Features | My Favourite Books of 2017 So Far

Friday, 21 July 2017

I don't even want to think about the fact that we're already over half way through 2017 but what I am perfectly happy to think about are all the great books I've read so far this year! For today I've chosen just the top five books I've read in the first half of the year to share with you and I'd love to hear your favourite books of the year so far in the comments!

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumour has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.
Rebel of the Sands is the kind of story that made me want to read it all at once, and I almost did. If you're looking for a fast paced story with an interesting fantasy world and a kick-butt female protagonist then you can't go wrong with this one.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with the London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation.
Mansfield Park was one of the few Austen works that I went into knowing very little about it and I was incredibly pleasantly surprised. If you've read and enjoyed any of Austen's other novels but have yet to read this one, don't put it off any longer!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist.
Six of Crows is a fantasy novel about a plucky gang of convicts and misfits on an impossible heist. I knew I would love it before I even looked at the first page. This novel has adventure and interesting characters in spades. And the sequel is even better.

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between world. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had.
I know Wing Jones is set in the 90s but I was alive then so please let me call it a contemporary novel... Wing Jones is hands down the best contemporary YA novel I've read so far this year. It's a story full of sadness, and hope, and magic, and running. If you want to find out more you can read my full review of it here.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
Through the lens of Link's vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look. 
Pretty Monsters is a collection of YA short stories where everything is just a little off. From a boy who digs up the wrong body, to an entire village living in an old woman's handbag, or a magical girl trailed by ghosts, these stories are all unique and interesting little glimpses into other worlds.

Features | My illustrated Harry Potter editions

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Recently, I was looking to kill some time in town. Somehow or another, I found myself in my local Waterstone’s, browsing amongst the books, like I usually do. Or at least that was the plan. 

Instead, I found myself swept up in some sort of party. There were owl races, wand-making classes and house quizzes. It was the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and my local bookshop was making sure the town was celebrating. As I watched all of the families around me share the love for the wizarding world, I found myself getting swept up in the enthusiasm all over again. I remember how much I loved the hype while I was waiting for the books and films to be released. Harry Potter was a pretty big part of my childhood so it was great to see that the magic remains for other people too.

It made me want to experience the magic all over again. I’m planning a major re-read in the next couple of months, now that I’m done with my degree and have a little more free time on my hand.

In the meantime, however, I’ve been taking my time to flick through my illustrated editions of Harry Potter. And then I decided that these were too beautiful not too share!

I have both Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the stunning illustrated copies and I just can’t get enough of them. I love seeing someone’s vision of the wizarding world come to life. Even if saw some of the characters a little differently in my head, I still love these editions.

Of course, this is just another edition of a story that I’ve read once or twice before but I think it’s such a lovely way to get something new out the world of Hogwarts.

While I may only have the first two right now, I am hoping to collect the rest of them when they are released. Surely I can’t be the only one who buys more than one edition of the same book, just because they love it? Right?

Guest Review | Book Scavenger | Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Book Scavenger 1

Hi! I'm Monique, from SkeletonWeirdo.– 4 years ago I switched from reading Dutch translations to reading English books, and ever since that moment I have been devouring a lot of middle-grade novels. (I even read ‘Book Scavenger’ twice in the last 3 months.) So, when I was searching for the first WM bookclub entry, ‘Book Scavenger’ was thé absolute favorite… – Although, I might’ve spoiled how I feel about this book with the little bit of information above.

Book Scavenger
Written by: Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
354 pages

12-year-old Emily has moved again. Her parents are on a quest to live in all 50 US states, and this time they’re relocating to San Fransisco – the home of her literary idol; Mr Garrison Griswold.
Mr Griswold is a famous, well-loved book publisher and the creator of Book Scavenger, a game where books are books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles.
When Emily only just arrives in her new town, she learns that Griswold has been attacked, and is in a coma. No-one knows anything about the epic new game he was about to launch… But than Emily, and her new friend James, discover an odd book – which they believe to be from Griswold. Soon they start to find a bunch of clues that set them off on a book quest like no other.
But there are others on the hunt for this particular book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles that Griswold has left behind, before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target…


Before ‘Book Scavenger’, I never really read middle-grade books. Since ‘Book Scavenger’ I’ve been buying 10s of books in the so-called; ‘people who bought this, also bought this’ section. This book would’ve been THÉ absolute favorite for 12-year-old me, and let’s be 100% honest here; it’s THÉ absolute favorite for 23-year-old me as well!
There are ciphers, puzzles, codes, riddles and bits of literary history – all woven into a mystery-filled plot. It’s just SO much fun!.. But, even if we set aside all those marvellous assets for a little bit; the wonderful characters are what keeps the story strong. Everyone seems a bit quirky, geeky, creepy and definitely fascinating.

‘Book Scavenger’ isn’t just well-written, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman has created some of the BEST details I’ve ever read in books. It would’ve been so easy to just repeat the same riddles or codes, but that never happens. Not even once! – She keeps surprising with new, brilliant quests!
Book Scavenger is the Pokéman-Go for book nerds and puzzle-fanatics. (basically… ME!) – I wish it was a real thing.

Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic | Meghan Ciana Doidge | Review

Monday, 10 July 2017


Jade is a half-witch who owns a bakery. She doesn't really have much magic, not compared to Gran and her mom, but her magic is unique. She can sense other magic. Then again, living in Vancouver, there isn't much magic around so she doesn't get to exercise it a lot. Imagine her surprise when she senses a vampire at the door to her cupcake shop. That very same night, she senses an entire pack of werewolves on the dance floor with her. There's something going on to draw all these magical Adepts to Vancouver. Unfortunately, she didn't know how much it would revolve around her.


I was worried this was going to be a paranormal romance, of which I'm not the biggest fan. There was some hinting at it, but it ultimately turned into a nice murder mystery with paranormal goings on. If I read any more of the series, I know it will become a paranormal romance, so I'll just focus on this book, which I did enjoy.

I really liked reading this story from Jade's perspective. She isn't the smartest protagonist I've read, but she's got plenty of common sense that kept me from being frustrated. I can even understand her turning a blind eye to the evidence of who the killer is (though it is pretty obvious). Yes, the book has some sexual undertones, but she's able to make it take a back seat to the important stuff. Like surviving. And not getting bled by a hungry vampire. Or letting her magic get used to destroy others. You know, the important things.

This book has a delightfully simple aspect to it that I greatly appreciated. It all takes place in one town over just a few days. There's no out-of-nowhere surprises. There's no gimmicky explanations. There's no inconsistent character development. The book, the characters, the setting, the plot are all presented as is and I loved that! This is definitely an intriguing world.

If you would like to read a paranormal mystery, maybe a paranormal romance series, I really do recommend this. It's so charming!

Piglettes | Clementine Beauvais | Review

Friday, 7 July 2017

Mireille, Astrid and Hakima have just been voted the three ugliest girls in school by their classmates on Facebook. But does that mean they're going to sit around crying about it?
Well... yes, a bit, but not for long!

Mireille is used to the Pig Pageant, organised by her classmate Malo every year. If anything, she's simply disappointed that this year she has only been voted the third ugliest girl in school, instead of getting her usual first place. Astrid and Hakima however, are both new to the school and to the pageant and not finding it so easy to accept their titles. When Mireille meets her fellow winners and the local newspaper reports on the Pig Pageant without speaking to any of them, Mireille begins to hatch a plan that will bring the focus very sharply back to the three piglettes.

A garden party being held by the French President gives the girls a common goal. For Mireille it will be a chance to meet her father, for Hakima a chance to make right the injustice done to her brother, Kader, in the French army that meant the loss of his legs, and for Astrid simply a chance to meet her favourite band of all time. For all of them it is a chance to show that there are more important things in life than being voted the most ugly girl at school. So, accompanied by Kader, the girls set off to cycle to Paris, crash a garden party, and sell sausages out of an old trailer to pay their way.

Piglettes is a charming and hilarious book that deals with a pretty serious issue. Bullying has always been a problem in schools, of course, but now with the anonymity and immediacy of the internet, it's easier than ever for those bullies to hit their mark and, as the headteacher at Mireille's school points out, it's very difficult for schools to deal with bullying that takes place online.

Mireille, however, has the perfect way of dealing with her tormentors. She just doesn't see them that way. Mireille has a wicked sense of humour that at times genuinely made me laugh out loud, and even she admits that it's a coping mechanism. She tries to teach the other girls that this is how they must deal with Malo and the others too, that they have to just laugh and make jokes and not let it get to them because it really doesn't mean anything. Hakima understands this, at least. When Mireille and Astrid meet her for the first time, she is the one who tells them there are more important things in the world, like the fact that the general who sent Kader into the mission where he was injured, is about to be awarded the Legion of Honour.

So when they come up with their plan to cycle to Paris and sell sausages along the way, it really isn't about revenge, although that's what Malo assumes. It isn't about him or the pageant. It isn't really even about the fact that now, far from ignoring the three girls, the local paper is desperate to cover every leg of their journey. It's about these three girls becoming friends, having an adventure, helping each other to achieve their goals, and learning to really, truly, not care if other people think they're ugly. This is an uplifting story, guaranteed to make you giggle.

Beauvais handles the issues in this book with a light hand and an excellent sense of humour and I would definitely recommend it to all teenage girls and anyone else who wants a truly fun and funny read about friendship, growing up, and selling sausages in the French countryside.

The Mists of Avalon | Marion Zimmer Bradley | Review

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

You may have noticed in one of my previous posts that I recently decided to crack on with my biggest read in a long time. My edition of the book had a little over 1000 pages which, for someone who has mainly been reading short stories and poetry recently, seemed like a major challenge. It certainly took me longer than I expected to read it!

Even if it took me a little while, I’m so glad that I took the time to read it as it was well worth it. The Mists of Avalon is a retelling of the King Arthur myth, with a focus on the often neglected women in the story. Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin take to the sidelines while Guinevere, Igraine, and Morgaine are allowed to tell their stories. Not only must they deal with the changing fate of Camelot, and the increasing prominence of Christianity, but they face a  host of problems just for being women.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, the author of The Mists of Avalon, certainly doesn’t shy away from the unappealing realities of life as a woman in a feudal society.  Each of the characters that the novel tracks deals with more than their fair share of hardship and suffering. I couldn’t decide who I was rooting for the most throughout the entire story, though I loved the way the various narratives wove in and out of one another. It made it one of the most imaginative arthurian retellings that I have read in recent years. Though each of the twists were novel and creative, they worked so well with what you expect from a story about King Arthur and his court. In fact, it made it painfully obvious just how little we usually hear from women such as Morgaine.

