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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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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 Reading Goals | Final Update

It's time to check in with team BB and take a look at how we all did on our 2015 reading challenges...
If you missed our last update you can click here to catch up!

Ria... 24/30 books read | 3/5 books vowed to read
Whilst I didn't hit my book goal by the end of this year, I did pick up momentum over the Summer after throwing a few graphic novels and some fantastic YA books into my 'read' pile for 2015. I also managed to tick Hollow Pike, Armada, and The Night Circus off my books I vowed to read list for the year. They were the three I was most excited to read and they certainly didn't let me down!  

Cat... 2/5 books vowed to read
I have read two of my 2015 vowed to read books, Ready Player One (Ernest Cline), and Life After Life (Kate Atkinson), of which both I loved. I definitely still want to read Unwind, but I think that my other two choices North and South and On the Road, might be a bit too ‘heavy’ for my current reading tastes, and may put them on the back burner for now.

Anjali... 45/48 books read | 3/5 books vowed to read
A few months ago I realised that 48 was going to be unfeasible this year, so I changed to 45, which I have achieved. I've read 3 of the 5 books I vowed to read, The Wicked Shall Rise, Crown of Midnight, and Let's Get Lost. Landline is the next one my list, so that's another from the Vow to Read list. I have read quite a few good books this year, and quite a few rubbish ones. But that's life in the reading world!  

Erin... 5/5 books vowed to read
Since our last update, the fifth and final title on my 'vowed' to read' list - Marissa Meyer's Winter - was released so I managed to just squeeze it in before the end of the year! I'm pleased to say that I really enjoyed all of my five choices for 2015 and I'm looking forward to picking out my 2016 list.

Ali... 48/20 books read | 4/5 books vowed to read
I've more than doubled my original goal so I'm very happy with my reading for 2015. My surprise favourite was Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow - I've never read verse poetry before but it's definitely something I'll explore more.

We hope you've enjoyed following our challenges again this year!

Don't forget to leave a comment and let us know how you got on with your own reading challenges & check back soon to see our goals for 2016!
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Library Wars: Love & War | Kiiro Yumi | Review

Monday, 28 December 2015

Library Wars: Love & War | Kiiro Yumi | Review


Summary:

In the near future, the Media Betterment Committee (MBC) is formed to censor all offensive and questionable media, by force. In response to this, libraries are reformed to protect patron rights and freedom of expression. Enter Kasahara, a private in the Library Task Force, full of passion, but not a lot of skill. This series follows her personal growth in the Library Task Force as well as the political and emotional turmoil between Libraries and the MBC.

Review:

I originally started reading this because it's about libraries. I had no idea, when I picked up the first book, that there would also be a few love stories involved. Anyone who knows me, knows I don't really care for love stories. That being said, this has been an amazing series to read.* Kiiro Yumi's depictions of the characters are a delight to read and I am fully emotionally invested in these characters. I've almost cried for one of them.

My favorite part about this series is that it covers actual problems contemporary librarians face. Don't get me wrong, so far libraries haven't had to create their own armed forces, but there's so much more than that in these books. We read about librarians not handing over patron records to the police in an investigation. We read about problems librarians have with parents expecting them to be babysitters. Heck, in order to be promoted, the challenges range from sitting at a computer all day inputting new books to keeping a room full grade school kids occupied for story time, to hosting a public forum on questionable books. This series does a masterful job of showing the many roles a librarian can play. This may all sound boring, but there is plenty of action as well. It really is a war between Libraries and the MBC. There are gunfights and raids. 

Of course, the love stories do have to be addressed. Throughout the series the main couple is in denial of their feelings. This could have made the series more of a drama, but Yumi turned it into a comedy. The back and forth between the two makes me, literally, laugh out loud. Personally, it wouldn't surprise me if that's why I enjoy a series with a love story; because it's hilarious. There are other couples in this series and they show so many other kinds of love stories. One is absolutely adorable, another is an interesting meeting of highly intelligent people, and there are more. 

In case you can't tell, I absolutely love this manga. I've even started looking for the anime, the original book by Hiro Arikawa, and the live-action movie. This is an incredibly enjoyable series for people who love books, people who love love-stories, and people who love to laugh. 



*I'm currently waiting to get Volumes 13 & 14. 
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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Bookish Links #12


Happy holidays everyone! We hope you're all enjoying yourselves whatever you've been up to this week. Once again it's time to catch up on some of our favourite reads from around the web, here are a handful of the articles we've been loving lately...

1/ Big Screen Fairytales - with the recent buzz surrounding the final book in the series we've been dreaming about The Lunar Chronicles being brought to life on screen. As it turns out everyone else has too, and Caitlin over at Bustle shared her dream cast. Which actors would you love to see play Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter and co.?

2/ Bookworm Problems - Ali's post focusing on the struggles of a bookworm is a great read that definitely got us thinking about our own bookish habits! How many of these can you relate to?

3/ In A Parallel Universe... - this fun post from Quirk Books explores the idea of what would happen if our favourite girl on fire Katniss Everdeen found herself in some other famous dystopian settings.

