2016 In Review…

Well as most of you know, 2016 was the start of gemsbooknook… I set some goals for the year and I am so excited to say that I have reached them. I hoped to write 15 book reviews, get 50 followers and 500 viewers. I have achieved these goals and more. I also reached my Goodreads goal of 100 books. So im pretty happy with how 2016 turned out.

After realising how much I loved blogging I started a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account to accompany my blog. I have been kept pretty busy with all of these accounts, but I have loved every second. I even participated in my first ever bookmas, now that was awesome, hard work, but awesome.

Not only have you all helped me to achieve my blog goals of 2016 but your likes and comments have kept me motivated to do my best with every post or review.

I was also fortunate enough to be added to Hachette Books Bloggers database this year, and to be invited to be a contributor on My Trending Stories website.

After years of floundering I feel like I have finally found something that makes me feel good about myself. That focuses me and helps me connect with others.

gemsbooknook wouldn’t be what it is without all of you. Thank you so much for your support in 2016, it really has ment the world to me. I look forward to bringing you more content in 2017.

Happy New Year.

❤ Gem




December Wrap Up…

Welcome to my December Wrap Up. I had a great reading month, finishing 18 books (8 from my TBR). I got a pretty good book haul for Christmas and I participated in Bookmas which helped with my overall reading total.

I have reviews up for most of these books so as usual this is just going to be a brief run down on each book I read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my December Wrap Up…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for peculiar children/Hollow City/Library of Souls/Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs. I started December with a Peculiar marathon. These books are absolutely fantastic, the story is engaging, the characters are relatable (excluding the peculiar abilities), and the addition of the photographs really enhances these books. I couldn’t put these books down. As for Tales of the Peculiar, the companion book to the trilogy, it was perfect. It really captured the feel of the series while being different enough to be a stand alone companion. I can’t recommend these books highly enough.

Aragog/Buckbeak/Dobby by Jody Revenson. These books are from the Incredibuilds collection, and they truly are incredible. With each book you get a model to build, as well as a great little book. The models have easy to follow instructions and just click together. The books are filled with great photos and illustrations as well as information about how these creatures were brought to life in the Harry Potter movies. These books are a must have for Harry Potter fans.

Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel C. Pedley. A beautiful book about a little girl who gets lost in the Australian bush and is rescued by a Kangaroo. I havent read this story since I was a child and im so glad I picked up a copy. It was beautiful, heartfelt and a perfect book to read in summer in Australia. Every Australian should read this book at least one in their lives.

Gumnut Babies/Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs. May Gibbs is a national treasure. The Gumnut Babies and Sugglepot and Cuddlepie are much-loved Australian books. I was raised on these books and absolutely loved them. Reading them as an adult was a wonderful experience. It is easy to see why these books are Australian Classics. A must read for all Australians.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I read this book during bookmas, a few chapters a night over the 12 days. I really love this story and it never fails to put me in the Christmas spirit. I will be definitely be reading this next bookmas and every books after that.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss. Aww I love the Grinch. I read this book during bookmas also, I then followed it up by watching the movie. I love Dr Seuss and the Grinch is one of his greatest. Perfect to read at Christmas time.

My Special Christmas Adventure by Julia Wilson. This is one of my all-time favourite books. it was a gift from my Nan and Pop when I was a kid and I read it every year on Christmas eve. It is a personalised stories and I will forever cherish it.

Santa Is Coming To Sydney by Steve Smallman. I picked this book up last Christmas and I love it. It’s a children’s Christmas book set in Sydney. There aren’t a lot of Christmas stories that are solely set in Sydney/New South Wales. This has a great story with a modern twist and fantastic illustrations. I know there are other books set in various cities so if you find one for your area buy it. You wont regret it.

The Twelfth Night by Timothy Knapman. This book is a modern English retelling of The Twelfth Night. It is easy to read, with great illustrations and it kept important quotes from the original story. This is the perfect book for young people interested in Shakespeare or readers who are new to Shakespeare.

The Western Front by Peter Cochran. This book is a beautiful and haunting collection of photographs from the Western Front take during WWII. The book has photos, quotes and diary entries by and of Australian soldiers on the front lines. A must have for anyone Interested in Australian War History or great photography.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Heartless is a back story of the Queen of Hearts. I loved this book. It follows the queen of hearts before she becomes the queen of hearts. Detailing to back story and the events that let to her becoming The evil Queen we know today. This book was a great read. I highly recommend.

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets: Illustrated Edition by J K.Rowling and Jim Kay. I love Harry Potter. Jim Kay has done a marvelous job with this illustrated edition. The magic of J K. Rowling’s story is beautifully completed by Jim Kay’s fantastic illustration. This book is a must have for all Harry Potter fans.

