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'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.

August 2021 Featured Books

Moonfleet (Wordsworth Exclusive Collection)

Moonfleet (Wordsworth Exclusive Collection)

Author: Wilkie Collins Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

With its swashbuckling scenario and big themes of betrayal, revenge and sacrifice, Wilkie Collins’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. 

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.

July 2021 Featured Books

The Forevers

The Forevers

Author: Chris Whitaker Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Opening with the arresting scene of a body being discovered, the third in a month, Chris Whittaker’s The Forevers is a thought-provoking page-turner founded on a killer concept - if you could get away with anything without consequence, if the world was about to end, what would you do?   “The dead girl lay face down, ashen hair fanned out like she’d been posed. Some kind of terrible masterpiece Mae knew she’d never forget”. This is the grim reality of Mae’s present. At seventeen, she thinks back to ten years earlier, when news of the asteroid first broke - a ticking timebomb that’s set to explode. There’s no avoiding the terrible truth - “She was seventeen years old. She would die in one month”, for the Earth was “so broken not a thing would survive.” Amidst increasing rumbles and tremors, amidst people’s preparations for death, the discovery of the body of Mae’s popular peer Abi provokes questions - Did she jump? Was she pushed?    The sense of time running out, and the brutal psychological impact of knowing that the end is nigh, is masterfully evoked in all its heart-stopping starkness, while the dynamics between the young adult characters are authentically realised. All in all, this near-dystopian thriller has thought-provoking bite.  

After the Rain

After the Rain

Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Natalia Gomes’s dual-narrative story of survival, survivor’s guilt, friendship and rebuilding one’s life and identity is a potent, authentic feat of YA fiction. US-born Alice is a dedicated bookworm who believes “there’s nothing like the smell of a library”, and considers running to be a form of “voluntary torture.” In contrast, Jack lives to run - it’s freeing, exhilarating, a means of “creating your own music.” Unsurprisingly then, despite attending the same school, Alice and Jack’s paths have barely crossed, until their chance encounter on Leicester Square at the precise moment a bomb explodes. A bomb that kills 22 people, and leaves them forever changed. Their initial floods of thought and feelings are powerfully evoked in all their heart-stopping intensity, especially as Jack runs through all the imminent athletic adventures he had planned and realises, “My legs are gone. There’s nothing from my thighs. It’s all gone.” As his “thoughts are heavy and they hurt. My memories hurt. My past hurts”, Alice is gripped by anger and also feels driven to find Jack, while he dreams of her, “the girl with the yellow polka dot umbrella.” The ebbs and flows of their struggles and friendship are stirringly evoked. As Jack begins to feel hope when he’s fitted with prostheses (“I’m finally starting to feel like the old Jack. Maybe it’s time to start putting my old life back together again”), Alice struggles with PTSD, with survivor’s guilt, and with debilitating panic attacks. Then they switch roles again, with Jack slipping into depression as Alice finds solace in a therapy group. He realises he was being overly optimistic about his road to recovery - it’s a marathon, not a sprint, which hits him hard given that’s he’s already set himself on taking up his London marathon place. But Alice is there for Jack, every step of the way, and he for her, and therein lies the heart of this novel - the power of friendship to heal and keep a person going when all feels lost.

Junk

Junk

Author: Melvin Burgess Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2021

Gemma runs away from home to join her boyfriend, Tar in London. Soon they find themselves hooked on heroin and Gemma is forced into prostitution to pay for the drug.

eBooks of the Month
This Poison Heart

This Poison Heart

Author: Kalynn Bayron Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/06/2021

