October 8, 2014

Breaking News

Making Headlines by Erin Brown

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 413 pages
Source & Format: Author; e-ARC
Series: Taking Flight companion
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Summary (from Goodreads)
When a one-night stand turns into an online photo scandal, Sophie Tucker and Luke McGraw become campus celebrities overnight for all the wrong reasons. 

Sophie Tucker can’t wait to start her freshman year of college—she has a full scholarship to her dream school and her sights set on landing a coveted staff writer position on the college newspaper. But when a scandalous photo from a one night stand she barely remembers is posted on The Score List, a new tabloid-style gossip site the campus is buzzing about, Sophie realizes her freshman year isn’t going to be what she imagined. As more photos are posted, Sophie decides to use her journalistic prowess to take down the anonymous person behind the site.

Luke McGraw is that guy—the vice president of his fraternity, the online editor of the school newspaper, and the one every girl wants to date. When a photo of Sophie, the girl he hooked up with the night before classes started and can’t get out of his head, shows up on The Score List, he knows that he has to find out who is behind the site—both to avenge Sophie, and to save the reputation of his fraternity.

When Sophie and Luke realize they’re both investigating, they decide to team up. But focusing on the investigation instead of each other proves difficult, especially when neither of them are sure the other can be trusted.

Thoughts on Making Headlines
Earlier this year, I read and reviewed Taking Flight by Erin Brown. I frequently get pitched self-published books, but they rarely catch my eye or align with my interests. However, I'd interacted with author on Twitter before and loved the premise, so I was excited to give it a shot. Thankfully, that was the right decision! I enjoyed the way the book depicted the challenges of a long distance relationship, choosing a college and graduating. I found it so relatable, and it made me wish there was more YA that depicted these decisions.

At the end of my review I wrote, "I'd happily read more from Erin Brown in the future, especially if it involved a peek at these characters a few years later." So, you can imagine my delight when Erin reached out to me about her second book, Making Headlines. Although it didn't focus on Willa and Dan, it was a companion to Taking Flight and involved characters introduced in that book. If I can't get a sequel, a companion is the next best thing! (And I was happy to discover that Dan and Willa make appearances in Making Headlines. Yay!)

While Taking Flight opens with a meet cute, Making Headlines opens with Sophie Tucker meeting a cute guy... but it's after she wakes up in his bed and can't even remember his name. It's the first day of her freshman year of college, and she just wants to get out of there in time to make it to class. Unfortunately, a scandalous photo of her from the night before shows up on The Score List, a tabloid-style gossip site the whole campus can't stop talking about, and suddenly Sophie is infamous. Luke McGraw - vice president of his fraternity and online editor of the school newspaper - is the guy every girl wants to date... and the one who woke up next to Sophie. He has his own reasons for wanting to find out who is behind The Score List, so he teams up with Sophie to investigate. But can they even trust each other?

In her pitch, Erin mentioned that Making Headlines channels Veronica Mars and Greek, two TV shows I love. Having now read the book, I think it's a very appropriate comparison! The investigation aspect reminded me Veronica Mars while she was at college - I could totally see her trying to take down a website that tried to shame girls for "scandalous" behavior. The tone is different from the show, but I could still imagine Ms. Mars on the case. Sophie has that fearlessness and "nothing will stop me" attitude, too, which I loved. She takes everything in stride - determined to find out who is responsible and refusing to be cowed. Luke reminded me so much of Cappie from Greek but with a better work ethic, more manners and a little less rough around the edges. Making Headlines alternates between both of their perspectives, which was so nice! Their voices were different, and I felt like Erin captured each of their personalities really well.

The story wasn't as relatable as Taking Flight was for me, but I still found myself thinking about the double standard for men and women when it comes to sex (men are praised, women are shamed, etc.). It also made me ponder the way women can often be the worst when it comes to tearing each other down. From that angle, Making Headlines can certainly spark some really interesting discussions!

I'd define Making Headlines as New Adult, and it does contain more sexual content than you'd find in YA. While I'm not crazy about sex in books, it does go hand-in-hand with the genre. So, that's more of a "me" thing, and it's one of the only reasons Taking Flight worked just a bit better for me overall. However, I really do have to praise the book for avoiding what seems to have become synonymous with NA: emotionally damaged characters with dark pasts and unhealthy relationship dynamics. There's none of that in Making Headlines! The characters reminded me of people I knew in college, and the situations weren't too far-fetched. In my review for Taking Flight, I mentioned that the book touched on what New Adult "could be - without all the intense drama that seems characteristic of it now." That's so true for this book, too.

Once the source of The Score List was revealed, I did want a better understanding of the motivation behind creating it. It was there - I just wanted it fleshed out a little more. There were a few moments where the pacing felt a little inconsistent, but it was pretty minor and didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. I thought Taking Flight was too heavy on pop culture references, so I was happy there weren't nearly as many in Making Headlines (and the references felt more natural and relevant to the story).

Making Headlines was a fun read and reminded me of why I want more books set during college. If you're a fan of New Adult or are looking for a more relatable NA story, I'd recommend checking out this book. Once again, I finished this book knowing I'd be happy to read more from Erin Brown in the future. She's got a fresh perspective and is the perfect example of how taking a chance on self-published books can be so worth it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

2 comments:

  1. Great review, thanks. I bought this book and Taking Flight. They both sound like books right up my alley and I love finding new books to read. Great site as well. Keep up the good work! :)

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  2. These days, I've started reading more NA novels! It's great because there are these awesome NAs coming out that are very different from the norm (which you mentioned in your review). I remember marking Taking Flight as a TBR book after reading your review. It looks like I have to add Making Headlines to that list as well, since the premise is pretty fascinating!

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