Category Archives: Booked

Book Reviews

Green (Ted Dekker)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Green by Ted Dekker AS FORETOLD BY ANCIENT PROPHETS, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, He gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called…Green.

But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest.

Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his Circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying breath.

But now The Circle has lost hope. Samuel, Thomas Hunter’s cherished son, has turned his back on his father. He gathers the dark forces to wage a final war. Thomas is crushed and desperately seeks a way back to our reality to find the one elusive hope that could save them all.

Enter an apocalyptic story like none you have read. A story with links to our own history so shocking that you will forget you are in another world at all. Welcome to GREEN. Book Zero.


The last time I read the Black, Red and White by Ted Dekker was almost three years ago, and it’s been a while since I picked them up. I was planning to reread it, but because of time and all the other things life threw my way, I couldn’t get to read it. When I heard about the release of Green, I was excited because it’s Ted Dekker, and I loved the Circle Trilogy.

When I got my copy of Green, I was excited to read it but hesitant to read it because I can hardly remember what happened to the three books. But then the book cover said that it can act as the last book or the first book, I plunged in and read.

And what a ride it was, because Green is just as awesome as the other three books. Even if my knowledge of the trilogy was rusty, the book reminded me enough of what happened in the three books. I liked how it sealed the trilogy into a complete circle. The story was solid, almost very believable. There was a time when I felt like I couldn’t read anymore because I did not want to see what will happen next. There was a time when I wanted to strangle some of the characters and tell them that they should not stop believing in Elyon, and what they were doing is silly and pointless and would make them die. Books that make readers react this way mean they actually reached their audience. :D

Reading Green makes me want to re-read the other three books again, to fully relive the story of Thomas Hunter and his romance with Elyon. Great work, Ted Dekker. :D

When it Happens (Susane Colasanti)

Rating: [rate 3.0]

When It Happens (Susane Colasanti) Sara and Tobey couldn’t be more different. She is focused on getting into her first-choice college; he wants to win Battle of the Bands. Sara’s other goal is to find true love, so when Dave, a popular jock, asks her out, she’s thrilled. But then there’s Tobey. His amazing blue eyes and quirky wit always creep into her thoughts. It just so happens that one of Tobey’s goals is also to make Sara fall in love with him. Told in alternating points of view, Sara and Tobey’s real connection will have everyone rooting for them from the minute they meet!

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I spotted it as a recommended read in Amazon, and it took a while before I finally got myself a copy. When I saw it at the newly opened Fully Booked in Eastwood Mall, I grabbed it (in an impulse, I might say).

It’s an interesting read. I think the last he-said/she-said novel I read was Flipped, and I loved that novel. This one is just…well, interesting. I liked the two characters fair enough, and even the supporting characters were more interesting than say, an  orange nj dentist. I did find myself rooting for Tobey and Sara, and I’m actually quite interested to watch Say Anything, the movie mentioned in the novel.

However, there’s just something in the storytelling that felt a little off for me. I don’t know if it’s the present tense format, but I felt like the story lacked a bit of description, except when Sara starts painting or drawing or something. I felt like it lacked a bit of the smooth flow that other books have. I mean, for example, during one party that the characters attended, there was a part there that says: “Going Under is playing. Evanescence rocks.” I know it may be because it’s written to make it sound like how teens probably think nowadays, and maybe it just doesn’t gel with me quite much. Maybe because I’m not so good with descriptions that I like books with long and flowing descriptions?

But again, the overall story is good and a pretty much enjoyable, but it’s not really going to be in my favorites list. Maybe I was just too used to Sarah Dessen type novels, hence the conclusion. I’m still looking forward to reading Colasanti’s other novels, though. :)

Deadly Intent (Camy Tang)

I know, I know, I should post more. Sorry for the delay in reviewing this book — work is eating me alive again! Anyway before we go to the review proper, the winner of my Deadly Intent giveaway contest is (drawing is care of :D)…

Drawing c/o
Drawing c/o


Congratulations! I’ll be sending you an email after I submit this post. :) Enjoy your new book. :D

Okay, now for the review. :D

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Deadly Intent (Camy Tang)


The Grant family’s exclusive Sonoma spa is a place for rest and relaxation—not murder! Then Naomi Grant finds her client Jessica Ortiz bleeding to death in her massage room, and everything falls apart. The salon’s reputation is at stake…and so is Naomi’s freedom when she discovers that she is one of the main suspects! Her only solace is found with the other suspect—Dr. Devon Knightley, the victim’s ex-husband. But Devon is hiding secrets of his own. When they come to light, where can Naomi turn…and whom can she trust?

