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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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Guest Review | The Angel's Game | Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Guest Review | The Angel's Game | Carlos Ruiz Zafon

5196764
✯✯✯✯ 

'The Angel's Game' is a difficult book to review. So many of the important parts which shaped my view happened near the end. Let's start at the beginning...

David Martín starts off impoverished, living in a grotty 'pensión' in Barcelona. His late father's friend, Pedro Vidal, knows that Martín wants to be a writer, so he uses his connections to get his young friend a job writing the fiction pages of the newspaper, 'The Voice of Industry'. After some modest success, the editor of the paper allows Martín to write a regular serial, giving him the confidence he sorely needs to progress into the world of authorship. We see Martín go on to write books in a series for a publishing house that completely rips him off, but under a pseudonym. Working all day and all night, our protagonist works himself almost to death and manages to amass a fair amount of money - enough to leave his dire dwelling and move into an abandoned house - the Tower house he calls it. He always walked past it as a child and somehow always knew he would live there. Everyone says the place is haunted, but that does not deter Martín, and only spurs him on to write more fervently about the imagined crimes of the streets of Barcelona.

Pedro Vidal stays in touch with our young writer, giving him the encouragement he needs. Meanwhile, Martín falls in love with Vidal's chauffeur's daughter, Cristina. However, Pedro Vidal has already told him that she can't stand his work and thinks he's throwing his life away. It is a confusing, emotional time for Martín, when he is suddenly contacted by a French publisher by the name of Andreas Corelli, offering to help him in his career.

From then on, strange things start to happen. I would class this novel as a mystery of sorts. The house has strange smells, strange feelings and atmospheres. When Martín is told something awful will happen to him which will stop him writing like a madman, he is made an offer by Corelli which he cannot refuse. One might say he sells his soul... Strange things happen in the house, but also to his friends and acquaintances. Soon Martín finds himself on a trail of what happened to the man who wrote a novel in his Tower house, on the typewriter left behind. The man is Diego Marlasca, and Martín's investigations into Marlasca are unnerving (not to mention the fact that they share the same initials), and crises seem to befall everyone Martín talks to about Marlasca.

 I enjoyed the parts of the book which mentioned the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This book is actually number 2 in the series of that same name, even though the appearance of the Cemetery in this novel is brief, and relates very little to the story. It is not necessary at all to have read the first book, but the Cemetery is a nice little touch for readers of 'The Shadow of the Wind'. Honestly, this novel kept me gripped from the very start. I know that sounds clichéd, but it is true. We are drawn into Martín's intense and emotional life, which we can feel is quickly spiralling and wasting away before his eyes, whilst being terribly exciting. Martín is our narrator, which gives the story an urgency that we must follow. His life seems ideal, typing away on his typewriter in his grand house, strolling the streets of Barcelona and visiting his friends. Then when strange things start happening and coincidences follow him, the novel gets really interesting. Martín can't help himself but to find out what really happened to Marlasca, the author who wrote a book in the Tower house, even though he can see he is destroying himself in the progress.

I did find some of the characters in Martín's life somewhat one-dimensional, but on the whole, I completely enjoyed the journey we travel with him. I was on the cusp of giving the book five stars, but settled for four because of the 'twist' at the end. It skewed what had been my feeling about the book up until the last hundred pages or so. I felt like I had been tricked - of course, our narrator feels that way too - but somehow it seemed too twisty, too mind-boggling and sometimes downright confusing. It is unfortunate that the ending let down the novel Zafón created - it was more unsettling than satisfying, and there are many questions left unanswered.

 Even so, I would not say this is a bad book - I do immensely enjoy Zafón's writing style. He writes beautifully (even though I know it is a translation) and knows exactly how to write a book about books. It seems to set the reader's passion for books on fire. I also thought that Martín as a protagonist is likeable and seems like he will go far, which helps us to believe in his vision for the future.

This review was written by guest blogger Jemma
Image via goodreads.com
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2014 Reading Challenge | Final Update

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 Reading Challenge | Final Update

goals 2014 final

We can't believe it's that time of year again already but today it's time to share our final challenge update of the year! Here's how some of the team got on with their personal reading goals in 2014...


Anjali... 49/45 books read, 2/5 books vowed to read 
I feel like this year I didn't read as many amazing books as last year. I think I only gave a couple of 5 stars. Having said that, I did read way more books than I planned to...but only 2 books that I vowed to read! Eek! I read The Elite by Kiera Cass, and also The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which were on my 'vow to read' list. I enjoyed both of them, but they weren't my favourites this year. I really loved Dorothy Must Die, by Danielle Paige, and also Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, though, and I read quite a few books provided by NetGalley, some of which were good, some of which I wouldn't suggest. But one of the great books was Sidekick, by Auralee Wallace. Very cool.


Ria... 24/50 books read, 3/5 books vowed to read 
Oh dear, well I didn't do very well on the 50 book target, though I put part of this down to now working full time without commute time to read. This did mean I was more selective of the books I read, which was a good thing as most of them I actually really enjoyed. Out of the 5 books I've vowed to read Attachments and Say Her Name have been my favourites unsurprising as I love both Rainbow Rowell and James Dawson as authors. My sentiments on On The Road are well documented on the blog and and I've been really struggling with Norwegian Wood. If anything, this year of reading has brought to light what I really enjoy reading and what can be left on my TBR pile!


Erin... 83/52 books read, 4/5 books vowed to read 
Thanks to the addition of over 20 craft titles and other short reads I managed to read extra books again this year however just like last year I failed to find time for any re-reads so I'll be making more of an effort to fit some of these in during 2015. I also only managed to read four out of the five books I vowed to read this year but have The Night Circus sitting on my bedside table so perhaps I will pick it up soon! I actually quite enjoyed all of the four that I did read but my favourites were Ten & Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.


Alison... 21/20 books read, 4/5 books vowed to read 
Woo! I did it! I didn’t expect to have made my target but I’m really happy that I did. I’m really pleased I’ve finally read Catcher in the Rye (even if I didn’t love it) so that I can tick it off the ‘must-read’ list. The one book I didn’t read on my vowed list, The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, will definitely be getting read next year – it’ll be my January read. I went through stages of reading loads – i.e. during holidays, to months where I didn’t read at all. Still, I’m proud of having read 21 as it’s more than last year. I’m feeling motivated and I hope that I’ll be able to increase my reading even more next year.


Cat... 30/25 books read, 3/5 books vowed to read 
I have read three of my five vowed to read books from the start of the year (Chaos Walking trilogy, Cruel Summer and Ketchup Clouds), for the past few months I have been stuck on Any Human Heart by William Boyd, it took me quite a long time to get into it (surprised I didn't give up really) but I am now really enjoying it. My favourite reads of this year would definately have to be Cruel Summer, Say Her Name (both James Dawson), and Ten (Gretchen McNeil), these were all ones I couldn't put down!

Don't forget to check back next month when we'll be sharing our 2015 goals!
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Landline | Rainbow Rowell | Reviewed by Ria

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Landline | Rainbow Rowell | Reviewed by Ria

*image via GoodReads

Georgie McCool is at a crossroads. Two days before she’s due to fly out to Omaha with her two daughters and her husband Neal, she gets her final shot to really hit the big leagues in her television writing career. But this means her staying in L.A. over Christmas and Neal packing up the kids and leaving her all alone.

The night Neal and the girls leave, she discovers the old yellow rotary phone in her childhood bedroom somehow allow her to communicate with Neal from the past.

