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Book round up of 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Because I'm a total nerd, I made a few stats about the books I've read this year.

I've read 81 books, which is 13 more than the 68 I managed in 2015. In 2015 I set myself a goal of 50 books, and obviously smashed that, so this year I upped my goal to 70 books. I've smashed that, too! However, I think for 2017 I'll keep my goal at 70 books, or maybe 75. I don't think I'll manage to read many more, even though I'd like to.

Of those 81 books, 35 were paperbacks, including ones I own, ones I borrowed, and ones I got out from the library. 36 were eBooks and were a combination of ones I bought and ones I requested on NetGalley. 8 were hardcover and were again a mixture of ones I bought and ones I borrowed. Two were audiobooks and these were both borrowed from the library.

Of the 81, the vast majority by over half were Young Adult books - 48, in fact. A further 8 were either kids books or middle grade books (where, for instance, I personally place the Wells & Wong novels). 16 books were general adult fiction. 9 were crime novels, which is my second favourite genre but which I've totally neglected this year!

I'm looking forward to 2017 for many reasons. I want to write more, and read more, and maybe read Tumblr less. I've got a few books already on my January TBR and, well, watch this space...

Murder and Mistletoe by Robin Stevens - Review

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it as an eBook on pre-order and it was handily delivered to my tablet on release in October. I saved it to read around Christmas and I'm glad I did. 

What's it about? It's the fifth book in the Murder Most Unladylike series which star Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong as detectives. I've read them all except for the fourth one, which I've got and meant to read before this, but Christmas arrived and I decided to jump this one ahead in the queue. I'm so glad I did. I loved it!

Hazel and Daisy are spending their Christmas in Cambridge with Daisy's brother Bertie, who's in his first year there at the fictional Maudlin College. Hazel and Daisy are staying with Daisy's great aunt at St Lucy's, a fictional women's college in 1935 (when women could study with the men but couldn't actually gain degrees), but keep popping across to Maudlin. Bertie lives there with the Melling twins, Donald and Chummy, and Alfred Cheng, a Chinese student, and a couple of others. Daisy and Hazel's friends Alexander and George are staying with George's brother over in St John's college. 

Bertie and his friends are into "climbing" which involves scaling the university buildings with no equipment or ropes. Donald and Chummy are about to turn 21 and inherit all their family money, but it seems like someone is trying to kill Donald - is it Chummy, to get the money? 

Reading these books from an adult point of view is somewhat frustrating, but if you put yourself into the mindset of a thirteen year old Hazel, they are utterly enchanting. This one especially, because it's all pretty colleges and snow and roaring fires. I love these books and I'm already looking forward to the next one. 

What age range is it for? 10+. I think any kid who likes Sherlock Holmes would love these. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No
Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Hazel and Alfred are Chinese, and George and his brother are British Indian. This comes up in this book a lot, and in the others - how Hazel feels like an outsider and like she'll never be accepted into English society. There's some stuff in this about justice for people of colour too 
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, it's a bit gory
Are there swear words? No
Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. What a lovely festive book to read. 
How many stars? Ten out of ten - no book is perfect but this one made me feel so lovely that it gains full marks.

What Light by Jay Asher - Review

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it in Waterstones a couple of weeks ago and decided to read it near Christmas.

What's it about? Sierra lives in Oregon, on a Christmas tree farm. She loves it, and her best friends, Rachel and Elizabeth. But every year, at Thanksgiving, she and her parents go down to California to set up the lot from where they sell Christmas trees right up until Christmas Day. Sierra has a friend there, Heather, who she misses throughout the year. However, this might be the last year that she goes, because the lot isn't doing well and her parents may not open it again, and because Rachel and Elizabeth want Sierra to spend the Christmas of their senior year in Oregon joining in with all the parties and dances that happen. This might be Sierra's last Christmas in California.

So of course, into that, walks Caleb. He's a fairly typical "bad boy". Heather warns Sierra off him, telling her that Caleb attacked his sister with a knife. But then Sierra discovers that he saves his tips from his job to buy Christmas trees for families who couldn't otherwise afford them. Sierra finds herself falling in love with Caleb even though she knows their time is limited and even though she isn't sure whether to trust him.

