Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 U.S. International Classic


Happy Olympic Season! The fun began this past weekend in Salt Lake City, site of the annual U.S. International Figure Skating Classic. I always love attending this competition every year because it means getting the first look at the skaters' new programs (thankfully there are some who haven't taken the recycled route this year that many have chosen). Salt Lake City is nestled in such a beautiful setting, and it's such an easy city to navigate that the experience is always enjoyable. My only request for next year is for USFS to give us more time between the afternoon and night sessions to eat dinner. We had to do a 20-minute mad dash to Noodles & Company on Thursday evening to grab food and bring it back to the arena.

I'll take a look at each discipline and give some thoughts I have on each:

Pairs

I'm so glad Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro brought back their long program (one good case of recycling) because I think it is gorgeous and builds beautifully. They've come such a long way since the awkwardness when they first teamed up.

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier's "All of Me" short program stood out to me. When they skate it clean, it has the potential to create one of those beautiful moments. Their connection on the ice shines through.


I would love Deanna Stellato and Nate Bartholomay's long program so much more if they were using the original version of "One" for the first part (cover songs are another bad trend this season). I'd even take the Bono/Mary J. Blige version that Kim and Brent used. I love the second half of the program when it comes alive with "Where the Streets Have No Name." I think the original "One" would give them an edgier vibe in the beginning that would match the end better.

Chelsea Liu and Brian Johnson impressed me so much. Their skating has matured quite a bit, and they look like they could be contenders in the top echelon of U.S. pairs. I just hope the side by side jumps won't continue to be their downfall as it has been with almost every other U.S. pair.


Ghost is definitely the best program Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim have ever had, so good decision by USFS to ask them to bring it back. I think they could spruce up the choreography (the waving arms get a little repetitive), but the slow music does a good job of calming their movements so they look more graceful.

Dance

I hadn't seen the team of Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus before, but I absolutely loved them! They were adorable and looked like they'd been dancing together forever even though they're a relatively new team.

My favorite program in the dance discipline was the free dance of Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed. The music was special, and their movements were thoughtful and beautiful. They really set a mood, and Kana in particular expressed the emotion of the music so authentically.


The scores seemed rather low for most of the teams, and I thought Julia Biechler and Damian Dodge were grossly underscored. They have a nice, smooth quality to their skating that puts you at ease, and I especially love their powerful twizzles.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen's free dance was another standout program. I am so sad that they won't be able to attend the Olympics because their skating deserves to be on the sport's biggest stage.


I didn't care for the music in Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue's free dance, and I thought last year's FD did a better job showing their connection. I didn't think this program left as big of an emotional impact. The music really killed it for me.

Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker's short dance was one of my favorites. I like my Latin programs on the mainstream and upbeat side, and this one fit the bill.

Men

Nathan Chen - wow! His programs are so mature and well-choreographed, highlighting all his strengths. I hope he wins a medal in South Korea and then sticks around to bless us with his extraordinary talent for another four years.


Max Aaron also wowed me at this competition. He was rocking the warhorse programs, but they worked so well for him. He really seems to love the music and is connected to it in a way I haven't seen before. His jumps also looked in midseason form.

Liam Firus was another bright spot. His skating is like butter, and his La La Land program was perfect for his relaxed style. He also wins the cutest costume award.


Kazuki Tomono was a skater I hadn't seen before, and he was so entertaining, reminding me a of young Shoma Uno. He has a lot of flair, and he went all out in his West Side Story long program.

Ladies

Marin Honda - another WOW. This was my first time seeing her skate live, and her blades were dead silent as they moved over the ice. She seemed to be floating from one element to another. This girl is special, and I hope she will be competing for many more years because I can only imagine how extraordinary she'll be as she grows even more as an artist.


I'm not a fan of the Moulin Rouge soundtrack and I think it's waaaayyyyy overused, but Karen sold her "Tango de Roxanne" short program very well. I enjoyed the bones of her Carmen program, too, even with the mistakes. What's most impressive about her is her speed and attack.


Speaking of speed and attack, if Mirai Nagasu could attain those two elements she could finally set herself apart. I love the cuts of her Miss Saigon program and just want her to moooove faster across the ice to really make the program sing.

