Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Ladybird Book of Christmas: or why people come into an independent bookshop

All kinds of people come into independent bookshops, for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps you want to discover a new favourite author that you don't yet know exists, or you want the one book that's going to light a fire underneath a reluctant reader. Or you want that new book by the author who's name begins with 'A' (or possibly 'I'). You might need a gift for a difficult-to-buy-for Aunt, or a voracious Uncle who's read everything. It might be your turn to choose the next read for your bookgroup (and you want to make sure it's a good one, unlike last time), or you might just want to soak up that special atmosphere you get from a place where almost all of the books have been hand-picked, and many have been read and reviewed.

In short - to take advantage of the all the good stuff that you get from a passionate independent bookshop.

At this time of year, it can get a bit manic in the shop. We don't have *quite* the same amount of time to say "Hi" and ask after the dog, there might be just a few more dark rings around the eyes, and worries about 'Christmas casualties' (those desperately needed books that won't reprint before the big day, and which keep us awake at night).

Bookselling is physically and mentally demanding - mentally shifting up and down through the 'recommendation engine' that sits between the ears of a bookseller (aka 'our brain'), whilst being on the feet all day, whirling around the shop, trying to strike a balance between friendly, engaging customer service and over-caffeinated maniac. Holes appear on the shelves as stock reduces. Holes also appear in shoes and further up belt-buckles.

Honestly, someone should write The Independent Bookseller's Diet' - it'd be a Christmas bestseller.

So Happy Christmas from everyone here at Mostly Books. We close 3pm Christmas Eve, we're then open again next week, Tuesday Dec 29 - Thursday Dec 31. For the rest of that time, all the staff will be sitting somewhere quietly reading a book.

We get incredible support from our community here in Abingdon, and we thought you'd appreciate this last blog post of the year. To everyone who reads this blog, who reads our newsletter every Friday, who comes in and trusts us to recommends books for friends and family - have a fantastic Christmas and we'll see you again with some great new books in 2016...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

'Not Enough Time' by Henrietta Knight - book signing at Mostly Books

Back in October, Mostly Books were extremely proud to be invited to the launch of Henrietta Knight's memoir 'Not Enough Time', the rollercoaster memoir of life with her great love, Terry Biddlecombe, the hell-raising ex-champion jockey.

It is a story of triumph over tragedy, as together they reached the pinnacle of success in National Hunt racing and trained Best Mate to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups. It is also a tale of tragedy over triumph, which saw the great horse die at Hen's feet on Exeter racecourse and Terry passing away far too young, in 2014. In Hen's own moving, humorous, courageous words, it's a remarkable story.

Hen and Terry were called 'the odd couple' because of their different backgrounds and lifestyles, but theirs was one of the most endearing modern day racing romances - something we witnessed at her West Lockinge Farm as family and friends travelled from all over the world to be at the launch.

'Not Enough Time' has been one of the surprise hit books of the Autumn, reprinting four time already - and we are not surprised.

So we're delighted that she will be signing copies of her book at Mostly Books on Sunday, December 20 at 11am, in what will be our final event of the year.

Come and meet Henrietta and get a book signed for you, or for a wonderful, dedicated gift for family and friends. We shall be open for until 3pm that day for any other last-minute Christmas shopping as well! If you cannot make it - and would like a signed copy - email us to reserve one.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Books for Christmas Part 12: Books on the Brain, in the Gut and in you Hands - Science and Nature

The town of Abingdon-on-Thames is a unique and special place, which is not to be uncritical of it. There are aspects of the town which are the envy of other towns - its heritage, buildings, history and position on the Thames - and the 'wicked problems' that challenge its vitality linked to changes in society, technology, climate and transport that affect every town in the country.

But there are two pieces of incredible good fortune that make Abingdon such a wonderful place to live and work. One is the sheer number of people in the town who are working to solve some of these tricky and long-term problems, the other is Abingdon's location at the heart of some of the most exciting science and technology in the world.

We call it the 'Golden Science Triangle', and at each Apex you have cutting edge fusion, space, physics and academic research. It means that most days we get to chat about science, technology and nature challenges and solutions with some of the most brilliant brains on the planet...

Which means we have to be at the top of our game when it comes to science and nature writing. We may not always make it - but here are our top picks of the year:

The Brain - David Eagleman (£25)
Where better to start than the source of all the ideas - the three pound mass of moist biological matter, locked away in the dark and silent fortress of the skull. Yet somehow it produces the extraordinary multi-sensory experience that comprises us, every day of our lives. Just how it does this is revealed through six fascinating chapters, as Eagleman shows how the brain - a great storyteller - constructs reality and allows us to navigate a complex world of decision-making.