Camy comes back with a new book, this time not with sushi but with a spa, a new spa owner, a handsome doctor and a murder! It’s no secret that I love Camy’s books (see the reviews here, here and here) and having a chance to read this book is really exciting. :D

In this book, Naomi is taking over their family spa, and is not expecting it to be an easy job, but she also never expected that she would have to deal with the murder of her client! Naomi wonders what God has in store for her and if he really wanted her to be where she was. Not only that, but there’s also handsome Dr. Devon Knightley who always seems to be around ever since the murder…and it’s making Naomi not so comfortable because of her crush on Devon. I think Naomi definitely wouldn’t mind giving away  wedding invitations with their names on it, but not at this time, when they’re both accused of murder!

This is a fun and quick read — just the right amount of mystery, suspense and dead bodies and it kept me hanging until the end. I was actually quite surprised to find out who the culprit was, and kind of sad to know why she did all those things. Naomi is a strong protagonist though, and I found myself rooting for her all through out the novel. The faith aspect is nicely tied in as well, and it never felt like it was too preachy — everything felt natural.

Another great book by Camy! :D

Deadly Intent Blog Tour: Camy on her Characters

Deadly Intent (Camy Tang)


The Grant family’s exclusive Sonoma spa is a place for rest and relaxation—not murder! Then Naomi Grant finds her client Jessica Ortiz bleeding to death in her massage room, and everything falls apart. The salon’s reputation is at stake…and so is Naomi’s freedom when she discovers that she is one of the main suspects! Her only solace is found with the other suspect—Dr. Devon Knightley, the victim’s ex-husband. But Devon is hiding secrets of his own. When they come to light, where can Naomi turn…and whom can she trust?

From her successful Sushi Series (Sushi for One?, Only Uni, and Single Sashimi), Camy is back with another sure-hit novel! This time she takes a different route from her first three chick lit novels, bringing in a world of suspense, mystery, romance and well, God, into the quiet-turned-deadly spa.

Okay, so that’s my effort at trying to make a good intro. :P But I’m seriously honored to have Camy here on my blog again. I just love her books, with all the action and the solid characters that stay in my mind long after I read them all. I’ve decided to interview Camy this time to pick her brain about her characters:

1. Today is my character Ruth’s birthday. :) Do you give your characters birthdays too, even if it’s not mentioned in the story? If so, when are they?

Um…not really, unless I want to use the birthday as a scene in the story. But I always know how old my characters are. Naomi is 27 years old and Devon is 35.

2. Was Naomi’s character based on anyone (or any people) you know? What about Devon?

Naomi isn’t based on anyone I know, but I always thought being a massage therapist would be a cool job, so I did a lot of research for Naomi’s career and for the spa.

Devon’s personality isn’t anyone I know, but his job is borrowed from the orthopedic surgeon who repaired my ACL (twice). Dr. King is the official orthopedic surgeon for the Oakland Raiders. He’s totally nice.

3. You mentioned in your previous blog posts about which archetypes your previous characters (Lex, Trish, Venus and Jen) fall into. What archetype did you use for Naomi?

Naomi’s a maiden or Persephone archetype. They tend to be easygoing and carefree, but Naomi has been thrust into a more responsible role by her father, who just had a stroke. Worried about the future of his spa, he puts Naomi in charge as acting manager and is grooming her to eventually take over the spa when he retires. Naomi does it to please him, but she doesn’t really want to take over the spa—she’s happy as head massage therapist, because she likes giving massages, not managing a business.

4. All of your novels give us both the point of view of the hero and heroine. I often have a hard time getting into my male character’s heads. How do you do it?

I usually talk to my husband to get his perspective on things. And when I’m writing, I think to myself, Would Captain Caffeine use this word or phrase? How would he say this?

5. If Naomi were to meet any of the Sushi cousins, who do you think will she be friends with?

I think she’d get along with Trish the best. The two of them would know how to have fun, but at the same time, both of them know what it’s like to have responsibility thrust upon them.

