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Monday, December 21, 2015

Why Dystopia is not a Trend

My second piece for the Stella Prize Schools Blog is up!

But thinking about dystopian fiction in the same way we think of the adult colouring book craze – as simply a fad – pays disservice to a wonderfully diverse and subversive genre. It suggests a disposability that’s insulting; particularly when dystopian fiction is one of the most poignant genres we have for exploring the experiences of marginalised and disenfranchised groups. As with stories about vampires and zombies, the long history of dystopian fiction defies ‘trend’ talk.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Most Anticipated Books of 2016

The ‘Most Anticipated Books’ post is always a hard one for me. 
Places like Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram etc make it so much harder … sometimes the authors I follow on these various networks will give up slivers of information of their upcoming books, but for various reasons (normally of practicality and embargo) they can’t give away more. 
This year I again attended the Centre for Youth Literatue’s ‘The Year Ahead in Youth Literature’, getting a sneak-peak or heads-up about some titles both international and #LoveOzYA. Some of those titles are listed below, and in some cases there’s very little synopsis to report on but I’ve listed it because I trust in the author, or I’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s one to look out for. 
I’ve no doubt missed lots of books – it’s always the case that after I put this post up another five titles suddenly spring up on Goodreads and I feel the need to keep editing, editing, editing (and that goes for changing release dates too!) … but that’s a never-ending job, and at this point I’m just going to let it stand as a small sampler of what’s got me sitting up and taking notice for 2016, fully aware that the list will be frustratingly incomplete (and in some cases slightly incorrect as release-dates change - so if you're in doubt, please do go to the publisher's website!). 
I hope you enjoy, regardless. 
And as a little P.S. – I just wanted to say that I’ll be taking a mini blog break after this post because I have some fun writing to work on! So it’ll be radio-silence throughout January, and then I’ll return to the regularly scheduled blogging.

Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall
Let’s kick 2016 off with a favourite LoveOzYA author in Leanne Hall – one of the most beautifully original voices in youth literature, hands down. She’s the author of two of my most favourite titles ‘This is Shyness’ and ‘Queen of the Night’ – and, quite frankly, I’d be excited for her grocery list if she was so inclined to publish it.

Her new book, ‘Iris and the Tiger’ is about twelve-year-old Iris, who has been sent to Spain on a mission: to make sure her elderly and unusual aunt, Ursula, leaves her fortune–and her sprawling estate–to Iris’s scheming parents.

Hall promises the book is about friendship, art, and family with touches of magical realism, and I am ridiculously excited! (the book is for slightly younger-YA, but age is just a number or metadata, right?)

Also: that *beautiful* cover, featuring art by Australian Sandra Eterovic!

Who's Afraid? by Maria Lewis
So I’ve actually-kinda-sorta already ready this (NetGalley high-fives, amiright?!) and it’s AMAZING. It’s paranormal romance from the awesome Maria Lewis – who is a pop-culture film guru and writes for the likes of Buzzfeed, Empire Magazine, New York Post and loads of other cool places … and she’s part of the fantastic ‘Eff Yeah Film & Feminism’ podcast and is just generally totally rad. Who’s Afraid? does not disappoint, and if I can just share three words to get you salivating, – New Zealand Werewolves.

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
Two things – the first line of the blurb is: “Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them.” *high-five*!
Secondly: the name of this young adult fantasy series is ‘Library Jumpers’. Say no more. I am so there.

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club Lady Helen #1 by Alison Goodman
This one is actually out in Australia now very soon!– but not in the rest of the world until early next year, so it makes the list. I have read this because I was kindly sent an advance copy and, … it’s AMAZING! (review forthcoming) I’ve heard it described as Buffy meets Jane Austen, and that is absolutely accurate.

Coasting by Ben Karwan
Time to get excited for some emerging #LoveOzYA talent! Karwan won the Australian Sony Young Movellist of the Year Award with this manuscript … I believe this is an ebook-only release, which is good news for international fans of Aussie YA!

Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali (Translated by Penny Hueston)
This book actually came out in Germany in 2012, but 2016 is its English-language debut. I’m kind of amazed at how on-point this book may well be; given the 2015 hubbub around the ethics of “Baby Hitler” … so with that in mind, read this mind-bendingly peculiar blurb; ‘Meet Max—it’s 1936, Bavaria, and he’s still a foetus inside his blonde, blue-eyed mother. Utterly indoctrinated in the Nazi ideology, he will address you, tell you his story until 1945—his destiny as an exceptional being, the prototype of the ‘Lebensborn’ (Fountains of Youth) program, designed to produce perfect specimens of the Aryan race to regenerate the Reich. When Max meets Lukas, a young Polish boy who resembles him but who rebels against the Nazi system, cracks starts to appear in Max’s convictions…’

Never Evers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

So, I have not read Ellen and Ivison's debut Lobsters, but I have it on good authority that it's kind of amazing. And when I read the blurb for their second book, I just had to smile; 'Kicked out of ballet academy, Mouse is hating the school ski trip. Jack was sure it’d be filled with danger and girls, but hasn’t a clue about either. That’s until French teen sensation Roland arrives in the resort – and Jack’s a dead ringer for him.' It sounds adorable. 

The Grass is Greener by Loretta Hill
I’ll read anything by Hill because she’s great, and this sounds like more excellence from one of my favourites; ‘a captivating novel about best friends, family and fighting for what you want, against all odds.’

The River House by Janita Cunnington
An Australian family saga, that follows one; ‘family's story through the decades, The River House is a richly nostalgic novel about love and betrayal, personal tragedy and thwarted ambition, illusion and remorse. Above all it is about change, and the slow but relentless march of time.’

Summers With Juliette by Emily Madden
Ok, this has a total Beaches vibe and I am totally semi-prepared for the potential crushing emotions …

Red Carpet Arrangement by Vicki Essex
So, I just discovered Ms Essex this year when I read her brilliant romance ‘Back to the Good Fortune Diner’ and now I’m just going to automatic-buy her. This 2016 release has the tagline “From celebrity bachelor to ... doting dad?” and I am just so there.

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
YA mystery-thriller. Count me in and curious: ‘When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn't come back. Neither Imogene's stepmother nor the police know where he could've gone, but Imogene is convinced he's looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she's gleaned from a lifetime of her father's books to track down a woman she's never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she's carried with her for her entire life.’

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Just when I thought I was over all those end-of-the-world quirky Dystopian books, this one comes along; ‘A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.’ The emphasis on fantasy/magic over science-fiction with this plot has me intrigued.

Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo
I have actually already read this (thank you, NetGalley!) and I loved it! I loved it from the opening line, which goes; ‘The thing about Antarctica that surprises me most? The condoms. They’re absolutely everywhere.’ And then it just gets weirder and more wonderful from there … this book is about ballet and Antarctica, family legacies and learning to fail spectacularly. Accurate when the publisher says it’s; ‘Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Corey Whaley, and Libba Bray,’ (which I think is a kind way of saying it’s slightly left-of-centre and wholly original/fabulous!)

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
Darn these marketing people who know all my weaknesses! Time-travel and any hint of Clear Eyes, Full Hearts! ‘Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.’

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
I need this in my life … one of my all-time favourite books (I’m not kidding, it’s desert island Top 5 for sure!) my current (signed!) copy is battered and much loved, so I need a pretty new one to keep pristine … and I’ll need to make sure I attend at least one Marchetta event in 2016 to get it signed, naturally :)

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Larbalestier’s books are all so complex and subversive, and I find that back-cover blurbs can rarely contain the breadth of her stories … but they’ve done pretty well with this one for the chill-factor; ‘What if the most terrifying person you'd ever met was your ten-year old sister? A spine-chilling psychological thriller from one of Australia's finest YA authors.’

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
New book from Kirsty Eagar! New book from Kirsty Eagar! New book from Kirsty Eagar! I have been anticipating this one for a while, and I would share the blurb with you … but this endorsement quote is just too good not to include; "Taking a keen look at modern day intimacy in a hook-up culture, Summer Skin expertly shatters notions of slut shaming and the pull of sexual desire. Realistic, modern and moving, the story of Jess and Mitch is as smart as it is hot. Kirsty Eagar has written the feminist love story that girls have been waiting for." —Clementine Ford

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
Not to give the guy a big head or anything, but a new YA book from Aussie YA superstar Will Kostakis is kinda destined for greatness … I mean, I started weeping just from reading the damn blurb! ‘Isaac, Ryan, Harley and Miles aren't four best friends, they're three guys with the same best friend. When Isaac dies, they have to learn to fill the space he's left in each other's lives. And after so many years of being sidekicks, it's harder being stars than they ever anticipated.’

Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard
Glenda Millard is a literary treasure and news of this book is worth serious celebration … because it’s Glenda Millard writing YA. And this synopsis sounds lyrical and brutal and I want it now, now, now! ‘Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has acquired brain injury, the result of an assault, and her words come out slow and slurred. But when she writes, heartwords fly from her pen. She writes poems to express the words she can't say and leaves them in unexpected places around the town. Manny was once a child soldier. He is sixteen and has lost all his family. He appears to be adapting to his new life in this country, where there is comfort and safety, but at night he runs, barefoot, to escape the memory of his past. When he first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river-house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship sailing through the stars.’

Bro by Helen Chebatte
Another #LoveOzYA debut I’m seriously looking forward to, from a really interesting author! ‘Romeo knows the rules. Stick with your own kind. Don’t dob on your mates, or even your enemies. But even unwritten rules are made for breaking. Fight Clubs, first loves and family ties are pushed to their limit in Helen Chebatte’s explosive debut novel.’

Yellow by Megan Jacobson
I love a little surrealism in my YA, and this #LoveOzYA debut has it in spades; ‘If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now then it doesn't bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth.’

The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
This title – so much yes. And then the blurb absolutely hooked me. It’s a contemporary YA set in 1970s Alaska, about a group of teens growing up in “America’s Last Frontier”. It sounds incredible … so much so that I’m willing to make a big call and say this is the international YA book I a MOST excited for in 2016.

First Person Shooter by Cameron Raynes
This is an Aussie YA title from the fabulous and independent, MidnightSun Publishing. Here’s the blurb, and it should be pretty self-explanatory why I’m definitely keen to read this thriller; ‘Jayden lives with his father on the edge of the great Australian ugliness of small towns. He stutters and is addicted to playing video games as a first person shooter. His best friend is Shannon, the girl next door, who knows how to handle a rifle. When Shannon’s mother returns home from a six- year prison sentence, the town waits to see whether her sociopathic stepson will exact revenge for the manslaughter of his father. Will it be left to Jayden to stop him?’

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
So, this UK-YA book has me intrigued because it's about podcasting - which hasn't really been touched on a lot in YA, even as it's really blown up in the last few years. Here's the blurb; 'Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.'

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
 ‘In her brilliant, hilarious, and at times shocking debut, Mona Awad simultaneously skewers the body image-obsessed culture that tells women they have no value outside their physical appearance, and delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform.’ SO. MUCH. YES!

Away We Go by Emil Ostrovski
KIRKUS - "Intellectual boys' boarding school story meets near-future dystopia in this end-times tale...the imminent apocalypse serves primarily to accelerate the claustrophobic immediacy of boarding school angst. Noah and his friends form loving, believably complex relationships, caroming from suicidal ideation to conspiracy theory to a quest for the sacred in mundane death. Lovers of self-consciously witty nihilist profundities will be thrilled..."

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
I know I say that one of my most-hated forms of book marketing is ‘If you like X and Y, then you’ll love book Z!’ … but then it goes and works on me and I don’t have a leg to stand on. This book has been marketed as; ‘Jane Austen meets X-Men in this gripping and adventure-filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.’

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Give me YA books about female friendships any day – this one is about Caddy and Rosie, and Caddy’s realisation that ‘downward spirals have a momentum of their own.’

Saving Wonder by Mary Knight
‘Having lost most of his family to coal-mining accidents as a little boy, Curley Hines lives with his grandfather in the Appalachian Mountains of Wonder Gap, Kentucky. Ever since Curley can remember, Papaw has been giving him a word each week to learn and live. Papaw says words are Curley's way out of the holler, even though Curley has no intention of ever leaving.’


Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
A lot of buzz about this one in Australia (AHEM. Yes –that’s Melina Marchetta providing an endorsement quote on the cover), and it sounds like for very good reason; ‘Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who's tired of giving second chances... When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie's half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn't want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own. Frankie's search for the truth might change her life, or cost her everything.’

Yassmin's Story by Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Yassmin Abdel-Magied is one of Australia’s finest minds; she’s a mechanical engineer who has worked on oil rigs, she’s a social activist who has been named Young Australian Muslim of the Year, Young Queenslander of the Year and Young Leader of the Year. She is many things that don’t fit neatly into people’s perceptions of women, let alone young Muslim women, and I’m ridiculously excited to read her memoir and have a chance to better know this ridiculously impressive person.

