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2017 GIFT GUIDE by 100% Rock Magazine’s Book Reviewers

| 9 December 2017 | Reply

So it’s December again already, and we all know that panic of trying to find gifts for friends, family, and even colleagues before Christmas has come and gone for another year.

How do you know what they might enjoy? How do you know what they already have?

Well, you can never know for sure unless you break into their house when they’re out and go through all their stuff… and even then you can’t be 100% sure, because what if they have things in storage? So… We at 100% Rock Magazine are here with some suggestions of great books for gifting in 2017.

Some of these are books we’ve read and adored, while others are books that we’ve been eyeing off because they’re so beautifully presented and we’re expecting great things. There might even be a couple of titles in here that we, personally, didn’t shout from the rooftops about, but which we can objectively understand are good books and are bound to be appreciated and enjoyed.

These are not listed by order of preference, but rather grouped into categories for ease of access for you, dear readers!








Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog by Laura Young

Gathering together a collection of cute, funny, and heartwarming images of Instagram sensation, Pumpkin the raccoon, this book tells the story of how Pumpkin came to join a family that was already home to two rescue dogs named Toffee and Oreo. Gathered here are stories of bonding, of laughter and, of course, Pumpkin’s antics – like the time she worked out how to turn on taps and flooded the house.



The Extraordinary Life of Pikelet: Memoirs of a Rescue Pup Called Pikelet Butterwiggle Stoll typed by Calley Gibson (Pikelet’s Ma)

This story of an Aussie rescue pup turned foster brother, model, and now writer, is absolutely gorgeous. Filled with photos of Pikelet posing in and out of costume, with his friends and foster brothers and sisters. Any animal lover would be hard-pressed not to fall in love with Pikelet, and the only negative side effect is this book will make you want to adopt all of the dogs in all of the shelters. But at Christmas time, when so many people buy cute, fluffy, baby animals without thinking about the consequences, this is a good message to share.



TREAT! by Christian Vieler

An assortment of photographs by animal photographer Christian Vieler which are bound to put a smile on any animal lover’s face. This is the kind of coffee table book dog-lovers will cherish.



Dogs with Jobs by Laura Greaves

This book is a humorous and heartfelt look at some of the amazing things dogs can do, penned by an owner and lover or dogs. From the more well known guide dog and sniffer dog jobs, through the slightly uncommon reading companions and dolphin alert roles, to the totally amazing hand replacements, director of seagulls, and guide dog for other dogs, this book is bound to have dog lovers enthralled, amazed, and at times in tears of joy or sadness.

Related books/gift ideas:

  • Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp, featured in suggested picture book list.







Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum

This is the gorgeous, heartwarming story about humanity’s journey in creating and developing rovers, but more specifically about the titular Curiosity – including the creation, naming, journey, and work on Mars – told to readers by Curiosity herself. The accompanying illustrations are gorgeous and this is bound to be a hit with any science-loving families and a great way to introduce future scientists to the rover journey.

This is a good gift because:

  • The journey is broken down reasonably simply and, while there is a fair bit of text at times, it explores the journey in decent detail without losing the reader.
  • It has different levels of information available to readers of different ages, including smaller print and additional facts that are not required to understand the rest of the story but add to the information being shared with older readers.

Recommended for:

  • 6-10 year olds, but space- and rover-loving adults are bound to enjoy this one, too.



Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Stephen Biesty 

This book is for a slightly older audience than the Curiosity book above, and it goes into quite a lot of detail about the human relationship with space, including current travel and some future plans. This one has plenty of handy info-graphics to help give a full picture of humanity’s journey.

This is a good gift because:

  • Space is awesome, and the progress we as a species have made in exploring it is fascinating.

Recommended for:

  • 8-12 year olds, or space-loving people of all ages.



13½ Incredible Things You Need to Know About Everything by Dorling Kindersley

This is a collection of facts about a whole range of topics, with thirteen facts about each and a final “fact” (13½) which is actually the debunking of a myth or half-truth. Full of gorgeous, full-page photographs, and sure to clue you in on something you didn’t already know and debunk things you thought you knew, this is bound to generate some interesting discussions over the holidays!

This is a good gift because:

  • There is so much information that it will take a while to make your way through, but said information is delivered in short, easy to digest “bites” so as not to be overwhelming.

Recommended for:

  • Kids 10+ and science lovers of interesting facts.



