Diane's Book Blog
Review
5 Stars
Big Stick (Big Stick #1) by R.C. Stephens
Big Stick - R.C. Stephens

R.C. Stephens scores with BIG STICK.  As kids, Myles Sanders and twin brother and sister Oliver and Flynn Russell were inseparable.  After moving to different cites, Myles and Flynn had a falling out.  Seven years later, Myles and Oli are still best friends living their dream of playing professional hockey together in Chicago. Flynn relocates to Chicago to be near her brother; consequently, needing to resolve the issues she has with Myles.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.

 

I loved R.C. Stephens’ BIG STICK.  Being a Chicagoan, I appreciate that the story takes place there. I also respected that Myles and Oli played for my favorite team the Blackhawks.  I like Myles, Oli, and Flynn.  They are realistic and convincing characters. A tragedy caused some unresolved issues for them.  Myles had a tough childhood and relied on the Russell family for support. Flynn believed in Myles and is a big part of the reason he is as successful as he is.  Myles and Flynn have amazing chemistry.  You truly want to see them work things out.

 

BIG STICK is a heartfelt and enjoyable read.  The story was believable and skillfully-executed.  The hockey scenes were easy to visualize and credible. I like the Peter Pan nick names.  The Epilogue felt well concluded.  This is the first book that I have read by R.C. Stephens.  I enjoyed her writing style and plan on continue following the Big Stick series.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Shot on Goal (Game On in Seattle Book #11) by Jami Davenport
Shot on Goal - Jami Davenport

Jami Davenport lights the lamp with SHOT ON GOAL, the eleventh book in the Game On in Seattle series. Hockey star Drew Delacorte and former Olympic figure skater Marina Sanders are broken souls. This is their story about what caused their troubles and what is in store for their future. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.

I adore Drew and Marina. They have a complicated past. They are both broken and get what the other is going through. They are both very human. They have made mistakes and must live with the consequences.

I appreciated that Marina was given an opportunity with the Sockeyes. She is a tough individual with a lot of talent. Drew and his parents are living with the ghost of Drew’s dead brother David. Drew is being smothered by his parents and no longer enjoys life until Marina makes him smile again.

I like that the story was realistic. The characters face a lot of difficult decisions and make hard choices. Things don’t always turn out how they want. This novel is an excellent example of how one mistake can impact your life. Unexpected things happen. I like how the story was resolved. Furthermore, I love that the Sockeye’s make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. There are some great hockey scenes. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Holding Hailey (Alaska Blizzard #2) by Kat Mizera
Holding Hailey - Kat Mizera

Kat Mizera lights the lamp with HOLDING HAILEY, the second book in the Alaska Blizzard series.  I was anxiously awaiting reading Hailey Dobson and Kane “Hattrick” Hatcher story after discovering them in book one, DEFENDING DANI.  Hailey was on the US Women’s Olympic hockey team with Dani.  Kane is Sergei’s teammate on the new NHL expansion team, the Alaska Blizzard. Hailey and Kane are introduced to each other in book one.  They become online friends after Dani and Sergei virtually introduced them.  Then they finally meet each other at the Olympics. 

 

In book two, Hailey should be on top of the world after winning a gold medal. However, she encounters a bunch of bad luck and less than desirable situations.  Kane surprises Hailey with a visit and talks her into spending the summer with him.  Hailey has a hard time relying on others.  It makes it difficult for her to accept Kane’s help.  Kane had a tough transition with his new team.  He is frustrated professionally.   The two have multiple issues to face.  Kane and Hailey are good for each other.  They trust and understand each other. 

 

The two had difficult childhoods.  I’m glad that Kane had his billet mother, Nancy Fillmore, for support.  She is a wise woman who gives Kane and Hailey excellent advice.

 

Kat Mizera does an amazing job with this story.  I love how she puts snippets into her stories that end up as relevant issues in her next book.  I enjoy her writing style.  It flows well and is easy to read.  I did not want to put the book down because I had to know what was going to happen next.  I love the characters.  Hailey and Kane are relatable and compelling beings.  They are people viewed as stars by others but are human and have their own set of insecurities.  The story had a great ending.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

 

Review
5 Stars
Wild Hunger (Heirs of Chicagoland #1) by Chloe Neill
Wild Hunger - Chloe Neill

Chloe Neill’s WILD HUNGER (Heirs of Chicagoland #1) is an amazing spin-off of the Chicagoland Vampires series. I love that this series is about the kids from the Chicagoland Vampire series. I also love that the parents are still included in the new series. Elisa Sullivan is the only vampire to be born. Wolf shifter, Connor Keene, is the son of the North American Central Pack Apex. The two team up to try to stop a supernatural dispute after a vampire diplomate is murdered.

