Tag: 4.5 Reviews

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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Review: Dumplin’

Posted December 13, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Dumplin’ (2018)
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Danielle Macdonald, Odeya Rush, Luke Benward
Director: Anne Fletcher
Release Date: 7 December 2018
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Movie Type: Comedy, Drama, Musical

Willowdean (‘Dumplin’), the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, signs up for her mom’s Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.

I’ll be honest, I went into this movie a little hesitant because the last big girl movie that I tried watching, the big girl pissed me off. I didn’t want another Sierra Burgess is a Loser so I crossed my fingers and hoped Jennifer Aniston wasn’t going to let me down. I’m super happy to report that this movie, Dumplin’ was exactly what I hoped Sierra was going to be and I adored watching it. I didn’t read the book so I can’t compare them but I really enjoyed the movie. I thought the actors portrayed their characters well, the acting itself was great and the story was solid.

So this movie follows our main character, Willowdean Dickson. Will works at a diner, has the bestest best friend and a mother who is a former beauty queen who is still very active in the beauty pageant world in their small Texas town. She also has a giant crush on her coworker and friend, Bo. Will has a bright personality and her love for all things Dolly Parton was delightful.

The movie revolves around her Aunt dying and Will trying to move on while finding some common ground with her beauty queen mother. They are as different as night and day. Will is bigger than her size 0 mother and not at all into the things that her mother is into so they don’t have a lot in common and that gets in the way of them having a close relationship with each other. Will’s Mom won’t talk about Will’s Aunt Lucy and Will desperately wants to connect with her Mom over their shared love of Lucy but she never gets the chance because her Mom is so unwilling.

Will gets made fun at school because her Mom continues to call her Dumplin’ so when she’s at her lowest, she comes across an unsubmitted beauty pageant application of her Aunt’s and she decides that she’s going to sign up for the beauty pageant herself. She’s going to finish what her Aunt Lucy couldn’t.

Aunt Lucy and Will were close. Aunt Lucy understood Will in a way that Will didn’t think her mother did and Lucy raised Will to be kind and to be happy. She introduced Will to Dolly Parton and introduced Will to Elle. Will and Elle became the best of friends and I really loved the strong friendships we see in this movie. From Will and Elle to Will and her weirdos Millie and Hannah, Will’s friendship game is strong.

I loved seeing Will come into her own. I loved seeing her gain the confidence to be happy with herself and letting others around her be happy with her as well. I adored the tiny romance between her and Bo and though Bo was fantastic and adorable, he wasn’t in the movie long enough to take over my adoration for Peter Kavinsky. The movie was more about Willowdean and the romance was such a small part of that but when she gains the confidence to return Bo’s crush, I cheered because I was super happy for her.

This movie was all that and a bag of chips for me. I adored the girl that played Will, I loved seeing her bond with her Mom and I loved that her Mom wasn’t the villain. I loved that the Mom really did love Will and was so proud of her, but didn’t know how to connect with her. I loved that they got it right in the end and this movie was just the bomb. Lots of fun scenes mixed in with sweet scenes, this movie isn’t to be missed.

Movie Trailer

My Rating

4.5 out of 5


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Buddy Review: Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

Posted November 15, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 10 Comments

Buddy Review: Wait for It by Mariana ZapataWait for It by Mariana Zapata
Published by Mariana Zapata on December 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Point of View: First Person
Pages: 670
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
four-half-stars

If anyone ever said being an adult was easy, they hadn't been one long enough. Diana Casillas can admit it: she doesn't know what the hell she's doing half the time. How she's made it through the last two years of her life without killing anyone is nothing short of a miracle. Being a grown-up wasn't supposed to be so hard. With a new house, two little boys she inherited the most painful possible way, a giant dog, a job she usually loves, more than enough family, and friends, she has almost everything she could ever ask for. Except for a boyfriend. Or a husband. But who needs either one of those?

Wait for It is a follow-up novel to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and Kulti. It follows Vanessa’s best friend, Diana, as Diana finds her soulmate and falls head over heels in love with him. Things aren’t easy for Diana because when she meets and even when she falls in love with Dallas, there are complications. Complications of the “he’s married” kind. But a friendship blossoms between Dallas and Diana when Diana moves in across the street from Dallas with her two nephews, that are for all intents and purposes, her kids.

She’s much too busy to entertain the idea of her and Dallas but Dallas is hot and he’s always around offering his help so it was inevitable. Dallas is a lot older than Diana and doesn’t have time for another relationship with a woman who takes and takes and takes. He’s busy trying to untangle himself from a marriage that shouldn’t have happened in the first place but he can’t seem to stop wanting to be there for Diana, Josh, and Lou. Before either of them know what’s what, love happens.

Rowena: Wait for It was another hit for me so THANK YOU for suggesting we read this one for this month’s buddy review. I liked this book so much that I read it all in one sitting. ONE SITTING. There are 670 pages of story in this book and I read them all in one night.

So, what did you think of this one?

Ames: I am so glad you enjoyed this one! As you know, I love this book and it is right up there with Kulti as one of my favorite books ever. LIke I re-read this book almost as much as I have Kulti. Diana and Dallas are quite the pair. But they definitely get off to a rocky start, what with Dallas being wary of her and thinking she wants him so he acts like a jerk. I love that Diana had to keep telling him she didn’t want in his pants. LOL

I know when you saw the page count you were a bit hesitant to start this, but didn’t it pay off? I love the way Mariana Zapata writes relationships. Sometimes with current contemporary romances characters are so quick to jump into a relationship. I like the slow burn MZ creates. She builds up a solid foundation for her characters. And she invites us into their lives. Not just the relationship. Like we get to see Diana and Dallas’ friends, the neighbors, their families. How Josh plays baseball and Diana’s interactions with the other players’ parents. I like that.

Rowena: Yes, that was probably my favorite part of the reading experience as a whole. That we were invited into every aspect of their lives and not just their romance. I loved that we got the day to day stuff, the good and the bad, and were able to rejoice in the good times and hurt along with them in the bad times. Mariana Zapata is really good at pulling emotional strings for the reader to latch on to and ride out throughout the entire book.

I loved that we see both Dallas and Diana meet, get to know each other and then fall in love with each other. I loved that they both acknowledged the complicated mess that a relationship between them would be with Dallas’ situation and yes, like you, I LOVED that Diana was forever reminding Dallas that she didn’t want in his pants.

This was just a great contemporary romance that I adored from beginning to end and honestly, didn’t want to end. I thought Zapata wrote this story exactly right and I was here for it all.

This definitely gets a 4.5 out of 5 for me. What about you?

Ames: Another thing I liked were the boys! Its such a heartbreaking topic Zapata handles with these two little guys and I thought she was very realistic in the way she wrote their story and how Diana stepped up for them. I loved them! The way Lou was with Dallas just made me love the story even more. And how loyal Josh and Diana were. Dallas was right when he called them savages. LOL

I agree with your grade. 4.5 out of 5 from me. I highly recommend. And now I need to find me a Dallas!

Final Grade

Ames: 4.5 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

Other Books Set in this World

four-half-stars


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