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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Book Zone Book of the Year 2015

Every year since 2010 I have posted a list of my favourite books of the year. This year, that list appeared first over on Middle Grade Strikes Back an hour or so ago, albeit missing a small number of YA books that I loved in 2015. In 2015 I seem to have read less YA books than ever before, but with my appetite for exciting action adventure stories being fully satisfied with books for this younger age group I have rarely felt the need to dip into the world of young adult fiction this year.

This originally started out as a Top 10 middle grade books of 2015 post, although I had a nagging feeling that this might not be as easy as I originally thought as 2015 has been a tremendous year for mg books in the UK. A quick look back through my goodreads account showed a huge list of MG books that I have given 5 stars to in 2015, so I've had to engage my brain even more to decide which among all those A Grade books should be elevated to the equivalent of the GCSE A*. The three YA books I have included were complete no-brainers.

And so, in no particular order, other than to leave my personal favourite middle grade book of 2015 to the end, these are the books I truly loved in 2015:


Bloodstone by Allan Boroughs




The sequel to the author's 2014 debut, the fabulous Ironheart. It's a hugely enjoyable action/adventure story in a post-apocalyptic setting filled with wonderful characters.


Fire Girl by Matt Ralphs




In Fire Girl, author Matt Ralphs has created a thoroughly entertaining blend of alternative English history and thrilling magical fantasy. Everything about this book is great: the plot, the pace and above all the characters. Special mention should also be given to Bramley the dormouse and one of my favourite lines of the year: "That's it, witch-child, burn it all down!"


The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands




A thrilling middle grade historical mystery story set in Restoration London. The Blackthorn Key is perfect for lovers of mystery thrillers, and young readers will find the London of 1665 brought completely alive for them as they race through its back streets and alleyways with the young protagonist, Christopher. 


Demolition Dad by Phil Earle




A cracking middle grade British comedy stories, in a similar vein to Walliams and Dahl. It is laugh-out-loud funny and chock full of wonderfully engaging and endearing characters, elements that should make this a guaranteed  hit with young readers.


Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Hall by Gabrielle Kent




The last 18 months has seen a number of children's books featuring magic and adventure. Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Hall is, in my opinion, easily the best so far. It has shapeshifters, mythical creatures, time travel, ancient druidic magic, a rather splendid and mysterious butler, and the wonderful Hexbridge Castle itself - almost a character in its own right.


The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell




Katherine Rundell did not disappoint with her first book to be published since the multi-award winning Rooftoppers. A future classic is a phrase too often used these days, but rarely has it been more deserved than when applied to this thrilling, humorous and heart-warming story. 


Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black




This year has seen the release of two books in Peter Jay Black's thrilling Urban Outlaws series, Blackout and Lockdown. With its blend of heists, action and hi-tech adventure, this exciting, hi-octane series has now become one of my favourite series of the last year or so.


Murder Most Unladylike mysteries by Robin Stevens




This is another current favourite series that has seen the release of two books this year, both of them even better than last year's fabulous Murder Most Unladylike. Arsenic for Tea introduced us to Daisy Well's wonderfully dysfunctional family, and then First Class Murder took the two girls on murder-filled journey on the Orient Express. Jolly Foul Play is one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.


The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine




Middle grade mystery stories are enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment, led of course by Robin Stevens. With her debut, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, Katherine Woodfine has leapt into the fray. The setting of a new department store in Edwardian London is wonderfully realised and the perfect location for this thrilling mystery adventure sotry.


Hamish and the Worldstoppers by Danny Wallace (illustrated by Jamie Littler)




The past 18 months have seen a much greater number of middle grade books published with accompanying illustrations. Danny Wallace's debut for kids, Hamish and the Worldstoppers, is my favourite of those published in 2015, both in story and artwork. It is the kind of book that has something for everyone: action, adventure, humour, fantasy and brave kids fighting battles against nasty monsters from another dimension.


The Imagination Box by Martyn Ford




This modern, exciting and very funny take on the classic genie-in-the-lamp tale still has me chuckling now when I think about it, many months later. You see, it has a talking finger monkey called Phillip, and it's worth reading purely for this. However, if you expect more from your books than a talking finger monkey called Phillip, then it is also a thoroughly entertaining, funny mystery adventure story.

Young Adult

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo



It's a brilliant heist story. That's usually enough to grab my attention on its own. But it's also a heist carried out by a team of misfits, each with their own special abilities, assembled to carry out a seemingly impossible mission. All set in Leigh Bardugo's wonderfully imagined fantasy world. Even if I had read nothing by YA this year, I can't believe that there would have been many books I enjoyed reading more than this one.

Railhead by Philip Reeve


I was sold on this book when I heard Philip talk about it and read a passage from it at an event some time before its publication. It's trains in space! What more could you possibly need to know? OK, so it is also a fantastic space opera style science fiction story for older middle grade/young adults, the kind of which has been sorely missing for this age group in recent years. 


