March 31, 2012

Disengaged: Beth Orsoff

As Allie's boyfriend of two years, Brad, proposes everything seems to be falling into place and going along as it should. So, why is she suddenly not so sure about Brad anymore. Weight is just falling off her, she is picking fights with Brad, and is just not comfortable in her skin at times. And she is only excited to do wedding planning sometimes, yet she is still finding herself turn into a bridezilla at times. Could be that he Future Mother in Law is all over the wedding details and not listening to Allie (the Brides) opinion.  And why isn't Brad helping her stand up for herself and their wedding. It might be time for Allie to reassess and it might be just more than her relationship with Brad that needs consideration.

As someone who has recently planned a wedding I could relate to Allie at times and things  she was dealing with. She has future in law influences on the wedding, friends and family who didn't agree with the relationship, and is trying to figure out what she wants and if she is losing herself. I liked how the character grew through out the plot. All of the male characters came off as extremes, to either sides of being perfect for her or not relatable to her at all. That worked in the plot and you were still able to relate to them like real people though.

Over all, I give this book four stars. The plot flows well. The main character is relatable and though it deals with a tough issue in a simple way, the conflict is seen and makes sense.

March 24, 2012

Single in the City: Michele Gorman

Hannah decided to dive right in when she went to change things about her life. Single again, after being dumped, and laid off laid from her job Hannah decides she should go to London. So, without a plan or a return ticket she heads off. A new city, where she doesn't know anyone, has a short time before she will have to leave if she can't find a job (which she then has to get permission to work), but at least she speaks the language right? Hannah soon learns that she may not know as much as she thought about the British, but that isn't going to stop her from trying to make friends, find a relationship, and working to find a way to stay in her new adopted city.

I really enjoyed reading Hannah's story and am looking forward to Misfortune Cookie the next book that follows Hannah. Which Gorman made interactive with her readers too, as she wrote parts based on polls from her blog. Which I love that idea and fun participating in a few times. It is published this week check it out here.

Back to this story about Hannah. I personally found Hannah pretty relateable. Yes, she did tend to go to extremes in situations, but in a way that seemed reasonable that someone may actually react or at least consider reacting. She was a little accident prone and feel into some situations in ways that I do or would happen to me. Which might be why I can relate to Hannah, but also the writing just makes here relateable I think.

How the supporting characters were handled was well done too. We did only know what Hannah knew, but that worked and I still felt like I knew most of the supporting characters. Even as Hannah just meet people she still managed to introduce them to the reader without it becoming awkward in also learning about the new character, yet she was still able to describe for the reader the people she had know and was familiar with before too.

I guess I would just say that I really enjoy Gorman's writing style. And would suggest this book to others, giving it 4 stars.  The plot is typical chick lit at times, but it does give a different perspective.

March 22, 2012

She Tells All: Judah Lee Davis

The goodreads description of this book is:
"After finding a pair of magic stilettos that transform her into the ultimate hot goddess, Madison Miller is certain she will get lucky tonight. But in her quest to find the ultimate hottie, she finds something so unexpected.

Now, as she takes a good, hard look at her life, she relives the past that transformed her into a vainglory vixen and realizes an important lesson about why she should NEVER sleep with strangers."

I felt the need to include the summary written for this book on goodreads, since I was going to have trouble writing me own. This plot is about Madison and after one more night of embarrassing herself, so goes back to reflect back on how she got to where she is now. A single mother, with a string of ex's that have all effected her in some way, yet she looks to find another to hurt her again when it is over. What will she learn in looking back now, and can she finally find peace.

This book was not really my cup of tea. I personally couldn't relate to the character and couldn't understand why she was making the choice she kept making. She did finally learn something at the end, but it was that she learned something and didn't grow really.  But, I felt it was well written and that I could see the character was built well.

I would give this book a 3 star rating since the writing was actually decent. When it comes to suggesting it to others, I would say it was well written, but the content might not appeal to everyone.

This review is part of chick lit plus blog tours.

