The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

November Reads Round Up - Part One

Monday, December 9, 2013

These will most likely be the last book reviews for this year. I think I'm going to do some re-reading this December, starting with Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, to get me in the Christmas spirit. A million and one thanks to anyone and everyone who has read one, two, a few, or all of my reviews. Ok, here it goes...

How To Love by Katie Cotugno

WHAT'S THE DEAL? Reena's first love was her longtime friend Sawyer. Despite their issues and differing plans for the future, they were sure they'd be together forever. Then Sawyer disappeared and Reena realised she was pregnant. Flash forward two years and Sawyer's back and ready to pick things up right where he left them. Understandably, Reena is not so sure. Remembering everything that happened before, Reena has to weigh up the pros and cons of letting her guard down again. 

ANY GOOD? I love the name Serena but always associate it with either Ms Van der Woodsen or Ms Williams. However, Reena Montero will now have to be added to that list - such an interesting voice. I felt she was a bit Joey Potteresque (in a good way). I'm not sure if she was ever described as half smiling but I could definitely picture her doing it. 

This wasn't really what I was expecting. It had all the familiar YA devices (although is this considered YA?) like triangles, will they/won't they etc but there was a maturity to this story that is often lacking in these types of stories. It was a quiet book starting out with a slither of hope that grows into a great beam - clouds, silver linings and all that jazz. Speaking of jazz, I'm not much of a fan but I really liked that it was featured in this book, as it helped add that layer of maturity. 

I liked that Sawyer wasn't perfect but also wasn't 'dangerous' - he was just someone who was a little messed up in his teens but got his act together, like most people. I'm not sure if his parents were all that bad or if it was in his head in a 'they just don't understand me' teenage, end of the world kind of way - perhaps this could've been explored more. 

Overall, a small but hearty debut from Katie Cotugno with a wonderful cover. 

ADD TO BASKET? If you love your YA contemps or NA's with an actual story (oh no she di'n't). Thank you Kari for the recommendation!

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

WHAT'S THE DEAL? Lucy was a child prodigy in the classical music world, dazzling audiences with her extraordinary piano playing until one day, after a family tragedy, she walks off the stage and stops playing for good. Lucy returns to regular life and tries to acclimate whilst her brother takes up the mantle she put down. However, Gus's new piano teacher, Will, throws a spanner in the works by getting inside Lucy's head. Will she come to terms with what happened and play again? Is Will just her brother's teacher or more than that?

ANY GOOD? Like the other Sara Zarr books I've read, this was a slow burner. Everything is carefully knitted together until finally, at the end, you see the great tapestry and have an Oprah 'a-ha' moment.

I really liked Lucy's character (brilliant last name too - Beck-Moreau). A lot of people will dislike Lucy, she's not spunky and fun and 'likeable' but I think she's exactly what a former child prodigy would be like if yanked out of the scene before they'd fully ripened. She's a performer through and through and she can't turn it off.

I vaguely remember people talking about the trend of pupils and teachers and inappropriate relationships - is this a trend or am I imagining it? Anyway, I'm currently reading Unteachable and if we're using that as a yard stick, Lucy and Will's relationship might as well be renamed Will and Grace. There wasn't anything terribly inappropriate in this story. Perhaps Will could've behaved a little differently BUT Lucy's not sixteen going on seventeen, she's sixteen going on thirty as a result of her upbringing. Her softer side showed in her relationship with Gus - who was absolutely adorable! The family drama was interesting - lots of secrets and the great unsaid, as with the other Sara Zarr books I've read.

I loved the music and made a Spotify playlist of the songs in the back. I won't give away any of the songs though as they're part of the story. The Lucy Variations was a delicate but thoughtful novel. It will not be everyone's cup of tea but I enjoyed it very much.

ADD TO BASKET? If you're a piano player or love classical music or if you liked Sara Zarr's other books. 

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