Recommended YA books for May

This month we’re pumped about Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s newest heart-pumping sci-fi, a thoughtful look at an Indigenous student facing a challenging situation, heartfelt Aussie contemporary YA, a swashbuckling historical tale and a new graphic novel from Readings favourite Mariko Tamaki.

Find our May picks for kids' books here.



Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle 1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora Academy star graduate Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the perfect squad, but after missing the draft to rescue floating and frozen Aurora, he finds himself with a team of leftovers that no one else wants: his twin sister Scarlet; his childhood best-friend, Cat; a sociopathic science nerd, Zila; an exoskeleton-wearing Betraskan, Fin; and Kal, an alien with anger management issues. Somehow they have to learn to work together as a team, along with Aurora, who seems to be the most sought-after person in the galaxy.

Our reviewer Dani adored this rollicking space opera, describing it as ‘full of romance, aliens, futuristic civilisations and dangerously high levels of sass.’

You can read our full review here.



Shauna’s Great Expectations by Kathleen Loughnan

Shauna is a final year student on an Indigenous scholarship at Oakholme College, a prestigious Sydney girls’ private school. She has her sights firmly set on her future, which she plans will include university and a trip to Paris, so she is devastated to find out that she has fallen pregnant. Having already endured years of racism at the school, and determined not to accept defeat, Shauna forges ahead with the difficult path of combining her pregnancy and her educational goals.

Our reviewer Angela greatly enjoyed this debut novel by Indigenous author Loughnan, saying that ‘this delightful contemporary coming-of-age story delves into some meaty issues of social justice, racism and private-school snobbery whilst also being a cracking good read.’

You can read our full review here.


Promise Me Happy by Robert Newton

On being released from juvenile detention, where he was incarcerated for committing robbery, seventeen-year-old Nate goes to live with his gruff and distant Uncle Mick in the small coastal town of Oyster Bay. He’s determined to make a better go of his life, and slowly builds some secure connections: Mick warms up, he makes friends with funny little Henry, and most of all, he meets Gemma, his first love. But unexpected events are on their way, and Nate is pushed to find resilience he didn’t know he had.

Our reviewer Mike loved this latest novel from award-winning Australian author Newton, finding it to be ‘tender, funny and freighted with heartache.’

You can read our full review here.


How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth – Biz – takes great comfort in seeing and talking to her father who died ten years ago, but she also knows to keep this a secret from her mum, her best friend Grace and others in her life. When a shock incident makes her father disappear, Biz drops out of school, becoming increasingly isolated and struggling to keep in touch with reality. As she searches for answers and a way out, Biz finds that her growing connections to others, like her new friend Jasper and his grandmother Sylvia, help bring her back to earth. This is a hugely empathetic Australian debut novel that explores inter-generational mental illness with a unique blend of surrealism and poetic language.


Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

Freddy always dreamed of dating cool Laura Dean, but Laura turns out to be a terrible on-and-off girlfriend. After taking her back after their fourth breakup (by text, no less, and because of cheating), Freddy seeks out the mysterious Seek-Her medium on the advice of her best friend Doodle. Even though all the signs point Freddy towards ending the relationship, she struggles to extricate herself from manipulative Laura, putting her friendships at risk.

Author Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer) and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell have created a gorgeous black, white and millenial pink graphic novel that depicts the truly sticky situation of getting mired in a toxic relationship, but also shows the sweetness of learning how to create healthy and lovely romances and friendships.


Devil’s Ballast by Meg Caddy

This action-packed pirate adventure brings Anne Bonny, one of history’s most fascinating anti-heroines, to life. After escaping her abusive husband, eighteen-year-old Anne disguises herself as a boy and joins her lover, pirate captain Calico Jack Rackham, on his ship Ranger. Together they bring down mayhem and murder on the ships of the Carribbean, but they are pursued by the brutal Captain Barnet, paid by Anne’s husband James to get his ‘property’ back at all costs.

The second book from Caddy, the West Australian author of Waer, this is a hair-raising and historically detailed look at a morally ambiguous and unique woman.


Applications are now open for the 2019–2020 Readings Teen Advisory Board!

The Readings Teen Advisory Board is a volunteer group of teenagers that meets at the Readings head office once a month to chat about recent and forthcoming young adult books, write blog posts and short reviews, learn about careers in the book industry, and provide feedback to Readings staff members on a range of subjects.

In their most recent meeting the teens met Bec Kavanagh, who is a writer, reviewer, young adult fiction specialist at Readings Kids and former schools manager with the Stella Prize. Read all about their conversation here, and find out what the Board thought of the upcoming novel Shauna’s Great Expectations.

You can find more information about what the 2018–2019 Readings Teen Advisory Board got up to and read testimonials from current members here.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

Mariko Tamaki, Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

$26.99Buy now

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