Eagleman also takes the long view of the human brain's trajectory in the coming centuries and millennia, asking pertinent questions about our future. Along the way, Eagleman meets nuns, extreme sports athletes, convicted criminals, genocide survivors, autistic people, and multi-disciplinary experts from child psychologists to brain surgeons. He takes part in experiments that shine an important light on the brain's inner cosmos. He also explores the dark side of human behaviour, as he comes to the realisation that the best and worst of what humans do to each other can be understood through the prism of the brain.

And the most delightful aspect of this book for us? It shows how reading and hearing stories - by rehearsing different scenarios, and experiencing far more than we could ever hope to in physical form - can improve almost all aspects of our life. An exhilarating and hugely important book - we highly recommend it.

Chance – New Scientist (£7.99)
If you think about it, the chances of you being here today are astronomically small – a mind-boggling series of ‘lucky breaks’ between the Big Bang and you sitting listening to this radio show right now. Science can tell us a lot about luck and chance – from gambling and finding love to the truly weird world of coincidences.

This fantastic and utterly fascinating little book tells you how our brains have evolved to cope with chance – and why pretty much everything you think you know about it is wrong!

The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees - Robert Penn (£16.99)
From the author of one of our favourite cycling books of the last few years, It's All About the Bike, comes another exuberant tale of craftsmanship and human history. Uplifting, revealing, great fun and full of stories, it explores the almost symbiotic relationship that we have with trees, explored through the things we make out of them.

Robert Penn cut down an ash tree to see how many things could be made from it. After all, ash is the tree we have made the greatest and most varied use of over the course of human history. Journeying from Wales across Europe and Ireland to the USA, he finds that the ancient skills and knowledge of the properties of ash, developed over millennia making wheels and arrows, furniture and baseball bats, are far from dead. The book chronicles how the urge to understand and appreciate trees still runs through us like grain through wood. Difficult to overstate how splendid this book is - come in and take a look!

Norwegian Wood - Lars Mytting (£20)
Until you see it, feel the heft in your hands, and fall in love with it, it's tricky to understand just why a book about chopping and stacking wood should be such a pan-European bestseller, but - like Robert Penn's book above - our connection with wood runs deep and profoundly.

One of the biggest Scandinavian publishing successes ever. For a time when we are most conscious of our energy security, a practical-lyrical, beautifully illustrated guide to its most ancient source. Lars Mytting shares a Scandinavian passion for wood harvesting, stacking, storing and burning, combining cultural history and folklore with modern science. 'Norwegian Wood' is both entertaining and instructive, and in delivering a wealth of advice and technical know-how for the armchair reader and for those outdoors. This book really tells you everything you wanted to know about wood but were too afraid to ask...

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Under-Rated Organ - Giulia Enders (£14.99)
The key to living a happier, healthier life is inside us - literally! Our gut is almost as important to us as our brain or our heart, yet we know very little about how it works. In Gut, Giulia Enders shows that rather than the utilitarian and - let's be honest - somewhat embarrassing body part we imagine it to be, it is one of the most complex, important, and even miraculous parts of our anatomy.

And scientists are only just discovering quite how much it has to offer; new research shows that gut bacteria can play a role in everything from obesity and allergies to Alzheimer's. Beginning with the personal experience of illness that inspired her research, and going on to explain everything from the basics of nutrient absorption to the latest science linking bowel bacteria with depression, Enders has written an entertaining, informative health handbook. Gut definitely shows that we can all benefit from getting to know the wondrous world of our inner workings.

Thing Explainer - Randall Munroe (£16.99)
One of our absolute science heroes, Richard Feynman, once said that if you can't explain something to a first-year university student, you don't really get it.

In 'Thing Explainer', ex-NASA robotics scientist, author of 'What If?' and the xkcd web phenomenon takes a quantum leap past this: he explains things using only drawings and a vocabulary of just our 1,000 (or the ten hundred) most common words. Many of the things we use every day - like our food-heating radio boxes ('microwaves'), our very tall roads ('bridges'), and our computer rooms ('datacentres') - are strange to us.

It's a wonderful series of brilliantly simple diagrams ('blueprints' if you want to be complicated about it) that show how important things work: from the nuclear bomb to the biro. It's good to know what the parts of a thing are called, but it's much more interesting to know what they do...

