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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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: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

 

Title: Going Vintage

Author:  Lindsey Leavitt

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to "go vintage" and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma’s list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out . . . no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy’s cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she’ll get it done. Somehow.

Lindsey Leavitt perfectly pairs heartfelt family moments, laugh-out-loud humor, and a little bit of romance in this delightful contemporary novel.


Review:

I am definitely torn about Going Vintage.  The premise sounded fun and unique, and I enjoy Lindsey Leavitt’s breezy narrative style.  Once I started reading, though, I had a hard time sympathizing with Mallory.  It’s obvious that she and Jeremy are not a match made in heaven, that their relationship has very little actual substance behind it, and that they are better off looking for someone who they can be themselves with.  It’s not even that either of them is pretending to be someone or something else when they are together,  but they lack the ability to communicate in any meaningful way.  Each of them keeps the most important pieces of themselves closely guarded, reluctantly sharing bits here and there.  Their entire relationship revolves around helping each other with homework, eating lunch together at school, and making out.  These are not the keys to a lasting, committed relationship.

When Mallory discovers that Jeremy has a cyberwife in the online sim game he’s playing, she blows a gasket.  When she discovers that he’s been emailing her in real life, and worse, opening up about himself to this mysterious BubbleYum, she’s had enough.  Jeremy is a tool (which she splashes on his Friendspace page with disastrous results), and she’s done with him and modern technology.  As people online let their feelings about the breakup known, Mallory is so over everything.  To galvanize her new tech free life, she discovers a list that her grandmother created when she was Mallory’s age.  She wonders if her grandmother accomplished her bullet list, and decides that she is going to live life like it’s a simpler time – 1962 to be exact, and complete every item on her grandmother’s list.

I was frustrated with the pacing of this book.  Events moved too slowly for my taste, with Mallory constantly re-iterating her intention to give up technology. No cell phone, no texting, no email, no Google.  Some of her tech-free rules just seemed so silly and arbitrary to me, and since she didn’t really communicate with anyone but her younger sister, giving up her communication options just isolated her even more.   The adults in Mallory’s life didn’t seem to have much time or interest to spare for her, at least not at first.  I was so irritated with the lot of them, especially her mom.

What I did enjoy about Going Vintage is how the important people in Mallory’s life re-forge  lasting, emotional connections with her.  Her family bonds are strengthened, and in the process, she learns that being a teenager in any time isn’t easy.  The same pitfalls exist in any decade.  Everyone has challenges and secret pieces that they don’t want to share.  When Mallory finds out that both her grandmother and her mother have secrets they are hiding, she has to accept that everyone makes mistakes, even the creator of her beloved list.  The romance with Oliver is sweet but a long time in developing.  Because of misconceptions and her rage at Jeremy, Mallory almost misses out on her second chance at love, this time with someone who “gets” her. 

Overall, I enjoyed Going Vintage.  I just wish the List wasn’t mentioned endlessly, and that the pace was a bit less leisurely. 

Grade:  C+ / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton, Author of Blaze

Laurie Boyle Crompton is visiting the virtual offices today to chat about her new release BLAZE.  Please give her a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Blaze?

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Blaze is a seventeen-year-old comic geek who is sort of stuck in her life driving her younger brother and his friends around in her turd-brown minivan (AKA: The Subatomic Sweatmobile of Doom). She loves drawing comics and is determined to snag her crush but when she does things don’t really go as planned.

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] My step-dad has an amazing collection of vintage comics that I had the privilege of reading through as a teen. I became an instant comic geek girl and this was before a lot of the superhero movies came out so there was zero cool factor to my obsession. Besides loving comics in general, I loved the way reading them made me believe in a greater truth. When people weren’t exactly being kind to me it was nice to read about a world where the good guys always come out on top.

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Talented Kickass Geek

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] A notebook that’s not covered in doodles.

A boy band poster.

A vanity mirror.

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Vintage superhero comics were a huge influence in writing this book. It was really a fantastic experience to be reading through all these old issues and seeing the ways that Blaze was inspired by the various characters. It was like I was experiencing the comics through her eyes.

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Time, time, time! I would do it every second of every day if I could, but of course there are basic day-to-day things that need to be taken care of. Thankfully, some of the things I DON’T need in order to write include; clean laundry, home-cooked meals, scrubbed bathrooms and clean floors. When I’m on deadline none of that stuff happens.

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] I recently read THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER because I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I know that if I see a movie the odds go down that I will go back and pick up the book (exceptions abound, including WHIP IT by Shauna Cross which was awesome). I’m so glad I did read PERKS first, although I suspect I would’ve picked up the book afterwards anyway.

