Book Review : When I Was Joe by Keren David


When I Was Joe
When I Was Joe by Keren David

Product Details
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847801005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847801005
Available at Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

When Ty witnesses a stabbing, his own life is in danger from the criminals he's named, and he and his mum have to go into police protection. Ty has a new name, a new look and a cool new image -- life as Joe is good, especially when he gets talent spotted as a potential athletics star, special training from an attractive local celebrity and a lot of female attention. But his mum can't cope with her new life, and the gangsters will stop at nothing to flush them from hiding. Joe's cracking under extreme pressure, and then he meets a girl with dark secrets of her own.

I started reading this book without high hopes. It is not as popular as some other young adult novels. However, this book managed to give me a surprise. I never thought it would be so good. It shows us how crimes can change the lives of people, and how alarming the crime rates in specific parts of London are.

Ty, an average 14-year-old teenager, witnessed a terrifying murder, and he made a statement to the police. When his house underwent a petrol-bomb attack, he was put under the witness protection program. He was given a new identity, new birthday, new school and a new place to stay. Now, he is known as Joe. Life as Joe is unexpectedly good, and he wishes to remain that way. But with the gangsters tracking his whereabouts and preparing to silence him before the trial, can he stay as Joe forever?

Ty / Joe is a realistic character. He easily brings me into his mind, immersing me in his thoughts and feeling his fear. I can feel his guilty and pain of leaving his loved ones behind, unprotected. I can fathom his awkwardness of being in a new place, knowing not a soul and feeling lonely as ever. He cares about his mother, Nicki, but he's sometimes aggravated by her inert behaviour. Nicki seems to be having difficulties of acknowledging her new life. She is forlorn and miserable. Sometimes she feels like a teenager rather than a mother of one.

Joe's best friend is a girl named Claire. Mousey, shy, timid Claire. She is often overlooked, because she easily blends with the background. She wants to stay invisible, if possible. She, too, has a terrible secret. When Joe discovers her dark little secret, she warns him to keep it safe from others. Joe promises her, and tells her his secret in exchange.

Keren David has convinced me of her abilities and talent with her debut, When I Was Joe. This book is thrilling, action-packed and harrowing, finished with a suitable dose of humour. You will absolutely love it!

Rating: 4.500

Note: This book has some kissing scenes - nothing serious. Recommended to teenagers and adults alike.

I'd like to thank Becky from The Bookette for sending me a paperback copy of When I was Joe! I won this book on her blog.

Image of Keren David
Growing up in a small town just outside London, Keren David had two ambitions: to write a book and to live in the big city. Several decades on, she has finally achieved both. She was distracted by journalism, starting out at 18 as a messenger girl, then working as a reporter, news editor, features editor and feature writer for national newspapers and magazines. Along the way she lived in Glasgow and Amsterdam, where in eight years she learned enough Dutch to order coffee and buy fruit and vegetables.

Book Review : Fallen by Lauren Kate


Fallen (Fallen, #1)
Fallen (Fallen, #1) by Lauren Kate

Product Details
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition/First Printing edition (December 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738934
Available on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

Fallen has a promising start - it's dark, mysterious and has a Gothic charm. But somehow, the author fails to present the story well enough to hold my attention. Luce was a teenager who seems normal but actually not. She was sent to Sword & Cross because of an accident that took her (boy)friend's life. I was expecting some explanation about how the fire happened, but the author never satisfy my curiousity. There was no explanation about the other fire accident that happened when Luce was at the library of Sword & Cross that left a classmate dead either.

Daniel Grigori was aloof, cool and distant. Luce had a feeling that she had known him for a long time, and she tried everything to know more about him. But on the other hand, she had some feelings for Cam, a boy who openly showed his interest for Luce. She was treating Cam as if he was a substitute when Daniel is not present. I thought that was really a bad thing to do. And she was so obsessive about Daniel that she wanted to peek through his personal database, but only found a sheet of paper. She constantly whined about how she loved Daniel, how handsome and strikingly gorgeous he was, felt like they've met before and swooned over him. That made her a real shallow person.

Penn was the only character in Fallen that I've grown to like. She was the only one who treated Luce as a real friend. She was supportive and helpful. And yet, her fate was miserable. I wished the author didn't write it that way.

