Tuesday, July 14, 2020

JUNE 2020 BOOK REVIEW | {FINALLY!}

Hello hello, friends! Girls, I am clearly on "summer" time right now. I keep letting myself get distracted with all sorts of other stuff besides this blog lately. I should change my name to That Distracted Chick or That Procrastinating Chick. Although the whole reason I get distracted and procrastinate is usually because I've been inspired to do something random like add shiplap to an inlay in my living room, (did I ever post that here?), paint my craft room on a whim (finished it on Friday!), build a dog gate out of leftover shiplap and wood scraps in my garage (a spur of the moment Saturday morning project--super pleased with that one!) or decide to add bracelets to my Etsy shop (still working on that). So That Inspired Chick still works too I guess.

So, all of that to say I've finally got my JUNE Book Review up for you! I know we are already into mid-July but you guys probably know that's how I roll sometimes. πŸ˜‚



I listened to 8 audiobooks last month which is definitely more than I normally do. There were just so many great new summer releases from some of my favorite authors that I wanted to get to!  I also found 3 really good ones on Kindle Unlimited that come with the audio versions too. Kindle Unlimited really is a great deal if you read a lot on your Kindle or listen to audiobooks. There is a whole section with books that also come with the audio version so you can even switch back and forth throughout the book if you want! But sometimes, it can be hard to find really good books there so I hope this helps! 

You can join Kindle Unlimited HERE or read more about it and try your first month for free!

Now--on to the books!

The first book I read in June was...



Lisa Hawley is perfectly satisfied living on her own. Having fully recovered from a brutal divorce nearly two decades earlier, she has successfully raised her kids, Juliet and Theo, seeing them off to college and beyond. As the owner of a popular boutique on Nantucket, she’s built a fulfilling life for herself on the island where she grew up. With her beloved house in desperate need of repair, Lisa calls on Mack Whitney, a friendly—and very handsome—local contractor and fellow single parent, to do the work. The two begin to grow close, and Lisa is stunned to realize that she might be willing to open up again after all . . . despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior.

Juliet and Theo worry that Mack will only break their mother’s heart—and they can’t bear to see her hurt again. Both stuck in ruts of their own, they each hope that a summer on Nantucket will provide them with the clarity they’ve been searching for. When handsome entrepreneur Ryder Hastings moves to the island to expand his environmental nonprofit, Juliet, an MIT-educated web designer, feels an immediate attraction, one her rocky love life history pushes her to deny at first. Meanwhile, free spirit Theo finds his California bliss comes to a brutal halt when a surfing injury forces him back to the East Coast. Upon his return, he has eyes only for Mack’s daughter, Beth, to whom he is bound by an unspeakable tragedy from high school. Can they overcome their past?

As the season unfolds, a storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, forcing Lisa, Juliet, and Theo to decide whether their summer romances are destined for something more profound. Nancy Thayer dazzles again in this delightful tale of family, a reminder that sometimes, finding our way back home can bring us unexpected gifts.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoy all Nancy Thayer books so this one was no exception. Was I a little frustrated with how much importance they put on the fact that Lisa was 10 years older than Mack? Definitely. It was really my only criticism of the whole thing. If Mack had been 10 years older than Lisa, would it have been as big a deal? Lisa and Mack have grown kids. It's not like they were 28 and 18. So all the harping on their age difference was a little annoying. I couldn't understand why her kids were so set on the fact that surely Mack would break their mother's heart because he was handsome and younger. Gag. Who cares if he was younger? You go, Lisa! πŸ˜‰

Other than that, I thought this was a great summer read. Summer, light, sweet...all the things I need in a Nancy Thayer book. Was it a little rushed and unrealistic at times? Sure. But I don't regret this one!
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Next up was...



I feel like this book was EVERYWHERE last month and I heard so many great things. I was hopeful this would be AMAZING and live up to the hype.

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They're polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Ok, so first off, the title and the cover are a little misleading. I expected this to be fluffy, rom-com based in Nantucket or wherever but it was so much more than that--and it's based in Michigan on a lake. For starters, the synopsis of the book above doesn't even mention the fact that January is living at this house because it is left to her in her dad's will.  She had no idea this house existed and later comes to find out that the house wasn't the only thing her dad was hiding. (Dum dum dummmmmm....) 

