Reviews in a Minute: Some Summer Books

These books have really not a thing in common. Except they release(d) in the summer. So there you have it.

Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
The Road to Winter by Mark Smith

Reviews in a Minute: Some Summer Books Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #8
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 4th 2017
Pages: 320
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?


If you know me, you know that two things are true: 1) I don’t usually get along well with fluffy; and 2) I will read anything that promises me swimming. So I was on the fence about whether I should read this, especially since it was part of a series that I’d never read. But alas, it was such a fabulously pleasant surprise! First, if you haven’t read the other books, it is absolutely not a problem. I had been told this, but I had a pretty healthy level of skepticism about it. Also, if you are (or were) a swimmer, you’ll be incredibly happy to know that the swimming references are on point! I’ll delve more into that in a second. Let’s talk about what I adored, shall we?

  • Maggie was awesome. She seemed so realistic to me, especially as a person who did devote my whole high school career to athletics. Look, I was not Maggie-level Olympian hopeful or anything, but I was really serious about it. So I understood her so much, understood how important swimming was to her, and understood how sometimes it is really, really hard to balance having a swimming life and any kind of personal life, especially when you include the responsibilities of high school, and preparing for college. I loved how realistically the author portrayed Maggie’s situation- and I think so many teens would be able to relate to it. Even if you aren’t/weren’t an athlete, no doubt you’ve lived through the stress of juggling something.
  • As I said before, the swimming references are so, so well done. The author clearly did her homework, not only with the basics of the sport in general, but in actual habits and mores of the athletes. It brought me back to that intense swimming life, and I loved it. The book discusses things like “swimcest” (which is when a swimmer engages in teammate romance), coach-swimmer interactions, issues with jealousy, pre-meet rituals, and so much more.
  • The romance was so ship-worthy. I love the friends-to-lovers trope, which made it a huge win. Levi is her teammate, of course, and so he understands Maggie’s priorities and her time constraints. Plus, they just work so well together, they play off each other perfectly!
  • It was just an overall fun book to read. The book showed such a realistic glimpse into so many of the struggles that a young scholar-athlete goes through. There was romance, friendship, and I loved that the characters were so driven. They weren’t perfect by any means, but I liked that they tried so hard and were invested in their futures.

Bottom Line: Definitely one of the best fluffier books, and one of the best swimming books I have ever read. I loved the story, the romance, and the characters, and now want to read the rest of the series!

Reviews in a Minute: Some Summer Books See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Published by Atlantic Monthly Press on August 1st 2017
Pages: 336
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.


I won’t lie, I am pretty fascinated by the Lizzie Borden case. I think the fact that it has been unsolved, and probably will forever remain as such that makes it so compelling. And fiction based on the case has always been of interest to me, because I love to read different authors’ takes on what may have happened. To read different accounts of who Lizzie might have been, who her family might have been. The psychology surrounding the case is endlessly intriguing, and makes for a pretty great read.

In this particular Lizzie Borden book, we see the perspectives from several of the key players in the case. They’re shown mainly in flashback form, both leading up to the murders and afterward. I enjoyed the varying perspectives, as they kept the mystery going. It was also interesting how the author portrayed Lizzie- which I won’t get into because that would be spoilery.

The main problem I had with the book is that it often seemed quite slow. There were large chunks that I felt like nothing was really being revealed, nothing was happening.

Bottom Line: While I enjoyed getting into the minds of some of the players in the Borden case, I do wish the stakes had seemed higher, that there had been more revelations. (If you want to read about my favorite Lizzie Borden book, check out Sweet Madness!)

Reviews in a Minute: Some Summer Books The Road to Winter by Mark Smith
Series: Winter #1
Published by Text Publishing on June 27th 2016
Pages: 233
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

Twenty years ago, John Marsden’s Tomorrow series captivated a generation of readers.

Now, Mark Smith’s The Road to Winter tells a thrilling, primal, twenty-first century story of courage and survival in the Australian wilderness.

Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company.

He has stayed alive for two winters—hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage.

But Finn’s isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley—an asylum seeker—and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn’s help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush.

And Ramage wants the girls back—at any cost.

The Road to Winter is an unforgettable novel about survival, honour, friendship and love. It announces an extraordinary new talent.


This was a quick book, and an entertaining read, though I don’t think the plot was particularly groundbreaking. I loved the Australian setting and the sense of adventure. It was a super fast moving book and a quick read, and while I didn’t completely feel connected to the characters, I liked them enough to be invested in the story and the outcome for the characters.

This book follows the path of quite a few survival/dystopians, so it isn’t completely fresh, but the setting and some of the situations the characters face are unique so it feels a bit different. I’m definitely curious to find out what happens next, so I plan on reading the sequel.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of dystopian, you’d probably enjoy this. It’s quick and entertaining, if not completely novel.

Have you read any of these books? Planning on it? Let’s talk about them! 

