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The Crème De La Crème Of YA Lit: 15 YA Summer Reads

 

Here are my top 15 YA Summer Reads. Follow me here for more bookish, YA thoughts and tweets and keep an eye out for an exciting new start-up @YAfictionados , launching 25th May, run by @thereaderrunt and @yablooker.

**Note that all covers used are the UK covers**

***Information correct at time of publication***

1. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

untitled (8)

UK Release Date: 7th May 2015

US Release Date: 7th May 2015

Plot:

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . .

Ideal for Fans of: Ransom Riggs and Maggie Stiefvater

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23592175-the-lie-tree?ac=1

2. Bomb by Sarah Mussi

9781444917864
UK Release Date: 7th May 2015

US Release Date: N/A

Plot:

I’m Genesis Wainwright. I’m a sixth-form student. I come from Somerset. My mum is the best mum in the world. I play the guitar (badly). My best friend is Holly. I’m searching for answers to the Meaning of Life. I believe in True Love. AND I’M IN LOVE WITH NAZ. I want to be a performance poet. And I’m crazy about motorbikes. I can remember everything. Except last night. When Genesis goes on a blind internet date, she just wants to get over her ex-boyfriend Naz. She just wants someone to like her again. But when Genesis wakes up the morning after the date, she can’t remember a thing.

She doesn’t know where she is, or how she got there. And she can hardly move because she is strapped into some kind of body armour …Before she has time to figure it out, she receives an order through an earpiece stuck in her ear. And then a voice sounds in her head: ‘You have been chosen for an assignment …The vest you’re wearing is packed with high explosives. And with one mobile call we can detonate it.’ To her horror Genesis has become an agent of mass destruction, a walking weapon in the hands of a terrorist cell. The countdown to detonation has begun: Genesis must re-examine everyone and everything she loves and make terrifying choices …in the face of certain death

Ideal for fans of: A. J. Grainger and Kathy Reichs

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23604128-bomb

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas


BECAUSEUK Release Date:
 2nd July 2015

US Release Date: 2nd June 2015

Plot:

Ollie and Moritz are two teenagers who will never meet. Each of them lives with a life-affecting illness. Contact with electricity sends Ollie into debilitating seizures, while Moritz has a heart defect and is kept alive by an electronic pacemaker. If they did meet, Ollie would seize, but turning off the pacemaker would kill Moritz. Through an exchange of letters, the two boys develop a strong bond of friendship which becomes a lifeline during dark times – until Moritz reveals that he holds the key to their shared, sinister past, and has been keeping it from Ollie all along.

Ideal for fans of: Becky Albertalli and Tess Sharpe

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20649195-because-you-ll-never-meet-me

4. Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

UK Release Date: 2nd July 2015SUICIDE NOTES

US Release Date: 7th July 2015

 

Plot:

When June met Delia, she was a lifeline. Their intense friendship gave her a sense of belonging, of security, that she’d never had before. She felt braver, smarter, funnier, more attractive when Delia was around. But then something went wrong, and Delia and June haven’t spoken for a year when an announcement is made at their school that Delia is dead. June barely has time to mourn before Delia’s ex-boyfriend convinces her that Delia didn’t kill herself but was in fact murdered, and June is fast swept into a tangle of lies and deceit – and a conspiracy she can barely conceive of, never mind believe. Stylish, sexy and atmospheric, with so many twists it will leave you breathless.

Ideal for fans of: Jay Asher and Cat Clarke.

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18244970-suicide-notes-from-beautiful-girls

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas


SARAH J MAASUK Release Date:
 5th May 2015

US Release Date: 5th May 2015

Plot:

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest.

Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever. The start of a sensational romantic fantasy trilogy by the bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series.

Ideal for fans of: Julia Kagawa and Holly Black

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16096824-a-court-of-thorns-and-roses

Birdy by Jess Valance

UK Release Date: 2nd July 20159781471404665

US Release Date: N/A 

Plot:

Frances Bird has been a loner for as long as she can remember. But when she is asked to look after the new girl at school, the sparky Alberta Black, they soon become inseparable, doing everything together, and even creating their own sign of togetherness – a blackbird. After a while though, Bert wants to do things without Frances, and see other people without her there. And that won’t do…No that won’t do at all…

A darkly compulsive tale of friendship and obsession.

Ideal for fans of: Melissa Marr

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25269375-birdy

7. I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore

REVENGEUK Release Date: 1st May 2015

US Release Date: 7th April 2015

Plot:

She can be anyone you want her to be.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.

And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.

Anyone… except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.

