows so wonderfully and I never found myself feeling bored or distracted away from the story. 

Jude, as a protagonist, was brilliant, and I really enjoyed her character, her fire, and her resilience. It was nice reading a character who had siblings who were still very much involved with the story, rather than being an MC who was a lonely orphan or who had one sibling with whom they were estranged (not that those books aren't good in their own way, just that it was a nice change from what I had been reading previously). The Princes in the story - of whom there were many - were all cruel in their own ways, and so I did spend a lot of the book trying to figure out if it was Cardan that the title was referring to, or if it was literally everyone. I'll let you decide. 

The land of Elfhame where our story takes place was stunning. Obviously I haven't been there (oh to step into a fictional world), but the map in the front of the book was so creatively drawn and you could really put together the descriptions of the land with the places on the maps. Boy, do I love a good book map. 

Somehow Holly Black pulls you into her worlds with poetic and captivating prose and sharp dialogue that entertains, catches your breath, and I love everything about it. My friend asked me once if I read every single world when I'm reading a book. I don't actually think I do (it's more that my eyes go over a sentence, pick out the main words to the get the main point and move on to the next one - I have yet to test my theory and wouldn't know where to start. Any ideas?), but I found myself reading all the words, all of the time with The Cruel Prince. If you've read any of Black's other books, then you might know what I mean. 

On Goodreads I've given 5/5 stars, it was that good. If you're into your Young Adult or fairytales, then do head down to your local bookshop, library or pop onto Book Depository to grab yourself a copy. 

Have you read The Cruel Prince? What did you think? 

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