6. Who is your favorite female character outside of your books? How about your favorite male character?

My favorite female character is Anne Elliot from Persuasion by Jane Austen. Anne is intelligent, calm, and organized. She withstands her horrendous family with strength and insight, yet compassion—all of which I lack. I think a part of me wants to be Anne.

My favorite male character is Sir Percy Blakeney from the Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. He’s just always so clever, and yet he has such a passionate love for his wife, which makes him terribly romantic.

7. Who is the next heroine that you are writing about? What can we expect from her?

My next heroine is December (isn’t that a cool name? I borrowed it from a woman who was taking one of my online classes). She will be my toughest heroine to write so far, because her struggles will be so close to home. I’ve always struggled with my weight, and recently I completed the Couch to 5K running training program. I’m going to have December do the Couch to 5K, too!

Thanks for having me here, Tina!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own…), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away fourteen boxes of books and 30 copies of her latest release, DEADLY INTENT.

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I’m giving away a copy of Camy’s new book! Just leave a comment on this entry with your name and email address so you’ll be a part of the raffle. :) Deadline of entries is Monday, July 27, 2009. I’ll be announcing the winner by Tuesday, July 28, 2009. :D

Belong to Me

I’m writing this down on TextEdit because my Internet connection refuses to cooperate (of course by the time I post this online, my Internet is obviously better), and I just need to let these thoughts out or else I wouldn’t be able to sleep thinking of all the things related to this.

Belong to Me So I just finished reading Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos, her follow up novel from Love Walked In. I loved Love Walked In, for all its seemingly old-fashioned scenes and the lovely characters. I especially loved the fact that Teo Sandoval was half-Filipino, somehow making it feel closer to my heart.

Belong to Me is a different story from its prequel. More characters, more conflict, more stories. I saw a couple of reviews that it wasn’t as good as the prequel, but because I can’t stand not reading all books in a series and because I was curious to what happened to Cornelia and Teo and Clare, I got the book.

In Cornelia’s words: I was slammed. Hard. Belong to Me is probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s a different tone from the first book, but it was simply (and very) charming. The chapters were long, the stories were complicated but never did I feel bored with the entire story. I devoured every page, with all its lyrical prose and smart characters. My heart burst in sadness at the particular part of the story where all things came undone, and I celebrated victory with them when I got to the end.

I think it’s a given for any reader to love Cornelia, but what I really loved about the book was (and still), Teo. I could easily imagine how Cornelia could call him her sun and moon and stars. I tried hard to find a flaw in him, and I know there was something but it’s became a part of his character as a whole that you’d end up forgiving it because you know it won’t be the same without it.

And maybe the reason why I love Teo so much because I want someone like him. Not exactly a half Filipino hunk of a man with golden brown skin and bottle green eyes type (but hey, that sounds really handsome, haha), but someone who treats me the way Teo treats Cornelia. Like how he had an almost secret and sacred nickname for Cornelia that meant “heart” in Latin (Cor), or how his face changes whenever he talks about his wife (as observed by Piper). I want someone like that, someone who I’d think of as my sun and moon and stars but would also think of me the same way too. Someone whose heart could expand with love for all the people that matter to me, and teach me to make my heart be like that too, for people he cares for and people I have a hard time liking or loving. Someone like Teo, who stuck with Cornelia for fifty-six hours to try to fix the mess that exploded in their faces and not lose patience but remind her that love is not “I” or “you” but “we”.

*sigh* It’s got me smitten, really, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget about this book too easily. I love every single bit of it, and I kind of feel sad that it’s the last book on them. I really feel like I’m saying goodbye to good friends, people who have kept me company over the weekend. But it’s comforting to know that I could always visit them, and draw strength from them, and maybe, someday, talk about them to someone who will be my own Teo someday.

Oookay, and that last line is really cheesy. Enough cheese here, or else you may be better off reading :P It’s time for me to go to bed. :P

Kapitan Sino (Bob Ong)

Rating: [rate 3.5]


Naunahan na naman ang mga pulis sa pagtugis sa mga holdaper ng isang jewelry shop. Bago noon, may iba na ring nakahuli sa isang carnaper; sumaklolo sa mga taong nasa itaas ng nasusunog na building; nagligtas sa sanggol na hinostage ng ama; tumulong para makatawid sa kalsada ang isnag matanda; tumiklo sa mga miyembro ng Akyat Bahay; sumagip sa mga mag-anak na tinagay ng tubig-baha; nag-landing ng maayos sa isang Boeing 747 na nasiraan ng engine; at nagpasabog s aisang iganteng robot. Pero sino ang taong ‘yon? Maliligtas nya ba sila Aling Baby? At ano nga ba talaga ang sabon ng mga artista?

