Ones to Watch

There are so many great books published that it's easy to lose track through the year.  

Each month we'll be choosing some of our favourite new UK YA book releases and highlighting books to look forward to later in the year.

Keep checking back!


The Big Ask
Simon James Green

Harvey is popular, cool, plays football and has been in a relationship with his girlfriend Summer for as long as anyone can remember. Alfie is not popular, not cool, has a sick note so he doesn’t have to play any sport, and has been in a relationship with his Xbox since forever. So when Summer dramatically dumps Harvey just a few days before the school prom, no one is expecting Alfie to ask Harvey to be his date. Least of all Alfie. But sometimes amazing things can happen when you take a chance …

Funny, relatable, packed full of heart and hopeful with it.  A book to make you feel better!

Four Eids and a Funeral
Faride Abike-Iyimide and AdibaJaigirdar

Said hates Tiwa. And Tiwa would happily never see Said again in her life. Growing up, the two were inseparable, but they have barely spoken since the incident many Eids ago and both of them would like to keep it that way. But when Said comes home for a funeral and the town's Islamic Centre burns down on the same day, they have to face each other again and sparks fly.

Both of them want to see the Islamic Centre rebuilt. For Tiwa, it represents the community that she loves and a way to keep her fractured family together. For Said, it's an opportunity to build his portfolio for his secret application to art school, where he hopes that he'll be able to pursue his dreams of becoming an artist, rather than a doctor.

Working with your sworn enemy is never easy, and this could be the hardest thing that Said and Tiwa have ever done. Can they save the Islamic Centre, Eid - and their relationship?

A feel-good, will they/won't they romcom about finding your people and sticking together.

Us in the Before and After
Jenny Valentine

At the start of a long, hot summer best friends Elk and Mab face the fallout of a sudden death, and the lifelong consequences of a single tragic act.

Tearjerker, heartbreaker, pageturner.  An absolute mustread.


Glasgow Boys
Margaret McDonald

Meet Finlay. He's studying for his nursing degree at Glasgow University, against all the odds. But coming straight from care means he has no support network.  How can he write essays, find paid work and NOT fall for the beautiful boy at uni, when he's struggling to even feed himself?

Meet Banjo. He's trying to settle in with his new foster family and finish high school. But he can't forget all that has happened, and his anger and fear keep boiling over. How can he hold on to the one good person in his life, when his outbursts keep threatening his already uncertain future?

Can Finlay and Banjo let go of the past before it drags them under?

Heartbreaking but hopeful story of community, male friendship and accepting yourself.

If My Words Had Wings
Danielle Jawando

When fifteen-year-old Tyrell Forrester gets caught up in a high-profile armed robbery, he's sentenced to two years in a young offenders’ prison. Now he’s getting out, and he’s determined to turn his life around. But despite his release, systemic discrimination makes it difficult for Ty to truly be free. Inspired by a visiting poet while inside, Ty discovers a whole new world through spoken word and is finally finding his voice. But will society ever see him as anything other than a criminal?

A hard-hitting story of the power of poetry,  finding your voice and not letting your past limit your future.  


The Reappearance of Rachel Price
Holly Jackson

18-year-old Bel has lived her whole life in the shadow of her mom’s mysterious disappearance. Sixteen years ago, Rachel Price vanished and young Bel was the only witness. Rachel is gone, presumed dead.

The case is dragged up from the past when the Price family agree to a true crime documentary. Bel can’t wait for filming to end, for life to go back to normal. But then Rachel Price reappears, and life will never be normal again …

Addictive, intriguing mystery thriller from one of our favourite NETBA winners!


Where the Heart Should Be
Sarah Crossan

Ireland, 1846 Nell is working as a scullery maid in the kitchen of the Big House. Once she loved school and books and dreaming. But there's not much choice of work when the land grows food that rots in the earth. Now she is scrubbing, peeling, washing, sweeping for Sir Philip Wicken, the man who owns her home, her family's land, their crops, everything.

His dogs are always well fed, even as famine sets in. Upstairs in the Big House, where Nell is forbidden to enter, is Johnny Browning, newly arrived from England: the young nephew who will one day inherit it all. And as hunger and disease run rampant all around them, a spark of life and hope catches light when Nell and Johnny find each other.

Powerful, moving, unforgettable. Definitely her best book yet.

