14 Books We Cannot Wait To Read

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2019 is shaping up to be an incredible bookish year, with some major releases such as The King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo and The Wicked King by Holly Black — both coming out this month! In fact, there are so many new and exciting books this month that they didn’t all make it onto this list. But, the ones that did are perfect for getting you through summer. Is anyone else eager to do some beachside reading?

If you are as excited for these books as we are, then make sure you add them to your January TBR so you can join in on the fun. Below each of us, here at The YA Room, have made a little note indicating which books we will be adding to our January TBR. Which of these books will you be reading?

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THE GILDED WOLVES

By Roshani Chokshi

GILDED

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Available January 8th 

  • Added to Shaun’s TBR
  • Added to Sarah’s TBR
  • Added to Bianca’s TBR

THE GIRL KING

By Mimi Yu

GKING

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…

Alone in the volatile court, Min’s hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

  • Added to Shaun’s TBR

Available January 8th 


THE  WICKED KING

By Holly Black

WICKED KING

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

  • Added to Bianca’s TBR

Available January 8th 


KING OF SCARS

By Leigh Bardugo

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Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Available January 29th 


THE VANISHING STAIR

By Maureen Jahnson

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All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Available January 22nd 

  • Added to Shaun’s TBR

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONLEY

By Brigid Kemmerer

A CURSE

Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Available January 29th 

  • Added to Sarah’s TBR

STAIN

By A.G. HOWARD

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Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

  • Added to Bianca’s TBR

Available January 15th 


SLAYER

By Kiersten White

SLAYER

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

Available January 8th 

  • Added to Sarah’s TBR

 


 

SHIP OF SMOKE AND STEEL

By Django Wexler

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“Fit for the big screen.” —Morgan Rhodes, NYT bestselling author of Falling Kingdoms

Ship of Smoke and Steel is the launch of a cinematic, action-packed epic fantasy trilogy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and The Legend of Korra.

In the lower wards of Kahnzoka, the great port city of the Blessed Empire, eighteen-year-old ward boss Isoka comes to collect when there’s money owing. When her ability to access the Well of Combat is discovered by the Empire—an ability she should have declared and placed at His Imperial Majesty’s service—she’s sent on an impossible mission: steal Soliton, a legendary ghost ship—a ship from which no one has ever returned. If she fails, her sister’s life is forfeit.

“Truly epic, fierce, and exhilarating, Ship of Smoke and Steel will capture you and lock you away. With magical combat sequences fit for the big screen, the action is almost as breathtaking as the intrigue.” —Morgan Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of the Falling Kingdoms series

Available January 22th 


CIRCLE OF SHADOWS

BY Evelyn Skye

DHAOWS

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Available January 22nd


ECHO NORTH

By Joanna Ruth Meyer

NORTH

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart after her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an offer: for her to come and live with him for a year. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, Echo discovers centuries-old secrets, a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up—otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.

Available January 15th


WHITE STAG

By Kara Baraieri

STAGE

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

  • Added to Bianca’s TBR

Available January 8th 


TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET 

By Karen M. McManus

TWO CAN

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Available January 8th 

  • Added to Sarah’s TBR

THE KINGDOM OF COPPER

By S.A. Chakraborty

copper

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid-the unpredictable water spirits-have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Available January 29th 

  • Added to Shaun’s TBR

 

Rainbow

Happy reading from all of us at The YA Room

XOX

11 Books We Cannot Wait to Read

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The best gift for Christmas has to a be a book … or two, or three!

Gosh, I cannot believe it is December! Is anyone else shocked that Christmas is almost upon us? Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, minus the Christmas carols (shiver). I have always dreamt of a white Christmas, as corny and cliché as that sounds. I would love to be in Sweden or Canada, spending my nights snuggled up in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate, next to a simmering fire as I read a book. Instead, I will be working right up to Christmas day this year. I hate adulting.

This year has gone past so fast. Sadly, I have not completed my Goodreads goal of reading 100 books. Hopefully, you have had more luck. But, I am proud of how much of my TBR I have managed to get through. Although, once more, with the beginning of a new month that TBR list is about to get a lot bigger. Some of my favourites this month include Once A King and Evermore. I hope you enjoy all these amazing books. And have a very merry Christmas.Read More »

Favourite YA Asian Heroines

Without the protagonist, there is no story, so it’s important you find a good one. You want someone you can cheer for, someone whose story is going to make you laugh and make you cry, someone you can embark on an adventure with. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite Asian heroines in YA literature–inspired by my recent read of Girls of Paper and Fire–whom I’ve followed through thick and thin! I hope it helps you find your new favourite character!

