The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (ARC Review)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count
: 386
Release Date: May 4, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one

Sometimes a book comes around and it just sweeps you off your feet. The Summer of Broken Rules was definitely that for me!Β It’s not easy for a story to be fun as well as moving, but somehow this one struck the perfect balance and just made it an incredibly engaging read.

You meet Meredith and you can easily relate to her. I think anyone who has ever lost someone close to them understands the way you yourself get lost in your grief. Every corner you turn, you see that person and remember how things used to be, but can’t be anymore. The Summer of Broken Rules managed to make this story a beautiful exploration of grief, while also the journey of reemerging from that cloudy haze that comes with loss, without it ever feeling too heavy. I may have shed a tear or two, but I laughed and smiled even more.

From the get go, I was just in love with the setting. I haven’t been on a vacation in forever and definitely have never been to Martha’s Vineyard (it feels like a rich people destination in my head and I cannot explain why?), but I could almost feel the sun on my face, smell the ocean breeze and couldn’t shake that odd feeling when you just know it’s unavoidable to get sand everywhere. Add to that a huge group of relatives and friends, where you sometimes lose track of just how you are related, but you know you are family either way because of the shared bonds and you have captured my heart. At times, I had trouble following the who’s who, but never when it came to the important players.

When it comes to the love story, I thought it was interesting how easily I was swayed by Wit. Many times, I have complained about insta-love and insta-lust, but somehow the connection between Meredith and Wit just felt natural. You basically just follow them through the course of a week, but every interaction felt authentic and made me root for them rather than roll my eyes at their quick attachment.
I’d also like to praise that there was a discussion, albeit brief, about how Meredith tends to latch on to her love interests and detach from her friends as a coping mechanism for her grief. Having scenes with that as a context puts them in a different light and, in this instance, makes them work all the better. With the characters being aware of how fast things are developing and even questioning their behavior, I thought it was refreshing. In the end, it didn’t change how I felt about them though and I was happy to see them grow together through the hurdles they had to overcome.

I can’t say I’ve ever been as competitive or invested in a game as the entire extended Fox family is when it comes to “Assassin”, but what a treat it was to follow them for a week. As serious as they take it, it also created some hilariously brilliant moments and I understand how it became a tradition for them. It’s almost something you’d want to revisit yourself every year to see how everyone was doing, which was why I was so grateful for a little epilogue from the future!

As a final note, this was my first time reading a book by K.L. Walther, but I heard that there are lovely little easter eggs to her previous novel “If We Were Us”. I adore when authors put in those tiny references for readers and it has me very tempted to check out her debut novel.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Fun and moving – a great summer read along the lines of Morgan Matson books!


Could you see yourself picking up The Summer of Broken Rules? What are some summer reads you enjoyed a lot? Let’s talk!

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe (Book Review)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count
: 336

I have said it before and I will say it again, there’s something about Ben Philippe’s writing that just works for me. I was utterly smitten with The Field Guide to the North American Teenager and extremely pumped to read Charming as a Verb. From the first couple of pages, you just sort of get the characters and their personality. They come to life easily and grow on you quickly.

All children are charming as an adjective, but you’re charming as a verb.Β 

Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger is, in all possible meanings of the word, charming. He has a Smile (yes, capital S) for every situation and knows how to navigate people like the back of his hand. In addition to that, he is also extremely smart and funny and handsome – a combination that makes him likable in every social circle he encounters, despite some massive income differences between him and his other classmates. And while you read, you get it! Henri is a go-getter and not beyond a little con here and there to get to the places he needs to go. He just knows exactly what to say and makes his flaws look endearing, so, it comes as little surprise when Corinne, the social opposite of him, blackmails him into helping her get a social life. A meet cute started by blackmail, not something you see every day!

“You want me to She’s All That you?” I manage to say, hiding the smile creeping on my lips.
“What’s that?”
“Oh, my God,” I groan. “Watch more movies. Maybe that’s been the missing ingredient all along.”

From there on, things evolve quickly and you have a sort of rivals to friends to lovers situation. Corinne and Henri are incredibly cute together and will have you smiling like crazy with their banter and endearing get-to-know phase. However, this book isn’t just a romance. It’s about so much more!

A much bigger component, and the source of many a problem, is the fact that Corinne, Henri and their friends are in their senior year at High School. Being at a very competitive private school is one thing, but Henri simultaneously has to keep his dog-walking-business running, help out at home and fulfill his dad’s dream of getting into Columbia. And that’s the source of one of the main issues!

Despite our both being the O-Generation – a concept I have to admit rings terribly true the more I think about it – Corinne isn’t an immigrant. Or the child of immigrants. It’s a distinction that’s mostly irrelevant except in the moments like these, where it could easily place us on two different wavelengths. There’s no Haitian in her, no Jamaican, no Puerto Rican. Her Blackness is American, born and raised. Stolen and enslaved, technically, but still, it’s rooted here. She never aspired to be here from another shore elsewhere. She might not understand.
“If I give up on Columbia, then … I don’t know.”
“Then it’s like you’re no longer Haltiwanger Hungry?”
“Something like that.”

So, Henri has to figure out why he wants to go to Columbia and how far he is willing to go to get there. I call it the main issue, because it leads to Henri doing something that just made me so irrefutably angry. Maybe it’s not fair for me to hold Henri to such a high standard, but I truly expected better from him and that just made me so disappointed in his actions.
Then again, that’s another sign of great writing! I was so invested in the life of the characters, I wanted them to do better. I wanted everyone to succeed and live their dreams. And I don’t even speak of just Corinne and Henri here, who were so lovable, but also side characters like Henri’s best friend Ming. That dude was exactly the kind of friend I wish everyone had!

