Review: Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson

Title: Conspiracy Girl
Author: Sarah Alderson
Publication Date: 2015 (Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 306
Genre: Thriller
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones| |Book Depository|

Everybody knows about the Cooper Killings .
There was only one survivor – a sixteen year-old Nic Preston

Now eighteen, Nic is trying hard to rebuild her life. But then one night her high-security apartment is broken into. It seems the killers are back.

Finn Carter – hacker, rule breaker, player – is the last person Nic ever wants to see again. He’s the reason her mother’s killers walked free from court. But as the people hunting her close in, Nic has to accept that her best and possibly only chance of staying alive is by keeping close to Finn and learning to trust the person she’s sworn to hate.

But the closer they get to the truth and the closer they get to each other, the greater the danger becomes.

To survive she has to stay close to him.
To keep her safe he has to keep his distance. [Goodreads]

Nic is trying to lay low and hide from the past.  But after her involvement in the killing, it’s become tricky to know who to trust, because people seem to be leeching on Nic so they can sell stories of her to the press.

But then the killers are back. Or killers who work just like the ones in the past and Nic has to run. She’s teamed up wth Finn, a genius hacker, and together they dig deep into the network and servers to figure out who the real murders are. It’s the first time that Nic lets go and trusts someone else who isn’t herself. But the closer they get, the more risky everything is and people they hold closest to could also get hurt.

I really loved this book! It was super quick to get through but packed with fast paced action and I was constantly flicking through the pages wanting to know what happens next.

Nic’s exhausted with the fact that she can never feel safe. When Nic and Finn get reacquainted it’s full of lots of awkward tension. He was the one who let Nic’s mothers killers run loose after all. They both know they need to be cautious around one another. Yet they both have flaws and a long unfortunate history, which they are trying to improve from the present, and they find comfort in one another. An escape from the manic chaos that’s happening around them.

Finn was by far my favourite character out of the two (the story being a duel narration). He is perceived to be the ‘baddie’ at the beginning, but when it comes to crime, he always seeks one thing: justice. Alderson planted lines about Finn early on, that almost made us see the worst in him! You’re not only guessing who the killers are but also who Finn is. Seriously fell hard for him and he’s definitely someone I’d like to have by my side if killers are chasing me down.

The climax of the book, wasn’t as climatic as I thought it’d be. The ‘reveal’ threw off the speed and excitement that build the whole book up and suddenly it was like I had to read through a GCSE science text book. The overwhelming pressure that kept Nic and Finn moving was gone and everything came to a stop. It didn’t work well for me. I also predicted who was behind everything…

I was really underwhelmed after reading the Hunting Lila duo, but Conspiracy Girl stole my heart away, crushed it a bit and then fixed it back up together… I thoroughly recommend!

My rating
I really liked it

4 cup

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Review: Little White Lies by Katie Dale

17232924Title: Little White Lies
Author: Katie Dale
Publication Date: August 2013 (Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 394
Genre: Contemporary 
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones| |Book Depository|

The first time Lou meets mysterious Christian, she knows he is The One. But Christian is hiding a terrible secret. Why does he clam up every time Lou asks about his past? Why doesn’t he have any family photos, and why does he dye his blond hair black? When Christian’s house goes up in flames, his tires are slashed, and he flees for his life, Lou insists on going with him. But as Christian’s secret is unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Lou is a lie. Can what the media are saying about him really be true? Should Lou trust him? Or is she in grave danger? And what if their accidental meeting wasn’t an accident at all…? [Goodreads]

I read Someone Else’s Life a few years back and loved it, so when I came across Dales’ second novel I knew I had to pick it up!

Lou is trying to run away from the past in London. She’s changed her identity and is starting at Sheffield University. But she’s still on edge and nervous that someone will figure out who she is. She meets Christian, who is also in Sheffield for a new beginning, hiding behind his own web of lies. The more time they spend together the more they try to hide, to spare one another the pain, but both their secrets are the thing that’s tying them together.

It’s so refreshing to read a YA novel that is set at a university. I think it’s something that makes this book quite British in a way. Going to university and finding this ‘new self’/creating a new identity was something I expected when I started. And with more mature characters, it is definitely nothing I’ve read about in a UKYA novel before!

I loved reading about Lou, each time learning more about her past and what she really ran away from. She’s constantly looking over her shoulder but when she meets Christian, she relaxes and build her new life.

The book is almost split into two sections, one half panning out like a contemporary romance and the second half speeding up with the crime and mystery elements. The change of pace does have a huge affect on the believability of the story and it only just keeps grounded enough for me to stick with it. It’s very mild and mellow at the beginning, which makes the jump really sudden and either you’re on the train or you’re not – I’m on it! It keeps you on your toes with character’s whipping off and around the page, their decisions frantic and panicked.

The only weak point about this novel was the last few pages, which seemed to keep to the fast pace, and lessened the satisfaction at the end.

But I was glued to the book til the very end!