March 16, 2012

About Character Development: Kimberly Lin

Today I have a guest post by Kimberly Lin about one of my favorite parts of Recession Proof the character development. Enjoy!
You know, I want to sound all professional and say that I know what I'm doing and that I have a great process for creating characters but the truth is I really don't. (Side note: I should probably be filtering myself in this guest post, however running amagazine has taken over my life)  In the same way, I don't measure out my ingredients when I cook, I don't really know what goes into my character development. All I can say is that I think of them as real life people that have psychological, societal and familial reasons for doing the things they do. 

I've heard many authors say that they must get to know their characters as they write and this is very true for me. The easy part was picking what I wanted to write about because it was something that I was experiencing at the time. The tough part was identifying the various reasons why my characters have the fears they do and why they react the way they do.

For Helen, (and this is very different from my own life so it was a challenge)— her parent's separation, her mother's abandonment and her fears of being ostracized from her new family unit really were the catalysts and the underlying reasons of why she chose to give up her passions and settle for status quo. She didn't want to rock the boat and sacrificed her own happiness in the meantime. I started writing Helen's journey and reactions but I didn't write this back story into the first chapter until I actually finished the book. It took me thirty chapters to fully understand her and as I write this now— it is very similar to when a person goes to therapy to examine why they do what they do.

I pay as much attention to my supporting characters as much as I do to my main characters. I tend to provide the back story as I introduce them into the story just so the reader feels well-acquainted with them and genuinely cares about what happens to them.

All in all, it's a really fun process to play make believe and I'm just glad and thankful that Recession Proof has gotten the response it has.

March 15, 2012

Recession Proof: Kimberly Lim

Helen has a job that sucks the life out of her, a boyfriend of 6 years that is safe and does nothing else for her, that she doesn't even live with, and with no time for it is on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Something has to give, so she moves in with her boyfriend to see if that can save their relationship, her best friend is pregnant and her fiancĂ© is sick, leading Helen to shift some of her focus away from work.  Not long later she finds herself unemployed, boyfriend less, ands the support system for a single mother. But, Helen finds that she is finally happy and maybe it is time to consider what she wants and find a career that brings her happiness. So, Helen heads down that path fumbling in love on the way and considers waiving up a few times. But, with her friends and families support she can find and keep her own happiness.

I flew through this book. The characters and the writing style made me want to keep going so I could find out more, and how they were going to deal with the situation they were faced with now.  Though there were times where you really wanted to be like, duh you shouldn't have done that or that is so cliche don't do it. But, overall those elements made the character seem real and were responses that would happen in real life.  Though outside the situation when you see them happening you still want to say don't do it.

One of my favorite part about this book was how time passed in the book. It took place just over a year. And the breaks and then pickings up caught me for a moment the first few times but once I got use it it I could just go with ok, so three weeks/two month/ etc has passed and nothing really happened.  The nothing happening was important as it showed the need for something to happen which is where we were picking up at something happening.  Time frame is always something I struggle on in writing, so I could appricaate how it was used here. Also, since Helen went through some big changes it was nice to see those take place over a reasonable timeline rather than look I grew up and learned to x in the process of a month like plots can fall into sometimes.

Another, strong part if this plot was the supporting character. Yes, Helen is the main character and the one we expect to do the growth and change. But, I think all of the supporting characters learned something and did some growing in the plot and I appreciated that.  Even if you had trouble relating to Helen change there was her sister's growth, her ex boyfriend figure stuff put, and more that you could also relate to. I give this book 4 stars and would suggest it to friends as a new way to look at chick lit, it is not oh my life is horrible/let's go shopping or win my ex back, but my life if just ok and I think I need more than that. It is hard to get to more than that, but have to try.

This review is part of chick lit in the new black blog tours.

I was provided a copy of the book for review, but the summary and thoughts on the book are mine.