What a blooming brilliant concept - an adopted Brooklyn teenager with an uncanny gift for giving life to plants inherits an old mansion from her birth family and becomes embroiled in an ancient ancestral curse. The book’s botanical and mythic insights are endlessly fascinating and interwoven with green-fingered dexterity, and the plot is 100% page-turning as it conjures a fast-blossoming story that twists with the grip of snaking vines.   Bri’s inherited house, with its massive grounds and apothecary, is in quaint, curious, countrified Rhinebeck. On arrival, she follows a trail of clues left by her aunt Circe and discovers a deadly Poison Garden. Then she reads a letter from Circe declaring that “fate has a way of catching up to us. You must decide if you can continue this work, because you are the only one that can.” Turns out it’s no coincidence that Bri’s full name (Briseis) and those of her birth mom and aunt (Selene and Circe) are powerful women from Greek myth.   Alongside the uncoiling magical mystery, I adored the loving banter between Bri’s moms, and the intrigue of her friendship with local boy Karter. Then there’s super stunning, super rich Marie, a girl with mysteries of her own and a driver called Nyx - a name that might also set bells a-ringing.   This Poison Heart is contemporary YA fantasy at its finest and confirms Kalynn Bayron’s talent for coming up with killer concepts and spinning new gold from timeless old tales (I also adored Cinderella is Dead). What’s more, the epic ending leaves scope for a sequel - I truly hope that’s the case.

June 2021 Featured Books

Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades

Author: Faridah Abike-Iyimide Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades is an explosively exceptional debut. An incisively subversive, edge-of-your-seat thriller that takes the genre to jaw-droppingly unexpected extremes as it exposes horrific, deep-rooted institutionalised racism. The action centres around an elite high school in the white part of town. It has an all-white student population, except for our two principle characters - musician and scholarship student Devon, and privileged aspiring Yale alumnus Chiamaka. Devon (Von to his proud, hardworking Ma) can’t wear his hair in twists or cornrows here, and Chiamaka, of Nigerian and Italian heritage, feels compelled to hide her natural hair, and has adopted a “kill or be killed” stance - to achieve the success she’s set on, Chiamaka knows she’ll have to be tougher than tough. Devon and Chiamaka are sent reeling when an anonymous texter, Aces, starts revealing their deepest, darkest secrets, and it doesn’t take much to realise why they’re being targeted - the colour of their skin. And so a cruel cat-and-mouse game unfolds - two mice trapped in a destructive nightmare and a malicious cat motivated by racism, with homophobia weaponised too. While there are shocks aplenty (of the rare, ingeniously interwoven variety), the story is compellingly complex, with finely considered character exposition, and no simplified, clear-cut dichotomies drawn between who we can trust, and who should be top of our suspect list. The mounting tension is powerfully palpable, as is the embedded racism Devon and Chiamaka are subjected to - it runs deeper and wider than they (or readers) can possibly anticipate. Turns out, no one can be trusted; that there’s more than one cat in this hideous game. Oh, and there are romantic entanglements too, all of which means Ace of Spades delivers on all fronts - mystery, romance and tackling important issues in explosive style. What more could a reader ask for?

Debut Books of the Month
The Great Godden

The Great Godden

Author: Meg Rosoff Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer - the summer when everything changes. In a holiday house by the sea, in a big, messy family, one teenager watches as brothers and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter the Goddens - irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there's a serpent in this paradise - and the consequences will be devastating. From bestselling, award-winning author Meg Rosoff comes a lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale - a summer book that's as heady, timeless and irresistible as Bonjour Tristesse and I Capture the Castle but as sharp and fresh as Normal People.

Books of the Month
Hana Khan Carries on

Hana Khan Carries on

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/06/2021

Wearing its warm heart and uplifting messages on its sleeve, Uzma Jalaluddin’s Hana Khan Carries On is a highly readable romance about staying true to your principles - even when that means risking your future. Riffing on You’ve Got Mail, and exuding the same feel-good vibe of forging a positive path through hardship as the author’s debut, Ayesha at Last, this is a cute and charismatic read with a powerful portrayal of a community rallying round to stand up to racists. Twenty-four-year-old Hana Khan is a Toronto-born, South Asian Muslim who interns at a radio station, helps out in her family’s dwindling restaurant on the Golden Crescent and hosts a podcast “to ask questions, without worrying who might be listening and judging”. Through her podcast Hana strikes up an adorable anonymous friendship with one of her listeners, to whom she turns for advice about her worries, particularity those around her family’s restaurant when a flashy competitor rocks up and threatens to put them out of business. While Hana’s family is at the heart of her life, she’s chosen to follow her own path, not unlike her charismatic aunt, “a woman ahead of her time” who “hadn’t been afraid to make bold decisions and carry them out.” Evoking her aunt’s spirit comes to the fore when Hana’s put in an impossible situation at her radio station - an exciting opportunity to work on a show with a fellow intern sours when they’re pushed into “perpetuating harmful stereotypes about Brown people and Muslims”. To handle this, Hana must heed her aunt’s advice: “Find your principles and see your story through to the end, no matter what.” Alongside worries about work and the restaurant, Hana is attacked by racists before a baseball game, and then comes a hate-fuelled attack on the Golden Crescent. Throughout, the sense of unity and generosity in her community is a joy - it serves as such a wonderful support network. Hana is persistent, tenacious and, as the title states, “carries on” to forge a bright future - on her own terms, according to her principles, with an unexpected someone at her side. Fun and thought-provoking, this serves up a sweet slice of romance with a side of real-life grit.

