Crash Into You by Katie McGarry – YA Book Review

Crash into you crop jpg

This anticipated book tells Isaiah’s story. Isaiah, the guy who won our hearts playing secondary roles in Pushing the Limits and Dare to You.

But… despite an amazing story where Katie McGarry, one of my favourite authors and Queen of the messed up, edgy characters which I adore, I just didn’t feel the passion between Rachel and Isaiah. I tried, I really tried hard. I loved both Isaiah and Rachel, just not together. Their relationship didn’t feel authentic.

This doesn’t mean the story wasn’t good, it was. Intense, gritty and furious this is a great read. But if, like me, you’ve been dying for Isaiah’s chance to find love, you may be disappointed.4 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: Crash into You                              Crash into you
Series: Pushing the Limits #3
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication Date: 1 November 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Purchased
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The girl with straight A’s and the perfect life—that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But after the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind. 

The last thing Isaiah needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks. But when their shared love of street racing puts their lives in jeopardy, Isaiah and Rachel will have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.  — Extract from Goodreads.com

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz: YA Book Review

You Are Not Here Crop

How can a person be

filled with life

and then be empty?

Where does it go?

This book deals with grief from an unusual perspective and the girl left behind is forced to hide her feelings of rejection and loss.

When we were together,

I was willing to take whatever you gave.

And after you died

I was able to see

how little that was.

Unfortunately, I did not feel the depth of emotion the author was trying to convey and the book fell short of packing the punch needed to make it a more memorable read.

Recommended age: 13+3 Star

 

Title: You Are Not Here You Are Not Here
Author: Samantha Schutz
Publication Date: 1 June 2012
(1st published 1 October 2010)
Publisher: Push
Source: Purchased
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Annaleah and Brian shared something special – Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn’t need anyone else. It didn’t matter that their relationship was
secret. All that mattered was what they had with each other.

And then, out of nowhere, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely.
How can you recover from a loss that no one will let you have?     — Extract from Goodreads.com

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher: YA Book Review

Ketchup clouds crop

Okay, I’m just going to come out with it… I think it’s really disturbing that Anna is corresponding with an older man and this creepy feeling followed me throughout, clouding the real story.

Dear Mr. S. Harris

Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It’s jam, not blood, though I don’t think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn’t your wife’s jam the police found on your shoe. . . 

A sad, tender and surprisingly funny story that kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what actually happened.

Recommended age: 14+3 Star

 

Title: Ketchup CloudsKetchup clouds
Author: Annabel Pitcher
Publication Date: 1 July 2013
(1st published 2012)
Publisher: Orion
Source: Purchased

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Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can’t confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.

Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman – YA Book Review

Breathing crop 1

This book has been on my TBR (to be read) list forever. At first it was difficult to find, but even after I’d bought the paperback edition it sat on my shelf for a while.

Time is ticking as slow as a donkey in the plowing field. . .

It’s not that I didn’t like it, but more that I was so disappointed that it wasn’t what I expected. That’s the problem with expectations!

Speaking of which, there ain’t nary a draft in sight, and this humidity is curling up my hair something fierce.

Although it gave the books authenticity, Southern dialect was very off-putting. But despite everything, I grew fond of Savannah and I couldn’t abandon her.

It may sound dorky, but I love books – the feel of the paper, the old musty smell, and especially the way the words roll over you and take you somewhere altogether different.

Result: Another meh book finished, One less on my TBR pile (if we ignore the three I just added) and one step closer to my Goodreads challenge!3 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: Breathing
Author: Cheryl Renee HerbsmanBreathing
Publication Date: 10 June 2010
1st published 12 February 2009
Publisher: Speak
Source: Purchased

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Savannah would be happy spending the summer working at the library and reading. But then she meets Jackson, who Savannah’s convinced is the one. At first it looks like she’s right. He abides by her mama’s strict rules and stays by her side when she is hospitalized for severe asthma, which Savannah believes is improving only because Jackson is there. But when Jackson is called away to help his family, Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

Sisterhood of the Blog

I’m a Sisterhood of the World Blogger! I was recently nominated by Jane at the Greenish Bookshelf. Jane reads and reviews a wide range of books on her blog so please pop over and have a look around.

Now for my answers to the questions asked by Jane…

1. What books might you include on a list of your top 5 favourites?

This sounds much easier than it actually is!

Favourite picture book: The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss
Favourite children’s book: The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
Favourite YA Book: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Favourite ‘Grown-up’ Book: Five Quarters of an Orange by Joanne Harris
Current favourite book: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

2. If you could live in a book, which would it be and why?Black cat reduced in frame

Oh, it has to be the Harry Potter books –  Broomsticks, butterbeer, potions…
Plus I’d be a great witch! I have the black cat already!

3. Favourite genre to read?

My favourite is contemporary, although I enjoy fantasy too.

4. How many books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books, one paperback and one on my kindle. I prefer to read one at a time, but two or three is not too unusual.

5. Name 2 books you mean to read but keep putting off.

Game of Thrones, I love the TV series and really want to read the book, and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I keep meaning to pick this up, it has just not happened yet!

6. If you taught a literature class, what would be on your syllabus for the class?

Depending on the age of the class, I’d love to teach The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman, Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger and 1984 by George Orwell. All these books not only have an important message to convey, but they all have a special significance for me.

7. Do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or ebooks?

Honestly… I adore book covers and this is the reason I prefer reading physical books.  Hardcovers feel very special but are expensive and bulky, so I usually go for paperbacks. But once I am engrossed in the story it really doesn’t matter what version it is.

8. What’s the most memorable bookstore you’ve visited?

Our little corner of South Africa does not have book shops of note and I buy 99% of my books online.  I visited Borders in Singapore several years ago and was in awe at the size and the variety on offer. But my favourite was a little second-hand bookshop I found when exploring a side street in Singapore. I am hoping to be able to find it again on my next visit later this year.

9. Favourite place to read?

Curled up in bed with a cat on my lap.

10. If you’re not reading, what do you like to do?

I love painting, art journaling and any other creative activities.

Okay, now for the serious business of the sisterhood’s rules…

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.
2. Add the Sisterhood logo on your blog.
3. Answer the questions given to you.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees.
5. Nominate 10 blogs.

So in the spirit of sharing and caring I nominate the following amazing bloggers to the Sisterhood:

Hollie @ Music Books and Tea
Tammy @ The Book Fairy Haven
Karen @ KissinBlueKaren
Aentee @ Read at Midnight
Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight
Rachel @ Confessions of a Book Geek
Cait @ Paper Fury
Nicole @ The Reading Rebel

These are your questions:
1. How do you decide what to read next?
2. How did your school librarian influence your love of books?
3. What genre do you avoid at all costs?
4. Which one book did you love so much you would try to persuade any and everyone to read?
5. What one piece of advice would you share to a newbie book blogger?
6. Which indie author would you recommend and why?
7. What is the strangest thing you’ve used as a bookmark?
8. Where are you most likely to be caught reading?
9. Which social media platform do you prefer to share/stalk other bloggers?
10. If you were invited to a school library to read to young children, which book would you choose to share?

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King – YA Book Review

Ask the Passengers crop

Realistic and well-portrayed angst is the feature of this feel-good story where acceptance is key. In love with another girl, Astrid struggles with honesty in a small conservative town, where eyes are everywhere and gossip rules.

I struggled with the ‘keyhole peek’ into the passengers flying above, which gave the story a disjointed feel. It seemed out of place, as though the author had the idea before and tried to mold the story around it.

3 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: Ask the Passengers
Author: A. S King
Publication Date:Ask the Passengers
23 October 2012
Publisher:
Little Brown and Company
Source: Borrowed
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Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

I seem to be in a reading slump, I haven’t read a Wow! book for ages…

I Was Here by Gayle Forman – YA Book Review

I WaS Here Crop 2

Admittedly I was swept up with the media hype and ARC reviews so my expectations of this book were sky high. Considering how much I loved the Just One Day series and enjoyed the If I Stay series, I really expected to fall hard for this book.

Disappointed and disillusioned… Despite the beautiful cover (I mean just look at it!), the book just did not do anything for me.

I struggled to connect with the characters and the storyline felt forced…. As through it had to follow a predetermined course and the characters weren’t allowed to develop naturally.2 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle FormanI Was Here
Publication Date:
29 January 2015
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Source: Purchased

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Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.
 
When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

Celebrating Diversity with South African Books

SA Diversity Ready

I’ve interpreted diversity a little loosely by featuring South African authors, a minority country in the publishing industry. All these books are also set in South Africa.

I hope you’re up to taking a chance by supporting our local authors…

Just a note, the only children’s book in this list is the first one, Herd Boy. Some of the others contain violence that may not be suitable for younger readers.

