Pucked by Rachel Walter

Pucked
By: Rachel Walter
 
 

 

Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

 

Riley Silk, captain of the Warriors Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

 

Audrey Jacobs, the Warriors’ number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

 

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path.

 

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

 

Who keeps the puck?

 

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**

 



Excerpt:

Riley

“This or that?” Audrey asks.

I drum my fingers on the armrest as I think. “Music or movies?”

She glances at me sideways. “Music. Fiction or non-fiction.”

“Fiction. Dancing or singing?”

She laughs. “Dancing in the rain. Dancing on ice or falling on ice?”

“I practically danced on the ice tonight!” I snort. “I don’t fall…often.”

“I don’t mean that kind of dancing.”

“Like? A slow dance or something?” She nods. “And shall I ask Rob to be my partner?”

“Well, you could do a crazy one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance after a win,” she offers.

I laugh, loudly. “Where do you come up with this?” She shrugs a shoulder as she merges with interstate traffic. “In that case, fall. High heels or bikini wax?”

“You say fall because you’re a chicken. Do you even know what a bikini wax is?”

“If it’s like the name…then yes, and I’m not a chicken.”

“You are too, and I’d choose high heels. Feathers or snow?”

“You’d break your ankle! Snow. I’m still not a chicken,” I argue.

“I’d likely break both, but you are a chicken.”

“Will you stop calling me a chicken?”

The sound of her laughter centers me, I was meant to be right here with her. Just to hear her voice, her laugh…

“I will stop when you do a one armed, one legged, booty shakin’ dance on ice for me.” I hang my head. “Oh, and it has to be after a win, on home ice, and everyone has to see it.”

“Not gonna happen, Aud.”

“Same as usual, Chicken?” she asks as we pull into McDonalds drive-thru.

“Not a chicken, yes.”

“Okay.” She waits with the window cracked for an employee to take our order. A feminine voice comes through, asking what we’ll have. “One chocolate shake for the chicken and one vanilla shake for the tomboy,” she replies with a laugh.

“How many piece chicken nugget?”

Audrey laughs harder. “No chicken please, just the two shakes.”

“See, a sign you should knock the chicken shit off.”

“Not a chance, Chicken.” She clucks for good measure.

“No electricity or no plumbing,” I ask, hoping to pull her away from the teasing.

“No electricity, Chicken. One girl or all the girls?”

“One,” I say, burning a hole in the side of her head.

“Aw, a romantic chicken. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about one of those.” She tilts her face toward mine. Both of us just staring at the other, with very little space between us. My eyes fall shut and I lean back further into my seat. Way to make things awkward again, idiot. Chicken.

“Pink or purple?” I ask.

She groans, passing me the milkshakes the guy in at the window handed her. “Purple. Doer or dreamer?”

I chew on the inside of my cheek as I work the straws out of their wrappers. “Doer.” I’m too much of a dreamer. Or planner, but I don’t follow through.

 

About the Author

 

Rachel Walter is a wife and mother first and a coffee-addicted,chuck-wearing, hockey-watching, snark-spewing author second. She primarily writes Young Adult, but enjoys challenging herself in other genres, like Adult Contemporary. In 2012, Rachel began writing her first novel, True Connection, which she published in 2013. True Connection was re-released in 2014 as part of a boxed set, Pandora, which landed on USA Today’s Best Seller list. When she’s not writing or making images for her Instagram feature, #authorslog, she can be found doing almost anything in south central Pennsylvania, where she lives, to avoid washing dishes.
Social Media links
snapchat: rachelw_auth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Rachel_Walter

My Review:  I very rarely sign up for blog tours or accept review requests anymore (sorry for the collective groan I just heard from all hopeful authors and tour companies), mostly because of time, but also because when I do  find time to read, I don’t want it to be because I obligated myself, but because I really want to sit and read the book I have purchased, borrowed, whatever.  However, the tour for Pucked popped up in my email and I was interested in it the first time.  It popped up again, and I took the bait.  Why?  Well, it’s a YA and it’s a sports book, AND it’s a best friends book.  I happen to like all of the above.  (And see…it’s not a hopeless cause to contact me, it just has to be the right fit!)

