Monday, May 13, 2024

In a Nutshell Reviews - Five Star Edition

Summertime Punchline
 by Betty Corrello
Published by Avon on May 21, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

HBO’s Hacks meets Carley Fortune’s Every Summer After in this hilarious and sweeping love story about a comedian forced to return to her Jersey Shore hometown and confront everything she left behind ten summers before—including the man who broke her heart.

Then. Delfina Silva-Miller wants one thing: to leave behind Evergreen, New Jersey and never look back. Despite her adoring grandmother’s best efforts, Del can’t bear to live another moment at the whims of her deadbeat dad (so cliché) and her ever-temperamental crush, Eddie Rodriguez (humiliating).

Now. If there’s one thing Del knows how to do, it’s spin her bad luck into a killer joke. After years of hard work, she’s finally landed a coveted spot at a huge comedy festival, molding the often tragic raw material of her life into comedic gold. But when Del loses her job, boyfriend, and apartment in the span of a few hours, she’s forced to pack her bags and return to the home she swore off at eighteen.

Del is determined not to let her history with Evergreen distract her. She has 45 days to perfect a new comedy set and march into her new life. Instead, she marches right into Eddie Rodriguez. But he’s nothing like the boy she left behind ten years ago.

As the festival draws closer, Del is faced with the terrifying possibility that everything she’s ever wanted isn’t as far away as it once seemed.

Vividly evoking the boardwalks and beaches of the Jersey Shore, Summertime Punchline is a hilarious, vulnerable, and sweeping love story celebrating the complicated relationships—romantic and not—that impact our lives, for better or worse.

When Del left the Jersey shore, she didn't look back. However, after finding herself jobless and homeless, she returned home to prepare for the biggest event in her comedic career - the Brainwave Comedy Festival. Being back in Evergreen reopened wounds that had never healed. Will Del finally get the closure she needs to move forward?

"Have you ever heard of Saturn's return?" He shook his head. "It's this idea that in your late twenties you come home to yourself - your real self," I explained.

These books featuring heroines going home, facing their past, and getting a second chance at romance seem to be hitting my TBR lately. I found Summertime Punchline to be one of my favorites in the bunch.

Del was a standout character for me. She was a comedian with a sense of humor much like my own. There was no way I could resist her, and I was very sympathetic to the situation she found herself in. Fleeing one bad situation to be pushed back into her past was difficult. Del was fortunate to have the support and love of her grandmother and her best friend, Sam, but it was still difficult to deal with the two men who broke her heart - her father and Eddie.

"I'm not supposed to want to be here. I'm not supposed to see myself here. I'm not supposed to forgive my dad, and I am not supposed to fall in love.."

It was very satisfying to see Del make so much progress with respect to these two people. She was carrying around so much anger and animosity and working through that was freeing for her. As frustrating as the ups and downs she had with Eddie in the past, I still was rooting for them. When something keeps bringing a certain person back into your life, there must be a reason. Eddie and Del were young when they first felt those sparks, and maybe they just weren't ready for their "great love". Whatever the reason, I was ecstatic that they were getting another chance to see if they really were destined for each other.

If Evergreen gets to move on, why can't I?

The fictional shore town of Evergreen was very charming. It had been ten years since Del left her hometown, and it had changed quite a bit. The subtle parallels between this town that shaped Del and her life made an impression on me, and I liked that Del acknowledged it, too. Evergreen was enjoying a rebirth as a Jersey Shore destination, and if that town could change, why not Del?

Though I didn't necessarily feel that the romance was the standout part of this story, I did enjoy seeing Eddie and Del's past and present attempts. It was really Del's personal story that drew me in and had me eagerly flipping those pages. I always enjoy a comeback story, and I wanted nothing but success for Del. Her reflections and discoveries about herself were highlights, and I was so happy I had a chance to accompany her on this journey of self-discovery.

Overall, I had a wonderful time in Evergreen and was left excited about what the future held for Del.


Rules for Visiting
 by Jessica Francis Kane
Published by Penguin on April 28, 2020
Age/Genres: Adult, Fiction

Dry, witty, and unapologetic, May Attaway loves literature and her work as a botanist for the university in her hometown. More at home with plants than people, May begins to suspect she isn't very good at friendship and wonders if it's possible to improve with practice. Granted some leave from her job, she sets out on a journey to spend time with four long-neglected friends.

Smart, funny, and full of compassion, Rules for Visiting is the story of a search for friendship in the digital age, a singular look at the way we stay in touch. While May travels, she studies her friends' lives and begins to confront the pain of her own.

With simplicity and honesty, Jessica Francis Kane has crafted an exquisite story about a woman trying to find a new way to be in the world. This nourishing book, with its beautiful contemplation of travel, trees, family, and friendship, is the perfect antidote to our chaotic times.

May had recently received paid time off as a reward. When she found herself with no one to share the news with, she decided to use the time to revive some of her dormant friendships.

I had no idea what to expect from this book with the sort of weird cover, but it ended up being so wonderful! I found May to be a kindred spirit, and her observations on just about everything either made me think or made me chuckle.

This book touched upon several topics, but the exploration of adult friendships really grabbed me. There's the saying that to have a friend, you must be a friend. Sounds simple, but it becomes way more complicated when life gets in the way. Jobs, children, spouses, aging parents - all these things require time and can unfortunately cut into our friend time.

I loved that May made a conscientious decision to use her gift of time on her friends. Some visits were better than others, but each outing helped May recognize things in herself as she came to terms with parts of her past and present.

Overall, this was a lovely, touching, and humorous tale packed with lots of food for thought.

What are your rules for visiting?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. Rules for Visiting sounds so good! I haven't heard of this book at all, so thank you for bringing it to my attention!

    1. I don't remember seeing that book around at all when it came out, but it was a wonderful discover.

  2. Yay for two five-star reads! Rules for Visiting sounds really good. I love a book that makes me think.

    1. It was such a surprise. Wry and funny and touching, too. I really enjoyed it.

  3. Replies
    1. Although the place was fake, it was the quintessential shore town

  4. Well Rules for Visiting and all the friendships seems indeed a touching story.

    1. It was an interesting look at friendship. I enjoyed it immensely.