Mini Reviews #3: The Contemporary Summer Reads Edition

12:00 AM Serena 0 Comments

It's been awhile since I've written a round of mini reviews, so I decided to do one because I'm a bit behind on reviews. These are a few of my favorite summer reads, whether they be Before Blogging books that are summery or books I've read this summer. 

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Publication Date: May 4th, 2010
Format/Source: Paperback, purchased
Rating: 5/5 stars
Part of a series? Nope!

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

I first read Amy and Roger's in the seventh grade, which was four years ago now. I've read probably hundreds of books since then, and it is still one of my favorite books ever. 

This book has all the parts that I think make a Morgan Matson novel a Morgan Matson novel. It's a lot of fun, and there's fluff, but there are also more serious parts that fit in without changing the tone of the book. The relationship between the MCs makes sense, and there's no insta-love. Amy and Roger's relationship progressed quickly, but it was realistic. And the secondary characters really rounded out the book because they were so entertaining. At an event earlier this year, Morgan said she loves her secondary characters, and she would love to write stories for all of them. It's not hard to see why. They're so fun.

Another unique thing about Amy and Roger's that I love is that since Morgan took the same trip A&R did, there are pictures from her trip in the book to match what the characters are doing. It's super cool. Also, playlists! Everything from show tunes to country to classic rock, it's all in there. And it's awesome. 

From California to Connecticut, golf courses to topiary, crumbly burgers to fancy dinners, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is fun from start to finish. It made me laugh and cry and smile so big. This is a contemporary staple that I think everyone should read. It'll make your day brighter. 

On the Fence by Kasie West
Publication Date: July 1st, 2014
Format/Source: Paperback, purchased
Rating: 5/5 stars
Part of a series? Nope!

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

I loved this book and everything about it. Kasie West is so good at what she does. The family dynamic was excellent. I loved how close Charlie was to her dad and brothers. I loved her fence conversations with Braden. I loved Braden - he's so sweet and he said the swooniest things. I loved watching Charlie figure herself and her life out. Her story was heartbreaking and inspiring. 

This is one of those cases where it's harder to talk about a book I loved than it would be if I hadn't liked the book, so I don't really have much else to say. On the Fence was adorable, fluffy, serious when it needed to be, and oh so lovely. I would highly recommend it if you're looking for a cute, quick contemporary to dive into this summer! 

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Publication Date: August 5th, 2014
Format/Source: Paperback, purchased
Rating: 4/5 stars
Part of a series? Nope!

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

Even though Magnolia came highly recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust, I wasn't sure what to expect from it because I hadn't heard a lot of other people talk about it. I was pleasantly surprised, and I ended up really enjoying it. 

Magnolia is very much a modern Romeo and Juliet type story. Unlike in R&J though, Jemma and Ryder's romance in Magnolia was believable and fun. No poisoning or stabbing in the name of love here, thank goodness. I loved the way their relationship progressed. It was thoroughly entertaining, and Ryder is swoony. And that ending made me giggle. I'd love to see a spin-off, so I can see how they're doing now. 

Magnolia surprised me in the best way. It's a cute, underrated contemporary that I would definitely recommend to fans of fluff and fun.