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Series: The Ivy Years

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina BowenThe Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour
Published by Self-Published on 13 October 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Love & Romance, Movie Stars, New Adult, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues
Pages: 294
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Harkness, Connecticut // New York, New York // Huntington, New York

First Line(s):promised myself that I wouldn’t spend my second semester of college huddle in my room playing Dragonfire.

In The Fifteenth Minute, Sarina Bowen returns once again to Harkness University and this time tells the story of Lianne and DJ, both of whom we meet in The Shameless Hour (my review.) Though this is part of a series, just like the other books, it can be read independently. The story starts the semester after Shameless Hour ends and so Lianne and Bella have settled into their friendship. Lianne is still shy about wandering out in public due to the mixed reactions she gets but she is trying. She and DJ also have a really cute meet/cute near the end of Shameless Hour and I was glad to hear that they would be the stars of this book.

Both Lianne and DJ are dealing with complicated life issues and while Lianne’s issues are known (she’s an actress in a famous book to series film franchise – think Emma Watson as Hermione) DJ’s are not. Over the course of the story you do learn what demons DJ is facing and while at times the crypticness of it all annoyed me it wasn’t overdone. The story was heartbreaking at times as these two characters couldn’t always find a common ground despite the growing attraction that they had for each other. As with many a romance it tended to come down to all or nothing and there was no way to exist in between. Which also frustrates me in books. When that happens I just want to reach into the pages and shake the characters and yell at them to find a compromise!

Fifteenth Minute Quote

DJ could also be such a Debbie downer at times but I did love seeing him start to find hope in his situation. And I loved how he and Lianne interacted. I also loved Lianne’s interactions with DJ’s housemates and other hockey team members. It was fun watching them learn that she was more than just a childhood movie star and was someone who could kick their collective asses at one of their favorite past times, outside of hockey. The Fifteenth Minute was a quick read and I enjoyed it but in the end it didn’t give me those heart achey feels that I adore in stories. There was just something missing that kept me from loving this one completely.

Maybe it was because of DJ’s doom and gloom side or maybe its because I wanted a little more from the ending or maybe it was just that DJs epiphany came on so quick and sudden that it was hard to believe. There just seemed to be a few things left incomplete and it left me feeling unsatisfied. But overall I do still love this series and I enjoy each installment. I love all the cameos of characters from previous books and seeing where they are traveling to outside of their stories. I’m looking forward to Bowen’s next Ivy Years book as I do so adore the students of Harkness University and I am looking forward to catching little peaks into DJ and Lianne’s life to see where they end up next.

irishdarkblue

IR - Fifteenth Minute

Add Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Revived by Samantha Towle to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

three-stars
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: The Shameless Hour by Sarina BowenThe Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 14 April 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 317
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Etna, Connecticut // New York, New York

First Line(s): It had been two hours since I blew out twenty candles on the cake Ma made for me, but my ass was still parked at Restaurante Tipico.

The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen is the fourth book in her Ivy Years series and is Bella’s story. Bella is a well known secondary character in the series and you learn a bit more about her in The Understatement of the Year (my review) and I was really excited when I heard that she was finally getting her own book. Bella’s love interest is Rafe, a quiet guy who lives in her building and who is an acquaintance of Bella’s. After a bad night for them both they end up sleeping together which is no big deal for Bella but is huge for Rafe because he was a virgin and while he wasn’t saving himself for marriage he would have preferred to be in a more committed relationship. There are then awkward moments between the two as they both misunderstand the other until something happens that shakes Bella to the core and brings her and Rafe closer together.

Oh how my heart ached for Bella in this book and I thought that Rafe was the perfect boy for her. They are both flawed but together they make this perfect whole, that is when they aren’t totally misunderstanding each other. But unlike most books where misunderstandings lead to breakups as the people involved never talk Bella and Rafe only end up closer together. Yes, there are things between them that aren’t said right away but when details are revealed they listen and grow more and more in like with each other. They may have started as casual acquaintances with a one-night stand but over time they become friends and then fall in love.

Shameless Hour Quote

There were a few things that I didn’t like though, like how Bella was sometimes so stubborn that she wouldn’t really listen to Rafe was saying but I loved how he kept trying. Or that there weren’t enough cameos from Graham and Rikker because those two!!  Though I did like the addition of, Lianne, the semi-reclusive neighbor of Bella and who becomes a really good friend to her when Bella allows her to be. Because Bella, for all her spunk and brash behavior has a habit of never letting anyone get to close to her. She’s flirty and fun but she doesn’t get real until life really forces her to take a hard look at herself and she allows herself to trust and let people in. And in the end she’s still flirty, sassy and brash but she’s also so much more because she has people beside her holding her up when she needs it.

