My Favourite Books

Today is World Book Day in South Africa! While in our school library we celebrated by decorating the room with photos of students reading in their favourite or unusual places I thought I would share my ‘all-time’ favourite books.

I am often asked what my favourite book is. It’s really not easy to pinpoint one favourite book, but I have tried to consider books that have stood the test of time and have chosen to share those books which I still love years later.

My Favourite Children’s Picture Book

 ‘The Cat in the Hat Comes Back’ by Dr Seuss

‘The Cat in the Hat Comes Back’ by Dr SeussThis time, Sally & her brother are stuck shovelling snow: “This was no time for play./This was no time for fun./This was no time for games./There was work to be done.” But the laughing Hat Cat has other ideas, as he lets himself in to eat cake in their tub. He leaves behind “a big long pink cat ring,” which he then handily cleans with “MOTHER’S WHITE DRESS!” — Extract from

I have always loved Dr Seuss’s humour,  his clever use of rhyme as well as his wacky illustrations. This book has all of that and my favourite part is where the Cat eats cake in the bath – that’s on my bucket list!

I have never lived anywhere where it snows and have only seen snow a couple of times. As a child I was totally captivated by the idea of playing in snow. As for pink snow… it blew my mind!

I read this book every year to our Grade 1’s and it always results in wonder and giggles!

My Favourite Children’s Book

‘The Game’ by Diana Wynne Jones

‘The Game’ by Diana Wynne JonesHayley’s parents disappeared when she was a baby, so she has been brought up by her grandparents. Then one day she is packed off to Ireland to live with her aunts – and a whole host of cousins she never new about! Here she is introduced to “the game” which involves adventures in the forbidden “mythosphere”. And here also is where Hayley discovers the truth about her family. — Extract from

I LOVE this book and if I had to choose only one favourite book this would be it! ‘The Game’ combines Greek Mythology, action, adventure and complicated family dynamics.

The Game played in the book is a dangerous, exciting type of treasure hunt – the kind I would have loved to play as a child. Who am I kidding – I would still love to play this game!

I reread this book recently just to see if I still feel the same way about it and I got so caught up in the story again that it was like I was reading it for the first time. Don’t be put off by the uninspiring cover, this book is brilliant!

 My Favourite Young Adult (YA) Book 

‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. SalingerSince his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation — Extract from

In my experience most people have a strong reaction to this book: they either love it or hate it.

When I first read this book Holden Caulfield’s cynical look at life as a teenager I identified with him so much so that I felt like he was my only friend, but then I was a mixed up, anxious teen who used sarcasm as a defence against anyone who might judge me… and I thought everyone was judging me.

Today I have ‘slightly’ more self confidence and hold back on the sarcasm – or at least I seldom share the sarcastic dialogue in my mind realising it can be more hurtful than funny, but I can’t ignore that it was this book that helped me through a very difficult adolescence.

My Favourite ‘Grown-Up’ Book

I didn’t want to label this category as ‘adult’ book as these days that conjures up images that I don’t want on my blog! But yes, I do read ‘grown-up’ books in-between my insatiable appetite for YA books, but rarely do I find a book I love, so this one is very special!

‘Five Quarters of the Orange’ by Joanne Harris

5 Quarters of an OrangeWhen Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigen – the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that took place during the German occupation decades before. Althrough Framboise hopes for a new beginning. She quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrap book of recipes she has inherited from her dead mother. — Extract from

This is a dark, honest and beautifully written account of relationships, especially between mother and daughter, reflection of childhood decisions and their ultimate affect.

I love France – although I have never been there (sigh…one day…!) and I love reading books set in France, especially during the Second World War where people’s real personalities come to the fore in the choices they make. I have often wondered how I would have handled living in Occupied Europe during this time.  I suspect I would not have been as brave as I would have liked.


My Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith

My Friend the EnemyMy Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith

My Friend the Enemy. Beautifully written this book brought alive the life of a child in rural England during the Second World War. I am instinctively drawn to books written about this war, and this book did not disappoint. Full of life, danger and adventure, I was caught up in the story and for a while actually felt I was actually there.

The author managed, without preaching, to bring across the message of humanity, that soldiers are just ordinary people and that in different circumstances enemies could become friends.

I introduced this book recently to our Grade 6’s (12 year olds) in our school library. I read the first chapter to them and they were captivated. The book went out immediately in the hands of a student whose great-grandfather fought for Germany and a several students added their names to the waiting list. Interestingly, this story lead to a long discussion about the war and I was amazed at how few students knew that South African soldiers fought for the Allies.

4 StarFans of Michael Morpurgo will love this story.

Recommended age 10 +

My Friend the Enemy
Author: Dan Smith

Publication Date: 4 July 2013My Friend the Enemy
Publisher: Chicken House
Source: Purchased

Buy this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository

Add to your shelf:

Summer, 1941. For Peter, the war is a long way away, being fought by a faceless enemy. Until the night a German plane is shot down over woods that his missing dad looked after before he went off to fight.

