Sheet Pan Suppers Vegetarian | Raquel Pelzel | Review

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

sheet pan suppers vegetarian

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

When I first heard about this title I was intrigued by the concept of a cookbook full of recipes that can be made in just a sheet pan. I mean, who doesn’t love a meal that’s quick and easy to prepare with minimal washing up?

Sheet Pan Suppers Vegetarian includes 100 recipes spanning a wide variety of dishes all of which are suitable for a Vegetarian diet. In addition around half of the recipes are Vegan and similarly almost half are Gluten Free. Whilst not all of the dishes are suitable for a ‘free from’ diet, many can easily be adapted to suit different dietary needs.

‘Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or just want to get your family to eat a greener diet a few times a week, may the sheet pan help get you there.’ -Raquel Pelzel

In addition to the more traditional sheet pan ideas like nachos, pizza and burgers the book also shares more surprising dishes including several soups! There is even a whole section of dessert recipes to be found at the end of the book and tons of tips and tricks along the way. Some of the recipes I’m most looking forward to trying out are the Vegan Poutine, Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, Crispy Roasted Shallot & Lentil Mujadara and I Can’t Believe It’s Mushroom Risotto!.

In a time where most of us rely on a selection of kitchen gadgets for all sorts of different tasks Sheet Pan Suppers Vegetarian showcases just how versatile and exciting cooking with a simple pan can be.

The Silver Eyes | Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley

Monday, 18 September 2017


Summary:

Six friends are meeting up for the first time in 10 years. It's also been 10 years since their childhood friend, Michael, was killed at Freddy Fazbear's Restaurant. After the group decides to go into the closed down restaurant, they awaken memories and monsters.

Review:

I fully expected this book to be another drag in the reading slump I've been in lately, but I gotta admit, this book wasn't bad! If you've never heard of the game Five Nights at Freddy's you may enjoy the book even more. The book is non-canon but that just meant the writers could have more fun with it. I read this book in just a few days because it was that entertaining!

To be fair, it often reads like a stereotypical horror movie from the 80's where you want to shout "WHY ARE YOU GOING IN THERE?!" At the same time, though, there are some genuinely funny and genuinely creepy scenes. The chase scenes probably weren't as scary as the authors intended, but when they went for "creepy" over "scary" they got it down pat! (That reminds me, if you're creeped out by dolls, DON'T read this book.) As long as you don't expect brilliant dialogue and plot, I really think you'll like this book. I didn't care for the games, except to watch Let's Plays and I really had a good time reading this. In fact, I've already bought the next one. 

The book is definitely aimed at a Young Adult audience, probably the same people who made the games such a big deal. But I still found it appealing. The fact that it was set in the early 90's helped keep today's technology from interfering. I found the characters to be enjoyable, even if they did think like the teenagers they are. They kept going when they needed to. The freak-outs were understandable and their motives were good. 

If you're looking for a creepy read, want to know more about the Five Nights at Freddy's franchise, or are even just looking for an easy read with entertaining elements, I highly recommend this book. I had a much better time with it than I expected.

Bookish Links #33

Saturday, 16 September 2017


1. Literary Tattoos - we're kicking off this month's list with something a little different; (non-permanent) literary tattoos. Which one is your favourite?

2. Books + Cafes - we enjoyed Anjali's recent post on how much she loves reading books in cafes. Let us know where you favourite place to read is in the comments section below!

3.  End Of Summer Reads - with Summer drawing to a close Autumn is just around the corner and is set to bring with it brand new seasons of some of our favourite shows. For those who love both books and TV, this post from Brit + Co suggests ten last-minute reads to pick up whilst you wait for your favourite show to return.

4. Literary London - Lauren shared some ideas for a literary themed trip to London. Have you visited any of the places on her list?

5. Books That Changed Lives - in this post, Lauren shares a roundup of books that have changed lives. We loved reading about other people's experiences and can't think of a better way to pick out our next read!

6. Star Ratings - we found Jenny's post on star ratings such an interesting read. Do you use star ratings for your books reviews, or do you feel there is a better way to rate books?

7. Saving Books - this article about a man who rescued books and used them to create a free library caught our eye recently. It's great to see so many books being saved for more readers to enjoy!

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!     

Features | Baking Books | Brownies for Blue

Friday, 15 September 2017


Ms Shiftlet efficiently checked the computer. "I see someone just had a birthday." 
"It was your birthday?" Noah demanded. 
Blue struggled to address the counsellor instead of Noah. "What - oh - yes." 
It had been two weeks ago. Ordinarily, Maura made sludgy brownies, but she hadn't been there. Persephone had tried her best to re-create their undercooked glory, but the brownies had accidentally turned out pretty and precise with powdered sugar dusted in lace patterns on top.
(Chapter six, Blue Lily, Lily Blue)

Today we're doing something a little different. I'm sharing a recipe with you from one of my favourite book series, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

The Raven Cycle follows a teenage girl called Blue and her friends, four boys from the local Aglionby Academy, on their search for an ancient Welsh king. In the second book in the series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Blue reminisces about the 'sludgy brownies' her mother usually makes for her birthday and while I can't do anything about Blue not getting the brownies she wants, I can make sure you do get them. With a little work of your own, obviously.

