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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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: 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: The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter

 

 

Title:  The One that Got Away

Author: Kelly Hunter

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The man who’s always left her wanting more!

Good job? Check. Newly purchased apartment? Tick. Evie’s life is on a pretty even keel at the moment. The only thing missing? A man with an edge to keep things interesting.

Enter Logan Black. Tortured, distant and sexy, Logan has edge written all over him. He’s also the man who tipped Evie over the edge a few years back – she gave him everything, but he didn’t know when to stop taking.

Leaving Logan was the hardest thing Evie’s ever done. Until now. Because Logan’s back, the chemistry is as blistering as ever and this time he’s not going anywhere…


Review:

I have read three titles from the Harlequin Kiss line now, and each has been vastly different in tone and texture.  My previous forays into the Kiss line were a bit more light hearted and more in line with what I thought this line would be like.  The One That Got Away caught me by surprise.  This is a darker read, with flawed but likable characters.  It delves into the fears of a man whose childhood was marred by abuse, and examines his deepest fear – that he will be as violent, controlling, and selfish as his father.  This fear has shaped his adult life, twisting his relationships and fueling his desperation to keep everyone at arm’s length.  Mix in a hopeless obsession that has festered for over ten years, and you have a story that makes you uneasy and steals your breath away in equal measure.

Evie has worked long and hard to make a successful business of MEP, the architectural firm she runs with her friend Max.  When a huge opportunity looms for them, they both fret about raising enough working capital.  Then Max drops a bombshell.  He asks Evie to marry him so he can access his multimillion dollar trust fund.  Shocked, she agrees, and they travel to Max’s hometown to meet his family, and give Evie another shock.  Max’s older brother, Logan, is the man she spent a blissful week with 10 years ago, a week that ended in disaster.  Both Evie and Logan have been haunted by their brief time together, but for different reasons.  Evie’s heart was broken when she didn’t hear from him again, while Logan ran as fast and as far away from Evie and his obsession for her as he could.  Evie represented everything that terrified him, and he didn’t want to face that monster in the closet of his mind. 

Now, older and ten years wiser, Evie wants to put that week from her past into perspective.  Logan refuses to discuss it.  With the support of Max and his mother, Evie slowly begins to understand the demons that stalk Logan.  She confronts him, time and again, trying to make him understand that they are both different people than they were ten years ago.  I admit that their relationship made me uncomfortable at several points,.  Logan’s fear of being like his father has made him try to repress his inner most desires, and when they batter at him, they terrify him.   Evie and Logan’s relationship is dark and intense, and at times, unhealthy.  I began to wonder if I would be convinced that they could ever have a HEA.  Fortunately, I was, and I became a bigger fan of Kelly Hunter’s because of it.

My one quibble would be the lack of depth regarding Evie’s background, and how her dysfunctional childhood affected her.  We are given a brief sketch of her parents and their inability to commit, but there is no clear picture given.

Grade: A

Review copy provided by publisher

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

Title: Georgetown Academy Book One

Authors:  Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

It’s the beginning of a new political administration. That might not mean much at most high schools, but at Georgetown Academy, Washington D.C.’s most elite prep school, January 20th means new alliances, new flings, and new places to party.

While freshmen—nicknamed “interns” for their willingness to jump into bed with anyone higher on the D.C. totem pole—navigate the not-so-friendly halls of GA searching for Algebra and Bio classes, the school’s lifers have other things on their minds.

For self-proclaimed D.C. royalty Brinley Madison (of those Madisons), the first day of school is all about establishing the social hierarchy and playing the part of perfect political wife to her boyfriend, the outgoing Vice President’s son. Too bad he has a wandering eye that puts Bill Clinton’s to shame. Can she keep him, and her own secret vice, in check?

Ellie Walker, Brinley’s best friend, floats through the halls on the arm of golden boy Hunter McKnight (the JFK of GA). But when her ex-boyfriend, Gabe, returns to town and her Senator mother’s political nemesis is reelected, Ellie’s life starts to snowball out of control.

Shy, quiet Evan Hartnett is more into books than beer, and her closet is full of t-shirts and jeans instead of Jason Wu and Jimmy Choo. No one’s ever really noticed her—but she’s been noticing them. When her star rises as an intern at D.C.’s most-watched political news show, she soon finds the two worlds colliding in ways that make her question what’s secret and what’s fair game.