What I Loved:  I loved the dynamic between Audrey and Riley.  Their friendship within the first pages was easy and fun, as long as they are alone.  Riley starts off the book over-protective and there’s always a part of me that really enjoys this.  However, this book has all kinds of other issues wrapped up in with it.  And the heat between these characters is very, VERY well written.  There were moments in this book that left me breathless due to the emotions flowing between them.

Audrey is such a strong character with a strong support group (parentals).  She has a defined growth arc throughout this book where as the rules of her and Riley’s friendship start changing, she finds herself a bit lost, however she is able to work through this and readjust to where she needs to be.

So before I head to the next part of my review….I want to note here that I really loved this story.  There are so many elements that I felt were well written and what was happening in Riley and Audrey’s lives really kept me invested.  If I didn’t have kids and a job, this would have been an all-nighter read for me, however I cannot elaborate too much as to what these elements and parts of the story that I loved so much were because I make it a rule not to mention more information than what is listed in the blurb if I can help it…and I haven’t been given much wiggle room in this area this time!

Not So Much:  The growth arc for Riley isn’t quite as well played out in my mind.  I loved this story, and him especially, but I felt like the internal issues he was dealing with were sort of dealt with in the outskirts of the scenes written on the page – and then was mentioned in the description of time passing or something like that so that the readers knew that it wasn’t missed all together.  I really wish to have actually seen Riley take some of the very necessary steps he needed to take instead of just being told that they happen.

Throughout the story I got the impression that Riley wasn’t as into hockey as much as he was using it as a means to an end.  Then later in the book you learn a little more about how/why Riley got into hockey.  I also would have liked to have seen this sport become something he loved again, rather than his ticket to college.

The Verdict: Pucked was at times a very sweet read, and at other times was a little difficult.  I feel like there are so many teenagers out there who would relate to this book and it’s message.  This book is very clean and YA appropriate, and I do highly recommend it!

Book Review: It Started With Goodbye – Christina June

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publishing: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins
Pre-Order: https://amzn.com/B01HAKH5LY


A beautiful cover, a blurb that boasts a modern Cinderella story; is it any surprise that I was drawn to It Started With Goodbye right away?

What I Loved: I adore the fact that, for the first time since Cinder and Ella (yet, another Cinderella story) I was sucked into a story so deeply that it took me less than 24 hours to read it. …well, it isn’t a 500 page book, so there’s that, but you get my point. It feels like it’s been a while since I was plunged into a book like that.

I enjoyed Tatum’s character a lot, and watching how she was going to handle and come through her particular predicament. She was being blamed for something that wasn’t her fault, and being punished rather harshly at that. I enjoyed how she came up with ways of overcoming this punishment, sometimes with just a positive attitude. Then even when there were times when she was being rebellious, she still managed to be honorable in her thoughts, and ultimately her actions as well. It made me like her that much more.

Of course there has to be a Prince Charming! True to the Cinderella story, we don’t really ‘see’ him too much, but I did enjoy how their relationship formed and bloomed throughout the story.

Throughout the book there was an overlying theme of misconceptions and hurts – you can trace it back through several of the characters. It was nice to see how some of these things played out and when the truth was revealed or the characters let go of their own hurt to view things from another perspective, things were made right.

Not So Much: I think one of the things I wish would have worked out a bit differently was the end when Tatum finally got to really talk to her parents. I felt like this was glossed over a bit. There seemed to be a lot of long lasting hurt feelings, however only the surface was scratched on the depth of the rejection and loneliness that Tate was going through.

The Verdict: It is always fun to read modernized fairytales. They are predictable, of course, but I love being swept up into the story while at the same time knowing how things are probably going to end anyway. It Started With Goodbye had me hooked from the very beginning. I recommend this book for teenager of all ages, and again I have suggested to my 11 year old daughter that she may like the book – so you know it’s clean!