4/ Most-Read Authors - this post all about most-read authors definitely got us thinking about which names would make our own lists! Who are your most-read authors? We'd love you to let us know in the comments section below.

5/ Best Books On Ballet - this recent Book Riot article has some brilliant ideas if you're looking to add a ballet book or two to your 2016 TBR. Have you read any of these titles yet? Let us know in the comments section!

6/ The Disney Effect - Laura's clever post takes a closer look at how Disney adaptations have changed some of the most well-known fairytales into something completely different. From The Little Mermaid to Tangled, you may never look at your favourite in the same way again!

7/ The Best Of 2015 - if you're searching for more titles to add to your 2016 TBR take a peek at this list featuring thirteen of 2015's best that you may have missed out on this year.

8/ Pen Pals - we adore the idea of the Blogger Positivity Campaign and enjoyed reading responses to the recent prompt "Letter to a Fictional Character that Inspired or Helped You!", including this one from Aila. Which character would you choose to write to and why?

9/ Living In A Fantasy World - blogger Katarina recently shared 3 reasons to read Fantasy and we couldn't agree with her more! Will you be adding any Fantasy titles to your 2017 TBR?

10/ Seasonal Re-reads? -  we really enjoyed reading about why Amanda prefers to save re-reads for the festive period! Is there a specific time of year that you like to pick up old favourites? Or do you prefer to stick to new reads during the holidays?

11/ One For Your (2017) TBR - Divergent fans rejoice! Author Veronica Roth has recently been talking about her next release (her first outside of the Divergent series) over on her Tumblr page. It's going to be a Sci-Fi/Fantasy tale and we can't wait to find out more!

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!  
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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Features | 5 Warming Holiday Reads

Happy Christmas Eve to those of you who celebrate Christmas! And happy Thursday to everybody else! In honour of this festive time of year I have a few lovely holiday reads to share with you, so if you're not quite in the festive mood just yet then maybe one of these will help you out with that. Or, if you are, then one of these just might be the perfect thing to keep that festive mood going.

1. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Let It Snow is actually three stories, which all link together very cleverly. The three stories each take place during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, in one small town. The three stories are all very Christmassy YA romances, excellent for if you want something sweet and fast with plenty of snow to snuggle up with before bed on Christmas Eve.

2. My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

I'm actually only part way through My True Love Gave To Me at the moment but so far I have loved every one of the stories I've read in this short story collection. This collection features twelve short Winter romances from twelve of the most popular YA writers out there at the moment. Unlike Let It Snow, these stories are all unlinked and completely different, so it's the perfect book to dip into when you have some spare time between last minute gift wrapping.

3. Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop is actually a sequel to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams but the sequel would definitely be easy to follow if you haven't read the first book and just want to get right into this sweet, dramatic story set in a tiny English village at Christmastime. This is actually the only book on this list that isn't YA, so if you're in the mood for something a little more grownup, I'd go for this romantic Christmas story.

4. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

I haven't actually read Dash and Lily's Book of Dares yet but it's sat on my desk waiting to be read as soon as I finish My True Love Gave To Me and I can't wait! This story of two characters communicating via a notebook left in a bookstore, setting each other dares and tasks to complete, sounds really intriguing and I've been assured that it is appropriately festive too!

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

And finally, of course, the classic festive read, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Is there anything that will make a person feel more Christmassy than reading about the first time Harry sees the Great Hall decorated for Christmas? Nothing is more festive than snow on the ground at Hogwarts. Nothing.

What festive books have you been reading over the holidays this year?
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Monday, 21 December 2015

Warren The 13th & The All-Seeing Eye | Tania del Rio & Will Staehle | Review

warren the 13th
*Review copy c/o Netgalley, images via goodreads.com & amazon.com

The Warren Hotel, designed by Warren the 1st and built by Warren the 2nd, has been passed down through the generations and Warren the 13th is set to take over on his 18th birthday. Currently twelve years old Warren is living and working in the somewhat rundown hotel alongside his evil Aunt Annaconda and lazy Uncle Rupert. Despite his love of the hotel, working under the strict rule of his Aunt means that Warren dreams of a big adventure and he certainly gets one in this quirky middle-grade fantasy tale!

When Warren’s Aunt learns that a powerful object called the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the property she is determined to find it. Question is, can Warren stop her in time to save his family’s beloved hotel? As word spreads about the power of this mysterious object, guests start to flock to the (usually rather empty) hotel, keen to find it and claim it’s power for themselves. With new friend Petula in tow, Warren sets out on his own mission to locate the Eye, crossing paths with a whole host of weird and wonderful characters along the way, including my personal favourite, Sketchy!

Not only is this charming adventure tale packed full of fun but it is also beautifully illustrated. The imagery plays a big part in the story and the illustrations, which have been created using a simple black and red colour scheme, compliment the text perfectly and were my personal favourite part of the book. The layout is also stunning and it’s easy to see a lot of thought has been put into this element, which I really appreciated.

