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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Shot! If I Fall by Anna Cruise

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I love the colors on this cover for If I Fall by Anna Cruise.  Very pretty!

In stores April 2013

 

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?

Review: Me, Him, Them, & It by Caela Carter

 

Title: Me, Him, Them, and It

Author:  Caela Carter

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

ME is Evelyn Jones, 16, a valedictorian hopeful who’s been playing bad girl to piss off THEM, her cold, distant parents. HIM is Todd, Evelyn’s secret un-boyfriend, who she thought she was just using for sex – until she accidentally fell in love with him. But before Evelyn gets a chance to tell Todd how she feels, something much more important comes up. IT. IT is a fetus. Evelyn is pregnant – and when Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn has no idea who to turn to. Can a cheating father, a stiff, cold mother, a pissed-off BFF, and a (thankfully!) loving aunt with adopted girls of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow?


Review:

Wow, at times Me, Him, Them, And It is a hard book to read.  Evelyn is a self-destructive teen, who is crying out for attention from her parents.  Because her home life is so dysfunctional, nothing she does makes them bat an eye.  Her mother is emotionally stunted, unable to communicate her feelings, and her father has been caught cheating, so he is struggling with guilt.  He leaves for a time, but then comes back home, and everything is changed.  The house is silent, nobody talks, and Evelyn is spiraling in a black depression she can’t escape.  She is like her mother; unable to adequately communicate her feelings, even to her best friend.  The words she longs to speak stick in her throat, trapped and suffocating her.  There are times I was so frustrated with her, because if she would only SAY something, anything, she wouldn’t have to feel as though she’s carrying the burden of the world on her shoulders.

Evelyn has set a high bar for herself.  She wants to be the class valedictorian, and  she wants to attend an Ivy League university.  It is so sad that neither of her parents has any clue how well she’s doing in school, or what her college ambitions are.  Then she decides to punish her parents.  She doesn’t want to be Good Evelyn anymore, and who can blame her.  She received no credit at all from her distant parents, and she desperately wants their attention.  Any kind of attention.  The sad thing is, even as she begins indulging in dangerous behavior, they still don’t acknowledge her desperate cries for help.  Then she discovers that the risks she has been taking have come home to roost.  She’s pregnant, and she doesn’t know what to do.

This book is all about consequences.  Evelyn has made a mistake, and now she has to face it.  She has to decide what to do about the bean growing in her belly. Todd, the father, turns his back on her, and no matter how hard she tries, she just can’t tell her BFF what’s wrong with her.  The only compassionate adult in her life is Mary, a counselor at the local planned parenthood.  Because she can’t have a discussion with her mother, Evelyn makes Mary tell her mom that she’s pregnant.  Ouch!

I didn’t want to like any of the characters in this book.  Everyone is so absorbed in their own drama and agendas that nobody seems to care about anybody else.  Evelyn irritated me at times, but then I stopped and realized that there were so many grown up decisions that she had to make, without much input from the adults in her life, and that she had every reason to be confused, angry, and hurt.  Overwhelmed.  Few of the adults in her life gave her any credit, yet they all demanded that she make a plan. Now.   It’s not even like she had a good example of what a real family should be like to base her decisions on.

When she’s sent to live with her Aunt Linda and her family in Chicago, Evelyn is understandably upset.  In her hour of need, her parents send her away.  Once she falls into a routine at Linda’s, though, she does start to feel like she belongs.  She slowly begins to learn how to express herself, though it is a painful and awkward process.  And just when I think she is beginning to heal, and she will make a rational decision about what to do about the bean that she blames for ruining her life, she makes yet another impulsive, life altering choice.  While the ending is upbeat, Me, Him, Them, and It had me feeling a bit out of sorts.  The magnitude of Evelyn’s problem is staggering and her rage at her parents is all-consuming.  The choice she must make will alter the lives of almost everyone she knows, and yet all of them leave her to make it on her own.  The thought of an angry, resentful, and scared teen making of decision like this on her own just left me depressed.

