Winter has only just begun, but SUMMER OF L.U.C.K. will warm you right up with a fantasy filled summer camp tale. Here’s the synopsis from Intense Publications:

Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices. As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher’s carnival rides, they discover they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher’s resistant son? If not, she’ll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.

The third person multiple points of view stays close to Darby, Justin, and Naz—only occasionally straying to one of the adult characters.The kids are connected first by being the only ones who hear music coming from the closed carnival grounds and being able to communicate through thoughts. Even stranger: they each look very much like the deceased owner’s three grown children when they were younger.

The pacing is perfect and with each child trying to face a personal challenge in their life, the journey toward understanding will keep readers engaged. Each of the young characters could in fact do well with a story about their own family.

A heartfelt and engaging debut.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: Sept. 15, 2020 PAGE COUNT: 268


  1. Having gone to summer camp as a youth, it brought back many memories of the food, activities, and new friends I enjoyed during those summer weeks. The Michigan setting was also a plus as my grandparents lived there.
  2. The problems faced by the three kids will be familiar to many middle grade readers. Loss of a loved one, stuttering, and learning a new language are all great choices that were addressed within each character’s ARC.
  3. The carnival was full of the games and rides that came back to life for Darby, Justin, and Naz. It fit in with their kid like wonder and eventually provided them with the motivation to face their problems.
  4. I’ve been getting a bit tired of all the bullies in MG books. There’s a few here, but they never take over the story and their bullying is handled well by their intended targets.
  5. As I came to the last page, my thought was this had sequel possibilities. I quickly discovered the author was already working on Summer of L.U.C.K.: READY OR NOT, due out next year.

If you missed Literary Rambles interview with the author, you can find it here.


Laura Segal Stegman is a Los Angeles-based arts publicist and author Laura’s non-fiction credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York, and her feature stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways Magazine and Christian Science Monitor, among others. A long-time publicity consultant, she owns Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC, which has represented a wide-ranging client list of businesses, arts organizations and non-profit events over the years. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Irvine with a B.A. in Drama and lives with her husband in West L.A. and part-time in New York City. She loves reading, L.A. Dodgers baseball, classical music and theater.


INtense Publications strives to promote literacy by releasing cutting-edge, diverse novels that tackle difficult themes such as bullying, disability, discrimination, and family issues. INtense was founded in the summer of 2018 by educator Jana Grissom, whose goal is to improve the lives of kids. As a middle school teacher, foster parent, and the author of a YA fantasy series, she believes literacy will change the world one word at a time. INtense Publications accepts submissions for fantasy, science fiction, self-help, plus young adult and middle grade stories, especially those that address social issues from the perspective of characters with challenges such as disabilities, stereotypes, or bullying.


I received an ARC for my honest review. Comments are welcome below!

(This is my final review of 2020. I’ll have one more post for next week’s MMGM with my favorite moments in MG literature this year—The Golden Cup Awards!)

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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5 Responses to SUMMER OF L.U.C.K.

  1. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    What a fun story! I’ve seen a ton of praise for this book, and it makes sense, since it sounds like it combines some great characters with an exciting plot! Thanks for the great review, and happy holidays!

  2. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I love finding books set in my home state! This book sounds fun to read and will bring back good memories of summer camp for me too. Happy holidays! Best wishes for a safe and healthy 2021!

  3. Jenni says:

    This sounds intriguing. I too have such fond memories of summer camp. And I like the carnival allows them to speak without words!
    What a great read for now when we are longing for sunshine!

  4. I always find camp stories interesting. Maybe because it does bring back fun memories!

  5. This sounds really cool. The task set for the three kids is an interesting one. Thanks for telling me about it. Merry Christmas!

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