Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Alison’s 2012 review

What has been your favourite read of 2012?

I normally hate being asked what my favourite book is, there are just too many good ones out there to choose from. But for once I can definitely answer this question with just the one book. Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J Maas was a total stand out to me. So much so that I’ve read it three times this year.

Which book have you most enjoyed reading with your children in 2012?

This one I have to answer with two books. I have one girl aged 7 and a boy who will be 5 over Christmas. Long gone are the days where I could read the same book to them both. With my daughter the favourite has to be The Beginning by Lemony Snicket. I’ve adored A Series of Unfortunate Events for years and to see her grow to love them too has been pretty special. With my son I’ll go for George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. He is a typically boisterous boy who is never still for more than a minute. One afternoon we snuggled down and read the whole book, he was utterly transfixed. It was amazing to see him finally find a story he could immerse himself in.

What have you enjoyed most about book reviewing/blogging in 2012?

The chance to rave about the books I love! I’m really lucky that I get to do this a lot of work, but I can only do that so much before staff and students alike start rolling their eyes. On the blog I get to gush as much, or as little as I like. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to read books that I might not otherwise of heard of or read.

What was your favourite book related event of 2012?

I’m very lucky to work at a school that can bring in a lot of authors to work with students, though I prefer the events that I don’t have to organise myself. My favourite this year has probably been when Andy Briggs came to visit. He really engaged with students and we had a lot of students come and take books out who really weren’t interested in reading before. He also inspired some students to write. It’s what it’s all about really!

What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2013?

The one that I’m looking forward to the most is probably Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. I’m definitely in the mood for fantasy books and this looks fantastic and has had loads of rave reviews. Some trilogies that I have really enjoyed are coming to an end this year, so although I can’t wait to read those books, the feeling is bittersweet as it means leaving these worlds behind.

Alison’s favourite read of 2012(Click on the title to read more)

Throne Of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Post by Alison

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Helen’s 2012 review

What is your favourite read of 2012?
hmmm, choosing one favourite is always hard so I’m gonna cheat and chose two! These are two books whose themes will stay with me and that really made me think, but were easy to read and great stories too. Firstly, Me Before You by Jojo Moyles and secondly Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel. If we want the funniest book I’ve read this year it’s got to be ‘Molly’s Millions’ by Victoria Connelly, a great balance for the other two!

Which book have you most enjoyed sharing with your children?
Well with Sienna now approaching 3 years old, her favourites that I love to read (these two things often don’t match!) have got to be the Donaldson/Scheffler team. Any will do but Zog has been one that we have really enjoyed sharing.

With Tianna (now 5), we have finally begun to read more complex and longer stories, like Noddy!. She is starting to enjoy Roald Dahl and I have loved reading these kinds of stories with her. The BFG has been a great one, all of those great half made up words are so much fun.

What have you enjoyed most about blogging in 2012?
I have still enjoyed writing but have also enjoyed getting more books from publishers and seeing them before most people get a chance. Leading on from that it’s always nice when authors give you nice comments about your reviews and that’s happened a couple of times this year.

What has been your favourite book event of 2012?
I still need to write about this for ‘Love books will travel’ but it has to be seeing Alexander McCall Smith at Foyles talking about his new book ‘Trains and Lovers’. He was so easy to listen to, very charming and witty. He was just as you expect from reading his books. It was fabulous. Plus his spoilers about some of his other books have me itching to read them too!

What are you most looking forward to reading in 2013?
I am looking forward to a few books in 2013, having read Lissa Price’s Starters I am ready for the next installment, Enders. I ‘ll be glad to resolve some of those cliffhangers. In the same way I want to read the next book in Meg Cabot’s Abandon series, I loved the first one, and I think the next one is due out sometime this year!

Apart from that my TBR is as long as ever…

Helen’s Favourite books of 2012 (click on the title below to learn more)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Molly’s Millions by Victoria Connelly

Starters by Lissa Price

Zog by Julia Donaldson

Post by Helen

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Caroline’s 2012 review

What is your favorite read of 2012?

Gah! I really don’t know why I set these questions. Well I’m sure that you are all very well aware that there is no way I am going to be able to narrow this down to just one!

