Paranormal, Young Adult

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Amazon.com: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger Series Book 1) eBook ...

Pages: 512

Series: Harbinger #1

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Genre(s): Paranormal Romance

Format: Hardcover

*Note: While you do not need to read the Dark Elements series before picking this book up, I highly suggest it because many of the characters from those books pop up in Storm and Fury! However, there are no spoilers for the Dark Elements series in my review below!*

Goodreads Synopsis

“Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed… “

What Did I Think?

Let me just preface by saying that this is one of my favorite first books in a series to date! The overall concept of this book was really something I had never seen before in the YA before. I mean, come on! How many books have you read with real-live gargoyles that can shift back into human-ish form in .2 seconds? I also thought the dynamic between all the different groups of creatures– humans, Wardens, demons, etc.– was well-constructed and explained concisely enough so that the world and events that were taking place made sense to the reader, but didn’t go into so much detail that the reader became uninterested in the overall storyline.

I love the way Trinity, our main character, is immediately established. Right from the get-go, the reader can tell that she is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a kick-butt warrior who sticks to her guns. She is never afraid to push back against those who try to coddle her because of her unique gift, and I have mad respect for the fact that she was always willing to put herself in the line of fire to save the people she cares about, but not in a self-sacrificial, martyr type of way that you often see in YA. Instead, she’s confident in her abilities and knows she can easily take care of the problem, and that if she stepped aside and let others fight her battles for her, then they likely wouldn’t make it out alive. Usually this part of a character is what they develop into, and seeing this already present in Trinity straight off the bat was a nice change of pace! It also made Trinity’s journey of connecting with the more raw, vulnerable side of her character that much more compelling because she is such a tough cookie whose been through a lot just in the last year of her life. While I can’t say her character had an astronomical amount of character development in this book, I can say that the parts that were developed (i.e. becoming more in touch with her emotions and understanding that sometimes people aren’t always as they seem) were done beautifully. Needless to say, I am Team Trinity all the way, and so excited to see how much further she comes as the series goes on!

You didn’t think I was going to miss out on a opportunity to rave… err, I mean talk, about Zayne, did you? While we do meet Zayne in the Dark Elements series, I can honestly say that his character has changed drastically since then, and for the better. In Storm and Fury, his character had so much more depth while still maintaining some of his original, totally lovable qualities: witty, kind, understanding, and always a gentleman, regardless of circumstance. Like Trinity, Zayne’s established as super strong and powerful from the start, and the growth in his character comes out as he begins to come to terms with the more emotional parts of his past and present. I appreciated that Zayne’s maturity shone in this book, and how even though his feelings for Trinity emerged kind of quickly (and hers for him), he thought logically about the circumstances instead of just jumping in head-first when really, they both have a lot of baggage they need to sort out individually. As a whole, I really enjoyed Zayne’s character, and there’s no denying that he and Trinity make a dynamite team (and yes. I know I’m being super vague here, but I TOTALLY ship them, in case you were wondering!).

I thought the pacing of Storm and Fury was right on the money and there were so many moments where I got chills because the phrasing was that beautiful. The ending of the book was CRAY, don’t get me wrong, but it felt satisfying and, in some ways, almost complete in the sense that the reader knows that while there’s more to come, what we have is good enough for now to hold us over. If I had to pick just one aspect of this book to be my favorite, I would have to say that the characters– both main and supporting– were what really stood out to me. Their personalities were all so distinct, and I found myself connecting to each and every one of them, even if we aren’t all that similar. There are so many more journeys ahead for Trinity, Zayne, and the rest of the crew, and I’m excited to see what kind of trouble they manage to get themselves into next!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

*NOTE: This book does have a few select PG-13+ references and scenes, so just be aware of that going in!*

If you read the Dark Elements series and fell in love with Zayne, Storm and Fury was literally made for you so you have got to check it out! If you haven’t read the Dark Elements series but love JLA’s other works, I think you’ll really enjoy this book, as well!

If you are someone who likes books that rely somewhat heavily on romantic elements to balance out the fantasitical/paranormal genre, it’s very likely you’ll enjoy this book.

While there are not many books I can think of that are SUPER similar to Storm and Fury (which is one of the reasons I love it so much), if you’re a fan of Sarah J. Maas’ characters and world-building and Alexandra Bracken’s unique concepts, I think you’ll feel right at home reading Storm and Fury!

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Amazon.com: Save the Date (9781481404570): Matson, Morgan: Books

Pages: 417

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

“Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo. Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractedly cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.”

What Did I Think?

