Category Archives: Christmas

Posts about everything Christmas and the festive season

A Culinary Christmas

Preparing and sharing food is an important part of many festivals, and Christmas is no exception.  Celebrate the culinary side of Christmas, whether you prefer a traditional meal with all the trimmings, or something different, more modern or casual.  Here’s some delectable inspiration from our best-loved cooks; from guidance on how to host your first Christmas lunch, to the perfect gift for your foodie friend, or a bit of indulgence for yourself, these are books that will entertain, delight and inspire:

Jamie’s Christmas by Jamie Oliver
Delia’s Happy Christmas by Delia Smith

First up, two trusted guides to help you achieve a stylish and delicious feast, year after year.  For those who prefer their recipes to be detailed and precise, you’d love Delia Smith; Delia’s Happy Christmas will show you, in meticulous detail, how to cook all the traditional Christmas dishes. For those who prefer a more relaxed vibe and modern flavours, look to Jamie Oliver – he also loves the classics, but he’s not afraid to take shortcuts, and he offers a big range of alternative options, including vegetarian and vegan dishes.  Both Jamie’s Christmas and Delia’s Happy Christmas are much more than just a collection of recipes – they are complete how-to guides, and include planning tips, shopping lists, decorating ideas, and recipes for gifts and for leftovers – in short, everything you need to help you survive and succeed at entertaining during the entire holiday season!

Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

This latest book from Yotam Ottolenghi – co-written with pastry chef Helen Goh – makes an indulgent gift both to yourself, or to a loved one.  Sweet is a book about baking, desserts and confectionery, based on the delicious offerings in Ottolenghi restaurants.  Honouring Helen Goh’s Australian background, many of the recipes are inspired by Antipodean classics, including pavlovas, Anzac biscuits and even a coffee-flavoured “Ottolenghified” Eskimo Pie.  The recipes are supported by extensive notes on ingredients and cooking techniques.  Sweet is also about the celebratory joy of sharing sweet treats – so browse here for your showstopping dessert for Christmas Day, ideas for food gifts, or for the perfect cake or biscuits to make your home super welcoming.

Smorgasbord: the Art of Swedish Bread and Savory Treats by Johanna Kindvall

In our current obsession with everything Scandi, there’s curiously little attention on one Swedish icon – Smorgasbord. This tradition – of a table laden with good breads and savoury toppings for DIY open sandwiches – is perfect for relaxed holiday entertaining.  Johanna Kindvall’s guide includes recipes ranging from perennial favourites such as rye bread, chicken liver pate and Swedish meatballs, to contemporary and seasonal specialties such as elderflower cured trout and butter-fried mushrooms with walnuts.  There are also recipes for pickles, sauces and infused aquavit liqueurs. Get some healthy and elegant ideas for an everyday lunch, or for a feast!

The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater

I’ve already mentioned The Christmas Chronicles in my blog post about Creating your own Christmas Traditions; but I love this book so much that I am including it again!  The Christmas Chronicles is Nigel Slater’s love letter to winter – the crisp cold air, the cosiness indoors, the food and festive traditions at that time of the year.  Arranged like a diary (from early November to early February), each entry is a mix of anecdote, recipe and folklore – there’s interesting stories on candles, and pantomimes, and (of course) an extensive discussion about plum pudding.  Fascinating and curiously intimate, The Christmas Chronicles will take you to a sparkling wintery Christmas, wherever you are in the world.

The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook by Good Housekeeping Magazine

Baking cookies and biscuits are part of the Christmas traditions of many countries, and a Cookie Swap / Exchange is a fun way to meet up, share and have fun.  Have each guest bring a batch of cookies, enough to share with everyone.  At the party, sample the treats, mix and match the cookies and provide pretty packaging, so that everyone leaves with a beautifully wrapped cookie assortment.  The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook offers large-batch recipes perfect for sharing.  With recipes for goodies including blondies, chocolate crinkles and apricot almond squares, it offers plenty of inspiration for hosting your own Cookie Swap.

And finally…
The Hungoevr (Hungover) Cookbook by Milton Crawford

So you had a great time last night at your end-of-year work do, but now you are feeling a bit under the weather. And 25 of your relatives are coming for a “casual” pre-Christmas catchup.  The Hungover Cookbook (or rather, The Hungoevr Cookbook) promises to help you perk up, ready for another day – and another drink. Drawing on the wit and wisdom of P.G. Wodehouse, Milton Crawford classifies hangovers into six different types, before prescribing appropriate cures – actually quite delicious-sounding recipes including lemon pancakes and breakfast burgers – to suit each type.  And for those who really can’t manage more than a phone call just now, the author has thoughtfully offered a range of takeaway suggestions in addition to recipes.

Styling your home in time for Christmas

It is fast becoming that time of year when friends and families start piling into our homes laden with goodies and treats to share and we frantically tidy the house (and pretend it always looks this good) and decorate it with baubles, fake snow (for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere) and tinsel galore. We’ve noticed that Christmas decorating can certainly divide people…some people like to go all out (especially our children), and others like to rein it in and prefer to celebrate this crazy season with just a ‘touch’ of festive cheer.

So we have scoured the literary world and have found some fabulously inspiring books that can help you style your home in a variety of ways that will both wow guests and also keep your home beautiful long after the festive season…(psst, they make terrific Chrissie pressies too).

