Cover Image: Icebreaker

Icebreaker

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Member Reviews

Hockey rivals who fall in love. What's not to like? One of those cute sports LGBTQ books that you should add to your list of books to read!
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Loved this hockey romance. My only complaint is I wish there was more at the end. After all that work, I wanted more to be there.  

I also wanted to say that as someone living in a town that recently had their high school hockey team in huge trouble because of racial and homophobic activity in the locker room, it’s so important to be able to read stories like this. With supportive and uplifting teams and black and brown hockey boys who fall in love. Will definitely be recommending this and getting a copy for our library.
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I adored all the characters and felt myself rooting for all of them. I would highly recommend it to people that like sports anime/stories since it gives off a similar vibe of hope, intensity, and self-discovery. It's a very good book for a debut.
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Mickey James III is a hockey legacy. His father and grandfather were both pro hockey players and he is hoping to follow in their footsteps. Now a freshman on the same college hockey team as his father, Mickey is struggling. Mickey is a strong contender for the number one draft spot, but the only thing standing in his way is his teammate, Jaysen. Jaysen may be his rival, but he’s also his teammate, and the two must find a way to get along for the sake of their team. But what starts as a truce turns into something much more, and Mickey has to decide where his priorities lie.

Icebreaker tackles gender discrimination and homophobia in sports, specifically hockey. Mickey is struggling to live an authentic life. He is doing his best to hide both his sexual orientation and his depression from the public eye. There is so much scrutiny placed on him, both because of his talent and because of the legacy of his father and grandfather. Mickey has a lot of self-doubts stemming from the legacy of his father and grandfather, former NHL hockey players.

I loved watching Mickey progress as a character, as he slowly starts to bond with his teammates, and begins to open up about himself. 

I loved the relationship between Mickey and Jaysen. They start as bitter rivals but quickly develop an attraction toward one another.

Thank you to Fierce Reads and Netgalley for the review copy! All opinions are my own.
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Oh my god I loved this book so much!!!! I loved everything about it and the romance was just *chefs kiss*. I have been chasing the high this book gave me since I finished it!
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Icebreaker is a YA/NA cusp novel about Mickey, who is on the path to be the third generation in his family to attend the same college and get drafted to play in the NHL. But first, he has to get through his first year at college, playing alongside Jaysen Caulfield, who wants his number one spot at the draft. Mickey also has a few secrets—he’s bi, and he’s dealing with depression and anxiety that threatens to derail his dream of professional hockey. This is a fantastic, fast read that is PERFECT if you love great mental health rep and a not too slow burn enemies-to-lovers story. I'm a huge fan of queer sports romance and while this one is not steamy like much of what I typically read, it delivers on the story of young people struggling with how their own sexualities and mental health will come together with life as a professional athlete. This one embraces the enemies-to-lovers trope and doesn't burn too slowly. Mickey and Jaysen come together as teammates, rivals, then hookups, reluctant friends, and ultimately more.
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I love hockey romance novels. So, this YA one was perfect. Jaysen and Mickey are rivals on the ice...but will they be more off the ice? This book was incredibly sweet and very readable. I loved how the author handled the mental health issues in the book, and I loved relatable it was. The best part about this book was how much it covered. In addition to romance, it covered homophobia, friendship, family, and how toxic masculinity still permeates sport.
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CW: Alcohol, Abandonment, Depression, Anxiety, Intrusive thoughts 

Icebreaker is a love letter to the hockey community. To hockey fans everywhere, you will feel so seen in this book. As a diehard hockey fan, I loved how much hockey culture is poured into the book from the fanfiction to mentions of LGBTQIA+ players who show BIPOC queer and trans* youth that they CAN play.  This book just got it right and you can tell a fellow hockey fan wrote this. 

This book will tear at your heartstrings and leave you craving more. If you're a hockey fan, you should read this book and if you don't know anything about hockey, you should still read this book.
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Thank you to NetGallery for the ARC. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2022, and I liked it a lot, but it didn't make up to my expectations. This is not a negative review, but rather a criticism of why it is not the 5-star review I would have wanted. I think Icebreaker had a mix of so many themes (depression/anxiety, romance, family issues, work/college) but don't fully develop any of them, and maybe that was the purpose, but I didn't end up completely happy with the outcome.

