Saturday, May 18, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Interview with Sophia Bennett

Today I get to be on the blog tour for Sophia Bennett's latest novel, YOU DON'T KNOW ME. If you know me (do you see what I did there???), you'll know that I am a HUGE fan of Sophia's writing and would never have forgiven myself if I said I didn't want to be on this tour!


Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Book Depository
 


Sasha, Jodie, Nell and Rose never expected to be famous. They didn’t want to be. In fact, they wanted to keep their band a secret because it’s what they do when they’re being stupid together – dressing up and singing cheesy songs.

But someone has stolen a video they made. It’s online, and it’s been entered into a talent competition. And what’s more … it’s got 24 votes. In only a few hours it’s got 24 votes.

The girls are about to be faced with a big decision that could make them seriously famous.

Just not necessarily the way they hoped …

--Goodreads summary
In YOU DON'T KNOW ME, Sasha and Rose's relationship is put to "the ultimate test." Have you ever been in a similar situation with somebody close to you? 
I have definitely made mistakes with people close to me. I always tried to do the right thing, but I remember a few times at school when I was selfish, or tried to do what other people wanted and didn't put friendship first. However, my mistakes were on a much lower level than Sasha's. She gets into trouble on national TV; I still feel guilty about spending the whole weekend at a friend's house reading her Nancy Drew books instead of talking to her. Not quite the same … 

My problem was that, living in an army family, I was always moving and often had to say goodbye to friends for good. Even once I left home, I often moved for reasons to do with university or jobs, so there are many, many people in my life who I got close to and then never saw again. Perhaps that's why I value good friendships so much. If you have one, treat it carefully. it's more precious than you know.

What was thing you most loved about writing YOU DON'T KNOW ME?
Interesting question! To be honest, each book I've written has been harder than the last and You Don't Know Me was very, very difficult. I knew the story I wanted to write, but the characters just wouldn't do what I wanted. I rewrote almost every scene many times. However, it often happens that the bits I'm dreading most turn out to be the easiest to do. In The Look, for example, I was nervous about writing the hairdressing scene because it was potentially so sad, and it was so central to the story. But when I came to it, it was uplifting and a joy to do. I finished it in one afternoon.

In You Don't Know Me, I was nervous about writing lines from the songs. I'm not normally a songwriter and thought I'd really struggle. However, each time, the words I needed just came. I assumed I'd change them later, but I didn't. I was happy that they captured the emotion I wanted for the scene. We even ended up naming the book after one of them. So it became a book about songwriting, and songwriting was the bit I enjoyed best.
  
For the record, I adored the songwriting. So, teen Sophia, discuss! What recent releases would she find herself staying up super late to read, if they had been written back then?
Well funnily enough, my favourite recent release is set in 1986, when I was twenty, so I'd have felt very at home with it! It's Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell. A wonderful bittersweet love story about a fierce, cynical redhead girl and a shy, beautiful half-Korean boy. Eleanor's home life is, as she puts it, too bleak to talk about. She doesn't want to impose her problems on anyone and is convinced that any attempts she makes at happiness will fail. Nevertheless, she bonds with Park over comic books and mix tapes. Their love story is slow-burn, tender and true. And heartbreaking. As my own teen love life was hopeless/non-existent, I'd have loved to lose myself in this book. 

I also read a lot of adult spy and mystery stories, like John Le Carre, Len Deighton and Dorothy Sayers, so I'd be busy reading Gone Girl, A Delicate Truth and Death comes to Pemberley (Jane Austen meets PD James - perfect!). I discovered Iain Banks in my late teens, and The Wasp Factory just blew me away. It's his debut novel, came out in 1984, is weird and murderous and has the most extraordinary ending. Then I read The Crow Road, which has the most extraordinary beginning: "It was the day my grandmother exploded." How can you not be gripped by a book that starts like that? He recently announced that  he is dying of gall-bladder cancer and teen-me would be desperate to read his new book, The Quarry, which comes out this summer will almost certainly be his last. And I'd be re-reading his back catalogue, which is incredible. In fact, I probably will. 