Peter rushes to the crash site to see if there’s something he can keep, but what he finds instead is an injured young German airman. The enemy. Here.

And helping him seems like the right thing to do… 

– abstract from

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy

Despite the fact I rarely enjoy historical fiction and hate anything to do with political intrigue, I loved this original and beautifully written book which manages to successfully combine fantasy and medieval French history.

Oozing with passion, suspense, romance and espionage, this book portrays murder in a very different light. Packing a punch as an assassin for the elusive god of Death, the strong female character, Ismae, has to find a way to faithfully serve her god and still be true to heart as she navigates the murky waters of intrigue and treason in the court of Duchess Anne of Brittany.4 Star

Recommended age 14+

Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin Book 1
Author:  Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy
Publication Date: 7 June 2012
Publisher: Anderson Press
Source: Purchased

Buy this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository

Add to your shelf:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?     – Extract from

Sara and the Chimera: A Prison of Light

Sara and the Chimera: A Prison of LightSara and the Chimera crop

I was sceptical when I first heard of this book, it is not my genre of choice (I prefer faerie in my fantasy!), and although my teenage self would have snatched at it, I was not so sure I wanted to drag myself through what looked like an ‘out there’ story. I stalled, querying if this was in fact a young adult book as the protagonists were children, but was assured that they mature with each sequel and the series as a whole would suit a broad audience including YA. To be honest I was a little awed by the fact this was the first book I was asked to review and feeling as though I should at least give it a chance I chose a time when I was going to be stuck for long period of time in waiting rooms where anything is better than the old sporting magazines provided.

The first few chapters were hard to get through, featuring long descriptive passages that didn’t flow easily. I gave up at one stage, putting the book aside, intending to have a break for a day or two. But I was ousted by the characters who had wormed their way into my mind and I found myself repeatedly thinking about them and where the story would take them. I am so glad I persevered; this was an enticing, imaginative, slightly weird story that transported me into another world (or should I say worlds). As I read I began to think how it would translate into film and I think it has the potential to make a brilliant and successful movie.

The beautifully developed characters (FYI – Chimera is pronounced Ky-MARE-uh) were enhanced by Todd Morasch’s detailed illustrations which appear sporadically throughout. I wish that the cover had been better designed; it does not do the story any justice.

While I am not sure that this book will appeal to the majority (unless the movie version comes out), I’d like to thank the authors for taking me outside my comfort zone. A mature child who loves reading would 4 Starenjoy this innovative book.

Recommended age: 10+

Sara and the Chimera: A Prison of Light – Book 1
Series: Sara and the Chimera
Author:  Greg Dent & Todd MoraschSara and the Chimera
Publication Date: 27 July 2010
Publisher: Epidemic Books
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review

Buy this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository

Add to shelf:

Sara Starbright has the most important gift the universe has ever given, and all manner of creatures from all realms of the imagination want to take it for themselves. What can one small girl do to protect herself from the deadliest and most impressive force creation has ever amassed? Yet in her darkest hour, Sara may have just met the one person in the entire universe capable of being her friend.

Stifled and stunted in the deepest inner chambers of the Fishman’s worldship prison colony, a boy named Jonathan Wheeler lies in a state of suspended animation. Through an unlikely twist of fate, he has found himself in the body of an ever-growing and ever-changing monster, the Chimera. With boundless energy and strength at his command, all he needs is the right bit of knowledge to get himself out of his cell and to freedom.

As they escape from one world to the next, Sara and Jonathan find that together they make a pretty good team. But when you can’t trust anyone, and when the universe turns out to be quite a bit bigger than you could have ever imagined, who can you count on to guide you towards somewhere you actually want to be?    – Extract from

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett

You Don’t Know Me crop
A beautifully written story about the bonds of friendship, that also shines a spotlight on the dark world of manipulation which is sometimes the ‘reality’ of Reality Television. Where ‘real’ is edited until it is something else, something that will attract viewers, and where everyone loses something.

You Don’t Know Me exposes the ugly of social media, tabloids and unscrupulous production companies who will do anything to make money. Don’t miss this book.

4 Star

Recommended age 12+

You Don’t Know Me
 Sophia Bennett
Publication Date: 2 May 2013You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett
Publisher: Chicken House
Source: Purchased

Buy this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository

Add to your shelf:

Sasha, Jodie, Nell and Rose never expected to be famous. They didn’t want to be. In fact, they wanted to keep their band a secret because it’s what they do when they’re being stupid together – dressing up and singing cheesy songs.

But someone has stolen a video they made. It’s online, and it’s been entered into a talent competition. And what’s more … it’s got 24 votes. In only a few hours it’s got 24 votes.

The girls are about to be faced with a big decision that could make them seriously famous.

Just not necessarily the way they hoped …

– Extract from

1 53 54 55 56 57 60