Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors

Waiting for Gonzo by Dave Cousins

waiting for gonzoMeet Oz . . . he’s got a talent for trouble but his heart’s always in the right place (well, nearly always).

Uprooted from his friends and former life, Oz finds himself stranded in the sleepy village of Slowleigh. When a joke backfires on the first day at his new school, Oz attracts the attention of Isobel Skinner, the school psycho – but that’s just the beginning.

After causing an accident that puts his mum in hospital, Oz isn’t exactly popular at home either. His older sister’s no help, but then she’s got a problem of her own . . . one that’s growing bigger by the day.

Oz knows he’s got to put things right, but life isn’t that simple, especially when the only people still talking to you are a hobbit-obsessed kid and a voice in your own head!


Serendipity Viv’s UKYA Books of the Year

When Keris asked me to pick my favourite UKYA books for 2012, I thought it would be a complete doddle…until I realised how many blooming excellent books I had read in this category. So I’ve written and rewritten my list, lost sleep over it, scribbled out names only to replace them five minutes later and finally I think I can name my top ten. In fact, I might even do a Ross Geller from Friends and laminate it, just so I can flash it around at author events. If you’re on my list, I can talk to you, right?

Anyway my list is in no particular order but I do have one book shining like a star at the top of the list.

images-2My number one UKYA book of the year is Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne. Seriously I loved this book so much. Full of emotion that grated my feelings to the bone. Judging by the awards that this book has been nominated for I guess I ‘m not the only one feeling this way about this book.

Now here is the rest of my list which is in no particular order.

15 Days Without A Head by Dave Cousins is an amazing gritty debut, which makes you laugh in some places and cry in others.

WhatsUpWithJodyBartonWhat’s Up with Jody Barton? by Hayley Long should get an award for the biggest best kept secret ever. Half way through the book I was completely blown away.

Saving Daisy by Phil Earle – another book to rip me to shreds.  Phil writes from the heart and you can tell as you weep buckets, always desperate for a brighter outcome for his main characters.

Arabesque by Colin Mulhern– If Martina Cole wrote YA then this would be the type of book she would write. Compelling and shocking at times to read but one hell of a thriller.

Skin Deep by Laura Jarrett – a beautiful love story where a young couple defy everyone that goes against their relationship. Just simply gorgeous.

unknown-1Unrest by Michelle Harrison – this lovely lady seems to be able to turn her hand to any subject matter. She has swiftly moved from fairies to ghosts and scared the beejeesus out of me in the process.

FrostFire by Zoe Marriott – I just adore the way Zoe writes. Her imagination amazes me; her creative mind just wows me.

Emma Hearts LA  by Keris Stainton – I loved being swept away to California! Keris has a way of writing that makes me feel like I really am the main character.

12367267The Glimpse by Claire Merle – I had to check this one was valid because Clare no longer lives in the UK, but thank fully it does. Raise your glasses to a UK based dystopian novel. We can do it too my lovely American friends!

I was just about to write three more that need to go on my list when I realised I’d run out of room on my laminated card. So I’m going to stick a bright pink post it note on the side mentioning that Hollow Pike by James Dawson, Torn by Cat Clarke and Night School by C.J Daugherty also rocked my socks off, but mean Keris Stainton told me I could only choose ten!* Harrumph!

* I actually asked her to pick just one – Mean Keris Stainton 🙂

Beth Kemp’s UKYA Books of the Year

unknown-1-1Hollow Pike by James Dawson

I love this book! A creepy and tense thriller with a heady mix of witchcraft and the high school hierarchy.

A Witch in Love by Ruth Warburton

Besides being in a contemporary high school context and having witches, this isn’t at all like Hollow Pike. A problematic romance combined with a quest, I’m really enjoying this series. (Do read A Witch in Winter first, where a love spell is accidentally cast to kick things off)

images-215 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins

I’m so impressed by this debut novel! How Dave Cousins managed to create a hilarious and yet touching tale about a family in chaos is beyond me.

Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton

This has been my favourite romance read of the year (well, several years, actually). Brilliant UK voice set in glam LA – a fab bit of escapism!

Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson

This clever novel featuring an array of loosely-connected characters is intelligent and experimental, whilst also being accessible and pacey. Genius!


Author Keren David’s UKYA Books of the Year

So many…it’s really difficult to pick…

Two historical books:

images-6VIII by H M Castor –  a stunning beautifully written account of the life of Henry VIII

A World Between Us by Lydia Syson. Lydia’s in my writing group, so I’m like a proud auntie to this book. A touching love triangle set against the skillfully drawn background of the Spanish Civil War

Two contemporaries:

The Look by Sophia Bennett    A really enjoyable well-balanced story about two sisters, one’s talent spotted by a model agency, the other is diagnosed with cancer.

Fifteen Days without a Head by Dave Cousins  –  Made me laugh, made me cry. Two brothers fight to cover up their mum’s disappearance.

images-7One only-just UK…

The author is American (but lives in the UK). The setting is America (but there’s a British character).  Whatever. At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin constantly amazed me with its brilliance.

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15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins

Fifteen-year-old Laurence Roach just wants a normal life, but it’s not easy when your mum is a depressed alcoholic, and your six-year-old brother thinks he’s a dog.

When Mum fails to come home one night, Laurence tells nobody, terrified he and his brother will be taken into care if anyone finds out. Instead, he attempts to keep up the pretence that Mum is still around: dressing up in her clothes to trick the neighbours and spinning an increasingly complicated tangle of lies.

After two weeks on their own, running out of food and money, and with suspicious adults closing in, Laurence finally discovers what happened to his mother. And that’s when the trouble really starts . . .

Visit Dave’s website

15 Days Without a Head is on our UKYA Top 100 list.