Ideal for fans of: Sarah Mussi and Sara Shepard

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18658071-i-am-her-revenge

8. Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

UK Release Date: 4th June 20159781408335222

US Release Date: 2nd June

Plot

Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey doesn’t look dangerous. A tiny, blonde, wisp of a girl shouldn’t know how to poison a wizard and make it look like an accident. Or take out ten necromancers with a single sword and a bag of salt. Or kill a man using only her thumb. But things are not always as they appear. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in Anglia and a member of the king’s elite guard, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and bringing those who practice it to justice. And in Anglia, the price of justice is high: death by burning.

When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she’s arrested and thrown in prison. The king declares her a traitor and her life is all but forfeit. With just hours before she’s to die at the stake, Elizabeth gets a visitor – Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia. He offers her a deal: he will free her from prison and save her from execution if she will track down the wizard who laid a deadly curse on him. As Elizabeth uncovers the horrifying facts about Nicholas’s curse and the unwitting role she played in its creation, she is forced to redefine the differences between right and wrong, friends and enemies, love and hate…and life and death.

The first book in an incredible new series set in a fantastical medieval world.

Ideal for fans of: Rachel Hawkins and Sally Green

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18190208-the-witch-hunter

9. The Memory Hit by Carla Spradbery

UK Release Date: 4th June 20159781444920277

US Release Date: N/A

Plot

On New Year’s Eve, Jess’s life is unrecognizable: her best friend is in the hospital, her boyfriend is a cheater. A drug-dealing cheater it would seem, after finding a stash of Nostalgex in his bag.

Nostalgex: a drug that stimulates memory. In small doses, a person can remember the order of a deck of cards, or an entire revision guide read the day before an exam. In larger doses it allows the user detailed access to their past, almost like watching a DVD with the ability to pause a moment in time, to focus on previously unnoticed details and to see everything they’ve ever experienced with fresh eyes. As Leon, the local dealer, says ‘it’s like life, only better.’ What he fails to mention is that most memories are clouded by emotions. Even the most vivid memories can look very different when visited.

Across town Sam Cooper is in trouble. Again. This time, gagged and bound in the boot of a car. Getting on the wrong side of a drug dealer is never a good idea, but if he doesn’t make enough money to feed and clothe his sister, who will?

On New Year’s Day, Jess and Cooper’s worlds collide. They must put behind their differences and work together to look into their pasts to uncover a series of events that will lead them to know what really happened on that fateful New Year’s Eve. But what they find is that everything they had once believed to be true, turns out to be a lie …

‘A pleasingly dark teen thriller with fun, fresh characters. Spradbery is a debut author to watch.’ James Dawson

Ideal for fans of: Ellen Hopkins and Tess Sharpe

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23595949-the-memory-hit

11. Lola Carlyle’s 12-Step Romance by Danielle Younge-Ullman

99 DAYSUK Release Date: 7th May 2015

US Release Date: 21st April 2015

Plot

I told her the worst, most secret, most important thing in my life – and she wrote a bestselling book about it. Last year, Molly Barlow did something terrible. Then, her mother wrote a book about it. And so everyone in their tiny hometown found out that Molly cheated on her childhood sweetheart, the love of her life, her best friend with his brother.

After spending senior year at a boarding school in the middle of nowhere, Molly now has ninety-nine days to endure back in her hometown before she can escape to college. Ninety-nine days of being the most hated person in town. Ninety-nine days to heal the hurt she’s caused. Ninety-nine days to figure out what she wants, and who she loves…

Ideal for fans of: John Green and David Levithan

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22836575-99-days

12. The Lost and Found by Cat Clarke

UK Release Date: 2nd July 2015THE LOST

US Release Date: N/A

Plot

LOST. When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.

FOUND. Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…

Ideal for fans of: Lucy Christopher and Tanya Byrne

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20685157-the-lost-and-the-found

13. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

RED QUEENUK Release Date: 2nd July 2015

US Release Date: 10th February 2015

Plot

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart …

Ideal for fans of: Robin Hobb and George R. R. Martin

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17878931-red-queen

14. All My Secrets by Sophie McKenzieALL MY SECRETS

UK Release Date: 2nd July 2015

US Release Date: 2nd July 2015

Plot

A brand new title from bestselling, award-winning author, Sophie McKenzie. The shocking reality behind a GBP10 million inheritance turns Evie Brown’s world on its head. Unable to find out the truth from her parents, Evie ends up on the mysterious island of Lightsea, where her desire for answers leads her towards a series of revelations that threaten everything she holds dear …including her life.

Ideal for fans of: Robert Muchamore and Lucy Christopher

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24907336-all-my-secrets

15. All the Rage by Courtney Summers 

ALL THE RAGEUK Release Date: 11th May 2015

US Release Date: 14th April 2015

Plot:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything–friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous.

But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time–and they certainly won’t now–but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, Courtney Summers’ new novel All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

Ideal for fans of: Tess Sharpe and Lousie O’Neill

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21853636-all-the-rage

All these books are available here from Foyles.