So here's my fail-safe, never-goes-wrong recipe for Maura's sludgy brownies, best enjoyed with a side of The Raven Boys.


Maura Sargent's Sludgy Brownies.*

Ingredients
  • 275g softened butter
  • 375g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 100g chocolate chips
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and grease and line a large baking tray.
  • Chase the raven out of the kitchen. How did she get in here?
  • Beat the sugar and butter together before adding the other ingredients and beating until combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spread it gently into the corners of the tin, and level the top.
  • Tell the ghost who keeps trying to eat the batter that he'll have to wait until the brownies are done like everyone else!
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes until the brownies have a crusty top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If the mixture is browning too much then cover it loosely with tin foil for the last 10 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into delicious sludgy brownies.
  • Pop your brownies in an airtight container and they make the perfect snack to share with friends while you're out searching for ley lines!

*Recipe from Mary Berry's Baking Bible. Mostly.


Features | Back to School Reads

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

For most of us September is synonymous with back to school season. Even now, when I’m not heading back to the land of new classes and coursework, I still have it on my mind. If you do too, you might well enjoy this back to school reading list. Forget the lists you might get for classes, this is the one that matters.




  1. This wouldn’t be a post of school themed recommendations without mentioning Harry Potter, would it? Whether you’re diving into the wizarding world for the first time or due a reread, start with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and go from there. If you really want to treat yourself, you should have a read of the illustrated editions!
  2. When it came to taking the photos for this post, I couldn’t find my copy of The School of Good and Evil anywhere so you’ll have to use your imagination for a moment. Fairytale-esque, this book focuses on two young girls who are sent to the schools of good and evil respectively but not the one they were expecting to. It’s great at challenging preconceptions and a really imaginative story!
  3. I am Malala is a fantastic book about one girl’s fight for an education. When the Taliban tries to stop girls from going to school, Malala fights back and becomes a global inspiration.
  4. If you’re looking for a book about struggling to fit in at school, I couldn’t recommend The Art of Being Normal enough. It’s a phenomenal and diverse book about friendship, personal identity and the struggle to fit in.
  5. If, like me, you’re not going back to any formal education this year, you might be looking for some non-fiction to keep you on your toes. Ice Cream for Breakfast is a brilliant book which aims to help you reconnect with your inner child and worry less. There are some very important lessons contained within this book!
  6. Maybe classics are on your mind when it comes to back to school. In that case, you should read Agnes Grey, the wonderful novel by Anne Bronte. It follows a governess and her not-so-wonderful charges.
  7. Finally, if school isn’t your favourite thing and you’re looking for some escapism, you should check out Illuminae. Put all thoughts of homework and early mornings to the back of your mind with an epic space adventure.

What would you put on your back to school reading list?


Features | 75th Anniversary Of The Famous Five, by Enid Blyton

Friday, 8 September 2017


On September 11th, 1942 we welcomed into the world the very first of what would become a long series of 21 Famous Five books by the wonderful Enid Blyton.

I grew up reading the stories of The Adventurous Four, The Secret Seven, The Wishing Chair, The Magic Faraway Tree, and of course, The Famous Five. While I was always more into the stories of Silky, Saucepan Man and Moon-Face as they ventured in different lands at the top of the biggest tree in the forest (The Faraway Tree series), I remember reading my way through many a Famous Five story when I was younger.

The very first Famous Five book (which was published on the 11th of Sep) was Famous Five: Five on Treasure Island. It told the story of siblings Julian, Dick, and Anne, and their summer at their Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny's house. When they arrive they meet their cousin Georgina ('George'), and her dog Timmy. George takes her cousins to Kirrin Island, and on the way she shows them the shipwreck in the bay. Rumour has it there was gold in the ship which was never discovered, even when the divers went searching for it.

As a storm rolls in, the child take shelter on the island, but the ship gets thrown up onto the beach. From there, the story follows the Famous Five as they explore the ship, discover old relics, and suddenly get hot on the trail of exciting clues which will potentially lead them to the treasure lost to the sea. But someone else is after the treasure too, and they can't get there first.

Five on Treasure Island was the first in a long series which entertained children for decades. I, for one, am very glad that Blyton started the Famous Five series (and all her others!), as I can't imagine my childhood without them.

Happy 75th birthday, Famous Five!

Let us know your favourite childhood novels!

Image from Goodreads

Features | Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge Update #4

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

dangerous girls

It's been almost four months since my last Popsugar challenge update thanks to a combination of books that didn't fit any of the prompts and a lack of time to read as much as I'd like. My total count for the challenge is now at eighteen and with only three months left of the year I won't be able to cross all fifty-two prompts off the list. Instead I'm hoping to complete around twenty-five of the prompts before 2017 comes to a close.

