Recommended YA books, news & resources for July
Lovers of heartfelt contemporary YA are spoilt for choice this month, but if you like action-packed sci-fi, verse novels or gentle touches of magic, then you’re also in luck.
Find our July picks for kids books here.
YA BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Lost Soul Atlas by Zana Fraillon
Twig is all alone after his dad goes missing, but when he meets cheerful pickpocket Flea, the pair become fast friends. Together, they raise themselves on the crime-ridden streets, taking what they need and giving the rest to the even-poorer. Life is good, as long as they have each other. But then Twig wakes up in the Afterlife. With just a handful of vague memories, a key, a raven, and a mysterious atlas to guide him, he tries to piece together what happened, and to find his way home…
Award-winning Australian author Zana Fraillon continues to grow and change with every book, this time delivering a delicately balanced fantasy. Our reviewer Dani highly recommends The Lost Soul Atlas, describing it as ‘a work of art, perfectly balancing imagination and reality.’ For ages 10 and up.
You can read our full review here.
FIVE YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
Stars Like Us by Frances Chapman
Liliana is a sixteen-year-old Australian exchange student at the Henley-On-Thames Music Academy in London. She has a secret crush on the alluringly cool Carter, her new band’s guitarist, but she’s also got a girlfriend back home in Sydney that she misses a lot. So when Liliana writes a song about Carter and it lands the band a record deal, she quickly realises she’s in hot water. Soon, Liliana will have to choose – between an alluring boy and the girl she left behind, between love and lust, and between the fame that beckons and staying true to the music that’s in her heart.
Stars Like Us was the winner of the prestigious Ampersand Prize in 2018, a prize that has given us authors like Erin Gough and Melissa Keil. Our reviewer Tye loved this ‘smart, sassy and highly entertaining book.’ For ages 13 and up.
You can read our full review here.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Two girls live an ocean apart, not aware that they have the same father. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic and dreams of becoming a doctor. Yahaira lives in New York City, where she tries to cope with her strained family dynamics. Following the death of their father in the November 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 bound for Santa Domingo, the two girls’ lives are overturned as they find each other in the midst of their grief. In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.
Our reviewer Xiao Xiao loved Acevedo’s third novel for teens, saying ‘the protagonists’ voices are distinct and raw whilst giving the reader glimpses into the fascinating settings, communities and cultures of New York and Santa Domingo.’
You can read our full review here.
Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore
Dylan and her adored French mother dream of one day sailing across the ocean to France. Paris, Dylan imagines, is a place where her black skin won’t make her stand out, a place where she might feel she belongs. But when she loses her mother in a freak accident, Dylan finds herself on a very different journey - a road trip across outback Australia in the care of her mother’s grieving boyfriend, Pat. As they travel through remote towns further and further from the water that Dylan longs for, she and Pat form an unlikely bond. One that will be broken when he leaves her with the family she has never known.
I really loved and highly recommend this moving, original and thought-provoking debut novel about grief, identity and family.
You can read my full review here.
Truel1f3 (Lifel1k3, Book 3) by Jay Kristoff
For Eve and Lemon, discovering the truth about themselves, and each other, was too much for their friendship to take. But with the country on the brink of a new world war – this time between the BioMaas swarm at CityHive and Daedalus’s army at Megopolis – loyalties will be pushed to the brink, unlikely alliances will form and with them, betrayals. But the threat doesn’t stop there, because the lifelikes are determined to access the program that will set every robot free, a task requiring both Eve and Ana, the girl she was created to replace.
The final thrilling instalment to Kristoff’s Lifel1k3 trilogy is a page-turning, unpredictable ride, full of Kristoff’s trademark wit, vivid world-building and characters to deeply invest in.
Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin is sick of moving from city to city with her mother. When they return to her historical New England hometown to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever, and she shouldn’t get too comfortable. But after a disastrous party, and a poorly executed act of revenge, Josie ends up in big-time trouble with her childhood friend and town ‘bad boy’, Lucky Karras. During a summer of secrets, everything changes, and the easy friendship Josie and Lucky once shared grows into something deeper and more complicated.
If you’re after a charming slow-burn romance, with enjoyable banter, a cosy setting, and sensitive character development, then this is the book for you.
THE READINGS YOUNG ADULT BOOK PRIZE SHORTLIST
We were delighted to recently announce the 2020 shortlist for the Readings Young Adult Book Prize. Now in its fourth year, this prize was created to recognise and celebrate new voices in Australian Young Adult literature, and considers the first and second books of YA authors across Australia.
The six shortlisted titles are:
- Devil’s Ballast by Meg Caddy
- The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim
- Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller
- Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard
- Everywhere Everything Everyone by Katy Warner
- Take the Shot by Susan White
There’s really something for any kind of reader on this list, and you can check out our judge’s comments here.
Stay tuned for the online winner announcement on Tuesday 21 July. We’ll also be awarding the Readings Children’s Book Prize (for ages 5-12) at the same time.
NEWS, RESOURCES & RECOMMENDATIONS
We were thrilled to host an event with superstar author Patrick Ness a while back, and now you can listen to the conversation about his latest release, Burn, on the Readings podcast. Also available to listen to is the wonderful panel with no less than FOUR #LoveOzYA authors: Sarah Epstein, Poppy Nwosu, Kay Kerr and Anna Whateley.
If you’re not podcasted out… We Are YA is a fantastic podcast from Penguin Teen in the States. They interview an interesting blend of authors and book bloggers/vloggers, including[an episode with Australian author Astrid Scholte.
I’m waiting eagerly for Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, which should be arriving in Australia late August, and is a teen reader’s edition of Stamped from the Beginning. In the meantime though, we can all listen to Ibram X. Kendi’s TED talk about anti-racism.
Are you a keen young writer? Or do you know someone who is? Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings is running their second KYD School Writing Prize, with entries opening on the 13 July. Secondary students are encouraged to write a piece responding to a current social or political issue. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, editorial support and publication in KYD, with five other students highly commended. Find all the details here.
Submissions are also open for the 2020 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers! This award is open to Australian secondary school students writing fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. Shortlisted writers get the opportunity to receive mentorship from author Will Kostakis. Find out everything you need to know here, and entries close 17 August 2020.
Get ready for a YA event bender mid-month with three fantastic evenings of conversation.
On Monday 13 July, we will launch Cath Moore’s fantastic debut novel, Metal Fish, Falling Snow – a warm, funny and highly original portrait of a young girl’s search for identity and her struggle to deal with grief. This online event kicks off at 6.30pm and is free to attend. Please book here.
Then, on Tuesday 14 July, we’ll be celebrating Zana Fraillon’s epic tale, The Lost Soul Atlas. Fraillon will be joined by fellow YA author Amie Kaufman to discuss fantasy novels, writing for young people, and the new novel. This online event kicks off at 6.30pm and is free to attend. Please book here.
Finally, on Wednesday 15 July, join us online to hear Frances Chapman discuss her Ampersand award-winning YA debut, Stars Like Us. This is the story of a teenage band on the way to the top – so long as they can hold it together… Chapman will chatting about the novel with Amelia Lush. This online event kicks off at 6.30pm and is free to attend. Please book here.