If you like new adult romance then I would highly recommend Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years series, they are books that just keep getting better with each one. I loved seeing Bella in flashes over the previous books but it wasn’t until The Shameless Hour that you really get to know her in all her complexity. I loved Rafe and I adored the two of them together. This was a real heart-achy book and I hope that we get to see more of these two in the next book in the series because I do hate saying goodbye to them. Though I am sure that this is a couple that I’ll re-visit every so often with a re-read and so even though the story is over it doesn’t really end.

irishdarkblue

IR - Shameless Hour

 

Add Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Easy by Tammara Webber to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review: Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Blonde Date by Sarina BowenBlonde Date by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 06 July 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 109
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Etna, Connecticut

First Line(s): With a growing sense of panic, I pawed through the clothes in my narrow little dorm room closet.

Blonde Date by Sarina Bowen is a novella that takes place around the same time as The Year We Hid Away. This novella features Bridger’s neighbor Andy and Scarlet’s roommate Katie. Andy is also known to Scarlet from back home in New Hampshire and she sets them up on a date when Katie needs to bring an athlete to one of her sorority events. Katie will only date athletes, and its also something strongly encouraged by her sorority and her boyfriend broke up with her shortly before the start of the novel. Enter in Andy, a sweet geeky guy that will just make you swoon. He’s the sort of book boyfriend that you wish was a real person as he’s just so genuine and nice.

At the start of the novella, Katie is a bit of a snob but you quickly learn that she’s just a tad bit insecure. She’s a little judgmental at first and looks down a bit on Andy since he plays on the basketball team and not football but over the course of their night together she learns to see beyond the superficial to the sweet guy underneath.

I really enjoyed Blonde Date and read it quickly and my only real complaint was that it wasn’t longer. I think that I would have liked to see these two characters spend more time together and really get to know each other. And also there was so much potential for reader feels to be had. Though there were still some heart warming moments within these pages.

If you have been thinking of checking out Sarina Bowen’s books then Blonde Date might be a good place for you to start. It doesn’t spoil for any of the other books and it can stand pretty well on its one. Its a short read and will give you a good idea on this authors writing style. As I said, I enjoyed this one and continue to enjoy Bowen’s stories.

irishdarkblue

Blonde Date Quote

four-stars
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina BowenThe Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 15 Oct 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Etna, Connecticut // Brattleboro, Vermont // Boston, Massachusetts

First Line(s): In all my favorite movies, when something bad was going to happen, the protagonist usually sensed it.

Internet,

Let me tell you a secret. I only started reading Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years series to get to this book, The Understatement of the Year. This is the third book in the series and came to me highly recommended by a friend. She said I could probably start the series here with this book but I do like to read my series in order when I can and while I liked the previous books, The Year We Fell Down (my review) and The Year We Hid Away (my review). I didn’t love them although I did really enjoy the novella Blonde Date (review to come) and wish that had been longer. The Understatement of the Year takes place almost concurrently with The Year We Hid Away and follows Michael Graham, the one who takes Bridger’s place on the Harkness hockey team. We quickly learn that Graham has secrets and most revolve around the new player John Rikker, who just happens to be one of the first openly gay hockey players on the collegiate circuit.

The Understatement of the Year is a contemporary romance that will make your heart ache. The angst and the longing and the emotions that Graham and Rikker put you through make you want to turn the pages faster and faster. Its a book filled with friendship and redemption and finding yourself. Its also a book that contains one of my favorite romance tropes, the second chance at love. I do so adore a story where the characters have a back story, an existing relationship and heartache that they need to overcome. It just adds a little something to overall story arc when it is done right and Sarina Bowen does it right.

Understatement of the Year Quote

Of all the books in this series to date, The Understatement of the Year, is my favorite. It hits all the right notes and really tugs on the heart strings. This book made my heart ache and I just loved watching Rikker and Graham come together as they sought their happily ever after. My only real disappointment was that the book had to end as I wasn’t ready to leave these characters behind. I wanted more of their story and more of some of the secondary characters like Rikker’s grandmother and Skippy.

The Understatement of the Year is a wonderful romance story for those that like a good romance. Its a quick read and hard to put down. Its a book that I know that I will re-read on those days when I just need to get lost in a book that I know will make my heart happy. I enjoyed it and I think that you will too.

irishdarkblue

IR- Understatement of Year

Add Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson to Goodreads.

Add Waiting for Ty by Samantha Ann King to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

four-stars
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina BowenThe Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years, Book 2
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 01 June 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, New Adult, Parents, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 274
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Sterling, New Hampshire // Etna, Connecticut

First Line(s): The minute I heard the hum of the garage door opener, I was in motion.

The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen is the second book in her Ivy Years series and picks up about a year after The Year We Fell Down takes place. This book follows Hartley’s friend and Hockey teammate Bridger and a new character named Scarlet. If the theme of The Year We Fell Down was healing than the them of this book was secrets as both Bridger and Scarlet are hiding some pretty big ones. At the start of this book we learn that Scarlet has changed her name and essentially run away from home to college and Bridger has quit the Hockey team for reasons that are revealed over the course of the story. We also learn that like Corey, Scarlet is also a Hockey player and she too has quit the sport for reasons that are also revealed as the story progresses.