Lei

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I couldn’t start this post without including the protagonist from our November book! I absolutely loved Lei. She made a fantastic heroine by being incredibly strong and brave throughout her ordeal of being a Paper Girl–a concubine of the Demon King. What I loved most about Lei was the way she always attempted to make a joke to keep the other girls’ spirits up when things got bad. Her blossoming romance with one of the other Paper Girls was so swoon-worthy, and I was completely invested in Lei’s story–and her beautiful Asian-inspired fantasy world–from page one.Read More »

Throwback Month

It’s finally here! Say hello to Throwback Month – AKA the month we get to reread all our trashy faves and gush about them! It’s okay, we know you love them, even though you’re still pretending you’re over your The Fault in Our Stars phase. We’ve all been there.

Join us this month to read some of the best (and worst) YA novels published before 2013 and relive a simpler time. A time before the trashfire of a movie Allegiant came out (well, half of it, at least). A time before Instagram’s algorithm wrecked havoc on our bookstagram likes. A time where our biggest memes were Nyan Cat and Grumpy Cat. I wonder how those cats are doing.

Anyway! We hope you’ll be participating by reading some older YA novels and attempting to complete a line of the #ThrowbackBingo board! Don’t forget to check out this post to find out the rules and to hear about all the prizes up for grabs. Exciting!

Today we’ll be sharing the books we’re planning on reading this month in case you need a little bit more inspiration. But it’s pretty simple. If the book you want to read is generally counted as YA (and yes, we’re counting all the Harry Potter books as YA) and it was published before 2013, you can read it for this challenge!Read More »

YA Day 2019

YA Day is back in 2019! We’re thrilled to announce that the event will take place on Saturday 9th February from 10am – 4pm at the Wheeler Centre, in partnership with Writers Victoria. With five epic panels and fifteen incredible authors, it’s going to be an unmissable day.

Book your tickets here.

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From the queen of creeps, Sarah Epstein, the fantastic Fleur Ferris, and Adult and YA author Anna Snoekstra, find out how to give readers nightmares in the best possible way.

IMG_2926 Sarah Epstein is an author, illustrator and designer who grew up in suburban Sydney and now lives in Melbourne with her husband, two sons and a doggo called Luna.

After achieving a design degree and enjoying a 25-year graphic design career, Sarah returned to her first loves of writing and illustrating. Her debut novel Small Spaces, a YA psychological thriller, was shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Book Prize.


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Fleur Ferris spent sixteen years working in Police and Ambulance Services in Victoria and South Australia before her debut, Risk, was published by Penguin Random House Australia in 2015. Risk was nominated and won numerous awards, was published internationally and became an Australian Top 10 Bestseller. Risk was adapted to stage by a secondary school in Sweden and that adaptation, Risk: the play, is licensed and available to schools and drama clubs. Fleur’s second book, Black, came out in 2016 and quickly became Australia’s number one bestselling YA “new release” of 2016 and was optioned for film. Wreck, Fleur’s third crime thriller for young adults, was released in 2017. Found, another action thriller, will be released in July, 2018. Fleur has recently undertaken studies in screenwriting, is co-writing the screenplay adaptation of Black and is working on her next novel which will be released in July 2019.


IMG_2923Anna Snoekstra was born in Canberra, Australia to two civil servants. At the age of seventeen, she decided to avoid a full-time job and a steady wage to move to Melbourne and become a writer. She studied Creative Writing and Cinema at The University of Melbourne, followed by Screenwriting at RMIT University.

After finishing university, Anna wrote for independent films and fringe theatre and directed music videos. During this time, she worked as a cheesemonger, a waitress, a Christmas elf, a nanny, a receptionist, a cinema attendant and a film reviewer.

Anna now writes novels, teaches storytelling at RMIT University and Co-ordinates the Write Club at 100 Story Building. Her non-fiction has appeared in The Guardian, Filmme Fatales and she is a regular contributor to Lindsay. Her first novel Only Daughter was released in 2016, and is currently in the works to be turned into a feature film with Universal Pictures. Her second, the acclaimed Little Secrets, was released in 2017. Her first novel for Young Adults, the best selling Mercy Point, is out now.Read More »

Throwback Bingo Challenge

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost at the end of 2018! But before we bid this year adieu, we want to celebrate surviving the last 11 months by doing a bit of fun reading with all of you. Last year, we had #LoveOzYA Month – which was heaps of fun – and so this year we wanted to do something equally exciting!

Say hello to Throwback Month! That’s right! We’re going to be rereading some of our favourite YA novels and reminiscing about what we read years ago. Remember the days of The Hunger Games and Divergent and Twilight? The days where we all fangirled over the movie release of City of Bones and cried over the ending of Allegiant? We’re going to be experiencing those feels all over again next month during Throwback Month!

Whether you read those novels as a teen or if you’ve never read them before, we hope you’ll join us for our month of fun. There’s going to be a bingo challenge, and virtual viewing parties, as well as special content! We’re super excited about Throwback Month, but today we’d like to introduce the main element of the month – the bingo challenge!

