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.
In this sequel to The Queen’s Rising, Brienna has chosen passion over blood, but can she put her country before her heart? Perfect for fans of SIX OF CROWS and Sarah J. Maas. Finally, Brienna is a mistress of knowledge and is settling into her role as the daughter of Davin MacQuinn, a disgraced lord who returned to Maevana to reclaim his house. Though she’s just survived a revolution, one that will finally return a queen to the throne, she faces another difficult challenge. She must prove herself trustworthy to the MacQuinns. But as Queen Isolde Kavanagh’s closest confidant, she’ll have to balance serving her father’s house as well as her country. And then there’s Cartier Evariste, a wholly separate factor in her new life. Now known as Aodhan Morgane, Cartier is adjusting to the stark contrast between his pre-rebellion life in Valenia as a master of knowledge and his current one as the lord of a fallen house. During his castle’s restoration, he discovers a ten-year-old boy named Tomas, whose past and parentage are a complete mystery. So when Cartier’s former pupil Brienna is as fond of Tomas as he is, he lets his mind wander – what if he doesn’t have to raise him or his house alone? As the Lannon trial rapidly approaches, Brienna and Cartier must put their feelings aside to concentrate on forging alliances, executing justice, and ensuring that no one interferes with the queen’s coronation. But resistance is rumbling among the old regime’s supporters, who are desperate to find a weakness in the rebels’ forces. And nothing makes a person more vulnerable than deep-seated love.
Alternating between the engaging narratives of two teenage boys, Malcolm Duffy’s Read Between the Lines is a riveting, read-in-one-sitting page-turner, sharing insights into dyslexia as it also explores family frictions and how to support the people around you. Soon-to-be-stepbrothers Ryan and Tommy are as different as ice-cream and cabbage. Tommy has recently been released from a young offenders’ prison, while Ryan is a piano-playing good lad who’s moved down south with his dad following his parents’ divorce. In Ryan’s words, “Don’t do cooking but hear it’s all about the blend of ingredients. Same with families. Ours is all wrong. Like ice-cream and cabbage”. Despite their marked differences, the teenagers do have something in common — they’re both dyslexic, but have very different ways of dealing with it. Tommy’s journey through handling prejudice against his criminal past (“a single bad decision doesn’t make you bad”) and learning to read is gripping, moving and - ultimately - uplifting, as is Ryan’s dedication to teaching Tommy to read. As Ryan’s mum announces her plan for them to move, and Tommy discovers long-buried family secrets, the perfectly-paced plot ramps up the stakes, with plenty of humour and touching moments shining through the boys’ troubles.
Navigating loss, love and family strains while standing out as a brown girl in a predominantly white school isn’t easy for Ellie, a budding songwriter and music aficionado. A beautiful, funny ode to finding the strength to sing up and stand out, Ellie Pillai is Brown is sure to chime with readers who also feel they don’t quite fit in, with QR codes peppered through the book bringing Ellie’s songs to life, and adding extra depth to the experience. Ellie Pillai is a girl who know what she loves — music. And, against her parents’ wishes, she’s set on making a go of her drama GCSE, determined to find a way to overcome feeling invisible. While her family are mourning the loss of her little brother, which has left Ellie and her mum terribly distant from each other, Ellie has the stable support of her best friend. But her life is well and truly shaken up when a new boy and his twin sister arrive at her school. While handsome Ash is the only person who gets all her music references and understands the power of a playlist and finding the right song for every situation, it looks like he’s hooked up with her best friend, so Ellie tries to put him out of her mind. At the same time, Ellie’s new drama teacher instils her with confidence: “I think you have presence, something special about you. Something different”. If only Ellie can stop putting herself in a box and making herself small. Exploring grief, consent, family expectations, self-confidence, first love, same sex love and mental health through its well-drawn cast of characters, Ellie Pillai is Brown strikes a smart balance between humour and emotion.
