Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


Amber Kirk-Ford of The Mile Long Bookshelf chooses her Top 10 UKYA books

image1. By Any Other Name by Laura Jarratt – Some amazing action-packed scenes and surprising plot twists!

2. Undone by Cat Clarke – A heartbreaking story of romance and revenge.

3. The Boy From France by Hilary Freeman – Funny, realistic and full of adventure! The characters felt real and it was a nice break from the books I usually read.

4. Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton – The reason why I am now obsessed with LA! A really fun story to read, a great way to escape the stresses of real life. It left me smiling!

5. Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman – A hard-hitting realistic novel about the drama teenagers face every day. Definitely worth a read!

6. Finding Cherokee Brown by Siobhan Curham – Anyone who has been involved in bullying in any way, should read this book. It carries a really powerful message and manages to stay funny and light-hearted at the same time.

7. Diary of a Mall Girl by Luisa Plaja – A really sweet, romantic story that will make you smile and laugh whilst reading it.

8. Almost True by Keren David – Almost True is full of action and it is scarily realistic. This will keep you hooked from the first page!

9. Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce – An inspiring and truthful story set in a hospital ward about two teenagers with cancer, falling in love. I highly recommend this book.

10. Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper – Set in London in 1861, ‘Fallen Grace’ is about a girl who faces constant danger. It’s an excellent book!

Read Amber’s blog, The Mile Long Bookshelf, or follow her on Twitter, @MileLongBookS

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Diary of a Mall Girl by Luisa Plaja

the diary of a mall girlThe mall is the heart of the fifteen-year-old Molly’s suburban town. Most teens hang around with friends there, get their first job there, and experience their first kiss there. And Molly? She actually lives there, in the complex’s residential wing, where she navigates the dramas of teenage life, falling out with her friends and falling for the dark, mysterious boy-next-door.

But is living in a massive shopping centre as much fun as it sounds? Well, yes… and no. Find out the whole truth in Molly’s private diary!

SisterSpooky Laura’s UKYA Books of the Year

Sooooo many good reads published in 2012 and so these are in no order because that’s like saying which one of your kids are your favourite. (I hear that’s frowned upon)

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
Goblins by Philip Reeve
Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton
Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda
Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
Fire City by Bali Rai
Kiss, Date, Love, Hate by Luisa Plaja
Frostfire by Zoe Marriott
Adorkable by Sarra Manning
The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison
The Look by Sophia Bennett
Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale
Hollow Pike by James Dawson
Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

Oh and there was this other book called Geekhood by Andy Robb which was pretty frigging awesome. Don’t tell him that though because it’ll go to his head!


Roll on 2013!


Luisa Plaja’s favourite 20th Century UKYA books

I’m often told that YA/teen fiction is a very new thing, and this sometimes causes me to have a small rant (“It is NOT!”) or a big daydream about all the books I loved when I was a teenager myself. There was certainly a lot of fiction for young adults available in my library. It was marked on the spine with a yellow star-shaped sticker, and many of the books were by British authors. (For more details, see this post about my love of teen fiction through the ages at  Strictly Writing: In Search of a Yellow Star, and why not have a go at the ‘spot the decade’ extract quiz there?)

Here, plucked from my bookcase, is a small selection of my beloved UKYA books from the twentieth century.

Love, Emma xxx by Mary Hooper

Love, Emma xxx, published by Pan Books in 1982, is the story of a student nurse. Told in letters and diary entries, it’s funny, realistic and wonderfully British.  I re-read it many times – it was one of my favourite books, jointly with Janey’s Diary by the same author. I also have five more of Mary Hooper’s novels for the eighties Heartlines series (A Love Like Yours, My Cousin Angie, Opposites Attract and Follow that Dream), and the grittier Megan series from the nineties. Mary Hooper now writes gripping historical novels.

Heartlines series, various authors

This was like a British version of the US Sweet Dreams series. I read every book I could get my hands on in the eighties and I collected as many copies of my own as I could.

