10 great books for Christmas gifts (or your summer reading list!)

christmas books

    Looking for great books for Christmas gifts? This list is a one-stop shop for fun titles that will entertain kids, encourage reluctant readers, or simply help you escape the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday break with some adventure, romance or fun reads for those summer days by the beach. 

    Great Books for Christmas Gifts: For the Kids

    1. Scary Mary and the Stripe Spell: Monty’s Island

    Written by Emily Rodda; illustrated by Lucinda Gifford


    This delightful, adventurous series is from the beloved writer Emily Rodda, author of the internationally best-selling Deltora Quest and Rowan of Rin series, and features cute illustrations by Lucinda Gifford. For ages six to eight, there are two books in the Monty’s Island series so far (Scary Mary and the Stripe Spell and Beady Bold and the Yum-Yams) that follow Monty’s life on a perfect island in the middle of a magical sea. Sometimes the sea throws up something interesting … and Monty goes on an amazing adventure! In this first book, Monty, Tawny and friends receive some startling news: Scary Mary and her pirate crew are on their way, looking for a new island to call home.

    2. School Rules are Optional: The Grade Six Survival Guide

    Written by Alison Hart


    This is the first book in The Grade Six Survival Guide series, a hilarious new series from debut Australian author Alison Hart. With the kind of appeal that made a success of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire, this story follows Jesse as he tries to survive Year Six. He’ll have kids age 8-12 roaring with laughter as he navigates the rites and rituals of Grade Six including a disrespectful Prep buddy, a plumbing problem the size of Niagara Falls, not to mention the dreaded compulsory school camp in his unique way:

    “It’s the first day of school and I’ve already got three problems:
    1) Mrs Leeman is my classroom teacher. She’s so ancient she taught my dad.
    2) I might have accidentally been voted school captain. I had an unusually popular day when the class voted last year.
    3) Somehow I’ve lost my Grade Six jumper between receiving it and Mrs Leeman’s lecture about being responsible.That’s a lot to go wrong in half an hour. On top of that, it’s a million  So that’s four problems. It’s worse than I thought! At least things can only get better, right?”

    3. The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst

    Written by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby

    Books for Christmas

    This magical tale of mystery and adventure is one of those perfect books for Christmas gifts! For ages 10 to 14, this new Kingdoms and Empires novel is set in the same world as The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone and The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars, but told from the perspective of Esther Mettlestone-Staranise, one of Bronte’s cousins (and yes, it can be read standalone so you don’t need to read the other books to read this one!)

    The story starts when long ago, the little Prince of Cloudburst was stolen from the seashore by a Water Sprite. Now, ten years later, the prince has found his way home. The King and Queen are planning the biggest party in their Kingdom’s history to welcome him.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the Kingdoms and Empires, Esther Mettlestone-Staranise is looking forward to another year at Katherine Valley Boarding School. But she arrives to find a number of strange and unsettling changes. As secrets and dangers escalate, Esther must find the answers to several puzzles. Why is her teacher behaving so oddly? Which of Esther’s classmates is the Spellbinder, and can they really protect the school from gathering hordes of Shadow Mages? Could the Stolen Prince of Cloudburst be connected?

    How can Esther – who is not talented like her sisters, nor an adventurer like her cousin, but just Esther – save her family, her school and possibly her entire world?

    Great Books for Christmas Gifts: For the Adults

    1. Honeybee

    Written by Craig Silvey



    From Craig Silvey, whose bestselling second novel, Jasper Jones, was released in 2009 and is considered a modern Australian classic, comes this new book.

    Honeybee is a heartbreaking, life-affirming novel that throws us headlong into a world of petty thefts, extortion plots, botched bank robberies, daring dog rescues and one spectacular drag show.

    ‘Find out who you are, and live that life.’Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below. At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette.

    The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other.

    Honeybee is a tender, profoundly moving novel, brimming with vivid characters. It’s about two lives forever changed by a chance encounter — one offering hope, the other redemption. It’s about when to persevere, and when to be merciful, as Sam learns when to let go, and when to hold on.

    2. The Book of Two Ways

    Written by Jodi Picoult

    jodi piccoult

    Jodi Picoult needs very little introduction! The hugely popular writer is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and now she is back with a thought-provoking and otherworldly new novel about the fates that we choose for ourselves and what happens when we have the chance to choose again.

