First up is a charming little book that I gave to my grandaughter last Christmas - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo.
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit owned by a small girl living in New York city. He is basically rather arrogant and vain and doesn't really return the love his owner feels for him. On a trip across the Atlantic by ship, Edward is thrown overboard and thus begin his adventures in the wide world, and his introduction to proper feelings and emotions.
Lovely little book this - I think I first read about it on Deslily's blog - full of gorgeous illustrations and a beautifully told story. It's a short read for an adult but none the worse for that. My grandaughter loved it but said it was not her favourite book in all the world. When I asked what *that* was she thought for a while and said that she absolutely loves the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage. So there ya go... book recs from a nine year old. :-)
Next up A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry. It's several weeks since I read this. I intended it to be my Christmas week read but someone else reserved it from the library (the cheek of it!) and I had to read it mid-December instead.
I'm going to use the Amazon synopsis to describe this one:
Mariah Ellison isn’t merely disappointed to learn that she won’t spend Christmas at home with her married granddaughter: she is furious. Instead, Grandmama is being packed off to a house in the Romney Marshes to stay with her ex-daughter-in-law. Never having got on with Caroline, Mariah much disapproves of her new husband: decades younger than her, Joshua, an actor, is scarcely even respectable. There will be nothing to do, no one to visit, and no doubt the terrible weather will make even taking a walk impossible. It is going to be the worst Christmas of Grandmama’s life.
As if that weren’t enough, another visitor is foisted on the household. Then something shocking and quite unexpected happens. Has a crime been committed? Grandmama is surprised to find herself turning detective – another profession she deplores – and proving extremely good at it.
This is the second of Anne Perry's Victorian Christmas books that I've read. I like them a lot! They're well written, accurate in setting, and rather atmospheric. Most of all I liked this one because the detective was not young and good looking but a woman in her seventies who was awkward and unpleasant and had a few secrets of her own in her past. This is rare in my experience and all power to Anne Perry's elbow for doing it. I shall be searching out more of these and this year I really must start on one of her series.
Last but not least is The Land of Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer, book two of her 'Sea of Trolls' trilogy.
Quite a few months have passed since trainee bard, Jack, and and his sister Lucy's adventures in Norway with the trolls. Life has settled back into the normal routine but it's clear that Lucy is not 'normal'. Jack and the bard take her to a monastry famous for its cleansing of troubled souls but during the ceremony Jack causes an earthquake and the Lady of the Lake steals Lucy. Jack, Pega, a freed slave, and Brutus, a slave, go off in search of Lucy but their way is down the now empty well and underground through The Hollow Road to find the land of the elves. It's Jack's biggest test so far.
Great stuff... just as good, if not better, than the first book. Nancy Farmer has clearly done her homework as the historical setting for this book - around the time of the Viking invasions of Britain - strike as very realistic. Life is hard and she makes no bones about that. She also makes no bones about people's failings and no one is perfect in these books, including Jack. I like that ambivilence very much indeed. A good, pacey yarn, perfect for children over 10 or 12 (depending on the child of course), and adults who like YA fantasy.