It’s Time to Go Christmas Book Shopping

I love this time of year. I get to indulge myself in one of my pastimes, buying books, and I get to share some of my favourites with you all. This Christmas I have been doing a lot of my shopping online and, because my family is all around the world, I have been using amazon (I am an amazon affiliate in Australia, but I use amazon simply because I can search in one place and send over the world). I was so inspired, and to be honest I spent far too much tome on this, I created extra categories to share with you. I hope I have given you a good mix in each area to inspire some book gifting for Christmas, and I am always happier when there are more people reading.

If you want to know more about the books in this post, click on the book title or the cover image. This will take you through to an amazon page.

Picture Books

This is the most difficult category for me. I love picture books and for me it’s all about trying to decide whether to give a classic or one of the new beautiful books that are being produced. I hope you love the suggestions, and there are a couple more below in the Christmas Books.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek – I make no secret about my love for Mem’s Fox’s books, and my first Christmas recommendation is the first book I ever read of hers—Where is the Green Sheep? This book still makes me laugh when I read it as we see what all the other sheep are doing while we search for the elusive Green Sheep. A must for everyone’s picture book library.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell – Yet another classic book, and one loved in this family for many years, and hopefully in the many families I have given a copy of this book to. You can’t beat a book that is well written, captures the imagination, and has so many animals. What I love about this book though is you cannot help but smile when you read it.

That’s Not My Koala – Osborne Touchy Feely Books – I can’t tell you how many of these books we have owned, and have bought for other babies and toddlers. These are definitely books to be handled and felt. The repetition of words, and the combination of sensation associates with textures is a great teaching tool, and they are just soooo cute. This is one that is definitely on my Christmas list, but there are so many options you should be able to find something for every young child’s interests.

The Dinky Donkey by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley – If you enjoy a good tongue twister, then you will love the Wonkey Donkey’s daughter, the Dinky Donkey. Just as much fun as the original, and the whole family can get involved in the reading. This is also on the list of books that made me smile when I read it. I have a copy and I’m just waiting for the right person to give it to. On a lighter note, I think this could be turned into a Christmas Party game much like the 12 days of Christmas one – you know, give each person a line…

One Ted Falls Out of Bed – by Julia Donaldson and Anna Curry – Every family has one (or more) of those books that just lives on in your conversations and the stories you tell, and is such a part of your family’s growing up you can’t even remember when you got it. One Ted Falls Out of Bed is that book for us. We all love the beautiful illustrations and the counting rhymes, and the fact that the illustrations tell more of the story than the words. A great gift, and I’m sure this will come a family treasure for the family you gift it to. One ted falls out of bed, he tugs and pulls the bedclothes but, two eyes are tight shut … and that’s from memory.

Middle Grade

A little series heavy, but at this age you want to encourage them to read more—right?

Amulet Book Collection by Kazu Kibuishi – Almost every Christmas and birthday I have brought books in this series for reviewer Sam. He has always loved graphic novels, and this series really caught his interest as it took him into an alternate reality. In essence these books are a mystery series and are a great gift idea for those not so book oriented children, and even for those who love books but just like a change in format.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowel, read by David Tenant – Another option for those less interest readers are the How to Train Your Dragon Books. They are well written and seriously funny and have great images that kids love. Even better, why not buy the audio copies. They are a great listen for the whole family on car trips, or for a child who prefers to listen than to read. Cannot recommend these books enough. We still listen to them on long car trips.

Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow By Jessica Townsend – Years ago most reviewers would tall you to buy Harry Potter Books for a child who loved reading and magical worlds, but that changed with the Nevermore Series. If you have a child to buy for who loves getting lost in other worlds, then I cannot recommend this series highly enough. Even better, if you have a mum who loves reading for children, this is the perfect gift for her.

Zombie Boy by K.S. Hall – One of the things I have loved about delving into independently published book is that you often find something that really is not out in the general market—Zombie Boy is one of these books. Many children don’t like reading about the same old things that others do, some like zombies and ghouls. Then there are parents who think this type of book might not be the best for their child’s reading development. Zombie Boy meets both needs, and I when I was researching this post I found the second book in this series is now out. A great find and should certainly be considered for children with less traditional reading tastes.

