Book & a Brew – A Monthly Mystery Box for Book Lovers

Book and a Brew

I’ve always enjoyed curling up in bed with a good book, a nice cup of tea and a warm blanket. For me, these three – or books and tea, at least – go hand in hand. A good book is not the same without a nice hot drink and vice versa. Although my tea supply is not nearly as big as my book collection (it’s quite impressive, mind you), I’m known for my obsession with both. If you can relate to anything I’ve said so far – or you simply enjoy reading – you will love today’s post.

Last month I discovered a website dedicated to book lovers, whether kids or adults, which is so brilliant I don’t even know why it hasn’t existed before. Book & a Brew is a monthly subscription service for book lovers and everyone who appreciates a nice brew. Basically, the aim of the website is to deliver a mystery box filled with a good book and healthy, delicious drinks straight to your door every month. As someone who loves both books and tea, I was literally jumping up and down with joy that someone finally made this happen.

As you can see, the books arrive in a simple yet elegant packaging with the Book & a Brew logo on them (which is incredibly cute). My November mystery box was hiding a hardback copy of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls and a package of chocolate and mint tea.

Book and a Brew Package

Teapigs Chocolate and Mint

Boxes are always shipped from the 15th of each month and are always of a greater value than what you are paying. Each box contains a hardback book and either a box of tea or a package of ground coffee to go with it, but they do kids boxes for younger readers as well.

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Review: Oh Yeah, Audrey! – Tucker Shaw

Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw

Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw
Publication date: 14 October, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781419712234
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Contemporary
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 2.5 Stars

It’s 5:30am on Fifth Avenue and sixteen-year-old Gemma Beesley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her pastry and coffee held tightly in a brown paper bag — just like Holly Golightly. As the co-founder of a successful Tumblr blog — Oh Yeah Audrey! — devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has travelled from Pennsylvania to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers and friends, Bryan and Trina, for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure for the trio in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans become quickly sidetracked when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the type of New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, “no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

I absolutely loved the idea behind this book. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is such an iconic film and I was intrigued by how the author would turn it into a contemporary novel for young readers. Oh Yeah, Audrey! is a fun and very quick read, even for a slow reader like me – but it wasn’t memorable enough for me.

My first and biggest problem was that I couldn’t connect with the characters. At all. I didn’t really like Gemma or her “friends”. The only person I liked was the girl who used to post mean comments on the Oh Yeah, Audrey Tumblr page – at least she wasn’t fake.

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Showcase Sunday #92

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone! How was your week? I’m sorry for the lack of updates last weekend – I was in London with Katja from Cautious, who was visiting from Denmark, and didn’t have time to sit down and write my post. BUT! I have lots of brilliant books to show you today so sit down, pop the kettle on and… here goes.

Incoming

Bird Box

Hyperbole and a Half

 Bird Box | The Shining Girls | The Ice Twins | Mad About the Boy | Hyperbole and a Half

Katja and I went to Foyles last weekend and I bought a copy of Bird Box. I’ve seen a lot of people tweet about it when it came out and I’ve been intrigued ever since. (It sounds like Hitchcock’s The Birds, which is one of my favourite films – and that’s a completely valid reason to buy it, right?) Plus, I’ve heard great things about it, so I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy!

The Shining Girls was a gift but that’s all I’ll say for now – I have a very special post scheduled for next week and I don’t want to spoil the surprise! ;)

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Event Recap: An Evening with Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult Waterstones event

Since the middle of October, New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult has been touring the USA, Canada and the UK with her latest novel, Leaving Time. The first stop of Jodi’s tour was an event at St James’s Church, near Piccadilly, and when Waterstones asked me if I wanted to come along, I knew I had to say yes.

Although some of them have been on my to-be-read list for a long time and my friends keep recommending them to me constantly, I haven’t got round to reading Jodi’s books yet. (I will guys, I promise.) But I was interested to hear more about her new novel and see why people fall in love with her stories on the very first page. And, after hearing her talk about the research, the preparation that came before the book, and stories I have to say I get it.

Even within a 90-minute talk, you could hear she’s an amazing storyteller. I don’t know if it’s possible to fall in love with an author’s books before you’ve actually read them but if it is, I’m pretty sure I just did.

And since I know a lot of you live too far away from London and couldn’t make it to the event, I wanted to write a short recap and tell you how the evening went. I don’t want to go into details about the plot and what happens in the book for obvious reasons, but Jodi’s speech about its background was so fascinating that I wanted to share it with you.

