New and recommended young adult books this February

We have a number of exciting Australian debuts this month, as well as a novel by classic Australian children's author, Paul Jennings, and some fantastic releases from international authors!


Two Can Play That Game by Leanne Yong

This story is focused around the ultra-competitive gaming world and two teens, Jay and Sam, who both want the same thing: an elusive ticket to the latest game design workshop, which is a fast-track to a career making games. The problem? Jay unceremoniously snatched it right from Sam's clutches, and she's not going down without a fight. To determine who deserves the ticket, they'll compete in a series of classic video games.

The joy of this story is in the depiction of Malaysian-Australian culture and extended families of both characters: the aunties and uncles who pinch your cheeks, stuff you with food, and gossip about everyone. The two protagonists must meet in remote locations so that they don't become the subject of the Asian Gossip Network themselves. This is a fun, fascinating and authentic insight into being part of two different cultures, with an enemies to lovers romance and plenty of gaming thrown in. Suitable for ages 15+.


Grace Notes by Karen Comer

Grace is a talented violinist, who wants to pursue a career as a musician against her parent's wishes. James is a graffiti artist who wants to create his art on the streets, but is forbidden by his father. When these two talented artists meet between pandemic lockdowns in Melbourne there is an immediate connection. In stunning, lyrical prose, they help one another through the difficulties with their families and the angst of being a teenager in lockdown.

This debut verse novel about two very talented young people and their coming-of-age is suitable for readers aged 12+.

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

This debut novel by an Australian author is the first in a planned fantasy trilogy set in an Arabian-inspired land. Seventeen-year-old Imani must fight to find her brother, who has betrayed their tribe by stealing the spice that gives people magic in their world. A powerful warrior who wields a dagger like no other and is revered as such, Imani must search for her brother, while reconciling protecting her home at the potential expense of her loved one.

Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer, Imani will soon discover there's a plethora of undisclosed secrets beyond the world she knows. Beautifully written and with fascinating world-building, this novel will be adored by fantasy lovers aged 12 and up.

The Lorikeet Tree by Paul Jennings

This new title by award-winning children's author, Paul Jennings, is focused on the lives of two very different twins during one difficult year. Written as the diary of fifteen-year-old Emily, the story tells of the traumatic period of time after their father is diagnosed with a terminal health condition.

While Emily seeks solace in the bushland surrounding their home, her brother Alex is focused on escaping reality as much as possible. This slim novel deftly handles some big issues and is recommended for ages 12 and up.

City of Nightmares by Rebecca Schaeffer

This horror story is set in a world where a terrible infection has ravaged the population. If you dream in your sleep then you will most likely turn into your worst nightmare. Terrible monsters, mass murderers and vampires roam the streets, while monster hunting organisations help protect the population where possible.

An orphaned young woman, Ness, is terrified and haunted by her traumatic past, but unwittingly gets caught up in a plot of political intrigue that is much bigger than her. This is a clever, action packed novel that is a brilliant, exciting read for ages 12 and up.

The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao

For crime and mystery lovers, this story is a murder mystery set on a college campus. When Anna Xu starts freshman year at the prestigious Brookings University, all she wants is to work hard and solve the unsolved campus murder of her babysitter six years previously. But when violence strikes on campus once again, Anna is forced to team up with family rival Chris Lu. And when a threat is made against Anna personally, the two must race to solve the hate crimes on campus before anyone else, including Anna, gets hurt. Suitable for ages 14 and up.


  • One of our favourite YA reads from last year, We Who Hunt the Hollow, recently won the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards for Young Adult fiction. It was also shortlisted for the Readings YA Prize last year and is a cracking fantasy story with plenty of monsters and kick-ass women who hunt them.
  • Also a winner in the Victorian Premier's Awards was another favourite novel for young adults, The Upwelling, by Lystra Rose, which won the prize for Indigenous Writing and is a time-slip novel that depicts a traditional First Nations society pre-colonisation.
  • Forthcoming YA novel, Nightbirds, will be launched at our Readings Hawthorn shop on March 9 at 6.30pm with Amie Kaufman doing the launch honours. Register your interest here.
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Cover image for Two Can Play That Game

Two Can Play That Game

Leanne Yong

In stock at 8 shops, ships in 3-4 daysIn stock at 8 shops