Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Reviews: The Year We Fell Down and The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

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The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1)
    by: Sarina Bowen

Publication Date: Mar. 21, 2014
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-copy received via BocciPR in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 268 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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.

Also, 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.

When the opportunity arose to read and review Sarina Bowen's The Ivy Years, it was not one I could pass up. I had previously heard about this series from another blogger who enjoyed and I loved Sarina's HIM, which she co-authored with a favorite author of mine. Being the first book in the series, I loved getting to know everyone. Sarina has done a fabulous job of developing friendships and giving us a realistic view into college life. Those two elements are really key for me in a well-developed new adult college romance.
I really liked seeing Corey and Adam develop a friendship first. I wasn't crazy about the fact that he had a girlfriend for so much of the book, especially since I felt they were only for surface level reasons. We do eventually find out his reasoning for being with her as long as he was and I have to say, it kind of made sense. It still drove me a little nuts because it was obvious he had a much deeper connection with Corey and I hated seeing her feel like she couldn't compare. I didn't love the romance in this one, mainly because of how it came about. Corey and Adam are friends for so long, but after one night- the lines blur and after some fooling around and Adam's girlfriend returns, it was like that night never happened. Corey clearly has feelings for Adam and he can't seem to stop thinking about her, but he doesn't make any moves to try and make things right. Finally, he breaks up with his girlfriend and the next day he's kissing Corey and taking her out, as if none of that other stuff had even occurred. I felt Corey's character was no pushover either, so I was surprised that she gave in as easily as she did. I would have made him work for it a bit.
Don't get me wrong, I do like the two of them together. They were a great match and I loved how awesome Adam was, especially given all of the embarrassing things Corey shared with him concerning how the accident has affected her body. He is a great friend to her and really makes her first year at school a lot more bearable, as does her roommate Dana. Dana was also a good friend to have because she didn't treat Corey as fragile or unable. She is a go with the flow kind of girl and I liked that she was genuine.
This book also felt a bit long to me. While I like character driven novels and was engaged, it felt like I had read quite a bit but wasn't as far into the book as I thought.
I am really looking forward to Bridger's book next. He is a friend of Adam's and his on the hockey team. While he has a rep as a player, he seems like a good guy and his devotion to his sister was absolutely precious. I am hoping we'll see many of these characters in the next book because Bowen did a great job of making me feel connected to them and part of their circle.

The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2)
   by: Sarina Bowen

Publication Date: June 1, 2014
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-copy provided via BocciPR in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 274 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars

She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day 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 student 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 McCaulley 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 on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone 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.

Happy sigh. This book. I really loved this one. Bridger and Scarlet were amazing together and I loved how much they supported one another through everything. That's not to say they didn't have a few ups and downs, but I am glad their relationship was relatively drama free. This series is very character driven and I adore seeing how important these friendships are to these characters. We didn't get much of Adam and Corey from the previous book, but we do see them briefly, so that was nice.
Bridger's life is very different than the one he previously lived. No more hook ups, no more partying, and unfortunately no more hockey either. He has completely reordered his priorities and I have to say I admired the hell out of him for that. His sister comes first and he takes that responsibility very seriously and selflessly. He accepts his new role as a caretaker and college student and doesn't bemoan his loss of freedom and wildness. There really is no better guy out there than Bridger. He doesn't plan on Scarlet, but she ends up being such a bright spot for him amidst so much stress. His free time is severely limited, so he doesn't feel he can offer Scarlet much in the way of a relationship.
Once Scarlet discovers what Bridger is doing though, all bets are off. There's no need to hide anymore and she understands that his life is complicated and that he can't devote all of his time to her. It was refreshing to read about a strong female who doesn't need to be the center of her boyfriend's universe. Scarlet has problems of her own anyway. While Bridger's secret may be out, she is too afraid to 'fess up to her own. She knows he doesn't need the added stress and while I get she was trying to protect him, he shared a lot with her and she should have reciprocated faster than she did. My heart ached for Scarlet and not only for what she was going through, but how she was treated because of it. She just wants to go to school and try to escape the madness that is her home life and I can't say I blame her.
Scarlet and Bridger do not have an easy time but I loved their moments together. Once everything is out on the table, the two really make an unbeatable team. They love and support one another and it was uplifting to see.  

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  1. I have been meaning to read this series forever now and damn I need to meet Bridger... I can tell I am going to love him already. Great reviews Jessica!

  2. I'm really curious about these books. I've heard good things too.


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