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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Poppy
Published: April 2, 2013
Pages: 416
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 3.5 Stars


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?
 

In short: Though perhaps not hugely memorable, This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is an very charming romance.
This Is What Happy Looks Like is, in a word, charming. The ease and playfulness of the fun Notting Hill meets You've Got Mail plot, the easily likeable characters, and the enchantment of the small town setting combine to make This Is What Happy Looks Like a pleasure to read. Contemporary romance is not generally my kind of read, but even I can see the appeal in the lighthearted airiness of this romance. It's nice to be able to relax and not overthink what you're reading.

That said, I was a bit surprised at the depth displayed in This Is What Happy Looks Like. I was not expecting anything more than a simple romance, so I was impressed at Jennifer E. Smith's skilled inclusion of non-romantic family issues into the plot. Now, I'm not saying that the plot was instantly elevated to something profoundly deep by the inclusion of this - it really was just an easy romantic read - but it did at least have the benefit of adding depth to the characters. Ellie and Graham were perfectly likeable before, as is their cutesy romance, but by adding more to their backstory, it made me care about them and their relationship more.

I think my main problem with This Is What Happy Looks Like is that I would have liked to have seen Ellie and Graham's relationship grow gradually from the beginning. We are told that Ellie and Graham have been conversing over email and growing their relationship for months prior to the beginning of the novel, but we only see a few of these email exchanges. They already have strong feelings for each other when they meet and it kind of took away from my connection to the romance a bit.

Overall, This Is What Happy Looks Like is a super cute romance with some added depth. It may not be life-changing and hugely memorable in the long run, but it delivers what it promises: an enjoyable and charming romance. This Is What Happy Looks Like would be the perfect beach read!

Other Reviews:
For What It's Worth
Good Books and Good Wine
Maji Bookshelf

Authors Links:
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35 comments :

  1. It sounds really cute and romantic, just what I like!
    :)
    Thanks for the review Aylee, I think this is just the kind of book I need.

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    1. Yeah, I think you might really like this one, Alex!

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  2. I've heard similar things about their relationship, how they would have liked to see more of the beginning. I love contemporary romances, so I definitely want to give this one a shot. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. Great review :)

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    1. It wasn't the perfect read, but it was definitely still super charming!

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  3. Awww....the beginning of a relationship is the best part. It still sounds like a cute read, though.

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    1. Yeah, it's my favourite part too! Ah, oh well.

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  4. It sounds like the romance could have been better paced here, though I'm glad you liked it overall. You're right, it's definitely nice to read something relaxing every now and again and to not have to think too hard. :) Great review, Aylee! I quite liked TSPoLAFS by this author, so I'm sure I'll get around to this one eventually.

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    1. It is a nice thing. It makes it easier to forgive certain faults because it's not meant to be taken too seriously or anything. I love "TSPoLAFS" as an acronym, lol.

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  5. You just had to go and mention Notting Hill, didn't you? Now I have to read it. I had already decided against it because I didn't really like The Statistical Probability and I'd concluded that Smith simply isn't for me, but I'm ALWAYS in the mood for a sweet romance, and the family issues that were added are just a welcome bonus.
    Great review, Aylee!

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    1. haha! Well, it's true: it reminded me a lot of both those movies. I haven't read The Statistical Probability so I can't say that you would like this one more than that one if you didn't like that one, but I'm kind of doubting you would. I get the impression that the two books are very similar! Still, sweet romances are nice.

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  6. I'm so jealous of all the people who've got a copy of this. I can't wait to read it. It sounds like it's not perfect but still sweet and fun.

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    1. I feel fortunate! I hope you like it!!

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  7. A romance with more depth, that does sound more like my thing than a regular contemporary book :) I'm planning to read her other book first, but it sounds good, despite the somewhat disconnecting from the romance. Great review Aylee :D

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. It's definitely more my thing too. I need a bit more substance from my novels, and this one was plenty nice and sweet even with those added depth elements. I want to read her first book too!

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  8. I felt pretty similar to you about this one, but for different reasons it seems. I guess the inclusion of the family stuff did serve to add character depth but the issues with family just wasn't something I really cared about and I felt that for a big portion of the novel it stole the entire focus when I just wanted to see the romance progress. I think it was smart to include those things, but I wish they weren't a predominant as they were, you know? Anyway, great review!