Chloe Neill did a commendable job with this first book to the series. The plot is perfect and skillfully executed. The characters are unique and well developed. They have personal and professional issues to deal with. The chemistry between Elisa and Connor was entertaining. Their parents are good friends, so they hung out as children, frequently getting into fights. They hadn’t seen each other in four years. It was amusing watching their relationship progress. I love that Lulu Bell is Elisa’s best friend, just like Mallory was Merit’s

WILD HUNGER was exciting from start to finish. I’m really looking forward to following this series. While you do not have to read the Chicagoland Vampire series to follow this story, I do recommend the series. Having read the series, I already felt invested in the characters. I also, appreciate what Elisa was going through because of how her birth occurred. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Clean Sweep (San Francisco Dragons #1) by Kate Willoughby
Clean Sweep  - Kate Willoughby

Kate Willoughby is victorious with CLEAN SWEEP the first book in the San Francisco Dragons series. I adored this story. It was refreshing and original. Hockey defenseman, Cameron Bowes, is selected by his team to be on a television show that showcases his home. The problem is, his place is a complete mess. Enter, Dakota Kelly (aka Suzette), the maid his teammate hires for him, to clean his house.

CLEAN SWEEP was fun and captivating. The characters are genuine and likeable. Cam is a great guy but a complete slob. To his credit, he does work hard to become a neater person with Dakota’s guidance. He is sweet and great with kids. I was impressed how he speaks to Zinny about important topics. I respect Dakota. She is a devoted guardian to her niece, Zinny. Dakota put her life aside to raise Zinny and would do anything for her. Cam and Dakota complement each other.

Kate Willoughby did a fantastic job writing this story. There were unexpected twists and a solid plot. The characters were well-developed and grew throughout the story. They faced meaningful challenges and obstacles. I love the dogs. They added a lot to the story. This is a book that is hard to put down. It had a cute ending, that made the book feel complete. I cannot wait for the next book in the series. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
4.5 Stars
Playing Hurt (Aces Hockey #6) by Kelly Jamieson
Playing Hurt - Kelly Jamieson

Kelly Jamieson scores with PLAYING HURT the sixth book in the Aces Hockey series.  Left winger Chase Hartman and pop star Jordyn Banks strike up a friendship on Twitter.  After losing a bet on a hockey game, Jordyn agrees to go on a date with Chase.  The two have different medical issues that threaten their careers, thus relating to one another.  This contemporary sports romance in suitable for adult audiences.  The story primarily takes place in Chicago.

 

I really enjoyed this story.  I love how Chase and Jordyn meet.  They have a lot in common and help each other cope with their similar situations.  They are a fun couple.  I appreciated that they were both so down to earth and that they can act like themselves around one another.  I was impressed by Chases date choices. 

 

They both had potentially career-ending medical conditions to deal with.  It was interesting reading how they handled their situations.  They have several obstacles to overcome throughout the story, like Jordyn living in L.A. and Chase in Chicago.  Not to mention crazy work schedules.  They both grow throughout the novel.

 

Kelly Jamieson does a wonderful job with this novel.  It is an excellent addition to the Aces Hockey series.  Her writing is skillfully executed, and her plot is fun and heartfelt.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
End Game (Bellevue Bullies, #4) by Toni Aleo
End Game - Toni Aleo

Toni Aleo leads the league with END GAME, the fourth book in the Bellevue Bullies series. Senior, Ryan Justice, is hoping to make the NHL draft. Sofia Castilleja is a freshman on Bellevue’s new gymnastics team. Neither one of them planned on letting a relationship distract them from their goals. END GAME takes place in Nashville, Tennessee. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for new adult audiences.

Ah, Ryan Justice swoon. Ryan is Shae Adler’s nephew (Assassin’s series). He is the son of Shae’s twin sister, Grace. He goes through a great deal emotionally in this story. He does some soul searching. He is a great big brother and cousin. He is the oldest of the Adler/Justice kids. As a result, he wants to set a good example, and not disappoint anyone. He is protective, thoughtful, and smart.

