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

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

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Me, Suzy P | Karen Saunders | Reviewed by Kath

Friday, 28 February 2014

Me, Suzy P | Karen Saunders | Reviewed by Kath

Me, Suzy P is a glimpse into the life of Suzy Puttock, fourteen years old and a disaster magnet. It is an entertaining and interesting book that will make readers laugh endlessly.


I have very little bad things to say about Me, Suzy P. It is fun and entertaining and Karen Saunders writes so perfectly about what it was like to be a teenager. It’s up and down, it’s embarrassing and fantastic. I felt thoroughly nostalgic while reading it, like Karen had taken all of my memories from the age of about 13 and spilled them out onto the page.


And although the plot of the book is typically teenage drama, don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s a bit flaky and disappointing. The characters are inevitably teenagers doing what teenagers do – and part of that is the discovery of who you are as a person and who you want to be. Suzy also manages to get herself into some hilarious situations and I found myself cringing and laughing along all at once.


Suzy is an excellent narrator, and really embodies the word ‘teenage’.  Readers may find her annoying and self-focused at times, but what teenager isn’t? She comes through the other side and becomes very endearing. 


The story has been compared to the Georgia Nicholson series and is entirely in the same vein, and perfect for teenage readers. I wish I had this book in my hands when I was fourteen, even if just to know that I wasn’t alone in being a little bit strange. 

4/5 stars.
This post was written by regular reviewer Kath, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
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Little Bee | Chris Cleave | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Little Bee | Chris Cleave | Reviewed by Niina

littlebee

“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived'.” - Chris Cleave, Little Bee

Little Bee by Christ Cleave is the story of Little Bee and Sarah. Two women from totally different backgrounds. But their lives collide during some tragic events on a beach in Nigeria. A few years after the incident on the beach the two women meet again, this time Sarah finds Little Bee standing outside her house in England.


I’m so confused about how to feel about this book. When I started reading the first chapters I thought,“This is going to be an excellent read! I’m pretty sure I’m going to love this” because I did really like Chris Cleave’s writing style. The first part of the book promises a lot (and so does the jacket of the book and that added to my high expectations), but to be honest I felt a bit disappointed after finishing this book. I mean there are some parts of the book that are wonderful. Little Bee is a really well written character, I like her voice and and enjoyed reading the chapters that are narrated by her. But Sarah, the British woman and the other main character of the novel is just really un-relatable. I just don’t get her at all. She feels so stereotypical and just generally annoying. Her son on the other hand, who wants to be called Batman adds something nice to the story. I really feel for Batman, he’s weird and vulnerable and that always gets to people (or at least gets to me)
. So yes, Batman (I’m calling him Batman because that’s what he wants) is a clever and nice addition to the story.

I can’t really put my finger on why I feel disappointed by this book. Sure Little Bee is a well written character and her story is really heart breaking. But you know what? I never feel heart-broken. I just feel like ”Yeah that sucks, but now what!?”. It might be my personal problem, being a cold hearted bitch, but to be honest I don’t think that’s the problem. I just think that Chris Cleave tries too hard. He tries so hard to write a touching and heart breaking story about a Nigerian girl that doesn't feel believable enough. 

That being said, some parts of this book are really good and it is a well written novel. It’s also a novel that lingered in my thoughts for a while after finishing it. So this is not a bad book, I think a lot of you might really enjoy it. But I also think that a lot of you might feel pretty disappointed if you read it. So I guess it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the shot! But at least it’s not going be a complete waist of time because it has some wonderful parts. My confusion doesn’t give me any other choice than give Little Bee by Chris Cleave 3/5 stars.

3stars
1 comment
Vote Now! - Blogger's Bookshelf Literary Oscars

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Vote Now! - Blogger's Bookshelf Literary Oscars

Just a quick post today to let you know that for the March group post we're hosting the 'Literary Oscars' in honour of the Academy Awards ceremony next week!

The nominees have all been chosen by our team of reviewers and you can cast your votes using the form below.

Don't forget to check back on March 15th to find out if your favourites won!




1 comment
Mairi's Mermaid | Michael Morpurgo | Reviewed by Laura

Monday, 24 February 2014

Mairi's Mermaid | Michael Morpurgo | Reviewed by Laura


Mairi can't swim but her older brother can and he says it's easy! You just have to pretend you are a mermaid - but mermaids aren't real are they? One day Mairi saves what she thinks is a little fish from the claws of a horrible crab only to discover that it is in fact a mermaid. Maybe she can help her learnt to swim?

