Tag: The Ivy Years Series

Throwback Thursday: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen

Posted June 20, 2019 by Rowena in Books | 1 Comment

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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Throwback Thursday: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

Posted June 13, 2019 by Rowena in Books | 1 Comment

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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Throwback Thursday: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

Posted April 18, 2019 by Rowena in Books, Features, Reviews | 8 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 Fell Down by Sarina BowenThe Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #1
Published by Indie Published, Rennie Road Books on March 21, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 268
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars
Reading Challenges: 2019 GoodReads Challenge

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He's way out of Corey's league.

Also, he's taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the "gimp ghetto" of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They're just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she's falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won't, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness—one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who's afraid to love her back.

When Sarina Bowen put these books on Kindle Unlimited, I had no plans to re-read them but I kept seeing this series mentioned everywhere so when I left my kindle at home one day, I downloaded these books onto my Kindle Library and read them on my computer at work. I have no regrets either because I absolutely adored my re-read of this series. Sarina Bowen tackles such heavy themes in each of these books and just like the last time I read these books, I loved them.

It had been such a long time since I read this book and with each reading, my love for both Adam Hartley and Corey Callahan grows and grows. Sarina Bowen does such a good job of writing young love and she handles the immaturity and growth between her New Adult characters so well. I hang on every word, every single time and it was no different this go around.

Corey Callahan starts her freshman year in college in a wheelchair. A really bad accident cut her playing days short and she’s got to work really hard to get back on her feet again. All of her plans for college are out and she’s trying to make the most of it but it’s hard and when she meets Adam Hartley, who is injured himself and living in the dorm across the hall, things get a lot harder for her because of course she develops a crush on him and of course he’s already got a girlfriend.

Adam Hartley is on the injured list and can’t play hockey until he’s all healed up. He’s on crutches and getting around is hard so he’s parked in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall and he strikes up a friendship with his wheelchair-bound neighbor, Callahan. There’s a lot of things he can’t do these days so spending time with Corey keeps his spirits high. The more time that they spend together, the closer they get and before Hartley knows what’s what, he’s got a decision to make. Stay with his girlfriend or lose out on Callahan.

There’s a lot going on in this book. Both Corey and Hartley are working through their own personal issues so this book was heavy on character development, which I’m always down for. On top of them trying to figure out how to maneuver around campus and just get around town, they’re also falling for each other. Callahan falls first and she’s rocking that unrequited crush pretty hard for a long time. So long, in fact, that I wanted to strangle Hartley for taking so long to make up his damn mind. I still thought that he took entirely too long to break up with his girlfriend but in the end, I still loved the hell out of him. I loved the hell out of both of these characters and was super thrilled that they finally got their happy ending in the end.

Sarina Bowen writes college romances so well and I think I’ll be reading these books over and over again because I love them that much. They’re not perfect but they’re still pretty freaking awesome. If you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend them.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

The Ivy Years Series


four-stars


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