Series: The Ivy Years

Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Posted December 2, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #5
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away, Blonde Date, The Year We Fell Down, The Fifteenth Minute

Publication Date: October 13th 2015
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Just because she's famous doesn't mean she's happy. 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.

Something's 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.

I’ve been looking forward to this book since I finished Bella and Rafe’s book earlier this year. I adored Lianne and was looking forward to seeing her get her guy in this book. When we first met her, she was this shy young woman who wanted to find herself and not be the Sorceress that she’s been since she was a kid. She’s an actress who wanted to go to college and she made that happen.

Her freshman year was spent in her dorm room, playing computer games and not being social. All of that changes when she becomes friends with Bella. Bella is a social person who has loads of friends, friends on the college Men’s hockey team. Bella hangs with her hockey buds at a pizza joint near campus and that is where Lianne meets Daniel “DJ” Trevi.

Lianne is immediately smitten with DJ. DJ is the DJ for the college hockey games. He’s the one that is playing all of the music during the game and Lianne finds out that there’s an art to playing the right song at the right moment during a game. The more she learns about DJ, the bigger her crush on him gets. But the closer she tries to get to him, the more he pushes her away and it confuses the hell out of Lianne because she knows that he’s into whatever is happening between them but he blows hot and cold. One minute, he’s kissing her face off and the next, he’s standing her up. She knows that something is going on with him but she can’t figure out why.

And the reason he blows hot and cold is one whopper of a story. Sarina Bowen really nails these real life situations story lines. Every single book in this series has tackled some real life situation and has made me sit back and think on how I would react in those same situations. She’s opened my eyes to so many things and has made me question myself and I think she writes these stories extremely well.

DJ is on the brink of being expelled from school for something he didn’t do. He’s accused of something pretty terrible and throughout this book, we see the toll that this accusation takes on his life. From school to work to friends, DJ is one giant ball of stress. The one thing in his life that brings him any kind of joy is spending time with Lianne but even that is tainted with his case. His father has hired lawyers to help with his case but they haven’t really gotten anywhere and DJ isn’t very hopeful for this new lawyer that wants to take a stab at proving his innocence.

Holy cow, this book hit me in the feels and I really came to love both DJ and Lianne. I mean, I already loved Lianne from the previous book but DJ, holy cow I loved DJ. They were so great together and I loved seeing the small moments that led to them falling for each other. From their time reading Shakespeare to their time in the DJ booth at the hockey games to Lianne’s trip to meet DJ’s family, this was one heck of a romance.

It’s a romance that will have you cheering, crying and laughing throughout the entire thing. It’s a romance that will hit you where it hurts but hug you close to make it all better. It’s a romance that I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 4, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina BowenReviewer: Holly
The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #5
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away, Blonde Date, The Year We Fell Down, The Fifteenth Minute

Publication Date: October 13th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Sports
Pages: 319
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

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. Something's 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.

Lianne Challice became famous for her role as a sorceress in a popular movie franchise. She’s under contract for one more movie, but she’s ready to experience life away from Hollywood and enrolls at Harkness college. For all her travels and worldliness, she’s on the young side of 19 in terms of her self-confidence. She hasn’t had many personal relationships – whether platonic or romantic – and she’s rather socially awkward.

She meets DJ through her roommate, Bella, something we saw in The Shameless Hour (book 4). They connect over the jukebox in the previous book, and she becomes smitten with him. She isn’t confident enough to approach him, but when he asks her out she jumps at the chance to get to know him better.

DJ played hockey in high school, but he wasn’t picked up to play in college. He could have played for a Division Three school, but instead he chose to attend Harkness and focus on his education. He snagged a job as the deejay at the hockey games – both men’s and women’s –  and he really loves it. Not only is it really fun, but he’s really good at it. All was going well until he was accused of doing something really terrible and the college puts him on probation.With an ax hanging over his head DJ knows he can’t start a relationship, but Lianne is hard to resist.

