Mort, by Terry Pratchett
My second-favourite Discworld book of my complete-read project so far! I found the idea of Death hiring an apprentice endlessly entertaining. The secondary characters weren’t the most fleshed out but I’m still really excited about reading more in this series.
The Caged Queen, by Kristen Ciccarelli
The sequel to 2017’s The Last Namsara, which I absolutely loved, I was really excited to read this follow up, which follows Firgaard’s new queen, Roa, as she adjusts to her new life and the reality of marriage and political intrigue. It’s a very different kind of book – whereas The Last Namsara is very action-heavy, The Caged Queen is more thoughtful, full of flashbacks, and its protagonist spends a lot of time wrestling with difficult decisions. I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as The Last Namsara, which grabbed my brain and didn’t let it go, but it was still a great read and I can’t wait for the third book in this series, The Sky Weaver, to come out!
The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
I think it is time for me to admit that Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is perhaps not for me – I don’t think there was anything wrong with The Scorpio Races, but the pacing and style wasn’t to my taste. Having previously loved, and then been disappointed by, The Raven Cycle, I think it’s fair for me to stop. I did love the mythology of the story though – it’s about a race with vicious, bloodthirsty water horses, which have to be captured from the ocean and semi-tamed by their riders.
Hollow Pike, by Juno Dawson
It was really interesting to read Juno’s first book – there was a lot about it that I enjoyed, but it just wasn’t as brilliant as her more recent books! Hollow Pike is about a girl who moves to a new town to escape bullies, but finds herself experiencing terrifying dreams – are they a premonition, a curse, or just the result of her previous trauma? The ending was great.
Release, by Patrick Ness
This is a book with a fascinating concept – it’s a dual narrative with a twist, the two halves don’t meet until the end. It takes place over one day in the life of seventeen year old Adam Thorne, who has long been hiding his sexuality from his evangelical Christian family. Adam was already anticipating mixed feelings as his former lover is leaving town, and now has to deal with a change in the family dynamic following a confession from his previously-perfect older brother. Meanwhile, a recently-murdered girl from his school is suddenly brought back to life, sharing her body with a ancient, powerful being, who stalks through the town, searching for something… I really enjoyed it!
How Do You Like Me Now?, by Holly Bourne
This is one of those rare books that I finished knowing exactly who I wanted to lend it to! This is a really thought-provoking story about Tori, bestselling author and influencer, whose life has come to a bit of a standstill. She’s being pressured to write another book, the first being several years old now, and is trying to decide whether she wants to have children, while Tom, the other half of what the world thinks is her perfect romantic relationship, doesn’t seem interested in sex, let alone kids and committment. She’s extremely invested in keeping her life looking good on the surface, but has yet to reckon with reality, and the book follows her as she inevitably has to face up to her truth.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, by Lauren James
This is a thriller with incredible emotional resonance. Romy is literally the loneliest girl in the universe, the only person left alive on a spaceship that was meant to be full of people going to start a second Earth. Her only source of support is her therapist, Molly, employed by NASA, but as she gets further away from Earth, a place she’s never seen, having been born in space, it takes longer and longer for them to email each other. But one day everything changes – Molly tells her there’s a second spaceship, newer and faster, and there’s a boy on board. I loved this – Romy’s fear, anxiety and loneliness come across so powerfully.
Margot & Me, by Juno Dawson
I dunno why I had a complete mind blank in the video as to what Juno’s subsequent books are but I think this is actually her third most recent YA novel! I really, really, really loved this. It’s set in the ’90s and the ‘Me’ of the title is Fliss, whose mum is recovering from cancer. They both go t0 live with her grandmother, cold, bossy Margot. Fliss struggles to adjust to life in a small village and so much time spent with Margot, until one day she discovers Margot’s teenage diary from the Second World War and begins reading. Both their stories are really moving, I would highly recommend this book.
The Quiet at the End of the World, by Lauren James
Another amazing high-concept Lauren James! The Quiet at the End of the World is about Lowrie and Shen, the last children ever to be born, brought up by at times overprotective, but very loving parents, surrounded by a community who are all in their 80s or older. Although the scientists in their dwindling population are still trying to solve the human infertility population, Lowrie and Shen have been brought up to prepare for being the only two humans left alive once all the older people die. This raises some important philosophical questions, and even though it’s pretty utopian (they live in a London that’s been thoroughly solarpunked), there’s a twist that made me yell ‘Holy crap!’ and it all gets a bit thrillerish…
The Accident Season, by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
I think I have found a new must-read auto-buy author! The Accident Season is about a family during their annual ‘accident season’, a time when they seem to be under a curse, and despite their best efforts to protect themselves, keep suffering injuries. It’s about relationships, lies, and secrets, and it’s full of things I love in stories – parties, descriptions of clothes, believable, human eccentricities, unconfessed romantic feelings. I did find that there were a lot of character names to keep straight, and I had the same problem when I read The Spellbook of the Lost and Found by the same author, but I got there in the end!
This Book is Gay, by Juno Dawson
This is a non-fiction book about LGBT+ issues which I think would be a great intro for teenagers. It is a little dated and focuses much more on the LG (and especially on gay men) than other identities, but I was reading the first edition, so hopefully it’s been updated since Juno herself came out as trans.