Series: The Ivy Years

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

Posted July 25, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2) by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #2
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2), Blonde Date (The Ivy Years, #2.5), The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1), The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years, #3), The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5)
Published by Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: June 1, 2014
Point-of-View: First
Genres: New Adult
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-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.

I’m just going to put this out there from the jump…I didn’t enjoy this book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was too sweet, for lack of a better word. At first the college thing really pulled me out of the book because my kid is going to college in 29 days (less by the time you read this review). I just kept imagining my own kid in these characters places and it was laughable. So that kept distracting me. The first person was surprisingly easy to read. By now I’m on my third book and third FP person book of the challenge and it’s a breeze. Moving on…

Scarlett Crowley formerly known as Shannon Ellis has escaped hell to go to college. During her junior year in high school horrific allegations begin coming out against her father when a boy in a neighboring town commits suicide and leaves a note detailing his abuse at her father’s hands. Then Shannon’s life comes to a screeching halt. All her friends desert her, she loses her position as the starting goalie on the hockey team, and basically becomes a pariah at her school. When the time comes to go to college, she embraces it.

Now known as Scarlett, she is thrilled with her new life where no one knows her or her past. She even meets someone. Bridger McCaulley seems to have secrets of his own, but Scarlett doesn’t begrudge him that. She obviously has secrets of her own. They begin a sweet romance that is tempered by responsibility on both parts.

Bridger has all the feels for Scarlett but his secret is about three feet tall and attends elementary school. He’s breaking all the rules by having her live in his dorm, but there is nothing else to do as he had to take Lucy out of their mother’s house. He is walking a tightrope and Scarlett is the only escape he has from the insanity that his life has become. The his separate lives collide.

Scarlett thinks she’s doing a pretty good job keeping everything separate, then her two worlds collide. So I did admire these two for what they were going through, but I had a hard time with a few things. Like if Scarlett wanted to not be known, why did she only go two hours away from home? How long did Bridger thing he could get away with having Lucy at his dorm? I’ve seen a dorm and he’s lucky he lasted that long. It’s crazy. The romance was sweet, it really was. Bridger’s absolute devotion to Lucy was so sweet. Everything was sweet, sweet, sweet. Unfortunately sweet doesn’t do it for me these days.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Ivy Years

three-half-stars


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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 (The Ivy Years, #5) by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #5
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2), Blonde Date (The Ivy Years, #2.5), The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1), The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years, #3), The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2)
Published by Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: October 13th 2015
Point-of-View: First
Genres: New Adult
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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

The Ivy Years

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 (The Ivy Years, #5) by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #5
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2), Blonde Date (The Ivy Years, #2.5), The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1), The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years, #3), The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2)
Published by Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: October 13th 2015
Point-of-View: First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 319
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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

The Ivy Years

four-stars


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Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

Posted June 17, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4) by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #4
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2), Blonde Date (The Ivy Years, #2.5), The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1), The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years, #3), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2)
Published by Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: April 12, 2015
Point-of-View: First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 279
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

Bella’s book!

Bella was such a memorable character from The Understatement of the Year and I knew that I was going to like her from the very beginning, loose morals and all. She had that happy disposition that people gravitate to and I loved that she enjoyed sex and made no excuses for it. I loved that she owned what she liked and who she was and didn’t pay too much mind about what others thought. I also loved that she loved hockey the way that she did. In The Understatement of the Year, when she finds out about Graham and Rikker, I felt how hurt she was. I knew that despite sleeping around, it was Graham that she wanted to be with so to see her realize that her and Graham was never going to happen, reminded me of Caroline and Stefan from Vampire Diaries. LOL.

When I found out that Bella was getting a book, I was thrilled! Bella deserved a happy ending so I was all about reading it the first moment I could get my hands on it and Sarina Bowen doesn’t disappoint with Bella’s story.

The story starts with the introduction to Bella’s man, Rafael. Rafael is a stand up guy. One of the good ones. It’s his birthday and he’s spending the night with his girlfriend where he will hopefully lose his virginity but when he shows up at his girlfriends room, some guy beat him there. Turns out, she cheated on Rafe when she away on a trip and Rafe’s night turns to shit. He heads back to his dorm, only to find both of his roommates getting down (exactly what he hoped he would be doing) so not being able to take it, he takes the bottle of wine he bought to share with his girl and starts drinking it all by himself and that’s where Bella finds him. They end up spending the entire night drinking and talking and then Bella relieves Rafe of his virginity, as only Bella can. 🙂

This story stayed with me a little while after I finished it because wow. Just wow. Bella’s story was not an easy one to get through. She goes through some serious shit in this book and I wanted to beat every single guy in that dumb ass frat with a baseball bat for the way that they treated, not only Bella but every other girl that comes through their doors.

