Hi, there! Welcome to a very special book review – and I’m not saying this only because our book star today is on blog tour, hosted by Chapter by Chapter. No, this is a soul-touching and warm book that definitely was one of my best young adult contemporary romances of all time! I’m talking about Playing Defense, second standalone book for Corrigan Falls Raiders series, from marvelous and brilliant Cate Cameron! ❤
Claudia is the kind of girl that has no time to fool around. She has a target and its name is Waterloo University; in order to go studying Engineering there, she must give her best on high school. And give her best didn’t include tutoring one of the stars of the local town hockey team, Chris Winslow.
But it happened. Because life isn’t fair.
Chris isn’t your typical gorilla hockey player. He’s relaxed, funny and easy-going, a real peace and love spirit in flesh. His dream is to become a professional hockey player, but one must be prepared for anything that life may reserve – that’s why he needs tutoring. Chris is failing at chemistry and functions and the only way to stay on his team and have a shot at an university instead of a community college is to have better marks.
But he couldn’t have know just how much fun chemistry and functions were when on Claudia’s hands.
When Claudia and Chris’ worlds collide, there’s no telling what may happen. The only certain that they got is that their tutoring deal definitely was one of the best deals of the world.
Just remembering that those were my impressions and opinion as a reader 🙂
I don’t have the words to start this review. When I signed up to participate in this blog tour, the possibility of being swept off my feet for this book didn’t even cross my mind. I was in for a cute and light high school romance and I’ve received so much more. This book is awesomeness in its purest form, a gift to the YA contemporary romance – a genre that I usually avoid at all costs. But not Playing Defense. This book had everything that I adore on a book: a powerful female (even if she doesn’t know it on the beginning; actions speak way more than words lol), a goofy and hot male (without being stupid or a jerk, may I add), switching point of views in the story, wonderful dialogues and real characters. Oh, and a cliffhanger plot! How could I want more? Also, there was a book reader character named Annalise and she sounds just like me in high school, for good and bad. Cameron warmed my heart and gave me a metaphorical hug with this book, so how could I rate it any less than 5 stars? If I could, I would give it all the stars in the world! (Damn Goodreads for not having a “Galaxy’s stars” rating after the 5th one!)
The narrative was first person styled and switched points of view between Claudia and Chris restoring my faith on this kind of narrative. I was enchanted by both characters during the whole book, so it worked for me while reading Playing Defense to have both POVs to compare. Chris for sure is the best male narrator of all times and he did made it to My Bookish Boyfriends list. And, for the first time in a very long while, I wished I could meet someone in real life that had his type of personality. But we’ll get there.
Now I must comment on Cameron’s writing style.
Seriously, Cameron managed to turn an intense and a somehow dramatic novel into something light and funny without being silly or useless, you know? You get punched in your gut with all the emotions but you don’t mind, because Chris is so funny and Claudia is so awesome. Their minds are so distinct and yet so connected, they are random and stupid at times… They are teenagers with strong minds. Not overly mature, not whiny. PERFECT. And only a brilliant writing style can transmit all of that on first person narrated books.
The plot was simple, but of the anything-can-happen type, so I braced myself for all kinds of ends and twists. Good that I did that, haha! Playing Defense is not here to play [haha], it really gets to the readers and steals their hearts. Mine is missing still and I don’t know when it will return. The book had a tiny loose end, but nothing that bothered me terribly.
The characters were awesome. And the high irony in this is that they are actually working in the book to make themselves more awesome by trying to smooth their flaws as a group: the Sisterhood of Awesomeness, which has two sister boys. What can I say, it’s a very open minded group 😉 And honestly? I wish I could be part of it just to hear Chris say that he wants to be a sister because it makes him feel pretty.
This is the spirit of the sisterhood lol
Seriously, I laughed so hard reading this book that I had to wipe my eyes off several times, to catch my breath and see if more oxygen was already available in the room. I didn’t felt this way since Carry On.
I’ll start with Claudia, as her POV starts the book: I didn’t expect to like her. I have a really hard time liking YA female protagonists because they tend to be too self-centered, whiny or simply dense, but I liked Claudia since page one. I should have seem what was coming, but I didn’t. She was immature in so many ways, but you could tell how hard she worked for anything in her life, how she cared about being a better person and not for the sake of others, but for her own. She grew up a lot in the book and she was scared because of that. Not once she stopped. Not even when she thought she had stopped. She hadn’t. I found myself a new bookish best friend to hang around with Integrity and I couldn’t be happier!
