Guest Blog Post | Sarah Lemon’s Inspiration for Done Dirt Cheap

Sarah Lemon has momentarily put down her motorcycle to talk to us about the journey that brought her to write her debut novel: Done Dirt Cheap.

Take it away Sarah!

Done Dirt Cheap Inspiration

Writing at times feels like a superpower, unwieldy in my hands, not something I’m fully in control of, but a power that lets me raise my fingers and pull fragments of my world together into something new and beautiful. I can point to shards of glinting glass in the whole and talk about how that piece came to be. Done Dirt Cheap came from many places in my life and history. But for today, I want to tell you how it almost never happened.

There’s an unspoken rule in Art: Don’t talk about how much you suck, your fear, or how tenuous it feels. Unless it’s in a self-deprecating show of humility as someone is handing you the Pulitzer.

It’s part of success—the sheen of it, like a rainbow slick of oil on water.

But I’m not always great with rules and clear water is better than oil.

Done Dirt Cheap only happened because of a lesson I had learned a long time ago, on the back of a monster dirt-bike, on which I couldn’t touch the ground even when I pointed my toes.

I was fourteen, living in a part of the world that was only valuable for its minerals. My landscape had been stripped, clawed at, dug under and left behind as garbage. Our groundwater was tainted. Our basements full of radiation. Our streams clogged with weird foams and slick spools of dark muck. We had dug too deep and a darkness hung over everything.

In the strip mines, I found a place I could breathe. In those raped and forgotten places I could string together forty or more miles of new life. The landscape would rise and fight with me, and together we wouldn’t be forgotten girl and forgotten land, but two things who were still alive and able to grasp at our fate. It brutalised me to make me. I was in every way, an average, bookish, fourteen-year-old girl with a fear so strong it came out as teeth. But out in the mines, I was free of that skin. I could fly. I could see a line and fight my way to the end. I could fall, pitch over the handlebars, run my bike up a tree, flip end over end and still stand, pick up the bike, and begin again. Just writing this, fifteen years later, I can still feel the pump in my arms from wrestling the dirt-bike on the thin threads of trails that wound around deep, sentient holes of green water, cone mountains of slag and silt, and grated air shafts leading into the abyss.

“Treskow” was a route we took often—named after the tiny old mining town it began in. We rode through the woods, along an old railroad bed with no tracks, before dropping down a slippery rock covered mountain into an uninhabited valley. I would drag my back brake the whole way down, my teeth chattering from the rocks. But the real challenge was at the end of the mud-holed valley. We always stopped and craned our necks at the steep switchback of the mountain ahead. It made me sick to look at it, every time. By that point, there was no way to get home and no way to give up. I wanted to be there, but hadn’t known how terrifying it was going to be. Every time.

When I started Done Dirt Cheap, that’s where I was – at the bottom of a giant switchback, too far from home and looking up at the power lines humming between transformers while everyone else sped ahead of me.

In those tenuous moments where you are balancing on the edge of failure, the natural desire is to hold back. You think “Oh I’ll go slow and easy and pick my way up.” But in slippy slag and miles of steep switchbacks, you simply will run out of power. Each switchback has to be hit hard and powered through, or you’ll never make it to the top. There is no easing through the terrain.  Manoeuvre swiftly or you’ll pitch over the edge. So, with this book, I was miles deep into publishing terrain. I had failed a lot. I had dragged my back brake down the mountain and even though, yes, I was out there, I was at the back of the crowd, wishing I was at home. Uncertain I could actually do this.

Looking ahead, I wanted nothing more than to go slow and safe. Something sure. But I had been here before. I knew what held me back was fear.  This was the moment in riding where you have to pin back that throttle and ride with your jaw tight and your stomach in your throat.

So, I did.

Lord, I did.

And just like in riding, I prayed and held on and hoped for the best. With Done Dirt Cheap, I somehow popped over the top of that switchback with the valley below me and the sky above. I’m further than I ever expected to be.

Further, but with miles to go. I know the trail still—how it winds over the ridge before dropping down again and then taking me through another technical mountain crossing. I’m leaning over the gas tank, holding the throttle back. The wind is whipping my hair and I taste elation, panic, and dust in my mouth. All I can do is hope the trail keeps up with me, and I keep up with the trail.

