Celebrating Young Adult fiction by UK authors


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 🙂

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UKYA Book of the Year: Unrest by Michelle Harrison

Nominated by author Tamsyn Murray:

unknown-1“Unrest is a perfect slice of bone-chilling spookiness – I’ve been prey to sleep paralysis myself so I could totally identify with Elliot’s fear of falling asleep. Not the best book to read alone late at night but I loved it all the same.”

Author James Dawson’s UKYA Books of the Year

2012 has been a mega year for UKYA, yes MEGA. With a couple of notable exceptions (oh hai Leigh Bardugo’s GATHERING DARK) ALL of my faves have been by UK writers. I think we do some awesome work  -I’m just gonna float that out there. Here are but five excellent examples of 2012 releases:

images-5WHAT’S UP WITH JODY BARTON? by Hayley Long – rightly nominated for the Waterstones prize, this coming of age tale pulls of the rare, rare feat of being powerful and moving without ever being worthy or mawkish, which I loathe. Please read this today.

THE CITY’S SON by Tom Pollock – Do you like beautiful, elegant prose? Do you enjoy fast-paced urban fantasy? Do you appreciate sinister oil men and living statues? I thought so. Read this book.

TORN by Cat Clarke – A group of girls do a very, very bad thing to the school bitch and have to deal with the consequences. Like a teen movie, but with a achingly real, unshowy ending. I can’t wait for Undone.

images-2HEART SHAPED BRUISE by Tanya Byrne – A masterclass in ‘voice’, Tanya’s damaged/fabulous main character, stabby Emily Koll, lives and breathes from these pages. There’s a reason everyone’s talking about it, yo.

UNREST by Michelle Harrison – Genuinely scary stuff in which a flawed young man is (literally) occupied by the spirits of restless spirits. Not just a ghost story but a twisty turny thriller too!

Get reading! There’s so many 2013 releases to be excited about you haven’t got time to waste! See you next August dear readers! James xxx


Unrest by Michelle Harrison

Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless – but to Elliott they’re terrifying.

Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something that wants to live again – and it wants Ophelia, too . . .

Visit Michelle’s website


Top 10 Favourite UKYA books, by Kirsty of The Overflowing Library

Kirsty of The Overflowing Library blog, chooses her Top 10 UKYA faves.

I agreed to do this post then I freaked out. As someone who reads over 200 books in a year (and many of those written by British Authors) I didn’t know how I would be able to pin down my top 10 favourite books by British Authors. Below is what I think are my top 10 in no particular order but ask me again tomorrow and the list might have changed. I’m fickle like that.

1) Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt

I loved this book because I loved the main character. She had been in an accident which left her face scarred and the majority of this book deals with her settling into her new life post the accident but also revolves about a beautiful love story with the boy she falls for but doesn;t think she has a chance with because of her scars. It had me hooked from page one.

2) VIII by HM Castor

I love Harriet Castor and I love her book. If I were to write a book (and don’t hold your breath on that one) this is the sort of book I would want to write. It looks at a well known historical figure and looks at him in a different way to the norm. It is historically accurate and engaging and both my YA read and History Teacher Heads love this one. When Harriet talks about this book to kids she compares Henry VIII to Anakin Skywalker which I love as an idea such a good comparison and way to hook readers, especially boys in. FYI sadly there are no lightsabers in this book.

3) Department 19 by Will Hill

I am by no stretch of the imagination a horror reader but I loved this book blood-thirstiness and all. I love the main character Jamie and his potentially heart-breaking ways (give him a year or two) and by the end I wanted to don my very own T-Bone and go out vampire hunting with the Department.

4) Paradise Barn by Victor Watson

This book is not only written by a favourite British author of mine it is also published by my favourite British Publisher, the small but perfectly formed Catnip Books. I love this book and the series that follows. It is a brilliant one for engaging teens in historical fiction and has a cracking storyline.

5) Unrest by Michelle Harrison

I read this book in one sitting and literally found myself flying through it. I found it effortless to read and I really enjoyed every page. It’s about ghosts and has a brilliant lead character who I loved.

6) Adorkable by Sarra Manning

After loving Sarra Manning when I was a teen reading this last month was like stepping back in time. I loved it entirely. I loved the main character Jeane and her quirky ways and I loved the morales of the story. I’ve since lost my copy to kids at school who heard I had a copy early and begged me to read it.

7) The Declaration by Gemma Malley

For me this is one of the first dystopian books I ever read before I even knew such a think existed. I loved every page and the world created within it because you could just about see it happening somewhere in the not so distant future.

8) Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

Do not read this at night or alone. One of the creepiest books I have ever read and beautifully written. I won’t say much more about this one because I can’t begin to describe it. Just buy it!

9) Hollow Pike by James Dawson

I loved Hollow Pike. I love how funny it is with its cracking one-liners and I really loved how well James can write teenage girls. There are so many bits of dialogue which rung so true with me because I remember saying similar as a teenager or I can well picture one of the kids I teach saying. Also it has a brilliant anti-bullying message which I loved.

10) 12 Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge

This book reminds me of an earlier Phillip Pullman. The main character is a plucky Victorian girl making her way in a world in which the odds are stacked against her. I loved the historical elements and there is a twist on the visions seen by one of the characters in the book which is really clever.