Diving In by Kate Cann

Published in 1996 by the brilliant Livewire imprint at The Women’s Press, Kate Cann broke new ground with the realistic way she portrayed Coll’s first romantic relationship. The book has two sequels and the series has been republished by Scholastic. Kate Cann’s latest novel, a dystopia called Witch Crag, is out this year and I can’t wait to read it.

The Frog Prince by Nina Rootes

I’m including this one for nostalgia reasons. The story of a British girl falling in love in Paris, it’s filled with dodgy cultural misunderstandings, coming-of-age angst and actual French dialogue. It was technically a film tie-in, but I read it before I saw the film which I’m pretty sure was (ahem) one of the first ever films I watched using a new-fangled gadget known as a “video”…

A Different Life by Lois Keith

I loved every single book published under the Livewire imprint of The Women’s Press, and I still own many of them. A Different Life was published in 1997 and is about the way Libby’s life changes after a swim in the sea leaves her suffering from a mysterious illness, resulting in a permanent disability. A down-to-earth, realistic novel that has stayed with me.

A Bottled Cherry Angel by Jean Ure

Actually, the first Jean Ure book that springs to mind when I think of my favourite teen books is A Proper Little Nooryeff, but I must have borrowed that one from the library as I couldn’t find it on my shelves. A Bottled Cherry Angel is also great, of course, and I own an ex-library copy that my mum picked up for me in 1986. Jean Ure’s books are always brilliant, portraying in-depth teen relationships with a light touch.

The Girl With Brains in Her Feet by Jo Hodges

This time, I think I saw the film before I read the book, even though I think the book came first. Anyway,  I really enjoyed both. Published by Virago in 1998, this is a lively tale of a teenaged runner and her family and friends, with a suburban seventies East Midlands backdrop.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Last but not least, this classic UKYA novel, first published in 1949, needs no introduction. Funny, moving, gorgeous.

Luisa Plaja is the author of several books for teenagers, including Split by a Kiss, Swapped by a Kiss and her latest novel, Kiss Date Love Hate. She was born in Glasgow, mostly grew up in the suburbs of London and has also lived in Lancaster, Birmingham, Durham, and currently Devon.

Top 10 UKYA favourites by Jesse of Books 4 Teens

Jesse of Books 4 Teens shares his UKYA Top 10.

I knew when I agreed to write this I’d find it tricky but I didn’t think I’d find it this tricky.  It’s surprising just how much US YA there is and some authors who I originally thought were based in the UK, well – weren’t.

So a couple of amendments later, a bit of tinkering here and a bit of tinkering there and I have a list.  Even now though there are more books springing to mind, which are equally as good, but I’m going to stop tinkering now.  This is in no particular order – except the order I thought of them 🙂

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

I read this series when I was still in school and it’s a story that has never, ever left me.

Kiss, Date, Love Hate by Luisa Plaja

A computer game that lets you take control of certain aspects of your friends (and not so friends) life. Enough said I think!  A seriously fun read with such an authentic teenage voice I’m convinced Luisa is a teenager really!

Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb

A call out to geeks everywhere and a sweet romance told from a male perspective!

A Witch In Winter by Ruth Warburton

Witches, a mystery, good versus evil. Need I say more!

Hollow Pike by James Dawson

I love a good mystery and that’s exactly what you find in Hollow Pike with a little bit of magic sprinkled in for good measure.  I loved the way it switched from the deeply serious to the more light-hearted side without undermining the story.

Rockoholic by CJ Skuse

A shout out to an author (reasonably) local 🙂 I adored Rockaholic – such an original idea – kidnapping a pop star and the ensuing drama is hilarious! Well worth a read.

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriot

This was one of my favourite books last year – a modern fantasy fairy tale with tones of Cinderella sprinkled throughout.

The Truth About Celia Frost by Paula Rawsthorne

I thoroughly enjoyed this one – such an original story with a truly thrilling aspect to it.

The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish

If scary and creepy is your thing you HAVE to read The Hunting Ground, I’m saying no more.

Department 19 by Will Hill

Oh dear – I’m finishing with a series (well I couldn’t go and forget Department 19 could I?) Yes, it’s vampires but it’s how they were meant to be. Full of blood, nods of the head to Dracula and oh yes and a secret government department to take care of it 🙂