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review 2016-03-17 21:17
Skellig - David Almond

This book is beautiful. I remember seeing it around when I was at school, and I wish I'd taken the time to read it back then. What I find unique about the writing is that although it seems quite simple, the description and imagery makes everything so real and makes you feel as if you're really there. I haven't read many books that can do that effectively without resorting to lots and lots of length paragraphs, but David Almond does it very well here.

I really liked the atmosphere of life and death and Skellig was a very interesting character. Yes, the book is about an angel, but not your "pure" cliche angel that you usually find in YA.

You know what really freaked me out, though? Skellig's order for 27 and 53, that he kept feeding on...That's spring rolls and pork tsar-siew.

That is the exact same food I always order from a restaurant whenever I eat out. Even though I've never read the book until now. Some coincidence, huh?

I was able to guess the book's ending mostly because I'd seen this kind of plotline done together. Nevertheless I could feel the urgency and emotion written into every word, and the end was really well done.

Also, I wouldn't call this a YA book. It's a children's book. Hence why a lot of people might be judging it as a teenager book and complain that nothing much happens. I did lose attention at some point, I admit, since the characters just seemed to be drawing. But only during that part.

I'll give it 4 stars and looking forward to reading his other books.

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2016-03-16 20:26
Reading progress update: I've read 91 out of 208 pages.
Skellig - David Almond

So far I have established the following about this book:


This kid finds a cranky old man living in the garage who has arthritis and eats insects to live, and he really likes beer and Chinese food.


But he also has wings, which makes him an angel.


It's a bit weird when you put it that way, but I'm still liking it. Maybe because this is the first book about an angel which eats Chinese food all day.

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text 2016-03-15 22:49
Reading progress update: I've read 20 out of 208 pages.
Skellig - David Almond

Skellig is a novel that I wish I'd read when I was younger. I remember seeing this book a lot in my teenage years, but for some reason I never actually started reading it until now.


So far I haven't read much, but...I read something in an early chapter which freaks me out.


The main character asks Skellig (I assume it's Skellig) if he wants anything to eat, to which Skellig replies "28 and 53". This is puzzling at first, until the boy's father later turns up and offer to take him out for a Chinese takeaway. To which the boy says that he wants 28 and 53 on the menu.


On the menu, that's spring rolls and pork tsar sieu.


Now I don't know if it's a HUGE coincidence...but those two options are what I have whenever I go out to eat. I'm a picky eater and I usually only ever get Chinese, especially if it's a treat. I always, always get tsar sieu, just like the boy in this book.


It's one crazy coincidence, and it was enough to make me think "Whoa" and put the book down for a moment.


That being said, this book is a wonder of its time. (A time that was, ah, 18 years ago, but still relevant today). I don't know ohw to put this into words, but...it feels so real. I love it.


And after the utter shit fest of last week which was Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I needed a good book to get me back on my toes. I love it already.

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review 2015-10-13 19:39
Review | My Name Is Mina by David Almond
My Name is Mina (Skellig, Prequel) - David Almond

Award-winning author David Almond reintroduces readers to the perceptive, sensitive Mina before the events of Skellig in this lyrical and fantastical work. My Name is Mina is not only a pleasure to read, it is an intimate and enlightening look at a character whose open mind and heart have much to teach us about life, love, and the mysteries that surround us. Mina loves the night. While everyone else is in a deep slumber, she gazes out the window, witness to the moon's silvery light. In the stillness, she can even hear her own heart beating. This is when Mina feels that anything is possible and her imagination is set free. A blank notebook lies on the table. It has been there for what seems like forever. Mina has proclaimed in the past that she will use it as a journal, and one night, at last, she begins to do just that. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams.





My Name Is Mina is a prequel novel (written after its more well-known counterpart Skellig, as they often are) laid out in epistolary format via Mina's notebook. At night, while all the rest of the world sleeps, Mina's mind is awake and racing. Here, in this journal, she tries to make sense of all the fragments of thought that race through her mind. Mina is a child who naturally sees the world a little differently than most... and for this, she is relentlessly teased whenever she tries to attend public school. After some time of back and forth between trying to fit in at school and mental health breaks at home (weeks at a time), Mina's mother decides to just home-school Mina full-time, not wanting to forsake her daughter's unique mind and personality just to fit into "the norm". 


My stories were like me. They couldn't be controlled and they couldn't fit in. Trying to be a good girl sometimes made me very sad. I will write about the sad things, of course, because there is no way not to write about the sad things. And there are sad things in my life. Weirdly enough, the sad things in my life make the happy things seem more intense. Anyway, I will try to make my words break out of the cages of sadness, and make them sing for joy. 


I personally read this book before I read Skellig, but honestly I think it would serve readers better to read Skellig first. This novel focuses more on Mina personally, only lightly touching upon the events of Skellig here and there (the biggest reference is how Mina comes to know Michael from the original story), but I think if readers read Skellig first, the references in My Name Is Mina will be easier to comprehend and tie into the original story. It was also interesting to see the character growth of Mina from this prequel to Skellig. Here -- maybe it's because we get to know her through her journal rather than dialogue, I don't know -- her personality, via her written down thoughts, felt much more manic, frantic in tone to me than in Skellig, even though there's only a day or so passage of time between the two stories. But people do tend to journal thoughts a lot more passionately than we speak them, so maybe that's what I was experiencing. 


I really enjoyed the relationship between Mina and her mother. Who doesn't love mothers who encourage creativity and uniqueness? :-) Society standards be damned! I also appreciated how Mina's mother honestly gave everything Mina said serious consideration, never brushing it off as just a child's silliness, instead saying something to the effect of "you might have a point there." I found the walk & talk they have near the end especially touching. 


*just one moment in that walk & talk



I liked getting to know the background of such a unique character as Mina, but my eyes weren't necessarily glued to the page here. This is a good supplemental read if you really enjoyed Skellig and want to know more character history. A solid read for easy entertainment, and it offers a look into how to possibly treat those with unique thought processing and life outlooks more kindly, rather than feeling threatened when their ways are not like yours. 



POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING: There is a character Mina discusses near the end of her journal who uses cutting as a way to process pain. 


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review 2015-09-29 08:26
Review | Skellig by David Almond
Skellig - David Almond

Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage. . . . What is this thing beneath the spiders' webs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together, they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael's world changes forever. . .






I've heard a number of my friends I've made through the online book community talk about reading this book in school. It was never in any of my assigned curriculum, but hearing David Almond's writing mentioned so often, I was curious. Figured I would start with one of his most recognizable titles. 


Skellig is a quick read telling the story of David, a young boy who is often left to his own devices as his parents struggle with the major health struggles of David's baby sister which has her in and out of the hospital pretty consistently. As he explores the new house he just moved into with his parents, he discovers a strange man living in the run-down detached garage on the property. While the man only seems to be able to spit out a handful of words and phrases, David dedicates himself to learning the man's story. With the help of his friend Mina (who lives across the street), what David discovers weaves the story into something touching and a touch fantastical. 


It was a fun little story but nothing that I was super wowed by. It's possible my experience would have been different / more memorable had I read this when I was the target age of 10-12 years old. As an adult, it was entertaining enough to keep me reading, to find out the story behind the guy in the garage... and there were some moving moments near the end... but as a whole it was just a solid 3 star read. Strangely, I found myself really liking the character Dr. MacNobola -- would totally read a spin-off book just around that guy -- but I think he only had a handful of lines in the whole book. I dunno, I just really enjoyed the way he was written. 

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