New girl Taryn Reyes is all laid-back, California cool; with a father who’s in line to be the first Hispanic president, she’s ready to dive into the D.C. scene with an open mind. But when her fellow students turn out to be more interested in spreading rumors than making friends, she realizes that forging a drama-free path might be a lot harder than she thinks.

With so many new friends and former flames in the mix, things are bound to get a little heated. And while diplomatic immunity might keep the cops away, there’s not much it can do about the press.

In a town where one teenage misstep can turn into a national scandal, the students at Georgetown Academy will have to be on their best behavior—or, at least, they’ll have to make the world believe that they are.

Because there’s only one rule: whatever you do, don’t get caught.


Review:

When I was approached to review Georgetown Academy, I was excited to dive into the book.  Coliloquy, the publisher, is defining itself as a cutting edge digital publisher, and they are actively attempting to engage more reader interaction.  From their website:

Coliloquy is a next-generation digital publisher, leveraging advances in technology to enable groundbreaking new types of books, new revenue models, and new forms of author-reader engagement.”

Now, I love the idea of this, but after reading the first installment of the Georgetown Academy series, I wasn’t impressed with the reader interaction.  There is one point in the story where the reader can choose one of the characters and follow her POV for a short sequence of events.  I found this more tedious than ground-breaking  because I had to reread the same scene four times to get all of the girls’ perspectives.  This just slowed the pace of the story for me.  What would I like to see in future releases?  Maps of key places, including the school, illustrated character bios, even emails and text messages sent by the protagonists.  How about adding some audio, too, and including voice mails, etc?  That would be so cool, and to me, that would more fully engage my attention.

Despite my quibble with the interactive features, I did enjoy this introduction to the Georgetown Academy series. I had a good sense of how each of the characters ticked, and felt that I was able to get into their heads as they each dealt with all of the drama tossed their way.  And each of them is drowning in drama!  If you like books with lots of angst, lots of social pressure, and intense interpersonal relationships, this is the series for you.  Once I settled into the story, I was very engaged in the lives and trials of Evan, Taryn, Ellie, and Brinley.  Better yet, I liked some more than others, and found that they each had a unique personality.  Dealing with their parents’ successes and setbacks, boyfriend troubles, and the press kept each of them on the edge.  These teens are in  a larger than life setting, and not all of them are as well equipped to deal with the stress.

Because Georgetown Academy Book One is so short, I found the initial character introductions the slowest aspect of the story.  Just when I felt that I had a handle on the protagonists, the story shuddered to an abrupt ending.  Was I invested in the story?  You bet!  I immediately wanted to start reading Book Two!  So be aware that the beginning of the book drags a bit, but then, as the mishaps and gossip start piling up, GA is difficult to put down. 

Grade:  Wavering between a B and a B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Jessica Koosed Etting & Alyssa Embree Schwartz, Authors of Georgetown Academy and Giveaway!

Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz dropped by the virtual offices to chat about their Georgetown Academy series.  Please give them a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your Georgetown Academy series?

[Jessica and Alyssa] Georgetown Academy follows the lives of four girls at a private prep-school in D.C. where all the most powerful politicians send their children, much like the school that Malia Obama currently attends. As a senator’s daughter and sophomore, Ellie Walker knows it’s a world where one innocent teenage misstep can turn into national scandal faster than you can say CNN and where everyone tries to abide by the most important rule of politics…whatever you do, don’t get caught.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] We have a few friends who grew up in D.C. and went to prep schools similar to Georgetown Academy. Their high school experiences were so unique and interesting (and their stories are ridiculously entertaining) that we both realized it would make a really fun world for a YA series.

Coming up with the characters is one of our favorite parts of the process and for Georgetown Academy, we wanted four very different main girls with very different agendas. We used elements of ourselves, our friends and definitely some famous political families to ultimately create Ellie, Brinley, Taryn and Evan. And the boys were even easier to come up with. They are all versions of guys we wish we had dated in high school!

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] Fair, Ambitious, (major) Worrywart

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] Ummmm…Heartless by Kanye West? Kidding! Though Brinley can come off a little mean and scary to those she’s not friends with, we think her tenacity is what defines her best…so we’d have to go with Fighter by Christina Aguilera.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Ellie won’t leave the house without.

