One of my favourite reads of 2017, already, is Wing Jones and I just had to share how marvellous it was! If you’re looking for a great, diverse, UKYA recommendation, then look no further!
Blogmas wouldn’t be Blogmas without a few Winter/ Christmas recommendations! Just like in previous years, the list contains a few Christmassy books and a few that are perfect to read in the cold season! This year’s list is probably the most diverse we’ve compiled, so let’s get to it!
Here are this year’s picks:
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
This book shares the same cross between middle grade and adult fiction that Wonder by R. J. Palacio has. It’s a book that everyone can enjoy! It’s the story of miscreant by who’s taken in by a family that live on a farm and their compassion is what helps this boy reconnect his past. It deals with some heavy issues, like teenage pregnancy, in an incredibly sensitive manner. It’s one of those books that you don’t think much of when you begin, but once you get dragged into the story you won’t be able to stop thinking about it! Bad weather and frozen lakes play a big part in the story making it a perfect book for the season.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Maddie and I started the year by watching the first episode of the TV, then we found out Outlander was going to be one of the books we had to read for university. So, we halted watching the show and decided to read the book first! This series is one to sink your teeth into, it has the perfect mix of character and plot driven arcs and the romantic scenes are interspersed with politics and fighting. We loved the intrigue and the historical setting, and adore how level-headed Claire is, even in a completely new situation. The TV show has run it’s second season, and I do believe more is in the works, so if you like to watch adaptations along with reading the main text, this is an incredible series to begin over he Christmas holidays. Also, the book series is still on going and all of the books are extremely long, so if you love Outlander, there’s still so much more to read!
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Without fail, The Wizard of Oz is always on at Christmas. So is Oliver Twist, but until a YA adaptation of that is written, I can only recommend this marvellously unique retelling where Dorothy is a witch with a capital B and must be taken down at all costs, otherwise Oz will be corrupt forever and ever. This isn’t the Oz you know and put up with because your granddad refuses to change the channel (not speaking from experience or anything.) It’s feisty and gritty and the Wicked Witch of the West isn’t the only evil lurking around. Although I think the blurb lures you in under the false pretences of an epic quest, there are still lots of epic things going on that are worthy of your attention! If you like Percy Jackson, retellings or villains, this is your perfect Christmas in book form.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas, a UKYA anthology
We reviewed this on Day 2 of Blogmas and it’s the perfect read for anyone wanted to boost the number of UKYA authors they’ve read in 2016. It’s also a great introduction to authors you may not have heard of, or a juicy extra from one of your favourites. There’s something in here for everyone, including a ghost story, a refugee, astronauts, LGBT+ visibility and plenty of Christmas romance. A bonus for this book is the £1 of every sale goes to the Crisis charity that helps the homeless over the holiday season, so by investing in some great stories, you’re doing a good dead as well!
Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by R. Cohn and D. Levithan
This list wouldn’t be complete without a contemporary centred around our favourite time of year. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares made it to a previous list, and the sequel earns its spot as another jovial and unexpectedly quirky story of the Christmas couple, a year later. David Leviathan and Rachel Cohn have done it again, crafting a story around hilarious situations and drama that is guaranteed to keep you occupied until Christmas dinner is on the table. Note: this book can also be appreciated as a stand alone, even if you haven’t read the first book! It’s never too late to get on board Dash and Lily’s romance, huzzah!
If you want to look at our recommendations from previous years just click the dates!
Whether reading is your favourite hobby, or just something you do on holiday, there are so many amazing books that deserve to be read. We thought we’d set out the really stand-out stories that demand attention that might give you some inspiration on what to read next, or what books would make the perfect gift this Christmas! While all these books are YA and in the contemporary genre, we’ve made sure to pick as diverse a selection as possible, so there’s something here for everyone!
