New/Young Adult

 

vanishing girls

Available 12th March 2015 from Hodder & Stoughton

Source: Bookbridgr

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

Vanishing Girls is marketed as a Young Adult novel – a genre that, as I have said before, I always feel too old to be reading. So sit down for this one… but I really, really liked it!

Telling the story of 17 year old Nick and her 16 year old sister Dara; who were once inseparable but since Dara started up a romance with Nick’s lifelong best friend Parker, and since the sisters were both in a car accident a couple of months back, their sisterly bond has become strained to say the least. Now, their parents have divorced, mum is severely depressed, Dara and her best friend Ari barely know eachother anymore, Parker can barely look at Nick, both girls feel the stares and whispers of the town and neither can bare to be in the same room as the other.

I was immediately drawn into Oliver’s storytelling; flitting between Nick and Dara’s views, and between before and after the car accident, I found myself being drawn into all the complexities of this sibling relationship, and enticed by the mysteries surrounding the girls. What actually happened the night of the accident? Nick cannot remember. What happened the night of the founders ball? Nick wont tell us. Where does Dara keep disappearing to? And what can any of it possibly have to do with the disappearance of 9-year-old local girl, Madeline Snow?

Now, there was a great twist to this story. Of course I saw it coming before the reveal, because I think it is a plot twist that I have come across a good few times now. However, I didn’t see it coming too early on, and in hindsight it was glaringly obvious, but I think I was just so absorbed in the relationship of the sisters, and Parker’s place in the triangle, and the whereabouts of young Madeline, that I didn’t give it too much thought. There was no specific clue that clinched it for me, it just sort of came to me out of the blue, and as soon as it did I knew that that was the twist to expect. And yes, that was a bit of a dampener for me, but it didn’t in any way detract from the brilliant depiction of the love-hate relationship between sisters and how striving for individuality can often only further highlight similarities.

So I have found a Young Adult novel that I really enjoyed. A fact much more shocking than the plot twist itself! And I can only put this down to Oliver’s talents for delving into human relationships – no matter at what age. I have a sister myself, and when we were younger she was just as often my worst enemy as she was my best friend – and it really is a lot more complex than ‘oh that’s just how sisters are’, and Oliver captures this beautifully.

Also, I really liked both Nick and Dara, and they actually came across as a lot more emotionally mature than the protagonists I’ve read of in other YA works – whilst still being very true to their age (and not your 30-something Dawson Creek style uber-mature ‘teenager’). So I think it is a case of either being able to imagine the characters as closer to my age because of that maturity, or being able to relate so much to the authenticity of the relationship that it takes me back to my own teenage years. Either way I didn’t feel ancient reading this, and that’s always a huge bonus!

Overall this was a very compelling and emotionally loaded read, and those that aren’t familiar with this particular kind of plot twist are in for a real treat.

My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review


 

canary

Available 26th February 2015 from Mulholland Books

Source: Bookbridgr

Every student needs a part-time job.

Hers is hunting criminals.

Sarie Holland is a good kid. An Honors student. She doesn’t even drink.

So when a narcotics cop busts her while she’s doing a favour for a friend, she has a lot to lose.

Desperate to avoid destroying her future, Sarie agrees to become a CI – a confidential informant. Armed only with a notebook, she turns out to be as good at catching criminals as she is at passing tests.

But it’s going to take more than one nineteen-year-old to clean up Philadelphia. Soon Sarie is caught in the middle of a power struggle between corrupt cops and warring gangs, with nothing on her side but stubbornness and smarts.

Which is bad news for both the police and the underworld. Because when it comes to payback, CI #137 turns out to be a very fast learner…

Although marketed as a crime mystery, I’m going to pop this one under New Adult – which is not really my favourite genre, I’m only 32 but feel depressingly too old for this sort of thing!

So Canary tells us the story of 19 year old Sarie. She is having a pretty rough time right now (New Adult 1st world problems!) – she is stressed about her final exams, mourning the death of her mother last year (OK, I’ll give her that one), has a strained relationship with her alcoholic/alcohol counsellor father, and has now found herself arrested on a narcotics charge… so as things are going pretty swimmingly, why not add a stint of being a confidential informant to the mix?

I kept dipping in and out of this one to begin with. There was nothing early on to reel me into the storytelling, nothing to hold my interest, and everything seemed a bit haphazard in the writing. I did like how our protagonist’s perspective was given in the form of journal entries addressed to her deceased mother, and the justifications for this – however, there was an awful lot of jumping about between other people’s perspectives, sometimes just a random paragraph chucked in there, and without sounding terribly slow, it was difficult to keep up and was a tad annoying.

I did like Sarie as a character though. She was a plucky, headstrong, and intelligent young woman – for one so intelligent though she did seem to make some ridiculously stupid decisions, but that kind of added to the authenticity of the 19 year old psyche. I also really liked Detective Wildey, Sarie’s arresting officer and ‘handler’. He depicted well the whole ‘good guy in a bad world’ role. I was never too sure about his relationship with Sarie, was it paternal or romantic? There were a few titbits in there to allude to his attraction to her, but nothing came of it.

Sarie’s main mission was to help Wildey bust elusive drug-lord ‘Chucky Morphine’ – Chucky is extremely mysterious, moves around a lot, and nobody really knows who he is. Then, da da daaaaaa, Sarie finally discovers ‘Chucky Morphine’s’ real identity and I gasped a huge…….’So What?!!’ I felt that maybe that was supposed to be a bit more of a shock revelation than it came across, and the drama just passed me by.

