Archives for category: Young Adult

That Is Not a Good Idea! is hilarious. Plain and simple. Created by bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems (remember Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus?), his latest picture book is inspired by the evil villains and innocent damsels of silent movies. Willems tells the tale of a hungry fox who invites a plump goose to dinner. As with the beloved Pigeon books, kids will be calling out the signature refrain and begging for repeated readings. The funny details in the full-color illustrations by three-time Caldecott Honoree Mo Willems will bring nonstop laughter to story time.

From the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of “A Monster Calls” and the bestselling “Chaos Walking” trilogy comes this enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life, or perhaps afterlife, of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world. Seth can remember dying so how is it that he finds himself waking up in the suburban English town where he grew up? A highly original and incredibly page-turning new YA novel.

It’s interesting what is deemed appropriate for YA fiction. I fought between hesitancy and intense curiosity when award winning author Lucy Christopher’s The Killing Woods was passed to me by a book rep. Post traumatic stress disorder, peer pressure, sexual provocation and drug use all bundled into a thrilling psychological drama. Are the themes a little unsettling for a parent to read? As one, I might say, yes possibly, but only with my protective coat on. As a reader, I say it’s an absorbing read that I polished off in one indulgent sitting.

Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child?  Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

The Killing Woods is out in October.


New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other. This follow-up to the bestselling Every Day showcases David’s trademark sharp-witted, warm-hearted tales of teenage love, and serves as a perfect thematic bookend to David’s YA debut and breakthrough, Boy Meets Boy, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013. Due for release end August..

From the Hardcover edition

Next week, it’s school holidays… again. Parents are browsing for new titles and kids will arrive in their droves over the weekend for a book to keep themselves occupied over the coming weeks. If you’re scratching your head for ideas, here are a few that might keep you all out of trouble.

1. Judy Moody is back, and she is the luckiest girl around! But will her good luck be enough to get her a spot at the spelling bee in Washington, D.C.? Find out in Megan McDonald’s latest super fun chapter book, JUDY MOODY AND THE BAD LUCK CHARM.

2. Once Upon a Slime. Have you ever wondered where ideas come from and how stories are made? Would you like to know the true stories behind some of Andy Griffith’s books and characters? Are you a teacher looking for simple, practical and inspiring writing activities for your next creative writing class? Would you like to discover 52 great ways to have fun with words and pictures? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions then this is definitely the right book for you!

3. Smitten is the HOT new romance series for teens. Smitten girls are strong, gorgeous and confident, following their dreams around the world. They are solving their own problems, not waiting around for a knight on a white horse. Although sometimes that would be nice …
Smitten boys are charming, suave and deeply sexy. They’re the perfect boy to fall in love with. They won’t sparkle in the sun, or sprout wings, but they will sweep you off your feet and their kisses will have you weak at the knees.

Oh to be a teen again…squeak!

This week, we’re hearing from our YA guru Jocelyn. She is our oracle on all things fantasy and she’s not half bad at chick lit too… Here’s her take on a new romance series for teens from Hardie Grant. Called Smitten, this series promises girls who are smart, strong and confident falling for boys who “won’t sparkle in the sun, or sprout wings, but they will sweep you off your feet and their kisses will have you weak at the knees.” The first four titles released today!

My Smitten experience began with Unlucky Break, by Kate Forster. Meet Andi:

unluckyAndi’s not having the best time. Her Dad was never in the picture, and her Mum’s just died. Her Mum never gave up fighting, but this meant that she refused to make plans for Andi, leaving her effectively stranded, with no family in Australia and very few options. Oh, yeah – and she just caught her long-term boyfriend with her best friend. So, not a great month.

When Hollywood’s darling and Andi’s estranged aunt, Cece Powers, offers her a home in LA, Andi’s mostly just relieved to have somewhere to go, even if she has no idea what she’ll do with herself once she’s there. Transplanted into the bright lights and huge city, she’ll have to learn to navigate life amongst celebrities, paparazzi and people with far too much money. She’ll also have to figure out what she wants to do and the kind of person she wants to be. It’s time to grow up – and it might also be time to fall in love.