And Then You’re Dead by Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty

This is a hilarious collection of science-based speculations on how various situations would kill a human being. It’s the kind of thing that will give you new information to discuss, plus a lot of laughs, but without getting too bogged down in the fact that all of these scenarios end in the theoretical “you” dying.

This is a good gift because:

  • It appeals to a range of readers, what with its science base but theoretical scenarios.
  • It’s bound to give plenty of laughs and open up some interesting discussions over the holidays.



Space is Cool as Fuck by Kate Howells & Friends

This offers up a selection of photos, artwork, and other creative exercises alongside space-facts delivered in non-complicated language (with plenty of swearing thrown in for good measure).
This is a stunning book that has been well-researched and delivered in a passionate way that most scientific books do not.

This would be a good gift because:

  • It is gorgeously done and would make a nice coffee table book.
  • It’s written in easy to understand language about hard to understand topics, and as a result it covers an interesting cross-section of people.






What do you get the Harry Potter lover in your life? They’re always rushing out and getting the next pretty as soon as they can. But the flipside of this is that us Potter fans only have so much money, and the volume of Harry Potter items can be hard to keep up with, so take mercy on them this year and get them something they really really want but have been unable to get for themselves.

It goes without saying that all books on this list would work well with any others on the list, but special mention has been made where a specific item would pair well with or act as a substitute for any of the others.


Illustrated Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

Newly out in October, this is a new edition of the same Prisoner of Azkaban that fans will have at home (because you’ve gotta be sure, with all the books that are named that same, obscure title, right?), but with fantastic illustrations that are bound to make any Harry Potter fan squeal. Anyone who is not moved by this gift is either not a true fan, or they picked it up in October.

This is a good gift because:

  • It’s stunning. Really stunning. 
  • As this is the third in the series (and most recently release in the illustrated editions) Potter fans have probably figured out by now that this is a good one to wait until after Christmas to buy… because… maybe someone will love them enough to buy it for them, right?

Related books/gift ideas:

  • Illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the original version was also called “The Sorcerer’s Stone” in America), and Illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, both by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay. These are available separately and in a box set.



Harry Potter – A History of Magic by The British Library

This is the book of the exhibition that has been running in the UK. It charts the journey from manuscript to worldwide phenomenon and also takes an in-depth look at the folklore and history that presented a historical foundation for Rowling to build her world upon.

This is a good gift because:

  • Any fans who live outside the UK are bound to have a deep longing to visit this British Library event. I mean you could spring for them to go over and see it, of course, or you could get them a much more reasonably priced hard-cover book they will cherish forever.
  • It’s enlightening and is bound to teach even the most ardent fans something they didn’t already know.
  • It has stunning illustrations and inclusions of things like J.K. Rowling’s original synopsis that was sent out in her submissions when seeking publication, and the author’s sketches of the Dursleys, the layout of Hogwarts as she envisioned it, and the like.

Related books/gift ideas:

  • Harry Potter – A Journey Through a History of Magic by the British Library



Harry Potter – A Journey Through a History of Magic by The British Library

Like the above “Harry Potter – A History of Magic”, this is an exploration of the journey from manuscript to huge success and household name. This one is more about the books than about the history of magic in our world that acted as a foundation. There is a fair bit of this, too, but this book contains more in the way of author sketches, illustrations by Jim Kay, and a more accessible style of writing (less like a textbook) for younger readers.

This is a good gift because:

  • Any fans who live outside the UK are bound to have a deep longing to visit this British Library event. I mean you could spring for them to go over and see it, of course, or you could get them a much more reasonably priced hard-cover book they will cherish forever.
  • It’s enlightening and is bound to teach even the most ardent fans something they didn’t already know.
  • It has stunning illustrations and inclusions of things like J.K. Rowling’s original synopsis that was sent out in her submissions when seeking publication, and the author’s sketches of the Dursleys, the layout of Hogwarts as she envisioned it, and the like.
  • It’s more accessible than the above History of Magic for younger readers, or those who want to see more about the way the books connect with magic history.

Related books/gift ideas:

  • Harry Potter – A History of Magic by the British Library



Illustrated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill

Previously, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has been a rather small, paperback book with limited sketches in its pages. This is a new edition of the same book, but with changes that make it an absolute must-have for Potter Fans. We’re talking pages and pages of full-page, colourful illustrations in a nice, chunky hardcover which gives the feel of a Hogwarts text book and will fit nicely on the shelf next to your other illustrated Harry Potter books.