I received a copy if It Started With Goodbye from Blink in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion.

View all my reviews

Book Review: One Chance Night – Eliza Boyd

Once Chance Night by Eliza Boyd

Series: Make a Change #1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Pages: 188 
Published: May 15, 2015 by Patchwork Press

Book Description:

On the surface, Chelsea Greer has it all: A loving husband. A nice house. A good job. In reality, she works hard to maintain the illusion that is her life. She’s also missing the most important thing: Love.  One night could change her life. One night could give her the strength to rediscover what’s important. In one night, she could find love when she most needs it and least expects it.  All Chelsea has to do is follow her heart after One Chance Night.

 **I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review. Other than the joy of reading, I received no compensation for this review.**

 My Review:  One Chance Night captured my attention from the very start.  Her struggles and apathy with her marriage were so apparent that it was difficult to see her go through that.  As all the whats and whys started to reveal themselves, it was clear that what was once a decent relationship that only kind of had a foundation had become toxic.  The entire story reads kind of bland in the beginning, which is exactly how Chelsea feels, so it was perfect, but add in super hot Brett and things start to get stirred up.

What I loved:  I loved that though Chelsea made mistakes (ie, she really should never have taken off her ring) in the end, all of the characters maintained their honor.  This was a big deal to me, because going into the story I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.  I loved that there was no needless drama, but that that the characters were understanding and kind toward one another.  (Trying not to give too much away here) but I loved that all characters got some kind of resolution in the end.
The country music!  I don’t listen to too much country music anymore (though I did go see Garth Brooks this past November) but after reading this book I found myself tuning Pandora in on Country…and enjoying it!
Not so much: I’m afraid the part that I didn’t like isn’t something I can say without spoiling the book.  It’s nothing that was done wrong or needs to be improved upon as far as story or writing, it just is personal preference – so while I usually try and find something to say here…I’m bowing out this time.  
Rated:   PG-13 (Sex references, probably some cussing…I can’t remember now, sorry)
Rating:  4 Stars

 

Purchase Links:
Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple | Scribd

About Eliza Boyd: Eliza Boyd is a contemporary women’s fiction and romance author. Also an avid reader, she writes novels, short stories, poetry, and whatever else strikes her fancy. Born and raised in Northern Illinois, she now lives in sunny Arizona with her husband and her plethora of animals. When she’s not reading, writing, or working, she can be found walking around her neighborhood (for exercise, not for stalking), taking photos of her pets, or catching up on her favorite shows. Catching up really means binge-watching.

 

Book Review: Jesse’s Girl – Miranda Kenneally

Title:  Jesse’s Girl
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: mYA (m = Mature)

**I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley.com. Other than the joy of reading, I received no compensation for this review.**


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Practice Makes Perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol. 

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

My Review: 
This is one of those books you pick up and just devour, if you have time, in one sitting. Jesse’s Girl is a perfect summer reads; one that will make you wear the big goofy grin for a good portion of the book.

What I loved: While reading, within the first chapter or two I made a note that I love Maya’s relationship with her family. This rang true through the entire book. They weren’t perfect, but they were supportive and loving.  They had their quirks, and dysfunctions, yet they are down to earth good people, and I loved them all. I also loved that the dynamic between Jesse and Maya was toe curling-ly cute, but they also helped each other grow as people throughout the book.

More things that I loved…each chapter was a title to a song, that was awesome! In fact, the reason I selected this book on NetGalley was because the title is the name of a song, and I just had to know what it was about. Also, the mention of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off….bonus points!

Not so much: I’m not a fan of sex in a Young Adult novel, even if it’s not detail by detail, you’re left with a good idea of specific actions. I know what is realistic, and what teenagers are like, it’s not that. I guess I’m just a prude (or you’ll think I am anyway), but I do prefer the old fashioned “wait until you’re married” option. But if this is the only thing I can list under this section, that’s doing pretty well.