This book was adorable. It was a perfect mix of fluffy and dramatic, with longing looks and past hurts, a faux pas or three, a lot of misunderstandings, flirting, friendship, trust broken and rebuilt and a very happy curtain call for all involved.

Andi was a fairly standard main character – she’s been forced to grow up too fast by circumstances. She’s a little bit lost and a lot hurt when we first meet her. LA and Aunt Cece are nothing like home. But they also offer new hope. Andi’s not sure if she wants to be here – but then, she doesn’t really want to be anywhere, any more, so why not Hollywood.

We’re very quickly introduced to the potential love interest: a super sexy, surprisingly smart, and (of course) famous movie star who has a bunch of personal baggage and provides a really good match to Andi intellectually and in terms of chemistry. We also meet Andi’s future best friend, Jess, who lives next door to Andi and Cece. A ball of energy, Jess is a former child star who’s spent her life in a Hollywood-shaped bubble and is desperately trying to figure out what’s next. These two have a fabulous rapport, they challenge each other and support each other in equal measure.

Perfect reading for teens and any young adults looking to escape into a safe place where hearts mend, fortune reigns and everything will be okay in the end. They’re sweet and sexy without being over the top or raunchy.

For more on Smitten, or other books I love for Young Adults, check out my reviews over at Fox on Books.

And our final winning entry. We hope you’ve enjoyed them all. Do you have a favourite?

The pavement stung my toes as I hopped out of my car and headed towards his place. The sun blared and burned down my back as I shifted along the street. I wasn’t sure if my sunglasses were protecting me from the glare of the sun or the burn of the guilt rippling around me. Even the sky was angry and ashamed. I stopped and stared at the searing hues overhead, an aching bruised medley of a salty red that I thought could only come from a bloody bitten lip. It was still 30 degrees out but I didn’t know if it was
the heat or my conscience that was causing the sweat to gather down my spine and between my breasts.

My cheeks heated as I knocked on his side door. He looked up and I knew he knew. He turned and cranked the radio a little too loud, and his hand stayed on my sweaty shoulder a moment too long. He led the way out to our spot on the steps. The dusk had darkened but there were no stars in sight. It was as if the sky knew. The only glint came from the beads of sweat that were caught in his beard and I knew not long ago I would have run a finger or a forehead or a tongue along his jaw. His eyes caught mine for a fraction of a second before he cracked open two bottles of cider, which soon sat sweating and sparkling on the steps unnoticed.

We thought you might like to read the terrific winners in our Fault in our Stars competition….

The brief: Got a problem with your stars?  To share how much we love John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, here’s your chance to win one of THREE copies of his awesome book.

The details: All the stars have gone out, and we want you to tell us why.  You’ve got 300 words to write a micro story.  All we’re telling you is that the twinkling lights have disappeared – the rest is up to you.


The halls of the colossal building stand tall above the almost empty corridor. As I twist my head up in awe at the roof, a sense of joy and insignificance overwhelms me, reminding me that I’m so very small compared to the dark world outside.

Turning my attention back to the room at hand, I start moving slowly through the darker parts of Max’s childhood. The tormented last days of Jake’s life, in spite of the favouritism Jake received, it only made him more concerned about the lack of attention Max got from their father, even through his chemotherapy and illness to the very end.

Pictures line the walls of the hall, but there was something disturbing about all the pictures, Max’s face was always in the dark, edited or cut out.

Leaving these frightening images I come to the end of Max’s childhood, and the early years of his teen life don’t really get any better. Five years after Jake’s death, you would think it a time for new beginnings.

I stop walking as I come to an elegantly framed canvas painting, picturing a child walking down a dark street in the rain away from a man. The boy was recognizable as Max but his face remained shaded. Beneath the picture there was a date 08/1/12.

