Christmas is Coming! || Upside-Down Books’s 2016 Christmas Gift Guide

Oh, don’t you just love this time of year? I bet you’ve started to really get concerned with how fast Christmas seems to be approaching. Maybe you’ve even started to dust off some of your Christmas decorations – you’re hunting down that gingerbread recipe. But the thing that’s really playing on your mind, is you don’t know what to get anyone.

Allow me to step in.

I am going to solve all your Christmas problems. I am a magical fairy of happiness who has all the answers. So fear not, sweet and helpless little frog, Kirstie is here.

Books are the best possible present you could give anyone. Firstly, because if you buy books for family members or close friends then you can just steal the books back off them in a few month’s time. It’s book buying without the TBR dramas, clever, ay? But really, let’s be serious. Books are magnificent presents to get people and I can’t recommend them enough as gifts.

So! Today I’m going to run through some of the classic types of people you might find yourself buying a present for at this time of the year and I shall suggest some books – two exactly, for each type of person – that you might thusly endeavour to purchase for them. I’m about to make you a very popular person, indeed.

covers = The Book Depository

The Cook

There’s some innately wonderful about cookbooks, isn’t there? I love looking through them, I love smelling their pages, I love drooling over the pictures and imagining how badly I would recreate that dish. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with getting someone a cookbook. An entire book filled with page after of page with solutions to the dinner problem? If that isn’t appreciated then I’d just give up right now.

Women’s Weekly

Women’s Weekly have a bunch of different bind-ups of their recipes. They’ve got gorgeous covers and delightful recipes. If you have a good rummage through what they have on for sale, I’m sure you’ll find a match! I recently made their recipe for Creamy Pumpkin Risotto and omg it was good.

The Hairy Bikers

These guys are great. They’ve got some really down to earth recipes but most importantly, they have a fabulous name. They do a wicked curry cookbook but I’m  sure you’ll be able to find something that provides those gorgeous recipes and gives you a bit of a laugh with these two!

The Are They a Teenager or a Child?

It’s always hard when kids get to this age – usually because unlike movies, books don’t have an age-rating on them that’ll tell you who can and cannot read them. My simple solution to this, is to look for the adventure-type stories and steer away from classic YA tropes if you’re unsure.

The Ruins of Gorlan
by John Flanagan

book 1 in the Ranger’s Apprentice series

They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied….

John Flanagan is the answer to your prayers. He writes amazing books and a whole lot of them! So start them on the Ranger’s Apprentice series and you’re sorted for a few more years to come. In fact, he writes so many books that they actually just fall out of his is as spontaneous moments. True story.

The Iron Trail
by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

book one in the Magisterium series

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

If ever there was a team to take down the world with awesome-ness, it’s got to be Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. If you’re not familiar with them, take my word on this: they’re ridiculously famous authors. The Iron Trial has had a wonderful reception into the bookish community and ticks off all those adventure needs!

The One You Decided Was a Child, After All

There are plenty of bookstores out there that have huge range of these types of books. In Western Australia? Not so much. But spending time in England earlier this year opened my eyes up to the amazing selection (or should I say, existence) of HUNDREDS of this middle grade fiction books that I thought sounded amazing. Bellow are a couple of books that I found whilst perusing the options in Heffers (also, don’t these books tend to have just the most amazing covers?), both of these I bought for my cousin who is 10 years old. They might also be on my Christmas wishlist . . .

A Pocket Full of Murder
by R. J. Anderson

book in the Uncommon Magic series

In the spell-powered city of Tarreton, the wealthy have all the magic they desire while the working class can barely afford a simple spell to heat their homes. Twelve-year-old Isaveth is poor, but she’s also brave, loyal, and zealous in the pursuit of justice—which is lucky, because her father has just been wrongfully arrested for murder.
Isaveth is determined to prove her innocence. Quiz, the eccentric eyepatch-wearing street boy who befriends her, swears he can’t resist a good mystery. Together they set out to solve the magical murder of one of Tarreton’s most influential citizens and save Isaveth’s beloved Papa from execution.
But each clue is more perplexing than the next. Was the victim truly killed by Common Magic—the kind of crude, cheap spell that only an unschooled magician would use—or was his death merely arranged to appear that way? And is Quiz truly helping her out of friendship, or does he have hidden motives of his own? Isaveth must figure out who she can trust if she’s to have any hope of proving her Papa’s innocence in time. . .

