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!

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I Have No Secrets

I Have No Secrets

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can’t tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change…

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book before I decided to buy it. So many positive comments from other bloggers. I knew it was something that I’d like. I’m a big fan of a wide range of people being represented in literature, so it made my heart very happy to read a book about a girl with cerebral palsy, even if it was quite the dark read!

The story centres around Jemma who has severe cerebral palsy. She can’t speak or communicate meaning that she relies on her family and her carer for everything. Jemma has a good brain, she can understand everything that is being said to her and she enjoys a mystery. However, one day she is told an awful secret, something that she should tell someone. But she can’t! The story follows Jemma’s struggles with getting the truth out there.

I was absolutely blown away by this book. I loved the character of Jemma. She may not have been able to physically speak but her voice was so strong from the beginning. I loved how she never missed anything that was going on around her. She had such deep thoughts and compassion for others. I also loved how she was always open to possibility. This story, I felt, gave hope to those living with a disability.

I really enjoyed Penny Joelson’s writing style. I thought she very cleverly played with our emotions as a reader. I may not be the target audience for this book (YA) but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I have no doubt that anyone would enjoy picking up this well written story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful read from Penny Joelson. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Truth Or Dare

Truth or Dare

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books! Many thanks to them.

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Trouble
Remix
Unboxed

Synopsis:

How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

Thoughts:

I do so love Non Pratt’s writing, so when I had the opportunity to read Truth Or Dare I jumped at the chance. Non Pratt is absolutely fantastic at representing teens. She just gets it and her books are raw, truthful and utterly relatable. Even if you’re not a teenager, her writing brings you right back to those teenage years. She is also fantastic at representing a diverse range of people.

Truth or Dare centres around Sef and Claire. Sef and Claire decide to open up a YouTube channel to raise money for Sef’s brother who has had a traumatic brain injury. The idea for videos is to complete ‘Truth or Dares’ where the viewers donate money to see certain dares. The money will go towards therapy for Sef’s brother. As a reader, we hear from Claire and Sef’s point of view. We follow Claire first and then flip the book over for Sef’s point of view.

This book is and isn’t easy to read. Its subject matter makes it challenging to read, but it’s completely engrossing at the same time. Kam’s disability is obviously at the core of the story, Sef is really struggling to deal with the extent of his big brother’s injury. Other diverse elements include Claire’s best friend Seren being asexual. I had never read this in a book before, so I was really happy to see it included in a young adult book. As well as disability and sexuality being represented, Sef isn’t a white British character. Despite this book covering so many diverse subjects, it never feels like its diversity is being shoved down your throat. It’s subtle, it’s realistic and it’s wonderful.

I think this book would appeal to young adults and adults alike. There’s something in there for everyone.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fabulous, realistic read!

Tiny Pretty Things

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How did I get it?:
Received from Harper 360 in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis:

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Thoughts:

I’ve made no secret of the fact that dance based books are one of my most favourite things to read. I think it’s because I love dance so much, so when dance and books are combined it is a no brainer for me. It has to be read! I thoroughly enjoyed Tiny Pretty Things. I can totally see where the comparison to Black Swan and Pretty Little Liars comes from. This book is certainly dramatic, so if you don’t like drama in your stories then this book is not for you! I didn’t realise that this book was going to have such a diverse range of characters, but it does, and that is a joy to see in Young Adult literature!

Tiny Pretty Things is based in an elite ballet school. Only the best dance there. However, the ballet industry is incredibly competitive and some of the girls will do just about anything to get a principal role. It’s told from three point of views, which is interesting. This book is one of those books that I feel would have worked best from one character’s perspective. I mean, it wasn’t a bad element of the book, but sometimes with multiple point of view perspectives I can become bored with a certain character and lose interest in their chapters. I have to admit, this did happen with Tiny Pretty Things!

If you’re into books that are full of drama and spiteful characters that you love to hate, then Tiny Pretty Things would be a great book for you to explore! I would warn that there are some elements to this story which may trigger some people’s issues (e.g. eating disorders feature), so be wary of that.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

If you’re into dance based revenge stories then this could be a perfect fit for you!

