The Bookish Christmas Gift Guide

Buying for book lovers can seem a little tricky at first, after all you can't buy them their favourite book as let's face it, they probably own several editions. And it's hard to know what they've read and what they haven't! So here's a selection of bookish themed gifts to help you out if you are still Christmas shopping. (Like me).

1. You can never go wrong with a good mug. Perfect for those who hate to be disturbed when they have their nose in a book. From the Literary Gift Company.
Go Away I'm Reading Bone China Mug

2.  I've long been an admirer of these candles, I think they're incredible. There's a huge selection of scents over on Book Scents etsy store, and this Dauntless inspired candle looks amazing! 
Dauntless - Book Inspired Candle - Hand Poured, 10 oz soy blend container candle
I have to admit, I'm very keen on getting a customised pair of candles from this wonderful store, inspired by The Dark Elements series by Jennifer L Armentrout!

3.  While paperbacks are my one true love, I do have a soft spot for my tablet because it means I can read no matter where I am, and let's face it it's easier to scoff chocolate whilst reading on a kindle. 
Classic Book Case For Kindle
These kindle book cases are beautiful, plus they look like the real thing! Win win. From

4. Given this is a post about bookish themed gifts, it would be a little strange if I didn't include some of my own creations. Made By Birdie's (my other persona), has a selection of book/fandom related gifts for sale on
Looking for Alaska quote necklace
Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars, The Mortal Instruments, Divergent, Chronicles of Narnia, The Hunger Games - you'll find it in 'Fandom Corner'.

5. Novel Tea Teabags. A little daft perhaps, but I think they are cooler than cool. Don't take my word on that of course, I'm far from it myself. These quirky teabags are tagged with individual literary quotes, and are a perfect stocking filler at £2.50!
'Novel Tea' Teabags ~ Pouch of 5
6. If you're anything like me, you love a good notebook. The more unique the better, and you don't get much better than this!

Penguin Spines A6 Pocket Notebook
The cover is a funky mashup of various penguin classics, and I absolutely love it! This is also from

7. This cuff bangle caught my eye straight away, it's one of my favourite quotes and is available from Etsy store 'Jezebel Charms'.
She Is Too Fond Of Books - Louisa May Alcott Literature Quote SLIM Brass Cuff in Black - Book Jewelry

8.  This quirky Alice in Wonderland framed art is so cool, I want it for myself! Perfect for an Alice fan! 
Alice in Wonderland Quote on framed vintage book page - six impossible things
From BookishyUK on Etsy. 

9.  How awesome is this cushion? A perfect gift for those who love classic literature, this Pride and Prejudice cushion is simply wonderful.
Pride And Prejudice Cushion Cover - Book Page Print

10.  It wouldn't be a bookish gift guide without something Harry Potter related would it? This T Shirt is very reasonably priced at just £6.99 and is available from Etsy store freesbeeClothing. 
EXPECTO PATRONUM t-shirt shirt tee unisex mens womens Harry Potter hogwarts witchcraft magic gift *brand new

There you have it, a selection of Christmassy bookish gifts! Enjoy!

Zoella, Girl Online, Ghostwriting and Honesty

Zoella, and her writing dreams.

First things first. Let’s get a few things out of the way.  While I may not be Zoella’s target audience, I am one of her 6m subscribers on YouTube.  I enjoy her videos, and have done for quite some time. So this post comes from someone who when they watched the announcement, felt nothing apart from happiness for Zoe. 

In June Zoe announced via a vlog that she would be working with Penguin and releasing a fiction novel, called Girl Online. In this vlog she talked about being the girl at fourteen who when they came home from school wrote short stories on the computer, and loved living through the characters she created. 

"As you guys may or may not know, or known, my dream has been to write a book,” Zoe said to the camera, trying her best to contain her excitement during her big announcement. It was clear her emotions were genuine, but all wasn't as it seemed at the time. 

Ghost-writing rumours.

Girl Online sold 78,109 copies in it's first week. As much as I was eager to read Zoe's novel, I held off from buying a copy because rumours had started to surface that Girl Online had been ghost-written. People began questioning the acknowledgements on the opening pages, because after thanking editor Amy Alward, she also thanked Siobhan Curham for being with her 'every step of the way'. 

