Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: Since Last Summer by Joanna Philbin

Since Last Summer by Joanna Philbin
Book Two of the Rules of Summer series
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rory McShane should be excited to spend the summer in East Hampton with Connor Rule, her generous, smart, cute boyfriend. After all, Rory's no longer the hired help at the Rule family mansion on the beach, and she and Connor have made it through a year of long-distance dating. But now, in the months leading up to college, Rory can't help but wonder if she really belongs in Connor's world.

Isabel Rule is still trying to get over Mike, the devastatingly sexy surfer who broke her heart last summer. Enter Evan, an aspiring filmmaker who's kind, funny, and crushing on Isabel. He'd be the perfect summer fling -- so why can't she seem to forget about Mike?

Set against a backdrop buzzing with the rich, the famous, and the wannabe rich and famous, Since Last Summer, a companion novel to Rules of Summer, is the perfect beach read.

What I Liked:

Another series, binge-read and over! Well, I think this series is just a duo. I haven't seen anything saying that there would be more books in the series. And this book wrapped up really well, so it must be a duo. So yay, I completed another series! Even if I read the two books just days apart. I can still be proud of me! 

This book picks up at the start of the next summer, the summer after the summer of book one. One year after book one occurs, Rory comes back to East Hampton, to Isabel, to Connor. But things aren't as she left them. Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Rule are getting a divorce, but both Mrs. Rule and Connor are pretending that nothing is happening. Mr. Rule has moved out. Isabel is sick of all the secrets - especially the one that everyone is keeping from Gregory, Sloane, and Connor. Rory feels bad for having to keep it from Connor. Meanwhile, Isabel has found someone else, and he's great! Of course, nothing is perfect in the game of love, which both Isabel and Rory will discover.

Just like the first book, this book explores a variety of issues. Friendship, relationships, divorce, teenage drinking, social classes... I love how Philbin incorporates so many topics in one book. Or series. This book focused more on the the Rules' pending divorce, and less on the rich-poor aspect that was highlighted in the first book (between Rory and the Rules, and Mike and Isabel). 

There are many friendships in this book. Rory and Isabel aren't perfect friends, but they're a really great example of two very different people who get along well. In the first book, the girls didn't want to get to know or like each other at first. In this book, the girls are close as friends, and they hurt each other. Without meaning to hurt each, they go through many obstacles, but this makes them closer friends. I love just how important friendship is in this book, especially since this book is told from both girls' points-of-view (dual third person).

The relationships... they are messy. You all know I'm not a fan of messy romance. I like it when characters can make up their mind, definitively, and not be wishy-washy. It's totally unfair to other people when a person can't decide on things, especially when it comes to relationships and feelings! In this book, Isabel meets Evan, who is fabulous. But she has lingering thoughts and feelings towards Mike, who actually does want to get back together wither. And Rory - Rory thought things were solid with Connor, but every time she turns around, he's hanging out with snobby friends from St. Paul's - especially some girls.

I never would have seen the way the romance would have gone in this book, for Rory. For Isabel, I saw it. Most of her thoughts were directed towards one person in particular. But for Rory? I was a bit shocked. It wasn't a shock at the end of the book - no, a reader will be able to tell as soon as this one specific scene comes up (think: pizza). But I was surprised. The summary led me to believe one thing. What happened was another.

So the romance was a huge factor in both girls' lives. The divorce, the secrets, the split family - all of these things weighed down on Rory, and frustrated Isabel. I feel like Rory had very little spine in this book - unlike the first book, where I thought she was a little more feisty and brazen. Isabel thought the same.

Both girls work this summer - Rory has an film internship, and Isabel takes a job as a waitress, where Evan works. I feel like the presence of the summer job and internship is great! Not nearly enough YA novels feature a teen having an internship, so that's awesome. Both girls mature in time, because of their responsibilities. And their romance problems. And their friendship.

All in all, a great sequel! I'm happy with this book. There were a few negatives, but nothing major!

What I Did Not Like:

Like I said, Rory's romance story took me by surprise, and at first, not in a good way. Philbin definitely did a great job of developing Rory's relationships with her peers (Isabel, Connor, etc.), but I was still a tad bit bothered by the romance. And the ending - wow! It's amazing how Rory did a 180 degrees turn from the beginning of book one to the end of book one... and right back around, from the beginning of two to the end of book two. Sort of. You'll see what I mean.

Also, I wanted a bit more between Rory and Connor in this book. Unfortunately, I didn't get that. And there wasn't too much passion and excitement between Isabel and Evan. I almost was rooting for Mike to come back and sweep Isabel off her feet, because the two of them were passionate. Well. Things worked out for Isabel and Rory, in the end. Despite the messy romance. It was messy, but it was okay.

Would I Recommend It:

If you've read the first book, definitely read this sequel novel! A lot of things are resolved and wrapped up really nicely in this book. And if you haven't read either book, that's okay! There are a lot of contemporary novels out there, but I can safely say that this is a good summer series! Especially since it's literally all about summer in both books. 


3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I liked this sequel! I think I liked the first book better, but that doesn't mean I didn't like this one as well! After all, they got the same overall rating. So that's a good sign! This is a great summer/beach-reading series, if anyone is looking out for something like that!

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  1. It sound like this one is a good summer read but messy relationships? Sorry but they really are not for me right now, so thanks for the warning!
    Great review as always Alyssa!

    1. I can see what you mean, Pili! I feel like it worked in this book, but usually, I'd be like -.-

      Thank you!!


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