Tuesday, 20 March 2012

playing hurt by Holly Schindler

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college – and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain – or finally heal their heartbreak?

My review
Playing hurt is a book about loss, love and self-confidence. Both of the main characters lost something they loved in their own way.
Chelsea has lost something she was very good at and something she could build up her future on but now that it’s gone, she doesn’t know who she is anymore.
Clint lost something he loved very much for something that was so important to him, that he stopped doing it because he thinks it was his fault.
They both have to live with the big changes in their life which they don’t know how to deal with, and they stop living their life like their used to.
Clint and Chelsea meet at this time of their lives and help each other to get up again and out of the shadows of their past.

Each chapter of the book is written from a different perspective. One time it’s Chelsea’s and the other time it’s Clint’s, which is really good because you get to know the characters better and see what’s inside their head in different situations.
I really liked getting to know them. The focus isn’t just on one person who tells the story, but two.

Chelsea is an 18-year-old girl who just graduated from high school. Before her accident she was on her way to college with more than one scholarship in her pocket. That all changed and now she’s without a perspective.
As a graduation gift her dad books a three-week summer “boot camp” at a resort in hopes of getting her out again, to do something,  even if it isn’t sport. During her time in the camp she finds back to herself again and falls for Clint even though she has a boyfriend, Gabe.  Soon they start  a secret affair.

Clint is a 19-year-old college student who has a summer job at the resort with his two best friends, and starts his own “boot camp” there.  He was a hockey player until his girlfriend died in a car accident, on her way to one of his games. Since then he hasn’t played any kind of team sport or dated anyone, but is still very athletic.

At the beginning of the story Chelsea has a difficult relationship with her father. Since her accident he seems distant and dismissive. Chelsea however hangs on her past as a basketball-player and how it used to be. She watches old videotapes even the tape of her accident over and over again. Gabe, her boyfriend seems to be the only one who can talk to her and whom she trusts and loves, which makes the separation during the boot camp ever worse.
But all that changes when she meets Clint.
I personally think that the upcoming relationship between the two of them is only based on the looks!  They’re attracted to one another as soon as they see each other and from that moment on it’s all physical. They do lots of activities to find the right one Chelsea is finally willing to do without being afraid. Chelsea and Clint spend every day together and become closer with each second.  There’s a lot of tension, especially because they’re not allowed to go out in the first place because he’s her trainer and she obviously has a boyfriend, but I missed the personal relationship at the beginning.  Clint knows Chelsea’s background story and why she behaves like she does, but she doesn’t know a thing about him. Sure, throughout the book you know everything is going to be fine and Chelsea will find out what happened to Clint, but that’s not enough for me. It’s not all about sex but every time they meet the outcome is always the same. They kiss and try to explore as many of each other body parts as possible.
At the beginning Clint seems like a reasonable guy but a few of his decisions and actions made me doubt him. When he finds out that Chelsea has a boyfriend he doesn’t react.  I got the feeling that it was her decision to make whether or not the relationship should go on and that he would just go along with it.  It’s nearly the same with Chelsea. She keeps saying in her head:  “Why am I doing this? I have Gabe. Gabe is sweet.” And other similar things but she doesn’t do anything to change the situation. 
Ok, I have to admit I’d rather read about Clint and Chelsea then Gabe and Chelsea, because he seems so boring even though she often describes him with the words ‘wonderful & perfect’. I assumed right up until the end that he would be the bad guy and would cheat on her.
What I’m trying to say here is: I don’t like the fact that she’s cheating, Clint doesn’t do anything to stop it and they just carry on because they can’t keep their hands of each other.

But it’s not all about their relationship even though it is a major point!
During their stay at the resort, Chelsea also gets the chance to talk to her father and they fix the problem between them, mostly because Clint encourages her to talk to her dad, finally.

They both overcome their fears.

I really like the ending because everyone comes to their senses and there’s a hint of a reunion.

