A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

Published: 7th June 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Orchard Books
Pages: 282
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

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?

Note: I received a copy from the publisher for review

Ugh, my heart!

My heart!

I don’t think you understand, my HEART IS ACHING!

What have you done to me Drews?!

So they were the notes I’d written down whilst I read this book. Not much changed by the end of it. I was astounded and moved and just in awe of Beck. I hugged this book when I finished. Actually hugged it. I’ve done that with maybe 2 or 3 other books ever.  Before that I spent the whole book wanting to hug Beck himself, I loved him from page one and by the end I was ready to fight for him come hell or high water.

With the anticipation and impatience I felt waiting for this book I’m so glad it was everything I thought it was going to be and so much more. I haven’t felt a love like this for a character for a while. A true character who is a victim of circumstance, a true sweetheart, and a lost soul unsure what to do. He is brave and strong and every time we get an insight into his thoughts my heart swelled and my love for him grew.

Despite being Beck’s story, there are really four people that are the focus of this novel: Beck, Maestro, Joey, and August. Drews balanced their stories really well, even through Beck’s eyes we get adequate focus on their lives and stories that give them depth as characters in their own right. Nothing feels rushed or glossed over. Information comes naturally and we discover little things about each character gradually, not through clunky exposition or info dumps. Their lives are also perfectly intertwined back into Beck’s that it all still feels about him and his experience.

I loved these other characters too in their own way. Joey was one who had my sympathies and broke my heart as well for different reasons. Drews balances the 5 year old mind very well; Joey has no tact, she’s excitable, impressionable, but she is also a loving sister. There are times as you read when you have forgotten her age and with skill and mastery Drews throws it in your face and reminds you just how young and fragile she can be.

Drews use of language is fantastic, there are wonderful sentences filled with beauty and pain that encapsulate Beck’s thoughts and feelings. August too has some brilliant insights that Drews perfects in a single sentence. I have many favourite moments from this book but the single sentence “marshmallow with burnt skin” is my all time favourite and it is Divine! I read that and just thought perfection.

There is so much I want to say about this book, the language, the story itself, the ending, the middle. All of it was perfection in my eyes from start to finish. I don’t want to give anything away because the pockets of surprises and the big surprises are what make reading this story so great. I will be rereading this book so many times because while it crushes my heart it also makes me so unequivocally happy and who wouldn’t want to relive that over and over again?

You can preorder A Thousand Perfect Notes via the following

Publisher | Amazon AUS

Book Depository | Greenhouse Agency

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble | Waterstones

Hachette Australia

 

AWW 2018: March Update

Three months into the 2018 AWW challenge and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. I have been hoping to beat my record last year and I think I will certainly beat the 25 by the end of the year, even if I don’t keep the pace I’m at now. As usual, it’s the reviews that need to be done more than the reading but I’ll get there. I read a lot of junior fiction, I found a great little series called Our Australian Girls which has four books about different girls in different Australian eras. I also read a few new releases in YA and non-fiction which were rather good as well. I’m looking forward to what else I discover through the year.

 

AWW18 BOOKS Jan-Mar

The Younger Man by Zoe Foster – Review

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – Review

The Internet is Like A Puddle by Shona Innes – Review

P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry-Jones – Review

Nose to Tail by Louise Harding – Review

Meet Alice by Davina Bell – Review

Alice and the Apple Blossom Fair by Davina Bell

Alice of Peppermint Grove by Davina Bell

Peacetime for Alice by Davina Bell

Truly Tan by Jen Storer

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty – Review

Meet Rose by Sherryl Clark

Rose’s Challenge by Sherryl Clark

Rose in Bloom by Sherryl Clark

Rose on Wheels by Sherryl Clark

 

AWW18 TOTAL

Read: 15/25

Reviewed: 7/15

 

Nose to Tail by Louise Harding

Published: 30th November 2017
Goodreads badgePublisher: Ocean Reeve Publishing
Pages: 207
Format: Book
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

Do you dream of owning a loving, obedient, well-mannered dog? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by your dog’s bad behaviour? Do you want to train your dog and don’t know where to start? Now there is a book for you. Champion trainer Louise Harding will be your own personal expert, coaching you and your dog. 

