Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

4 out of 5 Stars

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Mickey James III is a college freshman, a brother to five sisters, and a hockey legacy. With a father and a grandfather who have gone down in NHL history, Mickey is almost guaranteed the league’s top draft spot.

The only person standing in his way is Jaysen Caulfield, a contender for the #1 spot and Mickey’s infuriating (and infuriatingly attractive) teammate. When rivalry turns to something more, Mickey will have to decide what he really wants, and what he’s willing to risk for it.

This is a story about falling in love, finding your team (on and off the ice), and choosing your own path.

 

Review

Hockey romances are my jam. There’s something about masculinity, the passion for the sport, and the tenderness that can be exhibited by the characters that pull me in. Icebreaker is a great book for those who don’t want all the smut but enjoy the art of flirtation and the development of a relationship.

Icebreaker is branded as a YA novel. I would categorize it as more of a new adult novel. It takes place at a university. There is fade to black scenes and mentions of hookups, but it’s not graphic by any means.

Mickey James III is a legacy hockey player. His father is a pro NHL player and as the predicted number one draft pick, Mikey has a LOT to live up to. Even if he’s not entirely sure if jumping into professional hockey after one year at university is over, staying at university for four years, or not pursuing hockey at all. Add in depression and anxiety? As the first line in the novel says, it makes life wild.

Jaysen is Mickey’s biggest competition in the draft class and the other of our leading men. There’s an intense rivalry between him and Mickey determining who will go number one and who will go number two. He likes to poke at Mickey to get under his skin. He reminded me of a friend in high school, alternative and into screamo.

It isn’t until the two are forced into an icebreaker that the anger melts and once they stop seeing each other as something other than rivals.

The style of writing in this novel makes it an extremely quick read. I read half one night before bed, the next half the morning after. I liked seeing text conversations and Twitter interactions between the characters. It put you further into their world.

The in-game writing was done well. I could picture the plays and actions in my mind without a problem. I also liked seeing the team bonding moments and how that contributed to the main characters’ growth.

Super fun, easy read. I’m looking forward to reading more by A.L. Graziadei.

 

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If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

The Review

If This Gets Out was a good read. If you’re a fanfic reader, you’re going to love this novel so much. It was easy to read. The dialogue flowed well, there was a lot of it (I LOVE DIALOGUE and LOTS of it, it’s my jam). I could picture the hotels they were at, and I could see them performing on stage.

Ruben and Zach make up half of the boyband Saturday. Saturday is touring through Europe and trying to deal with the stress of their fame and the pressures of being teenagers on the edge of adulthood.

Throughout the tour, Zach and Ruben become closer as they deal with the drama of Angel and toeing the line around Jon because his father is management. It’s easy to be free and themselves around each other. But the closer they got; the further apart management pulled them.

Their first kiss, and everything after was so … sweet. A lot of the romance happened off-screen to fit the YA Adult sphere. Their kisses and little touches between them? I lived for it. There were times they couldn’t keep their hands off each other and I was all, yes please, can I get more of this? Because it was just that good.

Drama happened (of course) and the boys tackled it together. They truly were a family and cared for each other. That was a special bond, and I was glad to see it strengthen over the course of the book.

Spicy rating? Two out of Five

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Hidden Powers – Tara Lain – DNF

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No Stars – DNF

Summary

Superordinary Society: Book One

Jazz Vanessen is weird—and not just because he’s a werewolf. For most of his life, he’s felt different from his alpha male brothers and friends. Since he’s adopted, he can’t even blame it on family.

Now eighteen, Jazz meets his idol, the social activist Lysandra Mason, and her breathtaking nephew, Dash Mercury. When Dash is around, even stranger things start to happen, including Jazz falling hopelessly in lust. Not only is Jazz having visions, making people disappear, and somehow turning invisible, but somebody’s following him and threatening to reveal his pack’s secrets to the world.

Together with Dash and Jazz’s equally amazing friends—Carla, BeBop, Khadija, and Fatima—they discover the danger is even more lethal than they thought, and Jazz’s weirdness may save all their lives.
 