This is such a gorgeous stories, prominently for little girls who love to imagine a world under the ocean where mermaids live and play. Not only is this a story of a young girl learning to swim but also of kindness as ocean creatures and Mairi work together to help each other. 


The illustration are an added bonus within this story allowing it to be even more captivating , I especially enjoyed the little bubbles with extra antidotes inside, for example: "Where did you get that finbag?" "From a little plaice I know!"


Although the description and imagery are not as impressive as previous Morpurgo books I know, this story does not require such vocabulary as it lets the readers imagination take control. This is especially easy when Mairi visits the meraid under ocean home to meet lots of new friends.


I would recommend this to any children around the age of 5-8 years, it's easy to read and understand with some important messages incorporated. 




4/5
This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
1 comment

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Game | Terry Schott | Reviewed by Anjali



I think I’ve said before that when you ‘purchase’ free books from Amazon for your Kindle, it’s often a hit or miss. Normally I find free books are pretty average, some are appalling and a few select few are actually good and enjoyable. The Game, by Terry Schott, was one that was actually really enjoyable, and I basically read it in a day (save for a few chapters the night before).

We first meet Zack when he wakes up in a white room, with white walls, ceiling, and lights. He vaguely  remembers the feeling of being an old man, but when he speaks and looks at himself, he is much much younger. Zack has been just been in the Game, a virtual reality that kids up to the age of 18 can participate in, as they unknowingly play an avatar, or virtual person inside a complex computer system. When you are put into the game, you are born into a family, and live your entire life, birth to death, and are watched by all the people at home on the planet Tygon. The virtual reality world is called Earth, and the better you do in the Game, the more credits you can earn, the more times you can buy in to play another Game when you come out.  Zack is ranked 2nd in Tygon, and for his last play, he plans to get to number one.

With chapters that follow Zack’s life inside the Game, his Patron and his team on the outside following Zack’s every move and ensuring he is on track with his life, millions of adoring fans in Tygon watching his life on screen, an old flame, guardian figures inside the game, and someone out to get him, The Game is a great read for a free book. I really liked some characters, and disliked others, as it should be, I enjoyed that the book was spread over the course of Zack’s avatar life, and that the perspective was split between characters.

Having said that, I think that there were too many character-chapter splits, and it got a little confusing at times. It would have nicer to see just one or two perspectives inside the Game, and one on the outside of the Game. But as it was, there were a lot more than that. It, at times, made it a bit confusing. At the beginning of most of the chapters there was an excerpt from a Game related book that explained some aspects of how the Game worked, and also had some interview sections from previous players etc, so it was really handy to have the information without having a character just spit it all out. A big thing that annoyed me though, was the editing. There wasn't much of it. There were speech marks that were the wrong way round, commas in random places, and the indentations of paragraphs were too small, and it was little hard to read at points. But those things are nothing a good edit can’t fix.


Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a nice short dystopian-like read, at only 283 pages, and the story clipped along at a good rate. There are a few more books in this series, and though you have to purchase them, they aren’t expensive, so I think I might read the next one. 


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

2 comments
Guest Post | Top 5 Netgalley Novels

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Guest Post | Top 5 Netgalley Novels

image

For today's post I thought I would do something a little different and talk about Netgalley - the source of many books I have reviewed here at Blogger's Bookshelf. If you don't know what Netgalley is basically its an online service where publishers can upload titles to a catalogue allowing members like myself to easily request a copy for review. If approved you receive an ebook copy of the book (these are often advanced copies), free of charge in exchange for an honest review which you send to them via a simple feedback form. Netgalley is open to anyone considered a 'professional reader' including bloggers, librarians, booksellers etc & you can sign up here.

Having been a member of Netgalley for over a year now, today I thought I would share some of my favourite novels that I have read and reviewed thanks to this awesome website! Here are my five favourites so far...