March 11, 2012

In my bag 03/11-03/17

Disengaged: Beth Orsoff
Out of Oz: Gregory Maguire

Up for review soon:
Recession Proof: Kimberly Lim (after review I should have a guest post)
She Tells All: Judah Lee Davis
Single In the City: Michele Gorman

Favorable Conditions: Kathleen Kole

Pat has spent the past 18 years of her life running the household and putting her family first. Now, her youngest is off to college and has moved I with her long term boyfriend, her oldest doesn't need her anymore, her husband left a year ago and she seems to be rattling around in the family home. Now, that she has the chance to put herself and what she wants first can Pat do it. Or will she fall back into old habits of letting people (who now are just passing through her life and visiting again) change her fate and happiness or will she finally stand up for herself and choose what she wants.

Kole has done it again building amazing characters and with their development keeping the plot moving. This story could have turned into a bit of a pity party like most of our lives due at times. I think Kole did a great job of acknowledging the time where the character went through some of her mourning, but didn't let those times take over. She had appropriate amount of time pass and then we pickup the story with acknowledgement of the past time, but the character is picking up the pieces and moving on again.

I was worried with this novel and the main character being at such a different point in her life then me that I would have a hard time relating to her. Surprisingly, I didn't I could relate to Pat and the situations around her even though I don't have personal experiences like that to relate them too. I think this goes back to the great character that Kole builds, in all of her works that I have read. Also, I felt like Pat had growth and dealt with real life relatable issues, which I really appreciated in this plot.

I would give this book four stars and suggest it to my friends and other readers.

This review is part of chick lit plus blog tours.

I was provided a copy of the book for review, but the summary and thoughts on the book are mine.

March 9, 2012

Chick Lit Plus Challenge

The challenge on the side bar is to read 12 books over the year, in the chick lit genre and 2 debut authors.
Recording what I read for the challenge here
1. Stay Tuned: Lauren Clark
2. 5 Stages of Grief: Bethany Ramos
3. Year of the Chick: Romi Moondi
4. Princess of Park Avenue: Daniella Brodsky
5.  One for the Money: a novel introducing Stephanie Plum: Janet Evanovich
6. Write From The Heart: Heather Hummel
7. Favorable Conditions: Kathleen Kole
8. She Tells All: Judah Lee Davis
9.  Showbiz, A Notel: Ruby Preston (debute author)

Write From The Heart: Heather Hummel

Samantha decided it was time for a change in her life. As she was just dumped by her latest boyfriend in a string of failed relationships. She quits he day job and fully commits to her writing. She keeps working with her therapist to try and figure out what keeps going wrong in relationships. Just when she is almost ready to give up on love things start to fall into place in other parts of her life and possible love too. 

Warning: my review is a bit spoilery, but I don't give away big details. I love all the romance that is in this story though it isn't the main focus. Not just the romance that Samantha finds, in the traditional sense between two humans, but the romance she has with her work too. She is following her dream and fully commits to that and that comes across as a love story for me in this novel. Both then come out in a kind of a fairy tale/perfect ending, adding in my mind to the romantic elements of the plot. A romance like this being something we all would want, but doesn't always come out that way. But, I enjoyed it in thinking of it as a fairy tale almost.
A few other thoughts I had on the plot. I appreciated how drinking was handled through this plot. It was a social or celebratory thing here. Why I appreciate it is that I feel like so many books lately, my own writing included at times, use it as a crutch for characters and just have it around so much that it is nice to read about it being used more responsibly. Also, there was some inconsistencies in the minor characters and their back stories. It was almost like there was more back stories on a few of the characters that were edited out, but a few spots were missed. It could be the reason I noticed this and it stuck with me is I read almost the whole book while at the airport waiting for flights so it was all fresh in my mind. Overall, with the elements that I loved and the romance/fairy tale of it all I give this book 4 stars and encourage anyone who wants to journal more or write to put this on there TBR list.

This review is part of chick lit plus blog tours.

I was provided a copy of the book for review, but the summary and thoughts on the book are mine.

March 4, 2012

In my bag 03/04-03/10

Single in the City: Michele Gorman

Up for review soon:
Write from the Heart: Heather Hummel
Favorable Conditions: Kathleen Kole
Recession Proof: Kimberly Lim (after review I should have a guest post)
She Tells All: Judah Lee Davis