The best YA books & news for July

This month we have a poetic tour de force with recipes, an Australian boy dealing with sudden deafness, an original exploration of a notorious Australian cold case, and survival thrills galore.

Find our July picks for kids' books here.



With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni loves to cook and has always dreamed of one day working as a professional chef. When a culinary arts course is offered at her high school, Emoni is naturally excited, but following her dreams is fraught with challenges. With the help of her abuela, Emoni is juggling high school and caring for her infant daughter, and they don’t have the money to cover the required trip to Spain that is part of the course.

Featuring a mature and responsible teen mother and interspersed with recipes that reflect Emoni’s Puerto Rican and African American roots, our reviewer Kim loved this ‘celebration of a rich food heritage, of family and community.’

You can read our full review here.



Impossible Music by Sean Williams

When eighteen-year-old Simon – guitarist, songwriter and passionate metalhead – experiences a minor stroke and loses his hearing, he is cut off from the thing he loves most. While still struggling with his new normal, Simon meets George, a young woman coping with her own recent deafness through tinnitus. Together the two teens find new paths, new ways of being, and a way out of isolation.

Our reviewer Mike loved this ‘smart, authentic, brilliantly executed and sometimes blackly funny story’, the first full-length foray into contemporary realism by established Australian sci-fi author Sean Williams.

You can read our full review here.


Wilder Girls by Rory Power

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put in quarantine, after the arrival of a deadly virus called ‘the Tox’. The remote Raxter Island has been cut off from the mainland and only two teachers remain. Best friends Reese, Hetty and Byatt have all been affected by the Tox; Hetty has lost her eye, Reese now has a hand with a metallic claw and Byatt has a second spine beneath her clothing. The girls band together in the struggle to survive, but when Byatt is forcibly removed by the teachers, Hetty and Reese are determined to find out deeper truths about their situation.

This unique debut dystopia impressed our reviewer Angela, who found it to be ‘a smart, well-written, survival thriller that puts female friendship at the centre of the narrative and has the reader terrified as to what will happen next.’

You can read our full review here.


All That Impossible Space by Anna Morgan

Fifteen-year-old Lara lives in the shadow of her overpowering best friend Ashley and her older sister Hannah. But when her new history teacher Mr Grant sets an assignment to investigate the very cold 1948 case of the Somerton Man (one of Adelaide’s most intriguing unsolved murders), Lara becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth. Add in new friendships, possible romance, and an increasingly mysterious teacher, and Lara has her hands full navigating Year Ten.

Blending fact and fiction, historical and contemporary narratives, this is a highly original take on toxic friendships, belonging and teacher-student dynamics.


I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall

Still traumatised from losing her mother in a car accident, Jess is sent to live in the Canadian wilderness with her survivalist off-the-grid dad. The estranged father and daughter find a way to navigate their new circumstances, but when Jess witnesses her father being murdered by shady associates, she must find a way to survive in isolation. Jess is tough and resourceful, working alongside her father’s dog Bo to develop the skills she needs, but her every decision in unforgiving conditions is crucial.

As winter approaches, and with the possiblity that her dad’s murderer may return to the cabin, the tension in this gripping diary-form novel builds.


Promise by Alexandra Alt

Fifteen-year-old Lene is growing up in Berlin during World War II. She must attend compulsory League of German Girls meetings or risk imprisonment, and is also fending off harassment by predatory Hitler Youth squad leader Kurt. Lene’s best friend and secret crush is her neighbour, Ludwig; together they listen to illegal radio broadcasts and try to decipher what lies behind Nazi propaganda. Set in two time periods, during and after the war, Lene as well as the reader, wonders what Ludwig’s fate was as an army conscript.

Our reviewer Angela highly recommends this Australian debut, saying: ‘This is an engaging novel about the horrors of living under the Nazi regime from the perspective of an ordinary German teenager.’

You can read our full review here.


Wondering what great YA is coming out in the second half of the year? We’ve put together a list of the most anticipated kids and YA books for the second half of 2019. Some YA books we’re looking forward to are the second book in Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust series, The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, Volume 2) (October) and It Sounded Better in My Head by Readings' very own erstwhile marketing manager Nina Kenwood (August). Find a full list here.

The winners of the 2019 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have been announced. The Carnegie Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. The Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal has been awarded to The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris, and the CILIP Carnegie Medal has been awarded to The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Need some fresh book recommendations? We take a look at five YA fantasy books that explore diverse mythologies, and Highway Bodies author Alison Evans champions their favourite LGBTQIA+ young adult novels.

Meet our wonderful Doncaster bookseller Sam Kelly, who runs our Middle Fiction Book Club and is an avid fan of YA fantasy. And finally, Australian author Poppy Nwosu (Making Friends With Alice Dyson) writes wonderfully about her love of anime and the benefits of celebrating small life achievements.

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

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With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High

Elizabeth Acevedo

$19.99Buy now

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