Title: Phantom Summer
Author: Amy Sparling
Date of Publication: September 5, 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA with ghosts
Seventeen-year-old Taylor Gray moves to Sterling Island to get over her dead boyfriend. Mom’s cool with letting her crash on the couch, but Taylor needs to get a job before the lights are cut off again.
When the tall, dark and crazy Raine Tsunami offers her a position at his thriving ghost tour business, she figures it’s an easy way to make some cash. Taylor isn’t afraid of ghosts--that crap is as fake as her mom’s boob job. She loves their adventures on the historic island, especially the secret places he shows her when the crowds go home. So what if all the ghost stories are just legends?
When Taylor comes face to face with a ghost and Raine crosses the line between friend and boyfriend--Taylor’s new life collides with her haunted past. If murdered people end up as ghosts, then that someone she was trying to forget is probably watching her.
I drive through the remnants of what used to be a gated entrance. Now the metal gate lies on the ground, weeds having grown over it. Mom's place is number 336-A. I park in the visitor section closest to Mom's address and step out of the Ford.
As I slam the truck door behind me, the smell of salt in the air fills my lungs. Waves crash on the shore, and seagulls…well I'm not sure what kind of sound they make overhead. A quack-ish type of caw. It's unlike any other bird's song I've ever heard.
The shabby buildings are long overdue for a new paint job and many of them have blue tarps nailed over sections of the roof. People usually do that when a hurricane comes through and blows off shingles, but it's a temporary solution. We haven't had a hurricane in over four years. Please, please let the inside look better than the outside.
I grab my backpack and suitcase and drag it up to Mom's door, tapping on it with my keys. The door swings open and a thin woman with white-blond hair stares back at me. She's wearing a purple bathrobe and has a cigar in her hand. Shit, I'm at the wrong address.
"Hey babe, I didn't expect you so soon." She puffs from her cigar and swings open the door.
"Mom?" I say, as she grabs me in a one armed hug. My mom has dark brown hair like me and a beer gut. At least, that's what she used to look like. She pulls my suitcase inside for me and closes the door behind us.
"Let me get a look at you." She grabs my shoulders with her bony fingers. "You're so different. All grown up."
"Yeah, you too," I say, studying this woman who does look a little like my mom. She has the same butterfly tattoo on her chest. Even still, I can't shake the feeling that I walked into the wrong apartment, that I'm standing here being embraced by a woman who isn't my mom.
Two seconds later the loving moment is gone. I watch Mom’s lipstick smudge onto her cigar as she takes one last puff and snuffs it in an ashtray on an end table. "I go to work at four, so you'll have the place to yourself all night,” she says, winking at me.
Mom shows me the kitchen, complete with microwave, and the bathroom and the living room with a two-seater couch which will now be my bed. "Maybe we can get you an air mattress or something," Mom says, kicking at the springy cushions with her slipper.
The old me would have freaked out if I had to spend a weekend here in Mom's living room. The old me liked having her own room, with her own bed and all of her stuff. And her best friend and lover living next door. But that's the old me. The new me doesn't mind all of these new changes.
I sit on the couch and place a smile on my face. Okay, well maybe now that I've pointed them out they kind of bother me. Sleeping on a couch? Oh well. Brendan doesn't get to sleep in his bed either. He gets to be dead in his coffin. And that thing didn't even have padding like this couch. I know because I left a copy of the Denali user's manual in his coffin when no one was looking. He wanted a Denali so bad, but as an eighteen year old he didn't have the money to spend on luxury motorcycles. I figured in the afterlife he could at least read about one.
But that was Old Taylor. And Old Taylor doesn't exist anymore. She has left the building and wants me to get acquainted with New Taylor. New Taylor lives in Sterling with her mom, and she's not afraid of anything and she has no regrets in life. New Taylor won't remember Brendan.
Amy Sparling is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, nail polish and paid holidays. She lives near the beach with her daughter, one spoiled rotten puppy and a cat who is most likely plotting to take over the world. Amy Sparling is a pen name for YA author Cheyanne Young.
You don't know what sad is until you do something really bad. Like if you accidentally kill your best friend. And once you've known sorrow like that, you don't have to wear all black to prove it.
I'm such a baby when it comes to scary books. I'm not a fan at all, so I was really glad to find that Phantom Summer wasn't some creepy ghost story, but a story about friendships, grief and love, with some really cool ghost tales thrown in for good measure.
Seventeen year old Taylor Grey is dealing with grief, loss and guilt, when she makes the decision to move away from her Dad and live with her Mum in the beachside town of Sterling Island. Taylor is running from the memories of her best friend and the boy she was in love with, Brendan who died. She is not looking for love. She had that with Brendan, and it didn't turn out so well. But she didn't count on the gorgeous and quirky Raine entering her life and putting her all in a spin.
Taylor was such a wonderful character, although at first, I didn't like her. But grief is such a hard thing to deal with, and add into that the added guilt that Taylor feels over Brendan's death and you have a girl who is all kinds of sad. The move to live with her mum might take her away from the proximity of where she spent her time with Brendan but now she also has to deal with her Mum's issues as well and for the most part Taylor is the more grown up of the two.
Not long after arriving in Sterling Island, Taylor encounters Raine Tsunami, the local ghost tour guide. Raine and almost everyone in the town believe in ghosts and has a story to tell. But Taylor doesn't buy it. Ghosts are not real. But she ends up spending time with Raine as he takes her on his adventures digging into the latest ghost story. Even if she doesn't believe, she still enjoys the time they spend together and the discoveries they make. I loved the progression of the relationship between Raine and Taylor. The had a really great friendship. But along with Taylor's increasing feelings towards Raine, also comes a growth in the depth of her guilt. What would Brendan think of her feelings for Raine?
He brings his lips down to mine, and they squish together perfectly in what is sure to be the world's most epic kiss. It will go down in history as the greatest kiss known to man. We'll be famous.
I loved Raine and all his ghost stories. He was popular and outgoing. The complete opposite to Taylor. I loved that he was so sure of his beliefs. But we also got to see a side to him that all his adoring fans didn't get to see. Things haven't always been so easy for him. But above everything he is a good son and a great brother and friend.
Phantom Summer is a book that has some depth to it, but also has lots of light, fun moments. I especially enjoyed the romance, along with hearing the history related to all the town's ghost stories. A really enjoyable read!!
4/5 Ghostly Stars