Among my biggest problems are the conflict resolution, the lack of different perspectives and depth in some themes. Being a book only from Mickey's point of view, I had a very defensive altitude towards his family, and perhaps for Mickey certain things are forgivable, but I didn't see enough interaction with their parents or sisters to feel like I liked them or believe on the happy family resolution. Also, the book had good potential to have different points of view, at least one from Mickey and one from Jaysen, that would have helped, at least, to seal the romance a little bit more, but it didn't happen. 

On the positive side and why I gave it 4 stars and not 3.5, was that I identified a lot with Mickey, I could truly feel his conflict and sympathize with his problems, and that is something that, for me, does not happen often with fictional characters, the only other time I can think of was with Yuuri from Yuuri on Ice, so according to my own experience, Mickey is a really excellent representation of anxiety and depression, it was nice to read a character like him. 
In conclusion, it's definitely a good read, just rather rushed, It was missing a bit of everything. I can understand the decisions regarding college and hockey, and I liked the open ending,  but I feel that the book wanted to touch on too many topics and, again, failed to handle most of them and give us a satisfactory resolution.


Spanish review - 
Muchas gracias a NetGallery por la copia avanzada. Esta fue una de mis lecturas más anticipadas del 2022 y a pesar de que no cumplió todas mis expectativas, me gusto mucho y esto no es una review negativa, si no una crítica del porqué no es un 5 estrellas como yo hubiese querido. Creo que Icebreaker tuvo una mezcla de tantos temas (depresión/ansiedad, romance, problemas familiares, trabajo/college) y no logró desarrollar del todo ninguno, y tal vez ese fue el propósito, pero yo no quede satisfecha con el desenlace de nada. 

Entre mis mayores problemas están la resolución de conflicto, la falta de perspectiva y profundidad en algunos asuntos, al ser un libro solo desde el punto de vista de Mickey, me la pasé muy a la defensiva con su familia y puede que para el personaje ciertas cosas sean perdonables, pero yo sentí la suficiente interacción con sus padres o hermanas para sentir que me agradaban o verlo como una "familia feliz" creíble. El libro tenía bastante potencial para tener diferentes puntos de vista, al menos uno de Mickey y otro de Jaysen, eso hubiese ayudado a sellar más el romance al menos, pero no sucedió. 

En lo positivo, me identifiqué mucho con Mickey, pude sentir su conflicto y simpatizar con sus problemas, y eso es algo que no me sucede a menudo con personas ficticias, otra de las veces que me paso fue con el personaje de Yuuri en Yuuri on Ice, so lo que quiero decir es que, según muy propia experiencia, tuvo una buena representación de la ansiedad y la depresión. Este fue el mayor punto por el que le di 4 estrellas y no menos. 
En conclusión, es una buena lectura, aunque bastante apresurada, me falto un poco de todo, e incluso si saqueasen un segundo libro, no me gusto la resolución que tuvo toda la situación familiar de Mickey. Puedo entender las decisiones respecto a college y hockey, además del final abierto, y el romance si mucha profundidad, pero siento que el libro quiso tocar demasiados temas y, repito, no logró manejar satisfactoriamente casi ninguno.
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I will always, <i>always</i> jump at the opportunity to read a YA written from a college perspective, and especially love it when YA novels take on really tough, challenging topics that are a bit opaque in nature: stuff like depression and anxiety and the fear of the unknown.

ICEBREAKER does all of these things, and does them <i>perfectly</i>. I'm incredibly impressed.

The word "depression" seems to have taken on a life of its own in our society beyond what the clinical definition actually says and means. Like a lot of mental health struggles that people can have, depression comes in so many different shapes and sizes and levels of severity that it's difficult to explain concretely to someone what depression <i>is</i> - unless you've gone through it yourself. Unless you're <i>still</i> going through it. I've always found that the best way to define what depression means is to give an example. ICEBREAKER, I think, is that example. Or, at least, it <i>can</i> be that example. 

