“Sea Change”—A Book Review

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Sea Change by Aimee Friedman is an enchanting summer tale. If you like mermaids, islands, and romance, this quick beach read is not to be missed!

Having just split with her boyfriend, and fought with her best friend, Miranda is totally fine with leaving New York for the summer. Her summer destination: Selkie Island, near the Georgia coast, to help her mother clean out and organize her late grandmother’s estate home known as The Mariner.

On the ferry ride over to the island, she hears a lot of gossip about Selkie Island, and many people warn her to beware of the mist that surrounds the isle. Upon arriving, Miranda quickly hears gossip of mermaids who can emerge from the ocean and walk on the shore.

And of course, a cute guy is involved. Miranda soon meets Leo, a mysterious islander with emerald green eyes and (naturally) she falls for him and begins meeting him on the beach, amongst the mist.

“Leo kissed languidly, a kiss like he had all the time n the world, a kiss as hot and slow as the summer itself. I understood why people sometimes went crazy, risked everything for a kiss.”

Then, as Miranda stumbles across books on selkies, mermaids, and mermen among her grandmother’s possessions, she can’t help her roaming imagination as she wonders about Leo’s amazing ocean-swimming abilities and the fact that he seems to just “appear” out of the water.

“I wanted to tell Leo that I’d imagined him as a merman so he could laugh with me too. But the mere word was too absurd to even say out loud. Merman.”

While the characters are only surface deep, this magical story gets a three out of five stars from me. If you’re looking for a light beach reach, Sea Change is the book for you!

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“Unbreak my Heart”—A Book Review

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Unbreak my Heart by Melissa Walker was a fast, but thoughtful summer read.

Clementine is going to be stuck on a sail boat all summer with her parents and older-than-her years little sister, Olive. Normally the thought of losing an entire summer away from civilization (and internet) would make Clem squirm and possibly pitch a total bitch fit. But not this summer—this summer she can’t wait to get away.

At the end of Clementine’s sophomore year, she has no friends. She is in exile. She is a horrible person. She deserves to be completely miserable. Or so she thinks, anyway.

Throughout the progression of this coming-of-age novel, Clementine is battling some serious internal turmoil and self-deprecation. As the novel starts, all you know is that Clem somehow screwed up and now her best friend (since forever) hates her. When they first embark on their month-long sailing trip, Clem constantly locks herself in her small bedroom cabin, crying, listening to sad playlists, writing in her journal, basically just wallowing in self-loathing.

“Just because the tears have mostly dried up, it doesn’t mean I’m better.”

Clementine refuses to tell her family what happened during the school year, keeping her misery completely to herself, and only allowing readers glimpses of what unfolded during her sophomore year.

But as the summer sails on (pun intended), Clementine meets a happy-go-lucky redheaded guy, named James, who is embarking on the same sailing loop with his father. James and Clem end running into each other at almost every dock, and she can’t help but notice how happy James always is…it literally just radiates out of him.

After spending more and more time with James and learning about his not-so-easy past, Clem realizes that life is what you decide to make of it. Yes, sometimes it sucks, but bottling everything up and dwelling on it only makes it worse and makes you and everyone around you miserable. Sometimes you just have to let your feelings out and talk things through…often keeping things in and ruminating over the past make a situation seem a heck of a lot worse than it may actually be.

I give this quick summer read three out of five stars. It’s the perfect book for a lazy day and definitely has some thought provoking moments 🙂

“Second Chance Summer”—A Book Review

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Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson is one of those summer reads that sticks with you for many years to come.

Taylor has never felt “extraordinary,” growing up with a brilliant, scholarly older brother and an adorable younger sister who excels at dance. The one thing Taylor is good at? Running away when the world becomes too difficult to handle.

But this summer, she can’t escape.

Receiving the terrible news that her dad only has a few months left to live, her parents decide to spend one last summer together as a family in the lake house they haven’t been to since Taylor was twelve. That was the year her friendship with Lucy dissolved and she made a mess of things with a boy, Henry Crosby.

Stuck in close quarters with her family, having her childhood best friend live just across the lake, and having Henry live next door, Taylor has nowhere to run. She has no other option but to put on her big girl panties and confront life head on. Most importantly, she finally has to face the fact that her father is sick, and each breath he takes only takes him that much closer to leaving her behind.

“The thing is that people only get hurt—really hurt—when they’re trying to play it safe. That’s when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they’re scared. They hurt themselves and other people.”

I highly recommend this heartbreakingly beautiful coming-of-age novel that reminds us about love, hope, and the importance of family and second chances.

Five out of Five stars!

“Twenty Boy Summer”—A Book Review

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Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is a heart wrenchingly good summertime read.

Anna is headed to Zanzibar Bay with her best friend Frankie for the summer. The wild and daring Frankie is determined for Anna to finally have a summer romance and devises a plan that they meet and hang out with one boy each day.

Anna agrees to go along with Frankie’s crazy plan. But what she doesn’t tell her is that she’s already had a sizzling romance…with Frankie’s older brother Matt, who died a year ago. Matt promised he would tell Frankie about them, but died tragically before he had the chance. So for the past year, Anna has had to keep the dear memories of her and Matt’s steamy romance secret.

“But when you’re in the middle of being in love with someone, you just don’t stop to ask, ‘Matt, listen, if you die before you tell your sister about us, should I tell her?’”

Emotionally raw and honest, this novel deals with grief, tragedy, secrets, betrayal, family, steamy romance, and most importantly, learning how to move on and live again. I give this summer time read five out of five stars!

