Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

11819981The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Genre: YA realistic fiction
Publication Date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.

That was all before she turned fourteen.

Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano -- on her own terms. But when you're used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. To find joy again, even when things don't go according to plan. Because life isn't a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.

I was soooo excited about this book when I first heard about it a few months ago. First of all - the cover caught my eye with its beautiful purple script on a background of a piano keyboard. Secondly, I am a huge fan of piano playing. I play it myself (not professionally or anything, just for fun), and I get really excited when I meet someone who can play it well. I was intrigued to read about a piano prodigy my age living her life as a professional pianist.

This book is about Lucy, a 16-year-old girl who is a very talented pianist. Eight months ago, after years of playing in competitions and showcases, she suddenly decides to quit her music career. Her obsessed-with-success grandpa and her mom are very disappointed with her, and declare her decision as final - she'll never play again. That's why she avoids touching the piano for 8 months - she's afraid of their reaction, even though deep in her heart, she misses playing very badly.
The situation changes when her younger brother, who is also a gifted pianist, gets a new piano teacher - Will. Will, a young and kind pianist is very interested in Lucy's playing and slowly tries to convince her to start playing again, and this time for herself more than anyone else. Can Lucy do that? Can she make up with her family? Will she ever play again?

This book got my hooked right from the first page. I was intrigued by Lucy's love of music and how she played it. She lived and breathed music, and that was something I adored. It's pretty rare to find someone that already knows at the age of 16 what he really loves to do. Lucy's passion for music felt real and was also kind of contagious - I suddenly got much more motivation to practice the piano thanks to her!! I really enjoyed it when she described the music she listened to with so much love and excitement. It was like an avid reader describing books.

The story of Lucy's life was pretty interesting - I liked reading about her way to the top (right before she quitted). I found out that she never did it out of her own will. Her family decided she has to play professionally, without even asking her if she wants to. She didn't have any choice over her own life, and became a "piano zombie" as she called it.
I enjoyed reading about her experiences as a young pianist - about the festivals she attended, about the attention she got from people, about her feeling before and while performing. Her life were extraordinary, and it was actually what made the book interesting.

This book also had a bunch of things that annoyed me and on the top of them was the romance. Lucy had a thing for older guys, and when I say older I mean over 30. Or maybe even 40. That was more than a little weird!! At first it was her teacher, and then she fell for Will. And Will is married!! She has no shame, this girl. Lucy's crushes made her a stereotypical teenage character and that was so annoying. I mean, crushes like that happen only in stupid teenage movies.. I didn't expect it from a novel written by a National Book Award finalist. >_<

I can't really explain what else didn't work for me. It just that.. this book kind of lacked the depth I would expect from a realistic novel. I wanted more drama, more emotions. Everything was kind of flat. I like books that make you feel the characters' emotions, but it never happened here. This book didn't move me, didn't make me feel sad or happy or angry and I missed that!!

Overall, this was quite an interesting read with a nice premise. I liked it mostly because of the musical aspect, but I didn't love it or feel particularly connected to it. I would recommend it to people who like classical music and are interested in reading about the lives of child piano prodigies.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday!!! :)

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Hi guys!!! Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read.

This week's question is....
Q: Reading Nook Tour: Give us a tour of your favorite reading spots.

My favorite reading place is my bed!! I almost always read there. It's so soft and comfy and doesn't have any TVs or computers near it (seriously, I can't concentrate with one of these around...)

Well, my parents won't allow me to upload any real pictures of my reading spot. Sorry!! >.<

What are your favorite reading spots?? Share with me in the comments!!

You can follow my blog in any way you like BUT I PREFER BLOGLOVIN!!! Thanks :)
I'm following back everyone via Bloglovin!! :)
Thanks you soooooo much for dropping by <3

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Skinny by Ibi Kaslik

Title: Skinny
Author: Ibi Kaslik
Genre: NA realistic fiction, mental health
Publication Date: April 22 2005
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Do you ever get hungry? Too hungry to eat?

Holly's older sister, Giselle, is self-destructing. Haunted by her love-deprived relationship with her late father, this once strong role model and medical student, is gripped by anorexia. Holly, a track star, struggles to keep her own life in balance while coping with the mental and physical deterioration of her beloved sister. Together, they can feel themselves slipping and are holding on for dear life.