This is a good gift because:

  • I know I’m overusing the word stunning, but it really is. 
  • The illustrator here is different to the illustrator of the other Harry Potter books, but upon flicking through you can understand why this is so. Jim Kay is amazing, but Olivia Lomenech Gill brings an authentic feeling of the time when Newt Scamander (the real author of this book and star of the movie of the same name) original wrote this book.

Related books/gift ideas:

  • Newt Scamander’s Case by Running Press – a little leatherlook/leatherfeel suitcase from which Niffler’s hands extend when opened you will hear Niffler’s telltale noise.



Harry Potter Pensieve Memory Set by Running Press

This is the only stationery item on the Harry Potter list, and it’s not necessarily something HP fans will have heard about, but it is amazing and a must have. Added bonus, it’s unique and new and gorgeously designed.

This is a good gift because: 

  • It is so well put-together. It’s beautifully designed, and Harry Potter fans are bound to be left speechless when they open the wrapping that contains this beauty.
  • It’s new and interactive, including a journal with quotes, pensieve vials with removable stoppers (in which secrets and memories can be stored on a piece of paper), and a wand that is also a pen.

Related books/gift ideas:

  • The Time Turner by Running Press



Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, House editions by J.K. Rowling

Not every Harry Potter has gone through the sorting process (be that on Pottermore or via various other quizzes), but for those diehard fans who bleed their house colours, these are a must have addition to the collection.

For the first time there is equal access for all fans, be they from Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, or Slytherin. For too long Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs have been left out in the cold with limited authentic merchandise available. Thankfully this situation is improving with the release of these books and various other themed items. 

This is a good gift because:

  • It will show the Harry Potter fan in your life that you listen to them when they go on and on and on about Hogwarts.
  • The designs on these are fantastic. The paperbacks are nice, with the entire cover and edges of the pages being the main colour for the house, but the hardcover editions are beautiful and elegant with a black cover, house logo on the cover in the house colour, and the eges of the pages stained with both house colours.
  • If you’re the Harry Potter fan, and you have someone in your life who has not read the books buy you think is “Definitely a Ravenclaw”, for example, this is a great way to get them into the series with something of a personal touch.

Related books/gift ideas:

  • Either of the British Library books or the illustrated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.







Where’s Wally: Destination Everywhere by Martin Handford

The Where’s Wally? series turns 30 this year and Handford revisits some classic Wally scenes and makes some changes to where that elusive, bespectacled traveller and his friends are hiding. This book is still a fun one decades on that helps you practice your observation skills and Handford’s complex and detailed illustrations still continue to charm and allure.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Delphine Chedru’s Spot It: Find the Hidden Creatures
  • Lovers of  puzzles
  • Kids and adults who adore looking for Wally



The Prehistoric Times by Stella Gurney, illustrated by Neave Parker & Matthew Hodson

A dinosaur-themed, humorous activity book with plenty of games (mazes, spot the difference, dot-to-dot, patterns, finish the picture, and so on) bound to keep kids busy for at least a couple of hours this school holidays.

Engaging and funny and cleverly designed to look like an actual newspaper, albeit one filled with pictures of dinosaurs and orange highlights.

Recommended for:

  • Reluctant readers
  • Dinosaur fans



Create Your Own Superhero Epic & Create Your Own Fantastic Quest by Andrew Judge and Chris Judge

These books are loads of fun, with the building blocks of a story that the “reader” needs to draw, write, tear, and complete various tasks to put it all together.

Fun for various ages, and bound to eat up a good chunk of that overabundant school holiday time that is rapidly approaching.

Recommended for:

  • Reluctant readers
  • Fans of the Kerri Smith books (Wreck this Journal, This is Not a Book, Finish This Book, etc) and their younger siblings.



The Slime Book by Dorling Kindersely

This book is loads of fun for kids and parents alike, and is bound to keep the kids out of trouble these school holidays.

It literally offers hours of fun, and many of the recipes within don’t stick to clothing or carpet. There is also a scientific element here, and it’s great to see the ways different combinations of things can turn icky, sticky, liquid glue into goo that can be shaped and stretched and bounced.

