Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fun Fall Reading -- Book Reviews

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh is "Sweet Home Alabama" all over again. Luckily, I loved the Reese Witherspoon movie so I enjoyed Leaving Carolina. In Leaving Carolina, the main character leaves her past and her hometown in the South when she runs away to the big city, changes her name and loses her accent. More than a decade later, circumstances force her to return home where she has to face the demons from her childhood . . . and possibly discovers romance while she’s at it. Leaving Carolina is a fun, light read with a theme of healing childhood wounds, forgiveness and finding your authentic self.

Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of this book to give away, but you can buy it here:


Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Limelight by Melody Carson is the story of an 80-something lady who was rich and famous – in all the worst ways -- but must learn to live like “normal” people when her wealth disappears. In doing so, she comes to realize what’s important in life, come to peace with her past and is able to reconcile a number of her relationships. I enjoyed this book, although I have to admit the main character took a little long to “gain perspective”. I say this because her attitude set my teeth on edge so much, I wondered how long I could stand to listen to her whining before she finally “got over it.” I’ll say this for Melody Carson: she paints a very funny picture. Some of the scenarios the protagonist goes through before seeing the light are hilarious! This is a good, light read.

You can buy the book here (no giveaway copy):

Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.
Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it’s too late to change.

Melody Carson knows the heart and mind of a teenager. I recently read her book, What Matters Most (Book 3, Diary of a Teenage Girl series, Maya) and was amazed by (1) how little high school has changed since I left many moons ago; and (2) how hard it is to negotiate the emotional, social and sexual obstacle course of the teen years. I still remember every awful thing about high school and you couldn’t pay me enough to do it again. But if I had a friend like Melody Carson, I might survive a little better. I found her book to be realistic (oh so realistic) and her wholesome “advice by example of her characters” well received since it’s not preachy and offers practical guidelines for how to behave. Of course, I love the fact that Maya is an environmentalist and her "green tips" are posted throughout the book. Based on my reading of this one book, I would strongly recommend the series to anyone with a pre-teen or teenage girl.

You can buy the book here (no give away copy):

Maya’s Green Tip for the Day: Recycled fashion is one of the most fun ways to go green. A pair of jeans could be transformed into a denim skirt. A sweater into a vest. A bunch of old ties into a dress. A blanket into a poncho. Accessorize it in new way–with beads, buttons, appliqués, buckles, stencils, or ribbons…your imagination is only the limit. (65 words)

Sixteen-year-old Maya Stark has a lot to sort through. She could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.

To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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