Herd Boy by Nikki Daly

A children’s picture book written and illustrated by Nikki Daly, a well-loved children’s author/illustrator in South Africa. His books are found in homes and schools across the country. This is his latest publication and one of my favourites. It is an inspiring read which promotes self-esteem as well as highlighting our South African spirit.
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Non-Fiction. Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. Need I say more? It is a long book, but it’s worth it, the abridged version just doesn’t do it justice. An amazing man and South Africa’s most loved leader.
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

If The Cat Fits by Crystal Sharp

Non-Fiction. I loved this laugh-out-loud book which follows the life of a vet’s wife in South Africa and is full of humorous antidotes. Crystal Sharp has running conversations with her pets, something we have in common!

The physical books are already out of print, so if you can get hold of a copy of this, or one of her other books: Dog in My Footprints and In Fool Flight, you are very lucky! Fortunately for everyone else the kindle editions are available.
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony

Non-Fiction. These elephants will stay in your heart forever. Previously reviewed here.
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

The Smell of Apples by Mark Behr

Fiction. Brutal in its subtlety, a sinister story which has haunted me over the years. This book has won both local and international awards. Recommended age 16+
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Fiction. Alan Paton is one of our most renowned authors and this book, also adapted into a movie, has been read across the world. It is an excellent portrayal of hope, endurance and above all humanity.
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

Postmortem: The Doctor Who Walked Away by Maria Phalime

Non-Fiction. A story that highlights the inadequacies in South Africa’s public health sector and the inner struggle of the individual health professionals.

I met Maria Phalime earlier this year at a conference and was struck by her humble honesty, which was evident during her address to gathering of South African school librarians.  Sharing a table at dinner that night, I experienced her friendliness and down-to-earth personality first hand. I am fortunate to own a personalised signed copy of this book!
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

The Madonna of Excelsior by Zakes Mda

Fiction. Well-known author and playwright of contemporary classics,  Zakes Mda’s books and plays are studied in high schools across South Africa.
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

Dear Bullet: Or a Letter to My Shooter by Sixolile Mbalo

Non-Fiction. A simply told, this personal account of a young girl who survived unspeakable violence will leave you reeling in shock at the brutality of humanity. Recommended age 16+
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

Fiction. I read this very disturbing book several years ago, and it still haunts me today. Although well acclaimed, award-winning J.M. Coetzee is not one of my favourite authors, mostly because he is not afraid to display humanity with all its flaws, and I am a fan of the happily ever after. But he is undoubtedly an excellent writer and deserves his acclaim. Recommended age 16+
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Book Depository     Loot.co.za

A bonus: The 11th title on the list is a fantasy graphic novel

Rebirth by Daniel Browde & Josh Ryba (Illustrator)

Graphic novel. Fiction. Included for its beautiful colour illustrations and originality.
Goodreads     Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a chance to get to know fellow bloggers. This week’s topic is ‘Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity or Diverse Characters’.

 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor – YA Book ReviewDreams of Gods crop frame

This final book in my favourite trilogy did not disappoint. Once I opened to the first page I was riveted and found any excuse to immerse myself again.

The exquisite words of Laini Taylor, a detailed and unpredictable plot, with layer upon layer of depth along with complex and extraordinary characters all combine to make an exceptional story, one that I will carry with me always.

I love the friendship, quirkiness and love between Karou, Zuz and Mik. These are special characters, ones I will keep with me forever.5 Star

Recommended age: 13+

 

Title: Dreams of Gods and Monsters Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 8 April 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: Purchased

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What power can bruise the sky?

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.
When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited–not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.
But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?
The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as–from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond–humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

These are the last books that I bought/borrowed.
Which one should I read first?

books in possession

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
This is the third book in the Pushing the Limits series. I loved the first two so am looking forward to this one.

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
I really liked My Life Next Door and this one is a stand alone so I won’t be pining for the sequel!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Morgan Matson writes beautifully. I loved Since You’ve Been Gone  and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour so I have high hopes for this one.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
This one has had lots of positive reviews.

I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler
I’m not sure about this one, but I love the cover.

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu
I’ve been told by someone I trust that this is good – I’m holding her too that!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This one has had so much hype and rave reviews so I hope it lives up to expectations.

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink
This is the only eBook on my list, which may drop to the bottom of the list as I tend to read physical books first, they are a much more visual reminder to “read me!” It’s also the one I’ve heard the least about.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Another book with stellar reviews. I’ve also just noticed that all ten books on my list are contemporary fiction. Guess I’m having a break from fantasy…

Say What You Will by Cammie Mcgovern
This one has been compared to Eleanor & Park, and as you know I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I hope I ma not going to be disappointed.

Have you read any of these?

Which one should I start with?

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a chance to get to know fellow bloggers. This week topic is Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession.