Our top YA picks for January and February.
The Book Corner YA Book Club is taking a little break for the moment but we’ll be back soon with more news…
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“We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.”Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real.
Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realizes Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them.
Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?”
Welcome to the Kingdom, a dazzling fantasy theme park where ‘happily ever after’ is not just a promise, but a rule . . . It’s a fairytale which ends in murder as the one of the ‘Fantasists’ goes renegade… Ana, a half-human, half-android princess, is tasked with entertaining visitors and making wishes come true but now she’s on trial, after finding herself experiencing emotions and romantic feelings against all her programming.
Told through court testimony, interrogation records and fragmented flashbacks, The Kingdom has the futuristic appeal of Westworld and the twists and turns of a true-crime thriller.
Mary Watson’s sequel to The Wren Hunt is an eerie, magical thriller perfect for fans of Frances Hardinge and Emily Bain Murphy’s The Disappearances. Zara’s family moved to Kilshamble for a new beginning. But everything changed the night her sister was found dead on the village green. Two months later, Laila’s death is a riddle that nobody wants solved.
Where were her injuries? Why was she so obsessed with local folklore? And what does all this have to do with David, the boy who lives at the big house? As Zara delves deeper into her sister’s secret life, she becomes entangled in an ancient magical feud. All too unwittingly she is treading the same dangerous path that led Laila to the village green …
Laura can’t remember who she is. But the rest of the world knows. Because Laura is famous – a dying girl who was frozen until she could be cured.
A real-life Sleeping Beauty. But what happens when you wake up one day and the world has moved on forty years? Could you build a new life – while solving the mystery of what happened to the old one? A darkly twisted thriller plunging a pre-tech girl into a futuristic world
Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC.
And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it – she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Nell’s family arrives in Norway in financial disgrace. She is dominated by her family – her religious father and her sister, whose cancer stops Nell from embracing her dreams of a musical career.
She doesn’t believe in love, either, until she falls for Lukas. But Lukas has his own dark agenda, and in this tale of hidden secrets and shocking twists, he manipulates Nell closer to the point of no return. How far is she willing to go for love?
The Breakfast Club meets One Day in Floored, a unique collaborative novel by seven bestselling and award-winning YA authors: Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood. When they got in the lift that morning, they were strangers. Sasha, who is at the UK’s biggest TV centre desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s by far the richest – and best-looking – guy in the lift; Velvet, who regrets wearing the world’s least comfortable shoes to work experience; Dawson, who isn’t the good-looking teen star he was and desperate not to be recognized; Kaitlyn, who’s slowly losing her sight but won’t admit it, and Joe, who shouldn’t be there at all, but who wants to be there the most.
And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year . .
When a creature dies, its spirit can go looking for somewhere to hide. Some people have space inside them, perfect for hiding. Makepeace, a courageous girl with a mysterious past, defends herself nightly from the ghosts which try to possess her.
Then a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard for a moment. And now there’s a ghost inside her. The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, but it may be her only defence in a time of dark suspicion and fear.
As the English Civil War erupts, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.
An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe’s debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, a young veterinary student from Michigan. Within months, they began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in the summer of 2011.
Lucy writes about the incredible personal journey she’s been on; from never quite wanting the fairy-tale of Prince Charming to realising she was gay at the age of 14, through three years of self-denial to finally coming out to friends and family, to meeting her American girlfriend Kaelyn.
When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom. She’s wrong. Because rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.
From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all … It’s a dirty business getting clean.
Addiction, redemption, love and despair. Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted, and it will have you hooked from the very first page
A teenage spy. A Nazi boarding school. The performance of a lifetime.Sarah has played many roles – but now she faces her most challenging of all. Because there’s only one way for a Jewish orphan spy to survive at a school for the Nazi elite. And that’s to become a monster like them.
Survive. Deceive. Resist.They think she is just a little girl. But she is the weapon they never saw coming… with a mission to destroy them all.
Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive. Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond. Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime. Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident.All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right?What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.
Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for. But when one of his emails to the very distracting blue falls into the wrong hands things get all kinds of complicated. Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal…
We are the Liars. We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury. We are cracked and broken. A story of love and romance. A tale of tragedy. Which are lies? Which is truth?
Eden doesn’t turn up for school one morning and her boyfriend Liam is the prime suspect. Best friend Jess starts investigating, going back over her memories of the summer she spent with Eden and questioning them. “A thrilling journey through friendship, loss, betrayal and self discovery”.
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg.
Imagine Disneyland but PSYCHOTIC, and that’s the Kingdom.
The twists and turns of this novel are a little predictable but so well written that I didn’t mind one bit. The world that Jess Rothenberg creates for Ana and her sisters is a decedent fantasyland that caters to every imaginative whim of a reader. The characters are well developed and their individual storylines are brilliantly woven together. I’d love more of this universe.
Review by Jenna.
On The Come Up by Angie Thomas.
Having enjoyed Angie Thomas’ first book immensely I was very excited to read her new one and I was not disappointed. This is another powerful and moving story which both entertains and makes the reader think. It is set in the same area as The Hate You Give so there is a familiarity for the reader but this is a stand alone story.
Bri is 16 and is determined to become a famous rapper, like her dad. She is talented but has struggles that are holding her back, a shocking incident at school, living in poverty, being ignored because she is female. Bri is angry at the injustice that she sees. Her mum and brother are working hard but not getting far and her aunt is a gang member. Bri writes a song which becomes a hit but there are lines in it that people misinterpret and she is portrayed as someone she isn’t. She has to balance the image which will help her in her career with her real self. Will her friends stand by her? Will she get her break?
