Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl ( web | tweet )
Book 1 in Jackson: Girl’s Night Out series.
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: librarians, loner, motorcycles, tattoos, family secrets
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: By day, Sophie is a librarian in Jackson Hole, taking care of her dad, her brother, and their farm. By night, she loves to have very secretive sexy moments with strangers. Not wanting anyone in town to actually discover that side of her. Enter Alex. The last person in the world she should be attracted to or want to go out on a date with. But oops. They can have fun, but do they really have what it takes to get serious?
I love Victoria Dahl. Here’s a bit why.
Never have I read a female in a romance novel that was so sexually empowered. Sophie prided herself on looking like a good girl on the outside but, on the inside, she knew what she liked. She feared showing her sexual side to anyone who was tied to her town because she felt very strongly about keeping her reputation in check. This meant very sporadic hookups with men she’d probably never see again.
Let me say this. If you are not a fan of the love-me-harder dirty talk, Looking for Trouble might not be right for your nightcap. Sophie shocked me a little bit at first because I was not expecting her to be so direct about her sexual needs and part of me hates that I was surprised by that! Obviously, more female characters should feel comfortable enough to know what they want and express it!
Anyway. In a sort of Romeo and Juliet twist, Alex returns to Jackson Hole to reunite with his older brother and mom. Turns out his deceased dad cheated on the family with Sophie’s mom. Their extramarital escapades still haunt the small town and the two families years and years later. But Alex has no idea who Sophie is and Sophie isn’t planning to make their “thing” something frequent but this changes (!!) with feelings and fiery sex and realizations.
Not only can I count on Dahl to spice up my reading list, but she always provides such detailed histories for her characters. Why hasn’t Sophie left Jackson Hole? Why wasn’t Alex more curious about his brother and mother over the years? Can they both overcome the town gossip and the hurt feelings to make their relationship work? There’s a lot more to the story than two people falling in love. Plus Dahl introduces some great girlfriends, and I’m always a fan of those candid moments shared with gal pals.
It’s true I haven’t been disappointed by a Dahl novel yet, but I think Looking for Trouble is my new favorite.
Add to Goodreads| Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon | Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl Review
Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: time travel, Walt Disney World history, divorce, romance
Format read: Paperback I purchased.
Summary: When Haley meets some friends during a forced Disney World vacation with her dad and his new family, she has another seizure and finds herself at the same resort but in 1982. Her parents are teenagers and vacationing in the same spot, a cute lifeguard named Jason saves her, and, she has no idea how to get back to the future. But does she even want to go back? (Forward?)
Disney World as a setting in a book seems like an Estelle no-brainer, right? Let me assure you… very few authors get it right. As if Gaby Triana’s dedication to Walt Disney didn’t tip me off initially, she gets it — the fandom, the importance of its history, and, most importantly, the details.
As a WDW geek, I could not stop squealing over the details of a now-abandoned River Country water park, basically left to rot. I never had the chance to visit as a kid (my first trip to WDW was in 1996 and my parents aren’t water park people) but Triana brought the park to life for me through Haley’s time traveling, and, once again, I wished I had had the opportunity to experience it.
I’m getting ahead of myself. (See how excited I am!?) Basically, Haley suffers from seizures (she has recently found this out) and has one when she is taking part in a scavenger hunt with new friends at the resort that housed River Country. She breaks in, has her seizure, and suddenly wakes up to 1982. She meets Jason, an adorable lifeguard, who takes pity on her and helps her blend into the background, and discovers that her parents (in their younger forms) are on property with her too.
Triana definitely has that “typical teenager” attitude down when it comes to Haley. She never wanted to go on this vacation in the first place; she’s missing out on hanging with friends and the guy she is crushing on. She has no patience for her dad’s memories of a vintage Disney World. A lot of her anger stems from the fact that she still cannot accept her parent’s divorce, I think. Even though years have passed, she still feels the effects of her family’s breakup.
Because Haley is suddenly privy to the earliest memories of her parent’s courtship, I expected more of an emphasis on this portion of the story. Did I think she would succeed in getting them back together down the line? Not at all. But Summer of Yesterday‘s focus on Jason and his growing relationship with Haley teetered the equilibrium of the book for me. Self-actualization should have won out over romance (as sweet as it was) because while they were great for each other at this exact moment, how could it possibly work in the end? It might sound crazy but balance of the storylines would have made this time travel story a bit more realistic for this reader.
