Monday, 5 January 2015

YA Yeah Yeah Year-Ends: Shortlists, Day 4 - Best MG

This was a staggeringly good year for MG, for me personally and for releases in general, I think. My original plan was a top 10 but I quickly realised there was no way I could cut it down to 10, so here's 15 of the very best. There are many, many others I loved, and there are numerous ones I haven't had a chance to read but have been told are fantastic!

My Brother's Shadow by Tom Avery (Andersen) - A well-written and moving look at grief and recovery which feels realistic in the time Kaia takes to start to come to terms with her brother’s death, but ultimately optimistic. Kate Grove's illustrations inside add a huge amount to the story. Her black and white pictures really capture the tone of the book perfectly.

Sesame Seade: Scam on the Cam written by Clementine Beauvais, illustrated by Sarah Horne (Hodder Children's) - Sesame's toughest mystery yet is perhaps her best book. A brilliant end to a fabulous trilogy. To borrow Sesame's penchant for alliteration, this is packed full of awesome action, clever characterisation, precise plotting and amazing artwork - what are you waiting for?

Girl With A White Dog by Anne Booth
(Catnip) - This is a book which will completely devastate you with its brilliant voice, wonderful plot, and massively important messages - about forgiveness, family, learning from history, and doing the right thing. It's a book with brilliant characters who are compelling to read about and are well-rounded, flawed individuals. Massively recommended.

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis (Five Fathoms Press) - This novella, a sequel to one of my two favourite ever MG trilogies, has Kat Stephenson, an absolutely fantastic heroine. I love her relationship with her sisters, and the chemistry between her and her love interest here is staggering.

The Very Nearly Honourable League of Pirates: Magic Marks The Spot by Caroline Carlson
(Simon & Schuster) - This mix of magic and piracy is immensely fun, with several wonderful characters - notably lead Hilary, her companion the Gargoyle, and her governess, who's my biggest book crush of 2014. I loved the documents and letters, as well - a wonderful touch.

Pea's Book of Holidays by Susie Day (Red Fox) - Simultaneously a love letter to Enid Blyton, a critique of her work, and a modern-day adventure similar to those she wrote, this is breathtakingly good.

The Executioner's Daughter by Jane Hardstaff (Egmont) - One of the best opening chapters in recent memory, which sees heroine Moss forced to pick up the head of Thomas More in her basket after her father executes him, leads us into an excellent mixture of historical fiction and paranormal creepiness.

The Imaginary written by A F Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett (Bloomsbury) - This is a really magical read. I loved the friendship between the two main characters, Amanda and Rudger, and Emily's illustrations add a lot to the story. The use of colour as a contrast to the mainly black and white illustrations is eye-catching, while the narrative is superb. The ending brings tears to join the scares, and will stay with me for a long time.

Wild Boy and the Black Terror by Rob Lloyd Jones (Walker) - I love the Wild Boy series for its fast pace, great descriptions of Victorian London, excellent dynamic between heroes Wild Boy and Clarissa, and the villains, who continue to be well-rounded with realistic and believable motivations. Also, they're GORGEOUS!

The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury) - A stunning take on Dickens's classic Christmas story, which is a must-read whatever your age. Following two children who beg for money from Scrooge and are turned down, as they live through the visits of the ghosts, it's an incredible read.

Sword of Kuromori by Jason Rohan (Egmont) - Really interesting depiction of Japanese monsters and culture combined with two superb central characters make this a brilliant start to an exciting new series! It has really gripping fight scenes, a wide range of villains, and a hint of romance.

The Map To Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis (Orion) - Brilliant world-building and a superb cast of characters, particularly Finn and Merrill, the central pairing, meant this mixture of piracy and magic absolutely blew me away!

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
(Faber) Heartbreaking sequel to a timeless classic, which somehow improves on the original. Absolutely stunning, massively recommended. I love that the Psammead is developed so brilliantly, while I cried my eyes out throughout the book.

Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton (Catnip) This is, in a word, adorable. In two words, absolutely adorable. In three words... you get the picture, yeah? Kitty and Dylan are a super-cute couple and I loved getting to know them both, while the subplot with Kitty's mum's multiple sclerosis is handled with the sensitivity and tact you'd expect from the wonderful Keris Stainton.

Violet and the Pearl of the Orient written by Harriet Whitehorn, illustrated by Becka Moor (Simon & Schuster) - I adored this clever, funny detective story, and as well as it being brilliantly written, Moor's illustrations and the gorgeous job that S & S have done of publishing it (it's a small hardback, which stands out from nearly every other book on my shelf) really add to the book's charm.

I'll be running the (hopefully long-awaited!) results later this week!

1 comment:

  1. Fab list thank you! I'm not surprised you had to increase from 10 to 15!

    I finished reading The Imaginary this weekend (late to the party on this one I know!). Wonderfully drawn characters. Have you seen the YouTube clip on Emily producing some of the illustrations for the novel? It's quite mesmerising!