Book Review : If I Stay by Gayle Forman

book cover of   If I Stay   by  Gayle Forman
Book Details:
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday & Co Inc. (7 May 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0385616201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385616201

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love— music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a bestseller and has received lots of compliments by book critics, bloggers and reviewers. Gayle weaves the past and present nicely, and as the story unfolds, Mia's past memories are being played like a movie. With each piece of memory, we know more about Mia's world before the accident: a happy and loving family, a great boyfriend, a passion for music.

An accident destroys everything, all except her love for music. Now, she can only hear, see and touch, but cannot feel anything. And no one senses her presence. She has a great choice to make - one that has tremendous effects on everyone around her, including herself - to stay and keep on living her life, or to leave and join her family in another world.

I really liked reading about Mia's love for music and her wonderful family. I think her boyfriend Adam is also a great character. He is caring, loving, and he has no intentions to give up on Mia although she is on the brink of life and death.

I'm confused about something, though. When Mia saw her dad lying dead on the road, she didn't feel anything. Wasn't she suppose to feel something? Grief, sadness, shock? And one more thing is that I find it lacking of suspense, and sometimes the story moves on a little bit too slowly.

Although I didn't feel emotionally connected to Mia, sometimes tears still come to my eyes. I'm sure that no one would find it easy to make choices were they in her shoes. If I Stay is moving and thought-provoking, and I'd recommend it to both teenagers and adults.

Rating: 3.685

Many thanks to Random House UK for sending me a review copy of If I Stay! :)

Gayle Forman's Blog :: Gayle Forman's Website
If I Stay Official Website

Buy If I Stay:

US Version:

Book Review : Need by Carrie Jones


Book Details:
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (December 23, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1599903385
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599903385
  • Genre: Paranormal fantasy


After her stepfather's death, Zara is sent to sleepy, cold Maine to stay with her grandmother in order to be "safe". But it turns out that she isn't safe after all - someone who leaves trails of gold glitter is stalking her. And her stalker is no ordinary human.

Zara is a heroin like no other. She memorizes and chants phobias (which I find quite interesting), is a clever girl, and yes, she sure has the guts. She doesn't seem to enjoy living in Maine because of the cold weather, but she enjoyed her grandmother's company. Her grams is a nice, kind, warm old woman who is quite protective of her granddaughter and I really like her character. Her humorous tone makes me smile sometimes. I also love that this 60-year-old lady actually works as a paramedic!

Zara's best friends Issie and Devyn are always there to help her. But the popular girl, Megan seems to loathe her. And the two boys - Ian and Nick, are always competing for her attention. Whom can she trust and confide in? Is it the always-smiling, helpful Ian, or the handsome, protective Nick?

In this exciting novel, Carrie Jones brings us to a realm where diabolical pixies with sharp teeth and unquenchable needs exist. Full of suspense, danger, surprises, and a suitable amount of romance, I'm sure NEED will capture the hearts of teenagers who have a liking for paranormal fantasy. I highly recommend NEED to all Twilight fans.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by Aik

Book Review : Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

I love this cover ~ It's so pretty!

Book Details:

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (July 21, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0802798128
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802798121
When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother's coffee shop, she leaves him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over, never expecting this random act of kindness to turn her life upside down. The adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is actually a guardian angel on a break between missions, and now he won't leave until he can reward Katrina's selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Fame and fortune seem like the obvious requests, but after two botched wishes, Malcolm knows Katrina is hiding something from him. But how can she tell him the truth, when her heart's desire has become Malcolm himself?


I absolutely adored this book! It holds my attention until the last page! Coffeehouse Angel is narrated by Katrina, the shy and self-conscious girl who lives with her grandmother, Anna, who owns an old-fashioned coffeehouse. Katrina thinks herself as plain and ordinary, being not aware of her talents. When her grandmother falls sick and her business is threatened by their next-door-neighbor, Java Heaven, Katrina's worries starts to double.

Although Malcolm is an angel, his appearance is quite quirky - he wears kilt. This has aroused some small talks among Katrina's friends and family. Suzanne instilled a flash of humor in some of the pages, which makes me laugh. Malcolm wants to grant Katrina's biggest wish/deepest desire. But the problem is, Katrina doesn't even know what is her deepest desire.