 

The Scandinavian Home by Niki Brantmark

Scandinavia is famous for its distinctive style: homes are pared-back and simple, and form and function are combined to create aesthetically pleasing and practical interiors. Scandinavians are inspired by light, having an abundance of it in summer but so little of it in winter, and house designs tend to maximise the amount of natural light that enters the home, and allow the inhabitants to make the most of outdoor life during the summer. Similarly, nature and the weather are major influences: homes are made warm and cosy for the freezing winter months – not just literally with log burners, but also through incorporating wood and natural materials. Here Niki Brantmark, owner of the interior design blog My Scandinavian Home, presents a wide-ranging collection of these beautiful homes and explores how the Scandinavian lifestyle is reflected in them all.

 

How to Decorate by Farrow & Ball

Set to become the bible of home decoration, Farrow & Ball How to Decorate provides a highly practical and inspirational guide to the successful use of paint and paper in any home, large or small, urban or country. Published on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the iconic brand, the book brings together the expertise of Joa Studholme and Farrow & Ball’s creative team to demystify the nitty-gritty of transforming a home – from deciding which colours work best in a north-facing room to creating accents with paint and making the most of a feature wall.

 

Decorate for a Party by Holly Becker

Decorate for a Party is a stunning sourcebook packed with decorating tips and techniques that will ignite your creativity. Whether you are planning a significant celebration or a simple dinner with friends, this book delivers creative ideas for every occasion. All aspects of party planning are covered, from lighting to playlists, hostess gifts, colours and patterns, food ideas, wall decor ideas, DIY projects and hundreds of fun tips that will make your party memorable. With over 200 practical ideas including ten step-by-step projects, ten playlists and ten 6 Ways projects, Decorate for a Party is split into ten sections by theme covering a range of different colour palettes and styles, from bright to moody tones, forest and children’s parties and beautiful boho and modern styles. All themes can be mixed and matched to use for a wide variety of occasions in homes of any size from the sprawling country home to a one-room city apartment. Decorate for a Party encourages you to make the most of what you have, to make things by hand and modify store-bought party supplies, and to infuse your party with personality and style. You’ll find hundreds of quick and beautiful ways to create a party that is meaningful, memorable, budget-friendly and fun!

 

The New Bohemian’s Handbook by Justina Blakeney

The New Bohoemian’s Handbook guides readers in beautifully simple techniques for adding good vibes, and style to living spaces. Packed with hundreds of ideas for bringing positive energy to your home, the book features exercises and activities for thinking about rooms in new ways. With Justina’s expert guidance, learn how to rearrange, paint, prop, and plant your way to a home that’s fresh and inspiring. Uncover your “spirit environment” and learn how to use colour and scent to enhance mood, productivity, and relaxation. Revel in Justina’s encouraging advice, (“you got this!”) and easily and affordably turn any dwelling into a personal sanctuary.

 

It’s Beautiful Here by Megan Morton

Interior fulfilment can be fleeting. Linen cupboards crash from a ten to a two in a blink and couch cushions need to be eternally fluffed. It’s Beautiful Here attempts to capture the moments of domestic paradise without making the mistake of thinking they are permanent, but hoping hard they might be. With her trademark wit and enthusiasm Megan Morton let’s us peek into the abodes of the people who have by luck, chance or determination nailed that ever elusive interiors je na sais quoi. From Paris to New York and even Adelaide, we meet a motley crew of renters, Barbie Dreamhouse owners and accidental interior heroes and learn that a beautiful home doesn’t rest on great design alone it’s shaped by the people who live there.

 

Simple Decorating by Melissa Michaels

If you want to jump-start your style and refresh your home without needing power tools and a winning lottery ticket, make Simple Decorating your go-to resource for can-do decor. Spark your makeover momentum with 50 no-fuss tips and discover how to get unstuck by embracing a style that is your very own, transform your spaces with simple colour, window treatments, and furniture choices, Whether you start with one tip or take these on as a challenge for the month, it’s never been more fun (or possible) to create a home you can’t wait to come home to.

 

Enjoy!

Which was Better – the Book or the Movie?…the Great Christmas Table Debate

It’s always a dividing topic…and what better time than now to prep for one of the great debates that happen to occur around the table at Christmas lunch; Which was better, the book or the movie?

We’ve had a look into the books that have been released as movies this year so you can cram in both the reading and viewing of them all before the big day…

Wonder by R J Palacio

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

This one’s only in the cinemas now so you’ll need to pop along quick smart to see it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers

When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

Here’s the DVD.

 

 

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

You can order the DVD here.

 

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

A young boy wakes to find his mother missing. Their house is empty but outside in the garden he sees his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of a snowman.

And then he will appear again. As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years.

When a second woman disappears it seems that Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed – for the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf.

If you want to watch it, you can buy the DVD here.

 

 

The Mountain Between Us by by Professor Charles Martin

This is a captivating story where two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding. Dr Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to return home to Jacksonville, Florida for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the weather front. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, Ben offers the seat to Ashley.

Then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness – one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. Their survival becomes increasingly perilous as they must rely on each other to survive.

The DVD is here.

Enjoy!