This book is fantastic for both smart kids and eager-to-learn adults and practically anyone who you are stumped to give a gift for!

Want more inspiration? We've been blogging all year about other science and technology books, and ahead of Tim Peake's space mission which launches on Dec 15 - go see our big space book post, take a look at our 'Christmas Rocket' in the shop window, and also take a look at 'The Invention of Nature' by Andrea Wulf and 'The Invention of Science' by David Wootton in our review of favourite history titles)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Books for Christmas Part 11: Do the Time, Read the Crime

Sherlock Holmes was originally going to be called Sherringford Holmes. Detective Inspector John Rebus' name comes from a word puzzle popular in medieval literature in which letters and pictures represent a surname. Jack Reacher's name came when Lee Child's wife, on being told he was giving up his job to become a writer, suggested he could always become a 'reacher' in a supermarket...

Where their names come from, the protagonists in crime and thriller novels become larger than the novels that spawned them. I bet if you close your eyes, you can see at least one of those characters as a living, breathing human being. That's the magic of the storyteller genius.

Here are our pick of favourite crime and thriller books out this year which will live in your imagination this Christmas. Enjoy.

A Study in Murder - Robert Ryan (£7.99)
128 years after he first appeared in print, Sherlock Holmes continues to enthrall and capture our imaginations unlike any other detective. Although plenty of different authors have written 'new' Holmes and Watson adventures in the meantime, few have been as brilliantly and imaginatively done as Robert Ryan's 'Dr Watson' thrillers.

This is the third in the series following 'Dead Man's Land' and 'The Dead Can Wait', and sees Dr John Watson being held in a notorious POW camp deep in enemy Germany in 1917, there as Medical Officer for the British prisoners.

With the Allied blockade, food is perilously short in the camp and when a new prisoner is murdered all assume the poor chap was killed for his Red Cross parcel. Watson, though, isn't so sure. Something isn't quite what it seems and a creeping feeling of unease tells Watson there is more to this than meets the eye. And when an escape plot is apparently uncovered in his hut and he is sent to solitary confinement, he knows he must solve the crime and escape before he is silenced for good. All he needs is some long-distance help from his old friend, Sherlock Holmes...

Crime at Christmas - C. H. B. Kitchin (£8.99)
We've loved the British Library 'Crime Classics' reissues, with their vintage cover designs and classic plots - so it's perhaps not surprising that other publishers are revisiting some of the 'forgotten classics' lying in their vaults.

'Crime at Christmas' has been re-issued by Faber & Faber, and features the stockbroker sleuth Malcolm Warren. It's Christmas at Hampstead's Beresford Lodge, and a group of relatives and intimate friends gather to celebrate the festive season. But their party is rudely interrupted by a violent death, and it isn't long before a second body is discovered. Can the murderer be one of those in the great house? A brilliantly witty and unashamedly old-fashioned murder mystery.
The Case of the 'Hail Mary' Celeste - Malcolm Pryce (£8.99)
Jack Wenlock is the last of the 'Railway Goslings': that fabled cadre of railway detectives created at the Weeping Cross Railway Servants' Orphanage. Sworn to uphold the name of God's Wonderful Railway, Jack keeps the trains free of fare dodgers and purse-stealers, bounders and confidence tricksters, German spies and ladies of the night. But now, as the clock ticks down towards the nationalisation of the railways Jack finds himself investigating a case that begins with an abducted great aunt, but soon develops into something far darker and more dangerous.

It reaches up to the corridors of power and into the labyrinth of the greatest mystery in all the annals of railway lore - the disappearance in 1915 of twenty-three nuns from the 7.25 Swindon to Bristol Temple Meads, or the case of the 'Hail Mary' Celeste. Shady government agents, drunken riverboat captains, a missing manuscript and a melancholic gorilla all collide on a journey that will take your breath away.

Carol - Patricia Highsmith (£8.99)
Therese is just an ordinary sales assistant working in a New York department store when a beautiful, alluring woman in her thirties walks up to her counter. Standing there, Therese is wholly unprepared for the first shock of love. Therese is an awkward nineteen-year-old with a job she hates and a boyfriend she doesn't love; Carol is a sophisticated, bored suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce and a custody battle for her only daughter. As Therese becomes irresistibly drawn into Carol's world, she soon realizes how much they both stand to lose...First published pseudonymously in 1952 as The Price of Salt, Carol is a hauntingly atmospheric love story set against the backdrop of fifties' New York.