I particularly love this cover. It looks beautiful, it makes feel happy, and is weirdly reminiscent of Tintin. This book is perfect for the young reader because it’s all about a city powered by magic and some youthful protagonists solving magical murder to save Isaveth’s father. It sounds innocently dark and all round fantastic.

Ned’s Circus of Marvels
Justin Fisher

book one in the Ned’s Circus of Marvels series

From exciting debut author, Justin Fisher, comes this rip-roaring, page-turning new magical adventure. Perfect for fans of House of Secrets.
Ned Waddlesworth has always considered his world to be exceptionally ordinary. Until the day he discovers it ISN’T. AT ALL. Because on Ned’s thirteenth birthday he discovers that everything magical he’s ever read about or imagined is REAL.
And without him, the world will soon be engulfed in monstrous beasts and beings.
So with the help of a robot mouse, a girl witch and a flying circus unlike any other, it’s up to Ned to swoop in and save the day!
Roll up, roll up, and prepare to be AMAZED by Ned and the marvellous, magical, monstrous flying circus!

I don’t know about you, but as soon as you mention magic + circus I get very excited. With the weight of responsibility on Ned, the young protagonist, to keep the monstrous beasts at bay, I think this sounds like a delightful read. The wonderful thing about these books is because of the target audience they’re never really very scary. But back to the book – every magical creature ever imagined being real? PASS ME MY WALLET.

The ‘I Don’t Like Horror But Maybe A Little Thrill’ Person

There’s always one person who insists that they’re not a wuss and they like to read horror. In reality, they’re probably more like me and struggle to watch King Kong the whole way through (terrifying stuff right there). In that case, you definitely was to steer towards “Thriller” – it more or less means less jump-scares & whoops-you’ll-never-sleep-again and more Agatha Christie, sleuth-provoking mind boggles that’ll have you guessing right up until the last page.

The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.
Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.
As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story.
Both women will have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets… and the ghosts that haunt them still.

This book is phenomenal. Holy guacamole, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a big mystery that flips flops between past and present like a glorious pancake. You will NOT guess the ending by any stretch of the imagination because dang, Setterfield in one clever author. This is perfect for someone gasping for a worthy mystery-thriller.

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

You probably saw that the movie adaptation of this was released recently. Might I just say first, THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER. I haven’t watched the movie because truth be told I think it looks terrifying. The book is not. The book is certainly heart-pumping but overall it is the biggest bestest thriller you’re going to read this year. It 100% deserves its hype and is the perfect present for someone who’s keen to limber up their mind.

The ‘I Think I Should Try Reading Some Classics’ Person

And then you’ll have that oddball who’s decided that THIS is the year that they will catch up on all the classics. But aside from Pride & Prejudice and Great Expectations they’ve pulled up short of what else they “need” to read. Broaden their horizons ever so slightly, and help them break into this difficult genre with a couple of classic books that are (actually) enjoyable.

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens

In his “Ghostly little book,” Charles Dickens invents the modern concept of Christmas Spirit and offers one of the world’s most adapted and imitated stories. We know Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, not only as fictional characters, but also as icons of the true meaning of Christmas in a world still plagued with avarice and cynicism.

You might be familiar with this story but there’s nothing like reading the original. This is the perfect time of year to grab a copy of this book as not only is it relevant but the bookstores will be packed to the rafters with every imaginable edition. Your classic, book-loving friend will place you on a plinth of glory for gifting them this book.

To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Arguably one of the best modern classics, T-KAM, as I like to call, is a magnificent book full of very poignant ideas. It sits on my personal favourites list because it really is a wonderful story. With the release of Go Set A Watchman last year, and the recent passing of Lee, herself, now is the time to jump of the delayed bandwagon and catch your friend up with the rest of the world in reading this book.

