February half term is never my favourite time of year, grey, wet and cold it was this year enhanced by some wonderfully sunny days but more so by a lovely big pile of new children’s books. Some of the books I have had the pleasure of reading are not to be published for a couple of months yet – one of the benefits of being part of the industry – being able to read in advance. However I will tell you about them nonetheless as you can then add them to your wants list!
Despite the apparently large selection I am about to share with you here there are still more on my pile and I will find time to get to them all so if, publishers and authors, you are reading this, I will get to your books very soon!
I am regularly asked if I have a favourite author or indeed book and I can honestly say I don’t, not for children’s or for adult literature. I have favourites whose books I love to return to or make a point of reading when a new one comes out but one single favourite is impossible to choose and so it is with this selection here, there were some I loved but I enjoyed them all.
Starting with books for teens, the ones I have quite literally just read Ann Brashares The Here and Now (Hachette Children’s) is an exciting and quite different time travel romance, it is at once entirely believable and also wonderfully futuristic. I found myself willing Prenna to make everything right, to fall in love and for it to work for her, she is a brilliant heroine, strong, clever, and feisty, someone to look up to. Prenna must live by a set of rules in a community driven by fear. She knows that there is always a second chance. She knows that there is more-than-meets-the-eye taking place. A gripping thrilling romantic story this book had me gripped and I know it will you too.
Another thriller, this one contemporary and equally believable is A J Grainer’s Captive (Simon & Schuster). Robyn Elizabeth Knoylls-Green is 16, the daughter of the prime minister and survivor of an assassination attempt. This makes her an A-List celebrity and a target. Kidnapped by a mysterious game, caught in a web of deceit and corruption Robyn must keep reminding herself of the most basic facts including that she is still alive. But who is the mysterious and melancholy boy in charge of guarding her? Can she find a way in and a way out, can she unravel the deceit in time? This is a most intelligent thriller, one which makes you feel you know where it is going only to surprise you again!
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (Penguin Random House) may not be published until July but it is a debut not to be missed. This MUST go on your to-buy list. Whilst I worked out the twist quite early on there were strands to be followed and understood that kept me reading and meant I got through it all in one sitting! Intelligent, dark and bewitching this is the story of one family and the mysterious curse that hangs over them.
Now to books for Junior readers and I will start with a sequel, one that I hope is only the second in a new series. I thought that A Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens (Penguin Random House) was rather like a cross between Famous Five and Agatha Christie! Arsenic for Tea is the second Wells and Wong Mystery and is equally fun and intriguing Schoolgirl detectives on the case of a mysterious poisoning, can they solve the mystery before another victim succumbs? Wonderful fun.
Cathy Cassidy is an author with a strong and loyal following. Alice in Wonderland is a classic title. Put the two together and Looking Glass Girl by Cathy Cassidy (Puffin Books) is the modern day Alice, a girl who falls down a hole and finds herself. A growing-up fantasy with echoes of realism, this is a perfect modern retelling.
A Whisper of Wolves by Kris Humphrey (Stripes) has echoes of Michelle Paver’s Wolf Boy but is a unique story of one girl, her power to understand wolves and the danger she faces when it appears no-one will believe the demons have returned. This is the first of four stories in a new series of adventure, fantasy and war, family and courage.
On the subject of courage I come to the new novel by Lucy Coats. Known for her stories of ancient myth this one is no exception. A young Queen Cleopatra is the heroine of Cleo (Hachette) and with all the glamour of Ancient Egypt, the glory, the wealth and the power we learn of her struggle against monstrous half-sisters and blood-thirsty gods. A gripping and exciting read.
Well that is it for my half term reading but I would love to know about yours!