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.
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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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Somehow it’s been 8 months since I’ve done an official character gift exchange? What? How is that possible? I’m not entirely sure but as soon as I read Magnolia but Kristi Cook a few weeks ago, I knew they would be the perfect victims, er, candidates for my next one! First, a few reasons to pick up this August release paperback:
- The setting is practically another character. Cook described the gorgeous Mississippi town so well, I felt like I was practically living there too. It was so delightfully Southern and everything felt so gorgeous and grand.
- It’s not exactly a Romeo and Juliet story. Instead of Ryder and Jemma want nothing to do with one another, and it’s their parents who are pretty much marrying them on the spot. Loved this twist, and also the backstory associated with it.
- There is a storm. An intense storm that traps both of the main characters in a house — alone. With the threat of no electricity. So. I’ll let that idea simmer for you because it was awesome.
I sped through Magnolia so quickly because I could not WAIT to see what would happen.
And now for the character gift exchange!
Ryder to Jemma
Industrial Film Bookends: Jemma is a budding filmmaker, and her dreams of going to film school in NYC makes up for a lot of her anxiety in the book because it’s not exactly what her parents have in mind for her. I loved this artistic side of her!
Hello, New York: An Illustrated Letter of the Five Boroughs: This book is quirky and fun, and I would imagine Jemma would be so thrilled Ryder was thoughtful and got her this. It’s a sign of support.
Glimmering Tough Hair Pin Set: Another detail I loved in the book was how Jemma had an eye for fixing vintage dresses and making them her own. I didn’t want Ryder to buy her a dress, especially because finding them is half the fun but I think these hair clips would compliment any one of her frocks.
Jemma to Ryder
Antique Constellation Print: Stars are Ryder’s thing; instead of a football future, he wants his in astronomy and science. Wouldn’t this be fun to frame?
Romeo & Juliet: A Baby Lit Board Book: This is exactly the kind of gag gift I would give to a boyfriend/my husband. Ryder and Jemma are aware of their situation and this is a light-hearted reminder of their friendship and their family history.
Dinosaur Boxer Briefs: A tongue-in-cheek reminder to stick to your guns.
Hope you enjoyed these! Now hurry up + buy the book!
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Until We Touch by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Part of the Fool’s Gold Series.
Publication Date: June 24, 2013
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: PR company, small town, best friends, romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: When Larissa relocated to Fool’s Gold from Los Angeles, it was for her job as a personal assistant/ company masseuse at an up and coming PR agency. She hangs out, lives near, and works with her best friends. When her mom plants the seed that she is in love with her boss a.k.a. best friend, she denies it to everyone, especially herself … until she can’t anymore.
If the day is just too humid and you are in a grumpy mood, I suggest picking up a Fool’s Gold book. It’s a scientific fact that it raises your spirits!
Truthfully, Until We Touch isn’t my favorite Fool’s Gold book. It was far too repetitive with some of the details and I thought our main man, Jack, had to step up his penance game at the end of the book. (This is the first time I’ve seen a hero in one of these books act like a total asshole. Fact.) But, despite that, I definitely enjoyed getting caught up in all the happenings in the town (a new football program at a nearby college!) and reuniting with some of the characters I’ve met in past books.
And there’s nothing like two best friends not realizing they have the hots for each other when they, indeed, have the hots for each other.
Larissa is a gal who is generous with her time and her ability to help people, and I had to laugh out loud at so many of the causes she roped Jack into just because she could not say no. (An owl, people! An owl.) Even though, Jack makes it known he’s not an emotional guy (tragic past) he can’t help but give into her. She finds the cause, and he fronts the money (or the space). These two have an interesting dynamic, and proclamations of love were a bit anti-climatic but I still found their “courtship” super sweet and sexy and fueled by other surprises.
I can’t pick up a Fool’s Gold book without daydreaming about moving to a similar town. Sure, it’s small and there’s a ton of meddling but everyone looks out for each other and it always seems the possibilities for happiness (career, friendship, love) are aplenty.
Until We Touch plucked me from my unhappy place and welcomed me into a MUCH better one.
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