The story was good at first, then getting better and better, although it was really long and inconsequential sometimes. But the ending was really disappointing. It was like a bucket of cold water being doused over my head. It didn't make much sense, nor there is any explanation. I felt lost. And the lines just sounded strange. Read this and you'll know:

"Or this?" Cam asked, shrugging as the hideous, formless darkness settled around him. The insects each began to grow and unfold, becoming larger than an insect could ever be, dripping like glue and growing into black segmented bodies. Then, as if they were learning how to use their shadow limbs as they formed, they slowly hoisted themselves onto their numerous legs and came forward, like mantises grown to human height. Cam welcomed them as they swarmed around him. Soon they had formed a massive army of embodied night behind Cam.

Had Cam just turned into a Digimon Trainer? LOL.

To wrap things up, Fallen has a great premise, but it didn't turn out to be what I expected. I was somewhat baffled. I seriously wanted it to work, but sadly, it didn't. I love the cover, though. It's one of the best I've seen.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Note: This book has some kissing scenes - nothing serious.

I'd like to thank Valorie Ruiz from for sending me a paperback copy of Fallen! Thanks, pal!

Lauren Kate
Lauren Kate grew up in Dallas, went to school in Atlanta, and started writing in New York.
She is the author of Fallen and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove. She lives in Laurel Canyon with her husband and hopes to work in a restaurant kitchen, get a dog, and learn how to surf.

Giveaway: Signed Copy of Afterlight by Elle Jasper


Afterlight (The Dark Ink Chronicles, #1) by Elle Jasper

Savannah's most unconventional tattoo artist, Riley Poe, lives on the edge. Now she's put over the edge when her younger brother is taken by a sinister cult led by vampires. Her only ally is the hot-tempered vampire Eli Dupre, attracted to Riley's beauty and rare blood type. To save her brother from certain un-death, Riley faces dangers she's never dreamed of, ruthless bloodthirsty enemies, and an evil of endless hunger that wants to devour it all...

Elle is offering a SIGNED copy of Afterlight to a lucky winner.

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This giveaway is for entrants aged 18+ only. If you are underage and wish to enter, please get permission from your parents or guardian. The author is responsible for the mailing of prize. This giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 30th November, 2010 at 6 p.m. Malaysian time. The winner is selected randomly by, and he/she must respond with his/her name and complete mailing address within 48 hours of being notified. Prize(s) not claimed will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected.

Book Review : Afterlight by Elle Jasper

Afterlight (The Dark Ink Chronicles, #1)
Afterlight (The Dark Ink Chronicles, #1) by Elle Jasper

Product Details:
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Original edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451231678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451231673
  • Purchase the book on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Savannah's most unconventional tattoo artist, Riley Poe, lives on the edge. Now she's put over the edge when her younger brother is taken by a sinister cult led by vampires. Her only ally is the hot-tempered vampire Eli Dupre, attracted to Riley's beauty and rare blood type. To save her brother from certain un-death, Riley faces dangers she's never dreamed of, ruthless bloodthirsty enemies, and an evil of endless hunger that wants to devour it all...

What do you get when you combine a kick-ass female with a wild past and a two-centuries-old sexy male vampire originated from France? You get Afterlight, of course! Elle Jasper's debut is wicked cool! In this book, Elle shows readers the darker, creepier side of Savannah, Georgia, besides adding her own touch of Gothic elements in it. You can observe it in Riley's dressing code and fashion sense.

Riley Poe is an amazing heroine. She's spunky, badass, witty and loves her brother a great deal. I'd really like to see the dragon tattoo on her back and arms if she were a real person. She has a soft spot for her younger brother Seth, whom she cares for since her mother died. She always calls him "my baby brother" and I think that is cute, since I did the same with mine.

When Seth and his friends disrupts an ancient stone
in Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery, they accidentally release two evil, powerful vampires --- Victorian and Valerian, descendants of the Strigoi. Then, all hell breaks loose. The two evil vampires, Victorian and Valerian, are out for blood, and they are using Seth and his friends to do lure victims.