Haunted by her mother’s death, and now uprooted from Limerick to a rural village, 18-year-old Saoirse is desperate to leave school and start her life afresh. Her tremendously tough journey through guilt and anxiety - quite brilliantly related with raw compassion by Helena Close - makes for an engaging, thought-provoking, moving read that sheds light on the realities of depression while offering honest glimmers of hope. Just ahead of sitting her sitting the Leaving Certificate, Saoirse’s ex-boyfriend commits suicide. It’s no secret that she cheated on him with his best friend, and she’s cast out by her peers. Devastated by guilt, grief and feeling isolated, her counselling sessions do little to help. Yet even as she descends into the darkest clutches of depression, Saoirse shines as a wise and witty young woman. She sees people for who they are, beyond her years, with her narrative casting a glaring light on the reality of attitudes to depression: “You are not allowed to be sad. People have no tolerance to sad. You can be Insta sad – sad because you saw pictures of dying refugees or abandoned puppies. You can’t be ongoing sad.. You can’t be scared or anxious or upset”. As everything becomes too much for Saoirse, she’s taken to a psychiatric hospital. Though painful, her journey to regaining herself is powerfully raw and touched by hope, with the wider cast of true-to-life characters (from Saoirse’s siblings and peers, to her straight-talking, gin-swilling grandmother) adding to the enlivening authenticity.
Brimming with inspiring messages about shedding shame and feeling positive about sex, and driven by a magnificent heroine whose journey to selfhood enlightens as it entertains, Joya Goffney’s Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl is laden with heart, hilarity and a whole lot of helpful information. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also infused with feminist magic - what begins as a 17-year-old’s quest to “fix” herself to get her guy back becomes a joyous journey of self-discovery that sees a sister doing it for herself. “I love my daddy, but I hate church”. Given that Monique’s Daddy is a pastor at a Black Baptist church in the south, that’s quite some conflict, but church is where she gets to spend time with Dom, her “dream boy”, who also happens to be her “daddy’s protégé”. Despite having taken a pledge of chastity to keep her strict parents happy, Monique and Dom have been trying to have sex for some time, but she finds it physically impossible. Then, on their 2nd anniversary, Dom breaks things off after their 29th failed attempt to get down to business. So, Monique resolves to “come up with some solutions” to get him back, beginning with booking an appointment to see if her lady parts are normal. The author’s candour about the body, masturbation and conditions like vaginismus is brilliant - often funny and always informative. Monique initially receives help from two unlikely sources, goody-two-shoes Sasha from church, and bad boy Reggie - neither turn out to be what they seem. Sasha declares “I think Dom’s an asshole for breaking up with you over this. You are more than what your body can do for him”, while Monique’s relationship with Reggie will truly make your heart sing. With a powerful subplot about Monique’s estranged sister, and a host of fabulous female characters, including the gynaecologist who states, “No woman should have to go without care. Especially not because some power-hungry man thinks he knows what’s best, when he doesn’t know diddly-squat about women’s bodies”, this is a dazzlingly refreshing charmer.
Otherworldly, yet rooted in patriarchal realities, Kelly Barnhill‘s When Women Were Dragons is a storytelling masterwork. Set from the 1950s, it presents a magnificent maelstrom of fire-breathing women who refuse to keep quiet, exposing the trauma of enforced silence, and shining a blazing light on how vital it is to transcend imposed shame and live your own way. “I was four years old when I first saw a dragon. I was four years old when I first learned to be silent about dragons. Perhaps this is how we learn silence — an absence of words, an absence of context, a hole in the universe where the truth should be”. So shares Alex, the narrator of this brilliant novel, who lives at a time when adults remember the “mass dragoning” of women that occurred on 25th April 1955, but never mention it. Alex’s aunt Marla was among those who rose up and transformed into a dragon, but it’s as if she never existed. Marla is never spoken of again - not by Alex’s sick mother, and not by Alex’s father, who leaves her to raise Marla’s daughter Beatrice. Before her transformation and vanishing, Marla told Alex that, “All women are magic. Literally all of us. It’s in our nature. It’s best you learn that now”. Fearing little Beatrice won’t be able to resist her powerful urges to dragon, Alex shuns any such notions, and silences Beatrice’s talk of dragons. But librarian Mrs Gyzinska, who supports Alex’s plan to become a mathematician, shares her learned insights, and frames the phenomenon of dragoning in the context of patriarchy: “There are people who have problems with women, and alas, many of them are also women. That is because of something called the patriarchy… an unnecessary and oppressive obstacle, and best disposed of as soon as possible.” As Alex grapples with tremendous conflicts and prejudice, we’re presented with a spectacular prom scene, a tense but glorious reunion, a beautiful love of a lifetime, and glorious sisterhood. What a story.