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    1. It's interesting how we could have opposing points of view for the same element! I'm more someone who needs more than just a romance to keep me interested so that's why I liked that added depth. But I understand your point of view!

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  9. I wasn't the biggest fan of Smith's The Statistical Probability, but I'm still quite excited for this short & sweet romance. I really dislike the fact that the emails given in the beginning lack the depth in their romance. It must have made their romance seem more insta-lovey, rather than a long term one. I'm glad Smith added in the issues and family problems, because otherwise, the characters probably would have been flat and unrelatable. Thanks for the honest and fabulous review, Aylee! <3

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    1. I want to read her first book, but I hear mixed things. I assume it'll be much the same as this one though so hopefully I'll like it just as much. I definitely prefer seeing the slow buildup of a relationship, so I was missing that. It wasn't totally insta-lovey, but not near as developed as I would have liked! Thank you Jen!!

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  10. I love how you mention being surprised by the depths of this one. It has me reconsidering my decision to not read this one. Considering my seemingly never-ending contemporary slump, I tend to weed out the ones I'm not sure about in favor of those ones I feel I really shouldn't pass up. I like the sound of the charm & it being a perfect beach read!! I'll keep it in mind for when Summer finally rolls around...being Canada we may have to wait awhile longer >.<

    Anyways awesome review doll!

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    1. I wouldn't say it was super deep or anything, but I was impressed that it wasn't just a romance and that's it. I wouldn't say it's an absolute MUST read if contemporary isn't your thing, but if you're looking for a nice beach read (when eventually we get summer), then this one might be good for you! Thanks, Micheline!!

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  11. I'm super curious about this book, I thought Stat Probability was so good and I'd liked to read this one. I want to compare this book to Between The Lines by Tamara Webber !

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    1. I'm not familiar with Between the Lines so I can't say. Glad you liked her first book so much!

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  12. I started this and really liked the email exchanges I did see. I was hoping there would be more, and I'm bummed to hear they don't continue, but it does sound like this will be a fun read overall. Glad you enjoyed it. Great review!

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    1. They do continue for a little bit, tiny bits and pieces, but any real exchange ends after the beginning of the book. Hope you like it, too!

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  13. Hmm you've got me curious. I don't usually like this type of read, but I did really like Anna and the French Kiss. It was such a good book, do you feel this one is along the same lines or something completely different?

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    1. PS: I REALLY LOVED You've Got Mail. Its one of my most favorite movies.

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    2. It was along the same lines as Anna in that it was a contemporary romance that was fun to read, with some added depth with family issues. But it wasn't nearly as good. Anna was like magic. This one is cute. I love You've Got Mail, too :)

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  14. Huh, I didn't realize that the characters in this one had already exchanged tons of emails before the start of the book. I assumed we'd be seeing their relationship grow right from the beginning. I guess I'll read this one when I'm in a reading slump or bored of reading review books. Thanks, Aylee!

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    1. I was hoping we would get to see the relationship grow because it's my favourite part to romances, so I was a bit bummed. It would be a good mid-slump book, I think!

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  15. I'm not super excited about this book. I imagine I'll read it someday, but I'm not rushing out. I did enjoy Smith's debut I wasn't terribly impressed and it looks like it's the same thing with this one. We'll see.

    Thanks for the review.

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    1. Yeah, I enjoyed reading this one, but wasn't WOWed so there's no rush, for sure. I feel the same way about not rushing out to read her first book.

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  16. Oh, I was hoping there'd be tons of back and forth email conversations between Graham and Ellie, but it's sad that there aren't many. Nonetheless, this is one book I'm absolutely dying to read! I'm surprised you read a contemporary, but I'm also glad you enjoyed it. Lovely review!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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    1. I definitely would've have liked to have seen more email exchanges because they were probably my favourite part of the book! But I do still recommend it! I do read contemporaries on occasion :) And I tend to enjoy them too!

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  17. That's too bad you didn't like this one more! I love super cute romances with not a lot of depth sometimes ... I mean, sometimes it's nice to have a story that isn't overly emotional or has other things going on. I wouldn't say it's my favourite, BUT I do really want to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight now!

    Great review!

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    1. Yup, I'm right there with you! I enjoyed it, definitely, it just wasn't anything super special, you know? But I do love those nice and easy reads! I would like to try her first novel, as well.

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