UKYA

Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


Author C.J. Skuse’s Top 10 UKYA books

050CJ Skuse is the author of PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC. Here are her Top 10 favourite UKYA books!

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

I picked this when I read for the Chicken House Times Children’s Fiction Competition a few years ago and I knew it was my favourite by the time I’d got to the bottom of the first page. It has an Inbetweenersy kind of humour to it and a very sweet love story right at its heart. Ticks all my boxes.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Because Sirius Black. That is all.

soulmates-by-holly-bourneSoulmates by Holly Bourne

I love the central premise of this book and I think Holly is an exceptionally talented new writer with a fine sense of humour. That ending though. Damn her #heartbroken

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

I could have picked any of Kevin’s books as I love them all but I’ve picked Martyn Pig because it was the first of his that I read and I found it just so fresh. I think I get my love of dubious endings from this great man.

untitledDoing It by Melvin Burgess

When I was trying to get published, I always had in my mind that I wanted to be a female version of Melvin Burgess but I’m still nowhere near his calibre. Doing It is my favourite book of his because it’s just so unafraid and matter-of-fact about sex.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Anything written by Lucy Christopher just has the mark of quality on it and this book stayed with me for a long time. The premise is so simple yet so powerfully written. I could live a 100 years and not write anything as great as this.

forget me notForget Me Not by Anne Cassidy

Everyone always talks about Looking for JJ but this is my favourite Anne Cassidy book. It’s quite sinister and the ending is very brave and I found it incredibly satisfying.

The Madolescents by Chrissie Glazebrook

This book never gets talked about but it is the book which made me want to write for teens in a humorous style. It’s dated a bit now but the comedy still holds up and the main character was almost certainly an inspiration for Paisley in my first book Pretty Bad Things.

TornTorn by David Massey

Loved this book from start to finish. To be frank, I’d never read anything regarding the war in Afghanistan which really interested me until this came along. And I fancied the pants off the hot American Lieutenant, I’ll admit it.

Mothertime by Gillian White

This one isn’t technically YA but I had to add it because Gillian White is THE writer who made me want to write when I was 17. I wrote her a letter and she sent me 2 signed novels and a very encouraging note which spurred me on. I’ve never forgotten that note. Mothertime is about five young brothers and sisters, led by 12-year-old Vanessa, who lock their alcoholic mother in the sauna over Christmas to dry her out. I may have subconsciously locked a certain rock star in a garage thanks to this book.

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Author Sally Nicholls’ Top 10 UKYA books

images-25Skellig by David Almond

A boy finds a tramp with angel wings in an abandoned garage. Is he an angel, or a new kind of human? A simply-told, but surprisingly complex and utterly beautiful story about how to be human. True fact: I once left a friend waiting for over an hour outside Tesco, because I couldn’t bear to put this book down.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Sex, death, war, incest, first love, country houses, freedom, adolescence, magical children, dangerous journeys, foraging for food, and some more sex. This is a coming-of-age story that sits perfectly between the adventure stories I loved as a child, with the darker edge I love as an adult. Meg Rosoff is American, but this is a very English book.

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Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty

If you loved Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Eleanor and Park’, you need to read ‘Dear Nobody’. Chris and Helen take turns to narrate the story of their relationship, and everything that happens when seventeen-year-old Helen discovers she is pregnant. Another very well written novel with a simple story, this felt very true to my adolescent experience and was a worthy winner of the 1991 Carnegie Medal.

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay

I love Saffy’s Angel. I love it. I love all the Cassons. I love their mother Eve, who is flawed but totally human, and utterly sympathetic. I love Sarah-down-the-road and her evil schemes. I love long-suffering Michael. I love the jokes, and I love the characters and I love the dialogue and … I wish I’d written this book. Go and read it. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200. Read it now.

images-4The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend

Clever, funny, well-observed and occasionally sad. What can I say? There are just not enough books about working-class 13-year-old intellectuals living in Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Do you weep, Mrs Thatcher, do you weep?

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

If you don’t love I Capture the Castle, I’m not sure we can be friends. Think Pride and Prejudice, but set in a half-ruined castle in 1920s Britain, narrated by a book-loving seventeen-year-old waiting for love, with a stepmother who roams the countryside wearing only Wellington books. This book is everything you dreamed a book with that plot summary could be. Only better.