The Swan Maiden An Austrian Fairy Story by Serene Conneeley – I have put this book in the middle-grade section, but really this is a tale for all ages. Again, this is an independently published book and I haven’t seen anything like it in the shops. If the person you are buying for loves fairy tales, this a a fresh modern fairy tale that weaves magic and fantasy into every day life, as well as having the life messages we expect from this genre. Beautifully told, I am sure it will become a favourite as it is read and re-read.

Teens

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – I am sure many of you have been watching the TV series as I have been, but really, the books are more amazing. If your child has enjoyed the series, or if they simply like getting lost in other worlds, then this series is a must have. I believe they even have a graphic novel version for those less inclined readers. I read this series years ago, and I still rate it as one of the bests reads ever.

Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan – When reviewer Sam was into the Percy Jackson series, I started reading the Heroes of Olympus Series to him. One of the worst days of my life was when he said I read too slow and he had finished the book we were on and wanted the next one—to read for himself. When I was book shopping for this post I found a complete set with great new covers, all ready for a new set of young fans to read them. These are great adventure stories for kids of all ages (even the grown up ones). Perfect for a bedtime read, or for reading alone.

York – The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby – I reviewed this book some time ago and fell in love with it. I always meant to look out for the next book in the series, so imagine my surprise when I found there are now two more books for me to read. They are safely purchased and on their way—yeah for me. What I loved about this book was how Laura Ruby managed to take the iconic city of New York and turn it into something slightly different. The essence of the book is a mystery, the main characters are solving a cipher to save their home, but it is given colour and life by the unique setting. Readers of any age will enjoy this steampunk book, and I can’t wait for my sequels to arrive.

The Books of Earths by Ursula Le Guin – When I stumbled across this on my shopping trip it brought back memories of lunch times at high school when I used to head to the library so I could work my way through these books. We won’t talk about the ones I had taken off me in class because I used to slip them inside my text books … but those teachers knew me too well. A fantasy world with dragons, great writing and great characters—and now an illustrated version. It’s in my wish list for sure. This is fantasy writing at its best.

Chasing Neve by K.A. Last – A little bit of a change up now. Not a series, but a different form of fantasy. The review of this book has been one of my best performing posts this year, so it’s certainly a must for the the Christmas Book List. This Snow White retelling brings a whole new meaning to kick-ass girl leads and is one of those books you just can’t put down once you pick it up. Perhaps one for the the teen girls and those who enjoy a love story more than the action oriented reader, as there is a little romance in this adventure story.

Young Adults

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood – I have read this book a number of times and found it both compelling and disturbing. Margaret Atwood has done as much for the feminist movement as any activist you have seen on tv or read in the history books. This look at how the female role is defined by their ability to carry a child has stuck with me over the years since I first read A Handmaid’s Tale at uni. It is still a great read from one of the world’s best story teller.

Throne of Glass Boxset by Sarah Mass– I was so put off by the covers of this series I almost missed out on it. It is compelling adventure reading with a great strong female lead in an amazing fantasy world. If you have a YA girl who like nothing more than to curl up with a good book, then this set is the one for them—with any luck you want see them until the end of the holidays.

Ready Player One By Ernest Cline – I had to put one in for the boys (and those who don’t like the more girly reads). This is a great tale, not only because it was a movie, but also because it marries computer games and adventure—a combination that appeals to boys of any age. Also, a great gift because you can combine it with the sequel due out this month, and you should have a very happy YA male. Oh yeah, and maybe for your older boys too as the 80’s references are a laugh.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I thought I would sneak this one in. I haven’t read or reviewed it, but I added it to my kindle while I was researching for this post. I have always wanted to read this story, but when I was younger I read a lot of war books and I think I have compassion fatigue. I keep coming back to this one though, and this is now on my Christmas list. Perhaps not the light and airy feel of some of the other books, but there are always angst ridden YA’s out there that will love this in their stocking.

Enchanting the Fey by Rebecca Bosevski – In the Teen section I had one of the best performing books of this last year, now I am including the book that drives the most traffic to my site full stop. Books on magical worlds have never been my thing, but I read the first book in this series and I was hooked, as were many others from the look of my site traffic. A love story and adventure in a set magical world, this book will have your dreamers captivated from the first page. Again perhaps another gift for someone who wants a little escape over the holidays.