If you’ve participated in a bingo challenge before, you’ll probably know how this works. But for those of you that haven’t, please scroll down to check out the rules. There are also prizes to be won, so make sure you get involved!Read More »

RECAP: ASK ABOUT… YA PUBLISHING EVENT

Do you drink coffee or tea?

Take a moment to think about it. No pressure, but this could be the question that defines your writing career. Well, perhaps I am being just a tad bit dramatic, but it is an important question. And it was a great way to start a fantastic night! I, for one, am a coffee drinker. I cannot get enough of it. Nectar from the gods, I call it. Without it, I literally cannot function. And it seems that Michelle Madden (Commissioning Editor at Penguin Radom House) agrees with me… Unlike Shivaun Plozza (author of Frankie and Tin Heart), who has never touched the stuff. Perhaps that is the secret to being a successful writer. If so, I don’t think I am cut out to be an author — I am just not ready for that level of commitment. Now, with that out of the way, lets begin…

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If you were unable to attend this event, then allow me to enlighten you on some words of wisdom from our two leading ladies:

 “You don’t want to overdo it, you can destroy an idea and over edit.” – Michelle on how you know your manuscript is done.

Tell me about it, I don’t know about you guys but I have a nasty habit of continually editing my work, freaking out about every little detail. Its exhausting. I think I just need to calm down and drink more coffee.

 “Be wary of giving your manuscript to family to read for feedback. You have to live with them!”

“You want feedback to be negative. Then you can act on it.”

I could have done with these words of advice years ago. I always give my latest WIP (work in progress) to my mother, asking for her opinion. Last time, she told me that she loved every single word. Like, how is that even possible? There has to be something wrong with it. But when I pushed her for some constructive feedback she just told me she couldn’t possible dislike anything I write. Love you mum, but gosh… not helpful lol.

That reminds me, if you guys are in this position too (using your mum as your go to reader) perhaps try joining a writers group. A little bird told me it is a fantastic way to get constructive feedback.

And one final quote for all you aspiring authors:

“Be aware that any feedback you receive from an agent or publisher is an enormous compliment, even if it’s a rejection.” – Michelle

No matter how hard it gets, no matter how many times you get rejected, never give up! All of us, at the YA Room, cannot wait to see your debut book in local book store, libraries and on our bookshelves.

A big thank you to everyone who came to the Ask About…YA Publishing Event, we had an absolute blast learning from two industry professionals, Shivaun Plozza and Michelle Madden. There was a lot to learn from these two amazing women. I hope all of those who attended this event left inspired, to either finish their latest WIP or send a query letter off to a agent in order to get their first book published!

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Happy writing from all of us at The YA Room

Highway Bodies | COVER REVEAL

It’s finally time to reveal the stunning cover for Highway Bodies! It’s been so hard keeping how gorgeous this cover is a secret, but finally you can all feast your eyes upon it! We’re so excited to get a copy of Highway Bodies, and devour it, and then put in on our shelves along with Ida – and every other book that Alison blesses the world with!

Congrats again, Alison! We’re so happy for you and we can’t wait for Highway Bodies to be out in the world. Everyone, make sure you go ahead and preorder your copy so you can read it as soon as it’s out!

Highway Bodies hi res

Bodies on the TV, explosions, barriers, and people fleeing. No access to social media. And a dad who’ll suddenly bite your head off – literally. These teens have to learn a new resilience…

Members of a band wield weapons instead of instruments. 

A pair of siblings find there’s only so much you can joke about, when the menace is this strong.

And a couple find depth among the chaos.

Highway Bodies is a unique zombie apocalypse story featuring a range of queer and gender non-conforming teens who have lost their families and friends and can only rely upon each other.

Preorder your copy:

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Read More »

Highway Bodies | Alison Evans

This Friday, we’re lucky enough to be revealing the cover for Alison Evans’ Highway Bodies! We’ve been dying to read it ever since it was announced – not only because Ida was our first ever Book of the Month, but because it’s a book we’ll never stop recommending it!

We’re thrilled to be a part of this cover reveal and get y’all excited about this awesome 2019 release. Can Highway Bodies just be out already?! But in the meantime, we have a Pinterest and a playlist to share with you that encapsulates all the atmosphere and vibes of this novel. And who doesn’t want a queer Aussie zombie book on their TBR?!

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This or That? with Alison Evans

Tea or coffee? Coffee.

City or country? City.

Paperbacks or hardbacks? Paperbacks.

Write in the morning or write at night? Morning.

Binge-watch or pace yourself? Binge.

Instagram or Twitter? Twitter.

Spring, summer, autumn, or winter? Spring.

