Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.
 
Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.
 
As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

Thoughts:

I had heard really good things about Nice Try, Jane Sinner so I was super excited to pick it up. I used to watch a lot of reality TV… not so much these days apart from a few guilty pleasures. I thought this book was an incredibly original debut novel and I’m excited to see what Lianne Oelke writes next. If this book is anything to go by, her writing career will be very promising.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner centres around Jane who is expelled from high school. It takes the reader a while to find out the reason why, but it comes. Jane decides to start community college attracted by being a participant of a reality show run by Alexander at the community college. The reality show is called House Of Orange. It involves living in a house with other people and cameras everywhere. A Big Brother type show for college aged students. Jane has to interact with new people, try new things and step outside of her comfort zone. There’s competitions and Jane is determined to take them seriously. She really wants to win.

Jane isn’t an easy character to like, but I did really grow to like her and root for her. She had such dry humour which I loved to read. It’s a very funny book and its humour is definitely its strong point.

I really enjoyed the style of this book. Most of it is told via a journal. I absolutely adored this touch. I thought the narrative was incredibly well-executed. Lianne Oelke is a truly talented writer. I was amazed at how well the characters were developed and how the scenes unfolded. It felt like it was happening before my eyes, rather than reading a journal entries.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is an outstanding debut! I was so impressed. 

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A Thousand Perfect Notes

A Thousand Perfect Notes

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- many thanks to Hatchette Children’s books

Synopsis:

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

Thoughts:

I don’t even know where to begin with this book because it’s just THAT GOOD. Yes. THAT GOOD. It deserves the capitals. I feel like this review should come with a massive trigger warning because its content is incredibly intense. Beck, our main character, suffers abuse at the hands of his violent mother. This story tore my heart into shreds and moved me… in less than 300 pages. C.G Drews is certainly a talented writer. I can’t believe this is her debut. I’m going to try and write a sensible and coherent review but I may struggle… just saying.

A Thousand Perfect Notes centres around Beck who is an incredibly beautiful character. He hates his life because of his simply horrific mother who he names Maestro. Maestro is violent towards him and also emotionally abusive. She forces him to play the piano for hours upon hours because she wants him to be as good as she was at the piano before illness stole her talent from her. She was once famous across the word for her talents and she’s determined that he’ll continue her legacy, no matter the cost. I’m actually tearing up at the thought of the story and the terrible situations Beck was in. Beck does enjoy music, but he prefers to create his own music. Any mention of this to his mother ends violently. Added to this complex family situation, is a young sister, Joey, who he wants to protect. She sees her big brother being hit and has become violent herself at pre-school. (Heart-breaking once more… thanks Cait!) Beck is paired with a girl named August for a school project. She brings joy into his life and encourages him (without even knowing it) to stand up for himself and get away from the violence at home.

This book really is exceptional. I was immediately drawn into the story and although the subject matter is incredible tense and heart-breaking it still made me flick through the pages quickly, desperately wanting a release from such an awful life for Beck. I grew so attached to Beck and his sister Joey. I was infuriated at his school for not picking up more signs. I absolutely loathed his mother. Of course, I felt sorry for her that she had lost her passion due to illness, I’m not that cold-hearted. However, Beck and Joey did not deserve a mother that didn’t know how to be a mother.

I adored August. She was a shining light for Beck and Joey and alongside her beautiful family, she gave Beck hope to stand up for himself. I loved how Beck and August’s relationship was a slow burning romance. I love a slow burning romance because it’s much more realistic.

I have to be honest and say I was worried about reading this book because of the hype surrounding it. I’ve followed and adored the author’s blog for several years now and wondered what her writing would be like. I needn’t have worried because the book was simply divine! Easily one of my favourite reads of 2018 so far!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A wonderful debut! One of my favourites of the year so far.

Flying Tips For Flightless Birds

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books for review

Synopsis:

Twins Finch and Birdie Franconi are stars of the flying trapeze. But when Birdie suffers a terrifying accident, Finch must team up with the geeky new kid, Hector Hazzard, to form an all-boys double act and save the family circus school. Together they learn to walk the high-wire of teen life and juggle the demands of friends, family, first love and facing up to who they are – all served up with a dash of circus-showbiz magic.

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by this book when I read about it in an email. The title interested me and I’m all for reading about circuses at the moment. A massive thank you to Walker for sending me a copy of this book. I’m always excited when I hear that a book is a debut. I’m always on the search for fabulous new writing talent. I am happy to say I’d easily read another book by Kelly McCaughrain, I was really impressed with her debut!

It centres around twins Finch and Birdie. They are the stars of the flying trapeze in their family circus. Finch and Birdie are treated horribly at school because they are outsiders, they dress outlandishly and express themselves through their outfits! Lots of people at school pick on them because they’re different. Birdie has a terrifying accident, leaving her out of action for the family circus school. Finch has to work with Hector, a new geeky kid at school. He’s a little bit hopeless at all things circus, but Finch perseveres with him. Finch and Hector grow closer as they learn to deal with friends, family and school pressures. They learn about who they really are.

I thought this was such a cute book! I have to admit that it took me a few chapters to get into it, but when I was, I was completely captivated. I found it incredibly easy to read. I loved how there were many positive messages that could be taken from the story. Finch, Birdie and Hector are such fantastic characters. I especially grew to love Finch and Hector. I loved how their friendship developed over the course of the story. I was championing Hector from the very beginning too. Such an adorable character.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. My heart grew to love these truly special characters.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut with some amazing characters that became very dear to me!

Love, Hate & Other Filters

Love, Hate & Other Filters

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hot Key Books/Bonnier

Synopsis:

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Thoughts:

I have heard so much about this book over the past few months. I wanted to read it because I knew it was an important story for the author. One of my best friends is Muslim and Islamophobia is something that I feel very, very strongly about. This book wasn’t quite the amazing read that I wanted it to be. It was incredibly powerful at points and heart-breaking at times.

It centres around Maya who is torn between two paths. There’s the path in which her parents want her to be the good Indian daughter, get a respectable job and marry a suitable Muslim boy and the path where she wants to follow her dreams and go to NYU to study film and pursue a guy that she’s interested in. Alongside Maya’s confusion, there’s a horrific crime. Her peers, neighbours and community become consumed with fear and hatred. She experiences Islamophobia. Maya has to find her way in a world that seems to hate her and parents that are determined for her to be a certain way.

Maya came across as a teen very well. Apart from the mention of being Muslim, I don’t feel like she had much of a Muslim identity. I don’t know if that was intentional by the author- making her seem like all her peers. It was just something I observed.

I really enjoyed reading a story from a different voice. I do think I expected more about Islamophobia and I got more about the romance. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to read. I enjoyed Maya as a character and thought her romance was very sweet. I liked how this book had important messages about not judging those on their race and religion. Maya and her parents were often discriminated against, even though they’d been in the community for a while, they weren’t fully accepted due to their religion which is infuriating.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fabulous debut about love but also sadly, hate!