Unsure what to buy that special or not so special person on your holiday list? Well of course my answer is buy them a book! Which book? The choices are so hard and there were so many fantastic titles out this year. Well never fear, we here at Bookalicio.us have created the perfect holiday gift guide that spans the ages of young to young at heart. I have buy now links with all of the books listed from Hicklebee’s which is an iconic indie bookstore. Support Hicklebee’s this holiday season and buy now!
It’s a Book by Lane Smith makes the list for the fantastical illustrations and the appeal for adults. The book follows a kind Monkey who loves to read and his tech savvy Jack-ass friend who can’t seem to understand what a book is for. You and your child will love this book!
The Llama Llama series continues with Holiday Drama which is all about Christmas. Llama gets a little overwhelmed by all the shopping and baking and true to Llama fashion has a complete melt down. This story is a great way to talk about the true meaning of the holidays and share some story time and a cup of chocolate with your little one.
Middle Grade Fiction
The Familiars is a fantastic story for your Middle Grader. We follow a starving alley cat named Aldwyn through a thoughtful plot as he finds his true place in the world. Plenty of life lesson is weaved into the tale and your child will enjoy riotous laughs and plot twists along the way.
Franny Flanders and her antics are a laugh a minute kind of book. Franny finds a box of spells and sets out to make her world a better place never thinking of the world at large. When all her spells take a wrong turn and things end up even worse than they were to begin with Franny has to turn to her new age Granny and Justin Timberlake for help. Okay so maybe Justin Timberlake doesn’t know magic but he is in the book!
Finnikin of the Rock is an epic fantasy full of fantastical writing and complex plot. As a child Finnikin has a dream that he will have to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom, however when his country is invaded and it’s citizens are ousted Finnikin will have to sacrifice a lot more to bring glory back to his land and bring his people home. With the help of a young girl named Evangaline he sets out on his final journey that may or may not be his final sacrifice.
Young Adult Contemporary
Stolen is one of the absolute best books I have read this year. I have to thank Scholastic for sending me this book with a note saying that I would enjoy it. I most definitely did. Stolen is the story of a girl who has to come to grips with her kidnapping and try to find a way home and away from Ty who has stolen her away to the outback and there seems to be no escape in any direction Gemma looks. It is easier for the reader to be sympathetic towards Ty at times but the author always reminds you that his is a bit off. Stolen gave me Stockholm’s just from reading. It would be a fantastic gift for your teen.
Sea is a beautiful story perfect for the holiday season. We follow Sienna through a coming of age story that is heartfelt and beautifully written. Sienna’s mother has died in a plane crash and her psychologist father is doing the best he can raising her on his own. When he gets the chance to travel to Indonesia to help the children of Tsunami he decides to bring Sienna with him. Scared to fly Sienna overcomes her fear and travels to Asia. This is where Sea truly begins. She meets a boy who is marked by so much tragedy his sadness mirrors Sienna’s.
The Heart is Not a Size is another fantastic contemporary hit this year. Beth Kephart pulls at your heartstrings and brings tears to your eyes with this poignant tale of helping those who are not as fortunate as ourselves while discovering what we are truly about on the inside. Highly recommended for your young adult.
Tell Me a Secret is brilliant contemporary YA writing at it’s best. Cupala weaves a coming of age story with the mystery of murder and unplanned parenthood perfectly. I was unable to put this book down and read it within a span of five hours. I had real tears in my eyes when I finished this novel and I love the generous dose of life lessons. I cannot wait to see what this debut author has up her sleeve next.
Young Adult Paranormal
Nightshade is the epitome of Wolves this season. Calla knows what she needs to do, what she is supposed to do as the alpha of her pack but sometimes it seems that what her brain says and what her heart wants are two totally different things. Cremer creates a world of magic with her guardians and I am waiting with bated breath for the next in the series.
Rampant is everything I thought it wasn’t going to be. Killer unicorns?! I avoided this book for as long as possible but when it eyed me from a local library shelf I knew I had to pick it up. Rampant was an amazingly funny tale of a girl who didn’t believe in killer unicorns even though her mother told her a time may come when she had to do her duty and be a virginal killer of these mythical beasts. Peterfreund paints a tale of a reluctant hero and does it in a laugh out loud style.