This book made me felt seen in a way that I'm still trying to process, even after finishing it hours ago. I have a feeling I'm still going to be processing it for the foreseeable future. Mickey's sense of obligation and his fear of disappointing the people in his life who have set him on a path and never really asked him about it are pitch-perfect examples of how anxiety and depression can one-two punch you in the face when you're trying to stretch your wings and grow into yourself as a young adult, and oftentimes, the way people in these circumstances cope with it is through destructive, harmful means. 

With all that said, you'd expect that a book like this would be serious and solemn. But it's <i>not</i>, and that, I think, is what makes ICEBREAKER special. It's fun. It's goofy. It's still very much told from the perspective of someone who is a teenager. There's an incredible rivalry at the center of the relationship between the two main characters, and the supporting characters that surround them are all great. This book may have one of the largest casts of characters I've ever seen in a YA novel, and it <i>works.</i>

I don't say this often, but I want a sequel. I want to read more about these characters and their lives and see where the world takes them from here. Because there's so much more of Mickey and Jaysen's story that can be told, and I want to read all of it. 

(Special thanks to the folks over at Macmillan for the NetGalley ARC!)
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As a casual hockey fan, I did get a bit lost sometimes in the jargon, but the overall story is cute if a little predictable. There were a couple of scenes where I felt the mental illness depiction was a little...overdramatic? But I think being in the head of an unreliable narrator whose actions I wasn't always a fan of may be flavoring that reaction. Someone mentioned that they wished this had been a dual-narrator story and I kind of like that idea, if only to get an outside-Mickey's-head perspective. Loved the team dynamics, though.
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this is basically the cutest and the hardest thing I've ever read 😱

thank you for Fierce Reads to provide me with a free ebook copy in exchange for an honest review!

I basically had no idea what to expect when I won this book on a giveaway. All I knew about it was that involved ice hockey. And I loved reading it during the Olympics because I really felt in the mood, what an amazing coincidence 😂
I read it really quickly, that is just an amazing point for me considering I didn't have the will to sit down and read, so I was shocked when I realized how quickly I read it. The angst between the main characters was just amazing, I was swooning in the first chapter already. i loved how real the narration was, the phrases that kids in college say every day, and the mental health rep... gosh, I don't suffer depression but it was so well written that I really wanted to hug Mickey all the time. All the issues were real and that was something I was looking for.
Overall, it was amazing, cute and heartbreaking at the same time, such a fast read with amazing characters. I will recommend this book for a long time after this 😍
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I don't know that I can precisely pinpoint exactly what didn't work for me in this book. I was really excited to start it, but in the first 30-40% of the book, I considered DNF-ing it because I was just...bored. There was a <i>lot</i> of hockey talk at the start, and I understand this is a book partially about hockey, but...obviously I was here for the romance, not the sports. And unfortunately the romance was...fine? It felt a little underdeveloped, and I didn't really feel the spark there. Overall, I think the depression rep in this book was great, but overall, it was a little underwhelming for me.
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Icebreakerrrrr yall this book was so good 5 ⭐️!

This is a m/m hockey romance that follows our MC Mickey as he enters into his first year of college. 

Life for Mickey is pretty much the same as it's always been- hockey. Hockey before class, hockey after class, hockey talk with his family, hockey draft picks... and a lot of pressure. Things start to get overwhelming until Mickey meets his high school rival, who also happens to be his new teammate. Let the tension begin ✨

I love, love LOVED this!! I felt like this was such a good representation on mental health especially with a focus on anxiety. This is one of the first books I've ever read where taking meds & mixing alcohol is represented and I felt like that was SO important!! 

I also really loved the romance. It's definitely filled with tension and these two guys build a strong relationship from literal ground zero since they absolutely hate each other in the beginning. The steamy scenes are fade to black which was a-okay with me!

I know a lot of people aren't fond of the very end, but I loved it!! Overall a great new adult/ YA romance and highly recommend to hockey lovers, m/m romance lovers or anyone who wants a little something more to their romance books.

xx
-Christine
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I was lucky enough to read an e-ARC of this book, and it was so wonderful it practically made my heart explode. Perfect for readers of "Check, Please!", hockey fans, queer folks looking to see themselves represented in sports...or really anyone who's ever felt pressured to hit certain markers of success while still trying to figure out what they themselves really want. The characters here are so real and messy and vibrant in all the best ways, and even though I'm picky about this trope, this is a case where the enemies-to-lovers romance just WORKS. The tension between Mickey and Jaysen feels realistic and never just a plot device. 