January meets Augustus, who lives next door, and realizes she knows him from back in their college days. He was basically her nemesis who she may have had a tiny flirtation with one night at a house party...or was that all in her imagination?

Augustus is going through his own trauma (no spoilers) but oh their chemistry when they finally become friends. Ahhh!! I loved the two of them together as friends and (finally) as more than that. They each help the other deal with their pasts and the hurt and confusion that it's caused them.

I'll stop because I don't want to spoil anything but I loved this book! I'd go with 4.5 stars on this one.
⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

On to my first Kindle Unlimited selection for this month! (When I say it was a KU selection, I mean it was free with my monthly subscription.)



This was my second Colleen Hoover book and I definitely didn't regret it! (See what I did there. πŸ˜‰) My first one was It Ends With Us and I absolutely LOVED that one! I read it several years ago and now I want to go back and listen to it again.

Anyway, here's the premise to this one...

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

The synopsis of this book misses an ENTIRELY HUGE PART of this story which I find strange. What you should know is that Morgan and Chris were high school sweethearts and went everywhere with Morgan's little sister, Jenny and Jenny's boyfriend, Jonah. They were always together in their little group...until the day Morgan discovered she was pregnant. Jonah breaks up with Jenny and leaves with no explanation, Morgan and Chris get married and have their little girl, Clara and life goes on. Until it doesn't. There's an accident that leads to so many questions and revelations about a life Morgan never knew about with her husband of 17 years.

After that, worlds start to fall apart. Without going into detail, you'll get to read all about it from Clara's teenage perspective (which gives a lot of young adult novel vibes and will remind you what it was like to be 17) as well as from Morgan's. Morgan has her own (less scandalous) secrets that may just help her find her happily ever after in the end.

There is just one piece of the puzzle that is never revealed to us and I'm still DYING to know...but never will. Ugh!

Still, solid 4.5 stars for this one. The half star is taken away because I really could have used that piece of the puzzle. ;)
⭐⭐⭐⭐1 /2

Since I had such good luck with my Kindle Unlimited selection previously, I decided to go for another one. I chose...



Ok, if this book doesn't make you want to up and move to Hawaii, then I don't know what will. I was seriously imagining myself in a little beach cottage on the water and surrounding myself with Hawaiian culture. Heavenly, peaceful and something that will never happen. But I can dream. πŸ˜‚

Quinn Maguire has a stable life, a fiancΓ©, and what she thinks is a clear vision for her future. All of that comes undone by her mother’s deathbed confession—the absentee father Quinn spent thirty years resenting is not her real father at all. With that one revealing whisper, Quinn embarks on a journey to Maui, her mother’s childhood home, a storied paradise that holds the truth about her mother’s past and all its secrets Quinn is determined to uncover.

But settling on the island has its complications, and with the fiancΓ© she left behind questioning every choice she makes, Quinn’s quest for her truth is even more difficult than she expected. As time passes and she digs deeper into her family history and her own identity, one thing becomes clear: Maui is as beautiful as she’d always imagined, and its magic is helping uncover the woman that Quinn was always meant to be.

Sigh.

I loved this sweet story so much!!  The author does such a great job at making you sure you really feel like you are there with Quinn every step of the way. You can so easily envision her house, the other characters, the beach, the waterfalls...you'll feel like you traveled there yourself. And the story is fantastic. After Quinn buys a house on the island (sight unseen and done completely from the mainland), she travels to Maui to do some digging into her past. She wants to know who her real father is and she wants to know if she has any other family since her life has been comprised of just her and her mom.

While she's there, she meets an amazing family through some not-so-perfect circumstances that help her find everything she's been looking for and then some. The story that unfolds about her father and his family is crazy and something you'd seen on Dateline or 20/20. Don't worry.  There's also a little looovvveee in this one too. 

Book 2 comes out in September and I can't wait to get my hands on it. I'm missing Hawaii so much! 
4.5 stars
⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

And now we get to...



Oh my heart. This book was amazing!!  Elin Hilderbrand is my #1 go-to for chick lit and summer reads and I was so excited about this one! Thankfully, it lived up to the hype I'd had for it in my head!

When Mallory Blessing's son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he's not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It's the late spring of 2020 and Jake's wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.
.
There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?

Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother's bachelor party. Cooper's friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere -- through marriage, children, and Ursula's stratospheric political rise -- until Mallory learns she's dying.
Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.

