Friday, August 21, 2015

Series Review - The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen







Every so often, I go through a period where I read a series in a really short amount of time. That's what happened with Sarina' Bowen's Ivy Years series: I read the four full-length books that are out in the span of a week.

THE SERIES

This series revolves around the Harkness College men's hockey team, its players, and the people linked to the team. Thought there were some things in the books that weren't always my favourite, I still got completely sucked into the books and loved reading every single one of the books and I can't wait for more books in this series.


Title: The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: March 20, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
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.

And 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.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

Corey was supposed to play hockey in college but an accident during a game puts her in a wheel chair and ends her hockey career. When she gets to Harkness College, her dorm room is across the hall from Adam Hartley's. Hartley, the star of the men's hockey team, is out for the season with a fractured leg. There's an instant connection between Corey and Hartley, but there's one problem: Hartley's already taken.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the story in The Year We Fell Down because of the fact that Harley is supposed to be with someone else for a good chunk of the book. I'm not opposed to cheating in books if it's done right, in fact I've written a whole post on the subject. But I was afraid of what it would mean for Corey in this particular case. So I started reading, a little apprehensively, and I immediately fell in love with the friendship that Corey and Hartley had going. It was really fun to read the back and forth between them. But then the story took an interesting turn and I wasn't sure how to feel. I loved Hartley and Corey but I wasn't sure what to feel about what one of them does. There was some seriously questionable behaviour and I didn't know how it was going to play out in the rest of the story. By the end of the book, things had been worked out and I was happy with the way it all went down. Out of the whole series (or at least what's out so far), The Year We Fell Down wasn't my favourite, but it was still a story I really enjoyed reading and one that convinced me to check out the rest of the Ivy Years series.



Title: The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: June 1, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day her father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new study ID—with a newly minted name on it—she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCalley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet. 

The two form a tentative relationship based not eh understanding that somethings must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it along 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. 

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

College is going to be Scarlet's fresh start. She's changed her name to escape her family drama and she's hoping to fly under the radar when she gets to Harkness. Bridger was a star on the men's hockey team until last year. But now his family has to come first. That means protecting his little sister and hoping no one finds out she's been staying in his dorm room. Scarlet and Bridger tentatively start a relationship, but with the state of each of their lives, everything could quickly and easily fall apart.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I was really curious about The Year We Hid Away. I'd gotten to know Bridger briefly in the first book and wanted to find out more about him. And I wanted to know more about Scarlet based on the synopsis. There ended up being a lot more to the story than I thought there was going to be: Scarlet had to deal with the fact that her famous father was arrested on child molestation charges, while Bridger had to care for his little sister because their junkie mother was putting her in danger. It was really interesting to read these two people's stories individually, but also seeing them come together and support the other with what they were going through. In light of everything they were going through, I was really rooting for Scarlet and Bridger, individually and as a couple. Also, it should be said that Bridger's little sister was adorable and there were plenty of times when she totally stole the show for me. I loved The Year We Hid Away. There were many moments when this story broke my heart but in the end, I loved the way this story all came together. 




Title: The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years #3)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: October 15, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, imchael 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 defenceless. 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.

Richer didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, he’s 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.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

Graham and Rikker were more than friends in high school. But one horrible day changed all of that. Fast forward five years and Rikker is transferring to Harkness College and will be playing on the same hokey team as Graham. Rikker knows who he is and knows what he wants. Graham has been repressing who he is for so long that he doesn't know who he is anymore. Rikker and Graham are set to either self-destruct or finally find their way to another once and for all.

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Understatement of the Year is my favourite of the Ivy Years books that have been published so far. There is nothing I didn't love about this story. I loved that Graham and Rikker had so much history before this story even started. It made for some really interesting and entertaining interactions between them. And I of course loved Rikker and Graham themselves and I wanted for them to be together once and for all so badly. Basically, The Understatement of the Year gave me SO MANY FEELS and continued my streak of good luck when it comes to absolutely fantastic m/m reads this year. I just want to yell about my love for this book from the rooftops and tell everyone I know to read it because it is an absolutely amazing and beautiful stories that will give you ALL THE FEELS.




Title: The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years #4)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: April 12, 2015
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
The girl who’s had everyone meets the boy who has no one.

For Bella, the sweet-talking, free-loving, hip-checking student manager of the Harkness men’s hockey team, sex is a second language. She’s used to being fluent where others stutter, and the things people say behind her back don’t (often) bother her. So she can’t understand why her smoking hot downstairs neighbor has so much trouble staying friends after they spontaneous night together. She knows better than to worry about it, but there’s something in those espresso eyes that makes her second guess herself.

Rate is appalled with himself for losing his virginity in a drunken hookup. His strict Catholic upbringing always emphasized loving thy neighbor—but not with a bottle of wine and a box of condoms. The result is an Ivy League bout of awkwardness. But when Bellea is levelled by a little bad luck and a downright sinister fraternity stunt, it’s Rafe who is there to pick up the pieces.

Bella doesn’t want Rafe’s help, and she’s through with men. Good bad the undeniable spark that crackles between the two of them just can’t be extinguished.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

Bella loves hockey players and isn't shy about it. She doesn't care about what people say about her behind her back, and sometimes even to her face. She's never had trouble with boys before, so she can't quite understand what went wrong after the night she spent with Rafe. Rafe doesn't do hook ups and he can't believe what happened with him and Bella. When Bella is the victim of a fraternity prank, Rafe is determined to help her, even if Bella isn't interested in his help.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I loved The Shameless Hour, especially because of the way Sarina Bowen handled the topic of slut shaming through Bella and what happened to her. I already knew Bella from the previous books in the series and already kind of loved her before I even started reading The Shameless Hour. So what happens to her in this book broke my heart and I was so angry on her behalf. What happened to her was horrible and I loved that is wasn't handled lightly or brushed away in the story. And I loved Rafe for how he was with Bella. I was immediately charmed by Rafe and my love for him just grew with every page of this story that I read. He was the best kind of guy you could ask for. And I also want to mention Lianne because she was fantastic and I can't wait to read her story. The Shameless Hour was a fantastic story and one that handles the issue of slut shaming right. And when it comes down to it, we need more books that do that.

VERDICT ON THE SERIES?

I am so totally loving Sarina Bowen's Ivy Years series. I love the sports romance just as much as I love the various topics and issues that have been handled in each of the books. I've loved each of the books I've read so far and I can't wait to read more. The Fifteenth Minute just can't come soon enough!

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1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed this!! I absolutely love this series! GRAHAM AND RIKKER <3 <3 SO MUCH FEELS

    ReplyDelete

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