Interview with Kelley York, Author of Hushed

The pre-release madness for Entangled Publishing’s new Embrace imprint continues! Don’t forget to check out the post from earlier this morning so you can enter the giveaway!

 

Please welcome Kelley York to the virtual offices this morning!

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

[Kelley York] Capable of wanting to read/write rainbows and unicorns one second, and death and destruction in the next. I like books to make me cry.

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Interview with Debbie Levy, Author of Imperfect Spiral

Please give a warm welcome to Debbie Levy this morning. Debbie is visiting the virtual offices to celebrate the release of Imperfect Spiral.

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

[Debbie Levy] Mom, spouse, dog- and cat-friend. Reader, writer, nature-lover. Once upon a time: Newspaper editor. Lawyer. Don’t hold that against me.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Imperfect Spiral?

[Debbie Levy] In Imperfect Spiral, Danielle Snyder’s summer job babysitting five-year-old Humphrey Danker turns tragic when, as they walk home from the park, Humphrey runs into traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented immigrant—a politically charged immigration debate. Danielle’s thoughts are on Humphrey—her funny, fun, peculiar “Humpty” and the two months they spent together—but all around her, friends and strangers seem focused on everything and everyone else.

So the novel is about a tragedy, a community’s search for someone or something to blame, and Danielle’s growing realization that sometimes the most, and least, you can do is try to stop one bad thing from leading to another. And it’s equally the story of a deep connection between two slightly oddball souls—Danielle and Humphrey—that transcends age and, in some ways, even death.

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

[Debbie Levy] My process is not tidy or organized—although I, personally, am both of those things, really I am—so I could honestly answer this by saying:

Who knows.

But I can also try to impose structure on the disorder that characterizes the inception of most of my projects. So I can say that the origins of Imperfect Spiral were my musings about a character, a teenage girl who feels that she is terribly peculiar. She’s not actually terribly peculiar but she may be a little bit peculiar. In a good way, in my opinion, but not hers.

There’s more. I thought it would be helpful for my character—Danielle—to come to see herself reflected in the eyes of someone else, but not a love-interest someone else, so I came up with a little boy. A great little boy, who is also a little bit peculiar. Who thinks Danielle is absolutely the greatest. And who can make it clear to the reader how great she is. I named that boy Humphrey.

And then. . . . Well, then, Humphrey died. At my hands, obviously.

And this is where the idea-making process gets even more difficult to explain. Once my two main characters came into being, they took on lives of their own. Once I had Danielle and Humphrey in play, the situation presented itself: that of something terrible happening to Humphrey, and happening on Danielle’s watch, when she was babysitting him. This is what presented itself, sad as the idea was.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Danielle?

[Debbie Levy] Work. In. Progress.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name one thing Danielle is never without.

[Debbie Levy] Her fare card for the Washington, D.C. area subway and bus system. Because you never know when you might want to go somewhere.

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

[Debbie Levy] Books, woods, and water. Books, because they remind me that, hard as it is to write something that really touches people, it is possible. Woods and water, because walking in the woods, paddling in, or even just looking at, rivers and other bodies of water clears my head, helps me create, and also helps me deal when the creating is not going well.

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

[Debbie Levy] An idea. And then two more.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was your biggest distraction while working on Imperfect Spiral?

[Debbie Levy] I was putting together presentations for my 2010 book, The Year of Goodbyes, which involved revisiting some very emotional territory. That book is about my mother’s last year as a child living in Nazi Germany in 1938, and what happened to her friends and family. I have a lot of photographs and other documentary material that I use to illustrate those presentations, and you know a picture is worth a thousand words (a cliché is a cliché because it’s true)—so this was all very intense.

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

[Debbie Levy] The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer. Before that, Stoner, by John Williams. It’s a quiet classic that I’d never heard of before this year, and I can’t piece together how I heard of it this year—but anyway, it is so intelligent, so clear, so non-gimmicky. Fiction for grown-ups. Before that, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

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

[Debbie Levy] Seriously, just one book?