I don't even know where to begin but this book gave me #allthefeels. All of them. I thought all the characters were well developed and I loved being able to see things from each of their perspectives. I loved that we got to see the story of Mallory and Jake from that first summer all the way to the end. Their love seemed like it was so insanely perfect and real which lead to my only criticism of the book. (Other than the whole "same time next summer" thing which obviously, in the real world, is completely appalling. But somehow we kind of root for it in the book! πŸ˜‚)

(UPDATE: Someone "anonymous" just sent in a complaint that I spoiled the book with my criticism below. I feel like the publisher's summary kind of tells you if they do/don't end up together so I'm not sure I'd say I spoiled anything.  The book is written so that it starts at the end so you know if Jake and Mallory are together when she's on her death bed. The ending starts with the very first chapter of the book and then flashes back to the beginning of their story to fill in all the blanks of their 28 summer romance.  If you felt like I spoiled anything for you though, I'm so sorry. That was definitely not my intention. This book is kind of written backward though so what sounds like a spoiler is actually heavily inferred in the first chapter.  I can definitely see how it could come across as looking like a spoiler though. So if you are scared of any spoilers at all, then skip on to the next book starting now.)




 My criticism was this:   Why did this have to be just a "one weekend a year" thing?! It was so unrealistic that they chose that instead of actually BEING TOGETHER. She's single. He's miserable in his marriage. What is the deal? HELP ME UNDERSTAND!!! 


Anyway, this book comes highly recommended, friends! I hope there is a sequel that follows Jake and Mallory's kids. πŸ˜‰
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Now for another Kindle Unlimited book/audiobook...



When Mackenzie, Sunna, and Maude move into a converted rental house, they are strangers with only one thing in common—important people in their lives have “ghosted” them. Mackenzie’s sister, Sunna’s best friend, and Maude’s fiancΓ©—all gone with no explanation.

So when a mangled, near-indecipherable letter arrives in their shared mailbox—hinting at long-awaited answers—each tenant assumes it’s for her. The mismatched trio decides to stake out the coffee shop named in the letter—the only clue they have—and in the process, a bizarre kinship forms. But the more they learn about each other, the more questions (and suspicions) they begin to have. All the while, creepy sounds and strange happenings around the property suggest that the ghosts from their pasts might not be all that’s haunting them…

Will any of the housemates find the closure they are looking for? Or are some doors meant to remain closed?

Quirky, humorous, and utterly original, Sorry I Missed You is the perfect read for anyone who has ever felt haunted by their past (or by anything else).

This was a very cute story!! It was definitely different than others I'd read this month.  It is such a great premise. Three women of all ages and walks of life find themselves renting rooms in this creepy old house together. The mysterious letter arrives but it's so wet and torn that they can barely make out what it says except for something about meeting (whoever the letter is for) at a coffee shop. They all have people they think it could be from so they stake it out together, day after day and end up becoming very weird friends. This was a very light read with a nice little ghost mystery as well. I loved loved loved how it wrapped up too. Very much a contented sigh at the end.

If you need a cute book or audiobook on KU, this one might be worth checking out!
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Oh Susan Elizabeth Phillips...I love you. So happy to have made my next book...



Let me start by saying, I have been a HUGE Susan Elizabeth Phillips fan for a decade or more now. I just went through my Audible library and I have read 18 of her books. I started reading her Chicago Stars series back when Craig was in the NFL. The Chicago Stars are a (fictional) football team and each book revolves around one of the players. I loved that they all tied into each other so you got to see your favorite characters in the new books and I obviously loved the whole NFL aspect of it. But SEP writes a love story like no other. Not a "romance" novel per say...but a true romance with highly developed characters you will absolutely fall in love with. 

If you have never read an SEP book, I'd definitely suggest starting with Book 1 of the Stars series.  It was written back in 1994 so they'll be some payphones and stuff in there but, oh they are so good. (Although now that I'm checking Amazon, it looks like the covers have been updated and they were re-released so they have more recent publication dates. So maybe other things have been changed too? No idea. Doesn't matter. They are the best.) She also has amazing stand-alone books too along with the Wynette, TX series that's also perfection.

Also worth noting, most of the SEP books are narrated by Anna Fields or Kate Fleming. (Same person with one stage name and one real name.) Unfortunately, Anna/Kate died a few years ago but she is by far the best narrator I've ever listened to. So yes, I definitely recommend the audiobooks on all of these if you are also an audio girl!!

