Favourites of the Year...So Far

This year is moving along so quickly! Here it is the middle of April...new books are being published thick and fast. I thought it was time to have a look at my favourite books that are out so far this year. They include picture books, middle-grade fiction and YA. So...here we go:

PICTURE BOOKS
Number one on this part of my list has to be  FOR ALL THE STARS ACROSS THE SKY; author: Karl Newson, illustrator: Chiaki Odaka. The perfect story for those quiet moments, it is comforting, calmly adventurous and exquisitely illustrated. Echoing the picture book classics of the past, this is one of the most perfect picture books I have seen in a long, long time.

I also have to give a big shout out for MAYA AND CAT, author/illustrator: Carloine Magerl. An affectionate, playful, cosy adventure, it also expresses a lovely sense of empathy and understanding. Illustrated with lots of detail in a whimsical, expressive style, I just love it!

GASPARD THE FOX, author: Zeb Soanes, illustrator: James Mayhew tells us the story of an urban fox and his adventures over the course of a day. With a great eye for detail and an insightful sense of character, this story is charming,  informative, entertaining and one that I think should be on everyones' shelf. One to read again and again.

And finally (in the picture book segment), I fell in love with MY GRANDMA AND ME, author: Mina Javaherbin, illustrator: Lindey Yankey. A gentle, eloquent story that is at once personal and universal, it is warmhearted, wise, joyful and expresses how the small moments of life become the biggest memories. Simply beautiful and I think one that children everywhere (and many adults as well) will treasure.

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION
The top place of my MG reading list has to go to THE LITTLE GREY GIRL, author: Celine Kiernan (with an amazing cover and interior illustrations by Jessica Courtney-Tickle). This is the second in the Wild Magic series, picking up at the moment Begone the Raggedy Witches left off. It enthralled me from the very first line, wrapping me up in this incredible, magical, moving tale that is everything a story should be; dramatic, dangerous, heartwarming, descriptive and imaginative...I just can't wait for the third!

You just have to read THE STAR-SPUN WEB, author: Sinéad O'Hart! A well-crafted plot and exceptional story-telling take you on adventure that is fascinating, intriguing and completely spell-binding. Quirky humour set in the darkest moments of the tale lift the reader into the a strong sense of resilience. Compelling, curious and dripping with real courage.

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR, authors: Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder pulls together contemporary themes, family life and the world of myth and legend flawlessly. The characters and locations leap off the page in this exceptional fantasy/adventure which is highly original and simply wonderful!

If you prefer a bit of murder-mystery in your reading, do get your hands on HIGH RISE MYSTERY, author: Sharna Jackson. This outstanding debut takes on the classic murder-mystery format and brings it up to date with a fast-paced plot, true to life situations and refreshing, genuine characters. Engaging, clever and captivating...this is just brilliant!

And a fifth recommendation in the MG slot. Please, please read POG, author: Pádraig Kenny, cover and interior illustrations by Jane Newland. Pog reads like a fairytale; filled with beauty, hope, danger and resilience (with wonderful moments of humour sprinkled throughout) in a magical journey through grief and recovery. Never maudlin, always intriguing and uplifting, this is an adventure of rising and strength with incredible characters and is filled with life. I love Pog!

YOUNG ADULT FICTION


If you haven't got your hands on ON THE COME UP, author: Angie Thomas yet...what are you waiting for? This story of 16-year-old Bri; daughter of a murdered street rapper with big dreams of her own is incisive, raw and poignant. A gripping, true-to-life story, it is a raw, poignant reminder of the lives lived by so many people. Bri is a dynamic character; caught in a web, she is struggling to stay exactly as she is and, in the end, emerges from that battle triumphant. Inspirational and real.

THE QUIET AT THE END OF THE WORLD, author Lauren James is the perfect is the perfect read for science-fiction adventure fans, readers of dystopia and those who want a thought-provoking tale of a possible future scenario. It leaves a certain disquieting sense in its' wake which calls into question racism, environmental concerns, medical and technological research, evolution and what it means to be human. Nuanced, compelling, beautiful and completely believable.

In THE HAND, THE EYE AND THE HEART, author Zoe Marriott, we find a reworking of the old Chines fairytale Mulan. Yet in a world ripe with the flavours of old China, we have a very contemporary tale. In a marvelous feat of world-building, this is an examination of gender identity, societal expectations, power and corruption and manipulation. Never intending to lay claim to Chinas' actual history, it does what fairytales do best; it weaves a spell that tells the reader more about their own world; their own sense of being than any tale of the ancient past ever could. Exquisitely written and extremely timely.






So...there you have my favourites so far this year. What am I most looking forward to (also known as Coming Next....)? Well...you'll just have to wait and see. But here are a few covers to act as hints....



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