Rated: R – For Sex and Cussing
Rating: 5 Stars – Beautifully written love story with life lessons and laugh-out-loud moments.

~*Books by Miranda Kenneally*~

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Book Tour & Review: Lonesome Beds & Bumpy Roads – Becca Ann & Tessa Marie

Synopsis

Lexie Boggs has dealt with enough drama for one teenage girl, and just when she thinks it’s about over, the father who abandoned her a decade ago shows up looking for redemption. At least… that’s what he says. Ryan Parker thinks his future is set. He’s got a sweet job set up, graduation on the horizon, and a lifetime of dreams he’s planned with his girlfriend, Lexie—including a king-sized bed for their soon-to-be apartment. Only a slight snag tugs at the fantasy when Lexie starts putting aside all she’s worked hard on for her deadbeat dad and his “sickness.” Suddenly school is the only time spent together, and as Ryan expresses his suspicions about why Daddy Boggs is really back, Lexie pulls away, hoping Ryan is wrong but fearing he’s right. And as graduation approaches, Ryan and Lexie struggle to keep the futures they thought they had firmly intact from crumbling all over their now lonely king-sized bed.

My Review:

Typically Alexis and Ryan’s story is the exact kind of romance novel where I would quote my mantra, “sometimes more of a good thing is too much,” because so often with books that aren’t something outside of fiction/romance (ie dystopian, fantasy, mystery, etc) we DO want to know what happens next, and then when an author delivers this on this desire the next book is just not as good or disappointing in some way (this has been my personal experience anyway.)  With The Beds Series this has not been the case, in fact I think that I liked this book, Lonesome Beds & Bumpy Roads, the most out of all three because while Alexis and Ryan still have issues and things to work through they have grown so much as individuals.  I felt that while things were hit and miss between the two of them through the whole book, they were communicating instead of shutting each other out.  They weren’t being very understanding of each other’s feelings the entire time – but they did come to realize that eventually.

I actually started out this series with the prequel novella, True Love and Magic Tricks, so I am always happy for scenes with  Kaylee and Nate as well; the four of them are a unit, and even though the series is over, in my mind I can envision their lives, marriages, and future kids (who will also be best friends,) – it’s like the ultimate big bow.  My favorite part of the Lex/Ryan relationship; the two of them are so sweet, funny and the biggest goofballs; the relationship between the two of them lack some of the extreme seriousness that is so popular lately, and was a breath of fresh air.  I relished their tickles, and teasing; the relationship felt so genuine and happy – and honestly, I had the “big goofy grin” throughout most of this series.  ( I LOVED the covers and all the teasers that reflected this part of them, they were simply the perfect representation). 

Rated:  PG-13 – Cussing, and sexual situations (No descriptions of the actual act)
Genre: (m)YA – Fiction: Romance  (M = Mature, I kind of feel this series is pushing into the realm of NA in a lot of ways.)

Rating: 5 Stars

Buy Links 

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About the Authors

 Cassie Mae (AKA Becca Ann) is a nerd to the core from Utah, who likes to write about other nerds who find love. Her angel children and perfect husband fan her and feed her grapes while she clacks away on the keyboard. Then she wakes up from that dream world and manages to get a few words on the computer while the house explodes around her. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with the youth in her community as a volleyball and basketball coach, or searching the house desperately for chocolate.
Theresa Paolo lives in the same town she grew up in on Long Island, NY with her long time boyfriend and their fish. Her debut novel (NEVER) AGAIN, a NA romance, released in Fall 2013 with Berkley (Penguin). (ONCE) AGAIN will release this summer. She is also the coauthor of the Amazon bestseller KING SIZED BEDS AND HAPPY TRAILS and BEACH SIDE BEDS AND SANDY PATHS, a YA contemporary series, under her pen name Tessa Marie. She has a hard time accepting the fact she’s nearing thirty, and uses her characters to relive the best and worst years of her life. She put her love of writing on hold while she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Dowling College. When she’s not writing, she’s behind a camera, reading, or can be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Book Review: Lady Thief – A. C. Gaughen

