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Especially compiled for Young Adults, this section is awash with wonderful worlds to escape to, great stories and characters you’ll love. Please note that some of these books have more adult content and are generally suitable for 16+ readers. The books in this section might also be given a secondary age range. Some are suitable for 13+ year olds reading above their age and looking for a challenging read. Please note, content & subject matter will be suitable for a 13 year old. Non-Fiction in this section is often fascinating and educational to a wider age range.
October 2021 Book of the Month | In this riveting story of murder, secrets, and tragedy, Jennifer Mathieu reimagines S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders from a female perspective. Bad Girls Never Say Die has all the drama and heartache of that teen classic, but with a feminist take just right for our times.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the 2021 Branford Boase Award | A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Refreshing, funny and packed with essential feminist themes, not to mention an authentic, engaging protagonist in Eliza Quan (a no-nonsense teenager who doesn’t give two hoots about what people think of her), Michelle Quach’s Not Here To Be Liked is at once deliciously entertaining and empowering. With pithy observations like “Girls get judged for their past; guys get judged for their potential”, it’s also a thought-provoking reminder (if one were needed) that there’s some way to go before patriarchal structures are disassembled - thanks goodness, then, that Eliza is on hand to speed up the process. Oh, and the novel features a whole lot of cute kissing to boot. Eliza is set to be the new editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. Firstly, she’s the most qualified candidate. Secondly, she’s the only candidate…until former baseball player Len joins the paper for want of something better to do and winds up winning the vote. Justifiably angry that he - male, handsome, popular and utterly inexperienced - was picked over her - Eliza’s venting inspires a feminist movement that exposes the gulf between those who want - and recognise the need for - gender equality, and those who think she’s just annoyed about being overlooked. Alongside exploring such pertinent themes in slick style, the novel also sees Eliza face the ultimate conflict when she finds herself falling for Len. Fast and furious, Not Here To Be Liked flies in the face of anyone dumb enough to think that books about feminism (and feminists themselves) can’t be smart and funny.
Set in Britain against the backdrop of the French Revolution, Sovay once again confirms Celia Rees’ tremendous talent for unpacking and enlivening major historical events through new perspectives, most notably through the eyes and experiences of strong female leads who refuse to do as they’re told. Born into a wealthy English family, Sovay has lived a pretty privileged life, though through her forward-thinking father, she has an acute awareness of the principles of justice and liberty. We meet Sovay in splendidly dramatic style when, dressed as a highwayman, she entraps her lover and proves his intentions and commitment are not what she’d hoped - not what she deserves. Amidst this personal anger and turmoil, her father vanishes, and it seems her brother has vanished from his Oxford college. Cue Sovay’s intrepid investigation of what’s happened, cue many more highwaywoman incarnations, and cue the unravelling of a web of political corruption, secret societies and monstrous science as the impact of the French Revolution hits very close to home. Packed with passion, political intrigue and rip-roaring, death-defying action, this is the kind of page-turner that could well spark a desire to dig deeper into history.
The long awaited sequel to The Harm Tree. Exiled from a broken land, two friends try to escape the darkness they left behind them. Together again, Torny and Ebba reach Vellsberg, an outpost of the Southern Empire, hoping for a safe haven. Instead, they find families driven by ambition, a strange young woman who doesn't seem to belong, and the bloody consequences of the Empire's attempt to control the north. When Vellsberg is attacked, Torny and Ebba entrust themselves to Aisulu, a lone rider from beyond the eastern edges of the Southern Empire. Betrayed and pursued, they flee through a land succumbing to a strange plague. Invisible flames afflict the penitent, and whispers of a new Martyr and his False Disciple follow at their heels. Unwilling to face the things they've done to survive, Torny and Ebba find themselves torn apart again. After all, what hope is there, when once you have been monstrous? What peace can there be, when you have betrayed your own?
