Book Review – I Hate You, Fuller James

Title: I Love Hate You, Fuller James
Author: Kelly Anne Blount
Published: March 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 3 stars
Cover: It’s okay

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Synopsis:

I hate you, Fuller James.

I hate your floppy hair and your lopsided grin and those laughing blue eyes that always seem to be laughing at me.

I hate that you’re the most popular guy in school and I’m still the girl who sneezed and spit out her retainer on someone at the middle school dance. It’s just such a cliché.

I hate that I’m being forced to tutor you in English and keep it a secret from everyone. Because otherwise it might put our basketball team’s chances at winning State in jeopardy, and even though I hate you, I love basketball.

I hate that it seems like you’re keeping a secret from me…and that the more time we spend together, the less I feel like I’m on solid ground. Because I’m starting to realize there’s so much more to you than meets the eye. Underneath it all, you’re real.

But what I hate the most is that I really don’t hate you at all.

Happy book birthday to I Love Hate You, Fuller James by Kelly Anne Blount! Thank you Entangled Publishing and Blount for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

A hate-to-love romance AND a sports romance? Two of my favorites. Bring. It. On.

Wren and Fuller actually have a lot in common, they just never knew until they were thrown together in an annoying tutoring set up. Both put family above all else, both are very driven to pursue college and their future careers, both live and breathe basketball. The only difference is, they live in two completely different worlds.

Fuller is the best basketball player this school has ever seen. He’s also part of the popular crowd and the reason Wren gained a horrible nickname and lost her best friend in middle school.

Wren doesn’t mind being an outsider anymore. She’s worked HARD to move past all the bullshit and has two best friends and her family that would do anything for her. Next step is to leave the rest of the people from high school in her dust.

I really loved seeing inside each of their worlds, particularly through the dual perspective writing. Their romance is whirlwind and exciting, I just wish there was a little more build up from Fuller’s side first. We see a glimpse of his tough guy act, but we don’t really see enough to know why it’s there in the first place, or to give more meaning to his softened personality when he starts falling for Wren. He’s fully able to recognize that he’s a big jerk and possibly has a history of being shallow, but why? I wish he had been a little more introspective, and that we had gotten more of a look at his daily life before Wren got stuck with him.

I thoroughly enjoyed two of my favorite tropes wrapped in one for this YA romance. While I wanted more depth and character growth, I still had a lot of fun with this book.

Book Review – The Bookworm Crush

Title: The Bookworm Crush
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Published: October 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2 stars
Cover: Like it

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Synopsis:

Shy bookworm Amy McIntyre is about to compete for the chance to interview her favorite author, who hasn’t spoken to the press in years. The only way to win into step out of the shadows and into the spotlight, but that level of confidence has never come easy.

The solution? A competition coach. The problem? The best person for the job is the guy she’s secretly crushing on…local surfer celebrity Toff Nichols.

He’s a player. He’s a heartthrob. He makes her forget basic things, like how to breathe. How can she feel any confidence around him?

To her surprise, Toff agrees to help. And he’s an excellent teacher. Amy feels braver–maybe even brave enough to admit her feelings for him. When their late night practices become less about coaching and more about making out, Amy’s newfound confidence wavers.

But does Toff really like her or is this just another lesson?

Thank you Entangled Publishing and Lisa Brown Roberts for an eARC of The Bookworm Crush in exchange for an honest review. I’ve had this sitting on my kindle for a few months now because it was forgotten in the midst of wedding planning, but I actually picked it up as motivation to go to the gym (haha). I think this made me like it a little bit more than I would’ve otherwise because it helped distract me from the fact that I was sitting on a stationary bicycle, sweating my guts out.

I love that there is another book about book lovers for book lovers, and this one with an unconventional match: the surfer god. Amy and Toff’s friendship-to-lovers relationship is cute and flirty and fun. Unfortunately, we don’t go much beyond that. The characters had little glimpses of depth, but we never camped out there, it was mostly just mentioned in passing. The plot was a bit dry in parts, as well, making me wish for more meat to it. I’m still a little confused about why Amy asked Toff to help her with a book contest, but reading about them working together was enjoyable.

One thing I really struggled with is the overuse of pop culture and book references. Obviously some book references would be expected of a girl who spends her life between pages, especially books that are helpful for the plot or character development, but the titles were thrown about willy nilly, making me feel like the author just wanted to see how many book references she could cram in. I’m also really not a fan of frequent name dropping in pop culture references because I feel like it has the potential to age the book badly.

The writing was chunky and a little juvenile for a book with older teens with an active sex life. I have several sentences that I highlighted because they were awkward or just didn’t make sense (the editor in me–oops), but I eventually gave up. Since I was reading the eARC, I really hope more edits were made before the final print, but I was not able to connect enough to this book to have any desire to find out myself. Amy and Toff were a fun, surface level glance, but not engaging enough to think about them after the book is over.