Beautiful Creatures starts this New York Times best selling series with a bang. We are told the story from small southern town born and raised Ethan who learns that all towns have their secrets. He keeps having dreams of this girl he loves and is losing to a darkness but the problem is he hasn’t even met the girl yet. When Lena literally blows into town she brings a world of intrigue, danger, and beautiful caster powers with her. Beautiful Darkness is a continuation of this Southern Gothic and both are perfect for this cold season.
Young Adult Fantasy
Plain Kate was my absolute favorite read title this year. It has been so long since I read such a simplistic fantasy it reminded me of the old fashioned fairy tales I loved to read as a child. There is no epic love triangle, no one sparkles, and I loved every sweeping minute. Kate is an amazing gal and I loved her dearly. I do believe this book is suitable for Middle Graders as well and it was purchased by the same guy who thought Harry Potter would be a great story! Pick up Plain Kate for anyone on your list young or not so young and you will not be disappointed!
Poison Study is a great book to buy this holiday season! Yelena is an orphan living in a mildly dystopic environment. She is a prisoner on death row for murder when she is brought from the dungeon dirty and diseased and given a choice. Be hanged or become the poison tester for the man in power. He has some powerful enemies and the most recent food tester passed away. They never seem to last long. Yelena figures she has nothing to lose and she trains with Valek for her new job. Yelena learns a few tricks along the way and that she may very well have a lot to lose if her life is ended tasting the food of the man who imprisoned her.
The Turning is a very fun book for that animal lover on your list. Who knew that our domesticated house cats were having a turf war with the stray cats in the neighborhood and that young adult shifters who turn into cats led the armies into battle? Not, I. I was intrigued by the concept of this book and when the orange kitten showed up the real story began for the domestics. Add in a boy who loves being a cat so much he can hang with either group and has stayed in cat form so often he has disfigured his own body, another boy who hates being a cat and is just biding his time until the curse is over. The protagonist has some very tough choices.
The Iron King and The Iron Daughter are both fantastical reads for those Faerie lovers in your household. Meghan Chase’s brother has been replaced with an evil changeling and she is on a mission to get him back. She could care less for the Fey politics including the fact that the summer and winter courts are in danger because they exist only because man kind believes in them. Man believes in technology now too and a new race of Fey is born. The Iron Fey, we all know that summer and winter are allergic to iron in a deadly way. Meghan will have to get involved to save her brother. This series is sure to knock the proverbial red and green Christmas socks off your little guy or gal.
Young Adult Crossover for the Adult who loves YA
Clockwork Angel is a great gift idea for anyone on your list. Young or not so much, male or female. Cassandra Clare starts a new series set in her provocative world of angels and demons. We go back to Victorian England and see how the Shadow Hunters we know and loved from The Mortal Instruments Series got their beginnings and rules. An evil man skilled in the dark arts is create steam punk style automatons with real souls who have only one thing in mind. Kill the Shadow Hunters. Tessa has some tricks up her sleeve as well. She doesn’t quite know what she is but she hopes to find out. Is she demon, wizard or something even more horrible? Either way she can’t have the man she loves even if she survives the automaton attack.
Merlin’s Harp is a moving retelling of the Arthurian Legend. Beautiful prose and delightful new insight astounds the reader in this tale of Niv daughter to the Lady of the Lake on her life journey and bearing the cross her own mother had to carry. Niv and Merlin carry the weight of the fate of Britain on their shoulders and the old wizard has made quite a few mistakes that Niv will have to clean up.
The Prophecy of the Sisters starts us on an epic journey of good and evil that outshines Bray’s Gemma Doyle Series by light years. Alice and Lia are twins buthave never been exactly close. When they find out they have an epic destiny to complete they fall even farther apart as one chooses light while the other chooses dark. Guardian of the Gate continues this saga and is a thought provoking sequel. These are must-read-faster-I-can’t-put-it-down books and are highly recommended.
