Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: Troubled teens trying to put their past behind them Page 1 of 4

Rick Riordan Presents… Some Seriously Good Stories

If you’re a fan of the Percy Jackson universe, or any one of Rick Riordan’s intertwining demi-god fantasy worlds, you’ll know that what he specialises in is taking a mythology (Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian…) and putting it in the contemporary world. Cue heroes, gods, teens with powers and some excellent action sequences. He’s a well known writer and he’s written a lot. A whole lot, I just Googled it and it’s over 40 books at least, yikes.

Here’s something I just found out about him: he is also involved in Rick Riordan Presents which is a publishing project under the Disney-Hyperion umbrella. These books involve the mythologies (in a broad sense) of a range of underrepresented cultures and backgrounds and are written by authors with the cultures and backgrounds they are writing about. It is an amazing way for Riordan to use his platform to get voices, who might otherwise be unheard, into the mainstream.  As his website says: it’s about letting people tell their own stories. Riordan acts as an editor for these works but they are entirely the property of and ideas of each individual author. How cool would it be to be a young/up-and-coming author and have your work picked up by Riordan?!

In fact the Korean NZ author Graci Kim is having a book published through Rick Riordan Presents next year that centres on a clan of Korean-American witches living in LA!  This will be Kim’s debut novel (first book). It sounds amazing, read the blurb here so you can get all hyped about it before it comes out next year in May.

A few things about the Rick Riordan Presents books: NO they are not set in the Percy Jackson world. YES they feature mythology and action in the same way that Riordan’s books do!

Rick Riordan reckons you’ll like them and so do I. The library has many of these books available in hard copy and also some online from one of our book borrowing apps called OverDrive.

Dragon Pearl / Lee, Yoon Ha
“A sci-fi adventure about a girl who stows away on a battle cruiser to solve the mystery of her missing brother. Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits.
But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.
Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.
Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.
This sci-fi adventure with the underpinnings of Korean mythology will transport you to a world far beyond your imagination.” (Catalogue)

The storm runner / Cervantes, Jennifer
“A contemporary adventure based on Maya mythology from Rick Riordan Presents! Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents J.C. Cervantes’ contemporary adventure based on Maya mythology.
Zane has always enjoyed exploring the dormant volcano near his home in New Mexico, even though hiking it is challenging. He’d much rather hang out there with his dog, Rosie, than go to middle school, where kids call him Sir Limps a Lot, McGimpster, or Uno–for his one good leg.
What Zane doesn’t know is that the volcano is a gateway to another world and he is at the center of a powerful prophecy. A new girl at school, Brooks, informs him that he’s destined to release an evil god from the ancient Maya relic he is imprisoned in–unless she can find and remove it first.
Together they return to the volcano, where all kinds of crazy happens. Brooks turns into a hawk, a demon attacks them in a cave, and Rosie gives her all while trying to protect Zane.
When Zane decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods, one of whom happens to be his father. To survive, Zane will have to become the Storm Runner. But how can he run when he can’t even walk well without a cane?” (Catalogue)

Aru Shah and the song of death / Chokshi, Roshani
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents best-selling author Roshani Chokshi and her sequel to Aru Shah and the End of Time.
Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, they’re turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies.
If that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good.
But, for better or worse, she won’t be going it alone. Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.” (Catalogue)

Waitohi Youth Nights Return!

Now that we’re all done with that business of emerging, blinking, into the sunlight following the national lockdown, a lot of our regular events and programmes are getting back underway. Happily, this includes our regular Youth Nights at Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Community Hub!

‘What is Youth Night?’ I hear you plaintively ask. ‘Why would I spend my Saturday night in a library of all places?’ Well, friends. Perhaps a more apt question is ‘what isn’t Youth Night?’ We play games, we make music, we watch movies, we debate the ins and outs of LGBTQ+ representation in contemporary media (this one is optional), we try to beat each other’s high scores in Beat Saber, we laugh, we cry, we rank the characters of the classic 1990s cartoon Gargoyles in order of hotness (Goliath and Demona come in at joint first place, obviously, with everyone else trailing a distant second), and most importantly, we eat pizza.