Ride or die. Write or die.

P.S. Please buy my book.

Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Lemon is on sale 7th March 2017. Order your copy here.

Done Dirt Cheap
Image by Kate Ormand

12 YA Must-Reads from 2016

The last two months of 2016 are crawling into view and as the end of the year dawns upon us we’re taking a look back at some of the amazing YA titles we’ve had through our doors this year. From The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters to The Romantics by Leah Konen, 2016 has been a bumper year for A&CB YA.

Have you missed any? Here is a round-up of our favourite 2016 titles; ready for your Christmas Wishlist!

The Cure for Dreaming Cat Winters

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

‘The book is a timely reminder that political equality of is hard fought for and hard fought against…’ – SFX Magazine

“With great imagination, an interesting twist, historical photographs, and a fresh voice, Cat Winters is a true talent to be celebrated. Whatever this author writes, I want!” – Kate Ormand

It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotise the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women.

Iron Cast

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—those “afflicted” with the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realises how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. An ideal next read for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Devil and the Bluebird

The Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

“Devil and the Bluebird is smart, quirky, beautifully written and full of wisdom.” Rhino Reads

“Soothing and lyrical, this might be the most optimistic book you’ll read this year.” SFX Magazine

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places. In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a captivating depiction of loss and hope.

One Thing Stolen

One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

“One Thing Stolen is a really beautiful and poignant book, with a great look at a rare neurological disorder. I loved it.” Once Upon a Bookcase Blog

Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she’s become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether?

Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is also a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.

The Movie Version

The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch

The only thing sixteen-year-old Amelia Anderson loves more than movies is her older brother, Toby, a larger-than-life force, as popular with the cheerleaders as with the stoners. Amelia, on the other hand, is addicted to Netflix and afraid to drive. But she doesn’t mind. She’s happy playing the sidekick in the movie version of Toby’s life. But when a devastating event takes Toby out of the picture, Amelia’s left without a star. Ready or not, she has to step into her own spotlight. It’s time to get out of her head, get off of Netflix, and get behind the camera—and the wheel.

This whip-smart, heart-wrenching debut YA novel about first love, first loss, and filmmaking will delight fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer Niven.

The Edge of Gone

On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

“One of the best apocalyptic thrillers, and certainly one of the most character centred, in years.” Starburst Magazine

“Utterly superb” SFX magazine

“Read this book. Please. Because it’s brilliant, *and* you might learn something in the process.” Jax Blunt, Liveotherwise

A thrilling, thought-provoking novel from one of young-adult literature’s boldest new talents. January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter—a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

This is the Story of You

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephard

On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But then a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, upending all logic and stranding Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland. Nothing will ever be the same. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing disappears. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on-to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future. Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is 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.

Every Falling Star

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee & Susan McCleelland

“Lee’s story is beautiful, even though it’s hard-hitting and eye-opening.” - The Whispering of the Pages

“It’s a visceral and breathtaking account of hardship, injustice, violence, hunger and raw survival so extreme that readers in the UK (especially those already familiar with the dystopian landscapes imagined by James Dashner, Michael Grant et al) might find it barely credible … ultimately, this is not so much a story about suffering, as one that underlines the importance of hope, love, friendship and family for all of us as human beings.” - Teach Secondary

Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who was forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly recreates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, “his brothers,” to daily be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters

“Cat is a master in creating strong heroines and Hanalee is no exception.” – The Daily Prophecy

“It was a beautiful book. With a beautiful story. I couldn’t have loved it more than I did. The Steep and Thorny Way is one of a kind.” – Carina Olsen

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten. 1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather. The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontës by Lena Coakley

“This fantastic novel looks at the isolated lives of the Brontë children, cleverly combining fact with fiction. Each chapter is told from an alternate point of view, allowing insight into each character’s driving force, as well as exploring the creative beginnings of their literary masterpieces. It is a fascinating and heart-breaking read.” BookTrust

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, transporting them into the glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. As they grow older, the children realise that not only are they imagining these glorious places, they are also truly crossing over, as both inhabitants and creators. When one imagined character, the Earl of Northangerland, follows Emily back home, Emily becomes caught up in a tortured romance with him, and it is only when Anne disappears that Charlotte realises she and her siblings must get to the bottom of their abilities in order to save Anne and possibly themselves. Gorgeously written and meticulously researched, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life the upbringing of one of history’s most celebrated literary families.