Lemons in the Chicken Wire by Alison Whittaker
Alison Whittaker is an author to watch. She was named National Indigenous Law Student of the Year by the Federal Government in 2015, and was also awarded an Indigenous Writing Fellowship called Black&write, the latter being one of the best Fellowships for discovering new writing that we have in Australia.  ‘Lemons in the Chicken Wire’ is described as a collection of poems about family, displacement, and love. I have serious trust in Black&Write unearthing spectacular new talent, especially because as someone who is not a huge poetry fan, I count one of their past winners – Ali Cobby Eckermann’s poetry book 'Ruby Moonlight' – as one of my all time favourites!

The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub
Ayoub’s brilliant YA debut Hate is Such a Strong Word pretty much guaranteed I’d read anything from this author … her new book sounds like a fairly brilliant Aussie YA slice, about; ‘Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.’ It’s reminding me a little of The Breakfast Club crossed with Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles and I am sooooooooo signing up for that! (also: this cover is one of my favourite of 2016) 

Waer by Meg Caddy
You guys – it’s a debut Aussie YA speculative fiction title from Text Publishing. It’s going to be awesome. ‘When Lowell Sencha finds the strange girl lying as if dead on the riverbank, he is startled to find that she is like them: waer. Human, but able to assume the form of a wolf. The Sencha family’s small community has kept itself sequestered and unnoticed, free from persecution. The arrival of a fellow traveller, and a hunted one at that, threatens their very survival.’

Dreaming the Enemy by David Metzenthen
2016 is the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, so Metzenthen’s new book about Johnny Shoebridge who returns from the fighting in the jungles of Vietnam is a timely one. ‘Pursued by a Viet Cong ghost-fighter called Khan, Johnny makes one last stand - knowing that if he cannot lay this spectre to rest, he will remain a prisoner of war for ever.’ This sounds like a mix of A.S. King’s Everybody Sees the Ants, and 2011 Gus Van Sant film ‘Restless’.

Fire Touched Mercy Thompson #9 by Patricia Briggs
The last Mercy Thompson book came out in 2014, which is far too long a wait for one of the best urban fantasy series still going. This new instalment continues to explore tensions between fae and humans, with werewolves all but stuck in the middle – and in ‘Fire Touched’, Mercy and her mate Adam find themselves defying the most powerful werewolf in the country to protect an innocent ….

This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang
From the author of much-talked about 2014 book Falling into Place, this new YA features nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, to uncover the circumstances around a teenager’s disappearance.

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
This debut young adult contemporary deals with mental illness – ‘It’s been two-and-a-half years since her mother dumped Cassie in a mental institution against her will for something Cassie claims she didn't do. Now, at eighteen, Cassie enrolls in college, ready to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.’ Which, just reading that blurb gave me chills and made me think of it as a sort of sequel to Susanna Kaysen’s brilliant Girl, Interrupted.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Quite possibly best title, cover and mash-up reference of 2016? ‘Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare…’ This is the story of a star cheerleader who is raped and falls pregnant, the closing line of the blurb gave me goosebumps; ‘The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.’

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
A new book from Kathi Appelt is always a truly wonderful thing, decribed as; ‘a fantastical, heartbreaking, and gorgeous tale about two sisters, a fox cub, and what happens when one of the sisters disappears forever.’

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
I adore Federle’s ‘Better Nate Than Ever’ middle-grade series, so I am over the moon excited for his foray into YA. ‘Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.’

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
I’m guaranteed to read a Corinne Duyvis book anyway, but Post Apocalyptic Dystopian sounds especially epic. Just the opening line of the blurb: ‘January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.’

Marked in Flesh The Others #4 by Anne Bishop
Anne Bishop is one of my favourite urban fantasy writers, hands down. I love this series, I love this author – if I ever get the chance to meet her I will fall down at her feet and then pester her for spoilers.

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
This sounds great (‘What does it mean to be fully alive? Magic blends with reality in a stunning coming-of-age novel about a girl, a grandfather, wanderlust, and reclaiming your roots’) but not gonna lie, a big selling-point of this for me is just the bees in the title … I have a thing about bee-books. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell? Fantastic books … I also like anything with ‘wolves’ in the title (St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Tell the Wolves I’m Home). If anyone wants to come up with a catchy bee/wolves title, I AM SO THERE.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
First off – great typography on the cover. Secondly, this protagonist; ‘… the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes,’ Colour me intrigued!

