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.
November 2018 Book of the Month | A stunningly original ocean adventure by a one-of-a-kind author whose work defies convention and abounds with a purity of ideas and execution. Kel was “always running away from something”, seeking escape “from the world she inhabited within and the world that bullied her from the outside”. She’s a swamper, born oceans apart from the wealthy tower people who live in the same Cornish coastal community. She’s also an unforgettable heroine, a girl with danger in her eyes, a baby to care for and “a stupid heart that beat wrong and was shaped wrong and had wrongness stretched clean through it”. Kel “didn’t want what the tower people had; she only wanted two things, a heart she could rely on and freedom from kin”, which is why she kidnaps Rose, the daughter of a cargo ship captain. Kel plans to use her ill-gotten gains to travel to South America to have a heart operation, because in the UK “swamp folk don’t get operations”. Aboard the ship Kel tracks down Rose and forces her to board a smaller vessel, soon running into trouble when the engine fails amidst scenes of devastation on the mainland. Steering clear of well-worn clichés, Carthew’s stories cut to the heart of human experience, often portraying and championing life’s underdogs and outsiders. What a thrilling, thought-provoking novel this is, brimming with perilous encounters, and the rawness of real-life relationships.
December 2018 Book of the Month | Encompassing works from ancient sages, classic poets, well-known thinkers and emerging contemporary innovators from all walks of life, this involving, inclusive collection inspires, entertains, enthrals and emboldens. Alongside enjoying the work of widely-esteemed names (including Sappho, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Christina Rosetti, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Margaret Atwood), it was a pleasure to discover contemporary poets whose work I shall seek out, among them Ruth Awola and Remi Graves, and lesser-known names from the past, for example Edith Södergran and Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen. If the diversity of voices is rich, so too are the themes, with growing up, friendship, love, nature, body image and protest covered in staggering depth and diversity. This varied chorus of bold, incisive voices makes for a collection to be savoured and shared.
December 2018 Book of the Month | | I relished the first two books in this series (The Dark Days Club and The Dark Days Pact) and this final Bath-set instalment is a fittingly thrilling feast of fantastical foe-fighting and illicit liaisons. Spirited Lady Helen might be in the throes of finalising her wedding plans, but she has far greater matters to attend to, such as defeating the Grand Deceiver. Alongside the high-stakes, high-octane action, the delicious duplicity of Helen’s double-life existence further flavours this novel with edge and intrigue. While “her aunt and uncle, along with the rest of society, were under the impression that she had spent the last six months enjoying the delights of Brighton and Bath”, Helen had, in fact, been engaged in “killing murderers, and becoming one half of the Grand Reclaimer with Lord Carlston” as a member of the demon-fighting Dark Days Club. Talking of whom, Helen’s relationship with Carlston is a frisson-fuelled delight, thronging with “will they? Won’t they?” tension. Wildly inventive, and driven by the vitalities and conflicts of an engaging heroine, this trilogy is a magnificent melange of history, fantasy and heart-pounding passion.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick for November 2018 | December 2018 Book of the Month | An outstanding book for everyone who has enjoyed We’re Going on a Bear Hunt or any of Helen Oxenbury’s other wonderful books from her board books capturing the smallest details of toddler life to her witty and sophisticated illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Distinguished children’s book critic Leonard S. Marcus takes reader’s behind the scenes of Oxenbury’s life as he recounts the major moments which mark out her career of such exceptional originality and sets it firmly within the publishing context of the period. The wealth of Oxenbury’s exquisite illustrations that have been reproduced in the highest possible quality make it a book that gives hours of enjoyment and inspiration.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Buckle up for an exhilarating, twisting, tormenting ride, Throne of Glass fans! The long-awaited conclusion to this expansive, thrill-a-minute extravaganza of high-stakes sass and skirmishes is here, and it certainly won’t disappoint the author’s legions of readers. Indomitable Aelin has dealt with everything that’s been thrown at her during her superhuman journey from slave to assassin to leader, but she now faces – of course! - her greatest, most tortuous challenge yet. Surrendering to the Queen of the Fae would mean dooming her loved ones’ destinies, but things aren’t looking hopeful from inside the iron coffin the Queen has her locked in, and she must muster every last drop of fight. There’s grit and glamour, gutsiness and conflict, not to mention the unexpected turns taken by characters readers are truly invested in. The sheer scale of this immense six book series means it’s quite a commitment to sign-up to, but its continued success shows that it’s a commitment fans of epic, female-fronted fantasy are gratified with making. As ever, the writing is crisp, direct, and dialogue-driven, with plenty of visual fireworks thrown in. A fitting finale, if ever there was one.