The Romantics

The Romantics by Leah Konen

Perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rainbow Rowell, The Romantics will charm readers of all ages. Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.

Seven Ways We Lie

 “Seven Ways We Lie is a superb contemporary YA read, touching upon many different issues facing young people today and with a diverse cast of characters. It’s clever, gripping and hugely relatable, making it not only fun novel for today’s teens but also a very important one.” – Page to Stage Reviews

“I love the way their stories intertwined” – Snuggling on the Sofa, Blog

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins, and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view. The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether it’s the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But it’s Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper—obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend—is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she can’t have, her charmed life starts to unravel.

Then rumors of a student–teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations—or be ruined by them.

Riley Redgate’s twisty YA debut effortlessly weaves humor, heartbreak, and redemption into a drama that fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins will adore.


 

What is your favourite A&CB YA from 2016? Vote for yours @ACBYA #ACBfavs.

Literary Heroines | The Michaela MacColl Collection

Michaela MacColl

This week Michaela MacColl’s latest YA masterpiece; Secrets in the Snowwas released: to celebrate we are here to take a look at her library of literary heroines. From Louisa May Alcott to Emily Dickens, MacColl has brought our favourite authors to life with fictionalised stories based on their real lives.

The Revelation of Louisa May

The Revelation of Louisa May: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance

Louisa May Alcott can’t believe it—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and Louisa is to be in charge of the household. How will she find the time to write her stories, much less have any adventures of her own? But before long, Louisa finds herself juggling her temperamental father, a mysterious murder, a fugitive seeking refuge along the Underground Railroad and blossoming love.
Intertwining fact, fiction and quotes from Little Women, Michaela MacColl has crafted another plucky heroine whose story will keep readers turning pages until the very end.

The Revelation of Louisa May

Always Emily

Always Emily

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are as opposite as two sisters can be, but they have one thing in common: a love of writing. Can they use their imaginations to determine the connection between the mysterious death of a neighbour and the appearance of a handsome stranger? And will Emily find love along the way?

Always Emily

Nobody's Secret

Nobody’s Secret

When fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a mysterious, hand¬some young man who doesn’t seem to know who she or her family is and playfully refuses to divulge his name, she’s intrigued. She enjoys her secret flirtation with “Mr. Nobody”—until he turns up dead in her family’s pond. She’s stricken with guilt and is deter¬mined to discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he’s buried in an anonymous grave, an investigation that takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger. A celebration of Emily Dickinson’s intellect and spunk, this exquisitely written and meticulously researched page-turner will excite fans of mystery, romance and poetry alike.

Secrets In The Snow

Secrets In the Snow 

Jane Austen‘s family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels, and finds every suitor lacking—until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives. Could he be the one? Before Jane can find out, she must solve a murder, clear her family’s name and face a decision that might cost her true love.

Have you got a favourite? Share it with us @ACBYA #MichaelaMacColl.

Klickitat By Peter Rock | Chapter Preview

Happy Book Birthday Peter Rock!

Klickitat is out TODAY.

Klickitat

Vivian feels left behind when her older sister, Audra, runs away from home. She believes that Audra will return and pays careful attention to the clues around her. Then, inexplicably, writing begins to appear in a blank notebook.

When Audra does come back for Vivian, she’s in the company of a strange man. The three of them run away together and practice wilderness survival. While Audra plans for the future, Vivian continues to gather evidence: Who is this mysterious man, and does he have any connection to the words appearing in her notebook?

Read the first chapter of this haunting new novel now: Klickitat 1st Chapter.

Seven Ways We Lie | Chapter Preview

Seven Ways We Lie

In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins, and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view.

