'new gen' - Great Fiction for Young Adults

Mainly aimed at young adults, but high quality and readable for adults too, Young Adult Fiction navigates emotional stories and characters searching for who they are. This diverse genre can feature aspects from any other genre, from Family Dramas to Fantasy with a stop off at Horror and Historical Fiction along the way plus some relevant non-fiction titles too.

October 2021 Featured Books

Robinson Crusoe A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Robinson Crusoe A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Author: Daniel Defoe Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Michael Morpugo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is just one of the very many stories for adults and children alike that have been inspired by Daniel Defoe’s classic shipwreck story. Written over 300 years ago, the story of Robinson Crusoe, an impulsive young man who runs away to sea against the best efforts of his parents to stop him, is packed full of gripping action as Crusoe survives the worst the elements throw  at him before he is shipwrecked on an apparently uninhabited island. The story of Crusoe’s life on an island is a lyrical study of a place as well as an inspiring story of one man’s resourcefulness. In this adapted edition award-winning illustrator Robert Inkpen’s illustrations bring Daniel Defoe’s classic story to life in timeless images. 

Gulliver's Travels A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Gulliver's Travels A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Author: Jonathan Swift Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

When ship’s surgeon Gulliver sets off across the seas in search of adventure he has little idea what he will find. His two greatest discoveries are the countries of Lilliput and Brobdingnag.  In Lilliput he finds a population of tiny people to whom he appears as a giant while in Brobdingnag the roles are reversed: Gulliver is tiny and Brobdingnags are giants.  Swift uses Gulliver’s descriptions of his experiences in these contrasting countries to write a satirical commentary on his own society. His use of Gulliver’s altered relative size gives great scope for studying everyday events in a new way and makes a fine vantage point for telling the contrasting stories. Gulliver is an iconic figure in literature. Read aloud, this abridged edition with is impressionistic yet detailed illustrations by Robert Ingpen will make an excellent way to introduce the story about him to young readers.

Books of the Month
Empress & Aniya

Empress & Aniya

Author: Candice Carty-Williams Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

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.

Once Upon A Broken Heart

Once Upon A Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The most deliciously moody, romantic, and enchanting tale awaits. Written for young adults, this is a book that will also quite happily sit on bookshelves belonging to adults too. Evangeline strikes a deal with an immortal Fate in order to stop the wedding of the man she loves and complete her own happily ever after. This particular Fate isn’t to be meddled with, and when Evangeline strikes a bargain, things don’t go according to plan. A new series by the best-selling Stephanie Garber is to be celebrated and there is a crossover from her previous Caravel trilogy (though you don’t need to have already read them). As you can probably tell by the title, there is more than a hint of fairytale contained within the pages, however, this is not the syrupy sweet kind, oh no, darkness plays its part with aplomb. The setting is fabulously enticing, the characters engaging, and the plot beautifully sets up this book as the first in the series. A Liz Pick of the Month, Once Upon A Broken Heart, is a captivating tale, perfect for lovers of romantic fantasy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl

Author: Stella Caldwell & Quentin Blake Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/09/2021

For all those who are already fans of Roald’s Dahl’s awesome stories and for newcomers to them, this is a splendid introduction to some of the favourite characters and the most dramatic, hilarious, spinechilling and adventuresome stories that are his storytelling legacy. Following a brief account of Roald Dahl’s childhood and his famous writing shed, 15 of his top titles are cleverly explored through their main characters and the key features of the stories. There is James and his extraordinary crew from the awesome travelling peach in James and the Giant Peach; the delightful Charlie Bucket whose winning ticket takes him to Mr Wonka’s astonishing chocolate factory and a heap of adventures with some less lovely children including Veruca Salt and Augustus Gloop; the delightful Danny and his father and some fabulous pheasant poaching plots and the truly horrible Mr and Mrs Twit who have a whole book to themselves. The battle between Matilda and the awful Miss Trunchbull, the BFG’s encounter with the Queen and the utterly terrifying Witches – all of these and more are brought to life in these brief retellings which make clever use of letters, recipes and newspaper clippings. As in the originals, all are fabulously illustrated by Quentin Blake. The inclusion of an activity pack adds an interactive element to the book and enhances enjoyment of it.

Not Here To Be Liked

Not Here To Be Liked

Author: Michelle Quach Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

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.

Defy the Night

Defy the Night

Author: Brigid Kemmerer Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/09/2021

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.

Kissing Emma

Kissing Emma

Author: Shappi Khorsandi Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

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.

September 2021 Featured Books

Iron Widow

Iron Widow

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/09/2021

* 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.

