Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Crushing Summer by C.M. Stunich (+ Giveaway)

Title: Crushing Summer
Author: C.M. Stunich
Release Date: November 7, 2013
Genre: New Adult Romance

I'm a girl. I met a boy. Why can't it stay that simple? Here, in this town, summer doesn't just mean tiny bikinis and sunglasses, white toothed grins and lounging at the beach. It means pain. And loss. And false promises. It means liars pretending to be saints, friends pretending to be enemies, rivals pretending to be lovers. For me, it means being crushed. The Crush, actually. The one they all want simply because they were told to. It means being surrounded by beautiful faces and gorgeous bodies, sweet words and sizzling kisses. It means being wanted and despised. My name is Chloe Summer, and I'm afraid that if I'm not careful, this summer could be my last.
Buy the Book

My Review
After a stellar reading month in October, I've been a bit of a reading slump. But Crushing Summer was just the book I needed to get me out of my reading slump.  Providing me with teen drama, a twisty plot, a great protagonist, best friends with secrets, two interesting boys and a meaningful message, this was a perfect book for me.

There is no secret that I love Young Adult novels (and this one is YA, despite the NA classification above, the kids are still in high school) and Crushing Summer was a great one.  First there is Chloe, the main character.  A girl heading into her summer vacation but she really wants things to change, she wants to live life beyond what she has lived in her small secluded town in California.  However she doesn't expect to nor does she expect the summer to go the way it does.  First there is the almost drowning that brings intense and brooding (or so it seems at first sight) new boy Casper Alice into her sights.  He's almost emo in the way he dresses but Chloe quickly finds herself attracted to him even though they just met.  He seems attracted to her even though on the surface they couldn't be more opposite.  This was my first love in the book.  She really was attracted to him, she wasn't acting out bringing that boy home for attention, she liked his looks even though he wasn't her typical type and she wasn't ashamed of it. Next there is her best friend Heidi who Chloe loves dearly but who has also been acting strange for awhile.  Finally there is Cage, love interest number 2, who Chloe has known as she goes to school with him, but until the night of The Assignment she has never really talked to him, but suddenly he seems very interested in her.  He is her type, and he's the boy most girls would love to date, but is Chloe most girls?

I can't even tell you how much I loved Chloe, from the beginning of the book until the end there is so much more to her than meets the eye.  She doesn't like the status quo, she doesn't like bullying and she strives to be different. She's smart and she obviously reads as evidenced by this quote, which is one of my favorites from the book:

I stood up and made my way over to my armoire, pulling the doors open and wishing with all my heart for Narnia.  Hey you never know. It could happen.
Another reason I love her is she seems wiser than her years:
I moved down the stairs quickly, dropped my purse on my vanity table and flopped onto the bed. I was asleep in less than a minute.  The weight of knowledge hangs heavy on the heads of it's carriers. I had no idea whose quote it was, but it rang true.  Too true. For once in my life, I felt like I might be better off if I knew nothing at all.
And she'll stand up for what she thinks is right:
"Maybe when it comes to scrubbing floors or picking up dog crap, you're right. There are some things in life we have to do that we might not like. But beating up fifteen year old girls isn't one of them.  Attacking and belittling people isn't a necessity."
As far as plot, The Assignment was definitely an interesting thing to center the novel around.  It's crazy and it's scary.  It mimics cliques and friendships in high school but to a frightening level. I honestly think if teens could read this book it might make them think more about their actions, but maybe not.  I like that Chloe does think about hers and tries to make others think about theirs.  She's scared to death when she witnesses the mob mentality in full effect and she often likens what she is seeing around her to Lord of the Flies except without the death.  And she's fully right.  I found the actions of others in this book to be completely frightening examples of the mob mentality, but look around you in the news.  It is completely real.  And all though on a smaller and less violent level it is real in middle and high schools.  I think Crushing Summer really brings this to light in a less-than-real, yet real situation like The Assignment.  I love how the author uses a completely entertaining and frightening story to show how harmful bullying and mob mentality is.  And one of my favorite moments in this book (and this isn't a spoiler) is this insight from Chloe:
As long as were were being mean, we were free, but it was a false sensation, like a bird in a large cage It gave the illusion of true freedom, and it was a dangerous way of thinking.
Also as far as plot there is also romance, both Cage and Casper have interest in Chloe, but it's not an annoying love triangle.  It's real and it's interesting.  And she doesn't play them, so if love triangles aren't your thing, don't let that scare you off of this book.  There is more here than meets the eye.  There is also friendship.  And there is learning what love and friendship really mean.  This book is interesting on so many levels.  It brings to light so many different things and I think teens can really relate to them.  I think adults will enjoy this book as well, because it can either help them understand their growing teens or it will remind them in good and bad ways of their teen days.

