Author: Julie Cross

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ARC Review: Off the Ice

March 6, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: Off the IceOff the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1) by Julie Cross
Published by Entangled: Teen on February 28th 2017
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, You Before Anyone Else
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three-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

All is fair in love and hockey…
Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.
Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.
It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.
For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

I’ve been a fan of Julie Cross since I read Whatever Life Throws at You over a year ago. This is my fourth book that I’ve read of hers so far, and I do plan on reading more from her in the future. However, this one was far from being my favorite. I was hoping since it’s about sports, that would make it automatically amazing, but it unfortunately didn’t for me. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, but it didn’t completely capture my attention because of the somewhat slow pacing and all of the drama. Hopefully some of the other books in this series will be more of my thing.

So Tate is one of our main characters. He is a junior hockey player who is the backup goalie, but winds up starting when the starting goalie quits the team. He’s dealing with A LOT of personal stuff in his life outside of the ice. I felt like his voice was pretty strong for the most part. I wasn’t a major fan of it at times, partially because I didn’t really relate to him and also because I found it somewhat boring. Tate was a character who I did sympathize with, but felt like some of the subject matter was a little too overwhelming at times. It felt like Cross was maybe trying to do too much, and it didn’t totally pay off for me. He wasn’t bad, but not my favorite and didn’t leave a huge impression on me as a whole.

Our other main character is Claire, who I liked but also didn’t love. She was yet another character who didn’t leave a lasting impression on me as a whole. It makes me sad to admit it, but I also found her to be boring at times. I liked that she was into singing and musicals, since that’s something that I also really enjoy. I wanted to see a lot more of that! Like Tate, I realize that she had quite a bit going on in her personal life, but I wanted to see more of her history in musicals and just her singing career as a whole. It might have captured my attention a bit more if the focus was less on her working at the restaurant and more on the signing part.

Claire and Tate were a rather solid couple all around. They weren’t as great as the awesome couple from Whatever Life Throws at You, but they were alright for the most part. I liked that Tate had a crush on Claire for such a long time now, and it was lovely to see that develop into something more this time around. It was a sweet relationship, though some of the petty drama that went down between them was a little off-putting at times. I also enjoyed that it was steamy. One of the things about Julie Cross’s books is that she never shies away from writing sex in YA, which I think is something realistic and nice to include.

Off the Ice was a nice start to Julie Cross’s brand new series. I was hoping that I’d love the hockey part of it, but sadly felt like it drug on at times. I do like that she included details, but found myself getting bored at some of it. I did really like the characters and enjoyed that the story went in different directions and wasn’t your typical stereotypical YA romance. However, the pacing wasn’t my favorite and I wish it would have sped up at times. I’m hoping that this series improves, and I do plan on reading the next book.

three-stars

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ARC Review: You Before Anyone Else

August 16, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: You Before Anyone ElseYou Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross, Mark Perini
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Off the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1)
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three-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her "good girl" persona, so she'll try Eddie on for size.
New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.
Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

This was a pretty cute contemporary read that I was able to read in just one sitting. Though not my favorite, I still enjoyed this book for the most part. I feel like the characters and the general plot wasn’t all that unique, but it was still a fun read. My standards were ridiculously high going in since I’ve absolutely adored Julie Cross’s books Whatever Life Throws at You and Third Degree. You Before Anyone Else doesn’t quite beat either of those works, but that’s probably not the most fair comparison anyway. I recommend this one if you’re looking for a YA book that is extremely fast paced and a pretty solid romance as well.

Honestly, I’m not completely sure how I feel about the plot. I think that more YA books should certainly explore the modeling and fashion industry. However, it seemed like too much was happening in the plot so there wasn’t much time to really go into more details about the industry and how it can personally affect those involved in different ways. I will admit that I didn’t guess the big secret that Eddie was keeping from Finley. I thought that the authors were mostly able to handle the twist in a well done fashion. Anyway, I’m glad that things like fashion shoots were explored in this story, I honestly haven’t read many (if any really) YA books that do.

Finley wasn’t a bad character or anything, but she wasn’t overly memorable either. I really did sympathize with her over the loss of her mother, and also having issues with dancing again. I had a lot of respect for her due to how she had to immediately grow up and help her father raise her little twin brothers. That being said, she was an extremely mature character and I totally enjoyed that about her. I also respected her for being able to communicate with Eddie when she discovers his secret, most girls would have likely ran in the other direction when they find something like that out. I wouldn’t say she’s my favorite female character, but she’s still a character that I was able to somewhat identify with and have a lot of respect for too.