Jodi Picoult Waterstones

Waiting for Jodi at St James’s Church, Piccadilly

The book’s original title was Elephant Graveyard but, as Jodi said, her publisher wasn’t too happy about the word elephant… or graveyard, so they changed it to Leaving Time. Since the book is very scientific and elephants feature heavily in the story, Jodi talked a lot about her research on elephants’ behaviour, which I found fascinating.

One of the things I found the most interesting was how elephants deal with death and mourning. According to Jodi, elephants remember and mourn their loved ones even many years after their death. When an elephant walks past a place where another elephant died, he or she will stop and become quiet for a while. They remember this spot and return to it even years after the other elephant’s death. Interestingly, they don’t do any of these with any other animals, only elephants.

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Bloomsbury Book Club – Grantchester Christmas Special

Grantchester banner

Regular readers of the blog will know that I love good murder mystery. Whether it’s a book, a film or a TV series, I’m game. My shelves are overflowing with crime novels and I’ve been on the lookout for a new TV show to watch since (the utterly brilliant) Broadchurch came to an end last year. And then I discovered Grantchester.

Based on The Grantchester Mysteries, a series of novels written by James Runcie, Grantchester is now a major TV drama set in 1953 England. It’s not as intense as Broadchurch or some other shows out there (more like Midsomer Murders or Agatha Christie’s stories, I’d say) but it makes for great Monday night telly. I’m only halfway through the series as I’ve been quite busy lately and haven’t had time to catch up, but I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet.

The reason why I’m writing about the show tonight is because I’ve been invited to the Bloomsbury Book Club’s Grantchester Christmas Special event on the 3rd December, and I’d love you to come along! It will be a fantastic evening and it’d be so lovely to meet fellow mystery and Grantchester fans.

In case you’re not convinced, author James Runcie and ITV scriptwriter Daisy Coulam will both be there discussing the the inspiration behind Sidney Chambers’ character and revealing the challenges of adapting the enchanting Sidney Chambers stories. Runcie and Coulam will reveal how Sidney Chambers’ investigations into suspect suicides, a scandalous jewellery theft, a shocking art forgery and unexplained deaths went from novel to screen.

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The Magic of Bookshops | With Jen Campbell

The Magic of Bookshops with Jen Campbell

Jen Campbell is a published poet, short story writer and the author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, which was a Sunday Times best-seller. Her latest novel, The Bookshop Book, is the official book of the 2014 Books Are My Bag campaign and has been described as a love letter to bookshops all around the world. Jen stopped by the blog this morning to talk about the magic of books, bookshops, and falling in love with good stories. It’s a beautiful piece and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I put a question up on the ‘Weird Things…’ Facebook page last week: ‘What was your favourite childhood book?’ The comments section exploded: people reminiscing over the Moomins and Roald Dahl, The Animals of Farthing Wood and Jill Murphy. Some said they used to read under the covers at night with a torch; others recalled being read to, or a teacher recommending a book they fell in love with. Some couldn’t remember the title of their books, just flashes of colour or a feeling they conjured up; a feeling of security and warmth.

Books do this to us because we all love stories. Stories offer up places to escape to; characters who become alter egos; different worlds that we want to get to know. It’s why I love reading; it’s why I love working in a bookshop and it’s why I write books myself. Human beings have been making up stories for things we don’t understand, or can’t explain, for as long as we’ve been around to do so: moral tales and fairy tales, myths, legends and everything in between. We have a desire to want to unravel things, even if we can’t. We want to empathise and we want adventure. Books allow us to do that. They allow us to explore.

Helping children pick out stories that they’ll hopefully love is one of the best parts of my job as a bookseller. I once had a little girl in our bookshop who told me she loves bookshops because they are houses for stories. A boy once said I should get a dragon to guard the shop when I wasn’t there. When I asked him if this mightn’t be a fire hazard, he rolled his eyes and said: ‘Well, duh, you’d have to get a trained one.” There’s a never a dull moment – a girl even lost her hamster in the shop last week (thankfully we found him; he hadn’t escaped from her pocket at all, but had eaten away at her coat lining, buried himself inside it and gone to sleep. Crisis averted!).

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Showcase Sunday #91

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone! How are you? How was your week? Mine dragged on a bit (I blame the weather and the constant darkness) but I went to see Jodi Picoult on her UK tour on Wednesday, which was great. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post so keep your eyes peeled! :)

Incoming

The Best of Miranda by Miranda Hart

Oh Yeah Audrey

 Leaving Time | The Best of Miranda | Oh Yeah, Audrey | Breakfast at Tiffany’s DVD

Waterstones were lovely enough to send me a copy of Jodi’s book before the event, which I’m really excited about, especially after hearing where the idea came from and how much research went into writing it. Judging by the reviews it’s going to be a brilliant read!

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