Meena Harper never knew what hit her when Mr. Right flies into town…. on bat wings. Insatiable is laugh out loud funny and Meena is a riot. It takes all the vampire lore and pokes the big fun stick at it and has a very interesting mystery plot as well. Meena is a television writer for a daytime soap and the producer wants it to ‘go vamp’ and star her hot pasty new boyfriend. Meena has grown up watching this show and writing for it is her dream come true. Can she solve all the mysteries and keep her show vamp free?
Syrie James reinstilled my love for the classic Dracula with her rendition of this classic. So many questions were left unanswered in Stoker’s tale and James has give us the gift of a female perspective. I enjoyed this look into Dracula’s tale immensely and I suggest it for any lover of the genre. You will fall in love with the danger and the man all over again.
Darkfever is a sexy dark tale of evil beautiful fae and the sister of a woman who got caught up in the middle and died. When Mac goes to Dublin to find out what happened to her sister she is drawn into the dark war herself. This series is absolutely addicting and I am waiting for the final installment to come in January. This is perfect for anyone who loves sexy paranormal reads.
A Reliable Wife is one of those books that everyone loves. I originally read it because I had promised to read a chick-lit book this year. I read the synopsis on the book jacket and thought this book would be tolerable for a genre that I generally do not like. Oh it was so much more than tolerable. The intrigue, the lies, the outright passion of the book knocked my proverbial socks off and I am still reeling from the ending of this dark contemporary read. Pick this up for any reader and I guarentee they will have a mind trip!
Sacred Hearts is the perfect read for the literary reader who loves history! Sarah Dunant’s books are always a masterpiece of the time period and her latest is no different. We follow a young novice who was forced into the nunnery by her family as many young Italian women were at the time. She wants to run away and live free and love but the convent is more restricting than a jail. Another nun uses the convent as a protection from the outside world and a place to practice the craft her father taught her, her love of medicine is almost ungodly but the nunnery is in need of a healer. These two women and their lives intertwine in a heartbreaking story perfect for any lover of historical fiction, literary, or love story.
I was introduced to Silent in the Grave by a local bookseller in Richmond. I had seen the book everywhere over the summer and decided to pick it up while I was in the shop. For someone who doesn’t really like mysteries the corset gripping action in this novel by Deanna Raybourn had me on edge. I have read through the rest of the series and each of the books is a fantastic gift idea for the lover of Victorian England, mysteries, and great romantic fiction without all of the dirty explicit stuff.
I have had and tried several of the e-readers on the market and I have to say I absolutely love my Nook. I didn’t buy the 3G version but instead went with plain old wifi. Buying books from B&N is super easy and there is always a great free selection available. I highly recommend this device over Amazon’s Kindle. That being said don’t fall for the new NOOKcolor scam. If I wanted to read with a backlight and kill my eyes I would buy an iPad.
From Think Geek: The LightWedge is an efficient book light with a streamlined design. A lighted, distortion-free acrylic lens extends across the book page and emits all the brightness directly onto the book page, reducing shadows and glare. Since the light is emitted directly onto the page, there’s no excess reflection to disturb others nearby.
The LightWedge is thin and lightweight and easily slips into a backpack, tote bag, or briefcase. Also, when not in use, it is useful as a convenient bookmark stored between a book’s pages. The bright LEDs that illuminate the LightWedge have two brightness levels and a lifetime warranty. The light can run for 40 hours on four AAA batteries. The LightWedge can rest on the left page and then simply be flipped over to read the right page
Need even more suggestions? Check these out!
The Familiars by Adam Epstien and Andrew Jacobson is a magical tale of three animals who are on a quest to save the children they love from the hands of an evil queen. There is not a better book on the market for your middle grader or even yourself for this cold spooky season. From the black cauldron of a witch turning into an octopus type enemy to a seven headed hydra this book will keep that Halloween feeling going all month long with your family. I suggest reading it out loud as a family with a pot of chocolate. Bookalicious review of The Familiars.
The authors have made this awesome video of a spooky tour of some fantastic bone chilling spots through-out the L.A. area. Watch the video and then below there is a special clue for you to win a Familiars prize!