October 2021 YA Debut of the Month | From Queenie to Empress, Candice Carty-Williams’ first YA novel is a fresh, authentically engaging, read-in-one-sitting exploration of class, compassion, friendship and empathy that uses a fab Trading Places/Freaky Friday device to tell the tale of two teenage girls who form a life-changing friendship. Empress lives in poverty on a South London estate. Being a bright, young thing, she’s won a scholarship to a fancy school, where she’s thrown in with a bunch of privileged girls who (mostly) mock her poverty. It’s also where she meets Aniya, who’s assigned to help her settle in. They share a birthday, but (on the face of it), not much else, given that Aniya lives in a huge house and her parents have high-profile jobs. The rich-poor divide is thrown into stark contrast when Empress goes to Aniya’s house (Aniya wants to make sure Empress eats) and meets her family. Her kindly, successful barrister dad is “a tall, handsome man who looked a bit like a budget Obama”, though their home and lifestyle are anything but budget. When Aniya resolves to understand how it feels to live in Empress’s shoes, they cast a spell that sees them swap bodies, setting in motion a succession of life-changing circumstances. Honest, warm, and utterly gripping, this heart-felt page-turner also provides generous insights into managing emotions and fostering empathy.
Your big sis in book form, Grown is a celebration of Black British girlhood that will empower you to live your very best life. Grown. It's a mood. It's a mindset. It's a mantra. It's a lifestyle. It embodies everything that makes us who we are. Being a teenager and trying to understand who you are and what you stand for is hard. Period. But if you're a Black girl and don't always see yourself represented in the books you read, the films you watch, the adverts you see or the history you're taught, it can be even tougher. Grown: The Black Girls' Guide to Glowing Up was written with one thing in mind sis. You. From understanding identity to the politics of hair to maintaining squad goals to dealing with microaggressions to consent to figuring out what career you might want, Grown has got your back. Natalie A. Carter and Melissa Cummings-Quarry, founders of Black Girls' Book Club, share stories - the wins and the Ls - and offer honest, practical advice that will show you how to own your choices. To live your truth without fear. To be grown on your own terms without limits or apologies. With a foreword from the inimitable Spice Girl Melanie Brown and contributions from inspirational Black women such as Diane Abbott MP, Dorothy Koomson and Candice Carty-Williams and gorgeous illustrations from Dorcas Magbadelo, Grown is a celebration of Black British girlhood that will empower you to live your very best life.
October 2021 Book of the Month | Utterly gripping and of-the-moment, The Trial addresses vital issues around consent, coercive control, victim-blaming and male entitlement with a desert island survival scenario providing the perfect set-up for a tinderbox situation. With this novel, Laura Bates, award-winning writer, activist and founder of the Everyday Sexism project, has created a thought-provoking thriller with page-turning potency and resonance. When a group of cheerleaders and footballers are washed up on a desert island following a plane crash (and a post-game party no one seems comfortable talking about), their attention is initially focussed on survival - what they’ll drink and eat, when they might get rescued. But then, as time passes and a series of strange, apparent accidents befall them, suspicions mount and paranoia reigns: “There’s something ‘off’ about the fabric of the group. Like a jigsaw where all the pieces have been reshaped and none of them fit together any more”. As the tension escalates, vital truths about gender relations are raised (and class disparity, too), such as when one of the characters observes, “The things that scare us are very different from the things that scare them” of the differences between her female peers and the guys in the group. This is Lord of the Flies with a powerful feminist message and cinematic scope.
Reeling with romance, rebellion and a feverish sense of doing the right thing, Brigid Kemmerer’s Defy the Night melds magic with political struggles to create a fast-paced, fantasy epic fronted by an indomitable young female apothecary. Tessa Cade and handsome, enigmatic Weston are the Robin Hoods of their corrupt kingdom, a realm that’s brutally governed by King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick; a realm in which only the richest can afford a cure for the disease that’s blighting their subjects. As a result, Tessa and Weston rob food and medicine from the rich to distribute to the poor, but Tessa is quick to realise that the only long-term way to end this unfair situation is to kill the king. Cue a high-stakes voyage to the kingdom’s dark core and a whole lot of soul-searching, plus plenty of heady romance. With whip-smart world-building and a cast of vibrant characters, this is a novel fans of Sarah J Maas and Cassandra Clare will devour.