My rating:

I really liked it

4 cup

I’m A Lean Mean Publicity Machine… In My Dreams (Part Two!)

From seeing a tweet offering an internship, submitting my CV on a complete whim, to then find out three days later that I was picked, and, to now, sitting at my own desk, with my own desktop log in, my own company email address and my own sign off signature.  And unlike my other one, I was here for six and a half weeks!

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<untouched intro from when I was still there… I continue, now having finished>

My first surprise when I stepped into the Simon & Schuster office was how small it was. Coming from Macmillan, which was four floors, Simon & Schuster is tiny – only being on one floor! But all in a good way as I found myself knowing where everything is (ie where the holy wall of YA books were.. but I’ll get to that bit later on). It was also very ‘office-y’ compared to Macmillan, which was open plan and more modern than what I would expect. Simon & Schuster was what I imagined the offices to be like.

Of course, with the small size of the office, there were also smaller teams. The publicity team is made up of eight people (add one if you include the intern), which I found nicer because I was able to familiarize myself with everyone and I knew everyone who gave me work.

I guess the next step is to say the work I did…and sorry to disappoint but it is as mundane as expected, but yet again, I had a great time! (When the novelty of interning at a publishing house wear off? I was equally as giddy when I started. Equally as enthusiastic and determined to get everything done… When will the idea that this is a ‘job’ kick in?)

Some of the things I had to do:

Hand out the newspapers (and then scan and file the article)

Create promotional material for events

Create press releases

Update event schedules

Bind books

And book post!

Funnily enough, there was a chance where I got to help out at another book signing! But this time I got to meet the author herself too. During this period, I also got a chance to meet the other interns in the office at the time and it was really nice to take a break from the computer screen.

On top of the list above, I had to cover reception for two and a half weeks during lunch time – both good but daunting since I hate answering phones. We used to have to do reception cover in my primary school, when we were in year 6, and I would always do everything wrong. I have always avoided tasks that involve calling someone up.. What made it worse was that intern was telling me about his experience on the desk. Let’s just say I was screaming on the inside as I took my seat. It wasn’t as bad as he made it out to be. The first time I sat on the desk, I was too nervous to do anything but after a few days, I figured it wasn’t so bad after all, and I kinda enjoy it.!

I met so many amazing people both in the industry and those who want to be in the industry. I really enjoy making friends with other interns because we all relate and talk about what we’re experiencing, which I always find reassuring. And being me, I always find it a bit daunting talking to others in the office because of how little experience I have.. I feel safer with the intern chatter. But in general, I loved hearing about everyones experience, like where they intern before being where they are. I’ve learnt a lot about small things that I can do just to give me that extra boost – but at this point I feel so useless with all this information I can’t use until I can actually get a job! I really hope that all the people I’ve met I’ll keep in touch with because they are awesome. Meet up this time next year at Simon & Schuster, yeah?

I’m so happy I took a chance and submitted my CV for this internship. It was an amazing experience. Actually properly settling into the office. I am surprised how quickly I felt comfortable but going into the office with a desk – it just felt right.

Side note: They have a wall full of YA books (and children’s, but I’m focusing on YA here). Oh my gosh. Like. The first time I stood in front of that wall I was more upset that I didn’t have anyone to share my excitement with rather than the fact that I was interning with this publisher that publishes awesome titles! I never make note of who publish what books and Simon & Schuster are one of my favourites, and I’m not just saying that because I worked for them.

The ending was more emotional than expected. I entered the office thinking nothing of the end. But when it came down to it.. Closing my very own email address with a ‘simonandschuster.co.uk’ ending and shutting down my computer with my very own log in.. it tore me apart. I don’t even know how to describe it but I’m so upset that it’s all over. (Must mean I had a great time).

I have to say a huge huge thank you to the publicity team for piling their work on me and keeping me busy, Isabel for offering me this opportunity and for guiding me through my weeks, Jade for allowing me to stand in front of the YA shelf in amazement for hours and finally Marc for sorting out all the post that I had to do and sending it all off and all his help with everything in the hub. And then a quick thank you to Emma in editorial for giving me an amazing proof copy of a book that I couldn’t take my eyes off when I saw it land on her desk – I felt invincible after I got my hands on that book (I still do!!). So many thank you’s to hand out and none of them will really reflect how thankful I am. But thank you thank you thank you!

 

 

If you’ve missed it, check out my first interning experience here.