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
‘A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet …’ I hate Hamlet. He’s a whiny do-nothing, cry-baby, pain-in-the-ass of every high-school student who has to sit through his egotistical soliloquies and witness his walking all over Ophelia who should have just left his ass in the opening act. So I think a retelling is sorely needed to improve upon the something rotten. (P.S. – Macbeth 4 Eva!)

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
The protagonist of this new series is sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson – writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson (of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ fame). Not gonna lie, I’m mostly reading this to see if it’s as awesome as Ellie Marney’s Every trilogy.

My Life with the Liars by Caela Carter
This middle-grade novel sounds harrowing and spectacular, exploring the religious world of cults through the eyes of a young girl who is rescued from one; ‘Behind the white-washed walls of the compound, life was simple. Follow the rules, “live in the Light,” and all would be well. Zylynn was excited to turn thirteen and begin the work of bringing others into the light, to save them from the liars and the darkness of the outside world. But when she is taken away by a man who claims to be her father, Zylynn is confused and desperate to return to her home.’

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Medina wrote the brilliant 2013 book Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, so I’m definitely looking forward to her next foray into YA. This new one is set during New York’s summer of 1977, when the infamous ‘Son of Sam’ serial killer is on the loose and seventeen-year-old Nora Lopez’s family life is spiralling out of control.

The Way We Roll by Scot Gardner
Happy-dance because: NEW SCOT GARDNER! ‘Will Rushton owns a genuine Rolex but pushes shopping carts for a living. His workmates are Westies, rough and tough boys who won't be messed with. But Julian is curious about Will and his secrets, especially when he finds that Will has dropped out of prestigious St Alfie's to live beneath a bowling alley. An unlikely mateship forms, and when Will's past finally catches up with him, he realises how much he's had to learn about friendship, solidarity, and the true value of family.’

The Things I Didn't Say by Kylie Fornasier
‘I hate the label Selective Mutism - as if I choose not to speak, like a child who refuses to eat broccoli. I've used up every dandelion wish since I was ten wishing for the power to speak whenever I want to. I'm starting to wonder if there are enough dandelions.’ – oh wow, I want this so much!

Special by Georgia Blain
Yet another #LoveOzYA book I keep hearing about … futuristic setting, with this tagline excerpt; ‘I am not Delia Greene. I should not be here. Why haven't they come for me?’

The Special Ones by Em Bailey
I love Em Bailey, and floating-head-cover aside I am really, really looking forward to this book; ‘Esther is one of the Special Ones – four teens who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? Here, they are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are – all while broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside. Esther knows he will renew her if she stops being Special. And yet she also knows she's a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, no genuine advice to offer her followers. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance if she wants to survive long enough to escape.’

The Murder of Mary Russell Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #14 by Laurie R. King
I adore this series, it’s hands-down one of my favourites and just keeps getting better with each new instalment. If you haven’t read any of these books yet, then I suggest you get on it!

Original Fake by Kirstin Cronn-Mills and E. Eero Johnson
Kirstin Cronn-Mills is the author of The Sky Always Hears Me: And the Hills Don't Mind, and Beautiful Music for Ugly Children … which is the main reason I’m going to give this graphic novel (I think?) for younger readers a go.

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw
‘When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school.’ Fan-fic? I’m there.

Dirty Dive Bar #1 by Kylie Scott
The spin-off from her brilliant Stage Dive series, about the flipside – about the have-not’s of rock n’ roll. I am so excited for this series, not least because Kylie Scott should be on every romance reader’s automatic-buy list.

This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart
Beth Kephart is one of my favourite YA authors, and I’m so excited to have new words from her. This one is about a superstorm that upends Mira Banul’s life and family, it’s described as being ‘about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.’

The Incident on the Bridge by Laura McNeal
McNeal’s 2010 YA book Dark Water is fantastic, and pretty much guaranteed that I’d read anything else from the author. This new one is described thus; ‘When Thisbe Locke is last seen standing on the edge of the Coronado Bridge, it looks like there is only one thing to call it. But her sister Ted is not convinced. Despite the witnesses and the police reports and the divers and the fact that she was heartbroken about the way things ended with Clay, Thisbe isn’t the type of person to act so impulsively.’

The Haters by Jesse Andrews
New book from the author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl? I’ll be there, with bells on.  