While that might have been part of what drew me to The Mists of Avalon, I stayed for the brilliantly complex characters and the epic adventures they faced. I never knew what would happen next as each chapter drew to a close; I was hooked to see what would unfold.

Though it’s without a doubt a hefty read, I would definitely recommend The Mists of Avalon if you’re looking a imaginative and creative take on Arthurian legends.

American Gods | Neil Gaiman | Review

Friday, 30 June 2017

Image from Goodreads
“Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. 
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.” – Goodreads

While this book has an overall 4.11 stars on Goodreads and has won many awards, I just couldn’t quite get into it. I did finish it but with reluctance and the thought I could be doing something else with my time.

Shadow is released from prison and follows Wednesday around America doing odd-jobs and trying to keep out of trouble. The people and gods he meets along the way are so interesting and full of character. The old golds from mythology around the world are banding together to fight the modern gods of Media and Money etc. Shadow is pulled into the middle of it all, so much more so than he originally thought he would. Throw in some coin tricks, a ghost-like wife, a town full of secrets and some creepy happenings and you have yourself a novel of epic proportions.

The whole thing sounded magical and my type of book – I love mythology and road trips and even the idea of old and new gods battling it out intrigued me. Buuut it just didn’t do it for me and I hate that it didn’t.

Despite all these awesome aspects being pulled together, I feel like there were way too many interruptions to the story, as it sort of leaped from following Shadow to other people throughout. It could have been cut down easily by 100 pages or so, and perhaps the size is part of the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as I feel I should have. My copy was 722 pages, although that included a novella and an interview with Neil Gaiman. The story is still a whopping 600ish pages, and that’s way too long in my books (pun intended?).

However! I pulled it up from 1 star to 2 stars because a) the characters were awesome, b) I loved the concept and c) I can see that it was a good book, it just wasn't for me.

American Gods has been recently made into a show, which was one of the reasons I read the book. I think I’ll enjoy the show more (*gasp!* Can you say that? On a book blog?!).

If you have read the book and seen the show, what did you think? 
Do you think the adaptation was a good one, and true to the story? 
If you’ve seen the show but not read the book – did you enjoy it? 
And if you’ve read the book, do you plan on watching the series? 
Let us know in the comments!

The Rebirths of Tao | Wesley Chu | Review

Monday, 26 June 2017


The Prophus struggle for survival never seems to end. This book follows three Prophus agents struggling to not only reduce the Genjix threat, but keep off the IXTF's radar, the international task force created to take down all aliens. To make matters worse, one of the agents is a 16 year old boy whose parents are both high on the Genjix target list. 


A while ago I reviewed Rise of Io by Chu and promised myself I would go back and read the trilogy that came before it in that world. With this, I have kept my promise and it was a very easy and rewarding promise to keep. Despite ultimately knowing how things would turn out, I was still on the edge of my seat and heavily emotionally invested. 

This book, in particular, was such a wonderful blend of just about every emotion. As per usual, Chu does kill a character that I wanted so badly to live. However, true to form, he makes it a good death that leaves you feeling like they were truly the hero you knew them to be. I'm not gonna lie, I was almost in tears. At the same time, there were so many points in the book where I was moved to tears because I was laughing so hard. Seriously, Marco and Roen's spats were the stuff of legends and I LOVED it! Heck, I'm not usually one for teenage hormone driven over-dramatics, but Chu made it so much more tolerable to read. 

Of course, no story is truly great without a truly great villain. This entire trilogy has had villains that are more than just top notch chess players. They are almost impossibly intelligent and ruthless. They are the kind of villains that you love to hate, but recognize how much better, stronger, faster they are than the good guys. The Genjix do a wonderful job of making the Prophus struggle feel so much greater. 

This book was a wonderful end to a truly engaging trilogy. I cannot praise it enough. If you are at all interested in books that are a combination of real life, military, and sci-fi, you won't regret picking up these books. 

Group Collaboration | BB's Summer Reading List

Saturday, 24 June 2017

We received a varied selection of suggestions for our ultimate summer reading list so decided it might be fun to create our very own Blogger's Bookshelf mini challenge! The printable checklist below features our top picks for the summer as well as a couple of mini challenges complete with recommended reads. Click here to print out your own copy and join in to see how many titles you can cross off the list over the next ten weeks... and beyond of course!

If you decide to join in and have a go at reading some (or all) of the titles on our list we'd love to follow your progress. Use the hashtag #BBSummerReads on Twitter and Instagram to share your 'currently reading' and TBR updates with us!

Thank you to this month's contributors: Cat, Lili, Anjali, Kate, Ria, Erin

Next month's group post topic is Why YA Is Important! If you'd like to get involved email us bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or keep an eye out on our Twitter page for more information.

Features | Comfort Reading

Friday, 23 June 2017

In this culture of GoodReads challenges and booktube wrap ups a lot of importance is put on reading new books, finding new authors, and expanding our reading horizons. These are, of course, all great things, but sometimes it can be a little daunting, a little tiring, to always be racing on to the next thing. Sometimes you just aren't in the mood for the next thing. Something may be happening in your own life, or the news may be too upsetting, or the world might just get too much, and you don't want to escape into a new world but an old one. One that is familiar and comforting. Sometimes you need the novel equivalent of your favourite meal eaten by a warm fire on a cold night.