As I don't generally read a lot of middle-grade titles I can't comment on how Warren the 13th stacks up against what else is out there, however I can tell you that I really enjoyed following Warren and co. on their adventure. Plus, the amazing illustrations definitely make the book one to pick up!
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Blogger's Bookshelf Reader Survey 2015

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Blogger's Bookshelf Reader Survey 2015

With the end of the year fast approaching, today we wanted to share a quick survey to find out more about our lovely readers and how you all interact with the blog! It's just a short one and we would really appreciate it if you could spare a couple of minutes to answer a few multiple choice questions.

We would love to hear your feedback - the form is embedded below - and thank you so much for taking the time to read Blogger's Bookshelf!

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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Features | To fold or not to fold?

Credit: https://paragraphonline.wordpress.com/tag/dog-eared-books/

I have a confession to make that may make some of you extremely angry...I fold the corners of my books. When discussing this with a few of my friends, it transpired that many of them thought of this as a great sin. "But books should be kept looking perfect" they protested. Whilst I must admit that part of my reason for folding the corners over is that I'm too lazy to find a bookmark, there's a lot more to it than just that. Firstly, it's very practical. My bookmarks are always falling out, and there's nothing more annoying than that happening and losing your place. To those strange people who memorise what page they're on - I wish I had your memory, sadly that doesn't work for me. However, it's more than just practical reasons. I love the way that it looks. A dog eared book is clearly one that's been well read and loved. I especially love folding the corners over pages which have interesting quotes so when you come back to it you can remember the things that made that book special to you.

A book in perfect condition to me signifies one that's been sat on my shelf and never read. In fact, I take it further than just folding the corners. I've dropped books in the bath, highlighted passages, left chocolate stains on the pages...the list goes on. Some of my books even have ripped pages. These books are the ones that look the best to me. Maybe they don't look neat and tidy, but they look well loved, and that, in my opinion, is the most beautiful a book can look.

(Just like to clarify I don't do this to borrowed books, only my own. I'm not that terrible)

What about you? Do you like books to look exactly as they did when you brought them, or do you like them better when they're slightly battered?

Katie x
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Guest Post | Joshua's 2015 Favourites

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Guest Post | Joshua's 2015 Favourites

2015 has truly been a phenomenal year for books, and when I was asked to put together a list of 5 it was very difficult! Out of all the books that have been published, which ones do I choose?!

But I thought about it, and I’ve decided on a few personal favourites from 2015.

joshua top 5


In fifth place, I have The Edge Of Me by Jane Brittan. This book features a Serbian character, Sanda, who lives in the UK after her parents moved following the Bosnian War. Her crush, Joe, asks her out but together they are kidnapped and sent off across Europe to find out the truth about her parents’ role during the war. This is a debut novel from an independent publishing company, but it’s a very important book to read and has already been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, which is really exciting!

In fourth place, I’m choosing All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I don’t need to provide a plotline because I’m quite sure many people are already aware of this book, but it’s a phenomenal tear jerking novel about ‘a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.’ If you haven’t already bought a copy, I urge you to immediately.

In third place, I’m choosing Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Becky’s style of writing is one that will have you laughing and crying, while still covering ever important topics. Simon Vs is a story told through a combination of narrative and emails and I loved it. Again, if you haven’t bought a copy or own one but haven’t read it, put it near the top of your to read list!

In second place, Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Rock The Boat published this in the UK and they were nice enough to send me a proof of it. Very, VERY few books have me as invested in their storyline as this one did. That’s not to say that books don’t get me invested in them anyway, but Illuminae is magnetic. It’s told in a new way where there are no dialogues, no narratives, no tenses, just documents. Transcripts of chats, countdowns, reports of inspections and stuff like that. But yet as you go through this book, it’s fantastically written, superbly illustrated and from me gets serious hats off to the authors!

But in first place, and it’s my personal favourite from the last few years to be honest, I’m choosing The Next Together by Lauren James. Lauren’s style of storytelling is fantastic, and if you haven’t already read The Next Together by Lauren James, it should definitely be on your to read list. It’s an incredibly inventive storyline, and it’s a fantastic read: I can’t wait for Lauren’s next novel!

So there’s my favourites from 2015! Merry Christmas!

This post was written by Joshua from Confessions Of A Book Lover.
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Numinous | Emory Skwara | Review

Monday, 14 December 2015

Numinous | Emory Skwara | Review

*Image courtesy of Amazon.

Summary:
Lily and Sebastian Blackmoor are twins with an absentee father and a drunk mother. Lily is relentlessly bullied in high school by a girl named Piper. Life ain't exactly looking up. But Lily has a secret, she's been training in magic. Her cat, Blink, is actually a humanoid tiger that takes her to a secret grove and helps her train her natural magic abilities. It turns out, she and her brother are not human and are from the world of Rood'ravil. Of course, getting there is going to require a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice. Surviving in Rood'ravil will take even more.


Review:

I picked up this book for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it has a big, smiling owl on its cover. The author promised a new kind of fantasy adventure and I am a sucker for the fantasy genre. Despite me being hit-or-miss with teenage protagonists, I did enjoy this book.

This is a long book. I actually had to take a break about half way through to move on to other things, but I was happy to get back to it. After the break, though, book read a lot faster. Also, there were several noticeable editing errors. At one point one character is credited with a line of dialogue, despite not being anywhere near the conversation. They do interrupt the flow of the book, but do not stop it.

