Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Bookseller: YA Book Prize shortlist!

On Thursday (the 10th) The Bookseller announced the 2016 YA Book Prize. As the YA Book Prize focuses  mainly on UKYA books, I feel that this is massively in my interests to promote it, so I thought I'd do a fairly simple post with details of the books and my thoughts on them.

I think it says something about my taste in books (or just how many books I buy) that I have a copy of almost every single book on this shortlist and have read six of the ten titles listed. 

All book covers and synopses are from Goodreads

Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love? 

 I am so, so glad that this is on the list. I adored this books since I first heard of the concept of it. It is an absolutely hard-hittingly accurate look at OCD and mental health, while still managing to be sensitive, funny and incredibly enjoyable to read. Holly Bourne manages to do all this beautifully, while still finding time to fit in strong messages of feminism. 

If you want to see my review of Am I Normal Yet? you can find it here. I'm hoping to review the second book in the series when I have time to fit it into my schedule. 

One by Sarah Crossan 

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

Another absolutely beautiful book, One is poetic, poignant and will make you cry like a baby. With the whole book written in a kind of Prose Poetic style, this book has been one of the most beautiful piece of writing I have ever read. It definitely deserves it's place on this list. 

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham 

Three women - three secrets - one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can't reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie's grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and 'capable of anything', despite suffering from Alzheimers. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is 'badness' genetic? In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love. Funny, sad, honest and wise, Unbecoming is a celebration of life, and learning to honour your own stories.

Here is the first of the ones I haven't read yet (though definitely want to even more now than it did before). I have heard some great things about Unbecoming and look forward to reading it myself. 

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge 

The leaves were cold and slightly clammy. There was no mistaking them. She had seen their likeness painstakingly sketched in her father’s journal. This was his greatest secret, his treasure and his undoing. The Tree of Lies. Now it was hers, and the journey he had never finished stretched out before her.

When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies. Searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. A tree that feeds off whispered lies and bears fruit that reveals hidden secrets. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter. . . .

For a few years now, Frances Hardinge has been one of my absolute favourite authors, which is a big thing for a Book Blogger to say as we have so many authors to choose from! While I really think that all this praise should have come for her book Cuckoo Song, which I think will be my favourite book for a long time to come, I am absolutely thrilled for her and glad that she's finally getting the recognition she deserves. Long may it last.

The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson 

Cassandra Worrell is beautiful, rich and very, very bored. Trapped in her parents stately home, she dreams of escape. Life suddenly becomes much more interesting with the appearance of a beautiful, disorientated young woman, who speaks a mysterious language... Cassandra is convinced she's found a princess from a far away land. Could the princess hold the key to the adventure she's been seeking? Or might the escape she desires be found in the arms of the wholly inappropriate but utterly delectable local boy, Will Jenkins?

 I have heard many amazing things about this book and Catherine Johnson's other book Sawbones. I really must read them, but as of yet I haven't had the

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness 

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

It is an absolute travesty that I still haven't read this book yet. I am completely and utterly ashamed of myself. I promise you, it is close to the top of my pile and I swear I will get to it soon. But I have heard so, so many superb things about this book. Patrick Ness is a great writer and definitely deserves his place on this list.

Asking For It by Louise O'Neill 

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. 

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does. 

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes... 

How great is Louise O'Neill? She writes about topics that no one else will touch and she does it so well. She makes you feel things that you never thought you'd feel and pulls apart our society from the seams. Both Asking For It and Only Ever Yours deserve all the praise that they get and more.

The Sin-Eaters Daughter by Melinda Salisbury 

I am the perfect weapon.
I kill with a single touch.

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has it's price. A deadly poison infuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla's fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla's chilling role to the girls she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous and the queen's, some truths should not be told... 

I could talk forever about my lover for Melinda Salisbury. She writes about dark and deadly topics with the kind of beautiful prose that you can get lost in (and read aloud to anyone who will listen). Not one to read if you don't want your heart ripped out and trodden into small pieces, but definitely a beautiful, beautiful writer. She deserves so much praise and recognition. Her place on this list is truly, far more than earned.

To read my review of the Sin Eater's daughter, go here.

Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe 

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn't it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What's good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They're not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick - the only one Blaze really trusts. They're not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random - a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn't even have a good phone - hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They've got a hostage, but don't really know what they want, or why they've done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they - and we - begin to understand why ...
The only book on this list that I don't own a copy of. I'll have to admit, I haven't heard much about this book, though it has caught my attention in the bookshop a couple of times (takes a lot to commit to a hard back). I definitely need to get a copy of this and can't wait to read it.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. 

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. 

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

This book is one of the few books that have made me so angry, I've had to put it down for a bit until I have calmed down. With such a fantastic look into bullying and identity, Lisa Williamson truly touches the heart of the reader. She is another writer who can make the reader feel so many different emotions. This is another book that I can say without a doubt deserves it's place on this list.

With so many fantastic books, I really don't think there's one that deserves the prize more than any other. I personally will be rooting for The Sin Eater's Daughter, Am I Normal Yet? and The Lie Tree.

The winner's will be announced at an awards ceremony at Hay Festival on the 2nd of June 2016 and I can't wait to see who wins.

Are you routing for anyone? Have any thoughts of the books on the list or any books you think should have been? Feel free to let me know in the comments. 

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