Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Morgan Matson
Narrator(s): Brittany Pressley
Series: n/a
Length: 10 hrs 37 mins
Publisher: Audible Studios, Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 11, 2013; May 8, 2012
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak.

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Second Chance Summer has been on my to read list since it came out. I know that it’s been on Jen's for a while too and we both made goals to get this one done this summer. (Summer TBR List) While we didn’t quite buddy read this one, we both listened to the audio within days of each other so we decided a joint review was in order! Also, even if you can't read this whole long review to the end... be sure to scroll down to the bottom because I made a little something!!

What made us finally read this:

April: Jamie (The Perpetual Page Turner) reviewed it over on her blog and mentioned that it takes place right here in the Pocono Mountains. That is the main reason I wanted to read it. It’s my home! Also, Second Chance Summer has one of the prettiest covers I’ve ever seen. I mean, look at those colors! I’ve seen so many friends/bloggers read this one and love it, so I figured it was about time.

Jen: I had already listened to and loved Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, so I was already a fan of Morgan Matson's writing. I think as soon as I finished Amy & Roger, I went and added all of her books to my TBR. I kept putting off Second Chance Summer because of all the feels I knew it had solicited in other readers and bloggers, but when I caught it on sale on audio, I knew it was finally time. I mean, I survived the TFiOS feels, right? How much worse could it be in Second Chance Summer?

The Story:

April: *sigh* What can I say about this story? It’s sad, but it’s also fun, if that makes sense. Taylor and her family have been given the worst kind of news. Her father is dying, and only has a few months left. So the family packs up everything and heads to their lake house in the Poconos to spend one last summer together. That’s ominous, I know, but it’s not all depressing. There is some summer love and teenage drama to mix it all up. The Edward’s haven’t visited house in quite some time, so things have changed. It’s a great story about family, friendships, and growing up.

Jen: I think that above all else, this was a story about redemption. It was about Taylor writing the wrongs of the past, getting second chances with friends and family alike, and not squandering the opportunity, no matter how much easier it was to run from her problems. Yes, it's sad. Yes, there's heartbreak. But the story encompasses so much more than that.

The Characters:

April: I adored every character in this book. Taylor, I felt for this girl. I didn’t always agree with how she reacted to situations, but at the same time you just know she’s hurting. The prospect of losing your dad is a tough pill to take, and I think she does the best she can. Mr. Edward’s, he was awesome. I loved the relationship he had with each of his kids. Taylors mom, brother and younger sister, were great too. I just loved every freaking body!

Jen: It's not surprising to me that I pretty much adored all of the characters in this book, even when they were catty or mean. Everyone's dealing with something, but it's how they all handle their issues that shows what kind of people they are. The same is true of the characters in Second Chance Summer.

This is an ice cream place close to me 
The Friendships:

April: When Taylor left the Poconos years ago, she left with a bit of a mess behind her. I won’t get into too much detail but she had a best friend, Lucy, and a first boyfriend, Henry. Through-out the story, we get to look back and see what all goes down. These flashbacks seem to be a staple in the books I’ve read so far of Matson, and she does them perfectly. I enjoyed seeing what happened, and how they all work it out slowly in the present.

Jen: April makes an excellent point about Matson's use of flashbacks. I think this method is genuinely useful in showing the reader how the characters came to find themselves in their current predicaments, rather than just telling us what happened all those years ago. And in Second Chance Summer, it really helped me understand why Taylor was so hesitant to return to the summer house in the Poconos and chance running into her former best friends. But I'm also glad that in remembering what happened, Taylor is pretty much forced to confront her past and attempt to redeem herself and reconnect with her friends.

The Romance:

April: The romance was cute and complicated. Going with what I mentioned above, things aren’t exactly peachy between Taylor and Henry when she shows up at the lake house this year. There are a ton of misunderstandings that need to be worked out, and still a whole lot that Taylor is dealing with right now with her father. There are some really sweet moments though, and I liked how it all played out between them.

Jen: Friends to something more romances are my absolute favorite kind. Even when the people involved are twelve. ;) But even at that tender age, things can get complicated. I liked seeing Taylor and Henry reconnect and attempt to salvage what they might have been that summer all those years ago. Even if Taylor is still running scared. I hate when characters let their fears get in the way of what they really want, even when the rational side of my brain is telling me that this character in particular is going through a lot of stuff with her family and could use a break.

The Setting:

It's not lake Phoenix, but it's my lake and it's what I pictured

April: I added this category because I wanted to stress with you all, how obvious it is that Matson has spent a ton of time in the Pocono’s. Her setting details are extremely accurate. It’s kind of surreal reading a book that takes place so close to home. There is mention of the Pocono Record, a local paper that I’ve grown up with. The Stroud Mall was referenced, guys it’s a shitty little mall, but it’s the closet thing we have. Well, had, the area has built up like crazy over the years. The hospital that Taylors Dad goes to, my husband works there. I gave birth to my daughter there. It’s just so neat! Please forgive me while I gush in my nerdy self. I know that I’m not the first person to have a connection to a books setting, but I don’t live in a big city. Lol Lake Phoenix, there isn’t one, but there are dozens of lake communities around me. All of them similar, and happen to live in one. I laughed at the mention of gravel driveways and high peeked roofs. So very true. About half of the houses in my development are vacation rentals. Now that it’s summertime, there are tourists everywhere. The Author mentions in her bio that she used to spend the summers with her family in the Pocono’s. She told me which Community they used to go to on twitter, and it’s really close to me. There were a few things off, like the college name is actually East Stroudsburg University, but perhaps some of the names were changed for a reason. Other than that, *high five* to Matson for getting the area right!

