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About A Girl by Sarah McCarry - Review

Friday, November 27, 2015

Where did I get it? I bought it when it came out, I must have read a review

What's it about? This is the 3rd in a series, which I didn't realise when I bought it. Tally was abandoned by her mother when she was born, left with her mum's friend, and brought up by Aunt Beast, her friend Raoul and his husband Henri. She's about to leave for college when she sleeps with her best friend Shane and gets caught up in whether a mysterious musician is her biological dad. She goes all the way across the US to meet him, and stays on the island where he lives, where she meets other people too, including Maddy, who she starts a relationship with. Things are confused and confusing on the island - Tally forgets to call home because time has no meaning, and odd things happen at open mic nights. This book is magical realism, something it does really well, even for me - I'm not a fan of the genre. 

What age range is it for? 15+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, Tally explores her sexuality even though she never comes to any firm realisations about what she identifies as. Her friend Shane is trans, which is dealt with in a really lovely way right at the beginning of the novel. 

Are any main characters non-white? Yes, Raoul and Henri, and I think Tally herself may be mixed race. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really.

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it's done in a really beautiful way, nothing explicit but you definitely get the sense of what occurs between Tally and Maddy. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, somewhat. It's not scary, but it is tense. 

Are there swear words? Maybe a couple?

Would I recommend the book? Yes, especially is magical realism IS your genre. And even though I hadn't read the first two in the series, this one still made perfect sense to me. 

How many stars? 7 out of 10. A decent read. 

Where is the book going now? I'll probably keep it, I collect LGBT YA so it'll be an interesting one to add!

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne - Review

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Where did I get it? I bought it at YAShot after hearing Holly speak. I queued for her to sign it - she's lovely! 

What's it about? Evie is in recovery from a bad time with her mental health. She has OCD and was hospitalised for it, but now she's doing better. She's at college, she's reducing her meds, so is she normal yet? Her BFF is entwined with a boy all the time, and Evie dips her toe into dating too, and she also makes some new friends. But her mental health is getting bad again, and her parents and sister are worried about her. This is a really frank look at OCD and living with a debilitating mental health disorder. It may be triggering - take care of yourself, okay? It is, although very sad and quite upsetting for me personally, really good.

There's a lot about feminism in it too, which for young adults would be a really good introduction on to the subject. 

What age range is it for? 15+, depending on the 15 year old. As I said, take care.  

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters non-white? It's not mentioned.

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yep, that's the premise

Is there any sex stuff? Not really, it's very senstively done

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, one of the characters uses marijuana a lot, and Evie is taking Fluoxetine (aka Prozac) 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, but not much

Are there swear words? Not many

Would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely. If you've never suffered from anything like this, it would probably be a really interesting and useful insight into living with a mental health issue. If you have suffered from OCD or something similar (for me, I spent my entire teens - and since - anxious as hell, so I understood a lot of what Evie thought/felt), then I hope it makes you feel less alone. Trigger warning again though - there's a lot about Evie's rituals (eg around handwashing) so if this will trigger you, please don't read it. 

How many stars? 8 out of 10, it isn't perfect but it's worth a read.

Where is the book going now? I'll keep it, as it's signed to me :) 

YA Shot 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

I saw details about YA Shot 2015 on Twitter, and saw that it was being held in Uxbridge in October half term. As luck would have it, I was going to be near London in half term looking after my cousin, with my friend Sam. I bought tickets for Sam and I and we left bright and early on Wednesday for Uxbridge.

Alexia Casale had been in charge of organising the event and it is part of a year long thing they're doing in the borough. She introduced the first panel in the nice main room, and off we went!

The YA stuff all happened in the main room, the Middle Grade stuff in a different venue, and other talks dotted around. There were loads of volunteers to ask if you had any questions though, all very polite and up to speed.