Even the Dogs in the Wild - Ian Rankin (£19.99) - signed copies whilst stocks last
Some of our customers have expressed their 'surprise' at a new Rebus novel, but as Ian Rankin cheerfully states, Rebus never went away, he just retired. And like a lot of men, he found retirement didn't really suit him, and couldn't resist getting involved again...

This time his old partner DI Siobhan Clarke asks for his help, and Rebus is soon up to his necks in the gruesomely familiar: a dead lawyer, his old enemy Big Ger Cafferty, and all the time DI Marcus Fox is working with a covert team against one of Glasgow's most notorious crime families. This isn't going to end well... 

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins (£12.99)
Many readers really enjoyed the unreliable narrator of SJ Watson's 'Gone Girl', and the shifting sands of amnesia and memory in Emma Healey's 'Elizabeth is Missing'. And if that sounds like you, you should really try this utterly compelling thriller about a woman who thinks she's witnessed a murder.

Rachel Watson travels the same route on the train, every day, and one particular house, with its perfect occupants, occupies her mind as a pleasant fantasy. But one day she sees something that drives her to become involved in these anything-but-perfect lives. Questions are difficult to unravel: what was she really doing there and who is really in danger? This is a very original, extremely chilling thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end. A real treat and a fantastic debut.

Tabula Rasa - Ruth Downie (£7.99)
There's nothing worse than getting into a series of books - and then realising you've just read the most recent and you are going to have to wait. Which is why we loved discovering the 'Medicus' series of crime novels set in Britannia under the Romans - the latest, Tabula Rasa, is number six in a series that is just waiting to be discovered. Ruth Downie isn't as well know as (say) Lindsey Davis, but this mystery story - packed full of details of Roman life, and set during the building of Hadrian's Wall - is satisfying, hugely enjoyable and just the right amount of quirky British-Roman humour!

Monsters - Emerald Fennel (£7.99)
We really debated whether or not this book should be in YA, but a) it's extremely black humour, and b) we reckon plenty of adults would enjoy it! This is a book about two twelve-year-olds that is definitely not for kids. As one reviewer admitted "it's very difficult not to overuse the word 'disturbing' to describe this book"

When the body of a young woman is discovered - murdered - in the nets of a Cornish fishing boat, most of the town's inhabitants are shocked and horrified. But there is somebody who is not - a twelve-year-old girl. In fact, she is delighted; she loves murders, and soon she is questioning the inhabitants of the town in her own personal investigation. But it is a bit boring on her own. Until another twelve year-old boy arrives with his mother, and they start investigating together. Oh, and also playing games that re-enact the murders. Just for fun, you understand...

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Books for Christmas Part 10 - Evil, Magic, Wishes and Fairies: our favourite Young Adult Books of 2015

Buying books for teens can seem daunting, but in many ways the teen - or Young Adult - book world is the most exciting area of publishing at the moment. We really passionate about books for teens at Mostly Books (at least two of the staff would claim this was their specialist area!), and we work hard to match the book to the reader - so come in and ask for our help!

In the meantime, here are some of our favourite titles of the year to give you inspiration...

Six of Crows- Leigh Bardugo (£9.99)

Six teenagers. One heist. Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy, Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first. 

This is Imogen's favourite book of 2015, and perfect for anyone who likes going headfirst into a fantasy adventure with a set of criminals.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain - John Boyne (£12.99)
The powerful, unforgettable new novel from the bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and, like that book, this is a powerful, thought-provoking read which will definitely challenge a few pre-conceptions about a specific period of history...

When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler. Quickly, Pierrot is taken under Hitler's wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, one from which he may never be able to escape.

Tinder - Sally Gardner and David Roberts (£7.99)
A young soldier, a captive princess, witches, wolves and Death walk hand in hand in Costa Award winner Sally Gardner's exquisitely written novel inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Tinderbox, illustrated by David Roberts.

Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies Death he walks a dangerous path. A half-beast, half-man gives him shoes and dice which will lead him deep into a web of dark magic and mystery. He meets the beautiful Safire - pure of heart and spirit, the scheming Mistress Jabber and the terrifying Lady of the Nail. He learns the powers of the tinderbox and the wolves whose master he becomes. But will all the riches in the world bring him the thing he most desires? Fairy tales are often the cruellest stories of all; in this exquisite novel Sally Gardner writes about great love and great loss.

Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales (£12.99)    
A beautifully illustrated anthology of Doctor Who-themed fairy tales. Includes an original, specially commissioned illustrated cover and fifteen illustrated plates, one for each fairy tale, in a beautiful paper cut-out style. But aside from gorgeousness of how it looks, the stories themselves will thrill and captivate in equal measure...

These captivating stories include mysterious myths and legends about heroes and monsters of all kinds, from every corner of the universe. Originally told to young Time Lords at bedtime, these twisted tales are an enchanting read for Doctor Who fans of all ages.

Boy 23 - Jim Carrington (£7.99)
Boy 23 isn't in My Place any more. He can't see The Screen, he can't hear The Voice. Boy 23 is totally, utterly alone...

One dark night, Boy 23 is thrown in the back of the van and driven out of My Place - the only home he has ever known. He is abandoned in a forest with a rucksack containing the bare essentials for survival. Before the van drives away, a voice tells him he must run as far as he can. His life depends on it. Boy 23 has never known another human. Boy 23 has never even been outside. So who is he? Why do people want to kill him? And more to the point, who is the voice that wants to save him?

This is one of Julia's big recommends this Christmas: A hugely fast-paced dystopian page-turner which by the end will leave you in a state of shock. For fans of Chaos Walking and Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror.

Arsene Lupin vs Sherlock Holmes - Maurice Leblanc (£6.99)   
This volume contains two adventures which pit the gentleman thief Arsene Lupin against Sherlock Holmes, the world's most famous detective. In 'The Blonde Lady', Holmes must discover the identity of a mysterious female thief who is linked to Lupin, while in 'The Jewish Lamp' he finds out that the theft of a lamp containing a precious jewel conceals an astonishing secret. While their tone is at times ironic and firmly tongue-in-cheek, the two stories in Arsene Lupin vs Sherlock Holmes bear all the hallmarks of classic detective fiction, and will put a smile on the lips and set the pulses racing of all fans of mystery and detective fiction.

Anything That Isn't This - Chris Priestley (£6.99)
A Kafka-esque nightmare of a story…about love. Seventeen-year-old Frank Palp lives in a grim little apartment, in a grim little building, in an exceedingly grim (and rather large) city. He mostly hates his life, he definitely hates the ludicrous city he is forced to live in and he absolutely with complete certainty hates the idiots he's surrounded by...and yet he is in love. A love so pure and sparkling and colourful, Frank feels sure it is 'meant to be.' His love is a reward for all the terrible grey that he is surrounded by - which would be great, if the girl in question knew he existed.

And then one day, the perfect sign appears to land in his lap. A message, in a bottle. A wish, for 'anything that isn't this.' The girl who wrote this is surely his soulmate - and now he just needs to find her.

This is a rather splendid mash-up of stories, part horror, part dystopian fiction, all accompanied by the unsettling yet brilliant illustrations of Chris Priestley.

A Thousand Nights - E.K. Johnston (£12.99)
"Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife." When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives.

Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king ...if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.

Set against a harsh desert backdrop, A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston is an evocative tale of love, mystery and magic that would not feel out of place if Scheherazade herself were telling it. And perhaps she is...
Carry On - Rainbow Rowell (£12.99)
Rainbow Rowell continues to break down boundaries with 'Carry On', an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestselling book, Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hied him away in the mountains where maybe he'll be safe. Simon can't even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can't stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you're the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything.

This a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much snogging and heart-to-heart talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters!
Liquidator - Andy Mulligan (£12.99)
Hilarious, terrifying and ultimately heart-warming - from the author of Trash comes the tale of a few ordinary kids doing work experience all over the city on the day of the launch of a new global brand. Liquidator - the new and incredibly popular sports drink is in fact a genetically-modified, sugar-based slime that's highly addictive. It's been trialed in Africa, and children have been left damaged and dying. What a shock, therefore, when a nervous girl on work experience stumbles upon confidential files revealing this hideous cover-up. Will she walk away? Or will she tell her friends?

Capsized into a world without principles - where your life is worth nothing and you are forced to rely only on each other. A bunch of kids using their work experience placements to take on the world...Liquidator is bang up to date, a fantastic, twisty-turny thrill ride, and you'll never look at a can of coke in the same way again...

Silence is Goldfish - Annabel Pitcher (£10.99)
The third YA novel from the bestselling and prize-winning author of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and Ketchup Clouds.

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father's blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess's eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.