Grade:  B/B+

Check back later today for a chance to win a copy of Me, Him, Them, and It!

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Texas Christmas by Nancy Robards Thompson

 

Title:  Texas Christmas

Author: Nancy Robards Thompson

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Busted! When Pepper Merriweather’s superwealthy daddy is arrested for fraud—and the family fortune is kaput—just before the holidays, Pepper suddenly finds herself in need of a job. Despite her high-society connections, no one wants to give her a chance—no one except gorgeous billionaire recluse Robert Macintyre.

When he proposes a position that comes with more strings attached than a symphony orchestra, Pepper knows it’s an offer she should refuse. But beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, Pepper knows she has what it takes to rise to the challenge—but does she have what it takes to keep her hands off her irresistible new boss?


Review:

On a recent outing to the library, I caught sight of Texas Christmas.  The cover totally sucked me in; how could I resist that oh so sexy cowboy and the horses?  This cover is like a dream  date for me – the ultimate date would be going riding with some hot dude who likes animals, especially horses, and would actually go on a ride with me.  Sigh. Sadly, this scene is not in the book.  The protagonist, Pepper, doesn’t like horses, and hasn’t since an accident when she was a child.  So, no trail riding with a super sexy cowboy is in this story.

Pepper Merriweather is reeling from her father’s arrest. He’s been accused of defrauding investors of millions, and suddenly, Pepper is facing a very ugly future.  Raised in wealth, she is now scrambling to find a job.  With her father’s face in the papers, it’s getting harder and harder to find the strength to move on with her life.  Everyone is placing blame on her, even though she never worked at her father’s company.  I thought this was especially unfair, because her father wouldn’t have anything to do with her.   They hadn’t spoken in years, and he refused to allow her to visit him in prison.  So Pepper is basically taking heat for a jerk of father who hasn’t been part of her life in forever. 

Pepper meets billionaire Robert Macintyre on a flight home from Paris, where she and her mother have been hiding from the press.  He’s a nice guy, and Pepper’s grateful that he doesn’t mention her father and his alleged crimes even once.  After rescuing her from a very angry drunk who confronts her in the airport, Rob gives her a lift home.  After a steamy kiss, the two part ways, seemingly for good.  However, when Pepper’s good friend insists that Rob hire her, or she won’t make a donation for the children’s hospital he wants to build, Rob and Pepper find themselves together again.  Add in a massive amount of guilt on Pepper’s part, and you have a slow to burn romance.

When Pepper was a young girl, she and her brother were involved in an accident, and Pepper never forgave herself for it.  She isn’t ready to allow someone else to love her, either.   Just look at her father, who can’t find it in himself to forgive her. How can she allow Rob and his young son to get close to her, when all she does is hurt people?  While I found this conflict compelling, I felt that it was resolved too easily.  The pacing of this book felt so off to me, and it hindered my enjoyment of the story.   Pepper and Rob meet early in the book, and then don’t get together again until about 130 pages later.  That didn’t leave enough page time for their romance to convincingly develop.  Instead, the focus of the story is on Pepper dealing with fallout from her father’s crimes, and Rob trying to fund the hospital expansion.  There just wasn’t enough romance to satisfy me, and I was left wanting more.

Grade:  C

Review copy obtained from my local library

Review: Peanut by Ayun Halliday & Paul Hoppe

 

 

Title: Peanut

Author: Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it’s like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone . . . and no one knows you." Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there’s the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts. Graphic coming-of-age novels have huge cross-over potential, and Peanut is sure to appeal to adults and teens alike.


Review:

When I received this book, I was a bit mystified.  Why, oh why would anyone pretend to have a fatal peanut allergy?  Baffled, I dug right into this graphic novel, intrigued to see if there was a compelling reason for Sadie to fabricate such a serious health issue.  After finishing the book, I have to say that I didn’t find it.  While the characters are likable, the rationale behind Sadie’s pretend illness just didn’t cut it for me.  Sadie’s little white lie, which quickly spirals out of control, is spun in an effort to be more popular at her new school. 

