The Wonder Of Us

The Wonder of Us

How did I get it?:
Received a copy from Walker Books UK, many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

Riya and Abby are:
Best friends.
Complete opposites.
Living on different continents.
Currently mad at each other.
About to travel around Europe. 

Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship-it’s only a year and they’ve been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches:

They haven’t talked in weeks.
They’ve both been keeping secrets.

Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart?

Thoughts:

YA contemporary is something I particularly enjoy, especially so in the warmer weather. When I was offered the chance to read The Wonder Of Us, I snapped it up, purely on that cover and the synopsis itself. I do like a book involving travel, especially travel around Europe. I did enjoy reading this book, but it didn’t blow me away like I wanted it to. I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I thought I might.

The Wonder Of Us is all about two best friends reuniting and going on an adventure around Europe. Abby is pretty fed up with Riya who she feels abandoned her when she needed her. Abby’s parents have recently been struggling and Abby feels like Riya abandoned her to go to Berlin. What Abby doesn’t realise is that Riya has been dealing with her own secrets since leaving each other on bad terms. Riya offers Abby the chance to travel through Europe for two weeks- a ticket that’s been paid for. It’ll give Abby the chance to escape home life in California and hopefully give the girls time to sort through their troubles.

The story is narrated by both Abby and Riya meaning that the reader gets to find out both sides of the story.  It’s also got some interesting secondary characters to get to know, like Neel, Riya’s cousin, who is chaperoning during their trip.

I think part of my problem with this book was that I didn’t understand Abby’s frustration with Riya. Best friends can’t always be by your side, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t care for you. Some of my best friends I don’t see for months on end, but I know they are still there. I understood that Abby had a tough time in her home life and sure, Riya could have been there for her more, but I was still left feeling frustrated by Abby’s actions.  I could have also done without the bickering throughout the story although I do believe it made their rift more believable.

I did enjoy ‘travelling’ Europe with the characters. I feel like Kim Culbertson really set the scene in each country really beautifully. This book was easy to read and I think it would make a decent beach’/summer read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Beautifully set in Europe, this book will be great for summer reading!

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The Weight Of A Thousand Feathers

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Bloomsbury

Previously reviewed by the same author:
We Come Apart

Synopsis:

‘Funny how no one ever uses the word ‘love’ when discussing my case. I do what I do because she’s my mum. That pure and that simple.’

Bobby Seed is used to going the extra mile for the ones he loves, and he does it willingly. It’s up to Bobby to get Mum her pills, to help her up the stairs, to laugh her out of her pain. It’s up to Bobby to comfort his little brother Danny, to explain why Mum’s not like the Mum they remember.

One day, he’s asked to go further. Mum asks him the big question. The one many would find unthinkable. If he agrees, he won’t just be soothing her pain. He’ll be helping to end it.

Thoughts:

I seem to have been reading really emotional books recently and this one is another one of them. It’s a story about a young carer who looks after his mum who has the terrible disease MS. At the heart of the story is family and I loved that.

The Weight Of A Thousand Feathers is about Bobby and his family. He lives and cares for his mum and his younger brother. Bobby has watched his mum suffer from MS before she was officially diagnosed. He has watched her deteriorate and at the start of the story she is bed-ridden. He has been there for her all along. He has to feed her, take her to the toilet… the roles are certainly reversed. One day, Bobby’s mum asks him to help her end her life. Bobby is now faced with an extremely tough decision. He wants to keep his mum alive but at the same time doesn’t want to see her suffer any further.

I thought Brian Conaghan wrote an incredible story. He was able to show both sides of the story- living with a disease and caring for someone with a long-term, deteriorating disease. The emotions he captured, were I imagine, very true to life for caring for someone with such a terrible disease. I imagine that it’s hard to see your child become your carer. These emotions were portrayed beautifully within the story.

I had so many conflicting opinions throughout the story. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to be asked to end a person’s life, especially a family member. What do you even do in that situation? It’s heart-breaking. So many questions were raised in my mind. I love a thought provoking book.

You might think this sounds like an utterly depressing book, but there are definitely light-hearted moments. I like it when a sad book has those moments. I think sad stories do need some levity. It shouldn’t all be doom and gloom.

I think Brian Conaghan has written a beautiful, thought-provoking, raw read which is well worth checking out.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An emotional but thought-provoking read!

Leah On The Offbeat (Creekwood #2)

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
The Upside Of Unrequited

Synopsis:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this book, especially after loving Simon so much. I did approach it with some trepidation though. As I often do when I hype books so much. Pffft, why do I do it? That said, this book was not a disappointment to me at all. I really enjoyed it and thought it was an awesome addition to Simon’s world. I had some moments when I actually laughed out loud. Although Simon features, this is definitely Leah’s story and I was totally okay with that.

Leah On The Offbeat explores Leah’s feelings towards one of her friends. Like Simon in the previous book, Leah hasn’t yet come out. She’s bisexual and doesn’t feel ready to tell this to the world. She’s not as brave as Simon was. The characters are now in their senior year of high school and thinking about moving on to college, making some important decisions for the future.

I loved Leah in her own story. I thought she was funny and completely true to herself. I loved her sarcasm and how she was quite moody. She was blunt about her own weight and discussed how many people equate skinny to pretty even if they don’t intend to.

Leah, Simon and their group of friends are so fun to follow. They are such an easy group of friends to root for. I love how Becky Albertalli’s books deal with real issues but essentially they are books that uplift you and give your some joy despite the doom and gloom that real life can bring sometimes.