This perfect little package (a cute clothbound hardback sprinkled with glittery goodness) comprises two festive-themed stories that are packed with heart, wrapped in hope and perfectly embellished with Simini Blocker’s warm and witty illustrations. Set over several New Year Eves, the opener Midnights tells the tense “Will they? Won’t they?” story of best buddies Mags and Noel, whose lives are on the giddy brink of change. Kindred Spirits, originally published as a World Book Day book, is a funny tale of a friendship struck up between Star Wars fanatics sleeping outside a cinema before a new movie opens. Certainly a must-read for Rowell fans, this short and satisfying treat is also perfect for introducing newbies to her unique talent for creating believable characters and writing romance with real-life authenticity.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Author of the Year, British Book Awards 2018 | | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | More than two decades after Northern Lights the first book of Pullman’s world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5 million copies in over 40 languages comes, La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his 'The Book of Dust' series. #BookofDust will return to the parallel world that has enthralled readers young and old. La Belle Sauvage is set 10 years before Northern Lights and centres on the much-beloved Lyra Belacqua. Alethiometers, dæmons, and the Magisterium all return to play their part. Since the ‘equel’ (as Pullman likes it to be known) to His Dark Materials was announced, fans around the globe have cheered the return of Lyra Belacqua, heroine of His Dark Materials. In a short film released by his publisher, Pullman revealed the ingredient for success behind His Dark Materials: Lyra’s ordinariness. He says: “When I wrote the first book of His Dark Materials - Northern Lights - I certainly didn't anticipate that so many people would find Lyra as interesting a character as I did.” “The thing about Lyra is that she's not a special child. She's not especially gifted or talented - she's a very ordinary child. When I was a teacher, I taught many girls who were like Lyra. They were brave, inquisitive, curious, disobedient: all those interesting things for storytellers. I think the reason that people have read this long and complicated story is because they're with Lyra. She doesn't know the things that are threatening her and she's in the same position as the reader, because the reader shares her sense of danger and excitement and curiosity about what's going to happen next. I hope the same thing will be true of Malcolm in La Belle Sauvage.” A Piece of Passion from Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children’s (UK): “La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One is a story for our time, with themes that resonate with our world today. It is a story for everybody: a much longed-for treat for established fans of His Dark Materials as they meet Lyra Belacqua again and the chance for new readers to step into the magical world of Philip Pullman for the first time. Pullman is a master storyteller, and Lyra has established herself firmly as one of the most-loved characters in literature, a worthy contemporary of the likes of Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series), Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). In this book, she is joined by a new hero readers will love: an ordinary boy who steps up to the challenge of a lifetime.” Photo credit: Philip Pullman at a press conference held in Convocation House to launch his new novel La Belle Sauvage. © Ant Upton_Photocall Productions.
As elegant and energising as a flute of fine champagne, this enchanting novel sees 17-year-old Cornish farmer’s daughter and aspiring writer Lou embrace the dizzy decadence of 1920’s aristocracy, with life-changing results. “You can learn an awful lot from books,” according to Lou, and it’s Lou’s love of books that first brings her into contact with the wealthy Cardew family and their “exotic creature” socialite friends. One night she steals across the causeway to empty Cardew House to savour the delights of the library and unexpectedly encounters charismatic Robert Cardew. Their first ablaze-with-banter meeting leaves Lou “hot and cross” but also piercing with “pleasure and longing”, for it’s given her a tantalising glimpse into another world. Then follows an invite from Robert’s fluttery sister, Cailtin, and a summer of extravagant parties opens up. Robert’s voluptuously glamorous fiancé and her “film-star handsome” brother have quite an impact, but it’s the Cardew siblings who weave their way into Lou’s heart. Exuberantly entertaining, breezily romantic and shimmering with the delicious anticipation of pastures new, this is jubilantly fine fiction in the vein of I Capture the Castle.