After talking to a girl about her medical alert bracelet, Sadie is so fascinated by the thought of having a severe peanut allergy that she orders a bracelet of her own.  I wanted to question how she was able to accomplish this, online, without a credit card or her mother’s knowledge, but I didn’t.  I just followed along with Sadie as she experiences the unintended consequences of her little lie.  A concerned teacher has her freaked out because she hasn’t turned in a health form, signed by her mother,  to the school nurse, and that EpiPen that she’s supposed to carry with her at all times?  Yeah, she needs a prescription to have access to that prop.  When a new friend asks to see it, she flips out on him.  When her new boyfriend thinks that she’s eaten a chip cooked in peanut oil, she realizes that living with this lie isn’t going to be easy.

The thing that kept me engaged in the story was Sadie’s fear of discovery.  Afraid to fess up to her new friends, she just keeps digging herself into a deeper and deeper hole.  She is terrified that the truth will come out, and when it does, that she will lose all of the friends that she’s made.  When reality does come crashing down around her, it is every bit as awful as she feared.  I think that the fallout was shortchanged, and that mending her bridges went too easy for her.  From her first day of school, the image of herself that she projected was all based on fallacy, and the small amount of page time given for her repentance was disappointing.

The art is quirky and it works well with the tone of the story.  I loved the splash of color from Sadie’s clothes. 

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Smashed by Lisa Luedeke

 

Title:  Smashed

Author:  Lisa Luedeke

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A field hockey star grapples with addiction in this riveting debut that will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

Stay out of trouble for one more year, and Katie Martin can leave her small town loneliness behind forever. She is a field hockey star on the fast track to a college scholarship, but her relationship with alcohol has always been a little questionable. Then trouble finds her. Alec is the most popular guy in school, and also the biggest bully—with his sights set firmly on Katie. When Alec turns on the charm, Katie thinks she must have been wrong about him.

     Except that she wasn’t. On a rain-soaked, alcohol-drenched night, one impulsive decision leaves Katie indebted to Alec in the worst possible way. This debut novel is a fast-paced and compelling story of addiction, heartbreak, and redemption.

 


Review:

I am not going to lie.  Parts of Smashed left me angry and frustrated.  It’s a hard book to put down, because Katie’s life is such a train wreck.  While I found it engrossing, I am torn about it.  I wanted to like Katie more than I did, but there are many times throughout the narrative that she is unlikable, and hard to relate to. She is struggling with her father’s rejection of her family, and when Alec is nice to her, she ignores her reservations about him and starts falling for him.  With a distant, distracted mother who is never there for her, she craves what Alec is giving her; attention and kindness.  When he shows a darker side, she is frightened, but when he apologizes for his abusive behavior, she forgives him, and puts herself  at risk again.  Katie doesn’t trust adults, and frankly, who can blame her after taking a long, hard look at her parents, so she instead tries to deal with all of her problems by herself.  She doesn’t even confide in her closest friends that she is in over her head with Alec.   Instead, she decides to deal with him herself, but her way of dealing with him can only have one outcome, and it isn’t a pretty one. 

Alec and his friends are the kings of her school, and they have a reputation for being bullies and getting away with crap.  When their paths start crossing during the summer, Katie starts to think that she’s been wrong about him.  He’s attentive and kind, and he’s there to listen as she vents about her family.  Sure, a couple of things don’t add up, and he gets aggressive about a physical relationship, but Katie convinces herself that she’s sending him the wrong signals.  She just wants to be friends.  But the more she pushes him away, the harder he pushes back, until he has her scared and wary of him.  When a drunk driving accident almost kills them both, Katie has to live the consequences of a very bad decision.  In the months that follow, she puts her dream of playing field hockey in college, a scholarship, and even her life in danger. 

I was so upset with some of the choices that Katie made.  There is pressure on her and her teammates to not get caught partying during the season, or they will be kicked off the team.  Instead of drinking publically, Katie starts drinking at home.  Her mother is never there, so it’s not like anyone is going to know or care.  Her mother is more focused on her job and finding a boyfriend to be there for Katie and her younger brother.   Without positive role models, Katie is struggling to find her place and struggling to deal with the challenges she is facing.  I kept wondering if and when her mother would take a step back from her own life and take an interest in her children’s.  I also felt horribly sad that Katie felt so abandoned and alone.  She feels that she has no one, so she starts drinking to forget all of her problems.

