Thursday, February 12, 2015

Interview & Review: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall!!!

Hello guys!!

Today I have a lil bit of a special post in the blog today! After reading and loving The Conspiracy of Us, I asked Maggie Hall, the author, if she wanted to be on the blog for an interview and she very graciously agreed! And not only that, but I'll also be sharing my review for the book!

But first, let me share some information about the book and the author for any of you guys that hadn't heard about this 2015 debut book!

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.

 Hello! I'm Maggie Hall. I'm a YA writer. 

My debut novel THE CONSPIRACY OF US, which features scheming and code-breaking, Paris and Istanbul, and forbidden love and fate, is coming from Putnam/Penguin January 13, 2015. It's the first in a trilogy.

I've just come back to Albuquerque, NM after a year of traveling around the world with my husband. 

When I'm home, you can usually find me DIY-ing something off Pinterest, or learning to cook new, delicious things, or watching USC football. (Fight on!)

 photo Twitter_zps9fd810ed.png  photo Goodreads_zps7e11a242.png  photo Pinterest_zps2372a8f7.png  photo Instagram_zpsf9916cce.png  photo tumblr_zps23e71311.png
Welcome to the blog Maggie, thank you so much for taking the time during the whirlwind that is after-release-day!

- Reading The Conspiracy of Us reminded me of two of my favourite and very much re-read books: The Eight & The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville. The girl that finds herself in the middle of a fight that spans the ages and is key in the struggle. In your case, what came first, the girl that hides her eyes? Or the centuries old struggle & secrets?

I didn’t know about these Katherine Neville books, but now I’ve looked them up and am excited to read them! Thanks for the tip!

I’d say both Avery and the plot came to me at more or less the same time. I knew I wanted to write about a girl who had secrets but didn’t really know it, and that learning more about herself and her past was going to be an important theme. And at the same time, I knew vaguely what I wanted to do with the conspiracy, and a girl who didn’t know about her importance to this group fit in perfectly. Her eyes, specifically, weren’t one of the first things I thought of, though—that came a little later.

- I found the Circle of Twelve extremely fascinating and I've read that you based them on groups that conspiracy theorist insist that do exist. How did you choose their origin story?

There have been conspiracy theories about powerful groups of people ruling the world for a long time. One of the most popular is the New World Order theory, which says, that certain families around the world (some theories even say twelve families!) hold immense power, and that many of our rulers have come from those families, etc. So that’s always been really interesting to me, to think about this very small group with enough power to mold the world as they wish.

I don’t know of any conspiracy theories that tie these groups all the way back to Alexander the Great—that was just me! And so the Circle’s origin story came from twining powerful-family conspiracy theories to the real history of Alexander’s time.

- Paris and Istanbul are fabulously described in your book and made me feel like I was there again (in Paris) and made me want to visit it madly (Istanbul). Was there any particular reason you chose those two for the first book? Can you give us any hints about any other cities we'd get to visit in the next books?

I love both Paris and Istanbul because they’re places that have a personality of their own. I’ve been to some cities that are very nice, but don’t have as much character, and I knew I wanted the places Avery visits in the series to be places that leave a strong impression on her and the reader. There’s nowhere else quite like Paris, walking along the bank of the Seine at sunset, drinking wine. And there’s nowhere that has such an intriguing mix of ancient and modern as Istanbul.

In book 2, we’re going to some places I really love. :) I don’t want to tell you too much! I can tell you one of them: Venice! It’s always been one of my favorite cities, and I’m so excited to have Avery and the boys go there. And another thing I can tell you is that they spend some time on a boat—not in Venice. ;)

- We meet two of the families of the Circle of Twelve and learn a bit more about them and their symbols? How did you choose the compass and the sun? Can you tell us a bit more of the significance of those symbols?

Each of the twelve families of the Circle has a symbol that corresponds to their house motto. The Saxons, for instance, have a compass symbol and the motto Know the Way. The Dauphins, with the sun symbol, are Light in the Dark. It has to do with how the family sees themselves, and what’s most important to them.