Our Youth Nights are totally free (pizza included!), but you do need to be 14+ in order to come, so please bring your student ID. Once you’re in, our spaces are all yours. Youth Nights are on the first Saturday of every month, from 5.00-8.00pm. The first one since lockdown is this Saturday, the 1st of August. See you there!

New Books on a Shelf Near You!

Now that some of our libraries are back open to the world, the new books are flowing back onto the shelves as our cataloguers, hidden away in the deepest recesses of the library, work their way through their backlog. Here are some of my favourite highlights among the recent additions to our YA collections:

19 love songs / Levithan, David
{LGBTQ+, romance, short stories, verse}
A collection of funny, warm and heartfelt stories exploring queer love and identity from award-winning YA author David Levithan. A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush. A Valentine’s Day in the life of Every Day‘s protagonist “A.” A return to the characters of Two Boys Kissing. Born from Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there’s something for every reader here. Witty, romantic, and honest, teens (and adults) will come to this collection not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. (Catalogue)

Beware the night / Fleck, Jessika
{dystopian, religion, politics, science fiction}
On the island of Bellona, they worship the sun. Seventeen-year-old Veda understands that keeping the sun content ensures plentiful crops, peace and harmony, and a thriving economy. But as a member of the Basso class, she never reaps those benefits. Life as a Basso is one fraught with back-breaking work and imposing rules. Her close friendship with Nico is Veda’s one saving grace in a cruel world where the division between her people and the ruling Dogio is as wide and winding as the canals that snake through their island. But when Veda’s grandfather is chosen as the next sacrificial offering to keep the sun’s favor, Veda is forced to see the injustice of her world. Turning away from the sun means she must join the night–and an underground revolution she’s been taught to fear all her life. (Catalogue)

The deceivers / Simmons, Kristen
{drama, intrigue, politics, school}
Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists. When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances. At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head. (Catalogue)

The electric heir / Lee, Victoria
{dystopian, LGBTQ+, pandemics, science fiction}
Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget — that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia. Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control — and that Noam is plotting against him — Noam’s dead. Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life. (Catalogue)

Every other weekend / Johnson, Abigail
{grief, realistic fiction, romance}
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most. Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves–not the happy ones anyway. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for. Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed (Catalogue)

Harley in the sky / Bowman, Akemi Dawn
{coming-of-age, drama, family}
Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day. After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Myst re. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past–and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams. (Catalogue)

Infinity son / Silvera, Adam
{brothers, fantasy, LGBTQ+, superheroes}
Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures. Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day. Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be. Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed. (Author Summary)

The midnight lie / Rutkoski, Marie
{fantasy, LGBTQ+, romance}
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences. Nirrim keeps her head down, and a dangerous secret close to her chest. But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away, who whispers rumors that the High Kith possess magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted. (Catalogue)

A Very Special Message for our Teen Writers

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently sent a very kind message of encouragement for our WCL Teen Writers, following their huge success participating in the Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020 Challenge, in which they collectively wrote well over 100,000 words in their bid to write a whole novel over a month of isolation. Here’s what the Prime Minister had to say:

I want to pass on a quick message to everyone involved in the WCL Teen Writers group — and I want to start by saying thanks.

Right now, we’re living through really challenging and uncertain times, and for many people, it’s been tough. I know young people are facing their own unique challenges, from adjusting to distance learning, giving up special occasions like school balls, and not being able to meet up with your friends, but so many of you have put in an amazing effort and played your part to help keep this virus under control. Thanks for this — it’s so important.

I was interested to hear about your online writing group, the work you’re doing, and the support you provide each other. This is a really good example of the positives that have come out of the COVID-19 response. You’ve all come together online to support each other, share your work and ideas, and embark on some pretty impressive projects. I hope you’re enjoying the group and will continue to keep in touch when life returns to something a bit more normal.

All the best with your writing — I’m sure I’ll be seeing your work in bookstores soon! For now, though, stay safe and look out for each other.

— Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern

As you can imagine, the Prime Minister’s message generated considerable interest on our WCL Teen Writers Discord server, from the joyous but mostly coherent:

…to the joyous but not so coherent:

…to the reflective and compassionate:

…and right back around to the disbelieving:

Thank you, Prime Minister, for your words of encouragement, motivation, and solidarity. Rest assured, we’re still writing and keeping connected (and of course the banter is still top-quality), and hopefully will be for a while yet! Here’s what one of our talented writers had to say about the group:

If you’re a keen writer, or even just really like reading, we’d love for you to join our vibrant community on Discord! Just email us or message us on Facebook with your name and school year level, and we can send you a link to join!

Lasers, Feelings, and RPGs

Tabletop roleplaying, such as Dungeons and Dragons, has experienced a revival in recent years, with liveplays and podcasts such as Critical Role and The Adventure Zone gaining large followings of their own. But one of the biggest sides of this is the internet allowing for not only the creation of games and systems, but the permitted sharing and remixing of them as well.

Whether you’re a tabletop veteran or someone just wanting to dip their toes into roleplaying, “micro” or “one-page” RPGs are both an excellent introduction to the hobby and a fun way to spend an afternoon with a group. The games featured here are quick to set up, don’t require massive or complex character sheets, only require six-sided dice, and can be played in the space of a single session.

Hours of nerdy fun are but a roll of the dice away!

While there are dozens of games out there based on this system, here are six to get you started.

Lasers and Feelings
The game on which all these others are based sees the party take on the roles of the crew of the interstellar ship Raptor. Their mission to explore the vast reaches of space is interrupted when their captain is overcome by a strange entity known as Something Else, leaving only the crew to handle what happens next.

Oh, Dang! Bigfoot Stole My Car With My Friend’s Birthday Present Inside
Its premise obvious, Oh, Dang! leads you on a wacky roadtrip in pursuit of a grand theft auto-committing cryptid. Its sequel Ah, Dang! Mothman Won’t Move Out (He Said It Was Just For The Weekend), sees you dealing with even more cryptid problems.

Wits and Chivalry
You are the Knights of the Round Table, sent by the great wizard Merlin to recover the Holy Grail to save an ailing King Arthur. (This is the only game I know of where Monty Python references are not only permitted, but practically mandatory!)

Magic and Mischief
Ever wanted to go to magic school like Mildred Hubble or Harry Potter? Here is your chance. After a Dark Curse befalls the headmistress of the Young Wizards’ School for Arcane Excellence, a distracted staff and student body makes for the perfect time to solve mysteries or cause mischief.

A Dream In The Woods
Inspired by Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, players take on the servants of Titania and Oberon to cause mischief and magic while attempting to please their fickle royals.

Sturdy & Wilde Detective Agency
When the players’ employers go missing it’s up to them to follow the trail and solve the mystery in this steampunk mystery game.

If you enjoyed those and/or want to try something different, there are plenty of other options out there from science fiction to fantasy to horror to mystery. There is even a blank template (appropriately enough named Blanks and Spaces) for you to create your own game. Let us know how it all goes!

New books!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDescendant of the crane, Joan He

When her father is murdered, Princess Hesina of Yan is thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina engages the aid of a soothsayer. It is a treasonous act, punishable by death, because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information provided, Hesina turns to Akira, an investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsToffee, Sarah Crossan

Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there — and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe hunt the flame, Hafsah Faizal

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya– but neither wants to be. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA curse so dark and lonely, Brigid Kemmerer

Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, was cursed to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year; he could only be saved if a girl fell for him. But at the end of each autumn he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction… and destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope. Washington, D.C. native Harper Lacy’s father is long gone, her mother is dying, and her brother constantly underestimates her because of her cerebral palsy. When she is sucked into Rhen’s cursed world, Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. As Rhen regains hope, they learn it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe missing of Clairdelune, Christelle Dabos ; translated from the French by Hildegarde Serle