I don’t feel that Alec’s personality was developed enough, and I was disappointed at Alec’s lack of depth. I never felt that I got to know him or understand him. He’s just a one-dimensional jerk whose only purpose in the story is to propel Katie down a path of self-destruction. 

If you enjoy contemporary fiction that deal with social issues, I think you will enjoy Smashed.  It is a compelling and hard to put down read, and even though I didn’t always like Katie, I always sympathized with her.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy obtained from my local library

Review: The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez

 

Title:  The Space Between Us

Author:  Jessica Martinez

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep—and the secret that could tear them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands both sisters in serious trouble.

     Amelia’s not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to . . . but forgiveness is beside the point. Because Charly is also hiding a terrible secret, and the truth just might tear them apart forever.


Contains spoilers!

Review:

Oh. My. GOD!  That is the only way I know how to express myself after reading The Space Between Us.  The book was not what I was expecting.  At all.  From the first page, I couldn’t put it down.  I kept hoping the puppies would go to sleep so I could read without all of their little distractions (like trying to chew on my rugs, dragging boots around the house, and wrestling over the millions of toys they have to play with!).  This is an emotional read, and the drama is built up entirely around Amelia’s feelings for her youngest sister Charly.  There were plenty of times when I didn’t like Amelia, but I always understood her.  She is enraged that Charly has completely derailed her carefully planned out life, and she can’t find it in herself to forgive her.  But even as she can’t forgive her, she wishes that life would go back to normal, that she and Charly could once again share that easy relationship that they once had.  Her resentment keeps getting in the way, though, and just keeps pushing them further apart.

Amelia has one goal in life – to go to Columbia.  Her entire school life so far has been dedicated to this goal.  She has exceled in her classes, studied her heart out, and always been the good girl.  Charly, on the other hand, is her exact opposite.  Fun loving, bubbly, outgoing, Charly thinks that life’s a game to be played all out.  Everyone loves her, and though she gets into a ton of trouble, her antics have been harmless.  Amelia is resigned that she will be bailing her out of one scrape after another, but with Charly’s unpredictable streak, at least life is never boring.  Until she starts hanging out with a bunch of losers, and she winds up pregnant.

Now, not being overly religious and not living in a small town, I didn’t sympathize with Amelia and her grandmother’s reaction to Charly’s condition.  Not even having a pastor father, who is a distracted and distant caregiver at best, could excuse their behavior and how they treated Charly like a tramp.  She’s pregnant, not a criminal!  She’s scared, suddenly alienated from her own family, and has no one to confide in.  The girls’ stern grandmother has decided that they will keep Charly’s pregnancy a secret from everyone, including their father.  They will both be shipped of to their aunt’s house in Canada, where Charly will take online courses for the rest of the year, and Amelia will be enrolled in the local high school.  Really?!  Sending them off to a relative they don’t know and  have only met once, at their mother’s funeral when they were babies, is the answer to Charly’s problem?  I hated their grandmother, I hated their clueless father, and I even hated Amelia for part of the book.  Everyone in her immediate family turned their back on her when Charly needed them the most, and I had a hard time forgiving them. 

Amelia is infuriated that she is being shipped off to the frozen north.  She wants nothing more than to finish out her senior year at her Florida high school, and then she’ll be free!  It’s off to Columbia for her!  Freedom from Charly and her shenanigans, freedom from gossip, freedom from always having to be the good girl.  Argh!  Amelia does not make a good impression on anyone once she gets to her aunt’s house, and she sees nothing wrong with her rotten behavior.  She takes her rage out on everyone.  I could understand how devastated she felt after her dreams shattered one by one, but come on!  You are supposed to be the mature one!  There were times that I was so frustrated with her that I did not like her.  But even then, I could still sympathize with her.  It is so hard to have your entire life shaken up like snow globe, so while I didn’t condone her actions, at least I understood them.

