A Few of My Favourite… YA Books

smuggler_YA_final2 I’ve been horribly remiss at not mentioning The Book Smugglers’ YA Appreciation Month previously, but hey, I’m guessing you all know about it already (and if not, there is still a week to go!).

Anyway, today, they have invited all and sundry to join the party – if you’ve a YA-related post, just go over to their site and add your link.

I don’t really blog a lot about YA (you could argue I don’t blog a lot, full stop), but YA makes up a good proportion of my reading diet. 

So in honour of YA Appreciation Month, here are a few YA books / series that have been on my mind recently:


The “why did I take so long to read this” YA series: Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief books

51OpuIGbojL._SL160_51MplFBNkVL._SL160_Megan Whalen Turner (warning: reviews on her website have spoilers for the previous books) has created an incredible series.  I think fans of The Thief may be hitting critical mass – certainly I have noticed more and more mentions of these books in the blogosphere recently.  Ana did a fantastic spoiler-free review of the series and pretty much echoed my thoughts.

51jFfciA rL._SL160_I always read the copyright page before plunging into the book (I’m surely not the only one out there), and “The King of Attolia” had these as library keywords:

1. Kings, queens, rulers, etc–Fiction  2. Soldiers–Fiction  3. Loyalty–Fiction  4. Robbers and outlaws–Fiction  5. Adventures and adventurers–Fiction

How could you not be excited about a book with those keywords?

This is very definitely a standout series, YA or otherwise (and expect a separate post coming up!).


51R4585BFDL._SL160_ Next up, the “YA book that needs more love” book: Sharon Shinn’s “Summers at Castle Auburn”

Coriel, the illegitimate daughter of a high-ranking aristocrat, spends most of her life learning herbal medicine from her grandmother, but she spends her summers with her half-sister, Elisandra, at the royal castle where Prince Bryan resides. Corie has always been secretly in love with Bryan, but she is slowly realizing that he is a spoiled, selfish, dangerous man—and that Elisandra dreads her upcoming marriage to the prince. Corie hopes that the prince’s cousin Kent will save Elisandra, while she wonders if the taciturn guard Roderick might play a bigger part in her own life.

I adore Sharon Shinn’s writing.  No matter what she writes.  And she has a trick of closing her books with the most magical lines ever.  Her Samaria and Twelve Houses series get quite a few mentions (and they sit on my keepers shelf), but I don’t hear a lot about this standalone YA of hers.

“Summers at Castle Auburn” is one of my favourite Shinns, a perfect coming-of-age story.  It is very much a comfort read for me, and it never fails to satisfy.  Here’s a review from Jennie – seeing that she read it on my rec, I’m really glad she enjoyed it!


51PGQSREPAL._SL160_ And finally, the “I’ll never outgrow this YA series” books: Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness” quartet

Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn’t meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden–a female knight. But in the land of Tortall, women aren’t allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court. Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil… somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret?

Tamora Pierce has written many books since her first Alanna series, but the Alanna books are the ones I always end up re-reading (and there are some scenes that always end up with me sniffling, even though I know exactly what is going to happen).

Angie included Alanna in her recent post on “Stubborn Girls (and Why I Love Them)” and I have to agree whole-heartedly.


Interestingly, all these three are straight fantasy – something that I wasn’t actively thinking about when I was thinking about the YA books I wanted to highlight.  All three are also pretty much coming-of-age stories, which is much less of a rarity in the YA genre.

I could have chosen many other YA books – LM Montgomery’s Emily trilogy is amongst my all-time favourites, I was addicted to LJ Smith’s books, including her “Secret Circle” and “Dark Visions” trilogies, I buy Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books as soon as they hit the shelf, and I’m on a mission to complete my Eva Ibbotson collection… however, I think I’ll stop here and head off to check out everyone else’s YA posts


17 thoughts on “A Few of My Favourite… YA Books

  1. Wonderful post, Li! That’s so funny you mention the copyright page. I wondered if anyone else did that same thing because I do, too. I completely agree about SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN. What a lovely book. And Shinn really does know how to end a book. I sniffle at parts throughout the Alanna series as well. No doubt they’re the same ones as you. 🙂

  2. Ana – Yes, I have 🙂 And I can’t wait for “A Conspiracy of Kings” to come out next year! Even the title is great.

    Angie – Thanks! I did have one bad experience with a copyright page (one of Jacqueline Carey’s) where it gave away a major plot twist, but that hasn’t put me off reading them. And I feel an Alanna re-read coming up soon.

  3. Yay – another Summers fan! She has a short story collection coming out in Oct, and one of the stories is set in the same world. Here’s the blurb I found on her website:

    In “Gold,” a crown princess escapes the hazards of war by hiding among the fairylike aliora, where she encounters an altogether different sort of danger.

  4. I was sooo happy to hear that the Conspiracy of Kings were coming out in 2010!! No long wait!! So glad you enjoyed the series 😀

    Great post by the way, I need to explore some of your recs 🙂

  5. Nath – I was looking at when the previous MWT books were released: Thief (1996), Queen (2000), King (2006). That’s ten years between the first and third books – so I do feel lucky that we don’t have to wait years for the next!

    And I hope you try either the Sharon Shinn or Tamora Pierce books – they’re long-time favourites of mine 🙂

    Jennie – I can’t decide between Queen or King as my favourite, I think King may just be edging it because of the characters’ growth.

  6. Me, it’s King for sure! 🙂 I just love it. It’s great to see Gen from other’s POV and how he’s managed to trick soooo many people!! Seriously, did they really think he was harmless?!? LOL. I think that Irene and Gen are also sooo cute together 😀

  7. Nath – I loved the different POV in King, it really made the story feel fresh again. It’s also fantastic seeing Gen grow into himself.

    Sarah – At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the books keep on getting better. And OT, but your bear avatar makes me smile every time I see it!

  8. I agree 🙂 There’s been so much growth in Gen from the beginning! and yes, the new POV makes the story sound fresh… but like I say, the most interesting is to see Gen through someone’s else eyes… someone who doesn’t know Gen.

    I mean, seriously, do you think that the Thief can become inept simply from losing a hand? Tssk, tssk. After all, he did manage to marry the queen no? 🙂

    ***END SPOILERS***

  9. Nath – I updated your comment to indicate spoilers, hope you don’t mind! All this discussion about King is making me feel like doing a re-read straightaway 🙂

  10. LOL, no I don’t mind. I should have thought of it ^_^; Sorry!

    I just did a quick re-read of the series… didn’t read all of it in its entirety, just my favorite parts (usually 2nd half of each book LOL).

  11. tamora pierce is deffinately one of my faves, the plot lines are simple but somehow briiliant. though ive been in very few simmilar situations, i can somehow relate. The Beka Cooper Sierries is the best. i dont think it the alanas

  12. Pingback: Summer List « Emily and Her Little Pink Notes

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