Sunday, 19 January 2020

My Favourite Books Read In 2019!

Oh, I just love writing these blog posts! It's so much fun to look back over my year in books and recall the ones I loved. Considering I read 180 books in 2019, it's easy to forget the five star reads. And looking back at my "Favourite Books of 2019" list, I was definitely surprised by a few. This list is certainly looking a lot different to previous years, though. As you'll know if you've read my "Why I Spent A Year Reading Children's Books" post, I spent most of 2019 reading children's books. So a large percentage of my favourite books from last year are children's books. Makes sense, right? And now, without further ado, here's a little look back at my favourite books from 2019 (rather deliciously, there's 19 of them!)

I started the year with something of a depressing read. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a story I've wanted to read for quite some time and I was excited to spot the graphic novel on Amazon. I don't know how it compares with the original novel, as I've not read it although I plan to, but the graphic novel itself is a fantastic, if distressing, read. And as hard as it might be to read, I think that Speak should be on the curriculum for boys and girls in all schools across the world as it teaches so much about rape, rape culture and the "boys will be boys" mentality that needs to be stamped out. 

"Speak up for yourself-we want to know what you have to say."

From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless--an outcast--because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her."

Julia Donaldson is a fantastic children's author. The Gruffalo was a favourite of mine when I was younger, and I know is a favourite of many children still. I'd never read Tabby McTat, The Musical Cat before, but I do love a book about cats. And Tabby McTat turned out to be just as fantastic a read as Donaldson's previous works.

"A purr-fectly rollicking adventure from superstars Donaldson & Scheffler!

Tabby McTat loves his life on the streets with his owner, Fred, singing (and caterwauling) for coins that people throw in Fred's hat. But one day, Fred is in an accident, and the two are separated! Will Tabby and Fred find their way back to each other?"

Another childhood favourite of mine, and re-reading it as an adult just reminded me of why I loved it so much as a child!

"Elmer the elephant is bright-coloured patchwork all over. No wonder the other elephants laugh at him!

If he were ordinary elephant colour, the others might stop laughing. That would make Elmer feel better, wouldn't it? David McKee's comical fable about everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant teaches readers to be themselves and celebrates the power of laughter."

Ah, Mog. Yet another childhood fave. I have such fond memories of my mum and my grandma reading tales about Mog to me before bed at night. I can't wait to read Mog's stories to my own children one day. 

"A special 30th anniversary edition of the debut of Judith Kerr's Mog stories. Mog always seems to be in trouble because she is such a very forgetful cat. She forgets that she has a cat flap and she forgets when she has already eaten her supper. But one night, when an uninvited visitor turns up at the house, Mog's forgetfulness comes in very handy!"

Finally got around to finishing the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I love the illustrated editions, and as soon as I finished this edition was excitedly awaiting the publication of the next one (The Goblet of Fire.) The illustrations really bring the story to life, I think, and I love to see Jim Kay's interpretation of the characters and locations.

"Picture the magic – discover J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world with glorious full-colour illustration by Jim Kay, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal.

An extraordinary creative achievement by an extraordinary talent, Jim Kay’s inspired reimagining of J.K. Rowling’s classic series has captured a devoted following worldwide. This stunning new fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban brings more breathtaking scenes and unforgettable characters – including Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Professor Trelawney. With paint, pencil and pixels, Kay conjures the wizarding world as we have never seen it before. Fizzing with magic and brimming with humour, this full-colour edition will captivate fans and new readers alike as Harry, now in his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, faces Dementors, death omens and – of course – danger."

This was a book my mum read to me as a little girl, and we still say "I love you to the moon and back" to each other. In fact, for Christmas I bought her a set of pyjamas that say "I love you to the moon and back" on. It's kind of our thing. This bought back all kinds of feelings and emotions.

"The sun rises, and a bear and cub begin their day together. They splash in the water, climb mountains, and watch the shimmering sky. They show their love by touching noses, playing chase, and of course, hugging. A sweet, gentle rhyme, perfect for sharing with a special little one!"

