sara barnard

Review: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

Goodbye, Perfect is Sara Barnard’s third novel, and the third novel of her’s that I have read. I am a huge fan of Sara’s previous novels, and this book was no exception.

Goodbye, Perfect is centred around the disappearance of our Eden’s best friend Bonnie with the school music teacher, Mr Cohn, set during Eden and Bonnie’s GCSEs. Eden battles between loyalty to her best friend and her said best friend betraying her by not telling her about being in a relationship with (and running away with) their teacher.

I loved how this book delved into topics such as adoption and fostering (Eden and her younger sister Daisy were adopted) and family bonds (particularly between Eden and her adoptive sister Valerie), as well as student-teacher relationships (way too often glamourised in teen media – think Ezra on Pretty Little Liars or Ms Grundy in Riverdale) and academic expectations. Bonnie was a particularly interesting character who was academically bright but wanted to carve a different path for herself.

This book is out in early February, so I would heartily recommend getting this one on your TBRs for 2018.

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Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a proof of this book from My Kinda Book in exchange for an honest review.

Last year, I read a great debut novel that became the biggest selling debut YA novel of 2016. That book didn’t have a romance in it, which was (and still is) unusual for YA. Beautiful Broken Things focused on the friendship between two best friends and how that changed when a new friend entered the mix.

Sara Barnard is back in 2017 with a brand new novel, but this one *is* a romance. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the story of Steffi, a teenage girl with selective mutism embarking on sixth form, and Rhys, a deaf boy who transfers to Steffi’s sixth form.

I’m always wary with books that tackle disability about how realistic and lifelike they are – there’s a really tendency for characters with a disability to be miraculously cured, but AQKOT feels like it has been well-researched and is sensitive. I learnt a lot about mutism and British Sign Language in this book, and it made me more aware and conscious about interacting with deaf people (for example, making sure they can read your lips if they are lip-reading).

This is a really special romance because Barnard gets awkward teenage flirting. The texts between Steffi and Rhys feel so real, and I fell in love with this book so quickly. I can’t really explain how much I loved the romance between these two, but it was cute and adorable and perfect.

I also really enjoyed how this book doesn’t shy away from sex. The sex in this book was realistic and well-done, and felt age-appropriate.

I can’t believe we’re only at the beginning of 2017 and this is already a very strong contender for my favourite book of 2017. An absolute must-read – and the cover is so shiny and beautiful and I think I need it on my shelf (I only have the proof!). Go and buy it now!

View all my reviews

Annalise x

YALC Reading List: Part 4!

Welcome back to part 4 of the YALC reading list!

Here are parts one, two and three, for those catching up or rereading!

The YALC Reading List is posted every Sunday evening.

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28. Alex Wheatle

Book to read: Brixton Rock

Alex Wheatle, aka the Brixton Bard, grew up in Brixton, where most of his books are set. His debut novel, Brixton Rock, is about a mixed race teen in 1980s Brixton, who has grown up in a children’s home for most of his life – and when he’s reunited with his mother, he falls for his half-sister, Juliet. This sounds like a really gripping story, and I’d like to expand the diversity of my YA reads, so this looks like one I’ll be picking up. Wheatle’s latest novel, Crongton Knights, is out this year.

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29. Alex Scarrow

Book to read: Time Riders / Re-Made

Time Riders won a RedHouse award, a Catalyst award and Hampshire Book aware, as well as being shortlisted for Galaxy Children’s Book of the Year. The series is now on its ninth book, following three teens who are recruited by ‘The Agency’ moments before their deaths, to make sure key moment in history stay constant. Scarrow’s latest book, REMADE follows a brother and sister team as a deadly virus spreads across the world, turning people to liquid before their eyes.

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30. Sara Barnard

Book to read: Beautiful Broken Things

Beautiful Broken Things has been one of my favourite books this year (review here) – it deals with toxic friendships and mental illness, and has been a refreshing and original addition to the UK YA literature scene. I’d definitely recommend picking this one up before YALC (especially if you’re bored of the same old YA romance), and Sara has just announced her next novel, which will be called A Quiet Kind of Thunder (and which I will be eagerly awaiting!).