Sofia is Ryan’s younger sister, Amelia’s roommate/teammate. She was once destined to be in the Olympics, but an injury shattered that dream. Now she is at Bellevue on a full gymnastic scholarship. I enjoyed her character. She never really had good friends growing up. Her life was all about gymnastics. She is hard working and determined. She is very concerned for her mother who has MS. She wants to make sure she is successful, so she can help provide for her.

I like how the story starts out on Halloween. The matching Halloween costumes of the Adler/Justice clan is classic. It shows how close the two families are.

I love when Sofia and Ryan meet. Ryan is not used to girls not throwing themselves at him. Sofia has no experience with boys and is nervous around them. Ryan is very determined to get Sofia to go out with him. They are adorable together. They have a lot in common and make each other stronger.

The plot was skillfully executed. I love how Sofia’s sponsorship played out. Ryan had some interesting obstacles. I swear Toni Aleo always makes me cry. Her stories are heartfelt and meaningful. This story is a good example of how life doesn’t always take you on the path you wanted but your life can be just as rewarding or possibly more so. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Defending Dani (Alaska Blizzard, Book 1) by Kat Mizera
Defending Dani - Kat Mizera

Kat Mizera’s DEFENDING DANI is an amazing start to the Alaska Blizzard series. It is a spin-off of Las Vegas Sidewinders series. The main characters are both siblings to players on the Sidewinders. Sergei Petrov is the brother of Toli and half-brother of Vlad. Danielle Cloutier is the sister of Zakk.

Sergei has not had luck in the relationship department. He is divorced from his first wife, and his second wife was murdered. He is now a single dad who has been traded to Anchorage, Alaska. Enter Dani. She has been helping Tessa and Toli take care of Sergei’s three-year-old son, Niko, while he settles things in Anchorage. Toli thinks Dani would make an amazing nanny for Sergei. Dani is finishing her master’s degree in athletic training from North Dakota. She was selected to play with the women’s US Olympic team and has time before she needs to move to Colorado for training.

The couple have a rocky start. Sergei has a lot of personal issues he is dealing with. To top it off, he is now playing on a struggling NHL expansion team, that doesn’t seem to gel. Dani loves hockey but knows her career is at an end because women in the NWHL barely make any money so that is not a viable career option. Sergei, Dani, and Niko settle into a wonderful life in Alaska, but several issues arise causing problems.

Kat Mizera does a fantastic job with this novel. The characters are multidimensional and grow throughout the story. The plot is realistic and believable. DEFENDING DANI is skillfully written. I was captivated from beginning to end. I enjoyed the conclusion. I’m looking forward to book two, HOLDING HAILEY. Hailey is one of Dani’s Olympic teammates, and Kane is a teammate of Sergei. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
4.5 Stars
Hooked On You (Chicago Rebels #3) by Kate Meader
Hooked on You - Kate Meader

Kate Meader scores a hat trick with book three in the Chicago Rebels series, HOOKED ON YOU.  After never meeting her biological father, Violet Vasquez inherited a third of the Chicago Rebels hockey team, along with her two half-sisters.  She doesn’t plan on sticking around after the season is over.  Meanwhile, the Chicago Rebels captain, Bren St. James, needs a nanny.  With the playoffs at stake, Violet takes the job.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.

 

I like Bren.  He is a recovering alcoholic.  His kids mean the world to him.  His ex-wife, Kendra, is a piece of work.  Violet is good for him.  Violet is an amazing character.  She survived breast cancer.  She doesn’t feel like she fits in.  She doesn’t realize the impact she has made on everyone’s lives since she moved to Chicago.  She’s fun and encouraging.  Bren and Violet both grow throughout the story. 

 

I enjoyed HOOKED ON YOU.  It was an entertaining read.  The characters faced relevant obstacles.  I love the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off scene.  That was classic.   