I read a lot of Goosebumps books last year. They were a firm favourite of mine as a tween/teenager. None stood out like One Day at Horrorland though. I'm so glad Stine wrote more Goosebumps books set in Horrorland. 

"Werewolf Village. The Doom Slide. The Coffin Cruise. These are just a few of the famous attractions awaiting Luke and Lizzy Morris at HorrorLand, the amusement park where terror comes free with every ticket. Step right up and join the Morris family as they ride each ride--and scream each scream--for the very first time. Because it might also be their last.

It's the classic prequel to R.L. Stine's blockbuster GOOSEBUMPS HORRORLAND series. Now with exclusive bonus materials including secrets from the new Goosebumps HorrorLand series, tips & tricks for the Goosebumps HorrorLand video game, and more!"

Oh my god, you guys. This book ripped out my heart and stomped all over it. It's a beautiful read, and one that'll really help teach your children about loss. But be prepared to shed a few tears reading it, even as an adult!

"Mog was tired. She was dead tired...Mog thought, 'I want to sleep for ever.' And so she did. But a little bit of her stayed awake to see what would happen next."

I always thought that The Jolly Christmas Postman was far superior to The Jolly Postman. It includes puzzles, games and all kinds of other fun packages. I can't wait for my kids to have as much fun exploring this book as I did, both then and now! 

"It's Christmas Eve and the Jolly Postman is delivering greetings to everyone's favourite fairy-tale characters.

He has a card for Baby Bear, a game for Red Riding Hood, a get-well jigsaw for poor Humpty Dumpty and lots more packages to deliver!

The Jolly Postman keeps on peddling his bicycle up hill and down dale. . . and into everybody's hearts."

Jill Murphy is another fantastic children's author, right up there with Julia Donaldson. I loved her Worst Witch series as a teenager. And her The Large Family series as a child. I don't recall reading Peace At Last before, but it's a comical and, for me, relatable read (as an adult, anyway.)

"It was late and Mr Bear was tired. But no matter how hard he tried, he could not get off to sleep. Mrs Bear was snoring and the clock went tick-tock, tick-tock, and still Mr Bear could not sleep. The familiar noises and repetition make this picture book a favourite with children and adults everywhere."

Another Mog book! This one explains well the stresses cats can experience over the festive period with lots of people coming and going, all the decorations going up, and the new sights and smells. But in a fun and engaging format for kids. 

"New cover, new format reissue of this story about everyone’s favourite family cat, Mog
The house is full of strange bustling noises and peculiar smells. Everyone is busy hanging holly and blowing up balloons, and where is that tree going?
Disconcerted by all the unusual activities, Mog escapes to the roof, and there she stays…until, unexpectedly, she returns with a bump!
“Happy Christmas, Mog!”"
Oh, I just adored The Secret Garden growing up. And it's just as good as I remember. I was so excited to learn that a remake of the film is coming out this year. You'd better believe I'll be going to see it just as soon as it's released!
"It's a secret garden, and I'm the only one in the world who wants it to be alive." After the death of her parents, Mary Lennox is brought from India to England to live in her uncle's remote country house on the Yorkshire moors. Mary is a difficult, unhappy child until one day she discovers a hidden, neglected garden. As she learns how to tend the garden and make things grow, her life -- and the lives of those around her -- begins to change in unforeseen ways. This Young Classic edition explores the real world a garden as it changes through the seasons. Photography sets the scene without intruding on the story, and brings The Secret Garden to life for a new generation of children."
This story broke my heart when I read it for the first time as a little girl with my grandma. But it stuck with me well into my adulthood. It broke my heart all over again when I re-read it as an adult but it's a story I'll always hold dear. 
"It is a bitterly cold night in December. Horse-drawn carriages rumble past, carrying people home to warm fires and roast-goose suppers. But one little girl cannot go home, not until she has sold her bundle of matches.

