Thursday, November 15, 2012

Keren David (Celebrating British Authors)

I really love highlighting British books and authors and I would like to do more of that on this blog. So I thought one way to do this is by spotlighting an individual UK YA author once a month. (What do you think?)

To kick things off, Keren David... 

I really love Keren David's books. I was very excited to read Keren's debut book - When I Was Joe.  I loved that original cover of Ty/Joe with all the blue and the blood splatters and I am usually quite drawn to YA stories with a male narrator.  A further two books about Ty have been published, Almost True and Another Life and having just finished the third book in that series I can now say with certainty that the When I Was Joe series is one of my favourite series of recent times.  They are just so good. 

Keren David has also written a standalone novel, Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery.  I read the book last year and while I absolutely loved it, for reasons unconnected to the book entirely, I haven't yet reviewed it.  I was excited and intrigued to read the news that Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery would be adapted into a musical!

After reading When I Was Joe and Almost True, I started following Keren's blog.  Keren has a background in journalism, and I find her blog posts to be very thought-provoking and intelligent.  If you don't already read her blog or follow her on Twitter, I suggest that you do so. 

When I Was Joe 

I really fell in love with this book and with Ty's story right from the beginning. Knife crime is something that is becoming more common over the past few years and that's a real concern.  But for me, what I loved so much about  When I Was Joe is how much identity places into the story.  After witnessing a stabbing, Ty and his mother are placed into the witness protection programme. They are forced to change their names and start life over in another city.  Ty becomes Joe and is left wondering if with a new name and a different hair and eye colour, is he still the same person?  There's still so much humour in this book despite the grim topics of self-harm, knife crime and depression.  This book is an amazing debut novel and the start of an incredible series. 

This is the original cover of the book, which I still love, as well as the new simplistic covers. 
Almost True

I didn't think it was possible to love a book more than I loved When I Was Joe, but I did with Almost True.  I loved coming back to this story.  Ty is just a great main character, funny and interesting but somebody who makes seemingly endless mistakes and bad judgement calls.  This book is very much about being honest and telling the truth but also about taking responsibility for your actions and realising that people do stupid things bit still things can turn out okay. 

The tone of this book feels less light-hearted than When I Was Joe - there was a big shift in seriousness as Ty begins to realise how much the crime that he committed and the results of that are affecting his life and his family.  A really great sequel and another fantastic book!

Another Life 

I've recently reviewed Another Life, the third and final book in the When I Was Joe series.  I was a bit wary of a narrator change in this third book, but it turns out that as well as loving Ty, I still have room in my heart for Archie, his priviledged babe-magnet cousin. 

I really loved knowing once and for all what happens to Ty the good along with the bad.  I think it's interesting to see the consequences that Ty does face for his honesty regarding carrying a knife. I loved seeing these characters from a new perspective as Archie tries to find out more about Ty and his situation which leads down a very dangerous path...

Love this series so much and this is an excellent concluding novel!  What a journey.

Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery

I've always thought it would be amazing to win the lottery.  But things don't all go smoothly for Lia Latimer when she wins £8million one day.  But then, things weren't great to start with... I found Lia's Guide to be utterly different from the Ty/Joe series, but at the same time it's just as well-written and interesting in the things it makes you as the reader think about. 

At the start, I really didn't like Lia's character. She's very self-centred and irritating and I found myself having very little sympathy for her when she gets kicked out of her house.  But Lia's character really grows on me throughout the novel.  After winning the lottery she does her best to work things out with her mother and her sister and her friends Jack and Shazia, but no one's perfect and Lia does a lot of things wrong.  But what I kind of loved about her in the end is that there is so much development in her character. 

I found it really interesting how Shazia's religious beliefs played a part in her friendship with Lia and the money that she has won.  I loved the beginnings of a relationship between Lia and Rafe, even though Lia suspects that he may be a paranormal creature.  What would you do if you won 8 million pounds in the lottery at the age of 16? 

**AND! Here is the press release concerning what's coming next for Keren David...**

Atom Editorial Director Samantha Smith has acquired two new "home-grown contemporary YA" novels by multi-award-winning author Keren David, buying UK and Commonwealth rights from Jenny Savill of Andrew Nurnberg Associates International Ltd.
The first of the two stand-alone novels, Salvage tells the story of two siblings from a neglectful home, who were separated as young children when one was adopted by a middle-class family. Now aged 16 and 18 they are reunited through Facebook, with none of the preparation and support that social workers advise.

"Keren David treads that immensely difficult line between being compulsively readable but not shying away from many of the real, and heart-breaking, issues that teens face," says Smith. "We’re thrilled to be bringing such a strong, British author onto the list and have big plans for Keren in the future."

A former journalist, David made the transition to writing teen fiction with the publication of When I Was Joe in 2010. Her latest novel, Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery, was published in summer 2011 and is currently being made into a musical.

"I am thrilled to be working with Atom," says David. "I think there's a growing audience in the UK for home-grown contemporary YA, and it's great to get a vote of confidence from a leading publisher."

Atom - the Little, Brown Book Group’s children’s and young adult imprint - will publish Salvage in early 2014.

Have you read anything by Keren David? What did you think?


  1. Great post! Keren's new novel sounds brilliant! I haven't read any of her books, but they all sound great the way they deal with important issues like knife crime and such :)

  2. Brilliant post, I love Keren David's books! I have only read When I Was Joe and Almost True though, I must read her other books. Thanks for sharing the press release too, I can't wait for Salvage! :D

    1. I can't wait either! I'm really looking forward to reading it :)

  3. I've been meaning to try one of these for ages!


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