Wednesday, March 15, 2017

[Blog Tour Review] Swinging at Love (Suttonville Sentinels #2) by Kendra C. Highley

Source: Received an egalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: March 13, 2017

Description from Goodreads:
Outfielder Tristan Murrell has a problem. As the number two slugger for the Suttonville Sentinels, his team is counting on him to make their very first run at the state championship. But he has a secret—his swing has totally deserted him. As in, he can’t hit anything. He needs to fix the issue, and fast, but how?

Ballerina Alyssa Kaplan has a problem, too. The shiny new sports complex in town has left her family’s batting cage business on the verge of going under. Nailing her audition for a prestigious dance company is everything, but there’s no way she’s letting her some shiny big-box company destroy her family’s livelihood.

Tristan needs a miracle. So does Alyssa. And maybe, just maybe, Tristan’s secret weapon might be the girl of his dreams…

Disclaimer: This book contains hot, shirtless baseball players, kisses that bring a ballerina to her knees, and a lot of baseball smack-talk.
I haven't actually read the first Suttonville Sentinels book, THE BAD BOY BARGAIN, yet, but as soon as I saw SWINGING AT LOVE, I knew that this was a series for me!!!
Immediately after starting SWINGING AT LOVE I was hooked! It was absolutely adorable! I loved Alyssa and Tristan, and their story was perfect! A girl whose family has a failing batting cage and an outfielder whose swing is in a funk—perfect!! I loved both characters and I adored their story! I can't wait to go back and read the first Suttonville Sentinel book now! I got a peek of Faith and Kyle in this one and I'm definitely eager to see how they got to where they're at!

One of my favourite things about sports romances is that you often get to see team dynamics, and that was something that SWINGING AT LOVE did amazingly well! Not only did it show Tristan's dynamics with his team, it also showed Alyssa's friendships, too. This is one of my favourite parts because it creates really dynamic characters and it makes the romance more believable, too...I always hate it when a romance story has the couple existing in a bubble. Unless they're on a deserted island, they're usually people around. :P As far as the friendships in SWINGING AT LOVE were concerned, there was definitely some drama, but I liked that the characters actually talked and worked out their problems. It also really made me think back to high school drama. :P

As much as I liked their friends, the moments where Tristan and Alyssa were alone together were definitely my favourites! They had an absolutely adorable meet-cute, and their moments together just kept getting better and better! What I loved most about them was that they were so well suited for each other! Not only did they have amazing chemistry, but they also had a lot in common, and supported each other extremely well. On their own Tristan and Alyssa were each amazing characters, and together they were even better. :) 

Overall, I absolutely loved SWINGING AT LOVE! I thought the story was adorable, the romance was fantastic, and all of the characters were well-developed and wonderful! I'd recommend this one to fans of sweet contemporary romances, especially if you're also a fan of sports (baseball in particular!) or sports romances!


What do you think?
Does SWINGING AT LOVE sound like something you'd like to read?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

Source: Received an egalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Entangled: TEEN
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Number of Pages: 320

Description from Goodreads:
All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

Well, well! This was actually my first time reading a book from Julie Cross, and it was probably the perfect one for me to start with! I feel like I've had Julie's books on my TBR for forever at this point, so I was extremely excited to finally read one! And now that I have, I'll definitely need to pick up her other books even sooner now because I really enjoyed OFF THE ICE, and I absolutely loved both Tate and Claire!

I'm a sucker for sports romances, and you don't see very many that aren't adult romances, so any time that I see a new one pop up, I get extremely excited, and I NEED to read it! OFF THE ICE was one of those contemporary romances that is kind of right on the cusp of young adult and new adult, and I really enjoyed that combination! Julie Cross is definitely right up there with Miranda Kenneally for some of my favourite non-adult sports romance books after this! OFF THE ICE was the PERFECT introduction to me for Julie's books. I can't wait to read more of her work, and I'm particularly excited to get to read more Juniper Falls books! Can't wait for those Tate and Claire cameos! ;)

Now onto the story itself! 

