Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: "Off the Ice" by Julie Cross

All is fair in love and hockey… Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again. Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good. It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love. For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.
Thanks to Entangled Teen via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!
I'm always pretty excited to read a new Julie Cross book because I know I'm in for a great time. Nobody does character development and steamy YA quite like she does, and "Off the Ice" was no exception. I devoured this book in a couple of days and thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, but most of all, I'm completely stoked for more of this series! If "Off the Ice" is an introduction to the world of this little Minnesota hockey town and all of the folks in it, then sign me up for the rest right now - I need more!

Some things I loved:  
  • Claire is an "older woman"! How cool is that? Not to mention that Tate is her best friend's little brother, not that he's so little anymore. It was cute to see how Tate's long-term unrequited crush was finally turning into something more.
  • Tate's ex is not painted as "evil". She is actually portrayed as a nice person, someone who both Tate and Claire are or could be friends with. She just needed to realize that she and Tate were no longer a good fit, and I like how Julie Cross was able to realistically write about their evolving relationship without over-the-top angst.
  • Tate has a pretty great relationship with most of his hockey teammates. I imagine this is what some kids on hockey teams experience, although it hasn't been my personal experience. That's a story for another time! Either way, it was nice to see Tate had some awesome friends to back him up and support him.
  • The cover! It's pretty perfect.
  • Tate's relationship with his stepfather. This is something that is new, but like Tate's relationship with his ex, it's still evolving, and I might have shed a tear or two when Tate and Roger had their breakthrough moment.
  • Tate's coach. Okay, actually, I hated his coach! That guy seriously needs to be banned from any coaching activities whatsoever. His behaviour was demeaning and abusive and just plain wrong! Unfortunately, this character is all too similar to coaches I've seen or heard of, and because they produce results, people (parents and players both) tend to turn a blind eye to this type of abuse. While I sincerely despise this style of coaching, I commend Julie Cross for shining a spotlight on this darker aspect of amateur hockey.
And some things I didn't love (most of these fall into the category of "I wish there was more information/development around this):
  • Claire's friends, or lack thereof. We get to see a lot of Tate with his group of hockey friends, but we hardly get to see Claire with anyone other than Tate. Besides Tate's sister, ex, the hockey team's ex-goalie, and a thrown together band of merry old men, Claire didn't really have anyone to pal around with. There was mention of her hanging out with the weird kids while she was in high school, but I guess she didn't keep in touch with any of them, because they weren't given any other page time. It was strange - she didn't seem antisocial or reclusive, and yet she didn't have any old friends to support her during this tough time.
  • Claire's relationship with her mom and dad, and even her other relatives. These relationships didn't seem fully developed to me. I loved some of the scenes with Claire and her dad, but they were overshadowed by my many questions. Like, what was Claire's dad's prognosis? Why did they need to keep the bar open? Was Claire's dad a fantastic cook? Did they have a close relationship while she was growing up? What were his tattoos all about? And then Claire's mom was present, but I didn't really get a feel for her. Like, it's been less than a week since I finished reading this book, and I can't even remember her name.  She had a few good moments with Claire, but they felt rather shallow. 
  • Tate's relationship with his dad. I needed more information on this, like what kind of things his father had done. There was the main incident in the very beginning of the book, but there must have been more. What were they? Whenever there's a villain in a book, I need the author to convince me of their motivation, even if it's just that they were born that way. Was Tate's dad always a jerk, or did hockey groom him into one? Why was Tate's mom even attracted to him in the first place, or why did she stay with him so long?
These are just little things that I noticed, things I felt could have been improved upon. However, they didn't really damper my enjoyment of this book. If you are a fan of YA sports romances, I think you're really going to love "Off the Ice". It's got all the steam, banter, and hockey you could ask for!  

My rating:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: "The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett" by Chelsea Sedoti

Hawthorn wasn't trying to insert herself into a missing person's investigation. Or maybe she was. But that's only because Lizzie Lovett's disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don't happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she'll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now. So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie's disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously...at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie's life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie's boyfriend. After all, it's not as if he killed her-or did he? Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn's quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
"The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett". What can I say? I really did not like this book at first. I did not like Hawthorn at all. She was annoying and weird, and although her blunt remarks on Lizzie's disappearance made me snicker, I wasn't sure I could handle several hundred pages of it. Then I realized that Hawthorn reminded me of myself at that age, oops! So insecure, hardly any friends. At least I had gymnastics to keep me busy in the evenings and on weekends, but Hawthorn turns that downtime into a time to investigate Lizzie's disappearance, which is seriously a bad idea. She starts by getting Lizzie's old job, waitressing as a café in the next town over. I suppose this is somewhat understandable since Hawthorn was looking for a job anyway, so even though it was a little strange for her to go into the café snooping around for dirt on Lizzie, I could look at it as "being-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time". A vacancy opened when Lizzie disappeared, and somebody needed to fill it, whether it was someone like Hawthorn, a girl with, let's face it, ulterior motives, or not.