- The book is being called The DaVinci Code, the YA version, but I really liked that our main character is a girl looking for answers instead of an expert symbologist. I liked that she had the help of an expert, but she was the one doing the digging and putting the puzzle together again. How did you planned the whole search for answers and the leaving of clues in ancient artifacts?

It was really interesting planning all the clues, actually. With some of them the clue came first, and I had to decide where and how would be best to plant it. But with some of them, I would learn a historical fact that fit too perfectly, and I had to use it. For instance (I don’t think this is too spoilery), I learned that Napoleon was crowned Emperor at Notre Dame Cathedral, and that happened to fit perfectly into something I was doing. That’s happened quite a few times for these books—real history fits eerily well with the story. Hmmm… ;)

- I'm usually not a fan of love triangles but I felt like the one that seems to be shaping up here might be more interesting that the usual trope. How did you find yourself with such interesting guys with reasons to want to be with our Avery? Which one of them arrived first in the story for you?

Stellan has always been really easy for me to write. I just understand him, I guess. He pretty much came to me fully formed as a character, and has never changed from that—though there’s still a lot the reader doesn’t know! Jack is obviously intriguing, too, but he’s more mysterious to me. It’s like he’s so guarded he doesn’t even want to tell me his secrets. :) The boys have very similar life circumstances, but are really different people and react to things so differently, and that’s one of the things that I find especially compelling about the relationship between them and each of their relationship with Avery. 

I hope you find where it all goes to be interesting! That’s one thing I’m looking forward to—there are such important relationships between each leg of this triangle (should I really call it a triangle? I feel like I’ll get people being angry about it. :) Let’s call it Three People Who Have Various Kinds of Relationships with Each Other), and the relationships are going to grow and change so much as the series goes forward.

Wow, guys I'm even more excited now about the sequel that I already was before!

My Review

The Conspiracy of Us is pitched as a YA version of The Da Vinci Code, but although I enjoyed that book, for me it was more like a YA version of two of my favourite non-YA books that I've re-read tons of times: The Eight and The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville.

Like those two, the main character is a girl that finds herself thrown into a situation she didn't know she was part of, has to run around looking for answers and she finds herself part of a conspiracy that spans ages! With historical references, adventures around the world and conspiracy theories this one was clearly like catnip for Pili!

Avery is a teenage girl that lives only with her mum, moving from one place to another following her mum's job, not staying in the same place more than a few months or a year. She decides to stop making friends or form any sort of attachments, something that gets challenged by Jack, another new boy at the school.

The beginning was quite particular with Avery trying to stick ot her resolutions, but once her mother decides to demand something, she ends up going against it (typical teenage principle, and another consequence of hiding things from people, if you don't give them the truth or a good reason, they won't understand why it might be important!) and finds herself flying to Paris with a stranger, going to meet her real father.

Poor Avery is completely out of her league, thrown into a game of power and a fight that spans through the ages and she doesn't know a thing about it all, but still tries to understand what's going on and doesn't take lightly being manipulated. She finds an ally on Jack, who was not a new boy but works for one of the families that Avery finds herself part of, not knowing which one of them she is part of for sure.

Once she finds herself with a bit more information she ends up travelling all over Paris and Istanbul, fearing for her life, trying to find out more about the past, her ancestry and the prophecy that will decide about the rest of her life, but she doesn't do it alone because she has Jack on her corner to help her no matter what, and there's Stellan, the stranger, a reluctant ally.

I fell in love with the conspiracy bits of the book and the historical references and bases for this group of powerful people and I'm really looking forward to find out more and follow more clues on the next book! Alexander the Great, Napoleon, shootings at Prada, dancing at night in a club in Istanbul to end up covered in spices at a market... I simply loved how visual the writing was and how it made me want to visit every place!

By the end of the book Avery has gone through quite a few adventures and that has put her in a position of more power and she's not just at the mercy of those that want to control her. She's ready to keep the fight going and discover the truth behind the prophecy.