Despite that hiccup, I couldn’t get enough of the book. I may have shed a tear near the end (okay, fine I did) and I closed it, truly appreciating the accuracy of the Disney theme park setting (I even learned a few things!) and how nice it felt to read about a (somewhat complicated) summer love story.
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This Summer by Katlyn Duncan [twitter | website]
Publication Date: July 9, 2014
Publisher: Carina UK
Pages: 240 Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: boy/girl next door neighbors, camp counselors, summer camp
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Two years ago, Hadley’s next door neighbor, Will, fled town on the very same night he and Hadley became “more than friends.” After her high school graduation, Hadley breaks up with her boyfriend, Carter, to have one last free summer with her BFF, Lily. Unexpectedly, Will returns to town and is assigned to be her co-counselor for the summer camp her father is in charge of. So much for an easy-going summer.
Have you ever read a book that made you flashback to a specific moment in your life and felt so authentic it seemed like the author had written about your particular experience? I can’t explain This Summer by Katlyn Duncan in any other way except for HOW DID SHE STEAL MY MEMORIES?
Growing up, I attended a weeklong summer camp where we rode horses, spent countless hours swimming, and did super cheesy arts and crafts projects. I idolized my camp counselors. (And this one time, the lifeguard was Australian and I 100% had the hots for him. I was convinced we’d get married. True story.) When I was old enough to attend an additional leadership camp to become a counselor at my yearly camp, there was no question. Sign me up! Compile all of those memories with the questionable relationship Hadley is experiencing with her former neighbor who returns to town and becomes her co-counselor for the summer, there’s no doubt this all felt almost like an out-of-body experience for me.
Hadley’s last summer as a camp counselor is one she and her BFF, Lily, deem worthy of being wild and single for. No strings attached. Hadley breaks up with her boyfriend, Carter, because she’d rather not delay the inevitable for the end of summer when they head across the country for different colleges. She’s satisfied with her decision until Will returns to town. Will: the boy Hadley was deeply in love with, the one who broke her heart by quickly disappearing from town and never contacting her.
The physical attraction is still there for Will and Hadley, but she doesn’t want him to know how painful his abandonment was, and he’s unable to explain all the reasons why he left so quickly. Every time these two take one step forward to rebuild their relationship, something causes them to take two (giant) steps back. I definitely rooted for their reunification and hoped they’d get past their inability to communicate. My personal summer romances never worked out, but the hopeless romantic in me desperately wanted theirs to. Even though Will is only in town to fix up and sell his father’s home and will be leaving at the end of the summer, maybe, just maybe, they can bypass all the hurt to start something new.
The camp aspects — loving the kids, understanding their quirks, being responsible for tiny humans, and spending time at an overnight camp — were all on point. I loved how Will and Hadley interacted with them. I bear-hug embraced Hadley and Will trying to figure out their feelings, but realistically felt like too much time was spent on the tension and buildup before the climax of the story came. There’s a lot of back and forth, which didn’t annoy me because their story IS complex, but when things finally got to a point I was satisfied with, the timing seemed to have lost its flow.
A few details felt like they could have been finessed; the story is dual-perspective so we know where both main characters stand. Sometimes this was beneficial so I could see how both were feeling, but a few times the details were confusing. One area Duncan certainly didn’t fail to explore was the, um, very mature nature of Will and Hadley’s relationship. Ahem. I’ll just leave it at that. Be prepared.
All-in-all I was taken back to another part of my life that seemed so come alive again as I read This Summer. Despite the few hiccups I experienced in the story, I felt very connected and this felt like the epitome of a summertime read.
Add to Goodreads | Amazon ($5.28 for kindle) | Barnes & Noble ($6.99 for nook)
You can learn a lot about someone by their room. Don’t you think?
It’s been really fun to take the time to read Anna + Lola back-to-back for the first time in forever. Did you remember how super neat Anna was? (She can give Danny Tanner a run for his money.) Or how all-over-the-place messy Lola was? It’s the discoveries of these small details that make a re-read-along so much fun. We are granted the opportunity to get to know our favorite characters all over again.
So welcome to Rather Be Reading and our stop on the #IslaIsComing tour (huge hugs to Andi ABCs, Cuddlebuggery, Perpetual Page Turner, IDEK_Linz, and Paper Riot for throwing this stellar celebration!), and most importantly, welcome to the colorful, energetic, artsy place that is Lola’s San Francisco sanctuary. (Guys, it’s where the magic happens!)
