Tag: weneeddiversebooks

Jazz & Friendship: Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam

Posted May 15, 2017 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Jazz & Friendship: Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara LovestamWonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam
Published by Allen & Unwin on 29th March 2017
Pages: 318
Format: Paperback, Finished Review Copy
Source: Publisher

A celebration of being a little bit odd, finding your people and the power of music to connect us.

For Steffi, going to school everyday is an exercise in survival. She's never fit in with any of the groups at school, and she's viciously teased by the other girls in her class. The only way she escapes is through her music--especially jazz music.

When Steffi hears her favourite jazz song playing through an open window of a retirement home on her walk home from school, she decides to go in and introduce herself. The old man playing her favorite song is Alvar. When Alvar was a teenager in World War II Sweden, he dreamed of being in a real jazz band. Then and now, Alvar's escape is music--especially jazz music.

Through their unconventional friendship, Steffi comes to realise that she won't always feel alone. She can go to music school in Stockholm. She can be a real musician. She can be a jitterbug, just like Alvar.

But how can Steffi convince her parents to let her go to Stockholm to audition? And how is it that Steffi's school, the retirement home, the music and even Steffi's worst bully are somehow all connected to Alvar? Can it be that the people least like us are the ones we need to help us tell our own stories?

Wonderful Feels Like This was a beautiful coming of age story, and something completely different from what I’ve been reading recently, and turned out to be a refreshing contemporary about an unlikely friendship between retiree Alvar and schoolgirl Steffi after they discover their mutual love for all things jazz.

Steffi Herrera is a fifteen year old who loves jazz – especially Pavel Romel and wants to be a great musician one day too. Her quiet demeanour doesn’t fit in with the other kids at school, who torment her relentlessly with name calling, slut shaming and more. It’s in her music that she finds solace, and the power of words and lyrics that gives her strength day in and day out. On the way home from school one day, she hears her favourite piece of jazz, and meets Alvar, a resident in a retirement home in her small town of Bjorke. The pair quickly bond over their shared love for Pavel Romel, and Alvar delights Steffi with tales of his adventures growing up in neutral Sweden during World War Two.

The dual narration in this story was one of my favourite parts. Learning about a country I know little about – both historically and in general, was completely refreshing in a spate of generic reads over the past couple of weeks. It was interesting to see and recognise the parallels between both Steffi’s and Alvar’s life growing up – albeit at two very different periods of time. Alvar’s story of a young, nervous country boy moving to the big city of Stockholm at the age of seventeen at the height of World War Two was adorable and heartwarming all the way through, and really touching.  From Alvar’s stories, we get to see Steffi shine as she comes into herself. His stories give her the hope she needs to continue with her music, and to stand up against her bullies. Despite the doubts that every teenager gets, Steffi was able to persevere, knowing that there was something more for her than small town life and that knowledge she carried with her throughout the whole novel.

A surprising (but completely commendable and lovely aspect) was the understated message of diversity throughout the novel. I love reading about different cultures, and don’t do it nearly enough. Steffi might be a Swede, but her father – or Pappita – is Spanish, and it was interesting to see his cultural influence on his family and in Steffi’s life, especially from a non-English speaking perspective. I need to read more novels like this!! Another theme of the novel was identity. Steffi’s bullies often used lesbian as a slur, and this was something Steffi struggled with throughout the book. Because she didn’t find any of her classmates attractive, does this make her a lesbian? And what’s so wrong about that? The way Steffi draws her own conclusions was empowering to say the least.

As much as enjoyed this novel, I found aspects of it lacking at times. I felt like was on the outside looking in – never really connecting with the story. I wish there’d been a bit more depth and exploration between the characters – most of it seemed surface level, never really getting any deeper. I just liked it – I didn’t love it. I wanted so much more – more from the relationship between Alvar and Steffi. I felt that the ending was a little bit too quick, and then it was over. But in saying that, Wonderful Feels Like This was a heartwarming story that all ages will be able to enjoy.

Wonderful Like This by Sara Lovestam is published by Allen & Unwin and is now available from all good bookstores (support your local!) for RRP$29.99







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The #DAReadathon Sign Up Post + TBR

Posted January 5, 2017 by Hannah in uncategorized / 2 Comments


Hey guys! The wonderful Aentee over at Read at Midnight is hosting a great readathon over the next two weeks – the #DAReadAThon! Inspired by spells from Harry Potter and focusing on diversity, Aentee has put together 7 prompts – 1 book per spell!