DJ and Lianne were very cute together. They kind of skirt around their attraction at first, but it isn’t long before they fall into a sweet friendship that’s ripe with chemistry. Lianne is struggling to find herself and her place away from college. She became quite good friends with Bella, her roommate and the former hockey manager, and by extension she’s been accepted by the hockey team, but for the most part she’s still ostracized by the rest of the campus. I was surprised by this, considering she was a movie star, regardless of what she was famous for. I’d have thought more students would want to befriend her, hoping for a bit of the limelight themselves. Instead, they go in the opposite direction, going out of their way to distance themselves from her. Though I can’t deny I was glad to see that wasn’t the main focus of the book, I’m still surprised by it.

The focus of the book was on DJ and his problems. I’m going to discuss it under the spoiler tag.

View Spoiler »

The tone of the book isn’t pissed off so much as worried and angst-filled. The story was nuanced and showed the other side of  the coin. It was well done. The story was balanced.

For all of the heavy content, there is quite a bit of lighthearted banter and some true laugh-out-loud moments. Bowen excels at creating an atmosphere that’s easy to fall into, with characters that really come to life.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

Posted January 6, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 11 Comments

Review: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina BowenReviewer: Holly
The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #1
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away, Blonde Date, The Fifteenth Minute, The Fifteenth Minute

Publication Date: March 24th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, General, New Adult
Pages: 268
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves wants 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.
"I absolutely loved it, and I can't wait to read the rest of her books." Colleen Hoover, bestselling author of Hopeless.
"I bought - and read - this entire series in a week. It is OMG-awesome-NA-at-its-finest." Tammara Webber, bestselling author of Easy.
Keywords: new adult, college, Ivy League, hockey, disability, sports romance.
For fans of: Colleen Hoover, Elle Kennedy, Kristen Callihan, Cora Carmack, Tammara Webber

Corey, the heroine, is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She wasn’t whiny or filled with self-pity, but she did ruminate about her situation and changed circumstances a lot. I thought her attitude was a good one, but her internal dialogue rang true. I felt the same about Hartley. His broken leg wasn’t really his issue, and he had a great attitude, but his insecurities made sense given his past.

Their friendship developed over the course of months and felt genuine. The transition from friends to lovers worked, though I wish it had happened just a bit sooner.

One thing I want to comment on: I liked the cessation of drama between the couple once they declared themselves. Things were a bit angst-y there for awhile, but then it was done. There were still outside situations to be dealt with, but nothing crazy between them.

This wasn’t my favorite book of the series, but the strong characterizations, engaging plot and excellent writing really drew me in.

3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Joint Review: Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen

Posted December 29, 2014 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Joint Review: Blonde Date by Sarina BowenReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #2.5
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away, The Year We Fell Down, The Fifteenth Minute, The Fifteenth Minute

Publication Date: July 9th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
Pages: 98
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

A blind date. A nervous sorority girl. A mean-spirited fraternity prank. What could 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.
“Blonde Date is nothing short of brilliant.”— KimberlyFayeReads.com“I loved the preceding Ivy Series books but this novella has just become my favorite.”— Booknerdian world
Keywords: sports romance, new adult, college, basketball, novella, sororities, fraternities, humorous romance

Rowena: Holly and I challenged ourselves to do more joint reviews, one review a month this year and in true Holly and Rowena fashion, we fell behind. So this month, you get two reviews from us.

The first review we did was The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen and it was a book that both Holly and I LOVED. That’s saying something because Holly doesn’t love every single book she reads. So kudos to Sarina Bowen for that book.

This review will be about Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen. It’s the short story that features Scarlett’s roommate, Blonde Katie and Bridger’s friend Andy.

I really enjoyed this one. I thought Andy and Katie were great fun to read and get to know. My only gripe? Andy and the Celtics. Just, ugh.

What did you think?

Holly: I think you’re a dork for caring who his team was. Lol Although. ..I don’t think I could love a man who likes the Raiders,  so I guess I can’t talk.

Rowena: You can think that all you want but a Lakers fan will never willingly cheer for a Celtics fan. And I’m a ride or die Lakers fan. I’d have to be considering the seasons we’ve been having lately.