Recommended for:

  • Kids over four
  • Parents who grew up with various Gak and Slime options available to them
  • Introducing kids to science



Build the Dragon by Dugald A. Steer, illustrated by Douglas Carrel and Jonathan Woodward

With a booklet at the front full of information about dragons in a kid-friendly layout, and all the pieces needed to slot together your own dragon, complete with wings that flap, this is the kind of gift that is way more than the sum of its parts.
Watching the dragon come together, piece by piece, is incredibly interesting, and once they’re done with the building, kids (or dragon-loving adults) will have their own dragon toy/statue to cherish!



All Aboard the Discovery Express by Emily Hawkins and Tom Adams, illustrated by Tom Clohoshy-Cole

A fun look at the history of transportation featuring a journey around the world with clues to solve on every page. This is a great way to pass some time over the holidays while also learning about history and ways to create codes that can be used for secret messages with friends.

It’s educational and fun at the same time, and while it would be ideal for readers between 10 and 14, there are varying levels of information depending how deep you want to go, so younger readers could still find something here to enjoy without having to read every single flap and piece of information.

Recommended for:

  • Kids aged 8-14
  • Fans of history and various types of transport (including surfing, bicycles, planes, cars and trains).







The Sloth Who Came to Stay by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Vivienne To 

A gorgeous story about slowing down and spending time together as a family,  this is a good look at priorities at that time of year where we all (or at least most) get to take a breath and pause.

Recommended for: 

  • People who live life at a fast pace and don’t get quality time with their families
  • Fans of animals, sloths in particular



Lucy’s Book by Natalie Jane Prior & Cheryl Orsini

A story for lovers of books, even though there might be some squeamishness about the book being taken in the bath, turned into a banana sandwich, and so on, the story as a whole is love letter about reading and sharing books.

Recommended for:

  • Avid readers of any age, though the target market is, of course, children of around 4-8 years of age



Here We Are – Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

Super cute and sweet, this is ideal for the newest members of the human race, as an introduction to the planet. The message throughout, and especially on the final page, about us all being human, no matter what we look like and where we come from, and how we’re never alone on Earth. Bound to leave a warm-fuzzy feeling.

Recommended for:

  • Families with a recent addition
  • Fans of Oliver Jeffers



The Amazing Monster DetectoScope by Graeme Base

Fantastically designed, complete with with a “shutter” that slides open on every page to reveal the monsters in the picture. As always this is filled with fantastic images by Base, and the story is bound to strike up nostalgia for parents.

Recommended for:

  • Kids who are scared of monsters
  • Fans of Graeme Base



Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

A great story for any young readers who are either reluctant or struggling to read. The main character hates reading, especially aloud, because she keeps making mistakes. When her mum takes her to the library and she is offered the chance to read to a dog. When the dog doesn’t judge her or laugh at her when she makes mistakes, she continues working on her skills and eventually is able to read aloud to people without fear of them laughing at her.

Recommended for:

  • Reluctant readers
  • Families that include dogs and kids within their ranks



Poor Louie

A good story for any family with a new baby or with a “fur child” as it explores the changes that come with a new member joining the family, and fears of being forgotten, only to wrap up with a happy, feelgood ending that reassures the older sibling that they are not forgotten.

Recommended for:

  • Kids who have recently or are soon to become an older sibling
  • Families with dogs



Koala Bare by Jackie French

This book has the makings of being a classic and beloved children’s book just like French’s famous story, Diary of a Wombat. Koala Bare is a beautifully-written and illustrated book that uses a great dash of humour to introduce us all to Australia’s beloved koala, an animal that is not a bear, and proud of it!

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Mem Fox’s Possum Magic as well as French’s own, Diary of a Wombat
  • People who live overseas or are new to Australia
  • Anyone interested in one of Australia’s most iconic animal mascots







Snow Man and the Seven Ninjas / Attack of the Giant Robot Zombie Mermaid by Matt Cosgrove

Told in the form of the well-known fairytales of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Little Mermaid with a twist, these books are loads of fun and are great for six- to nine-year-old readers who might think reading is boring. The original stories are underneath, but they have been drawn over, modified, and changed into stories you wouldn’t recognise, with much more in the way of explosions and gore and excitement.