The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether it’s the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But it’s Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper—obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend—is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she can’t have, her charmed life starts to unravel.

Then rumours of a student–teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations—or be ruined by them.

Riley Redgate’s twisty YA debut effortlessly weaves humour, heartbreak, and redemption into a drama that fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins will adore.

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate| March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

On Sale 8th March. But you can read the first chapter TODAY! 

Simply click here: Seven Ways We Lie 1st Chapter Preview.

Happy Reading Book Lovers.

Seven Ways We Lie

 

 

Coming to a Bookstore Near You…

2016 Young Adult

We are naming 2016 The Year of YA! We can’t help it, we have some incredible YA books coming your way over the next 12 months. Today we are here to show you the best of the first half of this year.

The Edge of Gone

This March we are publishing On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. This thrilling, thought-provoking novel from one of young-adult literature’s boldest new talents is sure to satisfy fans of Otherbound.

January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter—a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis | March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

Seven Ways We Lie

In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins, and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view.

The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether it’s the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But it’s Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper—obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend—is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she can’t have, her charmed life starts to unravel.

Then rumours of a student–teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations—or be ruined by them.

Riley Redgate’s twisty YA debut effortlessly weaves humour, heartbreak, and redemption into a drama that fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins will adore.

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate| March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

The Steep and Thorny Way

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters | March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings find escape from their constrained lives via their rich imaginations. The glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy world of Gondal literally come to life under their pens, offering the sort of romance and intrigue missing from their isolated parsonage home. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as the characters they have created—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families in a thrilling, suspenseful fantasy.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley| March 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

Klickitat

Vivian feels left behind when her older sister, Audra, runs away from home. She believes that Audra will return and pays careful attention to the clues around her. Then, inexplicably, writing begins to appear in a blank notebook.

When Audra does come back for Vivian, she’s in the company of a strange man. The three of them run away together and practice wilderness survival. While Audra plans for the future, Vivian continues to gather evidence: Who is this mysterious man, and does he have any connection to the words appearing in her notebook?

Klickitat is a haunting story, full of atmosphere and awakening, crafted by one of today’s most startling literary talents.

Klickitat by Peter Rock | April 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

This is the Story of You

On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But then a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, upending all logic and stranding Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland. Nothing will ever be the same. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing disappears. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on-to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future. Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is 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.

This is the Story of You By Beth Kephart| April 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £11.99

Devil and the Bluebird

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.
Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places. In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a captivating depiction of loss and hope.

Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black | May 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £10.99

Gena Finn

Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences-Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend-the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction. When disaster strikes and Gena’s world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes witha price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age.

Gena/Finn By Kat Helgeson and Hannah Moskowitz| May 2016 | Hardcover with Jacket | £11.99

Vote for your favourite at @ACBYA!

Watch this space for more YA news!

Countdown to Untamed | A.G Howard answers the questions we’ve been dying to ask!

Untamed

With less than a week to go excitement is building for the release of Untamed, with humans and netherlings alike!

To celebrate the release of this final trip down the rabbit hole, we asked A.G Howard to answer some questions we’ve been dying to ask:

  1. Do you have a favourite book in the series? Untamed, because I love happy endings! :)
  1. Which book in the series has your favourite cover? Unhinged. Purple and blue are my two favorite colors.
  1.  Who would you cast to play Alyssa in a Splintered movie? Emily Browning or Avril Levine.
  1. Which character do you identify with with most? We both love to thrift shop and have a fear of heights.
  1. Who is your favourite Alice In Wonderland Character? The caterpillar, naturally. ;)
  1. What would be the one piece of advice you would give your teenage self? The most important thing you’ll ever need is a strong core of self-respect. Self-respect comes from knowing, accepting, and loving who you are. We’re all individuals. So how can someone else’s idea of normal be the same as yours? We have different gifts that make us unique. Find what yours are and embrace them—nurture and grow them. Because if you’re true to yourself, even if you’re teased about it sometimes, you will find your own version of “normal.” And in turn, you’ll find your happiness.

Also, you can read more advice I’ve given to my teen self on this Dear Teen Me Interview from a couple of years ago.