Okay. All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor.

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

[Debbie Levy] I love to kayak, enjoying birds and other wildlife and also fishing from the kayak. I know, not so enjoyable for the fish, but we are not a vegetarian family and I only take the fish that I’m going to fillet and cook. I also love to read. (Surprise!) And to swim.

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

[Debbie Levy] Email me at debbie@debbielevybooks.com. Send me a Tweet at @debbielevybooks. Friend or message me on Facebook.

Or skywrite me a message. I’m always looking up.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase Link:

About the book:

Danielle Snyder’s summer job as a babysitter takes a tragic turn when Humphrey, the five-year-old boy she’s watching, runs in front of oncoming traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented alien, outsiders use the accident to further a politically charged immigration debate. Wanting only to mourn Humphrey, the sweet kid she had a surprisingly strong friendship with, Danielle tries to avoid the world around her. Through a new relationship with Justin, a boy she meets at the park, she begins to work through her grief, but as details of the accident emerge, much is not as it seems. It’s time for Danielle to face reality, but when the truth brings so much pain, can she find a way to do right by Humphrey’s memory and forgive herself for his death?

Review: Georgetown Academy Book 4 by Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting

 

 

Title: Georgetown Academy Book 4

Author: Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

When the vice president resigns and Ellie and Taryn’s parents emerge as the frontrunners, the girls find themselves back in the spotlight.

Ellie could not care less about becoming the Second Daughter, but she knows how much the opportunity to make history means to her mother – and women everywhere. With her family taking center stage, Ellie must decide whether she can put her feelings for Gabe on hold – again.

Taryn, so used to captivating the hearts and minds of everyone she meets, is unbothered by the increased media scrutiny. But an inopportune screw-up has her beholden to an unlikely – and unfriendly – source for help.

Overnight, Evan has skyrocketed from social pariah to Miss Popular. As she and her reluctant parents adjust to her new lifestyle, the last thing she needs is a front-page scandal.

Brinley can’t stop thinking about her Stowe-bound hook-up…until her father’s intern, Patrick, starts flirting. Is it time to abandon her fling now that she has a more appropriate suitor?

With the second highest office in the land up for grabs, everyone is picking sides. But where does the heart lie when duty, truth, and love collide?


Review:

Oh, my gosh, I don’t even know where to start with this one!  I really like this series, and while I didn’t feel that Book Four was as strong a read as Book Three, it still kept me turning the pages at a frantic pace.  Ellie and Taryn get some big, big news – Either of them could potentially be the Second Daughter of the good old U S of A!  Yup, Ellie’s mom and Taryn’s dad are in the running to be the next VP of the US, after the current Vice President had to resign due to an illness.  Nice!  That means moving to bigger digs, and living life under even closer scrutiny.  Yay! Sign me up!  Not!

In additional to all of that competition to see who will be the next Vice President, Evan is finally living her dream.  She and Hunter are an item, even though she is assailed with self-doubts.  He is so far out of her social circle that it’s not even funny.  She keeps wondering what he sees in her, and the stress of trying to live up to her expectations of what she thinks he thinks she should be like is exhausting.  That sentence exhausted me, and I hope it made sense!  Yes, here’s Evan of the humble background dating Hunter, he of the golden spoon in mouth.  When Evan mistakes someone else’s jacket for hers, she opens the door to more grief than she ever expected.  Who knew those innocent looking mints were anything but?  And now she has a scoop that could change the outcome of the VP race, but she’s not going to spill the beans, because she’s so afraid nobody will believe a nobody like her!  Oh!!  Poor Evan!  While the set up for this disaster was more than obvious, I still got caught up in Evan’s downfall.  Just one mistake in this series and you. Are. Toast!  Your social standing is GONE!  At least until the next sap gets caught up in the next breaking headline.

