Summer of the Shark is a coming of age story about a 12-year-old boy named Ryan. His parents send him to spend the summer with his grandfather, Artie. He sets off, expecting to have an awful time and instead has the best summer ever, filled with sharks, baseball, an almost teenage romance and lots of bonding with his grandfather. It turns out to be an unforgettable summer.
What stood out for me was the ability of DiVitto Kelly to write the dialogue in such a way that I could really ‘hear’ the accents in my head. That helped the characters come alive, especially Artie. Having the ability to create characters that can jump off the page is a genuine talent.
The author shows us a heartwarming relationship developing, starting with a reluctant Ryan flying out to spend the summer with Artie only to discover that in fact Artie is pretty cool, driving a Jag, letting him do things his parents wouldn’t, and letting Ryan explore his love of sharks. The other main character is Veronica, who Ryan falls for during his visit. She was my least favorite character, only because I felt that she was not as developed as Ryan and Artie so I didn’t get the same feeling of knowing her as I did with Ryan and Artie –but that didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment of the story. The book is set in the mid-1970’s and that comes through loud and clear in the book, with talk of Kodak projectors, flash cubes, Wendy’s opening and so many other excellent descriptions that clearly set the time period. The book centers on family, friendship and relationships. As a 12-year-old, you would rather spend time with your friends than elderly grandparents. But this book shows that you shouldn’t discount your grandparents from being friends, you can have fun with them and that relationship can teach you so much. It left me with a genuine feeling of warmth and made me want to give my kids more time with their grandparents so they can have a relationship like Ryan and Artie’s.
Pages: 275 | ASIN: B088P5M2VJ
Dee Dee is a surfer, an aspiring tennis player, and a girl who is always up for a good party. One summer in particular stands out in her memory as she reflects upon her life. With her close band of friends around her, Dee Dee sets out to thoroughly enjoy her summer off and does not hesitate as she goes about seeking the company of friends new and old. Her “blow out summer,” as she calls it, teaches her some valuable lessons and gives her time to reflect on her own choices as she learns who is worthy of her affection and trust and who falls short.
Set in Huntington Beach, California, Blow Out Summer, by Denise Ann Stock, reads less like a novel and much more like a memoir. The conversational tone of the book makes it a quick and easy read. Dee Dee’s reflections on her experiences with the drug trade and her laid back approach to her participation in drug trafficking read shockingly smoothly. For as deeply involved as Dee Dee seems to be in buying and selling illegal substances, she seems much less concerned than she should be. I attributed her naivety and lack of real concern to the time period, the mid 70’s.
I found myself waiting for that one point in the story that would point to a gripping climax. Everything in Dee Dee’s eventful summer points to an action-packed high point. However, with all her close calls, second guesses regarding her associates, and her relationship woes, there never came that one moment where the entire book seemed to pull together. Reading much more like a diary of the summer, I was a little disappointed not to see a resolution to many of the dilemmas created by the main character and her friends. I believe I was more determined to find answers than Dee Dee herself.
The one scene providing the most harrowing visual comes when Dee Dee’s friend, Jaycee, makes a frantic call about a possible overdose. I felt, as a reader looking for answers, this was an ideal opportunity for the plot to tie neatly together with some life-changing decisions being made on the part of both Dee Dee and her friends. As in real life, however, secrets prevail, and not much changed for those most deeply entangled in drug use and trafficking.
As pleasant as Dee Dee seems throughout the story and as much as her remembrances of her eventful summer kept me interested, I felt the overall story was missing something. The memoir style of writing Stock uses is appealing and will suit readers seeking a fairly light read without highly stressful rising action.
Pages: 360 | ASIN: B01C58JXJI
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Surf, party, and romance take center stage in the breezy novel Blow Out Summer, as a group of local surfers in Huntington Beach, California, enjoy a summertime of hanging out and having fun.
Their story takes place in the mid 1970s, when no one was paying much attention to the drugs being brought into California at an alarming rate. But Dee Dee’s eyes are about to be opened.
Dee Dee lives in a very well-to-do area and is introduced to social drug experimentation and drug trafficking while maintaining a normal family life. She and her friends enjoy the surf up and down the coast of California.
Her friends run the gamut from the very wealthy to beach bums she met at the pier. Dee Dee’s lazy summer is spent under beautiful sunny days with slow drifting clouds and perfect barrel waves. But the ups and downs in her relationships and the dangers of dabbling in drugs ultimately force her a decision that will change her life.
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Another Summer, written by Sue Lilley, tells the story of Evie and Joe, a married couple who have hit a rocky patch after uncovering lies and secrets within their marriage. Evie escapes to Cliff Cottage, a house left by her grandmother to do some soul searching whilst Joe stumbles through the countryside in an effort to find her. Old and new romances will be sparked as the couple reflect on their marriage and the twists and turns of their relationship. Will they reignite their old romance or will the lies and deceit be the final straw for Evie and Joe?
Another Summer begins with an awkward phone call that will change the marriage of Joe and Evie forever. Evie manages her grief through running away whilst her husband, dressed in expensive Hugo Boss attire, drowns his sorrows in a bar contemplating his next move. Prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions as Joe decides to chase after the leading lady of his life.
Summer flings, beach shacks and indie bands will come together for a teasing storyline that at times is hot and heavy with its seductive characters. Though the plot is steamy, the pace of the book is a little slow at times. I believe this was intentionally done to drive the readers to develop a burning desire to learn more. Another Summer questions the integrity of relationships and whether you would return to a partner after deceit. Many of us perceive relationships to be black and white, however, this love story opens the door to the possibility that love may be a grey area instead.
Sue Lilley’s ability to bring the characters to life left me feeling genuinely concerned for the fate of each character and their relationships. Even the small roles of the story had their own individual plot that I quickly became invested in. One of the characters, Lisa, is a lost and lonely teenager, desperate for answers and acceptance of a male figure in her life. Even though she seems like a lost cause, the reader will be inclined to fall for her sweet demeanour as she tackles her own demons alongside the ride with Joe.
The dreamy Jake will enter Evie’s life at a time where she feels the most vulnerable. With his boyish good looks and charming personality, it’s hard not to find yourself hoping he ends up whisking her away on a much deserved romantic holiday! But just like all of us, Jake is only human and has his own flaws and nuances to match.
I enjoyed how the story paralleled real life with places in the present sparking memories of the past for Evie and Joe. The flashbacks into the past will remind the reader of their own teenage romances and the hormonal dramas that came with first kisses, parties and summer romances.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a romantic novel that questions whether relationships have the strength to survive the test of time. Does time heal old wounds? Should Evie return to Joe? Only time will tell.
Pages: 215 | ASIN: B00R9S9TFI
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