  1. What has been your favourite YA release of 2015? I just finished a wonderful retelling of the Little Mermaid by Esther Dalseno called DROWN (October 2015 by 3 Little Birds Books). This was nothing like the Disney version. It was dark, lush, and touching. It broke my heart in several places. Everything a good retelling should be.
  1. What are you writing now? I’m working on my next YA classical spinoff for Abrams, called ROSEBLOOD. Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads: This Phantom of the Opera retelling / spin-off follows a high school senior who is sent to RoseBlood Academy—a French boarding school for musical arts inside a renovated opera house rumored to have ties to the classic opera—only to discover a very real danger lurks within that has awaited her for over a century. I’m having a lot of fun in this new, haunting world filled with music, magic, unrequited love, jealous rivals, and eccentric and mysterious personalities. Can’t wait to share it with everyone in 2017!
Thank you A.G. Howard for bringing the Splintered series into our lives! We can’t wait to read Untamed! LESS THAN A WEEK TO GO! Celebrate the release of this final installment with us; share your favourite moments from the series with us on Twitter @ACBYA!

Splintered Series

Here are some of our favourite reviews for the series, thank you to all the amazing bloggers who have jumped down the rabbit hole with us year after year!

“The setting was jaw-droppingly awesome, the characters jump off the page, the adventure was badass in every level and the twist in the end was unexpectedly heartbreaking. Need I say more?” Books For YA

“Splintered, you’re gothic and twisted but you’re mine. Now let’s officially move you onto my favourite bookshelf”. Reflections of a Booksworm

“Splintered is a wonderful retelling of the original Alice in Wonderland. Readers will love the madness, romance, action, and the dark twists and turns of the story. Howard’s outstanding writing, bizarre but loveable characters and mysteriously fresh tale will take you to a whole world where everything is unexpected yet fascinating” – Word Contessa

“Splintered is an utterly captivating story on so many levels and I am sure is set to be a classic in its own right. A feast for the imagination as well as the eyes”. – Book Angel Booktopia

“I really can’t urge everyone enough to go pick up this highly addictive book, because I can promise you that you’ll not have read anything like it before!” – Fiction Fascination

“I highly recommend this series to you all. Take a tumble down the dark brightly coloured rabbit hole, play with devious and alluring Wonderland creatures and put your mind to the test and see if you want to resurface from this read.” Big Book Little Book Blog

“The perfect continuation from Splintered, Unhinged was madness and crazy combined into a pocket of badassery encased with gruesome creatures and magic. Suspense and a cliff-hanger that’ll leave you wanting Ensnared the minute you finish reading, Wonderland really was only the beginning.” Studioreads Blog

“‘Unhinged’ builds on ‘Splintered’ in the best way, and Howard has really done an excellent job with this development. It’s a gripping read, that really works on the mystery behind the story, and, more than anything, leaves me dying for Book Three. 2015 can’t come quicker.” One Round Panda 

“This story had me under its spell from page one. Ensnared is a terrific (and satisfying) conclusion to an amazing series.” Kate Ormand

Everything described is just so wonderfully insane and bizarre that I just can’t help but love every single aspect of it. A.G. Howard’s writing and world building is so incredibly good. She has this way with words that make a story come alive.” - IrisjeXx Blog

“Ensnared is an epic adventure, full of deception, romance, and lots of magic.” - Much Loved  Books Blog

Five Questions Monday |Courtney Sheinmel

The lovely Courtney Sheinmel took our Five Questions Monday Quiz!

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Scrambled, with cheese in them.

What’s your favourite joke?

I teach a writing workshop every Tuesday afternoon at a non-profit called Writopia Lab and one of my teen students informed me that the classic joke, Why did the chicken cross the road?, is about death. The answer, To get to the other side, is a reference to the afterlife, because the chicken was most certainly hit by a car in the act of crossing. I don’t know if she was right about that, but I love how her interpretation turned something silly into something profound.

As a kid, my favorite was: Why is six afraid of seven? Answer: Because seven ATE nine. I loved it so much I wrote it into one of the Stella Batts books.

What film character are you most like?