The Savvy Shopper’s Christmas Guide

Online shopping is a real blessing when you have family and friends scattered around the world – not only can you shop at your leisure, but the parcels can be sent directly to the recipients (giftwrapped if required), without a mad scramble to find packing materials and a trip to the post office.  But not all of your favourite stores will ship overseas that way – so how to find one that does? This is where Booko can help.  Booko can help you work out the best prices for books, eBooks, DVDs and games for delivery in 17 different countries – here’s how:

• When you visit the Booko website at www.booko.com.au, the region is set to Australia. This is indicated by the Aussie flag in the top-right corner of the webpage:
• Click on the flag and it will reveal all the countries/regions available – which includes Japan, China, Spain as well as NZ, US and the UK..
• Click on the flag for the destination country you require. The new flag is now displayed in the top corner. Now search for your preferred book / eBook / DVD as usual, and Booko will calculate and rank prices based on shipping to your new destination country.

So easy!

Here are a few book and DVD goodies that I’m earmarking for friends overseas…

Kedi [DVD]

Kedi proves that, yes, everyone loves watching cat videos.  This feel-good success of 2017 is a documentary about the street cats of Istanbul – they have been an inextricable part of the cityscape since first arriving in trading ships centuries ago. They are free to roam and are often fed and cared for by their human neighbours. Kedi focusses on seven cats with different personalities and stories full of humour and drama.  The camerawork offers a cats-eye view of beautiful chaotic Istanbul and encourages us to reflect upon our notions of community, of progress, and of the relationship between animals and people.

 

A Die Hard Christmas by Doogie Horner

Die Hard is widely regarded as one of the Best Christmas Movies ever – and now comedian Doogie Horner has amped up the festive feel and made the Die Hard story fun for the whole family! A Die Hard Christmas is a beautifully illustrated picture book set to the rhythms of Twas the Night Before Christmas.  The violence has been toned down but is still present – so best to share with older kids – that is, if you can prise it from the fingers of the grownups!

 

Twilight Zone – The Original Series Season 1 [DVD – NTSC Region 0]

The Christmas Break is perfect for binge-watching, with many DVD sets released in time for the gifting season.  This Twilight Zone Season 1 box set allows you to revisit this classic series that has remained fresh, relevant and chilling for over 55 years.  Its mixing of science-fiction, fantasy and horror themes, its famous twist endings and use of speculative fiction as a vehicle for social and political commentary is groundbreaking and has influenced generations of Creatives.  This is a 6-disc set offering all 36 episodes of Season 1.

 

 

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Already a bestseller beloved for its authentic voices and gripping story, Wonder has now become a major film starring Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay.  10 year-old Auggie has facial deformities that make him look different, but he loves Minecraft, Star Wars, and ice cream just like any other kid.  Auggie had been home-schooled, but he and his parents decide that he is now ready to re-join the wider world. Wonder tells the story of Auggie’s first year at school; it shines through its cast of complex characters and its deft handling of sentimentality.  A fabulous conversation-starter about empathy, differences and bullying.

Creating your own traditions for the festive season

How do you like to celebrate Christmas?  Christmas is a time when we find comfort and joy in performing familiar rituals with familiar people. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make new traditions, and indeed many have – by creating something to share with your own children or your tribe of friends, or by adopting something you’ve loved in your travels.  If you’re ready to put your own special touch on your Christmas celebrations, we’re here to help – we’ve gathered some great resources to help you make your Christmas more imaginative, creative, sustainable and authentic:

Christmas: a Biography by Judith Flanders

Social historian Judith Flanders investigates the history of Christmas in this extensive and entertaining biography.  She turns up some surprising tidbits – Christmas has long been more about merriment and feasting than about religion (even in the fourth century, Church Fathers were lamenting that people were forgetting the “true meaning of Christmas”); that the commercialisation of Christmas is not a recent problem, and that Santa was dressed in red even before the iconic Coca Cola advertisements.  The evolution of Christmas meanders from Europe towards Turkey (where the real Santa Claus supposedly lived) and even to Japan, where Judith Flanders discovers that Christmas Eve is seen as a romantic time, like Valentine’s Day, to be celebrated by couples. The wealth of detail in Christmas: a Biography is perfect for putting you in the festive mood.

Green Christmas: how to have a Joyous, Eco-friendly Holiday Season by Jennifer Basye Sander and Peter Sander with Anna Basye

“Give more, consume less” is the mantra that will help you achieve a more eco-conscious Christmas without skimping on the love and fun – it will make Christmas cheaper and less stressful too.  Green Christmas shows us how the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle ideas can work at Christmas time – a time typically associated with conspicuous consumption.  It’s packed with tips on reducing our environmental impact, from using recycled materials to make cards and gifts, choosing between a live or an artificial tree, to creating eco-responsible lighting displays. It also reminds us that even simple actions such as carpooling and swapping outfits with friends can reduce our use of limited natural resources.

 

Maggie’s Christmas by Maggie Beer

As a former northern-hemispherian who has fully embraced summery Christmases, I think the Old World can learn a thing or two from the New.  One of these is our approach to festive food – lighter dishes, emphasis on seafood, a relaxed and informal attitude to entertaining, and a willingness to incorporate new flavours.  Let Maggie Beer be your trusted guide in introducing new ideas to your Christmas menu.  Whether you’re after a twist on classics, such as roast turkey with prune and orange stuffing, or passionfruit and banana pavlova; or crowd pleasers such as gourmet pizza, pan-fried squid or espresso jellies, you’ll find recipes that will make your next season’s entertaining more memorable than ever.