 

I have enjoyed the plot of the Chicago Rebels series.  It is unique and charming.  The new management at the Chicago Rebels is unconventional.  I love that the team supports and appreciates them.  I recommend reading these books in order.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Melt for You (Slow Burn, Book 2) by J. T. Geissinger
Melt For You - J.T. Geissinger
  1. T. Geissinger triumphs with MELT FOR YOU, the second book in the Slow Burn series. Joellen Bixby has a crush on her companies’ CEO, Michael Maddox. She gets help from her new neighbor, Cameron McGregor, captain of the Scotland national union rugby team, to get Maddox’s attention.  Unfortunately, Cameron has fallen for Jo in the process. This contemporary sports romance primarily takes place in New York.  It is suitable for adult audiences.

 

I knew I was going to love this book just after reading the first page.  The story starts out with the heroine’s top ten reasons why the Holidays Suck.  It was hilarious.  I love Joellen’s humor.  Even her dreams were funny.  I like her character.  She underestimates herself.  She has no idea that she is appealing, which is understandable, considering how her mother treats her. She has worked at Maddox Publishing for ten years and been in love with Michael for just as long.

 

Cameron McGregor is a fun character.  He is vibrant.  He sees Joellen for who she truly is.  He respects her.  He has a great outlook on life.  He is good for Joellen.  I love how they interact with each other.

 

Joellen’s boss, Portia, was a fascinating character.  You hate her.  She is a witch, to put it nicely.  You don’t always know what to expect from her. She ends up surprising you.

 

MELT FOR YOU is skillfully written and entertaining.  It is a story that is hard to put down.  It has multiple examples of why you should not judge people until you get to know them.  I loved that the epilogue starts off with another top ten list (also amusing).  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Marek (Cold Fury Hockey #11) by Sawyer Bennett
Marek: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey) - Sawyer Bennett

Sawyer Bennett melts the ice with book eleven in the Cold Fury Hockey series, MAREK.  I was anxiously waiting to read this story since book 10, REED.  Marek Fabritis is friends with Reed.  In book ten, Reed went with Marek to help stop the wedding of Marek’s ex-girlfriend, Gracen Moore.  At the wedding, Marek discovered that he and Gracen have a three-year-old daughter, Lilly, that he never knew about.  Marek’s story continues after the wedding. 

 

The plot was exceptional.  It was realistic and heartfelt.  The characters were believable.  Marek understandably was angry after his discovery.  He didn’t handle the situation well and had a lot of growing up to do throughout the story.  I like Gracen.  She sacrifices a lot for the people she loves.  She’s a good mom.  She should have told Marek about Lilly, but the reason she didn’t was plausible. The two never got over each other.  They have issues to overcome.  I like that they had a second chance.

 

I’m glad Marek stopped the wedding.  Owen was not a good guy.  We discover some interesting things about Owen and his intentions throughout the novel. 

 

I like that Josie’s ex/co-worker Aiden McCune made an appearance in this novel.  I thought it was interesting especially considering the things that happened with him in book ten. 

 

I love the epilogue.  Lilly is too cute.  It was the perfect ending for the story.

 

If you haven’t read the other books in the Cold Fury Hockey series, MAREK could be read as a stand-alone.  However, I do recommend reading REED first.  There are many things that happen in the novel that are significant to this story.  That being said, I do recommend the entire series.  Sawyer Bennett’s writing is impeccable.  Each character’s story is unique.  I have loved every book in this series.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

 

Review
5 Stars
ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network #1) by Mary Ting
ISAN - Mary Ting

I love Mary Ting’s ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network). Seventeen-year-old, Ava has a special DNA marker that allows a unique drug known as Helix to enhance her abilities. She is given a choice of remaining in juvenile detention or joining ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network). After being captured by a rebel group she is told that her life is a lie. She has no idea who she can trust. This dystopian novel is suitable for young adults.

ISAN reminded me of a combination of the television series Alias (2001-06) and the Matrix movie series. It is creative, full of action, and mysterious. I like Ava. She has some interesting powers like being able to store architectural blueprints in her mind to help her on her missions. She is a good leader. She has had a difficult life. I like that she is strong-willed.

The plot was amazing. A lot of interesting twists occur throughout the novel. ISAN was skillfully written and thought-provoking. The story had a captivating ending. I cannot wait for the next book in the series. I highly recommend this book to science fiction lovers. ISAN would make a great movie or television series. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Shutdown Player: Seattle Sockeyes Hockey (Game On in Seattle #10) by Jami Davenport
Shutdown Player: Seattle Sockeyes Hockey - Jami Davenport

Jami Davenport lights the lamp with SHUTDOWN PLAYER, the tenth book in the Game On Seattle series. After a failed marriage to a stereotypical puck bunny, Jared Roderick is ready to settle down with a nice girl. He thinks he finds the woman of his dreams when he meets, Stephanie Clarke. However, Steph has some secretes and a former boyfriend who is not willing to let her go. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.

