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BOOK REVIEW: Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross

BOOK REVIEW: Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie CrossOff the Ice (Juniper Falls #1)
by Julie Cross
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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 But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie.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.

Review:

Off the Ice was my first book from Julie Cross and I was completely enraptured.  I loved how it was sweet and adorable, while also being deep and emotional.  It was the best of both worlds.  So if you’re a fan of young adult, or sports romances, then definitely check this one out.  I’m so glad I did!

All the threads of my life, my future, have changed or been pulled away from me, but this… This bridge between Tate and me somehow emerged in the midst of everything falling apart.

I knew that I was going to like this book, just from the prologue.  We got taken back in time, right before Claire O’Connor left for college.  We watched Claire hang out with her friend Jody at a party. And even Jody’s younger brother, Tate Tanley, was there.  It was such a normal, relatable scene and I loved how comfortable they all were with each other. You could tell they had been friends since they were kids.  But what felt like a cute YA romance, quickly took a turn into something so much more.  Watching Tate deal with his drunken dad pulled on my heart.  And that one night ended up connecting Claire and Tate in a way neither one of them saw coming.  After that we jumped ahead one year, and I was shocked by how much their lives had changed.

I used to think all of this wasn’t real and Juniper Falls was just my life before it got real. Now everything I wanted before, it’s all just unicorns. Shiny, gratuitous unicorns. – Claire

I absolutely adored Claire.  While she had been deemed as different than her classmates, she was always sweet and endearing in my eyes.  Plus she had this innocence to her that made me want to protect her from the world. Especially when her father got cancer.  Claire ended up pausing her college career and coming back home. She wanted to help take care of her family and their business.  Watching Claire with her dad broke my heart. Cancer is such a horrific disease and it was portrayed in such an accurate manner.  We saw how it affected  Claire and her whole family.  Nothing was glossed over and it was extremely emotional.

“I hate him. I hate him so much it makes me hate myself.” He whispers the words with his eyes still closed, like it’s wrong for him to say them but yet he needs to.

While Claire’s world changed, Tate’s did too in an entirely different way.  Tate ended up becoming the school’s starting hockey goalie a year earlier than he planned.  But it felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. I never realized how intense hockey games were and I caught myself holding my breath.  But Tate’s life wasn’t just about winning and losing games. His dad was always in the background. While his dad was seen as the town’s hockey hero, to Tate he was a mean and manipulative drunk.  My heart hurt for Tate. Tate was one of the good guys who deserved his HEA!  He was sexy, took control and I loved how he easily made others feel safe, loved and secure.  Sigh.

I don’t know why I thought this would be hard. It’s not. But it’s not easy, either.
It’s…
inevitable.
How long have we been walking toward this very moment without knowing? Years, I bet.

While they were both drowning in their own worlds, Tate and Claire kept running into each other.  And while they had a familiar friendship that spanned years, there was also something else there. Butterflies, flirting, stolen looks and touches kept happening.  And we watched as they found solace in each other.  They had no problem talking about the hardships in their lives and being honest with each other.  They had a true and beautiful friendship. But they were friends and he was her friend’s younger brother.  Nothing should happen between them. Right?

Something twists inside my chest. My own heart is breaking. No, it’s gluing back together. It’s doing both. I don’t know…
I just know that I got my wish. I got the kiss I’ve been dreaming about for years.

As we alternated between Claire and Tate and I found myself with tears in my eyes.  For Claire’s heartfelt and also gut wrenching moments with her dad. To Tate and Claire being completely honest with each other.  This book was extremely emotional. But there was also sweet moments like watching Tate’s relationship with his stepfather unfold.  Plus I loved when Tate spent time with his friends, Leo and Jamie. I could easily read a book about each of them! So yes, I definitely recommend this book!  It was filled with life lessons of going after what you want, forming relationships and having faith in yourself.  I absolutely adored Off the Ice and I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the next book in this series!

BOOK REVIEW – Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross and Mark Perini

BOOK REVIEW – Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross and Mark PeriniHalfway Perfect by Julie Cross, Mark Perini
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry.

Eve's time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she's determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex.

While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana.

But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won't let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him?

What Julie Cross and Mark Perini offer us is a gritty and wide-eyes worthy incursion into the modeling world, and for that fact alone, Halfway Perfect is worth reading in my opinion.

Truth be told, I never thought that the modeling world was that great. Guess what? It seems that I was right. A book about what hides behind glitter and glamour written in collaboration with a former model? I’ll take that. Of course I googled the guy – because hey, if I struggle to remember the names of actors from movies I watch, you can guess that I don’t know the names of models. The only ones I see are from perfume ads (what the deal with swimming-pools anyway?) Yeah, I’m such a snob. Just sue me already.

The truth is, this book made me rage. I was furious to see how models had to comply with the requirements of … Of what, exactly, tell me? Of what is considered as hot? Since when a fourteen years-old teenager too skinny and without breast is considered as a sex-symbol? Said WHO? What is wrong with our society? Seriously, what is wrong with us? To me this book brings a good kind of rage. A kind of rage which makes us think about what standards our society runs and above that, about everything we don’t want to see because “that’s not our problem”. ← The favorite sentence of humans, if any.

However, we don’t see only the darkest sides of the modeling world, but also the good parts, and it was refreshing because it sounded real.