Suzanne's writing is really good! I love all the characters, and the flow of the story is excellent! Although the words used are simple, the meaning behind them is huge. Forgiveness is one of the main themes of this story. Katrina learns to forgive the nefarious owner of Java Heaven, Mr. Darling after a conversation with her grandmother in the hospital.

Always remember that to forgive is to set someone free. (pg 217)

I love the ending of the story and wouldn't prefer it another way! If you want to know what happened, please be sure to get yourself a copy of Coffeehouse Angel. Cute, romantic and heart-warming, Coffeehouse Angel is guaranteed to be delicious and entertaining to the last drop!

Rating: 10/10

A great THANK YOU to Suzanne Selfors for sending me a (signed) hardcover copy of Coffeehouse Angel! ♥

Book Review : The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

Giveaway : The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby on Friends & Family blog. Open to US/Canada, ends Monday, 21st December, 2009.

Book details:
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (March 19, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0525479708
ISBN-13: 978-0525479703


Life in the court of King Henry VIII is a complex game. When fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard catches the king's eye, she quickly transforms from pawn to queen. But even luxury beyond imagination loses its luster as young Catherine finds her life and her heart threatened by the needs of an aging king and a family hungry for power. Will their agendas deliver Catherine to the same fate as her infamous cousin, Anne Boleyn sacrificed at the altar of family ambition?

My review:

Catherine Howard, King Henry’s 'rose without a thorn' was only fifteen years old when she caught the his lustful eye. Her life changed that very moment. She was introduced to a glamorous and luxurious world which she had not encountered before she became Queen. At first, she found it interesting to pamper herself with gorgeous, specially-tailored gowns and dresses, exquisite, one-of-a-kind jewels and indulge herself in elaborate revelries.

It was not long before she realized the truth that she was merely a pawn of the Howard clan in a game of power and politics. She had to hide her true self and burn her past, for many were out there, waiting for a chance to pull her down into the big, black abyss of no return.

I feel pity for Catherine Howard, because she did not have a choice. In fact, she never had. She was only a teenage girl who had no rule over her own fate. I won't reveal the ending to those who haven't read this book, but I assure you that The King's Rose, a story constructed on accurate historical facts, is exceptionally well-written, highly entertaining, and plausible.

Alisa uses her fascinating style of writing to deliver the story in Catherine’s point of view, which gives me a more exact idea of her feelings, emotions and life. Catherine’s character is portrayed realistically, but somehow, readers will feel that this young girl is very naïve.

Alisa describes the Tudor court brilliantly. Thou shalt not trust anyone in court. The court is a dangerous place full of conspiracies, backstabbers and powerful clans who are hungry for power.The King’s Rose is written for young adults but I think adults will enjoy it as well. Through this novel, you will know more about Catherine's life as the fifth wife of King Henry, relish the grandeur of the Tudor court, and have a real view of what is it like to life in a place where you are all alone and there is nobody you can trust.

Overall, The King's Rose is a great read. If you are a fan of historical fictions, you MUST read this book. I promise you will love it! Lastly, if you think being married to a King means a fairytale with a happy ending, maybe you would want to consider about it again.

Rating : 10/10

A great THANK YOU to Alisa M. Libby for sending me a signed hardcover copy of The King’s Rose!

Don't forget to enter: Giveaway : The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby on Friends & Family blog. Open to US/Canada, ends Monday, 21st December, 2009.

Reviewed by: Aik

Book Review : Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison

*I received an ARC copy of Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison.

Book Details:

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill (March 18, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1595142754
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595142757
I must say that Sing Me To Sleep is one of the best books I’ve read these few years. Angela cleverly weaves a touching, absorbing story about friendship, family, love and life. Sing Me To Sleep makes me see the harsh realities of life, the unyielding power of friendship, and shows us that true love transcends all.

Beth was once an ugly girl who was bullied some mean boys in school. After she received sessions of beauty treatment in order to be presentable as the Bliss’s soloist during the Choral Olympics, she becomes a beauty. Even though we always say that inner beauty is more important, this novel suggests otherwise. Just take Beth as an example, why did she receive such unfair treatments in school? I’m sure you know the answer well.

Beth follows her choir to Switzerland to participate in the competition. There, she meets a mysterious, handsome boy from the Amabile Young Men’s Ensemble, Derek, and falls head over heels for him. Her love for Derek grows stronger and stronger each passing day, just as Derek's love for her.

