Review: Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren

41044784

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.

I received a copy of this title from the publisher. It does not impact my review.

Cold Day in the Sun will be available March 12, 2019. 

I really enjoyed this book. I’ve really been in the mood for cute contemporary stories lately and Cold Day in the Sun gave me that, plus a little more substance.

Holland is the only girl on the boys varsity hockey team. She’s a great player, but there’s obviously a lot of pressure that comes with her position on the team. A lot of people don’t think she should be allowed to play with the boys and she spends every game trying to prove them wrong. What I thought was an interesting twist on the situation is that there is a girl’s hockey team she could play on. Holland really makes a point of saying her decision isn’t about the girls team not being good enough for her, but that she has always played with her brothers and their friends growing up and she wanted to keep playing with them. While at first I didn’t think it was a good narrative decision for there to be both a boys and girls team, giving Holland a choice really is important to the plot. Other than to satisfy my preconceived ideas, why should she have to justify her decision? Why can’t her explanation be “because I want to”? I liked that this situation challenged my thinking a bit.

Feminism is obviously a strong theme of the story. While it did hit on a lot of important topics, there were a few things that didn’t work for me. Any time someone uses a common, but male-centered expression (like “that takes balls” or “man down”) Holland goes off on them about it. Yes, I understand the reasoning for wanting to correct this kind of rhetoric, but honestly it just comes across a little petty to me. And I don’t think yelling at people when they say it is really the way to get people to change the way they speak.

While there were sexist remarks made about Holland by some people in their community, I loved that her teammates didn’t act like that. None of them seemed to be angry about having a girl on the team, even when she was better than some of them. While a few players were a little over-protective at times, they mostly just treated her like any other player and I liked that. I also really liked her relationship with her brothers and that none of them were threatened by her, either.

And then there is Wes. I absolutely adored him. He is so sweet and I loved how much he supported Holland. Besides hockey, they also share a love for glam metal. I am not really familiar with the music and bands that are mentioned (a lot) so I feel like some of the impact that might have had was a little lost on me, but I did like how they texted each other about it. I absolutely shipped the two of them together and I was glad to see Holland finally wise up when it came to him.

Overall, I really enjoyed Cold Day in the Sun. I liked the characters, the hockey, and the romance – especially Wes. While I didn’t always appreciate the way in which some points were made, I did like that it challenged the way I think about some things and thought it had a good overall message. This was definitely the cute read that I wanted it to be, plus more, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Biren.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Advertisements

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

42201431

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Unhoneymooners will be available May 14, 2019. 

This book was so fun! The Unhoneymooners is definitely among my favorite of Christina Lauren’s books and I know it’s one I’ll be re-reading in the future.

I absolutely loved the banter between Olive and Ethan. There was also a lot of humor surrounding Olive’s very large, very involved family. I was smiling a lot while reading this book. I also loved that the story employed two of my favorite tropes: Hate-to-Love and Fake Relationship. I enjoyed watching their relationship change as they got to know each other better and the awkward moments as they pretended to be a couple.

Both main characters were likable and I shipped them together. That said, Olive was frustrating at times. She had communication issues and she jumped to conclusions pretty easily. I also thought she was a little too stubborn on things she shouldn’t have been. One of the big obstacles between Olive and Ethan comes from them disagreeing about Ethan’s brother’s (who is also Olive’s new brother-in-law) behavior. The fact that Ethan would give his brother the benefit of the doubt instead of automatically agreeing with Olive seemed a reasonable response from his character and her treating it like such a betrayal seemed a little over the top.

Speaking of Ethan, I wish we would’ve gotten more from his point of view (we only get one chapter at the end). I went into this expecting it to be dual POVs, so it took me a little while to get over that, but I did ultimately enjoy Olive’s POV, so it still worked for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Unhoneymooners. I loved the banter and the fake relationship situations and the romance (though there are a few scenes a little more graphic than I prefer). This is a perfect read for somebody in a real Rom-Com type of mood and I definitely recommend it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

41150287

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Flatshare will be available May 28, 2019. 

The Flatshare is a super cute and fun debut and I really enjoyed it!

I thought the odd flatshare arrangement was really unique. Since Tiffy and Leon work different shifts and Leon is always away on the weekends, their paths never need to cross – and Leon’s jealous girlfriend will make sure of it. However, they still need to communicate to each other sometimes and they start leaving each other notes. As time goes on, the notes go more from business to personal. I really enjoyed the notes and how their relationship develops. It’s several months before they do actually meet in person (in spectacularly awkward fashion) and I loved how it developed further from there, as well. Their banter was funny and quirky and I completely shipped them.

