Thursday, 9 February 2017

Mini-Reviews: The One Memory of Flora Banks, This Beats Perfect & Optimists Die First

The One Memory of Flora Banks, Emily Barr
320⎟Penguin⎟12th January 2017

I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can't remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn't, and the next day she remembers it. It's the first time she's remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone. She thinks he's moved to the Arctic.

Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

Though I was hesitant about all of the hype surrounding this debut and it took me a while to pick it up, I was hooked from the first few pages of this book.

Flora’s narration is immediately jarring - present tense, full of repetition and the very nature of Flora’s condition made her narration unreliable, and it’s fascinating. It was definitely disorientating at first but I soon fell for it. Hard. I ended up racing through, desperate to finish work so I could get back to it.

Flora is frustrating, but I also couldn’t help but feel for her. She’s strong, stubborn and endlessly resilient. Her story built and built until an epic finale in the Arctic finale that took me completely by surprise. I was expecting a shocking and emotional ending and I definitely got it! It didn’t quite make me cry, but I was definitely choked up! Nothing that happened in the last quarter of this book was what I expected and I loved it.

I can’t wait to see what comes next from Emily Barr - The One Memory of Flora Banks was completely worth the hype.

Thanks to Penguin for the review copy.

This Beats Perfect, Rebecca Denton
336⎟Atom⎟2nd February

Amelie Ayres has impeccable taste in music. Bowie. Bush. Bob. So when she finds herself backstage at The Keep's only UK gig she expects to hate it; after all they are the world's most tragic band. In fact she feels a grudging respect - not (obviously) for their music, but for the work that goes into making them megastars. And when lead singer, 'Maxx', is not dressed up as a cross between Elvis and a My Little Pony, he is actually rather normal, talented and has creative struggles not too dissimilar to her own.
But the next morning she wakes up and rolls over to discover a million new @'s on social media. Overnight, a photo of her at the gig has made her a subject of global speculation. Suddenly the world needs to know #Who'sThatGirl? - but for all the wrong reasons.

All Amelie wants is to play her music. She's got the guitar, the songs, the soul and, in the safety of her bedroom, she's got the voice. But when it comes to getting up on stage, she struggles with self-doubt.

Immaculate's a concept. Flawless is fake. But just sometimes music - and hearts - can rock a perfect beat.

Rebecca Denton’s debut is officially my favourite book of 2017 so far! I completely loved it.

I’m not a pop fangirl by any means, I still love the boybands of my childhood but I was never as intensely in love with them as teens are today, but I can never resist a bit of #boybandlit. The angst, the sweet romance, the whole dream come true of a boyband member falling head over heels for you. It’s glorious.

I was totally swept away by the magic of This Beasts perfect. There’s a particular feeling that really good contemporary gives you - a mix of giddy happiness, stomach butterflies and total sweetness that I’ve never found with any other genre. This Beats Perfect totally nailed it for me for the first time in a really long while.

I really, really hope This Beats Perfect is the start of a series and I want more.

Thanks to Atom for the review copy.

Optimists Die First, Susin Nielsen
272⎟Andersen Press⎟2nd March 2017

Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she'd kept an eye on her sister, if only she'd sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only...

Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world’s most hopeless art therapy class. But one day, in walks the Bionic Man: a charming, amazingly tall newcomer called Jacob, who is also an amputee. Petula's ready to freeze him out, just like she did with her former best friend, but when she’s paired with Jacob for a class project, there’s no denying they have brilliant ideas together – ideas like remaking Wuthering Heights with cats.

But Petula and Jacob each have desperately painful secrets in their pasts – and when the truth comes out, there’s no way Petula is ready for it.

I loved Susin Nielsen’s books. I’ve been totally hooked since devouring We Are All Made of Molecules and Optimists Die First has shot to the top.

Susin Nielsen’s writing is honest and blunt and brilliantly funny. Petula is terrified of everything and collects the weird and ridiculous deaths that make the news to add to her scrapbook after the accidental death of her little sister. Jacob has a prosthetic arm, but is very secretive about what actually happened. The relationship that blossomed between them was so sweet and I really enjoyed how natural and real it felt - none of the reactions or feelings that Petula or Jacob had felt unrealistic or convenient. Perfect.

I love the way Susin tackles big issues and troubled teens in a way that’s relatable and honest, but also with such humour and sensitivity. I’m already excited for her next book.

Thanks to Andersen Press for the review copy.


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