Eddie was a fairly solid character too, though I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite either. He didn’t really have that many specific swoony moments throughout the book, but he still had a great personality and it was obvious how much he cared for Finley from fairly early on. I thought it made the book even better to also include Eddie’s POV in the story. Sometimes I feel like switching back and forth between the two main characters isn’t always necessary to the plot, but in this case, it made an important impact since we were able to have more insight into what his secret might have been. Though in the end, that didn’t really help me all that much and I wasn’t able to guess the secret, but the POV worked nonetheless. I liked Eddie a lot, and I felt like he also was rather mature for his age, and I respected some of the grownup decisions that he made throughout the story.

Finley and Eddie’s romance itself wasn’t all that unique, but I still liked it, just didn’t completely love it. I wasn’t a fan of the total insta-love between them. On top of that, it seemed like the romance moved at a rather fast pace. In the end though, I did cheer for them as a couple and wanted them to receive a happy ending. My favorite scenes that showcased them as a couple were the ones when Eddie hangs out with Finley and her little brothers and also her dad. Her little brothers were the best and I loved how Eddie naturally interacted with them. So I’ve read that You Before Anyone Else is kind of a crossover between YA/NA, but I consider it mostly YA due to the fade to black sex scenes. I know that not all NA books have a ton of sex, but this one had sex scenes, they just weren’t descriptive. All in all, I found myself rather invested in the romance here.

While I wouldn’t say that this book was a huge standout for me, I still found it extremely interesting from the very first page. Finley and Eddie were pretty realistic and intriguing characters in my opinion. Additionally, I found the supporting characters hilarious and endearing too! I was expecting to truly love this book since Julie Cross is such an incredible author from what I’ve read so far, but unfortunately it was lacking some of the unique elements that the others contained. I do think you should read this since it’s a sweet and fascinating story that you could easily read in just one day!

three-stars

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Third Degree Review

July 23, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Third Degree ReviewThird Degree by Julie Cross
Published by Flirt on March 25th 2014
Pages: 240
Source: Library
Also by this author: Whatever Life Throws at You, You Before Anyone Else, Off the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1)
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four-stars
three-flames
I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.
But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.

Unfortunately, New Adult books often receive a bad reputation. This comes from some books in the genre focusing more on sex than college, jobs, and friendship. Third Degree is one of those books that has pretty much everything that I want in an NA story. Not to mention the fact that the plot is fairly unique, it also focuses on the medical field as well. Don’t worry though, the medical jargon isn’t too much, Julie Cross includes just enough to get her point across, but not enough to put you to sleep. I’m sad that I waited this long to read Third Degree, but I’m really glad that I finally did. Though it’s been out for over two years now, I don’t think it has as many reviews as it should. That being said, I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a unique and well written NA romance.

In the beginning, Izzy is a little difficult to relate to. In the early pages, we see her at the hospital, discovering a diagnosis that her colleague was clearly missing out on. It also becomes obvious that Isabel lacks some serious social skills when it comes to communicating with her patients and other people. So yeah, the beginning is a bit on the boring side, but it sets the tone for what comes next for her. When she decides to attend college when she isn’t selected to become a resident at any hospital, she has a rather shaky start. In the end though, the audience starts to relate and understand her more. My heart particularly broke for her rough start in foster homes, but she was lucky to be adopted by a loving family. With the help of Marshall, she starts to find a way to interact in a healthy way with other people. The point is, while she’s not my favorite protagonist, she had a unique personality that managed to standout.

Dude, Marshall is a fabulous love interest. He was totally swoony, and a wonderful guy in general. He’s Izzy’s RA, and he immediately begins helping her out with her social skills. From the start, he’s able to understand Izzy in a way that no one else has ever been able to do. Marsh is so memorable, and you can’t help but love him. I can’t exactly explain what it is about him, he’s just impossible to dislike. He’s clever, funny, smart, witty, and I already mentioned that he was charming. Marsh actually has a secret that will likely surprise you, but it was definitely something that I’ve never read about before. Is he all that different from other NA love interests? Looking back on it now, he doesn’t seem to be, but Julie Cross writes him in such a way that makes him rather irresistible.