I have All The Feelings when I think about Eleanor & Park. This one is highly recommended from both of us! I've been meaning to read Gone Girl, and definitely all of Iain Banks, after hearing his news.
You are, without a doubt, one of my favourite UKYA contemporary/realistic fiction authors, ever. What draws you to contemporary fiction (within YA)?
Thank you! I always knew I wanted to write for children/young adults, but I never really pictured myself writing contemporary YA. My first - unpublished - books were mysteries. I love the worlds of Harry Potter and Hunger Games, but I can't see myself writing fantasy. The things that fascinate me, and the ideas that come to me, are based on what's going on around me now. I'm fascinated by modern culture and politics, and how young people adapt to it. The 'what if's that occur to me and inspire my stories are all about how a modern teenager would cope with one of the extreme situations we read about online or see on TV. Plus, it gives me the chance to live lots of fantasy lives, as a fashion designer, journalist, model, pop star etc, which is always fun. 

Would you ever consider writing in another genre? Gotta love those vampires, and um, apocalypses!
Yes, I'd love to experiment with other genres if I get the chance. No vampires. Definitely no apocalypses. Maybe ghost stories, which were the first stories I told late at night at boarding school, to scare my friends. (It worked.) Definitely mystery stories one day, because I love them. Just possibly sci fi, because I love the 'what if' element to it and I think some of our greatest short novels are sci fi. But for now, contemporary, because the ideas are still stacking up, like planes ...
 Ooh, sci-fi and mystery, sign me up!
Quickfire: 
 Hottest YA book/author to look out for this year?
As I mentioned, Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell. James Dawson has a new one coming out, which I'm sure will make a splash after Hollow Pike. The Madman's Daughter, beautifully written by Megan Shepherd, based on The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Finish the sentence: The last song I listened to was… 
'You Lost Your Place' by Wayward Daughter. I listened to it a lot while I was writing the book and again while I was putting together the playlist for this blog tour. Haunting song.

It is finally starting to look like we Brits will actually have a summer this year. What's the first summer-activity on your to-do list?
Music festival! Having written about one in the story, I really want to go to one again soon. I'll be at the last day of Glastonbury, because my parents live locally, but I'd love to go to a smaller festival too. I wouldn't mind experimenting with glamping under the apple trees …

I wish I was glamping under the apple trees... *sigh*

Thank you Sophia, for answering my questions! I should hopefully have my review up in the following week, after my English Lit exams, so make sure you guys to come back so you can see how much I enjoyed You Don't Know Me.

Sophia Bennett on
Her website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Next stop on the tour: Girls Heart Books


♥Iffath

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

REVIEW: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith

Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
Pages: 224
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 4th April, 2013
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: Publisher (for review)

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

 --Goodreads summary

Y'all wish you could see me right now, writing this review. Let me tell you, I have the biggest smile on my face. Like, ever. It is ADORABLE.

There were so many ways this could have gone wrong. I mean, as fab as it sounds, loosely based around the idea of fate and accidentally sending an email to somebody who turns out to be a celebrity? The odds are kind of one in a million. Starting an actual relationship, romantic or otherwise, from this chance email? Unbelievable. But the thing is...it DIDN'T go wrong. It grabbed any doubts I had and ripped them to pieces. It wasn't just the emails, but everything, that I loved. And it's not completely light and fun, there's some serious stuff in there too, and the way Smith has written it and developed the characters was fantastic.

So, the premise is fairly simple. Misguided emails, one person in this email is secretly a celebrity, they meet and start a relationship. Except...not quite. This story is SO much more than that. Jennifer Smith, in the excellent way she does, gives both characters their own story lines beyond the romance. Ellie has this massive secret and some family issues. Graham has family issues of a different nature, as well as the natural issues that come with being a celebrity. And both have to deal with the complications these secrets and separate issues have on their relationship. Add to the fact that, you know, Ellie didn't KNOW he was famous. Things are complicated and intricate and beautiful and heartbreaking. 


I really really liked Graham as a person. He seemed like a really down-to-earth guy. You wouldn't expect him, being a celebrity, to actually reply to some random stranger on the internet. The risks, y'know? But he does, and I thought it was really sweet. Their emails were really them, and I loved that. I feel like you guys will hate me for using the word adorable about fifty times in this review but seriously, I don't know how else to describe it all. 