Interest Age YA Reading Age 8 | Alex Wheatle serves up an invigorating slice of teen life starring three kids growing up on his fictional Crongton estate. Briggy and Terror have been best friends for years but Terror’s romance with the gorgeous, super-cool Caldonia threatens to push them apart. So when Terror comes up with a ‘cadazy’ plan to rob the Crongton post office, for the sake of their friendship Briggy has no choice but to go along with it. As the boys plan their heist, normal life goes on, with tension at home making Briggy’s get-rich-quick dreams even more powerful. Sharp, funny, moving and written in rat-a-tat sentences that turn teen speak into a kind of poetry. Brilliant.
September 2018 Book of the Month | From the creator of the mega-selling Cherub series comes the author’s first foray into standalone fiction, a killer-concept, Vegas-set page-turner in which a virus threatens to wipe out humanity. Fourteen-year-old Brit boy Harry is a something of a fish out of water in his Vegas high school. His photojournalist mum died when he was seven, and she’s given him “an urge to follow her path”, which is why Harry grasps his first big opportunity when there’s an explosion at his school and he riskily films the aftermath. As his footage goes viral and starts earning him big bucks, thirteen-year-old Charlie is in the frame for the attack. Described as “low-rent trailer trash” by Harry’s friend, she’s a science geek with a rough home life and a history of making explosives. Harry sees her as a “beautiful freak”, though, and over the course of the next eight years their lives crisscross at a pivotal point in human history. With gene-editing tech developing at a rapid pace, everyone wants in on procedures that can enhance their body and brain. But, with the terrorist-created Killer T virus spreading like wildfire, and a crazily huge ransom demanded for the release of a cure, society is sinking into a hot mess of modified monsters, death and violence, with Charlie and Harry trying to hang on to doing the right thing. Charlie and Harry are the kind of fully-formed characters whose stories you’re desperate to follow. They’re complicated, authentically flawed, and the sparky tension between them is tinglingly tangible. This is truly gripping tale, big in scope, big in action and big in emotional impact.
On the surface, this is a story about a girl who discovers she's a witch, in a world where that is a highly dangerous thing to be. But it's contemporary life that really fascinates Melvin Burgess and this is as much a story of growing up and independence as it is a story of dark magic. It also contains a thoroughly disturbing dissection of coercion and control as central character Bea is manipulated into doing things that cause irrevocable harm to herself and others. The book opens with Bea and her family returning home after a day out. Crossing the moors they run into The Hunt, violent supernatural creatures tracking and attacking other witches. Bea is able to stop them, powerfully summoning help but revealing her supernatural ability at the same time. With the awakening of her witch nature, the world becomes a different place, more beautiful but more frightening as she is surrounded by visions that only she can see. Befriended by other witches she is given a terrible choice: safety and freedom with them means she must leave her own human family for ever. Under pressure from her parents she decides to give up her new powers for a 'normal' life, but is snatched away at the last minute by the wild boy she is beginning to love - is it a rescue, or an abduction? It's typical of Burgess that the book raises so many questions about temptation and individual choice, freedom and responsibility; typical too that the consequences of Bea's decisions are shown to be so painful, and permanent. Powerful, uncompromising reading.
Kellen and his murderous squirrel cat, Reichis, are on their own. They've heard rumour of a mythical monastery, known as the Ebony Abbey. It's a place that outsiders can never find - but Kellen is getting desperate. He's been told that the monks inside the Ebony Abbey know more about the Shadowblack than anyone else - and that they even know how to cure it. Then Kellen and Reichis are separated and for the first time, Kellen must face the world alone - and venture deeper into shadow magic than he ever knew he could.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | Awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour commendation from the Carnegie shortlist 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough. ~ Joanne Owen
October 2018 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | | A heartfelt, hard-hitting, super-readable novella about the life-affirming, life-saving friendship that blossoms between a young teenager and her 59 year-old neighbour. All sweet-hearted Aman wanted was for her dad to stay a little longer, but he died before she had chance to read her special letter to him. While grappling with grief, she’s bullied by a bunch of older kids, but thankfully new neighbour Gurnam intervenes to scare them off. While Aman sees Gurnam as her “personal superhero”, she notices a sadness about him, but he won’t reveal the cause of his pain. The truth is revealed with poignant, page-turning urgency, leading to a shocking finale that sees Aman grasp a second vital chance to read her love-filled letter. There’s so much humanity and soul in this short gem of a story. While the content is YA, this is written for those with a reading age of 8+, in a lucid, gripping style that tells it like it is and gets to the core of the characters’ hearts. I relished every word.
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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