Icing on the Lake Book Review

icing on the lake

A winter romance with cute hockey players? Sounds like icing on the… lake!

Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark follows Kirsten who spending a month with her recently divorced sister as she rebuilds her life. Kirsten quickly meets a group of hockey boys and instantly sets her sights on Sean, the star player, as a potential date to her friends’ Groundhog’s Day weekend trip. However, Sean’s frustrating brother, Conor keeps getting in the way.

On my blog, I ranked my favorite books from a specific imprint of Harper Teen (see my blog post here). If I added Icing on the Lake to the list, it would fall somewhere in the middle. While Icing on the Lake was cute and fun, it didn’t have the same spark as some of the others books by Catherine Clark that I have read.

One of my favorite parts of this book was Kirsten’s relationship with her sister. Since the books in this imprint are known to be fluffy and fun, most just focus on the book’s romantic relationships. Kirsten and her sister had their misunderstandings and squabbles, but I loved seeing how much they supported each other at the end of the novel.

My biggest complaint about Icing on the Lake would be the relationship takes too long to develop. For most of the book, Kirsten has her eyes on Sean. By the time she figures out she likes Conor more, it’s pretty much the end of the book. While Kirsten and Conor do have their moments, they spend the majority of the book disliking each other. When they finally get together, it seems like the book abruptly ends. While their relationship wasn’t terrible, I wish I could have seen more cute moments between Kirsten and Conor.

Overall, Icing on the Lake is a cute read that is perfect for winter. However, it needed something a little extra to stand out from the crowd. I give Icing on the Lake three out of five stars.

 

The Fill-In Boyfriend Review

the fill in boyfriend

I fill in five stars for The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West.

The Fill-In Boyfriend focuses on Gia Montgomery, a popular girl whose boyfriend dumps her in the parking lot before prom. To not disappoint her friends, Gia finds a boy to pose as her ex-boyfriend, Bradley. To return the favor, Gia poses as fake Bradley’s girlfriend at his exes graduation party. Soon, Gia’s lies start to catch up with her and threaten to ruin her perfect life.

I’ve read one Kasie West book in the past, The Distance Between Us, and enjoyed it. Then, I saw The Fill-In Boyfriend as a Kindle deal and quickly purchased it. After reading a few negatives reviews about not liking the main character or story line, I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much as The Distance Between Us. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised and liked this book even more than The Distance Between Us!

I think one of the main reasons people dislike this book is the main character, Gia. When readers first meet Gia, she is incredibly shallow and willing to lie in order to protect her reputation. However, as the book goes on, Gia really tries to be a better person. Obviously, Gia struggles with maintaining her image and doing what is right, so she doesn’t always do the right thing. However, I loved seeing her change throughout the book and think she becomes a more likable character at the end of the novel.

I also really enjoyed the side characters in this book. Gia’s “friends” are very similar to people that I remember in high school. I liked how Bec, a girl strikingly different than Gia’s usual crowd, helped Gia overlook stereotypes but also learned to overlook them herself. I also really appreciated how the author portrayed Gia’s family and how it influenced the person she became. Gia’s parents are very emotionally unavailable and are complete perfectionists. I think many people could relate Gia’s family dynamics.

As for the romance, I think Gia and Hayden were a cute couple and I enjoyed reading more about their relationship more than Caymen and Xander in The Distance Between Us. I liked how even though they were very different people, they both experienced similar situations that they bonded over. Gia and Hayden had a lot of cute couple experiences and phrases which will help them remember me in a sea of YA contemporary romances.

The Fill-In Boyfriend was a cute book that I breezed through in one sitting. After reading this book, I definitely plan on picking up for Kasie West books in the future. I give The Fill-In Boyfriend five out of five stars.

 

Snowed In Review

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There may have been a lot of inches of snow on the ground in this book, but unfortunately, I am not giving it that many stars.

Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne follows Ashleigh Sneuax (pronounced “Snow”) who moves with her mom from Texas to an island of Michigan in the winter. Due to her parent’s divorce, Ashleigh keeps one rule: no boyfriends. Ashleigh’s mind changes when she meets Josh, a cute boy on the island. There’s only one problem… he’s dating her new best friend.

Before on my blog, I ranked my favorite books from an imprint of Harper Teen (you can see that post here). Most of my top rated books are by Rachel Hawthorne, so I was extremely excited to read another one of her books. Snowed In, however, failed to meet my expectations. If I ranked Snowed In on my list, it most likely would be near the bottom.

First, I’ll start with the positives. I really enjoyed reading about the setting of this book. It definitely takes place in a unique area and Hawthorne did a great job of creating the atmosphere of the book. I loved seeing so many small town traditions and other features of the town which were unique to the area.

Now, for the negatives. I think my largest issue with this book is how it justifies cheating in a relationship. Ashleigh is heartbroken when she discovers her father is remarrying because she feels like he is “cheating” on her and her mother. However, it is played off as fine when Ashleigh and Josh kiss behind Nathalie’s back. Ashleigh and Josh’s actions are justified because Nathalie only refers to Josh as “my boyfriend,” their relationship only started by checking off yes on a paper in middle school, and Nathalie immediately gets another boyfriend after the break-up with a boy who has always been in love with her. I really did not like this aspect of the book and it put a damper of Ashleigh and Josh’s relationship for me.

Overall, Snowed In a quick and easy read that is perfect when you want to read something light and fluffy. That being said, I didn’t particularly care for the relationship in this book so it wasn’t as fun for me to read as I expected. I give Snowed In two out of five stars.

 

April Wrap-Up

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With Easter break this past month, I finally had some free time to read books for fun! Here are all the books that I read in April. Any book with a review will be linked to the book’s title:

Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark (★ ★ ★)

Icing on the Lake

Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne (★ ★)

Snowed In

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Test: Junior Lifeguards by Elizabeth Doyle Carey (★ ★ ★ ★)

The Test: Junior Lifeguards

February Wrap-Up and March TBR

wrap up

Here’s a list of the books that I read in February:

  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (★ ★ ★)

Mr. Popper's Penguins

  • Judy Moody Declares Independence by Megan McDonald (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

Judy Moody Declares Independence (Judy Moody #6)

  • Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately

Here’s what I plan to read in March:

  • The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

The Fill-In Boyfriend

  • Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark

Icing on the Lake

  • Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne

Snowed In

ARC Review: Alterations by Stephanie Scott

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Sometimes retellings are a major flop, but Stephanie Scott “makes it work” in her Sabrina-retelling, Alterations.

Alterations follows Amelia Blanco, an aspiring fashion designer and Ethan Laurenti fan girl. Amelia shoves her unrequited feelings for Ethan aside after an amazing New York internship for the summer. When she returns, however, Ethan appears suddenly interested. Life gets even more complicated when Ethan’s dorky brother, Liam, recruits her to make a fashion app and the Laurenti family is pulled into reality television drama.

I’ve never seen the movie Sabrina, but definitely want to after reading Alterations. Although I can’t say with 100% certainty how faithful an adaptation the book is, it seems like Alterations uses many much-loved aspects of the movie but throws in a few of its own twists and turns to keep readers on their toes.

As for the characters, while several fell into some romantic comedy tropes, I think the main character Amelia displayed a lot of growth and I really loved the influence of her lifestyle throughout the book. In the beginning of the novel, Amelia shows complete insta-love for her next door neighbor, Ethan. As the book progresses, however, Amelia learns to stay true to herself and follow her own dreams and passions. I also love how Amelia’s family ties into the book. The author emphasizes how Amelia’s family and their choices impacted Amelia’s life and how it influences Amelia’s interactions with others.