I loved the characters, and I really enjoyed how Julie Cross established the town of Juniper Falls throughout the story. There was a clear sense of community and the dynamics of how everything worked. Their town is all about hockey, and it was interesting to see how that framed their community. OFF THE ICE has a lot going on. Both Claire and Tate are struggling with issues at home that add some pretty serious overtones to the story, and it kind of slowed down my reading experience a little, but I really loved that they learned to communicate better and work through all of their issues together. It was amazing to see, especially in a romance that's aimed at a young adult audience. I thought that Claire and Tate's relationship was the strongest part of the story, and I think they definitely had the kind of relationship that teens (and even adults) need to see more was the kind of relationship that seriously fits the "Relationship Goals" hashtag (#relationshipgoals) in the healthiest and best possible way! They definitely disagreed, and didn't always handle their disagreements in the best way, but it was absolutely amazing to see them work through everything in a mature and honest way!

Overall, I thought that OFF THE ICE was fantastic! The main characters, Tate and Claire, were phenomenal and I loved reading from both of their perspectives! Their romance and relationship was also extremely well done, and I thought that it was the strongest part of the story. Now, I'm definitely looking forward to more of the JUNIPER FALLS series because I also definitely loved the secondary characters! I'd recommend this one to fans of any young adult or new adult contemporary, and I'd also recommend it to other sports romance fans, even if you typically only read adult!

What do you think?
Does OFF THE ICE sound like a book you'd like to read?
If you've already read it, or read some of Julie Cross's other books, what did you think?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cover Catch-Up (36): Lushly Imaginative!

In "Cover Catch-Up" I share some covers that have either been recently revealed, or that I've just found and really wanted to share. 

Today I have a couple of covers for books that feature worlds slightly similar to our own, but with a bit of a twist...and I'm also extremely excited to read both books!

The first book that I have is for the North American version of THE HUSH by Skye Melki-Wegner!

THE HUSH by Skye Melki-Wegner
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: June 6, 2017


Chester has taken to the road, traveling from village to village desperately searching for his father, who has disappeared. One night while fiddling to earn a few coins, he accidentally connects to the Song—the music that fuels every aspect of the world, and that it’s illegal for him to interact with. He’s caught and sentenced to death for his crime. Only a licensed Songshaper can bend music to his will.

But someone in the crowd—a member of the infamous Nightfall Gang—stages a daring rescue and whisks Chester into the Hush, a shadowy nightmare mirror-world where Music can be deadly and Echoes can kill.

Susanna, the Captain of the Nightfall Gang has been watching Chester. She needs him to pull off an elaborate plan that will take down the governing body that keeps her an outlaw and made her the fragment she is. Susanna needs him to exact her revenge, even if he dies doing it.

Combining complex stakes, shifting loyalties, nods to fairy tales, and a Western feel, The Hush is a lush and exhilarating fantasy perfect for fans of Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker.
I absolutely LOVE this cover!!! It's both simple and complex all at the same time, and I think it's breathtaking! The violin is stunning, and I love how it looks like it's being broken apart...and with the music notes coming out of the neck of the violin, it looks like it's either breaking apart into song or that the song is breaking it apart which seems PERFECT for the description! I also love the water, and the reflection, and the textured background...gah, it seriously is just so pretty!!! I can't wait to read THE HUSH, and I can't WAIT to see this stunning cover in person!

The second cover that I have today is for THE SHADOW CIPHER, book one in the York series by Laura Ruby!

THE SHADOW CIPHER (York #1) Laura Ruby
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: May 16, 2017


It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

From National Book Award Finalist Laura Ruby comes a visionary epic set in a New York City at once familiar and wholly unexpected.

Ah, this is another that I came across and just couldn't stop staring at! I absolutely LOVE how the buildings spell out YORK! It's so gorgeous, and the lighting and composition of the cityscape is breathtaking! It looks like a picturesque photo that someone would take, and I love that you get the peek of the main characters in the corner of the cover, too. I really think this cover is so pretty, but I have to admit that I don't quite understand why the series title has such a prominent placement while the book title itself, THE LOST CIPHER, is super tiny. Nonetheless, I think it's gorgeous...and I want to see those buildings in person!

