Book Review// Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Author: Carley Fortune
Series: Standalone
Genre: Romance
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Book Length: 320
Publisher: Viking
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right.

A magazine writer has to make a choice when she returns to the lake she grew up on, and to the man she thought she’d never have to live without, in this achingly nostalgic debut.

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser that has felt too true for the last decade, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart. Until the day she gets a call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek.

For five summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family restaurant and curling up together with books–medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her–Percy and Sam had been inseparable. And slowly that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake to attend Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. Percy must confront the decisions she’s made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, in order to determine, once and for all, whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of five years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

My Review:

This is my favourite romance ever as of now; I feel so strongly about this book that I bought it in all 3 formats so I could enjoy it from every avenue. Everything about it was perfect and I felt so seen and comforted by all the Toronto/ Canadian references – when else will I read a book that mentions Tim Horton’s, Hudson’s Bay, and Pizza Pizza???

I used to think enemies to lovers was my favourite, but that was before I met Percy and Sam. There is something so beautiful about watching a friendship blossom into love over time; I appreciated that this wasn’t some insta-love, but rather a bond that tenderly grew over the years, and at its core remained unchanged even after so much time had passed.

Speaking of which, don’t even get me started with Sam – he was so beautifully written. My biggest regret in life is that my parents didn’t own a cottage up North so I could have the chance at a yearly summer romance with the cute guy next door. Most of the books I read lately have some sort of sad undertone, but this was a ray of sunshine I desperately needed.

I loved this one so much; please pick it up if you enjoy romance books, you won’t regret it

– Catherine

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Book Review// Fate’s Ways by Janille N. Giambattista

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Author: Janille N. Giambattista
Series: Standalone
Genre: Romance
Release Date: December 30, 2021
Book Length: 48
Publisher: Kindle
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sometimes love happens, and we can’t explain why or how. Sometimes meeting our soul mate involves taking Fate’s hand and putting our trust in a force akin to magic. In this novella about two people who are quite literally destined to love each other for all their lives, Janille N. Giambattista examines how sometimes we can’t quite put into words how we were led to The One–but in the end, the how or why doesn’t matter as long as we find our Happily Ever After.

My Review:

As a child, I used to sit awake at night wondering about my life: Who would I become? Whose would I become? I conjured up a silhouette of this mystery man in my mind that I carried close even as I got older: dark hair and eyes, taller than me, good sense of humour, and all the other standard, surface-level things that come to mind when you make up a person from your imagination. I would write people off immediately upon meeting them, knowing intrinsically that they wouldn’t fit the mold; I was on a mission to manifest the person I’d created, and when I’d meet him, I’d know. I’m a firm believer in fate myself, and Janille has taken my childhood fantasies in the form of these main characters and propelled them onto these pages.

The hint of magical realism made this novella feel part fairy-tale. I’d love to live my life with the conviction that everything (and everyone) that happens to you is maneuvering you in the right direction, even if everything feels wrong at the time. In my interpretation of their enchanted encounters before meeting in adulthood, each of them is meant to face their heartaches, challenges, or close calls with the hope that the other is out there waiting for them some day, and to prepare them for the versions they are meant to be when they find each other. I thought this was such a beautiful and unique narrative, and one that I’d love to read more of.

I devoured this novella in one sitting, and I would happily absorb myself again in any and all future work of Janille’s – I’m already looking forward to her next one!

– Catherine

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Book Review// You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

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Author: Dustin Thao
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Book Length: 304
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review: 2/5

My Review:

I knew this book would cause me pain and suffering, but I didn’t think it would be because I disliked it so much.

This is about 17-year old boyfriend and girlfriend Sam and Julie, and how Julie is affected by Sam’s death following a tragic car accident. Just when Julie thinks Sam is gone forever, she discovers that she can still communicate with him via phone calls. Even though he’s still with her now, it won’t be the case forever, and eventually, Julie has to learn to let go. 

The synopsis really had me intrigued, and not only that, but the cover is beautiful too. Unfortunately, the idea of this book was way better than its execution. 

This story is told through the eyes of Julie, and oh man was she the absolute worst character ever. While I don’t understand or agree with how she went about it (tossing out all of Sam’s things the same week he died, deleting all their texts, not showing up to his funeral, etc.) I had to remind myself that everyone grieves differently. It was really hard to do that though, because I can’t imagine someone who refuses to let go of the phone calls being okay with purging him from her life so quickly in all those other ways. This, before she even knew the phone calls were a thing she could do to continue their communication. It all seems very conflicting with the character that Thao created in Julie. What also really threw me off about Julie was that she would do nothing to better herself or any situation she was in, yet she complained as if she were the victim. For example, she kept mentioning that she was behind on all her assignments and barely did any work, yet she was surprised that she was doing poorly in her classes and didn’t get into the college of her choice. She also let down so many people – all her friends were stood up for anything they planned with her. Again, I understand the process of grief is different for everyone, but can you just stick to one promise you make to someone and stop being so predictable with always cancelling anyone who tries to support you? It’s a wonder she had any friends left by the end.