Let’s jump right into the overall concept of this beauty, shall we? This book was seriously jam-packed with a little bit of everything. I loved how the Grant family dynamic was placed right at the core of this book and how the reader gets to see the Grant’s fraying edges get put back to together (and start to unravel more, at times, too). There were also great coming-of-age aspects of this book, mostly surrounding Charlie and how so many things in her life begin changing at once as she prepares to leave home for college. Aside from the writing itself, I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations of Charlie’s mom’s comics. I think this added yet another unique touch to a book that already has so many elements that help it stand apart from the crowd.

Charlie’s character really surprised me in a lot of ways. At the beginning of the book, her characterization seemed pretty standard for someone her age (i.e. thinking about college, exploring new relationships, so much teenage angst, etc.). Later on, though, it became clear that Charlie had some seriously drastic character development going on, particularly when it came to the relationships she has with her siblings and parents. It was so interesting to me to see Charlie come to the realization that everyone in the Grant family has their own secrets that she doesn’t know about, regardless of how tight-knit of a family they are. I appreciated that this aspect of her character was very well-developed, rather than Charlie just doing a complete 180 without any kind of doubt or emotional reaction to what she was having to come to terms with once these secrets were exposed. This progression of Charlie’s character development and her reactions to various events going on around her made her that much more lovable and relatable. It also didn’t hurt that when I was reading this book, I was experiencing and working through a lot of the same things Charlie was having to and could totally understand where she was coming from!

Gotta give Bill the credit he deserves, right? I LOVED Bill’s character! It’s clear that he’s hardworking, funny, and just such a sweetheart, even when he’s having to deal with a freaked-out Charlie while they try and find alternatives for things at the wedding that have fallen apart. While it was clear that he and Charlie were feelin’ some type of way about each other, I thought the friendship they were able to form with one another was a connection that would last a lifetime, if nothing else were to happen with these two. Plus, they also make such a dynamite team!

There were so many deep moments that led to great life lessons the reader can take away that I wasn’t expecting from this book. Because of this, I feel like I have to share one of my favorites: Betrayal sure can cut deep, especially when it comes from someone you’re close to. Matson does a brilliant job of highlighting both the pain and anger that comes along with that, but also shows the reader that if you truly care for someone, you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying to mend bridges, especially if you know the person genuinely loves and cares for you. It’s easy to hold a grudge, but the only thing that comes out of that is two hurt people, and why be that way, when you can both take the high road and grant each other forgiveness when it’s deserved? This lesson is so important, yet also quickly forgotten in our day-to-day lives that I just felt a need to share it specifically in this review!

The only issue that’s holding me back from a five-star review is that there were elements of the book that felt unrealistic to me. A really good example of this was the fact that there were so many issues with the wedding preparations that l happened on the exact day of Charlie’s sister’s wedding. Trust me when I say that I’ve seen my fair share of last minute wedding day disasters, but the ones in this book were just too much to be realistic. It’s not that I didn’t find some of them funny/really unfortunate, because I totally did, but it was just TOO MUCH.

Overall, the pacing of Save the Date was nicely done with little lag. I really enjoyed the characters and Charlie’s development totally stole the show for me. I fell in love with the Grant family dynamic, even though all members of the family had their flaws that they had to work through on their own and together as a unit. As a whole, I thought Save the Date was a super cute, fluffy, adorable read that throws some serious curveballs at you when you least expect them, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading it!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

I’m going to start with the obvious first: If you’ve enjoyed Morgan Matson’s previous books, it’s likely you’ll fall in love with Charlie, the rest of the Grant crew, and Bill, so definitely give Save the Date a shot!

Fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenna Evens Welch, Siobhan Vivian, and Kasie West will also likely take a liking to this book.

And, if you’re like me and love a good contemporary with a strong emphasis on family over romance, this may be a great option for you. I also highly recommend this book to anyone who is going through any kind of big change in their life (i.e. heading to college, moving away from home, etc.). I think readers adjusting to brand new things life has to offer will greatly benefit from giving Save the Date a try!

Science Fiction, Young Adult

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Pages: 464

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Genre(s): Science Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.”

What Did I Think?

Rewriting some jacked up history with time-traveling thieves heading up the mission? Yes please!

I can honestly say that the overall concept of Invictus was unlike anything I’ve ever read in my entire life… and I LOVED IT. This book had a whole plethora of things going on: time travel, forbidden romance, and all the repercussions that these two things create in a world like this. Not only was the concept unique, but it was also executed pretty dang close to perfectly. Ever element of the plot flowed smoothly into the next, but there were still plenty of plot twists to keep the reader on their toes. It’s rare that I even pick up sci-fi books because I typically just don’t enjoy them, but I am so glad I went out on a limb and gave this one a shot!