I really thought all the characters were well done. I loved Tiffy’s group of friends and the different perspectives they brought to the story. I also liked Leon’s brother who managed to still be a point of lightness in the story, even though he was going through some awful stuff. I even thought Justin, Tiffy’s abusive ex-boyfriend, was well done – though obviously I hated him. While they were sometimes a little over-the-top, all the characters came off as real and relatable and I enjoyed reading about them, even when it didn’t feel like a lot was going on at times.

The story isn’t all fun and romance, though. There are a couple of really heavy topics woven throughout the book. Leon’s brother, Richie, is in jail for a crime he claims he didn’t commit and Leon has been working tirelessly to get him an appeal. Tiffy is dealing with trying to break free of her psychologically and emotionally abuse ex-boyfriend who keeps popping back up. It seems I’ve read a lot of books lately with this particular plot line and while I’m happy that such a prevalent and important topic is being addressed more often, it is really hard for me to read. It’s hard to not get frustrated with the person being abused because it’s so obvious what has been happening and it’s hard to understand how that person doesn’t see it. I did really appreciate Tiffy’s journey, though.

There were a couple things I didn’t love, though. The chapters from Leon’s point of view had kind of a weird narrative and structure. Leon is a really quiet guy and doesn’t use any more words than absolutely necessary. Dialogue was also presented more like a script than with “he said/she said” format. It took a long time to get used to how his chapters were written.  It was a little off-putting at first, but eventually I kind of stopped noticing it. Also, while it never got super graphic, there was more focus on sex than I prefer in my books. And though it doesn’t take up much of the story at all, there are a few mentions of American politics that I didn’t love. I read fiction to get away from all the craziness of real life. And doesn’t Europe have enough of their own problems to talk about instead of bringing the US into it?

Overall, I really enjoyed The Flatshare. I loved the characters and the humor and the romance. Even though there were some heavy topics, I really enjoyed almost every moment of the book. I thought it was a very impressive debut and it’s a book I know I will read again.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

 

Review: Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3) by Lauren Layne

42342424

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Even for a top-gun banker, temptation this hot is quite a gamble, in a sexy Wall Street romp from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

An alpha among the wolves of Wall Street, Kennedy Dawson rose to the top of the pack by striking the right contracts at the right times. But there’s one deal that’s been giving him a run for his money—a pact to never again let his assistant, Kate, get under his skin. She may be smart, gorgeous, and sharp as a whip, but she’s definitely off-limits.

Kate Henley isn’t a banker, but she knows a thing or two about risk management—specifically, about managing her attraction to her smolderingly sexy boss. She already fell once, and Kennedy showed no sign of paying a return on her investment. So when Kennedy’s brother starts pursuing her, Kate figures she has the best of both worlds. Jack is charming, rich, very attentive, and the spitting image of his older brother.

It’s also making Kennedy think twice. But to win Kate’s heart, he’ll have to broker the deal of a lifetime…and prove he’s worth the risk.

I have wanted a Kate and Kennedy story since book one in this series and Huge Deal did not disappoint. Lauren Layne reminds me once again why she is one of my favorite Romance authors.

Kennedy has been my favorite of the trio of guys in this series. I liked that he was more serious and less playboy-esque. He tends to be a little oblivious, though. While it was obvious in the first couple of books that Kate had a thing for him, it takes him a long time to really catch on. Meanwhile, Kate is trying to not have a thing for him anymore. For the most part, I liked the way their relationship evolved throughout the book. I liked seeing Kennedy realize his feelings for her and then pursuing her. I also like that he had to work for it a bit.

However, I thought he had to work for Kate’s affection for the wrong reasons. It’s one thing that she would want to be cautious because he’s hurt her in the past with careless words. Instead, the reason she started to pull back felt kind of disingenuous to her character. I don’t want to go too into it since it could be a spoiler, but she was basically one of those women giddy about the thought of love and then after a sad circumstance decides that it couldn’t possibly be worth the risk. It just didn’t really work for me. Thankfully, though, the story didn’t dwell too much on this stage.

Overall, I really enjoyed Huge Deal. I loved seeing the characters from the previous books and the addition of Kennedy’s brother, Jack. I wouldn’t mind a Jack book, actually. I loved seeing my Kennedy-Kate ship finally sail. This has been one of my most anticipated books of 2019 and it lived up to the hype for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls #3) by Julie Cross

37638090

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Brooke Parker never expected to find herself in the tiny town of Juniper Falls, Minnesota. Of course, she also never expected to lose her dad. Or for her mom to lose herself. Brooke feels like she’s losing it…until she finds Juniper Falls hockey. Juniper Falls girls’ hockey, that is.

Jake Hammond, current prince of Juniper Falls, captain of the hockey team, and player with the best chance of scoring it big, is on top of the world. Until one hazing ritual gone wrong lands him injured, sitting on the sidelines, and―shocking even to him―finding himself enjoying his “punishment” as assistant coach for the girls’ team.