Holly: Can I just say, Andy was adorable. I loved how nerdy he was. When he realizes Katie is nervous, and he decides to help her figure out a way to make the party more bearable? LOVE!

Rowena:  I made an exception for Andy because he was just too freaking awesome. I chose to not blame him for his choice in basketball teams.

The game that Andy chose to play with Katie to get her through the party was too freaking cute for words. I loved that throughout the entire date, Andy was trying to make Katie at ease and I really liked that Katie let him. He really shined at that party and their cute little inside jokes was fun to read about.

What I really liked was how this whole story is going on during the same time as Bridger and Scarlett’s story so the little tid bits lined up and had me grinning like a fool. The music they heard coming from the other room, the laughing and dancing? Hahahahaha. I loved it.

Holly: I loved that, too. Normally I don’t like it when a romance story is set over such a short period of time, but the way this was told, it worked. I loved their entire date, from Katie’s confession and Andy’s reaction, to the game he devised and even the way he managed to make his point to Katie’s ex without making it a big deal.

The thoughts Katie has about slut shaming and her feelings about some of the choices she’s made really made me think, too. Bowen does that a lot. Make me think, I mean.

Rowena: She made me think a lot too. That’s good sometimes and it worked for this story. What I liked about Katie is how real she is. She thought and acted the same way I would done in her shoes and I liked that she was so real.

Holly: I agree, she was very real. So was Andy, for that matter. He wasn’t over the top, he was just a regular guy. He was cute.

What did you think of the last chapter being told from Dash’s (Katie’s ex) point of view?  Do you think he can be redeemed?

Rowena: More than anything, I was confused by the last chapter being told by Dash. Is he getting his own book? Do you know? I know that Bella (Mike Graham’s best friend and the team student manager in The Understatement of the Year) is going to get her own book but who is her hero? Do you think it’s Dash?

I think he’s redeemable. If Cora Carmack can redeem Silas Moore from her Rusk University series and Lisa Kleypas can redeem St. Vincent, I have every faith that Sarina Bowen can redeem Dash. Come to think of it, I want Dash’s story so fingers crossed for me.

Holly: I haven’t heard if Dash is getting a book. I think part of the reason the chapter was from his POV was to impart more info about Katie and Andy without upping the word count. But yes, it makes me think we’ll see more from him in the future. I’m not sure how I feel about that. What he did was pretty bad. It’ll take some serious work on Bowen’s part to redeem him.

Rowena: I thought Bowen told a great story in not lot of page time and the entire thing just worked for me so I give it 4 stars.

Holly: I’m going to give it a 4.25. Initially I would have given it a 4, but after doing a reread I’m upping it. I loved Andy and Katie even more the second time through.

Rowena’s Grade: 4.0
Holly’s Grade: 4.25

four-stars


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Joint Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

Posted December 22, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 10 Comments

Joint Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina BowenReviewer: Holly and Rowena
The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #2
Also in this series: Blonde Date, The Year We Fell Down, The Fifteenth Minute, The Fifteenth Minute

Publication Date: June 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age, General
Pages: 280
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
five-stars

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.
Keywords: sports romance, hockey, Ivy League, new adult, college.

Holly: Like most high school grads, Scarlet is excited to leave home and start college. But unlike most others, she’s doing it under an assumed name with the cloud of her father’s alleged sins hanging over her.

What did you think of Scarlet and the things she was dealing with?

Rowena:  Scarlet…I really liked her. I thought she was a good match for Bridger. I wasn’t bothered by the secrets she kept from Bridger because it was understandable. Even when she kept some distance between her and Bridger once she got back to school after Thanksgiving, I understood and was okay with the way that she handled things. Because everything she did, she did because she was trying to protect not just Bridger but his younger sister, Lucy, too.

Holly: I wasn’t bothered that she kept secrets, either. I understood her reasons for keeping her family drama to herself and for backing away from him when it looked like what was happening in her life was going to impact his. Normally I hate the whole “I know better than you, so I’m ending this without consulting you” thing, but that wasn’t the case here. Especially since Lucy was threatened.

