I am very happy to finally be able to reveal the June titles for the UKYA Book Club, launching this month! The UKYA Book Club will run every month with two titles – one voted for by YOU, and the other chosen separately.
This month both titles were chosen on the UKYA Facebook page – you can join here to be able to vote for next month’s choice, and to join in with the bookish conversation.
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave
The Girl of Ink and Stars tells the story of Isabella, a young girl and mapmaker’s daughter who is forbidden to leave the island she lives on. When her friend goes missing, she offers to lead the search. Equipped with the maps that her father made, Isabella enters the Forgotten Territories to find a wasteland full of monsters and a legendary fire demon. Isabella discovers that her journey may lead her to unexpected places and to saving the island itself.
It’s had rave reviews so far, and was even chosen as the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month for May. This is a title I am very excited to read!
The Next Together by Lauren James
Katherine and Matthew have a love that could last centuries… literally. Brought back again and again throughout the ages, they are destined to change history and also to fall in love. However, their love is also destined to end tragically. Set in the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle, as well as 2019 and 2039 England, Katherine and Matthew have no idea why they keep coming back, but they hope that the next together will be different…
The Next Together was one of my favourite books of 2015 and so I am extremely excited to re-read it again in June for the book club. It’s incredibly engaging and I fell in love with the characters immediately. It’s also perfect to read this month as a prequel novella, Another Together, is being released, so it gives you the opportunity to read both back to back.
You can follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #readukya, as well as joining in with conversation on the UKYA Facebook group. Everyone is welcome to join in – the more, the merrier!
There will also be activities running throughout the month on YouTube, this blog, and Twitter. Stay tuned for competitions, chats and more!
Will you be joining in with us in June? How excited are you to read both titles, and have you read either already?
2015 was such an amazing year for UKYA releases and I feel very lucky to have been able to read lots and lots of them. If 2015 was such a brilliant year, I can’t wait to see what 2016 will be like!
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
In Seed, Lisa Heathfield creates a beautiful but dangerous world where the people are ruled by the enigmatic Papa S. Although Pearl loves the life she leads, worshipping both Nature and Papa S, when a new family join the community Pearl begins to realise that the cult society she lives in isn’t idyllic after all.
I loved Seed because of how creepy it felt because you know that Pearl is being brainwashed into loving her life so much. Lisa Heathfield is perfect at making the setting come to life and whilst you do want to scream at Pearl at times and tell her to RUN, you’re also rooting for her and wishing that she’d shake off the chains that Seed has enforced on her.
Counting Stars by Keris Stainton
One of my favourite books of 2015 out of the 100+ I read, Counting Stars caters for an older YA audience. Dealing with flat sharing, friendship and exploring sexuality, it feels as if you are part of the novel when you read it and it is definitely one of Keris’s best novels yet.
I especially enjoyed how modern it felt: one of the main characters, Anna, has her own YouTube channel and it’s not often, surprisingly, that we see huge parts of the novel revolving around Internet life. Keris has written it in particularly well by including transcripts from Anna’s videos. Major LOVE!
The Next Together by Lauren James
Lauren James is one of the UKYA community’s best new talents and The Next Together showcases just how exceptionally she can write. The Next Together tells the story of Katherine and Matthew who are reincarnated throughout the ages and in each life they are destined to fall in love. However, their love tragically ends in each time landscape, despite it also changing the course of history.
Whilst I love historical fiction, it’s not always greatly welcomed but one of the things that Lauren James does best is to mix history with science and romance to create a book that will have you gripped from page one. I became so invested in Katherine and Matthew’s story as it progressed throughout the ages that I found it impossible to put down and I know that many others have felt exactly the same way as I did.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
The fantasy novels I love the most all have a feel of medieval society to them and The Sin Eater’s Daughter definitely delivered on this point. You have a castle, peasants… and also a girl who can kill with a single touch.
Melinda Salisbury has imagined a world in which the reader can delve right into the events and feel as if they are a part of them. Twylla, the main character, is so whole and authentic – she has an equal amount of strengths and weaknesses, just as we all do. I’d like to see more protagonists like Twylla in the future, when authors aren’t afraid to show their characters’ flaws.
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
Holly Bourne is an extremely talented writer and her latest book, Am I Normal Yet?, demonstrates that. Am I Normal Yet? is the first in a trilogy and is narrated by Evie, a teen with OCD and anxiety. Evie is trying to get off her medication and lead a “normal” life, whilst navigating the troubles of college and relationships.