To save her brother from eternal damnation, Riley seeks help from her surrogate grandfather, the Preacher, who is a Gullah conjurer. His grandfather introduces her to the Dupre family, who agrees to aid her in saving Seth. But there's something strange about the Dupres. They possess amazing speed, and they can change into terrifying monsters in a blink of the eye. They are actually vampires. And Eli Dupre, one of them, has been ordered to act as her personal bodyguard. As time passes, the mutual attraction between them heightened.

Eli Dupre is like the perfect guy, he's hot, handsome and protective. But he can be pretty scary too, when he gets angry or hungry. He grows fond of Riley, and eventually falls in love with her despite the fact that they are two different persons from two different worlds.

Elle Jasper is a talented writer. She weaves the tale perfectly, and ends each chapter with a surprise. I was eager to continue reading and stopped only when my eyes cannot resist the urge to rest. The setting is written in detail, giving me a clear mental image of the charms of the historical sites in Savannah. There is a quote that reminds me of Twilight, but that's a small thing. I loved the book nevertheless. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the second book in The Dark Ink Chronicles, Everdark!

Rating: 5

Note: This book is intended for adults / readers above 18 years of age only.

Many thanks to Elle Jasper for sending me a signed copy of the book for this review! Thank you for including the extra goodies! I love them!

Elle Jasper
Elle Jasper spent her youth buried in the pages of Mary Shelly, Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, and Stephen King. Growing up on the salt marshes of Savannah, Georgia, she was always fascinated by the city’s ancient cobblestones, eerie church spires and Gothic Revival architect—as well as the dark, not-so-publicized side of Savannah, both steeped in tumultuous history. After an education at Armstrong Atlantic University, she forged her love of Gothic literature with an active imagination to pen her own stories. She is now a full time writer and lives amidst the moss and shadows of Savannah. Follow Elle Jasper on Twitter

Book Review : Token of Darkness by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Token of Darkness by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Product Details
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385737505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385737500
  • Purchase Token of Darkness on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Cooper Blake has everything going for him—until he wakes from a car accident with his football career in ruins and a mysterious, attractive girl by his side. Cooper doesn’t know how Samantha got there or why he can see her; all he knows is that she’s a ghost, and the shadows that surround her seem intent on destroying her.

No one from Cooper’s old life would understand what he can barely grasp himself. . . . But Delilah, the captain of the cheerleading squad, has secrets of her own, like her ability to see beyond the physical world, and her tangled history with Brent, a loner from a neighboring school who can hear strangers’ most intimate thoughts. Delilah and Brent know that Cooper is in more trouble than he realizes, and that Samantha may not be as innocent as she has led Cooper to believe. But the only way to figure out where Samantha came from will put them all in more danger than they ever dreamed possible.

* Read an EXCERPT of Token of Darkness.

This is my first book by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and I have to say it doesn't really leave a good impression to me. The story lacks action from the beginning until the middle part, and I feel like it was put together without a main point. Yes, I know Cooper's involved in an accident, there's a ghost who's not really a ghost called Samantha accompanying him, and they both met a psychic named Brent, but I don't feel connected to either of the characters. I think the "darkness" and "shadows" are supposed to make the reader feel scared or at least, acknowledge that it has some horrifying effect. But no, I don't feel anything, at all. I think The Complete Horowitz Horror (which is intended for children aged 12+) is so much better than this book.


The ending is better, but it still sounds off. Not quite right, I mean. Turns out Samantha the ghost is actually an elemental, which is a raw form of power. It finally resides in Margaret's body (Margaret is her maker) and Cooper promises to take her out for a date. Duh.

Token of Darkness has some paranormal elements, and the writing is quite good, but it is not exciting enough. I can only say that it is slightly entertaining. Maybe I'll try reading something else by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes in the future. Maybe.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Notes: 100% clean read. No kissing or sexual content. Fans of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes might enjoy this book.

Purchase Token of Darkness on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was born in Maryland in 1984 and grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. Her first novel was written when she was thirteen. She currently attends the University of Massachusetts, where she is studying English.

On My Wishlist

I just love these gorgeous covers!