Ellie’s got a lot of stress to deal with, too.  Her mom is in a war with Gabe’s dad, not like that’s anything new, but with the stakes so high, her mom finally takes off the kid gloves.  She verbally strikes out at Gabe’s mother, which he just does not appreciate.  With the press sniffing around for a sensational story, Ellie has to be careful, too.  She can’t let on that she and Gabe might be an item.  Everything has be kept on the lowdown.  Worse, their parents feuding is starting to needle into their relationship, confusing things even more.  I like this pairing!  It’s hard enough to be an couple when the whole world is watching your every move, but mix in your parents and their complete and utter dislike for each other?  Ugh! That is one ugly time bomb waiting to explode!  Will Gabe and Ellie be able to keep the love alive?  Maybe we’ll find out in Book Five whether they have any chance at all of having a happy ever after.  I don’t think I’m going to count on it.  Sad face.

Taryn makes several major blunders here, and while I wanted to feel sorry for her, I could not.  She throws one of her friends under the bus to keep her father’s chances of being the VP alive, and she starts thinking that she is just too cool for school.  After her father hires Brinley’s dad to manage his PR campaign, Taryn finds herself on the receiving end of all kinds of advice she isn’t sure she needs.  Brinley has been tasked to groom Taryn so that she always gives the best possible impression to the press, but Taryn chafes at being forced to act like someone she isn’t.  With Brooks assuring  her that she should just be herself, she makes a major misstep.  It’s like she took her eyes off the pathway, tripped over her fuzzy boots, and face-planted.  It’s so not good!  I was disappointed that Taryn would treat a friend as poorly as she did, because of all of the girls, Taryn seemed the most level headed to me, but after suffering some major embarrassment, I didn’t want to see her meet any other disasters.  Even if she deserved them and brought them on herself. 

I have so much fun watching Brinley squirm!  When she learns that Taryn’s dad has retained her father’s services, she is disdainful.  At first.  Until Brooks points out that another major loss for their father is going to have a direct reflection on how they are treated by the DC public.  Ha!  Then she’s like a chameleon.  She is all about coaching Taryn on how not to embarrass her family and, as a direct result, reduce her father’s chance of being elected to Vice President.  She is even forced to “fluff” Tayrn’s dress at a major party.  Score!  This horrible girl, who only thinks of herself, finally gets a taste of humble pie.  Sadly, it wasn’t much of a taste, and I doubt that she has anything to take away from the experience, but it sure was fun while it lasted.

So!  Did I enjoy GTA Book Four?  You bet!  This is such a fun read, with a varied cast of characters that I both love and HATE.  Often at the same time! Everyone gets a kick in the face to keep them all honest, but they also achieve little victories to keep them, and me, coming back for more.  Bring on Book 5!!

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston

 

Title:  Black Helicopters

Author:  Blythe Woolston

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

A teenage girl. A survivalist childhood. And now a bomb strapped to her chest. See the world through her eyes in this harrowing and deeply affecting literary thriller.
I’m Valkyrie White. I’m fifteen. Your government killed my family.
Ever since Mabby died while picking beans in their garden — with the pock-a-pock of a helicopter overhead — four-year-old Valley knows what her job is: hide in the underground den with her brother, Bo, while Da is working, because Those People will kill them like coyotes. But now, with Da unexpectedly gone and no home to return to, a teenage Valley (now Valkyrie) and her big brother must bring their message to the outside world — a not-so-smart place where little boys wear their names on their backpacks and young men don’t pat down strangers before offering a lift. Blythe Woolston infuses her white-knuckle narrative, set in a day-after-tomorrow Montana, with a dark, trenchant humor and a keen psychological eye. Alternating past-present vignettes in prose as tightly wound as the springs of a clock and as masterfully plotted as a game of chess, she ratchets up the pacing right to the final, explosive end.


