Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review + Guest Post: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland (Blog Tour Stop)

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Publisher: Speak (Penguin)
First published: May 10th, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Format: eARC
Pages: 250
Goodreads Summary:
Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

First thoughts:
Dealing with the importance of following your own dreams and being the person you want to be, The Summer My Life Began is an eye-opening and surprising novel as much as a cute beach read. If you want to be taken away from your life to a summer paradise for a while, you should definitely pick this up and let Em's quest for freedom distract you.

More detailed:
The Summer My Life Began focuses on Elizabeth Margaret, Em, and the summer that changed her life. Growing up with parents who planned her whole life for her, Em is in the desperate need for some change - even if it's just for a month before getting back to life as she knew it to become a lawyer like her father.

Especially towards the end The Summer My Life Began is full of intriguing surprises that I definitely didn't expect. The secrets her family has kept from her turn Em's life upside down and force her to question many things and therefore play an important part in her way to freedom. 

While I really liked the setting and the plot, I had some problems connecting with the characters. Sometimes Em's attitude towards certain things changed too fast for me, making her a bit unpredictable. I also felt that the (very little) love triangle seemed a bit forced and at the same time I couldn't really feel the chemistry between Em and Cade. Nonetheless I liked witnessing how they become closer with every chapter.

All in all, The Summer My Life Began is a wonderful summer read with elements that are supposed and actually will make you think about how important it is to be the person you want to be instead of following other people's dreams and opinions. While it might not be one of my favorite books, I really enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to more novels by Shannon Greenland.

YA Contemporary Challenge 2012

This review is part of The Summer My Life Began's blog tour,
hosted by JKS Communications.

Guest Post: Growing Up
by Shannon Greenland
I am the first one to say I had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up. A gunslinger? A meteorologist? A chef? A spy? An accountant? A mechanic?
Hey, I applaud those of you out there who know/knew what you wanted and went after it. All I’m saying is I wasn’t one of you.
Heck, I didn’t even read my first book for enjoyment until I was in my late 20’s. I was never one of those kids hunkered down in a library gobbling up words. And now I find I am. It’s funny how things change.
I can think of no better afternoon than a good book, a great cozy chair, a cup of coffee, and some yummy snacks. Ooh, and rain, too. That would be a perfect afternoon.
I’ll tell you this much, though, once I did start reading, I couldn’t stop. My mind was suddenly filled with places and people and adventure. It was soon after I started devouring books that I began writing my teen spy series, The Specialists, filled with adventure, suspense, and romance. And now a few years later I’m trying my hand at my first teen non-spy book, The Summer My Life Began, filled with adventure, suspense, and romance (hm, do we see a trend here?).
So for those of you out there who have no clue what you want to do. No pressure! You may be 20 or 30 or 40 when you figure it out. But when you do, you’ll have the biggest grin on your face. Eureka, I know what I want to be when I grow up!

What do you think? Is The Summer My Life Began on your to-read list?
If you've already read it, what did you think about it?

What's your biggest dream?


  1. I agree with your review; the setting was great (made me yearn for vacation!), but the characters weren't ones I connected to. I've been saying that I think Em was too generalized an 18-year-old girl: a bit of everyone in her, but nothing deep enough for us to really connect with. And I agree that the triangle was a bit weird...because Em seemed to feel indifferent towards Jeremy, I did too, and I started feeling like she just needed to grow up and not lead him on. Despite all that, I do think it's a perfect book to grab while laying out on the sand with the ocean in the background.

  2. OoOo I liked a good light summer read and I think this is one of those book that deliever what you expect in such a novel...
    And besides: I had no idea who I wanted to be when I was younger - my life sort of happened to me:) Happy Saturday!

  3. I agree with you, Carina. Em is hard to connect with. I don't really grasp her character until near the ending. And I don't think that it can be called a love triangle, since there is hardly any battle in Em's heart about them! It's a great book if you want something light I guess. I love the island setting too! :)

    What I'd like to do when I grow up? Wait, I think I've already grown up... but I'd like to have a huge private library someday. :D

    Love the guest post, and amazing review, Carina! :)


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