When Ophelia is promoted to Vice-storyteller by Farouk, the ancestral Spirit of Pole, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the public spotlight. Her gift–the ability to read the secret history of objects–is now known by all, and there can be no greater threat to the nefarious denizens of her icy adopted home than this. Beneath the golden rafters of Pole’s capitol, she discovers that the only person she may be able to trust is Thorn, her enigmatic and emotionally distant fiancé́. As one influential courtier after another disappears, Ophelia again finds herself unintentionally implicated in an investigation that will lead her to see beyond Pole’s many illusions to the heart of a formidable truth. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat I lost, Alexandra Ballard

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her–girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSomewhere only we know, Maurene Goo

9:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest Korean pop star on the scene, and tomorrow is her debut on The Tonight Show, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. She’s in her fancy hotel, and her feet are killing her. She’s dying for a hamburger. 10:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid reporter job that he keeps secret from his high-profile journalist father. On his way out, he runs into a girl wearing hotel slippers who is determined to find a hamburger. She looks familiar. She’s kind of cute. He’s really curious. 12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCold day in the sun, by Sara Biren

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWicked fox, Kat Cho

Gu Miyoung is a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. The modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. After feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. She violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead– her gumiho soul– in the process. Jihoon saw her nine tails, but he’s drawn to her anyway. Their a tenuous friendship blossoms into something more… until a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead. Now Miyoung must choose between her immortal life– and Jihoon’s. (Publisher summary).

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe candle and the flame, by Nafiza Azad

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, on the Silk Road, which is currently protected by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, from attacks by the violent and ruthless Shayateen djinn–but Fatima was infused with the fire of the Ifrit who died saving her when she was four years old, and when one of the most important Ifrit dies she finds herself drawn into the intrigues of the court, the affairs of the djinn, and the very real dangers of a magical battlefield. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThere’s something about Sweetie, Sandhya Menon

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so… sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up. The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl — under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work? Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death. Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of. Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other? (Publisher summary(

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear Ally, how do you write a book? Ally Carter

Have you always wanted to write a book, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re really great at writing the first few chapters . . . but you never quite make it to the end? Or do you finally have a finished manuscript, but you’re not sure what to do next? Fear not — if you have writing-related questions, this book has answers! Whether you’re writing for fun or to build a career, bestselling author Ally Carter is ready to help you make your work shine. With honesty, encouragement, and humor, Ally’s ready here to answer the questions that writers struggle with the most. Filled with practical tips and helpful advice, Dear Ally is a treasure for aspiring writers at any stage of their careers. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at how books get made, from idea to publication, and gives you insight into the writing processes of some of the biggest and most talented YA authors writing today. (Amazon summary).

New Books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsChecked, Cynthia Kadohata with illustrations by Maurizio Zorat

Hockey is Conor’s life. His whole life. He’ll say it himself, he’s a hockey beast. It’s his dad’s whole life too–and Conor is sure that’s why his stepmom, Jenny, left. There are very few things Conor and his dad love more than the game, and one of those things is their Doberman, Sinbad. When Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, Conor chooses to put his hockey lessons and practices on hold so they can pay for Sinbad’s chemotherapy. But without hockey to distract him, Conor begins to notice more. Like his dad’s crying bouts, and his friend’s difficult family life. And then Conor notices one more thing: Without hockey, the one thing that makes him feel special, is he really special at all? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe weight of our sky, Hanna Alkaf

Melati Ahmad believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated. With the city in flames and a curfew in effect, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power, if she wants to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing. (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe everlasting rose, Dhonielle Clayton

In this sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The Belles , Camellia Beaureguard, the former favorite Belle, must race against time to find the ailing Princess Charlotte, who has disappeared without a trace. The evil queen Sophia’s imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep Camille, her sister Edel, and her loyal guard, Rémy, from returning Charlotte to the palace and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called the Iron Ladies–a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely–and the backing of alternative newspaper the Spider’s Web , Camille uses her powers, her connections, and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and attempt to restore peace to Orléans. But enemies lurk in the most unexpected places, forcing Camille to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice to save her people. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dysasters, P.C Cast and Kristen Cast