I was meant to do this post back in December, and if you’d still link to join, just head to the sign up post on Aentee’s website (click on the image above!). Anyone can join in, and the readathon is from January 1 through to 15th January.

I’m really excited to take part – one of my goals this year is to read more diversely, and read out of my comfort zone. Because I’ve placed myself on a no-buy ban for the year, sourcing books for this challenge was a little difficult as I realised just how un-diverse my shelves are…something that definitely needs to be rectified! So I’m going to use the #DAReadAThon as an extra sort of way to find #OwnVoices and diverse reads that I need to add to my bookshelves!

Go Gryffindor! What House do you belong to? Without further ado, here are the spells, and the books I’ve chosen for each of them! Have you read any?


How It Feels to Fly has been on my TBR for a while now, and I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time. There’s a lot of themes here that resonate with me on a personal level, especially when I was a teenager. Once upon a time, I used to dance, and even though at the age of 11 my hopes of moving to White Lodge and joining the Royal Ballet became more of a whimsical fantasy, I did exams all the way up until I graduated high school. I did the eisteddfods and the competitions, even though I wasn’t in it competitively, but I suffered from performance anxiety on more than a few occasions. I was never slim enough, never pretty enough, never co-ordinated enough. I’ve seen how even though ballet is a beautiful thing, it can be detrimental to a person at the same time.

 Anxiety, Panic Attacks/Disorder, Body Dismorphic Disorder



Let me be honest: I don’t read a lot of books featuring LGBT characters. It’s nothing personal, don’t misunderstand me, it’s just most books I pick up, LGBT characters are more…sidelined? Okay, time to definitely change that. What a great place to start, with some #LoveOzYA too! Add in family relationships and I’m really excited to read this novel.

LGBTQIA, F/F Relationships







I’ve heard so many good things about this book and its sequels! I loved the Summer series (I got kicked out of a Waterstones for reading the books once) and I’m sure this will be just as great. I chose Jenny Han for this prompt as I’m a firm believer in normalising diversity because it should be the norm. Bracketing it into a box is not the way to make sure that stories are inclusive of all backgrounds, genders, races…you get the point.

East Asian Main Character, #OwnVoices




I am so excited to finally have an excuse to read And I Darken! To be honest, I was sold at gender swapped Vlad the Impaler (yeah, that guy), but after reading all the reviews, And I Darken sounds like such an awesome read, just gimme gimme gimme. In the same vein that The Winner’s Trilogy is fantasy but with no magic, White is breaking down those barriers of no magic fantasy in YA based on the Ottoman Empire, which you don’t see a lot of in fiction especially YA. So there’s that. And I mean, I feel really, really bad that I’ve never read a White novel, especially considering she’s written one of my favourite literary quotes of all time.

Islam, Gay Main Character, Non-Western Fantasy





This gorgeous thing has been on my TBR since September last year, one of the many impulsive Edelweiss review copies I’m planning to get through in the next couple of months…so what a better time, right? What draws me in is the friendship aspect between Frances and Aled and that it’s got a really, really good rating on Goodreads right now (4.45 stars, that’s pretty fabtastic). I haven’t read Oseman’s debut novel (which I hear is also great), and I’m hoping the “readers who love Fangirl” part isn’t as bad as it sounds (was not a Fangirl fan).

Biracial Main Character, Anxiety/Depression, LGBTQIA





Fantasy, curses and mythology. What a neat little package of yes please I want to read this. I’ve heard good and bad things – it seems like a book that has people quite divided, but I’m ready to dive into a fantasy world that doesn’t have a Western setting, and I mean, that cover alone makes you want to pick it up and read straight away. Plus I hear the romance is pretty good????

South Asian Mythology, #OwnVoices, Non-Western Setting





Oh look, another book with a ballet setting. Wooo! Another book that I’ve heard really good things about, this one was recommended to me by Emily who has the most amazing recs, so please take her advice when she tells you to read a book! There seems to be a diverse range of characters in this, so I’m pretty excited to start reading.

Biracial Main Character/s, Intersectionality, #OwnVoices, Mental Health, Eating Disorders

Are you taking part in the #DAReadAThon? Feel free to connect with me, or on social media to keep up with me!


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