Saturday, November 20, 2010

Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck

In Kristin Billerbeck's first YA book, she shares the story of Daisy, a sheltered teen, who just wants a prom date. I was very excited about this book since I have been a fan of Kristin's for several years and since YA books are my favorite (teaching middle school does that to you). I was slightly disappointed. The plot line of a sheltered young girl wanting to fit in is a great start, but the book didn't have much spark. It took me a few weeks to finish because I just wasn't that interested in the characters or what would happen to them.
The qualities that make Kristin such a great writer (unique voice and colorful characters) aren't in this book. Daisy isn't well-developed, and the high school private school is unrealistic (at least compared to my private high school experience).
Another reason Kristin is one of my favorite authors is that she doesn't "preach" in her books, but this book felt like there was an agenda, which is annoying, especially to teens.
Overall, the book is pretty good. Writing adult chick lit is different from writing YA books, and I think Kristin's second YA book will be much better!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Double Shot by Erynn Mangum

Double Shot starts where Latte Daze ends: Maya and Jack are engaged and now planning a life together. Maya must plan a wedding (planning not being her strong point) in just a few short months while figuring out what God has planned for her and Jack. A possible move away from her family and friends along with complications with Kate’s pregnancy (I won't spoil what happens) teach Maya to trust God even when His ways don’t make sense on her sticky notes.

One of the best things about this series is the relationships between characters. Maya’s family and friends are some of the best supporting characters I’ve read in a while, and this book left me wondering what will happen with Ethan, Andrew, and Jen. I hope these characters will pop up in later books. Erynn captures these relationships through her dialogue; the banter between characters feels authentic and makes the characters come alive.

Erynn Mangum ended the Maya Davis series with a burst of caffeine. This final book was the best in the series with Jack and Maya finally tying the knot. Erynn also accomplished what she does so well: writing a book that teaches a spiritual truth while still entertaining a reader with well-developed characters who are unique and funny.

**This book was given to me by NavPress for reviewing. (Thanks so much!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth

In Hurricanes in Paradise, four women meet on an island, and their worlds are forever changed when they must confront their pasts and learn to live again. Riley, a hotel manager, must deal with three high maintenance clients, each with a past of hurt much like her own. When their lives become linked, the women confront their past and learn to heal and to move on.

Denise Hildreth captures the personalities of strong yet vulnerable women perfectly. She tackles the painful situations of life gracefully. At times, there was a little too much drama: how many bad things can really happen to four women? The theme of forgiveness for the past and healing for the future was evident, but it could have been achieved with more realistic problems. (I don't want to give away the ending by being more specific!)

Overall, this is a good read. I would especially recommend it to a woman who is feeling the guilt of yesterday's mistakes!

Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury

My thoughts: This is Karen Kingsbury's best book. In this book, Karen delves into the world of autism. Instead of focusing on the debate on whether or not autism is a result of too many vaccinations (although Holden's mom believes that is the cause of Holden's withdrawal), she focuses on the family and relationship dynamics that are affected by autism.

Holden, the protagonist, is locked inside of himself. Through his thoughts, the reader gets a glimpse of the struggle between what he feels and what he can express. When he "meets" Ella, who is really his childhood friend, Holden begins to find a way to express himself: music. Their relationship develops despite educators who don't believe Holden can break out of his autism and bullies who prey on anyone who is different.

The novel also takes the reader into the strain stereotypes of autism put on families and even friendships. Ella's parents fear their daughter may "catch" the autistic traits Holden displays and therefore distance themselves from Holden's family. Holden's mother and father struggle to deal with the change in their son and drift apart from one another.

Music, the universal language, draws all of the characters together. Music often speaks for us when we can't find the words, and it is through music that Holden finds his voice.