Recommended for: 

  • Reluctant readers, 6-9 years old



Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

The story of a toy made with so much love who becomes separated from his human half and has to find his way home while attempting to save other lost toys from a forgotten toy named ZoZo who seeks revenge for being left abandoned. This is a tale of adventure and the secret lives of toys, beautifully illustrated and bound to bring a touch of nostalgia to all who currently do or have previously had toys from which they were inseparable.

Recommended for:

  • 7-11 year olds



How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

A gorgeous story with certain vibes one might recognise from stories like A Little Princess and The Hired Girl but with a futuristic climate-change setting, this is a quick and engaging read, written in the voice of a character who has not been properly educated because she is one of the children who works on a farm doing the jobs that would have been carried out by bees and pests had they not been wiped out by the damage humans have done to the environment.
The recognisable elements from certain classic stories come into play when Peony is whisked away to go and live and work for the rich family her mother serves. Here she is a fish out of water, living in a house where people throw away food and seem not to be affected by the loss of the bees – a stark contrast to the world she grew up in.

Recommended for:

  • 8-12 year olds



The Wonderling by Mira Bartok

Part Annie with animals (complete with home full of orphaned creatures taken advantage of by a cruel adult who despises the sound of happy youngsters), part steampunk and magic, and part epic animal adventure, this one is bound to capture the imagination of eight- to fourteen-year-olds over the school holidays.

Recommended for:

  • 8 -14 year olds



Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow has been raised to understand that she’s cursed to die at the age of twelve, that there is no point in having dreams because she will not get to chase them, that she should watch her words lest she be blamed for negative events that happen around her.
The night she is meant to die, the bizarre Jasper North turns up to offer her a chance at The Wundrus Society which would open up to her a world of possibility. Not to mention magic and dragons and chandeliers that grow.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Harry Potter
  • 9-14 year olds



What Not to Do if You Turn Invisible by Ross Welford

When attempting to rid herself of acne, Ethel accidentally turns herself invisible. Antics ensue, but when she finds herself one day unable to turn visible again, she must find out how to undo this magic and will find a whole lot of other questions along the way.
This is an easy, fun read, but with deeper questions of family, friendship and belonging.

Recommended for:

  • 10-14 year olds
  • Fans of books like Time Travelling with a Hamster and The Many Worlds of Albie Bright.







The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. As she moves further and further away, communications from Earth take longer to reach her, and she can’t help but feel more and more lonely with each passing day. But when news arrives that there is another ship on the way that is set to catch up with her, and the situation on Earth has changed, a whole new range of emotions and questions are set to descend.
There is a lot more here than the blurb of the book suggests, but they’re things that can’t be mentioned for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that there’s cute fluffy romance here, but also the cold harsh realities of space and being so far from a place that is naturally habitable to humans.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Lauren James
  • Lovers of space and colony ships



Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Set in the travelling, perpetually smoking City of Gamorrah, this is a story about magic and illusion and secrets and different kinds of family, with a character at the center who was born without eyes but who still sees… in a way.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of traveling carnivals and circus-show based stories.
  • People who like characters who are unusual and have special non-human abilities.



Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson

After the vuvv arrive on Earth, holding people to the ideals of the 50s movies they’ve observed from the human race and replacing much of their industry with better technology that leaves people without work. Adam’s family is running up more and more bills, which is why he originally agrees to “50s-date” for publicity, and he eventually ends up in more debt than ever.
This is not an upbeat book, but it does have a certain optimism about it, and it is in some ways reminiscent of current political goings-on in the world, so this one will engage readers and is bound to generate some discussion over the holidays.

Recommended for:

  • Readers of satire



A Tragic Kind of Wonderful Eric Lindstrom

After the death of her brother, Mel is dealing with a lot of emotions and battles with bipolar. Again, this is not a cheery book, but it does have its moments that will make readers laugh, and Lindstrom writes in a way that keeps you turning pages, which is great for the holidays when you have more chance of devouring it in a sitting.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Lindstrom’s other work and John Green







This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel

For a time Claude’s gender dysphoria was swallowed up in the chaos of a big family which includes six other people, but when it is realised his parents and family throw their all into doing what they can to support the child who would become Poppy. But there are battles to face outside of the home and questions as to what this will mean as she matures and heads into puberty. This is a heartwarming story with engaging and tangible characters which will make it hard to put the book down. Ideal for reading over the holidays.

