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.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Melinda Salisbury, Scholastic, 2015, YA fantasy
Loved this well-crafted fantasy focusing on Twylla, taken from her family as the incarnation of the Gods’ daughter, Daunen Embodied. She can kill by touch with the poison that seeps out of her skin, yet miraculously leaves her unharmed. A great start to a new trilogy, with a satisfying conclusion to this phase of the story.
Crow Moon, Anna McKerrow, Quercus, 2015, YA fantasy
A brilliant read that I lapped up quickly and now have to wait a year for the sequel to. Set in the Greenworld, a pagan haven version of contemporary Cornwall and Devon, the novel focuses on a crisis for protagonist Danny, never really much of a believer in the pagan ways. Another trilogy-opener which concludes the initial story well. Definitely recommended for fantasy and/or dystopia fans.
Starring Kitty, Keris Stainton, Catnip, 2014, MG contemporary
Gorgeous MG/younger YA romance focusing on Kitty’s difficulties balancing friendship and first (same-sex) love against the backdrop of a film competition. This is the first in a series, each of which will focus on a different friend in the group – a great concept for exploring the contemporary world in detail. It’s also a brilliantly-executed example of how to ‘do’ diversity with great, relatable stories. Spotlight on Sunny, the second in the series is also out now and once my youngest has finished with it, I’ll be grabbing that too!
Jessica’s Ghost, Andrew Norriss, David Fickling, 2015, MG contemporary
This book really surprised me. Billed as a MG ‘friendship’ novel, it tackles mental health issues and raises the idea of suicide without alienating or frightening the target age group. I’ll be astonished if this isn’t on prize shortlists next year but please don’t be put off by the ‘worthiness’ I’m implying here. most importantly, I really enjoyed it – it’s a great read.
Marly’s Ghost, David Levithan, Egmont, 2015, YA contemporary
This Valentine-themed reworking of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol makes a fabulous read. I loved the fidelity to the original in many small details, rendered with a hefty dose of creativity and originality. My reading of it was definitely enhanced by knowledge of the Dickens, but I’m sure it would still be a greatly satisfying contemporary read without that.
How to Fly with Broken Wings, Jane Elmore, Hodder Children’s, 2015, MG contemporary
I greatly enjoyed this gentle contemporary about finding out who you are and what matters, set on a London housing estate during a series of riots. Dual narration from the points of view of Willem, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and Sasha, whose boyfriend bullies Willem. Definitely recommended for around 9+.
The Testimony of the Hanged Man, Ann Granger, Headline, 2015, adult crime
This is the fifth in the series, but the first I’d read. I had no trouble following it and am definitely interested in reading more in the series. It’s great to read a Victorian London-set mystery with dual narration from the Police Inspector MC and also his wife, who does her own investigation. A relatively gentle crime and a mystery to enjoy.
Nightbird, Alice Hoffman, Simon & Schuster, 2015, MG fantasy
I’d loved other Hoffman novels (for adults) which I’d read and found this both really true to form – focused on families, identities within families, and magic – and beautifully rendered for the younger age group. A great read for 9+ fans of contemporary stories with a touch of magic.
Bomb, Sarah Mussi, Hodder Children’s, 2015, YA thriller
I enjoyed this pacey thriller with relentless danger and breathless narrative style. It’s absolutely recognisably Sarah Mussi – if you liked Siege and/or Riot, you’ll like this too. If you haven’t tried her before, read her for a high action, high stakes political thriller.
True Face, Siobhan Curham, 2015, Faber and Faber, YA self-help
I haven’t read a self-help book for teens before but am thoroughly impressed with this one. Focused on living an authentic life and ignoring unhelpful and potentially damaging media messages, this book leads teen readers through a series of exercises to rediscover their own interests and feelings, and to bring their own desires to the forefront of their lives. I’m definitely recommending this empowering read to girls of 13+.
Challenges Progress this month – books read:
UKYA/UKMG titles: The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Crow Moon, Starring Kitty, Jessica’s Ghost, How to Fly with Broken Wings, Bomb
own book: The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Crow Moon, Starring Kitty
TBR-escapee: Testimony of the Hanged Man
Reviews published this month:
Full reviews: The Sky Is Everywhere, Jessica’s Ghost
eligible for British Books Challenge: Jessica’s Ghost
eligible for Dive Into Diversity Challenge: Jessica’s Ghost (representation of mental health)
Plans for next month
To review more! March has been very busy for me and, although I’ve managed to tuck away a good few reads, this hasn’t translated into many reviews – yet. This is something I definitely plan to remedy in April.