Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage

Going Vintage

Lindsey Leavitt
Bloomsbury
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 9781599907871
Pages: 320
Website:
Rating: 4 Stars
Seriously, where has this book been my whole life and why haven’t I read it sooner? I’ve read other books by Lindsey Leavitt, but this book was just what I was looking for. Funny, sweet and heartwarming, Going Vintage shows that its hard to be a teen, no matter what era. 
The premise of this book is simple, but makes for a cute read. After Mallory discovers that her boyfriend has been cybercheating on her, Mallory decides it is time for a change. When Mallory discovers a list of goals her grandmother had in 1962, Mallory decides it is time to demodernize.   Going vintage for Mallory has its ups and downs, and along the way Mallory learns a lot about herself and those around her. 
I loved how much Mallory grew throughout the course of the entire novel. In the beginning, Mallory was soley focused on her boyfriend. When she breaks up with him, she does not really know who she is or what to do. While deciding to try to live its the 1960s seems a bit drastic, for Mallory, it fits. She’s a bit different, marching to the beat of her own drum, and sticking to something she believes in. She was sarcastic and funny and I loved her voice. Mallory is obsessed with keeping lists, part of the reason why she becomes fascinated with her grandmother’s own list, and I loved that each chapter would begin with one of her lists. 
The secondary characters really helped to complement Mallory and round out the story. I loved Mallory’s entire family. Her dad and her mom had their own little side story that ended up working nicely into the plot. I loved that her dad’s job was sort of “Storage Wars”-esque, while Mallory’s mom was busy running, and hiding, savings blog. I really liked her parents and their story. Mallory’s sister Ginnie was so cute. She was very different from Mallory, but the pair complemented each other well. Their relationship was spot on. Mallory’s Grandma was the character who surprised me the most. Her list from junior year of high school is what drives Mallory and I loved learning about the women behind it. She’s not exactly what you would expect, and she proves that high school back in the 60s was just as difficult as it is today.
The romance in the book was very cute. Oliver Kendall, who just happens to be Mallory’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin, proves to be a good match for Mallory. The scenes between the two of them were so fun to read; I couldn’t help from grinning. While they have their misunderstandings, their relationships works really well. Going Vintage isn’t primarily a rom-com book, but the romance fits in well with the plot.
Despite the fact that giving up all modern technology to accomplish outdated goals (what is pep club anyways?) is a bit of an outlandish idea, Lindsey Leavitt makes the book work. The book could have easily been very cheesy and full of fluff, but Leavitt manages to expertly weave a tale that tackles the difficulties of being a teenager and finding yourself. This book was heartfelt and showed that high school is never perfect; every teenager, no matter what decade, faces their own unique challenges. 
This is my second book by Lindsey Leavitt that I’ve read, but I will definitely be checking out any of her other books. She has an incredible talent of telling entertaining stories, that also deal with real issues facing teens. Going Vintage is a cute and fun read that delivers a heartfelt story about the difficulties of being a teenager. If you are looking for a quick and enjoyable read this summer, I’d pick this up.

Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne

Poison Dance (Midnight Thief, #0.5)

Poison Dance
Livia Blackburne
Publisher: Lion’s Quill Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Series or Standalone: Midnight Thief #0.5
ISBN: 9781940584003
Pages: 86
Website:
Rating: 4 Stars
Poison Dance serves as a prequel novella to Livia Blackburne debut novel Midnight Thief. It’s currently available for FREE on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
I’m going to start off by saying that I’m super excited to read Midnight Thief when it comes out next month. Poison Dance serves as a great introduction into the world of Livia Blackburne’s novel. 
James is an assassin in the crumbling Assassin’s Guild. He meets Thalia, a dancer, who asks James to help her kill a powerful nobleman. While the novella is short, it does a good job setting up the world for Midnight Thief and is a great introduction to Blackburne’s writing. I haven’t read Midnight Thief yet, but if it’s anything like this prequel, I’ll know I’ll love it. 
I really liked James and can’t wait to see more of him in Midnight Thief. While he might be an assassin, he’s a good guy. He’s not corrupt and at first refuses to help Thalia because of the dangers of the job, for him and her. He’s got a good group of friends to whom he is loyal. He makes his decisions for the right reasons. When the Assassin’s Guild new leader starts targeting him, James just wants to get out of Forge, but events make that difficult. I’ll be interested to see more of him in Midnight Thief. 
Thalia was an interesting character. I felt bad for her. Her actions are motivated out of love for her sister. She knows the risks of attempting to kill a powerful nobleman, and is willing to do anything to avenge the death of her sister, including losing her own life. I was hoping she would have a happy ending…but we don’t always get what we wish for. 
While the story is short, the plot is intricate and detailed. Livia Blackburne manages to weave together two story lines into one short novella, an impressive task. The pacing was spot on, with details being revealed at the right time to keep the readers interest. The action is great, and the twists impressive. I cannot wait to see how this ending shapes the world in Midnight Thief.
Short and sweet, Poison Dance introduces us to the world of Forge, a world riddle with corruption. I cannot wait to see more of James and the world Livia Blackburne has created. If possible, I’m even more excited now for Midnight Thief than I was before!

