Archive | September, 2013

Caleb + Kate

24 Sep

Caleb + KateCindy Martinusen Coloma

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2010

Paperback: 288 pages, though this was one of my e-reads

Book Blurb:

As the popular darling of the junior class and heiress to the five-star Monrovi Inn empire, Kate has both everything and nothing. She’s bored with school and life…until she locks eyes with Caleb at a school dance.

Caleb is new to Kate’s exclusive prep school, and it’s clear he doesn’t fit in. In fact, he and his dad work in maintenance for Kate’s father. And while Caleb knows better than to spend time with the boss’s daughter, it seems that every time he tries to back away, something pulls him right back in.

When their parents demand that they are to stay away from each other, they learn of a fight between their families that occurred more than fifty years ago. It’s a mystery Kate doesn’t understand…but a legacy Caleb has endured his entire life.

With the world stacked against them, Caleb and Kate will have to walk by faith to find the path that God has planned for them.

Stand alone or series: Alone and oh so lonely… Okay, so my sister has played me one too many cheesy country songs.

Why I read this book: It was in my library and for teens. Teen Christian fiction, though easier than it was to come by is still not the easiest genre to find so I snap up every chance I can get. Especially if it’s free!

Review:

This book surpassed my expectations. I had only read one book by this author before and while it was decent, it was not one of my favs. This time she went for an all out romance and man was it good. Caleb Kalani and Kate Monrovi meet each other after forced together by the school principal as part of Kate’s “charity work”. Instantly sparks fly. Caleb is all too aware of the generations-long feud between the two families, his grandfather has ground it into his head. However, despite his attempts to stay away from this prissy rich girl, she’s not all he first thought of her and he can’t seem to keep away. No matter how badly it could damage his family relations.

This book packs a surprising amount of heat and I have to say I enjoyed it. I still wish a little more could be said about drawing boundaries and what those boundaries could be, but I think the author paints a fairly accurate depiction of the desire that can bloom in a fresh relationship. I think she also handles their ages well. I tend to be a little wary of high schoolers finding their one true love at the ripe age of 16 or 17, but it is well handled in this book. I found their love and how they handle thoughts of the future to be very convincing.

The book draws interesting conclusions about God and love. I would have preferred the characters’ faith journey to have a bit more of an arch within the story. Caleb and Kate’s romantic journey was far more prominent. As it is a love story that’s not unusual but I would’ve liked to see a little more balance.

I tore through this book in all of two days. Then again, I haven’t done much else since yesterday afternoon. I’m often afraid of getting sucked into a new book because I know I won’t want to do anything else until I’ve finished. And this was certainly one of those. I loved the electricity flying between Kate and Caleb and was interested to see where this fire would take them. Now the publishers market this for age 12 and up but I would say a little bit older, probably fourteen or fifteen. It’s not that the reading level is too hard, but the slightly steamy thoughts swirling around in their heads is a little more than I’d want my 12 year old reading. However, for high schoolers and up I would say this would be one to put on your to-read list.

Lost in Rooville

17 Sep

Lost in Rooville

Ray Blackston

Publisher: Revell

Publication Date: 2005 

Paperback: 298 pages

Book Blurb:

Australia + woman + ring = ?

Jay Jarvis is pondering commitment. But his math is getting complicated.

Can he survive a trip from the beaches of South Carolina to the Outback with his cluster of crazy friends? Or will the allure of a wild roo-chase spoil his perfectly calculated plans? Ray Blackston’s back with more side-splitting humor, unconventional characters, and electrifying dialogue.

Stand alone or series: The third and, as far as I know, last in the Flabbergasted world. It is a series-ish as all three are set in the zany world Blackston first created with many overlapping character, but the second book strays from the main character, Jay, and switches to Neil. But who cares? Read them all!

Why I read this book: Loved the first two, wasn’t going to miss the third.

Review:

I’m just going to warn you now, it’s not possible to talk about this book without spoilers. However I will do my best not to give anything away past the first act.

Jay Jarvis plans an exotic trip with Allie to the outback. While Allie thinks she’s just along for the fun of it, Jay searches for the perfect rock on which to pop the rock. One minor problem is that their crazy will-they-won’t-they-commit friends, Steve and Darcy are along for the ride. In an attempt to get rid of them and find an alone space, Jay and Allie venture hundreds of miles into the orange encrusted outback in a burnt orange Land Cruiser. Not the best of plans.

As usual, this book is split up into three acts. I enjoyed the first act though not quite to the same standard that I had enjoyed the other books. To be honest, the second act dragged for me a bit. It took a while for me to get through. I think this is due to a lack of action/movement and the sad vibe it takes on. I’m used to getting hit with contemplative thinking in the middle of a laugh in these novels, but this strayed from pondering to… well, to unpleasant places. Act three is when it really picked up for me. I’m not sure if it was the change of scenery, but back in some familiar locations my love of these novels and characters returned in full force. I wouldn’t go to sleep until I finished.

Blackston has produced another wacky, I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened tale that will keep you wondering and wandering till the end. If you’ve read the others, this is a must to see how it all turns out for the nutty couples we’ve come to know and love. And I’ve got to say I love the epilogue. I’m usually not a big fan of epilogues (the Harry Potter one comes to mind in particular), but this one was spot on and ended the series on just the right note. All I can say is happy reading and if you’re going to the Australian outback make sure at least somebody knows where you are. 