If You Find Me, Emily Murdoch
Top of my list would have to be Emily Murdoch's debut If You Find Me which tells the story of teenager Carey who has been living in the woods for as long as she can remember. One day Carey and her younger sister Jenessa, left alone for weeks by their mother, are found and taken back to the 'real world'. The book follows Carey as she tries to adapt to her new life and deal with the horrors of her past - read my review here

Thin Space, Jody Casella
This supernatural tale follows main character Marshall who recently lost his twin brother in a car accident where he was the driver. Now, consumed with grief and desperate to find answers Marshall begins to explore the idea of the 'thin space'; a place where the world of the living meets that of the deceased - read my review here

Club Monstrosity, Jesse Petersen
With a unique premise revolving around a support group for monsters, this novel was a fun and very geeky read. Featuring some of literature and film's most infamous monsters this murder mystery tale is definitely one to pick up! - read my review here

Roomies, Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
This two-author novel takes place over the summer before teens EB and Lauren, who have never met before, are about to start college and become roommates. The two begin to correspond online and end up forging a friendship through sharing their lives with eachother via email - read my review here

Sneak, Evan Angler 
This sci-fi series follow Logan Langly through a world where children are 'marked' at age 13. Without the mark you are unable to undertake the simplest of tasks such as pay for food or use public transport. The marking process killed Logan's beloved sister Lily and now, about to get marked himself, Logan discovers that he is being watched - read my review here 

Image via Netgalley
2 comments
Crazy Rich Asians | Kevin Kwan | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 17 February 2014

Crazy Rich Asians | Kevin Kwan | Reviewed by Ria

Crazy Rich Asians

Meeting the other-half’s family is always a nerve wracking experience but Rachel Chu has no idea what she’s getting herself in for when she decides to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend Nicholas Young. 

What Rachel doesn't realise about her supposedly frugal-living, College professor boyfriend is that Nick is actually one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors, he grew up in the equivalent of a palace and his family at the top Singapore’s billionaire food chain. Rachel is suddenly flung into a world of private jets, rooms of couture, and sumptuous banquets, with an invite to the social event of the season, Nicholas’ best friend Colin’s wedding. 

She also meets a host of characters, from business tycoons, to jet-setting housewives and catty ‘IT’ girls. And the scariest of the bunch? Nick’s formidable mother Eleanor, who will stop at nothing to eject Rachel from her beloved son’s life.
So what’s my verdict?
Full of backstabbing, gossip and unadulterated opulence that makes Blair Waldorf look like Mother Theresa, Crazy Rich Asians, is a unique glimpse into the world of Oriental excess rarely portrayed in literature. 

Though the story primarily revolves around the poor, naive Rachel and her plight to fit into Nick’s ‘other life’ on the island, there are multiple story lines that only add on layers to the atmosphere of the novel. The most captivating side story is that of, Astrid, the ‘other-worldly’ looking IT girl and also Nick’s cousin, who’s seemingly cushy marriage starts to veer into troubled water. The juxtaposition of Astrid and Rachel’s stories provides the reader with an even greater glimpse into the life of the rich, with Astrid born into the world and Rachel struggling to get in, but both women are left vulnerable to the trappings of money and gossip. And of course there’s the ridiculousness of Nick’s mother Eleanor, who could be considered almost Miranda Priestly-esque in her scheming. 

What makes Crazy Rich Asians stand out is the constant reminder of family tradition and the notion of old vs. new money, it’s Pride & Prejudice with a Singaporean spin. The cultural histories and social politics of all of the privileged families in the book are just as full of drama as the lives of their Western-world counterparts on the Upper East Side, the Royal Boroughs of Chelsea or the celebrity-ridden hills of Hollywood. 

The novel is an overload of description for the senses and Kwan captures the sights and sounds of the upper echelons of high society in Singapore in great detail.

Reading Soundtrack:

For lovers of…Gossip Girl (both the novels and TV series), The Bling Ring and 90210

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
*Photo (c) Ria Cagampang

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Group Collaboration | I'll Be Spending Valentine's Day with...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Group Collaboration | I'll Be Spending Valentine's Day with...

Group post time! February 14th may have been and gone but we got our bloggers to spill the beans on which fictional characters they wished they could spend Valentine's Day with, both romantically and platonically!...  

 Feb group post Valentines 1Feb group post Valentines 2

Next month with awards season in full swing and the Oscars just around the corner, we have a special Blogger's Bookshelf 'Literary Oscars' planned for our March group post! Our regulars will be nominating some books up in special categories and we'll be getting you guys to vote on your favourites! 
So keep an eye out and email us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com if you want to get involved!