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15 YA Spring Titles to Sink Your Teeth Into (***May Contain Nuts***)

Here are my YA picks for Spring 2015. I’ve tried my best to order them in the way I think the general reader would want to read them with a touch of subjectivitiy. If you have any feedback, comment below. Enjoy!

**Note that all covers used are the UK covers**

1. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

UK Release Date: 7th April 2015

US Release Date: 7th April 2015

Plot:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Hype:

North American rights were pre-empted by Balzer & Bray within three days of the manuscript being submitted and the story has the book trade buzzing. The author, Becky Albertalli, is a clinical psychologist and spent seven years working with a support group for gender-nonconforming children in the US. Penguin have also bought rights for her second novel.

Ideal for fans of: David Levithan and Stephen Chbosky

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19547856-simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda?ac=1#

2. Under My Skin by James Dawson

Under My Skin
UK Release Date: 5th March 2015

US Release Date: N/A

Plot:

Seventeen-year-old Sally Feather is not exactly a rebel. Her super-conservative parents and her treatment at the hands of high school bullies means that Sally’s about as shy and retiring as they come – but all that’s about to change. Accidentally ending up in the seedier side of town one day, Sally finds herself mysteriously lured to an almost-hidden tattoo parlour – and once inside, Sally is quickly seduced by its charming owner, Rosita, and her talk of how having a secret tattoo can be as empowering as it is thrilling. Almost before she knows what she is doing, Sally selects sexy pin-up Molly Sue, and has her tattooed on her back – hoping that Molly Sue will inspire her to be as confident and popular as she is in her dreams.

But things quickly take a nightmareish turn. Almost immediately, Sally begins to hear voices in her head – or rather, one voice in particular: Molly Sue’s. And she has no interest in staying quiet and being a good girl – in fact, she’s mighty delighted to have a body to take charge of again. Sally slowly realizes that she is unable to control Molly Sue… and before long she’s going to find out the hard way what it truly means to have somebody ‘under your skin’

Hype:

Another story from 2014’s Queen of Teen. Dawson established himself last year with titles such as Say Her Name and This Book is Gay and his Number One gal-pal, Conchita Wurst. His latest offering, no doubt, offers a new and interesting twist delivered in classic Dawson-esque style. What’s that? You don’t follow? Then, I guess you need to pre-order Under My Skin. Now. Of course now. I’ll just wait…

Ideal for fans of: Kendare Blake and Alyxandra Harvey

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23058143-under-my-skin?from_search=true

3. The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan

The Dolls
UK Release Date: 1st March 2015

US Release Date: 2nd September 2014

Plot:

Eveny Cheval just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn’t seen her hometown since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn’t have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies—and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.

Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest boys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything—including an explanation for what’s going on in Carrefour. And Eveny doesn’t trust them one bit.

But after murder strikes and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she must turn to the Dolls for answers. Something’s wrong in paradise, and it’s up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right

Hype:

Though I’ve yet to read them, I admire an author who supports her stories with e-novellas, short stories and, in Sullivan’s case, e-episodes. It allows for the expansion and development of the world. I think the premise is an interesting one. I’m a sucker for paranormal and fantasy stories. Sullivan had me at murder!

Ideal for fans of: Kendare Blake and Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Links:

Link to a free chapter of the book and six free e-episodes: http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/book/1~EB~E14~8884/the-dolls.aspx

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18249114-the-dolls?ac=1

4. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

My Heart and Other Black Holes

UK Release Date: 12th February 2015

US Release Date: 10th February 2015

Plot:

I’m getting higher and higher and I feel the swing set creak. ‘Be careful,’ he says. ‘Why?’ I’m not thinking about being careful. I’m thinking about one last push, of letting go, of flying, and of falling. ‘You aren’t allowed to die without me,’ he whispers.

Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they’ve been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month’s time, they plan to commit suicide – together. Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn’t equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can’t figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all…and why he’s even more determined than she is. With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman – a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all – but is Aysel in so deep she can’t turn back?

Hype: This feels a bit like a re-visioned Romeo and Juliet. I love reading something different. I think it will appeal to teens and twenty-teens because of the way it deals with a real social issue but uses it as the means for two people to come together and fall in love. High hopes for this one.

Ideal for fans of: Jay Asher and Cat Clarke

Links:

Goodreads: http://www.bookdepository.com/My-Heart-Other-Black-Holes-Jasmine-Warga/9781444791532

5. Soulprint by Megan Miranda

Soulprint

UK Release Date: 12th February 2015

US Release Date: 3rd February 2015

Plot:

Alina Chase has spent her entire life in confinement. With the science of soul-printing now a reality, she is ‘protected’ for her own safety – and the safety of others – because her soul has done terrible things …or so she’s told. When Alina finally breaks out of prison, helped by a group of people with unclear motives, she begins to uncover clues left by her past life that only she can decipher. And she may not be as innocent as she once believed. Can Alina change her future, or is she fated to repeat her past and face the consequences?