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] I love to be outdoors. Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing – anything that gets me moving through nature. I’m a movie fanatic and also enjoy going for long rides in our Jeep with the top down. The perfect combination of these two is when we take the Jeep to the drive-in during the summer. *sigh* *thinks longingly of summer*

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

[Laurie Boyle Crompton] Twitter https://twitter.com/lbcrompton

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurie.b.crompton

Website http://lboylecrompton.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13345957-blaze

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Blaze from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…

Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

 

 

Title: Hysteria

Author: Megan Miranda

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can’t remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn’t charged. But Mallory still feels Brian’s presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past. But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others. In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda’s masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.


Review:

Okay, this was a different read for me.  Mallory killed her boyfriend one rainy night during the summer, after he broke into her house.  She isn’t charged because it was ruled to be in self-defense, but Mallory isn’t sure.  She can’t remember what happened that scary, rainy night, and she’s not sure that she wants to.  Unable to sleep without the aid of sleeping pills, she suffers from the emotional trauma that she can’t put behind her.  She feels a dark, heavy presence when she’s alone, and she keeps hearing the ominous boom, boom, boom of Brian’s dying heartbeat.  When her parents send her away to Monroe, the boarding school her dad went to, she doesn’t think things can get any worse.  Boy, was she wrong.

Hysteria is a compelling, character driven story.  There is a steady building of suspense, and you aren’t sure whether Mallory is completely nuts or just suffering from PTSD.  Her escape mechanism when things get too intense for her is to run.  Run as fast and as far away from whatever it is that’s making her uncomfortable.  She runs a lot in this book.  From herself, from her memories, from her classmates.  But mostly she runs from the truth.  What happened that awful night, and why can’t she remember?

I was bewildered at Mallory’s parents’ apparent abandonment.  What the heck?  Their daughter is going through the worst time in her life, and they ship her off to boarding school.  Mallory can barely function because she is so consumed with what she did.  It colors everything in her life, as it should.  She killed someone, and she is being eaten mercilessly by remorse.  What could she have done differently?  Why did she do what she did?  The flashbacks to that night when everything went wrong  are intense and compelling, and kept me wondering how all of the pieces would fit together.  After first I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked Mallory because  she is so emotionally shattered that she comes off as uncaring and indifferent.  As the story unfolds, though, it becomes more and more evident that she is suffering but she has no one to turn to for help.  Her best friend back home isn’t responding to her emails or phone calls, and her parents are emotionally distant.  What Mallory needed was a good shrink, but all she seemed to get was a slick lawyer.  I didn’t get that.  If her parents could afford to ship her off to boarding school, they could have provided her with counseling as well.

Whether or not you enjoy Hysteria will depend on whether or not you like Mallory.  She is one messed up girl, and her coping methods are suspect at best.  Weird things are happening to her, and instead of trying to seek help, she tries to deal with all of her problems by herself.  The few times she reaches out to her parents are rebuffed.  When events become too much for her to handle, the authority figures in her life don’t believe her because of her past.  Mallory irritated at times, but I did come to like her, and I wanted her to find peace from her memories and her nightmares. The pacing is a little slow at times, but I found this a hard book to put down.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Giveaway! Win Also Known As by Robin Benway!

 

About the book:

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Ready for your chance to win a copy of Also Known As by Robin Benway? Just will out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. US mailing addresses only.

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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: Strobe Edge Vol 1 by Io Sakisaka

 

Title:  Strobe Edge Vol 1

Author: Io Sakisaka

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart!


Review: 

When I first read the book blurb above, I thought it was pretty lame.  After reading Strobe Edge, though, I think it very accurately and very succinctly describes this high school romance.  Ninako is shy and reserved, and everyone thinks she and her childhood friend, Daiki will eventually get together.  Daiki makes no secret of his feelings, but he has never voiced them, leaving Ninako, who is kind of clueless, thinking that they are just friends.  After circumstances have her and school heartthrob Ren cross paths several times, Ninako discovers how kind and thoughtful he is, and she falls in love with him.

Strobe Edge captures all of the awkwardness and exhilaration of falling in love for the first time.  Ninako falls head over heels for Ren, and who can blame her? He’s gorgeous, and better yet, he is nice.  What a combo!  As her feelings for Ren grow, so does her guilt over them.  She has finally picked up on Daiki’s feelings, and she feels awful about her lack of feelings for him.  She blames herself for leading him on, and though she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, she knows that she has to level with him.  So along with the giddy rush she experiences whenever she sees Ren,  she realizes that her feelings are going to hurt one of her closest friends.

I don’t want to spoil any other plot points, so instead I’ll urge you to give Strobe Edge a try if you enjoy series like High School Debut and Kimi ni Todoke.  This introductory volume will leave you smiling as Ninako slowly begins to blossom, shedding her reservations and allowing herself to come out of her shell.  She knows that her heart will more than likely get broken, but for the time being, she is enjoying how she feels about Ren.  Because she is so sweet, and because she is taking this huge risk, you can’t help but cheer her on.  Will things work out between her and Ren, or is Ninako doomed to heartbreak?  I don’t know, but I can hardly wait to find out!

Grade:  wavering between a B+ and an A-

Review copy provided by publisher