As Jake and Brooke grow closer, he finds the quiet new girl is hiding a persona full of life, ideas, and experiences bigger and broader than anything he’s ever known. But to Jake, hockey’s never just been a game. It’s his whole life. And leveraging the game for a shot at their future might be more than he can give.

Each book in the Juniper Falls series is STANDALONE:
* Off the Ice
* Breaking the Ice
* On Thin Ice

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

On Thin Ice will be available February 26, 2019. 

I have liked the other books in the Juniper Falls series, but I really loved On Thin Ice. It completely surpassed my expectations and I enjoyed it so much that I already want to re-read it.

I found both Jake and Brooke really likable characters. They both have had rough things happen in their lives and I felt like their reactions made sense for their age and situations. I also really loved them together. Their relationship didn’t have the best start, but I loved how it developed. I also really enjoyed seeing characters from the previous books like Tate, Claire, Fletcher, and Stellers.

I thought the hockey hazing storyline was well done. Over the course of the series we’ve seen how toxic the environment can be and how hockey players are given a lot of slack in the town, but it all really comes to a head here. I was glad to see the behavior was finally addressed and that it was the players themselves that brought it forward. It was a refreshing take on such a serious topic. I do wish that the issues with Brooke’s family were given a little more attention, though. Topics like self-harm and a suicide attempt are brought up and pretty quickly dismissed.

Overall, I just really loved On Thin Ice. I enjoyed the characters, the friendships, the romance, and the addictive writing. I really never wanted to put this one down. I recommend this one to fans of YA Contemporaries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

39280480

Synopsis from Goodreads:

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends–loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for–she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.

The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything–along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

Emma Mills books always make me happy and Famous in a Small Town was no exception. It’s been awhile since I smiled so much while reading a book.

As I’ve come to expect from Mills’ books, there are strong themes of friendship and family. I loved Sophie and her group of friends. There is so much effortless banter and I am completely here for it. I think that is one of the reason why I love books by this author so much. They are exactly my sense of humor.

While I loved the group of friends, a few of them – Flora, Dash, and especially Terrence – could’ve been a little more developed for me. Brit was well developed, but she was probably my least favorite person in the story. She was kind of the “wild” friend with a backstory that never really made sense to me. Which brings up another issue that made parts of the book not work for me. Several of the characters have some kind of heavy things happen to them, but none of them were really given enough attention to feel like anything more than a random side plot. A couple of them come kind of completely out of left field and then were never really explained or fully explored. I appreciated what Mills was trying to do with these storylines, but I just don’t think it worked here. I think if she would have picked one and focused on it, it would have worked a little better.

Enough with the negative, though, because I really enjoyed everything else. I loved Sophie and August together and really shipped the romance. I felt like they clicked from their very first scene together and then it just kept getting better. There’s some requisite angst here and there, but it still worked for me. I also really loved August’s brother and his family, who Sophie does a lot of babysitting for.

Overall, I really enjoyed Famous in a Small Town. I love how addictive Mills’ writing is and how even though it doesn’t feel like a lot is actually happening in the story, I never want to stop reading it. I loved the humor, the romance, the friendships, and that beautiful cover and I will be anxiously awaiting Mills’ next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

40702156

Synopsis from Good Reads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

I Owe You One will be available February 5, 2019. 

I adored this book. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Sophie Kinsella novel and I’ve forgotten just how addictive they can be. Once I started it I could hardly put it down.

I really expected I Owe You One to be romance-heavy, but it wasn’t as central to the plot as I thought it would be. That wasn’t a bad thing, though. The story focuses a lot on Fixie’s relationship with her family and with her own issues of confidence and self-worth. Fixie got her nickname by always needing to fix things – messes, people, etc. Her siblings, Jake and Nicole, take advantage of her, as does Ryan, the man she’s had a crush on for most her life. Throughout most of the book I just couldn’t get over how awful those three people were. I was really frustrated by how Fixie let herself get steamrolled over and how she couldn’t speak up for herself. As the story goes on, though, she learns to speak up and practice a little tough love.

Even though the romance wasn’t as central as I expected, it did still play an important part in Fixie’s story. I just loved Seb. He was such a genuinely good person. I loved his sense of humor and how sweet he was. That’s not to say he’s perfect, of course. When he and Fixie first meet he’s dating someone else – who is of course awful and very ill-suited for him and that was frustrating. There’s a point where his and Fixie’s relationship hits a rocky spot and I wish they would have communicated a little more effectively, but I liked how it all turned out.

Overall, I really enjoyed I Owe You One. I liked Fixie and Seb and the quirky cast of supporting characters. I even liked Jake and Nicole by the end of the story. I liked Fixie’s character growth and her relationship with Seb. I was a little disappointed that the IOUs didn’t really pay as large a role in the book as I expected, but I did like how it was utilized. This is probably my new favorite Kinsella novel and I definitely recommend it to fans of Contemporary and Women’s Fiction.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars