Review – A Boy Called Christmas & The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Merry Christmas!

Okay, I get it, it might be a bit too late for that. But hey, it’s less than 49 weeks until Christmas, so you might as well start your preparations. 😉

Today I got two books for you. I read Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas in one go and thought it would be appropriate to just review them together.

A Boy Called Christmas
Image provided by Canongate¹

Nikolas and his father Joel live in a humble cottage in Finland when one day Joel joins an expedition to find elves in the Far North. When he doesn’t return after more than three months, Nikolas gets worried and follows him on a dangerous journey that will change his life forever.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas
Image provided by Canongate²

It’s Christmas Eve when catastrophe strikes and Elfhelm and Santa’s sleigh are destroyed by trolls. There is no choice than to cancel Christmas. At the same time Amelia, the girl who once had enough hope to create the magic necessary for Father Christmas to travel around the world, loses all hope when she is locked up at a horrible workhouse. Will there still be enough hope left for Father Christmas to deliver toys next year?

If you aren’t drawn to these novels by their beautiful covers with illustrations by Chris Mould – which can also be found throughout the books – I can’t help you, but you might want to know that I think Matt Haig has written another Christmas essential with A Boy Called Christmas in particular.
This story of a small boy setting out to find his father touched my heart. It teaches us a lot about bravery, friendship and forgiveness. Throughout his journey Nikolas also learns one very important thing: that family isn’t necessarily about the blood you share.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas, which is set in London and Elfhelm, deals with similar themes than its predecessor A Boy Called Christmas. Under desperate conditions, young Amelia has to learn to believe and trust again. Her perseverance has shielded her from becoming one of the many robotic faces at the workhouse that has become her home. Unfortunately, the second narrative thread revolving around the preparations for Christmas in Elfhelm pales in comparison to Amelia’s story. It is a nice background story but nothing memorable.

With A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas, Matt Haig shows that he is a versatile author who can write more than fiction and non-fiction for adults. These two novels have the potential to become Christmas classics that will enchant children and adults alike.

5 Star Rating: A Boy Called Christmas  A Boy Called Christmas

4 Star Rating: The Girl Who Saved Christmas  The Girl Who Saved Christmas

¹ http://www.canongate.tv/a-boy-called-christmas-paperback.html
² http://www.canongate.tv/the-girl-who-saved-christmas-hardback.html
Review copies of the books were provided by the publisher.

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Review – Humans: An A-Z by Professor Andrew Martin edited by Matt Haig

Hi,

It’s been almost a year since I’ve been thoroughly entertained by Matt Haig‘s The Humans. Now, his main character Professor Andrew Martin takes the stage and presents us with a dictionary that also acts as a survival guide: Humans: An A-Z

Humans: An A-Z
Image provided by Canongate¹
Synopsis provided by Canongate¹:

DO YOU
A) Know a human?
B) Love a human?
C) Have trouble dealing with humans?
IF YOU’VE ANSWERED YES TO ANY OF THE ABOVE, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU

Whether you are planning a high level of human interaction or just a casual visit to the planet, this user-guide to the human race will help you translate their sayings, understand exotic concepts such as ‘democracy’ and ‘sofas’, and make sense of their habits and bizarre customs.

A phrase book, a dictionary and a survival guide, this book unravels all the oddness, idiosyncrasies and wonder of the species, allowing everyone to make the most of their time on Earth.

My Thoughts:

It is great to finally have someone explain humans to us and it is much better if this someone is Professor Andrew Martin. Only he, not being a human himself, can give us quasi-objective descriptions of certain characteristics unique to this species.

Don’t be afraid, this book isn’t your usual dry, scientific text-book. You will hop from term to term and you probably won’t get enough. Professor Andrew Martin has lived with humans long enough to know what they are like. More than once, you will be nodding in agreement. Sometimes, you will have to laugh out loud. Once in a while, you will ask yourself if this alien has found a way to look inside the human soul.

No matter if you are human or alien, Humans: An A-Z is a must-have companion. After reading, you will know much more about humans than you knew before and it will give you comfort in times of distress.

5beans

¹http://www.canongate.tv/an-a-z-of-the-human-race-ebook.html

Lovelybooks Leserpreis Awards

Hey you,

I have great news for you, you’ll get an interview real soon 🙂 YAY! But now back to business 😉

You probably all know Goodreads Choice Awards (winners of 2013 will be announced on December 3rd) but do you know Lovelybooks Leserpreis awards? Well it’s basically the same concept. Readers vote for their favorite reads of the past year in different categories. BUT: There are no restrictions whatsoever concerning the country of publication. The books contain German-language publications as well as numerous translations. You can even nominate foreign language publications in the nomination round. The only restriction is that the books must be first-time publications in either hardcover, paperback or e-book format that have been published between December 1, 2012 and November 30, 2013.

Pro
Provided by Lovelybooks

The nomination round ended last week. The final round is on right now and voting is open until November 28 11:59 p.m. German time (23:59 for our German readers). There is a countdown on the homepage.

I think we’ll just have a look at the categories on offer:

Romane / Novels

I guess this one is pretty self-explanatory. Everything that doesn’t fall into one of the other categories, or is a mix, or is so good that you want it here as well :D. At least that is what I think. In the nomination round, I voted for my favorite, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (It’s called Die Unvollendete in German). Unfortunately, and I don’t really get why, it wasn’t among the 35 nominees for the final round. So in the final round, I voted for another favorite this year: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Das Licht Zwischen den Meeren in German).

Krimis und Thriller / Crime Novels & Thrillers

As I’m not into crime novels or thrillers, I didn’t vote in this category.