How To Fly With Broken Wings

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette Children’s Books!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
A Room Full of Chocolate

Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk – and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Barton gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend?

Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds. Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle.

Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a secret. Sasha longs to fly too.

And when Magic Man Archie arrives with stories of war-flying spitfires, he will change the lives of the kids on the Beckham Estate for ever. And perhaps find a way for Willem and Sasha to fly.

Thoughts:

I lapped up Jane Elson’s debut novel A Room Full of Chocolate, so when I knew there was going to be another book released by her, I knew I had to read it. I went into How To Fly With Broken Wings with very high expectations. Whilst I didn’t enjoy it quite so much as A Room Full of Chocolate, I still thought it was a decent read. I really appreciate that Willem had Asperger’s Syndrome. I love books with diverse characters and How To Fly With Broken Wings definitely represents diversity.

How To Fly With Broken Wings centres around Willem who desperately wants to learn how to fly and how to make friends. He strikes up a friendship with Sasha who also has a desire to fly. How To Fly With Broken Wings is packed full of action, covering many themes such as bullying, friendship and love.

I think one of the strengths of this story are the characters who are well developed and realistic. I thought the way in which Willem’s Asperger’s Syndrome was covered was well represented. This book is well worth reading if you want to explore some very interesting characters. 🙂

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- 3.5 stars!

A book centred around many themes, How To Fly With Broken Wings is full of realistic characters which you easily warm to!

The Last Leaves Falling

The Last Leaves Falling

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Random House Children’s Publishers

Synopsis:

Japanese teenager Sora is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.

Thoughts:

I only finished this book late last night, but I had to get a review out as soon as I could after finishing it. I just had to express my thoughts on what a beautiful book this is. It seriously blew me away. It’s an emotional, moving read which I’m pretty sure has made its way to my all time favourites list.

I immediately felt compassion for Sora our main character. Sora is diagnoses with ALS at a young age. It’s heart breaking. ALS is an awful disease. Sora’s outlook on the life he had left was, at times, really painful to read. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must feel like for anyone, let alone a teenager. Sarah Benwell’s writing really tore at my heart. I don’t often feel emotional/have real tears when reading a book but this book moved me to tears.

Sora finds friendship online, and the friendships he made were believable and brought joy to his life (and yet more tears to my eyes).

I don’t want to say much about it. It’s one of those stories that I think is best left to be unfolded by its reader. Each reader will take something different from it, but what I know all readers will take from this stunning début is a strong message about valuing the life you have.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A moving, powerful début. Sarah Benwell is one to watch!

Gracefully Grayson

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How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.

The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.

Debut author Ami Polonsky’s moving, beautifully-written novel shines with the strength of a young person’s spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.

Thoughts:

Ami Polonsky’s Gracefully Grayson was picked for me for Luna’s Picks to read by my blog readers. I was supposed to read it back in November, but I had trouble getting hold of a copy. I’m so glad I persevered though as it was a stunning and beautifully realised debut novel.

Gracefully Grayson is about a boy named Grayson who is hiding a secret. He believes he is a girl on the inside. He doesn’t feel like he ‘belongs’ in his body. It makes him feel different to the rest of his classmates. Grayson has always been intrigued by girls clothes and princesses. He thought that he could hide this from his peers and family members, but throughout the course of the book, Grayson soon starts accepting his uniqueness when he tries out for the role of Persephone in the school play. Of course, and can be unfortunately anticipated- it takes a while for his peers and some of the adults surrounding Grayson to accept that he is playing a female part.

I found Grayson’s Aunt incredibly frustrating when she tried to put him off the play. Perhaps she meant well, maybe she wanted to protect Grayson from harm, but in fact, to me,  she symbolised all the close minded people out there who aren’t willing to accept change or difference from others.

The ending of this book is particularly powerful. Gracefully Grayson makes a huge impact despite it being a short read. I felt like Grayson gained the confidence to show the world how he felt on the inside. Grayson seems tired of people’s opinions and is ready to show the world who exactly he is!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A beautiful story of finding identity amidst much confusion!