The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone

The Nightingale is a story that I will remember. Not just remember, embrace. More than a story, this book clings to me. Its heart and soul speak out as though it was made for preserving. A keepsake.

… grief, like regret, settles into our DNA and remains forever part of us.

I am drawn to WWII books, in particular, those set in occupied France. I don’t know why – they are almost always sad and I tend to question what I would have done in the same situation… I know I courage would have failed me and that doesn’t lead to happy thoughts. But it is why I found myself drawn to Vianne whose courage didn’t come easy.

If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.

Although the Goodreads abstract below suggests the sisters were always close this isn’t how I interpreted their relationship which had been negatively influenced by the loss of their mother, subsequent absent father, and very different personalities. Their tenuous bond fluctuated over the course of the war and brought additional tension and emotion to the story.

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

While the novel is written in the third person, the intermittent glimpse to the future (1995) is narrated by one of the sisters (it is not clear for the majority of the book which sister this is) in the first person. This glimpse forward with its unmistakable hindsight adds an element of mystery to the story which I loved.

He held her gaze and suddenly she couldn’t breathe. “I am a soldier now it seems”.

The book ended with me in tears – as almost all great books do. My last notes are monosyllables: brilliant, sad, love, forgiveness, courage, courage, courage…5 Star

 

 

Title: The NightingaleThe Nightingale

Author: Kristin Hannah 

Narrator: Polly Stone

Publication Date: 3 February 2015

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Source: Review copy

 

 

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Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

 

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

Life in a FishbowlLife in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

Their house was being transformed into a cruel kind of fishbowl, and all they could do was pucker and swim.

Life in a Fishbowl… Where to start? I didn’t like this book. The plot concept had potential but ultimately lacked execution and the matter-of-fact, detached writing style was off-putting.

That’s when it would be game over. But the tumor didn’t know that. It only knew it had to keep eating, that Jared’s memories tasted wonderful, that they were things to be savored.

 

Why didn’t I like it you ask?…

Too many third-party PVO’s (point-of-views) to keep track of and – wait for it – one of those voices is the brain tumour, a glioblastoma to be precise, killing Jackie’s father.

Deirdre was crying. More than anything, the glioblastoma wanted to stop her from crying.

But even this aspect could have worked better if the tumour voice was a more realistic, perhaps more scientific. Instead, it’s personified – with feelings. And decision-making skills. Maybe a bit of sarcastic wit could have made a difference…? But all the tumour character did was give the story a dry, warped, fantasy twist. Which was awful and meaningless, taking up space in the book which would have been better suited to developing the flimsy human characters.

In that moment, the tumor knew, the bond formed between father and daughter was unbreakable. It paused to savor that feeling, letting the unbridled happiness envelop it.

Theses human characters were the typical paper-doll kind, you know the ones, so superficial they can hardly stand up. Many of them play such a small, arbitrary role in the story it’s hard to know why they are there.

 

Title: Life in a Fishbowl

Author: Len Vlahos 

Publication Date: 3 January 2017Life in a Fishbowl

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Source: Review copy

 

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Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone is a prisoner in her own house. Everything she says and does 24/7 is being taped and broadcast to every television in America. Why? Because her dad is dying of a brain tumor and he has auctioned his life on eBay to the highest bidder: a ruthless TV reality show executive at ATN.

Gone is her mom’s attention and cooking and parent-teacher conferences. Gone is her sister’s trust ever since she’s been dazzled by the cameras and new-found infamy. Gone is her privacy. Gone is the whole family’s dignity as ATN twists their words and makes a public mockery of their lives on Life and Death. But most of all, Jackie fears that one day very soon her father will just be . . . gone. Armed only with her ingenuity and the power of the internet, Jackie is determined to end the show and reclaim all of their lives, even in death.  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

 

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the publisher does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is a thoughtful story with likable characters and a hopeful message. The suspense added a thread of bittersweet brilliance throughout the story.

Once there was a girl who made a wish in anger. She didn’t mean it, but that didn’t matter because at that very moment a star was falling and heard her and listened.

