Sunday, 29 September 2013

Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy 1) by Isla Madden-Mills

Reviewed by Donna ~ 4 Stars

“I did know with certainty that life is full of bad people, broken people, sad people, betrayed people, twisted people, and people with secrets and scars the world never sees. Yet, it is also full of people who love each other. People who are happy.”

This book really makes you realise that “money cannot buy you happiness”. Nora should be happy, everything on paper says she should be super super happy, but alas she isn’t. She is absolutely stunning, her parents are really wealthy, she has a wardrobe to rival any super model, she is super clever and she is a well accomplished pianist, she has won beauty pageants, countless spelling bees and is the poster child for Briarcrest Academy, she was the PERFECT student. It was during the open day for Briarcrest that Nora was to give a speech to promote how brilliant Briarcrest really was, prospective students and parents were all present, it was during this, that Nora had an EPIC meltdown and this lead to nothing but trouble for Nora.

Deep down Nora was extremely unhappy. The pressure that her parents had put on her was truly ridiculous. Her mother didn’t really want a daughter, she wanted “the perfect child” to keep up with her reputation and appearances. It didn’t matter what Nora wanted, she had to wear what her mother wanted her to wear (or her mother’s wardrobe lady), she had to study and be top of her class no matter what, she did the beauty pageants for her mother, she did the spelling bees for her mother and yes, she learned the piano for her mother. It was never about what Nora wanted, just what her mother expected.

Her mother, urgggghhhh!! Don’t get me started on this pathetic excuse for a parent, at least her father grew some by the end and don’t even get me started on her brother Finn. From the minute he was mentioned, I just knew he was trouble!! The thing that amazed me in this, was that her parents were hardly home, she was basically living on her own. She had no real “family” so to speak, all she had was the pressure of being “perfect” in her mothers eyes and god help her if she ever deviated from her mothers plans. The only time she really saw her mother, was when she had an appointment!!!!!!

“When I was four, I thought mother was a goddess. When I was fourteen, I knew she was a monster.”


After her major meltdown, Nora decides that she is going to change. She is going to be the bad girl, she is going to get drunk, get high and get laid! Can she really be happy being the bad girl? Will it change her? Will she be able to go through with it and the consequences? Is this the real “Nora?”

“He was my Prince Charming, but I wasn’t his Cinderella.”

During this very public meltdown on stage, Leo Tate and his brother Sebastian were in the crowd. Leo had recently moved to town with his little brother and was setting up a new gym. He wanted the best for Sebastian so was there to enrol him into Briarcrest. Leo had guardianship of his brother after his parents passed and takes his responsibilities incredibly seriously, he is older but after watching Nora on stage and the subsequent arguments in the car park, Leo was captivated by her. Their eyes were locked on one and other, neither of them could look away, all the while Nora’s mother launched her verbal tirade at her, she just looked at Leo. There was something about her that he couldn’t put his finger on, but he could not help but think about her. But would their paths ever cross again.

“Leo, when your eyes found mine that day, I got lost, and I didn’t want to look away. It was like the whole world vanished except for me and you. We connected somehow. It was an extraordinary moment, and it builds and builds every time we see each other.”

Their paths do cross, in fact, it is like a maze…it seems they were destined to know each other, but is it more? Can Leo change his life plan, of no love and no commitment, he cannot bear the thought of losing anyone he loves ever again, therefore the easiest solution is not to love. Can this rule be applied when you fall for someone that seems to be your soul mate?

“Are you saying we’re soul mates…, that you’re in love with me?”


You will just have to read and see!!

“This is the truth: I’m done with you. I hope she makes you happy and –“ I swallowed. “Goodbye Leo.”

There are highs and lows, ups and downs, twist and turns…this book will make you laugh, cry, love, hate and go through every emotion possible. I could have slapped them both…A LOT!! They both have their insecurities and their problems and their histories, but I always truly believed that they belonged together.

I loved the side characters in this story, they were great. I loved the band and the way that Nora incorporated her piano skills into helping Teddy was heart warming. I loved the relationship that those two had.

“You never stop loving someone; you just learn to live without them.”

In summary, I couldn’t put this book down, I was hooked from the start. I loved Isla’s writing style, it was fluid and captivating. I believed the characters and fell in love with them. They all had their problems, but it is was fun reading how they all helped each other. There is a great moral to this story.

Fab read, can’t wait to see what comes next in this series.

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