With Christmas fast-approaching, it won’t surprise anyone to know that I’m hoping for books this year. Lots of books.
As I do every year.
These are the six books at the top of my wishlist this year – and, yes, it was hard to narrow it down to just six!
• The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
I saw the movie Hugo, which is based on this book, and would like to see if the book is as good as the movie. I think The Marvels by the same author also looks great.
• The Fever Code by James Dashner
I read the rest of The Maze Runner series and really enjoyed them, so I would like this prequel.
• Brotherband #6: The Ghostfaces
John Flanagan’s writing style is so engaging and I would like to see where this next book takes Hal and the gang.
• Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them by J.K. Rowling
I read The Cursed Child, a script based on a story by J.K. Rowling, and now would like to read a screenplay actually written by her.
• Adam Spencer’s World Of Numbers
Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers is my favourite non-fiction book, so I would like to add to my collection.
• The Amateurs by Sara Shepherd
I don’t know much about this one, but the description is so intriguing that I cannot pass it up! And it’s book #1 of a new series, which is always good!
Title links will take you to Booktopia (see ‘About This Site’ for details).
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
About the book: Pax, a fox, and his boy, Peter, are inseparable until one day when Peter’s father goes to war and insists that Pax is left by the side of the road. Much to the heartbreak of both Peter and Pax.
Peter then goes on a journey to find his fox, while Pax goes on a journey of his own to find his missing boy.
What I thought: I thought that this was a beautifully touching book about an amazing bond between human and animal. The language in the book made it feel soft and engaging, even though it has moments that make you gasp. I think this book has the air of a classic, like ‘Call Of The Wild’ by Jack London.
Pax, the fox, reminded me of my own dog and reading companion, Book Dog, as they share many of the same qualities. This made the story feel even more real to me.
I also really loved the cover and other illustrations throughout the book, which added to the old-fashioned beauty of the story.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+, as it feels too old for some younger readers. Anyone who likes animal stories will love this book.
Title: Everything Is Changed
Author: Nova Weetman
About the book: Alex and Jake, both teenagers, do something terrible one night and have to try to conceal it. This book is told in reverse, starting at the end, and leading up towards the climax, which is where the reader finds out exactly what the boys did to lead them to where they are at the start of the book. It’s the mystery of this that keeps you reading.
What I thought: I thought this book was very interesting, as it’s told in reverse, and I like how the language in the book helped the tension. I found the characters relatable because of the way they were described and the book is all told in first person so their voices felt very real, and I liked that. The two boys narrate part of the story, but there are other voices adding to the story as well.
I recommend this book for ages 12+ because it contains mature themes, some coarse language and high tension, and I think that both boys and girls would like it.
Buy Everything Is Changed.
Title: Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers
Author: Adam Spencer
About the book: This book contains all the weird, wonderful and wacky facts about the numbers 1 to 100. It includes quizzes and problems so that you can test your maths skills as you learn.
What I thought: I thought this book was brilliantly surprising and funny. Yes, funny. Maths can be funny. I really thought that the addition of quizzes was helpful as it helps people to learn if they actually do it for themselves. This is the best non-fiction book that I’ve read.
I would recommend this book to everyone, although it would be helpful to be a little bit older (10+) as some of the problems are difficult. If you really like numbers, or you’d like to know more about them, you’ll love this book.
Younger readers may like to start off with Adam Spencer’s Enormous Book Of Numbers, which is aimed at the 7+ age group.
Buy Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers
Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books
About the book: Sixteen-year-old Cassie is living through an alien invasion. So far there have been four waves of attacks, killing over four billion people. Now she’s on her own, and facing the fifth wave.
What I thought: This book sucked me in from the first page. It’s a fast-paced thriller that’s also thought-provoking. The plot unfolds cleverly as you read, making you want to read on and on.
I liked the character of Cassie because she likes books, to the point of making room in her survival kit for them. I also liked the first-person narration because it feels very immediate, like you’re experiencing the danger with her.
I recommend this book for ages 14+ because it has adult themes, violence, science fiction elements and it can be scary in places.
Buy The 5th Wave here.
Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Random House
About the book: I thought I would review this book because ‘The Fever Code’, a second prequel to the original series, has just been released.
When Thomas wakes up in a strange maze, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He’s welcomed by other boys into The Glade, a camp in the middle of the terrible maze. Like Thomas, the others do not know where they are, why they are there or how they got there.
What I thought: This was a tense, gripping book, which had me wanting to read more and more, as more questions were answered – opening up new questions. I really loved how this book kept me interested and the quality was the same the whole way through (the pace is kept up from start to finish).
I recommend this book for ages 12+ as it contains confronting scenes and some grown-up themes, and may be thought to be a bit scary in places.
Buy The Maze Runner here.
Buy The Fever Code here.
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books (Random House Australia)
About the book: Jacob Portman is a curious 16-year-old boy. His grandfather has always told him stories about peculiar people on a peculiar island. When his grandfather dies, Jacob is unsure whether to take these stories as true or false, so he goes in search of the magical island. Saying any more here would be spoiling the story as it moves so fast.
What I thought: This story is beautifully written, spooky and absorbing. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down because the story is so enthralling and the eerie photographs in the book just add another level of depth. I found that even though the main character was older than me, he felt so real and I felt like I could connect. I really loved how the story flows on and keeps your attention.
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ because it is scary in places – both the story and the photographs – and because the character is older and younger people may not connect with him.
Buy Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.
Title: Counting by 7s
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
About the book: Willow Chance is 12 years old and a genius. She is obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions. She also finds it comforting to count by sevens.
Adopted as a baby, Willow is independent and not concerned about her oddness at all. When her supportive adoptive parents die in a car crash, her life is turned upside down, meaning she can no longer avoid interacting with other people.
What I thought: This is a very touching and heart-warming book about overcoming challenges and accepting who you are as a person. I really loved the character of Willow Chance, and also Dell Duke, her bored counsellor. The book is written in the first person, so we get a close look at what Willow experiences and her thought processes as she tries to work things out.
I recommend this book for ages 10+ as younger children may not get to grips with the themes. If you like ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio you will probably enjoy this read.
Buy Counting by 7s.
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey (Egmont)
About the book: When everyone over the age of 15 disappears, it is chaotic for everyone left behind. Sam Temple finds himself caught up in this mess, and must figure out where everyone has gone and how to get them back. This is the first book in a six-book series.
What I thought: This book was gripping and had me on the edge of my seat. The plot was fast-paced and you could really relate to the characters. I would really like to read the second book in the series (Hunger), but haven’t been able to find it yet at any of the libraries I frequent (I think everyone else must have loved it so much they kept it!).
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as it contains scenes of cruelty (to people) and violence. It also has supernatural themes. Readers who like The Maze Runner by James Dashner would probably like this book.
Buy Gone here.
Title: Jasper Jones
Author: Craig Silvey
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
About the book: When Charlie Bucktin, a nerdy bookworm of 13, is woken by Jasper Jones, the outcast in their mining town of Corrigan, his whole life changes.
When they discover a dead body, Charlie carries the secret like a brick, not daring to tell anyone for fear of punishment. The story is set in the 1960s and outlines what happens after this event.
What I thought: I think that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read because it is so well-written and the story captures so many elements of everyday life mixed with a horrible tragedy.
I particularly like the character of Charlie’s best friend Jeffrey, and the conversations that the two boys have. Some of the themes talked about in the book include coming of age, secrets, friendship, knowing who to trust, perception and judgement.
I think this book is probably best suited to readers of 14+ as it contains some disturbing thoughts and heavy themes. It is one of the best books of all time.
Buy Jasper Jones here.