There is a lot of emotion packed into this book.  While it’s told from Amelia’s POV, Charly’s terror and unhappiness are painfully evident.  She’s a sixteen year old kid who, after one careless decision, ends up ostracized by her family.  The only caring adult in her life is the aunt she doesn’t even know.  Bree immediately tries to make both girls feel at home, but Amelia is so resentful and suspicious of her motives that she can only give her a hard time.  Ugh! I kept waiting for her to attain some measure of maturity, and it was a long time in coming.  Almost too late, really.  Amelia made me so angry!  I haven’t been this worked up reading a book in a long time!

When forgiveness does finally come, there is still an awkward strain between the sisters.  Amelia has fallen into a pattern of thinking that constantly blames her sister for everything, and dismisses her unfairly.  I think my only disappointment with the story is that I felt that some of the issues that had pushed them so far apart weren’t settled enough for my satisfaction.  That space that developed between Amelia and Charly, and even between Amelia and her father and grandmother, had grown so great that I am not convinced it could ever be bridged.

Grade:  B+

Review copy obtained from my local library

Review: Stepping on Roses Vol 8 by Ueda Rinko

 

Title: Stepping on Roses V 8

Author:  Ueda Rinko

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi’s financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he’ll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she’s a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?

Sumi asks Nozomu to stop buying the land where she and Soichiro currently reside, and he agrees on one condition—Sumi has to leave Soichiro and become his wife instead! Faced with the possibility of eviction, Sumi must decide whether she’ll live in poverty with Soichiro or take Nozomu up on his offer…


Review:

Every volume of Stepping on Roses just gets better and better!  Each one leaves me dismayed when I reach the last page because I have to wait for the next release.  Rinko Ueda knows how to build  the suspense and the drama so that by the time you reach the last page, you are a quivering mass of emotions.  Some volumes that means being upset by the injustices Sumi has to overcome, and some leave you with an adrenaline rush, cheering Sumi on as she manages to stay true to herself and deal with adversity.  This volume left me pumped for Sumi – she’s finally had enough, and she is going to try to turn the tables on Nozomu.  You go, girl!  I only hope she can wage a battle against the crafty, unscrupulous Nozomu without compromising who she is.

Just when it seems as though things can’t get any worse for Sumi and her family, things do.  They get monumentally worse.  After being thrown out of their home by Nozomu, they are without shelter, have no money, and even less food.  They have lost everything.  Nozomu has poisoned the ears of most of Soichiro’s acquaintances, and nobody will hire him for fear of Ashida Product’s reprisals.  When Soichiro becomes ill and the doctor refuses to treat him because they have no money,   Sumi knows that she must give in to Nozomu’s demands.  She sells herself to him in order to help her family.  Poor Sumi!  Her desperation is palpable.  She will do whatever is required to keep her loved ones safe, and it’s not going to be easy for her.

What I enjoyed most about this volume is how Sumi begins to subtly exert her will against Nozomu.  She is passive on the surface, but underneath, she is learning the fine art of subterfuge  from her new fiancé.  He doesn’t care about anything but getting the best of Soichiro, and his single-mindedness is actually making it easier for Sumi to stage quiet rebellions.  With her reputation in tatters and her family’s well-being on the line, she doesn’t have much to lose.  I loved seeing her plans begin to bear fruit, and finished the last page with a feeling of elation.  I finally started to believe that things will work for her in the end, and I haven’t felt that positive about Sumi’s future in a while.   

One person  I would like to see more of is Komai, who I always liked, even when he turned traitor.  What is his deal?  Is he a traitorous scum?  Or does he somehow think he is doing what’s best for Soichiro?  Because there is no way that Nozomu, who is clearly psychotic,  could be a better employer than spoiled and over-indulged Soichiro.  I think?  Unless he really is evil?  Maybe we’ll find out in February, when the next volume is released!

Grade: A-/B+

Review copy provided by publisher