What do you think?
Do you like these covers?
Are there any covers that you're currently loving?

Monday, March 6, 2017

[Review] ICED: An Atlantic City Hustlers Boxset (Books #1-2) by Veronica Forand & Susan Scott Shelley

Source: Received an egalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Lovestruck)
Release Date: March 6, 2017

Description from Goodreads:

When a sexy, forbidden spark blazes to life between professional hockey player Zac Elliott and the team owner's daughter, he's willing to risk being benched to have her. Their relationship is deeply passionate and intensely private...until the press catches them in the act. The only way out of the penalty box is for Zac to play hockey like life--and love--depends on it...


Physical therapist Annie Davidson is great at her job but unlucky when it comes to love. All she can do is focus on work...that is until she runs into professional hockey player Alec O'Meara. Alec likes to keep things loose on and off the ice, but the red-headed Annie challenges his beliefs and makes him think about taking their relationship to the net...

I read FLIRTING ON ICE and SIMMERING ICE in the box set of the first two books in the Atlantic City Hustlers series, called ICED, and I really enjoyed both of them!!!


I really enjoyed both stories, and while I'd say that I liked SIMMERING ICE better than FLIRTING ON ICE, I did still really enjoy Zac and Heather's story! I loved both characters—they were absolutely wonderful and their romance was so sweet! I thought they were perfect for one another! I did feel like their story was rushed a lot more than Alec and Annie's was though, so I do wish that it'd been a little more flushed out—I would've loved to see more of their relationship as it built.
Other than that, I thought it was fantastic and I'm definitely looking forward to more of the Atlantic City Hustlers series! 

Along with the sweet romance, I thought that the story itself had a pretty great build, and while it was fairly dramatic, it definitely had me glued to the page! I especially loved how the authors introduced the team, and they left me curious about more than a few of the characters, so I was pretty glad to be able to read this one in a boxset since I was eager for more. :D

All in all, I thought that FLIRTING ON ICE was adorable! Both Zac and Heather were the kind of characters that were really easy to like. They were kind, generous, and I genuinely wanted the best for them, so they were pretty fantastic to read about. I'm glad that we'll get to see peeks of them going forward in future Atlantic City Hustlers books. ;) I'd recommend this one and the rest of the Atlantic City Hustlers series to fans of contemporary romance who like a little drama with their HEA, especially if, like myself, you're partial to sports romances. ;)



Out of the two novellas, I did love SIMMERING ICE a bit more than FLIRTING ON ICE though! I loved Alec and Annie, and I felt like their story was a little more flushed out than Zac and Heather's was, but both were absolutely adorable!! I really loved the team aspects of the story, and the romance was sweet and had a really wonderful build!

What I loved more about SIMMERING ICE was that we saw a lot more about both Alec and Annie. We learned about both of their pasts and why they were reluctant in love, and I thought that the authors did a great job of showing both characters' insecurities. They also did an amazing job at showing the chemistry between the characters! Alec and Annie had amazing chemistry, and they were extremely well suited together! They had so much in common, and I thought they complemented each other perfectly! I was actually pretty amazed how well their relationship was developed because this was a pretty quick read. 

SIMMERING ICE actually holds up pretty well against even full sized romances! It checked ALL of my boxes for romance books, and I really loved it! If you haven't started the Atlantic City Hustlers series yet, now's a good time since you can get this one and the first novella, FLIRTING ON ICE, in the ICED Boxset. ;) I'd recommend them to fans of sweet, contemporary romances! 


As for the ICED Boxset as a whole, I loved that we got both novellas in it! Overall, both titles were fairly short, very sweet, and absolutely wonderful to read. I loved the romances, and I really enjoyed seeing the Atlantic City Hustlers as a team, too! Veronica Forand and Susan Scott Shelley have written a wonderful cast of characters, and I'm definitely looking forward to more from them, especially more of their Atlantic City Hustlers! As I've mentioned, I'd recommend these novellas to contemporary romance fans looking for hot athletes, and relationships that are both sexy and sweet!

What do you think?
Does the Atlantic City Hustlers series sound like it's right for you?