Top Ten Christmas Books to read in 2015


 
I know that it is a little earlybut if you want to start reading Christmas books during Christmas now is the time to buy them.

So here is a list of Christmas Books that I think are worth reading, and I’m going to read, over Christmas!

1.   Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan


A sweet little contemporary book. Lily, a quirky teenager, leaves a book of dares in her favourite book store in New York, Dash, a clever yet slightly neglected New Yorker finds it. What ensues is a fun, twisting plot of romance and Christmas references.

2.   A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

 
A Christmas classic. Anyone that loves Scrooge or the Muppets Christmas Carol is going to want to read this short tale of Charles Dickens. I would also recommend it to anyone who loves the stories of Dickens but struggles to read his long-winded books.

3.   Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

 
A child’s story, aimed at girls, but a sweet tale of three adopted sisters who get sent to Performing Arts school to make a living as their family faces economic struggles. Romances, dance, drama and family. A lovely little story.

4.   A Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy

 
Carol Ann Duffy is my favourite poet and World War One is my favourite time period to read about, so combining the two makes me very happy. This little book is the perfect stocking-filler and tells the tale of the Christmas in the trenches in 1914 when the British and the Germans met on the trenches to play football, give gifts and swap photographs see last year’s Sainsbury’s advert for more details, or read the book. It’ll take a few minutes.

5.   Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling Illustrated Edition

 
So I haven’t actually seen the inside of this edition, it is my top Christmas Gift or the year or at least I hope my parents got my hinting But this is one of my favourite stories, and it has some Christmas themes with Harry having his first proper Christmas ever, getting gifts from the Weasley’s and Dumbledore. It just makes me happy.

6.   My True Love Gave me to Me Stories by many different authors

 
For anyone wanting a lot of Christmas in one book, this is the book for you. There are many tales written by some of the best contemporary and YA authors of the moment and each story is written with a different theme. The best thing about it is that you can flip through it in your leisure. There is no pressure to read it in order or read it completely. It is perfect for those ten minutes of peace as you wait for the extended family to arrive on Christmas day.

7.  The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern

 
The short story which It’s A Wonderful Life is based on. I personally find the film out-dated, some people will hate me for that, but this little book might re-vitalise it for me. I think this is one to read snug in a blanket in the living room whilst mum is working on her computer, Dad is playing a game on Ipad and boyfriend is watching the footie.

8.   Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

 
For those of you that like family classics, this is the one to go for. Four sisters all wish for something over Christmas, when times are hard due to war, and each give up their precious wish to get something for their hard-working mother. A lot more happens besides Christmas in this book, but Christmas is the fundamental opening that makes you fall in love with this series of books.

9.   How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

 
Every year I tell someone about this book. Every year I watch the movie and don’t read the book. Shame on me I love the story though and the rhymes (that I've heard) are precious and pure. He's the evil Grinch, but also wonderful at the same time. (Jim Carrey should have got the Oscar!)

And last but not least

10.  The Night Before Christmas

 
I literally read this every year, on Christmas Eve. It is tradition and it is wonderful. I love this book. The copy I own is the same one I’ve had all throughout my childhood and it never fails to bring back that childish-anticipation for Christmas morning. Even when I’m fat from too many rich-dinners, sick of my dysfunctional family and absolutely bored with Christmas music and decorations. By Christmas morning I am a child again.

 

So there are 10 recommendations for books to read this Christmas. I’m probably going to do a series of posts that are Christmas based along with posts that are not Christmas-sy as well but I love this time of year and it always ignites my passion for reading too!

Let me know what books you’ll be reading this Christmas.

Happy Reading!

 

 

All the Bright Places // Book Review



Author: Jennifer Niven is a writer of many other novels spanning historical fiction, contemporary, YA and Non-Fiction. Check out her website for more information: http://www.jenniferniven.com/about/

Rating: ****

 
Review:

I believe in goodreads I called this book a slow-burner but also an emotional roller-coaster. Both of these analogies are correct.

If you are looking for a tear-jerker: you’ve found one.

If you’re looking for a YA romance: you’ve got it.

If you’re looking for a heavy topic, with a hefty side-helping of ‘WTF’: you’ve also got it.

But alongside that you have a few clichéd characters, a bit of a ‘come on...get to it’ narrative and a very American-set novel which alienates other readers a little. At least in my opinion.

Nonetheless, I still enjoyed it! I cried on a train during rush-hour - you do not do that when you haven’t been touched by a book!

The characters of Theodore Finch and Violet were very interesting to follow, particularly Finch. At the end you’ll question whether you really understood him, or even liked him, but that is what makes him so real. He is certainly the most flamboyant and likable character of the book.

Violet is a severely depressed young girl who lost her sister in a car accident, and it is the boy that wants to end his life that typically saves her. It is a really good premise and the book delivers on it, but Violet is somehow frustrating to me. We get to know everything about her but she still feels a little flat in the middle, but by the end she is a superb character and you really feel for her and understand how she's acting.

The themes of this book are: depression, suicide and mental disorders. There is also a drop of domestic abuse, bulimia and bullying so it is not for the faint-hearted, but it is definitely one for the likes of readers of ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’, ‘Me Before You’ and ‘Fault in Our Stars’.