We are also having a special Familiars-themed Halloween Scavenger Hunt! At each stop along the blog tour, we will be asking a trivia question from our book. After you fill in your answer, the letter that falls in the place of the * can be placed in the corresponding number of the larger puzzle. So for example, since this is question number 21, the letter that lands in the space where the * is can be filled in where the 21 is in the larger puzzle. The larger puzzle will form yet another clue, and anyone who answers it correctly will be entered into a drawing for an autographed book as well as a few other Halloween treats!
Be sure to visit The Familiars blog to find links to all other blog stops and find out where to send in your answers! All entries must be entered by November 15.
21. Gilbert has an unfortunate run-in with a bunch of what en route to Maidenmere?
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ _*_
Hint: Chapter Fourteen, Page 275
11 5 18 8 15 1 9 7 19 14 23 2 25 16 10 12 20
__ __ __ __ __ __ ‘ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
17 3 22 6 21 4 24 13
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
From Goodreads: After three young wizard apprentices are kidnapped by the evil queen of a distant land, it is up to their familiars, their magical animal companions — a street smart alley cat, a precocious blue jay, and a bumbling tree frog — to save them.
Lately I have been in love with Middle Grade fiction. I have made it my mission to learn more about the genre and to incorporate that knowledge into Bookalicio.us to offer a more wide variety of kid lit for my readers. In the past two months I have had three successful MG reads and The Familiars ranks at the top of my favorites.
I used the Familiars with my brand spanking new book club at Hicklebee’s my local indie bookstore that I am partnered with. I had tons of kids in attendance and they had so many questions for me. Adam Epstien and Andrew Jacobson had visited earlier but some of the kids had missed the author signing. These kids are in luck because the authors gave me their email to give to the kids and I think several of them will use it!
Before my review here are what some of the kids had to say:
Hannah age 13 “I loved this book even more than the Chronicles of Narnia.”
Annora age 10 “I really like that this book is about animals who can do magic instead of humans.”
Jake age 8 “I really like all the magic.”
It was unanimous we all loved this book.
We follow Aldwyn who is your every day alley cat in the city of Bridgetower as he is trying to grab a fish to eat. He is caught and pursued by the towns most awesome pest hunter named Grimslade. Aldwyn jumps into a magic shop window and runs into a cage to avoid being captured and that is where his story begins.
Jack and his wizarding teacher Kalstaff come into the shop to find a familiar as young Jack has come of age. He chooses Aldwyn who immediately begins freaking out because he is just your everyday garden variety alley cat. Aldwyn travels back to the woods with Kalstaff and Jake and meets the other two students and their familiar. A bird named Skylar and a frog named Gilbert.
When the Queen shows up and kidnaps the young wizards it is up to the familiars to set out on a journey to get them back.
The Familiars is full of fantastical magic, and is completely plot driven. Never have I seen such personality given to animals. It was easy to forget these weren’t human characters. I was completely transported and kept in the dark until the very end. I had no idea what the end of the story had in it’s pages for me and all the guessing I did was futile.
I will anxiously be awaiting the next book in this series and am hanging on the edge of my seat for movie news. Adam Epstien and Andres Jacobson have my attention as up and coming Middle Grade writers.
If you love Harry Potter or The Warriors you will adore The Familiars.
I saw The Familiars authors Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson last week at Hicklebee’s Book Store in San Jose CA. It was quite the unique event. You see Harper Collins sent a bunch of third grade students an advanced copy of the book and we were able to watch them interact with the authors about the story. It truly was a fun twist when the authors began quizzing the students on which parts they loved best!
Reading through the story a chapter at a time with Adisyn is proving to be quite fun. I strongly believe if you have a child from the ages of seven through twelve and possibly older if they are a true fantasy lover, then you should pick this up at your local indie. Don’t have a local indie? Never fear! Order your copy online today from Hicklebee’s!
Check out this awesome book trailer!
I liken this book to the Septimus Heap books, early Harry Potter, and the Warriors series. Let me know if you have read it, want to read it, or just love that fantastical book trailer!