Eventually Penguin came clean, and a spokesperson told the Sunday Times 'to be factually correct, you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own.’ The truth is out. Girl Online was ghost-written. 

Does it matter?

Ghost-writing isn't a new thing, it's no secret and isn't anything to be ashamed of. Many people including celebrities use ghost writers, or co-author books.  Everyone knows that Katie Price doesn't write her books, and it hasn't caused this much of an uproar, so why has the truth about Girl Online exploded over social media, and does it matter?

I am just one person, and my opinion is just that - one opinion out of many. But, from where I stand - yes it matters. Thousands of young girls bought this book because they believed that Zoe herself has written it, because that's what they were led to believe via the vlogs and blog posts.

It doesn't bother me that the book was ghostwritten, although I am disappointed given Zoe's dreams to be a writer. She still had input of course, but ultimately she didn't write it, and that is what makes a novel at the end of the day. But what matters to me the most is the lack of honesty from Penguin, and also Zoe herself. 

Girl Online is different from the majority of ghost-written books, because we’ve watched this journey unfold before our eyes. From watching Zoe announce the book, telling us, her subscribers "I would love to have something that I have done myself," to seeing the book printed, or her working with editors in her vlogs, we have been there with her, cheering her on and ultimately, being proud of her. 

Ironically, I expect if Zoe/Penguin had been truthful and said the book was co written, or ghostwritten, she would still have sold as many copies. But by writing blog posts, detailing how she is writing a book, she has lost trust in some of her viewers.  

 Earlier today Zoe posted this from her twitter, hoping to clear up some of the rumours.

But does it really clear anything up at all? I certainly didn't doubt Zoe was going to have help, anything from creative writing coaching to editing was inevitable. Of course everyone needs help when they try something new, and of course the book was going to be edited by someone else - there's certainly no shame in that, it's part of the writing process. 

As a long time supporter of Zoe, I feel disappointed. Disappointed for the girl who made it clear she dreamt of being a writer, and disappointed for her fans who thought she wrote the book herself.  Although if they are reading it and enjoying it, then I guess that's the main thing.

As for me? I won't be reading Girl Online, because the lack of honesty surrounding the project from the beginning has put me off completely, which is a shame. Am I still a fan of Zoe? As a Youtuber, yes. As an author, no. 

What are your thoughts? Please comment below, but keep it friendly. 

Ten questions you should never ask a book lover....

Mundanes. They never learn.

1. What are you reading?
Yeah, it seems innocent enough - but unless you are actually interested in my fantasy world and my fictional boyfriend, don't ask. I could be spending that time reading.

2. You spent HOW much on a book?
You spent HOW much at Starbucks? (I actually like Starbucks. But, point made.)

3. Don't you think your bookshelf is a little, cluttered? Perhaps you should get rid of some books?
That's someone else off the Christmas card list. 

4. Why bother reading the book, the movie is out?
These people annoy me.

5. Why are you reading that? The movie sucked?!
These people annoy me more.

6. Fantasy? Don't you want to read about the real world?
No. The real world sucks. Actually so does this dystopian. But here I have fictional boyfriends. 

7. Couldn't you be doing something a little more constructive with your time? 
I didn't realise we lived in District 12 and all hobbies were forbidden. Better get back to working in the mines.

8. Why don't you go and sit outside instead of reading all day?
I will happily go outside. Just remove all the people, and bring my bed, blankets and unlimited snacks. 

9. Don't you have enough books?
No caption necessary. 

10. Are you done reading?
Are you done speaking?

YOU should be writing!

Oh the irony. I am posting about how you should be writing, when in fact, by writing this post I am so very clearly, NOT writing my NaNoWriMo novel. But, procrastination called to me, or rather, these fine gentlemen did. So if you're not writing,'s something else to distract you even further! Enjoy!

(None of these images are my own.)

Yes, I know - I'm going.

I already said I'm going!

I was about to leave, but then I saw your face Cas,
it's not my fault.

Yeah. Me too. I'm seriously going now.