[Jessica and Alyssa] Her iPhone so she can get her Google News Alerts every time a story about her Senator mother hits the web. Or in case Gabe secretly texts her.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] A hairbrush, an issue of Us Magazine, a Polo shirt.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] With Taryn’s boho lifestyle, she tries to live life regret-free and focus on the now (something her mother’s private yoga instructor, Chandini, often reiterates). She doesn’t necessarily have regrets about moving from L.A. to D.C., but she definitely underestimated how different it would be. It’s been a struggle for her, but she’s learning how to adapt to her new surroundings without compromising who she is. She’s not going to stop rocking her faux fur and leopard print just because no one else at Georgetown Academy does.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] As far as YA authors go, Ann M. Martin and Francine Pascal have always been huge inspirations for us. They created these contemporary, fun worlds we were both addicted to when we were younger. We still remember everything about all the members of the Babysitters Club and every detail about Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. Another author who delves into the Georgetown Academy arena is Curtis Sittenfeld. We loved Prep and American Wife so she’s definitely an influence, as well.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] Skype (we live across the country from each other), coffee and Twitter for when we want to procrastinate.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] The Likeness by Tana French. She creates such a rich, interesting world in this book…and the mystery kept us guessing until the end.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] Kristy’s Great Idea, the first book in The Babysitters Club series. Despite growing up in different states and not knowing each other yet, we were both obsessed with this book series when we were younger and it was actually one of the things that brought us together as friends years later!

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

[Alyssa] Explore D.C. with my husband (we moved here a few months ago and are loving it), read, watch everything on TV from MSNBC to Pretty Little Liars.

[Jessica] My all-time favorite thing to do when I get any time to myself is curl up and read. Bonus points if it’s rainy and I have a cup of hot cocoa in my hand. Unfortunately in L.A., that’s pretty rare! I also adore traveling, am addicted to more reality television series than I’m willing to admit and love hanging out with my family and friends.

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

[Jessica and Alyssa] We’re all over social media! Come find us!

Our Twitter: @GTownAcademy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GeorgetownAcademy

Website (and home to our blog): http://georgetownacademyseries.com/

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Thanks to Coliloquy, I have 2 digital copies of Georgetown Academy Book 1 to giveaway!  Just will out the widget for your chance to win! Extra entries for following.

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Didn’t win? You can purchase Georgetown Academy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About the book:

It’s the beginning of a new political administration. That might not mean much at most high schools, but at Georgetown Academy, Washington D.C.’s most elite prep school, January 20th means new alliances, new flings, and new places to party.

While freshmen—nicknamed “interns” for their willingness to jump into bed with anyone higher on the D.C. totem pole—navigate the not-so-friendly halls of GA searching for Algebra and Bio classes, the school’s lifers have other things on their minds.

For self-proclaimed D.C. royalty Brinley Madison (of those Madisons), the first day of school is all about establishing the social hierarchy and playing the part of perfect political wife to her boyfriend, the outgoing Vice President’s son. Too bad he has a wandering eye that puts Bill Clinton’s to shame. Can she keep him, and her own secret vice, in check?

Ellie Walker, Brinley’s best friend, floats through the halls on the arm of golden boy Hunter McKnight (the JFK of GA). But when her ex-boyfriend, Gabe, returns to town and her Senator mother’s political nemesis is reelected, Ellie’s life starts to snowball out of control.

Shy, quiet Evan Hartnett is more into books than beer, and her closet is full of t-shirts and jeans instead of Jason Wu and Jimmy Choo. No one’s ever really noticed her—but she’s been noticing them. When her star rises as an intern at D.C.’s most-watched political news show, she soon finds the two worlds colliding in ways that make her question what’s secret and what’s fair game.

New girl Taryn Reyes is all laid-back, California cool; with a father who’s in line to be the first Hispanic president, she’s ready to dive into the D.C. scene with an open mind. But when her fellow students turn out to be more interested in spreading rumors than making friends, she realizes that forging a drama-free path might be a lot harder than she thinks.

With so many new friends and former flames in the mix, things are bound to get a little heated. And while diplomatic immunity might keep the cops away, there’s not much it can do about the press.

In a town where one teenage misstep can turn into a national scandal, the students at Georgetown Academy will have to be on their best behavior—or, at least, they’ll have to make the world believe that they are.

Because there’s only one rule: whatever you do, don’t get caught.