This year has definitely been the year that we discovered duologies. They’re perfect! The trilogy has been done to death, and usually they follow the same pattern: the first one is the best, the second one takes a dip and depending, the third is either a nose dive to disappointment or a jump to satisfaction. With a duology, there’s less chance of what we like to call ‘Second Book Syndrome’.
So, which ones are well worth reading?
Fearsome Dreamer and The Illusionists by Laure Eve
Not only do you get a beautiful set of covers, these two books are absolutely phenomenal. For only two books, it feels like you’re reading seven because of the different point of view and locations explored throughout. The world is extremely well built, the characters are so varied, your bound to love at least one of them, (Rue and White, forever ♡) and the story…boy, I can’t even describe it. Imagine Under the Never Sky mixed with The Chronicles of Prydain and you’re pretty much there.
Pivot Point and Split Second by Kasie West
These books are perfect if you love the paranormal and contemporary genres. Addie has the power to see outcomes of a choice. Should she live with her Mum or her Dad, and what consequences will that have on her love life, her best friend, and the secret mind-power society she lives in? You get to read the two outcomes, both action packed and loveable, and be shocked and thrilled by what Addie chooses. The second book adds her best friend, Laila’s perspective to the mix, and deals with the aftermath of Addie’s choice. Seriously, could not recommend enough!
The Perfectionists and The Good Girls by Sara Shepard
Love Pretty Little Liars? This is practically the same thing, but in two books instead of sixteen! Perfect! These are about how six girls are affected by the murder of the high school’s most popular guy, Nolan Hotchkiss. Each girl is suspected in a slightly different way, and deals with a lot of personal drama amongst a murder inquiry. Are the girls really as perfect and good as they appear? And who’s going down for a murder they may or may not have committed?
Packed with the same drama and plot twists as PLL, this is a fast paced duology bound to leave you with an open jaw on the final page.
Vivian Versus the Apocalypse and Vivian Versus America by Katie Coyle
This duology takes a completely different turn to the other recommendations. About a girl called Vivian and her best friend Harp, trying to survive the aftermath of a religious cult takeover, stealing family members and bringing about the second coming. If it sounds intense, that’s because it is! But, despite the manic plot, the relationship between the girls
Breathe and Resist by Sarah Crossan
If you hate to see trilogies suffer from second book syndrome then the Breathe duology is perfect for you! It’s a fast-paced dystopian where the amount of oxygen you’re allowed is controlled by the Pod Leaders. The books are told from four different PoVs throughout the series so you get to see every part of the world, both Inside and Out, rebel and victim! If you liked the Under The Never Sky trilogy then this should definitely make your TBR!
Reboot and Rebel by Amy Tintera
After death humans can reboot, but the longer it takes the less human they are when they return. It took Wren Connolly 178 minutes to reboot, making her one of the toughest girls around. In the facility where the reboots live, Wren trains the newbies where she meets 22 Callum. This duology has something for everyone, romance, conspiracy, and a ton of action that will have you on the edge of your seat!
It’s that time of year again to recommend books that are perfect to read this season!
‘Love, Lies and Mince Pies’ by Katy Cannon
This is a companion short story to ‘Love, Lies and Lemon Pies’ which was one of my top 14 books of 2014! The story focuses on Jasper, a secondary character in the both ‘Love, Lies…’ and ‘Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines’. I absolutely love that another story has been added to this series, and think it’s the perfect book to get you in the Christmassy mood! Sign up to Katy Cannon’s newsletter to receive the story for FREE on the 8th of December: here
‘Murder On The Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie
A good old murder mystery is great for this time of year – you can snuggle up and get enthralled by an intriguing crime. This mystery in particular is especially Christmassy because the murder takes place on a train that’s been snowed in. Talk about a chilling atmosphere!
‘The Fifth Wave’ by Rick Yancey
During the Christmas season, it’s easy to get caught reading a lot of cute contemporaries, but something we love to do is dip into a completely different genre. Over Christmas last year we were reading ‘Divergent’ and this year, the two books in ‘The Fifth Wave’ really caught our attention. It’s also perfect prep for the movie’s release in January 2016!