Unfortunately it wasn’t until I was at least three quarters of the way into the book that I started getting interested in what was going on – this was about more than just a naïve young girl and her small-time drug dealer not-quite-boyfriend and his notorious-yet-a-bit-lame supplier. Sarie found herself a small fish in a big old dirty pond and things started getting very dangerous for her. When the gangland stuff, hired hits, corrupt cops, and all that jazz got going, I did get stuck in. Unfortunately, it was all a bit late in the coming for me to rate this book too highly.

I will say though that if you are a fan of New Adult, and you like the crime thrillers, then as long as you can stick with the slow start you will really enjoy this story.

My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.


 

covert interview

Published by Missy Marciasa

Source: NetGalley

Covert Interview is the second book in the Covert Series, following Covert Assignment, a New Adult, coming of age series with romance and suspense. After growing up feeling like the unwanted leftovers of her parents’ divorce, Elle Paquet is finally an independent adult when she graduates from college to become an Information Scientist (the 21st century term for Librarian). What’s her first “adult” decision? She nixes her ten-year plan of going to grad school and marrying her college sweetheart to go work for the CIA and see how things turn out with hot agent Preston Raddick.

While Elle’s formal education may be over, life lessons are only just beginning. Preston teaches her a tough lesson about what a fling is and what it isn’t. Meanwhile, the CIA wants to know if she’s merely interested or truly committed to the agency. And are her skills up for the job? When Elle is given an assignment that tests her loyalty to her family and endangers herself and her loved ones, she learns that affiliation with the CIA means excitement can turn to danger at the drop of a hat, just as love can turn to heartbreak. Life as an adult is far harder than Elle ever imagined as she wrestles with unforeseen complications and new opportunities.

Covert Interview is about the unpredictable turns life can take.

Follow the freshly graduated Elle Paquet as she embarks on ‘adult’ life. The self-confessed geek has a lot to learn… with a new job as a CIA information scientist, new places to live, and a new dating scene to explore… but she is very excited about what her newfound independence will bring…

Hmm, well this one has me scratching my head. Covert Interview is marketed as ‘New Adult’ and I do think it is a book I would have really enjoyed in my teens so that’s fair enough. But, well I just felt so deflated after reading this!

Ok don’t get me wrong – it has the makings for a really good story. It really started building up and a few of those elements that I just thrive on – mystery, suspense, excitement – started to poke their heads around the page with promises of great rewards….and then…and then…well, and then I read two words – The End. What?!! Are you kidding? What the heck was that?! Did I miss something?? NOTHING happened!!

Ok, ok I know this is part of a series – and admittedly I haven’t read the first (this keeps happening to me!) so I cant compare it. But even so, this was most certainly not a stand-alone,(I hadn’t realised it was a sequel, and I really ought to have read the first prior) nor could it be considered as a good instalment, it was more just a really long intro to what I hope will be a much better third instalment.

Its a shame and it does pain me to be so negative about this book, because aside from a couple of issues – like whole sentences or paragraphs paraphrased in quite quick succession; or the lead character disturbingly using the same metaphors during discussions with her father about life that she uses during flirty foreplay with her lover – yes aside from those things, I was actually really enjoying the story until I found that I was already at the end of the book and…well I really mean a whole load of nothing happened!

Admittedly I am relatively new to the whole new adult/young adult thing – so maybe I’m expecting too much – At 30 I suppose I’m not really the target audience :-( And I must confess I will read the next one in the series, because I want my reward!!

My thanks to the author for sending this book for review.


escape reality

Published by Julie Patra Publishing

Source: NetGalley

Infinite possibilities….
Infinite passion…..
Infinite danger….

His touch spirals through me, warm and sweet, wicked and hot. I shouldn’t trust him. I shouldn’t tell him my secrets. But how do I not when he is the reason I breathe? He is what I need.

At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loves to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten–even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets down her guard, the ghosts of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run.

On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give? And what if there is more to Liam than meets the eyes?

Escaping reality is the story of a young girl, Amy Benson, who has suffered some sort of traumatic past – enough for her to be on the run – with a secret identity and a handler who tells her its time to up and leave as her current identity is compromised.

Sounds pretty good so far…and it was a very quick start, straight in there with the mystery and intrigue, I couldn’t wait to find out all about this girl and the ghosts she was running from…

Then Amy Benson gets on a flight and sits next to multi-billionaire Christian Grey…

Oops, did I say Christian Grey? Sorry I meant Liam Stone. I must have been confused by his dazzling good looks, his huge bank balance, his desire to teach the poor, innocent, and inexperienced young Amy a multitude of pleasures that she could never imagine in her wildest fantasies, and his ridiculous overuse of the word ‘baby’.

Was this author serious?! And when Liam turns up in his grey suit and matching grey silk tie…well I couldn’t help but wonder how long it took the plagiarism lawyers to be knocking on Jones’ door! At one point I even read “We are the many shades of gray…” I mean, come on!!

Unfortunately, what promised to be a great mystery thriller, turned out to be a complete rip-off of a story that I’m quite well known for not having enjoyed even the first time around!
The ending was very abrupt – I was hoping Amy’s demons and the mystery surrounding her life would somewhat make up for all of this – but it turns out I have to read the next in the series to even hope to get any answers…and I’m just not sure if I can do that to myself again!

*My thanks to the author and Julie Patra Publishing for providing this book for review

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