Review:

Wow – this is a powerful read, despite the short length, but I don’t know how I feel about it.  I don’t know if this is a book that you can like.  It’s certainly compelling, and I could not put it down, but ultimately, there are so many questions that were never answered to my satisfaction.  I guess I hated that Valley was nothing more than a pawn, and even when she had the chance to leave her past behind her, she choose to hold steadfast to her father’s survivalist training and strike out at Those People.  Whoever the heck Those People were!   Argh!

Black Helicopters is told through Valley’s present day adventures and flashbacks to her childhood.  Her mother was killed by black helicopters when she was in the garden picking beans, leaving her father to raise her and her brother, Bo.  They live somewhere and somewhen in Montana.  Valley and Bo are expected to keep themselves hidden from Those People while their father is away from the family’s rustic cabin, so they aren’t shot and killed like coyotes.  They are trained in survival skills; drop Valley on the side of mountain with a knife, and she’ll get by without much else.  They have caches of supplies hidden in case the government comes for them, and they have been taught how to hide and how to fight.

In the present day narrative, Valley is a suicide bomber. She is angry and tired of not being able to strike back at the people who have taken so much from her.  She decides to make the ultimate statement and make the ultimate sacrifice to wake people up.  The government, with their secrets and their black helicopters, are out to get everyone!  Surrounded by like minded individuals, Valley and her brother have been training for something big like this for their whole lives.  After seeking refuge with Wolf and his family, Valley is dismayed at the changes in Bo.  He isn’t acting like her brother anymore, and she makes up her mind then, as he changes before her eyes, that she’s going to make people sit up and take notice.  What I found depressing was that I don’t think Valley ever really knew Bo; he was allowed freedoms denied to her, as he worked with their father, going into the outside world while Valley was left at home in the den, keeping herself hidden and secret.  Bo was able to see and do so many things, and the world outside of the den wasn’t such a mystery to him. 

Parts of this book just bothered me.  Valley is powerless virtually the entire book.  Her own father only values her for the help she gives him during his acts of domestic terrorism.  She and Bo have been thoroughly brainwashed, and she would never ever even dream of going against his orders.  Her entire purpose is to be a good little soldier and follow her mission to the end.  When  Valley is molested by the man who is supposed to offer them a safe haven, she doesn’t tell Bo.  She is forced to keep this terrible secret and endure this awful man’s abuse because she’s afraid he’ll kill her brother.  Valley doesn’t have much power over her own life until she and Bo escape to Wolf’s; there, she makes the decision to don a vest and make the loudest, most violent statement possible.

Another problem that I had is that it is so hard to like or be sympathetic for Valley and her family.  They see threats everywhere, and they must be constantly on guard.  They believe that the deadly black helicopters are just a horizon away, that they will eventually come for them and kill them dead.  Deadly conspiracies abound, and every one will end with their deaths.  With her constant vigilance, it’s hard to get to know her, and that ever present wariness kept an emotional distance from Valley and the reader.

All of that out of the way, this is an impossible book to put down.  I wanted to know what happened next, and I gobbled this book up.  I’m just not sure how much I actually liked it.  I certainly hated the ending, because it seemed so pointless to me.  I guess I don’t agree that any cause is worth dying for, and I was angry that Valley thought that hers was.  I just saw her as gullible and brainwashed, which made her come across as pathetic.  She wasn’t heroic or brave; she was a puppet, and that made this book even more depressing.  The adults who should have been teaching, mentoring, and inspiring her all failed her.  They were so caught up by their own agenda, by their own need to cause civil chaos, that they didn’t leave any other path for Valley.  My own mind set and world view is too firmly established to accept that any cause is worth the life of a teenager.  So, I recommend this book, with the many reservations listed above.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Coyote Winds by Helen Sedwick

 

 

Title:  Coyote Winds

Author: Helen Sedwick

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

COYOTE WINDS is an historical novel set on the western prairie in the years before the Dust Bowl, a time of optimism and confidence, a time when a man was measured by what he produced, not what he could buy. It explores the American can-do spirit that drew people to this wind-swept frontier and the consequences of that spirit. It asks whether that spirit survives today.