OVerall, I did like The Year We Hid Away better than The Year We Fell Down but I still had some issues with the story. There were some continuity errors that took me out of the story and just drove me mad. For example, in one scene Scarlet is reading a newspaper but then it turns into a website and then in the next paragraph its a newspaper again. *le sigh* It was enough to make my head spin at times. Scarlet was also annoying as she was so judgmental of others, especially her roommates, and a bit slow on the the uptake with certain reveals that others saw coming from a mile away.

Year We Hid Away Quote

 

Bridger and Scarlet did annoy me at times and there was the cliche of the pointless breakup. But I did like how they interacted with each other when they were together. Scarlet had a lot of character growth throughout the novel and she went from a spoiled, judgmental princess to someone who was a little bit more down to earth. Although she did still have some entitlement issues and a lack of understanding on how the world worked. One thing I did like was Scarlett’s friend from high school and Bridger’s neighbor Andrew. He added a sense of normalcy and balance to all the crazy that was going on and I just loved all the scenes that he was in.

I also found The Year We Hid Away to be a bit slow moving and then the ending it was all rush rush rush time to wrap up ALL THE THINGS! And there were a lot of things to wrap up because Scarlet and Bridger had SO MANY ISSUES! It was almost too much at times and it became a bit overpowering. The Year We Hid Away is not without its issues but there are definitely worse books out there and while I didn’t love this one I did like it enough that I didn’t feel as though I wasted my time and money on it.

 

irishdarkblue

Irish Recommends - Year We Hid Away
three-stars
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina BowenThe Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years,
Also in this series: The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, The Fifteenth Minute
Published by Self-Published on 24 March 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Health & Daily Living, Illnesses & Injuries, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Sports & Athletics
Pages: 268
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Hartford, Connecticut // Greenwich, Conneticut // Harkness,Conneticut // Etna, Connecticut // Unnamed, Wisconsin

First Line(s): “This looks promising,” my mother said, eyeing the dormitory’s ivy-covered facade.

I first heard about Sarina Bowen when an author friend recommended a title of hers called The Understatement of the Year which is the third book in Bowen’s Ivy League series. As I’ve mentioned a time or two I like to read a series in order and as this author friend also said the others were worth the read I decided to just go ahead and buy the whole lot and started reading the first book, The YEar We Fell Down. The Year We Fell Down is the story of Corey  Callahan and Adam Hartley (called Hartley by friends throughout that you pretty much forget his real name) and takes place over the course of a year at their school, Harkness University (Read: Yale without being Yale). Corey is a Freshman and is starting off school relearning how to walk after a freak Hockey accident several months prior. Hartley is also recovery from a hockey injury but his was the result of male stupidity that leaves him with a broken leg. They are neighbors and are instantly attacted to one another but there are several obstacles in their way. Queue up ALL THE CLICHES!

First there is the biggest hurdle, Hartley has a girlfriend. A long time girlfriend who is pretty and rich and is conviantely away for the semester in France. She is also a royal b*@#& and no one likes her, not even Hartley most of the time, so it often baffled me why he was even with the girl since all he did was point out all the things he disliked about her and the things he did like was that she was pretty and had money. (Head desk. Repeat.) Then there was Corey with her typical heroine hangups of how she’s not pretty enough and the added issue of her handicap which she thinks will prevent her from ever finding love. Especially with Hartley as he is just so handsome and amazing and just perfect in every way. (Head desk. Repeat.) But where Corey bugged me the most was her use of the phrase, hope fairies. It was childish and overdone and I swear my eye started to twitch be the end every time her internal monolgue went there.

For me, The Year We Fell Down, wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t super great either. There were typos and continutiy errors and random name changes throughout the book. There were some unbelievable bits and the fact that it really just barely didn’t cross the cheating line. Any regular reader knows that cheating is a big bookish turn off with me and has killed a book or two for me. There are books where there is mutal attraction but the one who is taken doesn’t actually cross the line but its a very fine line and there have to be other elements in the story that wow me enough to pull my brain away from fixating that character x is not single. The Year We Fell Down didn’t have enough of those elements and so every time Hartley was focusing thoughts on Corey in a romantic way (and vise versa) I kept yelling at the book “He has a girlfriend!!” It was a frustration and totally took away a star from my rating.

The Year We Fell Down wasn’t a train wreck though and I did really enjoy the secondary characters in the novel and I did like the school setting where it took place. While I think that Bowen’s writing needs a little polish and that this story could use another round of editing or two to clean up some things there is enough promise to it all to keep me reading the next books in the series. Plus, I did already buy them all so there is that as well.

 

irishdarkblue

Year We Fell Down Quote
three-stars
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