The world created by Skwara is quite interesting. The various races and politics involved make me want to read a history of the place, get a better feel for how the races developed. You get some good information about it in the exposition, but it's barely the tip of the iceberg. Of course, the exposition and the action scenes emphasize that the world of Rood'ravil is not for all readers. There is a lot of blood and violence. 

Skwara's characters are also easy to empathize with, especially Mark, Amanda and Ricky; the characters that never asked to be caught up in Lily and Sebastian's adventure. There are a lot of emotional gut-wrenchers in this book, but it just made the read that much better.

I do recommend this book if you're looking for dark fantasy adventure. You may need to take it in strides, but I felt that Numinous was well worth the time put into it. 

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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Group Collaboration | Our Favourite Reads Of 2015!

Welcome to our final group collaboration of 2015! We can hardly believe the year is almost over but it's certainly been a good one for us when it comes to reading! As usual we asked our contributors and readers to let us know which books they enjoyed the most this year. Hopefully you'll find some new titles to add to your TBR lists for 2016 but don't forget to leave a comment and let us know which books would make your top 5 for this year too!

group cat 2015
group ria 2015
group chelsea 2015
group lulu 2015
group meg 2015
group francesca 2015
group joshua 2015
group anjali 2015
group rachel 2015
group rebecca 2015
group erin 2015group anastasia 2015


Thanks to this month's contributors: Cat, Meg, Lulu, Rebecca, Ria, Erin, Rachel, Chelsea, Anastasia, Joshua, Francesca, Anjali
All book cover images sourced via goodreads.com

In January we'll be talking reading goals for 2016 including the books we vow to read next year.

To get involved send an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or tweet us @blog_bookshelf
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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Features | Holiday Gift Ideas

It's that time of year again! And if you're anything like me you're probably more than a little behind on your holiday shopping (I have bought exactly two presents so far. Terrible.) So if you're stuck for ideas for the bookish friends in your life then look no further because I have plenty of suggestions to get your holiday shopping started!

For Harry Potter fans


In my experience you can never go wrong with a special edition of a favourite book from someone's childhood. Luckily, two beautiful new hardback editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone have been released this year so you have a choice between the lovely orange gift edition in its purple slipcase or the beautiful fully illustrated edition that came out a few months ago. Personally, I would be pretty happy to find either of these in my stocking this year.

For Wes Anderson fans


As well as being filled with beautiful illustrations and photographs, these two Wes Anderson Collection books are also full of interviews and behind the scenes information about all of Wes Anderson's films so far. These would be an interesting read for any film film but, of course, they're especially perfect if you know anyone who loves Wes Anderson's work.

For sci-fi fans


If there's a Doctor Who fan in your life you're struggling to buy for then either of these books could fit the bill. The Vault is a big coffee table kind of book, published for the show's 50th anniversary, all about the history of Doctor Who. Time Lord Fairy Tales on the other hand is a compilation of short stories, written as fairy tales that would have been told to Time Lord children, and would definitely be a fun read for fans of the show.


With the new film coming out very soon it's starting to seem as though everyone I know is secretly a massive Star Wars fan! If you know a Star Wars fan who is also into William Shakespeare or just might enjoy these quirky re-tellings of episodes 4-6 as Shakespearean plays, then this box set of the first three books in the William Shakespeare's Star Wars series would definitely be a fun present. (You can also buy each of these books separately.)

For classics fans


Similar to my reasoning for the Harry Potter books, I know a lot of people would love a prettier version of their favourite classics to sit on their shelves. Vintage have just released these beautiful new covers of these three works by the Brontë sisters, which I'm sure any Brontë fan would love to own.


Vintage also released these gorgeous editions of Jane Austen's novels last year. These designs are so pretty they make me want to have another go at reading Jane Austen just so that I can justify having these designs in my bookcase, so I'm positive any diehard Austen fan would love one of these copies of their favourite Austen book.

For YA fans


There's nothing better than a collection of festive short stories from your favourite authors and authors you might not have discovered yet to get you into the festive spirit so I think either of these two collections of holiday themed short stories would be an excellent present for any YA fan this holiday season. With stories from John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle in Let it Snow and Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and David Levithan among others in My True Love Gave To Me there will definitely be a story in at least one of these collections for every YA fan.

I hope this has helped some of you with your holiday shopping this year! Feel free to share any of your suggestions in the comments (no, really, I could do with some ideas) and happy holiday shopping!
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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Bookish Links #11


Grab a cup of your favourite festive hot drink and pop your feet up - it's time for another edition of Bookish Links!

1/ Making Time To Read - we're kicking off with a post from Beth who shared her top three tips on how to find the time to read 100 books in a year (whilst working and blogging too!). If you're beginning to think about setting your reading goals for 2016 you might want to bookmark this one!

2/ A Sci-Fi Guide - this awesome post shared over on Artsy Musings Of A Bibliophile covers all the best YA Science Fiction titles out there and is a great place to look for your next read no matter your favourite sub-genre.