When it comes to ordering in a restaurant, I am a bit like Sally Albright from Nora Ephron’s classic, When Harry Met Sally. I’m particular about my soda with no ice in it, and extra cheese on just about everything, and fries well done, and ice cream on the side. What can I say? I want it the way I want it.

What is the first book you ever read?

The first book I remember reading is THE LITTLEST RABBIT, by Robert Kraus, about a rabbit who was smaller than all his rabbit peers. He was not even as big as a carrot. Throughout my school career, I was always the shortest kid in class. I saw a lot of myself in that little guy.

Would you rather be poor and work at a job you love or be rich and work at a job you hate?

I left behind the steady salary of a law firm associate to be a full time writer with no salary guarantees, so I guess there’s your answer.

 

Her new book Edgewater is out now! You can read the first chapter on our website. 

Edgewater (1)

#FiveYearsOfBooks | Top Five Young Adult Fiction

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We have a lot of love for our Young Adult list. Who wouldn’t when we have authors like A.G Howard and Cat Winters! This eclectic Top 5 represents the best of the best from our YA list.

Did your favourite make the cut? 

Splintered
Splintered
A. G. Howard
Abrams

We fell down the rabbit hole with A.G. Howard’s Splintered in 2013, and we haven’t wanted to come out since. The Splintered series is a firm favourite in our office, including fierce debates over #TeamJeb and #TeamMorpheus. There was never a question of this title not appearing in our Young Adult Top 5!

But don’t take our word for it…

“A beautiful retelling of a classic tale. High concept romance, young adult fiction with huge potential” METRO

“Brilliantly conceived, utterly original and a triumph of modern writing” Books Monthly

“There’s always been something a bit creepy about The Alice in Wonderland story but A.G. Howard’s take on it out Goths Tim Burton” SFX

“Splintered deserves to be read. It does a better job of a ‘dark’ Wonderland than either McGee’s Alice or Tim Burton’s recent sequel” Starburst Magazine

“Overall, this was a really exceptional read. The setting was jaw-droppingly awesome, the characters jump off the page, the adventure was badass in every level and the twist in the end was unexpectedly heartbreaking. Need I say more? If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re missing out on a lot of awesomeness. Read it now!” Books for YA

“Splintered, you’re gothic and twisted but you’re mine. Now let’s officially move you onto my favourite bookshelf”. Reflections of a Bookworm

“Splintered is a wonderful retelling of the original Alice in Wonderland. Readers will love the madness, romance, action, and the dark twists and turns of the story. Howard’s outstanding writing, bizarre but loveable characters and mysteriously fresh tale will take you to a whole world where everything is unexpected yet fascinating.”Say It With Books

“Splintered is an utterly captivating story on so many levels and I am sure is set to be a classic in its own right. A feast for the imagination as well as the eyes”. Book Angel Booktopia

“I could not have hoped for a better renewal of a favourite classic” Realm of Fiction

“I really can’t urge everyone enough to go pick up this highly addictive book, because I can promise you that you’ll not have read anything like it before!” Fiction Fascination

“I was absorbed straight away.” Journey Through Fiction gives Splintered 4.5 Stars

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers, precisely the problem that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. Surely, she tells herself, it has nothing to do with the fact that she is directly descended from Alice Liddell, the real life inspiration for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. But when her mother takes a turn for the worse and the whispers grow too strong to bear, Alyssa learns that she’s not mad but she must find the origins of a secret family curse…

The Cure for Dreaming
Cure for Dreaming, The
Cat Winters
Abrams

Cat Winters’ The Cure for Dreaming is pure magic. The elegant proses weave a story of love, rebellion and the power of truth. We cannot praise this book enough, it left us feeling strong, determined and hopeful. The Cure for Dreaming, with a tip of our hat to In the Shadow of Blackbirds, is number two in our Top 5 YA list.

On October 31, 1900, the mesmerizing Henri Reverie will perform his hypnotic feats.

…………………………………….

Stand when commanded!

Speak when commanded!

Think when commanded!

…………………………………….

