I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones by Anna Mainwaring. I’ve got an excellent post to share with you all!
Anna Mainwaring’s Top Ten UKYA Romances
“The word ‘romance’ when describing a novel is often pejorative, a short hand for light fiction. However at the heart of so many stories, regardless of genre, is a superb relationship that utterly absorbs us and keeps us hooked with its twists and turns. Whether the plot has a happy, unhappy or even somewhere in between resolution, most of us adore a wonderful romance. Sometimes it is escapism and what’s wrong with that. But sometimes a wonderful romance can help us understand ourselves and how we feel about others and the world we live in.
I’ve been asked to write about my top ten UKYA romances. As you’ll see I love to find romances in all kinds of genres and my choices reflect that I have been reading a LONG time!
Half Wild/Half Bad by Sally Green
One of my favourite books of recent years has been Sally Green’s wildly successful ‘Half Wild’ trilogy. I’ve just finished ‘Half Bad’ and it’s confirmed what I felt so strongly when reading the end of ‘Half Wild’ – I ‘ship’ Nathan and Gabrielle (as I believe my Year 10s would say). Of course Nathan thinks he loves Annalise with her white chocolate hair and her Juliet-like appeal. But as soon as Gabrielle came long he won my heart, even more so when I learned that he was based on Aidan Turner in ‘Being Human’. So forget out Annalise, Nathan, Gabrielle is the one for you! I will have to wait another year to find out if I’m right…
How I live Now by Meg Rosoff
This dark British dystopia might not seem an obvious choice for a top romance but I found the relationship between Daisy and Edmond beguiling and powerful. I know others who’d read it had issues with Daisy’s voice and also with the fact that Edmond and Daisy were cousins. But neither of those made any impact on me. I thought how they felt for each other was beautifully drawn. It felt honest, raw and true to me. I did cry a bit towards the end, but not for the reasons one might think. I adored the novel, and loved Daisy and Edmond. I’ve not watched the film yet…not sure that I dare.
Geek Girl by Holly Smale
A change of tone here! I love so much about the Geek Girl books – Harriet of course – but also how Smale skilfully weaves serious issues in with her lighter touch. It’s hard to do and she does it so well. As far as the romance goes, who could resist Lion Boy with his gorgeous mane of hair? Everyone should have a Lion Boy in their life! From their modelling assignment in the snow in Moscow onwards, I was routing for them both. I (and my older daughter) will have to await Geek Girl 5 to find out what happens next.
Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre
Okay this might seem an odd choice not just because the romance in question is between a pupil and a teacher but also because when I’m not writing, I’m teaching! Of course I am not advocating pupil/teacher relationships but then neither is McIntyre. Again this novel is only in part about the crush Lara has on her teacher, much of it is about the terrible bullying that Lara is subject to. The effect a good-looking teacher can have on a school rings only too true with me. Lara’s adoration and then love for Mr J is powerfully rendered. I think the ending is just right – but I believe many of Rachel’s readers would prefer it to finish another way. I leave it you to decide.
Blue by Lisa Glass
This delivered in so many ways. I love Cornwall. Whilst not athletic in any way, the thought of surfing really appeals, all those beautiful people hanging out on beaches and in the water Everything about it is sooo cool. What could possibly be better than this wonderful, truly romantic exploration of Iris and Zeke’s feelings for each other under those blue summer skies? I can absolutely see what this is being made into a film and I’ll be there, queuing up with my popcorn.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
So I’m cheating here but the relationship between Will and Lyra spans two books and I can’t split them! His Dark Materials is probably my favourite sequence of books and if I had a choose a favourite book of all time it would be a close run thing between ‘The Subtle Knife’ and ‘Middlemarch’. Yes, I love these books! I love them for so many things that aren’t to do with the relationships but there are so many to choose from: Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel, the angels, Balthemas and Baruch; Fader Coram and Serafina Pekkala. The central relationship is, however, that between Will and Lyra. They grow together, they grow up together, they face death together. I have yet to sit on their bench in Oxford in the Botanical Gardens but next time I’m visiting, I’ll be there.
My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick
I’m a huge fan of Marcus Sedgwick. He followed me on Twitter for a while after I won a competition that he ran but he unfollowed me a few weeks ago. I think it was the picture of Aiden Turner in ‘Poldark’ that did it. Never mind. I do love, love, love this book and the Year 8s I’ve taught it to seem to love it also. Yes, it’s got zombies and horror. But also it’s got the beautiful and brave Sophia who soon supplants dull Agnes in Peter’s affections. Together they make a heroic couple who face the most terrible of experiences.
Monsters of Men trilogy by Patrick Ness
Here I go again, breaking the rules and including three books in the place of one. Just like Will and Lyra, the story of Viola and Todd takes three books to unfold. And what a three books! Imagine being able to see inside someone’s mind – and still love them! The pair have to withstand torture, temptation, murder and yet still their loves burns as fiercely and freshly as ever.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend
I might be showing my age here but I read this when it was first published. Who could fail not be be moved by Adrian’s pursuit of Pandora? His poetry for her. His appreciation of her ‘wobbly’ bits. The comedy. The tragedy. Adrian Mole is a superb creation and his love for Pandora despite her disdain for him is both hilarious and touching.
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein
“What?” you say. “This is not UKYA!” Well I say it is. It is indisputably a very English novel by a very English writer. But YA? Well, I think it’s best enjoyed as a teenager and in so many ways set up aspects of YA fantasy fiction for years to come. I read it when I was seven and it changed my life. I have more reservations about it as an older reader but at the time I read it, I thought it was perfect. The character I become obsessed with was lovely, deadly doomed Eowyn, an emo-warrior princess. I adored her: I got her love for Aragorn and understood her feelings for Faramir. I have to say that I read their lines to each other out loud over and over again. Oh well. I was only seven. But that’s the power of great writing: you do feel that you are part of the story and it stays with you throughout the years.”
Jesobel Jones can bake. In a truly triumphant, appearing-on-TV kind of way. But this means nothing to the rest of the world, because apparently all that cake mix is starting to show – in all the wrong places. So when she lands an invite to the Party of Year by the Boy of Her Dreams, she wonders whether it’s time for a new, improved Jess. But will life still taste as good?
Anna Mainwaring’s debut is a light-hearted and sometimes poignant take on the pressures that face teenage girls. It’s hard to smile in all those selfies when you don’t like the girl who looks back at you. But which is more important – looking perfect or being happy?
Anna Mainwaring first read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when she was seven and she hasn’t stopped reading since.
Her debut novel, “The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones”, follows Jess through the joy and pain of being a teenager in the modern world; first love, friendship, embarrassing families, and asks the big questions in life: how much cake is it really acceptable to eat?
After studying English at university, Anna made the foolish decision to work in corporate finance, not the best career choice for someone who a) is number dyslexic b) hates anything corporate. After travelling, Anna re-trained as an English teacher and works in a girls’ school in Cheshire. When not writing, teaching, or looking after her children, Anna can generally be found walking up a big hill, looking for inspiration.
You can find out more about Anna on her website, www.annamainwaring.com, or by following her on twitter at www.twitter.com/annamainwaring1