Aside from not feeling connected to Julie, I also didn’t feel the connection between her and Sam, or even with Sam for that matter. Everything the reader gathers about Sam is either from their phone conversations, or from random flashbacks she has of their time together. Most of the time, Sam was sweet, and it had me wondering how he fell for someone as selfish as Julie. There were other times though that Sam really had me annoyed, particularly during their phone calls. There was this one instance where he got really cold and short with her literally out of nowhere, and it felt like the conflict was put in the story out of force, not because it would be something these characters would have genuinely fought about. 

The magical element of Sam and Julie being about to communicate through the phone was cool, but there was never an explanation of why or how it happened. I guess not all magic needs an explanation, after all, it is magic. I don’t know though, I still wish there would have been some heart wrenching explanation for this. 

Despite all of that, the ending was heartbreaking and I couldn’t help but feel something about it. If this were executed in a different way, I may have felt that tiny spark I felt at the end throughout the entire thing, and maybe then I would have liked this better.

– Catherine

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Cover Crush – 2021/10/28

This week, I came across this cover that I am obsessed with. I’ve never heard of this book before or seen anyone on any of my social medias talk about it, but when I found it I was very intrigued!

Goodreads Synopsis:

Born just ten months apart, July and September are thick as thieves, never needing anyone but each other. Now, following a case of school bullying, the teens have moved away with their single mother to a long-abandoned family home near the shore. In their new, isolated life, July finds that the deep bond she has always shared with September is shifting in ways she cannot entirely understand. A creeping sense of dread and unease descends inside the house. Meanwhile, outside, the sisters push boundaries of behavior—until a series of shocking encounters tests the limits of their shared experience, and forces shocking revelations about the girls’ past and future.

Sisters is a one-two punch of wild fury and heartache—a taut, powerful, and deeply moving account of sibling love and what happens when two sisters must face each other’s darkest impulses.

I love a good romance as much as the next girl, but I really enjoy when books focus on something other than that. This cover drew me in because I love how you can’t really decipher what the face looks like, even though all the pieces are right there in front of you. Sometimes, you can be looking right at someone and not really see them, and that is what this cover conveys to me.

8 Top Book Cover Design Trends for 2021

If anyone has read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

– Catherine

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Review// Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

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Author: Lisa Unger
Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Book Length: 368
Publisher: Park Row
Review: 2/5

My Review:

I realize this is a very niche preference, but something about a book with characters that meet on a train, or where is train is involved in some way instantly intrigues me, so of course I had to read this.

This book follows Selena, a working mother of 2 young boys, who misses her usual train one day after spying her nanny, Geneva, and husband, Graham, cheating on their nanny cam. On the 7:45 train home, she has an eerie encounter with a stranger whom she confides in about what she just witnessed. A few days later, their nanny mysteriously vanishes without a trace. The book goes back and forth between a few POV’s as the reader tries to piece together what has happened.

I have a love/hate relationship with books that have multiple POVs. On one hand, I think this style works so well with mystery/ thrillers because it keeps you guessing for longer and allows for so much anticipation from all the cliffhangers each person’s unique POV leaves you on. On the other hand, when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, the recipe can get messy, fast. Some of the POVs confused me to the point where I had to back track to make sure I was understanding correctly, and while it’s not a huge deal, it can be annoying to continuously feel like you’re not quite caught up on who is who and what is going on. I think half of the POVs weren’t even necessary, which made me so bored when those ones came along.

This book gave off a major ‘man hating’ vibe as well, which was quite strange. How it is that not one man in that town was faithful or trustworthy!?

*MINOR SPOILER AHEAD

Not to mention, how far fetched is it that on the night of the nanny’s disappearance, Selena’s young son who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old had recorded her unbeknownst to her on his iPad? Aside from the fact that it’s highly coincidental and pretty creepy, are iPad-quality videos even that good? * Spoiler ended.

I get that coincidences happen in life, and they have to happen in books to move the plot along, but it was a bit much.

Anyway, this book was okay – it had some interesting moments, but the switching between characters and one character having multiple aliases and names in the midst of all of that really did me in. This could have been better if at least one character was likable, but I was not rooting for anybody in the book. The only person I was rooting for was myself to finish this as soon as possible to get on with something better.

– Catherine

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