The Glittering Court The Glittering Court #1 by Richelle Mead
Okay, so I’m more of a vintage Richelle Mead fan. Obsessed with Vampire Academy, adored Georgina Kincaid, and probably one of the few true Dark Swan fans … her more recent stuff though, hasn’t gone over well with me. I’m so far behind Bloodlines because I kept being disappointed. And I heard from people I trust that Age of X wasn’t worth bothering with. Ditto the pretty lack-lustre reviews I’ve read of Soundless. But I will forever hold out hope that the next Richelle Mead book I delve into will be the one that clicks and brings me back into the fanclub fold. The Glittering Court could be that book, the first in ‘a dazzling new fantasy series set in a mix of Elizabethan and frontier worlds.’ Please, please, please let this be the book that gets me back into the Mead fold – because I have missed loving her work.

One Would Think Deep by Claire Zorn
I’ll read anything Claire Zorn writes, but all I can tell you about her third book is the barest hint of storyline given at CYL’s ‘The Year Ahead’: “It’s 1997 and seventeen-year-old Sam is mourning the sudden loss of his mum …” That’s it. But, honestly? That’s all I need to know this is going to be great.

Nevernight The Nevernight Chronicle #1 by Jay Kristoff
Jay Kristoff has been hitting it out of the park, pretty much from the moment he released his first book in the Lotus War trilogy. In 2015 he and Amie Kaufman had a hit on their hands with Illuminae (which also has a second instalment coming in 2016!!!) and now this new solo series from Kristoff. Are you ready to get excited? BEHOLD: 'In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.' It kinda sounds like The Magnificent Seven meets sci-fi! 

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
This has a little Bridge to Terabithia vibe that I’m totally digging; ‘Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real--and holds more mysteries than she'd ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.’

Time Catcher by Cheree Peters
Australian YA is getting quite a bit of fantasy in 2016 – and this from Ford Street sounded fantastic when presented at CYL’s Year Ahead!

Mayday by Karen Harrington
I have a real soft spot for Karen Harrington – having enjoyed her previous middle-grade books, Sure Signs of Crazy and Courage for Beginners. She always explores really quite brutal and big stories with real tenderness and humour, and this new one sounds no different; ‘Wayne Kovok lives in a world of After. After his uncle in the army was killed overseas. After Wayne and his mother survived a plane crash while coming back from the funeral. After he lost his voice.’

Night Shift Midnight, Texas #3 by Charlaine Harris
I’m not going to get my hopes up too high for this one, after I was so disappointed with Day Shift. I’ll go in hoping that my two favourite characters – Fiji and Bobo – get more page-time, and that Harris just generally focuses more on the relationships of the already established main players, rather than piling so-so secondary characters atop odd mysteries (though I see from this blurb that the vampire Lemuel seems to be the centre of this third book, more’s the pity).

Invisible Fault Lines by Kristen-Paige Madonia
Kristen-Paige Madonia was the author of brilliant 2012 YA novel, Fingerprints of You, so it’s a guarantee I’ll read her new YA novel – especially with an opening line like this; "My father disappeared on a Tuesday that should’ve been like any Tuesday, but eventually became the Tuesday my father disappeared.”

Double Down Lois Lane #2 by Gwenda Bond
I loved, loved, loved the first book in this series – with the second instalment, I’m looking forward to Lois’s online friendship with SmallvilleGuy growing, and her investigative skills revealing more about the seedy underbelly of Metropolis.

The Road To Winter by Mark Smith
This is kind of remarkable. Smith’s unsolicited manuscript was picked up from the Text slush pile and within a few weeks, the entire office had read it – and loved it enough to sign Smith up for a three-book deal! This interview on the Margaret River Press blog goes into more detail, but when I read his description of the first book in this series, I got goosebumps; ‘The Road To Winter tells the story of Finn Morrison, a sixteen year old boy surviving alone in a quarantined coastal town after a massive pandemic has wiped out most of the population. All law and order has broken down and wilders, bands of outlaws, roam the countryside. When Rose, an escaped siley – the name given to asylum seekers who have been sold off at public slave auctions – is chased into town by wilders, Finn leads her to safety and they form a wary alliance.’

The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale
Did you know that Emily Gale is one of the greatest? Because, FYI – she is. Very little known about this one, other than it is kinda like a love story and the cover is adorable and it’s Emily Gale so we should all be excited. Mmkay?

