The Book Lover’s Gift Guide 2018

It’s now a month until Christmas,  woohoo!

Are you a book lover in need of a new book, or some new and dazzling suggestions? Or in need of buying a book for someone who already has a fully stacked book shelf of works they have already read? Hopefully this guide will give you some inspiration and a new book idea to buy for someone, or to simply read yourself! It’s split in to a range of genres and ages so there should be something for everyone.

Romance: Me Before You- Jojo Moyes

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A phenomenally touching story. Lou Clark, a small town girl who loses her job and realises her boyfriend is not a man that she in in love with anymore. Her new job introduces her to Will Traynor, who since his motorbike accident, has had no desire to stick around to see what life has to offer. A story of the ups and downs of life and every emotion along the way, Jojo Moyes is a fantastic writer, and really knows how to make you feel a real empathy for the characters and the bittersweet story of how these two characters impact each other’s lives.

Young Adult: Paper Towns- John Green and All the Bright Places- Jennifer Niven

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Both of these books are aimed at young adults but I think anybody of any age would thoroughly enjoy these two!

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All the Bright Places introduces Theodore Finch- a boy who wants to take his own life, and Violet Markey, a girl still grieving over her sister’s death. They meet in an unlikely scenario, on the ledge of the bell tower. A story of two people who can only truly be themselves when they are together, two troubled teenagers who simply need a way to escape the burdens of being alive. Violet soon realises Finch and his feelings are far heavier for him than she ever realised, the story encompasses how far we go for the people we love when they are struggling, it is a deeply sad but incredible book, another one that might make you shed a tear!

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What’s a book post without a classic John Green eh? Paper Towns is another story surrounding two teenagers, Quentin Jacobsen, who has always admired the mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman from a distance. However after an adventurous night of sneaking out together and gallivanting on an all-night road trip, Margo is missing the next day. Who really is the real Margo?

A very interesting and unpredictable book that you won’t want to put down, another great work by John Green.

Older Children: Running Wild by Micheal Morpurgo and Winterbringers- Gill Arbuthnott

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Michael Morpurgo was my favourite author growing up, you really can’t go wrong with his books. Running Wild entails Will and his family on holiday in Indonesia, that’s when the tsunami hits.  Will is simply enjoying his holiday and experiencing what it’s like to ride an elephant, when the natural disaster occurs, the elephant just keeps running. A beautiful book which is as striking as its cover, very easy to read too if you are buying for children.

Winterbringers, a tale from the town of St Andrews, where a permanent winter is threatened from the Winterbringers, ice creatures and the Winter King and his witches. Josh and Callie must try and stop the Winterbringers for good. A great book for children who want an adventurous plot and a bit of a fantasy element mixed in.

Educational: Prisoners of Geography- Tim Marshall

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An incredibly interesting book if you are interested in countries of the world and the many interesting facts and features they have to offer, most of the facts in here were new to me and I learnt a great deal from this book. A lot of geographical and historical information that makes the political content accessible and much easier to understand and enjoy. It’s divided up in to sections, such as Russia, China, and Western Europe, the maps throughout are also a great and interesting feature of the book.

 

Fiction Based on True Events: Remembrance- Theresa Breslin, Rubies in the Snow- Kate Hubbard, And the Band Played on- Christopher Ward

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Remembrance begins at the start of the First World War, and follows Charlotte, her family, and her friends as they navigate growing up during a time of severe loss and conflict during the war. It’s extremely interesting to hear about the tough nature of nursing the wounded soldiers, and the battles of the Western Front.

Rubies in the Snow, is a fictionalised diary of Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov, the daughter of the last Tsar of Russia.  In June, 1911, we see a ten year old girl who is enjoying a highly privileged life of dances, eloquent food and ice skating on the lake. We then see a change as Russia falls in to turmoil and her family and their position of power gradually starts to crumble. This book offers a particularly interesting perspective on the last Imperial family of Russia.

And the Band Played On, is an account of the long term impacts of the sinking of the Titanic, a story that goes beyond the loss of the one night tragedy hit. It follows the story of Jock Hume, the 21 year old violinist on the Titanic, and the family he leaves behind whose lives have changed for ever. I highly recommend this book if you are interested not only in the sinking of the Titanic, but how it impacted the every day lives of hundreds of people for many years to come.

Classics

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If you have a serious book lover in your life then why not get them a beautifully covered copy of their favourite classic?  This is my copy of The English Patient, given to me by my English teachers when I finished my A Levels, with a signed message inside which is a lovely touch to a gift if you want to make it extra special. The copies of all the classics in Waterstones have some beautiful covers, they make very classy and special presents if you are looking to spend a little bit more on someone.

Books with a Physical/Mental Health Theme: The Fault in Our Starts- John Green, The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filer

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Firstly can we appreciate how beautiful the cover is on this book? The Shock of the Fall is a hilarious and yet heart breaking book, Nathan Filer is a qualified mental health nurse and gives a very real and unique account of living with a mental health condition. I won’t give too much away as it is a very unpredictable and shocking read, but I would thoroughly recommend it.