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)

Book Review : Explorer X - Alpha by L.M. Preston


Product Details
  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Phenomenal One Press; 1 edition (February 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984198903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984198900

For most kids, a trip to space camp is the trip of a lifetime for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment. He realizes what is happening too late for a change of fate. The full experiment is set in motion when he and his co-pilot, Eirena, crash in a distant galaxy called Shrenas, where they change and realize the full extent of their power. This turn of events forces him to grow up quickly, accept his change, and to decide to save a world, or to do what he was trained to do dominate it. His power is coveted by the warring leaders of Shrenas, and he is forced to choose sides a decision that may prove just how much humanity he has left.

This book started out quite slowly, but the pacing became faster at the middle of the book. I never though it would be that exciting, and it really surprised me. The author's writing is well-suited for kids below 12 years of age. However, I did not expect the book to end so soon. It left a lot of things unexplained, such as what were the other team members' fates and what is the intention of the company to inject the immunization into the camp participants' body. I had no idea of Aadi and Eirena's ending - whether or not they survive and get back to Earth safely. Explorer X - Alpha will appeal to kids who love sci-fi.

Rating: 3.685
L.M. Preston was born and raised in Washington, DC. An avid reader, she loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. With a thirst for knowledge she attended college at Bowie State University, and worked in the IT field as a Techie and Educator for over sixteen years. She started writing science fiction under the encouragement of her husband who was a Sci-Fi buff and her four kids. Her first published novel, Explorer X - Alpha was the beginning of her obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds. She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

Buy it on Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

Book Review : Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

Wherever Nina Lies
Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

Product Details
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Point; 1 edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054506631X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545066310

Nina was beautiful, artistic, wild . . . and adored by her younger sister, Ellie. But one day, without any warning, Nina disappeared.

Two years later, Ellie can't stop thinking about her sister. Although everyone else has given up hope that Nina will return, Ellie just knows her sister is out there, somewhere. If only Ellie had a clue where to look.

And then she gets one, in the form of a mysterious drawing tucked into the pages of a book. Determined to find her sister, Ellie takes off on a crazy, sexy, cross-country road trip with the only person who believes she's got a chance -- her hot, adventurous new crush.

Along the way, Ellie finds a few things she wasn't planning on. Like love. Mysteries. Lies. And something far more shocking...the truth.

*The book contains interior black-and-white illustrations, since the sister's drawings play a crucial role in the story*

I don't like being so critical when I'm writing a review, but this book just doesn't make any sense. Ellie's sister Nina went missing two years ago, but she never accept the fact that her sister may not be coming home anymore. One day she obtained a random drawing that was clearly Nina's, and she went looking for her. She arrived at a place called Mothership and got to know a stranger. Well, a strikingly handsome stranger, that is. Not long afterwards, she went with this stranger to look for her missing sister. They found clues along the way which lead them to another place, and so on.

The whole story took place in only 5 days. And in less than 5 days time, Ellie had went on a journey with stranger "Sean" to look for her sister, had sex with him in a drunken state, and not to mention falling in love with him. I mean, what is this? I think this is just terrible, and Ellie's rash actions made her to appear immature and childish. When Nina first went missing, her mom didn't seem to care much about her daughter's disappearance. She just acted as if nothing has happened.

I don't like the writer's way of writing. Take a look at the birthday song:


I mean, what's up with all the extra O's, U's and Y's?

The ending is slightly better than the rest of the book, but still, it is not convincing. I need more explanation and there is not enough of that. I feel bored while reading this book, and sometimes I just wanted to stop reading right there. It wasn't as mysterious or intriguing as it sounds, and the plot is too unrealistic. I don't feel any connection with the main character Ellie, and I just can't convince myself to care about her efforts of finding her sister. Sorry, but this book is not my cup of tea. The book cover and the illustrations in the book are beautiful, though.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Notes: Wherever Nina Lies has some kissing scenes, sexual contents, violence and profanity. I won't recommend this book, but if you want to read it, make sure you can handle all the negative elements present it this book. This book is oriented towards older teenagers aged 16 and above.

Available on Barnes & Noble / Alibris / IndieBound / The Book Depository

Book Review : Lovestruck Summer by Melissa C. Walker

Lovestruck Summer
Lovestruck Summer by Melissa C. Walker

Product Details
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061715867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061715860

Austin music fest

Yay, summer in Austin!