A Book By An Author Who Uses A Pseudonym | Dangerous Girls, Abigail Haas (2013)

I had originally considered reading Stephen King for this prompt however in times of a reading slump I turned to one of my favourite books which also happened to fit the brief. Dangerous Girls was penned by Abby McDonald under the pseudonym Abigail Haas. It would appear that this book is becoming an annual re-read for me as this is the third year in a row I've picked it up! You can catch my review from back in 2015 here on BB.

A Book With An Unreliable Narrator | Final Girls, Riley Sager (2017)

When I first picked up this book I wasn't sure it would fit any of the prompts in this year's challenge (aside from those I'd already completed) however I quickly discovered I was wrong. The book's main character Quincy is the only survivor of an attack at Pine Cottage years earlier and does not remember anything from the night of the incident, fitting the unreliable narrator role well.

big little lies

A Book By An Author From A Country You've Never Visited | Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty (2014)

I had a few different ideas in mind for this prompt but settled on Big Little Lies by Australian author Liane Moriarty. There are so many amazing countries that I've never visited and Australia is definitely one I hope to see some day!

The First Book In A Series You Haven't Read Before | Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel (2016)

Sleeping Giants is the first book in a Science Fiction trilogy that follows the discovery of a giant metal hand. The format of the book which tells the story through interviews, journal entries, news articles, reports and logs made this one a particularly interesting read and I'm looking forward to picking up the second book in the series.

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! 

Invader Zim Comic Books Series | Jhonen Vasquez

Monday, 4 September 2017


Summary:

The comic book series picks up some time after the cartoon show ended. Long enough for Dib to become, quite literally, fused to his chair. This series continues the strange, silly and sometimes gross adventures of Zim and his attempts to conquer Earth for the Irken Empire.

Review:

This probably isn't a shock to anyone but I was a huge fan of the original cartoon show. I have the DVDs, a Gir plushie, a Gir hoodie and a Gir keychain (guess my favorite character). So when I found out about the comic books, I knew I had to get them! As it is, I've only been able to read volumes 1-3. I still need to order up volume 4, which I will because I'm just having so much fun with these books!

Saying that this series was by Jhonen Vasquez is a bit misleading. He is the creator of Invader Zim but many authors have contributed to these books and it adds a nice element to the world. It was Eric Truehart who made me feel bad for Zim because he clearly just wants the approval of The Tallest more than anything! Danielle Koenig and Jamie Smart's contributions to the possible origins of Ms. Bitters were so cool and helped sell the idea that each kid had their own story. 

The art style of the books is, for the most part, very close to the original cartoons. Be prepared for a lot of toilet humor. At the same time, though, several artists provide their own little spin that gives each book a unique feel. Each comic, each chapter of the volumes, is its own adventure into the depths of chaos these writers and illustrators find in the world of Zim. 

If you were a fan of the show, don't hesitate to pick these books up! If you have no idea what the series is, you may have a little trouble getting into the world, but I think the humor more than makes up for that. While I don't recommend it for all ages, I think it would be okay for as young as junior high, maybe middle school aged kids.

Daughter of the Burning City | Amanda Foody | Review

Friday, 1 September 2017


Sorina's illusions are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Gomorrah Festival Freak Show, but no matter how lifelike they may seem, they are just that - illusions, and not truly real. Or so Sorina always believed... until one of them is murdered.

The traveling circus-city of Gomorrah has many inhabitants with unusual skills, but Sorina's is one of the rarest. She is the first illusion-worker to have been born in hundreds of years and as well as producing realistic illusions to entertain audiences every night, Sorina has used her skill to make herself a family of fellow cast members for her Freak Show. The members of Sorina's family each have their own personalities and skills but they are merely illusions, figments of Sorina's imagination, so she's shocked and horrified to learn that they can, after all, be killed like real people.

Sorina's father and proprietor of Gomorrah, Villiam, promises Sorina that he will help her find out who is killing her illusions, but with the members of her family slowly being murdered one by one, Sorina also chooses to take matters into her own hands. Unsatisfied with Villiam's theories, Sorina begins a separate line of enquiry to catch the murderer with an infuriating boy she has just met called Luca, who has his own unique skill. He calls himself a poison-worker and people pay to kill him.

There is a murder mystery at the heart of Daughter of the Burning City but it is not like any murder mystery novel I've ever read before. Partly, this is because the real mystery is not only who the murderer is but how it is possible for them to kill Sorina's illusions in the first place, but mostly it is because of Sorina herself. Sorina is a compelling protagonist. She has no eyes, yet she can see perfectly, and she can make other people see whatever she wants them to see. Because of both of these things she finds it difficult to make friends and so instead she uses her illusion-work to create a family of fellow 'freaks', who she loves as though they were her real family, and who she mourns that way too, even as she worries that most of the friends she has are ones she made up. Sorina is full of these kind of contradictions, which make her feel all the more real as a character. Just because her illusions aren't real, doesn't mean she won't do anything to protect them.

