Posts Tagged ‘Young adult fiction’

All the bright places
By Jennifer Niven
ISBN 9780141357034


I stick by my predictions that this was going to be brave and honest. And it was!
I sat on my back porch, sun streaming down on a glorious afternoon reading All the bright places.
Finch and Violet meet at the top of the school tower, both of them overwhelmed by a sense of deep, dark despair. From that meeting, while it takes a bit of time and negotiating, their relationship grows and I felt myself smiling as I was watching a young couple fall in love. Both have things they need to deal with and bit by bit things begin to change. Finch forces the situation and they are teamed together to work on a school project. He manages to encourage Violet to step well out of her comfort zone as they travel outside of the safety of their small town as part of the project’s requirements to find the natural wonders of their state. But as Violet’s world opens up, his world becomes more and more difficult to cope with. By the end of the book, I was still sitting on my porch in the sunshine, but tears falling (hoping the neighbours didn’t hear) feeling I just wanted to reach out and hug them both.

Mental health issues, especially for teenagers is often a taboo subject but it shouldn’t be. We need open discussions and we need to not be afraid to talk. Finch and Violet are both broken people, both needing help but not knowing where to turn. There is hope, always hope but sometimes, like Violet, you need to be shown where hope hides and find all the bright places. Very moving, thought provoking YA novel.
Check out the great trailer for this book posted earlier right here.
Much like Mandy Hager’s Dear Vincent in an earlier post I applaud authors of YA fiction for bringing us such poignant novels.

Again, if you need help or know someone who does, please don’t hesitate to ask someone. There are agencies to call, and teachers at school who will listen. Reach out!

The walled city
By Ryan Graugin
ISBN 9780316405058

The trailer for this new YA thriller may be short but I love it. I love the dark shadowy alleyways and the soundtrack is just perfect. It is a pacey and tense trailer worth watching over and over. I have added the book to my “must read” list as the trailer is so enticing I just have to read the book.

“There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.”
“Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.”

If you want to hear the author talking about the inspiration for her book just watch the clip below.

As a reviewer I tend to review books which will be available on the New Zealand market from well-known publishers, or if not, at least books which are available through our public libraries. While ordering online from overseas is always an option, I do try to support our local bookshops. Sadly with bookshops and even libraries closing worldwide, I must encourage readers to think locally first.
So as part of my policies around reviews I tend to avoid self-published books. I do so for a number of reasons as do most reviewers. Children’s and YA publishers worldwide provide the market with some fantastic books which I am always keen to read (and have bought to add to my TBR in the hope that I will one day find time to read them all) but for this post I will highlight some well-produced trailers to whet your appetite from some self-published authors.

By Grace Prince

Young adult romance story found here
“In the face of death Arden enters into a world of knowing’ where sixth sense are honed and hidden. Check out the trailer.

Cry of the sea
By D. G. Driver

Cry of the Sea is a Young Adult contemporary fantasy novel about a girl who discovers mermaids washed ashore during an oil spill. Can she save them from being exploited or killed?
More can be found here.

The lost remnant
By J. N. Race

YA fantasy
For Azsha Daggerwall the outside world has always been shrouded in secrecy. Confined to the space of a gypsy show-wagon since infancy, she has long rebelled against the wishes of an overbearing stage mother bent on her grand ascent. Little does she know, the lady harbors a dark and powerful secret that, once exposed, will have a devastating impact, not only on Azsha’s life but on the whole of existence.

Skulduggery Pleasant : The dying of the light
By Derek Landy
ISBN : 9780007489282

Well this is it! The final book in a wonderfully funny, yet scary series all about a detective who just happens to be over 400 years old and dead.
I was so fortunate to meet the author Derek Landy recently at an event here in Christchurch, New Zealand. He had the audience captivated from the get-go. His wonderful Irish accent and his contagious sense of humour had us laughing the whole hour he spoke. And then he signed books for another two hours. Everyone was made to feel special and he took time to actually chat with each fan. Readers of all ages lined up and waited so patiently. It was a brilliant night. Grab hold of the last book although if you are a fan you will have done that already. If you haven’t then now is the time to start.
While primary school students will enjoy the first few books it might get a bit darker towards the end but a fan is a fan no matter what age.
The final battle begins – but who will make it out alive?
The Skulduggery Pleasant website is a must to visit.

Landy & me
Author Derek Landy clowning around, and me.

Don’t touch
By Rachel M. Wilson

ISBN 9780062220936

“A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.”

“Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.”

