I've got so many books to review, to get caught up, that I decided to combine a bunch into mini-reviews. As you can tell, this batch is all about the Summer Romance Formula. :) I purchased a ton of these back in the spring and read them all summer long. It was pretty enjoyable. So let's get going with some reviews, shall we? These are going worst(ish) to best!
Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
2.5 out of 5 stars
I had a hard time getting into this one. I didn't connect with the characters or their story very well and it was very slow in the beginning. Mia is 16 years old and on summer vacation to the Hamptons with her family and aunt, uncle, and 2 female cousins. She thought it was going to be the best summer ever, reconnecting with her favorite cousin and spending all her time basking in the sun. But her cousin is a drunk party girl, her mom & dad are having problems, and she's just gotten dumped by the guy she was "in love" with.
And then, here comes Simon. The strange, slightly too quirky (he quotes The Great Gatsby blegh) guy next door that the cool kids tolerate. Simon, of course, goes after Mia and she rebuffs him at every shot. She starts spending a lot of time alone on the beach at night to get away from her family and, of course, runs into Simon. They start having late night talks and eventually, Mia falls for him. I am glad that the author didn't do an insta-love at least, this relationship definitely grew over time. If you know anything about reading into the clues given, you will know that "something big" happens to the two lovebirds and boy, is it a doozy. No spoilers here, but it will either make you love or hate the book, no in between.
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
3 out of 5 stars
Maddie is the typical blonde cheerleader but she has a dirty little secret...she likes comic books. Okay. I am a proud comic book reader and also a girl, so this just rubbed me all kinds of wrong. I don't care what you're reading: comics, 50 Shades, Berenstain Bears, whatever...if you're enjoying it, that's all that matters and NO ONE should make you feel bad for it. And that's why I had to mark this one down a star.
Okay, moving on. Maddie is eagerly awaiting the latest issue of her favorite comic and when it doesn't come, she decides to venture into the unknown: a comic book store. She meets cute nerdy guy Logan and he offers to loan her his only copy of the issue and the two start a tenuous relationship. Logan is great and his friend Dan is the typical chubby funny sidekick. It was Maddie I had the most problem with. She lied to her best friends nearly all summer when her relationship with Logan started growing, she sort-of cheated on her boyfriend, and she just didn't grow until the very end. It was a good moment, her "coming out" into the geek world, but I just don't know if it was enough for me to like her.
Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana
3 out of 5 stars
This is more of a time travel book than anything, but still has its summer romance moments, so I stuck it with this batch of books. Haley is 17 years old and had hoped to spend her summer with her friends and cute boys, but instead is dragged off to a Disney campground with her dad and stepfamily. I'm kind of surprised they were allowed to use all the Disney info. Haley had a mysterious seizure a few months before so her dad is being extra over-protective and she can't stand it. When she goes off on a scavenger hunt with some new friends her first night there, she discovers another side of the campground: 1982 River Country. Yep, you read that right: she has a seizure while exploring the abandoned water park and it somehow takes her 32 years into the past.
I kind of love time travel books, especially ones that go to the 80s or 90s, because, you know, that's when I grew up. ;) So reading about Walkmans, Jelly shoes, TV Guide, and E.T. brings out the nostalgia factor big time. Haley is understandably freaked out at first but then just decides to take it all in stride. I wait in a rocking chair, watching feathered hairstyle after feathered hairstyle pass me by. I see three rainbow-striped dresses, a dozen boys with socks up to their knees, and lots and lots of headbands on girls. *What* is that all about?
She meets a cute lifeguard named Jason who wears short shorts and runs into her mom and dad as teenagers. She somehow decides it's her mission to make sure they still get together, just like it really happened. Along the way, she falls for Jason, even though there's no possible way for them to be together. And she has some adventures: some scary and some fun. Does she make it back to her present/future? Well, you'll just have to read it and see. Lol...I will say that the ending was my favorite part and made me a little teary-eyed rereading it just now.
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
3.5 out of 5 stars
"Other people's stories are their own to tell." And that's how it goes in this book. From the past to the present and back and forth, we find out the true story of the conflict between teenagers Gwen and Cassidy. Gwen is trying to deal with her past as she struggles in her present, taking care of her autistic little brother (who sometimes stole the show), working for a rich old lady all summer, and trying to keep her family together. Cassidy is a "rich kid" making up for his past mistakes in school by being a "yard boy" for the summer. The two teens are forced to deal with their past relationship choices and decide if they want or can even have a future together.
There are a lot of different stories going on here and unfortunately, it sometimes made the book confusing and even drag on a little long. Gwen's cousin Nic and BFF Viv have been together for years and have always assumed they would grow old together, but everything can change in a summer. The difference between the rich and the poor, the locals and the tourists, the good and the bad, is a big part of this story too. Overall, a decent read but not quite on the same level as My Life Next Door.
On the Fence by Kasie West
3.5 out of 5 stars
This book was probably my favorite out of the bunch. It's got the romance for sure, but it also has a family story that will bring you to tears more than once. Charlie is the only girl in a family of 3 older brothers and her dad. Even her best friend and next-door neighbor, Braden, is a guy. So you can probably guess who she falls for right? I don't have to tell you? I knew y'all were smart.
Charlie is a tomboy to the core (playing football with the boys is a normal occurrence) but when she has to pick up a summer job at a frou-frou clothing boutique to pay off speeding tickets, she realizes that maybe being a girl isn't so bad after all. Not that she wants anyone, ever, to find that out. As the summer goes on, it gets harder for her to hide her second life and she starts having late night chats with Braden over their shared fence. (Not on some weird bridge like on the cover.) The two grow closer but also apart somewhat...they can't be that close without their relationship changing and that's terrifying for Charlie. She doesn't understand how anyone could see her as anything but "one of the guys".
"By a show of hands," Braden said loudly, "who here would've asked Charlie out in the last six months had they not been given the 'We will kill you if you look at Charlie' speech by the three lugs over there when she turned sixteen?"
Charlie has a lot of growing up to do and she doesn't know how to do it without her mom, who died when she was little. The relationship she has with her dad is good but it doesn't take the place of a mom and when she finds out a secret from her past, it threatens everything she knows.
Charlie "Why are you doing this to me? Why couldn't you just let me figure it out on my own?"
Braden "Because I don't want to see you hurt."
"Unless you're the one hurting me?"
"I'm not trying to, Charlie."