Shiirleyy's Bookshelf has migrated to Dear Shirley ! I will continue to post book reviews but there will also be a lot of personal and travel-related posts :)

Captivate Blog Tour – Author Interview

16 Dec 2013

Hey guys! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Captivate, a debut novel by Australian author Vanessa Garden. I have Vanessa here on the blog today with a simple Q&A. You can follow the rest of the blog tour HERE.

*Author Interview*
Please Introduce 'Captivate' in 5 words. 
Love, secrets and danger underwater.

What inspired you to write Captivate? 
I have always wanted to write an underwater story. I grew up by the ocean and often dreamed up underwater cities as a child. However, the idea of Captivate came to me after listening to a song called 'To You I Bestow' by Mundy. The rest of the story spilled out after that one scene the song inspired.

Convince us why readers should choose mermaids over vampires/werewolves and other supernatural creatures! 
This is a tricky question because Captivate is not a mermaid book (though mermaids get mentioned plenty of times) so it is hard to compare it with supernatural creatures. But I will say that the underwater city in Captivate glitters with a magical crystal called light-crystal, the city's power source. Oh, and the guys are super-fit and walk around in head-to- toe black with daggers strapped to their boots - probably the best reason to chose Captivate ;)

What was your favourite scene in the book and why?
Marko and Miranda's garden scene. It is the first scene that popped into my head, which then inspired the entire story behind Captivate. I love it because there are moments in this scene where both Marko and Miranda drop their emotional shields and reveal their true, vulnerable selves.

What was the most difficult part of writing Captivate?  
The re-writing. I had to do so many re-writes because I wrote it pantser-style and allowed the characters to go off on many different tangents which created too many sub-plots. Chopping away favourite lines and paragraphs to stream-line the story was difficult but had to be done.

And the most rewarding? 
I just loved hanging out with my characters in the beautiful underwater city of Marin, which was a reward in itself. 
But getting Captivate published and being able to share my story with fellow readers is the greatest feeling. Also, working with the amazing team at Harlequin Australia has been hugely rewarding. I have learned so much. 

Quick Questions:
Favourite book? 'Of Mice and Men' John Steinbeck
Favourite Movie? A toss up between 'Stand By Me' 'Edward Scissorhands' and 'Donnie Darko'
Favourite book couple? (Doesn’t have to be YA!) Will Herondale and Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices
Favourite movie couple?  I loved Inman (Jude Law) and Ada (Nicole Kidman) in Cold Mountain

Thank you so much for stopping by!
Thank you, Shirley! It was fun :)

*About the Book*

by Vanessa Garden
Publisher: HarlequinTeen Australia
Release Date: January 1st 2014

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...

*About the Author*
Vanessa lives on the coast Western Australia with her husband, their three chatty children, and three calming goldfish. When she is not writing, Vanessa can be found at the local bookstore where she works part-time. Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not gushing about her favourite reads to customers, or dreaming up her next novel, she enjoys spending time with the people she loves most.
Find Vanessa on:
Blog | Twitter | Goodreads
Check out the rest of the blog schedule HERE, and a massive thank you to team at Harlequin AU for organizing this tour J

That One Summer Blog Tour- Review & Giveaway

12 Dec 2013

by C.J Duggan
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: December 17th 2013
Format: e-ARC

Loving Chris Henderson would be wrong. Diabolically disastrous. I mean, what is there about him to love? He’s moody, bossy, brooding, a control freak, and that’s on a good day … but there was one achingly obvious fact that haunted my every thought, every minute of every day …

He sure could kiss.

As the countdown to the new millennium begins, there is one thing everyone agrees on: no one wants to be in Onslow for New Year’s Eve.

So that can only mean one thing: road trip!

No longer the mousey, invisible, shy girl from years ago, Tammy Maskala is finally making up for all those lost summers. A new year with new friends, which astoundingly includes the bossy boy behind the bar, Chris Henderson.

She likes her new friends (at least most of them), so why does she secretly feel so out of place?

After chickening out on the trip, a last-minute change of heart sees Tammy racing to the Onslow Hotel, fearing she’s missed her chance for a ride. The last thing she expected to meet was a less-than-happy Onslow Boy leaning against his black panel van.

Now the countdown begins to reach the others at Point Shank before the party is over and the new year has begun. Alone in a car with only the infuriating Chris Henderson, Tammy can’t help but feel this is a disastrous start to what could have been a great adventure. But when the awkward road trip takes an unexpected turn, Tammy soon discovers that the way her traitorous heart feels about Chris is the biggest disaster of all.