You don’t need to have read Simon to read this book, but it’ll enhance your experience if you do!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Whereas it didn’t quite match my beloved Simon, it was still a decent read that I quickly devoured!

Little Liar

Little Liar

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin Random House

Synopsis:

Nora has lied about many things. But has she told her most dangerous lie of all?

There’s a new art assistant at Nora’s school, and he’s crossed a line. Nora decides to teach him a lesson he won’t forget.

But not everything goes quite to plan, and Nora needs an escape. She befriends the rich and talented Bel, who longs for a part in a remake of a famous film. Bel is unpredictable, jealous and crazy, but she opens up a new world for Nora, and that makes her irresistible. 

As events start to spin wildly out of control, Nora must decide where her loyalties lie – and what deceits she can get away with.

Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy this book or not. I’m always a bit dodgy about reading books about teachers being one myself. It does tend to feel a little uncomfortable. However, I thought I’d give Little Liar a go and I’m glad I did. It’s a story about deceit with an awful female character narrating the story. Despite her being such a liar, I did enjoy the story even if I didn’t enjoy her!

Little Liar is about a girl named Nora who is prone to lying. Nora finds it easy to lie. One day when the new art assistant at school dares to cross her, she decides to seek revenge , teach him a lesson and once again expand on the truth… The situation doesn’t end up like she intended though and she needs an escape from reality. Nora befriends Annabel (Bel). Bel introduces Nora to a new world of drama…which once again leads Nora’s life spiralling out of control.

This book is a decent read, despite me disliking the main character. I didn’t trust Nora much at all. All along Nora lied and you’re left wondering whether she was ever going to tell the truth. Don’t expect twists and turns in this book, because they’re not there. Yet something about it captivates you and keeps you turning the pages. It is quite a dark read, but there’s still something utterly readable about it.

I really enjoyed Julia Gray’s writing style, it was easy to read and I loved the setting of the school and Nora’s past in France. I’m all for reading more British Writers so it’s great to add another to my list!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

An intriguing story!

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.

All Of This Is True

All of This Is True

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing!

Synopsis:

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .

Thoughts:

This was a really interesting reading experience. I initially requested this book because of its synopsis. I was intrigued by the idea of obsession and fandom. I’m really pleased I read this book because I found it utterly addictive despite the fact that it’s not as full of plot twists as I first thought it may be.

All Of This Is True is the story of four teenagers who willing tell all about their lives to their favourite bestselling author. They are completely drawn in by the author. What they don’t realise though, is that the author is writing a book focusing around their real struggles. It is then that they realise that all four are in a dreadful position. Their author ‘friend’ may not have been as genuine as she first made out.

This is a strange book because I never really connected with any of the characters. Yet I was still desperate to find out what was going to happen. I loved reading their stories throughout the media that was used in the book. That’s another element that I really enjoyed- there were so many different emails, journal entries and interviews. It certainly kept me reading. I think the formatting of this book is what makes it so addictive. It really demonstrated the line between fiction and reality and how close that line can be between the two. I think it sends an important message about the relationship between an author and a reader. There should be a firm line between both, especially for impressionable readers.

This book is over 400 pages long, however, it’s hard to put down. I wanted to know what was going to be revealed. I guess I expected more of a plot twist, but the twists that were there were quite easy to predict! I think if you go into this book expecting it to be a fairly easy going (on the plot) twist then there will be lots to enjoy.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars!

Even though this book wasn’t what I expected, it was utterly addictive!

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

How did I get it?:
I received it from Faber. Many thanks to them.

Synopsis:

AND THEN THERE WERE SHOTS
Everybody
ran,
ducked,
hid, tucked
themselves tight.

Pressed our lips to the
pavement and prayed
the boom, followed by
the buzz of a bullet,
didn’t meet us.

After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.

This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.

Thoughts:

I was approached to read this book fairly recently and immediately was intrigued. I’m getting more into books told in verse. I don’t think it’ll ever be my ‘thing’ but I do enjoy reading books written this way every now and then. This is especially the case when they’re about powerful topics. Long Way Down completely captivated me and I could have easily read it in one sitting. It was that compelling.

Long Way Down is a brutal book about violence. It centres around Will’s brother Shawn who was shot and killed. The rules are that someone in your family is killed, you go and seek revenge. That’s what Will sets out to do. He grabs the gun in his room and sets out to kill his brother’s killers. However, in the elevator on the way down he is joined by ghosts of people that have been shot in Will’s life.

The first thing that really struck me was how much Will had gone through in his young life so far. It was heart-wrenching. So many deaths due to gun violence. It has to have really affected him. I definitely thought of all of the lives being ruined to gun violence. It really made my stomach turn. It was sad to see the cycle going on and on. People dying, then the shooter being shot…then someone else killing them… it was endless. I felt like the ghosts were trying to get Will to stop the cycle and realise that seeking revenge wouldn’t end well for him.

I loved that Jason Reynolds used free verse to tell the story. I feel like this was the best way to portray Will’s experience with the ghosts. It was interesting, brutal and powerful at the same time. It made me want to read some of the moments out loud for more of an impact.

Long Way Down sends a message about gang/gun violence. It is devastating to think about how many lives are lost this way every single day. It’s an incredibly quick read and I definitely think the ending is open to interpretation which is interesting.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A quick, brutal read!