Firstly we listened to the panel on "Surviving high school", where R J Morgan made me laugh a lot, and then we went to listen to the Diverse Labels panel chaired by the lovely Sarah Benwell (I'm a bit biased, because they're the flatmate of my BFF Lucinda). We left the venue to get some lunch, and then I snuck into the Crime and Punishment panel back in the main venue.

Other panels had used microphones, but this one didn't, which made everyone very hard to hear. Please do use the mics!

The next panel was called "Trigger Warning: exploring sensitive issues in ethical ways" and it was by far the best panel I saw. The four panellists - Alexia Casale, Holly Bourner, Tanya Byrne and Louisa Reid were all really interesting and very sensitive.

The last panel we saw was about dystopia and horror. There was events after that, but unfortunately Sam and I had to leave to get home to my cousin!

After each panel I went and bought at least one book by a featured panellist, and then was lucky enough to be able to get them all signed! I had a nice conversation with Holly Bourne, and a long conversation with Alexia, who was asking everyone what they thought. I was lucky to have budgeted to be able to spend quite a bit on books.

For an inaugaral event it was really great. The signing and book buying area could have been bigger, and it would have been good to have a break-out space, but it was excellent none the less.

On the way in we got a tote bag with a programme, some stickers, and some freebies inside:


And here's what I bought!


Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens - Review

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I read the third one in this series first and reviewed it here.

Where did I get it? The library!

What's it about? Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have a Detective Society and in this mystery get tangled up in the murder of Miss Bell, after Hazel sees her dead body in the school gym. They have a list of suspects and need alibis - but can they get past Matron long enough to do their deducing?!

What age range is it for? 10+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters non-white? Yes, Hazel is Chinese. There's not as much about that in this book as there is in the 3rd one, though. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No

Is there any sex stuff? No

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? Yes but it's not very gruesome. 

Are there swear words? No 

Would I recommend the book? Definitely. This series is a lot of fun. If I was ten years old, and into Malory Towers and other Blyton books, I'd be ALL OVER this series. Yes these aren't 'issue' books, but they're well written and just delightful to read. 

How many stars? 8 out of 10. Solidly good. 

George by Alex Gino - Review

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Where did I get it? I bought it with an Amazon gift voucher - thanks BFF!

What's it about? Everyone thinks George is a boy, but she knows she's not. She tries to tell people, and she wants to audition to play Charlotte in Charlotte's Web, but her teacher won't let her because she's "not a girl". George and her best friend Kelly come up with a scheme. George also comes out to Kelly, and I think the way Kelly reacts is absolutely wonderful. 

What age range is it for? 10+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Obviously!

Are any main characters non-white? Yes, Kelly is black

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No

Is there any sex stuff? No

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? No

Are there swear words? No

Would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely. It's a very sweet story for middle grade readers, especially for trans kids who need this kind of representation. Anyone could fall for George, though, she's very sweet. 

How many stars? 7 out of 10. 

I recommend reading this interview by the author :) 

This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin - Review

Monday, November 2, 2015

Where did I get it? Netgalley, thank you Sourcebooks!

What's it about? Ramona and Sam are best friends, but each of them is in love with the other, they just don't know it. They're in a band together, and they're applying for a prestigious music college for after high school. At the audition they meet Tom, who quickly becomes part of their band. Ramona has feelings for Tom too, so can she be with both boys, or...?

What age range is it for? 15+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, but I don't want to spoil exactly how

Are any main characters non-white? It's not mentioned.

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No

Is there any sex stuff? No

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? A tiny bit - Ramona's mum died when she was younger 

Are there swear words? Not many 

Would I recommend the book? Kind of. I really WANTED to love this book, and while I did like the inter-personal relationships between Ramona, Sam, and Tom, and how they ultimately resolved it, I felt like the world was really lacking in depth and description. I feel like the whole novel took place in Sam's garage, and there were no physical descriptions of the characters. 

How many stars? 6 out of 10. I didn't hate it, but it could have been so much better 
 

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