The ‘I Think Movies Are Better’ Person

You might have come across this particular type of specimen. They seem to have something miss-wired in their brain and insist that movies are better. It’s okay. We can fix them. There’s never a better time than at Christmas to foist some books upon then and change their ways. Try these books, they’re quick to read and high stimulating for the imagination – I bet you’ll find that person sneakily buying more of these authors’ works after reading them.

by Matthew Reilly

The New York Public Library. A silent sanctuary of knowledge; a 100-year-old labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and long marble hallways. For Doctor Stephen Swain and his daughter, Holly, it is the site of a nightmare. Because for one night this historic building is to be the venue for a contest. A contest in which Swain is to compete – whether he likes it or not.
The rules are simple: Seven contestants will enter, only one will leave. 
With his daughter in his arms, Stephen Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. The stakes are high, the odds brutal. He can choose to run, to hide or to fight – but if he wants to live, he has to win. For in this contest, unless you leave as the victor, you do not leave at all.

This book is the ultimate book for this type of person. Apart from frustratingly missing an article in its title, I love this story. To sum it up: fast paced; battle with monsters; father and daughter get accidentally roped in; contest happens in a big-ass library in NYC. These books are actually advertised as “lightning fast adventure thrillers”. They’ll love it, trust me.

Wolf by Wolf
by Ryan Graudin

book one in the Wolf by Wolf series

Her story begins on a train.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.
Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.
But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

This series is the best retelling of WWII in my opinion: it will blow anyone’s socks off. It imagines a world where Hitler won WWII and the further you invest yourself into the series the better it gets. You might even accidentally COMPLETELY convert your present-friend into an avid bookworm with this book. Serendipitous? Methinks yes.

The Young Adult

There are an abundance of young adult books out there. The YA world is a blossoming field of dandelions – but if you don’t read this genre yourself but want to buy for someone who does, it can get tricky. Make sure you scour their bookshelves first – hire spies, install cameras, go cluing for looks – no-body likes it when they get a double up (it’s just a disappointing waste of a free book . . . I mean, present). You might find that either of these series will do the trick.

Tiger’s Curse
by Colleen Houck

book one in the The Tiger Saga

Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

A masterpiece of literature, Houck will take you on an adventure from the quiet suburbs of America to ANCIENT INDIA. This series is filled with awesome action, sizzling romance, hot men, roaring tigers, and fantastic mythological STUFF. Anyone who reads YA literature will fall in love with this – it’s a present I’ve given many times over at Christmas.

Falling Kingdoms
by Morgan Rhodes

book one in the Falling Kingdoms series

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.
As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Perhaps they prefer fewer tigers and more swords? Fear not, young warlock, this is the series to buy. The Falling Kingdoms world is epic and vast swirling through many different characters doing all sorts of things. It’ll have them eagerly purchasing the rest of the books in the series (and probably Rhodes’ other series as well) so they’ll be thanking you for the rest of your life for bringing this into their’s.

The Fantasy Binger

Do you know someone scarily obsessed with Game of Thrones? A LOTR die-hard? An owner of those scarily miss-handled, spine-cracked paperback books about dragons and knights? They probably enjoy a good dosage of fantasy, then. I highly recommend either of these books – or any other work done by either author, but Terry Brooks in particular.

Wards of Faerie
by Terry Brooks

book one in The Dark Legacy of Shannara series

When the world was young and its name was Faerie, the power of magic ruled — and the Elfstones warded the race of Elves and their lands, keeping evil at bay. But when an Elven girl fell in love with a Darkling boy of the Void, he carried away more than her heart. Thousands of years later, tumultuous times are upon the world now known as the Four Lands. Then a young Druid stumbles upon the secret account of an Elven girl’s heartbreak.