Bella had some serious issues that she needed to get through and seeing her being tested at every turn made my heart hurt for her but holy hell does she come out on top in the end. She made decisions but who doesn’t? She didn’t deserve half of the things that happened to her and to see how protective and caring and patient that Rafe was with Bella? Swoon.

I adored Rafe. I knew that I was going to love him from the very first chapter in this book and with each passing chapter, I grew more and more in love with him. That Latino boy had it going on. I loved the way that he was with Bella. He was there for Bella when she needed someone to be there for her. He was there for her even when she didn’t want anyone there…and when he couldn’t be there, he made sure that someone was. Goodness, I could go on and on about what an awesome hero Rafe is but just know, he was fantastic.

As she always does, Sarina Bowen got me thinking about slut shaming. Do I slut shame people? Do I assume that because a girl dresses a certain way, she’s a slut? And ugh, I have been known to do that from time to time and while I was reading Bella’s story, my heart went out to her and I felt ashamed for the slut shaming that I’ve done in the past. Women are real people and they should be allowed to dress however they want and sleep with whoever they want without people talking shit about them. Living with that kind of reputation is hard and Bella had to develop a thick skin for simply being who she wanted to be. Bella was one of the strongest heroines that I’ve read about this year and I really enjoyed her story. I enjoyed seeing her overcome every obstacle that was in her way to find happiness with Rafe. I thought the two of them deserved a happy life and was happy when they finally came together.

The romance between Rafe and Bella was sweet and it was good. This was another eye-opening story with real life issues that I appreciated. It’s another great addition to an already fantastic series and I’m more than a little anxious for Leanne’s story. I hope she hooks up with that hockey player from the pizza place. Kudos to Sarina Bowen on a job well done with this book. I really liked it!

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

The Ivy Years

four-stars


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Review: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen

Posted April 1, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years, #3) by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #3
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2), Blonde Date (The Ivy Years, #2.5), The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years, #1), The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5), The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years, #2)
Published by Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: October 15, 2014
Point-of-View: First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 300
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

This is the third book in the Ivy Years series and the blurb (that I got off of Goodreads) does a bang up job of explaining what the book is about that I’m going to jump right into my thoughts on the book.

This was my very first m/m book. It’s not my usual thing but because I enjoy this series so much, I knew that I was going to read it and I’m glad that I did. My heart went out to both Rikker and Graham so many different times in the book but when all was said and done, I closed the book with a goofy grin on my face.

Of the two heroes, I think I liked John Rikker more. He was one of those what you see is what you get kind of guys and seeing what he went through day in and day out ever since he came out of the closet, made my heart hurt time after time. It was not an easy life to live in the spotlight all the time, not for what you do on the ice but for how you spend your personal time and the drama that they put this young man through made me want to punch everyone in their throats. Boy did I love the support system he had with his grandmother (but ugh on his parents) and I loved that he kept right on fighting the good fight to have a life, a life outside college hockey and outside of the media attention. Seeing his love for Graham throughout the book hurt my heart as well because he was so patient. A lot more patient than I would have been in his same situation.

Michael Graham was a good guy, a very scared good guy but a good guy nonetheless. Growing up the way that he did, it was understandable but I thought it took him far too long to stand up for Rikker. There were times when I wanted to give Graham a swift kick to the shin but when it mattered most, he stepped up in a big way. I ended up really liking Graham and thought he was a great character. Very three dimensional and just, real. His story reminded me of one of my very good friends. We grew up in very religious backgrounds and it took my friend over 25 years to finally come out to me. When he finally did, we hugged it out and I told him, “I know.” Being gay didn’t make me love him any less and I hurt for him because he was scared to tell me. That reminded me of Graham because when he finally comes out to his parents, the love they had for him was real and it was a relief to know that he would have a good support system.

This book made me cry, it made me laugh and it made me rejoice with a happy dance. I felt all of the emotions while reading this one so you know it was a good one. Sarina Bowen does a fantastic job of reeling the reader into whatever story she’s telling and that was the case with Rikker and Graham’s book. It’s a good one, this book. I recommend it.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

The Ivy Years

four-stars


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