Hard-hitting and, ultimately, infused with hope, Shappi Khorsandi’s Kissing Emma tackles big issues (poverty, class divisions, toxic masculinity, victim-blaming, and male coercion of women) with incredible honesty and authenticity. Inventively riffing on the true story of Emma Hamilton, Lord Nelson's mistress, this tells the gripping story of a young women’s journey to self-determination in a society obsessed with looks and economic status. Emma and her mum have long lived with her father’s abusive, controlling ways: “Sometimes he said to Mum, ‘Put some slap on, you look half-dead,’ so she’d do her face. But if she put on some lipstick and a bit of mascara without him telling her to, he’d scream, ‘You look like a tart!’ till she cried and took it off. No way of predicting it”. When he’s suddenly gone from their lives in extreme circumstances, Emma and Mum are forced to move into her grandmother’s small flat. There’s never enough money, and her mother hopes that attractive Emma will find a nice rich man to rescue them both, while Nan advises her to “Put less on show, love. Men can’t help themselves around a bit of flesh. You can’t dangle a lamb chop in front of a lion and expect it not to bite”. Amidst such poor advice, Emma discovers she has a talent for acting and resolves to up her aspirations, deciding, “I had to kill the girl from the estate. It was time to reinvent myself.” As a result, when Emma meets a couple of apparent nice guys from a modelling agency, she’s quickly coerced into an abusive situation while hoping to find Instagram influencer fame and fortune. Emma’s story is utterly gripping - readers will come to really care for her, and find themselves urging her to make different decisions, to find a different path in life. Being an authentic kind of novel, there’s no simplistic happily ever-after-ending here, but there is a glorious sense of triumph and transformation as Emma feels a surge of enough-is-enough self-pride and vows to live a life free from male coercion; a life in which she’s in control and happy, as she deserves to be.
When three very different siblings, Fern, Rowan and Willow, go home for a Christmas reunion at their family home in Edinburgh, it's not long before some very big secrets threaten their cosy holiday. Sweet and sour, funny and moving, and very, very Christmassy - the perfect book to curl up with this holiday, from the best-selling author of Clean.
The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved cult classic about family, friendship and first love, from award-winning author Benjamin Alire Saenz. This lyrical novel will enrapture readers of Love, Simon, John Green and Call me by your Name. A love story like no other. In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys fell in love. Now they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence. Ari has spent all of high school hiding who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can't go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante - dreamy, witty Dante - who can get on Ari's nerves and fill him with desire all at once. The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn't understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he'll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling new YA fantasy about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, Alexandra Bracken and Holly Black. The dead of Loraille do not rest. Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on. She'd rather deal with the dead than the living, who point and whisper about the odd girl who was once possessed by a violent spirit. When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia fights back by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a high saint's relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being now whispering in her head. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her in body and soul. But death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has a chance of stopping it. As Artemisia investigates a mystery of saints, secrets and dark magic, an ancient evil is stirring. Can an untrained girl, tormented by the burden of containing the revenant's devouring power, have any hope of defeating it?
If you go down to the woods today . . . Two girls go backpacking in the woods. Things go very wrong. And, then, their paths collide with a serial killer . . . The Woods are Always Watching is an edge-of-your-seat, nerve-wrangling thriller. Full of breathtaking action and twists you'll never see coming, Stephanie Perkins has created a masterpiece of the horror genre.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | An extraordinary, powerful, and important book, based on the true story of how Liz Kessler’s father escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe thanks to a British couple his family had met once. But what elevates this book about three friends and their different fates in World War Two is the story of Max, the nice, ordinary boy who gradually becomes seduced into hatred and prejudice. The ringing question, ‘What would I do under these circumstances?’ echoes on every page. ~ Francesca Simon
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | The Silent Stars Go By is a riveting read-in-one-sitting experience driven by compelling characters who leap off the page, not least the young woman at its heart, an unmarried secretarial student who’s forced to give up her baby during WWI. The novel is also underpinned by a superb sense of social history, with evocative details of post-war village life nestling within the bigger story, and - as might be expected of the author of Things a Bright Girl Can Do - it’s threaded with feminist themes. It’s 1919, Christmas is on the horizon and two years have passed since nineteen-year-old Margot was forced to give up her baby for her parents to raise as their own. She was only fifteen when she and Harry fell madly in love ahead of him being called up. The magic of their time together is evoked in all its tingling passion, contrasting with Margot’s present-day torments. It hurts when little James calls her mother “Mummy”, and she doesn’t know how she can continue to keep James a secret from Harry, who’s returned to the village after recuperating on the Isle of Wight. The flashbacks to Margot’s time on the maternity ward are particularly poignant and, of course, the reason she has to endure this unbearable situation is due to the fact that she lives in a world in which “the girl is the one whose honour is defiled or whatever rot they spout” whereas “the boy is just being a boy”. Coupled with that wider context, Margot’s vicar father is a man who “forgave drunks and tramps and fallen women and the men who tried to steal the lead from the church roof. But he couldn’t forgive her.” Realising that “things couldn’t go on like this,” Margot decides to confront her fears amidst the rare glamour of a ball on New Year’s Eve.