This honest look at the special bond between sisters is told from the perspective of both girls, as they alternate narrating each chapter. Gritty and often wryly funny, Skinny explores family relationships, love, pain, and the hunger for acceptance that drives all of us.

I found this book after a short Goodreads search about the subject of anorexia. We discussed this big, scary subject at school a couple of times, but it was mostly "dry" descriptions. I wanted to get the real FEEL of this illness that is so close to many of us teenage girls, and luckily I found exactly what I wanted in this book.

From the green popsicle on the cover, I was expecting a typical story about some teenage angst with  a happy ending. But I got it soooooo wrong. Don't let the cover fool you!! This book was so much more than teenage drama!! It was one of the most complicated and unique books I've ever read. EVER.

This book is narrated by two sisters, 20-something-year-old Giselle and 14-year-old Holly. Giselle had suffered from Anorexia for many years, and at the end of her first year in medical school, she's taken to the hospital after losing a lot of weight and having a mental breakdown. Besides her Anorexia, Giselle has many mental issues that were mostly caused by her father's preferring of Holly over her.
Holly, a middle school student, has a very strong spirit, the opposite of her sister's. She is a talented basketball player and runner and has a strong lean body, the opposite of her sister's skinny figure. While trying to shape her identity as a teenager, Holly has to deal with the sickness of the sister she loves.
This book describes a battle with Anorexia - a battle that involves not only Giselle, but all the people in her life.

What impressed me the most about this book was the sheer realism of it. Everything was so completely genuine and honest - the narrators, their feeling, their struggles. Both sisters were dealing with unbelievably hard situations, but somehow I could believe and understand everything. I was surprised at how much I could relate to their pain and struggles even though none of them are actually close to my life.

I can't decide which of the sisters I liked more. They both kind of balanced each other with their strong bond. I adored their close, harmonic relationship. They never let jealousy take over them and they always meant good to one another. Giselle didn't hate her sister even though she had everything she'd ever wanted - their dad's favoritism, a perfect body, a stable soul. Holly, from her side, never thought about herself when it came to Giselle's sickness - she always thought about her sister's health first and never about the effect it has on her own life. They definitely set an example to how a relationship between sisters should be - caring and ego-less.

This book showed how Giselle's anorexia and mental disorders were a result of many different reasons, some of them almost hidden. For example - the fact that her parents were immigrants from Hungary had an effect on Giselle. As people who came to America to get their children better lives, Giselle's parents put a lot of pressure on their first daughter to study very hard, be healthy, good-looking, etc..  Her eating disorder was in a way her rebellion against them.
This is only one example. There were so many complicated reasons behind this sickness. This book showed me how complex anorexia really is and how you can never judge people for having it.

This book taught me a lot about mental disorders and anorexia, about their causes and the strong effect they have on both person who has them and the people surrounding him. I don't think I'll ever forget this tragic, heartbreakingly beautiful story.


Theme Song:


This songs describe the complicated relationship between Giselle and Sol perfectly. You'll understand it better when you'll read the book.


THANKS FOR READING THIS!!! I hope you find my review helpful :)
I appreciate comments. I promise to comment back on you blogs <3<3


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesaday - BEST SEQUELS EVER

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week's topic is:

135819901. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
This is undoubtedly the best sequel I have ever read. It was even better than the first book in the series (which was also awesome). It was all full of action and surprises and I just couldn't stop reading. Kagawa is THE BEST.


15829962. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
The first three books is the Mortal Instruments series are all on my list of favorite books ever. What can I say more?! This book is just incredible and even better than the first. This whole series keeps getting better.


66543133. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
I really enjoyed this whole series and the second book was, in my opinion the best one out of the three. Grace's story is very interesting and I loved it that the author added more points of view to the story.


4. Blue Moon by Aliyson Noel
I really like this series. I know a lot of people who hate it, but I have to disagree. The best thing about this series is the unique ideas it has. This sequel was very good and added a lot of tension to the story. I can't wait to read the third book and find the answers to all the questions it opened!!


61480285. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
This sequel was just perfect!!! I was SHOCKED when I found out she's going to the arena again.. and the ending? OMG I can't forget these last words.


