Book Review: Silent Shadows

Silent Shadows – Natalie Walters – Harbored Secrets #3 – Revell – Published 31 March 2020

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Synopsis

Pecca Gallegos moved to the tiny town of Walton, Georgia, to protect her son and escape the dangerous lifestyle that once defined her. When a series of strange circumstances evolve into threats, Pecca finds herself confiding in an unlikely ally–her stubborn patient.

Army veteran Colton Crawford is desperate to recover from the undiagnosed disorder that is ruining his life, and his instincts are on high alert when threats against his nurse and her son force him to take action. But Colton’s involvement only ramps up the danger when he uncovers a family secret revealing that whoever is after Pecca is closer–and more deadly–than they realized.

My thoughts

Silent Shadows is the third book in the Harbored Secrets series. While the books do have a few character crossovers, each of the three books can be read as complete stories in and of themselves. Silent Shadows is a thrilling tale about mistakes, gangs, wounded military heroes, and, of course, delicious romance.

Pecca would do anything to protect her son. Maceo has already faced so many challenges in his life, so she is determined to protect him from the gang violence of his father’s world. Pecca thought she was pretty safe in the small town of Walton, working as a nurse in the Home for Heroes, but when a serious of threats continue to target her and Maceo, she will need to rely on her newest patient, Colton, an Army Captain suffering from a muscle disorder, to keep them safe. But their physically safety might come at the risk of Pecca’s heart and dreams of the future.

There are some wonderful elements to this book. I particularly enjoyed young Maceo who dreams of being like the other kids and being able to play football, despite his prosthetic leg. He idolises Colton, who does such a wonderful job of encouraging Maceo and helping him to see himself for his full worth and not the bits he lacks. This book has a wonderful family vibe, from little kids football games, and after school play dates and all the troubles of kids in school.

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Book Review: Throw Like A Girl

Throw Like A Girl – Sarah Henning – Poppy – Published 7 January 2020

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Synopsis

When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince its coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the spring. But it will take more than just a flawless spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charismatic smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.

My thoughts

Throw Like A Girl is such a feel-good, girl power (but taking nothing away from the guys) kind of book. I love sports books because of the suspense, the blood, sweat and tears, the team camaraderie, the hard work they put in and those glorious moments of triumph. Throw Like A Girl delivers all of that alongside such great displays of friendship, lessons about lying and the consequences of not disclosing the full truth and swoon. worthy. romance. Such a great book and everything I wanted it to be.

Liv Rodinsky is one of her softball team’s stars. That is, until she punches an opposing team member in the face for an offensive slur. Cast from the team, her scholarship and her school, Liv has to start again, this time on the team of the girl she punched. The coach asks her to display team skills, so when the school’s football team quarterback recruits Liv, she takes him up on the offer.

Oh my gosh I loved this book. From Liv’s fierceness and excellent sport skills to her burgeoning relationship with Grey. She makes an excellent narrator- great friend, good daughter and just a genuinely nice person. But she doesn’t take any nonsense and is quick to set people straight.

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Book Review: Cracking the Bell

Cracking the Bell – Geoff Herbach – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 10 September 2019

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Synopsis

Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. Now, nothing makes Isaiah happier than setting up the perfect defense and delivering a big hit. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football.

While recovering from another concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look without football. All his friends are on the team, and Isaiah knows they can’t win without him. There’s also the scholarship offer from Cornell, which is only on the table if he keeps playing. And without football, what would keep his family together? What would prevent him from sliding back into the habits that nearly destroyed him?

As Isaiah begins to piece his life together with help from unexpected places, he must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sport that gave him everything, even if playing football threatens to take away his future.

My thoughts

I love YA sports novels and Geoff Herbach knows exactly how to write one that is on-trend, poignant, realistic, gritty and doesn’t pull its punches. And that’s exactly what I got from Cracking The Bell.

Isaiah lives for football. It’s what keeps him busy and away from the temptations that come with down time. It saved him when he fell into bad habits and did things he wishes he could forget. It helps keep what remains of his broken family together. It keeps him from mourning too deeply his sister. But when Isaiah sustains a serious concussion, the lifeline of football may be removed from him and Isaiah must decide if the safety of football are worth the risks.

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Book Review: I’ll Be Yours

I'll Be Yours

I’ll Be Yours – Jenny B. Jones – Sweet Pea Productions – Published 22 March 2016

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Synopsis

She’s the coach’s brilliant daughter, clueless about love. He’s the dethroned football star, ready to teach Romance 101. When dark secrets and sparks collide, there’s no playbook for what happens next.

The day Andrew Levin arrives at Washington High, Harper O’Malley knows he’ll make the perfect starter boyfriend. The school’s newest band geek is totally in Harper’s league, yet completely out of this late-bloomer’s reach. Between fitting in with a new family, scoring the first chair in band, and rescuing dogs for the local animal shelter, Harper’s never had the opportunity to hone her dating skills. But even though Harper’s love life is far from perfect, she’s got the perfect plan.