Recommended for:

  • Anyone with gender fluid people in their life or who would like to know a little bit more about how it all works. This is not a reference book but is written by an author who went through a similar journey with her own daughter.
  • Readers seeking heartwarming and uplifting stories which have a realistic depth to them as well.



Calling Major Tom by David M. Barnett

A funny story about a reclusive astronaut, which threads in some jokes and other asides about the late, great David Bowie. This is a fun and clever read that will make you laugh, but also make you think.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Nick Hornby, Bill Bryson, and Brooke Davis
  • Lovers of quirky yet heartfelt stories with a dash of sci-fi



Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Surrounding a family of past performers, this is a story about three generations under the one roof, and what happens when each one’s best-laid plans all come crashing together. This is in turns funny and urgent and historical and mysterious. Spoonbenders shows Gregory’s skill and ability to write as well in (mostly) general fiction as he does in speculative fiction. This has a dash of the “other” but is for the most part set in our own world.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of epic dramedy-style family sagas who also enjoy a twist of extraordinary abilities







The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

In her collection of short stories with a shared theme of fairytales, loyalty, and not fitting in, Jen Campbell shows off her skill as a writer, and her ability to draw readers into the lives of these engaging and well-realised characters.

Recommended for:

  • Lovers of speculative fiction and fairytales.



Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Part fairytale, part myth, part dreamscape, and with elements that would be at home in an historical drama, Strange the Dreamer is a hard book to pin down. There’s romance, and laughter, and stories galore, and quite a few monsters, to be sure.
This book is something of a love letter to dreamers and those who love books and stories, and it offers a world so well-built that the idea it doesn’t exist seems ludicrous.

Recommended for:

  • Lovers of fantasy with its own myths, legends, and complex history
  • Fans of Laini Taylor’s other works
  • Avid readers and hopeless dreamers



La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Set before the events to His Dark Materials (Northern Lights (UK)/The Golden Compass (US), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass), this is the book that fans of Pullman have been waiting on for years, even if they weren’t aware of it. 
This is a book that both long-term fans and those who haven’t read any of the other books can join without fear of spoilers or lack of understanding.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of His Dark Materials and Philip Pullman’s other works
  • People who enjoy a blend of fantasy, science, and adventure



Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

In the first of these stories, we meet a cast of characters who have all been sent to a home for children who have traveled through magical doors and portals akin to those mentioned in Alice in Wonderland and His Dark Materials. The story is a gathering of these displaced children with a mystery thrown in.
The second book (Sticks and Bones) is a prequel, but should not be read first. In the second book we get to see the journey made by two of the characters in Every Heart before we ever met them.
These stories are a twist on fairytales and fantasy adventure stories, and have become, in and of themselves, a kind of fairytale or warning.

Recommended for::

  • Fans of fairytales on the darker end of the spectrum
  • Fans of Seanan McGuire or her other writing name, Mira Grant



The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Told across three time periods, the most recent being some time in the late 1800s, this is a tale of old mansions, wooden statues that move on their own, and strange sounds in the night. 
The Silent Companions are something that come out of our own history, and they are super creepy, and Purcell has tapped into this creep factor in order to deliver the kind of story that will have you checking your surroundings as you read, just to make sure none of the companions have decided to sneak up on you.

Recommended for:

  • Those who like a good chilling read that explores different ideas
  • Fans of Gothic thrillers and ghost stories







Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts by Craig Phillips

A collection of folktales from around the world, presented in graphic novel format by an Aussie illustrator. This is interesting as well as visually appealing.

Recommended for:

  • Reluctant readers
  • Fans of folk and fairy tales.



Thornhill by Pam Smy

Alternating between written chapters in the style of a diary left behind in the attic of Thornhill in 1982 and illustrated chapters about the girl who finds said diary in the present day, Thornhill is an interesting and at times chilling graphic novel.
The presentation here is fantastic, with the black edges of the pages only adding to the atmosphere presented throughout the rest of the book.