The other characters were hit-or-miss. I felt like Amelia’s art friends blurred into the background. Out of the two who continued into the rest of the book, I couldn’t even remember why one was so important. For the Laurenti brothers, they were pretty stereotypical for a romantic comedy story. I felt that particularly with Ethan, I never understood why he suddenly became interested in Amelia after she came back from New York besides the tie-in to the original story. One character that I really enjoyed was Haylo, a girl in the reality series towards the end of the book. The author could easily make her a stereotypical mean girl, but Haylo actually had a lot of depth and heart, which I appreciated.

I found the plot in Alterations to be extremely well-paced, except for one minor snag. In college, it usually takes me awhile to get through books through classes and homework. Alterations, however, only took me a few hours one morning– I couldn’t put it down until I finished the story. The only part that I wished was shorter would be the internship part. I felt like it carried on a little too long and was a little slow for me compared to the rest of the book.

Overall, Alterations was cute and predictable rom-com book. While the characters were slightly stereotypical, I couldn’t put this book down! I give Alterations four out of five stars.

Teen Tuesday: Stealing Parker Review

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Unfortunately for me, Stealing Parker struck out quite a few times.

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally focuses on Parker Shelton, a former all-star softball player who now spends her time kissing as many boys as possible. Parker reluctantly agrees to be the baseball team’s manager, but her mood changes when the young new coach notices her. Soon, finds herself stepping out of the shadow of her mother’s scandal and into the spotlight of her own.

I think one of the major reasons I had trouble with this book was the focus on the student-teacher relationship. Even though I read the summary of this book before picking it up, I for some reason didn’t realize this part of the book’s plot. Even though Kenneally by no means encourages this type of relationship, it was tough for me to read. Beyond that, there were several aspects of this book that I did enjoy and several parts that I felt needed improvement.

I think Parker was a complex main characters who really grew throughout the novel. I understood her motivations for all her actions, even though her reasoning was flawed, and felt like she realistically reacted to situations for someone her age. I liked that through her small letters we got to see how she felt in past situations because it really helped me understand who she was as a person now. I also enjoyed seeing her relationships with her various family members change throughout the course of the book.

While I really liked Parker’s character, I think a few of the other characters fell flat. I wish that we could have seen more depths to Parker’s rival. She came across as very one-dimensional and I wanted more of an explanation of why she treated Parker the way that she did. I also wanted to see more dimensions to the coach, Brian. At first, he seemed more complex, but as the relationship progressed he became more flat and like a character in an after school special.

Another aspect of this book that I had mixed feelings towards was the romance aspect. I appreciated how Parker’s relationship with Will (better known as Corndog), progressed slowly throughout the book. However, sometimes his character seemed inconsistent to me and even though I tried, it was really hard to get past his nickname. This was pretty standard YA relationship to me, so it needed something to give it a little extra spark.

A couple books before I read Stealing Parker, I read an ARC of Game On by Michelle Smith that also is a YA contemporary centered around baseball (you can read my review here). I really liked how the environment influenced the characters and how baseball was a major player throughout the novel. In addition, the characters were well-developed and well suited to each other. When I read Stealing Parker, I couldn’t help but compare these two similar books. For me, the characters, the relationship, and the plot didn’t measure up to Game On, which I rate four out of five stars.

I enjoyed reading Stealing Parker, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite YA contemporary. However, I still do want to read more of Miranda Kenneally’s books that feature a different plot. Since this book was good, but not my favorite, I rate it three out of five stars.

ARC Review: Rush by Sara Bennett Wealer

rush-book

Some things are worth the wait, but you should rush to buy Rush by Sara Bennett Wealer for a realistic (but still dramatic) portrayal of the sorority recruitment process.

Rush follows three girls through the week of sorority recruitment. Maddie hopes to join the most prestigious sorority, Sigma Theta Kappa, to show up the people of her hometown. Imogen reluctantly signs up for her rush to please her mother, a former member of Sigma. Cass, a current member of Sigma, struggles with sorority life as she find herself caught between meeting Sigma’s high standards and her own values.