I adored Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi . I was going through a real dystopian love affair at the time and I found myself completely pulled in by Rossi’s world building. Not to mention that the pacing of Aria and Perry’s romance was just perfect.
I’m now fully absorbed in a Contemporary romance phase, and totally addicted to the New Adult genre, which has exploded over the last year. Easy, by Tammara Webber is my favorite contemporary read of 2012. Despite having only picked it up for the first time in November I have already re-read it.
A special mention has to go to Patrick Ness’ The Knife Of Never Letting Go. Although this was published in 2008, I only read it for the first time in February of 2012. I was absolutely blown away by Ness’ world building and characterization. Not to mention I blubbed like a total baby (full on puffy face and snot bubbles) after a particular scene. It is the book that I have recommended the most to non-YA reading friends and colleagues.

Which book have you most enjoyed reading with your children in 2012?

My daughter, Ava, turned five and started school in September. Although the books she has been sent home with haven’t been the most entertaining or exciting, I have absolutely loved watching Ava learning to read for herself, and assisting her on this journey.
As a family we have enjoyed sharing Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back. The sequel, This is Not My Hat is currently sat, neatly wrapped, under my Christmas tree.

What have you enjoyed most about book blogging in 2012?

Aside from the actual books, the thing I love most about blogging is the community. Whether it be through comments, Twitter or at events, there is nothing quite like “finding your people” and being able to gush for hours about your favorite books without people’s eyes glazing over.

I have been particularly lucky to have developed genuine friendships with two YA book bloggers, Kerri from Read and Repeat (Click here to check out her blog) and Pruedence,The Library Mouse (check out her blog here). You should definitely check out their shared feature Two-Pound Tuesdays.

This year I have taken part in the first UK YA Book Bloggers Secret Santa. I have lots of fun checking out my recipients’ blog for shopping clues and browsing for book related presents. I can’t wait until Christmas day when I will get to open my own Secret Santa gift and discover the secret identity of the man (or woman) in red.

What was your favorite book related event of 2012?

In June we celebrated our first anniversary. I am really proud of the whole team for managing to sustain the blog for a year (and still enjoy it) despite house moves, illness and increasing family/work/school demands.

I delighted with our new look. The move from to our own website came with its own stresses and a lot of hard work but I am really pleased with how it has turned out. The credit goes to Webmaster Ed Gillett. Despite being paid entirely in cake and babysitting, Ed treated the project with professionalism and perfectionism.

I have also been lucky enough to attend lots of fabulous book event at my local book store, Waterstones in Guildford. My favourite being The Queen Of Teen after party – wow! So much YA talent in one room.

The events organized by Neil at Foyles are always fabulous. I thoroughly enjoyed the series of YA Creative Voices panels they hosted over the summer.

What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2013?

Which book? Seriously, what was I thinking? How about, Which books are you most looking forward to reading in 2013?!

For me 2013 marks the continuation and finale of some fantastic series. I can’t wait for the, as yet untitled, conclusion of The Divergent Trilogy or Goddess Inheritance (Goddess Trilogy) but the final installment I am most anxious to read is Clockwork Princess. The third book Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices Trilogy, and what is fast becoming my favorite book series to date.

I am really looking forward to the continuation of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, Cassandra Rose Clarke’s The Pirates Wish (The Assassins Curse Trilogy) and C J Redwine’s Deception (Defiance Trilogy).
The debut I am most anticipating is G Howard’s Splintered. The synopsis sounds amazing and the cover is just stunning.

Caroline’s favourite books of 2012.(Click on the title to read more)

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Easy by Tammara Webber

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Post by Caroline

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here at BBLB we will be taking a blogging break for a few days; kicking back on our respective couches and enjoying the mulled wine and chocolates on offer as we delve into our fabulous newly received Christmas reads.    
We will be back and raring to go, bringing you our reviews on more fantastic books on Tuesday the 3rd of January.
Caroline, Helen, Jane, Karen, Lesley, Daniel and Jack would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a delightfully Bookish 2012!