Suddenly she’s faced with the ultimate dilemma. Try to fix her marriage before it goes into meltdown or try and stop Neal from ever marrying her in the first place.

What’s my verdict?


First things first, in the words of Rainbow Rowell ‘It’s a magic phone get over’. Once you’re past this one little plot point you can work your way into this wonderful little book. What drives the plot (and is weaved in with the supernatural/Notebook-esque magical phone element) is Georgie’s dilemma on whether to change the course of her’s and Neal’s life before they even go on this journey. And like all of Rowell’s novels this means placing the entire focus on the nature of human relationships.

Landline, as a novel, showcases the highs and lows of a couple in love right from the moment Georgie and Neal meet, to the first sparks of their relationship, to their marriage and happy ending honeymoon period. But unlike a lot of contemporary romance novels we get to see past this initial period of bliss and into the slightly uglier side of the post-honeymoon slump. Rowell manages to capture every bitter details and euphoric high of their love not only through the conversations between Georgie and past-Neal but Georgie’s inner monologue.

I could find myself getting frustrated at Neal seemingly unbounded patience when dealing with Georgie’s selfish-ness and constant let downs. Georgie herself is also a deeply flawed character, but what I really liked was her self-awareness of that fact.

And it’s not just Georgie and Neal’s relationship on display, we also see how Georgie interacts with the rest of her family and her close writing partner/best friend, Seth. The dynamic between herself, Neal and Seth are particularly interesting, and I’m grateful Rowell didn’t take it down what I though would be a very typical Hollywood route of an affair.

What I really liked the most about Landline was that it played out like a rom-com movie, complete with Georgie and Neal’s version of a happy ending. Though I did find the actual phone conversations less engaging than the flashbacks, all in all the plot and seeing this more realistic side of married life was really great. And the best bit about reading this at this time of year is that it’s set during the week leading up to Christmas, making it a perfect festive read!


Soundtrack
Starts With Goodbye: Carrie Underwood; I Wouldn’t Mind: He Is We; Not Over You: Gavin Degraw; How Long Will I Love You: Ellie Goulding; Tenerife Sea: Ed Sheeran; Always Starting Over: Idina Menzel; This Love: Taylor Swift

For lovers of…Attachments (Rainbow Rowell), The Time Traveller's Wife, and Nicholas Sparks.

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
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The Secret Diary Of Lizzie Bennet | Bernie Su & Kate Rorick | Reviewed by Erin

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Secret Diary Of Lizzie Bennet | Bernie Su & Kate Rorick | Reviewed by Erin

the secret diary of lizzie bennet

For those who may have missed it The Lizzie Bennet Diaries webseries is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride & Prejudice which sees main character Elizabeth Bennet as an ambitious 24 year old in 2012, studying mass communications. As part of her thesis Lizzie decides to start making videos, sharing snippets of her life online with the help of best friend and filmmaker Charlotte. In this modern day version of events we meet Lizzie’s sisters hard-working fashionista Jane and party girl Lydia, as well as a whole host of others from the original novel brought up to date for a new audience.

The Secret Diary Of Lizzie Bennet is an extension of the adaptation and as the title suggests the book is set out in a diary format with dated entries from Lizzie reflecting the events also shared in the webseries. Although covering the same time period as the videos the diary gives an extra insight into Lizzie’s life, including details that weren’t shown in the vlogs… and yes, one of those is the full version of Darcy’s famous letter.

Personally I loved Lizzie’s character in the webseries (portrayed by Ashley Clements) and the same voice really shines through into the book. This coupled with the extra little snippets and closer look at Lizzie’s thoughts made the book a very enjoyable read that fans of the webseries will love.

The Secret Diary Of Lizzie Bennet would be a brilliant last-minute Christmas gift for fans of The Lizzie Bennet Diaires or even perhaps those that adore the original Jane Austen novel. 

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here
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Group Collaboration | Our Favourite Reads Of 2014

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Group Collaboration | Our Favourite Reads Of 2014

Welcome to our final group collaboration of 2014, once again we're each sharing our top 5 reads of the year! Hopefully you'll find some new titles to add to your TBR lists for 2015 but don't forget to leave a comment and let us know which books would make your top 5 for this year!

2014 sophia
2014 anjali
2014 cat
2014 jemma
2014 jennie
2014 erin
2014 ria
2014 alison

Thanks to this month's contributors: Jemma, Anjali, Sophia, Jennie, Cat, Alison, Erin, Ria

All book cover images via goodreads.com
 
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Next month we'll be talking reading goals for 2015. To get involved send an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com
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The Rosie Effect | Graeme Simsion | Reviewed by Ria

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Rosie Effect | Graeme Simsion | Reviewed by Ria

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, Image via Goodreads 

Almost a year after the events of The Rosie Project, we find Dr Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman now happily married, living in New York in their small (but adequately sized) apartment, whilst Don has taken on the role as a visiting professor at Columbia University and Rosie studies for her MD qualification. Everything in their marriage so far has been smooth sailing - standardised meal system and part-time cocktail making and all - until Rosie drops the unexpected bombshell that she’s pregnant.

In typical Don fashion there’s only one way to handle such an unexpected turn of events in his life…turn Rosie’s pregnancy into a nine-month project to prepare for the oncoming child that he will inevitably have to help to raise.

What’s my verdict?

Writing a sequel to the highly popular, The Rosie Project, was always going to be a tough feat. Throwing poor Don the pregnancy wildcard on paper should ensure plenty of laughs and an interesting spin to the character but I just couldn’t find the spark that I had whilst reading the first novel. Though the plot line itself was humorous enough, I couldn’t find myself getting on with Don as much as I did with the first book. Where his inept and overly-logical nature was endearing in The Rosie Project, in this story Don’s mishaps are more cringe-worthy than adorable. Whether deliberate or not, Simsion seemed to wrestle with making Don more human and sticking true to his analytical mind and because of this the mishaps he got into seemed much more unreasonable and easily avoidable.

The other characters, however, did add a colourful spin to the book. Where Rosie was the only person with real interaction with Don in the first book, in contract she is very noticeably absent for a lot of the sequel. In her place we do have a much broader range of the couple’s friends from New York, not to mention a familiar face in Gene (one Don’s only friends from the original novel who has exhausted his wife’s patience and unceremoniously moved in with Don and Rosie). Gene adds an interesting dynamic to the couple’s lives, though his character traits from the first book are much more likeable in the sequel.

The ending did make up for much of what the main narrative lacked. The comedic and ridiculous twist, coupled with Rosie’s more assertive presence and a much more classic version of Don’s bumbling nature, made for a really heart-warming wrap up to the book.

Soundtrack:
New York City: Among Savages; Flaws & Ceilings: Frank Hamilton; For You: Joe Brooks; Baby Mine: Bette Midler; Be Okay: Oh Honey

For lovers of…The Rosie Project, The Big Bang Theory and Forest Gump.

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
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Horrorstör | Grady Hendrix | Reviewed by Erin

Monday, 8 December 2014

Horrorstör | Grady Hendrix | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley
horrostor grady hendrix
“Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.” - Source

Described brilliantly on Goodreads as a ‘traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting’ the book follows a group of Orsk employees led by Amy who is unhappy in her job and dislikes her colleague Basil. When she is called in to his office alongside fellow employee Ruth Anne Amy believes she is about to be fired but instead Basil asks them to work an extra shift. That night once the store has closed the three will team up to investigate the odd things that have been happening there. The story takes a spooky supernatural turn once night falls over Orsk and the group, joined by two more employees on a ghost hunt, find themselves trapped… but not alone.