Taking in the trauma of enslavement and apartheid, Mary Watson’s Blood to Poison is a uniquely bold and gripping Cape Town-set thriller that melds contemporary life and history with a parallel magical city — a world of furious witches and practitioners of magic who hide in plain sight. A world in which a 17-year-old young woman harnesses her rage to transcend a family curse. Savannah’s curse has been passed through her family’s female bloodline for generations, originating with Hella, “who had been enslaved, forced to work for a cruel family. Her anger grew until one day, it exploded out of her”. Hella cursed the family to “die before you have fully lived.” And now one woman in every generation of Savannah’s family is destined to die young, with anger exploding from them in the months before they’re due to die. Some of Savannah’s aunts have noticed the rage rising in her, the tell-tale marks on her skin. And then she encounters the witches from the curse story that lives in her bones… Savannah’s furious fight to transcend the curse is visceral and ablaze with elemental power, and Blood to Poison strikes a perfect balance between showing rage as a form of resistance and telling a gripping story of self-discovery.
Following her Carnegie shortlisted debut novel Guard Your Heart, this is another searing story set in Northern Ireland in 2019 but gradually revealing the lives of three generations of women affected by The Troubles. The author has a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies and a career in community relations, which lends an unmistakable authenticity to the narrative. Narrated by two teens from very different backgrounds and dealing with very different issues with each voice unique and distinctive. Tara, the Catholic daughter of a two-generation single parent family from Derry, is angry and grieving after the suicide of her boyfriend Oran. Faith, the daughter of strict Evangelical Protestants from rural Armagh is hiding her true sexuality from her family for fear of being disowned. When they come face to face on an interfaith residential, they discover they look almost identical. When they unite to untangle the mystery, a DNA test reveals they are related and Faith’s father is not who she thinks he is, while Tara has never known hers. This powerful and totally absorbing novel, with its unforgettable characters, is at its heart about truth and forgiveness, but inevitably also about social justice and how political decisions and the continuing legacy of violence and conflict continues to affect lives today. A reader cannot help but be moved and informed. A must-have as both a brilliant novel and for valuable insight on a historical period.
What a treat it is for a Rosemary Sutcliff treasure to be newly presented to the world, and in a beautiful package that befits the story’s historic charms and thrills, with charming chapter heading illustrations by Isabel Greenberg, and an introduction by Lara Maiklem, the acclaimed author of Mudlarking. This Manderley Press edition of The Armourer’s House will make a glorious gift for fans of historic fiction who relish intrigue and atmosphere, and comes highly recommended for readers who love Eva Ibbotson’s writing, and contemporary writers like Celia Rees and Katherine Rundell. First published in 1951, The Armourer’s House is set in London during the reign of Henry VIII, and rich in the engaging period detail Sutcliff is renowned for. When her grandmother dies, Tamsyn leaves her Devonshire seaside town and ship merchant Uncle Martin to live with Uncle Gideon in his armourer’s house on the Thames. Having a wife and large family, Gideon is deemed a more suitable guardian, but Tamsyn “did not want to be brought up properly, she only wanted to be happy”. She also longs to “have adventure and sail the seas of the world” — how on earth will she manage so far from the sea? Though something of a fish out of water in London’s chaos, Tamsyn’s imagination and heart are captured by the river traffic that passes Dolphin House, with her new excitement engagingly evoked alongside details of life in Tudor London — the Royal Dockyard, Billingsgate fish market, the autumnal “pink-flushed sky” behind Westminster, King Henry VIII himself travelling in the Royal Barge with Queen Anne Boleyn. Tellingly, Tamsyn “liked the Queen best, observing how her eyes were “terribly unhappy”. Then, on magic-charged Midsummer’s Eve, a Wise Woman presages that Tamsyn will find her “heart’s desire”, enhancing the novel’s aura of enchantment, and leading to a delightful denouement. Heartily satisfying for 9+ year-olds who love historic fiction, this also comes recommended as wonderful book to read together — no one is too old for the joys of reading aloud and being read to, and this ideal for exactly that.