 

The Christmas Chronicles: Notes, Stories and Essential Recipes for Midwinter by Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater is one of my favourite authors, and this is my early Christmas present to myself.  Like his Kitchen Diaries series, the Christmas Chronicles is a journal studded with seasonal recipes – and also Nigel Slater’s love-letter to winter.  Spanning the days from November 1 to February 2, The Christmas Chronicles waxes lyrical about anything and everything wintry, from hot toddies to pantomimes to choosing Christmas trees to winter travels in Norway and Japan.  Nigel Slater’s quiet but evocative writing takes the reader straight to a cosy room with a crackling fire, book in one hand and hot drink in the other, while outside the landscape is silenced by falling snow.  The Christmas Chronicles is not just an absorbing read, but also the ultimate journalling inspiration.

 

 

Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do by Fiona Watt
The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book by Chris McVeigh

One of the best ways to get kids involved and busy at Christmas is through making decorations – there’s nothing more personal than decorating with items made by your kids or yourself, and even the wonkier pieces are sure to bring back fond memories in years to come.  The Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do offers lots of ideas in a range of crafts including Christmas decorations, cards, wrapping paper, toys and baking.  Projects are illustrated with stepwise instructions.  For those who don’t fancy paper crafts, how about making decorations from LEGO?  The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book offers detailed instructions on fifteen impressive projects, from traditional styles such as snowflake to more lighthearted ones such as a hamburger!

 

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Christmas Crafts, Recipes and Activities by Brandy and Matt Shay

When did ugly Christmas sweaters come back as a thing? Add some silliness to the festive season by throwing your own Ugly Christmas Sweater party.  It’s a good opportunity to hang out with friends, dress up and have lots of laughs.  You can also use this opportunity to help those less fortunate, by raising funds for charities such as Save the Children. Marketing experts Matt and Brandy Shay have done all the hard work for party-throwers by compiling this manual – suggestions for outfits (including for your pets!), decorations, food, drinks and games are all included.

The best Games, DVDs and eBooks to give this Christmas

There’s only six more weeks until we frantically decorate trees with tinsel and baubles and wrestle with tape and ribbons as we wrap pressies for all of our loved ones. But not to worry, we have your back…and can even save you from the wrapping frenzy!

We have scoured the world in search of the best games, DVDs and ebooks to give to others this Christmas. Make yourself a cup of tea, sit back and smugly do all your Christmas shopping in one big swoop! You’re very welcome.

 

Board Games

 

Dan and Phil’s Truth Bombs

Ka-Boom! This board game just about broke the internet when word got out that Dan and Phil were releasing a board game! Gather your friends and get ready – it’s time to drop some truth bombs. Answer questions about each other and prepare for funny facts, awkward admissions and random revelations that’ll cause explosions of laughter. Grab a pencil, pick a question and bombs away!

The explosively honest party game that helps you find out a bit more about your friends Lay out some Question Cards, pass around the Target Sheets and let those truth bombs fly Once all the questions are answered, prepare to hear awkward admissions, random revelations and explosions of laughter Fresh from the minds of YouTube legends, Dan & Phil Age 14+, 4 – 8 players.

 

Game of Thrones Monopoly 

When you play the Game of Thrones Monopoly, you win or you die…Wait! It’s not as serious as death but you will have to pay up, as the number 1 property board game meets the hit TV series Game of Thrones! Game of Thrones fans, brace yourselves, Winter is coming and so is the Game of Thrones Monopoly Collector’s Edition! Mr. Monopoly definitely took a wrong turn at Old Kent Road and ended up in Westeros. Get your friends and family together and join him in the world of Game of Thrones to see who will rule the Seven Kingdoms and sit on the Iron Throne. Each property square and title deed card contains a beautiful artwork from Game of Thrones and the center of the board has a stunning map of Westeros itself. This amazing Collector’s Edition allows players to invest in some of the most popular locations from the show, such as King’s Landing, Winterfell and Braavos. Traditional Houses and Hotels are transformed into custom Villages and Keeps.

 

DVDs 

 

Transformers – The Last Knight

Every legend hides a secret.
Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Now, it’s up to the unlikely alliance of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee, an English lord (Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) to save the world.

 

 

The Crown – Season One

Okay, to be honest I completely binge watched this and I would love to watch it all over again. This drama follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century. As a young Elizabeth becomes Queen, she must manage major political issues and personal matters, which often clash in ways she never imagined. Created by Oscar nominee Peter Morgan, this epic tale won Golden Globes for Best Drama Series and Best Actress. Starring: Claire Foy, John Lithgow, Matt Smith.

 

 

 

The Emoji Movie 

Take an adventure in the secret world inside your smartphone to Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favourite emojis live. In this world, each Emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene (T.J. Miller), who is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal”, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 (James Corden) and the notorious code breaker Emoji Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Together, these unlikely heroes embark on an epic “app-venture” through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the code that will fix Gene.