I wouldn’t want to give away any more information about the mysterious story itself however I do want to talk about the clever design – the element that initially drew me in. Intended to look like a catalogue for the fictional store Orsk this brilliant design reflects the story’s ‘knock off version of IKEA’ setting perfectly. Starting out with simple product illustrations of bookshelves, sofas and everything you’d expect to find in an IKEA catalogue, as the story progresses and becomes more sinister so do the design elements of the book. After wanting to get my hands on this book for months I was kindly sent a digital copy for review however I also picked up the paperback version to compare. In all honesty I would recommend reading the paperback if possible as you really get the chance to experience how the design element and story work together.

This creepy tale was both intriguing and clever as well as an enjoyable quick read and would make a great addition to any coffee table – although one that might confuse your guests! If you’re a fan of classic haunted house horrors this refreshing twist on the genre will be right up your street!

horrostor grady hendrix
horrostor grady hendrix

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Your Favourite Reads Of 2014!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Your Favourite Reads Of 2014!

Later this month we'll be sharing our favourite reads of the year and we'd love to hear about yours too! If you'd like to be involved in our December group post all you need to do is leave us a comment or send an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com with a list of your top 5 reads of the year.

We're looking forward to hearing all of your recommendations!
- Team BB
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Grace's Guide | Grace Helbig | Reviewed by Erin

Monday, 24 November 2014

Grace's Guide | Grace Helbig | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, image via goodreads.com
grace's guide

"Face it—being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life…but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that’s perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult." - Source

With sections covering everything you need to know to ‘pretend’ to be a grown up, from advice for jobs and interviews to relationships, cooking and even home décor, Grace’s Guide is a great coffee table book that fans of her YouTube channel ‘It’s Grace’ will adore.

Grace uses her personal experiences to shape the book with many anecdotes, childhood photographs as well as ‘Mom’s words of wisdom’ along the way. The book even includes a short foreword penned by Grace’s brother Tim. Alongside these are lists of tips and advice, handily made into some very unique acronyms to help readers remember them. There’s also an interactive element with fun worksheets to fill out if you wish!

For the most part the tone of the book is conversational and light-hearted, similar to that of Grace’s videos, with her personality shining through into the way she writes. The design is also fun with colourful photographs illustrating the topics of each section and a simple, easy to read layout.

With it’s sense of humour and honesty Grace’s Guide would make a great Christmas gift for any fan of this popular YouTube comedian.

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here
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Group Collaboration | Missing The Hype!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Group Collaboration | Missing The Hype!

We all know those books. The ones that every single person you encounter is banging on at you to read and tell you they're incredible, but when you do well...you just don't get it.

For this month's post our blogger's sound off about hyped up books!

Nov group post Sophia Nov group post Jemma Nov group post Erin & Catherine Nov group post Emma Nov group post Anjali & Ria

Don't forget to leave a comment and let us know which your thoughts on overhyped books!

Thanks to this month's contributors: Jemma, Anjali, Sophia, Emma, Cat, Erin, and Ria

All book cover images via goodreads.com
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Next month we're wrapping up the year and want to know your Top 5 Reads for 2014! To get involved send an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com
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Friday, 21 November 2014

Requiem | Lauren Oliver | Reviewed by Anjali



As I was double checking our Review List here on BB to make sure no one had reviewed this before, I saw that Ria had reviewed the two previous books in this series, Delirium, and Pandemonium. I feel like I'm intruding a little bit, but Ria, you can always jump in and tell us what you thought about Requiem, too! You can read Ria's reviews here: Delirium || Pandemonium

Requiem, by Lauren Oliver, is the third and final instalment of the Delirium trilogy. Don't worry, there won't be any spoilers in this review, though if I think something might be potentially spoiler-ish, I will warn you. Requiem follows on from the events in Pandemonium. Lena is still fighting for survival in the Wilds, joining with other groups of rebellious 'Invalids', avoiding Regulators from the cities, and generally trying to keep her feelings for certain boys in check. Along side Raven, Tack, and the other 'invalids', Lena is still searching for freedom, a way to fight back, to take control of their own lives again. Meanwhile, inside the city of Portland, Lena's ex-best friend, Hana, is engaged to be married to the soon-to-be-mayor. While she has been cured of the Deliria, Hana knows that something is not right with her fiancée. She begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his previous wife, Cassandra, and what she finds is more horrifying than she could imagine.

The second book in this series, Pandemonium, was written in alternating chapters between 'then' and 'now', though it was all from Lena's perspective. I found this quite jarring at times and a tad annoying to read. Requiem is also told in alternating chapters, however it's done from both Lena's perspective - as she struggles and fights in the Wild - and Hana's perspective - as she prepares for her wedding day inside the city. I really really liked this about Requiem. Throughout the first two stories, one of the main things I was always thinking was 'I want to read more about Hana'. It really nice to be able to hear her voice and to see how her story and Lena's lined up a long side each other.

Erin mentioned in her Good Reads review of this book that the story felt more like a middle book in a series, rather than the last. And I couldn't agree more. I actually found it a little bit hard to get into this book, but I think the chapters on Hana made me keep going. I found it got exciting towards the end, but at the same time it felt like it was all suddenly happening, and things were getting done, and there was progress... and then...it was the end. And the end! Ugh. I won't say much in case I spoil something, but I didn't really like the end much. I was left with way too many questions, and thought it needed at least another chapter.

Having said that, I did like this series, and I really like Oliver's writing style. It's really well done and suits the story and the characters brilliantly. I would like to read the 'point 5' stories from this series too. There's one on Anabell (Delirium 0.5), Hana (Delirium 1.5), Raven (Delirium 2.5), and Alex (Delirium 3.5). If you haven't read this series, but enjoy the dystopian/the-government-is-out-to-get-you type books, give this series a go.


This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from Good Reads.  

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Guest Review | Clariel | Garth Nix

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Guest Review | Clariel | Garth Nix

Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen
Image via goodreads.com

My rating: 4/5
'Clariel' is the fourth book in the 'Old Kingdom' series by Garth Nix. For a long time, it was just a trilogy, with the third book being published in 2003. I am so glad that Garth Nix decided to bring back this fantastic world of magic and bloodlines.

This novel is set in the Old Kingdom, home of the Abhorsen, protector of the living from the dead, the King, and the Clayr or seers. The bloodlines of all three are important to keep the kingdom whole. The Charter - the magical force from which Charter Mages can pluck their spells - depends on these three bloodlines and the great Charter Stones, to keep the corruptive creatures of Free Magic away from the people. The city of Belisaere, where our story mostly takes place, is an important hub containing the royal palace and Charter Stones, as well as a bustling harbour.

We follow Clariel, daughter of the High Goldsmith Jaciel and her consort Harven, a lesser goldsmith who deals with the administration of Jaciel's business in the forge. The family relocates to Belisaere from the town of Estwael, next to the Great Forest. Clariel is stricken to be torn from her familiar surroundings, as the forest was her greatest comfort. She has never felt love or compassion from her mother or father particularly, Jaciel being too strong and Harven too weak to engage with. She would often go to see her aunt Lemmin who lived near the forest, and steal off to stalk the woods with the Borderers - the guardians of the forest. She learned a lot about hunting and self-sufficiency that her parents have no idea about.

