Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Summer My Life Began

The Summer My Life BeganThe Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

You might have noticed that I shelved this in my 3-neurons-involved shelf (and please note, it is not a shelf with a derogatory purpose, it's just dedicated to vanilla, fluffy, light reads I seem to enjoy so much when I feel overcome by... well, life). Most books that end up in that shelf are books I actually liked. That being said, you barely need 2 neurons for this book. Actually, make that 1.
And I'm quite disappointed to be honest, because the idea wasn't bad at all.

Margaret Elizabeth belongs to a well-off, pseudo-aristocratic family (imagine Gilmore girls), one of those who strive for elitism, the life paths of their children set in stone, with no choice whatsoever. She is meant to go to Harvard in the fall, become a lawyer and work in the family's firm.
When she receives and invitation from a mysterious aunt asking her to spend some time on the Outer Banks where she runs a B&B, she decides to take advantage of the good opportunity for her to relax and recharge her batteries before college.
Life on the island is nothing like the life she's used to: from her sweet aunt Tilly to her cute cousin Frederick, from the eccentric cook Domino to the magnetic and brooding Cade. As she gets settled and adjusts to the island's rhythm, she starts discovering clues as to the reasons why her aunt has never been mentioned before by her family... which might be more life-changing than what she bargained for.

So... a tropical getaway island? Soft sand and sunny days? A hot surfer guy with some secrets? Sign me up, please, I'm all ears. Then why did it go so wrong?
This book has no depth whatsoever, unfortunately. There's no depth in the characters, who ended up being pretty two-dimensional, and never got developed enough up to the point that some of them come out being cardboard caricatures (the grandmother? the mother? the sister?).
But most of all, and this is the biggest problem of this book, there's no depth in the writing.
There's a lot of telling, and very little showing.
A whirlwind of actions, places and scenes one after the other, they sounded almost like theatre stage directions in some points. It was all too fast, leaving me no time to appreciate the characters, the emotions, even the scenery.
Furthermore, the big ending revelation(s) that we discover at 94%, I guessed them around the 20% mark. A tad predictable? Everything is just too perfect, works out too well, at the right moment.I know this is fiction but it's gotta be believable.

The general impression is that this book could have been as good as Wanderlove, if only the writing and the characterization had been taken to a more... "experienced" level. I think this author has still a lot to learn.


  1. Sorry this one was such a flop, Lisa. I love it when I can find a great fluffy read that I can just escape into, but it's hard.


    Is her "aunt" really her mom? That's my blurb-only guess!

    1. You're always good at guesses, aren't you Catie? I remember the Unearthly/Hallowed predictions... Anyway, in this case I can neither confirm nor deny, let's leave the suspense for those willing to read it ;)

  2. I'm sorry that you didn't like this book! From the synopsis, it sounds pretty good, but I don't think I'll be giving it a try, after reading your review. I really don't like predictable books! Thank you for the great review. =)

    -Aneeqah @ The Brain Lair

  3. This looks like the type of book I usually avoid, doesn't look like I am missing much. Do you think that after you read a couple of five star books and then you read a mediocre book right after, that it affects your review?

    1. It might Heidi, but I doubt this is the case. For example, Wander Dust is a debut AND self-published but the writing style is still way better than this one, even with all the editing issues. This is just plain superficial IMO and it's a pity really, because the story was actually quite enticing.
      What left me stunned is that I really thought this was a debut. Tatiana just told me it's the author's 9th book. O_o

  4. Characters AND writing that lacks depth? What a disappointment. I guess I won't have to bother adding it to the list then. Shame you didn't like it Lisa, but great review.

  5. This is frequently the kind of problem I have with books of this type. As much as light and fluffy stories can be fun and an escape from the stressful day to day stuff, I have to have some kind of depth, if only a little bit, in order for me to enjoy the story.

  6. Awww man :( I'm really sorry that this book didn't impress you at all! I love light and fluffy stories too, but just light and fluffiness with nothing else -- and no depth! -- can be too much, so I definitely understand what you're saying! And with all the cool new twisting books out there nowadays, it's really hard to go back to those predictable books haha x)

    Still, thanks so much for the awesome honest review, Lisa! :)

  7. This sounds like all the makings of a good vanilla, such a disappointment when it doesn't turn out that way. :( I hate it when a book is telling instead of showing you. The book Timeless was exactly like that and ended up skimming through the last half of the book because I got to the point where I couldn't care less. The writing doesn't allow you to make any connections with plot or characters. Nicely reviewed Lisa. :)

  8. Ohhhhhh :( Damn, I keep seeing this cover and it really calls to me but flat characters and a very predictable plot will always put me off a book.

  9. this1 never intrigued me
    so will stay very far away

  10. I actually really enjoyed it! Had me reminiscing of beachy summers and surfer boys!

  11. I haven't read this and I don't think I will based on your review. The kind of writing you described grates on my nerves too much and my nerves are already shot from "Breathe" and "Because of Low" by Abbi Glines and "The Ghost and the Goth" series by Stacey Kade. Though I will admit that I'm more inclined to say that the first two didn't grate on my nerves as much as give me severe guilty pleasure thrills. The second two can go DIAF.


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