We all have those books, right? The ones we've read a hundred times already but every time is like being welcomed home again. We already know every beat of the story, every twist and every turn, and that's part of what makes it so comforting. You know you aren't in for any surprises and you can just enjoy visiting those characters again in a way that feels safe and revitalising. That's the true joy of comfort reading.

For a lot of people the Harry Potter books fill that role, for others it will be classics like Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice, or a favourite Agatha Christie mystery, or a contemporary love story you just can't get enough of. You may not even realise you have one. You may have one or two books you read over and over again because they give you this sort of feeling, even though you've never really tried to put that feeling into words. But if you're book lover, which I'm sure you are if you're reading this, then you will almost certainly have at least one book whose cover is looking a little worse for wear for all the times you've reached for it to comfort you. You might even have three or four.

For me, the Harry Potter books are always a contender, but a few weeks ago, when I needed something comforting, I found myself reaching for a different series. I love the Wizarding World with all my heart but the fact is every single one of those books makes me cry, and at that moment I really didn't want to cry. I wanted to curl up and laugh and feel at home and when I really thought about what book might give me that I didn't have to think that much at all. For me, then, it was The Princess Diaries. Right now, what would it be for you?

The Way Back Home | Allan Stratton | Review

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The other day I found myself with a free afternoon and a desperate desire to read something, just for fun. I took my time perusing my bookshelf, not quite sure what I fancied picking up. And then an exceptionally bright and colourful cover caught my eye: The Way Back Home by Allan Stratton.

It’s a little different from the books I usually read but I had won it in a competition a little while ago. A quick read over the back cover had me convinced to give it a go and I’m so glad that I did! It was the perfect read for a summer afternoon.

The Way Back Home follows Zoe Bird, who spends her time avoiding her cousin, fighting with her parents and hanging out with her granny, her truest friend. But granny has Alzheimer’s and it’s getting worse. Zoe and her granny decided to run away and find the long lost uncle Teddy to see if he can help. Along the way, Zoe realises that there are things she doesn’t yet know and that things are rarely as simple as they seem.

Zoe was a truly relatable character, with a kind heart that made it easy to understand her misguided decisions. Despite everything, you can tell she is genuinely trying to help, even if her idea of the right thing to do leads to a series of misadventures. I was really rooting for her throughout and desperately raced ahead to find out how things worked out for her. Of course, there were a great cast of secondary characters along the way from the mischievous granny herself to Madi, her conniving cousin, who truly deserves the title of mean queen. Watching Zoe interact with them had me smiling and sighing in equal measure.

This book doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and reading it was a real emotional rollercoaster. It chipped away at my heart in places, before patching it back together with a little bit of hope. When I finished the book, there was a relaxed smile on my face and I felt uplifted.

In short, The Way Back Home was a great book novel to devour on a lazy afternoon with some tea and biscuits. It made me want to race through it and left me with a warm happiness that lasted throughout the day. Don’t you just love it when books do that?

Allies and Enemies: Fallen | Amy J. Murphy | Review

Monday, 19 June 2017


Commander Sela Tyron is a member of the Eugenes race, a lower class member who was bred and raised for the sole purpose of being a soldier. For her entire life she's been loyal to the Council of First and the teachings of Decca. Then her commanding officer, Captain Jovenlish Veradin gets arrested with no chance of a trial before his execution. Sela makes the not-so-easy decision to abandon everything and go save him. The conspiracy behind Veradin's execution order takes them through the galaxy and puts them on the run.


My favorite part about this book is that it shows the different ways a person can be strong. Sela is bred and trained to be strong physically and mentally while shunting down anything emotional. At a couple points her obvious strengths are complimented. At the same time, Erelah is obviously of frail build and naive, yet she has the mental endurance and strength to do whatever it takes to shut out Tristic, one of the most powerful mental influences. Sela's sergeant, Valen, has the strength of will to look out for the less fortunate, even while severely injured. The point is, you don't have to be muscular or be a bully in order to be strong. There are many ways you can show strength and this book does a good job of showing those.

I also greatly appreciated the mythology/theology Murphy included in this world. It's easy to draw a some parallels to myths we have on Earth, but it still different enough that it really adds another layer to the world.

Overall, this was an entertaining read. It wasn't a great book, I'll admit that, but for $.99 it was a good grab. The world is well built and the characters even more so. There is a love story, but also a lot of action and spaceships. Definitely an entertaining read for a sci-fi fan.

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

Friday, 16 June 2017

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. 
But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship - the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. - Goodreads
Told from fifteen-year-old Aristotle's point of view, this book was a beautiful story of friendship, love, of figuring out who you are, of being someone you don't even realise until the last minute. Aristotle and Dante meet at the swimming pool one summer, and as Dante starts teaching Ari to swim, their friendship grows. While they're at different schools, they spend a lot of time together, hanging out at each other's homes, meeting the families, talking about how Mexican they are (or aren't).

One day, Dante announces that he has to leave with his family for a year. Ari is obviously upset by this change - he's losing his best friend, after all - but after a year away, Dante comes back. Without giving too much away, things change after a certain event occurs, and things aren't really the same after that.

