Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review: Cinderella in Skates by Carly Syms

Cinderella in Skates Cover
Fun, YA, contemporary romance with a hockey-playing heroine

Cinderella in Skates by Carly Syms

Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: February 23, 2013
Pages: 194 pages
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

I purchased the Kindle edition of this book, and I discovered it through a spot-on recommendation by Amazon based on previous reviews and purchases I've done, most likely YA books by authors such as Janette Rallison.

Eighteen-year-old high-school senior Natalie is forced to leave behind life-long friends from Arizona when her father receives an offer of a job as history professor at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Even worse, it is early November, and the school year and winter are already underway.

Natalie's dad played hockey during his college years, and one of his best friends and hockey teammates helped Natalie's father find a home in Madison three houses down from his. Their first night in town, the friend and his college sophomore son, Shane, show up to help Natalie's family settle in.

Until that moment, all Natalie could think about was the warm weather and good friends she left behind in Arizona, but Shane is a gorgeous, fit, and very friendly representative of Wisconsin, who suddenly makes her reconsider her low opinion of the cheese state. When her dad offers Natalie a deal, learn hockey (which she has never played before) and make the high school hockey team, and she can leave in June to return to Arizona, Natalie is torn in two directions. She is initially quite eager at this chance to go back home as soon as possible. But her father has asked Shane to coach Natalie, and the more time she spends with him, the less she cares about moving away.

It is such fun to read a YA contemporary romance in the midst of so much dark and dreary dystopian fiction in the YA genre these days. This story is somewhere between light drama and romantic comedy.
Natalie has a strong, forceful personality, and she's a talented athlete. She's more than a match for Shane, who is an extremely skilled athlete himself, an excellent coach, and an all-round sympathetic romantic interest. Natalie and Shane are neither one big on expressing their feelings, and are a very good match as to intelligence and interests. It was terrific fun getting a window into hockey, snow skiing, and life in a Wisconsin college town in winter time as Natalie explores them at Shane's side. The setting is a strong part of this story, and it adds a great deal, it is so well done.

The Kindle edition of this book is beautifully laid out and edited, making it a pleasure to read.
If you decide to read this terrific book because you enjoy YA romances with a heroine who is an excellent athlete, I also recommend: Cinderella in Cleats (football) by this author, Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws (basketball) by Janette Rallison, and Hooked (golf) by Liz Fichera.

Heroine: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Writing: 5

Sports Plot: 5

Romantic Plot: 5

Overall: 5


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review: Hooked (Hooked #1) by Liz Fichera

Hooked Cover
YA contemporary romance with a Native American, female golfer protagonist

Hooked (Hooked #1) by Liz Fichera

Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 368 pages
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

Native American teenager, Fredericka "Fred" Oday, is an extremely talented golfer. When the school coach sees her play, he eagerly asks her to join the all-boys team. When Fred accepts, she has no idea that she is displacing one of the boys, who is intensely resentful, even though his wild behavior and low grades made his removal completely predictable. The best friend of the displaced boy, Ryan, is handsome and popular, and very loyal to his friend. Out of that loyalty, he is determined to dislike Fred. He also becomes more than a little jealous of Fred, because Ryan soon discovers that she is a brilliant player, much better than he is. Before she came, he was the top player on the team, but no longer.

I always appreciate any YA romance novel written with dual points of view. It was particularly useful knowing Ryan's point of view, because without it some of his actions would have made him seem more like a villain than a hero.

The author did an excellent job weaving in Fred's home life, cultural background, and her desire, with her family's support, to get an education and lift up her standard of living. The juxtaposition between her family life and Ryan's was also very interesting to read.

Fred is a very strong, focused young woman, and an extremely sympathetic heroine. It was fascinating learning about golf, a sport I personally know little about.

This is Liz Fichera's debut novel, and a rich addition to YA multicultural novels.

Review Disclosure: I received review copy of this book through NetGalley.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Writing: 5

Family Drama Plot: 5

Social Drama Plot: 5

Romantic Plot: 4

Overall: 5