AJ Grainger

2015 - Children's Books To Look Forward To

I had a neck injury last week which meant I could only type for short amounts of time. As I have a novel for adults to finish before Christmas this was not the idea situation, although said novel is the very reason I was spending so long every day at my computer. The Catch 22 of a writer’s life. I had to rest my neck at regular intervals. Yes, this does mean I had to lie in bed and for those of you who know me, yes, I was very cranky. I’m not a good patient! However it did mean I got lots and lots of reading done.

Not only did I catch up on books published in 2014, I also read lots of books out in 2015. I’m now pretty much on top of my to-be-read pile for the first time in a year. I have a few yet to be published books to read next (writers looking for feedback) and then my 2014 reading will be complete.

So what goodies should you be looking out for in 2015?

Some Strong YA Titles

captive a j
captive a j

Captive by AJ Grainger (Jan 29th)

Annalie Grainger is my editor at Walker so I was predisposed to like this one but also worried that I wouldn’t. I needn’t have stressed – it’s super. A smart, gripping thriller about a girl called Robyn Knollys-Green who is the daughter of the British Prime Minister. She’s kidnapped by a radical group but one of her captors is not all that he seems.

Annalie has a wonderful voice and Robyn is a flawed yet highly likable heroine. The moral questions in the book are handled deftly and I flew through this one. 8/10

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle (Jan)

Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever when a family of five boys moves into a house in her neighbourhood. Her father is in jail and her life is not exactly easy. But it’s about to get even more complicated.

Set in Chicago, this is a compelling romance set in the Mafia underworld. Another strong debut, this time by an Irish author. 8/10

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Another debut, with one of the strongest opening pages I’ve read in a long time:

‘One afternoon, when I was eight years old, my class was told to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up . . . This is what I wrote: I want to be a girl.’

I haven’t finished this one yet, but I love the voice and it’s another gripping read. 8/10 so far

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Jan)

A wonderful book, funny and heartbreaking and real. The main character, Theodore Finch holds the reader’s attention (and heart) right through the book. I love American YA and this is right up there with John Green and Sarah Dessen. 8/10

Next on the to-be-read pile is:

Still Falling by Sheena Wilkinson (Feb)

I’ve just started this one and I love it so far. Sheena is such a strong writer and her dialogue sings. 8/10 so far

Age 9+ (Middle Grade)

Darkmouth_Front_RGB2 (1)
Darkmouth_Front_RGB2 (1)

Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty (29th Jan)

Believe the hype. This fantasy adventure yarn is a stunning debut. The relationship between the young hero (anti-hero in fact as the clumsy lad isn’t exactly equipped to save the world), Finn and his father, a famous Legend (monster) hunter, is touching and real, and I adored Finn’s hard-working dentist mum, one of the funniest characters in the book. There are touches of Ghostbusters in the mix, along with some Bond-like gadgets, plus a rather Dickensian setting (the mist-swirling town of Darkmouth).

It’s for slightly younger readers than Skulduggery Pleasant, there’s more family drama and less horror. Hegarty’s writing has an attractive lightness to it, and now and then his clever life observations make you sit up and take notice. It’s slightly slow to get going as there’s a lot of world-building to do, but I can’t wait to read the second book in the series. With a super cover design and a catchy but simple tag line – ‘They’re coming and only Finn can save us. Shame he’s a bit rubbish’, not to mention a cracking first book, I think those clever folk at HarperCollins have another top brand on their hands. 9/10

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (29th Jan)

Andy and Terry live in the world’s best treehouse according to the blurb on the back of this book. And after reading the book, I have to agree.

Already a huge hit in their native Australia (360,000 copies sold), this series will make any Wimpy Kid fan happy with its blend of humor and zany illustration. 7/10

The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce (March) is also on the to-be-read pile, along with Sarah Bannan’s adult novel, Weightless (March). I'm also looking forward to reading Phil Earle's Demolition Dad.

Plenty to look forward to in 2015 already!

Yours in books,

Sarah XXX