Bri is a really strong character and as a reader you care about what happens to her. It is a fast paced story and a great read.
Review by Katie.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
This book is so powerful and so thought provoking and clever that it has stayed with me. I often start a new book immediately after finishing the old one but I couldn’t do that with this. The story was still in my head and I needed to let it sit a while whilst I thought about it. It gave me such insight into the lives of black Americans and the suffering they have at the hands of some of the police. I thought I knew about this, but, this book really brings it home. I learnt some stuff. I thought about a lot of stuff. I think everyone could do to read it.
Starr is fourteen and lives in a poor, predominantly black neighbourhood which has a strong sense of community but also has problems with gangs and drugs. Her family own the local store. She is struggling with her sense of self at home as one thing and then at school in a richer, whiter neighbourhood she feels like she has to be a slightly different version of herself. She finds it a difficult and exhausting balance. Starr leaves a party with Khalil, a childhood friend who she has slightly lost touch with. As he is driving her home they are stopped by the police and Khalil is shot and dies. The community are outraged at the murder of a teenager and a Black Lives Matter campaign begins around his death. Starr is managing her grief, her family expectations, her friends at home and at school and the needs of her community. She is a witness to a murder and has to decide how to use her voice.
The characters are brilliantly drawn and as a reader you really care about all of them, they seem very vibrant and alive. There is a strong feeling of tension, of missed opportunities, of unfair treatment and broken promises. The subject matter is moving, interesting and very important to engage with. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Review by Katie
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber.
I was engrossed from the very start of this book. It is a story of friendship, love, loss, grief and growing up. Reiko is on course to be the brightest and best amongst her friends and at school, despite missing her sister. Her public and private sides compete, she has secrets to keep and is under pressure from her family. To escape she spends more and more time in the peace of the Californian desert. In the desert she meets Seth with whom she can be herself. After a glorious summer school begins. Can Reiko keep it all together? Is Seth who he seems?
Review by Katie.
Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein.
I very much enjoyed Small Spaces, it is mysterious, tense and well paced, with an interesting Now and Then narrative. Tash had a traumatic childhood thanks to her imaginary friend Sparrow. She saw him abduct a young girl, Mallory, from a carnival. Her family and therapist have persuaded her that what she saw was not real. Years later, Mallory and Sparrow reappear in her life. What mystery links them all? What is real? Who is the dangerous one?
Review by Katie.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen. M. McManus.
Put all of my old time favourite movies together – 10 Thing I Hate About You, The Breakfast Club, and an undertone of thriller and an omnipresent investigation and you get this book. Exciting, suspenseful with relateable characters. 10/10 recommend.
Review by Jess.
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.
I read this over a weekend as I was so gripped by the story that I could not put it down. Sam has just moved to Salem and finds that her ancestors, linked to the Witch Trials, are causing her trouble. The Descendants, a group whose ancestors were persecuted as witches, are set against her. Add in a ghost named Elijah, her neighbour Jaxon, a secret room, magic and a curse that must be broken and you have all the ingredients of a pacey, interesting read. Issues such as bullying, being an outsider and fitting in at school are also covered.
Review by Katie.
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
This book is honestly so life changing for people that need someone to relate to or if they feel like their transition is taking too long. Being a trans person myself this book hit really close to home and I loved it so much. I always recommend it to people who want a new read.
Review by Bluseph.
Eden Summer By Liz Flanagan
So, ‘thriller/suspense’ aren’t usually a genre I go for and I do tend to stay away from them as sometimes they can be a bit too much. Eden Summer has changed my mind about how I look at thrillers/suspense immensely and helped introduce me softly into books like that. I really like stories that are written in the first person as I feel like I am the character when reading the book. Eden got on my nerves a bit but she was going through a lot so I let it slide. Jess took a while to warm to and once I was used to her as a character it got better. Their friendship was so important and it really does get you thinking about your friends and how you would feel if this happened to one of them, or you. The book tackles some quite sensitive yet important subjects. The book made me feel a whole mixture of feelings. It makes you think about how we might unconsciously judge people at first glance without knowing anything about their life and what is going on with them. Liz Flanagan has created a wonderful piece of work that I enjoyed.
Review by Emily.
Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
Beginning in 1914 this book follows the story of three strong young women. May is a Quaker and suffragist who campaigns tirelessly for the vote and to improve women’s lives. Nell is a suffragette who comes from a poor background and is angry at, and fighting against the injustice around her. Nell and May fall in love despite their diverse experiences. Evelyn wants nothing more than to be allowed to go to university. When this is denied her she channels her anger into the suffragette movement. All three are fighting for women’s freedom. Then the war begins and their lives change in unexpected ways. A fantastic read and a great way to introduce the fight for suffrage to children and young adults.
Review by Katie.
The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington
This is an incredibly powerful young adult book which centres on four young women – Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. It is told from Ella’s point of view and follows her from her first day in her new job in a sewing workshop. Only it is no ordinary first day as the workshop is in Birchwood (Auschwitz) and this is a story all about hope, friendship and survival. It is based on real sewing workshops within concentration camps. It is a wonderfully written story which brings home the horror of it’s setting in a way which is all the more powerful because it is dealing with sewing and clothes, things that are not out of the ordinary.
Review by Katie.
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