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.