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Author: Robin Benway

Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by Harper Teen on 23 June 2015
Genres: Abduction, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Also by this author: Also Known As, Going Rogue

Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, California // San Diego, California

First Line(s): Oliver disappeared after school on a Friday afternoon, way back when we were in the second grade, and small things seemed really important and important things seemed too small.

This has been the year of contemporary reads for me and when I first received a copy of EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway I was intrigued by its premise and knew it was a book I wanted to read. But then life got in the way and it dropped off my radar until around the time it was released and several of my blogger friends began to talk about it. This prompted me to dig out my copy and I settled down to read it. EMMY & OLIVER is a quick read and for the most part I was totally engrossed in its story. The story is set in the now when one of the title characters Oliver, is returning home after many years of being away having been kidnapped by his dad. He returns to family and friends who have moved on but have also stood still while he’s just moved on. Everyone in the story has been affected by Oliver’s kidnapping, especially Emmy whose parents became even more over protective than they may have normally done. She has a super early curfew and she’s not allowed to do anything dangerous and so has to sneak off to do the things she loves, like surf.

While Emmy’s parents are super involved in her life they are also a bit clueless as I don’t see how they’ve managed to miss the fact that she’s been surfing for years. Surfboards aren’t an easy thing to hide after all and sand is one of the most clingy trackable things ever. I know this, I grew up on the beach and my parents always knew when we’d come home from a swim. So there were times when things seemed a bit hard to swallow. But nothing bugged me more in this book than the interludes. These short little snippets of different ages in Emmy’s life as she reflects on things. They never failed to pull me out of the story and the very last one just had me sighing so hard in frustration which left a slight sour taste in my mouth on the final pages instead of sighing happily in heart-achy feels. EMMY & OLIVER was also an odd mix of tense where one moment it was in the present and then another it seemed like the future looking back and it just threw me.


Emmy & Oliver Quote

While I didn’t always like how the story was told I did like Emmy & Oliver’s story. I loved how they were childhood friends and how even when apart they still kept the memory of the other alive. Although Oliver was definately more present in Emmy’s world than Emmy was in his. But that is understandable when he was raised on the run and she was raised in the shadow of his absence. I enjoyed her friendships and I loved watching as Emmy & Oliver reconnected with one another. This is what I’d call a slow burn story and while I didn’t always think that timelines and plot points were done in a cohesiver and logical way I did like the story of Emmy and Oliver. They fit together and gave me the warm and happy feels that I love in a book. I only wish we got to spend more time with them as a couple as the whole ending felt a bit rushed.

EMMY & OLIVER is mostly a light hearted contemporary novel with these pockets of intensity. Oliver is such a fish out of water for much of the book trying to find his place in a life that still thinks of him as being seven years old. Everyone in this story had to relearn each other in a crash course and it wasn’t always an easy journey. Oliver is grappling with fact that his mother never abandoned him and also with the new family she’s created during his time away. EMMY & OLIVER is often an engrossing read and despite my issues I did find it hard to put it down. This was I story I thought about when I wasn’t reading it. Robin Benway is a strong writer with distinctive plots. I like her story lines and I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.


Emmy & Oliver Collage


Add Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)


Monday, February 9, 2015

Audio Review: Going Rogue by Robin Benway

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Audio Review: Going Rogue by Robin BenwayGoing Rogue by Robin Benway
Narrator: Robin Benway
Series: Also Known As, Book 2
Also in this series: Also Known As
Published by Brilliance Audio on 14 January 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Espionage, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 7 hours 22 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Also by this author: Also Known As, Emmy & Oliver

Place(s) Traveled To: New York, New York // Paris, France

First Line(s): In September 2004, French police discovered a hidden chamber in the catacombs under Paris.

Going Rogue is the follow-up to Robin Benway’s girl spy story Also Known As and it picks up not long after the first book ends.  Maggie is living the life that she thought she always wanted that of a normal high school teenager. Only being normal isn’t all that its cracked up to be and Maggie finds herself missing her days as a spy. Then something happens and soon her parents are accused of crimes they didn’t commit and the whole agency, known as the Collective, that they work for seems to be crumbling around them. Its then up to Maggie and her good friend Roux to try and clear her parents names and to save the day.