As she lights one after another to keep warm, her cold grey world changes magically before her eyes. Flames as bright as candles illuminate her visions, each one more beautiful than the last - a blazing fire in a stove with polished brass handles, and a lovely Christmas tree decorated with lighted candles and exquisite ornaments. And as the night goes on, each new vision seems more real than the dark streets around her.

Hans Christian Andersen's classic Christmastime story comes alive in Rachel Isadora's luminous paintings, capturing the mood of a snowy Victorian winter and the valiant spirit of the little match girl."

I was so excited for Hannah Shaw's books to be released last year. I haven't read Tiny But Mighty yet, her book about caring for neo-natal kittens. But I did read Kitten Lady's Big Book of Little Kittens, her book about caring for neo-natal kittens aimed at children. It's a delightful read with beautiful kitty pictures and lots of information presented in a child-friendly way. This book will help promote kindness to animals, and animal rescue, to the younger generation and that's no bad thing.

"From kitten rescuer and New York Times bestselling author Hannah Shaw, also known as Kitten Lady on YouTube and Instagram, comes an inspiring picture book that takes readers on the adorable journey of foster kittens from their first days after birth all the way to adoption!

Did you know that kittens are born with their eyes closed, and they are so small that they can fit in the palm of your hand?

Or that being groomed with a toothbrush reminds orphan kittens of their mothers’ tongues, and helps them feel comfy and safe?

Learn these facts and more in Kitten Lady’s first picture book! Hannah uses her engaging, fun voice to show how she helps orphan kittens grow up, get adopted, and become healthy, happy cats. Featuring irresistible photographs and playful doodles, Kitten Lady’s Big Book of Little Kittens shows what you can do to help the tiniest felines in our big, big world."

Ah, a Christmas classic told entirely in pictures. A novel idea! And the perfect festive read for young and old. 

"Illustrated in full colour, this is a wordless story. The pictures have "the hazy softness of air in snow." A little boy rushes out into the wintry day to build a snowman, which comes alive in his dreams that night. The boy invites him home and in return is taken on a flight high above the countryside."

The Velveteen Rabbit is a well-known, and well-loved, children's classic and it's easy to see why. It's a beautiful read with some wonderful life lessons in.

"Nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

Like the Skin Horse, Margery Williams understood how toys—and people—become real through the wisdom and experience of love. This reissue of a favorite classic, with the original story and illustrations as they first appeared in 1922, will work its magic for all who read it."

This was quite a funny, light-hearted read. Little Miss Stubborn and the Unicorn didn't exist when I was a kid. Unicorns weren't the big trend they are today when I was a kid, to be fair. And the Little Miss series have jumped on that trend. And written a hilarious story about a Little Miss who cannot accept the presence of unicorns, even when faced with one!

"Little Miss Stubborn doesn't believe that unicorn exist. But when her friends say that they have met one, she is determined to meet this strange horse..."

This is a magical tale of a bear with no squeak, and how he finds his squeak. I love the fold-out pages and the reminder that even the most well-loved, threadbare bears are special.

"There is one thing that has always been wrong with Threadbear. In his tummy is a squeaker that has never squeaked . . . Can Father Christmas help?

A Christmas classic for over 25 years, this award-winning story from the creator of Kipper and Wibbly Pig proves that dreams do come true.

With a stunning new cover and fantastic fold-out pages."

I couldn't resist picking up the companion book to the John Lewis Christmas TV advert. And it turned out to be a very emotional, inspiring read with an important message about what true friendship means.

"Excitable Edgar is the story of the lovable and easily excitable Edgar the Dragon. Based on John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners 2019 Christmas advert, Excitable Edgar tells the story of how Edgar’s nature as dragon makes him breath fire whenever he gets excited, especially about Christmas."

And that's a wrap on my favourite books of 2019. It was a great year for reading, and I loved all the children's books, but I'm excited to dive back into some adult books this year. 

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