Christmas Books

I haven’t forgotten about those of you who love to get into the Christmas Cheer with a good Christmas Read. I have three fantastic pictures books for you, and two adult books that you might want to that yourself for all the great shopping you have done. Click on the Images to find out more about these Christmas Tales.

Hope you have enjoyed a little delve into my Christmas book shopping experience. If you have any suggestions of your won I would love the hear about them in the comments. Happy shopping!

Books for Christmas

Since I started my book blog I have done a Top Ten for Christmas. I am running a little later this year so I have gone with books you should be able to buy at any bookshop, I am choosing one book I have reviewed and loved along with another I choose off the shelf of a bookshop as if I were buying as gift (as with all good book gifts I have had a read before passing it on).

Since I started my book blog I have done a Top Ten for Christmas. I am running a little later this year so I have gone with books you should be able to buy at any bookshop. For each category I am choosing one book I have reviewed and loved along with another I chose off the shelf of a bookshop as if I were buying a gift (as with all good book gifts I have had a read before passing it on).

I am concentrating three categories – Picture Books, Tweens and Young Adults, with a bonus choice from reviewer Sam to give us an insight into that hard-to-buy-for-group.

Picture Books

The Dinkey Donkey by Craig Smith and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

A couple of weeks ago I asked reviewer Sam what books he remembered from his childhood, and his immediate response was Where the Wild Things Are. This tale of the naughty child running wild who in the end returns home to his family is loved by all children, and is a great, timeless gift for Christmas.

When searching the bookstore for a new Christmas gift I could not go past The Dinkey Donkey. I loved the Wonkey Donkey and its silly sounding rhymes, and we still quote bits from it every now and then. Now we can update our stale sayings with the extremely loveable Dinkey Donkey, who is a more than just a pretty face. Not only does this book have the same rhyming build up as the original, but it teaches children to look past the cute donkey to see all that she is. This is a must for children of all ages.

Books for Tweens

The Girl The Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad and The Golden Unicorn by Anh Do

When I first reviewed Katrina Nannestad’s book about a young girl solving a mystery in the streets of Rome I was captivated. If I were buying a book for a tween this would still be my recommendation because it is funny, has a great plot and lovely characters. It is children’s writing at its best. Since Rome, Freja has travelled to Provence and Lucerne and continued her adventures. Plenty of gift giving options with this series.

I picked up Ahn Do’s Unicorn because it looked like such a departure from his previous books, and it is. Right from the first chapter you are taken into a new world created by the villainous Soul Collector, and once you are in there it is hard to get out. The language and writing is great for tweens, and Chris Wahl’s illustrations make this book accessible for your older reluctant readers, and also for advanced early readers. However, it is the story that carries this book, and once your reader is finished you will be pleased to find book two in the series is already out.

Young Adults

Passenger by Alexander Bracken and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee

There are many great titles I could have chosen for this section, but because we are so close to Christmas I have gone with books you can buy off the self. When you have your readers have their Christmas dollars I hope you will look at some of the reviews I have done of independently published books and give some of them a chance. I also have a link to some free reads below.

However, as the time to Christmas draws closer I have gone with two off the shelf books with an historic twist for young adult readers. And yes, perhaps they lend towards the female readers, but I think Sam may have taken care of the boys in the next section.

Passenger is a great book that takes the reader through time with the lead character Victoria as she finds she suddenly finds she is enmeshed in a war between factions of time travellers. This is a great, fast paced story, which continues in Wayfarer, the second book in the series (fortunately for avid readers). The characters are strong, likeable and flawed. The jumps through history give this book a twist I love, and it is a great read for all those romantics out there.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy was a surprise for me. I loved the title, and so picked it up to read the first chapter. I know reason says you should not choose books this way, but sometimes it works. I couldn’t put it down once I started, in fact I would have finished it there and then in the shop if I had not bee pulled away. Our main character Felicity is not your common eighteenth century female. She is focussed on becoming a doctor in a work who sees other roles for her. As she follows her dreams she is thrown into adventure and learns the true meaning of friendship. This book is a great great for lovers of; history, strong female leads; adventure and a good story.

Teenage and Young Adult Boys

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Boys are notoriously difficult to buy for, so I have a special section for them, written by reviewer Sam, who has shared two books I have seen him read more than once this year.

Hello fellow readers today I would like to tell you about two books I believe you should buy for the holidays.

