Discover some of the awesome rare books we found in 2022 and what makes them special in this piece by Tom Kitson, Head of the Rare & Antiquarian division
My name is Tom Kitson and I have been running the Rare and Antiquarian section at AwesomeBooks for 10 years. I run a team of 9 people whose job is to identify all valuable, rare and interesting books and provide detailed specialist listings of such books. During this time we have seen some incredible finds, from 17th century bibles, to signed books from Kipling, Conan Doyle and many other authors of note.
Over the last year, we have had 2 finds that stand out particularly.
Animal Farm — First Edition
The first was a 1st edition copy of Animal Farm. This is one of my favourite books so was a really exciting find for me personally. I particularly love the history and politics behind the book and the impact that a book of only 93 pages had.
Gray’s Anatomy — 3rd Edition published in 1864
The other find was a 3rd edition copy of Gray’s Anatomy from 1864. As one of the first accurate medical books, this book really represents the birth of modern medicine and early editions such as this one are incredibly rare. The colour illustrations are particularly impressive and are in perfect condition.
Long before Bilbo Baggin’s and Frodo’s adventures, evil forces threaten Middle-earth. The Rings of Power follows an ensemble cast of both new and known faces as the major events of the Second Age of Middle-earth take place. The series sees a young and headstrong Galadriel go from a fearless warrior to the wise elder we see in the Lord of The Rings time.
The history of the House Targaryen was one of the biggest sources of questions in the fantasy series that became the world’s obsession. Now, The House of the Dragon seeks to answer them.
We return to the world of Game Of Thrones in this new HBO series, where the main focus is the rise and fall of the house that ruled over Westeros for hundreds of years before the rebellion that landed Robert Baratheon on the throne. Starring Matt Smith from The Crown and Doctor Who fame alongside Emma D’Arcy and Paddy Considine, the series has received glowing reviews, and has reignited the GoT craze. Delve deeper into the world of intrigue, scheming and betrayal when you get FIRE AND BLOOD, the book that inspired the series, or THE RISE OF THE DRAGON, an amazing visual introduction to the House of Targaryen.
Alice Oseman first made her name online. Millions read her LBTQ+ web comic HEARTSTOPPER before her books made it into bookshop shelves, and now, after jumping from the internet into paper, HEARTSTOPPER makes yet another leap, this time into our TV screens!
The first season of HEARTSTOPPER available on Netflix, follows two teens, Nick and Charlie. Charlie is a highly strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful soft-hearted rugby player. When they meet at a British all-boys grammar school, friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
The phenomenon this book and later the TV show caused only goes to show how important representation is, how seeing yourself on the page or on the screen can make the difference between feeling like the odd one out and being a part of something big, something beautiful, something important.
Heartstopper is a love story but also a love letter to all of those who at some point might have felt left out.
Another AWESOME fantasy adaptation in the list! (What a year it’s been for us fantasy fans, hasn’t it?) This one, like Heartstopper was not adapted from a book perse, but in this case, from a comic that ran from 1989 to 1996 written by Neil Gaiman, who you might know from iconic fils like Coraline, or last year’s Good Omens.
The Sandman stars Tom Sturridge as The Sandman/Morpheus, the personification of dreams who is captured in an occult ritual in 1916. After escaping, he sets out to restore his realm, and the series follows his efforts and his encounters with other powerful creatures straight out of a fairy tale… or a nightmare.
The series is the perfect balance of dark and fantastical, and encapsulates the feel of the comics perfectly. Unmissable for fans of Neil Gaiman and of myth-based stories.
National treasure Ben Whishaw stars in the BBC adaptation of Adam Kay’s bestselling novel THIS IS GOING TO HURT. The 8 episode series follows his experiences as a junior doctor within the NHS, the highs and lows and everything in between with a dash of humour and a lot of heart. Even though the series is very enjoyable, to get the full experience you really ought to get lost within the pages of the book. Kay’s unique voice has made him into an icon that sells out shows all around the country when he goes on tour.
If you enjoyed THIS IS GOING TO HURT, you must read UNDOCTORED, his latest book. You’ll not only be getting more of Kay’s brilliant observations and insight into the life of a doctor that decided to quit, but when you get a copy of UNDOCTORED, you’ll be supporting The Lullaby Trust, an AWESOME organisation that works to raise awareness around Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and to support the families touched by the tragedy of losing a child. £5 of each copy will go towards them, and a book will also be donated to a child in a UK hospital.
When you buy UNDOCTORED by bestselling author and comedian Adam Kay you’ll be supporting the Lullaby Trust and donating a book to a child in need! £5 of every copy will go towards helping The Lullaby Trust fund the distribution of life-saving safer sleep advice to four families with new babies.
The Lullaby Trust raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies and offers emotional support for bereaved families. “Around 1 in 1000 otherwise healthy babies may die suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep (…) This is the commonest group of deaths in childhood of children without known underlying medical problems.” (Sebire & Bryant) To this day, The Lullaby Trust has spent over £12 million on over 265 research projects to try and find out more about potential causes and risk factors for this condition.