Author: A.C. Gaughen
Genre: Young Adult – Fairy Tale re-tell
Publication Date:  February 11, 2014
**I received an ARC from Netgalley.com.  Other than the joy of reading, I received no compensation for this review.**
Synopsis:  Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.
Review:  I was so, so, so very excited to be granted access to read the ARC of Lady Thief.  I read Scarlet in 2012, and have been awaiting the rest of the series since then.  I love the story of Robin Hood, and am not surprised to love the re-telling of the story as well.
Scarlet left off after Scarlet saves Robin by marrying Lord Gisbourne, despite having come to realize that Robin loves her, and she him.  The drama that unfolds gave me flash back between Robin Hood movies I’ve watched and other books (mostly of a dystopian nature) I’ve read recently. Scarlet (Lady Marian) is a wonderful heroine, and maintains difficult yet loving disposition that was established in Scarlet.  This book is full of adventure, and revelation, and romance.  Oh the romance between Scarlet and Robin is wonderful, and exactly what you want to see from a classic Robin and Maid Marian.
The ending of this book is shocking, and in no way will give you flashbacks of of Disney foxes we grew up on.  And what would a good middle book be without one big whopper of a cliffhanger, eh?  It is totally worth it though.  The story of Robin and Scarlet has started to take on a shape of its own and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book already.
This book is suitable for young adults; high school age and above.  I would have no hesitancy in letting my 9th grader (if I had a 9th grader) read this book.  Well, there is violence, but only of the nature you would expect from a Robin Hood story.

Book Review: A Million Little Snowflakes – Logan Byrne

Author: Logan Byrne

Publish Date: September 14, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Fiction, Romance
**I received an ARC from Netgalley.com.  Other than the joy of reading, I received no compensation for this review.**

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Oliver Hurst has always been abnormally normal.


His grades are horrible, his best friend just left for Utah, and he’s depressed. His overly religious parents don’t help, especially since they control every facet of his life. One stupid sentence said in desperation gets Oliver tossed in an adolescent psych ward, where his depression and fears become even more of a reality.

When Oliver meets snide, tough girl Lacey Waters he doesn’t think his life could get any better, that is, until she becomes the ray of sunshine he has desperately needed on his cloudiest of days.

Review:  I have read a few books that take place mostly from within the walls of a psyche-ward, or a home for troubled teens, etc.  I usually like these books because there are time in which you feel like you get inside the head of someone who is a little off, or has trouble coping, or is just depressed to a very strong degree.  I like to see character growth and recovery, which is why I pick these type of books up.  It is almost guaranteed that you will “loose” a character in these novels, as the author seeks a realistic scenerio and also to display the gravity of the situation.  Going in with this mindset usually causes me to be on my guard from growing to attached to characters, especially supporting characters.
So here we have A Million Little Snowflakes, which I have already indicated is not a “new” concept at all.  One of the things that drove me toward requesting this book on NetGalleys was that it was narrated from the male perspective, and given the types of books I enjoy, this doesn’t happen very often.  Plus, that cover is very pretty and a bit heartwarming.  I wish that the story were the same.  Honestly, while the concept was there, this book lacked in so many areas.  I cannot complain about not liking how the story turned out – it’s not my story to tell – although I didn’t.  I can, however, complain about the lack of depth.  Oliver, instead of coming off as depressed, comes off as a typical teenager with a very extreme family.  Honestly, had he just reached out to his father (instead of his mother) the entire hospital trip would have been avoided, and probably a million other things as well.
Reading this book was like reading a long narration of day-to-day events, but the descriptions and interactions lacked, big time!  While yes, there was character interactions, it felt choppy and lackluster, at best.  While each of the characters were described, I didn’t feel like I got to “know” any of them really well.  The “treatment” portion of the book seemed unrealistic.  I mean, this guy walks into an office, has a three minute evaluation and is diagnosed with depression and is Bi-Polar?  Based on what, one off-the-wall statement made at a dinner table and the narrators own confession of depression?  If it really works this way, I want NOTHING to do with this kind of treatment.  The very few therepy-type sessions we are included in as readers show no growth, no improvement.  It’s just a basic, “how are you?” “I’m fine,” type deal, with a few additional details here and there, and Oliver coming unhinged at random intervals.  The thing is, outside of making a stand for “his women,” this doesn’t happen any other time.  Once again, I feel like we are looking in on a life of a normal, every day teenager.  The biggest bulk of the book is dediated to Oliver’s feelings toward Lacey, and descriptions on what is going on with her (most of which internal debate).  One minute he can’t figure this girl out, the next minute he’s all but confessing love.  The “romance” is so skewed, with no real dept, there really just isn’t anything to latch on to or enjoy.

