UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


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Tanya Byrne’s Top 10 UKYA books

Tanya Byrne, author of Heart-Shaped Bruise, chooses her Top 10 UKYA books.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to read this book because I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But as soon as I read the opening lines – I wish I had a boyfriend. I wish he lived in the wardrobe on a coat hanger. Whenever I wanted, I could get him out and he’d look at me the way boys do in films, as if I’m beautiful. – I knew it was a very special book.

Doing It by Melvin Burgess

With hindsight, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was by Doing It. I guess I’ve read so much YA where the most couples do is hold hands that I almost dropped this book several times when reading it. But sexy times aside, what I love most about Doing It is that it’s so honest. It gave me the courage to be more honest with my own book.

Entangled by Cat Clarke

I adore Entangled. It’s deliciously dark and very brave for a debut. Like Doing It, it’s breathtakingly honest and deals with issues like binge drinking and self-harming without being preachy or condescending. I also love the cover. [/shallow]

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

I’ve only just started reading this, but O to the M to the G. Not everyone will want to read this (that’s how I heard about it, actually, during a twitter discussion on censorship), but again this is a startlingly brave book. Are you sensing a theme here with UKYA?

Jessie Hearts NYC – Keris Stainton

I love New York so I want to draw hearts around this book, if you pardon the pun. It’s sweet and funny and I’m a bit in love with Finn. Of all the YA books I’ve read, he’s one of the few boys I still find myself thinking about. I can see him so clearly, standing on that curb with too much gel in his hair, trying to hail a cab with a bunch of peonies in his hand.

Just in Case – Meg Rosoff

I’m ashamed to admit that this is the only Meg Rosoff book I’ve read. I know. I know. But Just in Case is fantastic and, you won’t be surprised to hear, beautifully written. I’m also ashamed to admit that it took me far too long to make the Justin Case/Just in Case connection.

Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman

Bow down. Even you. *points* Yes, you. Why aren’t you bowing? This book. THIS BOOK. Yes, it’s disturbing and painful and so loud it’s uncomfortable to read at times, but it’s also tender and beautiful and if even a handful of the people who read it think about what it’s trying to say, then that makes it a very important book.

Stolen – Lucy Christopher

I couldn’t wait to read this book. I’ve always been fascinated by Stockholm Syndrome so I devoured this in one sitting. I wanted Christopher to go there, I waited for her to go there, but she didn’t. Perhaps she was right not to, after all, I’ve read far too many YA books where unhealthy relationships are portrayed as romantic and yeah, no more of that, please. All of that aside, the writing is stunning. The descriptions of the Outback had me sweating at times.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

I was going to put A Monster Calls on this list because that made me cry so much the bloke sitting opposite me on the train asked me if I was okay. But then I remembered that I haven’t read the final book in this trilogy because I don’t want it to end, that’s how much I love this book. I really can’t say more than that.

Wasted – Nicola Morgan

The premise of this book is very clever: Jack makes decisions based on the flip of a coin. In the end, you’re presented with two outcomes that you have to choose between. As I said, very clever. I was rapt.


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Best of British: Blogger Nicky Schmidt

South African writer Nicky Schmidt blogs at  Absolute Vanilla  a great place to read YA interviews, reviews and Nicky’s thoughts. She’s picked her Best of British for UKYA.

YA author

Kevin Brooks

Book (teen)

Lucas by Kevin Brooks; Also Wasted by Nicola Morgan; Crossing the Line by Gillian Philip; How I live Now and There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

Book (kids)

The Crestomanci Series by Diana Wynne Jones, The Narnia Stories, The Secret Garden, The Little White Horse – and too many more to mention.

Shop

Hamleys (HUGE London toy shop)

TV programme

At the moment, Downton Abbey

Film

Too many to list!

Designer

Vivienne Westwood, simply because she is so iconic!


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Wasted by Nicola Morgan

Jack worships luck and decides his actions by the flip of a coin. No risk is too great if the coin demands it. Luck brings him Jess, a beautiful singer who will change his life. But Jack’s luck is running out, and soon the stakes are high.

As chance and choice unravel, the risks of Jack’s game become terrifyingly clear. An evening of heady recklessness, and suddenly a life hangs in the balance, decided by the toss of a coin. In the end, it is the reader who must choose whether to spin that coin and determine: life or death.

Visit Nicola’s website


Mondays are Red by Nicola Morgan

“Mondays are red. Sadness has an empty blue smell. And music can taste of anything from banana purée to bat’s pee. That’s what I need to explain, starting with the day it all began, the day I woke up in a hospital bed with a kaleidoscope in my head. I discovered later that I had almost died from meningitis but I remember nothing about that bit. My first memory is the dizzy waking up part and my soggy muddled head. My second memory is how, bit by bit, I began to realise how much my world had changed.”

Luke finds that his world has changed in three ways, as he wakes from a coma after meningitis. First, he has synaesthesia. Second, he has a weakness in his leg, disastrous for someone who was such a brilliant runner. And third, he discovers that synaesthesia gives him endless power. Even the power to fly.

Guiding Luke through his new world is Dreeg, who dwells entirely in Luke’s brain. Dreeg’s appearance changes as Luke’s feelings about him move between fascination and horror. Luke soon discovers that power has devastating costs – will he be tempted to sell his soul to pay for the power to fly, to create anything he wants, to punish his sister for .. but no, you need to read the book to discover the reasons for the problems between Luke and his sister. And who is the mysterious deaf girl, Seraphina, with biscuit skin and hair as long as the sound of honey?

Visit Nicola’s website


Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan

Fleshmarket is set in the 1820s in Edinburgh, a city of cruel contrasts between the lives of the rich and poor, and home to the infamous Burke and Hare, who sold their murder victims to brilliant anatomist Dr Robert Knox.

This is the often harrowing story of a boy who must survive the pain of his mother’s death at the hands of Doctor Knox.

Visit Nicola’s website