Tag Archives: lists

Best of my 2018 reading


Best of my 2018 reading

Here is my annual list of books I have most enjoyed this year (excluding adult books which are outside the purview of this blog). As ever, they are books that I have given 5 stars to in Goodreads and are in no particular order because that’s too much like hard work.


Middle grade

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (graphic memoir)

The Button War by Avi (historical – review to come)

My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver (historical)



The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (nonfiction)

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (historical speculative)

Lighter than my Shadow by Katie Green (graphic memoir)

Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone (realistic)

Lost Soul, Be at Peace by Maggie Thrash (graphic memoir/fantasy)

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (realistic)

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert (realistic)

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge (speculative)

Speak: A Graphic Novel (graphic realistic fiction – review to come)

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (speculative)

And there’s still time to nip out to your local bookstore to score a fab present for the teenager or middle grader in your life!

Happy Christmas!

My favorites of 2017


Here are my favorite books for 2017. These are ones that I gave 5 stars to in Goodreads but don’t include the adult books I read (or, more often, listened to) as they are outside the purview of this blog. My shift towards YA and away from middle grade is virtually complete – I have read some middle grade this year but not very much and only one book makes it onto my list. While some of these YA novels read a little younger than others, they are all definitely intended for a teen, rather than tween, reader.

Realistic Fiction
Genuine Fraud by e. lockhart
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

Speculative Fiction
The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. book 5) by Jonathan Stroud
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Still Life with Tornado by A. S. King
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

There is also one late addition that I have read but not yet posted a review for, but will do at the beginning of the year:
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge


Best of 2016


lie treeHere are my favorite books of 2016. These are all ones I gave five stars to on Goodreads, and unlike last year’s list which was dominated by realistic fiction, this one is almost wholly speculative.

The list is in alphabetical order and I’ve split it into middle grade and YA, though some are more borderline than others, particularly both Hardinge books..

Though my actual paying job has meant that I haven’t been able to read and blog as much as in the past, I’m planning to keep going with at least a weekly post.

Happy reading in 2017!

scorpion rulesYA

As I Descended by Robin Talley

The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne Jones

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby

creeping-shadowMiddle Grade

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Drowned City written and illustrated by Don Brown

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier

The Wooden Prince by John Claude Bemis


Year End Diversity Audit


wndbAfter last year’s KidLitCon, I checked the books I’d read that year to assess how diversely I’d been reading. I felt I’d been doing OK, but could do better and set myself the objective of actively looking out for books with more diverse characters this year. So how have I done?

Well, again the answer is I’d did OK, definitely better than last year but still room for improvement.

Firstly, thanks to Goodreads for sending me my 2015 in Books – it made my task so much easier! I have recorded 87 books this year and I looked at whether the main characters or support characters (important, not just background) were diverse. Here are my stats – note that I have only recorded each book once, no double dipping!

Racial/cultural diversity: 21 books with main characters, and 9 with support characters.

GLBQT: 4 books with main characters and 2 with support (showing the sad demise of the gay best friend for the white girl in my reading this year).

Mental or physical challenges: 5 books with main characters and 4 with support.

This gives a total of 45 books with a diverse main or support character – just over half the books I read.

I think some of this is because I read a lot more YA books this year, and also I did actively try to read more broadly. Overall, I feel it’s a decent proportion and I would like to keep that up, maybe even increase it over the next year.

My Favorite Books of the Year – 2015


I’m deliberately calling these books ‘favorites’ rather than ‘best’, because I think what I enjoy reading is not necessarily going to be in the running for medals. My criterion is that I gave the book 5 stars on Goodreads. I thought I was being less profligate with my stars this year – I was very influenced by this article – but it turns out I have far more top-rated books this year than last (15 versus 9). Maybe I’m just choosing more appealing books to read?

Anyway, here’s this year’s list. Compared to last year’s there’s a lot less speculative fiction, and a lot more YA realistic fiction. I think this is probably more to do with what I’ve been interested in this year rather than a seismic shift in the market. They are in alphabetical order by title as it was too much work to rank them


Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (realistic fiction)

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert (realistic fiction)

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner (realistic fiction)

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming (nonfiction)

Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin (nonfiction)

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith (realistic fiction)

The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond (realistic fiction)

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (realistic fiction)

X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon (historical fiction/bio)


Boys Don’t Knit (in Public) by T. S. Easton (realistic fiction)

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell (speculative fiction)

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (realistic fiction)

Greenglass House by Kate Milford (speculative fiction)

Moonpenny Island by Trisha Springstubb (realistic fiction)

The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold (speculative fiction)

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones (speculative fiction)

Happy reading in 2016!


Happy Anniversary!

Me and Patrick Ness.

Me and Patrick Ness.

It’s the first anniversary of bibliobrit – a year in which I have written 106 posts and reviewed over 100 books. Rummaging through the stats of my blog, here are some first year facts:

Most popular posts

  1. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is by far the most read review. I meet Ms. Nelson recently at the ALA conference and she was quite charming. She is very excited about the upcoming movie of this novel, though I have to say I have my concerns.
  1. The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison is the gift that keeps on bringing people to my blog. They don’t usually stay for very long though.
  1. Wild Rover No More by L. A. Meyer is the last book in a hugely popular and well-loved series, though bibliobrit readers often appear to be looking for spoilers.