And my two favourite books of 2015 are (and this will come as little surprise to some as I have been singing the merits of the MG book all year, and the YA book is the final instalment in my all-time favourite YA series ):

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Middle Grade Book of the Year: The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone




I have heaped so much praise on this book over the past year that I am finding it difficult to find any superlatives that I have not already utilised. Simply put, in a year when there have been so many fabulous middle grade books published in the UK, Abi Elphinstone's debut, The Dreamsnatcher, still manages to stand head and shoulders above the rest. The sequel, The Shadow Keeper, would be the book I am most looking forward to reading in 2016 if I hadn't already been incredibly fortunate to be sent an early proof. Needless to say, when it arrived I dropped everything to read it, and hand on heart, I can honestly say it is even more wonderful and magical than The Dreamsnatcher.



Young Adult Book of the Year: Darkest Night by Will Hill



I have reviewed all five books in Will Hill's brilliant Department 19 series, and now, with the publication of this final instalment, I can say with all confidence that this is my favourite series of books for this age group... ever! As I said in my review, I had "never looked forward to and simultaneously dreaded reading a book so much since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and Will Hill did not disappoint in the slightest. This finale was everything I had hoped for, and brought the whole story to an incredibly satisfying end. In the summer my wife and I borrowed her parents' motor home and rove down through France. Carcassonne was high up on my list of must-visit towns, but it was only as we walked into the old town that I remembered it as the setting for the final battle between the forces of good and Dracula, with his legions of vampires. Never could a real-world location be more fitting for such a finale!


8 comments:

  1. I WANT AN URGENT LOVE SPELL TO GET BACK YOUR EX LOVER BACK BY DR. OGUDU STRONG LOVE SPELL WEBSITE: http://oguduspelltemple.wixsite.com/drogudu


    !!!!!!!This is the most wonderful thing i have ever experienced, And i need to share this great testimony, I just want to say thanks to Dr. Ogudu for taking time to help me cast the spell that brought back my ex husband, my name is CAN MILLET FROM USA, I want to share my testimony and my happiness with you all in this site, last year my husband left me for another woman in his working place and he abandon me and my two (2) kids, everything was so hard for me and the kids because i love him so much, so i saw the testimonies of DR OGUDU, On how he has been helping ladies in getting there husband back so i contacted him and he help me to cast a return spell for my husband and the next day my husband left the other woman and he came back to me pleading for forgiveness with so much love and caring. i will never forget this help that DR OGUDU gave to me and my children. if you are here you need help to get you lover back you cancontact him via email-------OGUDUSPELLTEMPLE@YAHOO.COM// WHATSAPP NUMBER +2348106058254/ /WEBSITE---http://oguduspelltemple.wixsite.com/drogudu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello friends my name is Tonya Smith i live in USA,Am over whelmed of what DR. OCUSODO. did for me he brought back my love who left for 1 year ago without notice, i have been looking for how to get this boy back to my life because i love this boy with the whole of my heart, i could not replace him with any body,one day i was watching my television when i saw a lady giving thanks to him and telling the world how he helped her i was so shocked i could not believe it because i never taught that there are powers that can bring back lost love, then that was how i decided to contact him too because i do really need my love back,when i contacted him i told him everything and he told me not to worry that my love will surely be back to my arms within 24hours at first i could not believe because i was thinking how could somebody that has gone for 1 year ago come back within 24 hours,so then i decided to watch and see,unbelievable within the next 24hours i heard a call from unknown number so i decided to pick the call the next thing i could hear was my loves voice he was pleading and begging me on the phone that i should forgive him that i should forget all that have happened that he did not know what came over him,he promised not to leave for any reason, that he was really sorry for what he did,i was so surprised because i never believed that this could happen,so that was how i accepted his apology and the next morning he came to my house and still pleading for me to forgive him i told him that everything is okay that i have forgiven him, that was how we started again and now we are married, i promised to say this testimony in radio station, commenting this testimony is still okay but before this week runs out i promise to say this in radio station and i will,sir thank you very much.World please am begging you people to try and thank this man for me,or if you need his help here is his email address: drocusodospellcaster@gmail.com or drocusodospellcaster@yahoo.com his contact number +2349047457724.