The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman

I wavered between this book and Northern Lights, but I’m not sure Northern Lights is technically YA, while this definitely is. There are four novels about Victorian detective Sally Lockhart, and while you should start with The Ruby in the Smoke, The Tiger in the Well is my favourite, if only because the premise is so chilling. What if someone altered the records that define your whole life? What if your paperwork now said that your house, your money and even your daughter no longer belonged to you? And what if that person then arrived to claim them?

The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Set in a castle on the Welsh marshes at the end of the twelfth century, this is the story of Arthur. Arthur wants to be a knight, but he’s worried that his father will send him to a monastery. The castle is full of secrets, and none of the secrets is more important than the stone in which he sees stories about another boy called Arthur, who grew up to be king of England. Kevin Crossley-Holland is a poet, and it shows. The medieval history is a bonus.

382229Flour Babies by Anne Fine

I have a soft spot for novels about a whole school class, and Anne Fine excels at them. When the boys of 4C (bottom set Year Ten) are each given a flour baby to care for, it kick-starts a meditation on fatherhood and responsibility for class dunce Simon Martin. Brilliantly observed, occasionally sad, and very funny. (If you liked this, also try her other Carnegie winner, Goggle Eyes.)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

This is obviously the best Harry Potter book. Do not argue with me. Professor Lupin! Snape in a dress! Quiddich matches you actually care about! And the best plot twist in the history of Harry Potter plot twists. Also, the only book with no Lord Voldemort. And did I mention Professor Lupin?


Guest Post: Aurelia B Rowl on writing sexy YA (and a sneaky Top almost-10)

Aurelia B RowlI was supposed to come and share my top ten UKYA books, but the more I looked through the books on my ‘favourites’ shelf on Goodreads, the more ashamed I became. There was a HUGE disparity between the number of UK authors, and the number of US authors on that virtual shelf. It was a travesty, honestly, and I’ve since made the mental note that “I must do better.”

Seeing as I don’t have a top ten to share with you after all, I figured I ought to talk about my book instead. It’s called Popping the Cherry, and yes, it’s about sex…or rather, it’s one girl’s journey towards losing her virginity and establishing a relationship with her peers.

So what possessed me to write a YA book with sex in it?

When I’m not writing YA, you will find me writing contemporary romances, so the actual writing of a love scene doesn’t faze me. The trickiest part was actually figuring how much detail was too much, and just how far I could push the YA genre boundaries in order to pass on what I hope is a positive message. It was a very delicate balance between trying to keep the storyline real and not getting all preachy, and that’s where a huge cast of characters helped. Popping the Cherry is basically the kind of book I wish I’d had when I was younger, trying to navigate my way through the jungle that is rife with peer pressure and insecurities, and it has already been compared to Forever by Judy Blume, which is an absolute honour.

Popping_the_CherryPopping the Cherry is the first in a series of standalone companion novels, but due to the nature of the stories and the ages of the main characters increasing with each title, the series will veer more towards New Adult with the issues this fabulous cast of characters will have to face and overcome.

Oh and if you’re interested, this is how far I got with my top ten, where you’ll notice I am a MASSIVE fan of series, and paranormal shenanigans in particular:

Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

This one needs no introduction really, but it was a series that got me reading regularly again, lapping up every word.

Witchblood series – Emma Mills

If you like you vampire series, with witches and angels thrown it too, then you can’t go far wrong with this series by Indie author, Emma Mills.

Stella Mayweather series – Camilla Chafer

Another fabulous ‘witchy’ series worth checking out.

Discworld series – Terry Pratchett

Although not strictly YA, this is what I was reading when I was a teenager. I had a weekend job when I was at school, and would save up to buy as many of the books as I could.

Shalean Moon series – J. Lilley

I discovered this series last year, based around a clan of leopard shifters…I use the work ‘clan’ because the stories are set in The Trossachs and written by Scottish author J. Lilley.

Rae Wilder series – Penelope Fletcher

Another fantasy/paranormal series by an Indie author, and I absolutely loved the first three books in the series so they are well worth checking out.