Recommended for:

  • Reluctant readers
  • Fans of spooky stories about old orphanages
  • Readers 12 and up



The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis

This is one of the most bizarre and unusual graphic novels you’re likely to come across, and that’s part of what makes it such a good gifting option for people who love graphic novels. It’s weird, it’s kooky, the weather is decided by a clock, and the children build their own parents from mechanical parts.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of the bizarre
  • Readers of graphic novels
  • Readers 14 and up



Burger Force: Volume 1 and Burger Force: Volume 2 by Jackie Ryan

Aussie creator, Jackie Ryan, has come up with truly fascinating format, in which she casts, scripts, photographs, and touches up said photographs to turn them into a unique and addictive graphic novel.
Mercury starts noticing strange coincidences and messages in his day to day life, and eventually discovers a team of people working for Burger Force whose job it is to solve unusual crimes and events about which the rest of the world is not aware.

Recommended for:

  • Readers of graphic novels – there’s a good chance they haven’t discovered these ones yet, and they’re bound to love them!
  • People interested in different mediums and different styles of artwork







The Un-Discovered Islands by Malachy Tallack, illustrated by Katie Scott

A collection of islands that never were, or rather islands that were “discovered” and charted, but at a later date revealed to have been made up or mistakenly recorded.
From the well-known story of Atlantis to more obscure tales from around the globe; from ancient history right up to the present day. This is an atlas of legend and wonder, of places discovered and then un-discovered.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of history and geography



The Museum of Broken Relationships: Around the World in 100 (Extra)Ordinary Break-Ups by Olinka Vistica & Drazen Grubisic

This may seem like an anti-Christmas gift but if you know someone who’s going through a break-up and they are fascinated by people, then they’ll be intrigued by this book. It’s interesting to see individuals from all around the world reveal their inner-most thoughts about their relationships (and not all of these were romantic ones) and how they failed over time. It’s something that manages to be cathartic, relatable, hopeful and brutally honest in equal measure.

Recommended for:

  • People who love fly-on-the-wall, Louis Theroux-style documentaries.



Depends What You Mean By Extremist by John Safran

John Safran is a loveable rogue who always manages to approach things from an interesting angle. In this book he hangs out with Australians from extremist groups (think White nationalists, Christian fundamentalists, etc.) Look out for the chapters where he predicts Pauline Hanson’s burqa stunt and the Trump presidency. Enough said.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Dave Eggers’ writing and pranksters like The Chaser, Michael Moore, etc.



Grace Kelly Hollywood Dream Girl by Jay Jorensen & Moanoah Bowman

This is a stunning visual biography of Grace Kelly’s Hollywood career. It boasts 400 many never-before-seen photographs of this stunning and glamorous actress and movie star.

Recommended for:

  • Fashionistas and fans of Audrey Hepburn



Detours by Tim Rogers

Anyone that has been to his concerts with You Am I and solo shows knows that Messer Rogers has the gift of the gab. What they may not realise is that he’s also a powerful literary force. The prose in his memoir Detours is stunning and he certainly knows how to spin a yarn or ten.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Keith Richards’ Life



The Good Girl Stripped Bare by Tracey Spicer

People may not know much about Tracey Spicer other than the fact she’s a TV journalist who got boned. But her story is a really well-told and inspiring one that will make you want to sit down and share a coffee with this funny and intelligent feminist.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Caitlin Moran and Jennifer Saunders







Iced Beer & Other Tantalising Tips for Life by Lee Lin Chin & Chris Leben

Lee Lin Chin shares some funny and clever life hacks in this book. This book is sure to make some people laugh and love the always reliable and completely inimitable Chin.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Ellen DeGeneres and Lucille Ball



Stranger Thingies by John Birmingham

This collection of essays by writer and columnist, John Birmingham are funny and grapple with a range of different topics. There’s the famous “He Died with a Felafel in His Hand” through to his thoughts on 90s revivals, the dad body, potato scallops and Trump, as well as countless other things. There’s a little something for everyone here.

Recommended for:

  • Fans of Ben Elton, David Sedaris, and Wil Anderson.



Only Dead on the Inside by James Breakwell

A funny take on the zombie apocalypse, and how one might make it through will all their limbs and children in tact.
Breakwell is known on twitter for the hilarious anecdotes he shares of discussions he has with his four daughters, which are at times hilarious, terrifying, gleefully morbid, and heartwarming in the way that only creepy things said by little children can be.
This translates well in the book, where Breakwell turns his sarcastic wit towards ways children could actually be a good thing in the zombie apocalypse and, on the flip-side, ways those same children are more likely to get you killed.

Recommended for:

  • Parents of small children
  • Fans of zombie fiction, TV shows, and movies, as well as survival guides and apocalypse scenarios




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