Ready Player One is a book about a future where humanity lives in a virtual world called the oasis. This world is full of 80s pop-culture and different places to explore but when the death of it’s creator arrives a secret is revealed, that hidden in the oasis is an easter egg that will give whoever finds it complete control of the oasis and 3 trillion US dollars. You follow the story of Wade Watts as he hunts for the egg. I would recommend this book for ages 13 to 18. 

Scythe is a book about a futuristic world in which death is no longer a problem, overpopulation however has become an extremely apparent side effect of a world without death so the scythes were formed they kill people based off charts from when humans would die. This story follows scythe apprentices Rowan and citra through their journey of becoming a scythe. I would recommend this book for ages 12 to 16.

 Happy Christmas shopping, and happy holiday reading form all of us at The Bookbubble. Hope to see you in January when I will share my Christmas Holiday reads.

Looking for Some Free Reads for Christmas – look no further

Sam’s Top Ten of All Time!

Booktopia

Sam’s Top Ten of All Time

 

 

Hello fellow  bookworms and blog readers I have been reading quite a lot of books this month and it made me think I would like to share with you my top 10 books of all time!!!!! (2011-2018)

10: Trials of Apollo – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

The first book in this series was good, but there wasn’t much continuity in the stories and so many changes all in one book I just lost interest by book 2, so this book goes to number 10.

9: Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief  (Series) by Rick Riordan

Honestly, this was a good book when I read it and it has aged well over time, but as I went along my journey through the book world I found so many more exciting and wonderous books. So, I must put this book at number 9.

8: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades is a story about a world with heroes, villains and normal people and was a great read. It was very intriguing and thought provoking, with hints and nods to the real world and its problems. With the twists and turns and all the story in between, this book easily makes number 8.

7: York by Laura Ruby 

With ints unusual steam punk setting, a tale of mystery and intrigue full of plot twists and character developments, with a great story arc, it is no mystery why York made number 7 in the blink of an eye.

6:  Heroes of Olympus (Series) by Rick Riordan

There was no question that this series would make the list. I have read it at least 4 times through and I have found more details as I read each book again, taking more time and being intrigued by different mysteries and plot twist, observing each character and their habits. Number 6 is really good.

5: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

I read this book recently and couldn’t put it down. The way Phillip Reve writes is with passion and a twist of fun such as calling a CD a seedy, this post-apocalyptic quartet is filled with thrills and fun and had to go at number 5.

4: Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rolwing

This book series is one of the most famous by no doubt. I love the magic and the world it is set in, and as with the heroes of Olympus have read through many times so at least had to go at number 4.

3: Wonder by R.J Palacio

This book brought me to tears when I read it and it is a tale to be read by all ages as it teaches an amazing lesson of love, kindness and acceptance. It needed to go to number three.

2: The Summoner Series by Taren Matharu

This series written by Taran Matharu is compelling. The fantasy world of Corellium amazed me and drew me in. The cover and the blurb enticed me, but when I read it was one of the best books that I had read in a long time. I have to say I counted the days down until the second book and the third came out. When the prequel came out I read it, and got annoyed with myself because I lost the book and recently found it, I read it again and it was as good as I expected, so the series had to go to number 2!

1: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This book when I read it was the best book I had read, and still is. When my mother asked which book I liked more, the novice (from the summoner series) or ready player one I couldn’t decide so I just took a gamble and put this amazing book first. 

On another note I found it ever so very hard to decide between the hundreds (and I’m not joking) of books that I have to find ten of my favourites. Most of these books here I have read more than once, and will remember for quite a while, especially the top 6.  Hope this helps with your Christmas shopping.      

 

Sam

 

 

The Abominables – Very Dhalesque!

The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson

A young English Lady is captured by a Yeti to help bring up his children. What a fantastical, Dhalesque idea for a book. I was intrigued and just had to read it. And what a fantastical world Eva Ibbotson created.

This beautiful story introduces us to a very different family, a family of yetis. Each has their own personality and traits and each has a big heart. Lady Agatha Farlingham is brought into their lives and brings them up in the best traditions of English children. But yeti’s live for a long time, and humans not so long. What will happen to Lady Agatha’s family when she is no longer around to protect them? You will not believe her solution!