Cats or dogs? Cats.Read More »

5 YA Books That Include Epic Sea Adventures!

I adore books that take me out into the open waters. I love pirates, sea dragons, mermaids and epic ship battle. I love treasure hunts and hidden islands -— stories that let me feel the wind in my hair and survey a vast, uncharted sea.

It is not just the open water that gets me excited, but the strong women who command them. Protagonists like Lysandra from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, who is capable of transforming into a monstrous sea dragon and wreaking havoc upon unsuspecting battleships. There is something about a leading lady and a piratey adventure that gets me super excited. But then again, I am a huge fan of Pirates of the Caribbean (the first three movies at least, the others don’t exist in my opinion).

The books below are not solely set at sea or focused around living your best pirate life, but they do include some of the funnest and most epic sea adventures I have read to date.

Oh, and I should warn you… SPOILERS ahead. Turn back now and find a quiet place to read, if you don’t want any plot points ruined.

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

I am a huge fan of fantasy books. I find it very difficult to read contemporary as they, more often than not, put me in a book slump. When I found out that The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy was going to be our Book of the Month, I was quietly biting nails. But this book took me by surprise. It dazzled me with beautiful prose, it caught me off guard with its loveable characters, all the while swirling me around in a rich, vibrant world full of pirates and sea dragons. That is right, sea dragons!

It isn’t just the magical elements that made me fall in love with this book, but the relatable characters. Felicity is such a refreshing protagonist (although, with a tendency to rant all too often). She knows what she wants, and she is not prepared to let anyone tell her that she cannot achieve her goals. What I love most about Felicity is her character growth. She is so strong-minded, and opinionated that she cannot see past her own nose. She views petticoats, high heels and make-up as a form of weaknesses. And because of this, she cannot bring herself to accept Johanna as an equal. Johanna is everything that Felicity has convinced herself is counterproductive to achieve her life long dream. So, it is fair to say I love the interactions between these two characters, and the conflict that ensues. That moment when Johanna finally gives Felicity a healthy dose of reality… priceless!


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Truthwitch

Windwitch has a great dynamic between its leading ladies. Stafi is hot-headed and ready to start a fight, where as Iseult is clam and calculated. With these two, there is never a dull moment. Stafi and Iseult go head to head with empresses, princes and witches alike, all the while on a pirate-like-adventure. Susan Dennard keeps the plot fast-paced and action heavy. Which is great if you are like me and have been stuck in a book slump. Beware, you may fall in love with a certain steamy captain. I certainly did. And if that isn’t enough, add warring kingdoms, deadly curses, and an epic battle with sea foxes! This book has everything you will need to cure that inevitable book hangover awaiting you after reading, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy.


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Crown of Embers

The Girl of Fire and Thorns series is one of my most beloved YA books, EVER! Why? Because it is breathtaking. The main character, Elisa, is my favourite female protagonist. At the beginning of the first book, Elisa is married of as a political pawn to a far away kingdom. Book to book, you really get to see her grow as a character, as she gains confidence and strength in her own abilities. She is such a dynamic character, who is constantly self reflecting, learning from her mistakes and actively trying to improve on them. She isn’t strong because she is a master warrior with a hot temper; she is strong because she is intelligent and thoughtful. And that is such a welcome and refreshing change from your typical YA characters.  So if you are after magic, betrayal, combat and one hell of a sailing scene, then this is the book for you.


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Siege and Storm

I love anything written by Leigh Bardugo, all her characters are absolutely amazing. Every book she writes in the Grisha worlds is an action packed adventure. The Grisha books are such a fantastic series. Although, I know this might be a bit of a controversial choice as I am aware there is a lot of hate for these books. But if you are like me and you love fantasy books that involve mythical creatures, magic and one hell of a villain then you will throughly enjoy this series. And what is not to love, when Alina’s journey takes her to the Bone Road, a deadly iceberg filled passage that is home to an ice dragon.


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Monstress, Vol 2: The Blood

Okay, this choice is a kind of cheating, because it isn’t technically a Young Adult book. Instead, it is an incredibly well-written and beautiful illustrated graphic novel. I am personally guilty of not reading many graphic novels. Honestly, I considered them to be a little childish. I was so wrong! The story contained within these pages is one of my favourites to date – graphic novel or not.

In the second volume, our protagonist Maika Halfwolf enters the pirate city of Tyria. Where she then ventures out onto the open sea in search of the Isle of Bones. Here, she is not confronted by a sea dragon, as seen in so many other books, but sirens, sea ghouls and all sorts of ghastly creatures.

Maika is such a unique character. She can be brutal and cruel, but given her upbringing, I forgive her. I adore the conflict she has with the creature living inside her, and the grotesque things it makes her do. Mostly, I love that Maika isn’t wholly fearless, she’s flawed down to her very bones, but in spite of all her short-comings she is still a strong and determined woman.

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Happy Reading!

Shaun XOX