I'm literally closing this web browser RIGHT now.

Easy for you to say. You don't have wifi.

Don't be judgemental, Doctor.

Quit it with those disapproving eyes,
it's harder than it looks.

Stop judging me! I am literally closing chrome right this...

-Oh look! Avengers!

*goes off to check twitter and eat biscuits*

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas : Book Review

Throne of Glass is one of those books that's forever being talked about in the Booktube community, the hype surrounding the series is pretty impressive, and after a lot of encouragement I finally jumped on the bandwagon. 

Celaena Sardothien has spent a year in the salt mines of Endovier, paying for her crimes as a vicious, and notorious assassin. But the Crown Prince offers her a deal - represent him in a tournament and earn back her freedom after four years of service. If she wins, she will become the Kings own personal assassin.  

On the surface, this book seemed as though it would be right up my street with a kick ass female lead, friction romance and a fantasy world to die for. But the covers put me off, I'm not a fan. And I'm really not a third person kind of reader. I was conflicted for a long time, but after finding Throne of Glass for just 49p on Kindle, I took the plunge. 

I fell in love. Celaena is the kind of character I adore, she's feisty and unapologetic, tough yet sassy with a weapon in hand and a book in the other.  The chemistry between Celaena, Chaol and Prince Dorian is to die for, and I already know who I'm rooting for. 

I can't believe I ever questioned picking up this book, and I have now ordered all the books in paperback. Sarah J Maas has given us an amazing protagonist who has the beginnings of a beautiful character arc, and I can't wait to see what happens with the rest of the series. 

Follow me on Goodreads, Twitter, InstagramFacebook and Youtube for more book related chatter! 

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

I've been a fan of The Mortal Instruments for the last year or so, loving the books and the Shadowhunter world to the point of obsession. That being said, The Mortal Instruments wasn't without problems. I wasn't a huge fan of City of Fallen Angels, and sometimes Cassandra Clare's descriptions left me feeling a little confused. It's a series I love immensely, in spite of issues, put it that way. 

Spoiler Free Review of The Infernal Devices (YouTube)

Then The Infernal Devices came into my life, and nothing was ever the same. Clockwork Angel was much more captivating as a first book in a series in comparison to City of Bones - and it should be, considering COB was Cassandra Clare's first published book. It was beautifully written, gone were the clunky descriptions and overused words and phrases, it was simply stunning. 

Once I delved into Clockwork Prince, I was hooked. The love triangle was sensitive, sweet and touching, something I can't say about TMI. I love a good love triangle, provided it has weight on all three sides, and for me, The Mortal Instruments never had that. The chemistry between Will and Tessa was electric, and the love between Tessa and Jem was nothing short of beautiful. 

What didn't I like? The happy ever after ending, where every character was coupled off wasn't to my taste, it was a little too perfect. I also felt Will Herondale's good looks were drummed into us a little too often, we know how good looking he is, let us remember it for ourselves once in a while.

Spoiler Review/Discussion of The Infernal Devices

The books are arguably better than The Mortal Instruments, and I found it hard to believe I would love these characters more than Jace and Clary. But I did, because the kinks were ironed out, it was executed better, the pacing was on point - in short, I am now a dedicated, obsessive Fangirl for The Infernal Devices.

The Infernal Devices Trilogy 5/5

And one last thing.....that epilogue. I cried. A lot. I found it so moving, I recreated the scene from Blackfriars Bridge between Tessa and Jem in photoshop. Please feel free to download it for personal use. (Strictly no permission to sell, or to use in any part of a design to sell, copyright The Book Life)

Do Writers 'Owe' Their Fans?

Do writers owe their fans? Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. In my opinion it's a question far too broad to answer simply with yes or no. Because where do we draw the line?  It's something that I have thought about several times, but a video discussion by fellow Booktuber Thoughts on Tomes prompted me to create this blog post, and a video response of my own. 

It's natural, and ultimately a compliment for the audience to feel a certain level of attachment to the characters, story, and world that has been created for them - but what exactly does a writer owe to their loyal fan base? 

