Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

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

Head Over Heels publishes June 23, 2020. 

I always enjoy watching the Olympics and was pretty disappointed to hear that they are going to be postponed until next year. Head Over Heels looked like a good way to get a small Olympics fix in the mean time. However, it wasn’t really much more than that.

I was pretty bored throughout most of this book. I did enjoy the gymnastics included and reading about Hallie’s training routine as she prepared for the Olympic trials. I just wish there was a little more of an inside look. I feel like everything shared are things you can pick up by watching any of the countless features that play during the Olympics every year. There’s a lot more said about how hard gymnasts work than actually showing them working that hard.

I also never really cared about the romance. Avery and Ryan had crushes on each other as kids and their crushes have bled over into adulthood and they get together fairly quickly. I didn’t feel invested in their relationship at all, so when things went poorly and then got better, I just didn’t care. They could have ended the books as just friends and I wouldn’t have minded.

I expected a lot more to be said about the sexual abuse scandal, as well. It follows a lot of what happened in real life, just with fictional names. The doctor that is accused is one that made Hallie feel uncomfortable once, but thankfully nothing more than that happened with her. There’s a lot of talk about backlash online and a hearing scheduled for the doctor, but no type of resolution. I felt like from the synopsis this would be a major part of the plot, but it mostly stayed in the background. Avery and her old training partner come together to create a foundation to help the mental and emotional health of gymnasts and even that is barely addressed.

Overall, Head over Heels was not really for me. I would have liked for things to be more developed. It felt like just the bare minimum was done in terms of character development, relationship development, gymnastic research, and #MeToo details. What should have been interesting and emotional came off as boring and superficial. This is the second book I’ve tried by this author and I think it will probably be my last.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 2020

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Ex Effect (Washington Wolves #2) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 30-May 1. 3.5 Stars

This was cute, but not my favorite by this author. I thought Ava and Matthew got together a little too quickly, but I did ship them. I wish there was a little more resolution with Ava’s family, though.

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Wait For It by Mariana Zapata. Read April 27-May 2. 4 Stars.

It took me awhile to get into this (as much as I enjoy Zapata, I always think her books could be a good 200 pages shorter than they are), but once I did, I loved it. I loved the growing relationship between Diana and Dallas and I loved Josh and Louie. I put off reading this one for so long because I didn’t like Diana in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and I don’t always like reading books when there’s kids involved. But I found Diana way more likable in this and the kids were two of the best things about the book. I think Dallas might be my new favorite Zapata man, too.

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The Bombshell Effect (Washington Wolves #1) by Karla Sorensen. Read May 3-5. 3 Stars. 

This was cute, but not my favorite book of the series. I liked Allie and Luke together and the big romantic gesture at the end had some “Never Been Kissed” vibes that I enjoyed.

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The Split by Sharon Bolton. Read May 5-8. 2.5 Stars.

I am so disappointed! I love Sharon Bolton, but I found this book so boring. It started off really interesting and the end was alright, but I just didn’t care about anything in the middle. I didn’t care about most of the characters and I guessed the twist long before it was revealed. I love so many of Bolton’s books, but this one just wasn’t for me.

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The Stranger by Harlan Coben. Read May 13-14. 3.5 Stars. 

The writing sucked me in and kept me reading, but this definitely wasn’t my favorite Coben book. I found myself super annoyed with Adam’s wife, Corrine. When he confronts her about the lie and asks for an explanation she basically says “I’m not ready to tell you right now. I’ll do it later.” And then she disappears. What annoyed me was the manipulative “I don’t feel like talking about this” response. And as the book goes on, you expect there to be some huge conspiracy she was caught up in and it would all make sense why she couldn’t tell him anything…but that’s not the case. It was just annoying. It made it kind of hard to care about what happened to her. I’m still interested in checking out the show on Netflix, though. I know they made some significant changes from the book, so maybe it will be a little better.

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Life and Death (Twilight #1.75) by Stephenie Meyer. Read May 10-20. 3 Stars. 

So with all the hype about Midnight Sun coming out soon, I decided it was time to revisit Twilight and realized I never read the gender swap book. It did take me quite a bit of time to get through, only reading a couple chapters at a time in between other books. I know that Meyer did the gender swap to show that if Bella was a guy, she still would’ve needed to be rescued because she’s human, but it didn’t really work for me. Maybe I’m part of the problem in society, but there were so many times where I just wanted Beau to “act like a man.” A couple things were changed here and there, but mostly it was just pronouns and it didn’t work. I often caught myself reading it as if was regular Twilight. One thing that did surprise me was the ending! I thought it was a straight re-telling, but it’s not and I did find that interesting.

