Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

It doesn’t feel like summer until a Morgan Matson book is released. Matson has been quintessential summer reading for me since Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour (released 2010), when I first discovered the author. She’s had hit after hit with Second Chance Summer, Since You’ve Been Gone, and Save the Date. Take Me Home Tonight is supposed to be a mash up of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Nick and Norah’s Infintie Playlist, but I’ve seen neither movie (Gasp! Shock!), so I began the book with no knowledge of what I was diving into.

Our main characters, Kat and Stevie, were just going into the city for a few hours.

What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s Stevie’s birthday – and her dad ditched their plans, again, so what else was there to do but head into New York City for the most magical night of their lives?

After a series of unfortunate events the two friends end up separated, their cover story friend gets kidnapped, laundry delivery with a cute boy uncovers an underground poker game, and a dramatic performance is made to keep a dog from being evicted from a dorm room. And that’s when shit gets real.

Funny, engaging, quick – Take Me Home Tonight is a fast little read about theater kids – best friends, who are growing up and not quite ready to move into the unknown world of adulthood. With fantastical situations and an outlandish side story, the pace moves swiftly but there’s a bit of whiplash if you’re too invested. It’s not my favorite Matson, but it does have an interesting little surprise at the end if you’re a fan of her work. She does love to weave former characters into her latest books.

All in all, as someone who works in the city, I’m not very impressed with the descriptions of New York glamour; however, I was completely enamored with the idea of being alone in the MET at night. Points to calling back Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

I adore Rachel Hawkins. She’s one of my favorite people to follow on social media and the anecdotes she tells of her family and cats make her tweets come alive with joy. It’s easy to forget that written words can have a person behind them, but she makes you feel like you’re part of the family with every post.

The Wife Upstairs is a modern day retelling of Jane Eyre, with a Southern Gothic twist. As someone who never had Jane Eyre on my high school reading list, but Hamlet three separate times, this was my first foray into the story. I’m not entirely sure of the base material, and I wasn’t particularly rooting for any of the characters, but I did enjoy the shifting narratives and descriptive writing Hawkins utilized.

Jane comes to a small town in Alabama looking for a fresh start. She’s a little shifty, not your average heroine, with a hidden backstory and a thing for kleptomania. She gets engaged to the resident hottie in the first third of the book, which means it all goes screwy from there.

The Wife Upstairs was not my favorite book of the summer, but it is perfect gloomy day reading. Hawkins is engaging, smooth, and swift in her storytelling, and you can tell she put her heart into it. I’m looking forward to her next ventures into adult lit, with Reckless Girls and The Ex Hex (or as she aptly describes it, Hocus Pocus but they F).