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

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



Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Features | Bookish Confessions

I fancied doing something a little different today so I thought I would share some of my deepest, darkest secrets with you all today. Yep, today I'm talking about my bookish confessions.

Being a book blogger, there is a certain pressure to meet expectations. You should have endless shelves of pristine books. Those shelves will be beautifully organised, perhaps by colour or genre. They will be filled with all of the newer releases, which you have managed to read all of. Don't forget the classics though - you should have read them too!

That is not how my life looks. For starters, I work a full time job around blogging so I don't have that much time for reading (especially if I want to keep on top of things here and at This Northern Gal). I also don't have the money or shelf space to keep on top of all of the newest books. Things look decidedly less polished outside of the internet!

Here are my confessions. Try not to judge me too hard.

  1. I don't like Austen (though I didn't mind Northanger Abbey).
  2. I'm not really a fan of Shakespeare either.
  3. I don't like romance. I avoid A LOT of popular books because of this.
  4. I write in my books. I know, I know but I just can't help it. In my defence, I don't do this to all of my books.
  5. I fold corners.
  6. I would never, ever fold a corner in someone else's book.
  7. My shelves are a mess. There are books crammed into every available space and no real system.
  8. I have series where the covers don't match.

What are your bookish confessions? Comment below or tweet me to join in!

Kelly x
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Sunday, 20 May 2018

Send Us Your Thoughts On Our May Book Club Pick!

We really hope you're enjoying our May BB book club pick The Skeleton's Holiday and can't wait to hear your thoughts! There's just under a week left to make sure your opinions are featured in our May roundup and infographic - click this link to complete the Google form.

the skeleton's holiday leonora carrington book club

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Friday, 18 May 2018

Of Fire and Stars | Audrey Coulthurst | Review

Of Fire and Stars | Audrey Coulthurst | Review on Blogger's Bookshelf

“Princesses don't play with fire.” 

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.

But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other. - Goodreads

While the prospect of the book was great - a young adult fantasy novel where the princess gets the girl - it fell short for me. The promise of a sweet romance in amongst castles, princes, lords and ladies was the only thing this book delivered for me, unfortunately.

Denna and Mare's budding romance was what held this book together, and I did really like their story line. Mare works with the horses and is forced to teach Denna how to ride. She's pretty stand-off-ish at first (and quick frankly, rude and immature), but as the pages go on, their friendship develops. I enjoyed how their relationship was strained at the beginning, and how it took an appropriate amount of time for them to realise they were something more than friends. Too often YA books are 'hello-I hate you-you did something cute- I love you now' in a matter of pages, but I think that Of Fire and Stars drew it out a little, making it at least a little more realistic.

The fire element that Denna possesses did not feel like a main part of the story to me. A princess with a secret fire ability is definitely intriguing and I'm all over that for a plot line. Unfortunately, I didn't feel as thought it was a major aspect. It even bored me a little. Very little happens in terms of the fire powers.

Speaking of which, very little happens in the entire story. Most of it is spent on horseback, with rumours in the background of various things which may or may not happen, the adults in the story not really worth their weight in salt (that's the saying, right?), and a lack of character development or plot tensions.

I truly wish that I had enjoyed it more than the measly 2 stars I gave it on Goodreads.

I always like to add into my reviews that my opinions of a story should never dissuade you from picking up a novel. Just because Of Fire and Stars wasn't for me, doesn't it mean it won't be your next favourite read. The romance is sweet, the horses are war-ready, the castles are towering, and the fire (when used) is burning. It's not a long read (my copy was around 400 pages), and it's easy to fly through.

Have you read Of Fire and Stars? What were your thoughts? 
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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Leaving | Tara Altebrando | Review

the leaving tara altebrando book review

Eleven years ago a group of six five-year-olds mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Now teenagers, five of the missing children find themselves back in their hometown, reunited with the families they left behind but unable to remember anything about what happened to them.

After so many years have passed most people never expected the kids to return and of course everyone has a different opinion on what happened to them. Dubbed ‘The Leaving’ based on a comment one of the children made to her mother shortly before disappearing, theories range from them being locked in a basement somewhere to being abducted by aliens. Unfortunately, with their memories gone the truth is a little more complicated to uncover.