“Endless Summer”—A Book Review

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Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols is a stupendous summer read! It’s a collection of two summer novels: The Boys Next Door and its sequel Endless Summer.

Lori spends the entire year just waiting for her summers at the lake, where she works at her neighbors’ marina with her older brother. The pluses for working there every summer: 1) Wakeboarding everyday 2) Extra cash 3) Working on her golden summer tan 4) The Vader brothers.

Ever since Lori was a little girl, she’s had a crush on Sean Vader. The downside=he’s two years older than her and sees her as “one of the guys.” Lori has tagged along with her older brother since childhood, just to hang with Sean and Adam Vader. But Lori is determined that this is the summer Sean will notice her. She has a plan!

The plan: First, start acting and dressing more like a girly-girl. Second, start hanging out with the younger of the Vader brothers, Adam, who is her age. The hopeful outcome is that seeing her with Adam all summer will make Sean jealous, thus causing him to sweep Lori off her feet in a fit of jealousy. The fatal flaw in this otherwise brilliant and foolproof plan: Adam has an agenda of his own.

Full of romance, summer sun, and laughs, this two-in-one novel is the perfect poolside read!

I give this fun book five stars!

“My Life Next Door”—A Book Review

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My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is a great novel to enjoy any time of the year, regardless of its summertime setting.

Samantha Reed’s life is perfect…or at least it should be. Her life has basically been mapped out for her since birth. With rich, High Society, grandparents and mother, Samantha has always had the best of the best: the perfect modest wardrobe, attendance at the best private schools, and weekly dinners at the country club.

But perfect isn’t always as good as it seems. Samantha’s father left when she and her older sister, Tracy, were very young, and her politician mother is a bit OCD. Everything always has to be perfect. There is no room for error in Samantha and Tracy’s lives. Smoothies for breakfast, Cardigans for dress, homework completed exactly on time (if not early). Oh, and the carpet must be vacuumed in perfect rows, like, five times a day.

And the Reeds do NOT associate with the next door neighbors, the Garretts. But Samantha has a secret: she has been watching the Garretts with fascination for years from her rooftop balcony perch. With eight children, the Garretts’ household is completely chaotic, loud, messy, and wild. And Samantha is simply entranced.

Then, one fateful summer night, Jase, one of the oldest Garrett boys, climbs the terrace to Samantha’s window and changes everything. Samantha and Jase quickly embark on a whirlwind romance that with have your heart thumping and your breath catching.

The Garrett family quickly welcomes Samantha as one of their own, and she can’t get enough of the pandemonium. Each of the Garrett children captures Sam’s heart, and she finds herself voluntarily babysitting for the family any chance she can.

Throughout the summer, Samantha comes to the realization that no matter how hard we would like to believe they are, our parents aren’t always right. While her mother sneers at the size and behavior of the Garrett family, Samantha continually witnesses the unyielding love and passion, in spite of the financial hardships having such a big family causes.

And of course, just how it always goes, right when everything in life seems to be perfect, the bottom falls out, turning Sam’s life upside down in the worst possible way. Samantha must make the difficult decision of choosing which family to protect: her own or the Garretts’, who have basically become like her own family.  

 

Tantalizing quotes to enjoy:

“I’m not sure I can pull off being friends with someone whose clothes I want to rip off. Oh God. Did I actually just think that? I steal another look at Jase in his jeans. Yes. Yes, I did.”

No, because of instinct. You can tell who to trust. People can, just like animals. We don’t listen as well as they do, always, but it’s still there. That prickling feeling when something’s not right. That calm feeling when it is.” His voice is low and husky in the darkness.

“Jase?”

“Mmm-hmm?” He lifts up on one elbow, his face barely visible in the twilight.

“You have to kiss me,” I find myself saying.

“Yeah.” He leans closer. “I do.” –My Life Next Door.

“Before You Go” –A Book Review

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Before You Go by James Preller, is a quick, but profound read. At 208 pages, I made it through this book in a few hours, but don’t let the size fool you about its might (pun not intended).

The summer before Jude’s senior year in high school, he takes a crappy summer job on the boardwalk flipping burgers. But anything is better than being stuck inside the house all day with an emotionally unavailable, pill-popping mother.

His little sister drowned in the backyard swimming pool seven years ago, when Jude was supposed to be watching her, and he has never been able to let go of the guilt. But the thing is, Jude was just a kid himself. Ever since that catastrophic summer, the only person Jude has ever really opened up to is his best friend, Corey.

When Becka starts working at the beachside concession stand with him, he is immediately enthralled by her. Because of how closed off Jude is, he keeps Becka at a safe distance, while somehow managing to pull her in at the same time. With the encouragement of his best friend and co-worker, Jude finally decides to go for it with Becka, and learning that they both play guitar and are passionate about the same music, it doesn’t take long for these two teens to hit it off.

But as it often does with life, just when things begin to look up, tragedy strikes again. As Jude struggles to stay afloat, he must decide if letting yourself love someone is worth the risk of a broken heart.

All in all I would have to give this book 3 ½ out of 5 stars. The narration was a bit weak at times, but I believe this book is worth the read. It doesn’t take long to finish, and the overall messages you take away will resonate within your heart. James Preller had me analyzing the important things in my life and asking myself, “Is it worth the risks?”

 

”Jude couldn’t locate the name for this feeling, the string of a child’s helium balloon slipping through his fingers, this sense of floating skyward, knew only a boy’s confusion and thrill and desire, the heart’s thrup and thrum. Kiss me again and again until all the stars crowd the sky like scattered salt on black rock. He pressed into her again, his heart on her lips.”