Recent Reads: prison, musical theatre, and a dead dad.

12 September 2020

Oh boy, this one is very late going live… oops. I actually read these books about a year ago, and wrote these reviews back then, but then the draft got buried somewhere and I'm only just resurrecting it now. Think of this as a catch up, dear readers. I mean, maybe it will reignite the excitement for some of these books, as it's a while since some of them were published!? Yeah, that's what I'll go with...






'I Am Not a Number', by Lisa Heathfield.


The Traditionals have been voted to lead the country, winning people over with talks of healing a broken society, of stronger families and safer streets. They promised a happier future for everyone. But when Ruby is swept up with protesters from the opposition, her life is changed forever. Locked in a prison camp far from home and with her belongings taken from her, she's now known by the number 276. With horror escalating in the camp, Ruby knows that she has to get her family out – and let the world know what's happening. Set in the present day, I Am Not A Number is a powerful and timely book for both young adults and adults alike.  


I already had a bound copy of the MS (she says casually, like she didn’t gasp dramatically when it came in the post with a note from the publisher), but I couldn’t not have a finished paperback edition of one of my favourite author’s books. As usual, Lisa broke my heart with her gorgeous characters and the sheer emotional weight of the story. Perfect. Devastating. Addictive. I always get so swept up in her books, it often takes me a couple of days to get my head out of it once I'm done reading. It's an emotional hangover. 




'The Truth About Keeping Secrets', by Savannah Brown.


Sydney's dad is the only psychiatrist for miles around their small Ohio town. He is also unexpectedly dead. The circumstances are suspicious, to say the least; how could he crash his car randomly, with no witnesses and no explanation? And why is June Copeland, homecoming queen and the town's golden child, at his funeral? As the two teenagers grow closer in the wake of the accident, it's clear that not everyone is happy about their new friendship. But what is picture perfect June still hiding? And does Sydney even want to know?


This book took me about a month to read. It just didn't grab me, which was a shame, because it had been highly recommended by the bookish friends whose reviews I tend to trust the most.


I called it about two chapters in. Which of course I find immensely satisfying, being right, but in this case it was a bit of a bummer. I wanted to be taken for more of a ride, and been more surprised. Maybe it's because I don't go for crime/thriller novels usually (the only exception, as far as I know, has been the genius Tom Pollock) but I wasn't hooked by this one. 



'SING (Like No One’s Listening)', by Vanessa Jones.


Since her mother died, Nettie Delaney hasn't been able to sing a note. This wouldn't be a problem if she wasn't starting at Dukes, a prestigious performing arts college, with her superstar mother's shadow hanging over her. Everyone is watching Nettie, expecting greatness. Then one night, in an empty studio after college, Nettie finds herself suddenly singing, while someone behind a curtain accompanies her on the piano. Maybe all is not lost for Nettie! Maybe she can find her voice again and survive her first year at Dukes. But can she do it before she gets thrown out? 


This one well and truly pulled me out of my reading slump. I don't know what it was, but this book had the same effect on me that a Holly Bourne, Lisa Williamson or Sarah Crossan one does, in that it was so bloody readable and fun. Lovely and totally believable characters, some great arcs, solid – and, at times, deeply emotional – story. 



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That’s all, folks! Well, that’s all from this teeny, old post about books I read a very long time ago… there will be a more up to date one soon, promise.


To any publishers reading this, my address has now CHANGED so please contact me if you still want to send me proofs etc.!


In these difficult times, we really need to be supporting the indies of the world, and steering clear of the giants who don’t appreciate the individual customers as much. Please consider buying from your local bookshop (find it here) or family-owned online businesses such as A Great Read! (aff link)


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