Source: Purchased

Throwback Thursday: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen

Posted June 20, 2019 by Rowena in Books | 2 Comments

Each week, I’ll be writing a review for an oldie but goodie that I’ve read through again to see if these books are holding up for me. I’m a different person than I was when I read these books, older and wiser (at least I hope) so I’m curious to see if books that I used to love can stand the test of time.

Throwback Thursday: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina BowenThe Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #3
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down
Published by Self-Published, Sarina Bowen on September 29, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 310
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-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.

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.

As you may recall, I read the entire Ivy Years series when Sarina Bowen put them on Kindle Unlimited and I was shook when I read this book because I didn’t remember much of anything that happened. Reading this book again was like reading it for the first time and I really dug that. This book was also the very first m/m romance that I read and come to think of it, the only m/m romances that I have read were probably written by Sarina Bowen. She writes them well.

John Rikker just transferred to Harkness to play hockey with a new team after a bunch of drama at his old school. Turns out that not a lot of teams want to play with a gay hockey player. When he gets to Harkness, he’s expecting the worse but what he’s not expecting is the blast from the past, Michael Graham. Rikker and Graham were best buddies growing up, until an incident occurs and Rikker is sent to the hospital then moved away to live with his grandmother, out of town. It’s been years and years since they’ve seen each other and by the way that Graham is freaking out, Rikker realizes the boy is still so far deep in the closet that he’s not touching those issues when he’s got so much of his own to contend with.

Michael Graham is shook when he sees Rikker walk in. He hasn’t seen Rikker in years but he looks the same though there’s no way he in any way resembles the boy that Graham knew growing up. How could he when Graham isn’t the same guy himself. Seeing Rikker again brings up everything that happened the last time that he saw him and the guilt that Graham has carried since then has all come flooding back and Graham is drowning. Even after Rikker assures him that he didn’t come to Harkness to destroy Graham’s life, Graham worries. There’s no way that they could keep out of each other’s way since they go to the same school and they play on the same hockey team so of course, they grow closer.

Man did my heart hurt for these two. They both struggle with different things and they’re both linked by so much hate thrown their way and I just don’t understand it. I don’t understand why so many people care if a man loves another man or if a woman loves another woman. I grew up in a religious household but it wouldn’t be very Christlike for me to judge anyone or hate anyone or treat anyone differently just because they’re gay. Love is love and other people’s love ain’t none of my business. I don’t understand how Rikker’s parents could love him any less just because he was gay. That’s not Christlike at all. If anything, I judged the hell out of his parents and anyone else that had issues with Rikker’s sexuality. Grrr.

I really loved seeing Rikker and Graham come together in love. Their road is a long one and an emotional one and I loved how strong both of them were in the end, both separately and together. Sarina Bowen once again knocks this story out of the park and it’s one of those lasting stories that will continue to be good every single time that you read it. I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

4.5 out of 5

The Ivy Years Series


four-half-stars

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The Weekly Recap (132)

Posted June 17, 2019 by Rowena in Books | 8 Comments

You guys!! Caiden is coming to California today. He’ll be here later tonight but he’s driving out this afternoon with his parents for more family fun and I cannot wait. We’re having a family week to kick off our summer and to celebrate our last family graduation of the year. We’ve got Leah’s graduation, a trip to Magic Mountain, and another sibling dinner planned and I’m super stoked about all the fun times to start even though it’s only been a week of quiet time since our last week of family fun things.

This week, my nephew RJ had his surgery that I mentioned on the blog a couple of weeks ago. He’s doing well though it’s going to be a long road to recovery for him. His recovery time is at least 12 weeks, non-weight bearing. He’s in good spirits though and we’re glad for him.

I managed to read some books but once again, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine.

Now, onto the books…

What I’m Currently Reading
The Weekly Recap (132)Highland Deception by Meggan Connors
Published by Indie Published, Soul Mate Publishing on March 17, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: 2019 GoodReads Challenge

When Kenneth Mackay, long-banished rogue and thief, returns to the Mackay holding at the request of his brother, he has no idea what he might find. He certainly doesn’t expect to be confronted with his twin’s imminent death, or with the plan his brother has concocted.

Ten years before, Malcolm made a tragic mistake, and, to preserve the family name—and his own skin—he allowed Kenneth to take the fall. Now that he is dying without an heir, Malcolm plans to atone for his mistake: by giving Kenneth his life back. All Kenneth has to do is assume his brother’s identity. But complicating matters is the unexpected return of Lady Isobel Mackay, the daughter of an English marquess... and the wife Malcolm didn’t want.