This is the sweeping and unforgettable tale of a diverse cast of characters butting heads with each other as they try to retrieve some magical items. It’s a breath of fresh air for the imagination and will have you adventuring through many landscapes that will leave you clapping with delight and probably buying the sequel right away. Your dearly beloved will weep with joy when you buy this as a present for them.

by Rachel Hartman

book one in the Seraphina series

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

If they like dragons, then this is required reading. If they like fantasy, then this is their breakfast. If they like books, then they’ll frame this on the wall and stare at its cover forever. It’d be a feat to go wrong by buying this as a present for them. You’re welcome.

The Contemporary Addict

Is this person someone who frantically puts together lists of summer-reads? Do they like their light and easy stories? Maybe they’re partial to the contemporary genre, then. In that case, both of the following books are excellent! The second is leaning slightly out of this genre but hey-ho! What’s life without a little risk? (You can always double up the book with chocolate – just incases).

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. 

This book is truly a work of art. It’ll have you falling off the edge of your seat as you flick frantically to the end. You’ll be in love with Simon’s character and desperate for everything to work out alright for him in the end. This is an LGBT story and quite possibly the pinnacle of all LGBT stories – if you thought your friend liked you before you gave this to them as a present, just wait until after they’ve read it. They’ll never stop asking you for book recommendations.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me
by Leah Thomas

In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.
A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

If they’re a little tired of over-used plot lines in contemporary books, then look no further! This book follows two characters – one born without eyes who uses echolocation to see, and another who’s allergic to electricity – and you’ll be sucked into this story before popping out the other end going HOLY COW THAT WAS SO GOOD. And so will your friend.

The History Buff

Lots of people like to shout loudly about their amazing aptitude for tackling historical fiction on a daily basis. These people probably read at least 5 books a day and all are heavily educational and in-depth reads. I’m just kidding, of course. Historical fiction is great fun and a popular gifting genre. There are so many books to choose from but the following aren’t too intimidating and original in content – I bet your giftee will learn something new with these!

Orphan Train
by Christina Baker Kline

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.
Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

This is a book like no other. It centres on the historical happenings of orphan trains in America which basically sold orphans like cattle off to families who wanted them. And there was no guarantee that it’d be a good family. This is a book that swaps between past and present and focus on the healing qualities of sharing stories to help you feel not so alone. It’s shocking and beautiful and will stick in your memory forever. It’s absolutely perfect as a Christmas gift.

Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice
by Kathleen Benner Duble

In 1789, with the starving French people on the brink of revolution, orphaned Celie Rosseau, an amazing artist and a very clever thief, runs wild with her protector, Algernon, trying to join the idealistic freedom fighters of Paris. But when she is caught stealing from none other than the king’s brother and the lady from the waxworks, Celie must use her drawing talent to buy her own freedom or die for her crimes. Forced to work for Madame Tussaud inside the opulent walls that surround Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Celie is shocked to find that the very people she imagined to be monsters actually treat her with kindness. But the thunder of revolution still rolls outside the gates, and Celie is torn between the cause of the poor and the safety of the rich. When the moment of truth arrives, will she turn on Madame Tussaud or betray the boy she loves?

Another really unique book, Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice looks at the story of Tussaud, herself, and the beginnings of the waxwork museum. However, the main focus of the story is the struggle of living in France leading up to the French Revolution. It is absolutely insane and unlike anything they’ll ever have read. It’s sure to be a winner (and it has a fantastic cover, what more could you want?).

The History Buff Who Actually Reads Historical Non-Fiction

Okay, but then there are people who really do love their history. These people are no-nonsense about this affinity so you better prove your worth as a gift-giving candidate and find a book that’s both inspirational and informative. The following books will for sure tick that category! Maybe you might even find them interesting yourself.

The Railway Man
by Eric Lomax

During the second world war Eric Lomax was forced to work on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway and was tortured by the Japanese for making a crude radio.
Left emotionally scarred and unable to form normal relationships Lomax suffered for years until, with the help of his wife Patti and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, he came to terms with what had happened and, fifty years after the terrible events, was able to meet one of his tormentors.
The Railway Man is an incredible story of innocence betrayed, and of survival and courage in the face of horror.

