Thursday 17 December 2015

Andy Shepherd's Top Picks of 2015

Top ten lists are so hard to do because there are always ones that don't make the list but should have! There have been so many wonderful books this year, which is probably why I've ended up having three on the go at once at times! But anyway, here are some of my highlights from 2015.

The Wolf Wilder   Katherine Rundell       

I loved 'Rooftoppers' and 'The Girl Savage' and couldn’t wait to get my hands on an early copy of Katherine’s latest book 'The Wolf Wilder'. It’s a wonderful story set in Russia and, apart from being a thrilling adventure story with great characters, it’s full of wolves – what more could you want!

Fire Girl   Matt Ralphs    

This book had me at hello! What a great opening - thrown headlong into Hazel’s world. I knew this was a book to savour. The sequel 'Fire Witch' is out summer next year and my son and I can’t wait!

In Darkling Wood   Emma Carroll

I’ve devoured every one of Emma’s books and when I heard she had written a story that involved woods, fairies and the First World War, I had a sneaky suspicion it would be right up my street. I wasn’t wrong. Definitely one to curl up with this Christmas.

The Dreamsnatcher   Abi Elphinstone

If you haven’t come across ‘The Dreamsnatcher’ yet – well you must have been under a rock somewhere! The unstoppable Abi has done 97 (yup 97!) talks in schools and at literary events this year. As well as managing to fit in a trip to Mongolia to fly eagles! Sometimes I think she is actually a middle grade heroine who has jumped right off the page! Anyway, I love ‘The Dreamsnatcher’ and it’s not long now until ‘The Shadow Keeper’ is out – if you haven’t got round to reading her debut do go and grab a copy for Christmas. I guarantee you’ll love Moll and Gryff.

Stonebird   Mike Revell

I have spent the last two years trying to get my book published. It’s had a lot of love but was just deemed too ‘quiet’. So it is wonderful to see a so-called ‘quiet’ book out there on the shelves getting the attention it deserves. Revell writes so poignantly about the power of story and memory and the effects that an illness like dementia has on people. It's a beautifully told story where magic weaves effortlessly through the everyday.

The Lie Tree   Frances Hardinge

I loved this book, the story and setting were compelling and the language rich and unique. One of those books you come away thinking – how does she do that?

The Boy Who Sailed the World in an Armchair   Lara Williamson

I’m running out of adjectives for all these great books! Vibrant writing, great story, heartfelt characters, and the ability to make you laugh and then weep in the course of a page – all that and more from the amazing Lara Williamson!

Olga da Polga   Michael Bond illustrated by Catherine Rayner

I’m being a bit sneaky because I haven’t read this yet – because it’s wrapped and sitting under the tree for me! But I had a quick peak in the shop and know I’ll be over the moon with it on Christmas Day. Olga da Polga is a wonderful character. And Catherine Rayner is one of my all time favourite illustrators. So bringing them together is a marriage made in heaven. I mean just look at that cover!

How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury   Cressida Cowell

Ah Cressida – all I can say is thank you! I have two boys and thanks to your books we have had years of reading the stories to them, then watching them curled up with the books themselves, playing endless Hiccup/ dragon based games and listening over and over to the fantastic audio versions read by David Tennant. They were so genuinely excited at the long awaited release of the last book and even got to meet Cressida at an event.

The Porridge of Knowledge   Archie Kimpton

At teatime, if we’re not all eating together, I have a book on the go for the boys. This was a little bit of a mistake with Archie Kimpton. While reading his first, ‘Jumble Cat’ and then with ‘Porridge of Knowledge’, smallest boy managed to snort broccoli out his nose at several points. Kimpton has such a brilliant way with words and we were all in hysterics.

There were so many I wanted on this list and many more I’m looking forward to in 2016!

Happy reading over the holidays everyone!

Andy Shepherd


  1. Well I've read none of these, so you have added more to my 'to read' list, which I love....

  2. Brilliant : ) And do add your own recommendations in the comments! (Not that I need my TBR to get bigger!!)

  3. Thank you so much, Andy. Thrilled to see The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair in your Top Picks of 2015! Thrilled to be in such wonderful company too. :-)

  4. Definitely been a good year, Lara : ) And the best thing about books is, of course, you can read them again and again! Which I will be doing with all my top ten.

  5. A super list. I must read In Darkling Wood - having written a children's book involving Dante, monsters and the first World War, I'd love to see how Emma Carroll fits all her themes together! Lots of luck with your own writing.

  6. Thankyou! Your story sounds very intriguing! I've just finished my latest MG book called 'Haunted Doves' - a ghost story with a twist - it's out with publishers now so fingers crossed it finds a home!