Isobel barely knows the husband who abandoned her even before their marriage, and she'd long since given up on having a real marriage with him. Yet when she returns to the Mackay holding far earlier than expected, she finds her husband a changed man. Despite the hurt between them, Isobel's heart responds to this man who cares for his entire clan as if they were family. Who, for the first time since their marriage, cares for her as if she is, too.

Falling in love with her husband had never been part of Isobel’s plan. But when their future is suddenly in peril, Isobel must find a way to save him—from himself and from the deception threatening to tear them apart.

I’m trying to finish this book before I leave my office today because it’s book club night and I still haven’t finished our book. This reading slump of 2019 is really kicking my ass. I need to get my shit together. Wish me luck…though I will say that this book is a lot better than the other books I’ve tried reading this past week. Like, A LOT A LOT better.

What I Read

Superfan (Brooklyn Bruisers #6) by Sarina Bowen (eARC) | 4.25 out of 5
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim (eARC) | 2 out of 5
Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfree (eARC) | 2 out of 5

Eye Candy Friday

Heidi Pepper
Overnight Sensation (Brooklyn Bruisers #5) by Sarina Bowen

What I Reviewed

Bridal Boot Camp by Meg Cabot | 3.75 out of 5
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin | 4 out of 5
The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen | 4.75 out of 5
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | 4.25 out of 5

What I Posted

The Weekly Recap (131)
TV Tuesday: For the People
The Wednesday Post (14)
Throwback Thursday: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen
Eye Candy Friday: Eye Candy Friday: Heidi Pepper from Overnight Sensation by Sarina Bowen

What I Got

Work in Progress by Staci Hart
Faking Ms. Right by Claire Kingsley

What I Got for Review

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

What Made Me Laugh

There you have it, my week in review. How was your week?

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Eye Candy Friday: Heidi Pepper from Overnight Sensation by Sarina Bowen

Posted June 14, 2019 by Rowena in Books | 4 Comments

Eye Candy Friday is all about the heroes and heroines that I’m loving and wanting to spotlight right now. Sometimes I’ll do full-on gush fest posts on why I love these guys, sometimes I’ll post pictures of what I think they look like and that’s it but if they’re featured here, the one thing that will be constant is I loved the hell out of them and want everyone to know. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Eye Candy Friday: Heidi Pepper from Overnight Sensation by Sarina BowenOvernight Sensation by Sarina Bowen
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #5
Published by Self-Published, Sarina Bowen on January 22, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 341
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

Everyone knows the girl is off limits. But it's so good to be bad.


There's this girl... Heidi and I have been trading hungry looks all year, and everything she does makes me smile. But I don't do girlfriends, and I certainly can't get involved with the league commissioner's daughter. I need shots on goal, not a hookup and a widely misunderstood paparazzi photo.Can I resist her, though? The way she teases me should be a game penalty for interference with my libido. 


There's this guy...Jason wants me, but he won't admit it. That man looks at me the way a hockey player eyes the lunch buffet after practice--and I love it. But when victory is finally within my grasp, I blow it and humiliate myself. Even then I can't even avoid him--as the team intern, I'm in constant view of his hard body and cocky smile. I need another chance. Jason Castro is about to learn the true meaning of an overnight sensation.

Today’s girl crush is Heidi Pepper from Overnight Sensation by Sarina Bowen. She was the bomb. She made this book for me. She grew up with money and she never went without but that wealth came with a lot of strings and she wasn’t living her truth so when her father starts acting like a real dickhead, trying to bring her to heel, things picked up for me. My rage grew but my admiration for Heidi grew because there was nothing she wouldn’t do, no job too small for her that would break her. She worked her ass off for every single thing that she got and I loved the family that she created for herself with the Bruisers. I just adored her to pieces.

You can read my joint review of Heidi’s book with Holly, here. Spoiler alert: We both loved it. 🙂

Heroine Casting

I think Ashley Benson would bring Heidi’s character to life really well. She’s got the right look and I can totally see her cleaned up and dressed down. She can work an office setting just as well as she can get down and dirty with the maintenance crew. She’s definitely my Heidi Pepper.

Buy the Book

AMAZON || BARNES & NOBLE || GOOGLE BOOKS || THE RIPPED BODICE

Brooklyn Bruisers Series

four-half-stars

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Throwback Thursday: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

Posted June 13, 2019 by Rowena in Books | 2 Comments

Each week, I’ll be writing a review for an oldie but goodie that I’ve read through again to see if these books are holding up for me. I’m a different person than I was when I read these books, older and wiser (at least I hope) so I’m curious to see if books that I used to love can stand the test of time.