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The Night Before Christmas

Clement Clarke Moore, Pop up by Robert Sabuda

Award winner Robert Sabuda brings Clement Clarke Moore’s classic tale of The Night Before Christmas to life in this festive pop-up edition, sure to become a perennial family favourite

As the mother of a young family I enjoy passing on old family traditions and creating new traditions for my own family. One tradition I am keen to foster is the enjoyment of festive books in the lead up to Christmas. More specifically I intend to bring together a selection of Christmas book for us to enjoy together as a family. Packing them away with the Christmas decoration in the new year and bringing them down from the loft each December.

I’ve decided to start my collection with a timeless classic, The Night Before Christmas. Moore’s gorgeous descriptive prose evokes strong childhood memories of lying wide awake in bed, butterflies in my stomach, straining my ears for the sound of, sleigh bells, the clip clop of hooves or even a deep chuckling ‘HO HO HO!’, the anticipation of possibly meeting Santa, was almost as exciting as the promise of presents. n fact The Night Before Christmas is probably the cause of these Christmas fantasies!

Reading it again, to my children, I am able to appreciate the skilled poetry. It is a beautiful sounding poem that you cannot fail to enjoy reading aloud. The description transports you completely as the story unfolds in your mind “And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.” But also an enormous sense of fun and a smidge of cheekiness. The idea of Father Christmas winking to acknowledge the narrators presence before going about his work and the description of the man himself “bowl full of jelly” will appeal to any child’s naughty streak.

This Particular edition is accompanied by the awe inspiring creations of Robert Sabuda. As the owner of another Sabuda creation, Alice in Wonderland (an intricate, marvel using Lewis Carroll’s text and the original illustrations – I highly recommend it), I jumped at the opportunity to own some more of this artist’s work. This level of paper engineering is an art form.

The 3D creations are indeed mesmerising, but I felt that overall the illustrations lacked something. With Alice in Wonderland I feel as though I am discovering something new with each viewing. In comparison, The Night Before Christmas appears deceptively simple. Perhaps this has more to do with Sabuda’s clever use of the original Alice in Wonderland artwork. The use of simple shapes and a limited colour pallet in The Night Before Christmas certainly focuses the spotlight on to the cleverness of the engineering.

Verdict: This cleverly constructed edition of a festive classic is a worthy addition to my Christmas collection. I would also thoroughly recommend you check Sabuda’s other work

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: April 2010
Format: Hardback
Genre: Christmas, Classic, Pop Up
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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The Smelly Sprout

Alan Plenderleith

Thrown out into the snow on Christmas day, the smelly sprout comes up against a terribly rude Christmas tree, an awfully impolite snowman and, worst of all…a greedy fox. But will a chance encounter with someone as small as the sprout change everything?

This is a witty story, perfect for any child who doesn’t like our Christmas season’s favourite vegetable! And even for those who do! The poor sprout is dismissed from everywhere he tries to find a home. All he really wants is to be loved, but no-one wants him.

This is written with sly humour and appeals to adults too. There is a great little set of repetitive lines that children enjoy joining in with and it all finishes with a sweet happy ending.

The illustrations are done in a kind of cartoon style, they don’t all appeal to me, but my children seem quite happy with them. I do like the one on the last page, but it will spoil the end of the story to tell you what it is.

I have heard some objections to the story on the basis that nobody wants to eat the sprout, so if this is something you are concerned about it may not be for you. In our house I don’t think it has any effect on my children’s desire to eat sprouts, or not eat them. We just enjoy the story.

Verdict: A good fun read for Christmas, and something a bit different for a child’s picture book.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Ravette Publishing Ltd
Publication Date: September 2008
Format: Paperback
Pages: 48
Genre: Christmas, Humour
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Lost Christmas

David Logan

When Goose’s parents are killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve, his life changes utterly. Living with his increasingly senile Nan, his dog Mutt is the only thing keeping him sane. His only other friend is Frank, a former friend of his father. Frank’s own life is falling apart and he has recruited Goose to help him carry out petty theft around the city.
A year to the day since the accident that changed his life, Goose meets Anthony, a strange man who has forgotten who he is, but seems to know more about others than they know about themselves. When Mutt goes missing, Goose has no choice but to rely on Anthony to help find him.
In an adventure that draws in Frank, who’s lost his family, an old lady who’s lost a precious bangle, an elderly doctor who’s lost his wife and mother who’s lost her daughter, Goose follows Anthony across Manchester. But at the centre of the mystery is Anthony himself: who is he, how does he know so much and can he help Goose and the others find what they’re searching for?
A delight to read from start to finish, David Logan takes the reader on a terrific journey through love, loss and the quest for home.