This is actually an autobiography of a man who went through ten hells during and after WWII as he was captured by the Japanese and kept as a Prisoner of War. The experiences of these POWs under the Japanese were horrific and it is a poignant tale of human suffering and survival that will touch your friend’s heart. They’ll be forever grateful that you introduced this book to them, and Eric’s story.

The Monuments Men
by Robert M. Edsel & Bret Witter

At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.
Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.

This is an amazing story of a side to WWII lesser-known. It revolves around the events of a small band of people who were trying to save artwork. The Nazis looted a whole bunch of work from all different countries and this book will give your present buddy a wholesome understanding of these events and how many an art piece was saved.

The Sci-Fi Nerd

The one time of the year that you don’t avoid this person’s scary love for space-y things is Christmas. You might be intimidated by their all-powerful knowledge of Star Trek, Doctor Who, Dungeons and Dragons or something else equally sci-fi-esque. If you want to impress them with your subtle genius about this genre, then give the follow two books a whirl – they’re left of centre to the popular sci-fi books but they’re sure to impress!

From a Distant Star
by Karen McQuestion

When Lucas Walker inexplicably recovers from a terminal illness, everyone is astonished –except for his girlfriend Emma, who never gave up hope. However, as friends and family celebrate the miracle, Emma becomes alarmed: Lucas has changed. He speaks haltingly, can’t recall past events, and even his own dog doesn’t recognize him. Emma begins to suspect something is terribly wrong. What happened to the Lucas she loved? Does his strange behavior have something to do with the shooting light that fell into Lucas’s backyard the night he recovered?
As the two set off on a road trip in search of the truth, the journey takes an unexpected turn. First they’re shot at by unknown enemies and then helped by unlikely allies. Before long, Emma and Lucas are plunged into a desperate life or death race against time.

This is a laugh-worthy story of an alien who crash lands to earth and decides to possess a human boy who is dying from cancer in order to survive. It’s a really great story as the boy’s girlfriend notices he’s not quite the same, before realising that there’s someone else entirely in his body. It’s the best story for self-discovery and friendship and it’s sure to impress.

The Just City
by Jo Walton

book one in the Thessaly series

Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future–all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.
The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer’s daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge, ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome–and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her.
Meanwhile, Apollo–stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does–has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.
Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives–the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself–to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only the brilliant Jo Walton could tell. 

The Just City is one of the most unique books in the world. It’s almost impossible to describe without sounding bonkers – but basically a group of Greek gods decide to create Plato’s (a Greek philosopher) Republic (a perfect city) and see, not how well it works, but where it’ll go wrong. Just trust me, buy this as a present, and be there for them at the end when they’re so mind-blown they don’t know what to do.

The Doctor Who Timelord

And simply because I’m a Doctor Who fan myself, I thought I’d lend a helping hand. If you have no idea bout the Doctor Who world (tsk) but think you might like to give your Whovian pal a Whovian book (providing they don’t own them all, of course) then the following two are the best ones I’ve read so far and I highly recommend them.

The Resurrection Casket
by Justin Richards

Starfall – a world on the edge, where crooks and smugglers hide in the gloomy shadows and modern technology refuses to work. And that includes the TARDIS. The pioneers who used to be drawn by the hope of making a fortune from the mines can find easier picking elsewhere. But they still come for the romance of it, or old-fashioned organic mining. Or in the hope of finding the lost treasure of Hamlek Glint – scourge of the spaceways, privateer, adventurer, bandit.
Will the TARDIS ever work again? Is Glint’s lost treasure waiting to be found? And does the fabled Resurrection Casket, the key to eternal life, really exist? With the help of new friends, and to the horror of new enemies, the Doctor and Rose aim to find out.

This one is all about space pirates! How wonderful! It’s a great adventure featuring David Tennant as the 10th Doctor and has a ridiculous number of plot twists. They won’t be able to  put this one down and they’ll be thoroughly impress by your selection choice.