Lexile Score HL 690 (high low book); Honorable Mention 2013 Green Book Festival Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Summary: When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame what should be wild.

Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie.

Inspired by her father’s tales of growing up during the Dust Bowl, Sedwick weaves insight, humor, historical details and unforgettable characters into a coming-of-age story that reminds us that chasing a dream, even if it brings heartache, is far better than not dreaming at all.


Review:

I am fascinated with history, so when I was contacted to review Coyote Winds, I jumped at the chance.  The story is told through alternating POVs (including a coyote’s), and Myles is experiencing the Dust Bowl first hand.  His grandson, Andy, is desperately trying to understand his grandfather’s stories of life on the prairie.  Andy feels like he is nothing but a disappointment to his overachieving attorney parents, and he is struggling in school.  He can’t seem to connect with his peers or his classes.  After his grandfather’s death leaves a hole the size of the prairie in his heart, Andy attempts to reconcile his grandfather’s tales with what life on the prairie in the 1930s was really like.  Conflicting accounts his great aunt told his mother puzzle him, and for a boy who didn’t like reading, Andy was suddenly all about researching what his grandfather and his family endured on their homestead.  I loved how Andy kept insisting that it’s his story, too, and his mother’s story, after she shuts down and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

It took me a while to warm up to Andy and his segments of the story.  But before I knew it, I was invested in the lives of all of the characters in Coyote Winds.  By the end of the book, I shocked by how much I had come to like them.  The more I think about it, the more moved I am by this story.  It is raw and uncompromising at times, and Myles’ accounts of his childhood experiences are unflinchingly truthful.  From brutal rabbit hunts to disputes with the neighbor over proper farming techniques, Myles’ narrative POV is both unemotional and free of embellishment.  He’s just telling it like it is.  As he begins to realize how primitive life on the farm is, with no electricity or running water, he begins to question his father’s dedication to farming.  Is he just stubborn?  Can’t he see how difficult life in the middle of no where is, and how unhappy his mother and sister are?  While Myles loves the land, he longs for something more.

Ro, the coyote pup Myles rescues after a dust storm, also shares the story through his eyes. His point of view didn’t work as well for me, because I was so stressed that Bad Things would happen to him.  His chapters left me sad and depressed, because he kept longing for the things he would never have; a life among his own kind, and his brothers and sisters to play with.  His human pack didn’t understand him, and when Myles, in an effort to protect both his friend and Ro, chases him off, my heart broke for the little guy.

By the end of the book I was sobbing.  I don’t know why, other than each character had come to life for me, and had come to mean something to me.  Even the people I thought I couldn’t stand had shining moments of insight that made me understand their stance on farming and raising their families.  This is a book of broken dreams, but it’s also a story of  hope and the courage to attempt to make changes in your life.  While the farmland was harsh to Myles and his family, it was healing to Andy and his parents, and brought them closer together.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by the author

Interview with Anna Cruise, Author of If I Fall

 

Please give a warm welcome to Anna Cruise! She’s visiting the virtual offices to share some info about her latest release IF I FALL.

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

[Anna Cruise]  Writer of YA and NA. Eater of chocolate. Drinker of coffee. Driver of car filled with kids. In need of a vacation.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about If I Fall?

[Anna Cruise]  If I Fall is the story of Meg Calloway, a 15 year old girl in San Diego who feels like her entire life is imploding. Her parents have divorced, her house is being sold and her mom is on her way to rehab. She feels lost and alone. To combat those two things, she latches on to a boy. The absolute wrong kind of boy.

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

[Anna Cruise]  I think we all go through some incredibly rough patches growing up, periods of time where we make really dumb choices, choices we end up regretting. I know I did. So even though my circumstances were much different than Meg’s, I would say that the concept and characters were, in a very general way, inspired by my own experiences in high school.