Hype: I love the mystery behind this; the obliviousness of the main character’s actions that obscure whether she’ll be the hero or a sort of anti-hero. What is soul-printing? And what has Alina done that’s so bad?

Ideal for fans of: Sophie Kenzie

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22392926-soulprint?from_search=true

6. Geek Drama by Holly Smale

Geek Drama

UK Release Date: 26th February 2015

US Release Date: 26th February 2015

Plot:

“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.”

Harriet Manners knows that the hottest observed place on earth is Furnace Creek in Death Valley. She knows that dolphins shed the top layer of their skin every two hours. And she knows just how badly auditions can go, especially when you’re a model. But she has no idea how to get herself out of the extreme embarrassment of the school play or what to do when arch-nemesis Alexa decides it’s the perfect opportunity to humiliate her…Can GEEK GIRL survive the bright lights of the stage?

Hype:

A hilarious World Book Day GEEK GIRL novella by award-winning, bestselling author Holly Smale. I love this. Seriously, I’m 24 and I don’t care. Holly Smale is a genius. Harriet comes alive in the pages and I literally LOL on the bus (which is worrying when you’re pressed up against sweaty armpits at the peak time rush!).

Ideal for fans of: Lousie Rennison and James Dawson

Links:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Geek-Drama-50-Book-Pack-Holly-Smale/9780008113483

7. Half Wild by Sally Green

Half Wild

UK Release Date: 26th March 2015

US Release Date: 24th March 2015

Plot:

“You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad.”

After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.

Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?

Hype:

Sally Green’s Half Bad debut saw a boy in a cage at Manchester Piccadilly and the book itself gave witches a face-lift (arguably, literally) and experimented with first- and second-person narrative styles. This is certainly one to look out for. No doubt, we’ll see it in bookshop windows very soon.

Ideal for fans of: Rachel Hawkins and Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20814989-half-wild?from_search=true

8. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

The Game of Love and Death

UK Release Date: 2nd April 2015

US Release Date: 28th April 2015

Plot:

Flora and Henry were born a few blocks from each other, innocent of the forces that might keep a white boy and an African American girl apart; years later they meet again and their mutual love of music sparks an even more powerful connection. But what Flora and Henry don’t know is that they are pawns in a game played by the eternal adversaries Love and Death, here brilliantly re-imagined as two extremely sympathetic and fascinating characters. Can their hearts and their wills overcome not only their earthly circumstances, but forces that have battled throughout history?

Hype:

This has the potential to be amazing. I can’t add anything else, without sullying the plot, other than saying I love reading about diverse characters in YA Lit. I hope it’s a dual narrative and offers credible accounts from both characters.

Ideal for fans of: Jenny Downham and Gayle Forman

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20308537-the-game-of-love-and-death?from_search=true

9. The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter

UK Release Date: 5th February 2015

US Release Date: 24th February 2015

Plot:

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. She’s the executioner. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Hype:

I got an advance copy of this last year at the London Book Fair and I have to say, it’s a damn good read with twists, romance, betrayal and action galore. The cover looks amazing and Melinda (from what I’ve gathered, tweeting her back and forth) is absolutely lovely.

Ideal for fans of: Ideal for fans of: Maria V. Snyder and Philip Pullman

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22536448-the-sin-eater-s-daughter?from_search=true

10. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

The Alex Crow

UK Release Date: 26th February 2015

US Release Date: 10th March 2015

Plot:

Ariel, the sole survivor of an attack on his village in the Middle East is ‘rescued’ from the horrific madness of war in his homeland by an American soldier and sent to live with a family in suburban Virginia. And yet, to Ariel, this new life with a genetic scientist father and resentful brother, Max, is as confusing and bizarre as the life he just left. Things get even weirder when Ariel and Max are sent to an all-boys summer camp in the forest for tech detox. Intense, funny and fierce friendships are formed. And all the time the scientific tinkerings of the boys’ father into genetics and our very existence are creeping up on them in their wooden cabin, second by painful second…

Hype:

The story is an interesting one (much like the rest, he says). The follow-up to Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle – I think we can expect another great read. I also heard that the book fairies left copies at London (underground) tube stations this morning.

Ideal for fans of: Markus Zusak and Sally Gardner

Links:

Goodreads: http://www.bookdepository.com/Alex-Crow-Andrew-Smith/9781405273428

11. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You The Sun

UK Release Date: 2nd April 2015

US Release Date: 16th September 2014

Plot:

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

Hype:

This one is described as “a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying” so obviously, I had to include it. I would have placed it higher except that A.) it’s a tough quarter for YA and B.) it echoes Nathan Filer’s The Shock of the Fall and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and that worries me a little. If it’s too similar, it will show but still, a potential good read.