Fantasy

I can’t remember if I nominated an English-language novel in the first round. The fantasy books I’ve read this year either haven’t been translated to German yet, or they haven’t been that good. Nooo, you know what I did? I just remembered. I nominated Life After Life AGAIN 😀 Because it’s also fantasy. Kind of. lol I didn’t vote in the final round though. Nothing there to vote for me. Though I wish I had finally time to start reading Ben Aaronovitch!

Science Fiction

I nominated The Humans by Matt Haig. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the final round. The book wasn’t released in German yet, so nobody read it. Poop. Nothing to vote for me in the final round 😉

Jugendbücher / Young Adult

Booming YA genre. I left this one to the experts 🙂

Kinderbücher / Children’s Books

I love children’s books. But I mostly read the backlist. And I haven’t read Fortunately The Milk (Neil Gaiman) yet. Not that it would matter, as it hasn’t been translated to German and it probably wouldn’t have made it to the final round. BUT: I promise, I’ll vote for it next year if I think it worthy 🙂

Liebesromane / Romance

Aaaah l’amour. This time, I nominated Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You (G: Ein Ganzes Halbes Jahr) and guess what? Something weird happened. It didn’t make it to the final round in the romance category but it made it to the final round in the novel category. And just so you know, Jojo Moyes is nominated twice in that category in the final round! Jup. The second novel being The Girl You Left Behind (G: Eine Handvoll Worte). So I couldn’t vote for her in that final round anymore. Sorry. And I had nothing left to vote for in romance either.

Erotik / Erotic Novels

Left that one to the experts. 😉

Historische Romane / Historical Fiction

Aaah I did it again 😉 ‘Cause you know, Life After Life is historical fiction. But, as nobody seems to like Kate Atkinson (these people really don’t know what the good stuff is), I voted for Liz Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things (G: Das Wesen der Dinge und der Liebe) in the final round.

Humor

I’m quite shocked but it seems like I don’t read much funny stuff.

Sachbuch und Ratgeber / Nonfiction

I can’t remember what book I nominated. It didn’t make it to the final round. 😦 I haven’t read any of the nominated books.

Bestes Hörbuch / Best Audio Book

I haven’t listened to an eligible audio book. But you have to go and listen to Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me? It’s hilarious!

Bester Buchtitel / Best Book Title

I enjoyed this category. I didn’t need to know the books, I had something to think about and I chose a title that made it to the final round. Die Inneren Werte von Tanjas BH by Alex Haas. The title roughly translates to The Inner Values of Tanja’s Bra. I love it 😀

Bestes Buchcover / Best Book Cover

This one is tough but great. As I was already in a wintry mood, I originally nominated the cover of Alexi Zentner’s Touch. Unfortunately it isn’t there anymore so I had to find something else in the final round. I decided on Titus Müller’s Der Schneekristallforscher.

Beliebtester LovelyBooks Autor / Most Popular LovelyBooks Author

A very nice category but I don’t feel qualified to vote here. 🙂

As you can see, there is a lot to vote for. If you don’t speak German this might have been a quick glimpse at German/Austrian voting culture, or at what I voted for in particular :D. I tried to make it as entertaining as possible.

If you found one or more of your favorites in the above categories, go vote for them and maybe you’re lucky and they win. Just click the picture below or click on the categories above.

Pro
Provided by Lovelybooks

On Friday, November 29 Lovelybooks will announce the winners of this year’s Lovelybooks Leserpreis awards! Who will they be?

Review – The Humans by Matt Haig

Last night, I finished reading The Humans by Matt Haig which I won from The Book Depository.

Image provided by Canongate
Image provided by Canongate

 

Summary quoted from Canongate¹:

It’s hardest to belong when you’re closest to home . . .
One wet Friday evening, Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world’s greatest mathematical riddle. Then he disappears.
When he is found walking naked along the motorway, Professor Martin seems different. Besides the lack of clothes, he now finds normal life pointless. His loving wife and teenage son seem repulsive to him. In fact, he hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton. And he’s a dog.
Can a bit of Debussy and Emily Dickinson keep him from murder? Can the species which invented cheap white wine and peanut butter sandwiches be all that bad? And what is the warm feeling he gets when he looks into his wife’s eyes?

My Thoughts:

The Humans is mainly set in Cambridge, England. The setting is very believable and realistic.

The book is written from the perspective of the person who took Andrew Martin’s body (let’s call him “the alien”). It is written in conversational style. As if “the alien” was talking to the reader, who, in his opinion, is one of his species. I think this is a very interesting and entertaining writing style, which is also very clever. This way, Mr Haig takes the reader by the hand and leads them right into the story. He makes them part of it instantly.

The main characters of The Humans are “the alien”, Andrew Martin’s wife Isobel and their son Gulliver. For me, they were all very easy to empathize with, especially “the alien” and Gulliver. I was able to follow “the alien’s” problems, his discoveries, his moral changes and his feelings throughout the book. I also had no problems understanding Gulliver’s teenage world and all the problems and feelings that he had. I could feel “the alien’s” and Gulliver’s relationship with all their highs and lows. I could also feel the relationship between Isobel and “the alien” but it wasn’t depicted as intensely as the relationship between Gulliver and “the alien”.

I really enjoyed the plot. It was a little predictable but had its twists and turns. I don’t think The Humans is a book you read for suspense, it is a book that is full of fun and creativity. The only thing I would have left out is the “Advice for a Human” list at the end. I didn’t really see a point in it and it was somehow boring. Other than that, I had great fun reading The Humans and I can fully recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read something different for a change.

bohnen4s

¹ http://www.canongate.tv/the-humans.html