Harper knows she’s insane to agree to tutor Ridley Estes, a notorious heartbreaker and the star of her high school’s football team—but in exchange, he’s offered to school her in the game of love. Just when she sees promise with her crush, a football scandal rocks her family, her town, and Ridley’s entire future. Harper suddenly has everything to lose—her family, friends, and even her heart. When the dust of the scandal settles, nothing will be the same. Including the girl who asked the most popular jock to teach her about love. 

My thoughts

I initially passed over this book as I had previously read a book by Jenny B Jones and not loved it. Big mistake. After seeing many positive reviews and reading the synopsis (which sounded awesome) I knew I had to give I’ll Be Yours a try. And I am so glad I did, because I’ll Be Yours was truly enjoyable, touching, funny and has totally changed my mind about this author. Thanks to a kind soul who lent me a copy.

Harper is an O’Malley. Has been ever since she came to live with them when she was nine. But sometimes it’s hard to feel like an O’Malley when you look nothing like the rest of your family, nightmares keep you awake every night and you have no idea how to have a normal conversation with a guy you’re crushing on. When Harper’s world implodes, she turns to a boy she would normally have nothing to do with, Ridley Estes. Their lives have both been impacted and they strike a deal – she helps him get back his dream of a football scholarship and he helps coach her in how to get the guy of her dreams.     Continue reading

Book Review: Losers Take All

Losers Take All

Losers Take All – David Klass – Farrar, Straus and Giroux – Published 20 October 2015

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Synopsis

At Jack Logan’s sports-crazy New Jersey high school, the new rule is that all kids must play on a team. So Jack and a ragtag group of anti-athletic friends decide to get even. They are going to start a rebel JV soccer team whose mission is to avoid victory at any cost, setting out to secretly undermine the jock culture of the school. But as the team’s losing formula becomes increasingly successful at attracting fans and attention, Jack and his teammates are winning in ways they never expected—and don’t know how to handle.

My thoughts

Losers Take All is absolutely hilarious. If you love sport or hate it (or even sit somewhere in between) you will love this book. This is for all the people who sit and watch while others take the “glory” of the big win. Or maybe it’s for those who have been burnt by sport, seen the darker side of competition. Whatever their story, readers will love this fun-for-all, take-no-prisoners tale of friendship, family, high school and sport. I dare you to read it and not break into side-splitting laughter.

Jack’s school is known for its dominance in sport, particularly football. But things go a bit far when a new school rule is introduced: all students must join a sports team. Jack and his friends, along with a band of althetically challenged misfits, create a c-grade, co-ed soccer team. Their goal is not to win but simply be true to themselves, and maybe survive this school term without major injury. But no one is more surprised than the team when their style becomes an internet sensation and sparks a mini revolution against sport-based violence and bullying.

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Book Review: First & Then

First and Then

First & Then – Emma Mills – Henry Holt and Co – Published 13 October 2015

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Synopsis

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

My thoughts

A charming and enjoyable novel, First & Then sweeps you into a tremendous mix of family, friendship, football and that tenuous time of nearing the end of high school and trying to decide on the next step (oh, and a gorgeously sweet romance).

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Book Review: Last Chance Hero

Last Chance Hero

Last Chance Hero – Cathleen Armstrong – A Place to Call Home #4 – Revell – Published 15 September 2015

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Synopsis

The inhabitants of Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased. Dr. Jessica McLeod has opened an office right on Main Street. Andy Ryan, the best athlete the little town ever produced, has ended his short career in the NFL and has come home to coach the mighty Pumas of Last Chance High. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot when she admits that she’s never seen a football game, isn’t really interested in doing so, and, in fact, doesn’t know a first down from a home run. Meanwhile, Coach Ryan is discovering that it’s not easy to balance atop the pedestal the town has put him on. When this unlikely pair is drawn together over the future of a young player–whose gifts may lie in the laboratory rather than on the football field–they begin to wonder if they might have a future together as well.

My thoughts

In Last Chance Hero readers are returned to the little New Mexico town of Last Chance, where the chilli is hot and football is everything. This was a fun and sweet contemporary romance.

Last Chance is everything Dr. Jess McLeod dreamed when she decided she wanted to open her own medical practice in a small town. She just wasn’t quite prepared for the everyone-knows-everyone reality of small-town life, nor how a non-football-loving, non-chilli-eating Californian female doctor would stand out like a sore thumb. But Jess isn’t the only new face in town. Andy Ryan, Last Chance native and local boy made good, has finished with his NFL career and has returned to coach the high school football team. Despite their obvious differences (namely indifference/love toward football), Jess and Andy form a fast friendship, but aren’t sure if they have what it takes to move their relationship to the next level or if their differences will keep them apart. 

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