Anyway, back Dance Away With Me.

When life throws her one setback too many, midwife and young widow Tess Hartsong takes off for Runaway Mountain. In this small town high in the Tennessee mountains, surrounded by nature, she hopes to outrun her heartbreak and find the solace she needs to heal.

But instead of peace and quiet, she encounters an enigmatic artist with a craving for solitude, a fairy-tale sprite with too many secrets, a helpless infant, a passel of curious teens, and a town suspicious of outsiders, especially one as headstrong as Tess. Just as headstrong, is Ian North, a difficult, gifted man with a tortured soul—a man who makes Tess question everything.

In running away to this new life, Tess wonders— Has she lost herself . . . or has she found her future? 

Now after saying all this, I have to say that Dance Away With Me wasn't one of my favorites from her. But then again, almost every book I read of hers is a 5 star book so this one coming in a 4 star doesn't make it bad at all.

The story starts out dramatic (almost overly dramatic but that's Tess) and then quickly slides down into awful tragedy and sadness. I hated that part but it had to be done in order to get to the point of the book. That event leads to so many questions and mysteries that fall into place as the book goes on. And intertwined in all of it, we get to see SEP do what she does best. Take a stubborn, gruff, seemingly unfeeling caveman of a guy and peel back the layers so we see a heart of gold, a protector, and a man who will do anything for the woman he loves.

I mean...swoon.

All SEP books follow a similar storyline when it comes to her leading men and leading ladies but I never tire of it. She just does it so well!!

This book made me cry a little and laugh out loud even more. I loved the town's people and the teens who kept coming to Tess with the questions about sex--and how--as a nurse--she gives them the details in a very matter-of-fact way.

The only reason I didn't love this book like I did the others is because of the setting, I think. I think I got tired of picturing them in this house in the middle of the woods all the time. I needed a little more excitement when it came to the setting. But the story was spot on.
⭐⭐⭐⭐

And finally we come to...



This was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and was written by the authors of The Last Mrs. Parrish (one of my favorite thrillers ever). 

Sidenote: Liv Constantine is actually 2 people. Sisters Lynn and Valerie Constantine.

Breezing into the upscale seaside paradise of Westport, Connecticut, gorgeous thirtysomething Piper Reynard sets down roots, opening a rehab and wellness space and joining a local yacht club. When she meets Leo Drakos, a handsome, successful lawyer, the wedding ring on his finger is the only thing she doesn’t like about him. Yet as Piper well knows, no marriage is permanent.

Meanwhile, Joanna has been waiting patiently for Leo, the charismatic man she fell in love with all those years ago, to re-emerge from the severe depression that has engulfed him. Though she’s thankful when Leo returns to his charming, energetic self, paying attention again to Evie and Stelli, the children they both love beyond measure, Joanna is shocked to discover that it’s not her loving support that’s sparked his renewed happiness—it’s something else.

Piper. Leo has fallen head over heels for the flaky, New Age-y newcomer, and unrepentant and resolute, he’s more than willing to leave Joanna behind, along with everything they’ve built. Of course, he assures her, she can still see the children.

Joanna is devastated—and determined to find something, anything, to use against this woman who has stolen her life and her true love. As she digs deeper into Piper’s past, Joanna begins to unearth disturbing secrets . . . but when she confides to her therapist that she fears for the lives of her ex-husband and children, her concerns are dismissed as paranoia. Can she find the proof she needs in time to save them?

Ok. I did NOT see the twist coming at all which I LOVED.  Maybe some of y'all will but I was clueless. It definitely gave me a "WHAAAATTTT?!!" moment when it hit. πŸ˜‚

So as I was listening to this story, I was convinced several times that this was the most ABSURD book I've ever read. It made no sense whatsoever to behave in the way they were and I kept thinking "That would never happen!!!". I even stopped what I was listening to come to my blog and jot down my frustrations with this stupid story just to vent! 🀣🀣🀣 HOWEVER. It all made sense in the end and the author is NOT an idiot. I promise. Try not to bash your head into a wall when you read some of these parts. She'll bring it all around in the end. Trust your author, ladies!

