Book Review

Book Review: The Friend Zone (End of the Line #1) by Sariah Wilson

Rating: ☆☆1/2
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 300 pages
Author: Sariah Wilson
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the bestselling author of the #Lovestruck novels comes a rousing romance about following your dreams, second chances, and playing the game of love.

Disgraced college quarterback Logan Hunt was on his way to NFL stardom when he messed up big-time. Now the Texas star player with a bad temper has a new option: Seattle’s EOL College—as in End of the Line, to his fellow misfit recruits. It’s Logan’s last chance. If he can follow the rules. No parties, no fighting, no swearing, and oh, no dating the coach’s daughter, Jess. Simple. Yeah, right. For Logan, there has never been a rule he’s more tempted to break.

The deal is “just friends.” The pretty, confident, and fiercely smart math whiz is fine with pizza, tutoring, and keeping Logan in line. But the closer Jess gets, the more receptive she is to his warm heart and spirit—not to mention his irresistible off-field passes. With defenses down, they’re both heading into the danger zone.

It’s more than thrilling. It’s love. It’s also a game changer that could sideline Logan’s NFL goals—and more important, a future with Jess. But dreams are worth fighting for, right?

A BIT CRINGEY.

That’s the biggest thought I have. How ultimately, a lot of this romance had me cringing.

I liked the initial premise and set-up. A down on his luck QB, trying to make a new start and building a better future. He meets the coaches daughter and sparks fly. It was a bit insta-lovey, but not enough to make me want to stop right then. Half of the time I really did enjoy the chemistry between Logan and Jess.

Personally felt victimized by the forceful nature of emotions it was trying to make me feel. Filling it with many, many dark backgrounds for characters involved that just didn’t fit the rest of the vibes of the book. I don’t mind such things, they need to work together for the story, not opposing.

The ending was sweet and I liked how that played out (minus the over the top dramatic flair). Cute epilogue. Won’t be continuing this series.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: heated make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: abusive and alcoholic father, substance abuse (Mom), loss of a loved one with terminal illness, attempted rape and sexual assault, nonconsensual drugging, loss of a parent by a car accident

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Book Review

Book Review: It’s All in How You Fall by Sarah Henning

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Sarah Henning
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: May 31st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A contemporary young adult romance about moving on, finding your place, and recovering after life falls apart.

Gymnast Caroline Kepler has three state balance beam titles, a new trick even most elites can’t do, and chronic, undeniable back pain. While she might never be an Olympian, she has dreams of leveling up to elite, making Nationals, and competing in college. But when one epic face-plant changes all that and Caroline’s back pain goes from chronic to career-ending, her dreams are shattered and her life is flipped upside down.

Enter Alex Zavala, a three-sport athlete who’s both incredibly cute and incredibly off-limits. He offers to give Caroline a crash course in all the sports she’s missed, and she has an offer for him in return: For every sport Alex teaches her, she’ll play matchmaker for him. Deal done, Caroline “dates” new sports with Alex for the rest of the summer, which is loads more fun than wallowing in despair. Just as Caroline starts to see herself as more than her past athletic successes, she picks up something she didn’t bargain for: a big fat crush on Alex. Turns out life was way easier when it was just layout-fulls and beam burns.

THIS WAS AMAZING.

This was a read for any young athlete who’s had to give up a sport sooner than they were prepared for (hi, it’s me). I felt those opening scenes with every fiber of m athletic soul and the rest of the book carried a beautiful story I couldn’t get enough of.

The romance was absolutely the SWEETEST YA friends to lovers. Oh my goodness it was too much to handle. I loved Caroline and Alex. When Alex offered to hep Caroline find a new sport/activity she could possibly enjoy and sincerely took the time to show her the ropes? SMITTEN doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is exactly the kind of love story I want to see in young adult lit.

What was my favorite aspect was the COMMUNICATION. Multiple times things came up in the plot where it could have gone two ways. One being a major miscommunication that would lead to hurt feelings and drama, and the other a conversation to alleviate all of those issues. Time and again Caroline truly thought through how she felt, how she thought others would feel and chose to have a conversation rather than let things fizzle in a bad way. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.

