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Exploring Young Adult books of the Inky Awards.

Founded in 2007, the Inky Awards celebrate the increasingly popular Young Adult (YA) genre. Each year, Australia’s young adults are given the opportunity to vote for their favourite YA release of the year. The awards are divided into two categories: the Gold Inky is for Australian fiction and the Silver Inky is for International fiction. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic the awards will not run this year so we are going to dive a little deeper into the 2019 Gold Award shortlist and its winner. 

After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

This is a gripping tale that was super popular. Seventeen-year-old Pru Palmer lives with her twin sisters, Grace and Blythe, and their father, Rick, on the outskirts of an isolated mining community. The Palmers are doomsday preppers. They have a bunker filled with non-perishable food and a year’s worth of water. One day while Rick is at the mine, the power goes out. At the Palmer’s house, and in the town. All communication is cut. No one knows why. It doesn’t take long for everything to unravel. In town, supplies run out and people get desperate. The sisters decide to keep their bunker a secret. The world is different; the rules are different. Survival is everything, and family comes first.

Hive by A.J. Betts

This one is for all of the science fiction lovers. Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known. Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling. A drip? It doesn’t make sense. Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it. Curiosity is a hook. What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

You can find Rogue, the sequel to Hive, here.

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

This story is a heart-pounding adventure with magical inventions about finding one’s place in a sharply divided world. 

Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives.

So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he has to question whether they are even related. Still, whether or not they’re family, Anders knows that Rayna is his best and only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away.

In order to rescue her, Anders will have to enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than blind obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shape-shifting force of all.

You can find the whole Elementals series on Booko.

The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot

Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands; Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does. And her mother? Lottie’s mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her. The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.

Whisper by Lynette Noni

Whisper won the Gold Inky Award in 2019. 

Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people, they told me. It’s for people just like you. I believed them. That was my mistake. There isn’t anyone else in the world like me. I’m different. I’m an anomaly. I’m a monster. For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four, Jane Doe, has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word. Life at Lengard follows a strict, torturous routine that has never changed. Until now. When Jane is assigned a new and unexpectedly kind evaluator, her resolve begins to crack, despite her best efforts. As she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious program, Jane discovers that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot and one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world.

Jane Doe’s story finishes in the sequel, Weapon.

White Night by Ellie Marney

In Bo Mitchell’s country town, a ‘White Night’ light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden? As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader’s goal to go off the grid may be more permanent – and more dangerous – than anyone could have predicted.

Enjoy!

The Newest YA Books Hitting the Shelves

The secret is out – YA (Young Adult fiction) is one of the most exciting and popular book categories at the moment.  Gone is the stigma of grownups reading ‘kids books’ –  readers of all ages are attracted to YA for its strong narratives, awareness of social causes, and championing of diversity and the authenticity of #ownvoices experience. With strong new releases every season, we’ll take a look at some recent hits:

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengenace is the highly-anticipated sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, one of the strongest YA debuts ever.  Having brought magic back to the kingdom of Orisha, the feisty heroine, Zelie Adebola, finds out that the unexpected consequences of her actions may derail her fight against oppression. This fantasy trilogy is set in West Africa, with inspiration from Harry Potter, West African mythology and the Black Lives Matter movement.  Tomi Adeyemi deftly uses her fictitious realm to explore issues of racism, oppression and slavery.  Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a solid second instalment, leading up to a huge finish in the third and final volume.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for one of the wealthiest families in Atlanta. By night, she moonlights as Miss Sweetie, the author of a newspaper advice column. When her column becomes popular, she uses it to challenge society’s ideas about race and gender, and must step up to overcome the backlash that follows.  Stacey Lee is a Chinese-American writer whose stories reinterpret historical events from a Chinese-American perspective.  Downstairs Girl is a powerful novel about identity, betrayal and the meaning of family.

Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto

If you love High Fantasy with mythical creatures then be sure to check out The Crown of Feathers saga.  Heart of Flames is the second instalment, continuing this story about siblings Val and Veronyka, who dream of joining the Phoenix Riders, a disbanded band of elite warriors who have empathic links to the phoenixes they ride.  Within the political machinations and tensions of an unstable world, Val, Veronyka and their friends discover their distinct identities, fall in love, and strive towards their goals.  Nicki Pau Preto does a great job of world-building, and of fleshing out her characters, by telling the story from multiple perspectives.

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan

Award-winning author Renee Watson teams up with poet Ellen Hagan to give us a stirring story about feminist activism and empowerment.  Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends attending a social justice-focussed high school in New York.  When they realise that sexism and racism are rife even in their progressive school, these strong-willed teens fight hard to make sure their voices – and those of other young women – can still be heard.  Watch Us Rise is a dynamic, complex story with a multidimensional, diverse cast.  The use of a dual narrative, and the inclusion of art, poetry and blogs to drive the story, add extra interest.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt The Flame is a new quest adventure set in a realm inspired by ancient Arabia. Zafira is a strong, skilled hunter tasked to bring back a magical artefact in order to save her world.  Disguised as a man for self-protection, Zafira is pursued by, but eventually forms an uneasy alliance with, the King’s Assassin.  Will they succeed on their perilous journey? We Hunt the Flame is a story of conquering fear and creating your own destiny; of morality and understanding.  Hafsah Faizal is a debut author who has drawn upon her Arabic and Muslim heritage to craft a rich fantasy world.  We Hunt the Flame is a read-alike for books by Tamora Pierce, and perfect for fans of the game Assassin’s Creed.

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon balances classic tropes of YA romance (an exclusive boarding school, young royals, and uber-rich “beautiful people”) with a dash of fantasy, and an earnest exploration of the issues of loneliness and parental expectations, to give a fresh take on the Beauty and the Beast story.  Indian princesses Jaya Rao and Isha have been shipped off to the exclusive St Rosetta’s academy to ride out a scandal surrounding younger sister Isha.  Jaya vows to take revenge on fellow student Grey Emerson, whose family has been feuding with the Raos for generations, and whom Jaya believes caused Isha’s scandal.  Both Jaya and Grey grow in self-awareness and independence during their funny and romantic enemies-to-lovers journey.