To recap, Ben Philippe’s writing style is still something that I enjoy very much. He manages to not feel the need to detail every second of every day the characters live through and yet you always feel like you have the full picture. His characters are full of life, relatable and fun. I didn’t enjoy the conflict in this one as much as in The Field Guide … but I still thought it had amazing parts focusing on the family-theme and very cute romance moments!

Fazit: 3/5 stars! I really wish Halti hadn’t done that one thing …

3s

Are you planning on reading Charming as a Verb? Have you read Philippe’s other book? Let’s talk!

Random Movie Recommendations: Rom-Coms

So, I don’t know who all remembers this feature, but it pops up pretty rarely since I am more of a TV rather than movie person. Anyway, it’s fairly simple, I pick a theme and then recommend two or more movies that I recently watched and thought the world should know about. There is no in depth analysis, but really just a short and sweet paragraph or so to let you know why people should watch it.

Here we go! This time I really want to showcase some great Rom-Coms (short for Romantic Comedies). Despite a lot of critics complaining about them, I KNOW that people have been craving a comeback of that genre. There is nothing wrong with some formulaic love story every now and then, because that in no way means it cannot be entertaining and memorable. These are my picks:

Set It Up

I have been screaming about this movie for what feels like weeks now. First of all, the casting is more than stellar, I adore every single person on this movie and would have watched it if it had been a potato sack commercial. Luckily, it was not and instead I got one of the best romantic comedies in recent years. I know, I know, that is high praise, but here’s some reasons why it works so well.

While it does play into certain stereotypes, it simultaneously fights against them. Women aren’t given an expiration date or are made to choose between love and a career. There are no double standards for gender roles and friendships are shown how they are supposed to be – supportive with that kick in the butt when necessary. People struggle with what they want in life and make mistakes and there are consequences, all the while this movie is highly entertaining with both hilarious and relatable dialogue and quotes that I’ll probably reference to friends for years to come.

And on a side note, if you are a writer, this movie gives some really good advice. Never thought I’d take advice from a Netflix flick either, but here we are!

Ibiza

Okay, fine! I only watched this because Richard Madden was in it and I haven’t really seen him in a movie or show since Game of Thrones. Not going to lie, I don’t hold Ibiza in the same high regard as Set It Up, but it was still a lot more fun than I thought it would be.

Granted, this isn’t exactly my kind of humour, so that’s probably part of why I wasn’t head over heels into it, but if you are looking for some women who aren’t afraid to have a fun time and an adorkable love interest – Ibiza delivers. Gillian Jacobs and Richard Madden were just the right amount of awkward and cute, their scenes were the best part for me. It gives you that total vibe of a summer romance that could be more if you are brave enough to try.

When We First Met

Before starting this movie, I messaged my friend how I thought the movie would end I was 100% right. As I mentioned in the opening of this post, I don’t think there is anything wrong with movies, especially in this genre, being a little predictable and it didn’t bother me here either. It doesn’t change the fact that When We First Met is a feel-good movie and exactly the right thing if you just want to be entertained.

Overall, it’s a little like Groundhog Day with a twist, a movie with ideas that may have been executed before and in better ways also, but that’s still enjoyable. It stays down to earth and has a cast you will surely recognise from other shows and movies. I always like when you have those worlds-collide-moments.

Have you watched either one of those movies? Would you be interested in getting some rom-com type movie recommendations with teen characters as well? Let me know in the comments below!

Random Movie Recommendations #2

The mood has struck me again to do one of these random recommendation posts. (You know the drill, those aren’t really reviews, but just very brief thoughts on the films!) If you’ve kept up with my trailer rambles, you’ve probably noticed that I am a bit frustrated by the lack of romantic comedies or romance movies in general. When I was younger, I feel like they were coming out each week and now there is a trailer for a movie like that maybe once a week. So, that’s why I chose it as the theme for this post!

Home Again

I’ve had this movie in my trailer round up a couple of times and now that I finally watched it, I can only say that I am in love! I know that some people were concerned about the romantic aspect or the amount of love interests for Reese’s character, but let me tell you, worry not! I sat in that movie with the biggest grin on my face, awe-ing every other minute and completely falling in love with everyone.

What you can’t see from the trailer is that the three twenty-something guys are actually in the film business and that just made the whole story even more appealing to me. Also, it’s not so much about the romantic aspect in general, but family and a sense of belonging and knowing who you are and what’s important to you. I thought it was done in an incredibly sweet and funny way, I could have watched those people for hours and hours more.

It’s not the perfect movie, but it is the perfect escape. It’s easy to watch, makes you feel good and is great for a girl’s night out!

Carrie Pilby

I may not be a genius, but I could relate to Carrie on SO many levels! She loves reading, she sometimes has a difficult time going out and meeting new people, her dating life is a catastrophe … and so on! I haven’t read the book it is based on, but I am curious about that too now.

This may not be a RomCom so much as a comedy on the verge of drama, but in general, I just adored the casting and the vibe of the entire movie. It had such a charm to it, had some sharp dialogue, was hilarious but it also got you thinking a lot. It’s about finding your place in the world and the right people that will accompany you on the way. And, it’s about making the decisions that are right for you and that you can live with.

I highly recommend this for a binge on a rainy fall/winter day!

What are some comedies you’ve watched and liked lately? Have you watched either one of my films?