*Now an acclaimed live-action Netflix series!* Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the third volume of the bestselling HEARTSTOPPER series. *Includes exclusive Tao/Elle mini-comic!* Charlie didn't think Nick could ever like him back, but now they're officially boyfriends. Nick's even found the courage to come out to his mum. But coming out isn't just something that happens once - there's Nick's older brother, and a school trip to Paris, not to mention all the other friends and family - and life can be hard, even with someone who loves you by your side. As their feelings get more serious, Charlie and Nick will need each other more than ever before. By Alice Oseman, winner of the YA Book Prize, Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie's lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.
Following her highly acclaimed debut novel, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, we have another powerful story depicting an authentic story of young lives impacted upon by the institutional and everyday racism experienced here in the UK; which makes it an even more important and challenging read. Narrated by three very different teenagers brought together by a moment of terrible violence when they witness a stabbing and for whom the overwhelming impact of this experience is exacerbated by what they are forced to confront. For rich and privileged Jackson at an exclusive school, the casual assumption of his classmates and potential girlfriend that the crime is gang related and the victim blamed, together with police failures and the subsequent biased media coverage, really opens his eyes and draws him closer to Chantelle and Marc. They live in Manchester’s Moss Side and attend the same school as the victim, but even there, the school will not challenge this biased view and it is where we see Chantelle struggle to overcome negative teacher assumptions about her abilities. When Jackson becomes a victim too, we see the ultimate failure of the justice system. But this is not just an angry novel, although it should indeed spark anger and awareness of white privilege, it is a nuanced portrayal of three individuals and those around them and emphasises the importance of family and friendship. Marc, after a life in care, finds his family with these friends and both he and Chantelle gain confidence that they can make something of themselves. The touching, gentle romance between Chantelle and Jackson and the strength of his own family ties gives him and the reader hope that his life has not been ruined by injustice. An absolute must have for schools.
Once again, Jacqueline Wilson has created a pitch-perfect, heartfelt story for older readers, with emotionally engaging insights into teenage pregnancy and motherhood in the early 1960s, and a timelessly resonant representation of treading that tricky tightrope between childhood and teenhood. Imagine a moving, teen-centred episode of Call the Midwife with added empathy. 14-year-old Laura comes from a proud working-class family. Young for her age, Laura hasn’t had any experience of boys until she befriends glamorous, wealthy Nina, the daughter of two doctors. Laura is incredibly flattered by Nina’s attention, but aware she lives in what’s known as the “Shanty Town”, while Nina has everything she could possibly wish for, and kissing experience to boot. The dynamics between the two girls is incredibly realistic, perfectly capturing the differences between them. A trip to the lido sees Laura coaxed into spending time with a pair of older French boys. Uncomfortable with Nina’s flirting, Laura leaves, but one of the boys insists on walking her home, and leads her into the cricket changing rooms. She’s not sure what happened, but a few months later she discovers she’s pregnant. Deemed to be “spoiled goods”, Laura’s parents send her to a special home for girls in her circumstances, where she’s the youngest, where girls are typically forced to give up their babies. Truly moving, true-to-life, rich in detail that evokes the 1960s setting, and suffused with compassion, the beautiful afterword sees Laura in her seventies, reflecting on the courageous, life-changing decision she made all those years ago, thanks to the help of her forward-thinking aunt.