Books of the Month
Threadneedle

Threadneedle

Author: Cari Thomas Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/05/2021

As the first in what is setting itself up as an epic magic realism series, this captivating debut thrills with a fabulous cast, intriguing plot and fascinating exploration of magic. Anna is just about to turn 16, her Aunt is arranging a ceremony to bind her magic but when Anna meets Effie and Attis she begins to question everything she has known. The main characters are teenagers on the brink of adulthood, due to the content I would say this is balanced between a read for older teens, and adults. Cari Thomas has made the magic in Threadneedle feel age-old and real, and while the teenagers release themselves to the wilds of experimentation, dangerous undercurrents swirl through the book. The characters are vibrant and relatable, even when throwing spells around. Abuse and bullying run as a theme alongside the fantasy element, and are explored with empathy and compassion. As I read, I believed, even though this is a new take on magic, it immediately settled in my thoughts. This is such a beautifully easy yet all-consuming read, I swam in its depths before coming up for air and back to reality. The ending sets itself up nicely for the next in the series. Threadneedle, the first in the Language of Magic is just wonderful, I wish it all the very best as it deserves to fly.

Debut Books of the Month
Covet

Covet

Author: Tracy Wolff Format: Audiobook Release Date: 02/03/2021

The third book in the smash hit Crave series will not disappoint-full of shocking twists, high-stakes romance, and deep fantasy lore, it'll be a must-have for die-hard series fans and new audiences alike. I may have reached my breaking point. As if trying to graduate from a school for supernaturals isn’t stressful enough, my relationship status has gone from complicated to a straight-up dumpster fire. Oh, and the Bloodletter has decided to drop a bomb of epic proportions on us all... Then again, when has anything at Katmere Academy not been intense? And the hits just keep coming. Jaxon’s turned colder than an Alaskan winter. The Circle is splintered over my upcoming coronation. As if things couldn’t get worse, now there’s an arrest warrant for Hudson’s and my supposed crimes—which apparently means a lifetime prison sentence with a deadly unbreakable curse. Choices will have to be made...and I fear not everyone will survive. The Crave series is best enjoyed in order. Reading Order: Book #1 Crave Book #2 Crush Book #3 Covet Book #4 Court Book #5 Charm

Audiobooks of the Month
The Sparks In My Skull

The Sparks In My Skull

Author: I D Atkinson Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/03/2021

‘The Sparks in My Skull’ by I D Atkinson is a science fiction based Young Adult novel. An interesting concept, where young adults suffering from migraines develop additional cognitive abilities called aether varying from precognition to psychokinesis. The downside of these additional abilities are their time-bomb brain, that could suddenly develop a fatal brain bleed.  In this dystopian story, where society lashes out in fear towards things and people that they don’t fully understand, we meet Echo and Flynn, who flee to a sanctuary for others with aether, but are they really safe there?  ‘The Sparks in My Skull’ is an interesting storyline and each of the characters are infused with personality. The book introduces you slowly to each character and to the different forms and abilities that aether can take. I found the speech a little contrived and the initial incident at the party with Echo personally a bit frustratingly unbelievable. I feel a younger audience may like this book more and this book made me consider that maybe I am now a bit too old for Young Adult fiction. The plotline is interesting and entertaining, and I wanted to read more to learn about aether, and what would happen to Echo and Flynn. I would say ‘The Sparks in My Skull’ is an easy to read story that would be a great recommendation for fans of YA dystopian fiction and fantasy. Charlotte Walker, 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.