You can find all my photos from the event here => PHOTOS. Also included are the junior men's short program and the junior short dance.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

YA Book Bundle Giveaway

What do you do when your newest release is a snow-filled winter book but it's 80+ degrees outside with humidity so high your hair has taken on a new dimension? You host a giveaway of YA winter sports books! I've teamed up with Katie Van Ark and Melanie Hooyenga for a giveaway that's sure to cool you off on even the hottest summer nights.

#CoolReadsHotNights


Beginning TODAY, you can enter to win a paperback copy of each of our books — THE BOY NEXT DOORTHE SLOPE RULES, and GOLD RUSH — by sharing a picture online of how you enjoy winter in summer. Not sure what that means? Here are a few examples:

- Ice in a glass
- Ice cream scoop/cone
- Snow cone
- Ice skating at your favorite rink

The Rules:

—> Post a picture on Instagram, Twitter, AND/OR Facebook with the hashtag "CoolReadsHotNights" by Sunday, July 23rd.
—> You must live in the US.

It's that easy!

A few more details:

—> You can enter more than once
—> Get creative! Ice and ice cream are easy, but drag your snowshoes from the basement and take a hike in the dunes!
—> We'd love it if you'd tag us:
Instagram: @jcomeaux4, @katievanark, @melaniehoo
Twitter: @LadyWave4, @kvanark, @melaniehoo

Now what are you waiting for? Share your winter in summer pics!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stars on Ice 2017


It's time for my annual Stars on Ice show review! I saw the show at its Anaheim stop again so I could visit with friends, and the crowd was great compared to the attendance reports I'd seen from other cities.

We arrived early at the Honda Center for the pre-show rehearsal, but because of miscommunication between the show management and the arena, we missed the ice dancers' rehearsal group :( I was glad we did get to see Madison Chock and Evan Bates do a Q&A with the local skaters at the end of the pre-show. This was something new that hadn't been done at the previous rehearsals I'd attended. The singles skaters practiced bits and pieces of their programs and also toyed around with other elements (saw Vincent land a nice quad in front of us). Ashley spent a few minutes working on her "ice slide" move with assistance from Adam lol.  Here are some video clips I took during rehearsal => PRE-SHOW VIDS.

The show started with a great high-energy group number to "24K Magic." I find my eyes going to Charlie White a lot in these group numbers. His dancing has really reached another level since his participation in Love on the Floor last summer.


Here are the rest of the programs in order:

Vincent Zhou - "Sun" - This was the exhibition he did at nationals, and I like this program for him because it shows off the smoothness of his skating and how much he's worked on the artistic side. Couple of solid triples including a Rippon Lutz.

Gracie Gold - "Bang Bang" and "Best Mistake" - I really like the sassy choreography done by Misha Ge for this program. Would like to see Gracie bring it to life a little more. I think she did one double jump.

Adam Rippon and Gracie Gold - "City of Stars" - Loved this interlude and how much Gracie smiled once Adam came onto the ice. Wish it had been longer.


Adam Rippon - "Diamonds" - Very modern choreography done with complete commitment by Adam. His jumps look solid after the long layoff due to injury.

Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue - "Believer" - Love this song and the crisp, powerful movement by H/D in this program. I think a strong piece of music like this could be a good free dance vehicle for them.


Jeremy Abbott - "Land of All" - Inventive and angular choreography with a nicely-executed backflip included!

Karen Chen - "Rise" - Karen's command of the ice was AWESOME and the most powerful I've ever seen her look. She did a triple Lutz-half loop-triple Salchow in the program and was practicing her triple Lutz-triple toe during rehearsal.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates - "Santa Maria" - WOW WOW WOW. It's a shame that with all the tangos he's given his teams, Igor never blessed Madi and Evan with one because they owned this tango. Sultry, passionate, and creative with clever use of a folding chair as a prop. I didn't want it to end.


Ashley, Gracie, Adam, Jeremy - "Bright Lights" - This group number featured costumes that glowed in the dark. It was a cool concept, but the choreography seemed rather generic and didn't really grab me. As the only upbeat number other than the opening and closing, I would've preferred something more fun like "The Walker" from the 2014 show.

