Blog Tour/Review – Off the Ice

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

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 But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie.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.



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



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.


Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below! One (1) winner will receive a Kindle Fire.

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No Plain Rebel – Book Review

Title: No Plain Rebel (No Ordinary Star #2)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: July 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia 

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like it


A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He had no idea what to do.

A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.

A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.

The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.

The year is 2525.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas—among other things—is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

In No Plain Rebel, Felix finds out the truth. Or so he thinks. He’s trying to come to terms with that, as well as with the fact that the Clockmaster’s shack has been discovered by his fellow-soldiers, but he can’t exactly concentrate. The match girl’s fiery curls appear before his eyes every ten seconds, distracting him, and then he starts talking to her in his head. Because she’s no longer there.

The Stadium is looming in the distance.

It’s ten heartbeats to midnight.

“Silence is not peace, Felix, my hope” (p. 188).

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*

The truth is out there. *Cue “The X-Files” theme music.*

No Ordinary Star ended with a cliffhanger, so naturally I scrambled to continue the story with No Plain Rebel. (You can see my review for NOS here.) I love reading about Felix and Astra and watching them learn, and as they learn, their worlds grow so much bigger. I love how they learn about how humanity was before it was taken away from them, and watch them marvel at it: “They stand for a few more minutes there, absorbing all the newness of the Old World” (p. 25). Felix and Astra learn what knowledge, ideas, beauty, and love are when the world they live in is void of it. This continuation of their story was perfect.

All of the questions left in NOS are answered in the second installment. Felix learns the truth about who he is, who his family is, and where the world is headed. I think I could feel his mind blowing as his knowledge grew. Both characters learn who to extend a trusting hand to and who is perpetuating the bleak future of their world. There is a delightful part of NPR where Felix is forced to swallow a giant pill of humility and face reality in the fact that he can’t help change the problem without recognizing he’s part of the problem. Whoa! The character growth is through the roof!

Astra and Felix {finally} start realizing their feelings for each other, even with the knowledge that any sort of romantic relations is illegal. Heck, everything they do in this book is considered illegal. I can’t imagine living in a world where reading is treason! I was disappointed, though, that this story seemed to be mostly focused on Felix, and we don’t hear much from Astra in the second half of the book. I am a fan of that feisty red head.

Ultimately, I think book one is my favorite of the two, specifically because of the world immersion rather than the overflow of information. However, as I said, this book didn’t disappoint – and of COURSE it ended on another cliffhanger. Where’s book three?

Love. Hurt. Betrayal. The story continues.

And It Happened In a Coffee Shop

I often have people asking to read stuff I write when I tell them my dreams to work with and write books. I thought I would let you take a peek at something I’ve been working on for a while. I love criticism and feedback on my work. You have a voice: use it.

I have another post coming up soon with more of my thoughts. If you haven’t yet, take a look at my previous post about my sister and our experience with her mental health. Hopefully I will be posting a healthy mix of posts featuring my thoughts and my creative writing. Anyways, here we go…


The bell on the door rang as she walked into the coffee shop. Charlie smoothed her blue skirt and walked up to the counter to order a hot chocolate. The barista handed her the foam cup. She looked around for a seat, but the shop seemed to be having a busy day. A tall boy with caramel skin was doing homework at a table towards the back. Charlie walked over to him.
“I see you at school, you know. I know you.”
“I think we are in AP English together.”
He gave a short nod and then returned to his homework. Charlie pulled out the chair across from him and sat down.
“Yeah, that’s right. You sit a couple rows back from me.”
He didn’t respond.
“My name is Charlie. Well, it’s Charlotte. I’m known as Charlie.”
“Rodney,” he responded, not even looking up.
“Cool. Well, I typically come here after school. Not much happenin’ at home and all. And this is one of my favorite places to do homework.”
Silence. Charlie tapped her fingers on her cup. She gave up on waiting for a response that would never come.
“So, anyways. Do you mind if I share this table with you?”
“No,” he responded, still looking at his book.
“Thanks. I’ll shut up now.”


Charlie struggled to open the coffee shop door against the wind. Once inside, she adjusted her t-shirt and pushed her hair out of her face. She bought a bottle of water.
Rodney was at the same table again. She walked over, dropped her backpack on the ground and sat down across from him. She grabbed the book Something Wicked This Way Comes out of her bag and flipped through until she found her spot. Rodney looked up to see who had disturbed his peace, rolled his eyes and looked back down at his homework.
“’Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?’”
Rodney looked up once again. “What?”
“It’s a quote. Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes. I feel like it’s fitting with this storm coming in and all.”
“I heard that there’s going to be some real bad rain, but it should blow right through.”
Rodney put down his pencil and sighed. “Are we really going to do the cliché weather small talk?”
“Hey, I did it in a much more creative and imaginative way. I think I should get some credit for that.” She smiled and pushed her hair out of her face.
He looked back at his homework.
“My uncle read this book in college. He had a friend recommend it. He loved it. Says that it is magical to read. That Bradbury had a talent with words. He came to visit around my tenth birthday. Gave me the book and the movie for my birthday. He wouldn’t let me watch the movie, though. Not until I had read the book. He wanted me to appreciate the writing. He would read it aloud to me before I went to bed every night…” She trailed off. Rodney noticed that her smile was gone. She was staring at her drink with a blank look.
“Are you alright?”
“This book makes me sad.”
“Then why are you reading it?”
Charlie was still staring, as if she was merely talking to herself. “I’m dealing with some conflicting emotions. I was hoping that it would help me sort them out a bit, but now I feel that it’s a mistake.” She shook herself back into the present and began to pack her stuff up. “I’m sorry I bothered you. I will stop distracting you in the future. I need to go home before this storm gets too bad.”
She slung her backpack on her shoulder and left.

Thursday + Friday:

It rained for two days. The roads became flooded almost instantly. The sky was dark even during the day. School was canceled.


The bell jingled. Rodney walked in and noticed Charlie sitting on the other side of the shop, engrossed in a book they had to read for AP English. He walked over.
“I don’t mind, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t mind you talking to me. You’re not bothering me.”
She looked down, embarrassed.
“I mean it.”
He sat down across from her and they worked on homework in silence. The corner of her mouth had turned up, as if she were hiding a smile. It stayed that way for the rest of the day.