Rowena: Yep. I really liked that she didn’t think she knew better than Bridger. She thought of Lucy’s safety and wanted more than anything to keep the both of them safe. I liked that she put them first even when Bridger didn’t understand because when it mattered the most, she came out and was honest about everything with Bridger. I thought that Bridger was just as lucky to have Scarlett as she was to have him.

Holly: Did you want her dad to be guilty or not? I didn’t, for her sake. I didn’t see how it was possible that he wasn’t guilty, though. All evidence pointed toward him. That was hard to take in, considering the nature of the crimes.

Rowena: I don’t know about wanting Scarlet’s dad to be guilty. His life impacted her life and shaped her into the person that she was. I liked the person that she was, so that’s a tough call. Do you think she would have been the same person had her life turned out different?

Holly: That’s an interesting question. Based on the way her mom and dad both acted, I’m not sure how she turned into the person she was. Her coaches, maybe? Definitely something to think about.

It really made me think about how we perceive the families of those who are accused of crimes, though. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but Scarlet’s struggles, especially in high school, really hit me. Would I want my kids associating with the daughter of someone who was accused of child molestation? And yet, she was innocent.

Rowena: Same here. I hadn’t thought about the children of child molesters. Having read this book and seen what Scarlet went through, I’ve learned that things aren’t always as they seem and that I shouldn’t blame the sins of the father on the children. Before reading this? I don’t think I would have been too comfortable with the idea of my daughter hanging out with the kid of a molester. Shame on me.

I wanted to beat up her Dad’s lawyers and the people that worked for him. She was really smart to go to the computer geeks to fix her phone problems.

Holly: Scarlet’s dad’s lawyers were ridiculous. What did you think about the situation with her uncle? I don’t want to spoil it, but that was one thing I didn’t like. I thought it was a little too convenient.

Rowena: The whole thing with Scarlett and her Uncle was convenient but it was a convenience that I was okay with. Because again, that whole association with her dad thing. That probably makes me a bad person so shame on me. 🙁

How cute was Lucy?

Holly:  Lucy was adorable. I absolutely love how Bridger acted with her. She wasn’t a nuisance to him, or an obligation. He loved her and wanted to raise her. I half expected for there to be some resentment or frustration on his part, but there wasn’t. He really acted like a parent.

**SPOILER** Rowena, my heart broke for them when their mom died. Bridger’s reaction when he finds out Lucy was taken by the state was…omg. **End SPOILER**

I ugly cried.

Rowena: I ugly cried throughout this book too (even when I found out that he wasn’t a fan of basketball). I mean, everything you mentioned hit me hard. Also seeing the support system he had in place the whole time, the way that everyone rallied behind him (including Scarlet) to make sure him and Lucy were taken care of? Man, it hit me in the feels and the people at work thought that something bad happened to me because my face was swollen the next day from all of my crying.

Holly: I’ve read this multiple times now, and I cry each and every time. I just…I can’t even with Bridger and Lucy. You’re right, his support system was great. Many authors would have taken the opportunity to show us how alone he really was. I love that Bowen went the other direction.

Rowena: Same here. I just adored this book. So very much. If she hadn’t shown us the support system that was in place for Bridger, I would have been mad because I already knew how alone Bridger felt. He kept that secret for months. It was such a big secret too. I loved how tight he and Lucy were and the way that they loved each other. Lucy was scared but she had such faith in Bridger.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I loved most everything about it. I am a big Sarina Bowen fan after this book. I want more, more, more from her.

Holly: When I finished this book, I immediately wanted to start it again. This whole series was great. Bowen is definitely one of my best finds of 2014.

Rowena: Bowen was a great find for 2014. Love her.

This book gets a 4.75 out of 5 from me. You?

Holly: I’m going to give it the same. 4.75.

Rowena’s Grade: 4.75
Holly’s Grade: 4.75

Definitely a recommended read.

five-stars


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