Nathan Chen - "Stole the Show" - Nathan really shines with the fast and furious footwork in this program, and he treated us to one of his beautiful quads. His performance ability shines through so much more when he doesn't have to do five of them.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White - "Adagio" - Stunning, moving, effortless skating. I can't think of enough adjectives for this program. They poured their hearts into the performance, and even though many of the movements were ones we've seen before, it didn't matter because they were done with such conviction.


Ashley Wagner - "Exogenesis: Symphony Part III" - Ashley maintained the mood set by Meryl and Charlie with her reprise of her Muse long program. She did a few very nice triples and performed the program to the max, completely engaged with the music.

Cast - "Send in the Clowns" - A lovely tribute to the late Jef Billings. A montage of clips from past SOI shows played on the video screens while the cast skated. I could feel the skaters' appreciation for his work in the air.


Cast - "Fratres" - This was a pretty group number to start the second half, but I think it would've been better to start with something a little more upbeat since the first half ended with the Jef Billings tribute.

Madison and Zach - "Stand By Me" - The program reminded me a lot of their free dance from this past season - very lyrical and emphasizing the emotional connection between the two of them.

Adam - "Getaway" - Cool, dancey program with a different vibe from his first number, so great variety! Once again his jumps were on point, too.


Nathan - "Parachute" - The shrill ringing phone sound effects were a bit annoying, but Nathan again brought great energy and fast feet to the performance. No quads, but I'm glad he didn't tempt fate again!

Madi Chock, Jeremy, Evan - "Tilted" - Another entertaining group number with interesting shapes and choreography.


Gracie - "Golden" - This was more of Gracie's usual style, but the jumps still weren't there (she did one double). I hope if her heart is still in skating that she can find her way to make a comeback on her terms.

Ice Dancers - "Black Hole Sun" - Awesome, dark group number with the three ice dance teams. I just wish the lights had been brighter because it was hard to see the facial expressions and the nuances of the program.


Karen - "Butterfly Lovers" - More gorgeous, heartfelt skating from Karen. She popped one jump but looked strong in every other aspect.

Jeremy - "In This Shirt" - The style of the program seemed similar to Jeremy's first number, so I had trouble remembering which one was which. He had a couple of jump issues in this one, but his basic skating is still so lovely to watch.


Madi and Evan - "Under Pressure" - I've loved this program all season long, so I was happy to see it one more time. It was great to see them include the twizzle sequence, which ice dancers don't normally do in exhibition programs.

Ashley - "Handclap" - This was Ashley at her fun, sassy best. She made me enjoy the program even though I'm not a fan of the song.

Meryl and Charlie - "Sax" - Totally different from their earlier number and such a blast of energy! This program showed off Meryl and Charlie's pure dance skills and how much they've grown from their experiences with Dancing With the Stars and Love on the Floor.


Cast - "Can't Stop the Feeling" - A great way to close the night with a fun, rocking number that included a chance for each skater to take their turn in the spotlight and be goofy (examples: Adam ripping off his jacket and Charlie running and sliding across the ice). The skaters took multiple laps around and didn't seem to want to leave. It was great to see how much fun they were having.


Here are the rest of my photos from the show plus the Meet and Greet! => SOI PHOTOS

Monday, May 1, 2017

RONE Award Voting


GOLD RUSH is nominated for InD'tale Magazine's RONE Award in the YA:General category! I've been nominated for my other books but have never made the finals, so it would be amazing to finally get there. You can vote here until May 8! => RONE Awards

Voting requires a quick registration, but it's all free and you can unsubscribe at any time :) Thank you so much for your support!!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

CROSSING THE ICE 99c Sale


Today is my birthday, so I'm celebrating with a book sale! You can pick up CROSSING THE ICE, the first book in the Ice Series, for only 99 cents. The sale will only last one week, so don't miss out! You can find it on Amazon here.


Falling hard never felt so good.

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.

The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Gold Rush Blog Tour Day 6


Welcome to the GOLD RUSH blog tour organized by Xpresso Book Tours! Check out reviews of the book at the sites below and enter my gift card giveaway!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Gold Rush Blog Tour Day 5


Welcome to the GOLD RUSH blog tour organized by Xpresso Book Tours! Check out reviews of the book at the sites below and enter my gift card giveaway!