As for Chris, he is simply the best male narrator ever. He was an example of the perfect flawed guy, as he is so not perfect and still manages to look like he is without even trying. He had a great sense of humor, goofed around, was very smart [not as much intelligent, but definitely smart] and a prejudice kicker guy. I knew I was going to fall hard for him in the moment he insisted he was going to be a sister of the Sisterhood of Awesomeness and then I did fall hard for him when he told Oliver that no one would mess up with his boyfriend [Oliver] and get away with it. Oh, did I mention that he has an inner princess? He does.
To be honest, I fell in love with all Claudia and Chris’ friends: Karen, Dawn, Tyler, Oliver, Annalise [yes, I was in the book #kidding], Karen’s sisters, their poetry teacher… Awesome people. Annalise, Claudia’s best friend, was the portrait of my high school self, for good and evil. I didn’t agree with some of her actions and I wouldn’t have done them, but her personality and her way to face the world was exactly how I behaved and felt on high school: always with my nose on books, living in other realities and really not minding the real world, as it sucked hard. I wish I could hug Annalise and tell her how much better our lives get when we start college/university life.
The strongest point in this book, however, is the dialogical construction. Hm, maybe it’s a tie between Chris and the dialogical construction, but I took the liberty of selecting some of my favorite quotes and dialogues to illustrate my point:
“It was kind of scary, telling other people what words have power over you” – Claudia
Claudia: “We probably need more members, too.”
Chris: “Can I play?”
Claudia: “Did you catch the Sisterhood part?”
Chis: “Yeah, but…whatever. I figure I’m high enough on the ‘awesome’ to make up for being low on the ‘sister’.” (…)
Karen: “You’re a small-town hockey player, Chris! You’re supposed to just grunt and talk about ‘scoring’ with as many different subtexts as you can find. You should go get in a fight with someone, not sit here talking like you’re auditioning to replace Oprah.”
Chris: “When we’re speaking as sisters, I’d prefer it if you called me Topher.”
“It was Chris. Goofy, lazy Chris who was afraid of his mom and liked being a member of the sisterhood because it made him feel pretty.” – Claudia
Chris: Most people like me, you know. I’m likeable. That’s just a fact. So statistically, your mom will probably like me, too.”
Claudia: You can’t really use statistics like that. You can’t pretend we’re dealing with completely random variables.
Chris: Well, you lost me on that, but I think I can use statistics any way I want to. Who’s going to stop me?
Chris: Statistically unlikely.
Claudia: I really missed you.
Chris: I got that. I missed you, too.
Claudia: If you died, I’d be sorry we hadn’t had sex.
Chris: Wow. That’s… I can’t decide if I should tell you to stop thinking about me dying, or just keep my mouth shut and let you talk yourself into having sex with me.
Claudia: I don’t think I’m going to talk myself into it.
Seriously, just stop standing here and go grab this book to fangirl about it with me!! I’ll even leave the buying links bellow, so just GO. You need this book in your life.
Thank you for reading my review! Here you can learn more about where to buy Playing Defense, who is Cate Cameron, the Great, and what does the first book in the Corrigan Falls Raiders series talks about:
Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders #2)
About Cate Cameron, the Great
Cate Cameron grew up in the city but moved to the country in her mid-twenties and isn’t looking back. Most of her writing deals with people living and loving in small towns or right out in the sticks—when there aren’t entertainment options on every corner, other people get a lot more interesting!
She likes to write stories about real people struggling with real issues. YA, NA, or contemporary romance, her books are connected by their emphasis on subtle humor and characters who are trying to do the right thing, even when it would be a lot easier to do something wrong.
About Center Ice, first book in the Corrigan Falls Raiders series
This Entangled Teen Crush book contains adult language, underage drinking, sexual situations, and crazy squirrels. It may cause you to become a fan of hockey – or at least hot hockey players.
The hometown hockey hero won’t know what hit him…
Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers—her dad and his perfect, shiny new family—and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.
But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler.
Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey—except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…
That’s it! Thanks for reaching this far on the post and, once again, thanks so much to Chapter by Chapters by the opportunity of meeting such a fabulous book ❤