We're not left with the most horrible of cliffhangers, but surely intriguing enough to make me want to get my hands on the sequel as soon as possible! Addictive, fast paced and intriguing, well deserved 4 stars for this one!


  1. Somehow this book sort of passed under my radar but I'm seeing such awesome reviews now! And the cover is very lovely. Thank you for sharing this great interview Pili! I love reading interviews to learn more about the author's POV.

    1. The cover is super cute and I think it'd look great in LEGO shape too! *wink wink*
      I really enjoyed this one! Thank you, Kristen!! =D

  2. Fantastic interview ladies, I'm so excited to read this! I haven't been to either Paris or Istanbul, but I have been to Venice (AMAZING!) so I'm really excited that Avery and company will be heading there:) While normally love triangles give me a nervous tic, this one sounds like it has some depth which makes it far more interesting, and I've heard from a number of people that it worked well for them. So, win:)

    1. Thank you Jenny! Maggie is fantastic and she made me even more interested in continuing the series that I already was!
      And the love triangle worked for me, and you know I usually dislike them!

  3. Yay :D Gorgeous interview Pili. <3 Thank you so much for sharing it :) And yay for loving this book :D I think the cover is so gorgeous. Sigh. But unsure about the book :p Maybe one day. <3 I'm glad you enjoyed it a lot :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie. <3 Fingers crossed you'll love the sequel a lot :D

    1. Thank you so much sweetie!! =D I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the interview!

  4. The cover for this one is what actually convinced me to buy it, I fell in love with it hardcore. Love this interview with Maggie Hall! Thanks so much for sharing it :)

    1. Isn't the cover beyond awesome?? I so need a hardcover as well as my kindle copy!
      Thank you Lily! =D

  5. Thanks for sharing the interview, Pili! I've wanted to read this one for a while now but I don't know why I keep on putting it off! I want to visit (or read about) Istanbul and Paris!

    I am not sure how I feel about the love triangle but I have been assured it's nothing I need to worry about. And all the awesome conspiracy bits should make up for it!

    Lovely review, hon!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

    1. Thank you Rashika!
      And I do think the love triangle won't really bother you, because it's not really a triangle per se! ;)

  6. I almost bought this book at the bookstore the other day! Almost! It seems interesting and like something I would definitely like, but oh, my tbr is humongous right now and I had already picked out quite a few books. I'll have to read it soon, though.
    Lovely interview and review, btw!

    1. Next time you go to the bookstore, grab it Sophie! It was a super fast read and that cover would look stunning in your shelves! ;)
      Thank you for visiting!

  7. First of all, I'd never even heard of Katherine Neville, so I had to stop and look her up immediately, but nope, not mistaken, so now those two books are on my list to check out. Secondly, despite the fact that I really didn't like The Da Vinci Code, this book still sounds very interesting. But I might wait until the series is finished before starting it, b/c even without an awful cliffhanger, mysteries/thrillers always seen to have a lot of unanswered questions until the VERY END, and that drives me nuts. You really have convinced me to keep an eye on though. The character growth alone sounds fantastic ;) Great interview and review, Pili! Thanks for adding even more books to my already ridiculous TBR, *snickers*

    1. *bows* You're welcome! ;) You tend to return the favour, so I believe we're even! And yes please do check the Katherine Neville books, The Eight is one of my all time favourites! Now I feel like re-reading both books soon!

  8. Hmmm, okay, I'll definitely be reading this one soon! I have an ARC that I have not quite gotten to reading yet, but I will. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one - I haven't seen many reviews in general (and haven't perused Goodreads, to be honest), so this is great! :D

    Fabulous interview and review, Pili!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. Thank you, Alyssa! I hope you'll like this one!!

  9. I love the name Avery, it's one of my favourites for a book character which makes me really happy! The whole conspiracy idea sounds intricately and very well done! That aside, I also really like the sound of this and might try it myself.

    1. I do hope you'll give it a try and like it Olivia!


¡Muchas gracias por vuestros comentarios, leerlos me alegra el día!/ Thanks a lot for all your comments, reading them brightens my day!!