Caddie hopes in vain that if she doesn’t touch other people, somehow it will result in her parents getting back together. She knows it doesn’t make sense but she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every part of her skin just in case. But soon, her obsession takes over her life. It threatens her ambitions to be an actress even though Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia in the school production of Hamlet. Being Ophelia would require her to touch Peter who is trying out for the role of Hamlet. And that in turn would require a kiss! Can Caddie over come her OCD and take back control of her own life? Is she brave enough or is it too late?
I think it is great that the author is tackling OCD which is often relegated to contemporary adult fiction and not YA. It is not just the impact on the sufferer but also everyone around them so I look forward to this book.

Messenger of fear
By Michael Grant

ISBN 9780062207401

This is the first book in a new series by Michael Grant. His Gone series is still hugely popular and I have no doubt this series will also be a huge hit.

Mara can remember her name but nothing else. The young man, pale and solemn standing before her, tells her nothing. He does however inform her that at least she isn’t dead. But what is she and what are his plans for her? The messenger of fear sees darkness in the hearts of the young. Left unpunished, he offers a game, a wicked game where losing may be  a living nightmare and the price paid the most ultimate price of all! Where does Mara fit in all this?

I just know this is  going to be brilliant. Can’t wait! Not long now and the trailer is very cool. Check out the website above to read a sample chapter. I did and I loved the great descriptive language and the short sharp sentences. They hooked me in right from the start.

PLEASE NOTE: This book includes the details of a suicide so please ensure that if you are recommending or supplying this book to your students or your own  children that they are mature enough to handle the content. Be prepared to listen if they need to talk about anything that disturbs them in this book. Thanks!



Pandora Jones : Admission

By Barry Jonsberg

ISBN: 9781743318119

Allen & Unwin

Book 1 : Pandora Jones series

A plague has wiped out Pandora Jones family, a pandemic so devastating that it has wiped out almost all of humanity. Pandora is a one of the survivors and is now quarantined in a heavily guarded facility known as The School where she must recover and learn skills that will prepare her for survival and whatever dangers may be waiting outside the walls of the The School. Her strength is her instincts but will it be enough? And what is outside the walls? I have my copy by my bed just waiting to get stuck in.

I am Rebecca
By Fleur Beale

Random House NZ
ISBN 9781775535492


Some years ago I read Fleur Beale’s I am not Esther, a very deserving award winning novel, which still remains a favourite of mine. The sequel which can be read as a stand alone novel, is I am sure, bound to be another award winner.
I was hooked right from the start of this book. Life inside the religious group Children of the Faith is so alien to many people that its strict rules and regulations almost seem barbaric. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca and her twin sister Rachel have their lives totally controlled by the Elders and governed by Rules of the Faith. Everything is planned for them, including whom they are to marry when they turn sixteen. They must remain at all times subservient to men and to the Rules. Disobedience of the Rules could see them expelled from the group and be deemed dead to their families forever more. The fear of an eternity of Hell and damnation keeps them following the Rules, without question.
The story moves along smoothly allowing us more and more of an insight into Rebecca’s world. As the pivotal points came I couldn’t stop reading, I just had to find out what Rebecca was going to do and how she was going to cope. I loved watching her grow as a character but also felt very protective of her and her sister. Such is the power of Fleur Beale’s writing that the characters had become very real.
Do watch out for Mrs Lipscombe. I think everyone needs a Mrs Lipscombe in their lives.
This is a powerful story and quite honestly, a must read.

By Lissa Price

For those of you who loved Starters then you really do have to get hold of a copy of the sequel Enders.
We meet Callie and her younger brother Tyler and friend Michael in Starters not long after the spore wars has wiped out most of the Middles (middle aged people). Enders (old people) with all their money and might are able to rent out the bodies of young people, the Starters.
Tyler suffers from poor health and with their mother dead from the wars and their father missing, presumed dead, Callie is desperate to get money and a warm, safe place to live. She decides to rent out her body at Prime Destinations. For this rental to happen, a chip is placed inside Callie’s head, just like so many other Starters. This allows the “mind transfer” to happen. Her rental is to an Ender called Helena but it isn’t long before Callie realises Helena isn’t ready to give up her rental. Helena has other plans. And there is a voice inside Callie’s head slowly taking control. Heaps of action and such an intriguing concept. Lots of questions at the end. Who is “the old man”? Who is the voice? Loved Starters.

Enders kept me going just the same. Without giving too much away, Helena is no longer a problem. Callie has left Tyler at a safe house so she, Michael and the mysterious Hyden can find a way to have the chip removed and find other starters and rescue them from those in control. They are all being hunted down. There is again, a heap of action, and heap of guessing who to trust. The chip inside her head can now be controlled leaving her with no options but to do as the controller requires and that just might mean murder!
As Callie is told “trust no one but yourself, and then question that”.
If you are wanting a sci-fi thriller set in a not to distant future with just a little hint of romance these books really are a top read.
Sharing the trailer again, even though I posted this sometime ago. Always great to see this.