Foster can control cloud formations and see airwaves. Tate “Nighthawk” Taylor, star quarterback and all around boy next door, has night vision but has never questioned his abilities. On the night of their first meeting a deadly tornado brings them together and awakens their true abilities: the power to control the element air. Tate and Foster discover they were genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements, and worse… they’re being hunted. Now, Foster and Tate must fight to control their abilities as they learn of their past, how they came to be, who’s following them, and what tomorrow will bring. (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFierce fragile hearts, Sara Barnard

Back in Brighton two years after a downward spiral sent her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting over. She’s back with her two best friends in the only place she felt she belonged. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re left behind? (Book jacket)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou can’t hide, Sarah Mussi

Lexi’s been in an accident. But she can’t remember it – or any of the events leading up to it. The only thing she knows for sure is that she’s still in danger. As fragments of her past start to return, Lexi thinks she knows what happened. But can Lexi trust her own memories? Because if she’s wrong… she’s in more danger now than ever before. Exactly what happened on that spring evening down by the railway tracks? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe complication, Suzanne Young

Tatum’s boyfriend, Wes, came back changed. The Adjustment came into her life just when she thought she needed it most, a promise for Wes to get back his forgotten memories. But when the procedure went wrong, a revelation shattered everything she thought she knew. Now, with no one left to trust, Tatum must find out what really happened last summer. With the help of the boyfriend she lost, she will dig into the past and future of The Program and its handlers and discover the true cost of a cure. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHalo: battle born, Cassandra Rose Clarke

The first original novel based on the mega-hit HALO video game series! The alien alliance known as the Covenant is laying siege to the colony world of Meridian… Can humanity survive? Saskia, Dorian, Evie and Victor aren’t exactly friends at their small high school on the middle-of-nowhere colony world of Meridian. Each has their own problems, from absent parents to supporting their family, getting into a good college to making the next hit holo-film. But those problems are nothing next to the threat now facing their world: the alien alliance known as the Covenant is laying siege to Meridian, for reasons that aren’t very easily explained. With their village in flames, the four teens find themselves stuck above ground, locked out of the town shelter where the rest of the survivors are gathered. Together, Saskia, Dorian, Evie and Victor are thrust into battle with nothing but a few scavenged weapons and an injured Spartan, one of the United Nations Space Command’s super-soldiers. What’s forged from the destruction will determine the fate of Meridian, and tilt the battle for humanity’s survival… (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHold me closer, Necromancer, Lish McBride

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right–until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak. Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else. With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAll out: secret stories of queer teens, edited by Saundra Mitchell

Seventeen young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens. From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKiss collector, Wendy Higgins

Seventeen-year-old Zae Monroe is over relationships. Between getting cheated on by the only guy she’s ever loved and watching her parents’ marriage crumble, she decides to turn the tables and go after what she wants, and what she wants are kisses. Athletes, musicians, poets, bad boys–their lips are all on her agenda, and it’s time to collect. Zae proposes a contest with her friends to see who can kiss the most boys during spring break. But what starts as a harmless competition leads to a downward spiral of drama. Zae is forced to face the reasons behind her boy angst and starts to wonder if she was wrong about the male race…or at least some of them. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe summer of Jordi Perez, Amy Spalding

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby’s been happy to focus on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a great internship at her favorite boutique, she’s thrilled to take the first step toward her dream career. Then she falls for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Hard. And now she’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win the coveted paid job at the end of the internship. But really, nothing this summer is going as planned. She also unwittingly becomes friends with Jax, a lacrosseplaying bro-type who wants her help finding the best burger in Los Angeles, and she’s struggling to prove to her mother–the city’s celebrity health nut–that she’s perfectly content with who she is. Just as Abby starts to feel like she’s no longer the sidekick in her own life, Jordi’s photography surprisingly puts her in the spotlight. Instead of feeling like she’s landed a starring role, Abby feels betrayed. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image others have of her? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe bright siders, Jen Wilde

