Tuesday 3 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Middle Grade Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read/Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

When we first started brainstorming ideas for Middle Grade Strikes Back, Jim from http://www.yayeahyeah.com/ suggested we take part in Top Ten Tuesday whenever the topic could fit comfortably with middle grade books. Rather wonderfully, the theme for today's Top Ten Tuesday is 'Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read/Want to Read from Genre X', and so ten of our fab contributors have each written about a middle grade book that they can't believe they haven't read yet.

1. Abi Elphinstone: The Eye of the Falcon by Michelle Paver

I devoured Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series and I've read the first two books in her Gods & Warriors series - action-packed adventure with strong child-animal bonds. Nice. But the third book has been out since August 2014 and I still haven't managed to read it. And I must. Because Hylas, a twelve-year-old mountain boy, is being hounded by the Crows and has been separated by the only two friends he had: the lion cub he befriended, Havoc, and a runaway priestess called Pirra...
Website: www.abielphinstone.com
Twitter: @moontrug

2. Jenni Nock: The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

I have had the most beautiful Completely Fantastical Edition hardback copy of this series on my bookshelf for years. The story of three siblings who move into the Spiderwick Estate and find a whole world of fae sounds so completely up my street but still I haven't opened it for longer than to admire its beauty. I'm scared you see, scared it might not live up to my expectations (even though I know it obviously will) but also scared of not getting to read it for the first time again. Though once I've read it for the first time I'll get to re-read and re-discover it... think I need to get reading!
Website: www.junipersjungle.com 
Twitter: @juniperjungle

3. Tamsin Cooke: Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

I've heard so many wonderful things about this book. How it's full of quirky, amazing characters. How it's beautifully written and spellbinding. It tells the tale of a girl searching for her mother everyone claims is dead. She befriends a boy who walks tightropes, and together they explore Paris. I adored Katherine Rundell's The Girl Savage, so I know I will love this too. Even the cover is stunning, drawing me in. What am I waiting for? 
Twitter: @TamsinCooke1

4. Stacey: A Room Full of Chocolate by Jane Elson

I was swayed by the promise of Claude the pig and chocolate Easter eggs! A Room Full of Chocolate is an emotional story about Grace’s experience of grief, bullying, and her life before she meets wild Megan and her pig. I adore heartbreaking contemporary middle grade novels, so this sounds like the perfect one for me!
Website: http://theprettybooks.wordpress.com
Twitter: @theprettybooks

5. Elen Caldecott: The Last Wild by Piers Torday

I have had a copy of this book for a while - ever since it began popping up on awards lists. But reading for work often gets in the way of reading for pleasure; it's spine is as yet uncracked. However, a story about a boy who doesn't know he's extraordinary, who can talk to animals, who - according to the cover - rides a stag, sounds totally brilliant. So, thanks to this blog, it has now leapt - hart-like - to the top of the bedside pile.
Website: www.elencaldecott.com
Twitter: @elencaldecott

6. Claire Fayers:  Deep Amber by C.J. Busby

This has been on my wish list for months - it has magic, humour, quirky characters, knights in armour, all the things I love.  What would you do if you found a medieval broadsword on your stairs? Assume a rift had opened between worlds and objects were falling through?  The best thing is, this book is the first in a series so I'll have plenty to read.
Twitter: @clairefayers

7. Allan Boroughs: The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson 

Under Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station is hidden a quite remarkable secret. Every nine years a doorway opens to an amazing, fantastical island

Ask any MG writer for a top 10 list of MG authors and you can pretty much guarantee Eva Ibbotson will be in there somewhere.  Her gentle style, vivid prose and thoughtful characters make her books some of the most compelling of MG reads.  ‘Journey to the River Sea’ remains one of my favourite MG books of all time with evil twins, eyeball collecting villains and the beautiful backdrop of the Amazon jungle.  For any MG writers wondering how to get started, the first chapter is a master class in how to open a story.

Platform 13 has been on my ‘to be read’ list for an indecently long time and is notable for including a hidden platform at a London station that would transport characters to a magical land many years before ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ did the same thing.  Some years ago an interviewer, obviously hoping for a scandalised response, asked Ibbotson what she might say to JK Rowling for stealing her idea.  She replied that “I would like to shake her by the hand.  I think we all borrow from each other as writers.” 