So, in the end it’s an ‘OK’-book. If you can overlook a few things it’s actually very good. It’s well written, you get to know the characters a lot and everything seems to find its way where it belongs.
Maybe the book is a good example and we should take a step forward and NEVER LIVE TIMIDLY! Take a chance and see what happens, it always gets better

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

moonglass by Jessi Kirby

When Anna was little, she and her mother walked the beach together every day, looking for sea glass. But one night her mother walked into the ocean and never came out, leaving Anna with only memories – and a collection of ocean-tumbled glass.
Ten years later Anna’s father has accepted a job transfer, and Anna’s life is again swept up in a tide she can’t control. Despite her reluctance to move, Anna is slowly won over by the beachfront cottage, the gorgeous lifeguards, and early morning runs along the shore. But her new home is a place that holds long-buried history. It’s where her parents first met and fell in love, where strangers seem to know more about her family’s past than she does, and where she finds that the red piece of sea glass she wears around her neck has a history all its own. As Anna combs the beach for bits of glass scattered in the sand, she discovers that there may be more to her mother’s life and death than she and her father have been able to acknowledge.
The sea glass in Anna’s collection proves that time can smooth rough edges- but what about when the jagged hurt of loss remains as sharp as ever?

My review
As always I got drawn to this book by its cover and, after series of disappointing books, I finally found what I was looking for.  It took me two days to read and I loved it from beginning to end. Before I knew it I had already put it down with a little smile on my face.
It’s a wonderfully written first novel with just the right amount of drama, love and teenage life ‘problems’.
Anna (Louanna) Ryan is a 17-year-old girl who, at the age of seven, saw her mother kill herself in the ocean.
She now lives with her father and is a funny and natural young girl. Even though she seems strong on the outside and it appears to look like she knows exactly what to say and to do, she’s very unsure of herself. Over the years she has believed she was the reason her mother killed herself.

Tyler Evans is one of those cute, popular guys in town and later the boyfriend of Anna. He’s a local lifeguard and goes to the same school as Anna.  He’s gorgeous and confident without being so overly cocky. You think there might be something bad about him, which is both good and disappointing, because it turns out that he really is just one of the good guys.

Then there is Anna’s dad Joe (Joseph) Ryan. He’s the reason why they’re back in the town where Anna’s parents first met, and, where a lot of untold history hangs in the air.
He’s also the lifeguard supervisor. He and his best friend Andy are very funny. They both behave like teenagers sometimes and that makes them really likeable.
Moonglass is a book about a broken past that needs to be fixed and a future that needs to be lived. When Anna and her dad move back to the town where he spent all his teenage summers, a lot of unasked questions about the past and Anna’s mother reappear. The relationship between Anna and her father is very shallow at the beginning. They refuse to talk about important topics, or anything else that involves a heart-to-heart.

When I was reading the book I could literally picture the beach, the cottages, the warmth, the sun and the ocean. It makes you want to lie next to Anna on the beach and observe the cute lifeguards.
I could imagine the tossing water on the stormy night, the dangerous rocks or the runs with her cross-country team.

Anna and Tyler meet on the beach, where she tries to climb the rocks near the ocean and he tries to talk her out of it. After that she tries to get his attention but he refuses to see her, because her dad has told the other lifeguards to stay away from her. I personally think her dad overreacts but it gives the whole relationship that little something.
Though the book is more concentrating on other things than the connection between Tyler and Anna there are a few really sweet things I liked about it. On Anna’s first day at school her teacher calls her Louanna but she doesn’t like her real name and prefers to go by Anna. Later that day Tyler begins to call her Louanna, Ryan or little Ryan. Little things like that kept me reading the book because it was simple and funny. Initially they start to see each other secretly because of her dad and whilst their meetings they start to fall for one another.  At the end Joe realizes that Tyler is a good guy and invites him over officially.
I’d have loved to read more about Tyler, maybe some background information. There are some good rudiments but the author could have done more with it.

During their secret dates Tyler leads Anna through some abandoned cottages, one of which was her mother’s. On one night Anna finally decides to have a look around at her mother’s place.
After that Anna’s feelings about her mother overwhelm her and she doesn’t know how to handle them. This event finally leads to the munch needed talk with her father. During the talk they both approach each other emotionally but the author makes it clear that it will take a while.

This book has lots of major and minor parts you’ll remember, love and just want to experience yourself. It’s not a new story but it is fresh and lightly written so that it’s hard to put away.
Even the ‘little’ characters like Anna’s new friends: Ashley and Jillian are so different to each and individuals who make the story flow smoothly.

Throughout the book new relationships are developing and some are ending. I liked the setup, the characters and the story.
All in all I think it’s a great book and very easy to read. It’s not just for your summer holidays but for any other day of the week!
It’s sad, funny, dramatic and joyful all in one-well packed!
You’ll fall in love with those characters and their easiness in life and even with their dramatic story.

Go and buy it!