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My Top Fantasy/Young Adult Reads of 2016

I read 50 books in 2016, which is record breaking for me. Here’s a selection of my faves. Add me on Goodreads so I can see what you read!

(NB: these are in no order, and they are books read in 2016, not published).

nimona graphic novel cover1. This graphic novel was a cracking start to the year – Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson. Hilarious, swashbuckling & perfectly drawn, I’ve since repeatedly bought this for friends as it’s the silly kind of funny my inner circle all love.

2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I was on the British Fantasy Awards jury for Best Novel this year, which meant I had to read a clutch of wonderful books, fast.

Honorable mention to Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea series, which I happily crammed into a week so I could read the shortlisted final instalment, but Uprooted was my favourite of the nominees. I liked how it subverted some of the expectations of the genre, and never went quite where I expected it to.

3. Fire and Hemlock by Dianna Wynne Jones. Now, this one definitely didn’t come out in 2016. I’ve been meaning to read it for pretty much as long as I’ve been reading. I read her now-classic Archers Goon when I was about ten, & I was awed because I didn’t know books were ‘allowed’ to be so funny and weird.

This is the Wynne-Jones novel Maggie Stiefvater always recommends, so it’s no surprise that I liked it. ‘Magic happening to ordinary children’ is always a fave setup (see also: E Nesbit), and Polly was the kind of girl I’d have liked to be friends with. I was wrong-footed by the ending, but I got to go online and find plenty of theories and rants about it, always a bonus.

4. Joan Aiken was another writer I loved way back when. Black Hearts in Battersea (the sequel to The Wolves of Willoughby Chase) gave me a hilarious, easy read on last year’s miserable winter commutes. Cool points for being set in the parts of London I commuted to!

power naomi alderman5. The Power by Naomi Alderman Ahhh this was an EPIC read. I found it while prowling Audible with a spare credit burning a hole in my account. This had a blurb from Margaret Atwood (MARGARET ATWOOD!), so hello, instabuy!

The novel is set in a version of our society where women develop a unique physical power, making them more physically powerful than men. It plays with several ideas of power, how we use and react to it, and how power shapes cultures and history.

I didn’t stop listening for days, pausing only to recommend it to all of my friends and rave about it on Twitter. I even listened while cooking at Christmas, hoping no one would come in & recoil from the violent parts. (The gravity of audiobooks is such that people will always come in during the violent or romantic parts).

6. Of course I need to include The Raven King here, because Continue Reading →

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A Magik Solstice

magic spooky burning of the clocks winter solstice brighton

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Uprooted wins Best Novel Award

Best Fantasy Novel

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted won Best Fantasy Novel Award at FantasyCon this weekend. Wahoo!
As you know, I had much fun being on the jury for this award, and had a book-filled summer working my way through the shortlist.

The shortlist was strong and varied, proving again that Fantasy as an umbrella term is a very broad, well, umbrella.

While I enjoyed reading them all, I confess Uprooted was my favourite. It twists away from the expected tropes of fairytale quite quickly, while staying close enough to the rules to make you admire how clever and refreshing it is. The magic (foresty, woodsy, ancient) was exactly the kind I like best, I dug the friendships between the female characters, and I harboured a modest crush on the main love interest.

Try reading your way through the shortlist, and, hey, why stop there? Check out the winners in *every* category. Award lists are a great way to find your next obsession.

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A sneak peek at my new writing room

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