Good food, good times. Fun for everyone!

Okay, living with my sorority-brainwashed cousin, who willingly goes by "Party Penny," is not exactly what I had in mind.

All your favorite bands

But the cute musicians I've met totally make up for it . . . like Sebastian. Swoon.

All ages welcome

So why can't I stop thinking about Penny's friend All-American Russ and his Texas twang??

Saturday & Sunday, from noon to midnight

Don't wait up!

Lovestruck Summer is a cute, adorable read, and I finished it in a short period of time. However, I won't say I love this book. The main character is Priscilla a.k.a. Quinn, an 18-year-old girl who decides to spend her summer with her cousin, Penny, in Austin. With her hipster outfit and messed-up blue boy-length hair, you may guess that she's a cool, easygoing person. Well, she turns out to be quite the opposite.

As many of us, she has a habit of
evaluating others based on their appearances and looks, only worse. She always makes an adverse judgment or opinion about someone beforehand, without examining the facts. This makes her character to appear snobbish and vain. But after a series of events, she admits her negative behaviours and starts to open her mind and discover her true self. I enjoy observing her inner growth and the changes that she is willing to undergo to gain back the attention of the boy whom she has fallen in love with eventually.

Although the plot is predictable, and the events that take place lack surprise, I still liked it for some reasons. First of all, some of the dialogues are humorous. I could see that Melissa is a witty author by her way of writing. Next, I was able to identify with Quinn, who was a lover of music and a spunky person. Another thing is that some of the scenes are quite sweet and romantic.

As a conclusion, teens who enjoy Chick lit and fans of Tamara Summers will most likely find this book lovely!

Rating: 3.685

Notes: Lovestruck Summer has some kissing scenes, but there's nothing overboard. There's a part mentioning a boy-sleepover, but there's no further explanation or graphic description. Recommended to teenagers above 15 years of age.

Buy The Book on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

Melissa Walker is a writer who has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. All in the name of journalism, she has spent 24 hours with male models and attended an elite finishing school for girls in New Zealand, among other hardships.

In late 2008, she launched I Heart Daily with fellow ex-ELLEgirl Anne Ichikawa. It's a daily newsletter about likable stuff.

Melissa lives in Brooklyn and has a BA in English from Vassar College. She would tell you her SAT scores too, but, you know, the math part was hard.

She loves meeting teenagers, and is game to speak at your library or school about writing, books, fashion, magazines or pop culture (but, you know, in a smart way). Check out the offered presentations, and get in touch to discuss.

In My Mailbox {8} : Thank You, Valorie!

I can't believe my good luck! OK, be patient! Let me tell you what happened. On July 24, 2010, I received an e-mail from Valorie, saying that I won a giveaway on her blog, Truth Be Told.

Truth Be Told
See this lovely button? Grab it here:

It turns out, I won a $10 off coupon from Bella's Story Bands. BUT, 3 months later, the owner of the shop decided to back out and is not sending anything to any of the 5 winners.
Valorie kindly offered me two options: either to purchase a piece of my choice up to $18 dollars from the shop (Bella's Story Bands) or send me a $10 gift card from anywhere. Obviously, I chose the latter.
There are three reasons:
1) I love to read books and have quite a lot of books on my wish list.
2) The sponsor backed out of the deal after Valorie has put so much effort into helping her shop getting some exposure.
3) I don't wish to see Valorie spending money to buy an item from someone who is so irresponsible.

So I requested for either one of these two books from The Book Depository. She said that she will be sending me a surprise, that is, she will pick the book for me. I agreed happily because I love surprises.
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare

Fallen (Fallen, #1)
Fallen (Fallen, #1) by Lauren Kate

Today, I spotted two parcels from TBD sitting on the medium-sized boulder near my gate. My sister went to get them for me . (Thanks, Alice!). I unwrapped my presents and TA-DAH! There are two books, City of Bones and Fallen, both ordered by Valorie! I'm literally jumping up and down with joy and kissing the books! Of course, I won't forget to thank her for being so tremendously kind!

Valorie's Online Connections: