I believe when it comes to gifts of books for book enthusiasts for Christmas it can divide opinions. Some people will choose to give a book as a gift if they know the persons taste and your almost certainly guaranteed it will be a hit. On the other hand, some people prefer to stay away from giving books as a gift as you run the risk of gifting a book someone already owns. Personally, I love receiving a book but will often have wish list running for suggestions if people are looking for present ideas for me.
In November there was a small event that occurred by the name of Black Friday and during this time the website The Book People ran a sale. I intended to treat myself to a few early Christmas presents but my lovely hubby offered to me the opportunity to fill my basket and he would buy them for me. I had to wait until Christmas day to unwrap them and obviously I knew some of my presents but I didn’t mind at all and ended up with a bumper haul. I thought it would be fun to share with you all the books that I got for Christmas as well as some I picked up in the sales too.
Gifts I was given
Queen Victoria, Daughter, Wife, Mother, Widow by Lucy Worsley
As well as a queen, Victoria was a daughter, a wife, a mother and a widow, and at each of these steps along life’s journey she was expected to conform to what society demanded of a woman. On the face of it, she was deeply conservative. But if you look at her actions rather than her words, she was in fact tearing up the rule book for how to be female. By looking at the detail of twenty-four days of her life, through diaries, letters and more, we can see Victoria up close and personal. Examining her face-to-face, as she lived hour to hour, allows us to see, and to celebrate, the contradictions at the heart of British history’s most recognisable woman.
Matilda at 30, Chief Executive of the British Library Edition by Roald Dahl
Matilda is the world’s most famous bookworm, no thanks to her ghastly parents. Her father thinks she’s a little scab. Her mother spends all afternoon playing bingo. And her headmistress, Miss Trunchbull? She’s the worst of all. She’s a big bully, who thinks all her pupils are rotten and locks them in the dreaded Chokey. Despite these beastly grownups trying to push her down, Matilda is an extraordinary girl with a magical mind. And she’s had enough. So all the terrible adults had better watch out, because she’s going to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget!
Where am I Now? by Mara Wilson
For readers of Lena Dunham, Allie Brosh and Roxane Gay, this funny, poignant, daringly honest book introduces Mara Wilson the former child actress best known for her starring roles in “Matilda “and “Mrs. Doubtfire “as a brilliant new chronicler of the experience that is growing up young and female
Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and an adult the world still remembers as a little girl. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of “Melrose Place,” to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being cute enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong.
The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in lovewith her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn. Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. No big deal, then.
The Potion Diaries: Royal Tour by Amy Alward
Since winning the Hunt and saving her new BFF, Princess Evelyn, Sam Kemi has been royally busy.. What with TV interviews, working in her family’s potion store and preparing to join Evelyn on her world tour, Sam STILL hasn’t had time for a real date with Zain, her new-boyfriend-slash-former-rival. And that’s not happening anytime soon. Someone has tampered with Sam’s grandad’s mind and she is the only one who can unlock his memories. Memories that contain the key to the most powerful potion in the world and one which people would kill for . . .
So Sam must swap dresses, princes and palaces for dragons, centaurs and caves in her quest to save her grandad (and everyone else). Just your standard episode in the life of a potion-making teenager, then.
The Position Diaries: Going Viral by Amy Alward
After finding her great-grandmother’s potion diary, escaping the clutches of Emilia Thoth, saving her grandfather’s memories AND become a Master Alchemist, surely it’s time for Sam Kemi to have a good, long rest? And maybe, just maybe, a proper date with her boyfriend Zain?
But now that Princess Evelyn is married to the sinister Prince Stefan and showing symptoms of the Gergon illness, it looks as though Sam’s adventures are just beginning. The GOOD news: there might be a cure for the virus spreading like wildfire through the city. The BAD news? It’s buried in a remote village in a far-flung country next to an active volcano – and Sam’s not the only one after it. With a TV crew trailing Sam’s every move and time fast running out, it looks like things are about to…GO VIRAL
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love – and its threatened loss – the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The daughter of a clergyman from an ordinary family, Catherine Morland’s only encounters with romance have been through the pages of the Gothic novels she devours. During an eventful season at Bath she experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine’s love of romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father’s mysterious house, Northanger Abbey. There, her imagination influenced by novels of sensation and intrigue, Catherine imagines terrible crimes committed by General Tilney but she is about to discover that society holds a very different kind of danger.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
For generations, children around the world have come of age with Louisa May Alcott’s March girls: hardworking eldest sister Meg, headstrong, impulsive Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. With their father away at war, and their loving mother Marmee working to support the family, the four sisters have to rely on one another for support as they endure the hardships of wartime and poverty. We witness the sisters growing up and figuring out what role each wants to play in the world, and, along the way, join them on countless unforgettable adventures.
Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy have grown up together in Orchard House with their friend Laurie next door, and now it’s time for them to go out and find their places in the big wide world, to do the great and marvellous things they’ve dreamed of and discover their ‘castles in the air’. They each find themselves tested, and fall in love, but when tragedy strikes they find their best comfort is in each other, and home.