I could spend a long time gushing about this read. It’s appropriate for younger audiences and older alike. I think there’s so much here and it really sang to my heart and I hope you give it a chance too.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: career ending injury, depression

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Book Review

Book Review: Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Fiction + Romance
Length: 323 pages
Author: Hannah Orenstein
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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. 

NOT WHAT I WAS EXPECTING.

The cute rom-com cover hides the fact that this a lot closer to women’s fiction (nothing against the genre, just now what I was expecting upon picking it up). When I was looking for a contemporary romance I found a bit more and it ended up being alright.

I really loved all of the gymnastics aspects. I think coming off of watching the Olympics recently really had me stoked for a book along the same lines. I liked learning more about training aspects, coaching and other pieces. From that world it dove deeper into the abuse and mistreatment of gymnastic athletes. That took over a good portion of the plot and didn’t always connect back to the main characters.

That lack of connection made the scenes where Avery and Ryan were together not mesh well. They didn’t have great chemistry, just kind of started dating, then not, then dating, then not. And it was wishy-washy nonsense for most of the book.

While it brought awareness to many important topics the addition of the romance actually didn’t fit in. I think it should have leaned one way or the other more and would have been a more solid story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Fiction + Romance
  • Language: a little strong
  • Romance: kisses to little detailed open scene
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual abuse, emotional abuse, bullying
Book Review

Book Review: Compared (The Sweet Rom”Com” #1) by Kortney Keisel

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 324 pages
Author: Kortney Keisel
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 4th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Meg

Confession: I’m attracted to my student’s dad. Let me give you Tyler Dixon’s resume: thoughtful, manly, father of the year, widower, ridiculously attractive (basically the opposite of a dad bod).

This might sound like good news for someone like me—someone who dreams of getting married and becoming a mom—but it’s not. Getting involved with a parent is grounds for immediate removal at my school, and right now, my fragile heart can’t handle being fired. My mom just died. My boyfriend broke up with me, and to top it all off, my dad started dating again. Stable employment is the only good thing I have. Risking my job and my heart is the most foolish thing I could do.

Tyler

Being a widower isn’t like the movies. There’s not a block of women knocking on my door, bringing me casseroles every day. No, real life is work, laundry, and groceries—all while being both the mom and the dad. I’m pretty much failing at this single-parent thing. I don’t have time to date. Which is good since the only woman I’m interested in keeps pushing me away: Miss Johnson. Emphasis on the Miss—as in, my son’s teacher. It’s hard to convince a woman to go out with you when she’ll get fired. But it’s either pursuing Meg, despite her job, or the never-ending depths of loneliness—no big deal.

Compared is a witty, heartfelt rom-com with a teacher/parent romance, an irresistible single dad, and swoony chemistry that will have you rooting for a happily-ever-after while keeping the romance closed-door.

THIS WAS GOOD.

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t love Keisel’s YA dystopian series. Didn’t get past the first book. BUT, I had heard wonderful things about her turn in contemporary romance and thought I’d give it a shot. Happily surprised that this was a hit and I will be continuing this series!

I adored Tyler. I love the single Dad trope and this one was so tender and soft. Coping with grief and loss (Tyler is a widower) was at the forefront, but the way that it was presented was touching. I felt the emotions from him, and also appreciated the lighter, make me laugh kind of moments too. I thought that Tyler and Meg had a great connection and their meet-cute hit it off just right with the banter. Meg grew on me over the book and I liked her enough by the end.

What wasn’t my favorite was the the ridiculous ex-boyfriend who kept showing up for no reason. Meg and him broke-up, lets move on and not keep bringing him back for “drama”. I also didn’t love the push/pull towards the end. It was repetitive. I liked the all out argument and conversation leading to some moments of reflection, and then coming back together. That’s where it should’ve stopped.

Anywho, this was great. I liked the story and the couple a lot. I would love more stories with the other sisters (that’s where this is going right?!). I liked the side characters and the general nature of the book itself. Looking forward to the next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: depictions of grief, loss of a parent and wife (not on page, recounted often)

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