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Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

April 18, 2016

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan MatsonSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books on 6th May 2014
Pages: 449
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Goodreads
five-stars
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?

As I’m away on holiday, I’ve been delving into my drafts pile to see what posts I can put up for you all whilst I’m gone. Much like Eleanor & Park, this review has been sat in the drafts for a long, long time but I can’t not share a review of a book by one of my favourite authors ever!

Something that’s talked about a fair bit in the book blogging world is the worry that you won’t love a favourite author’s new book. And let me tell you, the fear was strong when it came to Since You’ve Been Gone. But, of course, Morgan Matson more than delivered here.

I loved the theme of finding yourself – truly – when your best friend disappears. I’ve been in a similar situation – my friend didn’t disappear but we did grow apart and it was so hard to try and work out who I was as a person without having that person there. So to say I connected with Emily is an understatement. I expected to dislike Sloane for leaving, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Because despite the fact that Emily was left alone, she still loved Sloane dearly, and wasn’t prepared to just lose her without a fight. I love how she left Emily the list – her way of making sure Emily would be okay without her. The flashback scenes that showed Emily and Sloane’s friendship were excellent to read. And it is so nice to read about a genuine friendship between two girls in YA – there’s no frenemy shit, just two best friends and I LOVED it.

And Frank! Where do I start with Frank?! I loved how his relationship with Emily grew throughout the book – it was so refreshing to read about a really nice guy who has no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive. He’s just super kind to everyone. That’s not to say he’s without flaws – he does have them – but I found him far more enjoyable to read about than the stereotypical ‘bad guy turned good’. Morgan Matson writes some stellar male characters who aren’t douches (Roger, Henry, Frank and Collins) and they are so realistically portrayed. I love nice guys. And I love that Morgan Matson seems to love nice guys too.

No Morgan Matson book is complete without music, so naturally, I nearly squealed when I saw the playlists. I love playlists. Especially  when they’re in books! And I loved how they became a part of Since You’ve Been Gone, they weren’t just thrown in to try and make things interesting – they actually had relevance to the story.

Since You’ve Been Gone was everything I needed and wanted it to be, and it’s easily one of my favourite reads of 2015 so far. Now just to wait for the release of The Unexpected Everything…

Book Review: Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson

May 20, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Conspiracy Girl by Sarah AldersonConspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books on 12th February 2015
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
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.

I’m kicking myself so hard for not reading Conspiracy Girl sooner. Had I known such a fast-paced, high octane read was waiting for me, I would have definitely picked it up quicker! Conspiracy Girl is a total gem of a book, and one that I feel has been a little overlooked, but I don’t know why because it is absolutely fantastic.

I did have a few issues with the formatting, but honestly, because the book had such an incredible plot, I could easily overlook this as I blasted through the pages. I found myself absorbed into Nic’s story immediately, and really felt sorry for her when I learnt just how much trauma she’d gone through. And that trauma just kept on coming throughout Conspiracy Girl, I found myself reading and thinking ‘Nic cannot possibly go through ANYMORE. She’s dealt with too much already!’ but Nic was one tough cookie, and she wasn’t going to be destroyed without a fight. She was incredibly guarded but I enjoyed seeing her walls slowly come down, especially around Finn.

I thought the chemistry between Finn and Nic was amazing. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the romance in Conspiracy Girl, I thought it would be a little out of place but I actually loved it. I loved Finn’s character, seeing him wrestle with his feelings for Nic against his determination to keep her safe and not let the demons of his past come back to haunt him. I feel like because they were in such a highly charged situation their emotions were also highly charged and that just led to them being unable to fight the attraction they both felt.

There was a lot of mystery surrounding Conspiracy Girl which kept me guessing throughout the entire book, although I did cotton on who the FBI leak was pretty early, but I understood why Finn and Nic didn’t work it out straight away. I literally daren’t say any more because I really don’t want to give anything away accidentally!

Conspiracy Girl was an absolutely ace read that I enjoyed reading from start to finish, and I cannot wait to tear into the rest of Sarah Alderson’s back catalogue. I already have Out of Control waiting for me, and it certainly won’t be long before I pick it up!

Book Review: The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis

December 1, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Dark Inside by Rupert WallisThe Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books on 30th January 2014
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
two-stars
When thirteen-year-old James discovers a homeless man in an abandoned house, the course of his life changes dramatically. Hoping to find a 'cure' for a dark curse inflicted on the homeless man, the pair embark on a journey together not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined...A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope, perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.

If we’re being totally honest with one another here, I’m not entirely sure why I requested The Dark Inside. I think I got a little blind-sided by Netgalley and the reviews that I’d seen for this book and thought it would be a good idea to read it myself, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be a book for me. And unfortunately, I was right.

If you were to ask me right now what The Dark Inside was about, I wouldn’t really have a proper answer to give you. Even after I’ve pondered over it for ages, I’m still not entirely sure what I read. The writing itself was excellent – easily my favourite part of the book – but the storyline just didn’t really go anywhere for me. I was totally lost the whole time I was reading, which I feel really bad about, but this just goes to show that a book simply cannot be for everyone. I know people who enjoyed The Dark Inside, but it just wasn’t one for me.

I never really got attached to the characters either. I felt like we didn’t know enough about them for me to really connect and feel anything for them at all. I was totally ambivalent about them all and I hate that. I did read The Dark Inside quickly, and I think that was because I enjoyed the writing and found it easy to read as I didn’t have that connection with a character that made me savour my time with them. Awful to say, but true.

The Dark Inside is certainly not the worst book I’ve read, just not the best book for me. We just didn’t click like I have done with other books, but that’s okay. It doesn’t mean it was terrible, we just didn’t work out.

Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

December 5, 2011

Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna YovanoffThe Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books on 21st September 2010
Pages: 375
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Goodreads
three-stars
Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black, murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago when it was stolen away by the fey. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. Mackie would give anything just to be normal, to live quietly amongst humans, practice his bass guitar and spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem, where he must face down the dark creatures and find his rightful place - in our world, or theirs.
I picked this book up for £1.50 in my local charity shop. It was a book I’d read about on other blogs, yet I had no real desire to purchase it and read it myself. However, I am unable to resist a bargain, especially a book bargain, so I picked this up and kind of left it sitting on my book pile, staring at me longingly. I eventually picked it up when I was in the mood for something darker than what I had been reading.
What worked for me: I loved Tate’s character. She was very real, and a very well thought out character. She didn’t just fall into Mackie’s arms when he finally decided he actually did like her, she was fiercely independent, yet also full of anger as she has lost her younger sibling and would do anything to get her back. The town of Gentry was an interesting concept, I liked the thought of the townsfolk knowing what was going on with some of the children of the town yet they didn’t try to stop it from happening, they simply carried on as normal and just accepted that it would happen. I also liked the House of Mayhem and all its inhabitants and how they wove neatly into the town of Gentry too.

Also, and this is something that could have bothered some people, but I thought Yovanoff’s use of language was spot-on, the swearing in the story felt natural, it didn’t feel forced or out of place, and it wasn’t overused.

What didn’t work for me: I didn’t like that each time I put the book down to do something, I lost the desire to keep reading. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I really wanted to pick it up and read it again, which saddened me, as the story itself was very good.

Would I recommend this? I’d definitely recommend this to fans of paranormal YA (specifically those who love reading about the fey). I’m pleased I finally read this, however I highly doubt that had I not gotten such a good deal on this book that I would have bought it off of Amazon.