What We Are Reading Right Now from Penguin Random House…

Well our holiday is over and we dashed home to do all our Christmas preparations in just one day… exciting times, I tell you!!! Anyway, I thought I would bring you our final collection of books we have been reading for the year…


Christmas Reads

“Tis the season to be reading Christmas stories and I don’t know where we have been until now, but my kids just discovered Matt Haig. These books are delightfully Christmassy, lots of glitter and loveliness, the illustrations are a perfect fit and just gorgeous. These books make excellent read a loud books, we have been reading and reading.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig with illustrations by Chris Mould: This is the story of Amelia Wishart and her cat, Captain Soot, set in Victorian Times… Amelia is a chimney sweep, as her mother was before her and she works for Mr. Creeper… who really does live up to his name. Amelia writes to Father Christmas, with a rather delightful Christmas list including, amongst other things, a story by her favourite author Dickens, and her wish for her ma to get well. And the worst thing happens, her mum dies and she finds herself working in Mr Creeper’s workhouse. Meanwhile in Elfdom, in the very far north Father Christmas is having a torrid time with his elves… and in order to get his Christmas show on the road he needs hope… luckily Amelia has buckets of it. This is make believe and magical drama, full of humour of the best variety… a perfect seasonal read.

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig: Amelia’s story continues as she moves to Elfdom… and then battles to be happy there for several reasons; mostly because she is the only child there and she is definitely not an elf. For example she is she is taller than every other elf in her class. This book is full of more wonderful drama of the funny variety and lots of delightful incidents… great seasonal reading. Gotta say, perfect Christmassy reading. And if you want to read a great interview with the author and illustrator… then jump over to the World Book Day site and take a read!!!

Bestseller for a Reason

This book is fabulous, and a book I would encourage all my kids to read. If you plan to leave one book lying around in the hopes that they read it, then let it be this book. And before you dash off and see the movie… read the book. It is fast and easy reading, though the story is poignant and will pull at all your heart strings. August Pullman is born with a facial deformity and because of this he has endured multiple surgeries and serious discomfort, but more than that his face is not like his contemporaries. His parents homeschool him until grade 5, to help him cope with all the time off school for medical reasons in theory, but in practice because they fear the worst… that his classmates won’t know how to cope with him. But by grade 5, they start to feel it is time for August to enter the school system… and he does, and he copes really well at first. The inevitable teasing and gasps of horror he can handle, but then he is betrayed by a friend. And it hurts him deeply. This book is his and his sister, Via’s story and it is a good one… about coping when the chips are down, about handling being different to everyone else, not to mention friendship for all the right reasons. This book is the movie tie-in edition, which means it has photos of the movie stars, and at the end of the book discussion ideas and comments from many of the main players in the making of the movie.

A Gripping Biography

Unstoppable: My Life so Far by Maria Sharapova: This is the intriguing story of a person who has lived their life to the full, right from the get go. One of the most electric tennis players of all times has quite a story to tell. From her humble beginnings and being spotted at a Moscow talent clinic by Navratilova, who told her dad that she could play… and to get her to the States. Her journey to Nick Bollettieri’s famous tennis school, arriving with her dad, with a small amount of cash in hand, no English and the ability to to hit tennis ball. I loved this read, as a life long tennis fan, I remember moments as they happened in the book. I love her conversational story, her interaction with the other players on the tour… her rise and fall, insights into her journey as a professional athlete who just has to play. If you love biographies… then this is a VERY good one. If you love tennis… read this, you will love it. If you love tennis and biographies… read this already!!!

Essential Survival

How to Stay Alive by Bear Grylls: I am just going to say this once… if you have an older child, who doesn’t love reading, then look for something fantastic for them to read, give them anything by Bear Grylls. His Biographies are superb and this… book, How to Survive, is an absolute winner. Short and fast facts and solutions to everyday problems and to some very obscure problems as well. This is a book that you can dip into anywhere and find some incredible facts… how to survive the basics: make a fire, build a raft, how to survive in snow, and how to avoid blisters; and then there are some more obscure situations… how to escape from quicksand, survive and avalanche, cope with a kidnapping, survive a bear, croc, or shark attack. There are tips on creating appropriate survival tips… and diagrams to help you get things right. The writing is short and sharp, quick and easy reading of dozens and dozens of difficult, and death defying moments that you hope you will never find yourself in. The best thing is that at the end of each scenario there is a Keep it Simple Stupid Box, with just the most important facts in it. I feel fully equipped on how to crash land a helicopter, and its probably time I started working on my “how to make a fire in absolutely any situation.” My entire family will love this book… it is a great, practical read!!!

Mystery/Crime/Fabulous Read


Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan: This one I read in a sitting… I loved it, just the right level of mystery… and all the unanswered questions, that linger throughout the book. It’s a debut, and a very good one at that, I can’t wait for more from this author. This is Lydia’s story, or is it? Lydia works in a bookstore, and discovers the body of one of the shop’s regular visitors, who has committed suicide right where she will find them. If that wasn’t horrific enough, it turns out that Lydia was witness to an horrific crime as a child. Are the two crimes related? She thought she had moved beyond the stigma of her childhood trauma, when everything resurfaces with the death of her friend, who appears to have been sending her messages in books for a w while, and she only just figured out the code in the books and how the messages work? She then discovers a photograph that was in his possession, of herself and her best friend from when they were ten… how can that be? What is the connection. The focus is not on the actual crime at all… the focus is entirely on Lydia, you want her to succeed so badly. After returning to her childhood haunts and spending time with her estranged father, you do rather wonder if you want her to keep on looking for solutions. She is relentless in her quest of self-discovery, she discovers slightly more than she anticipated. If you love mysteries,and codes hidden within the pages of a good book… then you will love this. I really, enjoyed this read.

Perfect Lazy Day Reading

Sourdough by Robin Sloan: I loved this slow and easy reading kind of a book… if it takes time to bake bread and it takes time to read this book, it can’t be rushed. This is the story of a frenetic IT professional who works for a company perfecting robotic arms. At the end of each day she just can’t face cooking and calls for takeout. In fact, her team is so driven and frantic, that they don’t even bother with real food at lunch time and a gel sachet is what they are “thriving” on. The Clement Street Soup and Sourdough start delivering “double spicy” to her overnight, until the owner brothers have to leave the country because their visas expire. Lois, the IT gal, finds herself owner of a dough stater… the brother’s parting gift. Baking and bread making very quickly become an important part of Louis’ days. She goes from changing the world by day and baking bread through the night… the book is a bit of a slow wander, you feel like you are reading it as the sourdough does its trick to prove the next loaf. This is a sweet story, and a great read, a little bit whimsical and one feels like one is perhaps reading a fairy tale. There is more to her special sourdough starter than meets the eye!!!

All these books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

2 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now from Penguin Random House…”

  1. Hay Marcia, thanks for the tip… I am sneaking off to bed early tonight so that I can take a listen… such a good story. Turns out I love biographies more and more and more!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

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