Sorina's illusion-work is certainly one of the most interesting aspects of the novel, as is Luca's poison-work, a word he has chosen himself because he appears to be the only one. At first Luca is a little difficult to warm to. He's rude and kind of mean, but as Sorina gets to know him better, so does the reader, and the story avoids the dreaded insta-love trope. If I have one complaint about Daughter of the Burning City it's that I would have liked to have seen more of Sorina's family of illusions, but only because what we do see of them is so interesting: a girl with wings like a hawk, a tree that walks, and a boy with two heads, just a few examples. In the grand scheme of things though, this is a small complaint, as the story is so interesting, fun, and unique, with plenty of twists and surprises to keep you on the edge of your seat, and plenty of characters to enjoy spending time with.

Daughter of the Burning City is a very atmospheric read, which is perfect because Gomorrah is a very atmospheric place. Foody's description really brings the reader into this smoke covered traveling city, filled with magic and danger. It's impossible not to imagine walking through the city with Sorina and Luca, not to feel the wonder when Sorina discovers a new part of Gomorrah that she's never seen before, or the grief when she loses one of her illusions. Strange a place as it may be, I would definitely love to visit Gomorrah for real. Although I might pass on Luca's show.

Havergey | John Burnside | Review

Tuesday, 29 August 2017


Though I didn’t really know much about this book going into it, it continued to surprise with every new page. It was unusual and innovative and downright intriguing.


Havergey is a strange book but that just made the reading experience all the more enjoyable. Written by John Burnside, it tells the story of a traveller who stumbles upon the island of Havergey, a remote place that has become something of a utopia in a broken and wounded world. He arrives and is quickly placed in quarantine. There he begins to unravel the history of the unusual place, unpicking its secrets and those of the wider world too.


These records, or The Archives as they are known, were probably one of my favourite parts of this curious little novella. A found manuscript that seemingly fits in the main narrative it was an intriguing look at how exactly the world began to fall apart and how Havergey was reclaimed to make a new community.


Havergey itself remains something of a mystery throughout the novel so these snippets into the community were fascinating. They hooked me entirely and, even if I found the turns and twists a little surprising, I was still desperate to continue reading. It’s quite a difficult book to describe without giving a lot of the plot away but I can promise that it has plenty of entertaining secrets for you to discover between its pages.


Alongside this, the novella also serves to discuss environmental issues, Gaia theory and the impact humans have on the natural world. It is not something I know much about so it was good to learn a little more, especially through a more fictional lens. It did mean that there were moments when the narrator could get bogged down in some of the technical bits of such theories. Since they’re a scientist, I’ll forgive them for that, especially since the rest of Havergey is so beautifully written.


Havergey might be a little different from the fantasy I’ve been reading at the moment but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different!

Kelly

Group Collaboration | Around The World With Blogger's Bookshelf!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

For our August group post we want to take a trip around the world, looking at novels set all over the globe! We asked you to help us build a list of amazing reads set all over the world, hoping to include as many countires as possible and you shared some great suggestions with us. Below are the responses we received over the past few weeks... If you have any books you'd love to see added to the list please let us know!

Afghanistan
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

Aruba
Dangerous Girls, Abigail Haas

Australia
Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
Breathing Under Water, Sophie Hardcastle
Children Of The Different, S C Flynn
Tomorrow When The War Began, John Marsden

Botswana
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith

Burma
Elephant Moon, John Sweeney

China
The Crystal Ribbon, Celeste Lim

Cuba
Old Rosa, Reinalso Arenas

Denmark
The Keeper Of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen

England
Death Wish, Charlotte Wilson
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Slated, Teri Terry


France
All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

Germany
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne

Ghana
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

Iceland
I Remember You, Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Iran
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

Ireland
The Accident Season, Moira Fowley-Doyle
Asking For It, Louise O'Neill

Italy
The Echoes Of Love, Hannah Fielding

Japan
Confessions, Kanae Minato
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden


Kenya
Burning Embers, Hannah Fielding

New Zealand
I Am Not Esther, Fleur Beale
The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton

Russia
Metro 2033, Dmitry Glukhovsky

Saudi Arabia
Girls Of Riyadh, Rajaa Alsanea

Scotland
Black Cairn Point, Clare McFall

Spain
The Andalucian Nights Trilogy, Hannah Fielding
Cruel Summer, Juno Dawson

Sweden
A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden, Jonas Jonasson
Millenium Series, Stieg Larsson
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises, Fredrik Backman

Thailand
The Beach, Alex Garland

UAE
Dubai Tales, Mohammad al Murr

USA
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Morgan Matson
The Girls, Emma Cline
The Shack, William Paul Young
The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey

Whilst this list has been created using suggestions we have recieved throughout the month of August, we are keen to keep adding to it! We would love this to be an ongoing resource for our bloggers and readers so we are planning to continue updating it. If you have any titles to add to the list please leave us a comment, send an email or tweet and we'll make sure your suggestion is added.