The Abominables is at its heart and adventure story, but it is also a story about acceptance, tolerance and doing the right thing. Although you may not notice it that much as you will be so caught up in the story and its peculiarities. One of my favourite bits is how Eva Ibbotson explains why we have never been able to find any yetis. This is because their feet are backwards compared to ours, so trackers always think they are going where they have come from.

This is a delightful book that readers who enjoy Roald Dhal should have a look out. I am sure you will be just as enchanted as I was.

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Top Ten Reviews – Books for Christmas Presents

unknownTop Ten Books for Christmas

 

I know it is still only October, but many of us are already Christmas shopping. With that in mind I though I would go through the year’s reviews and pick my favourites for a Top Ten List of Christmas Presents. So have a browse and see if any will make it to your Christmas Shopping List.

Picture Books

  1. By far our favourite picture book this year was Grandma Wombat. Reviewer Sam was even reading it in the car the other day and giggling away to himself and he is 10. This has to be the perfect book for a Christmas gift.
  2. Second on the list for me would be Shh! We Have a Plan. I love the story and the pictures in this book.
  3. The last picture book recommended for Christmas has to be Clarrie’s Pig Day out for it’s play on words and beautiful illustrations. This book is not only fun, it also looks beautiful.

Early Readers

  1. For girl early readers my first recommendation is Max Remy Superspy. This not only has the spy/sleuth element girls seem to love, but it’s characters are what makes these books special.
  2. For boys I would recommended Boy vs Beast. It has the super-hero element boys like and combined with the computer game format these books are winners.
  3. Finally for early reader I think you cannot go past the Andy Griffith and Terry Denton books. Whether it is the earlier readers like The Cat on the Mat is Flat, or the Big Fat Cow Who Goes Kapow, or the Tree House Series you really cannot go wrong.

Advanced Readers and Teens

  1. My favourite book for the advanced readers and teens would be Della Mortika – Voyage to the Antipodes. I loved the book but I also think the interactive website is great! A book to inspire girls!
  2. The Rooftoppers is my next recommendation. This is a truly beautiful story that won awards, but is also loved by children. Set on the rooftops of Paris with a really imaginative story this book does capture the imagination.
  3. My surprise 9th book is The Crown. I know this is girly, but the series will appeal to a wider female audience because of the interesting political links in the story and the well developed characters.

Older Readers

  1. For the older teens I am cheating – one for the boys and one for the Girls. For the boys the adventure series The Novice  is a great holiday read and Passenger, one of the first books reviewed this year it a good post exam read for girls. Both are set in fantasy worlds with interesting stories, characters you can relate to, and importantly are the first books in a series so there are plenty more gift options should your gift me a hit.

Hope you enjoyed my gift recommendations, perhaps you want to leave some of yours for the readers to help with their Christmas shopping.

 

 

 

 

Image royalyy free clip art from

http://www.melodyhome.com/article/home-decor/give-you-some-free-christmas-clip-art-pictures-4406/

10 Books I Enjoyed Reading as a Teen – A Personal Journey Back 30 Years

love-of-books

Today’s blog started out as a dinner table conversation where we were talking about finding suitable books for younger children with teenage reading ages, but without teenage content, and it got me thinking. I was one of those children once, and what was I reading in my first couple of years at high school (12-14). I thought hard and came up with what is not perhaps the best list for teenage readers, but was a great ramble back into my past!

I was a shocking reader. Not because I could not or would not read, but because I read all the time, even in class (Please don’t pass that on to my son!). One of my earliest memories is of a teacher catching me reading during his social studies lesson. It was a truly great book for a 12 year old girl – Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. A book about drugs and fame in Hollywood.  It is probably tame by today’s standards, but none the less probably not what I would recommend by any stretch of the imagination.

After confiscating my book the teacher and I brokered a deal. I could read in his class if I kept up my class work, but they had to be books he recommended. The first book he gave me was Waterhip Down by Richard Adams. In my twelve year old mind Valley of the Dolls was trashy and unreal. Watershed Down was set in the only too real world of rabbits and their loves and fears became mine, and it broke my heart. I loved this book, but I have not been able to read it again nor have I been able to watch the movie. What’s more every time I hear Art Garfunkle’s Bright Eyes Song, or I play it on the piano, I feel for those rabbits all over again!

