Thursday 17 December 2020

Christmas Book for Teens - Our Recommendations!

 In November, we decided to do our own bookathon challenge to reading ten books in that month with some friends, though the majority of us failed spectacularly! We haven't had much time to read this year, but as Christmas is coming up, for our love of reading, we've decided to compile a list of Christmasy books...and also some of our favorites for you. Since we can't go out this year to celebrate, why not stay in with a good book and some hot chocolate?
Here are our top Christmas/holiday-themed,favourite book recommendations for you to read, or buy for a friend:

S.T.A.G.S. ~ M.A. Bennett A thrilling mystery set in the modern day with some medieval flourishes, this is the first book of a (currently!) three-book YA series. A genre unique to its own and full with twists and turns, main character Greer is invited to spend the holiday weekend at the illustrious and ancient Longcross Hall, which soon turns deadly. Not very Christmasy, I'll admit, but there are many many holiday elements here, and the book is, of course, fantastic! 

The Hazel Wood ~ Melissa Albert What better genre to read during the holiday season than fairytale retellings, and dark retellings at that! The Hazel Wood is a YA dark fantasy tale, and its sequel The Night Country is easily the best book I (Daimee) have read all year. The language is exquisite, and one almost feels that magic is real when reading it! Soulful, fierce and stunning, the book follows Alice Proserpine and her trail of bad luck. When her grandmother, famous author of a book of fairytales, dies on her estate, the Hazel Wood, and her mother is stolen away, Alice must venture to the place she has been told to stay away from all her life, braving whatever monsters lie in her path. P.S. if you like dark fairytales, here are a few more:

To Kill A Kingdom ~ Alexandra Christo (Little Mermaid) 

Heartless ~ Marissa Meyer (Alice in Wonderland) 

A Curse So Dark and Lonely ~ Brigid Kemmerer (Beauty and the Beast) 

Cinderella is Dead ~ Kallyn Bayron (Cinderella) 

Dorothy Must Die ~ Danielle Paige (Wizard of Oz) 

 Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index ~ Julie Israel This is a fantastic coming-of-age contemporary novel. Shockingly real, full of feels and scarily relatable, even sprinkled with a bit of romance, this book is a perfect Christmas gift. If you're looking for a lighter, warm and moving book to curl up on the couch and read, this is it! The book follows Juniper, struggling to deal with the death of her older sister, and eventually coming to terms with forging her own happiness. 

 Mistletoe and Murder ~ Robin Stevens - You an't get much more Christmasy than a Christmas murder mystery! Although this is the 5th book in the series Murder Most Unladylike, one doesn't really need to read the rest to understand what's happening! It was also the first book of the series I (Daimee) read myself. The series follows schoolgirls Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong in the discovery and denouement of various murders. Quite a simple read, but a very fun one nonetheless, and if you're looking for something relatively quick and striking with no strings attached, this is it! 

Our other favourite mysteries: 

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder ~ Holly Jackson 

Mirror Mirror ~ Cara Delevingne 

 Last Bus to Everland ~ Sophie Cameron 

Everyone has that ONE depressing novel that tears them apart but they keep going back to, and this is ours. A stunningly moving, whimsical read about fantasy, longing and a sense of belonging, this book is absolutely beautiful. For all those out there who love to daydream and fantasize about imaginary worlds and could-be's, there is no better book for you. Especially this year, with everything that's been going on, we've all been retreating into our own heads for some peace and hope, and we just know that you will be able to relate to and love this book as much as we do. (Although perhaps dont read this one on Christmas day, or you'll spend your day crying instead of having fun!) 

 I am Number Four ~ Pittacus Lore If you're looking for a good series to start, this is a great one. Sci-fi, thrilling and full of quick action, this is the first in a series called The Lorien Legacies following teenager John with shocking supernatural powers from another universe who is dubbed as Four. When his fellow survivors One, Two and Three are slowly killed off, he knows he is next... 

One of Us is Lying ~ Karen M. McManus Okay, this is possibly one of the best books ever. A YA suspense/mystery novel, the novel starts with five teenagers in detention, who could not be more different. But only four leave alive. They are then each accused of the murder of Simon, the school gossip with incriminating secrets against each of them and everyone else in the school. Quick, tightly plotted, brilliantly written, and packed with a shocking twist, this book is one you can't put down! 