Ok.. that's all the sequels I could come up with.. I don't know why I barely continue series. :P

What are your top ten sequels? Share with me in the comments :):)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Author: Libba Bray
Genre: YA historical fiction, supernatural
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: December 9th 2003

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

My Take:

This is the first time ever I actually enjoy an historical novel. I usually find books that aren't set in our days or in the future dull and unrelatable. I was utterly clueless about the Victorian era before I started reading and that's why I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing...
I am very happy to tell you that this book was the opposite of everything I expected from an historical novel!!! It was truly the most exciting book I've read in 2013. It gripped me so hard that I could barely put it down.

It's been more than a week since I've finished this novel and I can't stop thinking about it.Where shall I start with it?! It was beautiful. Creepy. Hypnotizing. Devastating. Gripping. Deep. Emotional. Scary. Powerful. Edgy. Dark. Mysterious. Lyrical. Exciting. Heartbreaking. Thought-provoking. Suspenseful... There aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe the overall greatness of this book!!!
It's going to be extremely difficult to describe the plot for all its complexity in just a few sentences but I'm going to try my best...
This book tells the story of Jemma, a 16-year-old Indian-British girl living in the 19th century. Unlike most teenage girls those days, Jemma is stubborn and doesn't agree silently to everything she's being told to do. Her quiet life in India completely changes when her mother is being mysteriously murdered on the her 16th birthday. Jemma is being seized with terrible, uncontrollable visions she is just terrified with. Grief-stricken, the family moves to London. She is sent to an all-girls school, where she's being taught how to get the best marriage and how to become the best wife. While trying to blend in, Jemma befriends a group of girls, each one special in her own way. Together they discover a world of magic, which can be fantastic and fascinating, but also dark and dangerous.
Gemma was an incredible main character. I can't believe how strongly I related to her. I knew I was going to like her from the very first page, when I first encountered her witty sarcasm that made her sounds like a real teen girl. She had a very compelling and sincere teenage voice. I was surprised that even though she lived in a different society with a different mentality than nowadays, she thought just like a modern a girl - she never felt herself lesser than a man and always acted like herself, even if it was considered impolite or inappropriate. I love hew she was true to herself and how she believed she was going to have a brighter future than what adults planned for her.

What I liked even more about her was the affection and true understanding she felt towards her friends - Pippa, Ann and Felicity. These three girls were my favorite part of the book. Each one of them was special and different. They didn't exactly belong into this factory of future-wives. They all had strong desires and wishes that they weren't allowed to express in a place where wanting anything just for pleasure was considered unfeminine and unattractive.  Together, as a group, they built each other's self evaluation. They found out that they're not alone in their feelings, that they're not the only girls in the world who want more than they have and that it's totally okay. I loved how they completed and evened each other - for example, the unpredictable, wild Felicity was opposite to the neat, quiet ann. Together they became strong, invincible, inseparable.  This book showed the power of friendship and how it can be the best and worst thing in the world.

This book was amazing, as I said before, but not perfect. Everything was flawed in one way or another - the characters were sometimes too extreme to be believable and the plot was sometimes kind of... cheesy. But the special thing about this book was that its imperfections only made it BETTER. And that's the magic.
I'm going to rate it four stars, not five, but it doesn't mean I didn't love it. I don't really know how to explain this rating... I just can't bring myself to rate it five because I wanted slightly more from it.

Overall, this book had a great impression on me and I don't think I'll be able to forget it anytime soon. I highly recommend you all to read it!! Seriously, this book shouldn't be missed by anyone...


Guess Who's Back!?!??!!?

After a few months of deafening silence.. (ok it wasn't that dramatic)

I'm back!!!!

I miss blogging SO MUCH. I miss my blogging friends, I miss sharing my thoughts and I miss reading your amazingly good blogs. <3

It's going to be an EXTREMELY busy year for me, but I promise I'll try my best to keep my blog running because it's a great pleasure of mine. :D

Thank you for reading this and for still following me after so much time.

*About the ARCs - I currently have about 30 unread eARCs. I'm SO SORRY about that, dear publishers!!! I promise not to request anything until I finish reading all of them (which can take practically my whole life but whatever). I'll try to catch up with them ASAP for everyone's sake. ><

Can't wait to hear from everyone again!!!