Bob Ong is known for his funny yet thought provoking books about the life of a Filipino. I’m sure you’ve heard of him at one point, or have received a forwarded email regarding his little thoughts on life and love (ex. “Kung maghihintay ka nang lalandi sayo, walang mangyayari sa buhay mo. Dapat lumandi ka din.” Don’t wait for someone to flirt with you. Learn to flirt as well.) and I know that most people have certainly agreed with a lot of what he has written.

Kapitan Sino is Ong’s 7th book, and it takes us in an adventure in the town of Pelaez. There we find Rogelio, an ordinary man who makes a living by fixing different appliances in their shop named “Hasmin’s Sari-Sari Store” that they’ve planned to change but never got around to. He lives his life one day at at time, enjoying his little jokes with the kids who insist on buying candies at their sari-sari store turned electronic repair shop, listening to his neighbors Aling Precious and Aling Baby best each other and sing to the different songs he hears on the radio. All this changes one day when his friend Bok-Bok visits his place and they both find out Rogelio has super powers.

Kapitan Sino was born, and from there, Rogelio started saving other people’s lives, disguised in a silver costume and helmet that his blind friend and childhood love Tessa made. Pretty soon, Kapitan Sino was everywhere — on the children that play along the streets pretending to be the hero and the villains, on snacks, gums, newspaper, radio, TV. Everyone was thankful for Kapitan Sino’s heroism, and Rogelio was just happy that he was able to help. This was up until his encounter with the town’s monster, which he defeats but then fails to save someone that mattered to him.

Kapitan Sino is a lot like his previous book MacArthur, but a bit more fun. The thing I did not like about MacArthur was how depressing it was, and I didn’t want to read it afterwards. Kapitan Sino is funny in the sense that it brings in a lot of late 80’s to 90’s Filipino culture, such as snacks like Rinbee, Bazooka Bubble Gum and TV shows like Pinoy Thriller or  Batibot — things that Generation X and Y will surely understand and remember. However, Kapitan Sino is kind of sad too, because it shows us just how our nation is, reflected in the small town of Pelaez: from the corrupt government officials to the people who spend time trying to best each other with their riches, spending more time gossiping than doing something productive and even blaming other people for things that are not their fault. It’s a startlingly accurate picture, and it’s kind of sad to realize the reality of what Bob Ong has written.

But do we really need superheroes to be able to fix our situation? Do we have to have super powers to be heroes? Or can we be heroes on our own?

I’ll leave that up to you to answer.

A Little Ray of Sunshine (Lani Diane Rich)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

A Little Ray of Sunshine (Lani Diane Rich)Emmy James is not the kind of girl who attracts angels. In fact, after she sent her life into a nosedive six years ago, she’s tried to attract as little as possible -attention, people, or responsibility. She skips from town to town in an Airstream trailer, working odd jobs and keeping to herself until a sudden whim lets her know it’s time to move again.

And this works just fine, until the day two unexpected visitors show up at the New Jersey trailer park she calls home. One is a childhood friend with news: her mother and his father are getting married, and they want EJ to be there. The other is a sweet but odd woman named Jess, who says she’s an angel specializing in cosmic relationship mending…and blueberry pancakes. Jess doesn’t think it’s any coincidence that this is all happening at once, but EJ would rather run herself over with her own Airstream before reconnecting with her neglectful, self-absorbed mother. When she wakes up to find her trailer cruising down the highway with a determined angel at the wheel, however, EJ realizes that sometimes what you want and what the Universe intends for you can be two very different things…

I am really starting to love Lani Diane Rich‘s works. There’s something about what she writes and the people she writes about that really piques my interests, and this one is no different. (Plus, don’t you just love that cover? :P)

EJ is a girl who’s been around for the past six years, going from one place to another, taking jobs as a cashier, using a receipt printer and just living on her own. What people don’t know about her is that she’s the daughter of Lilly Lorraine, a famous actress, and it’s something she doesn’t really want people to know. Frankly, she’d rather bury her past and just live the way she lives now — it’s less painful that way.