‘My True Love Gave to Me’ edited by Stephanie Perkins
But speaking of cute contemporaries, nothing can quite beat them at this time of year. What’s great about short stories is they can be read in one sitting, and having twelve different romances to read really is a gift this Christmas!
‘All Wrapped Up’ by Holly Smale
Geek girl? Check. Romance? Check. Christmas themed? Check. ‘All Wrapped Up’ has it all, so much so that Bee and I couldn’t wait until December to read it! Get to experience the beautiful and funny first date of Nick and Harriet, a couple ready to take the modelling industry by storm!
‘Sweetly’ by Jackson Pearce
And, because I couldn’t help it, I’m going to throw a fairy tale retelling in there! ‘Sweetly’ retells Hansel and Gretel in a slightly ominous and mysterious way. Twins Ansel and Gretchen go and live with a sweet-shop owner, Sophia, out in the woods, in a town where girls go missing, and not everything is as it seems…
Over on our YouTube channel, we made a video where we give recommendations based on books you might have already read! Check out our recommendations!
Today, the 12th of April is UKYA DAY! (I think it should all be in capitals, I’m that excited!) It’s a celebration of YA, written by UK authors, or authors living in the UK, and it’s brilliant. (That’s a real fact.)
UKYA needs to be championed by all who love it. Reading books by UK authors is so inspiring, especially because both Bee and I want to be authors some day, and part of not just the people who love it, but the people who create it.
So, without further ado, let’s have some recommendations!
1. Solitaire by Alice Oseman
I almost can’t believe this book is written because it’s so realistic, I’m not quite sure how Alice Osman wrote down what teenagers think that accurately! Tori Spring, the main character, is a child of the internet and a pessimist. She mets a boy called Michael Holden, who helps her to realise that she’s not alone. What makes ‘Solitaire’ so great, though, is that it’s not a love story. Who would have thought it, a boy and a girl can be friends without a romantic attachment! There’s some mystery and some mental health and sexuality representation…it’s got everything you need and everything the current YA market is missing. Read it, like, now.
2. Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve
I will champion this book to my grave, I swear. A lot of the UKYA that’s popular are contemporaries. ‘Fearsome Dreamer’ makes it’s own YA genre, as a mixture of technology and fantasy. There’s magic. There’s computer-generated worlds. There’s a ghost girl, and a hedgewitch and a monster lurking in a creepy castle. So many beautiful things combined to make the most exciting and vivid duology. Again, I could not recommend it more.
3. Geek Girl by Holly Smale
UKYA Day is just another opportunity for us to rave about how much we love the ‘Geek Girl’ series. Harriet Manners is an amazing character – she’s well-rounded, endearing, hilarious, sweet and a little bit clueless. (All my favourite qualities!) I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at four books. FOUR BOOKS. If you haven’t started this series yet, you’ve got a lot of amazing UKYA to catch up on!
4. Kisses for Lula by Samantha Mackintosh
This EXCELLENT book often slips under the radar, because it was published in 2010. ‘Lula’ was probably our very first UKYA, and we will treasure it forever. Like ‘Solitaire’, so much goes on within this book. It’s not just one girl’s quest to be kissed before her 16th birthday. It’s a crime mystery, there’s a witchy presence in the forest and Lula has a job all book lovers would crave. She works in a library. Funny and adorable, ‘Kisses for Lula’ is not to be missed.
5. The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
All the books I’ve recommended so far have been quite cute. ‘The Year of the Rat’ is completely different. I absolutely love books that deal with difficult subjects, like bereavement. What was so amazing about this book, was its sense of realism. The protagonist, Pearl, did not glamourise the situation. She was not mature and sensible. She was a real teenager, dealing with the death of her mother. If you’re looking for something a little deeper than a search for true love’s kiss, this is it.