Being thrust into the pompous, high-society in Belisaere is a nightmare for Clariel, who only wants to escape and make her life in the Great Forest. She is determined that she does not need a lady's maid or a guard, does not need to go to a finishing school or be treated like royalty just because of her mother's expert skills in Goldsmithing. She even has to go and visit the king and present a 'kin gift', as he and Clariel are distant cousins, which is a baffling task. Even Charter Magic is frowned upon in Belisaere, as a menial task meant for servants, and the important people must cover up their Charter mark (a forehead birthmark connecting them to the Charter, if they have magic blood) with a special face paint.

Clariel meets a Charter mage, Kargrin, who vows to teach her the basics of Charter magic, which she neglected to learn. He also agrees to help her to escape the city and return to the forest with money and a disguise to aid her on her journey. However, Clariel's plan is thwarted by Kilp, governor of the city, and his smug son Aronzo. Kilp's desire for power grows unrestricted now that the King has taken a back seat in the running of the city. Clariel's world is thrown into complete disarray by an unspeakable tragedy, and she has no idea who to turn to. Everyone wants her to do "what's best for her", and all Clariel wants to do is run away and live in the forest.

I found this book gripping in a gentle way. It was probably not until the second half of the book that I became involved in finding out what would happen. I guess the first half is important for establishing the city and what is going on behind the scenes. The plot took such an unexpected twist for me, and while I couldn't always agree with what was going on, it was an excellent adventure and I knew why it had to happen that way.

I do regret the fact that I cannot remember the other books in the series - 'Sabriel', 'Lirael' and 'Abhorsen'. I would definitely recommend reading those in the proper order before attempting to read 'Clariel', to give some background knowledge of the world it is based in. I must admit that it may have been easier if I could remember the events of the previous three books. I should have dug them out and read them before starting Clariel, possibly, but it didn't occur to me at the time.

This review was written by guest blogger Jemma
1 comment

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Being A Book Blogger | Interview With Christina from Passion Obsession

Welcome to our latest Being A Book Blogger post, today featuring the lovely Christina, the girl behind book & lifestyle blog Passion Obsession. Here's what she had to say about NaNoWriMo, must-reads and exciting 2015 releases...

Christina Bookshelf

BB: For any of our readers who aren’t already subscribed to Passion Obsession could you tell us a little bit about yourself & the blog?

I’m Christina, a lover of scented candles, baked Camembert and (obviously) books. I’m a huge TV fanatic – loving everything from Vampire Diaries to Criminal Minds. I love the idea of having projects to work on, so I started Passion Obsession in 2011 with the hope of sharing my thoughts on everything I love. This quickly became mostly book-related and will hopefully develop into a YouTube channel in the near future!

BB: Where does your love of literature come from and what made you want to share reviews online?

My love of literature stemmed from a very creative childhood surrounded by bibliophiles, in particular my brother, James, who would read anything and everything. As a child, I read an average amount which then seemed to taper out as I hit my teenage years and developed a love for the Internet and sites like Habbo Hotel instead (oh how I loved Habbo.) It’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve become obsessed with reading & literature again and I can see it being a passion that continues for the rest of my life.

BB: We're always looking for new books to read, could you give us 5 books you'd recommend to everyone?

This is a tough one! I have plenty of books that I love but narrowing them down to five I would recommend to anyone is difficult!
My first would be The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It is a wonderful coming-of-age story that can be read at any age.
Secondly, Random by Tom Leveen is another one I believe everyone should read. This book made me think about depression and it provoked a lot of emotion in me. Not enough people know about this book and it’s a shame.
Another one that resonated with me for months after reading was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It makes you think about how a little thing could negatively affect somebodies life and if enough of these little things collect, it could result in a huge catastrophic thing.
Black Box by Cassia Leo is another lesser-known book that I feel everybody should read. A lovely little romance that left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Finally (and kind of a cheat), I recommend everybody read Wonder by R J Palacio. I’m only a third of the way through this book but already I can tell it’s going to be one of my favourites that I think everyone should read.


Passion Obsession | September Book Haul

BB: We're now approaching the end of 2014, are there any 2015 releases you're really looking forward to? 

2014 has been a great year for new releases, but 2015 looks even better. Some of my most anticipated releases are: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver. It sounds incredible and she is an auto-buy for me, I love her style! Another great one is Sarah J Maas’s new release A Court of Thorns and Roses, which comes out in March and I couldn’t be more excited to start her new series!

BB: You recently blogged about taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. How did you decide what genre/type of story you wanted to create?

Yes! I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year and I’m so excited. If I’m being totally honest, my genre isn’t totally set in stone. I’m doing the technique of just writing straight from my head with very little planning – something I’m not sure will work but seems to have worked for me in the past so I’m going with it! My idea just stemmed from some of my past experiences and things I would have liked to have happened – sort of like my dream scenario mixed with aspects of my actual life, but with a supernatural/paranormal twist.

BB: If you could pick two fictional characters from different books/series to come together in a new book who would you want to see team up & what sort of story would it be?

Oh this is a great question! I’m going to stick with a contemporary theme and say Anna from Anna and the French Kiss and Cath from Fangirl. I think they’d be great friends! Anna loves movies and Cath loves fanfic – it could be a great combination!

BB: Who is your 'book crush'?

I’m not really sure I have a single book crush. I love Four but that seems like a clichéd answer. Levi from FanGirl is also adorable. Oh, actually Dean from Ignite by Lily Paradis is a big crush of mine. He’s so hot.

BB: Finally, which other book blogs would you recommend our readers go subscribe to? (after yours of course!)

I have so many book blogs I follow and would recommend! Bloggers Bookshelf, of course. A Perfection Called Books, Bound by Words and Delicious Reads are also great!

Where To Find Christina Online:
Blog - Passion Obsession
Twitter - @Christinax92x
Instagram - @Christinax92
Goodreads - Christinax92

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I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Christina for taking part in this interview.
If you are a booktuber or book blogger and would like to be featured in a similar post we'd love to hear from you - just email us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com for information!

Interview & post by Erin | Images c/o Christina
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The Body Electric | Beth Revis | Reviewed by Ria

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Body Electric | Beth Revis | Reviewed by Ria

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*Review copy c/o Netgalley, Image via Goodreads 

In a utopian society, where an uneasy peace seems to have been achieved thanks to a unified global government, Ella Shepherd is just another citizen of the capital of this peaceful society, New Venice.

With her mother destined to live - and eventually die - of an incurable disease, Ella decides to give her a lasting gift using her mother’s own invention - the Reverie. The Reverie allows users to enter into their dreams and relive their fondest memories and Ella’s going to help guide her mother into one.

Through this little experiment, Ella finds out she has a talent for entering people’s minds and dreams, and is soon enlisted by the Government to help them spy on a rebel group who seem keen to stir up the status quo. But Ella find herself in trouble. The leader of the group, Jack, claims they were once in love and that she’s fighting for the wrong side.

Either Jack is lying. Or someone’s altered Ella’s memories.

Caught in between secretive Governments, and the tales Jack is spinning about her ‘former life’, Ella becomes the unfortunate key which could help or hinder peace.

What’s my verdict?
This was my first foray into Beth Revis’ work and I have to say, I’m really impressed. The Body Electric is a novel set within the confines of utopian genre with the twist switching the focus on the the use of android and cyber-cell technology to enhance human life. It’s a refreshing take on the genre and reminds me a lot of Total Recall - according to Revis’ the Reveries in the story are directly influenced by the Rekall in the movies.