But one day brings her two unexpected surprises: one is a visit from an old friend telling her that her mother is getting married yet again to his father and probably the closest and most real parent he’d ever had. And she gets a visit from an angel — or someone who thinks she is. Jess, the angel, is convinced that the Universe wants her to help EJ, and would stop at nothing in doing so — even going as far as “kidnapping” EJ.

After much reluctance, EJ finally decides to go home just for the wedding, but what she saw when she got back was something she never expected. Oh, and her old friend and ex-fiancee was there too — with a lot of old hurts that she never thought she’d have to deal with all over again.

A Little Ray of Sunshine is exactly what the title says — it’s a little ray of sunshine in a book. It’s a really entertaining story, with a wacky cast of characters. EJ, with all her rudeness to her mother and the people around her and her need to go to be alone, is still very endearing. Jess is such a darling, and I almost thought she was a real angel until her own secrets were revealed. Lilly was annoying and lovable at the same time. The tension between the characters was the kind of thing that you’d see in real life, and the resolution was realistic enough that you know it’s just the right way for the story to go to.

It’s a really good book, and I’m sure I’d want to read more of Lani Diane Rich’s work. :)

BTT: Fantasy and Sci Fi — say whut?

I’ve been planning to answer the past two weeks worth of Booking Through Thursday but I keep on missing it (I know I could answer it on another day but I forget that too). Eeep. Anyway, I finally caught up with this week and so here it is! This week’s question is:

One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day.

As she puts it:

So! In my Official Capacity as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I hereby proclaim June 23 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Day! A day of celebration and wonder! A day for all of us readers of science fiction and fantasy to reach out and say thank you to our favorite writers. A day, perhaps, to blog about our favorite sf/f writers. A day to reflect upon how written science fiction and fantasy has changed your life.

So … what might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

Honestly…I think the 23rd will just be a normal day for me. I never got into the fantasy/sci fi genre, even as I was growing up. Sure, I liked fairy tales just as much as the next person, but as I was growing up, I was more inclined to read Sweet Valley or anything that does not involve magic. Or long names. Or maps and different worlds. I’d really rather read a fluffy book than read about a Plano Dentist with magic powers or travels to outer space or something like that. No offense to those who like them, of course…

Animorphs # 2: The Visitor - my first Animorph book
Animorphs # 2: The Visitor - my first Animorph book

…oh, but wait. One of the book series I really loved during late elementary school and high school: Animorphs. It was introduced to me by my best friend (Hi Toni!). At first I thought it was a fluffy kind of book where the kids involved were a part of some kind of fantasy power type of thing, but lo and behold, it was about aliens! And war! And surprisingly, I was hooked on this sci-fi series. I waited for this book series month after month and collected up to…about Book # 36, and then stopped and now I’m trying to complete my collection. I have about 10 books left or something. Hm, maybe I should write a completely separate post on that. :P

But after that, I stopped and went to pick up books about real life (or at least, as close as it can to real life). I hardly wander through the fantasy section of the bookstore and the sci-fi covers make me feel dizzy because they’re all so busy. I haven’t even read any of the LOTR books, and once I dreamt of reading Eragon but I never got around to it. The Chronicles of Narnia is still waiting to be read on my shelf (for a year now). I have no aversion to the movies, but when it comes to books, I’m really just more of the realistic type of fiction — YA, Chick lit, women’s fiction, general fiction…although I kind of draw the line on historical fiction. I think the only fantasy novels I’ve managed to finish are the Mortal Instruments series (which I totally loved :p) and Harry Potter, of course. Oh, and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. And my brain stops counting there. :P

I’m still looking to work on this genre just like how I’m working on my classics reading. Hm, so maybe I do have something to do on the 23rd now. Any Fantasy/sci-fi books you can suggest? :D

Demon (Tosca Lee)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Demon (Tosca Lee) Recently divorced and mired in a meaningless existence, Clay drifts from his drab apartment to his equally lusterless job as an editor for a small Boston press — until the night Lucian finds him and everything changes with the simple words, “I’m going to tell you my story, and you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

What begins as a mystery soon spirals into chaotic obsession as Clay struggles to piece together Lucian’s dark tale of love, ambition and grace — only to discover that the demon’s story has become his own.