Well that’s it for my December Wrap Up. Reviews for most of these books are already up so check them out. Untill next time, Happy Reading.

❤ Gem

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 

Ebenezer Scrooge; an old man who hates Christmas is visited by four ghosts. The ghost of his late business partner Jacob Marley, the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present and the ghost of Christmas future. After his experiences with these ghosts Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning filled with love and joy. A changed man, Scrooge is now kind and generous. The living embodiment of Christmas.

The edition I own isn’t the one pictured above. My edition has been passed down to me so it is much-loved and unfortunately missing its cover. It contains A Christmas Carol, the Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth. Much loved Christmas tales, with great illustrations sprinkled throughout.

I truly love this story. It usually takes me a few pages to get into the flow of the writing, which really isn’t a surprise since it was written in 1843. I read this book every year at Christmas time and it never fails to move me.

The core values of this book; kindness, compassion and generosity are timeless and should be practiced all year round, not just a Christmas.

While reading this book it is easy to see why it is such a much-loved Christmas story. It’s heartfelt, heartwarming and truly represents what Christmas should be about.

I whole heartedly believe everyone should read this book at least once in their lifetime; once a year would be even better. If you haven’t read this book or it’s been awhile, make sure you add it to your Christmas 2017 TBR pile.

In the spirit of A Christmas Carol: I hope you and your family have a Magical Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Merry Christmas.

❤ Gem

The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

The complete adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie include the stories of not only Snugglepot and Cuddlepie but little Ragged Blossom and Little Obelia. This book follows the gumnut babies on their travels, with much-loved Australian animals such as Koalas, Kookaburras and a platypus keeping them company throughout the three stories.

With Bad Banksia men out in force to capture Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, these adventures are thrilling from start to finish. With twists and turns around every corner, these beautiful Australian tales are an absolute gem to read.

May Gibbs has created a delightful world that has captivated Australian readers since its conception in 1918. This edition contains May Gibbs’ original artwork that perfectly compliments her writing.

I loved Snugglepot and Cuddlepie as a child and was a little worried about tainting the magical memories I have by reading them as an adult. Turns out I was worried about nothing. Reading these stories as an adult not only transported me back to my childhood but gave me a whole new appreciation for May Gibbs’ genius.

The world, the characters, the illustrations; everything was perfect. It is easy to see why Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are Australian classics.

If you haven’t read the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie you need to do it now. Even if you grew up reading these tales, they are well worth a re read.

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie have always, and will always be great Australian stories for young and old.

Lagoona Blue and the Big Sea Scarecation by Nessi Monstrata

This book is the third book in the Monster High Diaries series. The story follows Lagoona Blue as she returns from Monster High for Spring Break. With her family in tow Lagoona Blue has a fin-tastic Spring Break filled with sun, fun and family.

I was lucky enough to win this book, but I will admit before reading it all I knew about Monster High was that they were kids dolls. I had seen them in the shops but that was the extent of my knowledge. As it turned out I didn’t need to know anything else about Monster High to enjoy this great little book.

The story was well written and easy to get into. The plot was fun and sweet with learning moments sprinkled in to the mix, the characters were interesting and the book had diary entries by Lagoona scattered throughout for a little something extra. As an added bonus at the end of the book there are blank diary pages for kids to write about their own adventures.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with a middle grade aged child.

The Clock Tower Ghost by Gene Kemp

When Amanda Phillips and her family move into Addlesbury Tower they have no idea that it is haunted by Rich King Cole. When Mandy and King Cole meet they fail to realise how much they have in common. Instead they battle for ultimate supremacy.

Gene Kemp’s The Clock Tower Ghost is such a popular novel, it has been imprint continuously since 1981, when it was first published.

I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It is unusual to find a great book that’s main characters are so unlike able.

Ruthless, cruel and narcissistic King Cole has met his match in rude, selfish, bully Amanda. Individually these characters are horrible, together they are unbelievably entertaining.

Gene Kemp did a wonderful job with this book. With both King Cole and Amanda so deplorable at the start of this book, it was great to watch as they found some humanity whilst battling each other.

With a nice collection of support characters and a sprinkling of illustrations, this book is a great read.

If you haven’t read it, get yourself a copy now.

The Clock Tower Ghost is a wonderful book for kids and adults alike, I will definitely be reading it many times in the future.

Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel C. Pedley 

After little Dot get lost in the bush in outback Australia, an adventure begins. She is rescued by a Kangaroo and given magic berries that allow her to speak to and understand the bush animals. Follow Dot and the Kangaroo as they meet and learn from a huge array of Australian animals.

Filled with wonderful descriptions and beautiful illustrations, Dot and the Kangaroo is truly a beautiful book.