One thing I really loved was Ella and Jack’s relationship dynamics and their story arch. Their storyline always felt well balanced as Ella worked around the fact that she couldn’t remember who Jack was, yet there was none of the tragic love affair that other dystopian novels like Delirium or Under The Never Sky often focus so heavily on. If anything the blurb is misleading as the Ella/Jack storyline probably takes up on about 25% of the novel compared to the drama and action packed scenes of trying to the solve the mystery of Ella’s missing memories. It’s also a plot I feel like I can’t reveal too much - it’s really satisfying predicting the ending of the novel!

The world Revis has created is also fantastically rich, without it feeling unreachable. Placing the Mediterranean and Venice and at the heart of the story is works really well and only emphasises the conflict between new ideas and old values - something which Revis has cleverly linked with the first historical Renaissance. It’s also really great to read about a utopian society set outside of the stereotypical western USA setting.

For me, The Body Electric was a fresh new dystopian with a great twist to it and if you're already a fan of Revis' work then you'll definitely love it!

Soundtrack
Me The Machine: Imogen Heap; This Love: Taylor Swift; Echoes: Klaxons; All I Want: Kodaline; New Divide: Linkin Park; Song Of Forgetting: Next To Normal OBC; Take Back The City: Snow Patrol;

For lovers of...Divergent, Total Recall, and iRobot

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.

*image (c) Ria Cagampang
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Air Plants: The Curious World Of Tillandsias | Zenaida Sengo | Reviewed by Erin

Monday, 10 November 2014

Air Plants: The Curious World Of Tillandsias | Zenaida Sengo | Reviewed by Erin

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, image via Goodreads

air plants

Whilst not my usual type of review book this one caught my eye having recently been expanding my collection of succulents and cacti. Air Plants is all about both caring for and beautifully displaying these amazing plants.

The book starts out with background information on the plants followed by care tips and instructions, then moves onto display and how they can be used in home décor and other projects.

Although all of the care information is very useful to have my favourite part of the book as a crafter just has to be the amazing display ideas including DIY wreaths, gift wrap and even ways to wear air plants as jewellery and hairpieces. There are also unique terrariums upcycled from old laboratory flasks and a simple yet striking display of plants along a staircase amongst others. Some of the display ideas come complete with detailed step-by-step tutorials allowing readers to recreate them at home.

Within the inspirational pages of Air Plants are some amazing ideas paired with beautiful photographs and lots of handy care information – a perfect coffee table book for lovers of these unique plants!

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here

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Friday, 7 November 2014

Tiger Lily | Jodi Lynn Anderson | Reviewed by Anjali


I have to admit that I had never heard of this book, or the author actually, before I found it in a bargain bin earlier in the year. The description grabbed me, and sounded like a cool spin on the Peter Pan story we all know and love, but it was really the cover that made it stand out from all the others. I know, I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover. But just look at it! It’s beautiful!

Tiger Lily is the story behind the story. We read and watch the story of Peter Pan and Wendy, and the Lost Boys as they adventure from England to Neverland, fly over clouds, avoid pirates and meet Tiger Lily and her tribe. And that’s all very well and good, and we all love it, but what about Tiger Lily? What’s her story? Jodi Lynn Anderson has created a wonderful story to fill in that gap.

Tiger Lily is actually told in first person by Tinker Bell, who watches Tiger Lily and her life. Tink watches Tiger Lily as she lives in her village with her adoptive father, Tik Tok, and her friend Pine Sap. She watches as Tiger Lily helps an Englishman who gets stranded, wounded and ill on Neverland. She watches Tiger Lily be forced to marry a repulsive boy in the tribe. She watches the pirates, and the mermaids, and the Lost Boys. But she also watches her as she meets Peter Pan. She watches the girl with the feather in her hair fall in love with the wild boy from Neverland.

Because it was written from Tinker Bell’s perspective, it was a really interesting read. Parts were written in first person, and then there were parts where you almost forgot that it was Tinker Bell telling you the story, because it was in third person as she told of Tiger Lily and her adventures. Not only was this book a great addition to the story of Peter Pan, it was a story of forbidden love, of family dynamics, of cultural differences, of peer pressure, of bullying, of being yourself,  of heart breaks and sorrow,  and even deeper issues like betrayal, and death.

If you’re a fan of Peter Pan and his story, grab a copy of Tiger Lily and read her side of it. Anderson has really captured Neverland in its fullness, and put a spin on the original tale. While there were the original elements throughout it – Captain Hook, the clock-eating crocodile, Wendy showing up – there were many more bits and pieces thrown in and it was really cool to see more of Neverland and it's people, rather than just Peter and Wendy’s story. Although it shows 3 stars up there, it's more of a 3.5.


This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from Good Reads.  


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Guest Post | Five Must Read Romances

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Guest Post | Five Must Read Romances

As an avid reader I do have a slight problem when it comes to choosing books sometimes and that is that I love LOVE. Now, hear me out, I know you're thinking that the romance novel/erotic saga genres couldn't be more popular at this moment and you're right. But here's my issue, I love love but really dislike 'chick lit'. That's not to say I despise every book in this genre (You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane and the obvious Bridget 'Queen' Jones are just a few exceptions) but the genre on the whole does nothing really for me. However, I read pretty much everything else: classics, YA, fantasy, you name it, I've read at least one book in that group and luckily love is such an universal experience that it pretty much crops up everywhere. So if like me, you love a good romance but want something else from your read, perhaps a younger feel or a historical context then I've put together a list of five of my favourite romances from many different types of books. The sole thing they have in common is that the relationships in these novels have been gripping and exciting but have also appeared in novels that offer a little something more to get your teeth into.

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1) Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Yeah, I know, the cliche choice. I really tried not to include them, but I just feel that there aren't many love stories more perfect than this so I don't care, Darcy and Elizabeth are here! Pride and Prejudice is so quintessentially British, the beautiful setting, the old fashioned society rules (can you imagine not being able to go to parties until your sisters got married?!) and the quick wit by the fabulous Jane Austen all make this the perfect read. However, it is the central relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy that make this novel something else, utterly romantic and a joy to me to read every time. Lizzie is the kind of woman we all want to be, and in her time she was very unique. Headstrong, intelligent and quick witted, it would take a special kind of man to match her fire, challenge her and make her a better person. Enter Darcy. This relationship is special to me because of what we can learn from it. Being a Taurus through and through I can make the mistake of judging people and I have learnt that the beauty of life and love is that people can surprise you and that first impressions are not always just or fair. The wonderful way we see these walls between the two crumble is perfect and I think this is one of the most developed relationships I have ever read. They understand each other, they grow for each other, and excite each other, and all this in front of the beautiful British backdrop, sweeping dresses and brooding men galore? There's a reason these two feature of every list of great literary romances. This is what love should be - an understanding and love of who a person really is, and not just a misjudgement of who you think they are.

2) Callum & Sephy
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

“I pulled him closer to me, wrapping my arms around him, kissing him just as desperately as he was kissing me. Like if we could just love long enough and hard enough and deep enough, then the world outside would never, could never hurt us.”

When I was about 15 (so like 8 years ago?!) every girl and their dog was reading (and crying and crying) over the 'totally perfect love' that was Callum and Sephy from Noughts and Crosses. This was my first foray into the YA genre before it was really a thing. For those of you who haven't read this book (which you should go and do now, although read this post pretty please, and then go!) basically it's a Romeo and Juliet-esque story between a black girl and a white boy, only there's a catch. In the book, black people are the dominant race (Crosses) whereas the white people are nothing, the 'noughts'. Callum and Sephy have known each other practically since birth due to his mum working for her family. They grow up together and watching their friendship develop and seeing the pair have to deal with their young feelings is truly romantic and exciting. I feel like these two define build up. However, as the characters grow so does the racial hatred around them, its influence on their lives and thus their relationship. Their fight to keep their pure, innocent, first love alive in such a cynical and dangerous world is truly inspiring and thrilling to read. It completely reaffirmed to me that love knows no colour, no race and that true love is so rare it should be cherished and celebrated wherever we find it. I cry every time I read this but don't let that put you off, it is beautiful and this book showed me what kind of man I wanted in my life and I'm so glad I waited for my Callum (insert some rolling eyes/faking vomit GIF as appropriate!)