    In this new book, Dawn Edelstein knows everything there is to know about dying. She specialises in helping her clients make peace with the end of their lives. But as she’s flying home from her latest case, she is forced to confront her own mortality for the first time. Instead of seeing her brilliant quantum physicist husband and their beloved daughter flash before her eyes in what she assumes are her last moments, only one face is shockingly clear: Wyatt Armstrong. Safely on the ground, Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly answered: What does a life well-lived look like? When we depart this earth, what do we leave behind of ourselves? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now? 

    3. Trust

    Written by Chris Hammer

    Set in a Sydney riven with corruption and nepotism, privilege and power, Trust is the third riveting novel from award-winning and internationally acclaimed writer Chris Hammer. 

    ‘She breathes deeply, trying to quell the rising sense of panic. A detective came to her home, drugged her and kidnapped her. She tries to make sense of it, to imagine alternatives, but only one conclusion is possible: it’s the past, come to claim her.’

    Martin Scarsden’s new life seems perfect, right up until the moment it’s shattered by a voicemail: a scream, abruptly cut off, from his partner Mandalay Blonde.Racing home, he finds an unconscious man sprawled on the floor and Mandy gone. Someone has abducted her. But who, and why?

    So starts a twisting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the past of the woman he loves, a woman who has buried her former life so deep she has never mentioned it.

    4. The Good Teacher

    Written by Petronella McGovern

    From the bestselling author of Six Minutes, comes a fast-paced, heart-stopping thriller full of gripping tension, twists and turns. This domestic noir rounds out our list of great books for Christmas gifts.

    In the book, every evening, Allison watches her husband’s new house, desperate to find some answers. Every morning, she puts on a brave face to teach kindergarten. She’s a good teacher, everyone says so – this stalking is just a tiny crack in her usual self-control.

    A late enrolment into her class brings little Gracie. Allison takes the sick girl under her wing, smothering Gracie with the love she can’t give her own son. When Gracie has a chance to go to America for treatment, Allison whips up the community into a frenzied fundraising drive.

    But as others start to question her judgement and the police arrive at her door, Allison wonders if she can trust herself. Has she crossed a line?

    How far will the good teacher go to save a life? And whose life will that be?

    An intriguing tale of our times about kindness and betrayal, and the danger of good deeds.

    5. Death in Daylesford

    Written by Kerry Greenwood

    When a mysterious invitation arrives for Miss Phryne Fisher from an unknown Captain Herbert Spencer, Phryne’s curiosity is excited. Spencer runs a retreat in Victoria’s spa country for shell-shocked soldiers of the First World War. It’s a cause after Phryne’s own heart but what could Spencer want from her? Phryne and the faithful Dot view their spa sojourn as a short holiday but are quickly thrown in the midst of disturbing Highland gatherings, disappearing women, murder and the mystery of the Temperance Hotel.

    Surrounded by secrets, great and small, the formidable Miss Phryne Fisher returns to vanquish injustice.

    6. Balance & Other B.S.

    Written by Felicity Harley

    Here’s one for all the women that are hurtling towards burnout after the chaos of 2020. If you’ve been craving balance but you’re too tired and crazy-busy to see solutions then you’re not alone.

    Using research and insights from leading Australian experts in health, sociology and feminism, Felicity Harley calls out the crap in ‘cult wellness’ and instead shows how you can cut through the B.S. to find clarity in the chaos, shed some of your mental load, and feel truly empowered in the middle of your wonderfully messy life.

    7. Nothing Much Happens

    By Kathryn Nicolai

    Already beloved by millions of podcast listeners, the stories in Nothing Much Happens explore and expose small sweet moments of joy and relaxation. Visiting the local cider mill in the autumn. Enjoying a cool walk and a hot bath in the winter. Sneaking lilacs from an abandoned farm in the spring. Feasting under the stars in the summer. Closing up the book shop for the night and opening the bakery in the morning. You’ll find new stories never before featured on the podcast, along with whimsical illustrations that expose sweet little moments of peace and joy.

    These are a collection of cosy and calming stories to soothe your mind and help you sleep. Kathryn Nicolai, writer and creator of the enormously successful podcast NOTHING MUCH HAPPENS, writes soothing, cozy stories that both ease the reader into peaceful sleep and teach the principles of mindfulness so that waking hours likewise become sweet and serene, because busy minds need a place to rest.

    For more great reads, head to the Allen & Unwin site and follow them on Instagram and Twitter, and Facebook.

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