The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts

I love that this book about a book blogger who is not afraid to break the mould of pretentious book characters reading only the classics. I’m a little sceptical that so many books feature YA characters who read only Victorian classics.

Did I tell you it’s about a book blogger? (yes!). Viv is a mega layered character who puts her foot into it more often than not and tries very hard to avoid being hurt by potentially dating out the ‘zing’ zone.

The only thing that let this book down is the author’s passive treatment of abuse, which should never be tucked under the carpet without the strongest message about how wrong it is.
4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: The Replacement Crush
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Publication Date: 6 September 2016The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Review copy

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True love can’t be strategized.

After book blogger Vivian Galdi’s longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of safe crushes, determined to protect her heart.

But nerd-hot Dallas, the sweet new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian’s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission.

Operation Replacement Crush is in full effect. And Dallas is determined to take her heart off the shelf.    — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesNormal takes a nosedive into my bag, sinks beneath the copious amount of clutter, and dies a slow, painful death.

A new favourite, Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a book I knew I would like from the first time I heard about it, even before I had seen its beautiful cover. But didn’t expect it to touch me as much as it did. It was real and sad but at the same time full of hope. Norah crept into my heart and I wished I could sit outside her door and talk to her. I loved the unexpected humour and Norah’s witty banter, often with herself.

Why has he stopped? Am I supposed to smile? Wave? Throw him a thumbs-up? I feel like an idiot.

The author did not shy away from the difficult, but rather showed us an unflinching raw, honest look into the life of a young adult coping with a mental illness.

Like a giant in cast-iron shoes, I make my way down the stairs. Eleven steps, so I have to take the last one twice. I have this thing about even.

It came at no surprise that the author drew on her own experience of mental illness for inspiration as the medical facts ring true. Her take on mental illness is a reassuring one which is not necessarily the case in every situation.

Perfection is a feeling, you’ll know it if you’ve ever questioned the competency of your penmanship before writing on the first page of a new notebook.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a difficult book to rate, because how do you rate a mental illness? I am simply rating it for the feels I had while reading, and the lasting effect the book has had on me.

So instead, I wait. I wait a lifetime, curled up in a ball of cowardice on the hall floor…

It is time for mental illness to come out of the closet. Time that, despite the lack of visible wounds, illness is treated equally .5 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skiesunder rose-tainted skies
Author: Louise Gornall
Publication Date: 3 January 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: Review copy

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Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.

Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.— Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Cracked Up To Be crop

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

I almost didn’t read this book. I spent the morning on a clean-up mission (it doesn’t happen often!) and realising that my TBR pile is… well beyond ridiculous, and that we will be moving soon, I decided I would trim it down and box up to donate those books I knew I wasn’t really going to get to anytime soon.

When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St Peter’s High goes on alert.

The next day I picked up the top book of the donate pile and read the blurb. The next thing I knew the book was finished and I had tears pouring down my face.

How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

A messed-up character, Parker had slipped over to the dark side and this is her story. Unraveling slowly, her story took me on a journey of discovery. Her protective layers peel back layer by layer until her heart is exposed.

Something terrible has happened, and it might just be her fault.

Brilliant!4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Cracked Up To BeCracked Up To Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: 23 December 2008
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Source: Purchased

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When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.   — Extract from

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days crop

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 days of summer vacation… that sounds a little like Phineas and Ferb *breaks into song*

Putting the whole cheating/betraying elephant-in-the-room aside,  I really liked this book. Real, raw,  honest and fun. I devoured it so quickly that it took me a while to realise there was no more. It was over. But it has such a pretty cover and will look good on my shelf *fangirls the cover*. That sounds a little shallow – but it is true!

Recommended age: 14+4 Star

Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publication Date: 21 April 201599 Days
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Purchased

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Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.  — Abstract from

These Books Deserve More Attention


It is strange (but true) that many great books just don’t get into the hands of readers. Whether it’s an unappealing  cover / title or just poor marketing I feel sad for those little-known books that are really worth reading.

Here is a list (does anyone else get a spike of joy when compiling lists?) of books I loved but which have had very little attention on Goodreads even though it’s been a while since they were published. One thing these books all have in common, other than that I love them, is that they all have edgy, gritty characters (trust me this is a good thing!).

*All ratings are out of the possible 5 stars, subjective to the individual reviewer opinion published publicly on Goodreads and retrieved on 9 August 2016 .

