Friday, February 28, 2014

Review of The Summer Series by C.J. Duggan

The Boys of Summer - Book #1


It seemed only natural to nickname them the ‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him ... Toby Morrison.

Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.

To Tess, summer is when everything happens: riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.

How did she let her friends talk her into working?

After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking chaos.

All with the one boy she has never been able to forget.

It will be a summer she will always remember.

Warning: sexual references, and occasional coarse language.

**My thoughts** 

I love Tess. She is a complete disaster area as she is growing into herself, much like most girls in their mid-teens. She hasn't been very successful in love, has no idea how to make a cappuccino, and has a horrific nickname taunting her. She is still trying to figure out boys, the difficulty compounded when trying to understand those who are five years her senior. When her parents make her get a job for the summer, she finds a new set of friends and an inner strength that she never knew she had.

I thought Tess' voice came through as authentic throughout the book. I actually saw a lot of myself in her and reminisced about my own days at that age. I did find it a little odd that men of the age of 22 would want to spend so much time with 17 year-olds, yet at the same time could see the attraction between all of them.

I appreciated the throwback to the mid-1990s, as I was the same age at that time. What made me absolutely crazy in this book was the fact it was taking place in about 1996, but the teenagers were constantly texting each other on their cell phones. Modern readers in this age group are going to relate to that aspect of the relationships, but it would be better served in having the setting pushed forward a decade. In 1996, most college students and teens did not have cell phones. Even if they did, they were definitely not texting. In fact, I was the only one in my group who did, and it was just for emergencies or very limited use, as you were still being charged by the minute after only a few. Ignore that aspect of the book, or tell yourself that these kids just really enjoy reminiscing about the 1990s, and it will be easier to get past that part. 

It is a fun read about first love, first jobs, and first times.

An Endless Summer - Book #2


Sean looked out over the lake, squinting against the sunlight. He turned to me, his expression sobering as his eyes flicked over my face in silent study.
“Come on, Amy, I saved you once, I’ll save you again.”
I met his stare unflinchingly. “I don’t need saving.”
A wicked grin formed slowly on his face. “Don’t you?”

After a rebellious summer night that almost claimed her life, Amy Henderson – the Onslow publican’s only daughter – is sent away to suffer a fate far worse than any other punishment:

Boarding School.

Three years on, a now nineteen-year-old Amy returns to Onslow for the summer. What once was a cauldron of activity with live bands, hot meals and cold beers, the Onslow Hotel now lies dark, deserted and depressing. All fond childhood memories of loitering on the hotel stairs and eavesdropping on customers’ colourful conversations are in the distant past.

How had her dad let it come to this?

With the new threat of putting the Onslow up for sale, Amy reluctantly turns to a local tradesman for help: Sean Murphy, the very same Onslow boy who saved her life all those years ago. With his help and that of some old friends, the task is clear: spend the summer building the hotel back up to its former glory or lose it for good.

In an endless summer, Amy soon realises that sometimes in order to save your future, you have to face your past, even if it’s in the form of a smug, gorgeous Onslow boy.

**My thoughts**

The Onslow boys are still hot, even three years later. Now in their mid-20s, they have come into their own and are successful at everything they do. They still are a tight-knit group, even though they have been separated for a while. They're still hilarious to read and a group of boys you want to seek out and hang with during your own summer adventures.

This book is told from the point-of-view of Amy. When we met her in the first book, she was a snarky teenager, who never seemed to have a nice thing to say about anyone. Now, she is older and definitely more mature, but still has that edge about her. She's fiesty and determined, which serves her well as she strives to bring her family's business back from the brink of destruction. She is also extremely stubborn and doesn't want to admit she needs help. Good thing Sean is also very stubborn and forces himself into her situation to help. I really like her.

The age difference between Amy and Sean bugged me a bit at first, as he was hanging out at her father's bar when he was 22 and she was only about 15. I would feel better about it had they not known each other when she was so young, but the heart wants what the heart wants. People grow up and change, and sometimes that bond from those earlier years can provide a much stronger foundation. Besides, the chemistry between Amy and Sean is enough to help you get over it.

It's fun to know the history of the Onslow boys and the relationships behind these characters by having read the first book. However, it can definitely stand on its own. If you read this one first, you are going to want to go back to the first book, anyway.

That One Summer - Book #3


Loving Chris Henderson would be wrong. Diabolically disastrous. I mean, what is there about him to love? He’s moody, bossy, brooding, a control freak, and that’s on a good day … but there was one achingly obvious fact that haunted my every thought, every minute of every day …

He sure could kiss.

As the countdown to the new millennium begins, there is one thing everyone agrees on: no one wants to be in Onslow for New Year’s Eve.

So that can only mean one thing: road trip!

No longer the mousey, invisible, shy girl from years ago, Tammy Maskala is finally making up for all those lost summers. A new year with new friends, which astoundingly includes the bossy boy behind the bar, Chris Henderson. She likes her new friends (at least most of them), so why does she secretly feel so out of place?

After chickening out on the trip, a last-minute change of heart sees Tammy racing to the Onslow Hotel, fearing she’s missed her chance for a ride. The last thing she expected to meet was a less-than-happy Onslow Boy leaning against his black panel van.

Now the countdown begins to reach the others at Point Shank before the party is over and the new year has begun. Alone in a car with only the infuriating Chris Henderson, Tammy can’t help but feel this is a disastrous start to what could have been a great adventure. But when the awkward road trip takes an unexpected turn, Tammy soon discovers that the way her traitorous heart feels about Chris is the biggest disaster of all.

Fogged up windows, moonlight swimming, bad karaoke and unearthed secrets; after this one summer nothing will ever be the same again.

**My thoughts**

I felt like we really didn't know much about Tammy before this book. She appeared in the second book, as she had been Amy's best friend before Amy was sent away to boarding school. When everyone converged on the Onslow and she ran into Amy again, she started to join their group. She had missed out on many of their earlier shenanigans, so she feels a bit left out. I feel like she has also physically made some huge changes, but hasn't quite emotionally caught up to her outer appearance. 

Chris has always been a part of the group, but his very attitude has kept him a little bit off to the side, as well. He tends to be more of the father figure, in charge of everyone and being bossy, yet tries to also provide some good times. 

The awkward relationship that each of them has with the Onslow group gives them a bit of a common ground. They are opposites in enough ways to compliment each other. And being shoved together, or cleverly manipulated to be alone together, is definitely beneficial in them discovering each other on a whole new steamy level.

Yet again, the Onslow boys are entertaining and swoon-worthy. I love seeing favorites from the previous two books and the characters feel real. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

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About the Author

C.J Duggan is a Number One Best Selling Australian Author who lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia. When she isn’t writing books about swoony boys and 90’s pop culture you will find her renovating her hundred-year-old Victorian homestead or annoying her local travel agent for a quote to escape the chaos.

The Boys of Summer is Book One in her highly successful Mature Young Adult Romance Series.

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