Truly she was one of natures aristocrats.

8. Ruth Fitzgerald: Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens

I may be cheating a little here as this book only came out this week, but I am such a fan of Hazel and Daisy, the two schoolgirl detectives from Robin’s first book, Murder Most Unladylike, that it feels as if I have been waiting forever for the next in the series. The books are the perfect blend of 1930s school story with manners, mystery and murder. This time Daisy and Hazel are apparently at a posh party when the dastardly deed is discovered! The reveal in the last book really took me by surprise so I can’t wait to get my hand on the new one. Perfect bedtime reading with a cup of hot cocoa!
Twitter: @writingruth
Website: ruthfitzgerald.co.uk

9. Pippa Wilson: Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

I spotted this on the Branford Boase longlist for 2015, and realised I didn't know anything about it. So I looked at the reviews so far, and when I  found out it's a Day of the Triffids kind of book, I thought I must definitely find out more! I also love the  "Closer and closer they creep" teaser on the front cover. I'm so looking forward to getting to know the characters in this sci-fi book!

10. Tizzie Frankish: Phoenix by SF Said

Phoenix by SF Said has been on my radar for some time and with each review I read the story becomes more enticing and exciting. I am intrigued by the fantasy and mythological elements, intertwined with the theme of identity that plagues all youngsters, otherworldly or not. The author has very kindly shared his journey in producing this book from the numerous rewrites to the length of time it took to complete. I am in awe of both the book and author and will definitely read it when I can fully immerse myself in the world SF has created (it’s on my TBR for my hibernation holiday- commencing February 1st  till the early signs of Spring!)


  1. Oh man, I'm so glad I found your blog. I LOVE MG, but it's so hard to find good recommendations b/c not many people read it widely. This list is my dream come true. Ugh, all these books sound amazing, I don't even know where to start. I will say that I have read The Secret of Platform 13 & Eva Ibbotson is genius. Which Witch? was my childhood.

  2. This is such a good list! I currently own The Last Wild (won it in a Twitter giveaway) and Arsenic For Tea, but haven't had a chance to read either yet. I'm definitely going to be checking out the others in this list - hadn't even heard of some of them before.

  3. Great list! Lots of good ideas for future reading.

    I can heartily recommend Rooftoppers - it was one of my favourite books of last year. I got The Last Wild for Christmas, and it's slowly working its way up my to-read pile. As for Michelle Paver - I'm deliberately reading both the Wolf Brother and Gods & Warriors series slowly, as I don't want them to end.

  4. I am not a fan of MG but I hope you like the books you've chosen.
    My Top Ten Tuesday!

  5. Christine, you made me chuckle, writing on an MG site that you're not an MG fan and then linking to your list of non-MG books. However, being nosy, I did flick through and I love Mhairi McFarlane so you should read that one first.

    I, on the other hand, love MG and have read most of the books on the list (they were all brilliantly brilliant). However, I haven't read Dragon Amber or anything at all by Michelle Paver so I'm adding those to my 'to read' pile.

    Two books most people haven't read, because they're not out yet, but which you should keep an eye out for if you like MG (so not you, Christine) are Abi Elphinstone's 'The Dreamsnatcher' and Tatum Flynn's 'The D'Evil Diaries'. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at both and they're utterly fantastic.

  6. I have to admit to being rather glad that ten members of the MGSB team stepped forward to write this post as I was a little worried about having to step in. You see, I am very ashamed about not having read a particular book, and even now, mentioning this is the comments rather than on the main post, I am nervous about admitting it for fear of the mockery I may face. I don't know why I haven't read it. It's the final book in a series I totally loved, and it sits on the shelf just behind my writing desk so that I see it just about every single day. I think it was published in the summer when we had an extension built at home and a huge number of my books were then boxed and stored safely out of the way, and by the time the extension was finished and I had my new shelving there were so many new books I hadn't read. And then I was promoted at work (= more work) and then started blogging (= many more books coming into the house) and reading it just never happened.

    See, I'm rambling rather than admit to not having read... Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian *hangs head in shame*

  7. I need to read a couple of these books too LOL!! Here is my Top Ten Tuesday if you wanna check it out :) http://bookbabble.weebly.com/blog/top-ten-tuesday1