The relationship between Marsh and Izzy is pretty great. The best part about it is the way it slowly builds. They start out being just friends as Marsh teaches her more about college life and getting along with her roommate. However, the attraction between them becomes more and more apparent and they eventually give into it. As a whole, it’s not an overly steamy book. I’ve never had a problem with sex in books, but I think Cross does an amazing job at making the actual relationship part the foundation and not their sex life. That being said, there is one ridiculously hot scene that you’ll certainly remember long after reading it. All I’ll say about it is that you’ll think of studying anatomy using real people in a completely different way after reading.

If you can’t already tell, I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. I was planning on reading another book before this one, but I couldn’t put this one down after I started it. It’s pretty light on the drama for the most part. As I said, it contains literally every element that I believe that a solid NA book that is set at a college should have. I loved her YA book, Whatever Life Throws at You, and this slightly more mature book managed to impress me as well. If you want a unique NA story and don’t mind some medical jargon, check out Third Degree.

four-stars

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Mini Reviews: YA Sports Edition

December 5, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Mini Reviews: YA Sports EditionPlay On (Lewis Creek, #1) by Michelle Smith
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on April 21st 2015
Pages: 258
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Game On (Lewis Creek, #2)
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four-stars
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything.
Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.
Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek—he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.
As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

In this edition of mini reviews, I’m going to talk about two books: Play On and Whatever Life Throws at You. Both of these books centered around baseball and I loved them! Anyway, I hope you enjoy my brief reviews about these two special books that are both filled with memorable characters and romance.

First up is Play On, which focuses on Austin Braxton, a high school pitcher in South Carolina who has already earned a top scholarship to play baseball at college the following year. However, his grades are failing and pretty soon, his scholarship and his senior year baseball career in general is at risk. He meets Marisa Marlowe, a new girl in town who is working at Austin’s moms flower shop. She offers to help him with chemistry and the two gradually get closer. The first thing I want to say is that I loved Austin’s character. He is the narrator of the book, and I loved being inside his head. He’s an intelligent guy who falls for Marisa extremely fast. I loved that he wasn’t portrayed as a big player despite the fact that his small town considered him to be their own personal celebrity. Marisa takes awhile to warm up to since we don’t get to see things from her point of view, but I felt like her secret struggle was handled really well.

So to sum it up, I enjoyed this book because it was easy to read. It had two incredibly relatable main characters and also well rounded supporting characters, like Austin’s best friends from the baseball team. The story definitely had some dark moments with what Marisa had to go through, but I felt like Austin handled it and truly helped Marisa as much as anyone could. This was a complicated story at times, but it never felt too heavy to me.

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Mini Reviews: YA Sports EditionWhatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross
Published by Entangled: Teen on October 7th 2014
Pages: 373
Also by this author: Third Degree, You Before Anyone Else, Off the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1)
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Goodreads
five-stars
Life loves a good curveball…
Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.
But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.
But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

Wow, Whatever Life Throws at You is SO good. I’d been meaning to read it for a long time now because I’d heard a lot of positive things about it, but I simply didn’t have much time or money. I finally broke down and bought the ebook and I’m beyond glad that I did. From the start, I was hooked in completely. I didn’t read this one in just one sitting because I wanted to take it all in and absorb it. It’s just one of those stories where you’re so sucked in that you don’t want it to end. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made it great because there’s various memorable parts to the story as a whole. Let’s leave it at this: Whatever Life Throws at You is one of the most mesmerizing and compelling books that I’ve read all year.

I’ll lead with this: Jason Brody is the man. He’s a lot more of a manwhore than Austin in Play On, who seemed to be more of a commitment guy from the start. But then again, Jason isn’t in high school, he’s a nineteen-year-old rookie for the Kansas City Royals. Once he starts becoming close friends with Annie, he focuses less on hook ups and more on what he has with her. I think my favorite part of the story was the development of being just friends to more. This has always been one of my favorite tropes, but it worked way better than I expected to in this situation. Annie was also a great protagonist, and I loved getting to see her character grow. I also loved the relationships that she had with her father and her grandmother. Her father was such an amazing guy, I’d have to say that he’s definitely become one of my favorites in YA to date. This was a fast paced novel that was never boring and I loved all the baseball terminology that was eloquently placed. Additionally, I liked the use of track because Annie is a runner, which also becomes a big bonding point between Annie and Jason. To summarize, it’s a novel that obviously utilizes sports in a natural way. It’s definitely the best YA sports book that I’ve read and Play On isn’t too far behind it.

four-stars

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