Fortunately my teacher’s next recommendation was less heartbreaking and more thought provoking. We were studying the Troubles in Northern Ireland and he gave me Trinity by Leon Uris to read. This was an inspired move although I did not realise it at the time. Until then I had not realised that people wrote fiction based around real life events, and I was drawn into the history and romance between a catholic boy and a protestant girl. Leon Uris for me remains one of my favourite authors. He can take the big events in history and bring them to a personal level by telling the story of people. After Trinity I read Exodus (a book about early settlers in Israel) and Mila 18 (about the Jewish revolt in Poland during WWII – and which would have to be on my top 10 books ever) and many other books by Leon Uris. In fact last month I just finished reading A God in Ruins which, even though it was written in the early 00’s, gives great insight into american politics and the questions they still struggle with – guns and race. That teacher and Leon Uris are responsible for my love of history and politics, and my dream of one day becoming a writer.

Another author I read in my high school years has also stuck by me, and I hold her responsible for making me think about my role as a woman in society, and also helping me question how society shapes us. Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale was my first foray into the world of this great writer, and it is still my favourite of all her books. In this book Offred has one role in life, to breed. She must breed or become a dissenter, which usually results in death. Bit in the very strict society of the Republic of Gilead desire cannot be tamed, and this has a big impact on all the players. I have read many of Margaret Atwood’s books over the years; The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace, Cat’s Eyes, but none have touched be as strongly as The Handmid’s Tale, although all make you look at the people around you in a different way.

I would like to say that I spent my whole time in high school reading great works of fiction by great adult authors, but I did read some works actually aimed at teenagers. I loved The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Set on the tough streets of america it was my generation’s Westside story (without the soppy love bits and music). I really rooted for Ponyboy to break free from the mould he was born into. I loved the book so much I even wagged school to go and see the movie. It was worth getting caught for (sorry Mum and Dad!). I also read the follow up That Was Then, This is Now, but I will always remember the Outsiders more fondly because it took me into the world of teenagers in another country.

It was at the early age I also began my love of mystery novels. I had read all the Famous Five and Secret Seven book in our local library, and at high school I graduated to Nancy Drew. I thought I had read every Nancy Drew story, but in looking for books for this blog I realised I fell a long way short. Well, I did read every one in our local library and the school library! I loved them all because Nancy always used her brains to solve the mystery, by my favourite was The Ghost of Blackwood Hall, possibly because I found the setting of New Orleans quite exotic.

There are two books I know I read when I was at high school  but they did not resonate with me until much later on. I read my sister’s copy of The Diary of  a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I had read a number of books by concentration camp survivors, and of course Exodus and Mila18 by Leon Uris, so this book of a life lived in an attic during the war seemed a little tame at the time. Then in my early 20s I visited the Anne Frank museum and saw how the family lived and I had a new appreciation for the grumbling of a teenage girl about her family and life in general. I think now that it is easy to over-look the smallness of the everyday things she wrote about, but place them into the context of where those things occurred and you marvel at the fact they managed any life at all.

The other book I appreciated more as an adult was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I believe I read this book on the recommendation of a teacher, but at the time I could not see why a children’s book was so important. It was only on re-reading it as an adult I realised how cleaver the book is in looking at how we treat differences in others, and how much we are all the same underneath.

So far I have not written about any of the good books we had to actually read for high school, and you may be thinking that I wrote them off as unimportant, and in the main I think I did at the time.  However three have stayed with me until now, so I am holding them up as inspired choices by my English teachers. The first is The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. I am not merely putting this down because we all have to study Shakespeare and it is an easy one to add to the list because of the strong female central character, but because this was the first Shakespeare I ever studied and I loved the story and the characters and the plot. And because of this one play I have had a life long enjoyment of Shakespeare. If I had not had this as my first Shakespeare play I might not have ever gone to the Globe in London and seen Shakespeare in the round. Nor would I have gone to see the Complete Works of Shakespeare at the theatre, or any of the many other Shakespeare productions I have been too over the years. And my life would have been a lot less bright and humorous if I had missed these performances out.

The Black Narcissus by Rumour Godden has stuck in my mind on and off over the years, and I am trying to track down a copy to confirm to myself that I am remembering it correctly. I believe this was my first example of a clever story that was written beautifully. You know the type of book I mean, one where the story is great but is made better by the beautiful language that is used to tell it. I always feel emense pleasure when I get a book that, and I hope when I finally get my new copy of Black Narcissus it will remind me of my first experience of a beautiful book.