A very poignant book that will stay with you, long after the thoughts on whether it was too clunky and over-filled in places, fade.

I would recommend it.

October Book Haul // Part 2



As promised: the second part to my book haul. I went home last weekend and got the pictures and list of the books I bought and I didn’t realise I had bought quite so manybut they can’t have cost much because my bank balance has remained quite healthy surprise surprise.

AnywayI’ll get straight into it:

1.   Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

 
I read this series back in my time at my Secondary School and I loved it. I devoured the first three books and found them really moving and fast-paced, but I never truly appreciated them. For the last few years I’ve been realising things, even without reading the books, which occurred in this book namely the racial tensions and the themes of the story: terrorism, suicide, teen pregnancy etc. It is a heavy book. So I want to re-visit it and see if I love it as much and understand it better.

2.   Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield

 
Another re-visit. I have a copy of this book, which belonged to my mum, but it is falling apart and I love it and want to re-read it this Christmas, so I thought I would re-purchase it and have this lovely copy on my shelf.

3.   Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek & Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

 
These three gorgeous books are a set on the Book People right now for a tiny amount of £4.99 for the whole set. I adore Rebecca, it was one of the most captivating reads I have ever read and I thought Du Maurier was a phenomenal writer, so I want to read some of her other works and this was the perfect collection to do just that.

4.   Conspiracy of Blood & Snow by Anne Blackman

 
I was lucky enough to receive it from Headline Publishing for review and shall get on with it soon because the premise sounds right up my street. The protagonist is in hiding as she was a part of the inner circle of Adolf Hitler in Germany but turned against him. When her lover has to return to Germany and is accused of murder she too returns and has to avoid Hitler whilst also dealing with this accusation and a conspiracy that the couple uncover. Sounds very tense and exciting.

5.   Wonder by R.J. Palacio

 
I remember putting this book on my wish list way-back-when I started this blog and I finally purchased it when I found it in a charity shop. The story revolves around a young boy with a facial disfigurement and I believe he has to go to school for the first time. Apparently it is very moving, it opens your eyes to a whole new perspective of disabilities and the treatment of people with them. I am looking forward to reading this.

6.   Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

 
I recently purchased and began reading it. The story is based around the writer of Rapunzal. It is told, I believe, from the perspective of the female writer, who was banished from court and has to work her way back with her stories, Rapunzal and the Evil Witch. There are a lot of mixed reviews, but I could do with some fairy-tale revision stories.

7.  Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein



Rose is an American pilot in World War Two and the story focuses on what happens to her during the war. She isn’t a fighter pilot, as such, but I believe she gets into a few skirmishes, ends up in a women’s concentration camp and faces many adversities before the book is up. It’ll be interesting to see what occurs as I never read a story with female pilots in, let alone during wartime.

8.   Anne Frank’s Diary by Anne Frank



I’m ashamed I’ve never read this. I remember picking it up in primary school and not understanding and then later in secondary school and getting bored. I never truly understood what happened to Anne, but I remember seeing a BBC adaptation of the book and I’ve always wanted to read it so I finally have purchased a copy and will read it when the mood takes me.

9.   An Eagle in the Snow by Michael Morpurgo

 
I read this a few days ago and really enjoyed it. The story is set in WW2 on a train which is stuck in a tunnel as it was under fire. In one compartment is a young boy, his mother and an older man. The boy is afraid of the dark so the old man lights a match every so often and tells him a story of the most decorated soldier of the First World War to distract him. Besides a slightly clichéd ending it is a lovely story, and definitely one to add to your reading list if you’ve liked other Morpurgo books.

10. Keats’ Poetical Works



I have been looking for a collection of Keats’ work for an age! I love his poetry, but I have only got books with snippets of them in rather than the collection. This book seems to hold them all and they’re a fabulous read. Endymion is my favourite, with ‘Le Belle Dame sans Merci’ a close second.

11. Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

 
Finally I recently purchased Annabel Pitcher’s new book. I am hoping that this book is better than her previous two. I’ve read both of them and, to my surprise and others, I have really not enjoyed them. I found ‘Ketchup Clouds’ to be depressing and forced and ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece’ to be incredibly repetitive. Both of the premises were great though and I think I had to high of expectations, with ‘Silence is Goldfish’ (great title) I am going in blindI’ll let you know what I think.

That is everything! I bought quite a books last month and I hope to get through as many as possible before Christmas arrives! I have a whole reading list to get through in Decemberwhich I will post very soon.

What books have you bought, any books you would recommend to me?

Happy Reading!


October Book Haul // Pt 1



This month I may have bought a lot more books than anticipated, this is partly to be very close to a ‘books for free’ shop where you can take 3 books for free (you may also put in a donation, which I do) and also a very good charity shop.

It has been a good month for the off-the-beaten track books this month, I’m kind of going through a phase of reading obscure books.

I’ve decided to split this haul into 2:

Part 1: Books I’ve bought at University

Part 2: Books I’ve bought at Home

I go home every weekend so all the books I order are there, but all the books I buy in store are at University.