Thank you to this month's contributors including: Anjali, Utopia State Of Mind, Erin, Rachel, Ria, Charlotte, Hannah, Elena, Laura

Photos by Margo Brodowicz & Ruthie on Unsplash



Next month's collaboration topic is Favourite Literary Adaptations - to get involved email or tweet us!

Room Love: 50 DIY Projects To Design Your Space | Heather Wutschke | Review

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

room love

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

Inspired by the fact that we each spend at least a third of our lives in our bedrooms new title Room Love shares a collection of DIY ideas to decorate and organise your space into one you truly love.

Aimed at a Middle Grade audience the book starts out by sharing tips on how to declutter, create mood boards and sketch layout designs to prepare for a room makeover. These preparation tips are followed by a series of DIY projects focused on using easy to access supplies and simple ideas that can make a huge difference to any room. Each tutorial comes complete with colour photos, in some cases including several step-by-step images or before and after shots.

Projects included range from painting up an old dresser or recycling cereal boxes as drawer dividers to the more unusual, for example using faux fur fabric to turn your desk chair into something that resembles a fluffy cat! One of my favourite projects from the selection were the room scents made using essential oils and natural ingredients like fresh herbs and fruit. Other projects that particularly caught my eye were the Driftwood Jewelry Hanger and Dream Jar.

Whilst I’m not amongst the target audience for the book myself, I believe that Room Love is a fun title full of bold ideas which will encourage young teens to use DIY as a way to make their space truly feel like their own.

Spark | J. B. North | Review

Monday, 21 August 2017


Summary:

Ivy, who lives in a world of shape-shifters, has just turned 17. Like all others of her age, she must now go to a trial to determine what her second form is. Her second form will determine the rest of her life. When it turns out her second form is one that hasn't been seen in about two hundred years, she gets put onto a strange and dangerous course.

Review:

I was kinda worried this book would be another Red Queen and I'd end up not finishing it. I was so happy to be proven wrong! This book genuinely surprised me in good ways. The world was rather easy to get into and, while there is exposition, it's told from Ivy's perspective so we only know what she knows. This really helps the world building feel better paced. A lot of times a single line of dialogue would help explain a lot.

Ivy was easy to root for and not just because she's the main character. Going into the test she has no aspirations of greatness. She's not completely happy with the system, but she's smart enough to know when to keep her mouth shut. 
"The poor can't help but hate the system, and if we tried anything, the noblemen would have us arrested and probably flogged within an inch of our lives." 
She is strong and determined, if a bit naive at times. She is easily manipulated by others, but in her defense, she hasn't had a lot of experience with the world outside of her orphanage. She makes up for it by learning fast. Really fast.

This is a very interesting world with interesting characters. There is a lot of political drama brewing, but I'll have to read more about that in the second book of the series. If you enjoy fantasy YA with smart characters and plenty of action sequences, I do recommend this book. There is a lot of fighting but, thankfully, no love triangle, no single teenager leading a rebellion to take down the government, or anything like that. It's simply a story of a young, smart, strong girl being put into extraordinary circumstances, and trying to survive. Just with a lot of magic and fighting. 

Did You See Melody? | Sophie Hannah | Review

Friday, 18 August 2017


Late at night, exhausted and desperate, Cara Burrows lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied by a man and a teenage girl: Melody Chapa, the most famous murder victim in the country.

Cara Burrows has left a note for her husband and two children with the date that she'll be back home. She hasn't told them that she is flying to America. She hasn't told them about the five star spa resort she has secretly booked herself into. She hasn't told them why she's gone. She just needs some time alone, to think. When she finally arrives at the resort, tired and phone-less in the middle of the night, the last thing she expects to find are two people already in her hotel room.

A simple mistake made by the resort's receptionist sees Cara soon embroiled in a situation she can hardly begin to understand, at the centre of which is America's most famous murder victim, who Cara is sure is the same girl she saw in her hotel room on that first night. Could Melody Chapa still be alive? And if she is, then how did her parents end up serving life sentences for her murder? The chances of an English tourist happening to see the supposed dead girl entirely by accident may seem pretty slim but Cara isn't the only guest who thinks she's seen Melody at Swallowtail Resort.

With a possible murder and a definitely dangerous secret at the heart of it, Did You See Melody? walks an interesting line in terms of tone. Hannah balances the suspense filled plot with unexpected humour, which at times had me snorting in front of my eReader. It's an enjoyable novel, certainly, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked from almost the very beginning. We don't begin with the mystery straight away but first take a little while to set up Cara's reasons for leaving her family to travel alone to America (something that maybe feels a bit of an overreaction as things become clearer), but once Cara begins her investigation into the famous murder of Melody Chapa the novel really gets its legs.

Cara, not being a local, doesn't know anything about the Melody Chapa case so the reader gets to discover the specifics slowly, as Cara does, through articles and TV transcripts. Some readers may find these intrusive to the story but I felt they came in at the right moments, telling Melody's story - at least, the version everyone knows of it - alongside Cara's. The only problem is that at times I began to feel as though Cara was little more than a device intended to react to Melody's story and nothing more. Until about midway through the novel anyway.

