My Best Books of the Year-2018 part two

The teen/YA book market continues to grow from strength to strength. This year was outstanding! Again, there were offerings from new authors and publishers, and old familiar friends who have set the mark in quality, expanded on topics and issues of interest to this reading group and brought to book new ways of looking at time-honoured concepts.
Here are my favourites in the teen/YA section:

author: Laura Weymouth
Chicken House Publishers (1 November 2018)
ISBN: 9781911490036
This book just blew me away. At first, you will see distinct parallels between this and the Narnia books, but there is so much in this beautiful tale of 3 siblings transported to another land while sheltering during the blitz. In fear, Evelyn wishes to be 'anywhere but here.' Her wish is granted and they spend years in the Woodlands. But on their return, Evelyn has trouble adjusting to her 'normal life' and longs to return. This is a sibling love story,; a story of struggling to be accepted for who you really are and finding your place in the world.The fantasy element exposes the reality of coming-of-age and the heart-breaking face of severe depression. Exceptional world-building, beautiful, lyrical writing and heart-felt dialogue.

author: Brian Conaghan
Bloomsbury YA (14 June 2018)
ISBN: 9781408871539
Conaghan has surpassed himself in giving us a novel that is filled with tension, humanity and a delicate, but insuppressible sense of humour. Bobby Seed has been watching MS steal his mother from him for a long time; since before her official diagnosis. He cares for both her and his younger brother and keeping it all together. But the weight of it all is enormous. Now, he is being asked to do something that he should never have to face. Courageous, uncomfortable, compelling...this is a masterpiece in observation and emotion.

author: Cath Crowley
Hodder Childrens Books (5 April 2018)
ISBN: 9781444907896
Rachel and Henry were the best of friends.She loved his familys' bookshop and the comfortable and easy way Henry had about him. In fact, Rachel had a crush on Henry, something he never seemed to see. The night before she moved away, Rachel left a note for him in his favourite book; on the page of his favourite poem. She waited for Henry...but he never came. This is an utterly beautiful book. Set in and around a wonderful bookshop with its' Letter Library holding much of the storys' content, it has a glowing emotional punch. And it is charming, compelling and filled with the joy and pain of real life. Especially for fans of John Green and Jandy Nelson.

author: Siobhan Curham
Walker Books (2 August 2018)
ISBN: 9781406379235
The story of 14-year-old Stevie, living with her chronically depressed mother and her friendship with Hafiz, a refugee who has left behind his family in Syria, seeking safety in the UK and having to cope with overt racism on his own. A sincere and heartfelt book, Don't Stop... deals with the difficult and timely issues of racism, the Syrian refugee crisis and depression. It pulls no punches, handling the issues with great understanding and sensitivity, but also with pinpoint accuracy. At the core of the story, it is about friendship, empathy and belonging. While in other hands, this could make for a very heavy, depressing read, Curham has injected this story with hope and promise.Thoughtful, expressive and joyful. The road to happiness is not as far away as you might think.

author: NIcky Singer
Hodder Childrens Books (26 July 2018)
ISBN: 9781444944525
Severe drought and climate change has turned the planet into a desert wasteland, with very few places left where anyone has a real chance of survival. Mhairi Anne Bain is trying to make it home to a remote island in Scotland with only two possessions to her name; her identity papers and a gun with no bullets. Along the way, she comes across a young boy with no voice and no one to speak for him. This book stands apart in the canon of young adult dystopian literature. Incisive, gripping, filled with suspense and desperation; it also shows plainly that single act of kindness, born of conscience and concern might  be the very thing to make a world of difference. Stunning.

author: Lydia Day Penaflor
Bloomsbury YA (31 May 2018)
ISBN: 9781408890936
Told in a series of interviews and journal entries, this is a chilling fictitious scandal with all sensationalism of the real thing. As the author moves seamlessly from narrator to narrator, the plot twists and turns, pulling the reader into a psychological examination of the effects of 'fan fever'. he characters are tangible and very human...we have all seen people like them, perhaps we are them. With issues of class divide, privilege, trust and betrayal, this book is a surprisingly addictive read, constantly questioning perspective. The emotional impact is shattering. A disturbing, edgy, riveting view of teen culture and obsession, this is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat read.

author: Susin Neilsen
Andersen Press (4 October 2018)
ISBN: 9781783447213
Felix Knutson lives with his free-spirited, artist mother and pet hamster, Horatio. He's funny, very smart, memorises all kinds of facts and trivia and is nearly 13 years old. Everything is fairly normal in Felixs' life. Apart from one secret Felix MUST not let slip...they live in a van. His mother can't seem to keep any job going for more than a week or two, her depression overwhelms her and winter is coming. Then, Felix comes up with a plan that just might get them out of their situation. A beautiful book; fascinating, funny, empathetic, timely and truly gripping.

author: Leslye Walton
Walker Books (6 September 2018)
ISBN: 9781406373509
Nor Blackburn wants to live the life of a normal teenage girl; commonplace, unexceptional; escaping the inherited abilities of the Blackburn women. She has reason to believe she may have done just that, until the arrival of a newly published book; The Price Guide to the Occult. Written by Nors'  beautiful, ultimately cruel mother, from whom Nor has been estranged since early childhood; Fern the book promises to cast any spell...for the right price. These are abilities far beyond Ferns' reach and they cost a horrific price. And now Fern is coming...she's coming for Nor. Fluid, hypnotic with vivid descriptions of time and place; it fills the senses with sights, scents and sounds. Breath-taking, absorbing, evocative and thought-provoking; a horror story to haunt your dreams.

author: Tom Pollock
Walker Books (3 May 2018)
ISBN: 9781406378177
 "This story is a lie." Everything about it is a lie; a bad, dark, conspiratorial lie acted out through the life of 17-year-old Peter Blankman; a mathematical genius, prone to analyse everything around him in terms of statistics and probability and suffering from mental illness, severe panic attacks and self-destructive behaviours. When his mother is brutally attacked and stabbed at an awards ceremony held in her honour and his sister Bel vanishes, Peter is plunged into a world where violence, espionage and state and family secrets merge into one. With magnificent pacing and imagination, this book is a roller-coaster ride of a thriller. With a shocking,turbulent conclusion, this is a "spy novel" with a real difference. Powerful riveting and incredibly gripping.

author: Jason Reynolds
Knights Of... (4 October 2018)
ISBN: 9781999642532
This is truly a book for everyone. Written as a poem, it is a letter for anyone who has ever had a dream; an that inspires you to dig deeper, try harder, be successful. It challenges you to think beyond what is expected. A love letter that gives hope and excitement, especially when times are tough. Dreams take time; they require struggle. But simply having the dream is the start. Take that leap of faith! Sublimely written...this is a wonderful gift for everyone.

Stayed tuned for part three, where I show you the best picture books of 2018; in my opinion.


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