31. Sophia Bennett

Book to read: Love Song

Threads, Sophia’s first book, is a book I was aware of but just never got round to reading. Love Song has been receiving a lot of high praise on Twitter recently, so perhaps I will have to pick some of Sophia’s work up. Love Song was release in April, and is the story of Nina, who has just become the assistant to the fiancee of the lead singer of the hottest band in the world. This one has really good reviews, so it’s probably not long until I cave and buy it.

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32. Katy Birchall

Book to read: The It Girl series

The first It Girl book I read as it was included in Chelley Toy’s introduction to book blogger -ing gift bag at YALC, and I really enjoyed it – review here. These are really fun books about a girl whose father happens to start dating one of the most famous actresses ever. Highly recommended for fans of the Georgia Nicholson series, the second book, Team Awkward, was released in the UK in January.

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33. Nicole Burstein

Book to read: Other Girl

Nicole’s fist novel, Other Girl, was released in April last year and is a bout a pair of best friends, one of whom has super powers. This sounds like such a great concept, and the reviews for this book have been outstanding, so it’s one for my to-buy list. Nicole’s next novel, Wonder Boy, is set in the Othergirl universe and is out Summer 2016.

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34. Katy Cannon

Book to read: Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines

As well as being the author of the Pooch Parlour series, Katy has also written two  YA novels – Love, Lies and Lemon Pies and Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines. Both have excellent reviews, but it’s the latter which has really caught my eye – focusing on Grace, a girl who is stuck making costumes for the school play instead of playing the starring role.

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35. Honor and Perdita Cargill

Book to read: Waiting for Callback

Another book which has benefited from Twitter hype has been Waiting For Callback, written by the mother-daughter writing duo, Honor and Perdita (how cool is that?). Billed as Geek Girl meets Fame meets New Girl (and who doesn’t like all three?), Waiting For Callback is the story of Elektra, your average girl-next-door trying to make it in the world of acting whilst also juggling family, friends and crushes.

So those are our additions to the YALC Reading List this week – come back next Sunday for more great YA reads!

Which books have you read? Which books are you planning to read? Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below!

Annalise x

Review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

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Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

A huge thank you to Bea Cross and Macmillan’s Children’s Books/MyKindaBook for the copy of this book!

First things first, the cover is GORGEOUS – it can be hard to tell from the internet, but the cover is a beautiful dark teal, with gold and rose-gold detailing.

Beautiful Broken Things is the story of Caddy (Cadnam), a teenage girl who feels like nothing interesting every happens to her – and desperately wants to be interesting. She’s been best friends with Rosie for years – despite Caddy going to the local private school, and Rosie attending state school. They spend hours on the phone each night, and are virtually inseparable. Then Rosie meets Suzanne at school, and Rosie and Caddy’s friendship starts to change – and Suzanne’s secrets start to be revealed.

I’ve long said that friendships are often neglected in YA – the classic Mary Sue who meets the boy of their dreams at the tender age of 15 and quickly eliminate all other aspects of their lives is a character most of us have probably met more than once. When discussing whether YA is an accurate and realistic reflection of real life, the lack of meaningful friendships is a topic that often comes up. The vast majority of teenagers do not, in fact, meet the love of their life at 15 (who often just so happens to be a vampire/zombie/werewolf). They do, however, usually have at least one friend, whoever that might be. This is a book that focuses on female friendship, and the drama and jealousy that often occurs between teenage girls (and probably teenage boys, for that matter)

It’s not just the topic of female friendship which features in Beautiful Broken Things, the book also features mental health issues and abuse. These topics are becoming more featured in YA, but we still have a long way to go, and BBT treats these issues with care.

One thing I loved is the lack of romance. It seems, nowadays, that a book isn’t complete without an earth-shattering romance, when, realistically, a lot of teenagers (including myself) don’t come face-to-face with one – but complicated friendships are much more common. I’d like to see more books stand without a romance, especially when a romance feels forced or unnecessary. Less romance, please! (If you’re looking for another romance-less YA novel, Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is a great read)

Overall, Beautiful Broken Things is a pioneering, realistic, relatable tale of female friendship, and I can’t wait to read Sara Barnard’s future novels.

View all my reviews

Have you read Beautiful Broken Things? What did you think? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x