Let’s talk about our main character, Far. Poor guy has had a rough life, exacerbated by the fact that he failed his time-traveling test– literally something he’s spent his entire life studying and preparing for. While his life didn’t exactly turn out like he planned, I was so happy that he got to go on an even bigger adventure that I’m sure he ever imagined he’d be a part of! While there were elements of romance between Far and his girlfriend, Priya, I appreciated that the main focus of the book was on Far trying to figure out who he really is (and on the actual adventure he and his crew are on, of course).

Speaking of the crew, they are one DOPE group of misfits, let me tell ya, complete with A RED FREAKING PANDA named Saffron! How much cooler could it get? Priya was one of my favorite members of the crew, and I was shocked that she’s as young as she is for being such a great medic. Eliot was a freaking creeper when she first joined the party, but she’ll grow on you, I swear! Gram was definitely one of the sweetest dudes ever and I really enjoyed his perspective on things, and Imogen, Far’s cousin, was just kinda there (yeah, she’s not my favorite by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s because the other characters were just so much more fun!).

Time to wrap this thing up with some final thoughts! The pacing of this book was spot on. In a lot of sci-fi books, the writer spends an astronomical amount of time telling us how the world works and it drags on for WAY too long, causing the reader to become uninterested in the story. The opposite happened in Invictus– the reader got the perfect amount of insight into the world Graudin created to set the stage for an adventure that transcends time, literally! The storytelling was captivating and I was rooting for Far to accomplish his mission from the very first page. Overall, this book was full of adventure and suspense, and I couldn’t get enough of it!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

I highly recommend this book to anyone like me who says sci-fi is just not for them. There’s a good chance that Invictus will completely change your perspective on this genre (at least for me it did!).

If you enjoyed the plot twists, adventurousness, and #squadgoals of the Six of Crows duology and the Lunar Chronicles, this book is for you, 100%.

I’d also recommend this book to literally ANYONE. Yeah, it was that good, y’all.

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Pages: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

“When Claudia accidentally eavesdrops on the epic breakup of Paige and Iris, the it-couple at her school, she finds herself in hot water with prickly, difficult Iris. Thrown together against their will in the class production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, along with the goofiest, cutest boy Claudia has ever known, Iris and Claudia are in for an eye-opening senior year.

Smart, funny, and thoroughly, wonderfully flawed, Claudia navigates a world of intense friendships and tentative romance in Foolish Hearts, a YA novel about expanding your horizons, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and accepting–and loving–people for who they really are.

A contemporary young adult novel by Emma Mills about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends–and maybe even new love. “

What Did I Think?

To sum this book up in a few words: boy band obsession, video gaming with the squad, and a whole lot of life changes being thrown at our characters!

The overall concept of this book is what drew me in from the start (other than the gorgeous cover, that is!). Between touching on building new relationships with people you least expect to connect with, working through the speed bumps that arise between childhood friends as they get older, and acknowledging how challenging adjusting to change can be for people at any stage of life, this book has all the makings of a great coming-of-age story that readers across the board will find relatable. I also love the fact that a school production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was the glue that brought and held the story and its characters together, and overall a total plus since it just so happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play!

One of my favorite elements of this book is the fact that Claudia’s family is present and plays a crucial role in her life. Sure, I love the snippets of romance that are scattered throughout as well, but something about the family dynamic is what really stuck with me long after finishing Foolish Hearts. I also appreciate that the reactions and events that involved Claudia and her family members are presented in a way that’s appropriate for each of their ages and the phase of life they’re in. For example, Claudia and her sister, Julia, are 11 years apart in age. The reader is able to see the differences in their life experiences and reactions to various events while still having the opportunity to appreciate how strong of a bond they have with one another regardless of their difference in age. The same goes for each of the girls’ relationships with their brother. Alex and Claudia’s relationship reminds me a lot of the one I have with my brother: when one of us needs help, the other is always there for the other to lean on, regardless of circumstance. As a whole, it was lovely to see an involved family in a YA contemporary, as usually they are there, but pushed to the side!

I’m always looking for characters that have their own little “things” about them that set them apart from others I’ve read about, and this book was full of unique personalities, particularly in the characters with supporting roles! I absolutely loved Gideon’s quirkiness that he makes no attempt to hide from those around him and how loyal he is to his best friend, Noah. Their relationship seemed almost like a carbon copy of the one Claudia has with Zoe, but contrasts in that the two girls go to different schools, adding in a completely different dynamic from the boys’. I also enjoyed seeing Iris’ character for who she really is as she and Claudia got closer.