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck. Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing. Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBuried beneath the Baobab Tree, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Based on interviews with young women who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, this poignant novel by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani tells the timely story of one girl who was taken from her home in Nigeria and her harrowing fight for survival. Includes an afterword by award-winning journalist Viviana Mazza. A new pair of shoes, a university degree, a husband–these are the things that a girl dreams of in a Nigerian village. And with a government scholarship right around the corner, everyone can see that these dreams aren’t too far out of reach. But the girl’s dreams turn to nightmares when her village is attacked by Boko Haram, a terrorist group, in the middle of the night. Kidnapped, she is taken with other girls and women into the forest where she is forced to follow her captors’ radical beliefs and watch as her best friend slowly accepts everything she’s been told. Still, the girl defends her existence. As impossible as escape may seem, her life–her future–is hers to fight for. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl king, Mimi Yu

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: assertive Lu will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Until their father names their male cousin Set his heir instead, sending ripples through the realm and throwing both girls’ lives into utter chaos. Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu has no choice but to go on the run, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu soon crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of the Ashina, a clan of nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift–or to trust the empire that killed his family–but working with the princess might be the only way to unlock his true power. As Lu and Nok form a shaky alliance, Min’s own hidden power awakens, a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could very well turn out to be each other. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDear Rachel Maddow, Adrienne Kisner

Brynn Haper’s life has one steadying force–Rachel Maddow. She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out. Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLove, hate, and other filters, Samira Ahmed

Maya Aziz is caught between her India-born parents’ world of college and marrying a suitable Muslim boy, and her dream world of film school and dating her classmate, Phil. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack hundreds of miles away, the community she’s known since birth is transformed by fear, bigotry, and hatred. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLegacy of Light, Sarah Raughley

The Effigies must uncover the connection between Saul, Blackwell, and the Phantoms before it’s too late in this epic conclusion to the Effigies trilogy. The world is in chaos. After Saul’s strike on Oslo–one seemingly led by Maia herself–the Effigies’ reputation is in shambles. Now they’re being hunted by nations across the globe, grouped in with the very terrorists they’ve been trying to stop. With Maia’s resurrected twin, June, carrying out vicious attacks across the world, everyone believes Maia is a killer. Belle has gone rogue, Chae Rin and Lake have disappeared, and the Sect is being dismantled and replaced by a terrifying new world order helmed by Blackwell. As for Saul, his ultimate plan still remains a mystery. And Maia? No one has seen or heard from her in weeks. It’s all somehow connected–Saul, Phantoms, the Effigies, everything. But if the Effigies can’t put the pieces together soon, there may not be much left of the world they’ve fought so desperately to save. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsUnclaimed baggage, Jen Doll

Doris–a lone liberal in a conservative small town–has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of “Mr. Popular” whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people’s lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe silence, Mark Alpert

When Adam joined the Pioneer program, he became one of six teens to forfeit their bodies for a new, digital existence. Together, the Six were unstoppable, protecting the world from artificial-intelligence systems that threatened the human race. But they were more than a team–they were family. Until now. Adam has a complex power within his circuitry that defies the very laws of physics. He wasn’t programmed to have this power, and he can barely control it or its consequences. Adam’s never felt more alone. Amber, the newest Pioneer, knows what it is like to be an outsider. She gets him in a way the others don’t. Except Amber’s software has been corrupted, and until Adam figures out exactly what she’s become, the Pioneers–and the world–are in mortal danger. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLove and war, Melissa De La Cruz

As the war for American Independence carries on, newlyweds Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler are settling into their new adventure- marriage. But Alex is still General George Washington’s right-hand man, sent to the front lines at Yorktown, and his attention these days is nothing if not divided-much like the colonies’ interests as the end of the Revolution draws near. Alex & Eliza’s relationship is tested further by lingering jealousies and family drama. The battles are just beginning in the follow-up to Melissa de la Cruz’s New York Times bestselling Alex & Eliza- A Love Story . (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe curses, Laure Eve