Ideal for fans of: Karen Joy Fowler and John Green

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20820994-i-ll-give-you-the-sun?from_search=true

12. Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton

Unspeakable

UK Release Date: 5th February 2015

US Release Date: 5th February 2015

Plot:

Megan doesn’t speak. She hasn’t spoken in months.

Pushing away the people she cares about is just a small price to pay. Because there are things locked inside Megan’s head – things that are screaming to be heard – that she cannot, must not, let out.

Then Jasmine starts at school: bubbly, beautiful, talkative Jasmine. And for reasons Megan can’t quite understand, life starts to look a bit brighter.

Megan would love to speak again, and it seems like Jasmine might be the answer. But if she finds her voice, will she lose everything else?

Hype: This has echoes of Emily Murdoch’s If You Find Me so I’ll just wait and see. It seems to offer some diversity (LGBT) and again, we need more diverse voices in YA, so that, along with the plot (and the John Green style cover) places this at the #12 spot.

Ideal for fans of: Tess Sharpe and David Levithan

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22103725-unspeakable

13. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

The Girl At Midnight

UK Release Date: 28th April 2015

US Release Date: 28th April 2015

Plot:

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known. Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants …and how to take it. But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Hype: I love fantasy escapism. This looks like just the ticket. World-building and story; all we can do now is hope for character and distinct narration and Melissa Grey is on to a winner.

Ideal for fans of: Leslye Walton and Marcus Sedgwick

Links:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20345202-the-girl-at-midnight?from_search=true

14. Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick

Killing

UK Release Date: 5th March 2015

US Release Date: N/A

Plot:

Set in a girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts a haunting and sinister story YA story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick. 1963. Foxgrove School near Stockbridge, Massachusetts. One of the oldest and finest academies in the country – but what really goes on behind closed doors? Nathaniel Drake, the new young English teacher, Isobel Milewski, the quiet girl who loved to draw spirals, her fingers stained with green ink, Jack Lewis, who lent Isobel books – just words, just ink on paper, Margot Leya, the girl with those eyes – who are they, what part have they played in killing the dead? Follow the dark, dark path Into the dark, dark woods To the dark, dark bridge By the dark, dark water. Linger. Let the ghosts of heaven tell their story

Hype: A stylish and creepy story for World Book Day from the award-winning author of She is Not Invisible. Cheap and cheerful: what more could you want?

Ideal for fans of: Kendare Blake and Alyxandra Harvey

Links:

No Goodreads link available.

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/killing-the-dead/marcus-sedgwick/9781780622392

15. The Prey by Tom Isbell

The Prey

UK Release Date: 12th March 2015

US Release Date: 20th January 2015

Plot:

In the Republic of the True America, it’s always hunting season. Riveting action, intense romance, and gripping emotion make this fast-paced adventure a standout debut. After a radiation blast burned most of the Earth to a crisp, the new government established settlement camps for the survivors. At one such camp, Book and the other ‘LTs’ are eager to graduate as part of the Rite. Until they learn the dark truth: ‘LTs’ doesn’t stand for lieutenant but for ‘Less Thans’, feared by society and raised to be hunted for sport.

Together with the sisters, Hope and Faith, twin girls who’ve suffered their own haunting fate, they join forces to seek the safety of the fabled New Territory. As Book and Hope lead their quest for freedom, these teens must find the best in themselves to fight the worst in their enemies. But as they are pursued by sadistic hunters, secrets are revealed, allegiances are made, and lives are threatened.

Hype:

We had The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner and now, we have The Prey. There’s been a lot of talk about this one over at Team HC (HarperCollins – the publisher). It seems to be aimed at adults (marketed by the Harper Voyager – sci-fi/fantasy imprint) though it will be probably also resonate with a teen audience. Dystopian fiction has been exhausted in recent years (with big screen adaptations and book market saturation), this holds promise though I worry it could come off like The Hunger Games fan fiction.

Ideal for fans of: Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22061971-the-prey?from_search=true

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It’s All Skulls and Bones Until Someone Gets Murdered

Skullduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy

TDOTL

Plot: 20/20

The ninth and final installment offers explosive action, outrageous humour and twists and turns galore. Darquesse has taken over and it’s up to Skullduggery & Co. to stop her. The plot is meaty. If you’ve read the previous books, you’ll, no doubt, devour this book. There are less laughs than previous books due to the dark nature of the content but Landy manages to squeeze in some additional quips right until the last page.

Narration: 20/20

As always, Landy is one of the few authors who can successfully manage multiple story arcs and weave them around each other to ratchet up the tension and make it easy to remember who’s done what and to whom.