There were many elements that reminded me of one of my favourite books I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Ropes are snapping. My cool dangles by a thread.

Juniper and her sister Cammie’s story is revealed slowly, like a secret. This, combined with brilliant, unpredictable twists keeps the reader in suspense and adds tension to the story which I loved.

It’s hard to keep close a person everyone is telling you is gone.

YA authors are writing more and more about dealing with the loss of a parent, sibling or friend. These books are very necessary particularly because not only do we all handle grief in a different way, we are all going to be dealing with grief in our lives at some point.

A sister.
A lined card.
A lover in a letter.
A blank night, a blackout: the hours I can’t remember.

4 Star

 

 

 

Title: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness IndexJuniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Author: Julie Israel

Publication Date: 1 June 2017

Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Source: Review copy

 

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It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.

Then she finds the love letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to “You,” but never sent. Desperate to learn You’s identity and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.

Until she loses something. A card from her Happiness Index: a ritual started by sunny Camie for logging positives each day. It’s what’s been holding Juniper together since her death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own dark secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.

The search for You and her card take Juniper to even less expected places, and as she connects with those whose secrets she upturns in the effort, she may just find the means to make peace with her own.  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

 Midnight at the Electric

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

“I think all my life my heart has been broken… and I didn’t even notice. And I don’t even know by what.”

Midnight at the Electric was added to my TBR (to-be-read list) simply for its haunting title, gorgeous cover and the possibility of magic these allude to. But the magic escaped me and I am now left with a burning question…

We are a house full of secrets. The main secret is we are afraid.

Actually, I had a lot of questions at first as story threads are not very clear (at least to me) and I spent a few hours scrolling back and forth to try and work out what I had missed and how the characters across time intertwine. I worked much it out in the end – who belongs to who and who ended up where. These answers lead to further questions… what happened to everyone? One of the family lines is rather flimsy having neither a history nor a present and I wonder why are they in the story?

…I am strange to myself and getting stranger all the time.

But, back to the question I’m still trying to answer.

Spoiler Alert!

Midnight at the Electric - The Title

The title has little to do with the story… Why give the book the title ‘Midnight at the Electric’ when the Electric hardly features in the story? Actually, it is in barely more than a chapter and that is mostly the build up to the midnight event. A couple of paragraphs about it in the beginning of the book and bam! it is never mentioned again. Not the Electric nor its consequences… What am I missing?

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“Apparently, people need closure,” she said. “It’s some kind of thing.

The characters are unique and interesting but it’s a strange story – so many loose ends… I think I also need closure.

I don’t think you can leave a person you love without leaving your skeleton behind.
crushingcinders.com

 

 

Title: Midnight at the Electric  

Author: Jodi Lynn AndersonMidnight at the Electric

Publication Date: 13 June 2017 

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: Review copy

 

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Kansas, 2065 Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before Launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own.

Oklahoma, 1934 Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called The Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire — and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life — Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

England, 1919 In the recovery following World War One, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself?
— Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Dividing Eden

 

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Dividing Eden has all the necessary political intrigue murder and espionage to make it work, but it lacks pace and world building.

Freedom was a myth

The positive

The twists were unexpected and left me confused – which twin was I rooting for? I started off rooting for one, only to change my alliance a few times during the story.

The world was safer when people believed justice was the same for the powerless and those in power.

The negative

Agonisingly slow (including the repetitive setting-the-scene) through much of the first half and far more political than I expected. This led me to compare it to Grave Mercy, a beautiful book with intense world building that Dividing Eden didn’t live up to.

Freedom was a mirage. It taunted and promised a great deal as it hung just out of reach.

The many unanswered questions and the ending left plenty of room for the sequel/s. I just hope that they are published fairly soon as I am not so sure I am going to be eager to pick up the next book unless this one is still fresh in my mind.

3 Star

 

 

Title: Dividing Eden

Dividing Eden
Series: Dividing Eden #1
Author:  Joelle Charbonneau
Publication Date: 6 June 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Review copy

 

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Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi has been one of my most anticipated 2017 read and it’s a sweet, feel-good, happy book. Although predictable and sporting a few small hiccups, I enjoyed the story.