Posted July 3, 2017 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 26 Comments

26 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: Some Summer Books

  1. Coming Up for Air sounds amazing! I used to be a swimmer so I’m glad that the swimming references were accurate and well-written. 🙂 I’m definitely going to have to pick that one up. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous reviews! <3

  2. I kind of want to read the last one? But I’m also a bit over apocalypses and dystopians unless they’re REALLY something special. Because I am a teacup full of fuss these days. 😂 I’m so glad you adored the first one though!! yAY FOR GOOD BOOKS THAT ACCURATELY DO OUR INTERESTS!! I’m not a huge fan of fluff, but I admit I’m toootally intrigued. 😍

  3. Ooh your first Miranda Kenneally. I didn’t love this one quite as much as the rest of the books in the series, but I did like it a lot. I definitely loved all the swimming elements to the story. They were great and I’m glad you were able to enjoy them and the characters. 🙂

    Sorry that second book wasn’t all that. I can definitely understand wanting the stakes to be higher. That’s always a top priority for me when I’m reading a mystery/thriller sort of book. That cover is quite eye-catching though!

    Ooh an Aussie book. I think there’s something so rich and complex about Australian settings. I’m not particularly into dystopia at the moment, but I’m curious about this one. Glad it was enjoyable even though it wasn’t entirely fresh!

  4. Ooh I am so excited for Coming Up for Air! I love swimming too and I think it will be relatable to me, based on your review. I really liked all three of your mini reviews. Now I am really excited!

  5. I should probably pick up a Miranda Keneally at some point. They do seem like really fun, light and fluffy reads. Coming Up For Air sounds good, I’m interested to read the swimming aspects! I haven’t really read any (maybe one) that has swimming in it. Not sure about See What I Have Done… it seems quite popular, but I’m not interested in slower reads. :/ Thanks for the reviews!

  6. LOL, three cheers for throwing a bunch of random books together…because sometimes that’s just the way it is! Miranda Kenneally’s books are juuuuust angsty enough without being too angsty, and just fluffy enough without being too fluffy. You know? I’ve heard that Sam and Jordan make an appearance, which as a major fan of Finding Jordan fills me with glee.

    I’m also totally fascinated by the Lizzie Borden case! Have you seen the Lizzie Borden Chronicles? It’s on Netflix and it’s pretty interesting!

  7. The swimming book sounds really good. I’ve discovered I like reading about athletes, I just don’t like actually doing sports. 😀 I just can’t get myself to read books that are part of a series usually though! I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t do it. Maybe I’ll look into the series though!

  8. Sarah Miller’s “The Borden Murders” is a really good (readable) nonfiction account. I kind of hate true crime, but I think I have a statue of limitations or something, because I would read Borden and Jack the Ripper stuff all day long.

  9. Coming Up For Air does sound well done, and glad the swimming was on point. I might have overlooked it for the cute cover but I saw another review the other day that said pretty much the same thing, that it handled the swimming stuff well and was a great romance. And if the swimming was convincing to you then that’s a good sign. I like books that show more to high school than just partying and drinking, since some kids actually did sports and were’t always crazy lol.

    The Road to Winter definitely sounds not super original but the Australian setting sounds good. It’s funny how killer viruses are terrifying in RL but if a book has one I’m ooh virus apocalypse! And of course roving gangs of ne’er-do-wells lol. Glad it wasn’t bad, I can see reading it maybe for something fun.

  10. Coming Up for Air sounds like a light fluffy contemporary that is perfect for summer! I have See What I Have Done on my shelf cos I got an ARC but I’ve not read a review about it. Thanks for your review though, it actually does sound like something that I’m into. I wasn’t too keen on the Road to winter.

  11. I’ve seen Coming Up for Air a lot, but the cover wasn’t enticing enough to convince me to actually want to read it. After reading your review, though, it sounds adorable, and pretty much right up my alley. I’ve read Stealing Parker by her, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve never been a sports person, but for some reason I loveeeeeeee sportsy books.

  12. Love the cover of See What I Have Done, but I’m not a huge fan of books like these as I like things tied up neatly in a bow. Yes, I’m boring that way. 😉 Road To Winter sounds good! I’ve read my share of dystopians, but don’t think I’ve ever read one set in Australia.

  13. Love seeing such a great review for Coming Up for Air! Especially from someone who isn’t the biggest contemporary reader. 🙂 I’ve only read one other by Kenneally and have been meaning to read more ever since. I am so looking forward to Coming Up for Air. Now more than ever!

  14. I’m fascinated by Lizzie Borden’s case, too. Especially considering how investigations and murder and justice was handled back then- I wonder, if historic crimes were analyzed like new using our forensic tools of today, what would they reveal? It seems so often the court of public opinion was held in higher regard than fact back then, and how much of our understanding comes from rumors written as fact? It’s interesting. And now I must read Sweet Madness! Thanks. 🙂

  15. Great reviews. Glad to see you enjoyed the newest Kenneally book. The Hundred Oaks series is one I really need to catch up on and you are definitely helping inspire me to do so with your review. As for other two books, I actually heard about that Lizzie Borden book a few weeks ago. There was an article in one of the weekend magazines with the newspaper my nan gets and it sounded really intriguing. Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it more but I may check out that other book.

  16. Coming Up for Air sounds SO CUTE! I’ve heard so many great things about Miranda Kenneally’s books, I don’t know why I haven’t read them yet!

  17. I can’t believe I still haven’t read any Kenneally books yet! They do sound amazing and perfect for summer! Glad this one was a hit for you! Great mini reviews, Shannon!

  18. I don’t have much interest in trying the other two books because they only sound okay. But I have to say that I have been seeing a lot of positive reviews for Coming up for Air, and the swimming aspect to it sounds great as well. So happy you head over heels loved it!

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