As with the first book I found myself engrossed in the story and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. There were times when things seemed a little over the top and unbelievable but Benway makes it all work. Going Rogue has such a great cast that you are willing to suspend a little bit of belief because they all seem so real. I loved getting to know the characters from the old book better and meeting new ones along the way. I also liked how this book took us from New York to Paris and was just such a fast paced, unputdownable read.

Going Rogue Quote

Like the first book, Going Rogue, was narrated by the author and overall I think that she did a good job. Although I did find that her Australian and Irish accents weren’t the best. In fact, they made me cringe a little but I have heard worse and you have to admire an author who is able to carry the narration so well as you don’t typically see authors as narrators.

Going Rogue was a fast-paced story that will have you on the edge of your seat. Its a fun book filled with lots of snark and laugh out loud moments. Its a book that I was sad to see end and its one of those books that I’d like to see more installments of. I think that there is still more story to tell plus I am just not ready to let go of these characters and this quirky, spy-filled world that they live in.



IR - Going Rogue


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Audio Review: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Audio Review: Also Known As by Robin BenwayAlso Known As by Robin Benway
Narrator: Robin Benway
Series: Also Known As,
Also in this series: Going Rogue
Published by Brilliance Audio on 26 February 2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Espionage, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Parents, Social Issues, Thrillers, Young Adult
Length: 6 hours 58 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Audible
Also by this author: Going Rogue, Emmy & Oliver

Place(s) Traveled To: Reykjavik, Iceland // New York, New York

First Line(s): I cracked my first lock when I was three.

Also Known As by Robin Benway is the sort of book that I always wished that Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls books were. Also Known As features Maggie a teenage girl who is the daughter of spies and as a result she was raised to be a spy as well. Unlike with Cammie we aren’t constantly told how amazing she is but instead we are shown all the little ways that make Maggie a great spy. But throughout it all we are faced with her doubts and her anxieties as she’s torn between being a good spy and trying to live a normal life. Something which has always been denied her because of the lives that her parents live.

The story is fast paced and entertaining and I loved meeting Maggie, Roux, Jesse, Angelo and Maggie’s parents. Though Maggie’s parents did bug me a lot because they refused to see the things that their daughter was missing out on so that they could live the life they wanted. They were selfish and would dismiss Maggie when she said that she wanted some stability and most of all, friends. Both of her parents lived a normal life prior to becoming spies and while there are great opportunities that Maggie had and she saw some amazing things she missed out on a lot as well. This is something she starts to realize as she attends school for the first time, makes her first friend, and begins to fall in love. Maggie’s struggles between what she knew and what she wants were real and heartfelt and really showed growth and change as the story progressed.

Also Known As is a fun read and I liked the humor and mystery of it all. I could have done without always being told that Maggie was an excellent safe cracker and that made her super special because to me I didn’t see how just that one skill made it so people wanted to kidnap her. Now if she was a talented hacker like her mom and had the language skills of her dad coupled with her safe cracking ability I could understand it more. But just safe cracking? I just didn’t see it.

The mystery in Also Known As wasn’t the most complex and the clues weren’t laid out the best but the mystery portion is almost secondary to Maggie’s journey. Its Maggie that made me fall in love with this story and the humor that she brought to every day situations. I loved her friendship with Roux and I loved seeing Roux blossom as she got to know Maggie. Prior to Maggie’s arrival Roux was once the school’s queen be but then she made a mistake and became the victim of bullying (and still is in the book) which affected her greatly. And then there was Jesse Oliver, Maggie’s love interest, who is really just too sweet for words and I loved listening to these two fall in love.

Also Known As is one of the first books that I’ve listened to that was narrated by the author and I have to say that Robin Benway did an excellent job bringing her story to life. Benway’s narration was better than some professional narrators I’ve listened to and I never had any issues knowing who was speaking when. All the characters had distinct voices that it was easy to picture them as I listened to this audio. For me, Benway became Maggie and Roux and Jesse and I found myself wanting to listen to this audio every chance I could. Because it was a fun story and it was told well.

If you are a fan of the Gallagher Girls series and looking for something to check out next then you’ll want to pick up this book. And if you are a fan of audiobooks than I highly recommend listening to this one. You’ll laugh and you’ll cringe and you might cry a little as you laugh some more as Maggie and her friends run around New York trying to save the day and survive high school all at the same time.