I'll be honest - I found this book dragged. I started it ages ago and it just didn't grip me. I don't know why, because I liked the setting and I liked Sierra. I felt like her dad was just stupidly overprotective though (every time one of the male workers talks to Sierra, her dad sends them to clean the loos, which I just found absurd) and I felt like Caleb was just.... too perfect? He is flawed (he attacked his sister with a knife, kind of...) but he also does things that I just don't think any 17 year old boy has ever done. He was just so mature and so manly and perfect. I couldn't get on with him at all.

It's weird because I haven't thought about Jay Asher in forever. I read Thirteen Reasons Why about 6 years ago; it was actually one of the first YA books I ever read, and I really enjoyed it. I picked this up, but I'm not sure I'll read anything else by the author. I get that this is supposed to be a cute festive story, but it needed more bite. 

What age range is it for? 13+, there's almost nothing salacious in it. I actually thought there should have been more sexual activity. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No
Are any main characters people of colour? No
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? No, just some kissing. As above, I would've liked to see this
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? No 
Are there swear words? Not really. 
Would I recommend the book? Not really. It didn't float my boat. 
How many stars? Six out of ten. Cute, but not good enough. 

I'll Be Home for Christmas - Review

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Where did I get it? Netgalley, thank you so much to Stripes Publishing for granting it to me. 

What's it about? This anthology of short stories by some of YA's biggest names is being sold in aid of Crisis, who help homeless people. All the stories are about home in some way. Some are happy homes, some aren't. Some are nuclear families, some aren't. There were some I liked a lot, especially the last one by Lisa Williamson, and some I wasn't so keen on. I also felt there was some fatphobia in two of the stories which did unfortunately put me off those stories entirely. 

I felt like this was a really worthy anthology and would probably get some teens to think outside their circle and about people living different lives to them, and so I bought it for one of my Secret Santa recipients! I am happy to support the cause. 

What age range is it for? 13+, all the stories are tame, but the subject matter is sometimes hard going, whether it's homelessness or violence or whatever. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, a couple of stories had gay protagonists - and it's a reality that a lot of homeless youths are under the LGBT umbrella. 
Are any main characters people of colour? I don't recall that there were any, which is frankly disappointing
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes
Is there any sex stuff? No, just some kissing.
Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, mentioned
Is there any talk of death? A little bit 
Are there swear words? A few, not many
Would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely. It's a quick read and perfect for a stocking stuffer.
How many stars? Eight, due to the aforementioned stories that I didn't like. 

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon - Review

Friday, December 2, 2016

Where did I get it? Netgalley, thank you very much to Penguin Random House!

What's it about? The novel has lots of different points of view which at first I found distracting, but once I got into it I liked it. The main characters are Natasha and Daniel. Natasha is black, and Jamaican. Her family came to America nine years before on tourist visas and never left - they are undocumented immigrants and are being deported on the day that the novel is set. Natasha doesn't want to leave so she's heading to see various people to try to stop the deportation. She is finding it hard to get on with her dad, who she blames for them being in this mess.

Meanwhile, Daniel, who is Korean American, is heading to a Yale early entry interview. He hates his older brother, who's just been kicked out of Harvard, and he has strained relationships with both his parents, who are Korean immigrants and who don't understand his American ways of life. 

The two meet and feel an instant connection and throughout the day they ask each other questions, Daniel betting that he can make Natasha fall in love with him by the end of the day. They go various places, including to Daniel's parents' black hair care store. Interspersed with Daniel's and Natasha's points of view are little stories about some of the people they meet, their parents, and even a short history of black hair and why Korean people often own shops that sell black hair care products. 

As an adult, I sort of rolled my eyes thinking about two seventeen year olds falling in love with each other immediately, but as the novel went on I got more into it and tried to think about how a teen reader would feel, and I think at that age I'd have loved the ideas of fate and the philosophy they talk about. I decided to give it a full star rating because while it isn't perfect, I think it is a fantastic example of YA as a genre. Read it now!

What age range is it for? 14+, it's quite tame and a discerning fourteen year old could definitely enjoy this

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No
Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, both Natasha and Daniel. I liked very much the parts where they discussed how their parents wouldn't like them dating each other, and other parts about race. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No
Is there any sex stuff? Not much
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Not really
Are there swear words? A few, not many
Would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely. It's a fantastic and diverse book
How many stars? Ten. Like I say, not perfect because no book is, but I loved it 

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