Post contributors: Cat, Ria, Lucy, & Erin
Book cover images via goodreads.com
2 comments
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers (Vol 1) | Brian Michael Bendis | Reviewed by Kath

Friday, 14 February 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers (Vol 1) | Brian Michael Bendis | Reviewed by Kath

Guardiansofthegalaxy

I'm a big fan of graphic novels but I'm not going to lie to you, what sparked my interest in reading this was the amount of hype surrounding it because of the upcoming movie released in 2014. I've heard so many good things about the film – and the cast – that my hopes were very high for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers. It collects Guardians of the Galaxy (2013), #1-3 and 0.1, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers #1.

It started off with 0.1, a prequel to the beginning of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It tells the origin story of Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord), the leader of the Guardians. I really loved 0.1, and was struck by how fantastic the artwork was. Stories #1-3 introduce us to the rest of the Guardians, which includes Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer and Groot – who is a living tree, because all good stories need one of those… oh and Tony Stark. Slowly but surely you get to know each of the main characters and their back-stories, which are all solid and grounded in good plot.

Probably my biggest issue with Guardians is the arrival of Tony Stark. He just happened to be hanging around in space when the alien invasion arrived, as you do. I know that these were released in 2013, and you have to wonder whether his (very underwhelming) guest spot was drafted in quickly for promotional reasons – although I, for one, am totally over Tony Stark, can you tell? I’d like to share this little section of dialogue, where a 3 foot tall homicidal raccoon puts him in his place:

Tony Stark: "They destroyed my Armour suit"
Rocket Raccoon: "Did they destroy your man-parts as well?"
Tony Stark: "No."
Rocket Raccoon: "Well then take this, point it at anyone who's not one of us and kill them."

I probably would have liked Tomorrow’s Avengers to not have been situated at the back of the book, because its timeline fits snuggly between #0.1 and Guardians #1. It’s an anthology book with 4 short stories – each highlighting a different character from the Guardians team. Each story is drawn by someone different, which is interesting. Rocket Raccoon’s story is the highlight of the anthology definitely, and I’m seeing myself fall for the little homicidal maniac.

Apart from the few issues I've mentioned, I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers and would encourage all Marvel fans to read it. I'm excited to see where they’ll take these characters on screen. Also – the first big story happens in London, yay for feeling involved!

This was reviewed by regular reviewer Kath. Get to know more about her here.

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Monday, 10 February 2014

The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared | Jonas Jonasson | Reviewed by Laura


This book starts out as you would expect by reading the title, Allan Karlsson, the one hundred year old man climbs out a window and disappears on the day of his 100th birthday. This leading him into a rather interesting and twist turning adventure, filled with criminals, murders, a suitcase of cash and lots of new friends. As all of this unfolds we find out that this is definitely not Allan's my interesting of life changing adventure that he has had in his life. 

When I first began reading this, someone said to me that they gave up half way through and really didn't enjoy it, which obviously is not the review I was hoping for. I'd spotted this book (or rather the cover) in a bookstore a few months before and it had immediately caught my up, the cover along with the intriguing title. I'd never read a book about someone that old before!

I found the structure of the story structure really interesting as we were transported from the present to the past before eventually at the end of the book the past caught up with the present. I really enjoyed discovering information about Allan through the retelling of his life and what a life it was! Allan seemed to of met every important person in the world, visited all major countries and now speaks multiple language due to his vast amounts of travel. 

I did find however that at times there were just too many names, places and events to keep track of, especially when someone pops back up 50 pages and later and I found myself thinking I can't remember why you were relevant. So although it was interesting and enjoyable to read his past, remember all the events and names was tricky and somewhat off putting. 

Allan was a really interesting and unique character, he was clever and witty and strangely likable even if he did seem to lack emotion through the majority of the book. The other characters were diverse, interesting and I definitely would not have thrown them together but that was what made the tale so different. 

I would recommend the book, especially if you like history because Alan has seen a lot of events in the past 100 years! The only reason this book does not get 5 stars is because of the overwhelming amount of names and events which my brain could not quite keep up with! 


4/5
This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
Image from Goodreads
3 comments

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Douglas Adams | Reviewed by Anjali



I remember reading this book when I was about 14 years old and loving it. I recently just re read it, and I can safely say, I still do. If you've seen the movie, then you'll know the story line, but in case you haven't, it's about a man called Arthur Dent and his adventures in space, pretty much.

