Battle of the Books: How My Summer Went Up in Flames vs. The Summer After Me and You

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After reading a lot of books with similar characters, plots, and ideas, I thought it would be a great idea to determine the best of the best. In my book battles, I would choose two books with the same author or similar plot to see which book comes out on top. To prevent any ties, I will judge each book based on five categories which will vary by the battling books.

This book I will be putting two books by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, How My Summer Went Up in Flames and The Summer After Me and You. Both of these books are fun summer books about girls from the Jersey Shore. Let’s see who wins this book battle!

Plot

How My Summer Went Up in Flames: After Rosie’s ex-boyfriend cheats on her, she accidentally sets his car on fire, stalks him, and receives a temporary restraining order. To prevent any further legal complications, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road tip with three dorky guys.

The Summer After You and Me: After months of rebuilding due to Hurricane Sandy, Lucy finally returns home to finish her junior year of high school. Connor Malloy, Lucy’s tourist neighbor and former love interest, returns and refuses to acknowledge their secret relationship last summer. Even though Lucy started dating someone new, she can’t forget about last summer.

WINNER: How My Summer Went Up in Flames

When I read the backs of these two books, How My Summer Went Up in Flames definitely sounds more interesting to me. The main character, Rosie, sounds like she could be an interesting and funny main character. Also, her road trip spans from New Jersey to Arizona, so I know there will be a lot of cool places that Rosie and the guys visit throughout the novel. The Summer After You and Me, on the other hand, has the Hurricane Sandy aspect which sounds like a very interesting perspective. On the other hand, the plot seems a little more unoriginal.  Even though the plots in both books were a tad inconsistent for me, I found that many of my initial thoughts on these books turned out to be true. As a result, How My Summer Went Up in Flames takes the first round.

 

Main Character

Rosie from How My Summer Went Up in Flames: I have mixed feelings towards Rosie. I really enjoyed how Rosie’s character grew throughout the book. Rosie slowly found the errors in her ways and focused more on what she wanted for her future than her love life. On the other hand, Rosie was sometimes difficult to follow. I never clearly knew which guy she liked, why she kept texting her ex despite a restraining order, the reasoning behind any of her actions. Not being completely in her head definitely made it more difficult to relate to her or understand her character.

Lucy from The Summer After You and Me: Like with Rosie, I have mixed feelings toward Lucy. Much like with Rosie, the reasoning behind any of Lucy’s actions were never clear, which made it difficult to relate to her. Often times, Lucy knew the right decision to make, but then chose completely different actions. After her decisions, Lucy whined and complained a lot which did get on my nerves. However, I did appreciate the little blurbs from Lucy’s senior thesis which related one of her passions, marine wildlife, to the rest of the novel.

WINNER: How My Summer Went Up in Flames

 

Setting

Rosie’s Road Trip: I liked Lucy’s road trip, but didn’t absolutely love it. I appreciated that the group stopped at many different places across the United States, but I never felt the atmosphere of each location as I read about it in the novel. I also wasn’t a fan of the group stopping in Texas to meet one of the guy’s future college classmates. Even though Lucy befriends the girl and gets advice from her, I don’t think it’s a necessary part of the novel.

Lucy’s Beach Town: Reading about Lucy’s town on the Jersey Shore before and after Hurricane Sandy was definitely the highlight of the novel for me and I wished the author would have explored this more throughout the novel. Even though I watched the news and saw the devastation from the storm on television, it’s very different to read about it, especially from an author from the area. I especially liked reading about the clean-up efforts after the storm which sometimes aren’t recognized as much as the storm itself.

WINNER: How My Summer Went Up in Flames

 

Romance:

Rosie’s Love Interest: While reading this book, it’s very hard to determine who Lucy’s love interest actually is. It seems like every guy within ten feet of Rosie falls in love with her, and since Lucy is very impulsive and unsure of her feelings, I think many readers will feel unsure of who to root for in this book. I think Logan, the college guy in the road trip, is pushed as the biggest love interest. As for Logan, he’s not a terrible love interest, but not great either. At first, Logan shows nothing but hate for Rosie, but is described as very hot, so Lucy finds herself attracted to him. Then, Logan wants to visit a girl he met at college orientation in Texas, but his feelings for the girls are never truly defined. While Logan shows some interest in Rosie towards the end of the novel and gets jealous when other guys show her attention, I never saw a deep connection between them and never felt invested in their relationship.

Lucy’s Love Interest: Even though I found some of the same problems with The Summer After You and Me that I did in How My Summer Went Up in Flames, I appreciated how Lucy had one solid love interest that I could invest in. However, there were still a few annoyances that I had with this book. Lucy’s love interest, Connor, doesn’t really have many redeeming qualities except for his appearance. Even though Lucy is with Connor, she isn’t afraid to show her emotional attachment to Connor. The novel seems to justify her actions by her boyfriend exhibiting similar action at prom which makes it okay for Lucy to immediately flee with Connor. I don’t agree with Lucy or her boyfriend’s actions within this novel, but it annoyed me when Lucy preached to her boyfriend about his actions when she did the same thing. Even though I didn’t love the romance in this book, I will give The Summer After You and Me for providing a clear love interest.

WINNER: The Summer After You and Me

 

Side Characters:

How My Summer Went Up in Flames: I really liked a lot of the side characters in How My Summer Went Up in Flames. Even though some characters were very one dimensional, such as her best friend, the girl from Texas, and her ex-boyfriend, I really liked Lucy’s guy best friend, Matty, and the dorky member of the road trip, Spencer. In the novel, Rosie’s relationship really grows and changes with these two guys, which I really appreciated. I actually found myself rooting for Rosie and Spencer to get together instead of Rosie and Logan.