Imagine if you could unlock the secrets of a master trainer and make training easier and fun for you and your dog. This book will show you how and help you communicate and nurture a strong life-long bond with your dog.

What I liked about this book was that it went beyond being a simple training guide for your dog. Harding also provides really helpful information about matching up the right kind of dog with the right owner. She includes some great information about different breeds of dogs and their bred capabilities and personalities and informs readers that there is more to buying a dog than just finding it cute when it’s a puppy.

The book starts before a dog is even bought as Harding asks the reader to think about why they want a dog, is it the right suit for their home or lifestyle. She then progresses through the stages of helping you find which dog would suit your needs and finding one with a compatible personality. There are personal stories and examples, and Harding includes an interesting history of the different breeding groups of dogs and what they have been bred to do through history.

This is the holistic approach to dog training Harding intended. She makes readers understand that any dog can be trained, but so much of their behaviour connects with their instincts, their breed, and the environment they live in just as much as how often you ask them to sit, stay, or heel. As she says, you can’t change the breed characteristics, but you can control what you want them to do.

This book reinforced and reassured me that I’d trained my dog correctly, which is always a comfort, but I was also interested in the histories and the personality checklists to understand the kind of dog I had (food fiend and a busybody, no real surprises there). This is a very helpful book whether you have a new puppy, or have brought home an older dog. Harding covers everything from first dogs, second dogs, or even how to manage a rescue dog that may be having trouble adjusting. There’re guides to sleeping arrangements and toilet training, plus step by step instructions on teaching the sit, stay, come etc commands, with advice on how to get your dog to pull them off successfully. Harding mimics what the trainer said when I took my own puppy to training class; you need to set your dog up for success. Put them in environments where they will succeed and don’t make things harder for them with distractions or confusing commands. If you do that you will be on the way to a well-trained dog.

There are also wonderful resources that can help with your research into the best breed for you, there are also questions to ask breeders or shelters about the dogs they’re selling, as well as guides to picking the best dog walking service or kennel if you should need to use them. Harding insists it’s never a bad thing to ask questions of a seller because it’s all about making sure you get the best for your dog and for you.

This book is not all about just buying the right breed and correct training procedures; Harding includes all the fun stuff as well like giving treats, playing with toys, and taking dogs out to explore the big wide world. If you’re looking at getting a dog or need help reining in one you already have, this is a great book to help guide you. It’s easy to understand, simple and with clear instructions but also covers a range of topics and scenarios you will encounter when you own a dog.

You can purchase Nose to Tail via the following

Nose to Tail website | A&R Bookworld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry-Jones

Published: 19th February 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Pages: 304
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Note: I received a copy from NetGalley

Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson has become very good at not thinking about the awful things that have happened to her family. She has also become used to people talking about her dead mum. Or not talking about her and just looking at Gwen sympathetically. And it’s easy not to think about awful things when there are wild beaches to run along, best friends Loretta and Gordon to hang out with – and a stepbrother to take revenge on. 

But following a strange disturbance at the cafe where she works, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family all those years ago. And she slowly comes to realise that people aren’t as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell.

I loved the comfortable feeling of this book. I connected with the feeling of the small town and the familiarity with all the residents there. It was a different kind of story that had a lot of focus on the characters and who they were rather than any big events. I liked that what looked like key plot points came to nothing and you realise Jones has a different direction in mind for the story.

What I also liked were the slow reveals and the shifting focus, it is also a great exploration of mental health and how that is dealt with at all ages and stages of life. Jones doesn’t delve too deeply into this, it is very much shown from the outside, but that in itself is an interesting point of view.