 

 

 

ebooks

 

 

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Law students Mark, Todd and Zola wanted to change the world – to make it a better place. But these days these three disillusioned friends spend a lot of time hanging out in The Rooster Bar, the place where Todd serves drinks. As third-year students, they realise they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specialising in student loans, the three realise they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

So they begin plotting a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they have to leave law school, pretend they are qualified and go into battle with a billionaire and the FBI . . .

 

The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape

This has been sitting on Booko’s most click list for most of the year and it has been selling out in bookstores all over Australia this year – it was even the subject of major theft in some book stores – that’s how popular it was!

‘This is the only money guide you’ll ever need’  – that’s a bold claim, given there are already thousands of finance books on the shelves. So what makes this one different? Well, you won’t be overwhelmed with a bunch of ‘tips’ … or a strict budget (that you won’t follow). You’ll get a step-by-step formula: open this account, then do this; call this person, and say this; invest money here, and not there. All with a glass of wine in your hand. The prefect gift for any member of the family.

 

Enjoy!

The Best Gifts For Everyone On Your Christmas List

Pack away the pumpkins and break out the festive tunes…it’s nearly the BEST time of the year!!! Christmas is only SEVEN weeks away and we have saved the day with our top picks for everyone on your Christmas List…you’re welcome!

The Home Lover

 

Plant Style by Alana Langan and Jacqui Vidal

Ferns are back in the bathroom, cacti are sitting on plant stands and hoyas are cascading from hangers. Indoor plants are the ultimate indoor accessory. Softening interiors and readily available, they are a stylist’s best friend.

However, it’s their power to transform a sterile space into an urban sanctuary that makes them more than just an inanimate prop – all you need to know is how to use them.

From the founders of coveted plant-wares studio, Ivy Muse, comes this charming guide on how to turn your home into a jungle-like retreat. With design-savvy tips and expert advice, you’ll learn all there is to know about decorating with plants and botanical styling plus the necessities like light requirements and when to water and feed. From bathroom to boudoir to every room in between, create your very own green oasis with Plant Style.

 

Home For Now by Joanna Thornhill

More people are renting now than ever before, but the rental market remains surprisingly unflexible, with many tenants banned from making even the simplest alterations, such as hanging a picture or painting a wall. Even those who have managed to take that first leap onto the property ladder often find themselves with no cash left to renovate, so their first home is just a short stop-gap to their “forever home”; they resort to a renter’s mindset, unwilling and unable to invest vast sums in the fabric of their property and instead “making do” with quick fixes. Home for Now provides a blend of both inspirational and practical advice, showing how canny tenants have transformed their stepping-stone abodes into stylish spaces.

The Dreamer

The Kinfolk Entrepreneur by Nathan Williams

Pairing insightful interviews with striking images of these men and women and their workspaces, The Kinfolk Entrepreneur makes business personal. The book profiles both budding and experienced entrepreneurs across a broad range of industries (from fashion designers to hoteliers) in cities across the globe (from Copenhagen to Dubai). Readers will learn how today’s industry leaders handle both their successes and failures, achieve work-life balance, find motivation in the face of adversity, and so much more.

 

Working Women’s Handbook by Phoebe Lovatt

In this book, millennial entrepreneur Phoebe Lovatt shares her knowledge with women everywhere who want to learn the best way to set up their own business or freelance enterprise. It’s the ultimate guide to job satisfaction, filled with practical advice on developing and driving a working life you love. Bursting with actionable tips, this book outlines an agenda for making and managing money, setting goals, and establishing success-oriented routines, with worksheets, exercises, and fool-proof “how-to” sections to help chart your course. From the lowdown on launching your own venture to a bullet-point checklist for an essential self-care regime, it will teach you to manage any dilemmas that crop up, and take the stress out of setting a budget. This no-nonsense manual comes packed with author Phoebe Lovatt’s personal insights from her own career as a successful freelance journalist, moderator, and founder of The WW Club, the leading digital resource and global community for working women worldwide.

The Student

Melts by Fern Green

Everyone loves a melted cheese sandwich – they are cheap, quick and easy to make, and don’t involve much cooking skills or special equipment. This book includes over 50 imaginative and delicious toasted sandwiches, perfect for hurried dinners, tight budgets, quick snacks or when you just don’t feel like cooking a big meal.Featuring a list of tasty bread suggestions, from filling sourdoughs and seeded multigrain to sweet brioche and fruity loaves, grilled sandwiches don’t need to be boring. Try a Bacon, guacamole and cheddar, Pulled pork and cheese or Corned beef with wholegrain mustard and gruyere. Meat-free delights include a Beetroot, rocket and goat’s cheese and a game-changing Kimchi and stilton that is to die for.They don’t all have to include cheese, either! A toasted Curry and mango chutney sandwich and a Peanut butter and honey will change the way you view this humble comfort food. And yes, there’s a whole section on sweet sandwiches that will have you drooling: Blueberries, honey and cream cheese, a Raspberry, Nutella and mascarpone, and, the most decadent of all, Roasted strawberries, brie and dark chocolate.Melted, grilled and piping-hot: it’s the only way you’ll want to eat a sandwich again.

