Punishment Summer by Peggy Rothschild

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SKU 978-1-77233-528-6

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Sixteen-year-old Nicki is sent to stay at her grandfather’s cabin near the town of Punishment in the Mendocino Forest. As always, she hides her burn scars and keeps quiet about the mother who ran out on her. But soon after arriving, she begins to suspect Grandpa is also keeping secrets. Her exile brings an unexpected bright spot—Grandpa’s German shepherd, Queenie. The hunky neighbor boy’s another plus, though she quickly starts to doubt his honesty. 

From secret pot farms to human trafficking, Nicki discovers nothing in the ‘Mendo’ is what it seems. When Grandpa takes off and the lives of new friends are endangered, Nicki must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect those she cares about. Before summer ends, Nicki will learn there are some choices she can’t undo. 

It’s a good thing Grandpa taught her how to shoot.

14+ due to adult situations



The hill climb seemed endless. Up, up, up we went, keeping beneath the cover of trees and shrubs. Other than the fact that Queenie periodically growled at Ben, the dog seemed to enjoy the journey. Though the pine-scented air felt cooler under the trees, my T-shirt soon became soaked with sweat. I wanted to take a drink from my canteen and pour some water into my palm for Queenie, but worried about the etiquette. Would I have to offer Ben a drink? I wasn’t sure I wanted to swap germs with the guy. I longed to ask how much farther we had to go, but held off. He sounded pissed enough the last time I asked. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and continued climbing.

Ben stopped, held up his hand. He leaned in, his body heat adding to the day’s warmth as he whispered in my ear. “We gotta keep real quiet now. Watch where you step. Try to make as little noise as possible.” He moved off, walking in a strange semi-crouch.

I tried to mimic his stance as I followed. He stopped at the hill’s crest and knelt behind a tree. I hunkered down in his shadow, my arm around Queenie. Below us stretched rows and rows of bright green plants. Slender pines edged the field. Two men walked between the rows, the height of the crop almost to their knees. The large buds on the branches of the closest plants were easy to spot. Each man carried a plastic jug, dribbling liquid on the crop rows as they passed. The nearer of the two wore khakis plus a dirt-and sweat-stained undershirt. The distant man looked more pulled together: short-sleeved shirt tucked into his pants, hair tidy.

From what I could see, other people had spent time in the clearing, too. Maybe even lived there. Hammocks hung between half a dozen trees. Empty food cans rusted in a pile. The remains of an old campfire sat surrounded by cooking pans, food wrappers, and discarded cigarette packs. On the far side of the field sat a trash heap. Two men didn’t make a mess this size.

Black hoses ran between the rows of plants into the woods beyond. Now that we had settled in our spot for a couple minutes, the odor hit me. The place smelled like an outhouse.

Queenie’s body tensed, but she stayed silent. I leaned down and rubbed my cheek against the top of her head.

Gemma once tried growing a couple pot plants behind her garage. A gardening crew took care of their property and her parents never went behind that building. But none of the plants I’d seen before looked like this. Star-shaped clusters rose toward the sky, the glossy leaves reflecting back the sun’s rays. I stared at the sheer size of the growing area and tried to calculate the number of trees someone had chopped down. This was no home patch. This was a huge commercial operation. Ben warned me, but I hadn’t believed him.

Now I knew. We were in way over our heads.


Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 9 ratings)
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Night Owl Teen
Written by CozmicBookishJunkie on 18th Jan 2016

Punishment Summer is about a city girl, Nicki, who gets sent away to stay at her grandpa’s cabin in a town called Punishment in the Mendocino Forest because of her out-of-control behavior—drinking alcohol and sneaking out of the house. Throughout the story she juggles with overcoming her past, dealing with the loss of her mother and death of her sister. I expected this book to be a cute, predictable coming-of-age story, but it turned into this action-packed mystery that left me wanting more! From the very first chapter, the author drew me and kept me hooked until the very end! The story does have a slow start up at first, but once you get past the first few chapters the story picks up rather quickly. I found Nicki very relatable and likable. I didn’t quite understand her decision-making process at certain times, but that didn’t take away from the story. The romance subplot didn’t sit well with me. It felt unnecessary and the chemistry between Nicki and her love interest felt forced. My favorite character was Queenie, the German shepherd guard dog. She was so cute and adorable. One thing that I really enjoyed about the book was how knowledgeable it was. When Nicki first arrives at her grandpa’s cabin, she has to learn how to fish, hunt, shoot a gun…etc. As her grandpa was teaching her all of this, I felt like he was teaching me as well. I loved that the story had TONS of action! From dealing with drugs, human trafficking, and the cartel, along with learning about herself and her family’s secrets, Nicki goes through so much in so little time. It was all so exciting—I loved it! Overall, I really enjoyed Punishment Summer! I really hope there’s a sequel!