3) Rhett & Scarlett
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

“Well, my dear, take heart. Some day, I will kiss you and you will like it. But not now, so I beg you not to be too impatient.”

Another extremely famous pairing and yet for me, quite a controversial one. When I include this in my 'great' literary romances I can't help but be reminded by Ollivander's quote (yes, HP references are always relevant) about Voldemort doing 'terrible but great things'. You see, when I first read GWTW, not only did it completely take over my life right in the middle of the final year uni exams (not the best timing) but it really made me sit down and think. This couple, the famous kiss, the whole novel has been presented to us as true love and yet...Scarlett, whilst being extremely inspirational in her strength and her survival in a truly difficult time is actually, kind of a selfish person. She makes Blair Waldorf look like Mother Theresa. And Rhett, well, let's just say it all gets a bit twisted in a way that makes Chuck and Blair look as sweet and innocent as a Disney couple. Now I do not condone these kinds of unhealthy, manipulative relationships whatsoever. However, purely taking this relationship as part of a PIECE OF FICTION, ie not a benchmark to compare healthy, real relationships to, this story is a rollercoaster like no other. The two characters clearly cannot resist each other and the context of their courtship makes this relationship is truly engrossing to read and to witness develop. An unputdownable book that includes a romance that will certainly give you many (different) FEELS and is widely seen as one of the best pieces of historical fiction ever written. For that last reason alone you should read this book!

4) Rosie & Don
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

“I haven’t changed my mind. That’s the point! I want to spend my life with you even though it’s totally irrational. And you have short earlobes. Socially and genetically there’s no reason for me to be attracted to you. The only logical conclusion is that I must be in love with you.”

Now into the modern era. I've tried to include lots of different types of genres with lots of different types of relationships and I feel no book or couple have come close to being this unique in a while. 'The Rosie Project' has been displayed in bookshops everywhere for months so I'm sure you're aware at least that it is book with a lobster on the front cover for some unknown reason (all becomes clear I promise). The story follows Don, a geneticist with Asperger's syndrome (although he isn't too aware of this himself) as he tries to find the perfect wife. He approaches the task as clinically as he does everything in his life, with questionnaires, non-negotiables and a extremely specific and inflexible idea of his perfect woman. Now I know we all imagine the perfect spouse but I would argue that this is definitely on another level! Through certain twists of fate Rosie and Don meet and basically she turns his rigid, structured, routined life completely upside down with lots of fun (and hilarious) turns along the way! This book is truly touching, funny and quirky and so many other wonderful adjectives. Their relationship is the true example of how there really is someone for everyone and how it that someone might be nothing like you imagined. If you haven't read this book, seriously do, please. It's perfectly romantic without being cliche chick lit, I deny even the coldest of hearts not to be moved by their story. Not only this, the sequel 'The Rosie Effect' has just been released!

5) Peeta & Katniss 
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (BOOK SPOILER ALERT ahead)

"You love me, real or not real?"

"Real."

Now, this is YA romance (and love triangles!) in the more fantastical genre done absolutely right! Stephenie Meyer please take note. For me it was always Peeta and Katniss so the fact that this Peeta-Katniss-Gale story is seen as a love triangle actually surprised me a little, think the movies have something to answer for there, even though I think they are fantastic. For me the story was always about Katniss allowing herself to open up to her feelings and realise that Peeta was exactly the person she needed. This is not a woman torn between two men for lust reasons, she chooses Peeta because he complements her in every way, the water to her fire, the communication to her silence. I loved how the relationship developed and yet was not a focal feature of the novel (to me anyway, others might feel differently!) The lengths they go to for each other and the sacrifices they make for each other is a perfect example of actions speaking louder than words. As a reader seeing Katniss show her love in so many ways before really understanding it or defining it herself is moving, real and makes for a very special read. I think this relationship hinges on the strength of Katniss as a character. She is not a silly girl following her fancies and stringing people along, she is tough and it is the realisation that she can allow herself to have love and that she deserves it that makes their relationship such a wonderful read.

So, do any of you have any favourite literary couples? Who else should I have included? Any recommendations for a good, romantic read? I'd love to hear them all!

This post was written by guest blogger Sophia - @sophiacristina
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Blogger's Bookshelf In Numbers | Celebrating 2 Years Of Blogging!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Blogger's Bookshelf In Numbers | Celebrating 2 Years Of Blogging!


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PS Don't forget to enter our 2nd Birthday Giveaway
You only have one week left to enter!!
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Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #21

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #21

Review Round Up #21 Another quick-fire review round up! Check out all the posts you've missed below...
If you're still craving your Halloween themed blog fix, Erin listed off her 'top 10 reads for Halloween'.

Our blogger's also shared which nightmarish world they would hate to be dropped into in our 'Scariest Fictional Worlds' group collaboration!

Plus, Blogger's Bookshelf turned 2 years old last Sunday! And to celebrate we're holding a little birthday giveaway with a bundle of literary themed prizes you could be in with a chance to snap up :) get your entries in quick though, you've only got a week left to enter!!

Also don't forget to get your entries into November's group post. Next month we're getting critical and sharing our thoughts on Overhyped Books! Air your grievances and vent about which book - unpopular opinion - you're just not that into.

Drop us an email, tweet us or post to our GoodReads page by November 19th th to have your answer included in the post!

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Watched | CJ Lyons | Reviewed by Ria

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Watched | CJ Lyons | Reviewed by Ria

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, Image via Goodreads 

In the dark underworld of the Internet, King rules over a domain of cyber-smashing. Using incriminating photos and videos, gained via hacking into computers and phones, King uses these to blackmail vulnerable individuals into doing his bidding involving even more sadistic acts of humiliation for his other ‘clients’.

Jesse is just one victim of King’s twisted game and has so far succumb to King’s demands in order to keep his mother and sister safe. On the brink of desperation Jesse finds hope in a manila envelope, a phone number, and a promise of help.

On the other end of the phone number is Miranda. A young girl who also fell victim to King and lives in the shadows of the humiliation he caused her and her family. One by one she’s managed to track down King’s other victims and prays for the moment when one will finally have the courage to ring the number and answer her message.

Jesse is the first to take the risk, and together they plot to take down King and dethrone him as king of the cyber-smashers, no matter what the cost.

What’s my verdict?


Dark, twisted and harrowing read, Watched takes on very uncomfortable subject matter which is sadly rife in the real world. The plot itself can feel too real at times and is all the more difficult to read in light of the recent iCloud hack and the growing numbers of cases of sexual abuse in the public eye.
Though Miranda and Jesse’s situations are elevated and heightened their emotions and experiences are far too close to reality. 'Watched' showcases two very different depictions of the reality of PTSD. For Jesse, the reeling effects of abuse have him block out any memory of the incident as he channels his energy into revenge and anger. Miranda's coping mechanisms with her past come in the form of her Agrophobia, mental illness and suicide attempts. Though the effect of the trauma they faced is the obvious focus, it's their hope and belief in each other and their drive to keep their families safe that really pushes the plot forward. Often this genre discredits victims as powerless but our two protagonists are already strong willed and as a reader you root for them from the get-go.

