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.

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When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Thoughts:

I have had this book on my TBR for what feels like forever. I have read so many positive things about it, but was yet to get around to it. I decided that on my Easter break from school that I’d tackle some books I’d been wanting to read for a while. That I did. When Dimple Met Rishi is a super cute contemporary read. I devoured it within 24 hours!

When Dimple Met Rishi is told from Dimple and Rishi’s point of view. It centres around Dimple who wants to go to university and not search for that ideal Indian husband that her traditional parents are determined for her to marry. She wants to develop an app and work with the best in the business. Rishi and Dimple both end up going to a coding camp. What Dimple doesn’t know is that Rishi is Dimple’s proposed partner. The reason why Dimple’s parents agreed for her to go was so she could meet him. Dimple and Rishi do not get off to the best start but as they begin to get to know each other, feelings change. Dimple does know she’s not ready for a long term relationship, she has career goals and doesn’t want to be ‘domestic’.

I thought this was an adorable book. I loved the story-line and whilst it was a little bit predictable (to be fair, most contemporary YA books are) it was so cute. I loved both Dimple and Rishi. I love it when you adore both characters in a story, especially when their story is told through their points of view. I didn’t find myself skipping one chapter because it was a certain character. I wanted to get to know them more and more. I loved that they were both super geeky.  I also loved how Rishi was passionate about his heritage. He reminded me of one of my best friends.

I wasn’t sure that I was going to like the arranged marriage part of this story. All too often, I read negativity around arranged marriages. This was definitely a more positive take. Even though Dimple’s mum was desperate for her daughter to get married and comply, Dimple was never forced. I appreciated that.

Despite this book being predictable, it was so well written and definitely gave me a warm feeling whilst reading it. I look forward to reading more from Sandhya Menon!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This is such a sweet contemporary YA read. I highly recommend it!

The Accident

The Accident

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment

Synopsis:

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

There is a lot that Sue doesn’t know about Charlotte’s life. But then there’s a lot that Charlotte doesn’t know about Sue’s …

Thoughts:

I have heard so much about C.L Taylor’s adult fiction that I made it my mission to get to some of her backlist. This especially became the case when I read The Treatment, the author’s YA release. I loved that book so thought it was time to get to The Accident. I’m pleased I did because I found it to be a completely addictive read. I think I’ve found another thriller author that I adore.

It centres around Charlotte and her family. Charlotte is in a coma after being hit by a bus. Her mother, Sue,  believes it may have been deliberate after reading Charlotte’s diary and finding ‘keeping this secret is killing me.’ Sue is desperate to find out what Charlotte’s secret is. Through Sue’s exploration we find more about Charlotte’s life. We also find out about Sue’s past which is much darker than you first anticipate.

I loved the narration because it had flashbacks to what had happened to Sue in the 1990s when she was with James. A very dangerous partner. As a reader, we learn about Sue’s past and begin to understand her reasons behind her decisions she makes when trying to uncover Charlotte’s secret. I loved reading the diary entries. They were intense and hard to read at points, but still so intriguing to begin to piece the story together. I found Sue to be such an unreliable narrator. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which makes you question her every move as a reader. She wasn’t afraid to directly accuse people of being involved with Charlotte’s accident. I loved that her relationship with her husband wasn’t perfect. It was incredibly authentic.

I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this story. I was constantly turning the pages to try to figure out what had happened to Charlotte. A very decent psychological thriller!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful debut psychological thriller. Its narration really kept me guessing!

The Disappearances

The Disappearances

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Every seven years something goes missing in the remote town of Sterling: people’s reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep and some secrets want to stay hidden – and one young woman’s desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save Sterling from the past.

A beautifully told story of love, loss and finding the truth – no matter how difficult that might be.

Thoughts:

I had a really weird experience when I read this book. I started off really loving it and was wondering why I had took so long to get around to it. However, when I got deeper into the book, I started to lose a bit of interest in it. I don’t know whether that’s because it took me so long to read because work was super busy or whether it just didn’t capture my attention as much as I wanted. Either way, The Disappearances is an interesting book full of magical realism. I’m not disappointed that I read it.

The Disappearances is set in the 1940s. It’s about a town where Disappearances occur every seven years. The people living in the town have lost strange things though like their reflections or their sense of smell. Aila is desperate to find out what is going on in the town. Is it a curse? The town has something called Variants which help to counteract the Disappearances but they can take some time to make. Aila wants to discover the truth and uncovers many mysteries along the way.