Ah, Derek! He is gorgeous, talented and confident. Just the type of guy that any girl would fall for. Behind his glorious façade, he hides a terrible secret, and Beth doesn’t know what is it. Angela keeps me interested by making him play ‘hide and seek’ – he accompanies Beth for a day or two, then he disappears for days and weeks. I’m not sure if he is just fooling around with Beth or that he really loves her. He seems…elusive. This makes me want to know about his secret even more.

Another thing I love about this novel is the support and love shown by the Amabile guys. They are like a huge, loving family, always supportive and caring.

Angela Morrison succeeded in delivering an original, touching story through Beth's voice with her wonderful writing. She makes me realize that true love is not about appearance, status and ability, but rather the deep feeling of love, care, affection and willingness to sacrifice for the person you love, because of who he/she originally is.

Towards the end of the story, I cried. Yes, you heard me. I cried. And I used a lot of tissues. The story is heart-wrenching... and everything is so real. Two different feelings mingle into one in my heart. I was heartbroken, but I also felt a tinge of happiness at the same time. Beautiful, poignant, touching and thought-provoking, Sing Me To Sleep is a book not to be missed.

Rating : 10/10

Many thanks to dear Angela for sending me a copy of Sing Me To Sleep. I really love this book. Thank you!

Visit Angela Morrison's Website
Read more about Sing Me To Sleep

Pre-order Sing Me To Sleep on

Reviewed by Aik

Book Review : Peony In Love by Lisa See


Peony in Love by Lisa See: Book Cover

Read the synopsis of Peony In Love

My review:

Peony In Love is a captivating story set in the seventeenth century China, encircling a young maiden (Peony) from a prominent family. Despaired of being caught in an arranged marriage, Peony starves herself to death, only to learn right before her death that the man her father has picked for her is the man she loves. Her journey in both the mundane world and the after-world gives me insight of the traditional bounds and spiritual beliefs of the people in China. This story introduced me to the women who secretly yearns for true love, besides trying to win respect and achieving freedom in a male-dominated society.

“An educated woman is a worthless woman.” Because of this popular adage, almost all of the women in China lost their chance to get a proper education and thus, only the men has ultimate power. Any woman’s writing, even if it were an excellent piece, would be considered not worthy of reading. However, some of the women writers did get their works published to express their opinions and thoughts on various subjects to make sure that their words can be heard by everyone.

Peony died at a young age, but instead of resting in peace, her soul kept roaming the human’s world because her ancestor’s tablet was not dotted, and she could not continue her journey. Even though she was a ghost, she still loved her poet, and tried to make him happy in all ways.

Lisa See’s writing is still as skillful and beautiful as ever. The love between Peony and her poet seems fairytale-like. At first I thought that it was merely a puppy love, but soon I realized that I was wrong. They loved each other deeply, even though they have only met each other for four times. Peony's life resembles that of the main character of the famous The Peony Pavilion, an opera she was quite obsessed with.

The Chinese’s foot-binding tradition has always enchanted and horrified me at the same time. The girls had to endure great pain to shape their feet into perfect three-inch lilies. In the "Spring Sickness In Summer" chapter, you will know more about the procedure of foot-binding, when Peony’s mother binds her niece’s feet.

I also read about marriage preparations, obsequies rituals, as well as the ghost marriage, which is still performed in some places nowadays. Well, I won’t deny that I find that some parts of the story are not logical, especially the part where she helps Qian Yi conceive a son. But after all, Peony is a ghost, isn’t she?

Through this novel, I learned about different aspects of love, uncover the truth that has been kept a secret by Peony’s parents and hear the voices of the women who wanted to be heard through their works of literature. Peony In Love is hauntingly beautiful…it’s definitely a book worth reading.

Rating : 9 / 10

A great THANK YOU to dear Lisa for sending me a paperback copy of Peony In Love. I really appreciate your kindness and generosity.

Read more about Peony In Love on Lisa See's Website

About the author:

Lisa See, author of the critically-acclaimed international bestseller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), has always been intrigued by stories that have been lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up, whether in the past or happening right now in the world today. Ms See is probably best known for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, for which she traveled to a remote area of China—where she was told she was only the second foreigner ever to visit—to research the secret writing invented, used, and kept a secret by women for over a thousand years.

Purchase Peony In Love from:
Amazon (Hardcover)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Hardcover)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Random House (Hardcover)
Random House (Paperback)

Reviewed by Aik

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