“I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone's hand.”

Despite aforementioned event, the book actually has very little plot. It was more of a day-in-the-life rather than plot-focused, if that makes sense. It was the little things throughout the story that happened that really led to the ending. It seemed to me to be almost more accurate of life than a lot of young adult books these days.

We have our Divergents, and even our Paper Towns, all with big events or disasters or road trips or what have you, but I haven't read too much in the way of just teens being teens. They're literally just living their life. Nothing really happens. There's no big drama, there's no Government trying to overthrow anyone; just two boys, going through high school and navigating their way through life. It really was a beautiful thing.

It's wonderfully written, too. I actually read this in 2 sittings, the second of which I read about 80% of the book and accidentally stayed up until 1am reading it. Sáenz definitely pulls you in with his writing, and I couldn't put it down.

You can find this book and others on Anastasia's list of LGBT books to read if you're interested in books with similar themes.

Have you read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe?

Features | Changing My Mind

Friday, 9 June 2017

I like to think that I can admit when I have been wrong and that is what I am here to do today. Nearly two years ago now, on this very blog, I spoke about book series I probably would never finish and the very first series on that list was Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments. It's safe to say I hated the first book, City of Bones, and at the time I felt extremely confident in saying that I would probably not ever be picking up the rest of the series. 

Except that I recently finished the third book.

Why did I give the series a second chance if I hated the first book so much? One word: Shadowhunters. I somehow got convinced to watch the TV series based on the books and I enjoyed the show so much that I got curious. I have a lot of friends who really love these books and I clearly enjoyed the world so why not give the second book a go? And then the third one?

I still have my issues with the series. I still can't help but roll my eyes at some of Cassandra Clare's writing choices. But I liked the second book better than the first, and I liked the third book better than both of them, and two years after declaring that I had no interest in finishing this series I am here to say that I was wrong. I now have every intention of finishing this series.

I gave the books a second chance and I can see now what everyone else sees in them. They may not be my favourite books in the whole world (yet. I've been wrong about these books once, I could be again) but it turns out that, first book aside, I do really enjoy reading them. Now I can't help but wonder if there are other series out there that I'm missing out on because I didn't like the first book?

I mean, I still have no intention of giving any of the other series on my first list a second chance but you know, I'll keep this in mind for the future. Maybe.

Have you ever written off a series after the first book only to completely change your mind about it later on? What great series could we all be missing out on because the first book isn't quite up to scratch?

Features | Falling in love with reading again

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

If there’s anything that can test your love of reading, it’s a degree that relies pretty heavily on it. Trust me, I’ve just about wrapped up four years studying Classical Studies and English. Across the years, that has equalled a lot of books and not all of them were enjoyable reading experiences.

It’s also a very different kind of reading, as you constantly need to be ‘switched on’. You keep your eyes peeled for literary techniques, making notes and annotating as you go. Then you start to rip things apart to get into analysis and before you know it you're noticing all the things that don’t work in a text, rather than looking for the good stuff. It’s hardly enjoyable escapism. Still, it’s not all bad and I’d do it all again if I got the chance. It just changed the way I approached reading. If I did get the time to read, I found myself sticking to poetry and short stories as I didn’t have the brain power or commitment for a novel.

For the last few weeks however, I’ve noticed a change.

I’m desperate to read again and am finally relishing working through some of the books I’ve ignored for a while. I’m having a real fantasy moment, especially YA novels in that genre, and have been loving discovering from some new wordy worlds. After so long avoiding them, it feels good to be adventuring again, especially since I can do it from my own home.

I’m not sure how long this reading flurry will last. It could just be a knee-jerk reaction, designed to help me revel in the sheer joy of my reading freedom. I could wake up tomorrow and be right back in a slump. Either way, I’m going to make the most of it.

And if you don’t believe me that I’m falling in love with reading again? I just started a 1008 page novel. Not bad commitment for someone who mainly reads short stories, is it?

Bookish Links #31

Saturday, 3 June 2017

1. Read Women Month 2017 - we're kicking off this roundup with a post from team BB writer Anastasia who is hosting her annual Read Women Month throughout June. It's definitely not too late to join in and you can find out more over on her blog!

2. A Song For Tomorrow - we enjoyed Josie's review of Alice Peterson's book, including her personal connection to the story and thoughts on how accurately it portrays CF.

3. Beach Reads - if you're on the lookout for the best summer reads this post has some great ideas. Also, keep an eye out for our group post this month as we'll be talking about our top picks!

4. Who Are Your Favourites? - are your favourite YA characters the same as everyone elses? This Buzzfeed poll post looks at the most popular characters from Harry Potter, The Lunar Chronicles, Divergent and more.

5. One For The Horror Fans - we love The Black Tapes Podcast so can't wait to check out some of the books on this list from Riveted Lit whilst we wait for season 3. Have you read any of these titles?

6. Aussie YA - on the lookout for an anthology? In this post Jess talks all about Begin End Begin a collection from popular Australian YA authors. We think it sounds like a great read (and how beautiful is that cover?!).

7. Best Audiobooks - looking for a way to improve your daily commute? Check out this list of ten audiobooks guaranteed to beat the boredom.