3/ More Recommendations! - if chick lit is more your thing you may enjoy this list of favourites from our friends over at Aesthetic. With everything from YA to non-fiction included you're sure to find something perfect to cosy up with this winter!

4/ For The Hogwarts Alum - this post from Bustle is full of author recommendations for anyone who loves Harry Potter. Get ready to add a whole stack of books to your Christmas wish list!

5/ Tackling That TBR! - in this video Heather discusses different ways to tackle that huge TBR pile we all have looming over us. Again, this is one to bookmark for when you're thinking about your 2016 goals!

6/ The Downside To Reading Fast - we really enjoyed Cait's list inspired by the struggles she's experienced as a super fast reader. Can you relate to any of these? Let us know in the comments!

7/ Book Fairs - we loved learning more about the Frankfurt Book Fair over on Joséphine's blog! The post shares an insight into various aspects of the event and her beautiful photos seem to really capture the atmosphere. Have you ever been to any book fairs?

8/ A Spotlight On Non-Fiction - we often think that non-fiction doesn't get as much love as it deserves here in the blogging community but Bex's post shines a light on the genre. In the post she talks Nonfiction November and lists the non-fiction titles she's read this year.

9/ Is Chivalry Dead? - over at YA Love (the online magazine created by our very own Christina) Robyn shared an interesting post all about the way boys are portrayed in YA. What are your thoughts on the subject?

10/ FOMO Woes - here at Blogger's Bookshelf we're happy to see Priscilla of The Readables back on YouTube and loved her recent chatty video exploring the topic of FOMO in the book community. How often do you feel the need to pick up a book because of the hype?

11/ The Shippy Awards - if you love your ships you'll love this idea over on Gillian's blog. Head on over to vote for your favourite bookish ships of 2015!

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!
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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Features | Bookish gifts

December has finally come, which means it's officially Christmas season! As someone who absolutely loves Christmas, I couldn't resist making this post something holiday themed, and what better than a book themed gift guide. After all, who doesn't love getting books for Christmas?
NB: All the links provided are to UK websites, if you can't find these items in the country you love in I'm really sorry, but I hope this provides you with some inspiration anyway.

Hogwarts Library boxset - £18.75



The main reason that I couldn't resist including this is because it's just so beautiful. This little box set contains copies of Quidditch Through The Ages, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle The Bard. Perfect for any avid Harry Potter fan, especially with the Fantastic Beasts film coming out soon.

https://www.waterstones.com/product/the-hogwarts-library-boxed-set-including-fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them/j-k-rowling/9781408834824

Let it Snow - £5.59




This book is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set at Christmas and all of which link together. It's a quick read, but one that is great for the holiday season and thus makes a lovely gift.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Let-Snow-John-Green/dp/0141349174/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449178003&sr=1-1&keywords=let+it+snow

A Christmas carol and other Christmas writings - £11.99


Again, I picked this one mostly because of how beautiful it is. Whenever I buy books as gifts, I prefer to get ones that look and feel a little bit special, plus this one is also really Christmas. If you know someone who's really into classics they would probably love this.

https://www.waterstones.com/book/a-christmas-carol-and-other-christmas-writings/charles-dickens/9780141195858
Secret Garden - £8.46
Not to be confused with the literary classic, this is an adult colouring book, something that's been a bit of a trend this year. It's meant to be incredibly relaxing, and for a creative friend this would be wonderful. You could even combine it with some really nice colouring pencils.


Kindle - £60 

Finally, if you have quite a big budget for someone who loves to read, why not consider getting them an e reader? Although I was sceptical about them initially I absolutely love mine now. It's a super practical gift that they will get a lot of use out of.


I thought doing this would help me with buying presents, but I've actually just found lots of things that I want! Oh well, hopefully I've helped some of you guys with you Christmas shopping.
Katie x
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Far Orbit | Bascomb James | Review

Monday, 30 November 2015

Far Orbit | Bascomb James | Review


Summary:

This book is a collection of short Sci-Fi stories put together to show that Sci-Fi doesn't have to be scary and grim. The future can be bright and even funny. It doesn't have to be all scary aliens, death for humanity, etc.

Review:

I needed this book. I didn't realize how much I needed it until I started reading the stories and realized I was mentally prepping myself for all negative outcomes. Sci-Fi has become littered with depressing stories and this book was just the antidote I needed for all that negativity. 

Almost every story in this book left me feeling better than before I had read it. They are upbeat and hopeful about humanities chances without being sappy. There's still death and destruction, but you root for your heroes and don't feel traumatized afterwards. 

Also, while every story deals with space, each story has a different aspect of space Sci-Fi. One story has a contemporary location and technology. One story is about space pirates. Another story is about space cowboys. There is so much variation on the theme of Positive Space Sci-Fi. It's awesome!

So if you're tired of scary, judgmental Sci-Fi, or if you want a collection of good reads, I highly recommend Far Orbit from World Weaver Press. I was so happy to read this book. It was a buoy in a time of grim, dark reads. 
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Group Collaboration | #WeNeedMore: Books We Want To Read

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Group Collaboration | #WeNeedMore: Books We Want To Read

Some stories are overdone but others have never seen the light of day. This month partly inspired by the #WeNeedMore hashtag and in honour of NaNoWriMo 2016, we had our bloggers think about the books that seem to be missing from the literary sphere. Here's some of the books we feel we need more of...