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)

Pawn

Aimee Carter
Harlequin Teen
November 26, 2013
Series or Standalone: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
ISBN: 0373210558
Pages: 343 
Websites:
Rating: 4 Stars 
From the description of this book, I felt like I wasn’t really going to like it. I put off reading it for a long time, as I was worried it just wouldn’t hold my interest. There is a lot of dystopian in the YA market now a days, and some of it just doesn’t click. However, Pawn clicked for me. 
Aimee Carter did an excellent job establishing the world of Pawn. As it is a dystopian, it takes place in a futuristic United States, one that is a distorted version of our current country. The world building did not drag the beginning of the book down like it does in other books of this genre. The world was fully developed, and I found even a scarily possible future for the United States. Each person in society is assigned a number based on how they score on their test; this number determines a persons future. Kitty scores a III, a lower number than expected, which threatens her entire future plans. When faced with the chance to escape from the ranks of the III and be elevated to a VII, the highest rank in the country, Kitty jumps at the opportunity without understanding the consequences.
The main character, Kitty is forced to become Lila Hart after her death. Little does Kitty realize that becoming Lila, becoming a VII, does not make life easier. The Hart family, the leaders of the United States, are a very screwed up family. Corruption, lies, rebellions and secrets are abound, and Kitty is thrust into the middle of a power struggle. Little does Kitty know just how important she is to the Harts as Lila. This screwed up family and political atmosphere had me hooked. I needed to see how all the pieces were going to fall and wanted all the lies unraveled. 
I really enjoyed that throughout the book, Kitty stayed true to herself despite being forced to assume the identity of someone else. While Kitty could have accepted the fact that her life was no longer her own, but instead she stayed true to who she was. Her determination and strength shone through her new exterior as Lila. Kitty could have been followed the instructions given to her by Daxton, Celia, or Augusta, but instead she took charge; she refused to become a pawn to either side. While her life was no longer her own, she still found ways to make decisions for herself despite her circumstances. She made me root for her. I had a few issues with the characterizations of some secondary characters, but I will be interested to see how all the characters develop and grow as the series continues. The romance in the book also felt a bit stale to me, probably because I did not have any connection to Benjy, a character I wished was a bit more fleshed out. 
Pawn was fast paced, filled with twist and turns. The web of lies and deceptions is a messy one, but one that I wanted to get untangled, and Aimee Carter does a good job with revealing the truth throughout the book. The ending was heart-pounding, leaving Kitty in an even more precarious position than I thought possible. I cannot wait to see what other secrets will be revealed in the coming books. Thoroughly engaging and engrossing, with lies and secrets galore, Pawn is a great start to a new series. I look forward to seeing what Aimee Carter plans to do with the rest of the series. 

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry + Q&A + Giveaway!

Pushing the Limits

Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 9780373210497
Pages: 384
Websites:

Rating: 4 Stars

“My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has…welll…issues.  How do you think I am doing?”  – opening line of Pushing the Limits

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that  horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude   and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. Echo and Noah couldn’t be more different, but they find themselves united by a common goal: to sneak into their court- ordered social worker’s case files in order to learn the truth about themselves and their families. What they didn’t count on is falling in love — and now Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.


Oh god, this book. This book gave me all the FEELS. I knew this book would be dealing with some serious stuff but I didn’t expect to feel such a wide range of emotions. I laughed, I bawled my eyes out, and even got angry. So many feelings that I wasn’t expecting.

Pushing the Limits was so much more than a romance story. While the romance was smoking hot, I have to say I enjoy learning more about Noah and Echo as characters and seeing them overcome their struggles more than the romance. Both Echo and Noah are very trouble characters and have dark secrets they have kept buried inside. Katie McGarry was not afraid of tackling the nitty gritty and serious issues, which I really liked. She was able to capture the emotional struggles Echo and Noah were facing so well that I was in tears for these poor, poor characters.

Normally I am not a fan of alternating points of view, one of the characters always seem to come off as weaker or it just does nothing for the plot, but in the case of Pushing the Limits the alternating point of view worked perfectly. I loved getting into both Echo and Noah’s head. The writing helped create these characters who you come to care about and get emotionally attached to. Katie McGarry wrote these fabulous characters and as a reader you were truly was able to get into each of their heads. When a chapter ended and switched characters it didn’t feel awkward, the story flowed and it didn’t feel like head jumping (thankfully!).

Now Noah and Echo, man, I just wanted to give them a hug. And boy, do they need one. Noah is the boy everyone warns their daughters against, but he’s so much more. While he has the tough, bad boy exterior, Noah is one of the most caring, motivated, strong teenagers I’ve seen. Despite all the struggles he’s had to face, like losing his parents and growing up in foster care, he’s extremely dedicated to his two brothers who have been separated from him. Noah’s devotion to his younger brothers, oh god. It was the sweetest thing. The scenes with Noah and his brothers made me tear up so much, I’m not afraid to say it. He loves them so much and will do anything for them. Noah gives everything to those he loves and will do anything to protect those he loves, such an admirable trait. I loved that aspect of his personality so much. I loved how he grew as a character over book. 