 

Breddos Tacos by Nud Dudhia and Chris Witney

Breddos Tacos revels in being a non-traditional but incredibly inventive taco cookbook with the over 75 recipes taking flavour combinations and ingredients from cuisines from almost every continent in the world, in order to create the ultimate combination of one perfectly cooked taco piled high with complex layers of flavouring. The recipes cover tacos, tostadas & plates and are divided into beef, poultry, pig, seafood, lamb and vegetables, featuring dishes such as Barbecoa beef cheeks, Yucatan Chicken with mango habanero sauce, Green Chorizo& duck egg and Scallop Aguachile. However, the breddos recipes don’t just cover tacos (although most of the recipes can be piled onto taco-esque’edible plates’) as they also offer street food staples such as the Iberico ham cheese burger and Yucatan spatchcock chicken with Dong’s flatbreads. The guys also share the breddos story to ultimate taco-dom fame; detailing their epic taco-fuelled Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas-esque road-triparound Mexico, Miami, the Deep South and Los Angeles devised solely to discover the greatest flavour combinations in all America – on a taco. This book will sate even the greatest taco fanatic whilst also revolutionising the ingredients and dishes you can create from the miniature taco hero.

The Gentleman

More Men in This Town by Guiseppe Sanataria

More Men In This Town is an extension of Gieuseppe Santamaria’s successful first books Men In This Town and Women In This Town. In this, his third book, his focus is once again men’s fashion, but seasonally based – winter (polka dots – representing snowflakes) and summer (pin stripes – representing sunbeams).

He has once again travelled broadly to capture candid street shots of men in Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, London, Paris, Florence, Madrid, New York and LA. As well, the book includes written profiles (mini interviews on style and fashion choices) with men in different cities and notes on his subjects’ different style directions.

 

Man Made by Dan Jones

With the rise of perfectly preened sports stars, online dating, and the dreaded selfie stick, every man worth his salt wants to look his best. Male grooming is no longer about being vain: it s essential. A real man has a stylish haircut, conditions his beard, manscapes, moisturises, wears decent shoes, takes the right vitamins, and is probably hitting the gym right now to hone his physique. Feeling confused? Fear not, because Dan Jones is here to guide you through everything you ever needed to know about personal grooming. From man-buns and mustaches to eye cream, facials, and buying a decent suit, this is a dapper DIY guide for all men, from teens to dads, who want to look their best year-round.

The Crafter

Roped In by Gemma Patford

Let Gemma rope you in to create a range of fun, accessible DIY projects all aimed to help you dress up the everyday. Gemma employs her famous ropework and all around craft genius to offer a range of projects and crafty tricks to make your life more fabulous. Looking for a macramé plant hanger to spruce up your living room? Want to create a swanky dog lead for your favourite pet? Looking to give your next dinner party some added class? Keen to make yourself a beautiful blouse that will have your friends demanding one of their own? This book is full of fun, accessible DIYs to help you decorate, entertain, and celebrate in style, no matter your skill level or the size of your living space.

 

Sunshine Spaces by Beci Orpin

Sunshine Spaces is about bringing a little of the outdoors into your home. Inspired by the colour and beauty of nature, designer Beci Orpin shares her ideas and guides you step-by-step through fun projects for indoors, outdoors, party and play. Featuring some of Beci’s favourite materials, including wood, fabric, plants and recycled objects, Sunshine Spaces will tell you everything you need to know about bringing the sunshine into your life and home. Sunshine Spaces is Beci’s fourth book see her others here.

 

Enjoy!

Books to get you thinking this Christmas

As we hurtle towards December, a few things brighten our days – anticipation for Christmas (the food! The long holiday! The time to read!) and also the wave after wave of new release books, ready for gifting or to add to our own wish lists. Team Booko’s currently in a cerebral mood, so here are our top picks for books that inspire and challenge us to think:

Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: the Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves by Jessica Yu

This biography of Ugandan journalist Gladys Kalibbala shows human nature at its most selfless and inspiring. Gladys writes a newspaper column in Kampala called “Lost and Abandoned”, where she profiles homeless children in the hope of reuniting them with their families. Her conviction about giving these children a chance to thrive leads her to set up a farm for them to stay in.  Garden of the Lost and Abandoned offers an absorbing portrait of a charismatic, determined and energetic woman.  Jessica Yu’s background as an award-winning filmmaker shows in her use of vivid dialogue, local colour and a dramatic narrative with plenty of highs and lows.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano

Comics / graphic novels are not just about superheroes, and Illegal highlights how it can be a powerful tool for discussing complex issues.  Twelve-year-old Ebo is all alone – his sister and brother have both disappeared, escaping their African homeland for the safety of Europe. Hoping to reunite with his sister, Ebo also sets out on this long and perilous journey, crossing the Sahara Desert before sailing across the treacherous sea. Throughout his ordeal, Ebo never loses hope of reaching his sister, or of finding a place where he can grow up in peace and safety. Illegal is a gripping story and an excellent way to help children understand the refugee crisis. For ages 9 and up.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Start with Why is the basis of the third most-watched TED Talk ever (34 million views and counting).  The name “Start with Why” refers to a common trait in the most successful leaders and organisations – they are very clear about why they do what they do.  Focussing on the Why – rather than the How or the What – engages people’s emotions and motivates them to act.  When the Why (i.e. mission) of a company is unclear, it leads to poor decision-making that loses sight of longer-term success.  Simon Sinek is an anthropologist who has turned his analytical gaze towards what makes leadership and management effective.  The simple yet powerful messages in Start with Why inspire us to find our Whys and act upon them.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

This follow-up of sorts to the bestselling Lean In  is one nobody would have wanted, or expected Sheryl Sandberg to write – it’s the story of how she clawed her way back from profound grief following the recent, unexpected and public death of her husband. Feeling lost and disoriented, Sheryl Sandberg turned to Adam Grant, a friend and psychologist, whose professional insights became her framework for how to survive through, and overcome, this bleak time.  Option B is part memoir, part social science and part self-help manual; Sheryl Sandberg’s openness, honesty and her fighting spirit make it both a very moving and a very helpful book.

