ARC Review – Life on the Level by Zoraida Cordova

Book Review - Life on the Level

Life on the Level Cover

Life on the Level (On the Verge #3)

Author: Zoraida Cordova

Expected Publication: February 23rd, 2016

Publisher: Diversion Books

Format: e-ARC, 252 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Read: February 2016

Zoraida CordovaGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


4 Stars

Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.
River Thomas was born a wild card. Her father took one look at her and decided that his daughter would have the best poker face in the city.
But when he dies unexpectedly, River’s already dangerous life is spiraling out of control. After six months without gambling—staying away from the tables where she makes and loses her fortune—she relapses, and soon must go on the run from a guy looking to settle a score.
She wants to be better, needs to be better, before she ends up like her dad. The road leads her to rehab in Sun Valley, Montana. But first, one last hurrah, and the beautiful stranger at the bar is just what the doctor ordered. She leaves before sunrise still thinking of his face. But her last hurrah with the guy of her dreams is also her counselor for the next ninety days…
Attraction, however, is too strong a lure to ignore, and soon River finds herself gambling with the one thing she never thought she would—her heart.


Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This one is a lot more dramatic and angsty than the previous but considering the setting it makes a lot of sense. It’s emotional, dangerous, sexy (obviously), and powerful. Even with all the grief, there are funny and playful moments so it doesn’t bog the reader down at all. The only thing that bothered me was that things were a little bit too quickly resolved at the end.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I usually always end up repeating myself in this section, but that’s okay! It’s simple yet descriptive and detailed. It’s honest and realistic. This time it also feels a lot more emotional and intense to help support how the plot moves. But it still has it’s funny laugh out loud moments that I love while still being powerful.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really liked the glimpses we got of River, the main character, in the second book but the reality of her wasn’t what I was expecting. I really enjoyed her character but she was tougher and maybe even colder than I thought she was going to be. She’s really rough around the edges but she’s also been through a lot and has a hard time connecting to new people. She’s really independent and smart, knows how to take care of herself for the most part but has really self-destructive habits. At first, she was kind of in denial about her issues which frustrated me and she was a little bit too stubborn and dense on things but I loved seeing her character development throughout the book. Although again I’ll say, the end was a bit too rushed and it should’ve been digested better. Chris Hutchinson aka Hutch, the male protagonist, sometimes feels a bit too good to be true. He’s sweet, open and honest. He’s really strong and steady and just what River needs. But I kind of wanted to see more of his flaws and I can’t remember seeing any. He’s very determined to be with River, no matter what but it kind of made him lose sight of his own goals and aspirations. I liked him but Hayden is my bae forever.


 This installment in the series is definitely a lot deeper and more serious compared to the first two books.

The plot was intense. We follow River, who takes in a hot sexy partner the night before she checks herself into rehab. Turns out, he is a counselor in that rehab center. With lots of secrets and her past coming back to haunt her, River is in over her head. When reading New Adult, I’m used to light and fluffly romances with a dash of seriousness and this series is no exception. But this one was a lot heavier than I was expecting. Not only because of the setting we are in, but also because of the circumstances River is facing. Her addictions, her attraction to a counselor, new experiences as well as some unfortunate things going on within the center. It’s so much more emotional than I’m used to but it’s not a bad thing. There’s a lot more drama and angst in this one but not the over the top kind that you usually find in New Adult which just feels over-saturated and fake. This book was not like that at all. Everything is real and honest, representative of the struggles of life and addiction and forbidden love. It’s raw yet beautiful and my love for Cordova’s writing stems from her ability to do these kinds of things.

River was a lot colder than I expected. The glimpses of her you get from Love on the Ledge made her seem a lot more fun and flighty but obviously a girl with some issues. I didn’t realize how deep those issues went until I got a chance to see inside her head. Out of her three best friends, she’s the toughest, take life by the balls kind of girl, not just in her attitude and the way she responds to things, but also it’s ingrained in her personality. She’s used to things going wrong and for things to be hard for her. She doesn’t have much faith in being able to find happiness and even when she does find it, she doesn’t really believe that she’s going to be able to keep it. It was very frustrating because she was so stubborn! It took her a long time to get her shit together but at the same time, I appreciated that her character development wasn’t glossed over for the sake of pushing the plot.

Hutch was amazing but almost a little too good to be true. He was really focused on River, loving her, protecting her and helping her. But at the same time, I feel like he focused so much on her and never really took the time to see the consequences of their involvement for him or just didn’t care. Which for some would be really romantic but it’s kind of a red flag for me. You have be healthy and happy with yourself before trying to help someone else be that way. And that’s in books and real life. But I really did like his personality and I felt like they were compatible and good together.

As it usually happens with this series, side characters end up becoming main characters later on so I make it a point to keep an eye on anyone in the background and get to know them as much as I can. Just like the last book, there were quite a few supporting characters that caught my eye. Randy was hilarious, and I really loved him. He was a lot more complex than it seemed at first and I really enjoyed how he opened up. Julie was a complete psycho. I hope some bad shit happens to her or that she gets some serious help and quick. Maddie made me so sad, she tried so hard but she was just so weak. It’s the sad reality of addiction, some people just don’t make it through.

Overall, I liked this installment and I really hope there are more books for this series coming.

So that’s it for this review! If my continuous mention of this series hasn’t convinced you yet, I’m telling you give this series a try! This is the kind of New Adult that should be popular. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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6 thoughts on “ARC Review – Life on the Level by Zoraida Cordova

  1. […] Last but certainly not least, the On the Verge series is my favorite New Adult contemporary series right now. Again this is a companion series about different girls and their relationships with awesome men and how they form. Super simple, pretty similar to everything out there but the writing style is hilarious, fresh and real. I really like all the books but the second is my absolute favorite, it makes me feel so represented as a Latina. If you’d like to see more of my in depth thoughts about this series so you can be totally persuaded to read this, you can read my reviews here, here and here. […]


  2. […] This is an ARC that I got from NetGalley at the end of last month and I swear I have never been more excited for an ARC in my entire life. This is one of my favorite New Adult series ever and this particular story is a lot heavier and more serious than the first two but still so incredible. If you’d like to see more of my in depth thoughts, check out my review here. […]


  3. I love series where the side characters get to become MC in the sequels, it breaks the monotony and it also gives a sense of a much better developed world.
    The heroes in NA novels are always a bit too good to be true, aren’t they XD But I guess that’s what draw us to this genre.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Danggg this book seems to draw out a lot more emotion + angst than the previous books! I remember I really liked the first one, so I have to keep following the series. I like how it seems more honest than anything, because New Adult seems to really like to over-dramaticize things, haha. I’ll definitely be picking this one up soon! Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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