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My Name is Mina by David Almond - Review

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Where did I get it? I don't think I mentioned this, but I've got a challenge going on in 2016. My friend Lucinda has gone to study in Canada and when she visited in December she lent me some books. (We also got tattooed!) I've decidedx that I'll try to read one of those books every month. She picked ones she thought I'd like, but that I'd never pick up myself. I'm into contemporary realism and she's more into fantasy stuff. But when I looked at all the books I thought they all looked pretty good!

What's it about? Mina has been homeschooled for a while now due to a bit of a breakdown at school. Her dad is dead and she lives with her mum, who's been seeing someone new. She doesn't fit in at school (which resonated with me) and she spends a lot of time sitting in a tree. From there she can see a new family moving in to the street. This book is apparently a prequel to Almond's earlier novel Skellig which I bought on eBay. 

The book sort of changes a lot - it's a difference of styles and formation. I liked this a lot, it felt right for the character. 

What age range is it for? 11+. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters non-white? No

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I think Mina has some kind of mental illness or she's maybe autistic, but it isn't mentioned or discussed - but readers may identify with her. 

Is there any sex stuff? No

Are drugs mentioned or used? No

Is there any talk of death? Yes but it's very age appropriate.

Are there swear words? No

Would I recommend the book? Yes, it's a really lovely middle grade book

How many stars? 8 out of 10, it was definitely a well-written and crafted novel. 

Where is the book going now? Back to Lucinda when she's back!

End of Year Survey Part II

Saturday, January 16, 2016

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?   
So many, but let's go with Luna's Little Library because she and I have similar taste in books so she always tempts me into new purchases, and I like reading her Twitter too. 

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?   
I'm going to say the one for YA Shot, because it was such a good day and the event deserves a lot of attention for this year!

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?   
I only had review posts!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?   
YALC, definitely. What a great time I had. 

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015? 
Getting to grips with NetGalley and the approvals I've had on there

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? 
Not being able to read as much as I'd like due to my MA work

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?  
The YALC one because they retweeted it, I still get hits on it. 

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?   
The rest!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?, it's got a great selection at great prices, and it's not Amazon.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I did, I wanted to read  fifty books and I more than surpassed that. Other than that, I had no specific goals. That's already different in 2016!

End of Year Survey Part I

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, hands down. 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I think it was The Breeders by Katie French. It promised so much but didn't deliver. 

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

I'm often surprised by books, but I think We Were Liars by E Lockhart just blew me away.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Station Eleven, definitely. 

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

The Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries were the best series I discovered, I read the first three and have pre-ordered the fourth. I don't think I read any series ender. 

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

So many! Too many to mention!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

A couple of my book club books, like A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, weren't books I'd have picked up by myself. 

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Station Eleven, I couldn't stop reading it. 

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I rarely re-read and if I do it'd be in three years or so. 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

I loved the cover of Music and Lies by Gill-Marie Stewart - it was the cover that attracted me when I saw it at YALC. 

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Simon in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, bless him. 

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

About A Girl by Sarah McCarry. 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne I think

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - I've never read anything by her before but I really liked it. 

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I don't remember quotes generally. how rubbish.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

The longest was The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, the shortest was probably one of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

We Were Liars or maybe the Raven Boys.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

So many of the Raven Boys' ones! Ugh!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Probably from the Raven Boys too. I must read The Dream Thieves this year!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Probably the new Elly Griffiths books, I love her writing. 

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

SO MANY! I am so open to recommendations!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

I'm not overly one for fictional crushes, sorry! 

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

George by Alex Gino, fabulous

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Raven Boys. It's clear that Maggie has REALLY thought out her world

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Murder Most Unladylike ones were just so much fun. 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

We Were Liars! The Paying Guests. This Song Is (Not) for You by Laura Newlin

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - everyone needs to read this. 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

So many of the above, but let's also say The Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray. It was lovely. 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan - it is a collection of non-fiction and fiction, and the author is dead, so I think that counts. 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?.

We Were Liars, for real! I wanted to throw my Kindle out of the window!

- See more at:

Losing It ed Keith Gray - Review

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it on eBay, I think I'd seen a review of it somewhere and bought it. 
What's it about? This is a collection of short stories about sex by authors like Keith Gray, Melvin Burgess, Patrick Ness and Anne Fine
What age range is it for? 15+, I think
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, a couple of stories feature queer characters
Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, a couple of stories are about people of colour, and a couple of the authors are too.
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? Very much the point!
Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so.
Is there any talk of death? No
Are there swear words? Yes, a few
Would I recommend the book? Yes, one of the stories is really funny, they're all interesting, and a couple are genuinely moving. 
How many stars? 10 out of 10, it is a good collection!

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne - Review

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it at YA Shot in October, and got it signed by Tanya - she was lovely! 

What's it about? Emily Koll is on remand in the psychiatric ward of a Young Offenders Institute and is writing her story down in a notebook which she's going to leave for the next inhabitant of her room. Her dad is a gangster and killed a policeman. The daughter of the policeman, Juliet, then stabbed Emily's dad (but not fatally). Juliet was put into Witness Protection and Emily had to go and live in Spain with her uncle. 
Emily decides to exact revenge and gets a false identity and goes to the same college as Juliet, to do the same A levels. They become friends, and Juliet starts going out with a boy called Sid. Sid and Emily become friends too, and a few times it almost spills over into romance. 
We see Emily in the hospital too, and some of her friends there, and her conversations with the doctor. I felt like some of these bits were a bit long, actually; she seemed to just always get angry with Dr Gilyard and I don't feel it was always justified. I also thought that the ending - the supposed revenge - came apart a bit too quickly. 
In tone, the book reminded me a lot of Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, which I read before I started this blog. In that, the main character writes to a man on death row to confess something awful which happened between her and two boys, who are brothers. It has the effect of censoring the prose, which I felt happened here too. Emily is an unreliable narrator - something which she freely admits to early on in the notebook - and as such it's hard for the reader to discern the truth. It's hard to know how much happened because she wanted revenge on Juliet, and how much happened because Emily was in love with Sid. 
What age range is it for? 14+
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Sid is and I think Juliet is too, but I didn't entirely catch her description
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really, although obviously Emily is in a psychiatric ward

Is there any sex stuff? No

Are drugs mentioned or used? Prescription drugs, yes

Is there any talk of death? Yes, but it's not explicit

Are there swear words? Yes, a few

Would I recommend the book? Yes

How many stars? 7 out of 10. It isn't bad. 


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