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From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read May 19-24. 2 Stars. 

*Sigh* This reminded me a lot of Armentrout’s Covenant series. Mixed in with a little Twilight and Shadow and Bone. And it was just ok for me. Actually, large parts of it were ridiculous. Poppy was so whiny, I found her really unlikable most of the time. Most of the book is her complaining about how unfair it is that she can’t sleep around like everyone else has the right to. Despite the whole cult-like religious system being pretty shady, she believes in it, which makes her choosing to ditch her Maiden status to have sex pretty selfish.

The romance between Poppy and Hawke played out very similarly to every other JLA couple, to the point where the names could’ve been switched out with any other JLA characters and you wouldn’t be able to tell which book you were reading. I though Hawke’s true identity was super obvious long before Poppy figures it out, too.

So, obviously this wasn’t my favorite JLA book, but all of her other fans seem to love it, so it’s probably just me.

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A Slice of Love (Slice #4) by Teagan Hunter. Read May 24. 3.5 Stars.

This was cute and I definitely shipped Frankie and Jonas. I thought there was a little too much focus on the physical relationship, though, and would’ve liked a little more emotional/romantic development.

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Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris. Read May 24-25. 3 Stars. 

This was pretty cute and was a lot less angsty than I anticipated, which was nice. I liked the dual POVs and shipped Lily and Stone.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy and Love the One You Hate by R.S. Grey. I just couldn’t get into either one of these, but I think it was my mood, so I do plan to try them again in the future. 

*****DNF*****

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You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria. DNF @ 27%. I really wanted to like this one. I love the cover and the comparison to Jane the Virgin definitely intrigued me. There were just too many little things adding up that didn’t work for me. My biggest problem was how the scenes from the tv show were written. It starts out with just a bit of script direction to set the scene, but instead of staying in script format, it goes back to the normal narrative style. And instead of describing things from Jasmine’s POV as she acts the scene, it described them as if Carmen, the character she’s playing, was experiencing them. And we would get Carmen’s feelings and internal monologue, but then there would be some thoughts from Jasmine interspersed with those and it was just weird. I know I’m not explaining it well, but it just really threw me off. There were a few other little things, too, that just ended up making this book a chore for me to get through. While both the main characters and their families were likable enough, I just didn’t really connect with them and I don’t really care enough to keep reading this. That said, I have seen some really good reviews for this book, so I’m sure many others will love it.

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Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin. DNF @ 16%. I think it might be time to just admit that YA Fantasy just isn’t really for me anymore. I couldn’t really get into this and I set it down to read some other books. After more than a week, I still have no desire to pick this one back up and I don’t think I ever will.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Head Over Heels by Hannah Orensten – 2 Stars

Cheesy on the Eyes (Slice #5) by Teagan Hunter – 4 Stars

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 2 Stars

WWW Wednesday: May 6, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Wait for It by Mariana Zapata. This started off a little rough for me, but it eventually sucked me in and I loved it. Dallas might just be my favorite Zapata man.

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein. This was kind of disappointing. I felt like it had a lot of potential, but it just scratched the surface of pretty much every aspect of the book.

The Bombshell Effect (Washington Wolves #1) by Karla Sorensen. Words can not describe how much I hate that cover. The book was cute enough, though. I actually read this series backwards and now I’m sad I’m done with it.

What are you currently reading?

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The Split by Sharon Bolton. I’m always excited when there’s a new book by one of my favorite authors. I’m not very far in yet, but I’m already hooked.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I can’t decide! I have a couple library books and a couple of Kindle Unlimited books waiting for me, as well as several ARCs. I’m going to wait and see what I’m in the mood for.

What are you reading?

WWW Wednesday: April 15, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. This was just ok for me.

What are you currently reading?

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The Vacation by T.M. Logan. This is definitely a page turner. I’m enjoying it so far.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I got an e-mail about being pre-approved for an ARC of Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein, so I decided to go with it. I just realized that I DNF-ed the last book I tried by this author, so I’m feeling a little hesitant, but I’m still going to give it a try.

What are you reading?