Fogged up windows, moonlight swimming, bad karaoke and unearthed secrets; after this one summer nothing will ever be the same again.

Light, relaxing and cute, this one is perfect for the summer weather! While I prefer the previous two books over this particular one, C.J Duggan has written yet another impressive addition to her ‘Summer’ series J

Remember Chris, the quiet, broody but responsible bar man from The Boys of Summer and An Endless Summer? He was the one who never smiled; who was constantly working and acted a lot more like a father than a friend to everyone. He was the Onslow Boy who was different. However, we got to see a different side of Chris in That One Summer! Who knew the sullen Onslow Boy knew how to flirt, compliment and make a girl laugh. He’s very considerate, protective and notices the small details. Oh wow, I REALLY LIKED CHRIS<3

Tammy’s character was generally pretty relatable. She’s the shy one, the one who prefers not to be in the spotlight and goes along with the flow. However, I felt her character didn’t really fit with how she was portrayed in An Endless Summer. (You know, that scene where she was flirting and making a certain someone jealous.) Tammy wasn’t en entirely memorable character, but I did like her J

I didn’t like this as much as the others...probably because it was too romance-orientated? I felt the other two books had more depth and featured side stories in addition to the main love story. This one just felt it focused solely on Chris and Tammy, and I guess the overall book just didn’t feel complete.

Despite some little issues, I still wholeheartedly enjoyed The One Summer! You can’t go wrong with a Summer read!
A massive thank you to C.J Duggan and The Three Bookateers for providing a copy of That One Summer for review!


As part of the tour, there will be an international tour wide giveaway. Prizes include
2.      THREE WINNERS will receive EBOOK copies of the ENTIRE SUMMER SERIES
3.      FOUR WINNERS will receive an EBOOK COPY of THAT ONE SUMMER
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview: Anne Blankman

10 Dec 2013

Hey guys! I recently finished reading Prisoner of Night and Fog, a historical fiction set in Munich, several years before World War 2 broke out. Prisoner of Night and Fog initially caught my attention as I've always held a fascination for stories set during WW2, and Adolf Hitler's character has always intrigued me. I'm glad I decided to download this off Edelweiss as I enjoyed this book immensely, and I absolutely cannot for the the next book in the series!

Anne Blankman
April 22nd 2014
Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins


Hey Anne! Thank you so much for stopping by to answer a few questions J
Thanks for having me!

To start off, please describe Prisoner of Night and Fog in 5 words.
Young Adult romantic historical thriller

What was your favourite part of writing Prisoner of Night and Fog?
I loved revising it during my first round of edits. My editor is an incredibly thorough reader, and she had sent me a wonderful editorial letter. Her comments helped me see the manuscript much more clearly. Suddenly I knew what changes I needed to make to turn Prisoner of Night and Fog into the story I wanted it to be. It was an exhilarating feeling.

And the most difficult part of the writing process?
I think, for most historical fiction authors, it's tempting to pack your story with information your reader doesn't need. While I was doing research, I discovered so many incredible details that I couldn't include because they would slow down the story or my main character wouldn't know them. For example, I learned that Hitler sported a tiny mustache because he thought it made his nostrils look smaller. I would have loved to include that tidbit but there's no way that Hitler would have confided something so personal to Gretchen, my main character. So finding a balance between telling my readers enough historical information and bombarding them with stuff I find interesting is a definite challenge!

I’m aware you wrote about Hitler for your honours thesis in college. What made you want to research and write about Hitler? What was it about him that fascinated you?
I think Hitler fascinates so many of us because he was evil. Truly, completely evil. And there is no reason for it. What I mean is this--historians haven't been able to find the source of Hitler's hatred for Jews. For the first twenty-odd years of his life, he was casually anti-Semitic, as many people unfortunately were during that time period. But he was also deeply grateful to the Jewish doctor who treated his mother for breast cancer--so much so that, when Austria was annexed to Germany in 1938, Hitler arranged for the doctor to emigrate to America, where he lived safely for the rest of his life. This kind of behavior is mind-boggling. How could Hitler despise Jews and protect one of them? Why did he hate Jews so much? There's no real reason for prejudice, of course, but we don't even know why Hitler fixated on Jews. There are no answers, no matter how desperately we search for them. Essentially, Hitler has escaped all explanation.

