Books I’ll be Giving this Christmas, by Jenna Todd

Jenna Todd is the Manager of Time Out Bookstore in Mt Eden, Auckland, which was this year crowned Nielsen Independent Bookshop of the Year. Here are the books she is planning to give friends and family this Christmas. And you can win them: just tell us your favourite cover in the comments, and/or over on Facebook!

cv_swing_timeSwing Time, by Zadie Smith (Penguin)
Swing Time is my go-to fiction recommendation for this Christmas. There is a touch of Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels in terms of female friendships carrying the story however, there’s a lot more going on including the exploration of race, the internet, and pop culture. This layered narrative allows you to take in the story on so many levels. It’s fresh, contemporary and a novel that captures a snapshot of current times.

A is for Aotearoa, by Diane Newcombe & Melissa Anderson Scott (Puffin)
cv_a_is_for_aotearoaI may be biased, as Diane & Missy are Mt. Eden locals, but this is the type of book that will go out of print and customers will be asking after it for years to come.  A is for Aotearoa follows on from the successful A is for Auckland. It’s slightly more advanced as the reader is given as series of clues for each letter of the alphabet and they have to guess each New Zealand landmark (don’t worry, the answers are in the back!) It’s the type of book that can be read together as a family, with interactive flaps and whimsical illustrations. I’ve sent this to my dear Canadian friends and they just snapchatted me a picture of it under their Christmas tree.

cv_annualAnnual, edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris (Gecko Press)
When I saw a proof of Annual at the NZ Booksellers Conference this year, I was so excited. Kate De Goldi has curated a treasure trove of some of NZ’s most loved and soon to be loved creative talents. Presented in a beautiful A4-sized hardback, this is the perfect gift for the curious NZ child. I plan to give this to my 12-year-old sister, and I hope more are published so I can give her one every year!

cv_tell_you_what_2017Tell you what 2017, edited by Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew (AUP)
This is the third year that Tell You What has been around and it’s such a treasure to sell. Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew have brought together the best non fiction written over 2016. It’s such an easy present to give as it’s perfect for someone who lives and engages in New Zealand culture or for someone who has never been here – so pretty much anyone! I plan to give this to anyone that I can’t decide what to buy them.

The Shops, by Steve Braunias (Luncheon Sausage Books)
cv_the_shopsCivilisation and Scene of the Crime have been some of Time Out’s bestselling non fiction over the last few years. Luncheon Sausage brings us the NZ gothic feeling of these titles − but this time Steve’s writing is accompanied by an excellent series of images by Peter Black. Each image of Black’s feels like a Braunias essay in itself − it says so much by saying not much at all. This year, I will be buying The Shops for my husband so I can have the pleasure of owning it too!

by Jenna Todd

Book Review: Lily Max – Slope, Style, Fashion, by Jane Bloomfield

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_lily_max_slope_style_fashionThis is the second in Jane Bloomfield’s Lily Max series, published by Luncheon Sausage Books, and as you would suspect, it is all about fashion, baby. Every budding fashionista needs these books.

Lily Max lives a slightly surreal life in an unnamed town quite like Queenstown, with her clothes designer / seamstress mum, her snow sculptor dad, her bothersome (but getting easier to get along with) sister Angelica, her 3-year-old brother Rocco, and their cat Dottie. The book opens on a snow day, with pancakes and snow sculpting and the small matter of a slightly over-decorated school issue ski suit. Lily Max is getting ready for the first of six weeks of school ski days; she can’t ski even a little, her best friend Greer is still in LA, and she has nothing to wear.

Before they get on the bus to the skifield, Lily Max’s teacher Mr Younger gives her a flier advertising a Charity Ski Fashion Show. Then, when they get there, Lily Max’s ski instructor is super-hot Swiss guy Fabien, who seems to be related to her friend Jonathon, and swears that nobody fails his classes. So we are set for the plot: learning to ski, and pulling together a fashion extravaganza. While solving the mystery of her Gran’s ski career coming to an end thanks to a certain Edgar from Switzerland.

The best thing in the book for me is Bloomfield’s description of what it is like to be a beginner skier – and what it is like to start getting the hang of it, when you suddenly start flying and realise that this what snow is for. Her writing literally made me dream of skiing, I woke up as the weightlessness of zooming down the mountain made me lose my balance in bed. “I push down on one leg then the next. Left. Right. Left. Right. Down we go. Wheee! The wind whistles around my Vuarnet sunglasses and into my eyes. Tears stream down my face but i am not crying. I’m so happy! I’m skiing! Finally!”

I was a little disappointed that the book had such a similar plot angle to the previous one; putting Lily Max outside of her fashion comfort zone – away from her arch-enemy Violet, for one – may have developed her pretty cool character even further. Mimi was a welcome new character though, with her awesome national costume and her very useful mum (who sews Korean wedding dresses for a living!) But you know what, kids who enjoyed the first book will love this*, and the attention to fashion detail is superb. “The flared legs of my deep-yellow ski pants fit snugly over my black punk-effect ski boots. I just added two brass buttons on each boot; they shine bright. Mini medallions of hope and determination.”

Recommended to boys and girls of fashion, and those who just love a touch of the outrageous – pop this in their Christmas stocking and they’ll love you for it.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Lily Max: Slope, Style, Fashion
by Jane Bloomfield, illustrations by Guy Fisher
Published by Luncheon Sausage Books
ISBN 9780908689934

*When I was the age that these books are written for, I was utterly obsessed with the The Gymnasts series by Elizabeth Levy, not to mention Babysitter’s Club. The Gymnasts series in particular always angled towards the big ‘meet’, with arch-enemies galore. They were the same every time, and I used to read them consecutively once a year between the ages of 7-9. Jane Bloomfield knows her audience (and it’s kids like I was).