From there, things got even more strange. Hawthorn strikes up a friendship with Lizzie's boyfriend. Then, she comes up with this bizarre theory on Lizzie's disappearance! At this point, I was thinking, "This girl is nuts!" Really, Hawthorn had no proof that Lizzie's boyfriend was not involved in the disappearance, just some sort of gut feeling, or wishful thinking, maybe. Anyway, by this point of the book, I was quite invested in finding out just what the heck was going on, and no matter my irritation with Hawthorn and her increasingly stupid decisions, I still had to read on!

There are some really touching moments between Hawthorn and her family and friends, and those were some of the most redeeming qualities of this book for me. I especially ended up loving Hawthorn's brother, which was a bit of a surprise. There were also some moments that made me rather uncomfortable, but I think they were necessary for the arc of the story, so I wouldn't take those moments back at all.

Would I recommend this book? I think certain readers will appreciate seeing the world through Hawthorn's eyes, but I predict that others will not know what to make of "The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett". All I can say to prospective readers is stick with it past the first few chapters and you might be as surprised by this one as I was.

My rating:

Review: "The Reluctant Cowboy" by Kate Pearce

After a turbulent childhood, the Morgan brothers went their separate ways, leaving the family cattle ranch and their cowboy days far behind. But now, one by one, they’re being called back home to California. Have they been summoned to save the land—or to start a new legacy?     Chase Morgan high-tailed it away from ranching life as soon as possible. But running a successful technology company can’t erase the memories, or secrets, of his youth. Coming home to help his Grandma Ruth may finally put some ghosts to rest—if he can just get a certain smart, beautiful houseguest out of his business. But getting her out of his head is proving even more difficult…   Determined to save the Morgan ranch, historian January Mitchell has pinned her hopes on the surprisingly rugged, surprisingly likable, and exasperatingly stubborn Chase. Surely his love of this breathtaking, mysterious land runs deep enough that he’ll once again embrace his inner cowboy. Or maybe, despite both of their skittish hearts, she’ll have to find a way to get him back in the saddle…any which way she can.         “If you love cowboys—and who doesn’t—you’ll love the Morgans!” --Cora Seton, New York Times bestselling author

Many thanks to Kensington Books via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a confession to make - I always wanted to be a cowgirl.  I asked Santa for a horse every Christmas. I watched "Little House on the Prairie" religiously. I read Westerns, big ones like "The North and the South". I was jealous of all my friends who had horses. I even went through a short-lived country music phase (hides head in shame!) complete with a Tim McGraw concert and line dancing lessons! And yes, I still have the boots to prove it. Anyway, over time, I came to the conclusion that I was born into the wrong family, but, that doesn't mean a girl can't live vicariously through fictional characters, right? Exactly why I thought it might be time to read about a former cowboy-turned-computer-geek going back home to his family ranch and falling in love.

There was a lot I really liked a lot about this book. Primarily, I loved the ranch setting and the common goal of keeping it up and running and turning it into a heritage site. I also found the main characters, Chase and January, to be likable and interesting. Their chemistry was great, and the fact that they had a strong friendship building between them only made the romance sweeter. The mystery of what happened with Chase's mom, dad, and baby sister kept me reading - I just had to find out what had happened all those years ago to make Chase's family fall apart! And then there was the introduction of Chase's brother, Blue - hmmm, I could definitely do with more of him!

There were a couple of things I thought could have been improved upon, but I think to impart those things here would be considered spoilery.  So yeah, this book was not perfect, but it was definitely enjoyable enough for me to want to pick up the next installment. And of course Chase's brother Blue is featured in that one, and he is super intriguing, so there is that, haha!

My rating:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sale Alert! "Paper Hearts" by Claire Contreras!!!


Today we are celebrating a sale of PAPER HEARTS by Claire Contreras! This is the second book in her Hearts series, but it can be read as a standalone! If you haven't had a chance to read this series yet, now is the time to grab it! Celebrate Valentine's Day by getting this treat for yourself or a friend.


PAPER HEARTS by Claire Contreras

Hearts Series, #2 (can be read as a standalone)


I lost her. No. I threw her away. She was my best friend.

I was never supposed to fall in love with her. I was careless. She was heartbroken.

I thought I was doing fine. But here she is, years later, forced to work with me, reminding me why I fell in love with her in the first place. And this time I'm going to do everything in my power to never let her go.



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Claire Contreras is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Her books range from romantic suspense to contemporary romance and are currently translated in seven different languages.

She lives in Miami, Fl with her husband, two adorable boys, three bulldogs, and two stray cats that she refuses to admit are hers (even though they live on her porch, she named them, and continues to feed them). When she's not writing, she's usually lost in a book.


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