 

Miss Match

10 Sep

MissMatchErynn Mangum (an all-time fav!)

Publisher: TH1NK Books an imprint of NavPress

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 365 side-splitting pages

Book Blurb:

Lauren Holbrook has found her life’s calling: matchmaking from the romantically challenged. And with the eclectic cast of characters in her world, there’s tons of potential to play “connect the friends.” Inspired by the recent success of matchmaking her sister and new husband, Lauren sets out to introduce Nick, her carefree singles’ pastor, to Ruby, her neurotic coworker who plans every second of her day. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything.

When Lauren’s foolproof plan begins to unravel, she learns that a simple introduction between friends can bring about complicated results. And as she reconsiders her new role as Cupid (as well as her vow to stay single forever), will Lauren finally decide God’s plan is enough?

Stand alone or series: One of a trilogy. And trust me, you’ll be happy there’s not just one.

Why I read this book: To be honest, it was a long time ago that I first picked up this book. I’m guessing the title and the bright colors on the spine grabbed me as I was walking through Borders. Sniff, I know I’m sad that it’s gone too. And it’s got a fun cover, of course mine is now scratched and creased from the number of times I’ve lent it out and carried it around with me.

Review:

This mile-a-minute novel is sped along by the coffee crazed Lauren Holbrook. She talks as fast as a triple shot of espresso would make your heartbeat and, oh, the things she says. I cannot take this book out in public with me any more because I laugh too loud and too often, and when I try to hold it in I end up snorting. Not a pretty sight.

MissMatch is a modern day, Christian throw back to Jane Austen’s Emma. All the way down to kindly father who thinks marriage is a bother but only because it takes away his beautiful girls. His youngest, Lauren, does not share the same view as she runs willy-nilly throwing her friends together to often disastrous results. What Lauren doesn’t expect is her friends trying to return the favor. I won’t tell you who, you’ll meet him later.

The cast of characters will have you aching with laughter from Dad with his lemongrass tea whom you just want to hug to Ruby who is so tightly wound it can only be fun to watch her come undone to Brandon who won’t stop calling her Nutsy and who’s idea of a good time is watching The Extraordinary League of Gentlemen (which I’d never seen before reading about it in this book, not bad I must say). Each character is wonderfully sketched with their own quirks and quarrels. And each has the somewhat supernatural ability to face Lauren in the battle of wits that is her every day life.

Man, just flipping through the pages and writing this review has me wanting to read it again. I can count on less than one hand the amount of books I’ve read twice, there are too many good books out there to read them more than once in my opinion. However, this is one of the precious few that I have read more twice. It’s just that good. And you’ll laugh every time.

My Boyfriends’ Dogs

3 Sep

My Boyfriends' Dogs

Dandi Daley Mackall

Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books

Publication Date: 2010

Hardback: 265 pages

Book Blurb:

Bailey Daley is about to discover that true love and man’s best friend have more in common than she ever dreamed.

Seeking shelter from a rainstorm, Bailey and her three dogs stumble into a St. Louis café that’s just closing down for the night. One look at Bailey—from her wet dogs to her drenched prom dress—and it’s obvious the girl has a story to tell. With the stormy night ahead of her, Bailey unfolds the tales of Adam and Eve and Shirley, the three dogs she’s won, and the three loves she’ll never forget.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Why I read this book: The title! It grabbed me from the start. One, I love dogs and, two, I was intrigued that each dog came from a different relationship.

Review:

I wouldn’t have categorized this as a Christian book. I was surprised to find it at Christianbooks.com. I’d first found it in the teens’ section at Borders (may it rest in peace). So I guess I was equally surprised to find God mentioned in an off-the-teen-shelf book. To be fair He wasn’t mentioned all that often. It’s made clear that Bailey and her mom believe in God but that doesn’t play a huge factor in the storyline. It’s a very odd balancing act. Some of the moral stances found in religion are present—such as the mom being insistent she waits until marriage to have sex, but reading the Bible, going to church and many of the other day to day aspects of religion are conspicuously absent. As I wasn’t coming into story with the expectation of it being a Christian novel I quite enjoyed it, but I would have been disappointed if I came to it with different expectations.

Setting that aspect aside, I think My Boyfriends’ Dogs has a great premise. A very wet girl in a very wet gown accompanied by three drenched dogs enters a closed café in the middle of the night. As she warms up over a hot cup of coffee, three men listen to her story and we learn just a bit of theirs as well. The café presents a nice frame tale that sets the stage for the stories of Bailey’s three loves lost. As the stories unfolded, I felt like I could’ve been a girlfriend she was spilling her heart out to.

The stories of her three old flames capture cycle of many young relationships. That initial, sweep-you-off-your-feet infatuation, the blindness to their flaws, the eventual eye-opening and the fallout. I could see bits of my past relationships and the relationships of my friends play out in Bailey’s life. After the fall of the first relationship Bailey says “…from that first boyfriend on, in varying degrees we become addicted to boyfriends”. I’m not saying it’s good or healthy or right, but for many girls I think that’s true. I know it was for me and that addiction got me into some really crappy relationships. To hear her say that (and many other things) was a revelation to me. The first step to breaking an addiction is to realize you have one.

This book is great for girls who are (were, in my case) stuck in that cycle like me and Bailey. It’s also a fun read that draws you in with its conversational style and captivating narrative. It’s a book that I will pass on.