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

[Anna Cruise]  At the beginning of the book? Sad. Hopeless. Desperate. At the end? Well, you’ll have to read to find out… :)

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

[Anna Cruise]  Highway to Hell.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Meg is never without.

[Anna Cruise]  Her phone. Until it’s taken away, of course.

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

[Anna Cruise]  Out of all the questions, this is the hardest one to answer because I don’t carry a purse! I have a small backpack with my wallet, my lipstick and a bottle of hand sanitizer. Literally, that’s it. I think I’m the worst mother ever since I never seem to have band-aids or snacks when my kids need them. So thinking of what Meg wouldn’t have in her purse is hard! But, here goes. A pocket Bible. A condom. And birth control pills.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Meg’s greatest regret?

[Anna Cruise]   I don’t think she has many regrets at the beginning of the book. She’s too broken, too angry. But toward the end? That’s easy – how she chose to cope with her parents’ divorce.

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

[Anna Cruise]  Life. Honestly, everything I look at, everything I hear, seems to spawn a story idea. A snippet of a news story, an overheard conversation, a person standing alone on a sidewalk. The wheels are always turning. Always.

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

[Anna Cruise]  Caffeine. Chocolate. And the most important thing – an idea.

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

[Anna Cruise]  I know people can be critical of books but, for me, I find something to marvel at in every single one. Whether it’s a character or a particular setting or an unexpected twist in the plot, there is always something that makes me stop and go, “Wow. That is freaking awesome.”

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

[Anna Cruise]  Green Eggs and Ham. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a reader. I devoured books – would come home with stacks and stacks from the library, would use my allowance to go buy the latest Sweet Valley High installment at the bookstore. Books have always been a part of my life. Always.

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

[Anna Cruise]   Travel. Even if it means just heading someplace new nearby. I love adventure, love finding new things, love just heading out and letting the road take me some place new.

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

[Anna Cruise]  My front door is ALWAYS open. Literally. Like, it doesn’t have a lock. But, for those who don’t live nearby, they can find me on Facebook, Twitter or shoot me an email. I love hearing from readers and authors!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase If I Fall by clicking the link below

About the book

Meg Calloway is at the edge.

Reeling from her parents’ sudden divorce, fifteen-year old Meg has never felt more alone. Her father is about to marry a woman she can’t stand and her mother’s only companion is an endless supply of alcohol. When Aidan Westwood, an older boy at school, shows interest in her, she grabs on and doesn’t let go, thinking he’s exactly what she needs to help stem her loneliness and despair. She quickly learns that Aidan lives a darker, more dangerous life than she does and the more isolated she feels from her family, the more willing she is to step into Aidan’s world.

As Meg drifts further from her friends, she tries to find comfort with a boy who is opening her eyes up to new things, none of them good. Will she listen to those around her who are warning her that she’s headed down a path of self-destruction?

Or will she fall too far…too fast…too deep?

About the author

Anna Cruise has been writing and drooling over boys since middle school. Lots of years have passed but some things never change…

IT WAS YOU is her debut NA novel and IF I FALL her debut YA novel. Additional titles releasing in 2013 include two additional NA titles (including Tana’s story from IT WAS YOU).

Anna loves to hear from readers and authors. Email her at authorannacruise@gmail.com. You can also like her Facebook page, find her on Twitter @AnnaCruiseBooks or friend her on Goodreads.

Review: Georgetown Academy Book 3 by Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting and Giveaway

 

Title: Georgetown Academy Book 3

Author: Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Growing up in the D.C. fishbowl isn’t for everyone, but a break from the Beltway might just restore some sanity.

Ellie Walker’s suffered through enough scandal, and now must watch Gabe fall for someone else. But will an irresistible newcomer who plays by his own rules provide the change she needs?

Riding high after her D.C. debut, Taryn Reyes schemes to cement her relationship with Gabe. But she gets more than she bargained for when she enlists Brooks’ help.