Last, but by no means least is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  I have not read this book since I read it in the sixth form (over 30 years ago), but the characterisations in this book were so strong that I still feel Lenny’s bewilderment, and George’s frustration with the world, and the shock I felt when George turns on his friend. That is very powerful writing! I have read other Steinbeck novels and I have to say my favourite would be the Grapes of Wrath in terms of story line, but you cannot go past Of Mice and Men as a study on human nature.

At the end of writing all of this three things came out of this personal journey back to my early reading history. The first is, I had not realised how much novels I read over thirty years ago would still resonate with me. The second was I had not realised how much they influenced my life choices, my view of the world and my adult me – such is the power of books. The third and most important thing is I have learned that there are worse things than reading adult books when you are still young. I don’t remember the sex scenes and drugs, or even the gory bits from concentration camps and wars, what I remember are the themes and the emotions and the stories, all the great gifts a good book has to give!

 

All Links from this page will take you to book depository.com as this was the one site where I could find copies of all the books I mentioned.

Image from public domainpictures.net

 

The Top 10 Christmas Books on My Shelf

 

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This week’s late blog is a taster of the Christmas Books that my family have loved over the years. They are a mixture of Christmas Stories as well as re-worked Christmas songs and stories. I hope they inspire you read some Christmas tales, or perhaps add some of your family favourites in the comments.

  1. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson  – I love this story that sees the Stick Man return to his family in time for Christmas. It is Julia’s rhyming story and Axel’s beautiful pictures at their best.
  2. Slinky Malinky Christmas Crackers by Lynley Dodds – I am sure you can imagine what a naughty cat like Slinky Malinky will get up to at Christmas time!
  3. A Kiwi Jingle Bells by Yvonne Morrisson and Deborah Hinde – our first ever sing along book for Christmas and we loved all the references to how we in the southern hemisphere love to spend our Christmas Day.
  4. Australian 12 Days of Christmas – by Heath McKenzie – newly moved to Australia we loved this unique view of Christmas in our new home.
  5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss – we are big fans of the good doctor in this house, and this book has always been one of our favourites. We love seeing the nasty grinch turned into a Christmas lover.
  6. A Christmas Carol originally by Charles Dickens, but we have read this in many guises over the years and the story really never gets old.
  7. Santasaurus by Niamh Sharkey – this is a lovely story of a young dinosaur family’s Christmas.
  8. The Pokey Little Puppy’s First Christmas by Justine Korman – this one was for me as I loved the Pokey Little Puppy Story when I was a child, and I loved seeing what mischief he could get finding out the true meaning of Christmas.
  9. The Night Before Chrstmas by Clement C Moore – we have the original and the Australian versions and love both books about Santa’s Christmas Eve visit.
  10. Mater Saves Christmas by Kiel Murray – Mater from Cars tells how he saved Christmas, and it was perfect for my son when he was obsessed with Cars.

Well there you have my Christmas Top 10 to read more about the books click here. Or how about sharing some of your family favourites in the comments below, I always love to find new Christmas books.

Merry Christmas and I hope Santa brings you lots of books for the holiday break.

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2015 Top 10 Christmas Picks

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It is that time of year again and many of you are like me, doing the round of shops and gathering up Christmas presents for all those loved ones. Then you pass a bookshop and you think to yourself ‘Ah ha, books, an easy present filler for the kids.’ You then walk inside, and you stop. What Beast Quest Books have they read? Were there any EJ12’s they haven’t got? What about Zac Powers and Billie B Brown? Would they read something else? And if yes, what? Are they too young for Harry Potter?

Hopefully I am here to rescue you, or at least get your grey matter working by giving you some ideas of the wealth of other books out there? This post will outline why I have chosen the books, if you want to find out more about the book or the series then please click in the book title or image and it will give you more details about the book and some options of where to buy.

I am going to start with the little ones, the ones that still love books because they are read to them. I believe you can never go wrong with any of the Julia Donaldson books, but this, my first pick, is a book given to my son that both my husband and I loved reading to him (and let’s face it all the early books have to be a little about us). Dear Zoo is a great book by Rod Campbell, where he asks the zoo to find him a pet with hilarious results. You open the flaps to find what animal they have sent and why they won’t work as a pet. I do blame this book for my son wanting a dog for years, but even that cannot stop me from smiling every time I read this book.