I feel like I’m being mean, and I actually feel bad that I’m going to post this review.  I typically will avoid reviewing a book I didn’t care for out of respect for the author, but I was asked to post an honest review and that is what I’m attempting to do.  I cannot know what it takes to try and put an entire book down on paper.  I know for sure that it’s a whole lot harder than it is for me to sit and read, and make judgements based on my own thoughts and opinons.  I want to honor and respect anyone who can and is willing to sit and write books, since most of my “entertainment” hours are spend reading said books.  It is also my hope that authors take what they can of bad reviews and use whatever good feedback they can and throw out everything that is completely useless, without a second thought.

Book Review: Unleashing Mr. Darcy – Teri Wilson

Author: Teri Wilson

Publisher:  Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: December 21, 2013
Genre: Adult – Romance, Modernized Austin
**I received an ARC from Netgalley.com.  Other than the joy of reading, I received no compensation for this review.**
Synopsis (From Goodreads.com):  It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman teetering on the verge of thirty must be in want of a husband.


Not true for Manhattanite Elizabeth Scott. Instead of planning a walk down the aisle, she’s crossing the pond with the only companion she needs; her darling dog, Bliss. Caring for a pack of show dogs in England seems the perfect distraction from the scandal that ruined her teaching career, and her reputation, in New York. What she doesn’t count on is an unstoppable attraction to billionaire dog breeder Donovan Darcy. The London tycoon’s a little bit arrogant, a whole lot sexy, and the chemistry between them is disarming. When passion is finally unleashed, might Elizabeth hope to take home more than a blue ribbon?

Review:  I’m a sucker for Jane Austin re-makes.  Especially Pride and Prejudice.  It’s my favorite Austin novel, as well as my favorite movie of all times!  So it is always hard to pass up a modernized version.   I recently found the mime below on Pinterest, which is about 99% truth.  (I tested it, asked my husband, “Do you know who Mr. Darcy is?”  The answer was no.  Which is surprising, since I watch the movie at least once a quarter.  Or at least every time I pick up a P&P remake.  It took everything in me not to put down this book and put in the movie this time around.
And there you have my review.  Sort of.  The modernization was good enough.  It centered around the dog show arena and of course the rich and…not-so-rich.  The book included plenty of Darcy, and Elizabeth moments, many of which avid fans will recoginize either from the book or by the movie.  In fact, many of the key phrases from the book were utilized here.  Elizabeth, true to the original, was a master of misunderstanding Darcy, but in this version it was almost to a fault.  In fact, I think that both the pride and the prejudice fell to Elizabeth most strongly in this rendition.  Mr. Darcy was constantly putting his foot in his mouth, and more than once I felt that Elizabeth’s responses and disdain were uncalled for.  I got a bit frusterated with her refusal to hear Donovan Darcy out, and if I were him, I most certainly would have given up on trying after so long.  Mr. Darcy was charming and compassionate and understanding.  He was apparently quite handsome, although for some reason I had a hard time picturing this particular Darcy in my head.  
The dog shows, while the common ground between Elizabeth and Darcy in this book, were really a rather small part of this novel.  I did enjoy the the bits that were there, but I think when I requested the book part of me had actually hoped on a few funny scenes and dog antics, but other than a scene of a dog peeing on beautiful carpet there really wasn’t any thing like that.  I guess they were show dogs, and were trained to absolute perfection.  
While I guess I didn’t LOVE, love this book, I still always enjoy an Elizabeth and Darcy rendition, in its (at this point) many varieties.  I love the different interpretations of the brooding, overly-handsome Darcy, and Elizabeth’s fumbling of the relationship.  If you’re an Austin fan, and enjoy modernizations, I see now reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this novel.

