Try Not to Breathe crop

Depression is a difficult subject to tackle but Jennifer R. Hubbard has written an achingly realistic story of the dark emotions that cloud of many of us. Having experienced depression myself I could easily relate to Ryan and appreciate the loneliness and apartness he feels.

I liked that the story begins after he is discharged from hospital, as this is where the majority of stories end. It was his thoughts, that he had every reason to be happy, but wasn’t, that resonated loudly for me as its truth was so close to my own. Depression is not about having a terrible life, but being sad despite a good life.

It is books like this that will help to remove the stigma regarding depression.

Recommended age: 13+4 Star

Title: Try Not to Breathe
Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard
Publication Date: 19 January 2012Try Not to Breathe
Publisher: Viking Books
Source: Purchased
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Learning to live is more than just choosing not to die, as sixteen-year-old Ryan discovers in the year following his suicide attempt. Despite his mother’s anxious hovering and the rumors at school, he’s trying to forget the darkness from which he has escaped. But it doesn’t help that he’s still hiding guilty secrets, or that he longs for a girl who may not return his feelings.

Then he befriends Nicki, who is using psychics to seek contact with her dead father. This unlikely friendship thaws Ryan to the point where he can face the worst in himself. He and Nicki confide in one another the things they never thought they’d tell anyone—but their confessions are trickier than they seem, and the fallout tests the bounds of friendship and forgiveness.    — Extract from

Me Before You Crop

I found myself sinking into to this story which totally engulfed me. Having laughed and cried sobbed I emerged at the end, not sure I’ll ever be quite the same again.4 Star

Recommended age: 15+

Title:  Me Before YouMe Before You
Series: Me Before You #1
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publication Date: 5 January 2012
Publisher:  Michael Joseph
Source: Borrowed
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Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.   — Extract from

Lets Get Lost CropI was swept away by this book from the very first paragraph. The words flow easily across the page and I found myself clutching the backseat of a little red car as it navigated a journey of chance encounters, discovery and adventure.

Adi Alsaid has cleverly woven five unique, but interlinked, stories into one – an epic road-trip to the end of the world and back. His characters come alive on the page and will imprint on your mind so that they will be impossible to forget.

Hudson could hear the car’s engine from blocks away. He stepped outside the garage and closed his eyes, listening, picking apart the sounds so that he’d know exactly what he’d have to fix before he even popped the hood.

I loved this book – don’t miss it!4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Let’s Get Lost
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publication Date: 29 July 2015Lets get lost
(1st published 1 January 2014)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Purchased
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Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There’s HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila’s own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way.      — Extract from

These are the books that I am so glad I picked up despite their uninspiring covers…

I love book covers and sometimes, unashamedly, choose books based on the cover alone. But sadly sometimes bad covers happen to good books.

Unfortunately these books that, despite me almost standing on my head to promote them, are frequently turned down by the students who visit our school library.

So what do you think? Have you read any of these? Would you pick any of them up based on their covers?

x Ugly Covers

When I was Joe

When I was Joe
by Kerin David
YA Contemporary/Thriller

After witnessing a crime, Ty has to go into witness protection.
The beginning of an excellent thriller/adventure series.


Dont call me Ishmael
Don’t Call me Ishmael
by Michael Gerard Bauer
Children’s Contemporary/Humour

A laugh-out-loud, feel-good story about trying to fit in at Middle School.


by Laurie Halse Anderson
YA Contemporary

A beautifully written contemporary novel from a male POV.



by Jerry Spinelli
Children’s/YA Contemporary

Should you act normal just to fit in or be yourself…?



To Kill a Mocking Bird
by Harper Lee
YA Historical Fiction

A deeply moving and compassionate look at humanity.
Set in Southern America in the thirties, this book explores topics which remain relevant today.


Catcher in the Rye
Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
YA Realistic Fiction

Previously reviewed here



by Gordon Reece
YA Psychological Thriller/Dark Comedy

Expect the unexpected…



Summer I wasn't me
The Summer I wasn’t Me
by Jessica Verdi
YA Contemporary

Although approaching homosexuality sensitively, this book also cuts to the chase.
Well worth adding to a high school library.


Curious incident
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon
YA Contemporary/Mystery

By following the Christopher has he attempts to solve a mystery, which blows the neighbourhood secrets apart, we are afforded a rare glimpse into Asperger’s Syndrome


Perks wallpaper
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
YA Contemporary

A quirky, but charming, journey of a shy outsider as he discovers how the other half live.


Top Ten TuesdayTop ten tuesday

Top TTop Ten Tuesday reduceden 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 is a Freebie week. Top Ten anything bookish!

Silent crop

An award winning author and intriguing plot – this should have been a great read. I was disappointed to find I just could not connect with the characters, the writing bland and a little patronising, the plot predictable.

I read to the end,  so have awarded two stars, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy another of E.L Koningsburg’s books. Honestly – it was readable and could possibly have got 3 stars if the plot hadn’t been so transparent.2 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title:  Silent to the BoneSilent to the Bone
Author: E.L. Konigsburg
Publication Date: 25 May 20014
(1st published in 2000)
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Source: Purchased
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Connor is sure his best friend, Branwell, couldn’t have hurt Branwell’s baby half sister, Nikki. But Nikki lies in a coma, and Branwell is in a juvenile behavioral center, suspected of a horrible crime and unable to utter the words to tell what really happened. Connor is the only one who might be able to break through Branwell’s wall of silence. But how can he prove Branwell didn’t commit the unspeakable act of which he’s accused — when Branwell can’t speak for himself?     — Extract from


These are a few of the authors I’d really like to meet, even though I’m a little too late for many of them.