Jessie Burton’s fiery feminist re-telling of the Greek myth of Medusa blazes with intrigue and beauty courtesy of author’s elegant style and Olivia Lomenech Gill’s fabulously evocative colour illustrations. It’s an incredible feat of intellect and imagination that takes down toxic masculinity and victim-blaming culture through an ingenious reframing, reclaiming of Medusa. The gods have exiled Medusa to a remote island, with no one for company but the snakes she has for hair. That is, until impossibly beautiful Perseus arrives and transfixes her: “I know a lot about beauty. Too much in fact. But I’d never seen anything like him…I wanted to eat him up like honey cake.” Desires awoken, Medusa won’t reveal her name, or let him see her: “I was just going to sit on the other side of this entrance rock and pretend that boys like him washed up on desert islands all the time.” This excerpt encapsulates one of the many marvellous things about this book. The writing - cleverly, and compellingly - feels both timeless and modern. Medusa’s narrative, and the dialogue, is laced with wit, and infused with tremendous detail. But betrayal swoops in the wake of desire, and all-too familiar mechanisms of patriarchy come into play with ferocity. Ultimately, though, and with a magnificent sense of sisterhood, Medusa comes to a new state of being: “Self-awareness is a great banisher of loneliness. And my sisters, the immortals, are with me.” This is terrifically inspiring and empowering in the ways of timeless myths, but also in ways that are very, very real - “you will find me when you need me, when the wind hears a woman’s cry and fills my sails forward. And I will whisper on the water that one must never fear the raised shield, the reflection caught in an office window, or the mirror in a bathroom.”
Relating the remarkable stories of 100 extraordinary women of colour, Maliha Abidi’s Rise is an inspirational, informative showstopper of an anthology. Global in scope and engagingly lively in style, it’s a powerful and beautifully curated testament to trailblazing women of colour from all walks of life, from all fields of endeavour (literature, science, engineering, business, banking, mathematics, politics, law, medicine, human rights activism, sport, art, music, dance), from all corners of the world. What a glorious gift this is to treasure - and draw inspiration from - for a lifetime. Featuring women from over 40 countries, these are pioneers who’ve risen above multiple challenges to have huge impact on the world, whether in the public eye, or behind the scenes. While the book includes seminal icons who are household names (among them Beyonce, Frida Kahlo, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks and Serena Williams), Rise also highlights lesser-known names whose work has had huge impact on our world. Like the women themselves, Maliha Abidi’s writing style is engaging and keenly focussed, and her striking portraits of each innovator are an exuberant, life-filled joy.
Instant New York Times No.1 Bestseller Science fiction and East Asian myth combine in this dazzling retelling of the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. I have no faith in love. Love cannot save me. I choose vengeance. The boys of Huaxia dream of the celebrity status that comes with piloting Chrysalises - giant transforming robots that battle the aliens beyond the Great Wall. Their female co-pilots are expected to serve as concubines and sacrifice their lives. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, her plan is to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But on miraculously emerging from the cockpit unscathed after her first battle, she is declared an Iron Widow - the most feared pilot of all. Now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she sets her sights on bigger things. The time has come to stop more girls from being sacrificed.
This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman's Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy. The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be normal. But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star's help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago. Sheetal's quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family's champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens-and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all. Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.
Co-written by Angelina Jolie, Amnesty International and Geraldine Van Bueren QC, Know Your Rights and How to Claim Them is underpinned by an inspirational knowledge is power ethos. That is to say, it sets out the human rights of under 18-year-olds and aims to “help you to identify who or what stands between you and your rights, and the action you can take if you choose,” as Jolie explains in her introduction. After talking through the principles and history of human rights in lucid style, Know Your Rights explains their practical implications - “your rights in reality” - covering everything from poverty and racial and gender equality, to health and climate, with rousing examples of how young people around the globe have taken action, from gay rights activists in Colombia, to a disability rights activist in Kyrgyzstan. The book also explains how young people can safely, effectively campaign for rights, with detailed insights into how to speak in public, how to debate, how to safeguard your personal mental health, how to raise awareness through engaging politicians, and how to amplify the reach of your campaign. At once informative and practical, Know Your Rights is a dazzling, potent toolkit for justice and change.
