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!

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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!

This Book Is Gay

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How did I get it?:
I received it from Hot Key Books in exchange for a honest review!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Hollow Pike
Cruel Summer
Say Her Name

Synopsis:

Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it’s like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people ‘across the spectrum’, this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know – from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell’s hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.

Thoughts:

I bloody love James Dawson. I had to get that out there, but man the Queen of Teen is amazing. This Book is Gay really shows off James’ personality. As I was reading it, I felt like I was watching him talk (like I did at YALC). He really is a very witty man and a fantastic writer. This Book Is Gay is a piece of Non Fiction. If I’m honest, I quite often find non fiction reads quite dry and at times boring. This certainly wasn’t the case with this book. It made me laugh out loud and it made me appreciate what some people experience because they are LGBT.

It didn’t matter to me that I was reading this book as a heterosexual. I don’t think it matters whatever sexual preference you have and that’s a bloomin’ fantastic thing. I thought it was fascinating and a real eye opener. It’s incredibly informative without being preachy. I love the message that this book brings with it. It accepts everyone for who they really are.  I imagine that this book is going to be a massive support to those that are struggling with their identity- teenagers or adults. James’ writing makes you feel like you’re talking to a friend that’s giving you some well thought out and intelligent advice.

I love that there are diagrams, pictures and quite graphic language and detail. It just adds to a wonderful reading experience. It’s open and honest. This book deserves to be read widely and receive many accolades.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic honest read about what it’s like to be LGBT in a world that is geared towards heterosexuality.