Coming to the end of the hall there’s a single picture, a picture of Max in his blazer surrounded by his friends. In this picture Max’s face is visible, with the biggest smile he’s ever smiled. Under the picture is a date, 1/03/12. The date he came out.

I look in the mirror on the wall and stare at Max’s face, my face. And somewhere, in the empty vacuum of space, a light, however small came into existence.

– Max Brown

We’ve had so many gorgeous books arrive this week I’m almost hyperventilating. Here’s just a few of my favourites for this week…

1. Just Ducks! Nicola Davies and Salvatore Rubbino. With the weather rather inclement around here, this is the perfect book,  full of darling drawings and useful did-you-knows. Look, learn and love these feathered quackers.

2. Creatrilogy. Peter H.Reynolds. I’m COMPLETELY in love with this series. Allow kids the freedom to create and know that their process is just as important as the end result.

From the Boxed Set edition

3. Maddy West and the Tongue Taker. Brian Falkner & Donovan Bixley. If you enjoyed Northwood, you’ll love this,  a fantastical adventure where  secrets, scrolls and stowaways abound.

4. The Raven Boys. Maggie Stiefvater. Boys, they’re always trouble, especiall rich boys at the Aglionby Academy. And with a name like that it doesn’t surprise me. New series from a favourite YA author.

It’s September, it’s Spring and that can mean only one thing – school holidays. Here’s our pick of the best new and awesome books to keep you busy…

1. Nanny Piggins – The Daring Rescue, R.A. Spratt

When Mr Green rings from a tropical island, begging to be rescued, Nanny Piggins first instinct is to say ‘no’.  However, a principle is at stake. No-one kidnaps her employer – at least not without written permission from her.  So Nanny Piggins sets out to save the hapless tax lawyer, and to do so she must first dabble in a spot of bungy jumping, deceive immigration officials wearing a fake moustache and seduce the President with her most powerful weapon – the dance of the seven cakes.

Age 7+

3. The Word Hunters, Nick Earls & Terry Whidborne. Book 1

Lexi and Al Hunter are twins with almost nothing in common – except their parents and their birthday! At school Lexi hangs with her friends, while Al hides in the library reading about history, battles and faraway places.

When the twins stumble upon an old dictionary their world as they know it changes. They are blasted into history to hunt down the words that threaten to vanish from our past and our present. Their lives and the future of the world are at stake. Can they find a way back home? Or will they be trapped in the past? For once, they’ll need to depend on each other if they want to survive.

Age 8+

3. White Ninja, Tiffany Hall

Roxy Ran is an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl who doesn′t know anything about her ninja powers until a confrontation with the school bully unleashes them.

When new boy Jackson Axe introduces Roxy to the world of martial arts, she learns about the legend of the White Warrior and the powers that are trapped in the Tiger Scrolls. The White Warrior is hunted by both the ninja and samurai clans, and now Jackson and Roxy must find the Tiger Scrolls and unleash the powers of the White Warrior before the samurai do.

And in order to survive, Roxy must unleash her inner ninja.

Ages: 9+

4. Skulduggery Pleasant – Mortal Coil, Derek Landy

Skulduggery Pleasant is back, and reunited with his original head. But all is not well in the magical world – for one thing, foreign powers are conspiring to take over the Irish Sanctuary, and for another thing, Valkyrie has discovered she might be the sorceress set to destroy the world. The problem is, she doesn′t feel she can tell Skulduggery what she′s learned… and that′s how all the trouble starts.

With Valkyrie on a quest of her own, to seal her name and prevent her evil destiny from coming to pass, Skulduggery and the gang are even more vulnerable. Which is a shame, because remember those thousands of remnants, imprisoned in the Midnight Hotel? Well, now they′re out. Not only that but they believe Valkyrie is their messiah. And that means thousands of wicked souls, desperate to get to Valkyrie, willing to kill anyone in their way… Oh, and because they can possess any body, they could be ANYONE.