While I really wanted to give this book five starts, the pacing was just a little bit off for me, specifically when it came to the explanations of the video game everyone was playing together. They were a little too long for my attention span, given that I’m not much of a gamer. I also wanted to know more about Claudia’s past relationship with Will Sorenson, and why his reasoning for not being with her upset her so much. Something about that just didn’t click for me. I also had some issues with Claudia’s character development. Sure, she needed to backpedal sometimes in order to help her put things in perspective, but I felt like in the end, her character just didn’t come far enough for me to constitute true character development.

Regardless of these issues, I found this book to be a very quick, easy, and enjoyable read that is full of great advice for readers of all ages who are learning to find their own way in this crazy world!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you’re looking for a fantastic coming-of-age tale with THE TINIEST dash of romance thrown into the mix, this book is for you!

I’d also recommend this book to fans of Jenn Bennett, Kasie West, and Miranda Kenneally!

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Amazon.com: Starry Eyes (9781481478809): Bennett, Jenn: Books

Pages: 448

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis

“Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?”

What Did I Think?

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Just a quick heads up, folks: This. Book. Was. Amazing.

Let’s start by talking about the overall concept and set-up of this masterpiece! I thought this book was very unique in a lot of ways, but also included many of the elements that I love in a YA contemporary romance. Given the fact that I’m not exactly “outdoorsy” by nature (no pun intended, errr, okay, maybe it was), I actually found the “how-to guide for surviving in the wilderness” vibe of this book really enlightening! I also thought all the components of the plot, from Zorie’s love of astrology to the “glamping” trip to Lennon’s newest hobby, were very well thought out and made the events of the story that much more believable and realistic. For a contemporary, this book had so many plot twists that I really didn’t see coming, and boy was it refreshing! Though some were good and others made me cringe a little, I was totally invested in each and every event, and each one flowed into the next in a perfectly logical way.

Moving on to our wonderfully diverse set of characters! I love how each of these guys, regardless of if they were front and center or simply in the background, were so well developed and that the reactions they had to different events in the book were so raw and real as opposed to everything feeling staged. It’s clear that every character had their flaws and that there were aspects of themselves that made them stand out from the other characters. I also appreciated how these flaws and disparities were thrown out up front, which allows the reader to see just how far they each developed from beginning to end. I found myself relating to Zorie a lot– we’re both crazy planners who expect everything we lay out in our lives to go a certain way, and when it doesn’t, it’s a little intimidating and scary. We also both don’t know jack about the outdoors (anyone ever heard of a bear canister? Neither have Zorie and I!). While I don’t necessarily think Lennon and I have all that much in common, I still found myself respecting his adventurous side and go-with-the-flow attitude– something I think both Zorie and I could benefit from having more of in our lives!

I can honestly say that I’m not always a fan of the “enemies turned BF/GF” trope that we see so often in YA contemporary romances, so I was really shocked when I fell in love with the relationship we see rekindle between Zorie and Lennon! I think part of the reason I was more than okay with this was because it was mixed in with the whole “best friends turned more than friends” trope, which, judge me if you want, is one of my favorites! And even better is the fact that the book didn’t have an insta-love situation between these two. Rather, it was clearly and thoughtfully developed in a realistic way. It was clear that both Zorie and Lennon continued to care about one another when they weren’t on good terms, and that sometimes all it takes is a little communication (and a little witty and some well-placed digs later) to figure out where both people went astray and how to move forward in rebuilding a relationship.

One of the big takeaway for me was how this book really goes to show the reader that spontaneity in life really isn’t the end of the world, and more times that not, something really great can come out of it! I felt like I was on the same journey as Zorie in the sense that sometimes opportunities arise that aren’t laid out neatly in your very organized agenda, and that taking advantage of those opportunities rather than those you planned isn’t always a bad thing. As Zorie’s stepmother says, “don’t be cautious, be careful,” and sometimes it’s best to let the wind take you where it will, even if this approach is riskier than the one you penciled in.

Now that I’ve written a whole heck of a lot, here are some final thoughts:

I enjoyed every single moment of reading this book. The plot was perfectly paced for me, and I found myself totally engrossed in the story from start to finish. There were a lot of moving parts in this one, and they all managed to work together like a well-oiled machine. Without a doubt, there is something in this book for everyone! I have to admit, though: the chances of me backpacking through the wilderness are now VERY slim. If you don’t understand this random tidbit of info, READ THIS BOOK and you’ll get it (and might just agree with me)!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

Due to some minimal mature content, I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 16.