8. Flash Fiction - if you enjoy flash fiction you'll love Sonya Cheney's writing blog. Do you write your own flash fiction? Let us know in the comments!

9. Love A Good Mystery? - Goodreads recently shared a list of the top 10 YA mysteries on the site. What are your favourite YA mystery titles?

10. Tackling TBR Guilt - our final link of the month comes from Kelly, the newest member of team BB, who recently wrote about her reasons for no longer feeling guilty about her TBR pile. Keep an eye out for Kelly's first post here next week!

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!   

The Chemist | Stephanie Meyer | Review

Friday, 2 June 2017

"An ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life. She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning. 
Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon. 
When her former handler offers her a way out, she realises it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.
Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of." - Goodreads

I was really looking forward to this book, but I couldn't quite get into it, unfortunately.

Perhaps it was because I was expecting more Twilight or The Host from another Stephanie Meyer book, but it was definitely a whole new genre. Thriller, spy, crime novel, over supernatural, fantasy, young adult. Which is all fine and good, but I wasn't quite expecting it to be so grown-up, for want of a better phrase.

I didn't really care for Juliana (who goes by Alex most of the book), and thought her relationship with Daniel was highly unlikely. In a story you want it to be at last a little bit plausible, right? At the beginning of the book, Alex tortures Daniel and then days after he falls in love with her. I'm sorry. But what? It's all very masochistic, and I didn't get it. It was very inst-love, and the lack of other female characters was almost concerning.

However, I liked the idea behind the story line and the way the plot clipped along. The fact that Juliana/Alex is super smart and a chemical genius was a really fun aspect, and made it an interesting read from that perspective.

If you're a fan of thriller and spy books with a female protagonist who can kill you a thousand ways with various liquids, then do pick up a copy of The Chemist. Just don't expect it to be anything along the lines of Meyer's previous books.

Have you read The Chemist? What did you think? 

Get Involved | The Ultimate Summer Reading List

Thursday, 1 June 2017

One Of Us Is Lying | Karen McManus | Review

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

one of us is lying

*Review copy c/o Netgalley, cover image via goodreads.com, book release date: 1st June 2017 

"One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide." - Goodreads

When five teens unexpectedly find themselves in detention no one suspects that only four of them will make it out alive. In a Breakfast Club-style set up we meet Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, Cooper and finally Simon who is well-known for running his very own gossip app where he reveals the deepest, darkest secrets of everyone in the school. The day before he planned to reveal private details about the other four students things take another surprising turn when Simon doesn’t make it out of detention alive. When it is discovered that his death was not an accident the rest of the group find themselves accused of murder – question is, who is lying?

The story is told from multiple points of view, with chapters alternating between the four main characters accused of Simon’s murder. Although you go into the story unsure of who you can trust, one of the likable things about the main characters is that they are all flawed and have mistakes in their past, making them more realistic. Although they all seem to fit the usual high school stereotypes and don't quite manage to fully escape this, the members of this group do each seem to grow and develop throughout the story as more of their personalities and secrets are revealed.

The intriguing addition of Simon’s gossip app gives the story a touch of Pretty Little Liars/Gossip Girl vibes and adds both a motivation for the crime and another layer to the mystery. This combined with the multiple perspectives makes for a gripping ride and there are quite a few curveballs to keep the reader guessing throughout. Without giving anything away, the ending itself wasn’t my favourite but I enjoyed the mystery element and found the book to be a quick and addictive read.

One Of Us Is Lying is an exciting debut that I’m sure will be popular with the YA audience - we’ll definitely be hearing a lot more about it!

And Then You're Dead | Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty | Review

Monday, 29 May 2017

*Book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.


A collection of "what if" scenarios that all lead to death. The different forms of death are described scientifically through experiments and real-life examples. Such hypothetical situations include falling into a black hole, inability to sleep, being raised by buzzards, digging a hole to China and more!


This is an interesting compilation of "what ifs" that I never knew I wanted the answers to. It also clarified a few things for me. For example, I've heard Neil DeGrasse Tyson saying that falling into a black hole would lead to spaghettification, but did not know it would also involve being diced. 

A number of the details in the book are quite gruesome (it is a book about a lot of ways to die) but are necessary for the scientific accuracy. The authors clearly did their homework in each scenario and present it in an easy to understand manner. 

The only problem I had with this book is that it kinda got boring after a while. It was fun(ny) at first, but after a while it felt a bit repetitive. The scenarios were all different, but they all ended the same. Either that or I'm just not as interested in death by chocolate chip cookie, death by magnets or death by a trip to the sun.

Overall, though, if you have a run of morbid curiosity, this is definitely the book for you. Or if you're looking for answers to your kids questioning why getting hit by lightning won't give you superpowers, this book will prove helpful. It's got a good amount of trivial and important information. 

Group Post | #BBShelfies

Saturday, 27 May 2017

There are many things that fill a book lover's heart with joy. One of them is the sight of an insta-worthy bookshelf brimming with books. So for this month's post we asked our contributors to give us a glimpse of their own bookshelves and send us pictures of their bookshelves - or SHELF-IES. Check out their photos below.

(l-r: @Anjali_Kay // @RCagz )

(l-r: @RCagz // @sawyerandscout)

Thanks to all of our contributors this month. If you want to keep sharing your Shelfies tag us on Instagram with #BBShelfies.