As well as funding vital research, The Lullaby Trust offers support to bereaved families, and advice based on strong scientific evidence to help parents reduce the risk of SIDS.
Adam Kay has been a patron of TLT since 2019, contributing to raise awareness about their mission and through fundraising in his nationwide tours. We are delighted to be collaborating with Adam and the Trust to support their efforts by donating five pounds for every copy of UNDOCTORED we sell. Your purchase will also be contributing to improving literacy in the country, as one book will be donated to a child in need for every book we sell as part of our Book for Book initiative.
Some stories are so good they need to be told in several parts! The urge to find out what happens next is more than relatable, but don’t despair! We have picked our top four fantasy book series being completed this year, so now is the perfect time to catch up ahead of the big finale!
From the bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new thrilling fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas’ A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES.
This series has everything: magic, a strong female main character willing to go to Hell and back to avenge her sister, and an unlikely alliance with a snarky Wicked prince constantly getting on her nerves. The writing will keep you hooked from the beginning and won’t let you go, and thankfully the conclusion to Emilia’s story will hit the shelves in just a few weeks, which makes this the perfect time to pick up the first two parts of the trilogy ahead of the release of KINGDOM OF THE FEARED.
KINGDOM OF THE WICKED SYNOPSIS
Two sisters. One brutal murder. A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself… And an intoxicating romance.
Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution.
When Emilia finds the body of her beloved twin she sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.
Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked—princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…
If you are a fan of folkloric fantasy, this is the series for you. Inspired by the Grimm Brother’s tale of The Six Swans comes the new duology by the bestselling author of the Spin the Dawn series.Set in an East-Asian inspired world, these beautiful, spellbinding books will take you on a journey alongside an exiled princess striving to rescue her brothers and break a curse that has put her happiness —and the whole kingdom— at risk.
The haunting story of the Six Swans was one that stuck with me from a very early age, in the back of my mind until I picked up Six Crimson Cranes and it all came back running. The twist Elizabeth Lim gave it, though, transported me into a completely different world than the one I remembered from the original fairytale, and I was blown away. The world-building is immaculate, and it’s impossible not to feel a whole range of emotions alongside Shiori’anma. Her love for her family and her commitment to free them from the course pulls at your heartstrings from the get go. Something I particularly enjoyed was seeing how a different perspective can breathe in new life into a familiar story, and if you are looking for a read that will pull you right in, the SIX CRIMSON CRANES duology is just the thing to go for.
SIX CRIMSON CRANES SYNOPSIS
Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain – no matter what it costs.
Hunted meets The Wrath and the Dawn in this bold fairytale retelling —where court intrigue, false identities, and dark secrets will thrill fans of classic and contemporary fantasy alike.
One of the most interesting aspects of this series is how it started out as a self-published work and garnered enough popularity it was then picked up and published traditionally. The thought of being able to disappear from a life imposed on you and start a new one you can make your own was clearly appealing to a wide group of people, so much so that it brought the attention of publishers who turned the internet sensation into a mainstream hit. It is the second Grimm Brothers’ retelling of this list, which shows us a trend I personally hope doesn’t end soon. There is something so interesting about seeing the direction different authors can take classic fairytales and how they can make them unique through the writing and through a re-imagining of characters that feel like they have a mind of their own.
When her mother betroths Alyrra to a powerful prince in a distant kingdom, she has little hope for a better future —that is until she arrives at her new kingdom, where a mysterious sorceress robs her of both her identity and her role as princess. Finally she has the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
But as Alyrra uncovers dangerous secrets about her new world, including a threat to the prince himself, she knows she can’t remain silent forever. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds, and ultimately must decide who she is and what she stands for.
Two witches. One motive. And a very untrustworthy alliance…
This Caribbean inspired YA duology is unlike anything you’ve read before. This tale of magic, betrayal and revenge is going to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Seeing more diverse voices break through into the UK publishing landscape is a welcome turn. This time Jamaican-born Ciannon Smart provided us with this thrilling tale packed with subtle traces of her heritage, inviting the reader into a refreshingly new narrative. With a dash of Killing Eve, and more than a generous serving of magic and unique world building, this duology should be in every booklover’s shelf.
There’s an infinity of perspectives and cultures with endless potential to enrich fiction, and seeing more and more titles come out (and become wildly popular) that reflect that is a breath of fresh air.
WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD SYNOPSIS Iraya Adair has spent her life in a cell. Heir of an overthrown and magically-gifted dynasty, she was exiled from her home on the island nation of Aiyca when she was just a child. But every day brings her closer to freedom —and vengeance.
Jazmyne Cariot grew up dressed in gold, with stolen magic at her fingertips. Daughter of the self-crowned doyenne, her existence is a threat to her mother’s rule. But unlike her sister, Jazmyne has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.
Sworn enemies, the two witches enter a deadly alliance to take down the woman who threatens both their worlds.
But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain —except the lengths Iraya and Jazmyne will go to win this game.