Arthur lives in England and is shaken one day by the fact that they want to bulldoze his house to make way for a bypass. Ironically, his friend Ford Prefect comes to his rescue and beams them up to a space ship which is there to destroy the Earth to create a galactic freeway. Aboard the space ship, Arthur learns that Ford isn't actually from Earth, but from near Betelgeuse and has in his possession The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In their adventures in space, Arthur and Ford are captured by Vogons, thrown off a ship into deep space, rescued accidentally by passers by who happen to be the President of the galaxy and the only other Earthman/lady in space, Trillian. The four of them, and a depressed robot called Marvin, travel through space getting up to various things, and discovering that the meaning of life, the universe and everything... is 42.

Sounds crazy, but you'll just have to read it.

I love how this book is written. While in third person, the narration is such that the story line is often interrupted with only-sometimes-relevant information from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or from the speaker of the novel himself. It's a lot of fun, and the characters are all slightly mad (all except Arthur, of course, who just wishes he were back home with a cup of tea), and while it's a short read, it's unexpected and utterly ridiculous. If you want a quick, entertaining, no-brains-needed read, this is it!


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


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The Elites | Natasha Ngan | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Elites | Natasha Ngan | Reviewed by Erin

elites

In Natasha Ngan’s debut novel we meet Silver, an Elite chosen to protect her country thanks to her superior DNA, who is faced with her most important task yet – protecting Neo-Babel’s president as he gives a speech. When Silver not only fails to complete her task but also recognises his assassin things take a turn for the worse. Soon her parents are mysteriously taken from the city and Silver, alongside life-long best friend and fellow Elite Butterfly, embarks on an adventure beyond the city’s limits desperate to be reunited with her family.

The story itself was full of action and felt to me like it could be well-suited to a cinematic adaptation. With a variety of characters ranging from the Elites to the Ghosts and the Pigeons; an anti-birthchip group, the world of Neo-Babel was certainly an intriguing world to fall into. Towards the end of the book the plot became even more action-packed with twists, turns, a little romance and many casualties; all of the ingredients for a great dystopian tale.

It has become increasingly difficult to find unique titles within the overcrowded YA dystopian genre however The Elites offers an unusual setting paired with an impressive writing style which together made for a refreshing read. Well-paced and packed with plenty of action The Elites is an enjoyable read for fans of the dystopian genre.

4stars

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


2 comments
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook | Ben Mezrich | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook | Ben Mezrich | Reviewed by Ria

The Accidental Billionaires cover

The is the story of two socially awkward, Ivy League students and their ploy to up their game with the opposite sex. 

This sounds like the plot line for coming of age buddy movie, but this is the real story of Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg and how they created the biggest Social Networking site on the planet.

Eduardo and Mark were Harvard students, best friends and relative outsides despite their intellect and academic prowess. While Eduardo was busy trying to find his own social acceptance in the university’s prestigious Final Clubs – basically high class versions of the stereotypical American Frat houses without the beer pong – Mark, who had a lesser interest in trying to fit in with the status-quo, was using his aptitude with computers to hack into the university IT system to create a database of all the female students on campus. In one night Mark managed to crash the university’s servers and nearly got kicked out of school. Picking up on the success of the site – despite it’s rather misogynistic premise – Eduardo and Mark set out to create The Facebook (as it was called at the time)…

What came about in the following years was drama worthy of a feature film and this book. Full of stories of the venture capitalists at the dawn of the Social Media boom, fraught relationships and lawsuits with Olympic rowers, The Accidental Billionaires at its core is the story of how two men who created a movement that brought people together, had a friendship that completely fell apart.

So what’s my verdict?
If you've seen the movie, The Social Network, you'll know exactly what this book is about. The story of the origins of Facebook is a fascinating one and as much it’s interesting to see how the site developed, Mark and Eduardo’s story is a much more relatable tale. Though on the surface they were two completely different people, their need for social acceptance was what brought them – and their team – together and ultimately tore them apart too. 

It’s clear that Mezrich – despite using very credible sources - has taken some liberties with the plot and taken some characterisations of the people in the story to the absolute extreme. At many points you completely forget this is a book based on real events and people, which can make the plotlines seem even more far fetched and ridiculous.

If you’re after a definitive biography of the origins of Facebook then this isn't the book for you. Take the plot line as a fictionalised version of reality and it’s a pretty thrilling ride.

Reading Soundtrack:

For lovers of…The Social Network, The Wolf of Wall Street & the original Wall Street movie.

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
Photo (c) Ria Cagampang
3 comments
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