Friday, January 23, 2015

REVIEW - SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone
by Morgan Matson
Publisher -  Simon & Schuster
Release Date - May 6th 2014
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. 

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…
The Reader's Lounge first book of the year, is a amazing rendition of friendship, love, and loss; from the highly acclaimed author of Second Chance Summer and Amy & Rodger Epic Detour. I've been meaning to read this for ages and when it came up as our first book by vote, I was very excited to get started.

Emily is a girl living in the shadows, invisible to the social eye as it were, until she meets a very loud and characteristically vintage girl named Sloane. They first met on one of Em's running route, Sloane had locked herself out and was in desperate need to wash her hair before it turned green. Your probably thinking, what a weird girl, Em thought that and so did I! Sloane and Emily have been inseparable ever since. Until, out of the blue, Sloane has just...gone. Emily is completely at a loss what to do, she's phoned, left messages and gone round her house. It's only when a letter arrives that she knows what she has to do... complete the list in hope to find Sloane.

Since You've Been Gone is a novel about finding yourself, going through the motions but also going outside your comfort zone. You are completely surrounded by a world you are unable to identify with because the person who helped you in no longer there. At first I felt like Emily as quite moany to a point, she was so narrow-minded when you think about her character overall. But to be honest it is totally relatable, if you think about it. There is always someone who is the heart of the group of friends that make you a part of them. Now Emily's tie to her and to society as they both know it is broken. What I find is that we see a depth of friendship like no other, where Emily will travel to the world until she finds her best friend.

Emily has met a very unique persona of a friend, so she is used to seeing the world through a different pair of eyes. When she starts to tick off the list, she builds new friendships and new relationships which you see such a difference in Emily, starting with and most importantly with Frank Porter, her romantic interest. Frank is shown as the guy who the most popular, has a beautiful, yet he finds himself stuck for the summer at home. Their first meet was rather adorable as they seem so awkward with each other, but I felt it as if Frank really showed his true self. Frank doesn't push being her friend, but its as if they are meant to be together as they naturally grow and towards each other. With Frank comes Collins, you could say he's the funny guy of the group, always making things light and interesting when it comes to certain points of the list. Finally there is Dawn, a drama-queen none-the-less whilst I wasn't overly keen with her in the beginning purely because I didn't want her to replace Sloane so much either. 

As one of Miss Morgan's first books I've read, I believe that this is only the beginning for me and her written prose. Her style, is so easy to connect with and I loved how she incorporates various music Mix's and little snippets of parchment in the book, it really gives a different feel to a contemporary that I wouldn't usually read. Since You've Been Gone stands out from all the rest! A friendship like no other, you really would want to read this! 

Rating - 4

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ARC REVIEW - CONSPIRACY GIRL by Sarah Alderson

Conspiracy Girl
by Sarah Alderson
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Release Date - February 12th 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Everybody knows about the Cooper Killings – the Bel Air home invasion that rocked the nation.There was only one survivor - a sixteen year-old girl.And though the killers were caught they walked free.

Now eighteen, Nic Preston - the girl who survived - is trying hard to rebuild her life. She’s security conscious to the point of paranoia and her only friend is a French Mastiff bulldog, but she’s making progress. She’s started college in New York and has even begun dating.

But then one night her apartment is broken into and the life Nic’s worked so hard to create is shattered in an instant.
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.

Fleeing across a snowbound New England, frantically trying to uncover the motive behind the murders, Nic and Finn come to realize the conspiracy is bigger than they could ever have suspected. 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.
One of my most anticipated reads of this year for me and it didn't disappoint yet again. Since meeting Sarah last year, I've made it my mission to read all of her books, especially her upcoming ones. I also met Jasprit last year decided to buddy read it together. What I found is that Sarah creates such a gripping, intense and action-packed thriller that it really is unputdownable. 

Conspiracy Girl, a novel written in dual perspective takes on the life of Nic Preston, a life ruined by grief, loss, humiliation and her celebrity status. She has lived her life splashed across the tabloids after her mum and step-sister where murdered one night in LA. Copper Killings have lived on, until one very night in Nic's apartment building was broken into. Her dearest neighbour, was murdered in cold blood trying to help her, and now she is on the run fighting for her life and finally survive yet another stake on her life. After going from safe house to safe house, she finally lands at the doorstep of Finn Carter, a man of many talents as well as no stranger to the Cooper Killings trail. 

From the beginning of the novel, you are undoubtedly thrown in at the deep end. Literally. Adrenaline is pulsing, through, you have no idea what is going on apart from a very paranoid, panic-driven scared girl with a bulldog named Goz hiding in a room from the intruders. Nic certainly is an defensive character, but yet one I found cleverly created. Goz, her bulldog was just adorable and really showed how she relied on someone like that, but also how her character is so raw and full of cracks, that she almost seems breakable. Dogs really are your best friends and your protector. 