I can't say much about this one because I'll give something away but in the end, I loved this one!!  This was a great psychological thriller and I'm so glad I didn't give up when I started to get upset!
 I'm giving it 4 stars and an exploding head. πŸ˜‚ (Which equates to READ IT.)
⭐⭐⭐⭐🀯

ALSO: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS SO JUST A HEADS UP ON THAT!

If you want to make sure to save this for future reference, feel free to pin the image below so you know where to find it!


You can also find all of my book reviews HERE in the "Bookworm" tab in my menu.



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25 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your book reviews! I’ve heard mixed reviews on regretting you and beach read, but I always agree with your reviews so I’m hoping I’ll like them too! :)

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    1. I read lots of mixed reviews on Beach Read too! I think a lot of it has to do with what you think you're getting when you pick it up based on the name and the cover. I feel like the name and cover was just a marketing ploy to get all us beach read lovers to buy it! πŸ˜‰

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  2. Loved this review! Definitely saving this list!

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  3. Rushed - that's exactly the right word for Girls of Summer. Like parts of conversations were missing or assumed? Or like things reached a resolution way too easily? I'm not sure. I agree that harping on the age difference was unnecessary but, like you, I enjoyed the book!

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    1. Yes! I did feel like parts were missing sometimes!

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  4. YES!! Why didn't Mallory and Jake just get together??? He could do his job from Nantucket since she was so insistent on never leaving. He could have commuted. That's the one thing that frustrated me as well. That and the fact that the story relegated Mallory to living a life alone most of the year (Linc and friends the exception) while Jake kind of had the "best of both worlds" even though his marriage was not happy. He had his cake and ate it, too. However, as usual I cried when I finished the book. :-)

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    1. I just had someone get mad at me for "spoiling" the ending to this one. πŸ™ˆ (I didn't publish the comment because I didn't really spoil anything). So for anyone reading this, just know that Chapter 1 kind of tells you how it all ends more or less and then it flashes back to explain how they arrived at Linc calling Jake while Mallory is on her deathbed.

      But yes, I totally agree on all of that!! So frustrating. She deserved more than that.

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  5. I haven't read any of these.. they all look read. Perfect for summer.

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  6. Christina1:10 PM

    I LOVE your book reviews!! Thank you so much. Day made 😊😊😊😊

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  7. I love your book reviews! Thanks for sharing! I am saving 28 Summers to read on the beach next week! I can’t wait to see your bracelets and your home projects! Have a great day!

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    1. Thank you! I hope to get them posted before this time next year. πŸ€ͺπŸ˜‚

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  8. I absolutely loved 28 Summers. I also read The Wife Stalker. Same thoughts, crazy ending!

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    1. I really was so frustrated with The Wife Stalker until that end--they got me good!!! πŸ˜‚ The twist made all the frustration totally worth it!

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  9. So many great books in your round up this month!!! I've added several of these to my list!

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  10. Gaaaa......I can’t wait to read most of these thx for sharing Amanda. And boo to whoever reported you for spoiling. I reread the review and didn’t think you spoiled anything at all.

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  11. Adding The Wife Stalker to my list!! I tell everyone I know- read The Guest List by Lucy Foley!! It’s SO good!

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    1. Yes! You should! Just don't let yourself get too annoyed when nothing makes sense! It'll all make sense in the end. I wish I'd have known that going in so I wouldn't have wanted to quit reading halfway through. And I just looked up The Guest List! That looks GOOD! It'll be next on my list. Thank you for the rec!

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  12. Love your reviews! Have you decided whether to send your boys to school or continue virtual learning? I think the schools will quickly close so we’re sticking with virtual :(

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    1. Thank you! And yes, our boys are going back to school. (Until they close again...haha). They learned absolutely nothing last semester. Mine need the social aspect of it so much and they aren't the best learners at home stuck to a computer screen. I know some kids who THRIVE learning that way (I would have for sure!) but my two tend to check out, get bored, get antsy and quit caring when they don't have a teacher looking over their shoulder and keeping them on task. They do a million times better in a classroom environment and are actually excited about things being a little different this year, even if it's not a good different. And they are so excited to pick out their masks for back to school. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ So crazy to think this is our world now!

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  13. I did think the harping on the 10 year age difference was kind of weird given their ages and my only other criticism was who are "the girls" of summer? I assumed the story was going to revolve some friends or a mother and her two daughters or something. But I did really like it!

    I also thought 28 Summers was fantastic but thought they should have just gotten married to each other and they both would have been so much happier.

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