This is What Happy Looks Like – YA Book Review

crop 1 This is What Happy Looks Like

A sugary sweet, light-hearted book. Fun, but predictable with a weak, disappointing ending.

The one redeeming point in the story is the exposure of the paparazzi, who deserve all the bad press they get for their invasion of privacy. Although the producers and buyers of ‘skinner’ (Afrikaans word for gossip) magazines are just as bad – ensuring the paparazzi get paid for their trash.3 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: This is What Happy Looks likeThis is What Happy Looks Like
Series: This is What Happy Looks Like #1
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publication Date: 2 April 2013
Publisher: Headline
Source: Library

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If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?   — Extract from

Happy Birthday Roald Dahl!

Happy Birthday RD

I love Dahl’s wacky humour, and as a family we collectively agree that our all time favourite Roald Dahl book is the audio edition of The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me narrated by Hugh Laurie.

It’s an experience nobody should miss so gather your friends and family together for this one – it’s too funny not to share.

RD Audio

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Ghetto by M L Sparrow – YA Book ReviewGhetto crop

Ghetto is an exciting read, full of action, adventure and intense relationships.

The futuristic world was realistic and characters extremely well-developed. The ghetto itself is reminiscent of the Jewish ghettos in Poland during Nazi occupation and is just as horrifying. The propaganda, which allows the general public to continue life blind to the horrors occurring next door, rang true and hit home as this is close to the reality of our South African past.

History has a habit of repeating itself and books like Ghetto are excellent reminders of where we don’t want to be in the future.4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Ghetto
Author: M L SparrowGhetto
Publication Date: 15 September 2015
Publisher: M L Sparrow
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
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My name’s Sunny Grace Beaumont. Branded SGB/2/6895/03.12.93. Only child, self-taught computer geek and cancer survivor. Oh, and did I mention my dad’s the President? As you can imagine that’s sometimes a little problematic, especially when I want to sneak out. But it never got me into quite as much trouble as the night I ventured into the Ghetto – don’t ask me why I was there in the first place… it was stupid. Everyone knows that the Ghetto is where hardened criminals are sent to live out the remainder of their lives. At first the men that kidnap me are just as I’d imagine, mean and thoughtless, but slowly I begin to have doubts. 

I meet a guy. His name’s Sin, he has no Brand – a crime punishable by death – and he’s the rebel leader. I should hate him… but I don’t. Instead he opens my eyes to a whole other side of the Ghetto, where people are innocent of the crimes they’re accused of and helpless children suffer dreadful poverty. Is it possible that I’ve been lied to my entire life… that the governments been deceiving everyone? And how can I challenge the law my own dad is adamant to uphold?   — Extract from

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout – YA Book ReviewDon't Look Back crop

I loved this book. Unpredictable and scary, the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. I had to hang on with my nails – there was no way I was going to put the book down!

I didn’t recognise the name on the street sign. . .

The words flowed easily across the pages and delivered the well thought out plot in bite size pieces, just enough to keep me on my toes. The cover is beautiful and really effective, but I hope it’s girliness won’t put off  male readers because this book transcends gender.

This is the first of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books that I have read, but it definitely won’t be the last.5 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Don’t Look Back
Author: Jennifer L. Armentroutx Don't Look Back Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publication Date: 15 April 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Purchased

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Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend. 

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. 

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?   — Extract from

Hell Bent by Karen Crompton: YA Book Review

Hell Bent cropped

A contemporary young adult fiction with a welcome change – a male POV. This was one of the deciding points when I agreed to read the book for review.

Grief is portrayed realistically in this solid, if predictable story but I was so disappointed when the secrets behind the story were revealed too soon, leaving little to look forward too.

I disliked the central character Beau intensely and just couldn’t connect with him. It wasn’t the bad boy behaviour that I didn’t like but the appalling way he treats girls and although his attitude eventually improves I wasn’t convinced it was genuine.


Recommended age: 14+3 Star

Title: Hell Bent
Series: South Shore Beach # 1
Author: Karen Crompton                          Hellbent
Publication Date: 13 November 21014
Publisher: Silky Oak Press
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review

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He’s charming. He’s rebellious. And he’s as beautiful as he is damaged. 

South Shore’s bad-boy surfer Beau Huntington has a solid plan to get through life: one night stands, getting wasted, and walls so high no one can ever get in – it’s all about numbing the pain. 
And his plan’s working fine – until he meets Corrie Johnson. 

Corrie is smart, determined and focused on an elite swimming scholarship. But she has a dark past of her own, and keeps her secrets closely guarded. She’s made promises to herself not to let history repeat – ever. But is there more to Beau than he’s letting on? And is it time to let herself feel again? 

It’s summer holidays and that’s when things start to unravel. 
Because falling in love was never part of the plan. 

It’s time for Beau to learn that the fight of his life doesn’t involve his fists.
— Extract from

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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

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

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

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

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?