Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt HaigAuthor:  Matt Haig

Genre: MG, Christmas

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: November 12, 2015

272 pages, hardcover

With illustrations by: Chris Mould

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Did you read up there where it says “Matt Haig”? You did? Have you ever visited my blog before? You have? Good, then you know how much I love that author. I pretty much mention one of his books every opportunity I can. Meaning I really don’t even have to do this review, right? You just KNOW I loved it. Actually, no. Any opportunity I can to word vomit my love for Matt Haig’s books is an opportunity I take.

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

I adored this book. It’s the story of Nikolas, an 11-year-old boy who goes on the adventure of a lifetime. It’s full of magic and elves and pixies and snow. It was the perfect book to read to get me into the Christmas spirit. I’m one of those people who can’t listen to Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving, but this book just filled me with cheer and joy.

Nikolas was a poor, skinny boy who ventured north in search of his father, who’d gone off to find the city of elves. There is some sadness here, but there’s also joy and kindness, laughter and even some silly dancing. Gasp! It’s a beautiful story. Just an little tip: this would be a perfect Christmas gift!

The illustrations are amazing as well, the perfect touch. Here’s a few examples that Matt tweeted out:

The bottom line: Yet another book to add to my ever-growing Matt Haig obsession er…love. A perfect book to read with your kids at Christmas or with yourself to get you into the Christmas spirit. It’s fun and magical, and I loved it. It gives you that perfect sitting-in-front-of-the-fire-with-hot-chocolate feeling.

Shout out to the lovely people at Canongate Books for this copy! (Note: this did not sway my review in any way. You know it was already glowing because it’s Matt Haig)

Top Ten Tuesday: My Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten of Your Auto-buy Authors

Books

1. Ian Rankin – Who’s surprised?
2. Matt Haig – I know you are all shocked.
3. Maggie Stiefvater – Oh, man. I’m just a bag full of surprises today.
4. Stephanie Perkins – Wuuuuut?
5. Jennifer E. Smith – No way!

Comics

1. Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) – aka 1 of the 2 authors who got me into comics.
2. Brian K. Vaughan (Saga) – aka the other author who got me into comic.
3. Peter J. Tomasi (Batman and Robin, Robin: Son of Batman) – aka the author who writes my favorite comic book character.

Authors who have only written one book but will be auto-buy in the future

1. Becky Albertalli
2. David Arnold
3. Jasmine Warga
4. Nicola Yoon
5. Adam Silvera
6. Renee Ahdieh

Authors who are automatic reads but not necessarily auto-buy

1. Sarah Dessen
2. J.K. Rowling (though I haven’t read her Robert Galbraith stuff yet)
3. Oliver Jeffers
4. John Green

Okay, this list is super long, but whatever. Who are your auto-buy/auto-read/auto-grabby-hands authors?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

According to my Goodreads challenge, I’ve read almost 80 books already in 2015. How can I possibly trim that down to TEN favorites? I got it down to fourteen, which is about as good as it’ll get. It was hard enough to do that. Haha.

Throne of Glass     My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga     A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab     Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli     Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas [realized I never reviewed this one while compiling this list! Oops. Rest assured: I loved it | GR]
My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga [My review | GR]
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab [My review | GR]
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli [My review | GR]
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig [My review | GR]

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley     None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio     Made You Up by Francesca Zappia     A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas     I'll Give You the Sun

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley [My review | GR]
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio [My review | GR]
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia [My review | GR]
A Court of Thorns at Roses by Sarah J. Maas [My review | GR]
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson [review soon | GR]

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan     Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu     The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh     The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan [My review | GR]
Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu [My review | GR]
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh [review soon | GR]
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins [My review | GR]

Tell me your favorite books you’ve read so far this year!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Seven Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

I think a lot of people are going to find this one hard, but this was actually quite easy for me. I’ve got to like most, if not all, of your books for you to be a favorite of mine. I also don’t tend to choose someone as a favorite author unless I’ve read more than three books by them. I feel like you can tell whether you like someone’s writing from that, but not if they’ll be a favorite. At least for me.

Ian Rankin – Scottish crime fiction author. I’ve read every single one of his 33 or something books, including the non-fiction one. The only ones I don’t have are his short story collection and the book that comes out at the end of the year. I even wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on his books. I’ve interviewed him, chatted with him, gone to see his play, and hugged him. I still can’t really believe he remembers my name.

Favorite book: The Falls.

Me with the lovely Ian Rankin

Matt Haig – English novelist. I’ve read eight out of eleven of his books. I own two others but haven’t read them yet. SOON. If you’ve been on my blog, like, EVER, you know how much I love his book The Humans, and you might’ve read my review of Reasons to Stay Alive. Pretty sure I’ll love everything he’s written and will write.

Favorite book: The Humans.

J.K. Rowling – Does this really even need an explanation?

Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Maggie Stiefvater – American, fantasy novelist. I’ve read six of her novels and I’m completely in love with her writing. She’s also one of the coolest authors I’ve ever met (I interviewed her for WatchPlayRead last year).

Favorite Book: The Dream Thieves.Maggie Stiefvater and me

Robert Kirkman – Comic author aka author of The Walking Dead. I’ve read every single issue of TWD to date (except some of those specials) and I credit TWD as getting me into comics last year (Yes, Saga is what pulled me in, but TWD is what kept me under). They could keep this series going forever and I’d probably still have it on my pull.

Favorite book: All of the Walking Dead books.

Oliver Jeffers – Children’s book author. I’ve read so many of his books, I’m not sure what the count is, but I LOVE his books. They never fail to put a smile on my face. Every time I read another, I tend to snap a picture on my phone and set it as my new background. I love his stories and his illustrations, and I can’t wait to read them to my future kids.

Favorite book: The Incredible Book Eating Boy.

Stephanie Perkins – Contemporary YA author. Stephanie’s books got me back into reading contemporary last year. I devoured the first two and bought the third one day of release with my friend Annette. I loved her story in My True Love Gave to Me, and I can’t wait to read what’s next from her. Shout out to my friend Georgie for practically forcing Anna and the French Kiss on me. I really didn’t think I was going to like it, and I ended up loving it.

Favorite book: Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Stephanie and me

I think that’s it. I could list favorite books for days, but authors? Seven is all I’ve got. Who are your favorite authors?

Top Ten Tuesday: Inspiring Quotes from Books

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books (anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc.)

“No one will understand you. It is not, ultimately, that important. What is important is that you understand you.”
– Matt Haig, The Humans

“We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
– D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness.”
– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”
– John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

“Make sure, as often as possible, you are doing something you’d be happy to die doing.”
– Matt Haig, The Humans

“Comfort zones are overrated. They make you lazy.”
Melina Marchetta, Saving Francesca

“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”
Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
– Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
– Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I have SO many more quotes that I love, but I forced myself to limit it to ten. What quotes inspire you?

Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive is beautiful, open, honest, genuine, brave, and hopeful. It should be read by everyoneReasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haigif you’ve been depressed, are depressed, know someone who is/has been depressed. Honestly, if you are alive, this book is for you.

Author:  Matt Haig

Genre: Autobiography, memoir

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: March 5, 2015

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Have you ever had a book that you were simultaneously unable to wait for and very scared of reading? That was Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive [Matt is the author of The Humans, which you should ALL know by now that I LOVE].  I’m sure you can tell from the title a little of what it’s about, and you may or may not have been able to guess why I was nervous to read it if you’re a regular reader of my blog. I have never said this outright on my blog, but I am depressed. I have depression. I am a depressive. Do you know how terrified I am to say that on my blog? Petrified. But I’m going to say it because it will make it that much more clear why I needed and appreciated this book. From the very moment I heard about it, I needed it. And thankfully, because I interned at the amazing Canongate Books a couple of years ago, I was able to get an early, digital copy of this one and didn’t have to wait the several weeks it’s going to take for my UK pre-order to get here (though I’m still quite looking forward to my physical copy).

