Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
This is ten of the best – not necessarily an absolute top ten because my thoughts have changed a LOT while writing this; there’ve been so many incredible ones released! I’ve also stuck rigidly to books released in the first half of the year that I’ve actually READ this year as well – check out last week’s post for some of my favourite upcoming ones, while there are lots that I was lucky enough to read early. Of ones I read prior to 2016, special mentions to How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne, The Shadow Keeper by Abi Elphinstone, and The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell as superb.
Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson with advice from Dr Olivia Hewitt (illustrated by Gemma Correll) – Brilliant no-nonsense non-fiction guide to lots of different aspect of mental health. I love the way Juno and Olivia break things down really clearly; it’s supportive in tone and really humorous making it an enjoyable read as well as an informative one.
Emily Sparkes and the Disco Disaster/Emily Sparkes and the Backstage Blunder by Ruth Fitzgerald – Can’t separate these two fantastic contemporary MG books! The Emily Sparkes series is up there with Susie Day’s Pea’s Book (and spin-off Secret series) as my favourite recent MG contemporary series. Emily is such a fabulous character and the humour found in these books is superb. I really love her relationships with her friends and parents, and I’m unsure if there are more Emily Sparkes books planned but I’m definitely hoping there will be!
Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan – One of several on this list which has an outstanding setting, Liz Flanagan’s debut is a tense thriller which sees lead character Jess try to work out what’s happened to her best friend Eden who has just disappeared. We see Jess wander around the Yorkshire countryside trying to find clues as to her friend’s potential whereabouts but we also see flashbacks which help us realise what led to this moment – probably the best use of flashbacks I’ve seen since Tess Sharpe’s incredible Far From You. I adored the central friendship here, as well!
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – Wonderful YA book about a girl who travels through space and time on a pirate ship with her father, who is desperately trying to return to late 19th century Hawaii and save the life of her mother – even if it results in her being wiped from existence. I thought the world-building here – particularly Hawaii before it became part of the USA – was phenomenal and loved the relationship between Nix and love interest Kashmir.
This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin – Really outstanding contemporary about a love triangle between a girl and a boy who’ve had mutual crushes on each other for ages but never acted on them until a new boy joins their band and sets things in motion. This REALLY stood out for me as one of the boys is asexual and it’s the first novel I’ve read with an ace lead involved in a romantic relationship. It makes my heart sing to see such amazingly positive ace rep and it’s something I’m really hoping for more of in the future!
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – My UKYA book of the year so far, Alice Oseman’s second novel is a stunning story of the platonic friendship between a boy and a girl and the podcast they create together. With so much YA having romantic relationships as the central part, it’s great to see a non-romantic friendship take centre stage, and both the main character Frances and her friend Aled are wonderful here. In addition, an excellent portryal of two very different mother-child relationships, and more representation for the asexual spectrum, with one character being demisexual.
Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden – There’s no shortage of MG adventure stories about children finding out they have a hidden talent and standing up to help save the world, but this is among the very best of them. Rudden adds real humour to the excitement of his central storyline, in which Denizen Hardwick finds out he’s part of a secret army protecting the world against monsters, and the style is reminiscent of Derek Landy’s incredibly successful Skulduggery Pleasant series – and sure to go down brilliantly with fans of those books!
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – I think this is the first novel I’ve read which both has a trans main character and is written by a trans author and it really is breathtakingly good. It explores central character Amanda joining a new school, her difficult relationship with her father – who’s clearly struggling with her transition – and the general issues of being the new kid mixed with her wanting to keep her past secret. While bad things happen in this one, it’s overall a warm and hopeful read – much needed!
My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger – This took me completely by surprise due to being darker than most of the books I really enjoy, but Anna’s story as she escapes from issues at home to stay with her actress sister, and then gets a job researching Charles Manson’s murderous Family for a film hooked me completely. I think it’s a stunning coming-of-age story and love the way that it shows the parallels between the central character’s life and those of the Manson girls, without ever feeling like it’s condoning them.
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk – This spectacular MG novel – about a girl who fights injustice in 1940s America, hiding a former soldier who she believes to be wrongly suspected of blinding a friend of hers and possibly doing something worse to a bullying classmate – lives up to the To Kill A Mockingbird comparisons. The small town setting is wonderful and the suspicion cast on Toby is brilliantly built up and feels chillingly believable. I was practically reading through my fingers by the end of the book, I was so worried about the ending.