Touched by an Angel
by Jonathan Morris

“The past is like a foreign country. Nice to visit, but you really wouldn’t want to live there.”
In 2003, Rebecca Whitaker died in a road accident. Her husband Mark is still grieving. He receives a battered envelope, posted eight years ago, containing a set of instructions with a simple message: “You can save her.”
As Mark is given the chance to save Rebecca, it’s up to the Doctor, Amy and Rory to save the whole world. Because this time the Weeping Angels are using Mark himself as a weapon to change history. Will the doctor stop mark or will the angels feast?

This cover semi-terrifies me, but the book is amazing. It obviously features the Weeping Angels (that thing on the cover) and Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor. That means that both Amy and Rory are present and it’ll drag your Whovian friend through many feels from beginning to end.

The ‘There’ll Never Be Anything Better Than Divergent or Hunger Games’ Person

Trust me when I say that the Dystopian genre is NOT exhausted just yet. If knew someone who loved these books but is in a pit of despair, unsure of when the next Big Thing is going to happen, then feed them these beauties in the meanwhile and watch their socks be blown off.

The Gender Game
by Bella Forrest

book one in The Gender Game series

A toxic river divides nineteen-year-old Violet Bates’s world by gender.
Women rule the East. Men rule the West.
Welcome to the lands of Matrus and Patrus. 
Ever since the disappearance of her beloved younger brother, Violet’s life has been consumed by an anger she struggles to control. Already a prisoner to her own nation, now she has been sentenced to death for her crimes.
But one decision could save her life. 
To enter the kingdom of Patrus, where men rule and women submit.
Everything about the patriarchy is dangerous for a rebellious girl like Violet. She cannot break the rules if she wishes to stay alive.
But abiding by rules has never been Violet’s strong suit.
When she’s thrust into more danger than she could have ever predicted, Violet is forced to sacrifice many things in the forbidden kingdom … including forbidden love.
In a world divided by gender, only the strongest survive…

Holy moly, this book was an awesome read. If you’re looking to find that perfect gift that’s a little different to what they’ve read before: this is it. It centres around a post-apocalyptic America where the world is divided into two countries: one ruled by men, the other by women. It’s a fantastic tale that’ll leave your gift muncher amazed.

Fire & Flood
by Victoria Scott

book one in the Fire & Flood series

What would you do to save someone you love?
Time is slipping away. . . .
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to the middle of nowhere for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying–and she’s helpless to change anything.
Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.
The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

And finally, I present to you Fire & Flood. Scott is quite a popular author and this book is seriously under-hyped. This is an absolutely perfect gift for this type of person as it’s all about a race through four terrains that could kill the participants with the winner receiving the cure to any illness or disease. And the main character’s brother is dying, so she wants it bad. Like I said, it’s a perfect gift.

Don’t Panic!

Remember, at the end of the day, all jokes aside, people are grateful that you’ve thought of them and have bough them a present. It doesn’t matter if it’s not the present that was made for their soul, it’s just nice to give back to people in the best way that you can. Someone could give me a book on the burial process of avocados and I’d be happy – simply because they knew I liked books and bought me one.

All covers link to their corresponding Book Depository page. I am a Book Depository affiliate so by using my links to go to their website & purchasing the book, I will receive a small commission which goes a long way! I greatly appreciate your support – so thank you in advance!


End Note

~~ Kirstie ~~


16 thoughts on “Christmas is Coming! || Upside-Down Books’s 2016 Christmas Gift Guide

  1. I love love love this post! Awesome recommendations and YES TO STEALING THE BOOKS BACK I always do this XD Those middle grade book covers are stunning! I’m thinking I need to buy some for a cousin to so I can just stare at how beautiful the covers are before I hand it over 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. But…I legit want a book on the burial process of avocados. Because NOW I HAVE QUESTIONS, DARN IT. (Like what music is played during this ritual? Where can I buy this book?) And also I would cry happy tears if someone bought me a book.😍 My family is of the “but you have enough books” opinion so clearly I was adopted because they are aliens. It’s just SO NICE when people give books. It’s like you’re giving them a good time AND heartbreak AND knowledge. #Win

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *gasps* how dare your family say you have enough boos! Such lies!!

      And many apologies, I shall see to it that I write this book purely for your good self in order to put you out of your anguish.


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