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The No.1 New York Times Best Seller, The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel is terminally ill, and meets the beautiful and sensational Augustus Waters at Cancer Kid Support Group. A journey of love, heart break, and how to be a teenager when you feel like you can’t do anything that other teenagers are doing. A book that will warm your heart as well as breaking it in two.

I hope you found a new book idea you would like for yourself or somebody else!

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Hope you’re having a great day wherever you are in the world,

Mol x

Strong Women of the World- Four Incredible Stories to be Inspired by

As someone who has always had easy access to an education, and growing up in a safe environment, it’s always been important to me to be aware that this is not the case for many people across the world. The four stories below are those of bravery, determination, and the wish to improve the lives for both themselves, and the people around them. They come from women who are alive today, to those who were alive during the period of the Second World War, and those who were alive during the prime of the Civil Rights Movement. Their stories come from North America, The Netherlands, North Korea, and Pakistan. These stories do not become less prevalent as time goes on, they only become more significant. I hope you take something away from each of these incredible stories.

I am Malala– Malala  Yousafzai

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Malala was born in Mingora, Pakistan, on the 12th of July 1997. Her father ran a school for girls in the village they lived in, he was also a teacher. The Taliban rule spread to the Swat Valley, where Malala and her family lived. In 2008, the extremists began to ban things such as playing music, owning a TV, and soon enough, girls were not allowed to go to school.

Malala began speaking out on the behalf of all the other girls who had a right to be educated, this made her a threat to the Taliban and a major target. In October 2012, she was shot in the head and woke up 10 days later in Birmingham, England.

Despite the trauma that Malala experienced, she remains heavily involved in fighting for equality, and now lives with her family in the UK. She is currently studying at the University of Oxford. In 2014, she was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Her book is extremely interesting, especially to hear about what it was like to live under the rule of the Taliban, and to have to watch many of the people and things you love be gradually taken away from you.

The Dairy of a Young Girl– Anne Frank

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I’m sure most people are familiar with the story of Anne Frank, and her book ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’. Anne Frank, her family, and four other of their friends, went in to hiding  in July 1942. Due to being Jewish, they were hiding to escape the Nazi occupation and hid in the back of a warehouse in Amsterdam, in what is known as the ‘Secret Annexe’. Anne’s book is a published edition of the diary that she kept for the two years she was in hiding. Hearing of someone of such a young age, who dreamed of being a published author, tell the story of the struggles of being terrified and stuck in one small place for two years, creates an extremely vivid picture of the horrors of living as a Jew under the rule of the Nazis.

The last entry Anne writes is on the 1st August 1944, they were discovered by the Nazis and arrested on the 4th of August, just three days after the last entry. Anne died in March 1945 in the German concentration camp of Bergen Belsen. She was only fifteen years old.

As well as reading her book, I would highly recommend visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, it is also an incredibly touching experience. Seeing the bookcase that concealed their hiding place for so long, and standing in the small rooms, imagining what Anne and the others felt like, was incredibly sad but an important way of remembering what so many people went through during the Second World War.

My Story Rosa Parks

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Rosa Parks was a black woman, born in Alabama, North America, 1913.

The 1st of December, 1955. On this day, Rosa refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white man, she was arrested for this. This one act of bravery sparked the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. The boycott began on Monday the 5th of December, this was the day of Parks’ trial, there were over 35,000 flyers created and sent home with black school children, telling their parents of the boycott.

The boycott didn’t end until the 20th of December, when the Supreme Court rules bus segregation as unconstitutional. Parks lost her job and experienced frequent harassment, and became known as the mother of the civil rights movement.

Rosa’s book details her life, and her drive to fight for racial equality.

In Order to Live Yeonmi Park

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Yeonmi Park was just thirteen when her and her family risked their lives by fleeing North Korea. She describes the horrors of living in such an oppressed regime, and the starvation and terror that never leaves. She also tells of her journey across the Gobi desert, her struggles of escaping to China, being separated from her family, and how she ends up in South Korea after all this. I think this resonated me with due to being a similar age to Yeonmi, her story shows incredible resilience and strength.

I hope each of these stories inspires you and that you take something from each of them.

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Books I Love: Fabulous Fiction, Elegant Classics, and Powerful Poetry

Happy weekend everyone!

Today I am sharing some of the books I have been loving recently, a mixture of fiction, a couple of classics, and even a couple of poetry books! So grab a coffee, you may well find your next favourite book…

The Keeper of Lost Things- Ruth Hogan

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“the wonderful thing about books was that they were films that played inside your head.” 

Anthony Peardew has been collecting items he finds that people have misplaced, in the hope to help and heal the people who have lost something. This all started after Anthony sadly lost his wife. When Anthony passes on, he leaves this task of returning the lost things to his house keeper Laura, who is not having an easy time with life either. The book uses a dual narrative, as well as this story, there is also the secondary story set in the 70’s with the characters Eunice and Bomber. Eunice, working for Bomber in the publishing industry, has a romantic love which can never be returned. How the two narratives are connected becomes clear throughout. The book entails some moving stories of ‘lost things’, the people who become a part of this journey, but also beautiful theme of how there is always more to be found. An incredibly moving debut novel from Ruth Hogan.