Book Review: Defy – Sara B. Larson

Author Sara B. Larson 
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
**I received an ARC from Netgalley.com.  Other than the joy of reading, I received no compensation for this review.**
Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):  Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.


The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?


Review:  I was destine to enjoy Defy for many reasons.  I have this crazy attractions to books that are seemingly historical, whether they are or not.  Actually, I think what draws me to them is not  that they are historical, but that they lack much of modern technology (although, I’ve been known to enjoy a steampunk book now and again, which sort of throws this theory out a different window).  The characters do not have the ease of jumping in a car or a plane and heading off to their destination.  They either travel via foot or horse or whatever animal happens to be available.  There are usually little to no guns, much less machine or automated guns; instead they have bow and arrows, swords, etc.  I also love the fantasy aspects, magic and evil of a very dark nature.  Some of the books that come to mind  that fall somewhat into these categories include:Throne of Glass, Pillars of the Earth, Robin Hood, Scarlet, and Graceling, to name a few.  So seeing Defy on NetGalleyand so recently after having read Throne of Glass, I knew it was for me.
At first I was afraid that Defy was going to be a bit too much like Throne of Glass and I wasn’t going to enjoy it, but as the story line moved from the initial “I’m extraordinarily good at what I do,” phase and into the real meat of the book, it took on a life of its own.  Alex(ia) shapes out to be such a three dimensional character; a girl disguised as a boy to protect herself from the terrifying breeding house.  She and her brother join the army, then are able to join the  guard to the spoiled crown prince, Damian. She lives in a kingdom run by a tyrant king who makes it his goal to banish all forms of magic everywhere, under the guise of revenge over his murdered wife and queen.
The story-line really was the best part about Defy.  I really enjoy watching it play out; Alexia determining who to trust and how far to get involved.  Then as her back story starts to come out, and peoples true characters are revealed.  All things that sucked me in and had me reading this book in less than two days.   I also enjoy strong female characters (although unbeatable female characters, while fun, are getting to be a bit over-done).  The climax/conclusion of Defy was the best! The story had its fair share of victories and heart break – and that’s not referencing the love triangle. 
Ah, the dreaded love triangle, we all know how I feel about love triangles.  I would have to say this was a bit of a lopsided triangle, since Alexia had a few moments of vacillating before choosing her guy.  HOWEVER, the ending of this book leaves me to believe book two might have more vacillating involved.   I really, really hope not.  I hate that.  I hate books being over-run with this “I want both of them” crap.  Another thing I would have to point out is that Defy was a bit heavy on the visual drooling on Alexia’s side.  Rarely in a YA novel do I notice so many references to the body (chest, arms, shoulders) of the male.  Yes, they usually are described  (muscles, or skinny and lean or whatever) enough to give you a mental picture, then the author may go back to one defining feature (great hair, eyes, whatever) however Defy did seem to linger a bit long.  As a twist to their story, I was expecting Prince Damian to hold off a bit longer and play with Alexia a bit before revealing that he knew she was a girl.  It was obvious from nearly the onset that he knew, and for a while it seemed like he was going to slip up and do something awkward.  I guess pushing Alexia up against a wall for a kiss while she thought he thought she was a boy might have been a bit traumatic to Alexia. 
If I had to stick my finger on one part of the book that made me squirm and in a way want to throw up – it would be the breeding house.  It was uncomfortable to read, to say the least.  I understand it’s purpose, and how we were suppose to hate the king , etc.  I can’t even say that the book would be better or worse without this aspect.  It was just hard to read, and almost throws this book out of YA and into the New Adult category for me.