My second choice is an oldie but a goodie. I get that some parents find Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak a little odd, but there are reasons why it has stood the test of time. The pictures are amazing but it is the fact that the book captures life through the eyes of a child that makes it so popular. Why not team it up with the DVD for a gift package.

My next two books for the read to age group can also be bought for children of any age. One of my aunts surprised us with one of our family favourites, It’s a Book by Lane Smith. A loveable gorilla tries to explain a book to to a techno generation ass creating a hilarious tale. And if you think this is too young for older kids, think again. At book week this year some Year Six children chose this as their favourite book.

The final picture book is a twist on the age old tale of the Three Little Pigs. I picked up The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka in a bargain bin at a book shop and to this day I cannot understand why it was there. From prison the wolf tells how he was set up and how he really is such a good guy. This tale is so well written in a tongue in cheek style, and I challenge you to read it without laughing.

For my next five picks I was going to find one off books that your readers, and maybe some non-readers would love. Then I had a change of heart. Why make it hard on yourself, why not start your family on a series of books that will enable you to buy gifts for the future. So I have gone with the first book of book series, and I have tried for books that might appeal to boys and girls alike.

My first book is The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi, the first book in the Amulet Series. I have chosen this series for three reasons. Firstly, it is an action adventure series with a brother and sister as the main characters. I love their sidekick, who is a crazy rabbit. And finally, it is in graphic novel format, so will appeal to avid readers, and those not so avid readers who like to get through a book quickly. There are six books in the series and so there is plenty to keep you going in the book gift area if they like the first one.

Escape from Wolfhaven Castle, the first book in the Impossible Quest Series by Kate Forsyth is my next pick. My action and adventure loving son loves this series because the dialogue is funny, and although there are male lead characters he can identify with, he also enjoys the female characters. This is a five book series for your children to get totally lost in.

Two brothers and a sister are the leads in my next pick, The Field Guide Book 1 of the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. After watching the movie my son started on the books, which he says are way better than the movie. The story line is great, and what I really love about these books are they are in hard cover and make beautiful looking gifts as well as being great reads. There are five books in the original series, plus three books in the Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles Series.

Another series that has DVD’s behind them is the How to Train Your Dragon Series. Like the Spiderwick Chronicles, they are different enough from the movies or TV series to interest even the most avid fan. They are well written, fast paced and very funny and if you get the version with images then they only add to the story. How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell is the first in the series, but once hooked, your child has 11 other books to read. Not only can you follow up with movie and TV dvd’s, but iTunes have great audio versions of the story read by David Tennant which are great fun for the whole family to listen to on a road trip.

My final serial pick is a book I  have not even read. I am picking it on the basis that the Percy Jackson Saga, The Heroes of Olympus Series, and the Red Pyramid Series have not only been popular, but are well written, and the characters are ones children identify with. I started reading the Heroes of Olympus series to my son as a bedtime story, but apparently I do not read quickly enough and my son has now lept ahead to book 3 on his own. Funnily though my pick is none of these series, but a recently released book called Magnus Chase and The Sword of Summer by Rick Riorden. This book is the first in the new series about demi God children of the Norse gods in general and in particular Thor. This is for older readers (12+), but with the modern characters, great stories and a hero that is the son of Thor. I think this will be a winner!

And to my final pick for this top ten list. Well, it’s not a reading book at all. With google at our finger tips we sometimes forget that children can still actually learn things from books. Everything You Need to Know (an encyclopedia for young minds) from Kingfisher is a resource children can use when they do not have screen or computer time. It has easy to read to read text, great images and a wide reange of topics for enquiring young minds. And my favourite bit? It has web links so those enquiring young minds can learn even more and take their search to the net.

Hope you have enjoyed my top ten. I would be interested to know what you would have left out or included.

Happy Christmas shopping.

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Top 10 Summary

1) Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

2) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

3) It’s a Book by Lane Smith

4) The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

5) The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (Book 1 of  the Amulet Series)

6) Escape from Wolfhaven Castle by Kate Forsyth (Book 1 of the Impossible Quest Series)

7)The Field Guide  by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (Book 1 of the Spiderwick Chronicles)

8) How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

9) Magnus Chase and The Sword of Summer by Rick Riorden

10) Everything You Need to Know (an encyclopedia for young minds) from Kingfisher