Saturday, June 11, 2011

Here, Home, Hope

Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Pages: 310
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Kelly Mills Johnson is a 39-year-old wife and mother stuck in the rut of her suburban life. A happy but routine relationship with her lawyer husband, two uber-successful businesswomen for best friends to envy, and an all-around predictable existence as a mom of two who's lost her passion collide — motivating Kelly to devise an ambitious and oftentimes humorous midlife makeover plan. Is Kelly brave enough to take the painful but necessary steps toward her own reinvention before it's too late? With hilarity, endearing gusto, and charm, Kelly begins diving into new projects (armed with Post-it notes and  Things to Change list), revisiting old memories, and rediscovering passions. Whether she is taking care of the anorexic teenager dumped on her doorstep, making amends with an old high school friend, or trying to avoid the boozy advances of her divorced neighbor, Kelly's insistence and panache at moving her life in a new direction and finding the perfect blend of home and career is both inspiring and entertaining. As the realities of her midlife crisis come crashing down, Kelly works to repair the damages she's inflicted; realizes how deeply her husband, Patrick, truly understands and loves her; and ultimately grows into a woman empowered by her own reinvention.

I'm going to start off by saying how proud I felt of Kelly by the end of the novel. This shows that I really got attached to her (and her friends), and she truly grew as a character. I was so upset when Kelly was wrestling with whether she wanted to attempt to start her own business or be the uppity cliche suburban mother that has to be perfect in every way. I was truly proud of her. Her character seemed so realistic. She had doubts, fears, and thoughts that were all expressed perfectly through Rouda's writing. I absolutely loved being able to see inside Kelly's head.

However, I was a little bit taken aback by the fact that Kelly so willingly trusted someone she hadn't previously. Without giving too much away, she had never liked her best friend's husband, and after a shocking twist, by the end she seems to make amends quickly, of which I was not too fond. Though, Kelly did seem to be a person that loved for people to love her, I still don't feel like she could have changed her mind so readily about this person.
I adored Mel, the anorexic teenager, who was literally dumped into Kelly's hands for the summer while her parents sorted out issues (there's lots more than simply a few issues, but I can't reveal anything!). They developed a close relationship, and though Mel, like any ordinary teenager, screwed up sometimes, I still truly loved her.

As far as the storyline, halfway through, I found myself thinking that there wasn't much plot. There wasn't really a climax leading up to any sort of predictable event. It seemed to be the day-to-day life of a rich middle-aged woman living in the suburbs. However, even though there wasn't really an obvious plot line, so many little biographies emerged about all the characters in the book, I still couldn't put it down. It's difficult to explain that a book with no one plot still flowed together perfectly, and it still kept me very very interested.

To sum up, this was an excellent book. Something I'm not usually reading, but I found that I really had trouble putting this book down. It actually made me think about my life. Kelly and all her giant decisions and life progressions truly make the reader contemplate instead of just read and absorb and finish the book. I really loved this! It also makes a lovely summer book, perfect with a glass of lemonade or something summer-y!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Viola in the Spotlight

This is the sequel to Viola in Reel Life. If you want the review for that one, click here! Otherwise, keep reading!

Viola in the Spotlight by Adriana Trigiani
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 288
Format Read: Hardcover from author (thank you!)

Summary: Viola is finally where she belongs — back home in Brooklyn, where there are no khakis or sherbet-colored sweaters and people actually think her yellow flats are cool. With two whole months of nothing to do but hang with her two best friends, Andrew and Caitlin, this is going to be the best break ever! But her BFFAA, Andrew, has started acting weird around her, and a new boyfriend has her friend Caitlin ditching her very chance she gets. When Viola's roommates from Prefect Academy show up for a visit, she starts to wonder — is Brooklyn where she wants to stay? When a tragic event shakes everyone's world, Viola realizes it's not where she belongs that matters — it's who she's with that really counts. 

This was as lovely as it's prequel. I still love all the characters, and Marisol is my favorite still. The characters were all wonderful. However, I was a little (only a teeny bit) sad about the plot. There really didn't seem to be much climax towards anything until about the last 50 pages. It was still interesting, but it was just the events of Viola's life and who she was texting that day. Once I got to the end, however, I was taken back by what happened, and I was completely surprised.

I'm keeping this review very short. Basically, it's a good one to read, and I wanted to know what happened to Viola after her first year at Prefect, so if you've read the first, give this one a go too!

(The reason for the brevity is because I'm working at summer camp! And we have VERY limited time with the real world...i.e. computers, cell phones, you name it... but I can still read and I have a break every once in a while to keep doing this!)