Picking up the pieces after the chilling events of the previous year isn’t easy, but the Grace siblings are determined to try and get things back to normal – and if that means papering over the cracks, so be it. Summer has had enough of secrets, but sharing a house with someone who’s been resurrected from the dead isn’t something you want the neighbours to know about. As ex-best friend River wreaks havoc with her twisted spells, can the Graces ever escape the curses that have been tearing their family apart for generations? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of Syndetics29 dates, Melissa De La Cruz

Jisu’s traditional South Korean parents are concerned by what they see as her lack of attention to her schoolwork and her future. Working with Seoul’s premiere matchmaker to find the right boyfriend is one step toward ensuring Jisu’s success, and going on the recommended dates is Jisu’s compromise to please her parents while finding space to figure out her own dreams. But when she flubs a test then skips out on a date to spend time with friends, her fed-up parents shock her by shipping her off to a private school in San Francisco. Where she’ll have the opportunity to shine academically–and be set up on more dates! Navigating her host family, her new city and school, and more dates, Jisu finds comfort in taking the photographs that populate her ever-growing social media account. Soon attention from two very different boys sends Jisu into a tailspin of soul-searching. As her passion for photography lights her on fire, does she even want to find The One? And what if her One isn’t parent and matchmaker approved? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe gilded wolves, Roshani Chokshi

From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi comes a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary change–one that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires…No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them. It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood. Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOutside, Sarah Ann Juckes

Here’s the thing about being Inside. Ain’t no one believes that they are.Ele is kept captive in a small room by a man known as ‘Him’. She has never been Outside but she knows it’s there and she’s determined to prove it. When Ele eventually escapes, she is forced to question everything she has ever known.An extraordinary and powerful debut in the style of ROOM by Emma Donoghue.(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsStain, A.G Howard

After Lyra–a princess incapable of speech or sound–is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest . . . disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight–for she is his true equal. As Lyra finds her way back to her identity, an imposter princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests–ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsJust don’t mention it, Estelle Maskame

Tyler Bruce, hell raiser and bad boy, tells his story in his own words. Alternating between past and present, Just Don’t Mention It is narrated from Tyler’s perspective. We see him as the daredevil seventeen-year-old we first met in Did I Mention I Love You?, the stepbrother who falls head over heels for Eden. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMy almost flawless Tokyo dream life, Rachel Cohn

Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn’t exist. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPoems to live your life by, chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell

This gorgeously illustrated collection includes forty-six poems and is divided into sections covering: musings, youth, family, love, imaginings, nature, war and endings. Chris Riddell brings them to life with his exquisite, intricate artwork in this beautiful anthology. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe true queen, Sarah Fine

Now that Ansa knows she is the destined queen of Kupari, she is desperate to find a permanent home for her people, the Kriegere, in the Kupari lands. But as the small band of warriors crosses into the foreign territory, Ansa loses her fragile grip on her newly-acquired–and violent–fire and ice magic and puts everyone, including her love Thyra, in danger. Inside the walls of Kupari, Elli maintains the facade that she is the magical queen, with her secret–that she has no magic at all–on the brink of exposure every day. But as she tries to prepare the citizens to protect themselves from another invasion, unrest spreads as wielders like her beloved Oskar begin to lose control of their powers. As Kupari grows increasingly unstable, with the land literally crumbling beneath their feet, and a common enemy once again threatening everything, these two young women on a collision course with destiny must find a way to save the realm and their people from total destruction. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe weight of a thousand feathers, Brian Conaghan

Bobby Seed is a caregiver. Along with the usual school-related responsibilities of a 17-year-old, Bobby is tasked with looking out for his younger brother, keeping the house clean and food on the table, and, most important, taking care of his mother, whose advanced-stage MS is rapidly taking its toll on her body and mind. Just as his mother asks him to consider helping her end her suffering, Bobby starts attending a support group for teen caregivers and finds solace and possible romance within the group. (Booklist)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe disasters, M.K. England