Jen: I'm just going to assume that April knows what she's talking about. Hahaha...just kidding. Seriously, though, Matson is very good with details. Like, "transport you there from your comfy spot on the couch" good. April shares pictures with me a lot, and yeah, Matson nailed it. Thanks to the two of them, I feel like I've already been to the Poconos. Though this will absolutely NOT keep me from inviting myself to April's next summer, lol.

The Sads :(

April: The sad’s, you knew we had to talk about them. It’s the one thing that kept me from reading this sooner. I was really afraid it would tear my heart apart and drag it through the mud. It did, a little, but maybe because I went into it knowing what the outcome would probably me, that helped me? I knew I would cry based on what others have said, but it wasn’t so bad. At least not as bad as I thought it would be. A little tears won’t kill ya!

Jen: April's lying, y'all. It's not, like, consistently sad, but when it gets to the sad part, beware. I bawled like a baby at my desk, my sister making fun of me the whole time. You see, we have this running joke between us about how I'm an unfeeling monster...or an alien, depending on her mood that day. Not true, though...I just care about different things than she does. Anyway, yeah, total blubbering mess at the end of the day when I finished this audio. So, basically, Second Chance Summer made a monster cry. I hope you're happy, Matson.

The Narrator:

April: I really liked the narrator. I wasn’t sure at first whether I would. I get a little anxious each time I start a new audio book, but I slipped right into it with no problem. She did a great job giving Taylor a voice.

Jen: This is the first book I've listened to that was narrated by Brittany Pressley, but after enjoying the audio for Second Chance Summer and after checking out the other books she's narrated, I've added a few more to my wishlist. So, yeah, she's good. She brought Taylor and her issues to life and it's probably her fault I cried as much as I did because her performance was just so heartbreaking and real.


April: Hmmm, overall, I would have to say Second Chance Summer is an all time favorite. I think I liked Since You’ve been Gone more, as far as a fun summer read, but SCS holds a special place in my heart just because of where it takes place. I’m becoming a huge fan of Morgan Matson, and I will be stalking all of her future books. I highly recommend this one if you haven’t read it already.

Jen: I wouldn't go so far as to say this book is a favorite. Stories like this, full of the feels and the lessons, usually just don't make that cut for me. Maybe if I felt as close to the setting as April does or if I felt some fellowship with Taylor over a shared experience, I'd have loved this story that much more. As it is, I really enjoyed the story and I will keep reading everything Morgan Matson writes from now till the end of time, even as her alter-ego who writes stories of revenge. April's giving this book a full-out five stars, but for my own personal shelves, I'm giving it four well-earned stars.

GIF it to me straight:

April: Some of you know I like to make book trailers with my Sims 3 game. I haven't made one in so long. I just had to make one for Second Chance Summer though, because I loved it so much. Here it is!! Enjoy and feel free to share it around! :) 

About the author:

Morgan Matson grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles but halfway though a theater degree, she started working in the children's department of Vroman's Bookstore and fell in love with YA literature.

Following college graduation (and the proud bearer of an incredibly useful theater/English degree) she moved back East to attend the New School, where she received her M.F.A in Writing for Children. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, inspired by Morgan's three cross-country road trips, was published in May 2010. It was named an ALA Top Ten Best Book, a PW "Flying Start" book, and was shortlisted for the Waterstone's Book Prize. It has since been published in five different languages and six different countries.

In the meantime, Morgan moved back to California, went back to school again and in 2011 received an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California.

Her second book, Second Chance Summer, was published in May 2012 and draws largely on her experiences spending summers growing up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Morgan currently lives in Los Angeles, though she loves to travel and does it whenever she can. She is currently writing another book, to be published in 2014.

Find Morgan:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TumblrGoodreads


  1. Another one that I have on my audio list! I need to buy credits in bulk or something :)

    1. Can we do that? Because if so I need to as well! 😀

  2. Omg your book trailer brought tears to my eyes! Great job!!

    I absolutely adored this book. Though I'm not in PA, I'm in CT and I love how Morgans books always take place "so close to home." She's such a talented author that I totally Fangirl over often. I'm glad you two loved this as much as I did!! :)

    1. thank you! :) She really is a talented Author. I will forever buy her books.

  3. I always enjoy your joint reviews, ladies! Keep them coming!

    Second Chance Summer seems to be a well-rounded book with so much life in it! I'm convinced I'd like it just as much as you two did -- even if it broke me a little. The setting for this book is gorgeous, and it seems to be a character itself! Though I'm not an outdoors-y type of gal, I would LOVE to visit Pocono's and just breathe in all that beauty! Can't wait to check this one out! Wonderful review, girls!

    And that book trailer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You should be proud, April! You did such a fantastic job with it. It rocks! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review


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