Least popular posts

Here’s your opportunity to go back and read them. They’re really not that bad, and they’re about books that are really good.

  1. She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick is a terrific book by an author who always delivers something thoughtful.
  1. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier is a cracking good fantasy/horror story. It did bubble around the edges of Newbery discussions too, though is perhaps a bit too genre for that award.
  1. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is a funny, raunchy scifi thriller that won a Printz honor.

So, let’s cut the cake and pop the cork! and here’s to a second year of bibliobrit. Feel free to let me know if there’s anything you like or don’t like about the blog, and if there’s some books you think I should add to my TBR pile.


My Favorite Books of the Year


NightGardenerWith all the publications putting out their best lists, and with the Newbery and Printz awards just around the corner, I thought I’d put together my top reads for 2014 too. A few years back, I had something of an epiphany, when I realized that my favorite books were never going to win the Newbery because I evaluate books on different criteria to the judges – sure, I like good writing, but what really works for me (and many kids) is the voice and the plot of a book. And I think this explains why I find so many Newbery winners to be such snoozers – because kid appeal just isn’t a consideration. Unlike the Cybils – where we look at books for both good writing and kid appeal!

Anyway, of the 77 books that I’ve read this year, here are the nine that I gave 5 stars to:

Middle grade

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud


Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (I read this before I started blogging, so no review I’m afraid)

What I notice is that these are all, bar one, speculative fiction. It’s not that I don’t read other genres, it just seems to me to be the one that speaks to me more.

Happy Reading in 2015!

Ten books that influenced me


There’s this thing going round on Facebook where you’re challenged to list the ten books that have influenced you, and someone did, indeed, challenge me. Normally I ignore this sort of thing as too much effort to do, but as I was showering this morning my list just popped into my mind. After getting dry, I jotted it down and here it is with explanations. It turns out to be a bit of a Desert Island Books list – broadly chronological in terms of my reading, not publication. You’ll probably notice that it’s more than ten books but I don’t want to edit any of these babies out. Plus I’ve cheated by including series and not just single books – my blog, my rules.

lone pineThe Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville – a great adventure series set in the Stipperstones in Shropshire and Rye on the South Coast (I’ve never been to either place but they loomed very large in my childhood). My first literary crush was David, though I did thrill when he and Peter had their first kiss in a cave. (Peter is a girl – we weren’t that progressive in 60s England).

The Billy Bunter series by Frank Richards – I learned a lot of classical allusions from these deeply unsound books, as well as laughing like a drain. Plus I developed a taste for bad boys, with an affection for Herbert Vernon Smith, aka The Bounder.

Dr. No by Ian Fleming – when I was a teen there was no such thing as YA literature, so I slipped seamlessly from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to James Bond. There is very much more sex and sadism in the latter.

Whom the Gods Would Destroy by Richard Powellwhom the gods would destroy – after working my way through Lillington Library’s mystery and thriller shelves, I moved up to randomly picking novels off the fiction shelves. I have an abiding affection for historical fiction and the first ‘real’ novel I recall reading is this story of the Trojan War. (I had to look this up to see who wrote it and discovered that you can get it for $2.99 for Kindle and that many people really enjoyed it).

The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence – DHL is pretty unfashionable these days but this was the first book I really studied in depth, for English A’ Level. It is terribly overwrought, but I can still picture the characters in my mind and can remember the last line.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – after finishing high school, I started to read this, found it terrifically boring and gave up. Thus I learned that not only are many classics very dull, I also don’t have to read them.

blandingsBlandings Castle series by P. G. Wodehouse – the ultimate comfort reading when I was swotting for my finals at university. Also I scored a couple of points on a TV quiz show called Matchpoint by knowing what P. G. stands for.

Success by Martin Amis – this is the first novel I read after reading a review. We used to get the Sunday Times and I recall it getting a very positive review, so I went out and bought it. I have read most of Martin Amis’s oeuvre and use with some regularity the epigraph to Dead Babies (often called something deeply bland like Deep Secrets) “I don’t know much about science, but I know what I like.”

Mapp and Lucia by E. F. Benson – when we first moved to San Francisco I couldn’t work and had a lot of time on my hands. So I joined the local library and ploughed my way through the complete works of Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Sarah Paretsky and Charles Dickens. But the books that cheered me up when I was feeling lonely and rather useless were the Mapp and Lucia books – very English and very funny.

His Dark Materials by Philip PullmanGoldenCompass – I read this trilogy when my daughter was a baby and then again when I had my son. I can remember willing them to stay napping so I could read another chapter.

Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling – my daughter is of the fortunate generation who grew up as the HP books were being published. I set the rather selfish rule that she couldn’t read the books by herself until I’d read them to her. And the same for my son.

Tess’s Tree by Jess M. Brallier – the first book I wrote a review for. I spent hours laboring over my deathless prose for what is a rather mediocre book that is now out of print.

Double Fudge by Judy Blume – the magical first audiobook that captured my kids’ attention and meant that we could be in the car for more than 15 minutes without tears and tantrums.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – it makes me very happy.