It’s time for the monthly round-up! These posts help keep track of the reading challenges I’m doing this year and also give a quick shout-out for all the books I’ve been reading (not just those I review).
I won’t give too much detail here (as this kind of post gets long really quickly) – just a quick summary of each book read and some stats. The book titles link to their Goodreads pages for more info.
Despite February being a fabulously bookish month for me (I went to two brilliant events: the launch of Arsenic for Tea and the first UKYA Extravaganza), I did less well than in January with 7 books completed and many of my personal challenge aims missed (although I did read both British Books and Diverse Books).
Oh well, better luck next month!
Arsenic for Tea, Robin Stevens, Random House Children’s, 2015, 9+ historical mystery
Set in the 1930s, this is a classic Country House Murder Mystery for kids. It’s the second in the Wells and Wong series which started with Murder Most Unladylike. I cannot recommend this highly enough – both for kids and for adult fans of boarding school series and/or kids’ crime. A triumph of diverse representation as well as a brilliantly conceived mystery.
Close Your Pretty Eyes, Sally Nicholls, Scholastic, 2013, YA contemporary with chiller/thriller elements
I really enjoyed this: clever first person narrative, heartbreaking in places, great is-it-or-isn’t-it haunting plot. Hard to classify, or to sum up briefly. If a damaged narrator (she’s 11 and on her 16th home…) and a vengeful ghost appeals at all, definitely pick it up.
Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan, Piccadilly Press, 2013, YA contemporary
A quirky read that grew on me fairly rapidly: by the end I was definitely rooting for Olivia and the bizarre group of people she had surrounded herself with. The story of a teenage genius who loses both parents in a car accident, this is also about family and community an identity. Worth sticking with.
The Dead Men Stood Together, Chris Priestley, Bloomsbury, 2013, YA chiller/horror
Fabulously inventive re-imagining of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which I believe would be a brilliantly enjoyable tale even if you didn’t know the original. Reading it from a position of being familiar with the story, however, it is impossible not to admire how Priestley has filled in the gaps and made it a solid YA horror/chiller for today.
All The Truth That’s In Me, Julie Berry, Templar, 2013, YA historical
I remember seeing a lot of hype about this one and was disappointed when it came to reading it myself. I found the narration quite disorienting (it’s like a letter directly addressed to another character) but the mystery of what has happened to the central character – she was kidnapped and returned around two years later with her tongue cut out – is intriguing enough to carry it.
The Sky Is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson, Walker, 2010, YA contemporary
This book is just lovely, which is an odd thing to say about a book that focuses on grief and mourning, I know, but it is also about love and forgiveness and families – and poetry. It’s also extraordinarily well-done. I loved Lennie’s poems shared within the pages and also the quirkiness of her family. Highly recommended for those who love a convincingly emotional YA novel.
Bird, Crystal Chan, Tamarind, 2014, YA contemporary
This is a great read in terms of diversity, focusing as it does on a Jamaican-Mexican-American family and particularly discussing clashes in the beliefs and traditions of those different cultures. It does so very well, and is another heartbreaking family story. I definitely enjoyed its dreamy and lyrical qualities and would recommend it for 12+ readers.
Challenges Progress this month – books read:
I did so much less well this month in terms of challenges! No TBR-reduction, no personal challenge met and no own (as in neither review nor for school) books read. Oops!
UKYA/UKMG titles: Arsenic for Tea, Close Your Pretty Eyes, The Dead Men Stood Together.
Reviews published this month:
Full reviews: Arsenic for Tea, Squishy McFluff, The Weight of Souls,
eligible for British Books Challenge: Arsenic for Tea, Squishy McFluff,
eligible for Dive Into Diversity Challenge: Arsenic for Tea (narrator is from Hong Kong)
Plans for next month
To prioritise my challenges (which, remember, I did set for myself, after all!)
To read some of the books I picked up at the fabulous UKYA Extravaganza.