 ~  -  ~ 

It would be really interesting to see more 'utopian' stories out there, as predominantly it is dystopian futures where underground revolutions rise up against totalitarian governments. I would love to read more stories that were generally more peaceful and the story following kind of a rom com vibe, but also set in the future. The novelist could envisage what time saving technologies, living arrangements, clothes and landscape the future might hold for us. It would be a chance to be creative and inventive in a positive way. 
- Cat 

 ~  -  ~ 

Characters with disabilities need to be shown as 'getting on with it' rather than inspirational.

 ~  -  ~ 

I'd love to see more graphic novels that deal with real, contemporary issues, such as Katie Green's Lighter Than my Shadow, which is about her struggle with mental illness. Graphic novels are an incredibly powerful medium and it would be great to see this format utilised more.
More generally, I found it very difficult to think of topics that are rarely or are not discussed somewhere. Perhaps though, this is due to a lack of diverse voices. If we don't hear them, how are we to know what their stories are? Food for thought from The Guardian
- Ali 

 ~  -  ~ 

YA is so often very romance heavy, so I'd love to see more contemporary YA books focused on friendships and family relationships - especially supportive family environments.
We also talk a lot about wanting more diverse literature but I'd love to see more fantasy, dystopian and sci-fi novels set in East Asia and the Pacific Islands - basically I want a Hunger Games but with Filipino characters please!
- Ria

 ~  -  ~ 

Some fantastic stories from this month's contributors! 
If you have any literary recommendations to satisfy our blogger's needs leave them in the comments!

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Next month it's our final group post of 2015 (can you believe it?!) and of course we want to know what your top 5 favourite reads this year! 
If you'd like to get involved just email bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or drop us a tweet @blog_bookshelf!
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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Features | Reading Outside Your Genre


I can safely say that my favourite reading genre is YA contemporary. I never tire of Meg Cabot, Stephanie Perkins, or John Green, and if someone recommends a YA contemporary novel to me I immediately add it to my wish list, usually without even bothering to read the reviews on goodreads. I thought I might grow out of it at university and develop a taste for more literary genres but I was wrong. I only left university with even more of an appreciation for YA contemporary than I had when I got there. I even wrote my dissertation on it.

I don't think there's anything wrong with having a favourite reading genre. I don't think there's even anything wrong with choosing most of your reading from that genre. That's what genres are for. They exist so that we can easily find books similar in theme and subject to the books we already like. And reading should be fun and enjoyable so if you have a genre that you know you enjoy, why not look there first when you're trying to find something new to read?

However, I also think it's never a bad idea to explore books outside of your favourite genre. If you're a writer, it's essential to experience books from all sorts of genres, so that you can see the common threads of how stories work, and even if you aren't a writer at all I still think that's important for readers. Reading outside of your favourite genre can open up a whole new world of stories you'll love but might otherwise never have known about, and it can also help you to appreciate your own favourite genre more.

There are certain aspects of storytelling that are present in any and every type of genre, and there are other aspects that you will usually only find associated to one, and both of those things can help a reader better understand and appreciate the stories they're already familiar with. Even if contemporary is your thing and you try your hand at fantasy only to discover you don't like it, the contrast could just make you love your contemporary novels even more, so what is there to lose?

What do you think? What's your favourite genre? And how often do you branch out from it to read new things?
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Monsterland | Michael Phillip Cash | Review

Monday, 23 November 2015

Monsterland | Michael Phillip Cash | Review

monsterland1*Review copy c/o Netgalley, image via goodreads.com

In a world where werewolves, vampires and zombies exist, one man’s solution is to open theme parks across the globe, using these various ‘monsters’ as the attractions… and this is how Monsterland is born.

After a chance meeting with the park’s creator Dr Conrad, Wyatt and his friends score tickets to the big opening night of their local Monsterland park and we’re invited along for the ride! What could possibly go wrong?

The intriguing premise, somewhat reminiscent of Jurassic Park, is what drew me in to picking up the novel and I was excited to find out just what would happen when the Monsterland parks launched. Of course, it’s clear right from the start that housing a bunch of so-called ‘monsters’ in a theme park isn’t a good idea, and I really enjoyed finding out just how it would all go wrong.

The book built up to be quite action-packed and had a few twists thrown in along the way. The basic idea of the Monsterland parks would definitely be well-suited to a cinematic adaptation, and I felt the way it was written reflected this.

In all honesty as much I enjoyed the concept, I didn’t love the characters. Although we’re not given a huge amount of background information about what happened leading up to the creation of the parks, we have just enough to follow Wyatt and co. for the opening night of Monsterland. I would have loved to have known more about the world in which the story takes place, as well as our main characters, but I understand that this wasn’t necessary in telling this standalone tale.

