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!

One Paris Summer – Denise Grove Swank

Title: One Paris Summer
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Coming of Age
Publisher: Zonderkids Books/Blink
Date Date: June 7, 2016

Buy Link: https://amzn.com/0310755166

Blurb (from Goodreads):
Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

My Review:
I recently went to NetGalley looking specifically for fun summer reads to take one. I came across two I felt I would like and would be fairly easy to commit to. One Paris Summer stuck out to me specifically because I’m an Anna and the French Kiss freak. I’ve read that book nearly 20 times (I really wish I were lying). It is my go-to book when I’m in a slump, or just want to reconnect with old ‘friends.’ One Paris Summer sounded perfect when I read the blurb, and I was even more excited when I was approved.

What I Loved: The setting and the language for sure top this list. It is one of the things I loved about Anna, I felt like I really could put myself there. I’ve never actually been to France, but I’m willing to bet based on Anna and now One Paris Summer, I’d be able to recognize a couple of places that aren’t actual landmarks (assuming they are real…). One Paris Summer was especially nice in the language area, I did take French in school, and since there were some French phrases, some well known while others weren’t, I was happy to know I could recognize what was being said before the book gave away the translation.

I also connected with the music side of this story. Sophie was a pianist, and she would ramble off pieces of music that most people don’t even care to recognize, but I on the other hand did know some of them – and probably all of them if I took the time to listen to the piece, since I don’t know every piece of music by name.

I did get caught up in this story line of this book (and not just the setting). The dynamic between Sophie and Camille and Camille’s friends was great. I loved the growth of Sophie and Eric’s characters throughout the book as well. In the opening chapter I thought that we were going to encounter the brother/sister cat fighting pretty much throughout the entire novel, but I loved that wasn’t the case. Some of my favorite moments were when Sophie and Eric were spending time alone. Of course, the blooming relationship between Sophie and Mathieu was front and center, and totally gush-worthy.

Not So Much: So I hope I don’t sound too hypocritical in my next statement, since I picked up this book because it reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss, but the similarities of a few of the scenes in One Paris Summer to Anna almost had me putting the book away. They happened in the very first few chapters and thankfully, once they had passed, the similarities ended rather quickly and One Paris Summer became its own. But still, if it were me I probably would have avoided that as much as possible (and if it was a coincidence…then that is super crazy, and sorry for calling it out!)

Camille played the perfect antagonist, however she might have ended up being a tad bit over the top at some points. Not the climax, mind you…but in some of her tantrums. And I kind of wish we got to “experience” more of her reformation in this book.

The Verdict:        

This really was exactly what I was looking for. I think it is very likely that I will add this to my “re-read” books…but first that means I have to buy my own copy rather than the NetGalley version!  The book is clean, and perfectly suitable for Young Adults.

The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson

Title: The Unexpected Everything

Author: Morgan Matson

Genre: YA – Coming of Age, Romance
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B015WNZ1KI

Blurb (from Goodreads): 

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

My Review:

I’m on a roll, deciding to read books because of other bloggers’ reviews. I an Audible Credit I needed to spend and had recently run across another blogger’s review of The Unexpected Everything. Her raving review peeked my interest, plus this cover just screams summer fun!

What I Loved: Our flawed main character, Andie, to start off with. I loved her because she was so real about dealing – or NOT dealing – with her life by keeping everything at surface level. I would say that the exceptions might be her 3 best friends, Palmer, Bri, and Toby, but even then there were topics she just didn’t discuss. Her growth is the key element here, without it I would have hated this book, because at first I really just didn’t care for Andie at all. In fact, in the first few chapters I was kind of annoyed at her standoffish-ness, and strange obsession with kissing. It probably wasn’t until about half way through that I really started to like her.

I also love the progression of Andie and Clark’s relationship. It was not this all-encompassing passion to start off with, it was something that started with blushes and awkwardness and then formed into something wonderful. I read a lot of YA books, especially in the YA coming of age/romance type, and I really feel that this book is among the few that has a realistic view on relationship growth as opposed to the lust at first sight, in love the next week we get a lot of the times. There was gushing about how hot Clark was, but that wasn’t the entire basis of why Andie liked him – her feelings for him grew as she got to know him.

Speaking of relationships, I love the entire cast of characters in this book. The foursome (and their boys) were such a dynamic bunch, you can’t help but want to be included in their group. Then there is the relationship between Andie and her father; there is so much to love here simply because both sides make mistakes and learn from them. You start off the book thinking that you’re going to hate Andie’s dad, but you can’t help but love and respect him in the end.

Not So Much:
Because this book is about growth, becoming a better person, and discovering who you really are; it’s hard to come up with something that I didn’t like about it. It is very well written, and I feel like all of the emotions that I felt were exactly the reaction that Morgan Matson was going for.

The Verdict:        

This is the perfect YA summer read! It’s not too heavy, nor is it too light of a read. It has just enough meat to dig into, good characters that you want to know in real life. This book is clean, there is talk of sex, but none actually in the book – though there IS lots of kissing.