So, those were are recommendations for UKYA. The sub-genre of YA is definitely rising to prominence, as more authors take to the shelves, with a UK background. (Have I said UKYA too much in this blog? Answer: no. I’m going to shout it from the rooftops all morning.)
What would you recommend on this glorious UKYA Day? Let us know!
Previously, we have given some Christmas Recommends. This is something we’d like to do more of! As part of our seasonal recommends, we bring you the best books to read during the season of new beginnings!
1. ‘The Iron King’ by Julie Kagawa
Faery tales are absolutely perfect for the spring time! The scenery is perfectly decked out for the spring time, although The Iron King has a technological twist that really makes this faery world stand out. Spring is the best time for faery revelry and discovering new worlds, and Julie Kagawa’s faeries certainly won’t disappoint.
2. ‘The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin
Spring is all about NEW. Mara Dyer was neither contemporary, a fairy-tale retelling or a dystopian; the genres I find myself reading from most. So, to read a book that was so far outside my comfort zone, I couldn’t even see it on the horizon, was an excellent decision. I think the best label for this series is ‘supernatural thriller’. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as you’d expect from spring recommends, but if you don’t mind unnatural powers, mild gore and oodles of sexual tension, I’d totally recommend picking this book up! (You’ll be in for a wild ride!)
3. ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han
However, if sunshine and rainbows books are more your thing, ‘To All The Boys’ is the perfect read (and basically anything else Jenny Han has written too!) Concerned with boy trouble and romantic solutions, Lara Jean and her adorable family are sure to entertain you on a warm-weathered afternoon.
4. ‘Why We Broke Up’ by Daniel Handler
This book is all about getting over a broken heart (well, we’ve all read the title.) Min, our protagonist, takes us through the story of her relationship with Ed, from the halcyon days of holding hards and sweet kisses, to the dark days of smashing cups and stomping on flowers. So, yes, it’s kind of depressing. BUT it’s also all about new beginnings and letting go of whatever’s holding you back – the perfect springtime outlook!
5. ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J Maas
What’s better than one book about fairies? Two books about fairies! If Mara Dyer was stepping out of my comfort zone, this book was very much in the centre of my ‘favourite types of books’ Venn diagram. With most of the plot taking place in the spring, and in the Spring Court of the fairy world, this book pretty much hits the recommendation on the nose.
As the Christmas season is upon us, and those of us that are enjoying the toils of school are soon to be released into the world of holidays, we thought it would be good to recommend our five favourite Christmassy reads (in no particular order!)
1. ‘Let It Snow’ by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
This is a super cute collection of short stories that are all linked, like ‘Love Actually’. The authors’ writing styles really compliment each other and all the characters are so well developed in a short amount of pages. My favourite story in the collection was probably Maureen Johnson’s, the first in the anthology, and I hope to read more of her work soon!
2. ‘My True Love Gave to Me’ edited by Stephanie Perkins
Basically, this in another anthology filled with short Christmas stories written by everyone’s favourite authors. They’re so sweet an quick to read, perfect for falling in love, as the tag line says. These really get you into the Christmas mood, without a huge commitment to 400 pages as they’re not all interlinked.
3. ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’ by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Christmas just seems to be the season to read collaborations. The book is set in a wintery New York and is about two unsuspecting teens finding romance. What’s not to love? Again, this is a quick read, but full of laughs and anecdotes, you can’t help but feel cheerful the whole way through.
4. ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell
I chose ‘Fangirl’ because I think there’s a real emphasis on the importance of family and communicating with them, which is a great message for the Christmas season. All Cath is in a completely new environment, her family and love interest offer her comfort and security. A tear-jerker, but the most adorable and relatable book ever written.
5. ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth
This might seem like an odd choice because there’s nothing Christmassy about it at all. I mean, a war between factions, with murders, conspiracies and battles? Not exactly all merry and bright. However, I think it’s the perfect book to take you somewhere completely new. It will absorb your whole mind and make your heart race – something to keep you completely occupied on a Christmas afternoon.