Today it’s my first blog this year on the Big Project Blog. Each month I will be bringing you a round up of MG/YA reads from the month featuring new releases and newly discovered books that I have read. I’m starting off this month with some stellar reads that I have really enjoyed that have each moved me in very different ways.
The Goldfish Boy – Lisa Thompson
‘The Goldfish Boy’ is a truly stunning debut from Lisa Thompson. Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business. Until the day a toddler staying next door goes missing and Matthew finds himself at the centre of the mystery. Every one of his neighbours is a suspect, so Matthew must turn detective whilst facing his own fears. A beautifully written tale that deals with grief, mental illness and the power of friendship. Lisa has assembled a fantastic cast of characters that highlights that we all have our own unique quirks that are part of our personalities, but don’t necessarily need to define us as individuals. It also offers the reader an insightful look into why people behave the way they do. I failed to unravel the mystery of who was responsible for the disappearance of the boy next door, but I was so enthralled by this tale I read 300 pages in one sitting, desperate to uncover the truth. Warm and wonderful, a definite must have read.
You can read a really interesting guest post from Lisa Thompson on ‘Writing Your Novel – 5 Things I’ve Learnt’ over on my blog.
A Girl Called Owl – Amy Wilson
It’s bad enough having a mum dippy enough to name you Owl, but when you’ve got a dad you’ve never met, a best friend who needs you more than ever, and a new boy at school giving you weird looks, there’s not a lot of room for much else. So when Owl starts seeing strange frost patterns on her skin, she’s tempted to just burrow down under the duvet and forget all about it. Could her strange new powers be linked to her mysterious father? And what will happen when she enters the magical world of winter for the first time? This magical debut from Amy Wilson will cast a spell over you with its wonderfully atmospheric and stunning storytelling. She seamlessly weaves contemporary and fairy tale worlds filled with personified elements and seasons where our heroine Owl finds herself caught up in a bizarre and surreal adventure. With a brilliant supporting cast of characters this book is ensure to enchant and delight its readers.
Wing Jones – Katherine Webber
‘Wing Jones’ by Katherine Webber was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. The bookish world on Twitter has been buzzing about this book since proofs started arriving in bloggers hands. As soon as I possibly could I headed to my nearest book shop and got my hands on a copy of this stunning debut and it has certainly lived up to the hype. ‘Wing Jones’ is an extraordinary debut that filled me with despair and joy in equal measures. When tragedy strikes Wing’s family she discovers an extraordinary talent she never knew she had which helps her work through the pain in her life. Wonderfully diverse and rich in its characterisation I found Wing’s family irresistibly compelling, I have particular fondness for her grandmothers who provide anchorage for the family in their own unique ways. Wing herself is somebody that many girls will resonate with, struggling to fit in and find her path in life it seems ironic that only through tragedy does she find her place in the world. If you read one YA book this year then it should be this, it is a total triumph!
Barrington Stoke Teen Reads
Barrington Stoke have released a brilliant line up of teen reads this month each of them bringing the very best of stories from a fantastic line up of authors. Understanding that not all teens will be able to access huge tomes of novels that seem to dominate the YA market, they also introduce reluctant readers to new authors who they may go on to read in the future. I personally love to read novellas, they provide an escape to a different world for a brief period of time that cleverly capture our imaginations very quickly. Here are three of this month’s releases:
Mind The Gap – Phil Earle
For me Phil Earle can do know wrong, his writing is glorious. I’m a huge fan of his MG ‘Storey Street’ series and was intrigued to read ‘MindThe Gap’ after he chatted with me about this in a Q & A last year over on my blog. Inspired by a true story ‘Mind the Gap is a raw and emotional portrayal about the destructive power of grief and how friendship at its very best, can save your life. Mikey is falling to pieces after the death of his mostly absent father. He loved his old man, no matter what, but his grief is consuming him and he is making really stupid decisions. It wasn’t just Mikey who lost someone when his dad died, his best friend lost Mikey and when he can’t bear it any longer he sets out to give Mikey his memories back. Filled with pain and tension, I found myself desperately hoping that Mikey’s best friend would be able to help him in some way and at the end I found myself shouting at him, begging him to listen to his friend. This story will stay with me for a long time an honest and moving account of the anguish of loss.
Until We Win – Linda Newbery
It seemed quite apt that I read ‘Until We Win’ on the day of the ‘Womens March’ that was taking place all around the world and the fight and struggles of the Suffragettes comes to life in Linda Newbery’s latest book. A hundred years ago, women didn’t have the vote. When Lizzy Frost becomes involved with the fledgling Suffragette movement, it expands her horizons in ways she never could have imagined. From time spent in prison for the cause, to new relationships with fellow campaigners, Lizzy’s struggle for Votes for Women sets her heart on Fire. I love how ‘Until We Win’ illustrates how ordinary women became involved in this protest and how difficult and unequal their lives where during this period. A powerful and enduring story which captures the spirit of this time and how Suffragettes were perceived by society. By including the break out of World War One in the story we see the stark irony that during times of great need women were given freedom to take on non traditional roles that was cruelly taken away from them at the end of the war. This is an important book that should be in every school library, lest we forget the huge sacrifices women made to secure a right that we just take for granted today. I have to give a shout out to Stewart Easton who created the cover artwork using a Suffragette tactic of protest embroidery featuring the distinctive colour scheme of the movement, purple for dignity, white for purity and green for hope.
The Liar’s Handbook – Keren David
Inspired by recent real-life cases, ‘The Liar’s Handbook’ by Keren David is an uncompromising tale filled with treachery and betrayal. River’s life is blown apart when his mum invites her new boyfriend into their home and their lives. He is instantly suspicious of Jason – he seems fake too good to be true. At school and home River finds himself in constant trouble because of his excessive imagination so nobody is ever really sure if he is telling the truth. He is encouraged to channel his fantasies into creative writing and begins The Liar’s Handbook with plans to investigate Jason. But when he starts to pry into his new Jason’s affairs he uncovers a deception that he wasn’t expecting which will change his life forever. Dramatic and gripping with unexpected twists, this books packs a punch and manages to cram in plenty of danger, excitement and tension that will captivate the reader.
A huge thank you to Barrington Stoke, Macmillan and Scholastic for sending me copies of these books.