It’s mentioned in the ‘author’s not’ section in the e-ARC that the main character, Gretchen as well as Kurt and Daniel are fictional characters. What inspired you to write Daniel’s character? Was he inspired by any notable historical figure/anyone in particular?
What a great question! Yes, Daniel was inspired by the heroic journalists of the Munich Post, a Socialist newspaper. Throughout the 1920's and early '30's, these men wrote scathing investigative articles about Hitler and the Nazi Party. These reporters were sued repeatedly by Hitler for libel; they got beaten up sometimes in the streets; they often feared for their lives but they never stopped writing.
I was so awed by their courage that I decided to create Daniel, who pursues the truth as fearlessly and aggressively as they did.

After doing a little background research on Hitler, and his mistress Eva Braun, I discovered Eva had 2 sisters, one of whom was called ‘Gretl’. This is also Gretchen’s nickname in the book. Furthermore, Gretl later married a man named Kurt, and it seems Kurt did show a little interest in Gretchen at one point during the story. Were the names purely coincidental or did you name the characters after real life people?
You're the first person to notice this! I wanted the fictional characters' names to sound German, but familiar enough to readers in different countries, which is why I originally chose Gretchen. Plus, Gretchen means "lustrous pearl." I loved the idea of Gretchen as a pearl--starting life as a speck of sand in an oyster, but through years and work growing into something as strong and beautiful as a pearl. By the time I started researching Eva Braun's family, the name Gretchen had stuck. Eva's own sister, Gretl, actually married a man named Hermann Fegelein, who was executed on Hitler's orders for desertion when Gretl was about nine months pregnant with their only child.
All of the fictional names are significant. For example, I came up with "Daniel" because I think of that character as a young man trapped in a den of lions, just like Daniel in the Hebrew Bible.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction! What are some books you would recommend to historical fiction lovers like me?
I'm currently obsessed with the trilogy His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers. Nun-assassins, romance, and fifteenth-century Brittany--does it get much better than that?

Any historical films you would recommend? 
Any of Alfred Hitchcock's films! Love, love them, especially North by Northwest, about an ordinary man caught up in a web of international intrigue. Plus, it's got CARY GRANT.
I also adore Shakespeare in Love.
If you're interested in my book's time period, be sure to watch The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich. It's one of the last, great examples of avant-garde German filmmaking before the Nazis took over.

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to answers the questions!
Thanks for inviting me!

*About the Author*
Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

Find Anne on:

Review: An Endless Summer by C.J Duggan

3 Dec 2013

by C.J Duggan 
Publisher: Self-Published 
Release Date: July 11th 2013
Format: Kindle/Ebook

After a rebellious summer night that almost claimed her life, Amy Henderson – the Onslow publican’s only daughter – is sent away to suffer a fate far worse than any other punishment: 

Boarding School. 

 Three years on, a now nineteen-year-old Amy returns to Onslow for the summer. What once was a cauldron of activity with live bands, hot meals and cold beers, the Onslow Hotel now lies dark, deserted and depressing. All fond childhood memories of loitering on the hotel stairs and eavesdropping on customers’ colourful conversations are in the distant past.

 How had her dad let it come to this? 

 With the new threat of putting the Onslow up for sale, Amy reluctantly turns to a local tradesman for help: Sean Murphy, the very same Onslow boy who saved her life all those years ago. With his help and that of some old friends, the task is clear: spend the summer building the hotel back up to its former glory or lose it for good.

 In an endless summer, Amy soon realises that sometimes in order to save your future, you have to face your past, even if it’s in the form of a smug, gorgeous Onslow boy.

C.J Duggan is back with another fun-filled summertime read, this time featuring the sexy and irresistible Sean Murphy who I really liked in The Boys of Summer. It’s good to be back with the Onslow boys and the original cast whom I’ve missed so much over the past few months J

I did like Sean in The Boys of Summer, but obviously not as much as Toby back then. Plus, I didn’t approve of his actions… HOWEVER, fast-forward 4 years, and I freaking LOVE the Sean in An Endless Summer! Sean’s a player; he’s hot with a chiseled body, delicious abs and basically the entire package that girls love. He’s 6 foot 3, successful and rich and every straight girl would do anything to get close to him. Yet there’s only one girl Sean’s interested in…and that’s Amy Henderson. Yet Amy doesn’t give a shit about him…at first. I loved the banter between the two, and how no matter how much Amy pushed him away, he never let go. Hehe I loved every second of their time together!

Amy’s dialogue is generally snarky and sarcastic, pretty much what you expect to hear from someone who doesn’t take shit from anyone. It also sounded very fake sometimes. Amy’s 19. I’m 19. And my friends are 19. I honestly can’t imagine any of my friends talk the way she does - I personally felt some of her snarky comebacks were overdone. However, like how I felt with The Boys of Summer, this book was so addictive I didn’t care about any of the flaws. Nothing mattered apart from finishing the book!