Veronica Roth's Allegiant suffered a huge backlash when readers failed to respond well to the ending of the Divergent trilogy, many readers demanding a new ending, and arguing that they were 'owed' better. While I am not entirely sure what the audience is owed, I know this - it isn't another ending. Social media is still expanding, and honestly, I feel like it's at least partially to blame for this surge of entitlement that people seem to feel these days. We can become so involved, so immersed in the process ourselves that it can sometimes be hard to see where the line between creator and audience ends. But the audience is not the creator, and has no involvement in the process. We don't get a say - and quite frankly, we shouldn't. (I feel this way irrelevant of my feelings towards Allegiant, which I will leave out.)

A writer, be it for television, books, or any other medium should have the freedom to develop their story as they wish - I don't believe we are owed our desired ending. That being said, I do think that writers owe it to their writing, to their 'product', to complete their story with the same message that they laid out from the beginning. I'm not talking about character or plot developments, I'm talking about the very core, the essence of the story. Because let's face it, that's why so many people get so frustrated.

When characters pair up and there has been zero foreshadowing and chemistry, when the very premise of the story is contradicted until the first book, episode, or season is nothing but a distant memory. No, we aren't owed our desired ending. But if we are owed anything at all, in my mind, it's a conclusion for the story that we were sold on from the very beginning.

What do you think?  

Flubit Book Month

I know, two blog posts in one day. Exhausting isn't it? But because I am putting up my Flubit video today, and August is drawing to a close it would be silly of me to pop this up tomorrow. After all, I want you guys to take part!

Click to go to YouTube and watch the video!

Now, the idea behind Flubit is very simple. Pop on over to Amazon, and find the book you would like to buy. Then, simply copy the link from the address bar, and paste that in the demand box over at and Flubit will generate you a better offer on that book, which you will receive direct to your email inbox. It's so simple! On average I have found my offers to be anything from 50p-£1 cheaper through flubit, which may not sound like a lot, but remember it all adds up! 

But that's not all. Because thoughout August Flubit have been holding their very own book month, where you can earn yourself a free book of your choice (Value up to £10, one review/book per person) by writing a 200-300 word review of a book and sending it via email to! It's that simple. I have taken part, reviewing one of my favourite dystopian reads, The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings - and I have chosen Landline by Rainbow Rowell as my free book reward.

Books, book competition, win books, Flubit Book Month 
(Photo from the Flubit Blog)

To find out more, head to and let me know if you will be sending in a review! 

Five Books to Read Before They Hit The Big Screen!

I love book to movie adaptations, it's one of my favourite discussion topics. Because August is Flubit's Book Month, here's a run down of five books to read before they hit the big screen! Simply use the widgets to demand yourself a better offer on the books you would like to read. Which one grabs you the most?

The Giver
Set in a futuristic world where hunger, pain, and war are a thing of the past. Nobody in the community wants for anything, and at twelve years old each member of the community has their profession chosen for them. This book isn't jumping on the dystopian bandwagon, far from it actually because The Giver by Lois Lowry was actually released in 1993. Makes you feel old doesn't it?

Gone Girl
Written by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl has received a high amount of praise since being released in 2012. This isn't a conventional thriller, and is full of twists and turns. The police suspect Nick in the disappearance of his wife, Amy. Her friends reveal that she was afraid of him, but he swears it isn't true. What happened to Nick's beautiful wife?

Before I Go To Sleep
Memories define us. But what if you lost yours every time you closed your eyes, every time you fell asleep? Everything you knew, wiped clean overnight. And what if the one person you trust, was only telling you half the story?

The Maze Runner
The only thing Thomas can remember is his first name, and he isn't alone. Surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade, a walled encampment at the centre of a stone maze, Thomas has no idea how he got there. None of them do. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out the truth.

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena arrive from Boston in the North Carolina mountains to create a timber empire. Serena is new to the mountains, but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any worker, and she even saves her husbands life. But as their marriage begins to unravel, the story of love, passion revenge moves towards a shocking reckoning. Out of all the above book to movie adaptations, Serena is perhaps the one I would be least likely to pick up, but with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper playing the Pembertons on screen, I could be tempted into reading Serena. 

