Sarah Talks… YALC Samplers I’m Excited About

Now it’s Friday and right now I should really be sharing a YA review, but today I’m not; instead we’re talking YALC samplers here on SWB! I have never made it to YALC but one of my best blogger friends Charlotte was at YALC this year and kindly offered to pick up a few things for me. Along with an early copy of Sanctuary by Vic James (which she also got signed) she also picked me a few samplers I’d asked her to keep an eye out for. Two were single books, and two featured a number of upcoming books.

First up we have The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven.

About the book

Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key. What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew chemistry – in the lab and in love.

Is her long-time crush Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best girl friend some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?

This is as hilarious as you would expect from Laura, the sampler may have only been a few pages but I already adore Caro, and her dad’s and the fact there’s another dog named after a Harry Potter character! I’m counting down until 5th March 2020!


Next up is Havenfall by Sara Holland

About the book

Maddie Marrow lives for her summers at the Inn at Havenfall, hidden up in the mountains of Colorado. The inn is the only place where she gets to see the boy she loves, Brekken and it provides an escape from her real life, which consists of endless mind-numbing days at high school . . . and visits to the local prison where her mother sits on Death Row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother.

But the inn is much more than it appears. The manicured gardens, Mirror Lake, and even the building itself hold a tantalizing power, a magic meant to protect all who seek refuge and peace. Maddie’s uncle runs the inn, guardian of the gateways to the hidden worlds that converge in the tunnels, and she dreams of one day taking it over.

But this summer, everything is going wrong. Maddie almost gets run over by an alluring new staffer, Taya, her relationship with handsome Brekken becomes complicated, and then the impossible happens: a dead body is discovered, shattering the inn’s sanctity. As questions mount over who’s responsible, Maddie realizes even greater dangers face them all.

With everything she loves at stake, Maddie must confront startling truths about the secrets lurking beneath Havenfall, and within herself.

If you’re a frequent visitor to SWB you’ll know how much I adored Sara’s Everless Duology and having got my hands on the first two chapters I’m already hooked on Sara’s next adventure! I love the concept of Havenfall being the the gateway to the adjacent realms. Maddie seems a really interesting central character and Taya seems so intriguing… and then we have the mystery of Maddie’s mother and her brother’s death that I just need to find out more about! This is another scheduled for a March 2020 release – sounds like it’s going to be a good month!


The Hot Key Books sampler contained extracts from four upcoming titles and one previously released book. I have to confess that despite really looking forward to getting my hands on this I was kind of disappointed by the reality. I skipped reading Crownbreaker as I haven’t read any of the preceeding books in the series and of the remaining 3 extracts only one really grabbed my attention.

That book was Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race, I can’t currently find it on Goodreads so I’ve taken the synopsis from the sampler

About the book

The first novel in a lyrical, endlessly inventive urban fantasy trilogy from debut author Holly Race

Fifteen-year-old Londoner Fern is about to uncover a place that she could not have imagined in her wildest dreams. Annwn is the dream mirror of our world, a place where Dreamers walk in their slumber, their dreams playing out all around them.

But Annwn is a place as full of dangers as it is wonders: it is a place where dreams can kill you. Annwn and its Dreamers are protected by an ancient order known as the Knights – and when Fern’s hated twin Ollie is chosen to join their ranks, Fern will have to do whatever she can to prove she is one of them too.

But the world Fern discovers in Annwn is a fragile one, and the danger lurking inside out sleep is more insidious and terrifying than any nightmare

This extract really caught my attention, the concept is really interesting, and I adored being dropped into part of Annwn, a world so familiar yet different as the banks of the Thames I know so well became filled with the results of people’s dreams. The ending left so many questions I simply have to own this book as I cannot not know what happened to Fern’s mother!


Now I’m going to move onto the Usborne sampler; I started reading it with the idea that I’d pick a story or two to share in this post, there are 11 in total. The sampler absolutely blew me away so instead I’m talking about eight of them!

These are in the same order as they appeared in the sampler so I’m starting with The Places I’ve Cried In Public by Holly Bourne.

About the book

Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry. 

Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.