Character: 20/20

Do I really need to comment? Landy gives the reader a masterclass in characterisation. Skullduggery sticks in the mind for all the right reasons.

Quality of Writing: 20/20

The writing is funny at the right times and builds on the tensions when needed in in-the-moment, fight scenes. I love the Irishness of many of Landy’s characters and descriptions (and, as an Irishman, I’m in no way biased!).

Setting: 10/10

I’ve visited a lot of the places in which the story is set (obviously, I am referring to the non-fictional places). But even so, I feel like I’ve visited the Sanctuary and Haggard. Landy paints his scenes and settings with masterstrokes upon a vivid and striking canvas. 

Comparative Literature: 10/10

I really think Landy is ahead of the game and one of the most prominent writers in the horror genre. His work is comparable to Eoin Colfer, Charlie Higson, Will Hill and Darren Shan.

NOW, to Skip to the GOOD BIT:

  • Words that will make you laugh and possibly cry
  • An ending that will leave you feeling hollow (we want more Skullduggery!!)
  • More from the characters that we have grown to loathe or love (and sometimes both)
  • A strong, fast-paced plot that reminds us why we enjoy Landy’s writing so much

Overall Score: 100/100

Books You May Also Like:

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – if you enjoyed Landy’s wit

Department 19 by Will Hill – for more monster (and gore) action

The Enemy by Charlie Higson – for more horror and zombie action (think Scapegrace and Thrasher but less laughs)

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The Maleficent Seven

The Maleficent Seven

Title: The Maleficent Seven

Author: Derek Landy

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s

Format: Paperback

Standalone/Series: Series – Novella (offshoot) from the Skullduggery Pleasant series

Pages: 288 

Plot:

The plot centres around Tanith Low, who assembles a group of criminals, and Dexter Vex, who assembles a team of good guys, who race to find the four God-Killer weapons. Tanith wants to destroy them so that Darquesse, when she emerges, won’t be harmed and Dexter wants to stash the weapons away so they have a way of defeating her. You know from the start what you’re going to get in a Landy novel: explosive action, incomparable wit and OMG moments throughout. The story delivers on every level and even in a short novella, Landy manages to provide twists and turns and weave lies and secrets into the plot. A beginning that will pique your interest, a middle that will keep you reading and an action-packed ending.

20/20

Narration:

The third-person, omniscient style of narration is consistent with the series. As is usual in Landy’s novels, we get to observe different characters and Landy keeps us in the dark, moving to a different character and leaving us with a burning desire to find out what happens next. The voice is funny, creates dramatic suspense and ratchets the tension.

20/20

Character:

Some of the characters we’ve met in the other Skullduggery novels but some are new like Sabine and Black Annis and fit perfectly into Landy’s world. Tanith is the breakout star for me but there’s so many great characters within the novella, each with the certified, Landy stamp of approval.

20/20

Quality of Writing:

The writing is a joy to read. The words all but flow off the page and paint the picture. I especially love how Landy demonstrates and differentiates between the old Tanith and The Remnant Tanith. He’s able to show just how cruel and brutal she’s willing to be to get what she wants.

20/20

Setting:

Again, Landy doesn’t fail when it comes to his settings. From the English Sanctuary to Jackie Earl’s compound in Chicago, we get the full experience.

10/10

Comparative Literature:

Landy creates a world in the Skullduggery Pleasant series and is able to build upon and reinforce it in this novella. He does this with an incomparable wit and an imagination to rival top children’s authors. Landy creates worlds that rival the dystopian worlds of The Hunger Games and Divergent and characters as memorable as those from iconic texts ranging from Harry Potter to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

10/10

Overall Score:

100/100

NOW SKIP TO THE GOOD BIT…

  • Great characterization
  • New and interesting characters
  • High quality writing that makes you feel as though you could be watching a movie
  • Incomparable wit and explosive action throughout

Books You May Also Like:

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – for another story about magic and the good and bad within all of us

 

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White – for more great world-building and a story packed full of humour and action

 

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins – for another story of magic, betrayal and secrets

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May 30, 2014 · 8:52 pm

Insurgent

Insurgent

Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

Format: Paperback

Standalone/Series: Series

Pages:

 

Plot:

Continuing on from Divergent, we are plunged straight into the aftermath of the extermination in the previous book. Tris carries secrets that take a toll on her health and she struggles to hold a gun, constantly thinking about how she shot Will. One thing that did seem a bit off is when Tris enters Erudite headquarters, there’s no mention of her being searched which seems logical. Known to always bring a weapon, I can’t understand why Roth doesn’t explicitly say she has been searched. It makes you think that, similarly when she encountered Eric previously, she may have a knife tucked away.