Will you be seeing any of these movies? And will you be reading the books first? It is the golden rule after all. Demand a better offer from Flubit, and get these books at a better price!

The Taylor Swift Book Tag

Part of the fun of being part of the Booktube community, is getting involved with tag videos. They're fun, and are really great tools to help you network with other booktubers, in addition to promoting the books you love. And the best part is, they don't have to be anything fancy! One of the best ways to get viewers to notice your account is by creating your own book tag video, which is exactly what I have done today. 

The video is simple fun, putting book titles to famous Taylor Swift songs through a handful of questions. Fancy taking part? Go ahead! Please link the original video in your description.


1.      For ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ pick a book (or book series) that you were pretty sure you were in love with, but then wanted to break up with.
2.      For ‘Red’ pick a book with a RED cover.
3.      For ‘The Best Day’ pick a book that makes you feel nostalgic
4.      For ‘Love Story’ pick a book with forbidden love.
5.      For ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ pick a book with a bad character you couldn’t help but love.
6.      For ‘Innocent’ (written b/c of Kanye West!) pick a book that someone ruined the ending for.
7.      For ‘Everything has changed’ pick a character from a book who goes through extensive character development.
8.      For ‘You Belong With Me’ pick your most anticipated book release. 
9.      For ‘Forever and Always’ – Pick your favourite book couple
10.   For ‘Come Back, Be Here’ pick the book you would least like to lend out, for fear of missing it too much.

Feel free to leave your link below if you do take part in this tag!

August in Competitions

Firstly, I want to apologise for the lateness of this post, it got a little crazy! But, it's here now. Secondly, I want to let you all know that from this point on, the monthly competitions will be posted at the end of the month to give you the chance to get yourselves ready for the deadlines that occur early on. So, your
September competitions post will be here on the 25th August.

*Please note that The Book Life takes no responsibility for any of the competitions posted below.

Now, lets get to it.

Christmas Star Writing Competition (Writebulb writers group)
Short stories and poetry up to 2000 words, for children aged 7-12.
Prizes: Publication in Writebulb writers group anthology and a copy of the book, plus two runners up will receive copies of the book.
Entry Fee: FREE
Closing Date: 23rd August

Manchester Fiction and Poetry Prize
Short Stories, up to 2,500 words; portfolio of 3-5 poems.
Prizes: £10,000 plus web publication
Entry Fee: £17
Closing Date: 29th August

Northern Crime Competition
Crime novels and short stories by writers from the north of England.
Prizes: £1000 plus publication for winning novel, £100 plus anthology publication for winning short stories.
Entry Fee: £25 novel, £10 short shorty
Closing Date: 29th August

CreativeWritingMatters Flash
For flash fiction, up to 250 words
Prizes: £100, £25, anthology publication
Entry Fee: £3
Closing Date: 31 August

Aesthetica Creative Writing
Short stories up to 2,000 words, poetry up to 40 lines. Any theme, form, or style.
Prizes: £500 for winners in each category, publication in Creative Writing Annual.
Entry Fee: £10 for two pieces of one kind.
Closing Date: 31st August

Sid Chaplin Short Story Competition
Stories up to 3,000 words.
Prizes: £300, £150, £75
Entry Fee: £2.50
Closing Date: 31st August

Scribble My Writing Day
Articles, up to 1500 words describing a typical day in your writing life.
Prizes: £50, £25, £15, publication in Scribble.
Entry Fee £3
Closing Date: 31st Agust

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings - Book Review

The Murder Complex is a thrilling blood soaked dystopian novel by Lindsay Cummings, set in a futuristic world where the 'Initiative' are in control, and the death rate is higher than the birth rate. People are being murdered every single night, and sixteen year old Meadow Woodson will do anything to ensure she isn't one of them. Feisty, tough, and unapologetic, Meadow will do anything to survive. It's kill or be killed, and she will always choose the former.


But for Zephyr James, life isn't so clean cut. He spends his days cleaning up the bodies that litter the streets, and his nights in turmoil over the people he has murdered. He can't control it. He can't stop it. The plot takes a dark twist when Zephyr and Meadow meet, and unbeknown to them, they both play a vital part in the disturbing experiment that is 'The Murder Complex'. 

