Thursday, October 10, 2013

Best YA Books (IMHO)

There's a lady I go to whenever I need a book recommendation, and boy has she been giving me some GREAT ones!  Recently we were chatting books, as we often do, and compiling lists of our favourite young adult reads (last year we simultaneously posted our favourite Christmas picture books).  It seemed like it would make a fun blog post, so today I'm sharing my favourite ever Young Adult novels.

I'm sure I've missed a couple out, but this is my top 15 - in a vague order of favourite-ness.  Many of these have been read and reread, and some are still on my read-again list.

1. A Solitary Blue - Cynthia Voight.  I'm a huge Cynthia Voight fan and The Tillerman Saga is such a favourite.  I discovered these when I was in my early teens and love them just as much now as I did then.   A Solitary Blue is a side-along novel to The Tillerman Saga and is a beautiful stand-alone novel too.  I fell absolutely in love with the protagonist, who is introduced in Dicey's Song, and loved seeing the Tillerman's from his perspective.  Utterly beautiful, poignant and absorbing.

2. I Capture The Castle - Dodie Smith.  Elevated to Classic status, and with such good reason.  Super funny, the cast of characters are unrivaled in their authenticity and hilarity and the setting (a tumble-down castle) is so divine.  This has a movie tie-in which is very sweet too (though of course I'm going to say that the book is better - it really is).  A read-reread-read-again-and-again novel.  Yep.

3. On The Jellicoe Rd - Melina Marchetta.  Melina Marchetta is one of my favourite YA authors, and in my opinion, this is her best.  Such a kick-ass protagonist and riveting story, filled with secrets, intrigue and a pretty great romance too.  I hear that there's to be a movie for this book soon and I cannot wait!

4. Harry Potter - JK Rowling.  I doubt I need to write anything at all about this series.  If you haven't read it by now, you probably don't want to (or maybe you are just about to - yuss).  I will say this, for those who have contemplated it but thought twice.  I took a lot of convincing, the cover and concept did absolutely nothing for me, and even when I started reading I spent the entire first two books trying to convince myself not to give up.  Glad I made it past my own preconceptions and the weaker of the novels, because I am a fanatic now.  I cannot count how many times I've read this series (including listening to the Stephen Fry audio books - "HI!  I'M A GEEK!") and I love it just as much each time.  I'm quite proud to announce that I recently converted my younger sister to this series too, woot!

5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor.  This was the first recommendation I took from Angela, and since reading it will pretty much read anything that lady recommends me.  It took a few chapters to hook me, and then I was way past the point of no return.  Utterly addictive stuff.  Funny, complex, romantic and heart-stopping.  Eagerly awaiting the third in this series...

6. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins.  I joined the bandwagon for this series sometime during my pregnancy with Garland, and have recently finished rereading them.  Again, I hardly need to say anything about these books - either you've read/watched already, or they're not your genre.  I'm a fan.

7. His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman.  I know there's a lot of controversy over these books, and I strug.gled through the first one, but the second two.  Wow.  Mind. Blown.  Pullman has created such an intricate world, with sweeping landscapes and a riveting plot.  Some of the pages in the final installment totally brought me to tears.  Beautiful.

8. Dream Hunter - Elizabeth Knox.  I don't know what I expected this novel to be, but I was super pleasantly surprised by it.  I found the story riveting and spooky, with a certain quality I would liken to a dream (funny that, considering the title).  I was transfixed by this story and it's sequel and found them to be the perfect gateway into some of Knox's other works, which are also superb.

9. The 10pm Question - Kate De Goldi.  Funny and bittersweet.  The characters in this story are so lovable, and it sensitively deals with an issue that effects so many of us (self included).  I must reread this one because I don't remember all the details, but I do know that it was very easy to read and very hard to put down.  A total classic.

10. Bitterblue - Kristin Cashore.  This is another Angela recommendation (thank YOU Angela!).  I loved the entire trilogy, but this last was my fave.  These books are a little scary (for me anyway), but the protagonists are so kick-ass and Cashore has nailed her plot-lines.  Each in the series is centred around a different character, and really, they are kind of stand-alone novels in many respects.  Love that she created such fierce female protagonists, but also love that Bitterblue shows some vulnerability too.  This installment in particular is quite chilling, but super exciting.