I enjoyed the surprises and their reveals that were impactful but didn’t feel like Plot Twists. They weren’t suddenly thrown in your face but they developed gradually which I liked. It felt natural and it felt like a realistic moment of discovery rather than a sudden change in the story.

The characters are pretty wonderful as well. I liked the relationship Gwen has with her friends and the people in town. It has a great small town feeling and the friendships and the support the community provide to one another is heart-warming but doesn’t come across as cheesy.

There isn’t a great exploration of other characters, but at the same time it’s not their story and you forget to notice it sometimes. You know who they are, and Jones gives you enough that you understand their lives and who they are, but Jones doesn’t go into huge depths. This is Gwen’s story after all and Jones keeps it revolving around her.

There is a natural feeling to the way Jones writes. Conversations are natural, more information isn’t provided between characters just so a reader understands, and the events and actions of the characters are intriguing and fascinating without being unnatural or fanciful.

It says in Jones’ acknowledgements that she first wrote this book when she was 16, whether that accounts for the tone this book sets or just that she can tell a young adult story well I’m not sure. I was drawn into Gwen’s story and came out the other side satisfied and content which is never a bad way to feel at the end of a book.

You can purchase P is for Pearl via the following

Booktopia | QBD

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Boomerang Books | BookWorld

Publisher

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Published: 24th June 2014 (print)/3rd December, 2014 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Perennial /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 388/1 Disc (14 hours)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon was the one she let get away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie’s house on Scribbly Gum Island — home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery.

Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it’s about time she started making her own decisions.

As Sophie’s life becomes increasingly complicated, she discovers that sometimes you have to stop waiting around — and come up with your own fairy-tale ending.

As I was listening to this I forgot that it was a Liane Moriarty book. Which is good…or bad. I don’t know. Weird? Not important? Either way it doesn’t have the Big Mystery feel of the other books, I thought maybe for a moment there was going to be one but that didn’t eventuate.

There is a mystery, don’t get me wrong, but it never felt like it was going to be solved, or needed to be revealed the way other Moriarty books have. All other books I’ve read of hers have had the Big Mystery; normally this is what the Event that is constantly being referenced to is. The books countdown and use flashbacks to what it is that’s happened until we’re finally told. This wasn’t the case with The Last Anniversary.

I didn’t like this any more or less because of that. I enjoyed it, it was well told, and I liked the little mystery it had. When the reveal comes it’s possible it was more obvious to some people, I didn’t figure it out and I’m not disappointed about that. I liked having it revealed to me, and I liked seeing it explained later as the pieces all fit together.

Honestly, even if it was never explained I wouldn’t have minded. It didn’t feel like it needed to be solved to make the story work, or to make it interesting, I enjoyed the story regardless. I liked Sophie’s part, the stories of each character, they were interesting and had intrigue and drama on their own. If I never found out what happened it didn’t affect the story whatsoever. Unlike other books where the veiled references about Something have built anticipation. This one was a nice story with a mystery, yes, but not one that needed or really revolved around the story as much as other Moriarty books have.

I loved all the characters in this. They were flawed and complicated, they had secrets and they had complicated lives. Everything in this story comes from, or circles back to the death of aunt Connie. Her death leaves people lost, confused, it stirs up the past and her actions have consequences long after she’s gone. It felt like a family story, there are jokes and warm feelings that sisters and family bring, and Moriarty brings to life this small island community where this family have basically reigned for decades.

Caroline Lee did a wonderful job narrating, she has done Moriarty’s previous audiobooks. There was even a bit of extra fun in there when she used the same accent for a background character that she’d used in a previous book and I had a second where I thought a character from an entirely different book had shown up. Was not the case.

It’s not all little mysteries; Moriarty also covers important topics like poverty, family commitment, and post-natal depression. These are the storylines that make the book interesting, not the mystery, though that is fun in itself. The new girl in a small community and fitting into a family that has such deep history is also a great story and one Moriarty pulls off successfully.

You can purchase The Last Anniversary via the following

Publisher | Booktopia

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | A&R Bookworld

Fishpond | QBD

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