Taking place over just fifteen days the story follows three main characters, with chapters alternating between their different points of view. We are introduced to Scarlett and Lucas, two of the kids who return from ‘The Leaving’, as well as Avery, the younger sister of Max who is still missing. Although I wasn’t crazy about Avery as a character, I really loved the fact that her point of view was included as part of the story. I found it interesting to hear from someone who remembered the event and to learn more about the huge effect Max’s disappearance had on her childhood. Whilst sometimes multiple points of view can be confusing or sound too similar in this case I felt the three voices were clearly defined. One element that added a distinction was the unique styling choices, particularly in Scarlett’s chapters, with the use of different fonts, unusual spacing and shading which seemed to fit well with the idea of this character’s memory loss.

The Leaving is a quick and addictive read with mystery element that will keep you guessing. I really enjoyed following the small clues dotted throughout as the characters remembered snippets of the past and I was keen to find out what had happened to both Max and the rest of the group. Without giving away any spoilers, I can understand why some readers may be disappointed by the way the story plays out in the end, however I don’t think this takes anything away from how enjoyable the overall journey is.

Cover image via Goodreads

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Friday, 11 May 2018

Features | Bookish Podcasts

Podcasts are the in thing now, right? Who would have guessed seventeen years ago when the first iPod was released that there would soon be so many podcasts on every available topic? Honestly, there are so many to choose from these days that it can get overwhelming! So I'm here to recommend just a few podcasts with a literary twist, for all kinds of book lovers.

Bonnets at Dawn takes an in depth look at the lives and works of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, comparing them through research, conversations, and interviews with writers, historians, and various members of the Austen or Brontë fandom world, to determine once and for all who is the queen of English literature. Recently the podcast has also started to expand to include other writers, like Elizabeth Gaskell and Louisa May Alcott, and it's a must listen for anyone interested in female writers of the past.

Book Riot's Hey YA is the podcast for people who want to stay up to date with what's going in the world of young adult literature. Every week hosts Kelly Jensen and Eric Smith discuss YA book news, talk about topics relevant to readers and the industry, and recommend books both old and new. If you're passionate about YA and the topics that often surround it then this is the podcast for you.

In each episode of First Draft with Sarah Enni Sarah talks to writers of young adult and middle grade fiction about their books, their lives, and how they write. If you're a reader of YA or middle grade books then there's a good chance that Sarah has spoken to one of your favourite authors, and if you're interested in finding out about the process behind some of your favourite books, or just in how published writers work, then you'll definitely find something interesting in these conversations.

With each episode of What Page Are You On? hosts Alice Slater and Bethany Rutter pick a literary theme and discuss books they've read and would or would not recommend that fit within that theme.  Like a little book club of two, Bethany and Alice have discussed themes including true crime, books set in the eighties, and ghost stories, and have also recently started a book club for readers to get involved in too.

Witch, Please began as two scholars re-visting each of the Harry Potter books and movies in order to discuss them as literary texts but once they ran out of books and movies the hosts, Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, expanded the series to encompass all that the Wizarding World has to offer, from fan families, to brand loyalty, to book design. Hannah and Marcelle, joined by occasional guest hosts, are here to discuss everything there is to discuss about the world of Harry Potter under a feminist literary lens.
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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Women & Power | Mary Beard | Review

Not many people know that I am a big classics nerd. So much so that my degree is actually in both English and Classical Studies. It's probably why I'm such a big fan of Mary Beard and why I practically begged for a copy of Women & Power for my birthday.

Women & Power is an adaption of lectures that Mary Beard has previously given (oh how I wish I could have been at those!), all wrapped up in a gorgeous new cover. In a little more than 100 pages, Mary Beard discusses the way society treats powerful women, and the alarming parallels with the classical world. A particular focus is that of public speaking, and how the world makes it challenging for women to speak up, especially if what they are saying deviates from the status quo.

Looking back through history and classical literature offered a new lens to view the issues that are prominent in our society. Mary Beard is clearly highly educated and constructs a fantastic argument, though she doesn't lose sight of the fact that not everyone is as versed in classics as she is. Whether or not you know much about the Greco-Roman world, you'll still be able to follow the examples you give. I loved this book so much that I immediately passed it to my friend to read; she's no classicist, but she was just as blown away by it too.

Even though I didn't 100% agree with everything that was said in Women & Power, I did love it. It was such an interesting perspective and a voice that should definitely be listened to. This was a fantastic piece of non-fiction for me!

Kelly x
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