Review

            I wanted to like this book. I did. LGBTQ+, YA, werewolves, and intrigue, are all excellent ingredients to an adventure I want to go on.

            My main issue is no knowing anything about the characters. If you hadn’t read any of the author’s other books, you’re going to be as lost as I was. As this was the ‘first’ in a new series, I didn’t think I’d be scrambling to figure out who all these people were. It’s a very established world and if you didn’t know that, you’d get frustrated like I did.

            I also had an issue with the language used. I’m not old by any means, I’m 30, and I read YA regularly across many genres. It was off putting to me. Not even in TV shows, do writers use that much ‘teen’ language.

            Will I be reading the next in the series? No. It just disappointed me entirely.

Give it a try if you’ve read previous books by this author, you may enjoy it.

First Time by Stella Starling

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: Cody McPherson is a high school senior everyone says is destined for the NFL. Simon Andrews is the transfer student who doesn’t want any attention. It’s 2007 and no one is out at Hamilton High School, but there’s a first time for everything, and when biology tutoring sparks the kind of chemistry not found in textbooks, 2007 starts to look like the year that there will be a lot of firsts at Hamilton…

First Time is a coming-of-age gay romance novella of approximately 34,000 words. Every Stella Starling romance takes place in the same interconnected, contemporary world, and First Time is a prequel to Cody and Simon’s present-day love story, which will be told in the novel Second Chance, scheduled for release in 2019.

The Review

This was such a sweet read 😍 I wish there had been more. I love a good coming of age, first-time, YA Romance. And this had everything you could want for a mature reader (I say mature because there is a sex scene towards the end that definitely steps over into the NA genre)

Cody McPherson is the star of the football team and is expected to make it to the big leagues. He just needs to get his biology grade up to par to keep playing and to make sure he keeps those scholarships he’s been offered. He’s been keeping his head down, not looking at his team mates in the locker room and managed to get away with not dating throughout high school because he was focusing on football. Simon Andrews is a nobody and just wants to make it through high school without causing any waves and to make sure he gets a scholarship so he can finally be himself without any barriers.

Cody has been fighting his attraction to Simon since Simon started tutoring him. He’s smart, kind, funny, and sweet. He’s everything that Cody wants but thinks he can’t have. Simon thinks Cody is a straight jock that’s completely off limits. They are so cute with each other. They both get flustered, stumble over their words when they are around each other, and dissolve into shy smiles and laughter. It reminded me of the first relationship jitters that everyone gets. You’re happy, excited and want everything all at once. This was exactly how they were with each other.

Cody’s friends melted my heart. They were supportive and had his back, just like they would have on the football field. They had me smiling and laughing with how they were with both Cody and Simon. It didn’t matter that they were gay, or from different ends of the high school social ladder. They were there for each other.

By the time I finished reading this, I was in such a good mood. It was exactly what I needed.

I wish there had been more tutoring scenes, awkward dates and maybe meeting Simon’s mom scene. I know it’s a novella, and there’s a full length book featuring their second chance romance, but I just needed more!! I’m definitely going to be reading more by Stella Starling.

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Skating Through by Jennifer Crosgove

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: There are two things Ben Lewis has convinced himself he can never have at the same time: playing hockey and being openly gay. Hockey is looking to be his only choice. Until now. Being captain of the team and starting his senior year of high school is a lot to handle. Throw in a budding friendship with his crush, Marcus, and Ben is faced with deciding if he’s brave enough to take the next step.

Fortunately, courage can come from unexpected places. His BFF Ryan, new friends, and a voice from the past are great assists to his determination to be true to himself and keep playing the game he loves, but will they be enough?

The Review

Skating Through combines some of my favorite things to read: hockey, young adult, and first times. It was sweet, a bit emotional in parts and extremely fun to read.

Ben Lewis is a high school senior and he’s the captain of the hockey team. He isn’t your average jock either. He’s shy, quiet, closeted and has one best friend Ryan encourages him to get out of his shell. In all manners, like going to parties, finally talking to the boy he’s had a crush on since freshman year and finding a little bit of happy that’s outside of hockey.