Evan Harnett would do anything to protect her friends. But one moment of weakness, and now she’s on the outs with Hunter and Ellie. Hot on the trail of a new story, she’s heartbroken to find it leads straight to Ellie.

Brinley Madison’s Clinton-esque downfall was bad enough, will she be able to regain her social standing without losing her peace of mind?

Privileged kids with nothing to do but scheme and ski?and they thought D.C. was rough? One thing’s for sure: what happens in Vermont definitely won’t stay in Vermont.

www.georgetownacademyseries.com


Review:

Oh, my!  The drama explodes in Georgetown Academy Book 3!  This was a fun installment of the series, as most of the action takes place at a ski resort in Vermont. The major players all think that they are going to get a break from the rigors of DC, but guess again, guys!  The microscope has followed you all to the slopes, and many of you are going to have the worst vacation ever!

It must be nice to attend a fancy private school in DC, because all of the kids from the various high schools converge at a ski resort for an annual pilgrimage to work on their networking skills, and sneak in lots of partying while the clueless, inattentive chaperons who are traveling with them dine at the restaurant.  Ellie feels that life is finally getting back on track.  She’s met the marvelous Weston Morris, and she is instantly smitten.  He’s caring and brushes aside the recent photo scandal with Gabe with a shrug of his shoulders.  Better yet, his mom and Ellie’s mother are political allies, and they are openly encouraging of their match.  What Ellie doesn’t know is that Weston has a dark past, and he’s not the knight in shining armor that he pretends to be.  Will her friends be able to convince her that he’s trouble?  Nah, probably not, but the interpersonal conflicts between Brinley, Evan, and Ellie made this story thread a lot of fun.

I am even enjoying the triangle between Taryn, Gabe, and Brooks, and usually I have no patience for girls who can’t make up their minds.  It’s always obvious that one of the guys is so wrong, and the other is so right, but they are always attracted to Mr. Wrong.  While I’m not convinced which guy is which, it’s obvious that Gabe is still hung up over Ellie, and Taryn’s desire for a definitive, public acknowledgement from Gabe that the two of them are a Couple is causing her a lot of grief.  In a somewhat lame attempt to get him jealous, she promptly takes the advice of her LA friend and begins to flirt outrageously with Brooks.  I was starting to think there was something seriously wrong with Gabe, because he was so indifferent to her new, close friendship with Brooks.  It was kind of sad how obviously indifferent he really is to Taryn. 

I was disappointed at how easily and quickly Brinley got over her addiction to prescription medication.  After a two week stint at a rehab center, she was deemed all better and ready to get back to school.  She is warned to not allow herself to get into stressful situations, as the stress is her trigger, but since her parents are far, far too busy getting ahead in the political scene, neither bothered to pick her up or even read her discharge notes.  Her mother is an uncaring, emotionally distant wench, and she immediately piles the pressures of being a Madison back onto Brinley’s shoulders.  Sigh.

As Georgetown Academy Book 3 drew to a close, I was kind of bummed out.  There are many unresolved story threads and now that I am invested in the series, I checked for a release date for Book 4.  There’s no listing yet, so I’ll be biting my nails while I wait to see what’s up next for the G.A. crew. 

I have a copy of Georgetown Academy Book 3 to give away, so to get prepped for the release of Book 4, be sure to enter for your chance to win!  Thanks to Coliloquy for providing the giveaway!

Grade: B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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Review: Georgetown Academy Book 2 by Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting and Giveaway!

 

Title: Georgetown Academy Book 2

Authors: Alyssa Embree Schwartz and Jessica Koosed Etting

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

In the halls of Georgetown Academy, gossip and rumor abound. But when photographic proof shows up on the front page of The Huffington Post? Then it’s a national scandal.

While Ellie tries to put her life back together, Evan just might get everything she’s ever wanted—the perfect boyfriend and her dream career. But her loyalties will be put to the test when it turns out to be the very people she’s closest to who are standing in her way.

