Review: The Ivy Years – Sarina Bowen

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I decided to read the rest of Sarina’s books because I was facing a huge ‘book hangover’. I had tried several books but none of them got me. Then I remembered “The Year We Fell Down”, and how much I had loved it, so I decided to give a chance to the second book in the series and OMG I am so grateful I did it. Now, almost 12 days later, I’ve finished the whole series and Sarina might be one of my favorite authors of all times. separadorI did the review for the first book months ago and you can check it below:

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THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN (BOOK #1)
268 pages

Blurb:
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now? She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.
They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

Review:
I’ve read this book because the author Colleen Hoover recommended it in her Facebook Page. She guaranteed that we would love it and she couldn’t be more right. I’ve never read a book where a protagonist was in a wheel chair and this surprised me in many ways.

Corey was initiating College and everything was exactly the opposite that she had dreamed of, because now she was in a wheel chair. She thought that this moment would be perfect, but an accident 8 months ago had changed her life radically and she was not willing to give up her dreams because of that. Even against the will of her overprotective parents, she didn’t want to postponed College, she wanted to face the issue. I loved the way Corey faced her reality, and even though she had several moments of weakness and felt sorry for herself, it was perfectly understandable.

What she didn’t expect was that in the dorm in College, the same one where the ‘handicap’ people where sent because of the easy access, she would find the boy of her dreams, because of a broken leg. As soon she saw Hartley her heart beat faster and she couldn’t avoid being infatuated by him. Unfortunately, he had a little issue attached: a beautiful girlfriend.
However, fate was helping, because the same girlfriend was going to spend a semester studying in Paris, leaving Hartley by himself. Being a Hockey Player, Hartley didn’t know his life was going to be for the next months with his leg in a cast, because he was prevented to accomplish all his activities.

And then he met the new neighbor: Corey.

The time goes by and they become closer, since, given their situation, they weren’t always able to follow the social activities in College. As a hockey fan (her dad is a coach and her brother a player in his College), Corey finds out that she and Hartley have several things in common, and soon they become great friends.

It was interesting to see the world by Corey’s eyes, we could feel the hard times people in a wheel chair face every single day in a world that almost never thinks about them. She had a limited number of places where she could attend, because several times she came across several buildings full of stairs with no easy access at all.

Corey also had a great luck with her roommate, Dana, who is simply the ‘best’ best friend that I’ve read in books. She was understandable, didn’t judge, sweet, simple, sincere and never looked to Carey with commiseration or as if she was a burden. Always helping Corey in anything she needed, she included Corey in daily activities and always thought of her in any social event.

As Corey’s love for Hartley grew, my discomfort increased, because we couldn’t forget that he had a girlfriend and there is nothing more disturbing for me that a love triangle. I do confess that I was a little upset in certain moments of the book and wish that things could occur in a different way. I felt really torn and switched moments of joy and anger, along with Corey.

The book was told from both POVs – Corey and Hartley – which helped me understand, and sometimes don’t understand, his attitudes, but mostly this made me fell in love with Corey. I LOVE when the female character is strong and not a whining mess all the time. I LOVE that, in this book, we love her more than him. No, I am not saying that I didn’t like him (of course he was gorgeous), but in this book, I fell for her.

my rating 5 stars

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THE YEAR WE HID AWAY (BOOK #2)
274 pages

Blurb:
She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.
Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

Review:

This book is a real catch. I was really into the situation Bridger and Scarlet were both facing, really felt all the agony they were feeling.

Bridger needs to take care of his young sister while their mom uses/sells meth in their house, but he doesn’t have any place to stay with Lucy (his sister) other than his dorm in College, and that wasn’t allowed, right?

So he hides her there while he also studies and works, which leads him to drop his hockey team. His life was a total mess.

And then he meets Scarlet who seems to have it all, the perfect girl, with the perfect life… But none of that was really true.

Her father was facing charges for pedophilia, which made her change her name so nobody could recognize her from all the media attention that his case was receiving.

Scarlet’s past year was a total nightmare, she lost all her friends, lived in complete solitude since her world fade with her father’s trouble. But now the world is giving her another chance, right? She met the perfect boy…

However, this won’t be so easy. And that’s when Sarina does her magic.

This book is so sensitive. Sarina really knows how to write the right lines, the right scenes, how to fill her books with emotion and kindness, so much that you simply cannot put the book down.

I truly recommend this book to everybody who loves a good NA book, or a good romance, because this one is really a great one!

my rating 5 stars

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THE BLONDE DATE (BOOK #2.5)
75 pages

Blurb:
A blind date. A nervous sorority girl. A mean-spirited fraternity prank. What could possibly go wrong?

As a sorority pledge, there are commandments that Katie Vickery must live by. One: thou shalt not show up for the party without a date. Two: the guy shall be an athlete, preferably an upperclassman.

Unfortunately, Katie just broke up with her jerkface football player boyfriend. Even worse, her last encounter with him resulted in utter humiliation. She’d rather hide under the bed than attend a party where he’ll be.

Yet staying home would mean letting him win.

Enjoying herself tonight was out of the question. She could only hope to get through the evening without her blind date noticing that he was spending the evening with a crazy person.

Andrew Baschnagel is living proof that nice guys don’t finish first. He’s had his eye on Katie since the moment her long legs waltzed into his art history class. So when her roommate sets Andy up to be Katie’s date, he’d be crazy to say no.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of practice with either girls or parties. Yet.

Review:

This one is a novella, a short book that tells the story about Andrew and Katie. If you’ve read “The Year We Hid Away” you’ve already met them and know they had a date, and so this book will tell you how this date went on…

And it was magical!