I think the strongest aspect of this book is the accurate portrayal of the rush process. In the author’s note, Wealer mentions that she was in a sorority (thankfully, much different than the one portrayed in the novel) and her experience on both sides of recruitment really show through. I’m in a sorority at my college and I noticed that in many movies and books, recruitment is portrayed as crazy house parties and dirty rushing. I like how Wealer shows the reality of sorority recruitment and the repercussions when rules aren’t followed.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed were the minor characters in the novel. I think the sorority president and a low-income sorority member were really interesting additions to the story. I loved how it gave the girls from the top sorority more personality than being Regina George clones. I actually wish we could have seen more of their perspectives within the novel. The only minor character I had problem with was Cass’s love interest. I felt he was too negative about her interests throughout the entire novel and his sudden change at the end was a little forced.

While there were aspects of this book that I enjoyed, there was also some room for improvement. While I enjoyed many of the minor characters, I felt it difficult to connect and sympathize with the three main characters. I found Maddie extremely annoying because she constantly stated how she looked more like “Sigma” material than the other girls and acted extremely mean when other girls were invited back to certain houses. Without giving away any spoilers, I will just say her behavior at the end made me completely dislike her as a character. As for Imogen, I know sorority life isn’t for everyone, but I thought her constant bashing of sororities was a little excessive and her frequent put-downs of “Park Avenue Princesses” were annoying. She hated sorority girls for acting better than everyone else, but she did the same thing. Out of the three main characters, I thought Cass was the most interesting and likable. I really liked how she stuck to her morals and remained loyal to her friends. However, I think the ending of her story line came across as a little too “Hollywood movie.”

While I think a book on rush is an interesting concept, it also has its drawbacks. Since the book only spans five days, you really don’t get to know the characters beyond the surface level. In addition, you get a -play-by-play of what happens everyday, which sometimes makes the book drag especially if you are already familiar with the recruitment process. I really wish that there could be another book or the book continued a little longer so I could see what happens to the characters after rush. A lot of changes happened right at the end of the book and I wish I had a little more time to see the resolution.

While I really loved the realistic quality and minor characters in this book, I was disappointed with the three main characters and the book’s ending. I give Rush three out of five stars.

 

Thrift Store Book Haul #6

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Recently, I visited a few local thrift stores and Goodwills to find some good deals on some great books. Here’s what I found:

  • Twelve by Lauren Myracle

I remember seeing this series in stores and wanting to read them. I glad that I’m starting to find them in thrift stores so I can read them now!

  • The Cupcake Club: Peace, Love, and Cupcakes by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

I read the first few books in a similar series, The Cupcake Diaries, and was extremely disappointed because I love cupcakes! Hopefully, this series will leave a better taste in my mouth.

  • Dear Dumb Diary: Am I the Princess or the Frog? by Jim Benton

I also remember seeing these books in stores and always wanting to read them. I saw the Dear Dumb Diary movie and thought it was HILARIOUS, so hopefully I love the books just as much.

  • Alice: Starting with Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle

I love Eric Carle books and they are perfect additions to my future classroom library.

  • Sandy Seal: A Tale of Sea Dogs by Suzanne Tate
  • Mary Manatee: A Tale of Sea Cows by Suzanne Tate
  • Sir Cumference and the First Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander

I remember doing a sample lesson plan on this book for my math methods class two years ago. I couldn’t pass this one up when I saw it in the thrift store!

  • Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

I loved the first Percy Jackson book, so I can’t wait to see how his next adventure plays out!

  • Amelia Bedelia First Day of School by Herman Parish
  • American Sisters: Crossing the Colorado Rockies by Laurie Lawlor
  • If you Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

I LOVE Laura Numeroff’s books and dogs, so I’m glad I found a copy of this book in such good condition!

  • The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

 

What deals have you gotten on books recently?