Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2014

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We know that you could do your Christmas present book shopping from Amazon's best seller lists, but we like to suggest more unusual books that we've enjoyed over the year. Hopefully you'll find something for everyone here.

This Year's Quirky Big Seller


Review of

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

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The book which is being tipped to be this year's surprise big seller with over sixteen thousand copies sold in just over six week after publication is this little gem, which enthralled our reviewer:

The Guest Cat had me at the cover. The reflective green material makes the cat's eyes glow and glint eerily in the light. There is something ethereal and otherworldly about this novella and that is before I've even read a single word. This simple story about a Japanese couple and the cat that decides to adopt them has become an international best-seller and I was keen to find out why. Full Review

Children's Books

For Sharing


Review of

This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne

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It was difficult to chose our Top ten picture books but we thought This Book Just Ate My Dog was great fun and different. Tin by one of Bookbag's favourite author/illustrators, Chris Judge, will appeal to boys and girls - and robots. If you'd like an introduction to nature than you need look no further than A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies and Mark Hearld. The Wonder by Faye Hanson arrived too late to be inluded in our top ten picture books for 2014 but we loved the way that it encourages children to use their imagination. Full Review

For Confident Readers


Review of

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

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We think that Opal Plumstead will be a classic of the future and you'll find similar books in our Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2014. Children just starting to read will enjoy The Bonkers Banana by Allan Plenderleith and don't forget children who are struggling with their reading: the books in our Dyslexia Friendly Section might be the help they need - and there are books there they will love reading. And we have to admit that we can understand why Awful Auntie by David Walliams is selling so well! Full Review

For Teens


Review of

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

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For our favourite book it was difficult to decide between Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan and The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick: we loved them both! We liked The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr, a story where history and magic co-exist and teens who enjoy this will also love one of the big books of the year - Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders - and there are many more in our Top Ten Teen Books of 2014. Over the years we've come to love Skulduggery Pleasant and this year saw the ninth and final book in the series. Full Review

Fiction for Adults


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Review of

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

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We think this is one of the best crime series around at the moment (with more to come in 2015), but if you're looking for something from the present day then have a look at our Top Ten Crime Novels of 2014. Going back to historical fiction, 2014 saw the long-awaited sixth Matthew Shardlake novel and it doesn't disappoint. Full Review

Fantasy and Science Fiction

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Review of

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris

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Yo probably know her without the 'M' as the author of books such as Chocolat, but we loved her first adult foray into the world of Norse mythology. And we'e used to Mal Peet writing for Teens, but we think you'll love The Murdstone Trilogy. There's lots more to love in our Top Ten Fantasy Novels of 2014. Lovers of science fiction will enjoy The Suicide Exhibition: The Never War by Justin Richards and its 5* sequel The Blood Red City Full Review

General Fiction and Thrillers

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Review of

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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We loved Everything I Never Told You, a book which gets its claws into you and just won't let go and we've got more great books in our Top Ten General Fiction Books of 2014. If thrillers are your bag then try Believe No One by A D Garrett or Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas. Full Review

Historical Fiction


Review of

The Repercussions by Catherine Hall

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It's been quite a year for historical fiction and we loved The Repercussions, set in the 21 century and the Great War. Only recently translated into English is the first book in an established series The Brethren (Fortunes of France) by Robert Merle. Looking for a well-known name in an unusual place? Try The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark. You'll find our other favourites in our Top Ten Historical Fiction Books 2014. Full Review

Literary Fiction


Review of

The Sixteenth of June by Maya Lang

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The Sixteenth of June is a playful, accomplished debut and not only would you be giving the gift of a book which deserves to be more widely known, you're also flagging up an author who is going to be worth following. Only recently published is When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett and our reviewer thought that it was 'heart-achingly beautiful, lyrically divine'. There are more great books on our Top Ten Literary Fiction Books of 2014. If you'd like to chose something from the major prize lists then we've the full list for the Man Booker Prize 2014. Full Review

Non-Fiction for Adults

Autobiographies and Biographies


Review of

The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts

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It's been a rich year for autobiographies and we've been particularly impressed by three which have only recently been published: The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts, Life, Love and the Archers by Wendy Cope and A Tour of Bones: Facing Fear and Looking for Life by Denise Inge. They're all a lot more uplifting than their titles sound! For more suggestions, have a look at our Top Ten Autobiographies 2014. In biographies we've enjoyed A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan by Laura Thompson and you'll find more suggestions in our Top Ten Biographies 2014 Full Review



Review of

The Great War: The People's Story by Isobel Charman

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Rather than turn to a 'big name' account of the First World War we went for a book which told the story of the war as ordinary people saw it - both at home and on the front. We also loved Washington Journal: reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon's downfall by Elizabeth Drew and from a rather earlier period Witches: James I and the English Witch Hunts by Tracy Borman. In 2014 it's been difficult to avoid the Great War monopolising the top ten history books but we've come up with some books which we hope that you'll enjoy. Full Review

Home and Family


Review of

Treat Petite: 42 Sweet and Savoury Miniature Bakes by Fiona Pearce

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If you're buying for someone who has been following Great British Bake Off then they will have great fun with Treat Petite. We had great fun with The Paint Book by Miri Flower and The Creative Therapy Colouring Book by Hannah Davies, Richard Merritt and Jo Taylor. Fans of genealogy will love Who Do You Think You Are?: The Genealogy Handbook by Dan Waddell. Full Review

Top Gift Books of 2014


Review of

Still Reigning by The Queen

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No, not the books which we think are the top gifts but the sort of book which you might not buy for yourself. In alphabetical order by author, we liked:

How Watson Learned the Trick by Arthur Conan Doyle
In the Country by David Gentleman
Beautiful Dogs Postcard Book: 30 Postcards of Champion Breeds to Keep or Send by Andrew Perris
Convertible Spaceship by Claire Philip and Belinda Gallagher
Still Reigning by The Queen
A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh by Alexander McCall Smith
The Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich
Full Review


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