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My top ten middle grade and young adult books of 2020

2020 has been tough for everyone and alongside editing one book and writing another, the main thing that kept me sane this year was being able to lose myself in a good story. To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever bought more books and the stack on my bedside table grew so tall it eventually migrated to the floor. I developed a new evening ritual, heading to bed an hour earlier than normal so I could sink into my current read and forget the real world and the news for a while. I also surprised myself by choosing from a wider range of genres than ever before (I’m normally a bit blinkered and head straight for historical fiction) and I’ve discovered a new love of fantasy, contemporary and short stories too. In the hope it might inspire someone else to pick up a fabulous book this Christmas here is my top ten from 2020 (in no particular order!)


The Book of Hopes – edited by Katherine Rundell

Contributions from over 100 children’s authors and illustrators to comfort, hope and inspire.


The Silent Stars Go By – Sally Nichols

Gorgeous YA historical fiction set in 1919. Margot has a devastating secret to reveal to her fiancé who has returned from the war after being missing in action.


October, October – Katya Balen

One of my most lyrical reads of the year. October lives in the woods with her dad but when her mum comes back everything changes.


The Wildway Home – Sophie Kirtly

A totally captivating read! Charlie runs away from his family’s problems to the forest and discovers an ancient world.


The Midnight Guardians – Ross Montgomery

Set in WW2 this is a perfect blend of historical fiction and fantasy. Featuring a talking badger called Mr Noakes who may well capture your heart!


The Good Thieves – Katherine Rundell

A rollicking adventure set on the streets of New York as Vita and her friends sets out to steal back something very precious belonging to her grandfather.


Orphans of the Tide – Struan Murray

I held my breath for most of this fantasy about Ellie who discovers a boy in a whale. Fast paced and witty and I can’t wait for the sequel.


The Pear Affair – Judith Eagle

I adored The Secret Starling and this was the perfect follow up. This is about Nell Magnificent’s hunt in Paris for her beloved Pear (and features some of the most awful literary parents you are ever likely to meet).


The Ghost of Gosswater – Lucy Strange

Beautifully atmospheric gothic historical fiction. When Agnes is sent away from Gosswater Hall to live with the father she never knew she embarks on a hunt for her true identity. Made me long for a visit to the Lakes.


Lark – Anthony McGowan

The heartrending conclusion to the quartet Brock, Pike and Rook this concludes Nicky and Kenny’s story perfectly (but I did shed quite a few tears too).


So that concludes my list. However you are celebrating Christmas this year I wish you lots of fun, laughter, great reads and all good things for 2021!


Ann-Marie x

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