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
With two young sons of her own, and twelve rescued orphan boys filling the unusual school at Plumfield, Jo March – now Mrs Jo Bhaer – couldn’t be happier. But the boys have a habit of getting into scrapes, and their mischievous antics call for the warm and affectionate support of the whole March family to help avoid disaster.
Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
Ten years after the school at Plumfield was founded, Jo’s boys – including wanderer Dan, sailor Emil and musician Nat – are grown up and discovering more about the world. But life after childhood can be confusing and frightening, and it is Jo and the warm-hearted March family who can comfort and guide the boys when they need it the most.
Hocus Pocus in Focus by Aaron Wallace
In the first and only book ever written about the beloved 1993 Halloween movie, Aaron Wallace takes readers deep into the world of Hocus Pocus to learn everything they never knew. He provides a lighthearted but scholarly look at the film in its all spooky-kooky glory.
Biscuiteers, Book of Iced Gifts
Brimming with famous Biscuiteers designs, along with exclusive creations you won’t have seen before, this beautiful book shows how easy it is to bake, ice and assemble your own delicious biscuits and cakes at home.
Books I bought in the sales
The Little Brooklyn Bakery by Julie Caplin (£2.00 in The Works)
When Sophie Bennings arrives in New York, love is the last thing on her mind. Still reeling from a painful break up, she throws herself into her work as a food editor on a top-notch magazine. Columnist Todd McLennan is everything that Sophie wishes she didn’t want. Like the gorgeous bakery below her Brooklyn apartment, he’s as tempting as the delicious cupcakes on display. Surely a little of what you fancy can do you good? As Sophie and Todd get to know one another, a love of food isn’t the only passion they share. In the city that never sleeps, has Sophie finally met the man of her dreams…?
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (£3.00 in Waterstones)
Meet Scout, the narrator of this book. Her story is one of Deep South summers, fights at school and playing in the street. The spooky house of her mysterious neighbour, Boo Radley, sags dark and forbidding nearby. Her brother, Jem, and her friend, Dill, want to make Boo come outside. Her story is about justice. When Scout’s father, a lawyer, agrees to defend a black man against an accusation by a white girl, he must battle the prejudice of the whole town. It’s about imagination – not just the kind you need for childhood games. Because you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.
Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes by Amy Miller (£2.00 in The Works)
January, 1941: As Charlie Barton tiptoes silently out of the house one cold winter morning to go off and fight for his country, his wife Audrey is left to run the family bakery on her own. Times are tougher than ever, but at the Barton Bakery in Bournemouth, Audrey is determined as always to serve the town with love, loaves and cakes, even as the town is reeling from the struggles of the Blitz. Audrey’s brother William has returned from battle with serious wounds. His fiancé Elsie is waiting for wedding bells, but William is a changed man, and will her hopes be in vain? Bakery helper Maggie has her heart set on dashing officer George. But will George still want to marry her when he discovers the truth about her family? And Lily, Audrey’s stepsister, is struggling to raise her illegitimate baby and facing judgement from many in the town. The man who broke her heart returns with an offer, and Lily faces a hard decision about where her future lies. When disaster strikes the bakery, Audrey fears that everything she has worked for may be ruined. With her shop threatened and her family in turmoil, can she fight to save everything she holds dear?
Once in a Lifetime by Chrissie Manby (£2 from The Works)
Twenty two years ago Dani Parker had grand plans for her life. Now, she’s a single mother in quaint Newbay working at the hotel where she got her first ever job. When she bumps into ex-boyfriend Nat, she wonders if this might be the start of something not-quite-new. Until his fiancée walks through the door .Dani’s daughter Flossie is sixteen – so of course she knows best, about everything. And her new boyfriend Jed is all she could ever want in a man . . . right? Flossie’s widowed grandma Jane firmly believes that lightning never strikes twice. So when she finds herself frequenting Bill’s pet shop, she refuses to believe that the L-wordhas anything to do with it. In a confusion of cakes, elopements and naughty puppies, will the three women discover that ‘once in a lifetime’ isn’t quite as rare as they thought?
Noah Could Never by Simon James Green (£3 from Waterstones)
Noah’s back, and more bananas! He and Harry are now officially boyfriends, but is Noah ready for the difference? It’s no help that a group of cosmopolitan French exchange students have descended on Little Fobbing – including sexy Pierre Victoire, who seems to have his eye on Harry! Meanwhile, Noah’s paired up with a girl … who, most outrageously, is not even French. But that’s not all: the police are monitoring Noah, and he can’t tell if it’s because
- his dad and secret half-brother, Eric, have made off with his gran’s fake diamonds;
- because his PE teacher is receiving mysterious cash infusionsfrom Russia;
- or because drag queen Bambi Sugapops is hiding out at Noah’s house in the midst of a knock-down, bare-knuckled drag feud.
Will Noah ever catch a break?!
I’ll be Home For Christmas by Multiple Authors (£1 from Waterstones)
The UK’s top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home.