Then we begin the twists and turns that I suppose make this a psychological thriller. Personally, I didn't find much of it particularly thrilling. In my opinion the strength of this novel lies not necessarily with Cara's story, or even with Melody's, but with those of the surrounding characters: the outspoken hotel guest who involves herself in the mystery, determined to find the truth, and the famous criminal commentator who single-handedly twisted the whole of America to her way of thinking with her TV show during Melody's original murder trail. Did You See Melody? is an enjoyable read and as a funny and over-the-top take down of 'trial by media' it works. I'm just not entirely sold on the thriller part.

Maresi | Maria Turtschaninoff | Review

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Maresi, the first book in the Red Abbey Chronicles, has been waiting on my bookshelf for far too long. Following my resolution to read some of the more neglected works in my life, I decided to get started on it. I devoured this evocative work in a day and am eagerly awaiting the chance to read the rest in the series.



This book follows Maresi, a novice at the Red Abbey. On a secluded island, young women like herself learn far more than they ever could at home. Under the tutelage of the Sisters, they learn about medicine, history, languages, architecture and any number of other things. It is a sacred place, where men are banned. And then Jai arrives, pursued by men who will stop at nothing to get her back. The abbey is suddenly under threat.


Maresi is a novel of sisterhood and female friendship, with plenty of feminism woven in it. It is a harrowing tale of survival. Throughout it, is magic and wonder, which hooks you and draws you into the tale. The fantasy elements were definitely my favourite part of the book, little gems found within the vast descriptions of everyday life at the Abbey. Between the island’s strange defences and the hidden histories of the Red Abbey, I’m far too curious about discovering the secrets in the rest of this series.

Ultimately, this was enchanting fantasy that left you thinking for a long time after you read the final page. It is one that I would wholeheartedly recommend, whether you are a fan of feminist or fantasy literature.

Get Involved | Around The World With Blogger's Bookshelf!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue | Mackenzi Lee | Review

Friday, 11 August 2017


Image from Goodreads

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. 
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and travelling companion, Percy. 
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores. - Goodreads

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee was seriously one of my favourite books of the year so far (and probably still will be come the end of 2017). It was such a fun read and I found myself wanting to re-read it as soon as I put it down.

Monty, Percy and Felicity are headed off around Europe for what we might call their big O.E. (overseas experience), or their gap year, and while it seems like a jolly idea, things don't go they way Monty planned.

“We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with laquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.” 

Monty longs for their year-long trip to be one of bonding and exciting adventures around the Continent before Percy is shipped off to college in another country, and Monty has to start being in charge of the family estate. Felicity is meant to be stopping her trip when they get to Paris so she can begin life as a proper young lady, but all she wants to do is go to university and become a woman of medicine.

When Monty does something rash (which actually happens on most pages of the book), the trio find themselves on a wild goose chase around Europe with a stolen artefact, meeting strange people, searching for miraculous cures, being attacked by highwaymen and joining a crew of pirates.

'That can't possibly happen all in one book' you say. Well, my friends. It can. We follow book-nerd Felicity as she overcomes womanly stereotypes, Percy as he deals with issues and bouts of discrimination over his race, and Monty has he falls more and more hopelessly in love with his best friend.

Beautifully written, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is a tale of friendship, of loyalty, of love, of family, of adventures to be had, and fights to be fought. It's 18th century Europe, it's pirates and highwaymen, it's upper class pomp and prestige, it's hilarious and witty, alarming and exciting, and beautiful and sweet all rolled into one.

As you can tell, I really loved this book, and I recommended picking it up if you're into your YA novels (period, or otherwise).

Bookish Links #32

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


1. Summer Reads - we recently shared some of our top summer reads but of course you can never have enough good books to read. We loved this post from Alice & Lois with some great recommendations!

2. ...& Even More Summer Reads! - Estee also shared an amazing list of recommendations for the summer months with even more titles to add to your TBR!

3. Your Very Own Book Club - we loved Beth's post sharing her top book club picks inspired by WHSmith's Zoella book club. Which books would you choose for your own book club?

4. One For The Potterheads - if you feel like treating yourself or your favourite Harry Potter fan to something special check out Anjali's roundup of Potter-themed subscription boxes - so many great options!

5. Library Wanderlust - this post is full of ten incredibly beautiful libraries dotted across the globe. Which one would you most like to visit?

6. Best Of Booktube - over at Book Riot Christina shared a list of amazing booktubers we should all be subscribed to. If you have any favourites to add to the list please share them with us in the comments section below!

7. Fancy A Little DIY? - how pretty is this ombre bookshelf DIY from Brit + Co? We think this could be the perfect weekend project!

8. Illustrated Books - for our final link this month we wanted to share Ella's series of beautiful illustrations based on the books shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Which one is your favourite?