Throwback Thursday: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina BowenThe Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #2
Also in this series: The Year We Fell Down
Published by Self-Published, Sarina Bowen on May 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 274
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small. Bridger Macaulley used to be a player both on and off the ice. But now, while his teammates chase the next hockey victory, Bridger worries that the dean will discover he’s housing his eight-year-old sister in his dorm room. Juggling a full course load and a big secret, it’s only a matter of time until the other skate drops.

Scarlet Crowley is the only freshman at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. Her name is as new as the shiny student ID it’s printed on. The only way to survive college will be to conceal her identity, even if it means lying to the green-eyed boy she's falling for.

Bridget and Scarlet 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.

When Sarina Bowen put her Ivy Years series on Kindle Unlimited, I read all of the books while I was at work and each book lived up to the love I had for it when I first read them. This book was no exception.

In this book, we get Bridger and Scarlet’s story. I fell in love with Bridger, Scarlet, and Lucy all over again. Bridger is one of Adam Hartley’s hockey teammates who is struggling with personal and family stuff. His mother leaves a lot to be desired in the parental department and if it was just him, he wouldn’t care but it isn’t just Bridger. His little sister Lucy is left, feeling the brunt of their mother’s life choices. Bridger is trying to handle everything on his own but it starts getting overwhelming and the only thing that brightens his weeks are his interactions with Scarlet.

Scarlet has her own issues that she’s trying to move on from. Her family life leaves a lot to be desired as well and the minute she could, she distanced herself from them because her parent’s life choices bleeding into her life isn’t something she wants any part of. It’s hard to pay for the sins of your parents and Scarlet made the choice to walk away from her past and build a better future for herself. She’s a loner by nature and necessity but the highlight of her weeks have been interactions with Bridger Macauley.

Sarina Bowen writes emotional New Adult romances really well. She’s really good at pulling your heartstrings one minute and then making you laugh like a loon the next. There were times in this book where I didn’t think I’d stop crying because my heart hurt for both Bridger and Scarlet and the hand life dealt them. Seriously, my coworkers were starting to get really worried about me but I couldn’t help it, Bridger just needed some help dammit.

Bowen tackles different situations that give this story a really intense feel but she does a great job of not bogging the entire story down with all of the seriousness of the issues facing both Bridger and Scarlet. This is probably my favorite book in the series and I just love it to pieces. It’s not perfect but it’s a damn good addition to this series and I highly recommend it.

Final Grade

4.75 out of 5

The Ivy Years Series


four-half-stars

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The Wednesday Post (14)

Posted June 12, 2019 by Rowena in Books | 4 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tessa over at Wishful Endings and it was based on Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

I decided that I’m going to do a mashup of the Can’t Wait Wednesday and WWW Wednesday posts here on my blog. I’m bringing them together and calling it The Wednesday Post. Here’s what I’m up to this week.

WWW Wednesday

What did you recently finish reading?

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

This book didn’t live up to the hype that I was giving it in my head before I started. It started off really slow and it felt like it took me far too long to warm up to Natalie and everyone else. It seems like everyone else in the world enjoyed this one a lot more than I did.

What are you currently reading?

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfree

Hmmm…what can I say about this one? I was determined to finish this one last night but that didn’t happen. It was far too easy for me to put this book down because the heroine is on my last damn nerve so I’m really hoping and praying that I finish this one today so that I can move on with my life. I hope Annie gets that giant stick out of her ass because she’s hella extra and ugh. Wish me luck.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Highland Deception by Meggan Connors

I really need a turnaround this week. I’ve read a lot of not for me books so I’m really hoping that either one of these reads is a good one. I think I’m getting too old because I’m not connecting with these young characters, not as much as I used to. Seriously, wish me luck?

Can’t Wait Wednesday
The Wednesday Post (14)The Play by Elle Kennedy
Series: Briar U #3
Also in this series: The Chase
Published by Self-Published, Elle Kennedy on October 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads

Coming this fall, a brand-new standalone in the New York Times bestselling Briar U series!

She’s the player he never saw coming…

I’m super interested in reading this book. I’ve been reading about these characters since they first appeared in the Off Campus and Briar U series and I’m looking forward to see what Kennedy brings with this one. Hunter annoyed me some in The Chase but I’m curious about him and I’m so here for seeing him grow into his own so yes, please hurry up and release this book so that I can devour it in one sitting.

Elle Kennedy writes fantastic college romances and I have adored each and every single NA book that she’s written in one way or another so I’m anxiously waiting for this one. Elle Kennedy released who Hunter’s heroine is and…I don’t remember meeting her so is she a new character?

This book comes out on October 7th and I’ll be sitting here, anxiously waiting…probably looking like this:

Mark your calendars, lovely readers!

So, what are you reading this week? Anything good? Anything that you want to rant about?
Are you looking forward to The Play? What other books are you looking forward to releasing this year?

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