As this book was written in the late 1800’s it does have some content that may cause offence when read now. As an adult who knew the publication era of this book before I read it, I wasn’t at all put out or offended in any way. I know that this book garnered some criticism when it was released due to its negative stance on human interference in the bush. But as a book written with only a little girl and animals as its characters I’m not sure what people expected. The negativity towards humans didn’t bother me one but.

I found myself far more interested in the amazing story and intriguing interactions between Dot and the animals to even care about the undertow of negativity.

I whole heartedly believe that this amazingly magical stories should be read by all children. Although you may want to read it for yourself before reading it to or with your kids, just in case.

Overall Ethel C. Pedley did an amazing job with this book, bringing the world of bush animals into focus and leaving the reader with a smile on their face and a warm fuzzy feeling in their chest.

This is a must read for all Australians.

Aragog/Buckbeak by Jody Revenson

It’s time again for another double book review. I absolutely loved both of these books, but there just isn’t enough to warrant individual reviews.

Aragog: a Behind the scenes look at the Acromantula on film and Buckbeak: behind the scenes with everyone’s favourite Hippogriff were both written by Jody Revenson. They were published by Incredibuilds. I had never seen or heard of Incredibuilds before finding these books, now I will keep an eye out and recommend them to everyone.

Each book came with a build your own model; Aragog and Buckbeak. The building was easy. The pieces just pushed out of the board and slid into each other, so no glue was needed. The directions were easy to follow and included pictures.

Now anyone who knows me or has read my blog before knows I love Harry Potter. So these books were going to be loved by me no matter what. Turns out I didn’t need my Harry Potter bias, they were great.

Each book was filled with information and images showing how Aragog and Buckbeak were brought to life in the Harry Potter movies. The information was truly interesting, seeing how hard it was and how much effort was put in to creating these creatures was really informative.

The images featured in these books were awesome, getting to see each creature go from page to screen was amazing and having the added bonus of hearing from the movies actors about their reactions to Aragog and Buckbeak was great.

Not only do you get a great little book but you get to build your very own Aragog and Buckbeak. These books are well worth the purchase.

These books are a must have for any Harry Potter fan, I understand that they also have Dobby and Quidditch books available, they are definitely on my wish list. If you come across these books you should absolutely buy the, you won’t regret it.

Long Live Harry Potter.

The Turners: Camp Freakout by Mick Elliott 

The Turners: Camp Freakout is book 2 in Mick Elliott’s fantastic The Turner trilogy.

In Camp Freakout we catch up with Leo a few months after the conclusion of The Turners, as he embarks on his year 8 school camp. Though Leo comes to realise pretty quickly that going on school camp was a massively huge mistake, he couldn’t have foreseen just how humongous a mistake it was. With school bullies, no phones or internet, dayTurning and an evil plot brewing, Leo’s latest adventure is just as action packed as his first.

Mick Elliott has done a marvellous job with Camp Freakout. I was excited yet a little worried about this book. The Turners was such an epic, crazy story and I didn’t know if the second book would measure up. As it turns out I was worried about nothing. The Turners: Camp Freakout not only measures up it may even surpass its predecessor.

This fast paced, action packed adventure is perfectly written. With all of your favourites back for round two and some new characters thrown into the mix, the story is really entertaining and really draws you in.

After reading this book I have absolutely no reservations about the next one, only excitement.

Mick Elliott’s ability to get readers invested and to keep them on the edge of their seats from start to finish is a marvellous gift. His descriptive writing makes it easy to picture what is happening and the fact that his characters are so well-developed and well-rounded, means that you can feel the emotions through the pages.

If you haven’t yet discovered the awesomeness that is Mick Elliott’s The Turners and The Turners: Camp Freakout, do it now. You won’t regret a single second of your experience with Leo & Co.

Gumnut Babies by May Gibbs

This book is a wonderful collection of May Gibbs’ beautiful bush babies stories. Featuring gum-blossom babies, Boronia babies, bad Banksia men and other bush creatures, this book is a must have for all Australian children.

This beautiful book contains some of the sweetest stories you will ever read. Filled with great descriptions and amazing illustrations, the gumnut babies are truly a national treasure.

I can remember how amazing I thought these tales were when I was read them as a child, now reading them as an adult they seem even more magical.

May Gibbs’ illustrations breathe extra life into these stories giving them another layer.

I finished this book with a warm feeling in my chest, a smile on my face, and proud to be an Australian.

I don’t have a bad word to say about this book.

If you aren’t familiar with or you haven’t read these stories since childhood, you need to get yourself a copy now. Lose yourself in the bush and enjoy a magical journey with the loveable Gumnut Babies.