We have seen an increasing amount of YA dystopian fiction burst onto the scene in recent years, and yes, the Murder Complex features some of the recurring tropes of the genre. A dangerous, controlling society. A kick ass protagonist. Love. Death. Family. Rebellion. The Murder Complex contains all of those things, but twists them into something fresh, original, and arguably darker than other YA dystopian novels. While Lindsay's inspirations are clear, her voice and writing is completely original, and she is a very, very welcome addition to the genre. 

An easy 5/5 Stars. 

Please check out my video review of The Murder Complex (Spoiler Free).

Social Media: @booklifenetwork
Instagram: @thebooklifenetwork

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - Book Review

In my June book haul I said if the book was even half as good as the amazing cover, I would love it. It was. It is just a stunning book, written beautifully with complex characters. 

Shatter Me tells the story of Juliette, a teenage girl who has a lethal touch. Hidden away in an asylum, Juliette hasn’t had contact with another person in months, she is seen as a threat and it isn’t until her new cellmate Adam comes to join her that she finally gets to speak to another human being. She soon realises that she knows Adam from her childhood, as the only boy who was ever kind to her. But The Reestablishment have plans for Juliette and want to use her as a weapon.

Tahereh Mafi has a beautiful writing style which is intense, poetic and almost lyrical, and I found myself being pulled in to the story with her words very quickly. I did have a few issues though, I found it distracting the way the numbers were written, ‘2’ as opposed to ‘two’, it wasn’t needed and I didn’t feel it added to the writing style, if anything it lessened it. The strike out were clever, but overused in my opinion. I felt like these two decisions were a little gimmicky, and contradicted the flow of Juliettes stream of consciousness narration style, which was a shame.
Click to watch the book review on YouTube!

The book is very fast paced, and the characters of Adam and Warner were very interesting to read. Yes, this is another YA love triangle novel, but because Warner played the role of the antagonist in addition to the love interest, it didn’t come across that way. Warner wants to use Juliette as a weapon, and is desperate for her to welcome her inner darkness in the same way he does, and I found that very interesting.

I am aware that some people have had issues with the ‘insta love’ aspect of Shatter Me, but I understood why Tahereh Mafi wrote the book in this way, both Adam and Juliette have had very difficult and isolated lives, and I feel that justifies their instant attraction, in addition to the fact that they did know each other as children. As far as Warner goes, I think he is a brilliant character and I am very intrigued to find out more about in Unravel Me.

Overall, I loved this book. I feel the fact that Juliette can touch both Adam AND Warner requires some explanation, and I am sincerely hoping that it will be explained, otherwise it will look very convenient. But I am in this series for the long haul, and I cannot wait to start reading Unravel Me.


If I Stay by Gayle Forman - Book Review

 If I stay is a coming of age story, dealing with the harsh realities of love, loss, death and continuing to live despite everything that life throws at you. Mia has the world at her feet, she's a talented classical musician, she has the perfect rocker boyfriend, a family she loves and a little brother she actually gets on with. But everything is shattered when the family are involved in a horrific car accident, and Mia is thrown from the car.

Standing at the side of the road, Mia is cold, scared and alone. Until she sees herself, lying on the ground. In an outer body experience, that can only be likened to that of being a ghost, Mia has to watch the next twenty four hours unfold, and make a choice, should she stay?

I found Gayle Formans writing to be beautiful, enough that it made me cry and very few books actually manage to do that. Despite Mia being in limbo, unable to feel and connect with those around her, I really felt for her as a character. The flashbacks that take place over the twenty four hours, some see as unnecessary - but I see them as crucial. We needed them in order to understand the enormity of what Mia has lost.

A book that made me feel this way, would normally be given 5/5 stars. However, I had two gripes with the book. The first was that I felt it was too short, the ending felt too abrupt and I didn't feel like the book gave me the pay off that I was expecting towards the end.

(Click to watch a video review of this book on YouTube)

But regardless of the few issues I had, I still absolutely loved this book, it was beautiful and and I cannot wait to see the film adaptation next month. (Trailer)

Sarah Jane