Not only was the book deeply moving in parts, but a great balance is created through the fact that the book is also incredibly funny, not many books have ever made me physically laugh out loud! My Auntie, my Mum, and I, all read this in turn on our recent holiday to France, and hearing the occasional fit of laughter from who ever was currently reading the book made it clear that the humour is achieved very well. Sunshine, a nineteen year old girl with Down Syndrome, who befriends the character’s is potentially the most hilarious character I have across from any book. I won’t spoil some of her winning lines but they are remarkable!

Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

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“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.” Little Women is one of my Granny’s favourite books. Whilst spending Christmas with her, she told me how she read it over and over when she was a similar age to me, so I thought I should put it on my list of books to read. This was such a lovely and heart warming read. I feel with some classics, they can take a lot of concentration to read (maybe this is just me!), but this one was extremely enjoyable. Set in the idyllic town of Plumfield, during the civil war in New England, the enjoyable tales of the four sisters in the March family still feel relatable to aspects of family life and growing up to this day, even if it is a little different in this modern age.

The lessons the girls learn and problems they face are still relevant today. Reading how their ambitions grow and their character’s develop as they grow up is both rewarding and fascinating, reading almost makes you feel like you are an extra member of the family. You will empathise with Jo and how she struggles to control her anger and her driving ambition to become a published writer, and smile at Meg’s ever kind nature. Watch Amy learn that there is more to life than physical beauty, and admire Beth’s musical talent and warm personality. I think many people will see even just a small part of themselves in all of the March sisters.

A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini

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“A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated…”

After reading the Kite Runner last summer, a very moving book, I made it a priority to read some more of Hosseini’s work. A Thousand Splendid Suns was perhaps even more moving. Possibly because this one focuses more on following the journey of two young women.

The book is set in the conflicted capital of Afghanistan, Kabul which is under the authority of the Taliban. The book begins by following the story of Mariam, who at fifteen years old is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed, a significantly older man who she has never even laid eyes on before. Nearly 20 years later, Mariam befriends a young woman named Laila, who has yet another story of how her life has been thrown in to pieces by the Taliban rule, this is what brings the two women together. The story follows the hardships of living in this oppressed and dangerous environment, but also demonstrates how it brings out the kindness and brave nature in the right people.

Books like these are extremely important to read, because stories like Laila and Mariam’s are going on today, right now. Despite it being fiction, having an insight in to how survival alone is a struggle in other parts of the world make me realise how grateful I am to live in a safe environment, where as a young woman I am able to get an education and feel safe in my home and the streets that surround me. If you read one book from this post, please let it be this one, an incredible read.

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” 

The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“They’re a rotten crowd’, I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

This is probably quite a cliché pick for an English student! I studied this for two years during my A Levels and decided to re-read it so I could purely enjoy it, and not have to study every word I was reading!

This is a very short novel if you need something quick to read. The story follows the narrator Nick Carraway as he is gradually entwined into the lives of some of the richest and most complex characters of 1920’s Long Island in New York. Nick finds him self living next door to the mysterious Gatsby, a millionaire who throws hugely extravagant parties for crowds of people but is rarely seen enjoying them. Just across the bay, lives Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan and her arrogant husband Tom Buchanan. Through the perhaps initially nieve eyes of Nick, we learn of the complicated love between Gatsby and Daisy, mixed with the scandals of the elite, and the mask of the riches and pleasures of the jazz age. For such a short novel, Fitzgerald creates such an interesting and dramatic plot. The scenes of 1920’s New York and Gatsby’s lavish parties are extremely vivid and beautifully described, there are some beautiful quotes in the book.

I have now started another Fitzgerald book; ‘Tender is the Night’ so we’ll see of it lives up to Gatsby!

Milk and Honey, and The Sun and her Flowers- Rupi Kaur

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I read each one of these within the day that I bought them! Previously to this, I had appreciated poetry, but apart from studying poetry in GCSE and A Level English, which consisted of Shakespeare and John Donne’s work, I did not used to read it outside of my studies.

But I think for many people who have read these, Rupi Kaur has changed the game when it comes to poetry. Many people think of poems as old fashioned, very long, and perhaps not topics that are relatable, but these books could not be further from that. I read Milk and Honey first, the book is split in to four chapters; the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. Every poem is beautifully written, the topics and emotions that are covered throughout would resonate with anyone who reads this, some of them made me have tears in my eyes because they were so powerful and raw.

The Sun and her Flowers was equally as brilliant. Each of the chapters are titled from the life cycle of a flower; Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming. This again covers a huge range of emotions, from pain, heartbreak, womanhood, sexuality, strength and love. There is also some illustrations incorporated throughout, making the art of the books even more vivid.

Thanks for reading, hope you are having a fab day where ever you are!

Let me know if you have read any excellent books recently?!

Mol x

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