When We Make It

When We Make It

Author: Elisabet Velasquez Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2021

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied. When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez' debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

This Is My Truth

This Is My Truth

Author: Yasmin Rahman Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Friendship and family in all their complicated forms, domestic abuse, bullying, finding the strength to confront the truth - Yasmin Rahman’s This is My Truth packs a whole lot of big themes into its compassionate pages. The harrowingly authentic scenes of an abusive marriage show how male bullies operate in the domestic sphere - the control, the pathetic physical intimidation and harm they conceal from family and friends. This is powerfully important stuff, powerfully and honestly portrayed by the author of the acclaimed All the Things We Never Said. As Amani faces the stresses of her impending GCSEs (exacerbated by the pressure to become a vet like her abusive, controlling father), she finds an outlet in doing what she really loves - making films, “practically the only thing that brings me joy.” But alongside making playful pastiche movies with her little brother Ismail (their relationship is a thing of beauty), she documents the Bad Nights by filming her face while listening to her father abuse her mother. Meanwhile, Amani’s best friend – super-smart, super-confident Huda - stands up to bullies, but hides secret struggles of her own. Huda lives with loving foster parents, but with their own baby on the way, she’s scared she’ll be pushed out. As a result of their secrecy, Amani and Huda are envious of each other’s home lives, until Huda witnesses an abusive outburst. Though it (rightfully) doesn’t shirk from the brutal reality of bullying and abuse, This is My Truth is ultimately a story of hope and survival as the seeds of future flourishing are sown.

TTEO Take The Emotion Out

TTEO Take The Emotion Out

Author: Ren Laws Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/06/2021

We embark on a coming of age fantasy story in 'TTEO: Take The Emotion Out’ by Ren Laws. 18-year old Brissy is gearing up to embark on the next stage of her life; finishing up her A levels with the aim of going to university. She tries to fit in and appear as normal as possible, but when the things that make her unusual turn out to mean something bigger than she ever could have imagined, the fantasy adventure begins. I like Brissy, from the start she’s an endearing and warm character with lots of similar concerns to readers of her age. I also like the way that the book begins focusing on the mundane, getting us settled in the world of A Levels and university offers, before the fantasy elements are slowly introduced. I personally feel that the writing could do with a little bit more polish, at times it was a little bit repetitive - Bus said three times in one paragraph on p. 17 and lake and water repeated twice in a similarly short space of time on page 16 - but when I became immersed in the story I found this didn’t really detract from the action. I found the plot of ‘Take The Emotion Out’ action-packed and entertaining, the ending leaving you eager to see what happens in future books. An enjoyable and quick read for fans of YA Fantasy. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Emilie

Emilie

Author: Ingrid Ramsdale Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2021

A historical fiction with a determined and strong-willed female lead. ‘Emilie’ by Ingrid Ramsdale explores the life of a noble Huguenot 16-year old, determined to do more with her life than society and her class demand of her. The scene in this story when Emilie is brutally beaten after being lured to a dangerous area by her scheming and conniving brother Pierre. Their relationship continues in much the same way as Emilie rebels against the meek and subservient daughter and potential wife role she is expected to play. Seeking solace among her friends in the kitchen and the garden and secretly following her ambitions to become a healer land her in trouble. Then the Bartholomew Day Massacre changes Emilie’s life in ways she would have never imagined. She’s faced with the choice to flee France or stay and fulfill her vocation as a healer. I liked the determined nature of Emilie and enjoyed following her story, set against the backdrop of the French wars of Religion in the 16th century. The narrative of a woman before her time looking to carve out a new place in the world is a popular one amongst historical fiction, especially in books with a younger protagonist and perhaps directed at the YA market as well as the adult one. I found ‘Emilie’ to be a well-crafted story, with action and twists that will keep you turning the page. With plenty of different characters to love and some that you will love to despise, this is a strong character-led story set against a period of history that I didn’t know much about.

Indie Books We Love
It Ends With Us

It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2016

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST. Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his no dating rule, she can't help but wonder what made him that way in the first place. As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened. With this bold and deeply personal novel, It Ends With Us is a heart-wrenching story and an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

August 2021 Featured Books

Moonfleet (Wordsworth Exclusive Collection)

Moonfleet (Wordsworth Exclusive Collection)