      Delete
  2. Hey guys, How i Got My Ex-boyfriend Back Fast, Dr.Unity love spell casting really worked!
    My boyfriend of 4yr broke up with me i have cried my self to sleep most of the nights and don’t seem to concentrate during lectures, sometimes I stay awake almost all night thinking about him and start to cry all over again.Because of this I end up not having energy for my next day’s classes ,my attendance has dropped. Generally he is a very nice guy ,he ended it because he said we were arguing a lot and not getting along.He is right we’ve been arguing during the pregnancy a lot .After the break up I kept ringing him and telling him I will change.I am in love with this guy and he is the best guy I have ever been with.I’m still hurt and in disbelief when he said he didn’t have any romantic feelings towards me anymore that hurt me faster than a lethal syringe.He texts me now and then mainly to check up on how am doing with the pregnancy,he is supportive with it but it’s not fair on me, him texting me as I just want to grieve the pain and not have any stress due to the pregnancy.i was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a spell for me. 11hours later, ( James)my bf came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my bf are living together happily again..All thanks to Dr Unity. If you have any problem contact Dr.Unity now and i guarantee you that he will help you. Here’s his contact: Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,
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    Jessica Wanda, 24 years, NY, USA.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey guys, Get your ex back fast with the help of a real and genuine spell caster called Dr.Unity.
    I'm so excited my broken Marriage has been restored and my husband is back after a breakup, After 2 years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before,All thanks to Dr Unity. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr Unity real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact: Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,
    you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348071622464 ,
    his website:http://unityspelltemple.yolasite.com .
    Jessica, 26 years, Texas, USA.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey guys, Get your ex back fast with the help of a real and genuine spell caster called Dr.Unity.
    I'm so excited my broken Marriage has been restored and my husband is back after a breakup, After 2 years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before,All thanks to Dr Unity. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr Unity real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact: Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,
    you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348071622464 ,
    his website:http://unityspelltemple.yolasite.com .
    Jessica, 26 years, Texas, USA.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My husband seek for divorce with no reasons for almost 4 years and i tried all i could to have him back cos i really love him so much but all my effort didn't work out, we met at our early age in college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 5 years with no kid and he woke up one morning and he told me he’s going on a divorce, i thought it was a joke and when he came back from work he tender to me a divorce letter and he packed all his belonging from my house and left. i was devastated and i tried all i could to have him back but all did not work. I was lonely for almost 4 years, So i contacted a man who says he is a spell caster and i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for his full name and his picture. I gave him that. At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos i have tried so many spell casters and there is no solution, so when he finished with the readings, he got back to me that he’s with a woman and that woman is the reason why he left me, The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring him back, but i never believe all this he told me i will see a positive result within 3 days. 3 days later, he called me himself and came to me apologizing and he told me he will come back home. I can't believe this, it was like a dream cos i never believe this will work out after trying many spell casters and there is no solution. The spell caster is so powerful and after that he helped me with a pregnancy spell and i got pregnant a month later, we are now happy been together again and with lovely kid. This spell caster has really changed my life and i will forever thankful to him, he has helped many of my friends too with similar problem and they are happy and thankful to him. This man is indeed the most powerful spell caster i have ever experienced in life. Am Posting this to the Forum in case there is anyone who has similar problem and still looking for a way out. you can reach him here: website http://marvelspelltemple.webs.com/ EMAIL: marvelspelltemple@gmail.com or on +2348071660388

    ReplyDelete
  6. Life is good when you have your love ones around you, I am saying this because when i had issues with my lover i never seen life as a good thing but thanks to Dr. OGUDUGU OF OGUDUGU SOLUTION TEMPLE, for helping me to cast a spell that brought my lover back to me within the space of 48hours. My husband left me for another woman after 7YEARS of marriage,but Dr.OGUDUGU help me cast a spell that brought him back to me within 48hours. I am not going to tell you more details about myself rather i will only advise those who are having issues in there relationship or marriages to contact Dr.OGUDUGU SOLUTION TEMPLE through these details via; (GREATOGUDUGU@GMAIL.COM Website: http://greatdrogudugusolutiontemple.webs.com/) or call him on WHATSAPP: +2348055304321?


    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello friends my name is Tonya Smith i live in USA,Am over whelmed of what DR. OCUSODO. did for me he brought back my love who left for 1 year ago without notice, i have been looking for how to get this boy back to my life because i love this boy with the whole of my heart, i could not replace him with any body,one day i was watching my television when i saw a lady giving thanks to him and telling the world how he helped her i was so shocked i could not believe it because i never taught that there are powers that can bring back lost love, then that was how i decided to contact him too because i do really need my love back,when i contacted him i told him everything and he told me not to worry that my love will surely be back to my arms within 24hours at first i could not believe because i was thinking how could somebody that has gone for 1 year ago come back within 24 hours,so then i decided to watch and see,unbelievable within the next 24hours i heard a call from unknown number so i decided to pick the call the next thing i could hear was my loves voice he was pleading and begging me on the phone that i should forgive him that i should forget all that have happened that he did not know what came over him,he promised not to leave for any reason, that he was really sorry for what he did,i was so surprised because i never believed that this could happen,so that was how i accepted his apology and the next morning he came to my house and still pleading for me to forgive him i told him that everything is okay that i have forgiven him, that was how we started again and now we are married, i promised to say this testimony in radio station, commenting this testimony is still okay but before this week runs out i promise to say this in radio station and i will,sir thank you very much.World please am begging you people to try and thank this man for me,or if you need his help here is his email address: drocusodospellcaster@gmail.com or drocusodospellcaster@yahoo.com his contact number +2349047457724.

    ReplyDelete