Monsterland is a fun novel with an interesting concept and is a great quick read, especially if you’re looking for something a little different. It’s one for you to pick up if you like a little bit of horror - and social commentary!
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Magonia |  Maria Dahvana Headley | Review

Friday, 20 November 2015

Magonia | Maria Dahvana Headley | Review


Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious 
lung disease that makes it ever harder for her 
to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, 
her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. 
But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. 
She can hear someone on the ship calling her name...
[suddenly] something goes terribly wrong. 
Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. 
Magonia. 


I'm going to say it straight off the bat, and no, it's not really a spoiler. Aza dies. Well, sort of. It's confusing. Aza dies, but awakes on a ship in the clouds, able to breathe clearly and deeply. She is told that she's not actually human, but belongs in this sky-ship world where birds live in their lungs, and magical songs are sung, battles are fought, lives are lost. All while Earth below is (mostly) oblivious to what's going on above the clouds.

There's a bad guy, what seems to be the good guys, a boy (of course), and a best friend left behind. I'm struggling a little to find the words to write this review. It's nothing like I expected, but not in a good way. I was expecting crazy, yes, I was expecting a great new world above the clouds and above the noise and the world...and in most ways I got that, but it was a little too crazy, even for me. The idea of ships in the sky isn't new to me - Stardust anyone? Or The Edge Chronicles? - but the idea that birds could leap in and out of people's chest as easily as walking through a door was a weird one for me. I just couldn't get my head around it. I know with fantasy you can do what you want, but it just was ... guys, it was odd. Magic makes sense to me. Centaurs even make sense. Transfiguration makes sense. Birds living in chests? Ah...

The story in general was fine, and I really liked the beginning. I like Aza's character at the start, and loved her best friend Jason, but as the story went along I got tired of Aza and didn't really feel sorry for her or care for her much at all. It was if it went all downhill (for me) after Aza discovered Magonia and the sky ships and the people there, which is sad, because that's the whole main point of the story. It was beautifully written, however, in first person from Aza's perspective and occasionally from Jason's. There were some beautiful lines and paragraphs within the story, but the way it was written still didn't grip me enough to not get bored by the end of it.

If you liked YA, and fantasy, a bit of drama, a little bit of love, a whole lot of birds and flying ships, totally give this book a go if you haven't already. It was definitely an interesting story, a fresh idea with actual historical references, but not awesome enough for me to love it. Sorry!

It's hard to write this, I think, because so many people loved this book. But at the end of the day/review, it's up to you to read it. It's up to you to decide whether you like it or not.


Have you read it? 
Please tell me you loved it and it's just me who didn't like it. 
What did you think?


Image and synopsis from Good Reads 
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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Features | Do dystopian novels reflect the real world?

Since today was the release of Mockingjay part 2 (in the UK at least), it felt only right that today's post was focused on the Hunger Games.
Warning #1: This post is going to touch on wars and events that are currently going on in the world at the moment. If this is going to upset or scare you please don't read on.
Warning #2: Major hunger games spoilers ahead, especially for the third book

It's easy to read dystopian novels and see them as something that couldn't happen. Whilst a reality TV show where children murder each other is probably a little far fetched, there are definitely parallels between this and historical events, the most obvious being the 1917 Russian revolution. Both started with a heavily capitalist society where the rich are extremely rich but the rest of the people are essentially peasants. They also had similar ruling structure. Then comes the communist rebels. It's clear that district 13's is run under a communist regime, and Coin's intention is to overthrow Snow and enforce a communism upon Panem. This is basically what happened in Russia in 1917. The Bolshevik communists overthrew the Tsar (the Russian king) and seized power for themselves, marking the beginning of Soviet Russia. It's also clear from the book that Coin is corrupted by power, just like the Soviet dictators like Stalin were. Whether Collins deliberately modelled it on the Russian Revolution I don't know (it seems likely to me that she did since the comparisons are fairly obvious). However, it does show that dystopian novels may not be entirely fictional.

Just like with fiction books, it's possible to form a detachment from events that happened a long time ago, and dismiss them as things that would never happen again. With events that are happening today, it's much more difficult. A prime example of this is the current war in Syria. The rebels fighting dictator Al - Assad is not that dissimilar from the rebels fighting the Capitol. Additionally, dictatorships like President Snow's do exist in the real life. It's easy to take freedom of speech for granted living in a western civilisation, but in North Korea political dissidence is a punishable offence.

So is the hunger games just a fiction book, or is it something more? In Thailand, doing the hunger games three finger salute is banned at protests. It's more than just a book. For some people, its become a symbol of resistance. "Dystopia" may not a thing that only exists within the bounds of fiction, and that's scary.

Sorry for the slightly deeper post than usual, hope I haven't freaked anyone out too much!
Katie x

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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Me Being Me Is Exactly As Insane As You Being You | Todd Hasak-Lowy | Review


Me Being Me is about Darren, a teenager who is going through a lot of teenager-y things. When his father shows up one morning with some huge news, Darren's whole world is turned upside down. But there is something entirely different about this book...

Me Being Me is written entirely in lists, which at first I found interesting and endearing but as the book went on, I felt like it would never end. To tell a story entirely in lists, it means you have a lot of lists and a lot of pages - so the idea got old real quick and I felt myself being a bit bored of the lists and that took away my enjoyment when following the actual story. 