Let Monsier Reverie control your mind & who knows what you will see…

Olivia Mead’s father wants to elimiate her rebellious thoughts. But the hypnotist he hires to stamp out her independence ends up giving her a gift: the ability to see people are they really are.

Monsters. Victims. Madmen. Friends.

Terrifying and enlightening, Olivia’s visions tell  her who is trustworthy and who is dangerous. But only she can find a way to make her mind her own again.

“I feel like you should all read and love The Cure for Dreaming. Because it was honestly a perfect book. The writing is gorgeous. Which I knew it would be. And the story is full of heart and so perfect. And the characters. Sigh. Cat is amazing at writing characters that I fall in love with. So yes. You should all go pre-order this book right away. Because you will need to read it when it comes out in October. It will be worth it.” Five Star review, Carina Olsen – blogger

” The ending was bittersweet, it made me feel both sad and hopeful. All in all, The Cure for Dreaming was a deliciously compelling read full of atmosphere and allure.”The Page Turner

‘For those of you wanting to fall in love with reading again, this is certainly the book for you. There is nothing that keeps you glued to the pages quite so strongly as injustice and a small group of people who rally against it, which this book has in spades. Try as I might to find fault with the story, I was unable to, so it would be completely unfair to judge this book to be anything other than a five out of five and a must-read.’ 5* review on The Bookbag

‘The Cure for Dreaming proves the potential, relevance, and importance of YA fiction. It’s entertaining, educational and mystical. YA naysayers may have just met their match.” Starburst Magazine

“With great imagination, an interesting twist, historical photographs, and a fresh voice, Cat Winters is a true talent to be celebrated. Whatever this author writes, I want!” Kate Ormand, author

“After this, there is no more doubt: Cat Winters is an unstoppable literary force. She does her research, she combines fact with simply marvelous fiction, she touches our hearts and somehow teaches us all a valuable lesson in the process. What more could we possibly want?” The Nocturnal Library

“A truly mesmerising read, this is one you won’t want to miss out on!”Opinionatedcupcakes, blogger

‘The book is a timely reminder that political equality of is hard fought for and hard fought against’ – SFX Magazine

“Olivia is everything you could ask for in a character” The Daily Prophecy, blog

Elena Vanishing
Elena Vanishing
A Memoir
Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle
Chronicle Books

Elena is a fighter, a survivor – but never a victim. This isn’t just the story of anorexia. It’s the story of a person. This is Elena’s story.

Elena Vanishing is a bit of a departure from our traditional YA publishing, but this powerful memoir, paired with it’s companion Hope & Other Luxuries written by Clare B. Dunkle; Elena’s mother, is a reading experience unlike anything else. Reading this story of desperation and ultimately hope from two sides of the same coin creates a raw and honest portrayal of a families struggle with a life-threatening eating disorder.

Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia.

Deep, emotional, but ultimately hopefully Elena Vanishing has added another level to our YA list and as such earned it’s place in our Top 5 YA books list.

Otherbound
Otherbound
Corinne Duyvis
Abrams

Corinne Duyvis’ debut novel, Otherbound is a wholly unique story. It takes place across two minds, two worlds, two genders that come together in the blink of an eye.

Every time Nolan closes his eyes, he doesn’t see darkness. Instead he’s transported into the mind of Amara, a girl living in a different world. Nolan’s world is our world, full of history tests, family problems and laundry; his parents think he has epilepsy, judging from his frequent blackouts. Amara’s world is full of magic and danger and she’s a mute slave girl who’s tasked with protecting a renegade princess. Nolan is an observer only in Amara’s world — until he’s not. At first, Amara’s terrified by this new presence controlling her. But they eventually learn that the only way to protect the princess and escape danger is to work together. It’s a fascinating premise, clearly and compellingly written and imagined.

This incredible story will carry you to places you don’t expect and is an essential addition to our Top 5 YA books list.

“Gritty and violent at times, this is an intelligent, satisfying YA novel.” 250th anniversary issue, SFX magazine.

‘I really enjoyed it and and for the readers looking for some more diversity in their books, I highly recommend Otherbound, because there’s a big chance this is the book that you’ve been waiting for!’ Irisjexx

‘Otherbound is magical ‘ you’ll read the first page and before you know it the book has ended and you’ll want to start again.’ Luna’s Little Library.

