Sunday, 20 July 2014

Kill Your Boss: The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn

"John Lago is a hitman. He has some rules for you. And he's about to break every single one."

Interns are invisible. That’s the secret behind HR, Inc., the elite “placement agency” that doubles as a network of assassins for hire who take down high-profile targets that wouldn’t be able to remember an intern’s name if their lives depended on it.

At the ripe old age of almost twenty-five, John Lago is already New York City’s most successful hit man. He’s also an intern at a prestigious Manhattan law firm, clocking eighty hours a week getting coffee, answering phones, and doing all the grunt work actual employees are too lazy to do. He was hired to assas­sinate one of the firm’s heavily guarded partners. His internship provides the perfect cover, enabling him to gather intel and gain access to pull off a clean, untraceable hit. 

As an earlier Tweet of mine declared - this is a difficult book to read on the commute to work surrounded by your colleagues. What if word got back to my boss? Is it technically a threat? 

I spent the first train journey trying to hide the book from prying eyes but after several chapters, I was hooked. I would have read this book at my desk in full view of my boss if I could. 

It starts as something of a DIY manual for new interns written by Lago but it soon becomes more of a confessional or warning about HR Inc. Once again, I'm not going to include any spoilers at all, just know it's full of twists and turns that truly make the book unputdownable. It's funny too, with dark humour that will have you giggling whilst also shaking your head at the subject matter. 

It's got all of the fast-paced action you would expect from a blockbuster movie making it no surprise to learn of Kuhn's Hollywood background. Before I read this I thought (unfairly) that someone in the movies would be unlikely to execute a novel containing evolved characters and I was more than pleasantly surprised. Lago starts off discussing his past in a clinical manner but as the story evolves and he's introduced to new associate at the firm, Alice, the wider world starts to open up to him. He begins to see his boss for what he really is and a series of events lead the story in a direction no one could predict. 

I'm really excited about Kuhn's next project. It's tough to pull off a dark, action-filled caper that still has a heart, but he manages this ten-fold in Kill Your Boss. If you're looking for a fun page-turner from a new talented author, this one's for you.  

Kill Your Boss is the British title for The Intern's Handbook. It's published by Sphere and available on paperback and on the Kindle. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

REVIEW: The Fault in Our Stars

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once."

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

You know you're in for an emotional roller coaster if you pick up a book like this. Did I really want a repeat of Marley & Me? Those nights of having to flip my pillow over after soaking one side with tears, and then being a true masochist and going to see the movie...ah, the memories of being mocked by the dry-eyed children in the cinema as I was dribbling snot into my popcorn. 

Luckily, this didn't happen with TFIOS. Not that I didn't cry, just that I read it so fast there wasn't the night after night of torture. It's a tough read making it difficult to recommend in fear of my friends disowning me after having their heart wrenched out and repeatedly stamped on. My advice? Go into this book knowing it's going to be sad. The ending isn't going to see the young couple skipping off into the sunset after being miraculously cured of cancer. The world doesn't work like that and Green is obviously keen to remove this protective shield often found in YA novels. 

I really enjoyed the characters and the gentle dark humour throughout. Hazel and Augustus are believable as a couple and, although I think he falls a bit too hard and fast for her, their relationship retains a subtle sweetness rather than out-and-out teenage infatuation. One of the most powerful moments for me was Hazel referring to herself as a grenade that's waiting to go off. I imagine that's a very real feeling for someone in her position and it really struck a chord. Supporting character Isaac isn't just inserted for light relief either, with his story being even more heartbreaking at times than the novel's protagonist. 

For an avid reader, there were no surprises and you can pretty much guess what's going to happen in the end. I'd never write a spoiler but the next sentence is as close as it gets so maybe look away now if you don't want even a slight hint. If you've read My Sister's Keeper, I think you'll see the ending coming a mile away. It's not about twists and turns though. This is a story about life, death, and all of the beautiful experiences in between. 

If I take one thing from TFIOS, it's that no matter what life throws at you, you have to try and remain open to new possibilities. We all have the right to love and no one should deny themselves of it, no matter what the outlook is. All in all, this is definitely worth a read, just be prepared to shed a tear or two (buckets). 

Em x

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Book reviews

After much thought, I've decided to launch a review section on my website. I read a LOT of books and love to talk about them with anyone who'll listen, so here you are!

I'm going to post reviews for any books I'm interested in, whether it's YA horror, like the books I write, romance, or some good old literary fiction. I'm not in the business of posting reviews if I don't enjoy the book. My reviews will be honest but if I really don't like a book it's likely to be a matter of taste rather than something being wrong with it. Plus, as an author, I bloody hate crap reviews...

If you can recommend a good book or you've written a book you think I might like then please don't hesitate to get in touch via email: (at) gmail dot com.