Kisses for Lula – Samantha Mackintosh

This a was a super cute, fun, read that left me smiling and put a spring in my step.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

A classic and one that I have read several times, yet each time I seem to discover something new that I’d missed a previous time.

I’m rather hoping that I will have more to add to this list, the next time I am asked for my favourite UKYA books.


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Author Kate Kelly’s UKYA Top 10

KateIt was hard to choose a top ten – there are so many great UKYA books that I would have loved to include – but here, in no particular order, are my favourites.

1. Arabesque – Colin Mulhern
Gangsters and criminals – and one girl caught in the middle – this is the sort of down to earth gritty crime that I love.

2. Firebrand – Gillian Philip
A wonderful fantasy – a book that draws you in and doesn’t let you go.

3. The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extense
This is a really brilliant book, moving and profound. You’ll think about things differently after reading this!

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
No list would be complete without including these. What more can I say.

5. The Dreamwalker’s Child – Steve Voake
An all time favourite of mine – powerful fantasy with a wonderfully imagined world.

6. Looking for JJ – Anne Cassidy
Cleverly structured – moving between past and present- a past life that is being kept hidden. Gripping stuff!

7. Blood Ties – Sophie McKenzie
A superb fast paced thriller with a real ethical issue at its core

8. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
Dystopia at its best – thought provoking. A classic for its time.

9. His Dark Materials series – Philip Pullman
There is so much depth to these books – wonderful characters, fantastic settings and quite simply a brilliant story and concept.

10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon
Sheer brilliance. This is a book that fully deserved all the accolades it has received.

Kate Kelly is a marine scientist by day but by night she writes SF thrillers for kids. Her love of the sea inspires many of the themes in her writing. Kate’s debut novel Red Rock is published by Curious Fox in September 2013.


Writer Lucy Marcovitch’s Top 10 UKYA books

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA1. Skellig by David Almond – I read this when it was first published and I’ve never read anything so unique, haunting and beautiful since. Although he came very close with My Name is Mina!

2. Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty – a completely un-judgemental, un-preachy, honest and sensitive book about teenage pregnancy. I wish I could write a book half as real as this one. I think it should be on the sex education curriculum!

3. The Writing on the Wall by Lynne Reid Banks – I read this book in the 80s as a teenager, and it was the one which inspired me to want to write for young adults. It’s the perfect model of everything you’re told in creative writing classes about how to craft a story for YA.

4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd – probably the most powerful evocation of grief in any book for children or adults that I’ve read. It’s a true modern classic, and the uniqueness of its authorship makes it more powerful. It also wouldn’t be half as powerful without the illustrations, which sets it apart in another way, as an illustrated YA book.

5. Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls – if only I could write a first novel as beautiful as this one! I wept buckets at the end. I think it’s a shame it was eclipsed by other books with a similar theme that were published at the same time, as I think it is much more superior than any of them, being so under-stated.

6. My Name is Mina by David Almond – I love how David Almond’s characters take on lives of their own, even when they aren’t the main characters. This ia another beautiful book – for a while it was touch and go whether it surpassed Skellig for me!

7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling – when I was a teacher I kept reading articles by libraries about this brilliant book about a boy wizard. I read it in one weekend, then tried it out on my class. I have never seen 35 10 and 11 year-olds sit so still and beg me to read more after 3.30. It’s hard to remember that in 1996 there wasn’t another book quite like it.

8. The Witch’s Daughter – Nina Bawden is best known for Carrie’s War, but I I always preferred this mystery story. None of the characters are stereotypes – even the baddies have a human face. And the name Perdita always fascinated me, especially as I couldn’t work out how to pronounce it!

9. Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer – classic time slip book that inspired my favourite teenage band The Cure. What could be more exciting for a young adult?!

10. The Edge of the Cloud by KM Peyton – I’d choose all the Flambards books, but at a push this one is my favourite. It’s a beautiful combination of love story and historical novel, romantic and exciting – Christina and Will are living the life all older teenagers would dream of. And of course it makes the opening tragedy of the third novel even more unbearably tragic!

Check out Lucy’s blog http://lucymarcovitch.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @lucym808