Author: J. Meade Falkner Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

With its swashbuckling scenario and big themes of betrayal, revenge and sacrifice, J. Meade Falkner's Moonfleet is an undeniable classic of adventure fiction. And, with its embossed gold foil features and beautiful cover, this edition (part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection) makes a great gift for readers young and old. Fifteen-year-old orphan John Trenchard lives in Moonfleet with his aunt. When she banishes him, John is looked after by grumpy innkeeper Elzevir Block, whose son was killer by customs officials. In the smuggler’s care, John falls under the spell of the local legend of ghostly Blackbeard, who’s said to rise each winter to search for a missing diamond. As John sets out on his own quest to find Blackbeard’s gem, he becomes embroiled in the village’s real secret - and Elzevir’s. Brimming with bravery, atmosphere and all-out action, this is a tale to be dazzled by, and lose yourself in.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L Frank Baum Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz also includes LF Baum’s Glinda of Oz, the final book in the series in which Dorothy and Princess Ozma see Glinda's help after finding themselves in danger on the Magic Isle of the Skeezers. At £3.99, and featuring a gorgeous gold-foiled cover with enchanting artwork, this edition makes a great, affordable gift, or a treat for yourself if you’ve yet to read the book. We’ve all seen the movie, but returning to its source - this timeless tale of recognising the attributes, skills and magic that lies within yourself - comes highly recommended. There’s a reason movie-makers took inspiration from it, and this new edition is the perfect way to do the same yourself.  While reading the book, it’s worth considering the alleged political undertones of the story - the author was a political activist in the 1890s, and especially interested in the monetary standard of gold and silver. As a result, it’s been asserted that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written as an allegory about the demonetisation of silver, with the tornado symbolising economic upheaval, the yellow brick road symbolising the gold standard, and Dorothy's silver shoes symbolising the pro-silver movement. Yep, you read that right - in the book, her ruby slippers are silver. Film-makers made them red so they'd show up more strikingly against the yellow brick road.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Author: Henry Gilbert Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new gift edition of Robin Hood is resplendent with embossed gold foiling and an attractive bespoke cover illustration. If you’ve yet to read it, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price. What’s more, Robin’s action-packed escapades are perfect for sharing aloud with the young adventurers in your life. Henry Gilbert’s story of legendary English outlaw Robin Hood has entertained and enthralled since it was first published back in 1819. In all likelihood, though, most people have encountered this champion of the poor through films or TV, so now’s your chance to enjoy the story in written form. As for that story, Robin is the arguably the world’s best-loved outlaw whose adventures with the Merry Men of Sherwood, Maid Marian, good King Richard (and encounters with enemies Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff of Nottingham) have inspired writers for centuries. It’s an archetypal tale of goodies versus baddies here delivered in a spirit of derring-do.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L Frank Baum Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz also includes LF Baum’s Glinda of Oz, the final book in the series in which Dorothy and Princess Ozma see Glinda's help after finding themselves in danger on the Magic Isle of the Skeezers. At £3.99, and featuring a gorgeous gold-foiled cover with enchanting artwork, this edition makes a great, affordable gift, or a treat for yourself if you’ve yet to read the book. We’ve all seen the movie, but returning to its source - this timeless tale of recognising the attributes, skills and magic that lies within yourself - comes highly recommended. There’s a reason movie-makers took inspiration from it, and this new edition is the perfect way to do the same yourself.  While reading the book, it’s worth considering the alleged political undertones of the story - the author was a political activist in the 1890s, and especially interested in the monetary standard of gold and silver. As a result, it’s been asserted that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written as an allegory about the demonetisation of silver, with the tornado symbolising economic upheaval, the yellow brick road symbolising the gold standard, and Dorothy's silver shoes symbolising the pro-silver movement. Yep, you read that right - in the book, her ruby slippers are silver. Film-makers made them red so they'd show up more strikingly against the yellow brick road.

The Five Clues (Don't Doubt The Rainbow 1)

The Five Clues (Don't Doubt The Rainbow 1)

Author: Anthony Kessel Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

The first book in the series, The Five Clues, is a real-time murder-mystery thriller and family drama, combining an exciting race against time with a heart-rending story about a teenager learning to live with the loss of a beloved parent. 

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Sound of Everything

The Sound of Everything

Author: Rebecca Henry Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Winner of the Everything with Words’ YA Competition 2019, Rebecca Henry’s The Sound of Everything is an authentically gritty, involving coming-of-age novel that speaks to young people who struggle with feeling unseen, unheard and unloved.   Shipped from foster home to foster home, frequently betrayed, and having “never had a dad that I could call Daddy”, it’s no wonder Kadie (aka Goldilocks) has trust issues. The only thing she’s sure of in this world is music - listening to it, and creating it. It’s the “only thing that keeps my head straight.” To protect herself, she’s set out three rules: “1. Don’t count on anyone. 2. Act. Always act. 3. Be prepared to lose everything.”    Constantly in trouble at school, though told she has potential, Kadie bonds with a boy called Lips, aka Dayan, the name he reserves for use by special people, of which Kadie is one. Dayan records with his AMD mandem (Amalgamandem) and she’s happy to be invited to hang out with them, while remaining ever-mindful of the fickleness of group dynamics: “one day you’re in the group, the next you’re invisible.” But, just as things start to take an upturn, everything explodes in the aftermath of hideous online trolling and trouble with her foster sister.   What’s unique about this novel is the author’s considered, long-game exposition of Kadie’s complex character - it’s not rushed, not forced too soon to serve the plot. And, true to life, her problems aren’t easily solved either - it really is powerfully authentic all round, from Kadie’s voice and interactions, to its portrayal of mental health problems, among them self-harm. At times Kadie will have you pulling your hair out at her own-worst-enemy outbursts, but mainly, though, you’ll warm to her. You’ll will her to find her way.    Appropriately enough for a girl named Goldilocks, there is - ultimately - a glint of gold among the grit. I don’t want to spoil it, so let’s just say she finds what might turn out to be her “just right” and begins to learn to open up to people she can trust.

The years leading up to your 20s 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 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 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.