You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
No-brainer when two YA heavy-weights partner up … especially when it’s a Levithan partnership, which has seen the likes of Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist produced from his joint-ventures. Yah. This is going to be HUGE!

Forgetting Foster by Dianne Touchell
I’ll follow Touchell anywhere her books take me, and I’m not in the least bit surprised to discover that her new title sounds like an important heart-wrencher: “The powerful story of a young boy whose father develops Alzheimer's disease...” (and I know I’m going to need the tissues, because I absolutely bawled when I watched the Louis Theroux documentary Extreme Love: Dementia last year).

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
I really enjoyed the first instalment of this YA anthology series, My True Love Gave To Me – which was themed around Christmas romances. This new anthology with all new contributing YA writers (but again edited by Perkins) is summer romances – and the likes of Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray and Leigh Bardugo are just some of the authors coming onboard for this second collection. Excited yet? I am!

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence
Something about this just sounds like Paul Zindel to me; ‘Not cool enough, not clever enough, not street enough for anyone to notice me. I was the kid people looked straight through. NOT ANY MORE. NOT SINCE MR ORANGE. Sixteen-year-old Marlon has made his mum a promise - he'll never follow his big brother, Andre, down the wrong path. So far, it's been easy, but when a date ends in tragedy, Marlon finds himself hunted. They're after the mysterious Mr Orange, and they're going to use Marlon to get to him. Marlon's out of choices - can he become the person he never wanted to be, to protect everyone he loves?’

This Savage Song Monsters of Verity #1 by Victoria Schwab
The fantasy world build-up in the blurb for this kinda made my head spin, but it was the closing tagline that made me think there was something in it for me: ‘A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within.

Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt
Reinhardt is one of the greatest, so I’ll read anything she writes. Especially this; ‘Described as a "whimsical modern-day comedy of manners” set in LA, in which a teenage boy attempts to deal with life after splitting up with his girlfriend.’

Didn’t I Warn You? A Bad for You Novel #1 by Amber A. Bardan
A lotta buzz about this book from Australian romance author Amber A. Bardan - a lot of buzz in the romance world! With the intriguing tagline "Not everything dangerous is bad" - sign me up! 

Another Night in Mullet Town by Steven Herrick
I love Herrick’s stuff, and the title of this alone is enough to get me onboard!

Black by Fleur Ferris 

So, I didn't read a lot of mystery/crime in 2015 (which you can probably tell by it mostly missing from my Favourites List, which is really not like me!). I can only say it's because I never felt in the right frame-of-mind for that genre in 2015. Which meant I didn't get around to reading an Aussie YA book that got SO MUCH BUZZ! Risk by Fleur Ferris is still on my TBR, and as you can tell from this Most Anticipated List I'm clearly back into craving crime/mysteries for 2016 ... which is a good thing when Ferris' new book Black sounds so deliciously intriguing. 

Also: at CYL's The Year Ahead I learnt that in another life, Ferris had careers as a police officer and a paramedic (!) which is also a little hint as to the deliciously dark subjects she explores in her works. 

Untitled Randa Abdel-Fattah book 
I seriously know nothing about this book, except that it's by one of Australia's best YA writers, Randa Abdel-Fattah. The woman who gave us Does My Head Look Big In This? and Noah's Law and that's enough to hook me. 

The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8) by Karin Slaughter
The most I could find about this instalment was in an Amazon interview with Slaughter, in which she cryptically hints at what we’ve all known was bound to happen; “It's called The Kept Woman and it's been a blast getting back into Will's head—though of course nothing comes easy for him, especially now that Angie is back in town. . .”

The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich
Sssssshhhhh. I don’t need to know much more about this YA thriller beyond that cover and title. I want to be surprised … and by surprised I mean scared ridiculous.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Okay. Bit of background about this … I *think* this is actually Crowley’s The Howling Boy, but with a new title. And I think that because at CYL’s The Year Ahead her publisher, Pan Macmillan, mentioned that most of this novel takes place in bookstore that I can’t quite remember the exact name of, but has the word Howling in the title. I am not 100% about this though. A little more background can be found on Goodreads: ‘… about two teens who find their way back to each other while working in an old bookstore full of secrets and crushes, love letters and memories, grief and hope,’  but I do believe that 2017 date is for international readers, because according to Pan Mac this is out in Australia in August 2016.