We first meet Steph in book 9, PENALTY PLAY. Steph used to work with Vi. She was in an abusive relationship with Gino. It’s terrible what he put her through, the guy doesn’t know when to give up. I love that she is embraced by the Sockeye family. It’s great that Izzy hired her at Party Crashers. I like how she meets Jared through her second job with Agnes.

Both Jared and Stephanie understandably have issues because of their previous relationships. Candy and Gino really pulled a number on them. As a result, they are both keeping secrets from each other, which winds up causing issues.

Steph and Jared make a cute couple. I love that they both read hockey romances. I also, like their favorite authors, add in Jami Davenport of course.

The plot was believable and heartfelt. I appreciated how the characters developed throughout the story. The epilogue was a perfect conclusion to the story. I enjoy Jami Davenport’s writing style. It flows well and is easy to envision. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Dark Queen (Jane Yellowrock #12) by Faith Hunter
Dark Queen - Faith Hunter

I loved Faith Hunter’s DARK QUEEN, the twelfth book in the Jane Yellowrock series. Leo, the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, is preparing for his blood challenge by the emperor on the European vampires. Since Jane is Leo’s Enforcer, she has a lot to prepare for. To top it off, she has some family drama to deal with.

 

I enjoyed the characters. They are diverse and have a lot of depth. I find Jane’s conversations with Beast amusing. I really appreciated the flashbacks to Jane’s youth. I love that she began remembering things from her life past. I enjoyed the addition of Ayatas FireWind.

 

DARK QUEEN was skillfully written and exciting throughout the novel. There were twists and a lot of action in the story. The “blood battle” was a fascinating event. The rules and dynamics between the combatants were well developed and exciting. Leo did some surprising things throughout the story. I loved the epilogue. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
5 Stars
Misadventures of a Rookie (Misadventures #11) by Toni Aleo
Misadventures of a Rookie - Toni Aleo

Toni Aleo lights the lamp with MISADVENTURES OF A ROOKIE.  Malibu Suns hockey player, Gus Persson, is not used to being turned down.  Sun’s ice girl/sports therapist, Bo St. James, has no problem shutting down the cocky defenseman, or does she.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.

 

I loved MISADVENTURES OF A ROOKIE.  The characters were likable and well developed.  I appreciated the similarities between Bo and Gus’ mother. I loved the banter between Bo and Gus.  I enjoyed the conversations with Gus’ parents.  Many of them were highly amusing; others were serious.  Gus is a great guy.  He is not what Bo expected. The characters go through a lot in this story.  It is understandable why Bo is initially weary of Gus. The two have amazing chemistry and grow throughout the novel.

 

The plot was skillfully executed.  There are some wonderful life lessons and viewpoints throughout the story.  I found all the ER visits interesting.  The ending was perfect.  MISADVENTURES OF A ROOKIE had a different feel then Toni Aleo’s Assasins series and Bullies series, but I loved it as much as I do her other novels.  Fans of Toni Aleo will not be disappointed.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Review
4 Stars
Shot on Gold (Play by Play, #14) by Jaci Burton
Shot on Gold (A Play-by-Play Novel) - Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton is a medal winner with SHOT ON GOLD, the fourteenth book in the Play by Play series.  Will "Mad Dog" Madigan is excited to go back to the Winter Games for the second time as a member of the U.S. Hockey team.  He meets U.S. figure skater Amber Sloane, who is competing for the third time.  Both are determined to win gold but decide to have some fun together along the way.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.

 

Jaci Burton does a great job with her character development.  Being a Chicagoan, I like that Will grew up there.  He has a supportive family.  He is a good guy.  Amber has had a lonely life.  Her mother put a lot of unnecessary pressure on her.  I like that she meets Will and becomes more social.  The two have great chemistry and make a cute couple. 

 

SHOT ON GOLD is a great book to put you in the mood for the Olympics or any winter sporting event.  Jaci Burton does an excellent job describing the various sporting events that take place during the novel. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.