Pitcher's talent is beautifully-crafted, deceptively easy prose, which allows you to plunge headlong into a teen word, with all its heartbreak and loneliness, promise and excitement. Quirky, funny and a great alternative if you are really not that in to the dystopian vibe. 
Illuminae: The Illuminae Files Book 1 -
Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff (£8.99)
The year is 2575 and two mega-corporations are at war over a planet that's little more than an ice covered speck. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them Ezra and Kady have to make their escape on the evacuating fleet. But their troubles are just beginning. A deadly plague has broken out on one of the space ships and it is mutating with terrifying results. Their ships protection is seriously flawed. No one will say what is going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth its clear only one person can help her. Ezra. And the only problem with that is they split up before all this trouble started and she isn't supposed to be talking to him.

This is a fantastically original, heart-stopping adventure where everything is definitely more dangerous than it seems. There are hints of everything in here, from Orson Scott Card to Rainbow Rowell, great science fiction works and cutting-edge graphic novels. Spectacular.

Night Owls - Jenn Bennett (£7.99)    
Meeting Jack on the Owl - San Francisco's night bus - turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive ...and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is. But Jack is hiding much more - and can she uncover the truth that leaves him so wounded?

A unique and profoundly moving novel, Night Owls will linger in your memory long after the final page. Unashamedly romantic and blisteringly honest about love and sex.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness (£12.99)    
What if you weren't the Chosen One? What if you just want to graduate and go to prom?

Following a group of "normal" kids as their "indie" counterparts are busy saving the universe around them, Ness has huge fun subverting familiar YA tropes. But this is ultimately a book about what it is to be human, exploring the hopes, dreams and bonds that we all need to thrive.

Ness is one of the coolest YA writers around at the moment, and this book cements his reputation as one of the surest guides through the difficult and dramatic teenage years.

Asking For It - Louise O'Neill (£12.99)
Louise O'Neill won the inaugural UK YA Prize for her disturbing dystopian book 'Only Ever Yours', which took body-image concerns, sexism and female competition to a satirical climax. And she again asks awkward and profound questions in 'Asking For It', a book which asks: 'Does it matter if you can't remember?'

18-year-old Emma wakes up after a party, in pain and with no memory of the previous night. But thanks to smart phones and social media, everyone else has seen what happened - in explicit detail. A book which boldly tackles issues of rape, consent, betrayal, and victim-blaming in a blistering second novel. Without the cushion of dystopia the result is bold, brave and even more brutal

One - Sarah Crossan (£10.99)    
The story of an unbreakable bond and love between two sisters; the twist is that they are conjoined twins. No longer able to afford home-schooling, they must venture out into the world.

Heartbreaking, life-affirming and quite exceptional, can the girls get beyond the stares and cruelty to find friends, and even love? For fans of Wonder sure, but also fans of Crossan's other uplifting novels including the Carnegie-shortlisted 'Apple and Rain'.

Demon Road - Derek Landy (£14.99)    
Amber is just your average 16 year old, a bit plain with a few extra pounds, but her life is about to change forever when she has to go on the run from her parents who want to kill her. An ally teams her up with Milo, a man with his own secret, to protect her on a road trip with a difference along the demon road to find the one man who may be able to save her.

We love Derek Landy, his Skulduggery Pleasant series is a triumph and a modern classic, and this new book has it all, from Demons and Killer Cars to Vampires and even Witches. A gruesome supernatural fest, and not for the faint-hearted.
Trollhunters - Guillermo del Torro (£10.99)
In San Bernardino, California, children are going missing. The townspeople don't believe the rumours of trolls, but fifteen-year-old Jim Jnr knows that they're a very real threat. At night, is anyone safe? 

Trollhunters is a funny, gruesome and undeniably del Toro-esque adventure perfect for teen readers and fans of Pan's Labyrinth.

Queen of Shadows - Sarah J Maas (£7.99)    
"The fourth breathtaking instalment in the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series. Bloodthirsty for revenge on the two men responsible for destroying her life, and desperate to find out if the prince and his captain are safe, Celaena returns to Rifthold, the seat of so much evil. She has accepted her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, there are dark truths to learn and debts to be paid. 

Readers will be held rapt as Celaena's story builds to an agonising crescendo, packed with heart-pounding action and swoon-worthy romance."

Jackaby - William Ritter (£7.99)    
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in the first in a series which features a detective of the paranormal and his adventurous, intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humour and a dose of the macabre.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Books For Christmas Part 9 - Picture Book Heaven

We've done favourite fiction for younger readers, the best middle grade books, activity and non-fiction for children. So today we'll be completing our recommends for children with picture book heaven from some of our finest authors and illustrators.