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King

The latest Stephen King novel sees him collaborating with his son Owen (also a published author).  Their take on Sleeping Beauty imagines a viral pandemic that makes women fall asleep and grow cocoons around themselves; disturb the cocoons, and the women awake as vicious zombies. In their dream-state, women enter a better, happier alternative-world; meanwhile, the loss of an entire sex creates chaos in the real world.  Is Sleeping Beauties straight horror, a twisted fairytale, or a fable? Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale may spot its dystopian themes. Read into this what you will.

Hiddensee: a Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire

Having put his unique spin on childhood favourites (including Mirror, Mirror and the fabulous Wicked, Gregory Maguire turns his eye to the quintessential Christmas story – The Nutcracker. Hiddensee tells the life story of Drosselmeier, the elderly toymaker who made the nutcracker given to his goddaughter Klara. Drosselmeier was a foundling who, despite a miserable upbringing, retained his innocence and his ability to love and care. Hiddensee is another showcase for Gregory Maguire’s gift for giving emotional depth and a rich, surprising backstory to characters that we thought we knew well.  Pre-order now ahead of its release on October 31.

The Best Children’s Books for Christmas

It’s that time of year when we fill children’s stockings with books that we know will capture their imagination, making them giggle, gasp and snort…and there’s nothing like the anticipation of a new story at bedtime that makes them brush their teeth and pop their pjs on faster! (top tip from our household…you’re welcome).

Here are our faves to pop into the stockings this Christmas…

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey

No one loves Christmas more than Pig. And the world’s greediest Pug will stay up all night to get his presents and he has a very long list for Santa!

From the multi-award-winning picture-book creator Aaron Blabey comes another fabulous story guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. An ideal readaloud, it is perfect for teaching children about manners and Christmas spirit.

 

 

Ruby Red Shoes Goes To London by Kate Knapp

Ruby Red Shoes is a white hare who lives in a prettily painted caravan with her grandmother. Ruby is gentle and kind, cheery and enchanting. She loves animals and people, trees and nature, flowers and sunshine. Ruby is particularly partial to strawberry jam and peppermint tea. She is also rather fond of red shoes.

This is the third book in the best-selling Ruby Red Shoes series. Ruby and her grandmother love to travel and now they are in London, the home of red buses, red telephone boxes and red letter boxes. No wonder Ruby’s red shoes feel especially at home in this wonderful city!

 

 

We Found A Hat by Jon Klassen

Hold on to your hats! From the Kate Greenaway-winning creator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat comes the much-anticipated conclusion to the celebrated hat trilogy. Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat…Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this perfectly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy, deceptive simplicity and deliciously deadpan humour.

 

 

 

Don’t Call Me Bear by Aaron Blabey

Gosh Aaron Blabey has had a super busy year, so far he’s given us the delightfully funny Pug books and the check Bad Guys books and now this wonderful book about Warren.

G’day my name is Warren, and I’ve got something to share… Just because I’m furry doesn’t mean that I’m a bear. Warren the Koala is many things: a marsupial, cute and furry, a bit of a grump, but the one thing he is not is a bear!

 

 

Marge In Charge by Isla Fisher

Jemima and Jake’s new babysitter doesn’t look too promising. In fact she looks very sensible, very old and VERY small (she only comes up to daddy’s armpit!). But the moment their parents leave the house, Marge gives a mischievous wink, takes off her hat and reveals a marvellous mane of rainbow-coloured hair! Marge really is a babysitter like no other and the children spend a wild evening with her – racing snails, slurping chocolate soup and mixing potions in the bath! But if Jake and Jemima want her to babysit again it’s time for them to take charge of Marge, tidy up and settle her down for a little sleep.

 

 

 

Belle and Boo and the Very Merry Christmas by Mandy Sutcliffe

Enter the charming world of Belle and Boo, a bob-haired little girl and her adorable bunny friend. Follow the adventures of this curious pair as they enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood, drawing us into a magical world of imagination and discovery. It’s almost Christmas Day. Time to decorate the tree, hang up stockings and bake delicious treats. Boo thinks the best thing about Christmas is the presents waiting for him under the tree. But, with a little help from his friend Belle, Boo learns that kindness and sharing will make for the merriest Christmas of all.

 

and a few for the older ones…

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut is captured in this exciting hardcover edition of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay. When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone… Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.