Brinley is determined to find out who is behind the photo leak, all while her own dirty secret spirals out of control. And California girl Taryn is sick of being walked all over and ready to start playing by the rules of D.C., for better or for worse.

In a world where reputation and appearances are everything, knowledge is power. But you’ll have to learn how to use it if you want to come out on top.


Review:

I am a sap for over the top melodrama, and Georgetown Academy has that in spades.  Everyone is having trouble dealing with living life under a microscope, where poor decisions and lapses in judgment have painful, negative consequences on their high-powered parents, as well as themselves.  Growing up the child of movers and shakers has its drawbacks, and Ellie is learning first hand that everything she does is scrutinized.  When an illicit kiss with Gabe makes the news, casting mother in a bad light and jeopardizing her career, Ellie has to deal with not only the blowback from Hunter, her boyfriend, but also the bitter disappointment from her mother.  Gabe’s father and Ellie’s mother have been at odds for years, and Ellie’s behavior comes across as a betrayal to her mother.  So, it seems that even the kids of the high and mighty are not immune to the pressures and stresses of life, where even rumors and the most innocent action can cause the scandal of the century.

I think I enjoy this series so much because it is so readable.  Events tick along at a frantic pace, jumping from one of the four main protagonists to the next in rapid succession.  I have mixed feelings about some of them; Brinley is my least favorite.  She is such a smug, pompous hag that she’s hard to like.  When bad things happen to her, I’m usually not too upset about it.  I want to see her hit rock bottom, just to see if she has the mettle to drag herself back up again.  Evan is my favorite of the four, because her humble background is closer to mine.  She is caught up in a charade, pretending to be the girlfriend of Luke, her best friend, who is terrified that his big secret will crawl out of the closet and destroy his father’s career.  Luke needs to grow a backbone and be honest about his sexuality, instead of lassoing Evan into a masquerade that is destroying any chance of her catching the boy of her dreams.  It’s unfair of Luke, and it’s unfair of his family to expect her blindly go along with their plans for their political security. Ugh. 

I like Taryn, too.   After feeling sorry for herself for becoming a social outcast, thanks to a rumor that Brinley started, she pulls herself together and gets back at her rival. How? By being herself and not letting the stifling confines of G.A. hem her in.  She’s not going to let anyone squeeze her into a mold, and she’s going to blaze a trail for herself in her new school.  Fitting in is no longer a goal.  Striking back and making an impression is.  Taryn is like a shooting star; she’s bright and she’s burning a path for herself, because she doesn’t want to be like anyone else.  I love how important being herself is to her, and how being true to herself has given her back the confidence she had lost.  I’m so curious to see if anything happens between her and Brooks, Brinley’s brother, because that would be the ultimate f you to Brin. lol 

I don’t know if I should feel sorry for Ellie, or tell her to get a life.  She dumped her best friend for Brinley, for goodness sake!  Brinley!  After the unpleasant revelation about Brinley’s father, something that she can never share with Ellie, I wonder how much longer they will be friends.  And her back and forth between Hunter and Gabe?  Ugh!  She’s jerking both of them around, though it seems like some of that is going to come back around to bite her in the behind.  Ouch!

Another thing I like about this series – it’s immediately accessible, even to new readers.  Enough background information is peppered throughout the narrative so that you understand all of the relationships between the characters.  I don’t think someone picking this up without reading the first book in the series would be confused.  They would miss out on the all the fun drama, but they could easily get up to speed with the story.  One thing I don’t like?  The inability to add bookmarks or make notes.  It drives me nuts, in fact, because I’m so used to a regular Kindle book.  Tapping the middle of the screen propels you to the next page, and going in any direction but forward is a tedious, frustrating process.  And you can’t tell how much further you have until the end, or even what page you are on.  Sigh. 

Georgetown Academy is turning out to be a very fun series.  To find out for yourself, fill out the widget below for your chance to win a copy!  Thanks to Coliloquy for providing the giveaway!

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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