Purple Wig | Blue Wig | Red Wig | Anthropologie Glace Crackle Shelf | White Mannequins
Red Sari Bedroom Inspiration
Goodnight Moon Print | Marie Antoinette Print | Elle Floral Area Rug
Pink Desk Inspiration | My Fair Lady Poster | Fred Astaire + Ginger Rogers Poster
We’re practically fawning over that desk and the canopy. Aren’t you?
Another fabulous Lola discovery (otherwise excluded in the above graphic) is the great friendship between our main girl and her best friend, Lindsey. They have Nancy Drew nicknames! They dress up like the other on Halloween, and they accept each other as they are. Why are they so underrated on gal pals? We must promise to remember them more!
Anyway… It’s no secret that Stephanie Perkins’ books hold a special place in Rather Be Reading’s heart. Way way back, when the two of us had just met once, one of our earlier Twitter conversations was about how much we loved Anna and just like that, magic happened once again.
Because we want you to share the wonderfulness of this series with your best friends (or someone you haven’t met yet?), we want to give you a chance to win a full set of these gorgeous books. Whether you keep them for yourself or surprise someone special, we hope you cherish them as much as we have. To win: leave a comment below. That’s it. Open internationally. Must be 13 years old to enter. Giveaway will conclude on Friday, 8/15 at 11:59pm EST.
Thanks so much for stopping by to celebrate LOLA with us, as well as
the fabulous release of Isla and the Happily Ever After. xoxo
Since Last Summer by Joanna Philbin ( web | tweet )
See review of Rules of Summer.
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Hamptons, summer, friendship, relationships, secrets
Format read: Bought a hardcover copy.
Summary: Isabel and Rory are back in the Hamptons for the summer. This time, Rory is a guest & dating Isabel’s brother, Connor, while Isabel is going through a “dry spell”. Her family life is certainly different this time around, and she can’t stop thinking of her boyfriend from last year, Mike.
I was really excited to spend time with old friends again this year. Rules of Summer was a highlight of my reading last June, so the idea of a sequel made me all kinds of happy. But, sadly, this summer did not hold the same kind of magic as the first.
Joanna Philbin had a lot to play with here: a reunion between Rory and her boyfriend, Connor. Isabel dealing with the family secrets she found out at the end of the last book. The friendship between both girls. And, finally, the family that brought all of them together: the perfect Rules.
I’m not sure where things started to go wrong for me. Instead of diving more into Rory and Isabel’s friendship, they spent a lot of time apart (Rory was interning and Isabel got a job as a waitress) dealing with various challenges mostly separately. So many times I thought to myself: I just don’t buy it. How close are they really? Are they best friends? Should they be? I wanted more. I think the friendship needed to be the anchor of this story, and instead, it was grazed over and it was presumed the reader just understood their connection. I needed to feel it.
“Grazed over” is a suitable way to describe most of the plot lines in Since Last Summer and it made the difference between an entertaining book and a memorable one. Rory has some unexpected relationship issues with Connor, and Isabel is dwelling on her breakup with Mike last year. Oh man, I really loved Isabel and Mike and not only could I relate to her inability to move on from him (even though she tried to convince her otherwise), I was rooting for this reunion to work somehow. (Is it strange how I wished the discussion of sex was folded more into the story? I would have liked to see the author have Isabel work through her first time and her intimate connection to Mike.)
New characters were featured in Since Last Summer too, and I happened to really like Evan and Amelia. One of these characters might have been as a device to create drama in the book, but because it was pretty much the only bolt of chemistry I felt in the entire story I just went with it, hoping things would work themselves out somehow.
It’s confusing to me why when given the chance to build on two great characters from a previous novel I still don’t have a good handle on them and their backgrounds. (Well, not true about Isabel so much, but what about Rory’s mom? I would have loved development there or even more conversations between her and her aunt, who worked for the Rules.) As a sidenote, I really enjoyed getting to know Mr. Rule in Since Last Summer and I wish he would have popped up more. A decision seemed to be made to place more importance on romance than family and that choice didn’t entirely work for me, especially when there was potential for so much more.
So would I still recommend Since Last Summer? I would. It’s breezy young adult book full of drama and cute boys. But if I had to choose between the two: Rules of Summer is the way to go.
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