 

78 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Join Andy and Terry in their spectacular new 78-storey treehouse. They’ve added 13 new levels including a drive-through car wash, a combining machine, a scribbletorium, an ALL-BALL sports stadium, Andyland, Terrytown, a high-security potato chip storage facility and an open-air movie theatre. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pokemon Go: Diary Of A Pokemon Trainer by Red Smith

Did you know that before Ash becomes the exceptional Pokemon battler, he’s just a weak guy who hates to deal with social life and poor in handling pokemon? Everything changes when his dad who is a great Pokemon Master decides to train him personally. And you’re in luck to have the chance to discover Red’s journey and some of the hidden secret Pokemon tips from his first ever written diary.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby-Sitters Club Graphix #1-4 Box Set by Ann M Martin and adapted by Raina Telgemeier

Hold on to your seats…they are back…I adored these books as a child and now they are available in graphic!!! Squeal!!!

Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn are The Baby-sitters Club. Whatever comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbours, prank calls — you can count on them to save the day. Raina Telgemeier, using the signature style featured in her acclaimed graphic novels Smile and Sisters, perfectly captures all the drama and humour of the original novels by Ann M. Martin!

 

Happy reading.

The Best Holiday Books for Christmas

It’s time to crank up the Buble, pop the Christmas mince pies in the oven and settle down with a great book to get you into the Christmas mood.

We have scoured the bookstores to bring you the ultimate Christmas Holiday Reading List to get those festive feelings flowing…sit back and enjoy!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

It’s a classic and it’s amazing! In this beautiful story 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Life Adventures of Santa Claus by L Frank Baum

Written by the author of The Wizard of Oz, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus tells the captivating story of Neclaus, a child found and raised in the magical Forest of Burzee by a wood-nymph. Among the imortals, Neclaus grows an innocent youth, until the day when he discovers the misery that rules the human world and hovers, like a shadow, above the heads of the children. Now, in the attempt of easing human suffering, he, with the help of his imortal friends, will have to face the forces of evil and of resignation, in order to bring joy to the children and teach them, for the sake of humanity, the importance of sharing and caring for each other.

 

Christmas Days:  12 stories and 12 Recipes for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson

The tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a tradition of celebration, sharing and giving. And what better way to do that than with a story? Read these stories by the fire, in the snow, travelling home for the holidays. Give them to friends, wrap them up for someone you love, read them aloud, read them alone, read them together. Enjoy the season of peace and goodwill, mystery, and a little bit of magic. There are ghosts here and jovial spirits. Chances at love and tricks with time. There is frost and icicles, mistletoe and sledges. There is a Christmas Tree with mysterious powers. There’s a donkey with a golden nose and a tinsel baby that talks.There’s a cat and a dog and a solid silver frog. There’s a Christmas cracker with a surprising gift inside.There’s a haunted house and a disappearing train. There are Yule-tides and holly wreaths. Three Kings. And a merry little Christmas time.

 

Letters from Father Christmas by JRR Tolkin

Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J. R. R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas.They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: How all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place, How the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining-room, How he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden, How there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house! Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. From the first note to Tolkien’s eldest son in 1920 to the final poignant letter to his daughter in 1943, this book collects all the remarkable letters and pictures in one enchanting edition.

 

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

David Sedaris’s beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy’s elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris’s tales of tardy trick-or-treaters (“Us and Them”); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French (“Jesus Shaves”); what to do when you’ve been locked out in a snowstorm (“Let It Snow”); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations (“Six to Eight Black Men”); what Halloween at the medical examiner’s looks like (“The Monster Mash”); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry (“Cow and Turkey”).

 

 

The Gift by Cecelia Ahem

The Gift is a magical, fable-like Christmas story from Cecelia Ahern, the celebrated New York Times bestselling author of P.S. I Love You and Thanks for the Memories. The story of Lou Suffern, a successful executive frustrated by the fact that he spends more time in the office than with his doting wife and two young children, The Gift is a tantalizing tale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons visit the family home for Christmas. But the cantankerous patriarch has anything but a heartwarming family holiday in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults, while at the same time lavishing attention on his very attractive, long-lost granddaughter. Finally he announces that he is cutting off his sons’ allowances and changing his will to boot. So when the old man is found lying in a pool of blood on Christmas Eve, there is no lack of suspects. Intrepid Belgian detective Hercule Poirot suspends his holiday sorting through the myriad suspects and motives to find the truth behind the old man’s death.

 

 

 

The Christmas Card by Dilly Court

The perfect heartwarming romance for Christmas, rich in historical detail. She turned the picture of the Christmas card over with her frozen hands, a pretty picture of a family gathering at Yuletide. How different from her own life; stiff with cold on the icy cobbles, aching for shelter . . .

When her father dies leaving Alice and her ailing mother with only his debts, the two grieving women are forced to rely on the begrudging charity of cruel Aunt Jane. Determined to rid herself of an expensive responsibility, Jane tries forcing Alice into a monstrous marriage. And when Alice refuses, she is sent to work in a grand house to earn her keep. Finding herself in sole charge of the untameable and spoilt young miss of the house, Alice’s only ally is handsome Uncle Rory, who discovers that Alice has talents beyond those of a mere servant. But when someone sets out to destroy her reputation, Alice can only pray for a little of that Christmas spirit to save her from ruin . . .

Phew…that should rid you of any grinchy feelings! Happy Reading!