I personally started enjoying hockey after getting into "Check, Please!" but even if you know nothing about the sport, like all the best sports YA fiction, it doesn't matter here. All the sports stuff is there if it's fun for you, but it's also incredibly accessible to anyone who doesn't know hockey that well, and the complex exploration of identity, mental health, and all the feelings packs a punch for everyone, sports fan or not. Loved it!
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Icebreaker is a wonderful novel that encapsulates so many of my favorite tropes while adding in something I only ever seem to care about when it's fictional, sports. Mickey James III is a jock but despite our different opinions on sports, I related to him strongly and was rooting for him. I rooted for him on and off the ice because he was more than a hockey player and more than a romantic lead, he was a fleshed out character that hit closer to home than I was expecting. Mickey was full of life and light despite how depressed he was in the novel.
I cannot recommend this novel more to every person looking for a beautiful queer love story with a protagonist suffering from mental health issues. This novel is the book to make people feel seen and heard loud and clear even when they are dead silent. Mickey is only one character from a cast filled to the brim with warmth, wit, and charm. His struggles and the struggles of those around him are ever present but this book seems to find that perfect balance between the heavy and the hopeful.
Mickey is a character who's story will stay with me for years to come and I imagine many others will feel the same after learning about a depressed anxious kid trying to figure himself out.
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I am a massive hockey fan so I adored this book to death. The way that depression was represented was fantastic and I teared up at the talk that Mickey had with his mother.
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Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), and LibroFM's Educator ALC program for advanced digital and audio copies of this book. 

Mickey James and Jaysen Caulfield are hockey rivels. The problem is that they are on the same team. They want to hate each other, but can't help their attraction for one another. 

This book has a lot going for it - diverse characters (racial diversity as well as LQBTQ+), mental health representation, and true friendships. 

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this book is not only set in my home state of Wisconsin, but the author lives here as well! There is a lot of underage drinking and commitment-less sex so I would suggest this for older YA readers.
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I won this arc from Yallfest and that is so just so cool so thank you to Henry Holt and Co for this . So I'm not a hockey fan or a sports fan at all, full disclosure so all of the drama about the draft and some of the jargon had me so confused. I spent a lot of the beginning trying to focus on the characters but some of the finer points of the plot were dense to me because i had to keep googling acronymns and draft mechanics so i could understand what the big flare up of the drama of the plot was about. Yes, I am the weirdo who requested this book be cause I'm feeling the Winter Olympics big time and I always love a good queer ya story. I'm not always that big on rivals to lovers so it took me awhile to get the feel for the book and enjoy it. I did eventually enjoy it, it just took me a bit. 
If you love hockey and or/understand things like drafts in any sport or even have any base knowledge about the sport, you will probably be fine.  I'm just an outlier and probably shouldn't be counted.
Great for fans of the Gravity Between Us and probably sports fiction in general. This was new for me though so it was harder to gauge. I will say I'm not even for a second going to pretend that my lack of sports knowledge was the author's fault. that is all me, probably everyone else who reads this will be fine. I also had the biggest brain fart on the planet and, when i entered the giveaway, I didn't read carefully and thought it was Snowpiercer cuz I couldn't remember the title (I know, I am so dumb). Given all of my idiocy, I still managed to enjoy myself so props for that!
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Icebreaker blew me away. I wanted a YA/NA gay sports romance with enemies to lovers that reminded me of All for the Game. And I got that, but I also got so much more than I could have ever expected.

This is a book that surprised me in a way that has made it one of my favorite reads this year. And It was the first book I read in January! So it has really set the bar VERY high! 

The romance in this book is quick and sweet and full of rivalry and longing looks. The hockey moments reminded of Check, Please! It has elements of found family and just laugh out loud moments. It's chaotic and fun and paces so well. 

But the real core of this is Mickey's personal mental health journey. This. Was. Done. So. Freaking. Well. I was awed by the gentleness of the writing about his journey depression and self worth to getting to a place of healing. This is a book to read for anyone feeling this way and wanting to see a healthy and full journey of a character.

I expect so much more from this author and I just wish I could experience this one for the first time all over again.
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