Book Review – Stuck With You

Title: Stuck With You (The First Kiss Hypothesis #3)
Author: Christina Mandelski
Published: September 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: It’s Okay

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Synopsis:

When Caleb Gray heads to the Texas coast to mentally prepare for a future he isn’t sure he wants, the last person he expects to see is Catie Dixon. Yeah, their mothers have been planning their wedding since they were born, but he and Catie are most definitely not friends. He can’t see her as anything but the annoying kid who followed him everywhere. Except, it’s really bothering him that everyone is staring at her in that bikini…

Catie got over her crush on Caleb ages ago. So why can’t she see past his ripped body or how unsettled he seems? She’s got her own problems, though. Her future has been set for years and now she’s dreaming of pulling the plug. A week at their families’ beach house is just what she needs to pull herself together, and she has no intention of letting Caleb back into her heart…which would be a whole lot easier if he’d put on a shirt.

But a forced week of togetherness full of beach parties, waterslide mishaps, bonfires, and rollercoasters sparks more than an understanding. What do you do when the person standing in the way of your future is the one person you grew up hating…but now don’t?

 

“All my life I’ve been hiding behind my easygoing self–only Catie saw through that. Only Catie saw that I was scared” (chapter 25)

Happy book birthday to Stuck With You by Christina Mandelski! Thank you Entangled Publishing for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Caleb is about to go to college. He’s got his whole life mapped out, so things should be going great for him. Why does he feel uneasy about everything suddenly? A little trip to his family’s beach house will help him clear his head and get him back on track. Only thing is, apparently Catie, the daughter of the other family that co-owns the house, had decided to sneak off to the beach house before he got there. It looks like they’re stuck together for the week, forced to remember all their good memories from growing up, and all the reasons they hate each other now. It seems a year apart is making them both reconsider that hating part, though…

Such a real part of life is learning what you want to do with yours, and how that fits in with others’ expectations of you. I love that Mandelski faces this common struggle for teenagers head on in such a raw way. Caleb and Catie have both grown up with expectations placed on them regarding their future career aspirations. Both of their parents own a business together, so both kids are expected to go to college for business and then take over. But what should they do about their individual dreams that they have been trying to forget about?

Caleb  and Catie are both very blunt with each other and care about each other in such sweet ways. Watching their relationship change and they help each other navigate this confusing season of life was so heart warming and genuine. I hope to soon get a chance to read more of Mandelski’s beautiful character developments in her other books!

Blog Tour/Review – Off the Ice

Title: Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1)
Author: Julie Cross
Published: February 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads 

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it

Off the Ice CoverSynopsis:

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.

“I’m breathing hard, my pulse pounding. Dad snatches the puck from my glove and stares me down. I can’t tell if he’s pissed that I blocked his shot or surprised. All I know is that I want him to go back to the center ice and do it again. And again.” (chapter 23)

I have the privilege of being on Entangled Teen’s blog tour for Julie Cross’s new book, Off the Ice. When I first heard of this book, I got excited because I love stories that involve hockey. After all, The Mighty Ducks was one of the best movies to grow up on. The boyfriend and I are even planning on going to a hockey game next week – bring it on! The hockey element definitely added some fun and tension to this story, which I loved. Before I get started with my review, I would just like to point out that there are many other stops on this tour! Check the banner below for more reviews, interviews, and guest posts to get you excited about this book.

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FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR HERE!


I went into this book thinking it would be a fluffy romance with some conflict on the ice, something that was easy to read and made me feel good. That impression was shot down almost immediately. This snow-covered town of Juniper Falls holds so many secrets and the drama they cause can sometimes be dark. I was on the edge of my seat almost the entire day and a half it took me to finish this book. The drama! To reiterate, this isn’t a fluffy romance; the plot includes sex, alcohol abuse, underage drinking, physical abuse, and language.

Juniper Falls is a small, fictional town in Minnesota that lives and breathes hockey. The boys are raised to be hockey players and the girls to cheer them on (ayyye, sexist much? Though, there is mention of a little girl taking hockey classes, so a point for equality.) Tate grew up in the shadow of his hockey star father, whose dream in life is to relive his glory through his son. During the first game of the season, the Otters’ goalie walks out, and Tate suddenly goes from being a benchwarmer second goalie to the star goalie for the season. But can he get out of his head for long enough to catch the pucks? And what is he supposed to do with all these secrets coming out of the woodwork, including his own? The thing about Juniper Falls is that they have this perfect picture of what their town should look like. Anyone who strays from these perfectly functioning idealisms is ostracized and shut out. Tate struggles with keeping his own secrets from coming out, while also figuring out how to respond to those that have had their life and choices put on display.

Claire was chasing her dreams of being an actress at college when her world got flipped upside down and she was called home to help with her father and his bar. She develops this strong, independent will that ultimately puts other’s needs before her own. Whether this means sabotaging her own dreams or pushing people away so that they can find their own, Claire constantly has a battle in her head about what she deserves and what other people need. Like Tate, she also struggles with the secrets she knows and how different people would respond to these.

Chasing dreams, making them your own, discovering the values of friendships, and finding a love worth fighting for, Off the Ice has such beautiful themes, which are diamonds in the darkness of the heavier themes found. The writing feels very much as if in a high schooler’s head, so it wasn’t exceptionally stimulating, but the plot definitely took my by surprise and gripped me until the very end. The climax(es) had my heart pounding, but the fight for love and dreams melted me to a puddle. Tate and Claire’s adventure is a rollercoaster you will need to buckle up your heart for, wrapping up smoothly with hopes for the future.

Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Amazon | Indies | B&N| Kobo | TBD | iBooks

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Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, and Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credibilities, Julie Cross is a committed—but not talented—long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

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