His lines were confident and sure, the emerging picture comical and twisted and breathtakingly mesmerizing all at the same time.

 

What I liked:

The sweet, quirky characters, the brother bond, and the setting.

The easy friendship that Dimple and Rishi fell effortlessly into, skipping most of the drama that usually goes into insta-love stories.

Getting a glimpse into Hinduism and the traditional aspects, especially as the characters are so proud of their heritage.

This wasn’t just an arranged marriage to Rishi; this was the rich fabric of history, stretched through time and space.

 

What I didn’t like:

The insta-love.

The story is not unique and very similar to Nothing But The Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley.

You’ve made me braver. It’s like you have this paintbrush, dipped in brilliant mauves and teals and golds…3 star

 

 

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi  When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publication Date: 30 May 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: Review copy

 

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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  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

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Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

Wait for me, set in Scotland during the last year before the end of WWII, is a sweet, easy-to-read story in a beautiful setting. I love books set during WWII and are automatically attracted to them so I was thrilled when I received a review copy from Jonathan Ball Publishers.

The wail of the air-raid siren in the village rose above the shrieking engine.

While I enjoyed the book, the story had some very typical cliché moments which made it predictable and although the content is not, the writing style is quite juvenile which I found frustrating.

“But they’re Germans,” she said. “The enemy! You can’t be bringing enemy soldiers onto our farm, Dad. No!”

My biggest bugbear of the book was the…

Spoiler Alert

I didn’t like the way rape was handled in the book which implies that it is something to ashamed of and to keep quiet about.

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3 star

 

 

Title: Wait for Me 

Author: Caroline Leech

Publication Date: 31 January 2017Wait for Me

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: Review copy

 

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It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.  Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free review copy of this book from  Jonathan Ball Publishers does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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Hushed by Joanne Macgregor

Hushed

Hushed by Joanne Macgregor

“Hush!” she hisses at me so loudly that the bearded dragon flinches and starts bobbing his head in agitation.

Hushed, a contemporary romantic retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, is a feel-good, light-hearted, fun read.

“Are you saying there were sharks in that water?”

Set in South Africa’s beautiful Western Cape, the story includes a vital environmental message which packs a punch without being preachy.The few South African words scattered throughout the story adds to its authenticity and don’t worry there is a helpful glossary for those who have yet to experience our unique blend of colloquialisms.

The sky surrenders its last blush, the clouds smudge charcoal against the deepening wash of indigo…

While the characters are post-school, I think Hush reads more like YA (Young Adult).

The trick in life, I think, is to figure out what you truly want and then go all out to get it.

I had a little trouble with…

Spoiler Alert!!

I had a little trouble marrying the Romy in the beginning where she goes a bit overboard on fangirling to her rather more practical and down-to-earth character for the rest of the story.

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“No. She told me to keep my mouth shut and my eyes open.”

and I thought…

Spoiler Alert!!

I thought it rather sad that Romy had little connection with her best friend while she was in a relationship.

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…”And thank you for saving me. I enjoyed it enormously. Except for the screaming in the cemetery…”

An overall beautifully unique retelling. The perfect summer reading for those in the Northern Hemisphere. And to us down south – A #ProudlySouthAfrican celebration of one of our most talented authors and an irresistible corner of our country. Don’t miss this book.
4 Star

 

Title: Hushed 

Author: Joanne Macgregor 

Publication Date: 26 March 2017

Publisher: Joanne Macgregor 

Source: Review copy

 

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18-year-old Romy Morgan desperately longs to escape the boring future her parents have planned for her, and explore the world.

When she saves her celebrity crush, superstar Logan Rush, from drowning, Romy is offered a job as his personal assistant. She strikes a deal to reinvent herself in exchange for entering the exciting world of the movies, and love sparks between her and this prince of Hollywood. But Romy soon discovers that she has traded her voice and identity for an illusion of freedom.