Frankly, it was difficult to connect with the characters at first, yet I slowly grew attached to them. Take Alex, for example. I’m pretty sure that I followed Eve’s evolution in my opinion of him. Indeed there is no-insta-love here but characters who try to know each other’s and who don’t fall in love quickly. So, as Eve, I changed my mind about Alex. From judgmental toward him to interested to … Well, the moment when I found him downright adorable and sexy, Eve shared for sure my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, he’s flawed. Oh, yes, he is, and I couldn’t fathom how he could believe this piece of shit of an agent he has and not completely disregard what tabloids say about Eve. But you know what? I’m okay with that, because it’s realistic to me : real people don’t always believe the truth and need time to gather their thoughts. Real people are frustrating and need time to evolve. So did Alex and Eve.

Moreover, I’m not gonna lie, I was waiting for Eve to fucking realize that her relationship with Wes (her former agent) wasn’t healthy at the time and in that particular case I found that Julie Cross did a good job at picturing how we can be blind when it comes to our relationships sometimes. The fact is, Eve was 14-16 at the time and NO, she didn’t realize that Wes was taking advantage of her and acting like a huge controlling and violent asshole – and years after, at 18, she still has this false opinion about what was wrong in their relationship. In my opinion it was realistic because unfortunately I do believe that the end of a messed-up relationship doesn’t stop the crap right away if nothing is resolved and if nobody talks about it. Don’t get me wrong, I was APPALED to see how she still isn’t able to figure out how jerk and creepy he is/was, but even if I wanted to shake her, I could understand why she acted and thought that way, because nobody never supported her, nobody never told her that Wes’s behavior wasn’t acceptable but downright CREEPY and pedophile. I want him to die in a slow death. But it didn’t prevent me from being angry, so angry at her, because while I could understand her reluctance to tell her story, the fact that the young Elena could fall into Wes’s trap was so infuriating that I couldn’t help but feel mad anyway, even if WES was the only one to blame for sure. What a bunch of contradictory feelings, right?

And then, when shit goes down for Eve, IT WAS SO FRUSTRATING. I cried out of RAGE because it was so unfair. I felt the walls closing around her as it was me and felt claustrophobic. Even though I’m not sure if the way everything is resolved in the end is believable, at this point, I don’t fucking care, because I’d have taken ANY way to stop Wes and to make him pay for his actions.

Or, more accurately, about how French people are pictured. Yes, sexual majority is settled at 15 in France, that’s true. Now, there is a difference between what’s legal and what’s considered as acceptable. Would Wes have been in trouble for sleeping with Eve when she was 15? Actually, yes, because he had authority over her, being her agent, and in that case the sexual majority is settled at 18. In Elena’s case, that’s a little different, that’s true, but frankly, even if it’s legal, I don’t know anybody who would think that it’s okay for a powerful guy of 27 to date a 15 years-old teenager. We’re different from our laws, guys, and I’m sick of hearing people judge French as if reading our laws was enough to know how we think. Same thing about the legal age to drink : I had already a problem with that fact in Anna and the French Kiss actually. In France, it’s FORBIDDEN to buy alcohol in a club or a bar (or in a shop, for that matter) under 18, okay? So, yeah, we can drink in family or in a party if somebody else (understand older) buys alcohol, that’s true. Of course NOBODY does that in the US, RIGHT? Let’s be a little frank one second here. Finally, I don’t understand what’s the deal with the topless thing. Twice characters said that as Elena was French, she would be okay to pose topless, because “she’s probably walked around topless since birth”, being French and all.

YOU DON’T SAY?! Yeah, right. Just come to France, guys, we’re all wandering around topless waiting for you to stare. Oh, wait – that’s wrong. We’re not. Come back in your plane. Perhaps you think that I’m overreacting, and maybe you’re right. What can I say? I’m sick of reading about French pictured as reckless parents who let their kids walking around almost naked and drinking wine, because 1)that’s wrong, and 2)that’s fucking hypocrite in my opinion.

To sum up, I ended liking this book despite its flaws, and yes, I recommend it. Just know that it’s not free of stereotypes and that the characters can be downright annoying at times.

BOOK REVIEW : Third Degree by Julie Cross

BOOK REVIEW : Third Degree by Julie CrossThird Degree by Julie Cross
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

Don’t you hate when you think you found a book you might love and you end being disappointed?

I’m not going to lie : I loathe that – It makes me feel like I’m cheap somehow, you know? I don’t even know how to talk about this book because I can’t help but get the impression I read two books. Indeed what I can say about the first half wouldn’t be accurate for the second part and vice versa. Whatever. I’ll do what I can.

The beginning was great. Unexpectedly excellent. Isabel Izzie‘s voice was oddly refreshing, as she doesn’t know how to interact with people and always prevents herself from being personally involved with what others might feel. In other words, she overanalyzes everything she hears and always manages to counteract other expectations – others being her coworkers at the hospital (yes, because she’s kind of a genius, did I say that?), her family, her one night stands… Well. Everyone. Now that I think about it, she could totally be part of Doctor House‘s Team. First because she has a gift for finding diseases diagnostics and then because well… You know that cold chick who always gives medical related answers? That’s her. After she failed at a psychological test, she ends in college in order to “try to blend and experience a twenty-something life”.

@IsabelJenkinsMD: If you woke up this morning with a sore throat, it’s not because you slept with wet hair. #StupidMyths #IgnoreGrandma

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