The last girl
By Michael Adams

“The end of the world happened quickly. The sun still shone, there was no explosion – just a tsunami-sized wave of human thought drowning the world in telepathic noise as everyone’s inner-most secrets became audible. Everyone’s thoughts, that is, except sixteen-year-old Danby.”
I think the idea of knowing what everyone else is thinking is so scary. Do we really want to know what our family, friends, colleagues or strangers are thinking about? In Adams book the result is insanity and violence and a very dangerous place and time to be living.
While Danby can hear the thoughts of everyone else no-one can hear hers. It is her only protection as she tries to rescue her brother and make her way through the different dangers to safety.
I am going to have to read this to find out if she succeeds. I may need to hurry especially as book 2 The last shot is out now.

Going over
by Beth Kephart

This is one of those times when I just have to talk about a book that isn’t even out yet – but is coming soon. Next month will be the release of what I think is going to be a great YA book offering something a little different.
Going over is set in Berlin in February 1983. It is a city divided by a barricade separating east from west.
Ada lives among the rebels, punkers, and immigrants of Kreuzberg in West Berlin. Stefan lives in East Berlin, in a faceless apartment bunker of Friedrichshain.
How will Ada and Stephan get together? What sacrifices will they make? Who will stand in their way? Will love win over?
This book brings in the realities of a life that once existed for many.
I love the short sharp chapters I have seen online and I am certainly looking forward to the release of this book.
The music in this trailer even has an 80’s vibe to it.

By Lorie Ann Grover

“Tiadone has been forced to live her entire life as a female accepted as male in her community in order to survive as a firstborn child. But when she needs to pass the rites of manhood, she finds the Creator may have use for her feminine traits after all.”

In Tiadone’s world firstborn females have no worth and are left to die. Passing as a male was her only hope but now the time has now come to defend her home and fight like other males. The reality however, is that Tiadone is a female with feelings that could unravel and ruin everything.

Looking forward to this book with a strong female character in a world of struggle and survival.

The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender
By Leslye Walton

“Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga”
I picked this book up out of a pile of new books at a local high school where I work part time, as it stood out from the crowd. It was the cover with its simple blend of blue and gold and such an enticing title and premise that made me want to read it there and then. However, I have to wait but I am hoping to be the first to read it when it becomes available.

Sixteen year old Ava is just your average girl except for the fact she was born with bird wings.
Wanting to understand more about her life and to be accepted by her peers Ava begins searching for answers. Her naivety leads her in to a heap of trouble. And then there is Nathaniel Sorrows who mistakes Ava for an angel and the consequences of that mistake.

“Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright but will things be different for Ava?”

The last thirteen
By James Phelan

This is one of those series which builds on each book keeping you coming back for more.
Thirteen strangers and thirteen books. And just out now is Book number three. I know a couple of 12 year olds who are right in to this series so they will be ultra pleased. In fact their excitement is catchy and I am going to have to grab these books myself before anyone else gets hold of them.

For Sam, life has been turned upside down. No-one, including his parents is as they seem. He has had to endure a kidnapping and a race to save his own life. Everything is tied up to an ancient prophecy and at every turn, there is danger.
Sam is part of the last thirteen.They are a group of special teenagers who have the scary ability of dreaming dreams that come true.
It is this ability that puts them in desperate danger and leaves them on the run from an organisation who will do anything to catch them. It is up to Sam to find the group and save them all before it is too late. Short and sharp chapters but fast-paced action. But do start at the beginning. Don’t skip the order of the books.

Endless Knight
Book 2 in The Arcana Chronicles
By Kresley Cole

After The Poison Princess, Evie is now the Tarot Empress, able to control her powers. Her and Jack have been through so much and have become close but when Evie meets Death, both gorgeous and dangerous, she finds life even more difficult. But is there more to Death than the man in front of her. They share a past which Evie can’t remember – but Death – well he can’t forget. And all the time the fight for survival continues as the war gets closer and closer.

Poison Princess
Book 1
“22 Arcana cards. 22 Chosen Teens. Let the cards fall where they may”.
Evie Greene discover she has powers after her disturbing hallucinations foretold the end of the world.
After the apocalypse there are very few survivors, but among them is Jack Deveuax, both handsome and dangerous. Evie and Jack team up only to discover that they are part of an ancient prophecy that must be played out. Survival is tough but there are others out there, some with special powers but not all of them are for the good of others. Good versus evil, action, adventure, race for survival and a little romance.