This book is the perfect fix for anyone who’s in the mood for a quick , summery read with a little outdoor adventure thrown in for good measure!

If you’re already a fan of Jenn Bennett, then I highly recommend you read this book! I’d also recommend this book to anyone who’s enjoyed books by Morgan Matson, Huntley Fitzpatrick, and/or Jenny Han!

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Cold Day in the Sun by Sarah Biren

Amazon.com: Cold Day in the Sun (9781419733673): Biren, Sara: Books

Pages: 307

Publisher: ABRAMS (Amulet Books)

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

“Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.”

What Did I Think?

Ughh, I know right? I really wish I could give this book a higher rating, but there were quite a few issues I just simply couldn’t overlook. That being said, there were a couple of things that I thought worked really well in this book, so this review is not going to be all negative, I promise!

Let’s start by talking about the overall concept. I was intrigued with the fact that Holland was the only girl playing on a boys hockey team and her rock music blog was super interesting to read about. Since I don’t know much about hockey or Minnesota, I went in hoping this book would be able to teach me a little bit about life in this state and the sport itself. While I think the concept of this book is unique in that its setting is in a place I haven’t read about before in YA, there were some aspects of the concept that fell flat. For example, Holland’s school had a girls hockey team and I just didn’t find her reasoning for being on the boys team very compelling. I think she should play for whatever team she wants to, obviously, but I just felt like we needed more to understand why it was so important to her that she be on that specific team. The reader was also just thrown into the world of ice hockey without any real background, and if you’re like me with little knowledge about the sport, there are moments where you may get very confused about what’s going on and when certain terminology was used. As a whole, the concept in theory was a good one, but the execution could have been better.

Character time! For the most part, I really liked Holland. She’s definitely a strong female main character, and I though the fact that she used all the negativity she was receiving from members of the community regarding her position on the hockey team as fuel rather than crumbling under the pressure was really inspiring. On the other hand, the reader still got to see a softer side to Holland when she wasn’t on the ice, and having her use her rock blog as an outlet to share how she really feels when given some of the intense criticism she does was a really clever idea.

While Wes’ kinder side comes out later on in the book, I just wasn’t convinced– it came on too suddenly to be believable, like the flip of a switch. However, by the end, when he was interacting with his family, I like 90% believed that he’s genuinely a kind dude. One of the elements of Wes’ character that I really liked was his loyalty to Holland, even when they weren’t on the best of terms, as well as his constant support of her when she started doubting herself. I would have liked to have seen more about Wes himself, though, rather than him always just being there to help Holland out when she needed it. MUCH more development was definitely needed to make Wes’ character more compelling to the reader.

The whole “insta-love” situation between Wes and Holland just didn’t do it for me. I don’t even think that this was the intent– I think the author was going for more of the “enemies turned BF/GF” trope, but that hardly came across because it only lasted for .5 seconds before Holland’s feelings about Wes changed and vice versa. Ultimately, there was little relationship development between the two characters, which made the romance really hard to buy as realistic. However, I did like how Wes and Holland both connected over music. It seems that was the only thing other than hockey that they could bond over, which is better than nothing!

Time to wrap this up with some final thoughts. As far as pacing goes, I thought it was done relatively well! I didn’t find myself skimming lines, but by the same token, I also didn’t feel all that invested in the story. The characters and their personalities were definitely the highlight of this book for me. I also hate to mention this, but the ending was very unsatisfying. I’m not sure what I was looking for exactly, but at minimum, I certainly expected there to be some type of wrap-up, which ended up being non-existent. To end this thing on a positive note, though: the cover is absolutely stunning!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

*The language in this book got pretty strong at times (particularly at the end), so I’d only recommend this to readers who are mature enough to handle that. I’m 20, and it made me cringe at times. I’d say this book is only suitable for readers age 15/16+.*

Obviously this book was very “ehhh” for me and, in some regards, very disappointing. But everyone has an opinion, so if this book peaks your interest, don’t hesitate to give it a go!

If you’re a big fan of hockey and already familiar with the terrain of Minnesota, it’s likely that you’ll really enjoy this book and be able to relate more to it than I could.

People who enjoy Sarah Dessen’s books may also like some aspects of this book, and if you’re a fan of the insta-love and enemies-turned-lovers tropes, this may be a good fit for you!