The Summer After Me and You: I really despised most of the side characters in The Summer After Me and You. Lucy and her boyfriend are in the same friend group and after their similar actions end the relationship, all of Lucy’s friends ditch her and remain friends with her ex. I felt like her “friends” were extremely cruel to Lucy during the story for completely ridiculous reasons and it made me want Lucy to find completely different friends, but that never happened. I thought her twin brother and best friends were the worst out of the group and I really disliked that they only supported Lucy again after a traumatic accident.

WINNER: How My Summer Went Up in Flames

 

OVERALL WINNER: How My Summer Went Up in Flames

On Goodreads, I rated How My Summer Went Up in Flames as three stars and The Summer After You and Me as two stars. Looking at these two books, I think both are quick and easy summer reads. However, I also think that both of these book struggle with relatable characters and a cohesive plot. For me, How My Summer Went Up in Flames wins because I had a more enjoyable experience while reading it and liked more of the characters. In this book battle, How My Summer Went Up in Flames beat The Summer After You and Me 4:1.

 

Which two books would you battle?

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Five Beach Reads

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Over the past few weeks on my blog, I’ve been sharing some of my favorite books that relate to summer. First, I discussed five summer wedding books. Then, I talked about books relating to summer jobs. In my last post in this series, I chose books that reminded me of five summer destinations. This week, I’ll discuss five summer beach reads.

When I go to the beach, one of my favorite things is to pull out a book and read. Whenever I’m not at the beach, I like to live vicariously through characters in my books. Here are five books perfect to read if you are vacationing at the beach or want to feel like you are:

  • The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

The Summer After You and Me

The Summer After You and Me is the perfect read for anyone who lives at the beach year round. In The Summer After You and Me, Lucy is a Jersey Shore native returning to her home for the summer after Hurricane Sandy. Lucy must face more than the destruction of a hurricane when an old love interest comes back into town.

  • Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride is one of Sarah Dessen’s books that primarily takes place on Colby Beach. This is the perfect beach read for anyone looking for a fun summer read that also contains a lot of depth. In Along for the Ride, Auden spends summer with her father, his new wife, and their baby. There, Auden meets a new group of friends determined to give Auden a normal teenage experience.

  • Picture Perfect by Catherine Clark

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect is the perfect beach read for anyone looking for a book that is quick, light, and fluffy. Picture Perfect takes place in the Outer Banks and follows a teenage girl who is vacationing with her parents and their college friends’ families. Not many young adult beach reads take place on the Outer Banks, so this is a great book to read if you’re planning a trip there!

  • Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer is the perfect summer read for anyone who doesn’t mind shedding a few tears. Every year, Anna joins her best friend Frankie and her family to a trip to Zanzibar Bay. This year, however, Frankie’s brother won’t be joining them after he passed away in a car accident. When Frankie devises a plan to meet one boy every day, Anna remains hesitant since she is still grieving over the death of Frankie’s brother who she secretly dated.

Alex, Approximately

Alex, Approximately is the perfect beach read if you’re looking for a cute book set on the West Coast. Alex, Approximately is a spin on You’ve Got Mail and also contains a lot of depth. Even though this book primarily takes place on the boardwalk or in a museum, there are definitely a few surfing scenes that will delight any beach fan.

 

What are your favorite beach reads?

Teen Tuesday: The Summer of Cotton Candy Review

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I wish my thoughts on The Summer of Cotton Candy were as sweet as cotton candy itself.

In The Summer of Cotton Candy by Debbie Viguie, Candy Thompson’s father forces her to take a summer job at The Zone, a local amusement park, to become more responsible. Even though standing out in the sun selling cotton candy to unruly customers isn’t fun, checking out her cute coworkers is definitely a perk. However, long hours threaten Candy’s ability to attend church and hang out with her best friend, Tamara. Will Candy’s summer be sweet like cotton candy or just turn out sour?

I felt myself constantly putting this book down and not wanting to pick it back up. I think the major factor that prevented me from enjoying this book would be the main character Candy and her best friend Tamara. Candy frequently threw temper tantrums at her employers, but expected everyone else to treat her with the utmost respect. She acted superior to her crush, who never finished high school, and never listened to veteran employees. Then, she wondered why people were annoyed with her and why she sometimes even got suspended from working at the park. At seventeen, I expected Candy to act a little more mature. Her behavior often made it difficult to sympathize with her.

Candy’s best friend, Tamara also made it difficult to get through this book. Tamara was a spoiled brat who resented Candy working. She thought she could get Candy to follow her around all summer just by throwing money at her. Even when Candy and Tamara made up, neither did anything redeemable and their friendship came across as unhealthy in many ways.

I also had a problem with the romance plot within this book. Candy and her love interest literally have zero chemistry. You can tell from what they value that their relationship could never last past a first date. I thought Candy was much better suited for another character in the book. Their relationship actually grew and I thought Candy would ditch the first guy. Much to my disappointment, the better guy was just thrown at Tamara towards the end of the book.

The only part of this book that I really enjoyed was the amusement park atmosphere. Even though I’m pretty sure many of the rides couldn’t actually function in real life, the park was described really well and had a nice theme. Apparently this book is in a series and all the books take place in the park, so it would be interesting to see how the park changes throughout the seasons. Unfortunately, my feelings towards many of the characters may prevent me from picking up the next book in the series.

In this book, I expected Candy to grow and to have fun while reading it. Much to my dismay, none of these things ever happened. I rate The Summer of Cotton Candy as two out of five stars.