From the creator of the Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices trilogy comes this epic first instalment of the author’s highly anticipated The Dark Artifices series. Lady Midnight is populated with pretty much every kind of mythological and supernatural being you could wish for (witches, warlocks, werewolves, vampires, faeries to name a few), but none more intriguing than the Nephilim Shadowhunters, part-angel, part-human beings who adorn themselves with protective runes. Emma Carstairs is a Shadowhunter and, as such, she’s bound to her parabatai platonic soul mate Julian for life. Emma is also set on avenging her parents’ death. Then, when bodies bearing the same marks as those on her parents’ are found in her home city of Los Angeles, Emma’s search for their murderer leads her down all kinds of treacherously demonic paths. Clare has a real talent for creating richly-realised fantasy worlds and plummeting her gutsy, larger-than-life protagonists into seriously high-stakes situations. This is a hugely entertaining and expansive start to her new series, with more glamour that you can shake a stele stick at, and more than enough intrigue to keep forum threads spinning furiously as fans await book two. Take a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Dark Artifices.
Translated by Rachel Ward | With an illuminating contextualising foreword by Michael Rosen, Dirk Reinhardt’s The Edelweiss Pirates is a tremendously-told story of astonishing courage as a group of young people living under the brutal Nazi regime launch risky rebellions. The graceful, pacey story begins when sixteen-year-old Daniel encounters an old man, Josef, at a cemetery. Josef is there visiting the grave of his brother, who was murdered during the war. “It’s a long story,” he explains. “But it might interest you. You especially!” Intrigued, Daniel discovers where Josef lives and visits him, whereupon he shares his diary, which reveals how Josef and a band of fellow brave teenagers rebelled against Nazi atrocities. As a teenager, Josef left the Hitler Youth for The Edelweiss Pirates - a group of compellingly cool youngsters. In his words, “they’ve got style: checked shirts and bright neck scarves, leather jackets and belts with huge buckles. Some have straps on their wrists and kind of fancy hats on their heads”. Driven by a motto of freedom, the Pirates initially hang out together to enjoy themselves and let loose but, as Nazi atrocities escalate, they plot and implement perilous missions to undermine the regime. Reeling with details of real-life struggles and feats, and a riveting sense of drama, this is an extraordinary novel about an extraordinary group of youngsters whose lesser-known story reveals the capacity of the human spirit to stand up and risk all to confront barbarism and injustices. It’s a poignant page-turner to the nth degree.
It's here! Number one bestselling author Stephenie Meyer makes a triumphant return to the world of Twilight with this highly-anticipated companion; the iconic love story of Bella and Edward told from the vampire's point of view. When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella's side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward's version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun. This unforgettable tale as told through Edward's eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward's past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger? In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.
September 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2021 | This gripping thriller with a high octane plot and full-on characters takes its readers on an amazing journey across two time frames and in and out of real science and maths while also vividly capturing contemporary teenage life. Esso and Rhia, from different times and, in reality, from different generations, are brought together by chance and, from then on, must work out how best to understand the Upper World and all its secrets. Femi Fadugba’s debut novel will delight and challenge readers.
The teenage years are such a vibrant and vivid time in your life. Adventure, friendships, self-discovery are all there in spades, but there’s frustration too, impatience and a strong desire to be understood.
This section of fantastic books for teens and young adult readers is filled with stories that reflect all of these feelings in settings that will give flight to your imagination. Be inspired by tales of self-discovery, run the rocky road of first romance, battle big issues in mysterious worlds, beat the bleak future of dystopian regimes, or laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all. There’s something here for all tastes and moods from half-god heroes to horseback holidays and literally everything in between.
You can download a free Opening Extract of each book, usually about the first chapter. Read it on your screen, or print it off and enjoy anywhere. We give you enough of a book to see whether it’s your sort of thing.
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