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape–barely–but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats. On the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth. Because they may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkylarks, Karen Gregory

When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Kerb-Stain Boys: The Crongton Broadway Robbery, Alex Wheatle

Life on the Crongton estate can be rough for Briggy. Dad’s lost his job, Mum’s always working to make ends meet and big brother Kingsley just wants out. Then Briggy’s best mate Terror cooks up a plan to impress the coolest chick in the year, Caldonia Lake. Briggy doesn’t want to lose face by chickening out and, who knows, maybe they’ll make a quick buck. So what is Terror’s master plan? Robbing the post office. What could possibly go wrong? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPhantom, Leo Hunt

Tech in her veins. Anarchy in her blood. In the City, they have it all – sunlight, a corp job, a corpbloc home miles above the poisoned earth below. Four-hundred storeys down, in the darkness of the undercity slums, lives sixteen-year-old orphan Nova. Nova is a hacker. Aided by the program Phantom, she can sneak up to the City, leech what she needs and sink back down again, invisible as a ghost.But Nova has caught someone’s eye, and that’s Phantom-creator and legendary anti-corp hacker the Moth. Now the Moth has a job for Nova. A job that will send her miles into the sky.To bring the City crashing down. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack enough: stories of being young and black in America, edited Ibi Zoboi

Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today–Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America. Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson. Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds. Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of. Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland. Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more–because there are countless ways to be Black enough. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVirus, Chris Bradford

Scott nearly died playing Virtual Kombat, the virtual-reality fighting game that risks the lives of street kids for profit. Hunted by Wasp drones, Scott’s on the run when he comes across a gang of techno-hackers who share his wish to destroy VK. They’ve developed a virus that could do the job, but in order to implant it Scott has to re-enter the arena and risk being trapped inside the game for ever…(Publisher summary)

YA classics (part one)

I tend to feature a lot of new books on this blog but perhaps it’s time to highlight some YA “classics”.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Outsiders, S.E Hinton (1967)

This is the archetypal story of young men living on the wrong side of the tracks, as defined by an often hostile society. Told from the perspective of Ponyboy, a member of a gang of Greasers who details their rivalry with the “socs” another gang, and the disaster and violence their conflict causes. There are plot elements which would be familiar to readers today; abusive or neglectful parents, class differences, crime and the strength people draw from their friends.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsI am the cheese, Robert Cormier (1977)

I’ve never read a book quite like I am the cheese. It’s a twisting, complex tale of identity and corruption, told through the eyes of a young boy who has witnessed something truly traumatic and must deal with the consequences. To describe it any further would spoil the plot, so if you are intrigued, I suggest you pick it up. I think the only book that comes vaguely close is E. Lockhart’s We were liars, although the stakes are much, much higher in Cormier’s book.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSkellig, David Almond (1998)

Magical realism is a common genre for YA fiction at the moment but Skellig was a pioneer in the genre. It manages to capture the soaring heights of the “magical” whilst also effectively depicting the realism; the two are beautifully balanced. The main character, Michael, is struggling to cope in a new home and with a baby sister who is dangerously ill. Then he finds a strange creature – possibly angelic, but never defined- in his shed, the titular Skellig. The two plots interweave and it’s a particular favourite of mine.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAnnie on my mind, Nancy Garden (1982)

LGBTQ fiction has come along way since 1982 but Annie on my mind was groundbreaking when it was first published. That being said, the themes of love, heartbreak and identity are still being written about. It’s worth reading anyway, if only to see how far writing on these themes have come. It’s also 48 on the ALA’s most challenged books from 1990 – 2000.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNoughts and Crossses, Malorie Blackman (2002)

Examinations of race and racism are coming to the forefront of YA fiction; The Hate u give by Angie Thomas is probably the most recent and most well-known of these books. But before then, the Noughts and Crosses series examined race relations with a twist – in this alternate universe, noughts (people with white skin) are disadvantaged and crosses (people of colour) occupy positions of ultimate privilege. It’s also a love story, thriller, and a brilliant read. It’s also the first book in a series.

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