As I mentioned, at first I found this book really intriguing. It didn’t necessarily read like historical fiction. It was however, filled to the brim with magical realism. I think if you enjoy magical realism then you’ll really like the idea of the Disappearances and Variants. There were constant nods to Shakespeare, which didn’t really do much for me, but if you’re into Shakespeare then that might delight you!

I loved Aila as a character. She was feisty and I always enjoy a strong female character. I feel like Emily Bain Murphy really brought her character to life.

I don’t want to come across as negative about this book, because it was good. It was light-hearted and easy to read. It just wasn’t the read I thought it was going to be! It is however, unique and worth checking out.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

I had mixed feelings about this book. It is well written and unique though!

A List Of Cages

A List of Cages

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

Thoughts:

I had this book on my radar for 2017 but for some reason I never got around to it. I heard such amazing things about it, but you know what the life of a bookworm is like. Sometimes it’s hard to get around to every book. So I’m making it my mission this year to catch up on some debut releases from 2017.

I read A List Of Cages in early March and I thought it was a simply incredible book. I will warn you that it is intense. I wasn’t expecting that. I feel like I need to say that there is heavy abuse in this story, so if that is something that would be too much for you, then perhaps this book won’t be for you. If you can manage to read this book, even with a heavy heart, I do think this book is really worth a read.

It’s a book about Adam and Julian. Adam is a popular boy at his school. He has ADHD and finds sitting still a challenge. He becomes an aide for the school psychologist. He has to track down a peer that is completely avoiding the school psychologist. Adam realises that it’s Julian, a younger boy who used to be fostered by Adam’s family. Adam grows closer to Julian once again, but Julian is hiding massive secrets which will soon come to the forefront.

As expected, this book is not necessarily an easy read. It’s incredibly hard to read due to the abuse involved in the story. It absolutely tore at my heart. I was desperate for Julian to find happiness. I also loved how Adam, despite being four years older, was completely there for Julian. It was the sweetest and most genuine friendship.

Dual narratives don’t always work for me, but in this book they are perfect. I could get a sense of the characters from their points of view. They were so incredibly different. Adam was the life and soul. Mr Popular. Julian was deeply affected by his past and his current home situation. He was timid and withdrawn. I loved how Robin Roe portrayed Adam and Julian’s characters. Their friendship is one of the best I have ever read.

I also appreciated how the characters didn’t find school easy. Adam struggled with his ADHD and Julian struggled academically. I wasn’t overly impressed with how the educators in the story dealt with their struggles, but hey, you can’t win them all! Being a teacher myself it’s something that does grate on me.

This book doesn’t hold back any. It is raw, brutally honest and heart-breaking. Yet, there’s something hopeful about the future for these characters. Highly recommended!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

Stunning writing. A wonderful albeit hard to read book!

Wing Jones

Wing Jones

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

Thoughts:

I had heard a lot of good things about Wing Jones from around the blogosphere, so I thought it was about time that I finally got around to it. I mean, I’ve had it for over a year, it was surely time to give it a go? I thought the story was incredibly sweet and found there was a lot to like about Wing Jones. 

The story centres around Wing Jones who isn’t the most popular girl. She has an interesting family with a grandmother from China and another from Ghana. (A tick for the representation in this book! 🙂 ) After something awful happens in her family, Wing discovers a talent for running that she didn’t know she had. Wing’s new found talent could help out her family but it also could prevent other things happening…

I enjoyed the story overall and think it’s such an easy to read book. I like how it addresses the racism that Wing experiences, it never shies away from it. It’s awesome that Wing isn’t a perfect looking athlete. This totally should be represented more. I loved Wing’s family and kind of wished we had heard more about their plot lines. I appreciated the slow burn romance and found it to be believable. I loved that the story was bittersweet and had some touching family moments amongst tragedy. It’s real to life and I appreciate that.

Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the magical realism. I adore magical realism, it’s that inner child in me that makes me enjoy working with children! I feel like it added to the plot line and made it different to other YA contemporary reads.

I really enjoyed reading about Wing but I have to admit she frustrated me as a character sometimes. I totally understood that she felt alienated from her peers after being picked on by a girl at school. However, even though she’s close to her brother and his friends she never reaches out to them at school. That confused me. I was also a little disappointed that the reader doesn’t tend to find out much about the aftermath of the tragedy.

All in all, I enjoyed Wing Jones. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a fabulous book with fabulous representation. Worth reading!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fabulous YA debut with very ‘real’ characters!

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!