I’m going to be honest. I picked up this book in the shop as I had been asked to review a children’s ‘Christmas themed’ book. I had never heard of this book or of the author but I’m a sucker for ‘topical’ reads just to see what all the fuss is about. This book drew me in, as had the headline, ‘Now a major film starring Eddie Izzard’ and thanks to the rather obvious title, was a quick win to meet the task at hand.

So, it was fair to say that I started reading this book feeling a bit ‘meh’ as it isn’t something that I would have chosen with no agenda. But thank goodness I did! By the end of the first chapter I had to bite back tears and actually stopped reading to think how I would have reacted as a mother in the same situation. Towards the end of the book I was a goner, my heartstrings well and truly yanked. To balance the sadness there’s more than a little magic, intrigue over ‘Anthony’s’ true identity and humour for his quirky personality and his tourettes like ability to share random facts. Did you know that Walt Disney was scared of mice for instance?

So what’s it all about? Well the story focuses around a young boy nicknamed Goose whom, on Christmas Eve, inadvertently sets off a chain of events that creates misery and loss for a number of people, whilst making him an orphan in the process. His grandmother, already experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s dementia is left to look after him.

One year on and he is withdrawn, isolated and is under probation for thieving whilst his grandmother’s health continues to deteriorate. If his life couldn’t get more bleak already, he then loses his beloved dog Mutt. Desperate to find his dog, he relies on a rather odd stranger (Anthony – well at least he thinks his name is Anthony as that’s what the badge says on his jacket!) who has an uncanny knack for finding lost things.

Whilst poring through the TV listings for the next fortnight I see that the film will be on BBC 1 on the 18th December 5:30pm and is given a 5* rating. As the book was based on the screenplay, I can understand why the film has a perfect rating and I will definitely be watching, albeit with a box of tissues and comfort eating chocs to hand!

Verdict: a perfect read for gearing up to Christmas. If you want to laugh, cry and root for characters to get their happy ending then this book is for you. Young and old independent readers alike.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: October 2011
Format: Hardback
Pages: 300
Genre: Christmas
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Favourite Christmas Tales

The Night Before Christmas Clement C. Moore
The first Christmas Retold by Gaby Goldsack
A Christmas Carol Retold by Gaby Goldsack>
The twelve days of Christmas by Unknown

My favourite Christmas Tales’ is a truly delightful boxed set that will add a wonderful festive touch to any story time over the Christmas season. ‘The First Christmas’ tells of the story of the birth of Jesus which has been retold in verse, ‘A Christmas Carol’, the fabulous story of Ebenezer Scrooge is also retold in verse. ‘The Night before Christmas’, the wonderfully traditional Christmas rhyme and ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ are written as we know and love them in their original poetry and song formats.

I have just loved reading these books, as of course they are all incredibly well known Christmas tales, and certainly ones that I have grown up with, and enjoyed over many (too many!) years. I’m really looking forward to reading them with my children over the next few weeks. Written as they are, as poetry or song, they are really easy to read and I know the boys will want to join in along the way!

I think what has really sold me on these books are the wonderful illustrations by Caroline Pedler. I think they are beautiful and really ‘set the scene’ on each page. I love her warm and friendly Santa Claus in ‘The night before Christmas’ and the various ‘French hens’, ‘swans a swimming’ and ‘lords a leaping’ really add fun and interest to ‘The twelve days of Christmas’.

I’m a great one for tradition, especially setting Christmas traditions for our family and I think I shall be setting another one as these books will definitely come out each year for us to gather round together and enjoy.

Verdict: These books will put you in a very glowy Christmas mood!

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Parragon
Publication Date: 2011
Format: Hardback (boxed set)
Genre: Christmas
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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