As Ben slowly starts to find himself, he starts to open up to more possibilities of how his life can be if he were to come out of the closest. Everything happened in stages. It isn’t like a switch that flipped and everyone knew. He told the people he cared about the most and went from there. There were times I could see how anxious and afraid he was and then I could feel his relief. They were adorable together and every date like scenario made me root more for them.

There was a bit of a side story happening too. Ben found letters from WWII in his Gran’s attic and turns out there was a little bit of a love story there as well. There is so much of me that wishes there were dual storylines happening the entire span of the book. I wanted there to be more letters, to see the war time romance as well. I was extremely intrigued and now I’m looking for more books like that.

I enjoyed being able to see Ben’s journey and how everything would unfold. I read this book in one sitting, about two hours. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I loved this and now I want to read everything by Cosgrove.

Get your copy here!

Fake It by Victoria Kinnaird

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Four out of Five Stars

Book one of the Keswick Chronicles

The Summary: Jack Daveyson grew up with a guitar in his hands and his head full of melodies. Ten years after writing his first riff, he knows exactly what he wants to do with his life – graduate high school, escape Wayville and hit the road with his band, Forever Fading Echoes.

But it’s a bit hard to launch a band without a singer. Enter JJ Keswick.

JJ is everything Jack isn’t: rich, confident and popular. He also happens to be one of the best singers Jack has ever heard.

Jack reluctantly lets JJ into his band and into his life. The spark between them in the practice studio grows into something neither of them were expecting – a love that threatens to tear their lives apart.

The Review

Fake It by Victoria Kinnaird is a YA book that encompasses everything I love about the YA genre with the LGBTQ appeal as the cherry on top. I’m not a fan of teenagers getting into alcohol as much as JJ did (it’s a personal thing and I live in New Orleans so I know kids can party) but it wasn’t overly done. Jack laid down the law on JJ showing up under the influence to band practices and gigs. Having someone put that rule down, made me go, okay, I’m going to keep reading.

In the beginning there was a lot of play on the typical character types and makes them into something more. Jack isn’t just the gay kid who gets bullied and JJ is not just a rich-kid throwaway. There were times where I could pinpoint that certain characters were just like my friends back in high school. It felt like I was part of that world while I was reading.

The imagery of each setting, the record store, JJ’s house, Jack’s house, I could see these places in my mind.

The struggle Jack faces, deciding on college or pursuing his dream of having a legitimate band and skipping college that hit home. I know how hard it was for him to make that decision, to tell his dad what he chose and he was going to do it no matter how hard it was. I didn’t go that route and now I have a useless degree, work in retail and follow my dream on the side. I wish I could have been as brace as Jack was.

Absolutely loved this and can’t wait to read the next in the series!

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The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake

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Summary: Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn’t be falling for.

Jeremy’s been in love with cocky, talented Luke since they were kids. But from their first kiss, something’s missing. Jeremy’s family keeps generations of deadly secrets, forcing him to choose between love and loyalty. As Luke fights to break the curse, a magical, citywide war starts crackling, and it’s tied to Jeremy.

This might be the one curse Luke can’t uncross. If true love’s kiss fails, what’s left for him and Jeremy?

 

The Review

The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake was a book I was really looking forward to reading. The entire premise of curse work and Russian rivalries plus M/M YA story line reeled me in. But I was a bit disappointed. In the beginning I had a hard time keeping track of all the characters and usually that is never a problem for me. Within the first chapter I usually have it but I kept getting Luke and Jeremy confused for each other.

Then I got bogged down in understanding just what uncrossing and crossing really was. It didn’t seem to be the focus like I thought it would be. I actually got lost with what the main conflict was until the last 20%.

What I did like was the relationship between Luke and Jeremy. It was well written once I got everyone right in my mind. They were really sweet and fun to read in scenes together. I feel like if this could have been longer, the details drawn out a little clearer, this would have been an amazing book that I’d want to read over and over.
Will I read Melissa Eastlake’s work again? Most likely. She caught my interest and had a interesting storyline.

I received an E-Book copy of The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Link: Here on Amazon