‘Otherbound is not just your standard heard-it-all-before book and run of the mill characters. In that way and in so many others with its enthralling and vivid factors, it’s truly one of the best Fantasy books I’ve read in a while and reminded me why I love these types of books. With adventure, a captivating journey from a contemporary world to fantasy, Otherbound will surely be on my five-star reads recommended list for a very long time.’ Pretty Little Memoirs.

“With diverse relatable characters and relationships that are constantly in danger and on the run, with twists and betrayal and a complex world and complicated characters who actually swear, Otherbound was an intense journey.’ Kirstie Marie Jones

“A really great modern fantasy read for all ages!” LGBT YA Reviews

The Storyteller
The Storyteller,
Antonia Michaelis
Abrams

A classic from our YA list, The Storyteller is a dark addition to our Top 5 YA reads. This novel shows Antonia Michaelis moving in a bold new direction: a dark, haunting contemporary novel that is part mystery, part romance, part melodrama.

Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different.

They are both 17, in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house, her father a doctor, her mother a literature professor at university. Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in the big cage-like tower blocks at the edge of town, full of people without work, without money, without future.

Anna is afraid of him until she finds a child’s doll that he has dropped and, in returning it to him, realises that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairytale that Anna comes to see has basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father, an insistent social worker, and to his own inability to make ends meet.

Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his ‘enemies’ begin to turn up dead, she fears she’s fallen for a murderer.

Is your favourite not here? Let us know which of our books you think should be in our top 5, & why you love it so much!

One Thing Stolen, The Cover Story

It happens. Hopefully, not often. But it happens. A final novel cover design was reconsidered at the 11th hour, scrapped, and we started over.

Set in Florence, Italy, One Thing Stolen is the story of Nadia Cara, a teen suffering from a rare neurological disorder. As she slowly loses her ability to speak, she gains a profound artistic drive and begins stealing objects to weave into elaborate handmade nests. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom no one but herself has seen. While her father researches a 1966 flood that nearly destroyed Florence, Nadia wonders if she herself can be rescued—or if she will disappear.

The book was originally entitled Mud Angels after a group of people who helped restore the city of Florence after the devastating flood in 1966. The editor and I discussed various directions the cover could take, and we kept coming back to the imagery of a nest. It was a strong recurring theme throughout the book, and we felt the symbolism of a nest – an empty one in particular – spoke to both Nadia’s new artistic obsession and her deteriorating state of mind.

Mud Angels

Of the original rough concepts, we were most interested in pursuing the look of options G and H. We felt a more graphic style would stand out well on the shelves in stores and online. During these early discussions, the title changed to One Thing Stolen. We hired a wonderfully talented illustrator and executed a gorgeous cover. Done! Well…not quite.

Ultimately, the book is about language and beauty, imagining and knowing, and the deep salvation of love. And it’s a bit of a mystery. Even though we’d created a gorgeous cover with the nest imagery, it just didn’t say enough about the story and Nadia as a character. We didn’t feel the cover was doing its job well enough to really represent the story and to sell the book. So I started over with a new round of concepts that spoke more to those ideas and themes and which also gave more of a sense of place to ground the story.

One Thing Stolen Cover Art

Of these concepts, we decided to explore A and E. A definitely felt mysterious but also a bit creepy. We did like the drama of the tight shot of a girl, though. E had all the right elements (the skyline of Florence, a strong character, allusion to something amiss with the color from the painting seeping into her head), but the girl felt too old. We took each direction a bit further.

OTS_blog_post_covers.indd OTS_blog_post_covers.indd

Even though the story is quite moody, there are some bright and hopeful moments. After much discussion, we decided to go with the brighter cover and took a close look at how each girl option changed the tone and mood of the character and cover. In the end, we chose a girl similar in pose to the original concept but who felt the right age to represent Nadia.

Though the path to the final cover took an unexpected turn, the final design truly represents the book in a way our original cover didn’t, so it was well worth the effort and long hours to make it happen. Once you read the book, I hope you’ll agree.

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