‘Fragmented Souls’ by Kasha Ross is a dystopian YA fantasy story set in a brutal world that almost mixes The Hunger Games and Fight Club. A natural disaster, the emittance of a gas only deadly to humans, decimates the population. Now, those who remain live in dark times, where the main leaders impose weekly fights between gangs of the poverty ridden populace. Told from the perspective of Harley, the main character and leader of her young gang, and Jimmy, her best friend, the reader sees the tyrannical “Big Three” threaten Harley and those she loves. As the plot escalates, Harley and Jimmy get closer and he and all of her friends may have to risk everything to save Harley’s younger brother. A motley crew of pick-pockets, fighters, healers and more, each of the characters have their own quirks and talents, with distinct personalities to get to know, to add lighter moments, and to help the gang as they try to track down Harley’s brother J. The prologue shows the start of this tyrannical and violent world, and intrigued me immediately. I was curious to figure out exactly how the characters in the prologue are connected to the teens in the rest of the story. The incorporation of the supernatural with Harley’s unique characteristics is subtle throughout the book, I enjoyed this additional element and found that it was interwoven in a way that complimented the rest of the plot. As perhaps might be expected, there’s a love triangle theme that plays out as the gang work to find J. which I thought provided another facet to the story and allowed for softer moments amongst the violence of the setting and the action. ‘Fragmented Souls’ came to a dramatic conclusion and left me with a few questions and eager to know when I might be able to discover the answers. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
When dynamic independent children’s publisher Guppy Books put out a call for submissions from unpublished, un-agented writers in 2020, Nadia Mikail answered with The Cats We Meet Along the Way - a poignant debut with a punch-packing, end-of-the-world set-up, and unconditional love at its heart. Through its deeply endearing characters, this tells a stirring story of family finding a way through loss, loneliness and feeling abandoned to embrace what’s really important. Until the Announcement “Aisha had been a seventeen-year-old student, who treasured her lie-ins and whose mother shouted about breakfast to wake her up. Now time was precious”. And the Announcement? Nothing less than the imminent end of Earth, with predictions of “the world wreathed in fire and smoke” in the fatal wake of an asteroid collision. How’s that for a mind-blowing set-up? But that’s not all Aisha has to deal with. Three years ago, before the Announcement, her older sister, June, left home and hasn’t been seen since: “she had chosen to disappear from their lives without a trace, and had chosen not to come back”. Now, mere months before the world will end, Aisha and her mother Esah want to find June, so they embark on an emotional road-trip across Malaysia with Aisha’s adorable boyfriend, his compassionate parents, and Fleabag the cat. Though the scenario is urgent, the author has a powerfully steady style, as seen in her measured, bone-deep evocations of memories, and characters’ mourning of memories that will never be made - their sorrow and grief is profoundly palpable. Then there’s Aisha and Esah’s deep-rooted connection to the place they were born, where they hope to find June, and an unleashing of pent-up anger, grief and guilt before a love-filled sense that light may be found through even the darkest of days.
From the Sunday Times-bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, and A Darker Shade of Magic comes a standalone novel where The Secret Garden meets Stardust. Fourteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with. She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she's never met, her father's older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don't go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge. Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…
Powerfully applying the horror genre to explore racism and homophobia in a high school setting, Ryan Douglass’ The Taking of Jake Livingston is an un-put-down-able, chilling tale for our times. Sixteen-year-old Jake isn’t exactly your average teenager. He’s a medium, he can see the dead. Ghouls and zombie-like beings appear to him, ectomist seeps into his vision, “snakelike and sinister”. Jake is also one of the few black students at his private high school: “I hate it here. Every time we run warm-ups it’s like there’s a BLACK KID sign blinking above my head like a firetruck light”. As a result, the arrival of a gorgeous new black student is especially welcome, and brings the promise of romance. But Jake’s visions are worsening, to say the least. While most of the ghouls he sees are harmless, Sawyer Doon’s spirit is vengeful. After killing six students in a high school shoot-out, Sawyer killed himself, and is now set on using Jake to exact revenge. As an intense and chilling story of survival unfolds at breakneck speed, The Taking of Jake Livingston balances edge-of-your-seat scares and action with emotionally engaging themes.
This book hooked me from the start, the writing style, the characters, all fantastic. Each chapter left me wanting to read more and I ended up reading the second half of the book all in one go as I just had to find out what happened. Thirteen-year-old Chloe and her family, Mum, Dad, and younger sister Ella go on holiday every summer to a caravan by the sea where they meet another family, the Rossi’s. For Chloe, this year is going to be different as she has decided that she likes one of the Rossi boys, who is a similar age to her. It then starts the awkward coming of age scenarios which brought me right back to when I went through similar myself! The frustrations, self-awareness and thought processes of being a teenager is encapsulated brilliantly in this book, showing the high and lows of a family holiday with a holiday crush thrown in. A highly recommended book, and I cannot wait to read more from this author! Nicola Coen, A LoveReading Ambassador
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.