Giveaway! Win Also Known As by Robin Benway!

 

About the book:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As by Robin Benway? Just will out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. US mailing addresses only.

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Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

 

 

Title: Also Known As

Author: Robin Benway

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.


Review:

When I saw Also Known As on Netgalley, I immediately requested a copy.  I love YA books featuring spies, espionage, and danger, and this title looked like it had all of that in spades.  Plus, as an added bonus, protagonist Maggie is a gifted safe-cracker.  Seriously, it just doesn’t get any more fun than that!  The first chapter kind of bogged me down, but once I hit my stride, I gobbled Also Known As in just an afternoon.  I didn’t want to put it down, and it had me so engaged in the story that I was able to overlook a few inconsistences that would have driven me crazy otherwise.  This is a fun read, with a confident though in over her head heroine, and an engaging cast of supporting characters.  I really hope Maggie will return for more adventures.

Maggie has been living the life of a spy forever.  Both of her parents are employed by the Collective, and they spend their days trying to make the world a safer place by putting the brakes on gun runners, human traffickers, and other nefarious plots designed to shake up the world order.  Maggie has been cracking locks since she was a toddler, and she fully expects to follow in her parents’ spy footsteps, cracking locks and stealing away with evil doers’ plans to destroy peace and stability.  When she’s given her first solo assignment in NYC, she couldn’t be more thrilled.  All she has to do is befriend Jesse Oliver.  Jesse’s father runs a powerful publishing empire, and he’s planning to run an expose outing Maggie, her family, and the Collective.  If she can’t steal the documents that threaten to ruin her family, they will be in big, big danger.

Now, I’m not even going to wonder why the Collective, a super secret spy organization, is putting an inexperienced spy in charge of saving everyone’s bacon.  Instead, I allowed myself to get sucked into Maggie’s upbeat and very entertaining narrative.  She has all of the confidence in the world, and she is going to make everyone proud of her.  She is going to live up to her legacy and steal those damaging documents!  All she has to do is pretend to be friends with Jesse, and she’s in like Flynn!

Only that’s not how things work out.  As Maggie embraces her assignment, she’s determined to do everything in her power to be successful.  But as she makes friends with a social outcast, and gets caught up in going to school and hanging out with kids her own age, she starts to see that it’s more difficult to pretend that she ever had thought.  And after she and Jesse connect on a personal level, she realizes, to her dismay, that she’s not pretending anymore.  She really likes him, and she really likes her new friend Roux, and she knows her parents are never going to understand her lapse in judgment.  They’ve trained her better than that, haven’t they?

I loved Maggie’s anxiety about hurting her new friends.  Now that she actually has some, she is loathe to lose them.  She is lying to everyone, though, and it’s making her miserable.  Being a teen spy is just not as easy as it sounds!  She can’t let her parents know that she kissed Jesse (and that she’d do it again in a second), or that her friendship with Roux isn’t just for cover.  She is dealing with so many issues that she never considered, it’s no wonder she can’t get a decent night’s sleep!

Also Known As lived up to all of my expectations, and even exceeded them.  The pacing is spot on, the plot never lagged, and Maggie is a fun, likable character, even if she did need to be knocked down a peg or two.  Recommended for fans of Ally Carter.  Check back later today for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As!

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Juliet Madison, Author of Fast Forward and Giveaway!

Juliet Madison is visiting the virtual offices this morning to chat about her new book Fast Forward.  Check out what she has to say about her latest release!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Juliet Madison] Writer, mother, creative, passionate, determined, daydreamer, positive, health-conscious, thinker, helper, impatient, night owl.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Fast Forward?

[Juliet Madison] Fast Forward is a romantic comedy with a time-travel twist, out now from Escape Publishing. Here’s the blurb:

Aspiring supermodel, Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.

Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband and hideous support underwear forever?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Juliet Madison] I came up with the concept when I was reading a book where a character acted beyond her years, and I thought it would be fun to write about a character ageing suddenly and jumping ahead to the future. I remembered movies like Suddenly 30 (13 Going on 30), Big, and 17 Again, but in all of these, the character becomes a ‘desirable’ age – youthful, energetic, successful, attractive…etc, so I decided to do the opposite – take a beautiful young character and make her an age she doesn’t want to be, in a life she doesn’t want to be in. I chose a model because I wanted to have a character who relied on her looks for her career suddenly realise she doesn’t have those looks anymore and has to discover who she really is on the inside. And because her boyfriend is a gorgeous, successful, rich man, I made her husband in the future someone completely different – a geek she used to tease in high school.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Kelli?

[Juliet Madison] Young Kelli – Beautiful, idealistic, certain

Future Kelli – confused, determined, resourceful

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Kelli had a theme song, what would it be?

[Juliet Madison] Young Kelli – Material Girl (Madonna)

Future Kelli – Help! (The Beatles)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Kelli won’t leave the house without.

[Juliet Madison] Young Kelli – shine control oil blotting sheets

Future Kelli – e-pad (an awesome invention you’ll read about in the book!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kelli’s purse?

[Juliet Madison] Cheap make-up, junk food, a library card.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Juliet Madison] Other authors’ books, great movies, well-written television shows… these all reinforce the power of fiction to enrich our lives and they get me itching to write! Also nature, there’s something about it that inspires me and brings out my creative side.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Juliet Madison] 1.Time.

2. My trusty Alphasmart NEO (or computer).

3. A brief list of plot points for what I’m going to be writing about.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Juliet Madison] It was actually a non-fiction book called Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani, about her near death experience. Fascinating stuff, and very inspiring.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Juliet Madison] The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I loved escaping into the world of the tree, it taught me how powerful the imagination is and how powerful books can be.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Juliet Madison] Reading, watching movies and TV shows, exploring the shops in town, having lunch at the beach, chatting on facebook and twitter!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Juliet Madison] Website: http://www.julietmadison.com

Blog: http://www.julietmadison.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/julietmadisonauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/juliet_madison

Buy FAST FORWARD via Escape Publishing: http://www.escapepublishing.com.au

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Update – You can see the winners here.  Thanks!

GIVEAWAY (From Juliet’s website):

You can WIN:

1. Grand Prize of a $50 Amazon gift card

2. Runner-up prize of a $25 Amazon gift card

3. Bonus prize of a $25 Amazon gift card (for those who purchase the book)

HOW TO ENTER:

1. Leave a comment on my interviews or posts at any (or all) of the blogs I’ll be visiting during February. For every comment you leave (one per blog) you get one entry into the draw. So if you comment on ten blogs, you’ll get ten entries, if you comment on fifteen, you’ll get fifteen entries, and so on. Some blogs may require that you leave your email address in the comment so be sure to read the instructions at each post. One person will be chosen randomly to win the $50 card, and another person will win the $25 card which will be delivered via email.

2. To win the bonus prize of another $25 Amazon gift card, purchase Fast Forward and then forward your receipt to a dedicated email address: fastforwardbook(at)gmail(dot)com – replace (at) with @ and (dot) with . One lucky reader will be chosen randomly to win the gift card. If you enter both draws (leaving comments and forwarding your receipt) you could potentially win both prizes!

WINNER:

Will be drawn at the conclusion of the blog tour, around the first weekend in March. You will be notified via email so be sure to leave your address in the comments if asked to. If you’re not asked to, it means your address will be able to be seen by the blog owner and passed onto me.

You can order Fast Forward from your favorite bookseller of by clicking the link below.

About the book:

Aspiring supermodel, Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.
Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband and hideous support underwear forever?