Lie Or Die
A J Clack

When a casting call is announced for new reality TV show Lie or Die, Kass is tricked into auditioning by her best friend. Big Brother meets Mafia, Lie or Die pits contestants against each other as they try to discover who is a murderous agent and who is an innocent player. But when contestants start to turn up dead (the real kind, not the fake kind), Kass realises that not being eliminated and winning the game is the least of her worries. No longer a game of truth and lies, Kass and her friends are in a fight for survival. 'Reality' just got very real.

Brilliantly clever, twisty turny thriller.  This book has it all!

Where Sleeping Girls Lie
Faridah Abike-Iyimide

Hussein is the new girl at Alfred Nobel Academy, a prestigious mixed boarding school. She's always been home-schooled, and has no idea what to expect when she steps through the doors of her imposing new home.

But she certainly didn't imagine her roommate, Elizabeth, going missing on her first night. Or for people to think Sade had something to do with it.Instead of blending in, suddenly everyone is talking about Sade, including the Unholy Trinity - a group of the most popular girls at the school.

Swept up in their circle, Sade still can't shake the sense that there's more to Elizabeth's disappearance - especially as no one seems to care what's happened to her. And then a student is found dead.

With sinister secrets rising to the surface of Alfred Noble Academy, Sade and her new friends must uncover the truth surrounding Elizabeth's disappearance and bring the culprits to justice...before Sade's own secrets catch up to her.

A darkly terrifying mystery thriller which will make you think again about the world you live in...

The Things We Leave Behind
Clare Furness

Civil unrest in London has reached an all-time high after years of a growing authoritarian regime, and it’s no longer safe for Clem and her half-sister Billie in the city. Clem tells of their treacherous journey to Scotland, by road and then by sea, fleeing with nothing but a notebook filled with stories and memories of home. But is there something Clem's not saying? And how will this journey – and the sisters’ story – end?  With the start of a new life? Or a mirror held up to the past?

Sharply observed,  dystopian reimagining of the refugee crisis.  Heartbreakingly relevant and compulsively readable.


Seven Million Sunflowers
Malcolm Duffy

15-year-old Kateryno and her family live in Kharkiv. Their lives are shattered when on February 24th 2022 the Russian army invades. Their apartment block is struck by a missile. After weeks living in their basement, Kateryno, her mother, and brother, decide to leave, joining seven million Ukrainian refugees. They come to England and meet their host family, the Hawkins. But their new beginning brings a whole new set of problems.

An honest, eye-opening story of what it's really like to escape a war and how tough it is to start again.   Packed full of hope and heart, this is a must-read.


Little Bang
Kelly McCaughrain

Beneath the New Year's Eve fireworks, shy science-nerd Mel and slacker songwriter Sid get pregnant on their first date. Any sixteen-year-olds would expect trouble – but this is Northern Ireland 2018, where abortion is still illegal. Mel's religious parents insist she must keep the baby, whilst Sid's feminist mum pushes for a termination.

Mel and Sid are determined to do this together, but they soon discover that pregnancy is totally different for boys and girls. When their relationship starts to fall apart under all the pressure, Mel finds herself feeling alone with the impossible dilemma of the Little Bang growing inside her...

A hugely powerful and thoughtful story of first relationships, making choices and being the change.  Funny and full of heart,  you won't stop thinking about this one.

You Wouldn't Catch Me Dead
Tess James-Mackey

Keely planned to keep her head down at her new school - she isn't there to make friends or memories, she just wants to be left alone.

In order to get into college, she is roped into a programme that involves camping in the Welsh wilderness with five over-keen try-hards. Her plan is to keep her head down, keep her mouth shut and get through the next few days.

But Keely is running from something. Something that drove her family out of their home and to this quiet town. And when her fellow explorers start disappearing and the bodies begin to pile up, she has to ask herself: did she run far enough?

Dark, tightly-plotted and incredibly tense.  We're dying to read this gripping new pageturner.

Signed Sealed Dead
Cynthia Murphy

True-crime obsessed Paige, and her family, move across the Atlantic to her father's eerie hometown, and it's not long before she uncovers the town's dark history - a string of unsolved murders and disappearances in the 90s.

And then notes start appearing at their dilapidated old home,
about the secrets the house is keeping. The clues lead Paige to a diary concealed in the walls that belonged to one of the missing girls. Could this be the key to solving a quarter-of-a-century mystery, or will this make Paige the next target?!

Another intriguing and creepy crime thriller from one of our very favourite authors.   We can't turn the pages fast enough!