Friday 20 May 2011

Book Reviews: The Summer I Turned pretty and It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han.

Product details:
Release date: June 3rd 2010
Paperback, 288 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

The Summer I turned Pretty is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for absolute ages, and with the launch of my Summer Spotlight feature, I thought it was high time I got to reading the adventures of Belly and her favourite boys, Conrad and Jeremiah. While I expected a light and fluffy read with a good helping of romance, I instead found The Summer I Turned Pretty to be heartfelt and even sad at times. This is a great coming of age read with a highly relatable female protagonist and a host of swoonworthy boys to boot.

Isabel, or Belly, as she’s known to friends and family has always lived for summers spent at Cousins Beach with Susannah and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Conrad, the older of the two, is Belly’s longtime crush and it’s easy to understand why. Totally gorgeous, a little aloof and entirely unattainable, Conrad is just the kind of guy that teenage girls yearn for. Belly’s been in love with him since she was ten, and can’t see herself ever feeling that way about anybody else. Until now, Conrad has always viewed Belly as a little sister, but this summer, his attitude to her seems to have changed. For one thing, he’s looking at her like never before, but then, so is his brother Jeremiah. Funny and friendly, Belly has never seen Jeremiah as anything but a friend, but now it looks like he wants to be something more than just friends…

Having grown up in a beach community, I could totally relate to Belly and her absolute love of summer. Like her, I lived for summer as a teen and I confess I counted down the days until the boys of summer arrived! For me, this book really rang true as it centers around the notion of that special summer that will provide you with fond memories forever. Han expertly employs the use of flashbacks to show us the changing relationships between Belly and the boys throughout summers past. We learn of shared secrets, broken hearts and Belly’s ever growing crush on Conrad. The caring and thoughtful Conrad of years gone by though is different to the mean and moody Conrad we’re presented with in The Summer I Turned Pretty, and this change in his personality hints at a dark secret that will come to taint Belly’s carefree summer.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a great summer read, and Han’s most engaging style will ensure that you read this in one sitting. Belly is a great protagonist, and you will enjoy her summer adventures as she embarks on her first real summer romance, while all the while yearning for Conrad and battling with her ever-changing feelings for Jeremiah. As for me, let me tell you in my next review whose team I’m on, and why…

Product details:
Publisher: Puffin.
Release date: May 5th 2011.
Paperback, 288 pages.
Rating: 3½out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.

But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.

I cracked open It’s Not Summer Without You expecting more tales of Belly’s long, lazy summer days and romantic nights at Cousins Beach with her two favourite boys, Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. This book though, is quite a departure from The Summer I Turned Pretty. A whole lot of things have changed in Belly’s world, and as for the boys, their lives will never be the same again. All three have had a lot of growing up to do in the year since we last met them. Their lives have been touched by loss, and there is a melancholic air to proceedings. The tragedy that has struck their lives also means that those perfect summers at Cousins Beach may just be a thing of the past.

So, instead of finding Belly all loved up with Conrad as I had hoped, we instead find her spending a boring summer at home, and just to make things worse, it seems as though her and Conrad are not on speaking terms! Noooo!! How did it all go so wrong? I had high hopes for those kids. We find out the answers to all this and more as Belly reminisces about the year gone by, including the time where her and Conrad snuck away to spend a perfectly romantic winter’s night at the beach house and a not so perfect night at the Prom where Conrad really left me questioning my Team Conrad status.

Yes, that’s right - I’m Team Conrad, and have been since day one. Conrad may be moody and distant, difficult to figure out and a lot of hard work, but out of the two brothers, he’s my clear winner. While Conrad keeps everything locked up inside, Jere wears his heart on his sleeve. There are no mixed signals from him, while Conrad keeps his feelings so cocooned it would drive a girl insane. It may seem that Jere is the obvious choice here. He’s funny, friendly and open about his feelings for Belly, but, for me, there’s just something about Conrad…

So, while the choice for me is easy, it’s not so easy for Belly. By now, she and Conrad have a complicated history, while Jeremiah is as funny and friendly as ever, and he’s making a play for her heart. With the inclusion of chapters from Jeremiah’s point of view, we now realize that Jeremiah’s feelings for Belly are just as strong as her feelings for Conrad. This information leaves us with one great love triangle to obsess over!

It’s Not Summer Without You is an altogether more serious read than The Summer I Turned Pretty. Dealing with grief and loss, Han handles these tough subjects expertly and her writing style is such that even though the subject matter may be serious, her words are still a joy to read. The characters are more mature in this book and it becomes obvious that Conrad and Jeremiah are no longer just the boys of summer; they will forever be in Belly’s life. But who will have her heart?

This book ends on quite a cliffhanger, and I have been totally left wanting more of this series. I can’t wait to see who Belly finally chooses, and I’m also intrigued to see how Han will give readers the happy ending they so desire, while also leaving one boy on the losing side in the quest for Belly’s heart. I anticipate lots of twists and turns in We’ll Always Have Summer, the third and final book in this series.



  1. Eeeeek I ALWAYS get super excited when I see a review of this series!! LOVE IT! You ARE IN FOR ONE HECK of a ride. The third book is just as fantastic!

  2. I'm so glad you are reading and enjoying this series since you know I'm obsessed. :) I am Team Conrad too. Wait till you read the third book. I can't wait to hear what you think! I love your summer spotlight feature!

  3. I might be the only person who hasn't read this series! I am really tempted to order the books, after reading your review.
    From your description, it's clear that I will be Team Conrad too :)

  4. I really need to start this series. I keep hearing such great things about these books! Great review.

  5. I suspect I may be one of the last remaining few who has yet to read this series. So far, every review I've seen has had nothing but seriously awesome things to say about this book. I must say, even though I haven't read the book yet, Conrad sounds like my kinda guy. Distant, moody, aloof? There are just something about those kind of boys that appeal. Great reviews Leanna :)

  6. Great reviews. I loved both the first two but the last one I have mixed feelings about. I hope you enjoy it.

  7. Team Conrad! :) :) :) My favorite book is the last one! Hope you enjoy it!

  8. These books have been on my to-read list for ages as well! Glad to hear you enjoyed them. Hopefully I'll get around to them soon!

  9. You know what book I had in mind when you announced that new feature of yours...exactly: The Summer I Turned Pretty. I just love this series, especially the first and second novel. Grear reviews you wrote:)

  10. Dude, I love this series! There so real and heartfelt! Nice reviews! Oh and I am giving away all 3 books for my blogoversary! Check it out!

  11. Oh my god, how much do I love this series?! LOVE. I came late to the party and absolutely kicked myself for not reading them sooner. Perfect summer spotlight.

  12. jenniinnii12237 March 2012 at 02:14

    ohh myy goshh!! i loved the book the summer i turned pretty i cried when i was done with my book because it felt like i was in that book like a movie in my mom the perfect sumer i want!!),: i was hoping for more and there finally is i wish the series went on and on im obsessed with her books!ahh i love jenny han amazing booksi love them cant wait to get the series!!


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