Also, from CYL’s event I took these snapshots of slides showing some excerpts from the book, and the quote at the beginning … proceed to hyperventilate from sheer excitement.

Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall
Hearing about this new title from Black Inc gave me goosebumps; ‘On a remote Australian coast in 1887, a girl shoots her best friend in the hut of a local fisherman. Was it a terrible accident or something more sinister?’ It was based on a true story (with some creative imaginings thrown in to fill in the many gaps in the mystery?) – the author was inspired to investigate when she apparently slept near the grave of the little girl and read the inscription describing the sad incident … This kind of feels like it could be a cross between Gun Alley by Kevin Morgan, and maybe a little Burial Rites by Hannah Kent for the younger set?

Promising Azra by Helen Thurloe
Another #LoveOzYA debut – this one pitched as ‘Arranged marriage in Sydney. The impact forced marriages have on both the young men and women.’

The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil
So, Keil is one of the best writing in YA at the moment – combining humour and honesty, far-out plots with grounded characters. Her third book sounds like more brilliance; ‘Meet Sophia: former child prodigy and 17-year-old maths mastermind. She's been having panic attacks ever since she realised that a) high school is almost over, and b) after high school, former child prodigies tend to either cure cancer - or go crazy.’ 

My First Lesson: Stories Inspired by Laurinda by Alice Pung
This sounds really, really special. Alice Pung and her publisher Black Inc have embarked on a literary education project, putting together an anthology of pieces from high school students (who entered their writing in a competition) from around the country reflecting on life lessons learned in high school, inspired by Pung’s YA book Laurinda.


Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys
'Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb. When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she might win some real money.' 
Yes! We need more YA that explores the disabled experience, please! 

TBD release dates:
Shaming the Devil by Melina Marchetta
A new Melina Marchetta book is always a thing of pure joy – that this is Marchetta’s  first adult title is particularly exciting (*technically*, because I think ‘The Piper’s Son’ also counts).

Marchetta has blogged a bit about this book, which is a crime-thriller partly set in London and which sounds to me a little like an Eduardo Sacheri-style mystery (which would be *amazing*!). 

I am so excited for this – I think Marchetta’s razor-sharp dialogue, intensely complicated relationships and superb plotting will translate brilliantly to the crime-thriller genre.

Black Panther comic series, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates was rightly on everyone’s Favourite Books of 2015 list for his powerful Between the World and Me (which won the National Book Award, btw) – and right when that book was reaching fever-pitch popularity, Coates went ahead and announced that he (as a long-time comic book lover) would be penning a new Black Panther series. If you happen to still be in the ‘comic books are childish crap’ camp, then this news would have been a total slap in the face that made you re-evaluate everything you clearly don’t know about comics … but if you’ve been a comic fan for a while, you no doubt did like me and burst into tears at the sheer brilliance of this partnership.

Between Us by Clare Atkins
Very little known about this one, other than it’s a YA that centres on asylum seekers and is set in the Northern Territory. I am really excited to see that so many #LoveOzYA authors who had debut’s in 2014/15 are already following-up with their second books – Atkins is no exception, after the brilliance of Nona and Me.

Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford
Clementine Ford is one of the most important writers in Australia, and she should be one of our most celebrated but more often than not she’s blocking and reporting all the vitriol aimed at her by cowardly pond-scum. Because Clementine Ford writes about feminism – in a funny, brutal, honest, necessary, vital and brave way – she writes about feminism. And I am so excited for this non-fiction book – her description of it for Pedestrian TV gave me goosebumps: ‘The title, Fight Like A Girl, is really about the battleground women and girls are on. Part of that is being silenced, part of that is the assault on our bodies, part of that is rape culture. It’s really about what it means to be a woman in a world that is inherently pitted against you.’

The Unforgiven League of the Black Swan #2 by Alyssa Day
I’ve no idea what’s happening with this book. I spent the whole of 2015 waiting for it to be released, but now I think it’s looking to be pushed into 2016 release for clearly behind-the-scenes reasons. In any case, I LOVED the first book in this series – The Cursed – and I’m just kinda desperate to get back into it.

The Illuminae Files #2 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 
Pretty much from the moment I finished first book Illuminae, I wanted the second instalment. This series is one of the most subversive and innovative, and every day that I don't have the second book in my hands is a day too long. Yeah. I'm kinda deep into the obsession. Just a wee bit. 

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