 

17/20

Narration:

The narration is first-person, present tense and the second book in this trilogy offers us more personality. Tris’ thoughts allow us to witness her feistier side that we did not get to fully witness in Divergence while also elaborating more on her decision-making and thought processes which factor into the way the story is told. There are times when Tris still comes off a bit robotic but the narration in this book is definitely better than the first.

19/20

Character:

We get more of a sense of who Tris this time around. Her Divergence is explained we get to see her bad-ass, tough attitude balanced with her vulnerability at certain points throughout the novel; self-sacrificing nature is balanced with her guilt. We get an insight into Tobias’s background and his relationship with Marcus. New characters are introduced and the existing character cast continues to demonstrate multi-faceted natures and diversity – some of whom have secrets and agendas of their own. I like that Roth demonstrates Tris’ desire to still hold on to her old life and her parents and still want to move forward and fight for a better world. One of my favourite moments is when a Candor boy is searching Tris and she comes out with this zinger:

“”I have a knife in my back pocket.” I say. “Put your hands on me, and I will make you regret it.” (121)

20/20

Quality of Writing:

The quality of writing, for the most part, is on point. There are temporary lapses in the quality like when Tris is with the factionless and she undercuts her position by telling us  that she doesn’t “smell very good” (112). Also, there are times when Roth overuses “say”/”says” in dialogue and, though it’s not that noticeable, there are instances when it’s unnecessary and could be cut. When Lynn meets Hector, she repeats that Lynn stepped on her toes to show us that that they are not friends when we already no this and serves only as spoon-feeding us information. On another occasion, Tris mentions that Four smells like water. I’ll leave it at that.

14/20

Setting:

Great world-building and we finally get more of an insight into the faction system. Although, I’m still not sure what it is that Candor does. Just saying.

9/10

Comparative Literature:

A lively, action-packed, funny sequel to Roth’s Divergent. Roth amends many of the downsides in the first book and manages to improve the quality of the writing while still holding to, and even strengthening, Tris’ voice. It’s more interesting than Crossed, Ally Condie’s sequel to Matched. It’s a solid read and those that finished Divergent and didn’t gel with it, might want to give Insurgent a go. It doesn’t cost a penny. Go to your local library now. Yes, now. Well then, turn off the Kardashians. Yes, There’s still time. And I’ll leave the crazy there… for now.

9/10

 

Overall Score:

88/100

NOW SKIP TO THE GOOD BIT…

  • An stronger, more developed world
  • A daring hero that must fight to survive with a stronger, kick-ass voice
  • Great fight scenes

Books You May Also Like:

Matched by Ally Condie – if you liked the romantic element and the world-building

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- if you loved the savagery and cruelty of Roth’s world

Legendby Marie Lu – for a corrupt, dystopian world, lots of action and strong male and female protagonists

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April 18, 2014 · 10:50 am

Picture Me Gone

9780141344034 Title: Picture Me Gone Author: Meg Rosoff Publisher: Penguin Books Format: Hardback Standalone/Series: Standalone Pages: 208   Plot: The plot shows a lot of promise. It tells the story of Mila and her father, Gil, jetting off to America to help search for Matthew, Gil’s friend, after he disappears and solve the mystery behind his disappearance. Mila has “special powers” (that got me excited) but really, she’s just observant. Nothing much happens in the book. There’s nothing exciting throughout and very few obstacles. I like how Rosoff deals with secrets and betrayals but apart from that, the ending was anticlimatic and it lacked the pzazz that I was looking for. 11/20 Narration: The narrative style is first person, from the point of view of Mila, a 12-year-old girl. I liked Mila’s voice but she reads as much older than her age. Her “special powers” seem to suggest that she has a somewhat supernatural ability while instead, she is really perceptive; in fact, too perceptive for a 12-year-old. Her voice is strong though and she’s a likeable narrator and character. She adds a bit of personality to the story. Mila has a tendency to delve into anecdotes that, sometimes do, and other times don’t, connect with the story but either way, ultimately remove us from the action of what’s happening in the plot. 10/20 Character: The character cast is not as diverse as I would have liked and with the exception of Catlin, there’s not much characterisation to witness. She is the star of the story, the secret sauce on the burger you love but the rest of the characters are the lettuce; bland and not especially necessary. Forgettable, even. 7/20 Quality of Writing: The quality of the writing was average, at best, but as this was targeted towards a 12 and up (to 17) audience, I believe that the writing is too simplistic for the audience is intended for. Rosoff also uses language that, while appropriate for her audience, is not appropriate for a 12-year-old girl. If this was really meant to be marketed as a YA novel, it’s too short and too simple for the audience and and I find it rather insulting as someone that reads YA lit. With all of the amazing YA debuts and series that are out there, this book doesn’t hit the mark. It can’t even find the mark. 6/20 Setting: The setting was the only aspect of the book that did read strongly. Mila describes her surroundings in America, everything from Matthew’s family home to his secret cabin, with vivd detail. She also compares it to her home in England and while it is great to draw a contrast between the two, sometimes it’s unnecessary. 8/10 Comparative Literature: I struggle to find something new and exciting about this book that makes it stand out from the pack and aside from Mila’s poorly explained “special powers”, there’s nothing new or intriguing in this book. It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read but it’s a long way from being the best. 5/10   Overall Score: 49/100