By no means exhaustive – this is just the beginning of a very long list!

Authors I'd Like to Meet

Laini Taylor

I’m her biggest fan! Yes I am proud of that… go back and read her books before you judge!

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone is my favourite fantasy book, it is beautifully written and original. Before I repeat myself you can find my review here.

Dr Seuss

My favourite, weird and wacky childhood author who still enthralls children today. My students love to hear his stories.

A couple of weeks ago, to celebrate World Book Day, I read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back to a Grade one class and pointed out the parts that made it my favourite book when I was their age. As I came to the end of the book a little boy jumped up and hugging me asked if he could take this special book home immediately to show his parents. It made my week!

Kimberly Sabatini

This amazing author is incredibly generous! I was one of the winners in her personal giveaway during the YA Scavenger Hunt. She not only sent me signed and personalised physical copy of her book (all the way to South Africa from US) she included a personalised sighed hardcover copy to donate to our school library, along with a pile of signed bookmarks and beautiful origami birds. She  also asked me to nominate another international school library that she could donate her book to. Wow! I hope I get to meet her one day. Big hugs!
My review of Touching the Surface.

Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park and Fangirl… need I say more! I  would love to ask her the story behind her name and what she’s working on next.

Perhaps I could weasel out what those three words are… I wonder if she’s ticklish…
My review of Eleanor and Park and Fangirl.

Roald Dahl

Another all-time favourite wacky author I would love to talk to him about some of the characters that I have never forgotten including the Duchess in The Giraffe the Pelly and Me, especially in the audio edition narrated by talented Hugh Laurie.

Our school library celebrates Roald Dahl’s birthday every year and Willy Wonka never forgets to send parcels of sweets and chocolate from his factory. A couple of years ago Willy Wonka himself made an appearance much to the delight of the students!

Elizabeth Wein

Author of the beautiful book Code Name Verity, I would like to talk to her about her inspiration and research into the Second World War.
My review of Code Name Verity.

Rachel Morgan

Rachel Morgan is a very talented, local South African author. I almost met Rachel at one of her book signings a couple of years ago, but just missed it with a last-minute family drama. I hope to have another opportunity to meet her, even though she’s moved to the opposite side of the country!

Rachel has shared the next installment of the Faerie Guardian books – I can’t wait to read it! My review of The Faerie Guardian and The Trouble With Flying

Katie McGarry

Katie McGarry is another author I love. Her gritty contemporary love stories are beautifully written and her characters messed-up and real. Once you’re been bitten by her talent you’ll be back for more!

She not only graciously agreed to be interviewed for my blog, but also generously posted a stack of paper and ribbon bookmarks across the Atlantic to our school library. Needless to say we love her!
My review of Pushing the Limits.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, J.R.R. Tolkien is one of our most beloved authors. I spent my teens immersed in his generous stories. I’d like to talk to him about his inspiration behind The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings as well as his experiences as a soldier in the First World War.

I would love to see his face when he finds out how popular his books still are, more than forty years after his death.

Bill Bryson

His humour is what kept me going through some tough times, and I am so looking forward to seeing The Walk in the Woods on the big screen. If I did get a chance to meet him I would do my best to persuade him to write a full length book on South Africa. I would love to see our rainbow nation through his eyes… and to ‘hear’ the topics under discussion by the locals in a Karoo koffie shop!


Top Ten TuesdayTop ten tuesday

Top TTop Ten Tuesday reduceden 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 theme is: Top Ten authors I REALLY want to meet.

Nothing But Truth crop

A clash of cultures, sprinkled with witty humour,  kept me smiling throughout this book.

Follow Patty Ho, Not quite a banana (Asian on the outside, but white on the inside), and not quite an egg (a white kid who gets off on all things Asian), as she navigates family dynamics (and a domineering mother) in this feel-good story.

Recommended age: 13+4 Star


Title: Nothing But The Truth (And A Few White Lies) Nothing But Truth
Author: Justina Chen Headley
Publication Date: 5 April 2006
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books
Source: Library
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Half Asian and half white, Patty Ho has never felt completely home in her skin. When a Chinese fortuneteller foresees a white guy on Patty’s horizon, things go from bad to worse in this novel by acclaimed author Justina Chen— Extract from

Book of Broken Hearts crop

I’d been warned that those dimples would be my undoing. Trained to avoid them most of my teenage life…

Deeply sensitive and beautifully written, this story reaches out to grab the reader, pulling them into the story so that they live it along with the characters.

With the spotlight on love, loss and loyalty the book deals with family dynamics, truth and the realisation that life is too short to waste.

And then I wished him dead.

It was only a flicker, a barely formed thought, but it had been there, the evidence of it black and sooty behind my eyes.

Not to be missed!4 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: The Book of Broken HeartsBook of Broken Hearts
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publication Date: 21 May 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Purchased
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Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.             — Extract from 

Ashfall crop

Those who survived know exactly which Friday I mean…

The author has done extensive research into volcanic eruptions and it shows, stamping the story with a profound realism which continues through the story.

The story started off slowly, and I almost gave up, but am so glad I persevered. The pace picked up and along with great character development I found myself closely following their determination to complete their journey despite frequent obstacles.

It was refreshing to have a male protagonist and no abrupt cliff-hanger in the first book of a series.

Recommended age: 13+4 Star



Title: AshfallAshfall
Series: Ashfall #1
Author: Mike Mullin
Publication Date: 16 October 2012
(1st published 27 September 2011)
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Source: Borrowed
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Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.        — Extract from