Darren didn't have a personality. Like, at all. He was rude, boring and even the romance storyline was dull and pointless. I didn't enjoy my time reading this book and if it wasn't in lists, it would have an even lower rating. The lists added a unique, yet drawn-out, dynamic to the book that almost made dragging myself to the last page worthwhile. However, this book wasn't for me and I wouldn't recommend picking it up.
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Fields of Rust | Robert Gryn | Review

Monday, 16 November 2015

Fields of Rust | Robert Gryn | Review

*Image and book provided through NetGalley.

Summary:

Based on the Hindu religious work The Mahabharata, this book, Fields of Rust, tells the story of a world where there are painfully few stars in the skies. Where the gods are those who understand and can manipulate the highest levels of science and existence. Where machines are both tools to be used (in the forms of armor, weapons, transportation, etc.) and living, sentient creatures.


Review:

Holy wah! I love this book. Yes, it is a very long read. Yes, the ending made angry because I didn't get the closure that I wanted. But this book was still so good! This book had me energized and burning for more the entire way through. I almost cried for characters who had existed for only a chapter or two. Gryn does a marvelous job of combining science fiction and steampunk elements into this book.

There are a lot of transitions in this book. From one character's perspective to another's, from present to past. The character perspectives are transitioned by the ending and starting of different chapters so they're easy to follow. The present to past transitions, however, can be a little tricky. It wasn't too often that I got confused, especially after hitting the flow of the book, but there were a couple that made me have to go back a page to figure out what was going on.

This book is not for casual readers. It is an intense read that requires a lot of time. But oh what fun that time is. I would love to see this turned into an anime (if The Mahabharata) hasn't already inspired an anime. The godly armors and weapons would be amazing to behold. I am hoping that the second volume will be able to keep up.
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Being A Book Blogger | Interview With Rapunzel aka Rapunzel The Blogger

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Being A Book Blogger | Interview With Rapunzel aka Rapunzel The Blogger

Welcome to another edition of Being A Book blogger! Today I'm chatting to the lovely Rapunzel who blogs about books and shares her own writing over on her blog. Here's what she had to say about inspirations, favourite reads and advice on writing...

interview with rapunzel blogs

BB: Hi Rapunzel, welcome to Blogger's Bookshelf! Could you tell us a little bit more about the girl behind the blog?

Hi, I’m Rapunzel - a girl with a love for books, music and … physics. A bit of an odd mix, but you would be surprised at how well they go together. You never know when you might write a story about an astronaut who also plays the double bass! I think it’s a great thing to be able to write your own world to escape into and for others to share in that joy by reading about it.

BB: What made you decide to start a book blog? And what has been your favourite part of blogging so far?

I first started my book blog when I was stuck at home, feeling poorly with nothing to do. So of course, instead of resting, I designed a blog and posted my first short story. In the beginning, I don’t think anyone was reading it apart from my granddad! Yet slowly but surely, I gained a few readers at a time and now I am able to share my book reviews and creative ramblings with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. That is my favourite thing; anyone from anywhere in the world can comment on my blog and it really makes my day.

BB: As well as posting reviews you also share your own short stories, monologues and poetry. How long have you been writing? Do you have any advice for any of our readers who might want to write their own original stories/poems?

I have been writing ever since I was able to, really, but I only started to make it a hobby when I was about twelve years old. At secondary school, they introduced us to the concept of monologues and I really liked the form of expressing a character’s deepest emotions, so I started trying to do it myself. If you want to write your own original poem or story, I would advise you to write from the heart about something which you are thinking about or feeling now and it will probably flow easier. Sometimes though, you just have to go for it and enjoy it. Who cares if it isn't perfect?

interview with rapunzel blogs

BB: Which authors would you say have been the biggest inspiration to you as a writer?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. Louise Rennison writes really funny books for teenage girls and I would like to be able to make people laugh in my writing too. Roald Dahl was also a fantastic writer and his books were probably the first ones I fell in love with as a little girl.

BB: We love a good recommendation, if you had to pick your top reads of the year so far which books would make the cut?

I would have to say The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend because it made me laugh so much, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee because it’s such an amazing novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon which I have reviewed on my blog and the book I am currently reading, which is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; it’s so good.

BB: Just for fun, if you had the power to bring one fictional character to life who would you choose and why?

There are loads of characters I would love to meet, but I think Paddington Bear from the books by Michael Bond would be a lot of fun. He’s always getting into mischief, but you could never be annoyed for too long because he’s so funny.

interview with rapunzel blogs

BB: Finally, we're always looking for new book blogs to read, do you have any favourites?

The top three blogs I read regularly (apart from this one of course!) are: Monthly Marker, Journal of a Bookworm & In the Life of Anna. The first two both contain book reviews and the last one is a lifestyle blog.
 

Where To Find Rapunzel Online: Blog | Bloglovin' | Google+

I'd like to say a huge thank you from all of us here at BB to Rapunzel 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!

Images c/o Rapunzel
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