And then there is Echo. That poor poor girl. She definitely has it rough. Her father is overprotective and overbearing, she is not allowed to see her mother because of an event Echo cannot remember but left her with horrible scars over her arms. Despite everything, Echo still wants to remember the horrible event that almost killed her and still cares for her mother. Her struggle to learn the truth about that night was hard to read. All she wanted was to know. When she finally learns the truth, I was in tears with her. Like Noah, she grew so much over the story. She was willing to come to terms with what happen and open up to those around her, thanks to Noah. While they might be the two messed up character ever, they were so adorable and perfect together.

The romance in this book was electric. Noah and Echo’s chemistry jumped off the page and you couldn’t help but want them to be together. They needed to be together for each other. But the romance did not define this book. Yes, it might be how they market it, what with the cover and all but it was so much more. The emotional struggles in the book are what really made me love it. The romance was a nice bonus.

If you read one book this year, it definitely should be Pushing the Limits. Its such a great read that captivates you with its amazing characters and draws you in with their struggles. I’m super excited to see what Katie McGarry writes next because she has me next. A companion book staring a secondary character for this book is being published so I’m super excited for that! Hands down, Pushing the Limitis a must read.

P.S. I think these lines from the Broadway show Next to Normal define what Noah and Echo both are ultimately working toward in their struggles: “I don’t need a life that’s normal—/ That’s way too far away, / But something…next to normal / Would be okay. / Yeah, something next to normal— /That’s the thing I’d like to try. /Close enough to normal / To get by…”


Q & A with Author Katie McGarry


Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?
A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing over- whelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?
A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the manuscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it always felt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek mythology so it made perfect sense that she would name her children after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the moment I found Echo’s,  I fell in love. Echo,  to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

Q: Which character is the most “like” you?
A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.

Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?
A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have un-fortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.

Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?
A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The peopleI grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willing- ly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and con- gratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.

Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?
A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even strang- er to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

Check out the book trailer!


About author Katie McGarry:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and she remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Writing has given Katie an excuse to pursue her passions. Research for her books has provided her with the amazing opportunity to train with baseball players, ride along in a drag car at ninety-six miles per hour and experience boxing and mixed martial arts. Katie loves to visit schools and talk to teenagers about her research, writing and the truth that no dream is out of reach.



Giveaway Information

I’m giving away one copy of Pushing the Limits. Information about the giveaway is listed below. US and Canada only.
  • Fill out the form below completely!
  • Open to US and Canada ONLY
  • Must be 13 years or older to enter. If under 13, parental consent is required. 
  • One entry per person. Multiple entries will be deleted.
  • Ends September 5, 2012

Perception by Kim Harrington

Perception

Kim Harrington
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Series or Standalone: Clarity #2
ISBN: 9780545230537
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Websites:
Kim Harrington – Website
Kim Harrington – Blog 
Kim Harrington – Twitter

Rating: 4 Stars

Reading Perception reminded me of how much I enjoyed Clarity. It was so great to be thrown back into Clare’s world in Eastport, MA.

Perception picks up after the events of Clarity. Clare and the Fern family are still dealing with the aftermath of what occurred over the summer, which means an increase in popularity for Clare and trouble for her brother Perry. Before long, trouble once again rears its head in Eastport with the disappearance of a local girl followed by Clare getting messages from a secret admirer making Clare want to use her gift to try to solve these mysterious

I really liked that Kim Harrington did not just dismiss the events of the prior book, but continued to build off what happened and continue to affect the characters. Clare wants to use her gift to help find this missing girl but her near brush with death in book one makes her mother prevent her from doing that. But Clare is still curious and manages to still try and help anyways.

I loved the mystery in this book. A simple, yet believable situation had Clare and the reader working to the end to uncover the culprit. I really liked how everything tied together in the end and how all the little mysteries popping up were all connected.

The battle of the boys, Gabriel and Jason, continues in this book more. In Clarity, I wasn’t sure who I liked more out of the two boys, but Perception allowed room for more growth with both these characters and Gabriel came out as my favorite of the two (I mean he plays hockey!). While the romance isn’t the main focus of the book, it was woven in with the main action and did not feel forced. And this was not a love triangle that was annoying either. Clare is genuinely confused about her feelings for these boys and wants both in her life, but not sure whom she would prefer to be more than friends with. In the end, I felt Clare definitely made the right choice with the guy she picked.

Perception allowed a lot of room for Clare to grow as a character. So much has happened to her between these two books and she had to have changed because of the events that occurred. Clare became a stronger person, not afraid to be who she was and let people into her life instead of staying on the fringes. She’s no longer just the freak with special powers, but an actual person and she is able to see how important she is too.

Perception is the perfect quick summer read. Kim Harrington’s style is funny and sarcastic and she knows how to write a great mystery. I really enjoyed this sequel and it reminded me why I loved the first one so much. I’m so glad I finally got around to read this. I can’t wait to see what Kim Harrington writes next!

And side-note: how perfect is this cover? I love it. Makes so much sense with the book too. And this Clare is much more how I pictured her then the one on the original Clarity cover.