Some of these picture books aren't just for very little ones - and reward re-reading, so they are perfect if you are a favourite Uncle, Aunt or grandparent who may need to read these more than a few times :-)

Robin’s Winter Song - Suzanne Barton (£10.99)
A big friend of Mostly Books, and an extremely talented author and illustrator whom we welcomed to the shop earlier this year, this is the latest book by the author and illustrator or 'The Dawn Chorus' Suzanne Barton. Her artwork is full of designs and inspiration from the world of fabric and upholstery - and are a joy to discover.

The forest was bustling with activity. As the red and orange leaves swirled in the wind, Robin started to worry. Something was changing. Finch was flying south, because Winter was coming. Squirrel was burying food, because Winter was coming. Even Owl was making his nest warm. Why? That's right - because Winter was coming. Robin decided he didn't like the sound of Winter one little bit. But that was before the snow ...A beautifully tender story of a little robin's first winter.

How to Hug with Hugless Douglas – David Melling (£10.99)
Stretch. smile and squeeeeeeze, and join Hugless Douglas and his friends for a fun-filled hugging competition. What prize will Douglas win? With a soft and strokeable touch-and-feel cover, this gorgeous gift book is bound to endear Douglas to yet more young fans.

And if you don't know Douglas, come in and discover the world's mist huggable bear with other stories in the Hugless Douglas series in the shop!

Where’s Will? Find Shakespeare Hidden in his Plays -
Anna Claybourne and Tilly (£10.99)
This is a fabulous and innovative introduction to Shakespeare and his plays. Readers meet the characters of ten of his most famous plays via colourful search-and-find spreads and snappy synopses.

Think Where's Wally meets As You Like It. "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" You'll have to find him yourself!

Super Happy Magic Forest – Matty Long (£6.99)
There's so much to see and talk about on every page of this hilarious story about five unlikely heroes (a unicorn, a gnome, a fairy, a faun, and a mushroom) who go on an epic quest to save their home, the amazing Super Happy Magic Forest! Bursting with jokes and details to pore over, Super Happy Magic Forest is sure to be a hit with children and grown-ups alike. It's already caused much merriment and chuckles in the shop!

Katie’s London Christmas – James Mayhew (£6.99)
Christmas is a magical time of year, when absolutely anything and incredible can happen. So when Katie and Jack are woken up late on Christmas Eve by a loud sneeze, little do they realise that they are about to embark on the most amazing evening!

Soon they are flying high across London, over snow-dusted landmarks, through the star-scattered sky with the one and only Father Christmas, in his sleigh, with his magical reindeer! But can they help Father Christmas to deliver all his presents and be back in time for Christmas morning?

This story is illustrated with James's extraordinarily beautiful artwork and features some of London's best sights, including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square.                       

Imaginary Fred - Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers (£12.99)
It's very exciting when two of your favourite authors and illustrators come together, and this collaboration between Irish Children's Laureate Eoin Colfer (best-known for Artemis Fowl), and picture book superstar, Oliver Jeffers is a match made in picture-book heaven.

Sometimes, with a little electricity, or luck, or even magic, an imaginary friend might appear when you need one. An imaginary friend like Fred...Fred floated like a feather in the wind until a lonely little boy wished for him and found a friendship like no other. It's a wonderful story on the specialness of friendship and the power of creativity. Wonderful.

Maisy’s Pirate Ship: A Pop-up-and-Play Book –Lucy Cousins (£11.99)
Set sail in search of treasure with this brand new, Maisy pirate adventure from the awesome Lucy Cousins. It comes with pop-up 3D ship and press-out characters. Ahoy, me hearties! Are you ready for some swashbuckling fun? Brush up on your sword-fighting, discover treasure, but beware of the sea monsters! Perfect for any pint-sized pirate, this interactive book can be easily transported to keep little ones entertained on the go - and when they've finished playing the press-out characters can then be stowed away in a keep-safe pocket at the end. Perfect!

Melissa’s Octopus and other Unsuitable Pets –
Charlotte Voake (£6.99)
From acclaimed artist Charlotte Voake comes a perfectly paced, wickedly dark, laugh-out-loud picture book about very unsuitable pets. There are certain animals that make suitable pets, like a cat, a dog, or a guinea pig. Then there are other animals that definitely make unsuitable pets, like an octopus, a warthog or an elephant. They are much too large, too messy and, well, just a tad free-spirited. They also have a tendency to break floors, ceilings and tables. But can you guess what makes the most unsuitable pet ever? Here's a clue...he has a long, scaly green tail and very sharp teeth. Give up? Come in and find out...