Long and Short Reviews (LASR)
Written by undefined on 28th Nov 2015

You can’t get into any mischief while living in the middle of the woods, right? It took a while for the mystery elements of this tale to surface. For a while I actually wondered if they were going to show up at all because there were so many other things going on at the same time. Once the mystery did reveal itself, though, I was immediately caught up in trying to solve it. The clues were seamlessly woven into Nicki’s strange summer with a grandfather she barely knows. I really enjoyed seeing how this part of the storyline unfolded because of all of the time and effort the author clearly put into constructing it. The romantic subplot never worked for me. I had trouble finding the chemistry between the characters involved in it. I liked them both as individuals and could see them developing a friendship, but their wildly different personalities, backgrounds, and interests simply didn’t translate into a good fit for anything more than that for this reader. One of the things I appreciated the most about the characters was how real they felt. Their flaws weren’t small or easily fixed. Their problems couldn’t be solved with a cup of tea or an inspirational speech. In short, they came across as genuine and three dimensional. Did I always approve of what they said and did? Most definitely not. I did understand where they were coming from, though, and why they made most of their choices. There was a plot hole that I would have liked to see more attention paid to. It’s difficult to go into detail about it without giving away spoilers, but it involved a character making a decision that I never would imagined they would make given everything I’d observed about them earlier. If anything, I would have expected them to do the exact opposite based on how they acted in general. It would have been really helpful to have more information about why they made this choice so that I could understand why those scenes were written this way. Living in an incredibly isolated, rural area requires all kinds of skills that people who live in cities and suburbs don’t typically learn. It was really interesting to see how Nicki adjusted to her summer home, especially since it wasn’t someplace she had chosen to visit in the first place. Ms. Rothschild did a good job showing what it’s like to adapt to the rhythms of this kind of environment. Punishment Summer isn’t only for teenagers. This is the kind of book I’d recommend to adults just as much as I would to the young adult audience it was written for!

Five Stars
Written by Mary Ann's Book Lair on 18th Nov 2015

Nicki is sent to Punishment for the summer for her not following the rules her dad had made. I really didn't like that her dad didn't communicate with her. He just gave her 15 minutes to pack her stuff and took her to her grandpa's that she hadn't seen since she was a little girl. I felt he just decided he didn't want to deal with her and shipped her off. Nicki had a lot of growing up to do in this story. I think she did a great job. The author tells the story and really draws you in. I couldn't put the book down. Especially when the mystery begins about the woman who comes to see her grandpa and the neighbor boys that aren't that honest with her. I feel that her grandpa taught her some very good lessons. Not only to hunt, fish and grow her own food but also to take care of herself when no one was around. This just helped her when he had to leave unexpectedly. Nicki really found out her true self and didn't worry about not fitting in anymore. She actually asked her dad to stay in Punishment. I hope that there is a second book to this one. I would really like to see what happens when her dad decides to go to visit her and her grandpa. Hopefully there will be another book soon.

Loved it
Written by bookworm on 2nd Nov 2015

A great coming of age story with a wonderful mixture of mystery, adventure, a teeange crush, pet love and friendship. I didn't care much for our protagonist at first, nor did I warm to her grandfather at first. As the story unfoldssome of these feelings changed and the book left me on a high note. The summer that was meant as punishment turned into quite something and this is enjoyable not just for teenagers or young adults. Loved it.

A can't miss coming-of-age story!
Written by carissa backherms on 2nd Nov 2015

Wow! What a heartwarming and enjoyable young adult story. What starts out as a punishment, turns out to be a life-changing summer for Nicki Steele. Although Nick is dealing with average teenage problems, she's also dealing with some heavy issues, mainly the tragic death of her sister and absence of her mother. Getting caught up in the wrong crowd and bad life choices, her father sends her to stay with her granddad. There she will learn the value of hard work, and most importantly, she will learn about herself. A beautiful, entertaining, coming-of-age story that is perfect for teenagers and adults alike. It's thought-provoking, but an easy read that kept me interested throughout. Nicki was relatable and her character didn't seem contrived. The author's writing is top notch, and I'd love to read more of her titles!