--- --- --- 

Next month we'll be asking for your Summer read recommendations. If you'd like to be involved with this and future group posts drop an email to bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or keep an eye out on our Twitter for updates!

When Dimple Met Rishi | Sandhya Menon | Review

Friday, 26 May 2017

The arranged marriage YA romcom you didn't know you wanted or needed...

Dimple's main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university, and begin her plan for tech world domination. Rishi's rich, good-looking, and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple can't believe her luck when her parents agree to let her attend a summer program for young coders. She isn't just excited for the six weeks she'll spend creating a new app at Insomnia Con but also because her parents finally seem to be accepting her passion for all things tech. She's much less excited when she meets Rishi and discovers that her parents really agreed to let her attend Insomnia Con because they knew that he would be there too. 

Dimple and Rishi's parents have decided that their children would be an ideal marriage match, something Rishi is fully on board with. Dimple, however, is most definitely not. Dimple is at Insomnia Con to win with her app idea and meet her idol. Rishi... well Rishi's mostly there at his parents wishes and Dimple is unimpressed to discover that he doesn't know the first thing about coding.

When Dimple Met Rishi is definitely a unique YA read. It's the first one I've come across where arranged marriage plays such an big part in the plot but that's not the only reason that this novel stands out. Dimple and Rishi are both appealing and dynamic characters, and you just can't help but root for them both from the very beginning. Dimple loves her family but with her passion for coding and her desire to go against so many of her parents' traditions, she feels like she is a disappointment to them, and they just don't seem to understand her. Rishi on the other hand is every part the dutiful son, living up to his family's expectations to the point where he is about to give up his passion of drawing comics for the sensible career that his parents want him to have.

The novel follows both Rishi and Dimple during their six weeks at Insomnia Con as they overcome their awkward first meeting and begin to find some common ground and help each other in ways they didn't realise they needed. It's a sweet love story, full of the intensity of first love, but it's about Dimple and Rishi's relationships to their families and themselves as much as their relationships to each other. With such an abundance of absent parents in YA novels, this is one of those refreshing few where family aren't just important to the main characters, but central to their stories.

If I have one small complaint it's only that for a novel set at a coding camp, there isn't a whole lot of coding. With so much talk of Dimple's passion for it, it's a shame that we don't ever really see her doing it, the way that we see Rishi drawing. There is however a talent competition that makes for excellent reading and really, what a small complaint for such a great novel.

When Dimple Met Rishi is warm, funny, and a perfect read for summer.

2017 Reading Challenge | Update #1

Monday, 22 May 2017

It's time to check in and see how everyone is getting on with their 2017 challenges!

Anjali... 22/40 books read | 2/5 books vowed to read
Normally by this stage in the year I might not have even gotten through 1 of my Vow to Read books, so I'm rather pleased with the current 2. I'm also super stoked with my reading challenge so far. According to Good Reads, I'm 8 books ahead of schedule. My favourite book of the year so far has been Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor. Amazing!

Erin... 1/5 books vowed to read
Whilst I've only read one of my five 'vow to read' choices so far I have another one lined up on my Kindle ready to read soon. I have also managed to cross fourteen prompts off of the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge - if you missed my latest update you can catch it here!

Kate... 1/5 books vowed to read
Of the five books I mentioned in January’s post, I have only read one–Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal–which, unfortunately, was a big flop. The science is fascinating but the author presents it in the most tedious way possible. I hope to read the other books on the list this summer and fall.

I have been making great progress with some of my other reading goals, especially the Modern. Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge, which I am participating in. I’m ahead of schedule for once! Yay!

Cat... 1/5 books vowed to read
So far I have read only one of my vowed to read books, 'The Graces' by Laure Eve, I enjoyed this mystical and magical story and would like to read more books with a witchy theme.

So that's how we're getting on with this year's reading challenges so far. We'll be checking in again throughout the year, so keep an eye out for updates. Don't forget to leave us a comment and let us know how you've been getting on with your own reading goals and challenges for 2017!

Image via unsplash.com

Get Involved | Show Us Your Shelfies!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

For our May group post we're talking bookshelves and we would love you to share your shelfies with us! 

All you need to do is share your shelfie photos on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #BBShelfies. If social media isn't your thing, you're also welcome to email us your photos to use in the post - you can find us at bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com

If you want to get involved we'd love to hear from you and will need your shelfies by 24th May. We're looking forward to seeing all of your beautiful bookshelves!

Image via unsplash.com

Features | Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge Update #3

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

the woman in cabin 10

Despite only sharing my second Popsugar Challenge update last month I've managed to cross off five more prompts from the list of fifty-two, making a total of fourteen so far.

A Book Involving Travel | The Woman In Cabin 10, Ruth Ware (2016)

Having sped my way through In A Dark Dark Wood as part of the 5 Books 7 Days readathon last year I was keen to find out more about Ruth Ware's second novel The Woman In Cabin 10. At first I wasn't too sure whether I'd find any challenges on the list that it would work for however this thriller centres around a travel journalist and takes place on a luxury cruise so definitely involves travel, even if it isn't the main focus of the book.

