Recommended YA books & news for July
This month in YA books we’ve got a sunny summer romance that will make you forget your winter blues, a feminist psychological thriller, a lush fairytale retelling, plant-whispering witchy business and more.
Find our July picks for kids books here.
YA BOOK OF THE MONTH
Henry Hamlet’s Heart by Rhiannon Wilde
Henry Hamlet doesn’t know what he wants after school ends. It’s his last semester of year twelve and all he’s sure of is his uncanny ability to make situations awkward. Luckily, he can always hide behind his enigmatic best friend, Len. They’ve been friends since forever, but where Len is mysterious, Henry is clumsy; where Len is a heart-throb, Henry is a neurotic mess. Somehow it’s always worked. That is, until Henry falls. Hard. For the last person he imagined.
Rhiannon Wilde’s debut novel is set amidst the sun-soaked streets of Brisbane - a story of growing up, letting go, and learning how to love. Our reviewer Joe ‘fell in love with Wilde’s world of richly drawn characters, especially the achingly complex Henry and Len.’
You can read his full review here.
SIX YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
Girl, Unframed by Deb Caletti
Sixteen-year-old Sydney Reilly has to leave Seattle to live with her film star mother, Lila, and her mother’s new boyfriend, Jake, in San Francisco for the summer. Jake is an art dealer with shady connections, and Sydney can feel his eyes on her whenever he’s around. And he’s not the only one. Sydney is starting to attract attention from men - good and bad - wherever she goes. Behaviours that once seemed like misunderstandings begin to feel like threats as the summer grows longer and hotter. But real danger, the kind of stuff where someone gets killed - only happens in the movies, Sydney is sure. Until the night something goes suddenly very wrong.
Our reviewer Angela highly recommends this coming-of-age story that explores female objectification: ‘This is a powerful psychological thriller with writing that is eloquent, pacy and packs a strong feminist punch.’
You can read her full review here.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Ever since she can remember, Briseis has had power over plants: flowers that bloom in her footsteps, leaves that turn to face her. When Briseis inherits an old house, she welcomes the privacy to test her powers. But her inheritance comes with dark secrets: a hidden altar, an ancient lineage of witches, and powerful ancestors who won’t let Briseis rest until she accepts a terrible calling.
Cinderella Is Dead author Kalynn Bayron continues her work of bringing much-needed inclusivity and clever contemporary takes on myths and fairytales.
Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Come on a journey across Alaska and the rural American West…Meet the teenagers who live in the small towns across these states, separated by distance, but whose stories are woven together in the most unexpected of ways. Whether they are brought together by the spread of wildfire, by the priest who’s moved from state to state or by the hunt for a missing child, these incredible tales blaze with secrets, rage and love.
Alsaskan author and journalist Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s debut novel The Smell of Other People’s Houses was a runaway hit, and readers have been waiting a long time for her follow up! This is an intricate, intense and beautiful collection of interconnected short stories.
Skin Deep by Hayley Lawrence
Scarlett was gifted with beauty. But beauty can be taken in a day, in a single moment, by one car fire. Now permanently disfigured, Scarlett has become a smudge in her perfect world. She can see only one acceptable solution: to escape the modern world for Matilda Mountain, which is desolate, isolated, forlorn. Perfect. But mountains are not always as lonely as they appear. And unexpected friendships can be found in the wilderness. Friendships that challenge her ideas about perfection and her place in the world.
Australian author Hayley Lawrence (Inside the Tiger, Ruby Tuesday) crafts heartfelt stories that focus on young women facing big life challenges. Skin Deep is a compelling book that focusses on healing from trauma, beauty and self-worth, family and friendship.
A Weekend With Oscar by Robyn Bavati
Sixteen-year-old Jamie lives with his mum and his younger brother Oscar, who has Down syndrome. Though Jamie is still grieving the loss of his dad, life starts to look up when he meets Zara, the new girl at school. When their mum goes away for the weekend, Jamie volunteers to look after Oscar. But when the weekend is over and their mother doesn’t return, Jamie faces the toughest challenge of his life.
Robyn Bavati’s latest novel is a moving story about grief, friendship, first love and family.
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Forbidden magic runs through the veins of Princess Shiori’anma. Normally she conceals it, but on the morning of her betrothal, Shiori loses control. Her magic catches the attention of her stepmother Raikama – a sorceress in her own right – who banishes Shiori and turns her brothers into cranes, consolidating her power. Penniless and alone, Shiori must find a way back to her family and set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in others, and embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain.
THE READINGS YA PRIZE ANNOUNCEMENT
You’re invited to the YA event of the year – the announcement of the winner of the Readings YA Prize! Hosted by the YA Room at Readings State Library on Thursday 15 July 2021 at 6:30pm, there’ll be celebrity authors, prize-winning books, and a very special (highly collectable) gift for every attendee! This event is free to attend but bookings are essential. You’ll find all the event details here, and you can brush up on our six phenomenal shortlisted books here.
NEWS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The Readings Teen Advisory Board have been keeping very busy lately! They told us all about their favourite reads from the last month, and Board member Claire wrote an extremely comprehensive guide to one of her all-time favourite fantasy authors, Cassandra Clare.
If you’re looking for some great new reads with an LGBTQIA+ focus, our staff member Lucie let us know all the queer YA books that are contributing to her tottering TBR pile.
Keen writers of all ages and stages will find a world of helpful tips in YA author Amie Kaufman’s podcast, Amie Kaufman On Writing. Covering topics such as world-building, setting, writer’s block and much more, there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom packed into each episode.