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!    

Skyfarer | Joseph Brassey | Review

Monday, 7 August 2017

*Image and book provided by NetGalley for an honest review.

Summary:

Aimee de Laurent is a freshly graduated apprentice from the Academy of Mystic Sciences and she's signed up to learn under Harkon Bright, despite rumors about his unusual ship, the Elysium, and her crew. When her very first attempt to send the ship to their destination goes wrong, the crew finds themselves going up against The Eternal Order and one if its star knights, Lord Azrael, in a race to find a jewel that can show you where whatever treasure you're looking for can be found.

Review:

This book was a delightful experience. The cast of characters are my kind of do-good rogues (they'll do good things, but they'll take payment for doing so). Every character is a character and that's why they work so well together. I'll admit, I'm looking forward to more books in this series so I can get to know them better. I really appreciated that Brassey didn't throw in a love story. This book was all about setting up the world and its characters and he did a great job of it.

The story was predictable, but it was still quite charming. There were a lot of things the you could see coming, but the characters were still worth investing in and the full story was a fun ride. What's more is the world this book takes place in. So many possibilities, so many new and interesting things to learn about (seriously, one world has dragons!) and, most intriguingly, potentially a new species of sentient, evil beings. 

That reminds me, there were a couple of scenes that were a little too much for me, violence wise. Nothing strongly graphic in its description or presentation but still, be a little wary.

Another reason I'm looking forward to the next book is to learn more about this amazing world where magic and technology work together almost seamlessly. One of the reasons I love science fiction so much is the technology. This fantasy book has given me a look at some new, wonderful mechanics that are magic based and I want to know more! 

I really think this would be a good book for sci-fi fans who are interested in dipping their toe into fantasy. Or for fans of space fantasy who are fans of rogue-like characters.



The Graces | Laure Eve | Review

Friday, 4 August 2017


Everyone said the Graces were witches.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

River is the new girl in her small seaside town. She spends her lunchtimes alone in the library, and has yet to make any friends at her new school, but she doesn't care. The only friends she wants are the Graces. The whole town is obsessed with the beautiful, rich, mysterious family. The rumour is that they're all witches, after all. Everyone at school longs to be friends with Summer, Fenrin, and Thalia but River is determined she will be. She finds it a little hard to believe when it works, Summer Grace choosing her of all people to spend her time with, and Summer's brother and sister following suit. 

Before long River finds herself in the envied position of being the only outsider in the Graces' inner circle. But there are reasons the Graces keep their distance from everyone else in the town. The stronger their friendship becomes, the deeper River falls in love with the Grace children and they with her, the more fragile River's place in their world starts to feel. After all, River is hiding a few secrets of her own and friendship isn't the only thing River wants from the Graces...

Mysterious, witchy, and deliciously dark, The Graces is a story about friendship, self discovery, and obsession. 

Teenage friendships are often build on a small kind of obsession: wanting to spend time only with each other, texting 24/7, feeling like a limb has been cut off any time your best friend misses a day of school. The very nature of teenage friendship tends to involve a sort of clinging onto each other for dear life, just to make being a teenager more bearable. Laure Eve takes that a step further with River and the Graces, showing the reader a relationship between teenagers who absolutely love each other, but who know in a very real way there is an underlying possibility of darkness to that sort of need and how quickly it can turn into desperation.

River worships the Graces, her obsession always an undercurrent in her relationship with them. Above all she has a desire to prove that she is like them, that they share something mysterious and different, that they need each other. It's a story that starts with a crush and a desire to fit in on River's own terms but slowly becomes something more unsettling, full of secrets and magic. River needs to know if the Graces really are witches, if the rumours around the town are true. But what does it mean for her if the rumours are true? What does it mean for their friendship if they aren't?

Even in the moments where River and the Graces are just being teenagers, enjoying each other's company, having the kind of evenings we cherish from our youth if we had them, or wish that we had had if we didn't, Eve's prose feels charged with potential for things to go horribly wrong and a burning necessity for them not to. This is a story that will make your stomach twist and your heart stop. It will absorb you and obsess you. From the very first page, every moment I wasn't reading The Graces I was thinking about it. There is magic of more than one kind in this book.

Features | I met my Goodreads goal - what's next?

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


This year, I decided to try a Goodreads challenge for the first time. I’d seen plenty about them on Twitter but always thought that I wouldn’t have time to balance a reading challenge and a degree. 2017, however, would be different, I promised myself.

I set myself the challenge of reading 26 books this year. Since I was in the midst of the final year of my degree, that sounded fair. I would need to average a book every two weeks, which seemed doable, even with deadlines and exams to wrangle. It would still be a challenge, but one I could hopefully meet.

It seems that I severely underestimated myself.

As of July 2017, I have read 48 books this year, according to my Goodreads account. That’s almost twice what I thought I would struggle to achieve in a year. Some of them are novellas or poetry or things I had to read for class but it still counts. I more than achieved my reading challenge for the year in just after six months.