I read this entire book in roughly 4.5 hours. I devoured it. I also cried more than I have probably EVER cried while reading a book. But I also smiled. Maybe not a lot, but it happened. The synopsis says “It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more.” I was pleased to find that to be very true. I felt a lot reading this book. I like that Matt mentioned that not everyone’s depression is the same, that you can be both happy and sad at the same time (“just as you can be a sober alcoholic”), and how most people will not be able to see it:

To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames.

My heart pounded so HARD in my chest practically the entire time I was reading, just as it is beating hard just writing this all down.

Reasons this book made me cry:

– My own sadness and depression
– Matt’s battle with depression
– The feeling that someone could so completely understand me
– The fact that I HATE that I could relate to so much of the book
– The fact that I DON’T WANT to relate to any of it
– The “My Symptoms” section – I related to so many of these that it was a little horrifying. One of them – “A sense of being disconnected, of being a cut-out from another reality”
– “You are on guard to the point of collapse every single moment, while desperately trying to keep afloat, to breathe the air that the people on the bank all around you are breathing as easily as anything.”
– “Minds have their own weather systems. You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on.”

Matt said at one point he hoped someone else would read his words and that maybe the pain he felt wasn’t for nothing. I know it wasn’t for nothing, but THANK YOU, Matt, for writing this book, for being brave and open and honest, for showing me I wasn’t alone no matter what the depression told me, for telling me that life will wait for me, for The Humans, for all of your words, for being alive.

Let’s get down to the bottom line, shall we? Read this book. Read this book because you have emotions and hopes and feelings. Read this book because you are human and because you are alive. Read this book to live. Reasons to Stay Alive is a celebration of life, books, words, and humanity.

Rating: Honestly, this book defies ratings. How can you rate a book like this? However, I’m sure you can tell that this book will occupy my favorites shelf right next to The Humans forever.

Seize the Tuesday – To Be or Not to Be…a Cat

Seize the Tuesday is a book blogger meme created by Adi Alsaid and the Let’s Get Lost Buddies Street Team, to share stories about how we’ve seized the Tuesday, with a special focus on the particular book we’re reading. We’ll share our posts online with the hashtag: #LetsAllGetLost. The idea is to share little ways in which you may have embraced Bree’s motto of seizing the Tuesday. To relate it to books, you can talk about what book you’re reading, and how you stole some moments from the day to enjoy reading. It doesn’t have to be about reading, but we all know that a well-read day is a day seized. The idea is not just to help spread the word on LGL, but also to remind people to live fully, even/especially if that means spending a part of your day reading.

Seize the Tuesday - Let's Get Lost

This post might be kind of the opposite of what a Seize the Tuesday post is supposed to be about. Do you ever have one of those days that you wish you could forget? How about two in a row? That’s me this week so far, which as I’m sure you can imagine was an absolutely wonderful start to the week. So instead of talking about them (because I already have with two close friends who I appreciate more than they know), let’s talk about what I’m reading.

I’ve been slowly making my way through Sarah J. Maas’s collection of Throne of Glass novellas The Assassin’s Blade, which I’m really enjoying. It’s cool to learn more about Celaena before Throne of Glass and toactually get to know Sam a bit. I haven’t made much progress To Be a Cat by Matt Haigthe last two days but I hope to get back to it soon.

I suppose I did Seize the Tuesday a bit last night when I decided to start a new book that I knew would make me smile – To Be a Cat by Matt Haig. It’s a middle grade book about a kid who thinks being a cat would be better than what he’s currently going through but when his wish comes true, he realizes being a cat isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s funny and adorable so far and written in Matt Haig’s wonderful writing style that I absolutely adore. I ended up staying awake and reading a lot more than I’d originally planned, so you know what?