BOOK REVIEW: Love Unscripted – Tina Reber

Author WebsiteTina Reber
Form: eBook, Netgalley
Genre: Adult Romance Fiction 
What girl at one time or another hasn’t dreamed of randomly catching the eye of their favorite, super-hot, movie star??  This is basically the story that Tina Reber has written. Even if Taryn wasn’t actually dreaming of the dreamy Ryan Christenson, she has definitely caught his eye and affection – this spinning her off into the limelight and razzel, dazzle of the paparazzi, grocery store tabloids and the craze that comes with ultimate fame.
 
Honestly, what Tina has captured is exactly why I do not go ga-ga over movie stars.  I absolutely love movies, and yes, of course I like the way actors look – who doesn’t…but even as a young teenager I really didn’t become star struck.  Okay, I take that back.  I really had a thing for Devon Sawa.  He was a cutie!  Anyhow, just knowing that 1. I never stood a chance, living in the middle of Ohio, of ever actually meeting these people, and 2. The fact that deep down they were just people, continued to keep me grounded ( and still does) about movie stars.  Reading Love Unscripted I was continually brought back to the Twilight craze when the first movie was filming.  I felt so bad for both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in those early days.  I honestly wouldn’t want to live that way.
 
Anyway, Love Unscripted captured my attention pretty early on.  Taryn’s chance meeting of Hollywood superstar, Ryan Christenson, was entertaining – and the chemistry was great from the very start.  The book continued to keep me engaged – mostly.  Really, over 700 pages of this relationship seemed a bit too much.  All I know is that I was torn between, “is this about done yet?” and “I have got to know what happens…” pretty regularly. 
 
I can tell that this book was a first complete and published novel (at least as far as I can tell by website, etc.) because it is a little bit rough around the edges.  Sometimes the dialogue was a bit flat and seemed….well…scripted.  There is a part where Taryn and Ryan decide to let their relationship “grow naturally,” and I kind of feel like the book could have used a little bit of that as well.  As I said, the story was good, and kept me engaged from the start, but it does get a bit rough to deal with Taryn.  She is a bit of a tough cookie.  She has had a run of bad relationships, and that doesn’t help, but she is suspicious at every corner – just waiting on the other shoe to drop.  (Who wouldn’t, he’s a MOVIE STAR!)  No matter how true it is though, the constant back and forth in the book would make anyone reading roll their eyes along with Ryan, “what, we’re back to this?” 
 
I also had a hard time with her difficulty receiving gifts, and feel that there should have been some kind of impactful big “ah-ha” moment that helped her overcome this…or compromise.  Something. 
 
The good parts – the chemistry between Taryn and Ryan make this book worth the read.  When it’s just the two of them, and no suspicion or anything, they are excellent.  They are both romantic and loving.  Ryan, from the start, is a normal down to earth guy with an awesome job – even a bit shy, which is always endearing.  With the exception of a brief time in Florida, he seems to remain that way.  Both of them just want to love and take care of each other, even if Taryn is a bit unreasonable with her, “I’ll never let them hurt you,” mantra that she continues to repeat.  Silliness is what that is.  Oh well.
 
I feel like I may have been a little hard on this book – I really did enjoy it.  I think that a good portion of my feelings about the parts I didn’t like would have been eliminate if a couple hundred pages of this book was cut out.  Yes, really.  They went back and forth on the trust issue so many times, I’m pretty sure we  (readers) could get the point without it happening so much.  I think that Tina’s writing will get increasingly better as she continues to write and publish books, and I’m looking forward to watch her grow.