These Books Deserve More Attention

Between Two Seas


Between Two Seas by Marie-Louise Jensen
317 Ratings,   4-star average
Set in Denmark this is a beautifully written historical fiction by a first-class author. It’s about a strong female character who journeys into the unknown to find her father. I have no idea why this book is not more popular. It’s a must read.


Dust by Sarah DaltryDust
37 ratings, 4.14- star average

An epic fantasy by an author whose writing is so seductive you’ll be sucked in from the first page. Full of twists the three main characters, a princess, assassin and a thief, will keep you on your toes throughout. Fantasy lovers add this to the top of your TBR. This is one of my rare 5-star reads,

Agora Files


The Agora Files by Adam Oster
18 ratings,  3.94- star average 

The Agora Files is a fast-paced, unpredictable and original dystopian story. Full of action, adrenaline, excitement and adventure but with a strong, appealing human element which comes through in family dynamics and unexpected relationships.



Scarred by Joanne Macgregor
327 ratings, 3.86-star average

Written by a South African author this is a tender, sensitive contemporary story of hope and redemption but with strong, complex characters and witty banter.



Retaliation by Yasmin Shiraz
105 ratings, 4.24-star average

This is a powerful, brutal, raw but ultimately inspirational account of life on gang ruled streets.  Although set in Washington D.C. the story will resonate with any inner city streets of all major cities across the world and as such has the potential of reaching many teens who desperately need to hear the message of hope.



Grass by Cathy MacPhail
87 ratings, 3.75-star average

Grass is a story that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading. Cathy MacPhail is a well-known author and this is my favourite of her books. A witness to a horrific crime by a local gang is placed in a very difficult situation when he is forbidden to grass (tell on).

Last Summer of Us


The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt
388 ratings, 3.64-star average

Drama follows three best friends, whose relationships intertwine with unexpected results, as they embark on a road trip.

One Two Three


One, Two, Three
by Elodie Nowodazki
237 ratings, 3.61-star average

Passionate, gritty, complicated characters abound in this intense story which revolves around a ballerina’s future career after an accident and her bizarre family relationships

Street Duty

Street Duty, Case One: Knock Down  by Chris Ould
60 ratings, 3.82-star average

Trainee student police officers encounter gritty, streetwise characters on their watch. Fast-paced action and realistic settings. A book not to miss.


Goblet Club

The Goblet Club
by S.A. Partridge
34 ratings, 3.75-star average

Set in a boy’s boarding school this is a gothic, sinister, award-winning book by a South African author. Reminiscent of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History with the formation of a secret exclusive club which in this case is dedicated to the study of poison. Dark themes and compelling characters make this a book not to miss.

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee

Every Falling Star

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee

An unflinchingly honest account

Every Falling Star is a powerful and courageous memoir of Sungju Lee’s childhood. Having every little knowledge North Korea I was not sure what to expect when I requested an advanced copy from the publisher. What I found was an unflinchingly honest account written with just enough emotion to allow the reader to become involved, but without self-pity and righteousness, so many memoirs have.

Powerful & Inspirational

The book manages to be both inspirational and heartbreaking at the same time and so compelling that I was completely engrossed. It’s a sad story of  a childhood which began so well before it crashed and burned, only for its ashes to be recovered and brought back to life. Alive. Free. But never the same. We get an inside look into a country which, in (extremely) different circumstances could be a beautiful place to live.4 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: Every Falling Star:
The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea
Author: Sungju LeeEvery Falling Star by Sungju Lee
Susan Elizabeth McClelland
Publication Date: 13 September 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: Review copy

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Every Falling Star is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.    — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Kasie West is one of my favourite YA contemporary authors and she doesn’t disappoint. P.S. I Like You is a fun, refreshing read, I almost wish I hadn’t devoured it and still had chapters left to read.

High praise? This is why…

The richly layered fudge cake characters were climb-under-my-skin and sprinkle-crumbs-over-pajamas. The kind of characters who are now your best friends because you know and love them.5 Star

Recommended age:  13+

Title: P.S. I Like You
Author: Kasie West1P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Publication Date: 26 July 2016
Publisher: Point
Source: Review copy

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What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?