The BEST part of Am I Normal Yet?, however, is that Evie and her friends set up their own Spinster Club, where they discuss feminist issues and these were my favourite parts of the book. I would LOVE to be a part of it! It makes me incredibly happy that teenagers will be reading Am I Normal Yet? and following their own feminist path. It’s incredibly empowering!
Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow
I don’t think the YA world has quite seen a book like Crow Moon before, which is a massive shame. It’s both racially and religiously diverse and I don’t think we see enough religious diversity in YA at all – something that definitely needs rectifying! Set in a futuristic world where oil reserves have dwindled, Devon and Cornwall have set themselves apart from the rest of the UK – the Greenworld. The rest of the UK is filled with gangs and is desperate to find a new power source to run the world on.
Crow Moon is teeming with characters that I adore (SABA!) and would like to be, and is also my favourite UKYA book of the year, perhaps my favourite book of the year, full stop. With climate change being a hot topic at the moment (as it should be!), Crow Moon is very relevant and will make readers think about the world we live in.
In the wider book industry, female authors often get overlooked so it is super important to support them as much as possible. I thought I would compile a list of some of my favourite female authors today. They all write books that feature either feminism or female characters who stand out as being realistic and passionate.
Louise O’Neill – Only Ever Yours and Asking For It
Louise is one of the biggest YA talents out there at the moment and with the recent announcement that she’s been signed to write two adult books for Quercus, I’m really excited to read her future books. Only Ever Yours has earned Louise comparisons to the likes of Margaret Atwood, which is no mean feat, and it is set in a dystopian future where girls are genetically engineered to be perfect. They are then raised to please the men of this fictional world, which leads you to question our own society and just how far away the world in Only Ever Yours is from ours.
Asking For it deals with the subject of rape and consent. It’s extremely harrowing and a must-read for people of all ages. It draws attention to what it’s like to be a woman in the digital age and, although I didn’t love every second of reading it, I came away knowing just how important the book is.
Holly Bourne – Soulmates, The Manifesto On How to Be Interesting, Am I Normal Yet?
I read Soulmates a few years ago and fell in love with it. Each page gripped me and I couldn’t put it down. Since then, I’ve become a huge fan of Holly’s and she is one of the loveliest people you could wish to meet. It makes me very happy to see her books doing so well!
The book that I could talk all day about is Am I Normal Yet?. The first in a new series, it tells the story of a girl recovering from OCD and anxiety, and her journey as she tries to fit in and be “normal”. The best part of it for me was the feminist group that Evie and her two friends set up. It allows younger readers to test the waters of feminism without it being forced on them and it’s a book that I’ll be recommending to everyone. Continue Reading
I’m incredibly excited to be able to reveal the cover of Lauren James’s debut novel, The Next Together today, and also allow you a sneak peek of the prologue!
Part 1 of the exclusive extract from The Next Together by Lauren James
The last time they were together, it was late evening and they were being followed.
“It’s happening again,” Kate said, and immediately regretted it. Matthew didn’t reply, only squeezed her hand a little tighter, following behind where she led him. She knew what it meant. They were going to die.
They ran. Kate tried to be quiet, but her breath sounded dangerously loud in the silence and as heavy as her heartbeat pounding in her ears. Matthew pressed a palm against the small of her back, urging her on.
She could hear footsteps behind them, growing faster and faster, gaining on them. They turned a corner and ducked into a room. Matthew locked the door behind them with trembling fingers.
They stared at each other, listening for the sound of their pursuers. For a moment there was silence. They had a few minutes, but that was all. They were going to be found; it was just a matter of whether they could finish their task first.
“Next time, we’re moving somewhere hot and quiet before any of this happens,” she declared resolutely.
“I like Spain,” Matthew agreed and pulled her into one last, slightly desperate kiss.
The Next Together publishes in September 2015 (Walker Books) and can be pre-ordered now.
About The Next Together
How many times can you lose the one you love?
For Matthew and Katherine it is again and again, over and over, century after century. Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. But why do they keep coming back? How many times must they die to save the world? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different…
About the author Lauren James
Lauren James is a scientist by day, writer by early hours of the morning. She graduated in 2014 with a Masters degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She now lives in the village of Berkswell, West Midlands. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, which she mainly uses to fancast actors as her characters and panics about all of the overly ambitious plans she has for her PhD, or her website at http://lauren-e-james.tumblr.com.