Socks for Santa - Adam and Charlotte Guillain (£6.99)
We reviewed this on BBC Radio Oxford a few weeks ago, a lovely little rhyming story, and the next adventure in the series of little ginger-haired George. He decides he's going to take Santa some presents to say thank you for past gifts, but when he gets to the North Pole - he discovers a total disaster. Can George save the day with just a paid of socks?

Is There a Dog in this Book? - Viviane Schwartz (£6.99)
Anyone who has ever read a Vivian Schwartz picture book will have already have fallen in love with Tiny, Moonpie and AndrĂ© - and in this latest adventure, they suspect that a dog might have inveigle its way into the pages. What could be more scary for three little cats? But is there really a dog in here - and is that going to be so bad? With all the quirkiness, imagination, innovative page layouts and visual energy of earlier books, this is another delight - and a great book to share with children of different ages!

The Jolley-Rogers and the Monster’s Gold – Jonny Duddle (£5.99)
We love the Jolley-Rodger family, and in this new creation from Jonny Duddle Matilda discovers a treasure map inside an old bottle. She shows it to the Jolley-Rogers and they all set sail to find the mysterious island. Only to end up in the belly of the dastardly Pirate Cruncher! Can Matilda and the rest of the Jolly-Rogers rescue themselves before it is too late? Or will they end up trapped there forever?

There's adventure, laughs and perhaps an almighty sneeze...

The Princess Who Had No Fortune – Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb (£6.99)
A witty and romantic contemporary fairytale of love and mistaken identity from the creators of the bestselling The Princess Who Had No Kingdom. A beautifully produced book with delicate blue foiling on the cover, with masses of appeal for anyone who loves princesses or fairy tales, boy or girl.

It's the story of a princess like no other: the princess who had no fortune. She doesn't have a cook or a gardener, and she certainly isn't interested in a prince in shining armour. But one day a mysterious young man arrives to help at the castle, offering to help the princess in any way he can. Who could he be? It may not be exactly who you think...

Whiffy Wilson: The Wolf Who Wouldn’t Go To Bed –Caryl Hart and Leonie Lord (£11.99)
"There was once a wolf called Wilson, who stayed up late at night. He played with all his toys until the early morning light.". The third title in the award-winning Whiffy Wilson series, it's the perfect picture book to send little cubs scampering to bed!

Whiffy Wilson thinks bedtime is boring. He wants to stay up ALL night long, playing his saxophone, building forts and learning magic tricks. Big boys like Whiffy NEVER go to sleep! Luckily, Whiffy's clever best friend Dotty is on hand with cosy pyjamas, exciting bedime stories and a yummy nighttime feast. And before long, Whiffy Wilson discovers that bedtimes are the BEST! Willful wolf pups (and little children) will soon learn to love bedtimes with this funny and soothing story.

The Wild Swans – Jackie Morris (£10.99)
This very beautiful and lyrical extended version of the fairytale 'The Wild Swans' by Hans Christian Andersen is the much anticipated companion to East of the Sun, West of the Moon. With strong characterisation of the heroine and also with more rounded characterisation of the wicked stepmother than in the original version, and with delicate watercolour paintings throughout, this is both a wonderful story and a delightful gift. Beautifully presented in a jacketed edition with a foiled title.

Snow Bear – Tony Mitton (£6.99)
In the icy-cold heart of winter, a little snow bear wanders through the snow. As the wind whips past him, ruffling his fur, he searches for a home. But where can he go? Each warm place has been claimed, and there is no room for a bear, no matter how little...

Suddenly he sees a flickering of light, orange and bright against the snowy ground. A house! As Snow Bear pushes open the creaking door, he feels warmth spread over him. There's a girl by the window, and, somehow, deep down, Snow Bear knows that he is home.

We defy your heart not to be warmed by this wonderful story.

That's Not my Penguin Toy and Book (£14.99)
How could we not include Penguins in a collection like this? This is a gift set containing a touchy-feely board book designed specially to appeal to babies and toddlers, with brightly coloured illustrations and simple, repetitive text .

Accompanied by a luxurious, soft penguin toy which has been created specially based on Rachel Wells' illustrations. Ahh!