Welcome to the Podium Finish Tour, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer !~
Title: Podium Finish
Author: Beth Pond
Publication Date: November 14, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance
With six months until the Olympic Games, seventeen-year-old Harper’s life is pretty much perfect. She’s fighting for the starting spot on Team USA Women’s Hockey, and for the first time ever, she has a crush on a guy who likes her back. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world, until she runs a risky play at practice and breaks her knee, thereby sentencing herself to six weeks in a cast and possibly ending her Olympic dream before it even starts.
For seventeen-year-old Alex, being anything less than the best is unacceptable. That’s why, after a miserable debut season at the senior level, the former junior national singles champion switches to ice dance. Her skating partner, Ace, is an “all skating all the time” type of guy, which would be fine, if he’d stop keeping secrets about the real reason he and his former partner broke up. Now is not the time for second thoughts, but how can Alex skate her best if she can’t trust her partner…or herself?
As the pressure to make the Olympic team builds, the girls must rely on each other, because if there’s one thing they both know, it’s that the only thing harder than skating to the top is staying there.
This book is the perfect setup for the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Amazing characters, a riveting plot, and two stories that will keep you glued to the pages.
… but I want the gold. We all do.
Harper and Alex are two driven athletes. While their personalities and sports may be totally opposite of each other, they both have the same goal: to stand at the top of that podium at the Olympics, preferably sporting gold metals around their necks. However, when Harper and Alex run into problems, the clear paths they envisioned, leading them to the Olympics, is suddenly riddled with obstacles. Harper is an intense player. She knows all the plays and how to make the best of the worst situation in a game, but when she gets hurt, her spot on the Olympic team isn’t as sure as it was before. When she has her accident, sure she’s upset, but that girl is fierce. She is ready to work her butt off, albiet slowly and with a cast around her leg, but nothing stops her from trying her hardest to maintain her aim, her muscles, and her slot on the Olympic team roster. Harper’s frustration. as well as her happiness and euphoria, bleed through the pages, straight into my heart. You don’t know how worried I was for her. When she got frustrated, so did I, when she got stressed, my leg kept tapping as impatience crept up on me. I was so invested in Harper and Alex’s success, and, if I hadn’t been reading this in public, I probably would’ve done my own rendition of Zoe’s celebratory dance numerous times throughout the novel.
Ready to blow it out of the water?
Alex is equally as determined as Harper. She works hard and finds herself constantly at odds with her father. I love how Harper’s problems were mostly internal – issues with her body, constant mental worrying – while Alex’s story focused a lot on relationships, with Harper, Ace, and her father. I loved the development and the progression of her relationships, with Ace and her father especially. By the end of the book, she was so much more comfortable in her skin, and the transformations and changes that led up to that moment were executed and written extremely well, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The character development, not only for Alex and those around her, but also for Harper and her team, was so in depth, and I ended up feeling connected with every character in the novel, even the ones who only popped up for 30 seconds before flying away again. Each character had their own individual personality and quirks that made them stand out, also making them extremely memorable.
You make me proud. I’m proud of you, how much you’ve learned, how you never give up.
The book was written with the perfect amount of angst. Even when they were down for the count, the characters would sit there, dazed for a second, a world of doubts and pessimism crowding their thoughts, and then they’d just get back up again, dust themselves off, and keep going. For every bad thing that happened, there was something good. Every issue in this book had a resolution, whether it was bittersweet or euphoric, and I never felt like something lacked emotion or depth. The plot flowed smoothly and the moments of doubts, pessimism, and worry didn’t fall to deaf ear. There was a sincerity behind the words that just strung me along for a ride with the story. The plot, and issues that came up, were realistic and something many atheletes deal with whether before Nationals or before the Olympics. It was also relatable. I’m about athletic as wooden chair sans wheels, but I understood where each character was coming from when they stepped up to comfront an issue. Trust, doubt, insecurity, fear. Those are emotions that everyone needs to deal with at some point in their lives, no matter how perfect said lives may seem. These girls dealt with it in, pretty much, the best, most civil ways they could manage and a lot of my respect goes out to that. There’s nothing worse than a character who waits for the problems to resolve themselves, or for other characters to step up to the plate first. They face conflict head on, and even when they didn’t win, that didn’t make them less of anything, if anything, it made them MORE in my eyes – more confident, more respectable, more amazing.
Overall, this book was like a rollercoaster, and the writing, plot, and characters kept my attention for the entire ride. Got to say, it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while. These characters present two different problems, two different personalities, and two amazing stories. I would definitely recommend you pick up this one!
World Building: 5/5
Alex is waiting for me at our usual table in the cafeteria. She rakes her fingers through her not-quite-shoulder-length blonde hair and pulls it back into a ponytail. The front strands fall loose as soon as she leans forward to eat a bite of salad. I would never be brave enough to pull off short hair like that, but Alex does it well. She pulls a bobby pin from her bag and twists her bangs back. Bobby pins. That and lip gloss are two things Alex never leaves the dorm without.
“Hey, do anything exciting today?” I ask.
“I defied gravity.”
“Wearing a push-up bra is not defying gravity.”
“I was talking about the new dance hold we’re learning, but my new bra is amazing, isn’t it?” She’s sitting with perfect posture and waves her hand in front of her chest like one of the models revealing a prize on a TV game show.
Alex dragged me to the mall last weekend, and if I never have to see her buy bras and make-up again, it will be too soon. That trip was like a quadruple dose of Alex’s usual girliness.
“It’s great. You sure you’re not too top heavy for Ace to pick up now?”
“Just because you can get away with the uniboob sports bra look doesn’t mean I have to,” Alex says, and I shoot her a look. “What? You totally pull it off.”
A shadow hovers over our table. “Excuse me, are you using that chair?” The guy gives us a tiny, apologetic smile and squeezes his tray tighter until the creases in his knuckles go white. Great, whoever he is, this guy probably just heard her say uniboob.
“No,”Alex says. “Do you want to sit with us?”
“I think he just wants—”
“Sure,”he says. “I’m Rye.”
“I’m Alex, and that’s my roommate, Harper. So what sport do you play?”
“Short track speed skating. What about you?”
I assume he’s talking to Alex—guys always talk to Alex—so I take another drink of water. Silence. I look up and meet his gaze. He was asking me.
Beth Pond graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Hendrix College in 2012. In 2013, she taught in South Africa for 9 months as part of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant. Pond is currently completing her coursework at the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA program. Her debut novel, Podium Finish, was released from Astraea Press in November 2013. When she’s not writing, Pond enjoys martial arts (she’s a black belt) and serving as a volunteer coach for her brother’s special needs baseball team.
Praise for the Novel:
Podium Finish is unlike any other book I have read, period. It is amazing that Ms. Pond could take two very different characters who are pursuing two completely different sports and tie them together as roommates at the Olympic Training Center. ~Crystal, Books are Sanity
This is a great, fun book! This story is really 2 stories in one – bonus! ~Shelley Walker, Goodreads
This book was truly enjoyable to read. ~Michele, Amazon Review
Podium Finish is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. ~Ana, Amazon Reviewer
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
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