Without further ado let’s begin:

1.   The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

I saw this in the Books for Free shop and the thing that caught me was that it was published by ‘Granta’, a literary magazine, which I have been studying in my Creative Writing Classes for two years. I don’t know anything about the story, but the font is in typewriter form and it was only written 6 years ago. Also the name Eleanor Catton rings a bellI’m pretty much going in blind.

2.   The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

 
The story revolves around Lennie, she has always lived (happily) in her sister Bailey’s shadow, but when Bailey suddenly dies she is thrust into the light of her own life. There are a few boys to deal with, confidence and clearly some tear-jerking issues. I’ve heard great things about Jandy Nelson, I’m looking forward to this.

3.   On the Beach by Nevil Shute

 
I’ve been thinking of getting some of Nevil Shute’s books for a while and I found this in a charity shop and the premise got me. A radioactive cloud is heading south towards Australia where there is an American Submarine crew. The captain gets attached to a local girl, but he has a wife back in America even though he doesn’t know if she is alive and then he gets a Morse code signal from the US and he has to leave and see if there are any signs of lifevery intense!

4.   Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neil

 
I feel very late to the band-wagon with this book. This is kind of Handmaid’s Tale meets YA with girls being taught to always be beautiful, never back-chat or do anything besides what they’ve been selected to do. Sounds really up my street!

5.   Umbrella by Will Self

 
I got this book because I wanted to read more about Friern Mental Asylum, as part of a Creative Writing project. I’ve already tried to read this and the language and writing stylel is difficult. The story revolves around a woman who in 1920 contracted Spanish Flu and is now permanently comatose, but she can still think like a lucid person. Her thoughts are mingled in the narrative with a doctor who has come to treat her, whose own life is changed forever. Very confusing and difficult to get intobut we’ll see what happens.

6.   Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy

 
I found this in the ‘Books for Free’ shop again and I love it! Carol Ann Duffy is my favourite poet, so to find one of her collections I haven’t read it makes my day. I cannot wait to dive into this lesser known collection.

7.  Love’s Work by Gillian Rose

 
I recently read a memoir called ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ about a man who suffers with Motor Neurone Disease and it was very moving. This is a short memoir/book of philosophy by Rose who was terminally ill when she wrote this. It is a book filled with unanswerable questions which she strives to answer with anecdotes about her life. Quite a poignant read, but one I look forward to.

8.   Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis

 
This is a previously Man Booker Prize shortlist. It tells the story of a Nazi doctor backwards, starting from when he is dying as an older man, to when he worked as a doctor and he was a child (I presume) It’s only short and quite interesting from the first few pages. I look forward to getting through this.

9.   Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger

 

I have never actually read anything by Salinger, but a lot of people on Booktube recommend that you start with Franny and Zooey and then move onto his more famous work of ‘Catcher in the Rye’. I found this in a charity shop and it looks so cute and snug that I thought I’d give a go.


So that is the beginning of this book haul. Part 2 will be coming soon! I hope you enjoyed, please let me know what books you bought this month or if you have any recommendations or reviews.

Happy Reading!

October Wrap-Up


 

I’ve had a really good reading month this October not so much in the quantity of books I read but the quality and diversity of books!

This month I read:

-      The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham - ****


A suspenseful, if a little slow, sci-fi thriller. This is the book that the movie The Village of the Damned is based on. I had an enjoyable time reading this it has the best opening chapter I’ve read in years! (I have said that so many times, but I don’t care! It was that good!) It could have done with clearer characters but apart from that it was a good read.

-      Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - *****

 
Well after having this on my shelf for a year I finally picked it up: It is amazing! I really enjoyed it for a full review check out my blogpost: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Book Review

-      All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - ****

 
Another book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time. I was finally in the mood to pick up this book and it was heart-breaking. I can’t say too much as I want to do a review, and I don’t want to spoil it, but oh god I cried on a train. I don’t cry on trains usuallygot to admit.

-      The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson (Little Black Penguin Classic) - ***

 
I’ve been meaning to read some fairy-tales for a while now, can you believe that I haven’t actually read any of the originals know the stories, of course, but not actually read the original works of Hans Christian Anderson. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this collection as much as I wanted to. They are children stories surprising with some of the events that happen but the plots weren’t actually that good. Disappointing but still interesting.

-      An Eagle in the Snow by Michael Morpurgo - ****

 
I fancied a quick read so I picked up Michael Morpurgo’s new book from The Book People. It is a beautiful hardback edition, wonderfully illustrated and it is based on the real life events of a soldier in World War One, which makes it all the more interesting to me. The story itself is good, until the ending. I felt the end was a bit of a cop-out, I’d go so far as to say cliché, but to a child audience they probably wouldn’t feel that way. For a child I think it will go down a treat, for an adult it’s still a good read.

 
So they were the books I read this month. Like I said, quality over quantity. A really eclectic mix and one I really enjoyed! Can’t wait to read some more good books over next month:

I’m only 4 books away from reaching my target of reading 50 books this year!

Let me know what you read last month and if you have any recommendations for me to read next month!

Happy Reading!