The Cruel Prince ~ Holly Black If you're getting into the land of faeirie, this is one of the best books ever. There are very mixed opinions about this book and its trilogy, but as far as fantasy fae books go, if you're into that genre (which we 100% are!) then this is an absolute must-read. Faerie is a genre that is much bigger than people realise, and this is a great place to start and get stuck in! Other one that's great for a slightly younger audience is The 13 Treasures trilogy by Michelle Harrison. 

And Finally, some dystopian reads besides the classic Hunger Games and Divergent...and most of these are series' so get reading: 

Delirium ~ Lauren Oliver 

Shatter Me ~ Tahereh Mafi 

Flawed ~ Cecelia Ahern 

Red Queen ~ Victoria Aveyard 

Classic recommendations by Tirzah H-E: The ultimate one all must read at Christmas is...(drumroll)...A Christmas Carol. Then, if you're in the mood for more Dickens, head to Great Expectations. While we're on the subject of novels with the word great in the title, pick up The Great Gatsby. Then, of course, if you're just looking for a really really great classic that you can really get into to, obviously Jane Austen, I would say personally say Emma, Sense and Sensibility and/or, of course, Pride and Prejudice. Or else, if not Austen (or once you're done them) Wuthering Heights and/or Jane Eyre, each by one of two of the Bront√ęs. Finally, I would say Little Women, it's not a technically 'a Christmas story' but Christmas happens during it so. Just note that the book was published in two volumes, unlike the recent (and very good) film adaptation. 

Daime, Tirzah and Poppy

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Our Hive of Activity had no thought for Vanishing Bees

 ‘Why did all the bees go away, Mama?’ she asks me in her tiny, scared voice.

I could tell her we didn’t know. But the truth is, we did. We just didn’t want to. We turned a blind eye even though it was unfolding right before us. The fear of changing drove us to abandon ourselves and our fellow humans because it was easier than facing the reality. The giants who ran the world were invincible. They kept taking.

By the time we saw the truth, we were powerless. Trapped in a monster of our own making. We’d gone too far, pushed her to the limit and now she was angry. That was when we realised just how small we really were.

She fought with storms, heat and ice so violent that we were left with nothing but a wasteland. Hurricanes. Floods. We didn’t stand a chance. Darkness closed in and left me alone with all my pain, because now I can feel so much. Grief for all I lost, but anger too, at the lies we were fed and with myself because I swallowed them. Those who told the truth, screamed it, begged us to listen had their cries fall on deaf ears. My deaf ears. My shame.

I know the answer, but I can’t bring myself to say it. I can’t face seeing the disappointment in her eyes.

Why did the bees go away? Because we didn’t do anything while we had the chance. And now we’ve paid for it. Dearly.

By Tirzah Hutchinson-Edgar
Published in The Sunday Times

13 Decembetr 2020



We can’t become monsters

choosing the rules we get to break

Fear of a new ordinary

to lessen our intake

Enough is enough

Rivers don’t run faster in disaster

and your struggles to care

don’t inspire great confidence

There’ll only be a past for their future

Breaths of fresh air clean me of the unkind

but for how much longer?

Twiddling your thumbs only leaves

contusions and confusion

for everyone else in the room

A sulking sky won’t supply

the fossil fuels that are

worth their weight in gold

Glazed coal but truth be told

it's a thirst that hurts Her

Theres a beauty in the belief of the illusion of a lie

Passed in speech an automatic reply

‘It’ll be grand’

My actions are meaningless

but Mindfulness has served me well

Claiming my apprehension is apprehending your goals is ignorant

Dreams are best dressed with common sense

Constructing new buildings

is only decorating your gravestone

Gaia’s tears won't wash away your mistakes

not anymore

Your legacy is a liability to their chance

An advanced world with a primitive mindset

Her dazzling diversity depletes

Fuel that doesn't make ends meet

Only when crisis calls

and spotlight highlights

the faults in your flaws

do you take action

Expectations nonetheless

the bar is on the floor

A natural reaction to welcome the distractions

as they come and pass much like the time we have left

She can't wait much longer.
By Charlotte MacDonnell

Published in The Sunday Times 13 December 2020