NOW SKIP TO THE GOOD BIT…

  • A far-from-believable narrator
  • Good scene setting
  • Betrayal and secrets galore
  • Poor characterisation
  • Anti-climatic ending

Books You May Also Like: Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy – for fantasy meets mystery, great-world building and a masterclass in how betrayal, secrets, twists and turns are done Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher – for a funny narrator, characters that are dealing with real problems and a terrible secret that will keep you reading to the last page She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick – for a clever and thought-provoking mystery

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April 14, 2014 · 8:16 am

Half Bad

Half Bad

Title: Half Bad

Author: Sally Green

Publisher: Puffin

Format: Paperback (also available in Hardback and e-book formats)

Standalone/Series: Series

Pages: 380

I do not own the content taken from this novel. All rights belong to Sally Green and Puffin Books.

Excerpt from page 14/15:

“When she comes back a few seconds later, you’re round by the pantry door and you bring the iron down hard, pointed side against her head.

But she’s so blood tall and so bloody fast. The iron catches the side of her scalp and sinks into her shoulder.

You’re on the floor clutching your ears, looking at her boots before you pass out.”

Plot:

The plot is great. On a fundamental level, it’s about the fight between good and evil both externally and internally. Nathan lives in a world where he, a Half-Code (a cross between a White and Black witch),  lives in a world where White witches (who act as paragons of good) rule and Black witches (who are viewed as terrorists) are hunted. He must receive three Gifts by his seventeenth birthday or he’ll die. Left with no alternative, he must get to Mercury, the Black witch who eats boys, before he turns seventeen.

I love how Green builds a world. What’s more, there’s enough bumps in the path to keep adventure-seekers happy and romance enough to leave you wondering how Nathan and Annalise will ever be together. I will admit though that I was expecting something bigger at the end. It felt like a build up of pressure that deflated at the last page. Slightly anti-climatic but I stand by this book in saying that it’s still a great read.

16/20

Narration:

The narration is different to the norm in YA genre. For the most part, it’s a first person narrative but in the beginning and interspersed throughout, is a different style that is Nathan’s voice but he uses the “you” pronoun, placing the reader into the text: “You go first. You light the match, and hold it between your thumb and forefinger…” (3) This style gets you closer to the action and makes you feel like you’re actually there, like you’re the one lighting the matches while the traditional, first-person style lends a more intimate quality to the story. Both work magnificently together and help draw the reader into the story.

20/20

Character:

I can’t really fault Green on character. There was a nice array of different personalities. Particular highlights for me where Mercury (and Gabriel, to a lesser extent).

20/20

Quality of Writing:

The quality of the writing was on-point for the most part. The only criticism I have is that I would have liked a bit more dramatisation than exposition in the story. I felt there were times when it would have made for a richer story if Green dramatised some of the character detail, allowing us to make our own observations and not spell everything out.

17/20

Setting:

Green does what few writers manage to do and that is, to create a world. Not just a physical world (Wales, London, Geneva etc.) but an actual sense of a world (and community) when it comes to the Council and the war between the White and Black witches and the politics of Nathan’s world. I do wish we got a bit more concrete detail, especially in Geneva. At times, it feels like we could be in one of twenty different places across the globe. There’s a lack of definining and anchoring features at times.

7/10

Comparative Literature:

The story is fresh and raw, darker than many YA novels. It’s edgy and definitely a page-turner. It reminds me of Divergent by Veronica Roth, in that it draws you into Nathan’s world and you always want to know more. It’s exciting and the craftmanship in the story is beautiful. I guess it also reminds me of stories about vampires like Marked and Twilight in that many of the characters in these books must deal with the good and the bad that rages within them. My main point here though, is that the narrative voice is striking and I haven’t seen anything quite like it in other YA stories before.

10/10

Overall Score:

90/100

NOW SKIP TO THE GOOD BIT…

  • Well-rounded, likable and horrible characters
  • A different, edgy take on narration
  • Good, quality writing
  • Intriguing story and a world that draws
  • Physical setting could do with a bit more anchoring detail but overall. great world-building technique

Books You May Also Like:

Divergent series by Veronica Roth – for a different (dystopian) world and a strong narrative voice

Marked (House of Night series) by P.C. and Kristin Cast. – for more of that internal good/bad struggle and that sense of entering and discovering a new world

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I don’t think there’s much I can say here that will do Rowling’s phenomenon justice so I’ll say no more

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