Now Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Ghastly and Tanith can trust no one. Not even each other…

Age 9+

5. Dead Weather and Sunrise – The Chronicles of Egg, Book 1, Geoff Rodkey
WARNING – violence alert

It’s tough to be thirteen, especially when somebody’s trying to kill you.

Not that Egg’s life was ever easy, growing up on sweaty, pirate-infested Deadweather Island with no company except an incompetent tutor and a pair of unusually violent siblings who hate his guts.

But when Egg’s father hustles their family off on a mysterious errand to fabulously wealthy Sunrise Island, then disappears with the siblings in a freak accident, Egg finds himself a long-term guest at the mansion of the glamorous Pembroke family and their beautiful, sharp-tongued daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect.

Until someone tries to throw him off a cliff.

Suddenly, Egg’s running for his life in a bewildering world of cutthroat pirates, villainous businessmen, and strange Native legends. The only people who can help him sort out the mystery of why he’s been marked for death are Millicent and a one-handed, possibly deranged cabin boy.

Come along for the ride. You’ll be glad you did.

Age 11+

Deadweather and Sunrise

6. Confusion of Princes, Garth Nix

“I have died three times, and three times been reborn, though I am not yet twenty in the old earth years by which it is still the fashion to measure time. This is the story of my three deaths, and my life between. My name is Khemri.”
Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn…Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead.

Age 13+

7. Friday Brown, Vicki Wakefield

Seventeen-year-old Friday Brown is on the run—running to escape memories of her mother and of the family curse. And of a grandfather who’d like her to stay. She’s lost, alone and afraid.

Silence, a street kid, finds Friday and she joins him in a gang led by beautiful, charismatic Arden. When Silence is involved in a crime, the gang escapes to a ghost town in the outback. In Murungal Creek, the town of never leaving, Friday must face the ghosts of her past. She will learn that sometimes you have to stay to finish what you started—and often, before you can find out who you are, you have to become someone you were never meant to be.

Friday Brown is the breathtaking second novel from the author of the award-winning All I Ever Wanted. Vikki Wakefield is an astonishing talent.

Age 15+

Jocelyn’s back for another YA book review, she’s so my bestie for YA tips…

Amanda Hocking is the author of the YA Trylle trilogy of Switched, Torn and Ascend. I haven’t read these but this week was given an advanced reading copy of the first book in a new series, called Wake. I read it over the weekend, and this is what I thought…

Calling Gemma a water baby doesn’t do her justice. She’s a champion swimmer who’s planning to make it to the Olympics, and when she’s not training at school she’s night swimming in the bay, under the stars. Her family and new boyfriend know how amazing Gemma is, especially in the water – but they’re not the only ones who’ve taken an interest in her aquatic affinity.

There used to be four girls. Supermodel-pretty, they’re new in town and spend most of their time down at the cove, or in the bay like Gemma. When one of the girls disappears, the three remaining girls decide Gemma would be the perfect replacement. But why? Especially when Gemma has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with the eerie trio? And why won’t they take no for an answer?

I really enjoyed this book. It’s clearly written with the trilogy in mind, which allows Hocking the space to set up her world without rushing straight into the action. Gemma was three-dimensional, driven in her swimming but very unsure about her budding relationship and dealing in an authentically teenage way with her family situation. I found Gemma to be a very likeable character, and the time we took getting to know her meant that as a reader I was very firmly on her side by the time we figured out how much danger she was in.

The main storyline was a nice sidestep from the more over done, supernatural tropes we’re seeing (over and over) in YA fantasy at the moment, and the stakes are very real and very high – this is not one of those near-miss stories. People will get hurt, and things won’t necessarily all be okay. I thought the trio of unnerving girls at the centre of the drama; Penn, Thea and Lexi, were well set up as characters of whom I assume we’ll get to know more later in the series. I was also impressed that Hocking’s supporting cast, were strong characters, not just afterthoughts.

I’m being very vague about the central plot line on purpose, because this is a good YA fantasy that you’ll enjoy if this is your genre – well-written and engaging, I think you should read it!

Wake by Amanda Hocking will be in store shortly…