I'm not going to lie, I've thought often about what would happen if I wrote an email and then accidentally sent it to somebody I didn't even know, to then receive a reply from them. Even better, that person happens to be my age, and also a super hot guy. *winky face* No seriously, I think it's awesome. I've always wanted a penpal, but it's really hard to actually find somebody who a) is my age, and b) likes the same things I do. So when I heard about THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE, I kind of fangirled a little at the idea of it. It's just so adorable, man. I could read you out the Oxford English Dictionary definition of 'adorable,' and if you didn't understand, I'd probably shove a copy of it at you and say "Read this and you will KNOW." Basically, the one negative feeling I felt whilst reading it was bitterness because it wasn't happening to me, but I think my default mode is bitter, so it's all good.

One of my favourite things in the story was how Ellie worked in an ice-cream shop. AN ICE-CREAM SHOP. Ice-cream is my absolute favourite thing in the entire world, after books. It is seriously my dream to work in an ice-cream shop, and that is another reason why I hate Ellie. It's so unfAIR. (I don't really hate Ellie. She is lovely. I want to be her ok pls and thank u)

Though I didn't love it as much as I loved THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT (I don't think Jennifer Smith could ever write anything to top that one), THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE is definitely one of my favourite reads for summer. It is one of those perfect pick-me-up books, and comes highly recommended from me.



“...

♥Iffath

Thursday, April 25, 2013

(sorry)


x

♥Iffath

Monday, April 15, 2013

REVIEW: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Title: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Pages: 352
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: 7th February, 2013
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (for review)

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting-or stealing-whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. So instead of being the heir-this time, Hale might be the mark. Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy.

 --Goodreads summary

I didn't think this serious could get any better.

I was wrong.

Firstly, KAT AND HALE ARE TOGETHER. Do you even need to know any more??

Kat really made the book for me, I think. I've loved her since HEIST SOCIETY, but in PERFECT SCOUNDRELS, Kat really shone. Her strength through everything going on surprised me, but I should have known. I liked seeing the conflicted emotions sparking inside her, after all, even thieves lose some of their confidence.

I also really can't get enough of Hale. With the death of an extremely close relative, we get to see the more vulnerable side of Hale, and though the circumstances are not ideal, I really enjoyed seeing it. Rather than revolving around Kat's family, the story focuses on Hale's background, and there was so much to it that made me love him: his family's nickname for him (squee), his relationship with his parents. It was also nice to see him as an actual character rather than just a love interest, which I've found is happening in more than a few YA books now.

I don't even think I need to mention how happy the return of the crew/my (ONE DAY) bffs Uncle Eddie, Gabrielle, Simon, and the Bagshawe brothers. They were all as clever and fabulous as usual.

 The book's heist, though it doesn't involve Hale directly for a lot of it, tugged on my heart strings to the point of ripping the out. It's so clear here how Kat feels for Hale, how they all feel for Hale really, but Kat the most. It's all for him and I want to stop typing before I start bawling at the thought. (sigh). It's clear that this mission isn't like anything they've previously carried out. No, it's more on the personal side of things, more intricate.

Although I loved reading the book, I did find myself getting angry quite a lot during. Mostly at Hale. Okay, always at Hale, despite what I said earlier. Like just everything he did I was like "no Hale you can't that is not okay" "pls can i strangle you now i don't care how hot you are" but I'm not going to lie I still adore him and by the end I was like "you go boy" ok I will shut up now. My bbys <3 font="">

Ally Carter is the goddess of YA mysteries, in my eyes. She has this super-special ability that not only captivates you, but completely immerses you in the characters' world, and even though I had a million things to do, I just had to finish reading it in one sitting. I know some people were disappointed in the book overall, but I am not one of those people. If you've failed to pick up any of this series, I demand you do so immediately because PERFECT SCOUNDRELS is really just the icing on the Amazing Ally Carter cake.

Wait, I'm just going to highlight the fact that Hale's real name wasn't revealed in PERFECT SCOUNDRELS. Do you know what that means?
A  F O U R T H  B O O K
(pls ally carter make this happen 4 me pls x)
(i need to stop kidding myself i know)

(apologies for this because i haven't written a review in years)
“...

♥Iffath
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