So what next?

Of course I could just extend that goal. I could see if I could hit 60 or 70 books. Maybe even 100. But I think I’m just curious to see how many I would naturally read in a year, rather than pushing myself to hit a number just because. Clearly, my guesses about how much I read are wildly off.

Instead, I’ve set myself a few mini goals to focus on in the months ahead. I’m not sure if I’ll hit them all but I’m looking forward to having something to guide my reading with:

  1. Stop buying books. Seriously, I need to ease up on this for a little while. For the sake of both my bookshelves AND my bank balance, I’m going to try to rein in my book buying for a couple of months.
  2. Read books I already have. Linked to the first goal, I need to start reading some of the books I already own. I’ve just moved house and all my books are finally in one place again, which means that I can see just how many are sitting unread right now. I’m almost ashamed, if I wasn’t quite so excited to read them!
  3. Re-read the Harry Potter series. It’s time.
  4. Finish reading the Lord of the Rings series. I’ve only read book one, but I’m keen to finish this series as soon as I can.
  5. Focus on non-fiction. I could barely manage to read non-fiction during my degree which means that there are quite a few sitting pretty on my shelves waiting for me to dive in.

Group Collaboration | Why YA is important

Saturday, 29 July 2017

It's no secret that we love a bit of Young Adult fiction here at Blogger's Bookshelf!

When we first ran this post topic 2016, our focus was on building a list of our favourite YA novels.

The Young Adult fiction landscape has shifted and grown dramatically since then and we thought this month's group post would be a great opportunity to find out why our bloggers feel this particular genre is still so important both to them and for the book community as a whole.

Check out their answers below!




Next month's group post topic is Around the World with Blogger's Bookshelf! If you'd like to get involved email us bloggersbookshelf@gmail.com or keep an eye out on our Twitter page for more information.

The Wish Granter | C.J. Redwine | Review

Friday, 28 July 2017

Image from Goodreads.

The Story 


Thad and Arianna Glavan's mother was murdered, they don't know who their father is, and they've been thrown out of the city, hunted by the royal family and left to fend for themselves. When the royal family mysteriously dies, they return to the kingdom and Thad takes over the throne. Arianna, who doesn't care for nobility or being a princess, soon learns that Thad's ascension was no mere strike of luck. He made a deal with a Wish Granter called Alistair Teague who conned Thad into wishing for his and Ari's safety and the crown.

But Thad has wished away his soul, and now Arianna is fighting like anything to break the wish and get Thad's soul back. Sebastian, the new weapons master, teaches Ari to fight, and together they learn more about Teague's criminal goings-on in the kingdom. Teague though, knows Ari's weaknesses, and soon Ari and Sebastian find themselves in a horrific position that looks more dire by the day.

My Thoughts


The Wish Granter was a great retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Although the story line I've just tried to outline for you doesn't really have the Rumpelstiltskin-feel we might be use to, Teague's character is definitely evil, cunning, and everything you expect a Rumpelstiltskin-like character to be. Think The Dark One/Mr.Gold when he's evil from Once Upon A Time.

Ari was a great main character. She was funny, but stern, courageous but smart about what should scare her. She stood up for what she believed in and for others around her, even if they didn't deserve it. Thad was a bit of a flake, but every story needs one, and Teague was your typical bad-guy villain wanting to take over the world. Sebastian was brilliant, and while it was obvious (don't worry, it's not a spoiler if it's obvious right?) that he and Ari would fall in love, it was beautifully written.

Speaking of writing, I do love the way Redwine tells a story. She has the knack for taking stories that many are already familiar with and spinning them into something new and exciting. (I just made a pun without realising it - spinning...as in spinning things to gold...like Rumpelstiltskin? No? Okay.)

This is actually the second in her Ravenspire series, however you don't need to have read the first, The Shadow Queen. There are several references to the first book in The Wish Granter, but it's no biggy if you read them out of order. The next in the series is called The Traitor Prince, which is going to be 'based on old Arabian tale called The False Prince with a dash of The Prince and the Pauper' according to C.J. Redwine on Goodreads. It's due for release next year.

If you like YA novels, with a fantasy, or fairy tale twist, then pick up The Wish Granter. It's a fun, quick read, and I really enjoyed it.

Coding Projects in Python | DK |Review

Monday, 24 July 2017

*Image and book provided by NetGalley for an honest review

Summary:

As it says on the cover, this is a step-by-step visual guide to coding in Pythons. Meant for younger audiences, but why should they get all the fun stuff? 

Review:

This was actually a very well thought out book. I certainly learned a lot and wouldn't mind using this as a quick reference tool or as a supplement to a coding class. The visuals make everything easy to follow and, since it's a book, you can go at your own pace. If anything seems to difficult or you can't follow what they're saying, they have complete codes in the references section of the book. I highly recommend this for anyone who doesn't learn coding well in traditional settings. Or, if you're looking for a project to do with your kids, this book would be a great way for both you and your child to learn while having fun.