What is your most anticipated release of the year? Tell us in the comments!
Your support enabled us to donate 25K books and support the global efforts to see Samir Mansour’s bookshop doors open once again.
Samir Mansour’s bookshop used to be a cultural hub in Gaza city, which is why when it was destroyed due to the ongoing conflict, the loss for the community was incalculable. It once housed over 90K books, and on May 2021, it ceased to exist.
In the middle of the tragedy, a spark of hope was ignited when the news started to spread and soon after hundreds if not thousands of people around the world had come together to offer help.
In the UK, the efforts to support Samir garnered an awesome 150,000+ books, (your purchases contributed 25,000+ of those!), but the challenge then was how to make sure they reached their destination safely. This is where we knew we could make the biggest impact. “With a dedicated warehouse and book collection capabilities already in place, AwesomeBooks was perfectly positioned to manage the thousands of book donations from people and businesses from all over the UK”, CEO and AwesomeBooks co-founder Taskeen Ahmed said. Your support allowed us to put our resources and experience in handling large scale donations at the service of this cause.
Our head of impact Sannah Maan worked closely with activists across the country to coordinate the collection, storage and organisation of the donations, so what started with an appeal for help in May 2021, materialised as shelves full of books the people of Gaza now have access to.
Mahvish Rukshana, organiser of the book appeal in the UK said “the success of this project is a testament to the good in humanity”, a sentiment echoed by all of us in AwesomeBooks, and booklovers everywhere, no doubt.
Today we have an awesome guest takeover of our blog —Christiane Bellstedt Myers, author of Scandi Christmas brings us one of her amazing Christmas projects to make your decorations even more special.
Don’t forget to share your creations with us through social media!
Without further ado, let’s get to crafting!
Glitter Paper Trees by Christiane Bellstedt Myers
There is something special about being able to create a stunning centerpiece for your Christmas table without spending a lot of money. Adding a pinch of glitter reflects the light, making your table shimmer and feel magical and festive. Make a large tree or several smaller ones—or whatever combination works best for you!
Terra cotta plant pot (I used an antique terra cotta pot but any = would work)
Paper (preferably old newspaper with a Christmas story or old sheet music)
White craft (PVA) glue
Star cookie cutter
How to make your Glitter Paper Tree
Use a craft knife to cut a piece of oasis from the block. Make sure that the oasis fits into the plant pot snugly. Push a wooden skewer vertically into the center of the oasis, with the pointed end at the top. You may want to trim the wooden skewer, depending on the size of your pot.
Take your paper in bunches of three or four pages and rip them into squares of varying sizes. There is no need to be precise; it is actually much cuter when the edges of the paper are not straight.
Start pushing your bundles of paper onto the skewer. Turn the pot slightly as you add more paper bundles so that the edges of the paper are not all lined up evenly. You want to gradually decrease the size of the torn squares to resemble the shape of a tree.
Take a small paintbrush and use it to spread glue on the edges of the paper. Sprinkle with as much silver glitter as you want! (Do this over a piece of old newspaper so you can catch and reuse the excess glitter.)
Use a cookie cutter or draw and cut out two star shapes.
Apply some glue on one star and press the other star onto it with the tip of the skewer sandwiched in the middle. Use the clothespin to hold the star in place while the glue dries; remove when the glue is dry. Paint the star with a little more glue and sprinkle with glitter to finish.
If you want to see more of Christine’s wonderful ideas, don’t hesitate to check out Scandi Christmas!
We hope you have fun making some awesome paper trees to decorate this festive season!
COP26, the UN Climate Conference, is now in full swing, starting its second week in Glasgow. Leaders from all over the world have gathered in what is called the “last, best hope” to tackle global warming —a problem that affects us all, but how can we talk about it with the youngest ones?
Take a look at a selection of our favourite books to share with younger readers as they learn about what is happening at COP26
For Young Readers (4-7 Years)
The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown
This is the story of how a young boy can transforms a gray city into a lush, green world —a beautiful reminder of the power that one small person can have to transform the world.
The Lorax is a timeless classic that has been using humour and rhyme to raise awareness of the destruction of the environment for more than fifty years. This ode to conservation is the perfect book to inspire a deep love for the planet in young readers.
It’s easy to feel as if nothing you do can really make a difference when it comes to climate change, but in Earth Heroes each tale is a beacon of hope in the fight for the future of our planet, proving that one person, no matter how small, can make a difference.
If you’re worried about climate change, this book is an essential and reassuring read. Packed with reassuring step by step actions and easy to follow DIY activities, How You Can Save The Planet is the perfect gift for young activists who want to make a difference.
We kick off this week with a list of recommended eco-fiction books inspired by COP26, the UN Climate Conference being held in Glasgow. Leaders from all over the world have gathered in what is called the “last, best hope” to tackle global warming —a problem that affects us all.
Here are some of our favourite books that bring the environment into the foreground, some of them inspiring hope, and others bringing attention to how, if we don’t act now, it could turn it into the villain of the story.