A Book About An Interesting Woman | The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher (2016) 

Released shortly before she sadly passed away last year, this book is based on diaries actress Carrie Fisher kept as a teenager on the set of the first Star Wars film - the perfect fit for this prompt.

margot and me

A Book Set In Two Different Time Periods | Margot & Me, Juno Dawson (2017)

Juno Dawson's latest release switches between Fliss' life in the present day and the 1940s diary entries of her grandmother Margot. This format works so well for the story and I'd definitely recommend checking this one out if you haven't already. If you missed my mini review of the book you can catch it here.

A Book By A Person Of Colour | The Other Half Of Happiness, Ayisha Malik (2017) 

Obviously this prompt was an easy one to cross off the list as there are endless amounts of titles to choose from. I read the first book in this duology - Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged - for the prompt 'a book with a title that's a character's name' and was keen to read the sequel on it's release. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first but would like to read more of Ayisha Malik's writing in the future.

A Book That's Been On Your TBR List For Way Too Long | Someday, Someday, Maybe, Lauren Graham (2013)

Actress Lauren Graham's debut novel was something I'd been planning on reading for such a long time so I felt it would fit this particular challenge perfectly. The book follows Franny Banks, a young woman who moved to New York two and a half years earlier with a deadline of three years to achieve her goal of becoming a successful actress.

If you're taking part in the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge I'd love to hear from you. Let me know which prompts you've crossed off the list and which books you're planning to pick up next! 

Want To Write For Blogger's Bookshelf? We're Recruiting!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Here at BB we currently have six awesome writers and we're looking to add another member to the team!

The perfect fit for Blogger's Bookshelf would be someone who is keen to share their unique ideas and points of view, who is organised, creative, enthusiastic and of course loves talking all things books! If this sounds like you here's a little more information...

  • the role would involve writing content for the blog on a fortnightly basis (1 post per fortnight on an assigned day of the week, day is negotiable)
  • all content must be book-related but can include everything from reviews to features, lists, interviews, short stories, poems and event write-ups
  • as part of the team we would also like you to be involved in contributing to our group collaborations each month

If you think you would be well-suited to this role we would absolutely love to hear from you! Please email us your details (including your name & blog link if you have one) and we will get back to you soon - bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com

Don't forget, we're also always looking for guest bloggers! If you don't feel like you want to join the team but would like to submit a guest post or review we would love to hear from you - please do get in touch!

*Image via unsplash.com

Distillery Cats | Brad Thomas Parsons | Review

*Book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.


A collection of short, short stories about cats who "work" at distilleries and their portraits, along with quotes about cats and drinks from the distilleries based on the cats. 


This is such a cute book. The fact that the stories are true and you can follow up on a lot of these via Instagram just makes it all the better. The only downside to this book is that it's such a quick read. I really hope the author comes up with some kind of sequel (Bookstore Cats, please!). I haven't tried any of the drink recipes included, but it was still interesting to see which drinks the distilleries feel are their best. A lot of the stories are very heartwarming. Almost all of the distillery cats are adoptions. The rest are cats who set up shop, daring anyone to try to make them leave. This is a great book for cat lovers and drink lovers!

Flame in the Mist | Renee Ahdieh | Review

Friday, 12 May 2017

Mariko has always known that being a woman means she's not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored.

On her way to join her betrothed, the emperor's son Minamoto Raiden, Hattori Mariko is ambushed and left for dead by an infamous group of bandits known as the Black Clan. In an attempt to prove herself worthy of more than a political marriage to further her family's standing Mariko disguises herself as a peasant boy and makes a plan to infiltrate the Black Clan, find out who hired them to kill her, and exact her own revenge. But as Mariko spends more time with the Black Clan's leader, Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Ōkami, she begins to see that things aren't as simple as she once thought.

Flame in the Mist had an interesting premise. A girl who longs to invent things and be of more use to her family than the standard role of being a nobleman's daughter allows, bandits who are more than they appear, and a dash of fantasy for good measure. Unfortunately, although entertaining enough to read, Flame in the Mist falls just below the mark on more than one of these counts.

Mariko is a great idea for a character. She is very smart, with a mind for inventions, and a desire to be and do more than her family allow. Unfortunately the reader is simply told these facts over and over, with very little in the way of actually being shown these aspects of Mariko's personality. Mariko does invent things, such as throwing stars and smoke bombs, but her motivations often seem muddy at best. What is clearer is Mariko's motivation to infiltrate the Black Clan in the first place. Mariko's desire to end her life's pattern of being ordered around by men is a constant thread throughout the story and something I, for one, never fail to enjoy seeing in YA fiction.

If there is one strength here it is in Mariko's need to align herself within her growing relationships with the Black Clan and her lasting allegiance to her family and her brother, who will not rest until he finds her. It is only a shame that these relationships are let down at times by an inability to really see who Mariko is as a person, rather than simply being told what she is.

You may have seen Flame in the Mist described online as 'Disney's Mulan set in Feudal Japan' but, aside from Mariko's time spent disguised as a boy in a camp of men, the two stories really have very little in common, which is likely a good thing. Mariko's story is interesting in its own right. However, this entire novel almost feels like a set up for the real story, the true beginning of which is revealed in the last few pages.

With the elements revealed to the story in the last few pages of this book, there is every chance that the next in the series may be full of a lot more excitement and, hopefully, a lot more character but I, unfortunately, will probably not be picking it up to find out.