11. Jacob Have I Loved - Katherine Paterson.  I read this a couple of times when I was younger and really loved it.  It's kinda happy-sad, and really interesting.  The story is centered around a pair of twins, one of whom lives in the shadow of the other, and has to find her place in the world, separate from her sister.  It's one of those books that sticks around in your head forever, kinda like a prelude to The Shipping News or something.

12. Tomorrow When the War Began - John Marsden.  I adored this series when I was a teenager and would read them again now, if I could track them all down.  I actually used to read a ton of John Marsden books, but these were my favourites.  Super enthralling, despite being all about war and so on.  Ellie is badass, and I actually really enjoyed all the action scenes (which is lucky because there are a lot of them).  Edge-of-your-seat unputdownable.

13. Divergent - Veronica Roth.  I just finished this one, on recommendation by Angela (also recommended by blog reader, Jenn - thanks Jenn!  Please recommend any other faves!) and really enjoyed it.  Pleasantly melodramatic and a pretty exciting concept for a novel too (a futuristic city divided into five factions, according to personality and aptitude - the protagonist chooses the darkest and most dangerous faction - chaos ensues).  This totally filled the gap when I was mourning finishing The Hunger Games for the second time, and I'm willing to bet I will reread these again in a year or two.

14. Feeling Sorry For Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty.  I read this in my teen years so I don't remember a great deal about it, but wanted to include it in the list because I know that I really enjoyed it at the time.  I do know that the entire story is told in a series of letters, notes, postcards and emails.  I have since read the rest of the Ashbury High series, some of which I liked better than others, but I think this was the best of them all, and definitely the funniest.  Loves me a comedic YA novel.

15. Withering Tights - Louise Rennison.  Speaking of which, Rennison is the super hilarious author who penned the Georgia Nicholson stories (Angus, Thongs, etc).  I loved the Georgia books, but the protagonist in Withering Tights is much more likable, and just as funny.  Tallulah is a boarder at a performing arts college, which is a really fun set-up for a novel.   I *need* to get hold of the sequel to this...

Others of note (mostly for younger readers):  Rowen of Rin - Emily Rodda.  I own this whole series.  LOVE (hate the cover in the above link).  The Borrowers - Mary Norton.  Same as previous.  The Silver Crown - Robert C O'Brian.  Exciting and chilling.  This Time Of Darkness - H. M. Hoover.  AMAZING!!  My first introduction to Sci-Fi/Dystopian novels as a pre-teen - would LOVE to get hold of this.  River Secrets - Shannon Hale.  Via Angela - this was my fave out of the three I've read, now hanging out to read the last.

Next on my reading list:
Daughter of Smoke and Bone final installment - Laini Taylor
Divergent final installment - Veronica Roth
Forest Born - Shannon Hale
Midsummer Tights Dream - Louise Rennison
Enders Game - Orson Scott Card
The Maze Runner series - James Dashner
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine
The Uglies Series - Scott Westerfeld
How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley
Angelfall - Susan Ee

And a bunch of others that I can't remember just now...

For more great recommendations check out this diagram on Upworthy.

So what are you reading next?  x


  1. So, SO glad that the Twilight series does not feature here. Obviously, I'm well outside the intended audience, but I read them anyway to see what the fuss was about and did not understand the hype at all. These all look really great, the only series I've read is Harry Potter but when I worked in a bookstore, John Marsden and Philip Pullman were routinely bestsellers.

    1. I have also read the Twilight series. Humph. That is all.

    2. Ha ha, me too. And I admit that only to a select few. (Except right now...)

  2. Thank you for such a great list. I have nieces entering the YA reading category and would love to get them some great books for Christmas. This is fabulous.

