YA books, events & news for November
We go to strange new worlds in this month’s YA offerings: into the skies, other dimensions, famous cemeteries and places between life and death.
Find our November picks for kids books here.
YA BOOK OF THE MONTH
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos (translated by Hildegarde Serle)
The world has been affected by the cataclysmic Rupture, and now exists as a collection of floating Arks, each overseen by an immortal being and housing families that specialise in a distinct supernatural skill. Ophelia lives on the Anima ark, practising her talent for reading the history of objects through touch. When she becomes unwillingly betrothed to a stranger from a polar Ark, she is forced to travel to cold and unwelcoming climes, and plunged into a hostile political environment.
The first in a fantasy series, A Winter’s Promise is already a bestseller in France and the winner of the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. It has only just been released in English for the first time. Our reviewer Kim revelled in this otherworldly novel, saying: ‘This richly imagined, enthralling fantasy is packed with intrigue.’ For ages 12 and up.
You can read Kim’s full review here.
YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
The Rift by Rachael Craw
Meg Archer has returned to her childhood home of Black Water Island, nine years after leaving in the wake of an accident involving herself and her best friend Cal. The Island is home to the Rift, doorway to another dimension, the fearsome Rift Hounds, the sacred deer with healing properties, and the Rangers, protectors of the deer. Tensions are high between the Rangers and the mainland Hunters, and Meg and Cal must recover memories and delve into the history and mythology of the island in order to discover the roles they have to play.
Our reviewer Clodagh describes this novel as an ‘intelligent, self-aware narrative that knows when to laugh at itself’, and says it will appeal to fans of Laini Taylor and Sarah J. Maas. For ages 14 and up.
You can read Clodagh’s full review here.
Wraith by Shane & Alex Smithers
James can fly – just not very well yet. His friend Darren helps him work on his technique, but after a mishap with a flying machine James finds himself in Nebulosity, an incredible city in the clouds where the Azuriens live. He meets Azurien girl Aureole and is drawn into the hunt for the SAFFIRE, a technology that will help protect Nebulosity from climate change. But James and Aureole aren’t the only people searching for SAFFIRE… Three criminals have broken out of prison on the same mission and with a series of James Bond-worthy cars and gadgets at their disposal, the race is on.
Wraith is a highly entertaining, uniquely Australian superhero story packed with plot twists, exciting technology, witty banter and villains that are equal parts comic and dangerous. James is a proud Darug boy (echoing the heritage of co-author Shane Smithers) and the action alternates between the mean suburban streets of Adelaide and the skies. For ages 11 and up.
Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery by Mary Amato
Contemporary teen Lacy Brink is interred in Westminster Cemetery – the famed burial place of Edgar Allen Poe and home to ancient residents who operate by some very strict codes of etiquette and punishments. Nobody new has been interred for over a century, so Lacy’s arrival causes a stir, especially with Sam (a teen soldier who died over 150 years ago) and his influential and strait-laced mother Mrs Steele. Trying to prove herself as new head of the Entertainment Committee, Lacy starts up an open mic night, but runs the risk of transgressing the rules and being ‘suppressed’.
Our reviewer Timothy enjoyed this darkly comic fish-out-water tale: ‘An impressive combination of a novel and a play, this book unravels the vast emotions we would all have in the wake of an untimely death, but with the added complications of being confined to a graveyard society in which residents simply cannot express emotion.’ For ages 13 and up.
You can read Timothy’s full review here.
Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Five old school friends gather to celebrate a birthday, reuniting a year after the sixth member of their group, Jim, died. Narrator Beatrice was Jim’s girlfriend, and she has some questions about where Kipling, Whitley, Cannon, and Martha really were on the night of Jim’s death. A late-night car accident sees the friends thrust into a strange encounter with the Keeper, who informs they are trapped in the Neverworld Wake, a liminal place between life and death. The friends must vote on who must die, so that the other four can be released.
Our reviewer Cindy elaborates: ‘In this version of purgatory, secrets come out and, with them, a last chance at answers. Neverworld Wake challenges reality and the idea of linear time in a thriller mystery.’ For ages 14 and up.
You can read Cindy’s full review here.
The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius (translated by Peter Graves)
Sally Jones is a gorilla who can understand human speech, play chess and write. She works as a mechanical engineer on the Hudson Queen cargo ship with her best friend Chief (Captain Koskela), but when the Chief is wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of Alphonse Morro, Sally is swept up in a European adventure full of mysteries and perils. In Lisbon Sally befriends singer Ana and her landlord Luigi, and they help her piece together clues to prove Chief’s innocence. Sally proves herself to be patient, persistent, loyal, brave and very good at making friends.
Originally published (and lauded) in Sweden, set in the early twentieth century, and purportedly written by the wonderful Sally Jones on a typewriter, this is a quirky and heartfelt read with beautiful cast and chapter heading illustrations. For ages 12 and up.
YA BOOK NEWS
The shortlists for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were recently announced, and a special congratulations goes to the authors on the Young Adult shortlist:
- Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren
- My Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke
- Ruben by Bruce Whatley
- The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon
- This is My Song by Richard Yaxley
Our Teen Advisory Board continues its literary activities this month with a visit from debut author Katya de Becerra, author of What The Woods Keep, and board member Ngaire wrote a terrific blog post about why she wants to see more authentic depictions of feminism in contemporary YA literature – read more here.
We occasionally get adult book club members requesting some YA recommendations for their clubs, and to be honest, we’d love to see more book clubs consider adding YA fiction to their roster! To help, we’ve put together a list of recommendations with crossover appeal.
And if you’re interested in some suggestions for books that look at mental health for teens, look no further than our recent picks for Mental Health Awareness Week.
HEAR FROM AN AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR
We’re so pleased this month to have award-winning author Karen Foxlee visiting us to discuss her latest novel. Lenny’s Book of Everything is one of those very special and semi-magical stories that are suitable for all ages, including teens. Join us at our Hawthorn shop at 6.30pm on Thursday 15 November to hear Foxlee in conversation with Readings’ own Mike Shuttleworth.
This event is free, but please book here.