While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she’s flustered — and kind of feels like she’s falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer — but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?   — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Refuse by Joanne Macgregor

REFUSE Refuse by Joanne Macgregor, book 2 in the Recoil Trilogy

Refuse takes us further into the Jinxy’s post-apocalyptic reality. If it’s been awhile since you started the trilogy Refuse gives enough recall to re-familiarise yourself with Recoil’s dystopian fiction storyline. But if you haven’t read the first book then you need to start there. Read my 5-star review of Recoil to see why I loved it and links to where to find it.

Refuse maintains Recoil’s fast pace

Although Refuse maintains Recoil’s fast pace and is chock fill of action it fell just short of the first book. This may just be me – I frequently find the middle book in a trilogy a tougher read. I missed the secondary characters in Jinxy’s unit and the banter between the characters so evident in Recoil but I love the hint that Jinxy’s twin brother will be playing a bigger part in the third book.

A new and edgy vibe

The new rebel characters brought with them a new and edgy vibe and Jinxy bravely navigated the new tension and challenges. I love her no-nonsense approach which she maintains despite mounting resistance. But I felt the ending a little rushed with key players just conveniently in the right place to wrap-up the story. being vague on purpose to prevent spoilers

4 Star

Recommended age: 13+


Title: RefuseREFUSE
Series: Recoil Trilogy #2
Author: Joanne Macgregor
Publication Date: 30 July 2016
Publisher: Joanne Macgregor
Source: Review copy

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In a near-future USA decimated by an incurable plague and tightly controlled by a repressive government, teenagers with special skills are recruited and trained to fight in the war against terror. Now a rebellion is brewing.

All sixteen year-old expert sniper Jinxy James wanted was a little freedom, but now she’s trapped between the government and the rebels, unsure of who the real enemy is. When she uncovers appalling secrets and twisted motivations, Jinxy begins to question her allegiances. Soon she will need to choose between love and freedom, as she struggles to do the right thing in a world gone horribly wrong.   — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Put It Out There by D.R. Graham

Put it Out There

Put It Out There by D.R. Graham

Put It Out There is a contemporary contradiction. Alternating light-hearted, flirty fun with a deeper and slightly paranormal twist. It beckons to the reader, calling for attention. With it’s complicated, layered characters (including the secondary characters) it gives back more than it asks.

Perfect summer read

The easy, relaxed writing style makes it a perfect summer read. It was over too soon. While I can’t wait for the sequel, this story is definitely unfinished, I think I would have liked all three in one book. That would have pushed it up to a 5 -star read.4 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: Put It Out There
Series: Britannia Beach #1Put it Out There
Author: D.R. Graham
Published: 1 July 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Review copy

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Returning home to Britannia Beach a year after her life was shattered is bittersweet for Derian Lafleur. Although some things settle back into place, others don’t click like they used to…especially her friendship with Trevor Maverty.

Derian suddenly wishes the boy next door would see her as more than just a kid sister type. She tries to be everything she thinks he’s looking for— bolder, more experienced – but is that who she wants to be?

With the fate of her family’s historic inn on the line and Trevor making life more complicated by the day, Derian struggles to manage her unexpected feelings, and deal with a past she’s not quite ready to leave behind.   — Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

Asking for it crop

An unflinching portrayal of human failure

Asking For It is a difficult read. A raw, honest, horrific read. But it begs for an audience, needs to be acknowledged. In the hope that its message is internalised and it’s courage shared.


Emma is a character you’re going to be conflicted about. She is not simple or easy to like. You are probably going to undergo an ongoing love/hate relationship with her. I did. At first, it’s easy to think she deserves what she gets. But no one deserves that. Ever. Shocked and angry, my emotions were all over the place while the words grated against my skin itching to climb inside. Emma is not alone. She is one of the most realistic characters I have read about. This book doesn’t sugarcoat or glaze over issues. It doesn’t allow that ‘it will never happen to me’ mantra.


No stranger to betrayal Emma finds herself on the receiving end again. Her small conservative town can’t accept the truth. Her unsupportive family just want to forget. Sweep it all under the rug and carry on as if nothing happened. She’s betrayed by those close to her. Sides are taken, battle-lines marked even if it’s to avoid conflict, to go back to status quo.

The writing

At first, I found the multitude of characters difficult to keep track of. This was not helped by the seemingly disjointed writing style. But this story did not need to be easy, it shouldn’t be simple. What happened to Emma will never be acceptable. 4 Star

Recommended age: 15+


Title: Asking For ItAsking for it
Author: Louise O’Neill
Publication Date:
3 September 2015
Publisher: Quercus
Source: Review copy

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It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…— Abstract from

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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