**SPOILER FREE** A great book for all young readers and adults as well
Written by Peggy Salkill on 1st Nov 2015

A great book for all young readers and adults as well. The story was very realistic and the characters made you love'em and hate'em. Page turner at it's finest! This book will have you sucked up into the story and you'll have it finished before you realize it. *Received for an honest review*

Can Nikki Survive her Punishment Summer?
Written by Dii on 28th Oct 2015

It was only a little alcohol, a little weed, and so what if Nikki was trying to avoid her dad by sneaking back through her bedroom window, after all, it was only the second time she had done it, it was summer vacation, time for teens to cut loose, right? Instead of getting off scott free, Nikki found herself face to face with her very angry father one minute and on her way to spend the summer with the grandfather she didn’t know. The grandfather who lived in the middle of nowhere, had no electricity, no television and *gasp* no cellphone service. And carry out? Well, that meant shooting your own food and carrying it out of the woods. The summer that began as a battle of the wills between a cranky old man and a sarcastic sixteen-year-old became the summer to remember, the one that brought revelations, pain, joy and a new appreciation for the simpler things, good friends and doing the right thing. Could it also be the summer that Nikki learns to forgive both herself and others? First, she had to survive in a world of drugs, cartels and kidnapping as she is left alone to make decisions and take actions that will become part of her for the rest of her life. Punishment Summer by Peggy Rothschild, although written for the young adult audience is a read that any age can appreciate and even see themselves as teens in. Nikki has some baggage that she can’t share with her father, but it hasn’t dulled her quick wit, and sarcastically sharp tongue. Her transformation throughout her time in Punishment is like watching a time lapse camera following the stages of a butterfly’s life. Peggy Rothschild also captured Grandpa with his backwoods living, no nonsense attitude toward raising children and that soft center he tries to hide deep within. As we transition from city to country, Peggy Rothschild becomes our tour guide, creating the backgrounds, setting the tone and filling it all in with lush descriptions. The perfect hell on earth for a city girl trapped without friends, phones or cable! With a touch of young romance, some breaking of rules and a fight for survival, Ms. Rothschild has given voice to a summer to remember for lovers of great reading. I received this copy from Peggy Rothschild in exchange for my honest review.

The intensity of this story will grab your mind and the emotions will take over your heart!!! Absolutely Wonderful!!!
Written by Monsterella Reviews on 28th Oct 2015

What was meant to be a punishment turned out to be an experience that changed the life of Nicki Steele forever! Being a teenager isn't always easy. Being a teenager who's mother left and having an older sister who perished in a fire is even harder. Living your life thinking you were the cause was too hard to overcome. But with her dad still there for her Nicki was making it. Just barely. Nicki's dad had moved them multiple times since they lost the other half of their family. The most recent move allowing her to fall in with the wrong crowd. With people who rather party and break the rules than grow into the young adults they were. Mr. Steele couldn't watch his daughter throw her life away at such a young age so the summer of her seventeenth birthday he sent her to stay with her grandfather so she could learn responsibility and grow into the beautiful woman she was inside. Nicki fought the move from the beginning, thinking it the worst punishment possible. It didn't take long before Nicki started to love her new residence, the refreshing feeling of living in the middle of the Mendocino forest. She learned to hunt and fish and put in the hard work necessary to be proud of surviving on her own volition. She grew from the spoiled city girl into a responsible hard working young woman in just a few short weeks. In the short amount of time that Nicki lived with her grandfather she encountered many obstacles that required her newly gained knowledge to overcome. She learned that life wasn't always easy but with the right support and determination she could get through anything. This is such a great story about life, true love, and survival. I definitely recommend this story be put on your list of "To Read"s.

A Summer to Remember
Written by undefined on 27th Oct 2015

Though written for young adults, this is a book readers of any age can appreciate. Nicki's been through a lot in her 17 years, but she remains funny and smart. Learning to hunt and fish -- and get along with Grandpa -- are just a few of the challenges she faces during her summer in Punishment.The wild setting makes for the perfect hell-on-earth for a city girl, but Nicki's summer in the woods changes her in ways she could never anticipate.