An Endless Summer is just as impressive as its predecessor, The Boys of Summer. I can’t wait for the return of the Onslaw boys in the next book!

 A massive thank you to The Three Bookateers for providing a copy of An Endless Summer for review! 

Review: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

1 Dec 2013

by Melissa Kantor
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 18th 2014
Format: e-ARC

Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend. 

 Even when she isn't sure what to say. Even when Olivia misses months of school.

 Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush. 

 The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine. 

 In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe's unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

To start off on a personal note I don’t like how this book is pitched as “following the tradition of The Fault In Our Stars” since I disliked TFIOS and under normal circumstances I would have completely skipped this just because of that one phrase, but I stumbled across a certain tweet mentioning how good this book was and so I decided to request it. That was the ONLY reason I did. I’m so glad I request this though! I haven’t had much luck with finding entertaining books since a few months ago, but this one I managed to finish in record time in between studying for exams. All I can say is, GUYS YOU MUST REQUEST THIS ON EDELWEISS & READ IT IMMEDIATELY.

Usually when a book focuses on a character diagnosed with leukemia, I’m prepared to read this tough, heart-wrenching story about a disease that tears two star-crossed lovers apart. In this case however, it’s not a couple that’s torn apart, but two best friends. Olivia and Zoe are the kind of best friends who are joined at the hips; they do everything together, they live in their own little world, they tell each other everything and nothing can ever separate them. Basically, that’s the kind of friendship I’ve always craved but honestly, it’s not easy finding someone who you can just instantly and forever connect with. I think in some ways, this friendship was much more touching than a passionate, once-in-a-life-time-love between two people. I could feel how deeply Zoe cared and loved her best friend, and I feel like the chances of ever finding another soul-mate-like-best friend like Olivia is slim to none. I personally would say almost impossible. It’s not difficult finding friends who you have fun with and may become your best friend in the future, but I personally believe there are very few you can be so comfortable around you tell each other everything and act in any way you want.

There is very little romance in the book, which I was both glad and a little disappointed about. Glad because it never overshadowed the central focus of the story, and disappointed because well…I really liked Zoe and Calvin together. I wish Zoe didn’t carry the burden of her best friend’s sickness all by herself; I wish she’d allowed Calvin to carry some of it for her.

I would strongly advise having a box of tissues ready when/if you decide to read this. While I myself didn’t cry, this would certainly evoke tears in a lot of readers! (Especially since as I scroll down Maybe One Day’s GR page, I’m bombarded with all sorts of variations of ‘I cried so much’ or ‘be sure to have a box of tissues with you’.) I should clarify that while this failed to make me break down into tears, I did find this a fantastically written story, and certainly more touching in ways than many other books about leukemia.

I really, REALLY liked this! I rated this 4 stars instead of 5 because I failed to cry….but then again, I’m known for having a heart of stone so don’t let that deter you from reading it! As much as I hate to say it, If you loved The Fault In Our Stars, you’ll (hopefully) love this too and if you DIDN’T like TFIOS (LIKE ME!) still give this a go! Maybe you’ll end up loving Maybe One Day as much as I did<3

 A massive thank you to HarperTeen & Edelweiss for providing a copy of Maybe One Day for review! 

November '13 Wrap-Up

I've never done a monthly wrap-up before (mainly because I was lazy) but for some reason, I feel like doing it this month :) So, I'll see how this goes, but knowing me, I may not do one every month.

November marked the start and end of my exams -  YAYYYYY! I've officially completed my first year of Uni - this is seriously insane since I still remember how stressed I was over my HSC. Gosh, time flies!

This month, I also attended Jaz@ Fiction in Fiction in Fiction's  21st dinner :) The food was heaps appetising (OMG I LOVE SPANISH FOOD) - it was an extremely fun night overall!
I also recently celebrated my 19th birthday with a bunch of my friends from Uni :)  My beautiful friends decided to surprise me with a birthday gathering without my knowing! I honestly didn't know they even knew my birthday was coming up since I never outright told them but it seems one of my closest friends organised this event even before exams finished for everyone :) It was definitely the most unforgettable birthday! I LOVE MY FRIENDS SO MUCH<3333

Blog Wrap-Up
Anyways, on the blog this month, I reviewed:

I recently finished reading:
I really enjoyed this one, especially how it gave me a better understanding of Hitler's character. I've always loved history, and after reading this, I've started doing some individual research on Hitler's life and reign. 

Coming up on the blog in December:
Hehehe That's all from me today!