And then only one thing matters: learning how the story ends.

What a haunting book. I heard about Tosca Lee from Camy, and after reading about the book on the official website (especially after reading this page) I knew I had to get this book.

Demon: A Memoir gives us a view of the whole Salvation history from another point of view: a demon. It’s kind of creepy at first when you think of it, but like Clay, I got curious. What could a demon know about salvation? What could he possibly tell Clay, and what could Clay possibly gain from all this?

The novel had no frills about it. Clay wasn’t a righteous guy, he wasn’t even religious at all. He’s drifting in his life, finding no meaning until his encounter with Lucian. Tosca draws a very different picture of a demon — not one with an image we know, with horns and bat-like wings, but drawing from the story of the first fall: Lucifer. There were no bargains for the soul for Clay, although it seemed like he almost sold his soul to the devil as he became obsessed with the story.

Lucian was a very interesting character too, taking on a lot of forms of humans because he liked to “test” them out. He started out as a Mediterranean-looking man and then later met Clay as a woman and then a geeky teen — it seemed like he could not get enough of the “clay” people, regardless of age and use of best wrinkle cream. He was also fascinated with humans eating, and made sure Clay was eating almost every time they met. His hurried manner at some parts of the story makes you wonder who exactly is out to get the demon — Lucifer? Another hoard of demons? But why? And why is he talking to Clay in the first place?

Like I said, it’s a way to view the story of our salvation from another side. It almost comes to a point that I felt some sympathy for Lucian and I wished there was something better for him…and in the same way, it made me realize how lucky I was to be created in God’s image and likeness. How infinite my chances are, how much patience God has for me. How forgiving God is for someone like me who commits the same mistake over and over again. It’s…amazing. And humbling.

The ending of the novel is satisfying in a way that it’s not wrapped in neat bows nor it is terribly disturbing. The book reminds us of a choice that everyone has to make in this life. What will you choose?

Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s usd to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and — for the first time — feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s an adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.

Don’t you think that’s such a pretty cover? There’s really something about Sarah Dessen‘s book covers, and I know how much it appeals to its target audience.

Lock and Key is about Ruby Cooper, who moves into her siser’s place after her mother left her behind to fend for herself. Ruby has gotten used to taking care of herself ever since her sister left and her mom could hardly be counted on. She was so used to not owing anyone for help that when she moved to her sister Cora’s place, all she wanted to do was go back. But her new family was insistent on letting her stay and taking care of her, especially Jamie, Cora’s husband, who wanted to provide a good future for Ruby. Ruby is stuck, and despite all good things happening to her, she couldn’t help but feel wary of all this good fortune. She knows that Cora’s world isn’t her world, but she knew she couldn’t count on her mother anymore. But can she really learn to trust all the other people that’s coming in her life?

All the typical Dessen elements were in the story: Ruby, the sort of troubled child who’s left to fend off for herself; Nate, the cute neighbor who Ruby falls for but then has a secret of his own; Olivia, her classmate who she didn’t really like at first but then became friends with; Harriet, her boss at her job who was even more of a control freak than Ruby. There are also old friends who are only in the book to appear that they’re not really “friends”: Marshall, Ruby’s sort of boyfriend and Peyton, the closest thing she had to a best friend. Though not set in the summer, like other Dessen books were, this one still spanned a couple of months, almost half a school year if I got it right. There’s a lot of looking into the past, and backstories and family events and little symbolisms that made the story poignant.

I liked how Dessen was descriptive with Ruby’s past and everything around her  — from Ruby’s new room to the key that she kept hanging around her neck. The thing about Lock and Key for me, however, is that it read too much like Love Walked In by Marisa Delos Santos, with the mentally unstable and possibly a drug addict mother (who would probably pay for appetite suppressants over her daughter’s needs) leaving the daughter to fend off for herself and someone coming in to save the daughter. I couldn’t help but recall that other novel while reading this one. It’s not entirely the same, but the similarities just feel a bit odd.

But if you’re a Dessen fan, you’ll love all the Easter eggs in this novel. You’ll find a character from almost all of Dessen’s past novels. I especially love it when Kristy and Bert from The Truth About Forever showed up in one scene. :D

Lock and Key is a good read, but I think it’s not really as good as The Truth About Forever or Just Listen or This Lullaby.