Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mini Reviews: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor and This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

From Goodreads: Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side - that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school. When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor was an average read. While I liked that the mystery was hard to solve, I couldn’t really understand why Anne was so invested in trying to solve her roommate’s murder herself since she only knew her roommate for a week or so. Although I found Anne initially kind of spoiled and annoying, she slowly grew on me. The same can’t be said for the secondary characters in Prep School Confidential. The love interests were dull, and everybody else wasn’t developed enough for me to care about them.

Prep School Confidential was released in July 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (St. Martin's Press) for free via NetGalley. 

From Goodreads: 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?

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Like Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I feel as if her novel This Is What Happy Looks Like is missing something that will make it go from a cute, decent read to an amazing one. That being said, I think I enjoyed This Is What Happy Looks Like just a bit more because the dual narrations enabled me to get to know both Graham and Ellie equally well. I would have liked this story even more though if I had been able to see Graham and Ellie’s friendship develop over email. 

This is What Happy Looks Like was released by Poppy in April 2013.


  1. In Prep School confidential, I don't get the drive to solve her roommate's murder either. Maybe there was nothing else going on that caught the MC's attention. Too bad the secondary characters fell flat and the love interests were dull.

    And I hear you about Smith's books. I liked "First Sight" enough to recommend it to people but it didn't satisfy the satisfaction of reading a great romance like Stephanie Perkins' book.

  2. I liked Prep School Confidential. I think her drive came from the fact that her roommate was a person, who was murdered, and if she didn't care than there was no one else who would.

  3. Oh my--I think a lot of contemporary books end up being what you described, lacking that certain something that takes it from being pleasant to being fantastic. I'm sorry to hear these were both a teeny bit disappointing, but at least they engaged your interest enough to finish. I really need to try both sometime, though.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  4. I didn't like The Statistical Probability at all because I felt that she handled serious issues too easily and poorly. I was never even tempted to read this, I'm afraid. As you said, something's always missing from her books and her approach just never works for me.

  5. This is the first time I've seen Prep School Confidential. Good to know that the mystery is kinda hard to solve. Too bad about the side characters though. What Happy Looks Like, on the other hand, has been on my TBR list ever since I read Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. I liked it a lot so I'm glad you like this one more, Z.

  6. I was quite curious about Prep School Confidential when I first heard about it (it looked fun, if nothing else), but I'm not sure if it would be worth my time now. It's a shame that the secondary characters and love interests weren't particularly well written. But I'm glad you enjoyed This is What Happy Looks Like just a little more. Sometimes a quick and cute read is just what I need. Lovely reviews, Z!

  7. I haven't read the first book but I do see it around a lot. I'll have to check it out, although it may be awhile if it's just an average read. I really liked Happy because it was just so cute! I do agree it just lacked that SOMETHING to make it an unforgettable read. Great mini reviews!

  8. Yeah, I felt the same about TIWHLL. I didn't read the first book, but this one was very cute... but nothing really more. And that's not a terrible thing because it meant I enjoyed it. But it wasn't particularly memorable either. And I wanted to see the buildup of their relationship, too.

    And I'm not particularly impressed or interesting in reading Prep School Confidential after reading your review. Yup, I'll be skipping that one. Thanks for the reviews, Zahida! Great thoughts.


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