Review: One Distant Summer by Serena Clarke

What a cool book! Jacinda Scott goes to New Zealand to take time off from the pressures of LA life. She doesn’t bank on staying next door to Liam Ward, cute younger brother of her decade-old teenage fling. 

One Distant Summer isn’t a simple story. Author Serena Clarke does a phenomenal job giving us something more than just unrequited love or “I fell for the wrong guy.”  Jacinda has her own life with fun and loyal friends. She focuses on a successful career, but not to the detriment of her own welfare. She’s a whole person… who just happens to fall into Liam’s neighborhood. Subplots abound — always in support of the main storyline. 

Without too much angst, Liam and Jacinda fall in and out of like and lust, trying to determine what will hurt the least. There are lots of gatherings with friends, sandy beach talks, and stolen moments with guitars, as the couple journeys to find a resolution. Serena Clarke successfully takes the reader on that journey — the characters feeling like my own friends, and New Zealand feeling home.  

-calliope

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Review: A North So True by Serena Clarke

  

A North So True combines the best of so many worlds: fast-paced corporate marketing in the city, getting back to nature in the Swedish countryside, family connections and family secrets, icy climate, warm fires, fika, and lots of love. 

Every bit of it is done well. Zoe and Jakob (a quiet, well-mannered, but very alpha male) have the requisite chemistry for my liking, and I appreciate their relationship ebbing and flowing naturally. I love the party Zoe attended – so fun to see a character loosen up! I really got to know her as she shrugs off some inhibitions and socializes. Zoe’s host family is adorable and warm and stable. They provide a thread of constancy in Zoe’s crazy life – and in the novel. 

But my absolute favorite part of A North So True is the juxtaposition of cold and hot. Serena Clarke crafts it so well. No gratuitous snowflakes on eyelashes and fireplace sparks on a bear rug; Every description has a purpose and moves the plot forward. From ice skating and snowmobiling to gut-warming shots and hot baths, my senses soaked up every description.  

I’m not a re-reader in general, but I kinda want to re-read this book just to enjoy the magical Swedish feast again. ❤️❄️⛸🇸🇪

-calliope 

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Review: The Same but Different by Serena Clarke

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The beautiful thing about book titles is that they seem to mean one thing at first, and then you finish the book and realize they could mean a whole bunch of other things.

Cady and Shelby are twins – the same but different, yeah? There’s a death in the family and they decide to travel from the UK to the US… and join a flash mob thingy called Flashpoint. While they’re there, they look for their biological dad, and run into two women also named Cady and Shelby -the same but different, again! And by the end of their US adventure, Cady and Shelby grow and develop and peel away layers until they themselves are different… yet the same.

I thought this book would be straight up romance or chick lit, but it was really much more. There was suspense, adventure, family drama, more family drama, and yep, some romance. It was refreshing to read such a well-rounded story, kind of along the lines of a Nora Roberts novel. I’m used to so much straightforward chick lit romance that I forget how satisfying a good, substantial story can be. A big Thank You to Serena Clarke for reminding me. 🙂

–Calliope

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Review: All Over the Place by Serena Clarke

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4 stars

Livi is a New Zealander who runs away to London after a humiliating – and very public – breakup. While she’s doing the single-working-girl thing in England, the book read like straight chick-lit, which I love. She had fun with her best friends, kept in touch with some schoolmates back home, flirted with a smattering of guys, and alternately complained about and thrived on her work in a hair salon.

And then all hell broke loose.

Livi’s mother came to London to “find herself” while Livi’s dad was nowhere to be found. Livi’s best friend Cam was sometimes being his sweet self and sometimes ignoring her texts and emails. Finally, Livi got stuck with a handsome American’s leather satchel due to a mishap on the train.

With a nudge from her flatmate, Livi went all over the place – throughout town, on day trips around England, and even a few days in romantic Paris – trying to find the American and return his satchel. She also went all over the place in her heart and mind, trying to figure out where her life was going and who she wanted to spend it with.

And there’s where chick-lit turned to romance.

I won’t give away details, but Livi got one of the best, most romantic, awe-inspiring and awwwww-inspiring happily ever afters I’ve read in a long time.

Brava, Serena Clarke! I plan to read more by you.

–Calliope

The Kindle format is less than $4!
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