I’ll confess I’ve never read one of Holly’s YA books, and I wasn’t a fan of her debut adult novel but the few pages of this is the Usborne YA 2020 sampler was just enough to get me hooked and leave me wondering what happened between Amelie and Alfie – and why Amelie had to move in the first place! Only a couple of months to wait for this one as it’s due for release in October 2019


Next up we have The Pieces Of Ourselves by Maggie Harcourt, another I can’t currently find on Goodreads

About the book

A gorgeous contemporary YA romance between two history geeks investigating a lost WWI love affair, told in the wry, relatable and effortlessly real voice if a girl living with bipolar II.

I adored Unconventional and bought Theatrical but haven’t actually read it yet, something I must rectify shortly after reading this extract, as it’s reminded me how wonderful her writing is. Flora sounds so interesting and I’m intrigued to discover how her bipolar II is portrayed in the text. I’m guessing the mysterious vintage car driver is the other half of the book’s romance and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. Roll on February


Next up The Library At The End Of The Universe by S. M. Wilson

About the book

Following in the stardust trails of Princess Leia and Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who, the author of The Extinction Trials introduces a brand-new standout female hero who holds the key to peace across the universe in this slick sci-fi adventure

I must confess I’ve not read any of The Extinction Trials trilogy but the Star Wars geek in me was simply overjoyed to start this extract and it’s not left me disappointed! Ash seems wonderful and I’m intrigued by the brown package that has arrived! I’m getting Princess Leia’s message vibes! This is an April 2020 release


Moving onto Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

About the book

Usborne has acquired an “explosive” high-school thriller by debut author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé that examines institutionalised racism.

Ace of Spades is about Devon and Chiamaka – rivals at the Niveus Private Academy. An anonymous texter starts spreading secrets about the two students, who find themselves at the centre of a disturbing game.

This is the first author I’ve come across in the samplers that I’m not familiar with. It’s a concept that intrigues me, and I’m interested to see how it plays out. This is another April release


Halfway through now, and next up is, #SecretTitle by Will Hill

About the book

Set over the course of one night, this is the heart-pounding, eye-opening story of one girl’s race to rescue her father, and what happens when friends become enemies

With Will Hill’s inimitable voice, we plunge into a world of secrets and danger, in an utterly compelling story that will keep your heart racing long after the final page

Okay confession time, I’ve never read anything by Will Hill but the premise and extract from this one fascinated me. Also they’re keeping the title secret which is a great marketing strategy! I’ll certainly be eagerly waiting for the title announcement. We’ll be waiting until May for the book.


Book number six is Hideous Beauty by William Hussey.

About the book

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their high school dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought? But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown. Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

All I’m getting from the extract is cute LGBTQ romance (with a hint of something darker from Ellis’s background) and I am all for that. But the blurb promises me a mystery thriller so I’m looking forward to seeing how that comes into play when this one is released in June

*The Goodreads blurb above is far more detailed than the brief blurb in the sampler that my comment was based on. Now I’m even more intrigued!


We’re onto the penultimate book of the Usborne sampler, and the whole post you’ll be pleased to know! The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

About the Book

In the ancient West African-inspired world of Otera, a woman’s worth is tied to her purity and she must bleed to prove it. Red blood for the pure, gold blood for the demon. 

When sixteen-year-old Deka is found to be a demon, she is taken to the capital of Otera, where she learns how to fight against the monsters who are threatening the kingdom. But nothing is quite as it seems – both the world around Deka, and Deka herself…

Set in a deeply patriarchal society, The Gilded Ones explores what it is to be a woman and a monster, alongside questions of trust, control and empowerment.

Logically I know if you trace my ancestry far enough there will be some African heritage there but I must admit that it’s not something I’ve really thought about. This fantasy set in a West African inspired land has really captured my attention though but I’ve almost a whole year to wait until I can get my hands on it in July


Finally we have Wicked Kindred by L. A. Weatherly, there’s not really a blurb for this one that I can find but so much about this book appeals to me and the sample left me with so many questions. Just what type of place is New Day Academy and if our central character isn’t Laura then who is she? I’m not sure I can wait over a year until September 2020 to find out!

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The lovely people at Usborne have made their sampler available online here if you’re anything like me once you’ve read it you’ll have a number of new books on your 2020 TBR! Let me know in the comments which have caught your eye!

4 thoughts on “Sarah Talks… YALC Samplers I’m Excited About

  1. Pingback: Six For Sunday: Back To School Realness – Books Set In Schools – Sarah Withers Blogs

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – My Fall TBR – Sarah Withers Blogs

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