Lyons also addresses issues of police misconduct and the difficulties faced by victims with the legal system when prosecuting those at fault. As expressed in the epilogue and following notes from the author, though Amanda and Jesse's stories are wrapped up and resolved, in reality for many victims of abuse and cybercrime their stories never end.

Due to the subject matter, I would err on the side of caution of recommending this read. The topics discussed and even hinted at can be particularly triggering for sexual abuse and emotional manipulation. I do, however, believe this kind of story is incredibly important to read, especially in our hyper connected environment, and it does preach an important message that a victim is never at fault in these situations.

For lovers of…'Looking for JJ', ‘Speak’ and The Butterfly Effect

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to now her here
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Guest Post | 10 Reads For Halloween

Monday, 27 October 2014

Guest Post | 10 Reads For Halloween

halloween reads

Since Halloween is fast approaching today I thought I would share ten somewhat 'scary' titles I'd recommend picking up as last minute reads for the remainder of October. If you have any suggestions that you would add to the list don't forget to leave them in the comments below!

1/ Ten, Gretchen McNeil | read my review
2/ The 100 Society, Carla Spradberry - | read my review
3/ I Know What You Did Last Summer, Lois Duncan | read my review
4/ Cruel Summer, James Dawson | read Kath's review
5/ Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay | read my review
6/ Say Her Name, James Dawson | read Ria's review
7/ The Name Of The Star, Maureen Johnson | read Ria's review
8/ The Savages, Matt Whyman | read my mini review
9/ The Hole, Guy Burt - | read my review
10/ Witch Hunt, Tabitha Morrow | read my review

Have you read any of these books?

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here
Image font: Bloody
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Blogger's Bookshelf Turns Two! PLUS Birthday Giveaway!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blogger's Bookshelf Turns Two! PLUS Birthday Giveaway!

Hasn't time flown? It only feels like yesterday that Blogger's Bookshelf celebrated it's first birthday and now 12 months down the line and we're celebrating year TWO! It's been quite the journey and we're glad to keep up the momentum thanks you guys, the readers - of which there are over 400 of you on BlogLovin' (WHAT?!?) As always Erin and I are so appreciative of this little community, our wonderful team of regular bloggers and guest posters for choosing to spend your time reading and commenting in our little corner of the Internet.
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2nd-birthday-giveaway-YALC

And to celebrate two years of hard graft and as a little thank you to everyone who's been in involved in the blog, whether you've been here since the beginning or just started reading yesterday, we have a little literary bundle to giveaway.

Amongst the prizes are goodies from the first ever London Young Adult Literary Festival, including a 'Fangirl' notebook, 'Geek Girl' badges, 'TFIOS' movie bookmarks and a Hunger Games wristband. We also have two literary inspired prizes available from Sawyer & Scout, including a Polyjuice necklace and Hunger Games notebook, as well as a 'Don't Judge A Book By It's Movie' fridge magnet from Strand Books in NYC. The lovely Erin has also created an adorable 'bookworm' bracelet, exclusive, only to Blogger's Bookshelf!

To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win the bundle of prizes. The giveaway is open Internationally and you have until the 9th November 2014 to get your entries in!

Good luck and once again, thank you for your continued support the past two years!

Erin & Ria :)

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Group Collaboration | Scariest Fictional Worlds

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Group Collaboration | Scariest Fictional Worlds

Last October we talked about Our Favourite Villians and this year we're continuing on with the Halloween theme and discussing what we believe to be the scariest fictional worlds! Here's the lowdown of the places team BB would hate to find themselves...

october cat october anjali october kat october erin ria

Don't forget to leave a comment and let us know which world you would choose!

Thanks to this month's contributors: Anjali, Kat, Cat, Erin, Ria
All book cover images via goodreads.com
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Next month we'll be talking about popular books that we just didn't enjoy! If you've been disappointed by a hyped up book or series we'd love to hear from you.

To get involved send an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com
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Neverwhere | Neil Gaiman | BBC Radio 4 | Dramatised Audio Book | Reviewed by Anjali

Friday, 24 October 2014

Neverwhere | Neil Gaiman | BBC Radio 4 | Dramatised Audio Book | Reviewed by Anjali


A few weeks ago, while I was doing a mindless task at work, listening to my iPod, it dawned on me that I could be ‘reading’ while I was working. Of course, I don’t mean reading reading, but listening to audio books. While scrolling through some of the options on the Audible website, I came across Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. It was one of the BBC Radio 4’s dramatisation series, and it was a book that I have been meaning to read.

One of the main things that caught my eye when picking this book to add to my ever growing audio-book collection was the cast. The main character, Richard, is voiced by James McAvoy, and the other characters are voiced by Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Head, and Christopher Lee, to name just a few. All those awesome people (and more!) in one radio series? Ah, yes please! It was so much fun, listening to these actor’s without seeing their faces. I know that sounds weird, but it’s amazing how you can recognise someone (even without knowing it’s them) without seeing their faces. Voices like Christopher Lee and, of course, Benedict Cumberbatch are so easily recognised.

Although I didn't know the story (I’m still going to read the book one day), it was so easy to follow along, and though you couldn't see anything, the sound effects were brilliant, and such that the scenes were easily brought to life in the mind’s eye. Because it was an adaptation, I’m not sure if all the book and it’s events/scenes were in the radio series (I’m assuming not), so it’ll be interesting to read Neverwhere and compare the two.

It was a great way to a) pass the time at work while doing jobs that don’t use any brain power, and b) be ‘reading’ while working. I don’t think that these dramatized versions of books will count towards my Good Reads goal in the year, but I think if I listened to a book that was simply being read, word for word (as opposed to actors being the characters, and it being an adaptation of a book), then I think that that would count. I wonder if there are Good Reads Challenge rules…

Anyway! If you’re not into audio books, but want to get into them (they’d be great for commuting to work in the car, or on the bus, or train etc), then I suggest starting with a dramatised version. It’s a bit more exciting that just one person reading the book aloud. Neverwhere was only 3 hours and 48 minutes long, but that included about half an hour of extra features at the end (bloopers and alternative scenes). Because this one was a radio series, it’s broken up into 6 parts. The first is an hour long, the rest are half hours. Definitely have a listen!


This review was written by regular reviewer Anjali, get to know her here
Image from here. 
2 comments
Guest Review | Veronika Decides To Die | Paulo Coelho

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Guest Review | Veronika Decides To Die | Paulo Coelho

veronica decides to die

My rating: ✯✯✯✯

This was my first Coelho novel, and I also have a copy of 'The Alchemist' tucked away somewhere. Even though the book is translated from the Portuguese, I thought that the author's writing style was powerful.

The plot follows Veronika, who decides to commit suicide. She is twenty-four, and believes that she has experienced everything she could experience. She feels that getting married, falling in love, having children and growing old are just forms of repetition of a life she would rather not prolong. Veronika hates the idea of repeating the mundane moments of life. This poor girl has never felt that she had much of a purpose or passion in life. She went to university and then came home to work in the library. She does not have aspirations to carry her along. Between taking the overdose of sleeping pills and losing consciousness, Veronika meditates on how this will affect her parents. They have loved her fully, given her everything she could ask for, and truly the best start in life. However, after living alone for six years, Veronika decides that she has experienced enough and it has nothing to do with love. The only way she relates her suicide to her parents is to make sure she dies in a way that they won't have to identify a disgusting, disfigured corpse.

