November 8, 2012

book reviews: october 2012 recap

In the chaos of National Novel Writing Month, it seems I forgot to recap my October reviews. Silly Laura. With that, here's a rundown of the awesome books I reviewed last month, including my Read of the Month.

This last month I read some great books. I know I always say that, but I do. Among those are two books I loved so much, and have not stopped thinking about, that I am going to go ahead and declare not one but TWO reads of the month.

Both books were completely different. One made me laugh out loud a lot while the other made me cry. Both left an impression and are equally deserving.

Sugarfiend by Caroline Burau
Like the author's blog, Sugarfiend was well-written and entertaining. She has a knack for building suspense and keeping interest high. Burau begins the story quickly, dropping us in as action is already in progress, which made this story work.

Burau also has the ability to make difficult and tense reading enjoyable. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, despite the heavier elements in the story. It takes a solid writer to evoke a mix of emotions like that.
4 of 5
Read more here.

We're Done by Judy Irwin
Age appropriate with an approachable voice for young adults, We're Done was a quick read. Though entertaining, the story's message was what most struck me.

As a central character, Luke offers a unique vessel to relay the anti-bullying message. Though not too likeable at first, over time, as Luke sees himself for who he really is, that perception changes. Initially, he thinks he is the one who is misunderstood and that his punishment is a mistake. Eventually, facing the new adversity forces him to take another look at the way he leads his life and how he treats others.
Read more here.

Picture Perfect by Lucie Simone
God help me, but I always love a good story set in Tinsel Town. Throw in a bit of mystery, and I am a deliciously happy reader. Picture Perfect did not disappoint and had me laughing as I quickly turned the pages on this one.

Accustomed to handling the issues in other people's lives as a producer, it's Lauren's turn to do damage control in her own world, which made for a fun read from the beginning. I found myself connecting with her quickly and cheering for her, even as I sometimes wanted to shake some sense into her. What good protagonist doesn't blow it from time to time, though? Reading would be so boring if a heroine didn't biff it upon occasion, and when Lauren misses a step it made for good reading as she figured out how to get back on the right path.
4 of 5
Read more here.

That Time of the Month by Emily Shaffer
When it comes to characters, Ellie was a delight to read. I instantly connected with her, which is crucial for me when a person tells his or her own story. Within a few pages, I was certain Ellie and I were destined to be good friends, and I could hardly wait to follow her story.

More than wanting to be Ellie's friend, I connected with this story on a personal level, because I related so closely to her. I'll confess, before starting my new job there were moments that I wished I would be fired from my old job so I would have to force myself to make major changes in my life. Though I am glad it did not happen for me -- and I'm sure my parents are relieved to hear me say that -- it was easy for me to slip into this story and pretend that this could have been my life.
4.5 of 5
Read more here.

November Surprise by Laurel Osterkamp *** READ OF THE MONTH ***
  • I cannot express how much I get and love this book. I'm beyond ecstatic to follow her blog update. 
  • What a frigging well-created story?
  • I love how she shows people coming in and out of the MC's life. That's how reality is. It's not always neat with a person being present and important for more than a chapter.
  • This is a beautiful, beyond complicated and ultimately adorable love story. More than a story about boy meets girl, it's about the girl's love, disillusionment and eventual hope in America and democracy. We've all been there, no matter our politics.
  • My big takeaway from this book came from that dick, Reggie. He said apathy blows. Love and hate are better. Doing or feeling nothing ruins life. Being passionate is what it's all about. What a powerful message from a book?
5 of 5
Read more here.

What Lies Behind by Cynthia Hill *** READ OF THE MONTH ***
Told interestingly in a two-string linear format, the bulk of the story follows the life of Lillian Sullivan from her young childhood as the well-raised child of socialites through her ultimate final home in a nursing home. Beginning during the roaring 20s and ending, today, Lily lives through the Great Depression, World War II and a constantly changing world.

Faced with pressures and stigmas that come with the time period and her place in society, Lily makes plenty of wrong decisions, which negatively alter her life. At same time, she faces challenges beyond her control. Raised to always keep her emotions concealed and behave as a lady, Lily's attempts to please her parents by doing so. Ultimately, this creates barriers between herself and romantic relations and with her children and ultimately grandchildren.
5 of 5
Read more here.

The Saint's Devilish Deal by Kristina Knight
Written with similar style to What a Texas Girl Wants, this was a fast read. The story starts quickly in exotic Puerto Vallarta, where the hero and heroine grew up together. After having a fling four years ago while they both lived and worked in Napa, they are thrown together to save a villa.

Of the two, I found Saint's back story the most interesting and well-developed. He is back in Mexico after a nasty surfing accident left him injured. He is at odds with his father and brother, and struggles to help his mother who continues to stay with her abusive husband. Damaged goods are always appealing.
3.5 of 5
Read more here.

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