I’m going to consider this Tuesday seized.     

Thursday Thoughts: What I need to live [A Quote from The Humans by Matt Haig]

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today. I’ve got a few ideas for Thursday Thoughts posts, but as I was rereading the “Advice for a Human” chapter of The Humans by Matt Haig, I came across this quote. Went and whipped up an image to share it with you guys. If you’ve been to the blog before, you have probably seen me mention The Humans once or twice (or ten times). I love this book and I really think everyone should read it. Here’s the book’s Goodreads page in case you want to check it out. This book has so many paragraphs, lines, words, quotes, etc. that I love, but I wanted to share this one today because I think all of you can relate.

This isn’t a long post. I just wanted to say I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and have those things you need to live. 

The Humans by Matt Haig

Bout of Books 12 – Top 10 Recommendations Challenge

Today is Day 2 of Bout of Books! Trees of Reverie is hosting the Top 10 Recommendations challenge, and since I actually work in a library, I thought I kind of have to participate, don’t I? 🙂

The Challenge: You’ve just started to work at a bookstore (or library) – what are your top ten go-to book recommendations?

All of the books I’ve chosen are ones that I’ve actually recommended to people at my library for various reasons. Some are favorites and some are just generally good reads. Here we go!

The Humans Anna and the French Kiss This Is What Happy Looks Like The Black Hour The Book of Strange New Things

The Humans by Matt Haig – for everyone. Seriously. Read it. (I know you’re all surprised)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – perfect for a lot of our YA readers but also for some of our older patrons who like books by authors like Debbie Macomber

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith – for basically the same reasons as above

The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day – I read and loved this one and have recommended it to several patrons that enjoy crime fiction

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – one of my new recommendations because I read and LOVED this. It’s unique and interesting. Different from my normal read.

The Passage Saga, volume 1 Cover The Young Elites The Incredible Book Eating Boy Cover Fortunately, the Milk Cover

The Passage by Justin Cronin – patrons who enjoy vampires but the creepy, scary kind have been told to read this by me on several occasions. 🙂

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples – for people who want to try comics. This is how I got into comics and I’ve never looked back.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – because this was probably my favorite read of the year

ANYTHING by/illustrated by Oliver Jeffers – because stick legs

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young – for Neil Gaiman fans. For fans of silliness. For fans of fun.

A few others:The Raven Boys

Anything Maggie Stiefvater has written

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Gone by Michael Grant

What would you recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2015

Holy crap, this is hard. You can check out my 2015 releases shelf on Goodreads (which currently has a whopping 64 books on it!) to see that I am excited for A LOT of books coming out in 2015. Thankfully, in January we’ve got a TTT post about debuts coming out in 2015, so that helps a little. This list is obviously not going to include all the books I’m excited about but here’s the ten that I am dying to read.

My Heart & Other Black HolesSimon vs the Homo Sapiens AgendaThe Fill-In Boyfriend

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga…because it sounds deep and sad and lovely and perfect winter weather.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli…because I got an ARC of this at the Decatur Book Festival and I think it sounds really great.

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West…because it sounds suitably sweet and adorable.

A Darker Shade final for IreneSaint Anything

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab…because parallel universes.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig…because I need it.

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day…because I LOVED The Black Hour. 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen…because NEW SARAH DESSEN!

The Prom Goer's Interstellar ExcursionPip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures

The Prom Goer’s Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy…because oh my goodness it sounds perfect and unique and like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater…because – do I really need to explain this one?

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid…because he’s a really genuine person and I liked Let’s Get Lost and I’m excited to read what’s next from him.

Bonus:

Red QueenWherever You Go

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard…because it sounds epic

Wherever You Go by Pat Zietlow Miller…because I adored Sophie’s Squash 

What books are you looking forward to in 2015? Are you excited about any of the books on my list?