When she discovers a dreadful secret with the power to destroy Logan, Romy must choose between love, revenge and finding her own, true element. — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a review copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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Illogical Book Covers

Illogical Book Covers

Book covers are the most important aspect when it comes to choosing which books to add to my TBR (To Be Read list/pile/sea). The graphics, font and title are the first impression books rely on, their only voice calling “pick me!” But covers can be misleading and these are covers that had me totally confused.

 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A narcissistic girl who has a fun, free life frolicking in fields trying to catch birds.

What it’s actually about

An inspirational, unexpected but ultimately doomed romance.
My review

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The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Hikers discover a putrescent body in an abandoned cottage.

What it’s actually about

An eclectic group of people whose lives interconnect in a small Alaskan village.

My review

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Live Through This by Mindi Scott 

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A girl who grew tired waiting for her blind date who was supposed to bring the picnic basket for a night picnic under the stars.

What it’s actually about

Sexual abuse with a heart-wrenching twist.

My Review

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Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A dancer who is in an abusive relationship.

What it’s actually about

A thriller about two girls who go missing and when one returns she has no recollection of what happened.

My review

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The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A town that will never forget a tragic accident which occurred while ice skating on the frozen lake.

What it’s actually about

A girl whose father has PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) after returning from Iraq war and its effect on their family.

My review

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Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Some kind of pyromania, perhaps pretty girls burnt at the stake after being forced to write suicide notes to their families.

What it’s actually about

it’s a mystery thriller with toxic friendships, secrets and conspiracy.

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Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Tea parties and family picnics

What it’s actually about

Historical fiction set during the aftermath of WWII featuring domestic abuse and xenophobia.

My review

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Friendship and the dynamics between three best friends.

What it’s actually about

An American socialite, a courier for the Polish resistance movement and a German doctor are flung together during WWII.

My review

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The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Hearts impaled by nails…? Someone in the construction industry who assumes a different identity – possibly in witness protection.

What it’s actually about

A girl forced into a strict, religious re-education camp to stamp out her homosexuality.

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Puck by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Illogical Book CoversWhat I thought it was going to be about

A girl, nicknamed Puck because of her aspiration to be a world cup ice hockey champion, looks to heaven for guidance from her dead father/best friend.

What it’s actually about

A contemporary retelling of Midsummer’s Night Dream about a rebellious girl in foster care is sent to a rehabilitation wilderness camp.

My review

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Did any of these covers mislead you? Do you judge books by their covers?

Top Ten Tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

It’s the cover and/or author that is my overwhelming deciding factor when I add books to my TBR. Choosing by cover love is really unfair and it often means I miss out on some really good books. But Noteworthy is a happy exception! I don’t know the author and the cover is a bit bland and musical for my tastes. I am also not musical in any way (totally tone deaf) and seldom read fiction where music plays a significant role. So why I took a chance on requesting a review copy I don’t remember, but I am glad I did.

As I stood there in that derelict husk of a theater, I felt like I’d gotten lost in between my lives, and the road ahead looked long and strange and poorly lit.

Sounding like a light heart-hearted musicy book I expected to fly through the pages, write a quick review and then forget all about the story. I was so wrong. This book surprised me by creeping right into my heart.

The world, I thought. The whole world, gathered up in my arms.

The characters so far removed from the paper doll characters I despise. Real, genuine characters flaws and all. Actually, I think their flaws made me like them even more. Diversity is the current buzz word and all for the right reasons, but sometimes books are written around the diverse characters and don’t allow them space to be who they are. Noteworthy is not one of these books. With some unpredictable surprises, the characters revealed themselves in their own time. Naturally and beautifully.

All I understood about sexuality was it’s uncertainty, discovering your way through yourself day by day, stepping tentatively, hitting on some term that seemed to fit and hoping it stuck.

The story is centered very much on music, but this didn’t distract from the story and I don’t think I missed out on not really understanding or appreciating the terminology… well I suppose I will ever know if it would have made a difference: but it’s already got a 5/5 rating from me.

It was impossible to feel alone in a room full of favorite books. I had the sense that they knew me personally, that they’d read me cover to cover as I’d read them.5 Star

 

 

Title: NoteworthyNoteworthy

Author:  Riley Redgate 

Publication Date: 2 May 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books

Source: Review copy

 

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It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

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