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

emmyTitle: Emmy & Oliver
Author: Robin Benway
Publication Date: 23rd June 2015 (Simon & Schuster UK)
Pages: 320
Genre: Romance
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones|  |Book Depository|

Oliver’s absence split us wide open, dividing our neighborhood along a fault line strong enough to cause an earthquake. An earthquake would have been better. At least during an earthquake, you understand why you’re shaking.
Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. But now Oliver is back, and he’s not the skinny boy-next-door that used to be Emmy’s best friend. Now he’s the boy who got kidnapped. A stranger – a totally hot stranger! – with a whole history that Emmy knows nothing about.
But is their story still meant to be? Or are they like the pieces of two different puzzles – impossible to fit together? [Goodreads]

So I started this book feeling a little uncomfortable. From the cover (yes, I’m judging the cover) and the blurb the book sounds really fluffy and light-hearted. The issue I had with that was that the storyline followed a kidnapping and then the blurb says: ‘A stranger – a totally hot stranger! – with a whole history that Emmy knows nothing about.’ Pause. A boy is kidnapped, he returns and we focus on the fact that he’s ‘hot’? Um. I don’t think my thoughts would go to that fact straight away. Or maybe it’s my hate for that word ‘hot’? *shrugs*

There is so much teen angst in this novel, I have no idea where to begin. Firstly, I hope that I wasn’t like Emmy or Oliver or any of the characters in this novel when I was their age because, secondly, at times, I felt like I was reading a soap opera. The conflict of growing up, the misunderstanding, the doing things behind parents’ back – oh the teen angst check box gets a trillion ticks. I thought initially it played out quite well and then it blew up and become quite melodramatic. It is definitely entertaining though. People blowing up are always entertaining.

I love a good ‘boy-next-door’ storyline. And it definitely delivered on the ‘boy-next-door’ storyline, it even went as a far as having the cliché of having the two rooms face one another and just totally acing it! (- that’s not a sarcastic comment.. If you can’t tell). It was about rekindling a friendship that had been lost for ten years but also stepping forward as the new people that Emmy and Oliver have become. It was really great to see them stand and understand themselves as an individual as well as trying to find themselves together as friends.

I found myself more intrigued with Ollie than any of the characters in the novel. It’s a shame we don’t get to see what Ollie got up to in more detail, maybe see his thoughts and feelings, but even though Emmy, we still see and understand him enough. I agreed with his perspective and thoughts about the whole situation and because of that I wanted to read more. Being so young and being taken by a family member, it’s great to see how the two ends have different perspectives. It’s also a reason on why this novel works well… if the kidnapping was any darker, I don’t think I could manage with such a lighthearted romance.

This book didn’t blow me away but I did enjoy it. A story of growing up, teenage angst and sweet sweet romance.

And as a side note there is a great scene in this book that had me squealing because it was so perfect and it reminded me of Play with Me by Anna Katmore (BEFORE you think that this is some dirty erotica novel, it’s not. I always get funny looks. It’s about football, okay?). And a random chuck in, because I don’t know where else to put it, this novel reminded me of The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook, which has a similar theme as this novel and I recommend it to those who’ve enjoyed this book!

My rating
I liked it

3 cup

Review: Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

 

untilTitle: Until Friday Night
Author: Abbi Glines
Publication Date: 25 August 2015  (Simon & Schuster UK)
Pages: 336
Genre: Romance
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones|  |Book Depository|

To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god. But on the inside he’s grief-stricken – his father is dying and he hasn’t told anyone because he can’t face the truth. Now, as his pain grows unbearable, West finally decides he needs to talk to someone about his dad. So in the dark shadows of a party, he tells the one girl who doesn’t speak everything he can’t tell anyone else. West expected to feel relief, a flood of emotions – but what he didn’t expect was for Maggie Carleton to reply. For her to reveal a pain even deeper than his own. And, for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go [Goodreads]

Okay, I’ll confess that I have read a fair amount of Abbi Glines.. this is not her best.

As soon as I hit the first page, I felt that the novel was a little rushed. We were, literally, thrown into the action and it was where you realise that you have to adjust quite quickly. It’s a shame that we didn’t get to know more about the characters beforehand, however more is told later on… Maybe this was so that we could read the characters as stereotypes and then as we go on we find out they’re not…? I think I would have preferred a little more character detail before the little info dump that happens later on.

I’ve seen this storyline before in Charade by Nyrae Dawn, which is a great read, and if I compare it honestly, I don’t think this novel can even compare. The idea and the setting was good, I was excited to read about characters in high school, especially because Glines mostly writes about characters 21 and above. My problem came down to the relationship that grew between West and Maggie. When it started out, I really enjoyed it. Maggie was there for West because she felt like he needed it and I loved that. She was there to listen and West gave Maggie a set of ears in return.  She was silent but still encouraging and it was something that I could relate to.  But then, of course, there are the ‘feelings’ that play in. (Who knew this would be the part I would dislike?). West was so clingy! Like, seriously people?! I’m glad it was picked up on by Maggie but then a few pages later – back to his clingy-self. It came across as quite pathetic.

An interesting character relationship dynamic was Maggie, her aunt, uncle and cousin. It reminded me very much of A Nightmares Dream by Kody Keplinger because of the whole ‘reconnecting’ and creating a whole family again. It was a nice addition to the novel, especially since we never see or hear much about parents in her other books.

It’s a weak start, I’m unsure if I will continue to read more..

My rating
I was okay

2 cups