There was so much I could relate to in this book. And while the premise of The Assignment really seems out there, it really isn't.  The Assignment happens every day, just not in the same organized summer experiment like it was in this book.  The suspense is also great.  I spent the entire book trying to figure out what was going on and who Chloe could really trust.  I did see part of the conclusion coming but there was part of it that totally caught me off guard.

I found Crushing Summer to be a fascinating book.  My only issue with Crushing Summer was it was a little predictable, but not completely, and truthfully what novel isn't after you've been reading many books for many years.  But I really love what the author did do with it.  From the very first page I felt like I was right there and involved.  I love how the author created a great character in Chloe, a girl who had skated along as part of the group before, but finally finds her footing and comes into her own in this book.  And the supporting case was each special or evil in their own right.  Every part of this book came together for me and really worked.  I was almost sad when it was over, but the ending was fitting.  And the book was excellent.  Great job C.M. Stunich.  I look forward to reading more of your books in the future!

My Rating: 4.75/5.0
“Casper,” I began, knowing I couldn't put this off any longer.  I hated to break the moment, but I could hear the shouting and cheering coming from the drive-in and knew it was only a matter of time before he figured out there was something odd going on.  “I know we just met and this might sound a little weird, but there's something you should know about this town.”  His raised his thin brows and sat back, draping his arms over the back of the bench.
        “Do you sacrifice kittens on the full moon?  Because if so, I'm totally out.  I won't sacrifice kittens.  Goats, maybe.  But not kittens.”  I tried to smile back at the joke, but thinking of The Assignment was akin to strapping weights on either side of my mouth.  The corners of my lips pulled down into a frown.
        “Tonight is Assignment Night.”  Casper remained still, listening, not at all nervous about what I was going to say.  He didn't think it was going to be bad or that it was going to affect him, but I knew it would.  Somehow, I just knew.
        “Like, for classes or something?”
        “Like, for the summer.  All summer.  Tonight, all the students, ages thirteen to eighteen, will be assigned a title.  Most of them will stay Students, but a select lucky and unlucky few will be …  Something else.”  Casper gave me a look that said I was totally and completely nuts.  Again, I attempted a smile, but this one fell even flatter than the first.  I resorted to keeping my eyes on the sea and letting my fidgety hands spin the conch around in circles.  “You know all the stereotypes people think about when they talk about high school?  Jocks?  Losers?  Party boys?  Goths?”  Casper pulled  a cigarette out of his pocket and slipped it between his lips.
        “Yeah, sure, okay.”
        “Well … on Assignment Night, tonight, people get nominated by their peers for certain … positions, and then they have to act them out until the Friday before Labor Day.  Every day until that day, at midnight, they have to be who everyone wants them to be, for good or bad.  And everyone else, the Students, they have to play along.”
        “Um, you're kidding right?  Is this some kind of game?”  My faux smiled turned into a grimace.
        “I wish it were.  If it were just a game, it'd be fun, right?  But it's not.  I mean, I used to think it was, but not anymore.  People get hurt playing this game.”  I paused, not necessarily for dramatic effect, but there it was.  “They get killed."


 About the Author
6432984 C.M. Stunich was raised under a cover of fog in the area known simply as Eureka, CA. A mysterious place, this strange, arboreal land nursed Caitlin's (yes, that's her name!) desire to write strange fiction novels about wicked monsters, magical trains, and Nemean Lions (Google it!). She currently enjoys drag queens, having too many cats, and tribal bellydance. Always a fan of the indie scene and 'sticking it to the man,' Ms. Stunich decided to take the road less traveled and forgo the traditional publishing route. You can be assured though that she received several rejections as to ensure her proper place in the world of writers before taking up a friend's offer to start a publishing company. Sarian Royal was born, and Ms. Stunich's books slowly transformed from mere baking chocolate to full blown tortes with hand sculpted fondant flowers. C.M. is a writer obsessed with delivering the very best and scours her mind on a regular basis to select the most unusual stories for the outside world. Ms. Stunich can be reached via e-mail or by post and loves to hear from her readers. Ms. Stunich also wrote this biography and has no idea why she decided to refer to herself in the third person. Come visit me at and follow me on Facebook ! heartdividerPost

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***I received this book from Love Between the Sheets Tours and Promotions for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***