While the plot thickens, you have Finn, Oh Finn. Sarah Alderson has the capacity to make any male character make you swoon, deeply and irrevocably. She doesn't just give you the full picture, of who Finn his and his many talents. He certainly has many talents that for sure. Sarah lets you warm up to Finn, slowly and painfully. The tension and your general concentration is completely thrown out of the window. Between Nic and Finn they are a dismantled bomb...with their past firmly stuck in the middle connecting on more deeply levels, they both really don't know which way too look. Nic a suspect in a murder investigation, Finn liaison with the FBI and a defense against Nic's mum and step-sisters death. But you are in for an explosive climax. Whilst Sarah really focus on the characters, she also creates some moments of pure joy and humour. Between Nic and Finn, their interactions grow throughout the whole book. There is a scene which had me in a fit of laughter...here's a snippet...
"Finn's lying in the bath, his head tipped back against the edge and his eyes closed... For a heart-stopping moment I think he;s dead and then I realise he's just asleep....I turn in a fluster, almost tripping over Goz, who has come to investigate. Goz struts right past me and pads over to the bath.
'Goz!' I hiss. 'Come back!'
But Goz ignores me....He picks up a paw and in a moment of pure horror I see exactly what he's about to do....'Goz!' I shout as my dog's paw touches the water, prodding Finn in the stomach. Finn shoot upright in the tub, jumping straight to his feet..."
Although this does remind of some of her novels, like The Sound, which can make this a little predictable at times, if I were to be picky. But that is uber pickiness. Yet Sarah still does capture my attention for more...If you want a combination of some action-packed scenes and swoon-worthy characters, your in for a winner. From page 1 you are already half-way there...

Rating - 4.5 

*Quotes are taken from an Advanced copy and could be subjected to change in the final copy* Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Sarah for reading this book in exchange for an honest review!*

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

REVIEW - THE HERE AND NOW by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now
by Ann Brashares
Publisher - Hodder's Children's Books (UK)
Release Date - January 1st 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository 

TIME TRAVEL AND FORBIDDEN ROMANCE FROM THE BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS

Thrilling, exhilarating, haunting and heartbreaking, The Here and Now is a twenty-first-century take of an impossible romance. 

There are rules.

Never reveal where you’re from.Never be intimate with anyone outside the community.And never interfere with history. 

Seventeen-year-old Prenna James emigrated to New York when she was twelve. But Prenna didn't come from a different country, she came from a different time - a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. 

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules. Prenna does as she's told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth and take the lives of her younger brothers. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan. 

She might be able to save the world ... if she lets go of the one thing she's found to hold on to.
Of late I seem to be having a great run with science-fiction and time travel novels. The Here and Now is exactly one of those novels. I didn't really know what this was if I'm honest, sometimes I tend to pick up a book that I like the look of, glancing over the book description, yet not really knowing what I'm in for. And I love when a book completely surprises me. 

Back in a world, our future, Prenna James and the whole human race was facing extinction. In the future people were dying from blood born plague derived from a mosquito. So when it became critical, the council decided to create a time path, to go back to our present and to live there lives, whilst trying to save and to prevent her time from becoming reality. The Elders and The Council still rule even. Under a different time. So they initiated rules and precautions, to live as community with the humans, yet stop any harm coming to them in return. This all seems rather sensible but what if these rules were just a cover to what lies beneath! The truth to what really started this epidemic! 

Prenna has to live by rules, abide by their precautions and to never reveal where they really came from. That's sounds reasonable, wouldn't you say, however, that could predict to be difficult when she meets Ethan Jarves. Prenna is a character that doesn't like to be mollycoddled, or told what to do, she tunes out from that, she's independent and a strong willed woman. That's what I loved about her, her faults or lack of social skills made her so easy to connect with. The more she shied away from who she was, the more her confidence  bloomed when she wanted to make friends, especially with Ethan. 

When Ethan was twelve years, he witnessed something not-of-this-world, when Prenna moved to present day. He was there, he spoke to her, he gave her a sweater, but she doesn't remember that day! Since then he has been able to know and sense when a traveler is among them. But Ethan goes against all the rules, yet Prenna can't stop finding herself drawn to him...At first, Ethan is such a free spirit to encounter, persistent, impatient to say the least, but you couldn't fault him. Together their persistence, intelligence and passion for each other and future dominated the whole story.

Both Ethan and Prenna uncover far more than ever anticipated together. They discover a crucial point in time that will prevent this epidemic from happening, to convince others, that these people who lead them, are only keeping secrets to protect themselves rather than protecting their colony rather human race. Ethan and Prenna are very loveable characters. Worlds and time apart, they are far more in tune than you could imagine.  

When I first started reading this book, The Here and Now very much reminded me of The 100, the various angles of the plotline. However the epidemic of the novel was scarily relatable to reality, the pace and writing was fueled the thrilling nature of the novel. This is the first novel I've read by Ann Brashares and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing yet another perspective to the world of science fiction. This book was a page turner from beginning to end. 

Rating - 4.5
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