Thursday, 7 February 2013

Reviewed by Emily: The Boys of Summer by C.J.Duggan & Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles.


Whether you’re looking for the perfect poolside read or hoping to beat the winter blues, The Boys of Summer is a scorching contemporary romance that’s sure to delight.

It’s the end of Year Eleven and Tess couldn’t be happier to leave behind school and the awful nickname her ex-boyfriend Scott bestowed upon her. She’s ready to spend summer by the lake with her best mates, Ellie and Adam. When Adam talks her into a taking on a waitressing gig at the local pub, Tess is sure her summer is ruined. But that all changes when her job throws her in the path of the Onslow Boys. Tess has her sights set on one Onslow Boy in particular – twenty-two year old mechanic Toby Morrison.

The Boys of Summer takes place during the 90s in an Australian country town called Onslow. From kookaburras to Cold Chisel, Duggan’s world has a great Aussie vibe.  It’s also peppered with pop culture references, which bring the story to life. I wasn’t a teen in the 90s like Tess, but I appreciate the inclusion of Lip Smackers, cassettes, Impulse body spray and Shania Twain.

But the thing I loved most about TBoS is the friendship between Tess, Ellie and Adam. From the very first chapter, we see how close they are and how they’ve got each other’s backs. As Ellie and Tess grow closer to the Onslow Boys, their friendship dynamic changes and it’s interesting to see how they deal with that and how they learn more about each other in the process. The Onslow Boys themselves were funny, sexy and confident, and I totally wish I knew them in real life.

I took a while to warm up to Tess. Just when I thought I had her figured out, she’d do or say something frustrating. She’s quite judgemental and often jumps to conclusions based on her low self-confidence. And it also started to bug me that every guy in her life was attracted to her and felt the need to kiss her and tell her how beautiful she is. I think this aspect of the novel weakened the chemistry between Tess and Toby, because I just didn’t believe it as much as I would’ve if what they had together was unique. While I grew to like Tess in the end, she’s definitely a difficult character. I had issues with how she treated her friends at times and I wondered why they would forgive her so easily.

That said, the ending was very sweet and left me smiling giddily at my Kindle. For those suffering series fatigue, fear not, this one is fairly resolved by the end and can be read as a stand-alone. But the final chapter did leave me a curious about what happens next. In fact, the whole book has that feel, which is exactly what kept me up ’til insane hours on a week night, telling myself, “Just one more chapter.” (Pfft, who was I kidding?)


The Boys of Summer by C.J. DugganPublisher: Self-Published.  Release date: December 17th 2012.  Ages: 17+. Emily's Rating: 3.5/5.  Source: Purchased. 


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When Alex discovers her ex-boyfriend, Dylan, is back from serving in Afghanistan and attending her university, she’s horrified. What’s worse is they’ve been assigned to the same work study program and have to spend a lot of time with each other. Dylan isn’t too happy about it either. This is the girl that broke his heart – the girl he’s been trying to forget. In order to not let their personal issues interfere with work, Alex and Dylan set boundaries. But soon it becomes clear that neither of them have let go of the past.

Just Remember to Breathe is a new adult novel told from the alternating POVs of college students Alex and Dylan. I liked Dylan straight away. He still had a sense of humour and a relatively positive attitude despite the crappy things that had happened to him. Not only did he come back injured from Afghanistan, but he also lost his best friend over there and now struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. In his bio, Charles Sheehan-Miles says he was a soldier and now works with disabled veterans – and this shows in the novel. The details of Dylan’s injuries and recovery felt authentic, and I appreciated that. Dylan was the strongest character in this story and I wouldn’t have minded if the entire book was told solely from his perspective.
 
On the other hand, by the end of the story, I didn’t feel like I knew Alex at all. At times it seemed as if her whole life revolved around a boy. And she cried way too much. Her character didn’t begin to develop until the midway point, when we learn about her family life and the pressure she’s under from her father. But it just felt like too little, too late.

At first, I enjoyed the romance. I loved the tension when they went running together, hearing about their past relationship and seeing they still had feelings for each other. But, the thing is, their past was talked about so much that I started to feel like the most interesting story had happened before the first page of Just Remember to Breathe. And there was far too much angst. I got so sick of them going back and forth – we’re together, oh now we’re not together, and so on – that I lost interest. Their relationship became melodramatic and unhealthy. Towards the end, I wanted Alex and Dylan to break up because they were just so bad for each other.
 
I also didn’t like that the book was filled with typos. It seemed as if it hadn’t been proofread at all before it was published. I think I could’ve overcome those mistakes but, ultimately, the story as a whole fell short in the end. I didn’t believe the ending at all; it felt forced.
 
So, if you’re looking for a novel with substance that explores post-traumatic stress disorder and has a good dose of romance, I recommend picking up Trish Doller’s Something Like Normal instead.

 
Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-MilesPublisher: Self-Published.  Release date:August 30th 2012.  Ages: 17+. Emily's Rating: 2/5.  Source: Received from author for review.


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4 comments :

  1. Yay Emily I adored The Boys of Summer too, I think I was in the right mood for it too, so was able to whip through it in no time. I think Tess did have aspects to her which were hugely frustrating, but the Onslow boys definitely made up for it! I can't wait to see what happens in the next book! Lovely review! :)

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  2. The Boys of Summer is on my wishlist so I'm glad you enjoyed it! It's a shame about Just Remember to Breathe though as that's on my wishlist too! Thanks for the reviews :)

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  3. This is the first I am hearing of The Boys of Summer and it sounds like something I'd absolutely LOVE. I must get my hands on a copy for this summer.  Just Remember to Breathe is also new to me, so I will have to check that one out as well. Great reviews, Emily!

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  4. Titles and Teacups10 February 2013 at 11:30

    Boys of Summer sounds a bit like The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, which I liked but wasn't a huge fan of. Have you read that? Would you say they were similar? 
    I haven't heard anything about Just Remember to Breathe yet, so I'm hoping to buy on my Kindle soon. -Izzy

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