Funny, really funny as well! Andy’s POV was ridiculously good. He is so shy and nerd and cute. He has no idea how to behave in a date. And a date with Katie Vickery? He had an eye on her since ever, but never believed that someday he would even have the chance to talk to her, so to date her was out of the question.

At the other side, Katie is done with men.

They are so selfish and rude and she was really disappointed. Therefore, when she meets Andy she really cannot believe that this wonderful and shy boy is real. I really do want an entire book about these two.

This was such a good story. Then, there was that epilogue.

THE.BEST.EPILOGUE.EVER. Seriously. I’ve never ever read an epilogue like that. Loved it. Loved it.

Loved it!

my rating 5 stars

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THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR (BOOK #3)
300 pages

Blurb:
What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

THIS BOOK IS A STANDALONE. NO CLIFFHANGERS. NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE NECESSARY.

Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.

Review:

This was my favorite book in the series, so MAYBE I’ll get a little excited while talking about it.

All the books in this series talk about one of the members in the hockey team and how he falls in love. This book also tells a love story, but about two boys. I’m not used with M/M books, so I was careful with this one.

I was also really curious because all the reviews I read about it were so great, everybody was telling that this was a really beautiful love story so I immersed in it, and I never in my life was so grateful for a book. It’s wonderful! Maybe one of my favorite books in life.

It starts when Michael Graham meets his old crush from High School and ex-best friend John Rikker…

In the locker room… From his hockey team… Where now Rikker is being introduced as new member… And Michael’s world just collapses.

Since Rikker left their town, they have never talked again. Graham has this regret inside of him. He hides his real feelings, his real soul from everybody, and the only person who knows his secret is now back in his life.

Rikker never doubted who he is. He is being transferred of hockey team because his last coach couldn’t stand the fact that he is gay. Now he must learn how to say this to the new team so there are no misunderstandings. And there is also Graham, his one true love who doesn’t even look in his eyes. Graham ignores him completely or even worse, he looks like he is going to puke since the moment he puts his eyes on Rikker.

And what will this book teach us? To face our fears. To confront the world to show whom we really are. It’ll show us how people live with fear of what other people will think about us, about our lives. And this is so frustrating!

This book is painful and yet so wonderful.

My heart sank and I totally felt in love with these two men. Their love is such an amazing love story.

And I do must tell you that this book is HOT. All the love scenes are so intense and SO necessary. There were few books I read that I really felt that the sex scenes were necessary, and this book is one of them. It was all necessary and they were so good.

This is a must read book, and if you think you can’t read a M/M book, you are the one losing here.

my rating 5 stars

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THE SHAMELESS HOUR (BOOK #4)
332 pages

Blurb:
The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after their spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rafe is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bella is leveled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Too bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.

Review:

If you read “The Understatement Of The Year” you already know Bella (if you don’t, go back and go read that book). I was really glad when I found out she had a book to tell her story. She totally deserved it.

In this book, Bella isn’t so funny as before, because life is being mean to her.

She got a broken heart when her secret love for Graham did not end very well for her, and now she is feeling that life is against her and her happiness.

But there is Rafe. Such a good boy. Romantic, sensitive, tender, polite, a real catch. He’s also suffering from a broken heart when he meets Bella, in the College’s stairwell.

He knows Bella. Always had an eye for her. Which guy didn’t, hun?

They are carried by the moment and have a night of pleasure. The thing is… Rafe was a virgin.

Of course, Bella didn’t know that, after all she isn’t known for her celibacy.

And she needs to learn how to love, how to trust, cause life will be really hard on her. Life will teach both of them how to love and trust and care in a way none of them ever did. I really enjoyed this book.

It had such unique characters and Sarina did her magic again, so I totally recommend this one too.

4estrelas

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THE FIFTEENTH MINUTE (BOOK #5)
294 pages

Blurb:
Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There’s something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

Review:
In “The Shameless Hour” you met Lianne and learnt how to love her, and how she met DJ, aka Daniel Trevi, in Capri (a pizza place), so this book already starts with a feet ahead. And it was so amazing.

I had a blast while reading it. Lianne is a movie star, a really famous one, who decided go to College. However, she spent the last semester hiding in her dorm until she met Bella, and became best friends.

DJ loves music and hockey and is the one in charge of the music during the games in College Gymnasium. He is also facing a problem that is causing him so much uneasiness. But then he meets Lianne. Lianne Challice. THE Lianne Challice. The Movie Star. And he is probably wrong, but looks like she likes him. They had an early encounter in the pizza place and now is the second time they meet, and they talk, a lot. They both are into music and have so many things in common. So why not to kiss her, right?

So he does it and it’s worth it.

Now he can’t stop thinking about her.

And his problem. His little problem that is threatening all this life in College. He needs to step out from her until this is solved or done with, but he just can’t let go of her.

Lianne is a sweet girl. She is so fascinate with DJ and she’s never felt this way about any man before. She’d had so much going on in her life that she never had time or opportunity to meet somebody and fall in love. DJ is all she ever dreamed, but he keeps pushing her away.

I really love this one. I had a difficult time to choose my second favorite book in this series, but this one is really making competition with The Year We Fell Down.

The characters are so captivating. We laugh with them, almost cry with them, cheer and hope with everything that happen to this couple and is impossible not to love it.

Sarina uses a simple writing that captivates you in a way you just can’t let it go.

In addition, I was really curious about DJ’s brother, Leo. He is so amazing and has this interesting background. I don’t need to hide my excitement for Sarina’s next series, do I? I am overwhelmed. Can’t wait for 2016!

my rating 5 stars

By Mirela Motta

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