  3. I like the tomorrow when the war began series too. I would also recommend anything by Lois Lowry - she might be slightly younger than young adult - more teen/ tween but her The Giver trilogy (with 4 books) is next on my list. I own the first and can't wait to read the others. I recently read Gossamer of hers and Number the Stars is an incredible book too. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is another one that always got my intermediate boys hooked and reading and Holes by Lois Saacher (not sure if that's the right spelling). I also loved a book as a teenager called Playing Beattie Bow about time travel. I love this kind of fiction because it's so quick to plow through but so satisfying when well written. I also have a friend who has just signed a book deal for a trilogy so I'm super looking forward to reading that early next year! :o)

  4. I ADORED 'I Capture the Castle'. Adored it. And I am about to start DOSB - exciting now that there are two people who say it's awesome x

  5. Yuuuusssss! YA is my fave. I've read quite a few on this list and have added a few more to my must-read list. GReat post, Stella!

  6. I love posts like this on blogs I enjoy.
    I have just added quite a few of these to my "to read" shelf on goodreads.
    I love YA fiction and read it a lot.

  7. I MUST limit my time online (mostly blog reading) and read some novels, it's been far too long. I always have one on the go but it takes me forever b/c of addiction!
    Thanks for the food for thought, i'm off to e book store today.

  8. ps: would you be horrified if I said I can't even pick up Harry Potter.....I just can't do it. It you seriously have a phobia before you read it. It's just not my thing but everyone raves?!?!

  9. I capture the castle is my most fav book ever, ever.... Jx

  10. PS do you read Sherryl Jordan? She's may favourite YA author and a NZr too.

  11. you can prob have my angel fall... i just have to finish it! also new laini taylor is coming out in APRIL!!!!!!!!!! also can't wait for third veronica roth in Nov!! I haven't read that castle one - it sounds nice. i don't have time to read anymore though! :(

  12. Ditto Sheryll Jordan. And Sharon Creech and Michael Morpurgo, Deborah Ellis, Elizabeth Laird. Anything by these authors and Gary Paulsen and Louis Scahar are great for reluctant readers. Especially "The Car" by Paulsen. And Tim Winton!

  13. Oh my gosh, I love your list! I've read the Dreamhunter book by Elizabeth Knox and I LOVE her. The hunger Games, well, couldn't put them down. And the 10pm Questions was truly original. I'd LOVE you tho link this post up to my bookclub linky? I didn't realise you were such a bookworm Stella x

  14. (Coming back to say that I just inhaled DOSAB - loved it. Everything about it. Am going to steal DOBAS from Angela tomorrow because I can't wait any longer!!)

  15. YES! Loved the Tomorrow series - did you know there's a sequel trilogy?! It follows Ellie and Gavin mainly, but all the others are in it too. I have it, if you want me to send them up? And I can't count the number of times I've read the Harry Potters. I also got my husband to read them!!!!!!!! (That deserves that many exclamation marks!) LOVED The Borrowers and have been waiting for it to come free at the library lately. I'm keen to read Hunger Games, and I'm definitely going to add some of these other series to my list, so thanks Stella! I do love me a good book. My English teacher at school once told me that she thought I 'devoured books' because I was always reading something.

  16. This is a fantastic list with many books that I love and many books that I look forward to reading! A recent find of mine (that I can't stop talking about) is YA thriller "The Riddle of Prague" by author Laura DeBruce ( It is book one of the Quicksilver Legacy series and the "to be continued" at the end has caused me to reread the book 10x and anxiously await book 2, "The Temple of Paris." The book follows leading lady Hana Silna and her trip to Prague to reclaim her family home, "The Rookery." It seems that a lot of suspicion and mystery surround this home and a break in leads Hana to the discovery of an old notebook with a cryptic riddle from an alchemist about an elixir of immortality. Hana's family in Prague are all linked to this grand experiment of immortality and it's up to Hana to figure things out. The book is a thrilling page turner that really is the complete package! Murder, mystery, romance and SO much suspense I can't recommend it enough :)

  17. I love the Tomorrow When the War Began series. I had forgotten about Cynthia Voight! As a teenager I loved Paul Zindel books.