Veronika's plan does not go ahead as she hopes - she does not die, but wakes up in a hospital for mentally ill patients. She is told that the overdose of sleeping pills has damaged her heart irreparably and that she only has about five days to live. The doctors give her injections, telling her that they will try to reverse the damage done to her heart, but that really she should prepare to live out her final days.

This is a rather philosophical novel, as one would expect from the fact that Veronika almost dies but has a second chance of sorts. We meet some oddballs in the mental hospital, Villette. There are even a group called "The Fraternity" who are not really mad, just eccentric, but their families have enough money to keep them in the hospital. They prefer the hospital to their homes because people are allowed to do or say what they like - after all, they're "crazy".

The characters in the novel go through awareness of death, and awareness of life. Veronika's predicament causes other patients to question whether they are happy to stay consumed by their madness, or whether they want to fight to be well - to live their lives. Veronika herself does plenty of soul-searching, trying to decide whether there is a god, or what happens after we die. She realises that every hour of every day is full of choices, of how to live and how to use our existence. The book also makes the reader think a lot about the lives of the "sane" and "normal" in society. One of the patients tells Veronika a story about a king who makes all his subjects go mad to assert his power over them, but because he is different to the majority they stop listening and rebel against him. In order to right the situation, the king must make himself mad, and then his people respect him again. The novel tries to tell us that "normal" is only what the majority do. It is not the best way or the tried-and-tested way, it is just what everybody decided to do. Thanks to other patients, Veronika also realises that she has definitely not experienced everything possible, and opens up her mind to new ideas.

This is a very intense, fairly emotional book. I am not really affected by these types of things, but the parts about Veronika's heart attacks were close to home for me and made me feel slightly uncomfortable. However, I did not want to stop reading - if anything, I could empathise with Veronika more. It is very interesting, but sad, to see how the other patients think of Veronika in her doomed state. I don't want people to think that this is a grotesque book about the struggles of dying - it is not grotesque. It is an appreciation of life and what it has to offer, and a meditation on how people live through their existence. It causes inward-seeking questions about whether we are living how we want to, whether we really grasp hold of what life has to offer, and why more of us don't follow our vocation. I think that the word "Decides" in the title holds some significance too - it is all about choices.

This review was written by guest blogger Jemma
Image via goodreads.com
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Guest Review | The Humans | Matt Haig

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Guest Review | The Humans | Matt Haig

the humans

Professor Andrew Martin is not quite himself. In fact, Professor Andrew Martin is dead and has been body-snatched by an advanced alien species. Sinister, you’ll agree. But it’s all in the name of the Greater Good. You see, the advanced alien species have been keeping a close eye on the humans and when Prof Martin discovers the answer to one of the greatest mathematical riddles of all time, they realize that this could unleash a whole catalogue of events that no one is ready for. Namely that the humans, the strange, aggressive beings that they are, will destroy themselves and potentially the rest of the universe. So an ambassador is sent down to earth to take over Andrew’s life and destroy his lifetime work, along with anyone who might know about it.

Through the narration of the alien who has taken over Andrew’s body, The Humans explores human nature from an outsiders perspective. At times, it is funny, somewhat ridiculous, often threatening but the overwhelming feeling is of warmth. The alien is a surprisingly likeable character and his misunderstanding of earth and mankind creates some really funny moments. One that stood out to me was when he arrived on earth naked on a motorway side and thought that since everyone was spitting at him that this must be a common greeting. Hilarious.

The alien is on a steep learning curve but quickly begins to see the good in people. Despite his strange behavior, he is met with sympathy and understanding from loved ones who think he has had a breakdown and he begins to feel a bond with Andrew’s wife, his son and even his dog.

The Humans looks at what it means to be human. The fact that everyone thinks that Andrew has suffered a mental breakdown is really interesting, especially when the alien starts to wonder if in fact he has and the whole body-snatching things is a fantasy of a deluded man. I felt slightly disappointed that Haig doesn’t take this idea further as it would have provided a lot more substance to the story. Instead, the book remains committed to original premise, which is fine, it’s a good story but I would therefore class this as ‘light’ reading.

I do highly recommend The Humans. It is an amusing and endearing read which I’m sure many people would enjoy.

This post was written by guest blogger Ali, find more of her reviews at alleyhope.com
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Guest Review | Wolf In White Van | John Darnielle

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Guest Review | Wolf In White Van | John Darnielle

wolfinwhitevan

I’ll be honest. Wolf in White Van has been, since its announcement, a book I was determined to like. That’s not necessarily the same thing as a book I know I’m going to like (though I wouldn’t shy away from saying that either), but I pre-ordered it the moment I could, I was already rehearsing how I’d recommend it to friends three months ago, and I knew I’d want to write a review of it. I didn’t want it to be a bad review, so I was determined to like it.

See, though Wolf in White Van is John Darnielle’s debut in novel-writing, it is not his debut in storytelling. Since the early 90s he has been the creative core of indie folk rock band* the Mountain Goats, penning more than 500 songs and said to be (on the sleeve of the novel itself) “one of the best lyricists of his generation.” Emma Stanford says here that in the Mountain Goats lyrics lies Darnielle’s gift for “injecting universal feelings into specific and alien narrative contexts.” We see in Wolf in White Van that same gift in prose. From its backwards beginning, this book is the home of small, epiphanic moments suspending the joy and terror of living. The paint peels, but it’s comfortable; And it’s unsettlingly familiar.

Sean Phillips, designer of postal role-playing game Trace Italian, is to many the sum of his facial disfigurement, patched back together following trauma at age 17. To the reader, he is patched together in a different way: In trips to the liquor store, in his grandmother’s television, in the buildings behind a California arcade.

We know something happened to Sean, and the information seeps out piece by piece, until suddenly we have possession of many of the facts without having been aware of absorbing them. But there are other somethings that happen, too. Sean speaks of side-quests in video games, the subplots you quietly fail before you “just go back into the normal world of the game and continue on toward your objective.” He says he is stuck in a side-quest, and through the clever weaving of two separate traumas and a narrative rooted in memory, Darnielle ensures that it is difficult to recover - or discover - a sense of primary gameplay. In delving backwards through Sean’s life to reach the pinnacle in the murkiest recesses, we find ourselves suspended and lost. There is no present, no quest, only Sean’s life as it is. Not yet finished.

On the insleeve of Wolf in White Van you notice it described as ‘unexpectedly moving’. True, in that it is moving in slightly alien way; it is a unexpected method of moving in that most ‘moving’ stories relate life after trauma as one long traumatic event in itself. Darnielle is more in the business of slotting everyday pegs back into their everyday holes which are now tinged with the aftershocks of a trauma. Going to the liquor store isn’t traumatic, but how can the trivial be reconciled with the life of a man with a face ‘like that’?

There is an eerie sense of fulfilled unfulfillment, a weakly resigned “I don’t know’ to answer your question “If I play it backwards will I find the meaning I’m looking for?”, a raised eyebrow asking you as you dig what it was that told you there was buried treasure to find in the first place. For a book which at times feels like an empty promise, Wolf in White Van left me with something indefinably more. Darnielle crafts his world as Sean crafts the world of Trace Italian: Go in with no expectations of reaching your ultimate goal, but go in all the same.

*This is the genre in which Wikipedia counts the Mountain Goats. I’m going with that because I couldn’t come up with one myself.

This review was written by Kat Sinclair, find her on Twitter - @katmsinclair
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