Friday, December 27, 2013

Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell

Nadia has been dating her childhood best friend (Laurie) for years, and even though things are a little rough (with Laurie's new modeling career taking off), Nadia doesn't let temptation in the form a night stranded in a snow storm with a stranger make her cheat on the love of her life...Too bad Nadia didn't know that Laurie was already planning on dumping her.

18 months later and Nadia has pulled her life back together. She's now working for the man she spent the snow storm with, and is even starting to consider dating again...then Laurie shows back up and declares his undying love for Nadia and explains his regret at dumping her.  Now Nadia is torn between her new boss (Jay), and her old love.
This story is also filled with characters in Nadia's family:  her selfish artistic artist Clare, her adorable 13 year old half-sister Tilly, her father, and her captivating grandmother (all of whom she lives with), and her crazy whirling dervish of a mother.  Each character gets his or her own story, and some of the stories are stronger than others.  Nadia is a likable character, and the humor and heart in this book propel the narrative.  I pretty much wanted to strangle Clare throughout the entire book, and Tilly's story broke my heart (in a good way).  I look forward to reading more of Mansell's work.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Emma's mother reached for her toast, and fell down dead.  Now, her body is being kept alive with machines so that Emma's half-brother (her mother was pregnant when she died) has a chance to finish growing inside of her and life.

Before, Emma was super focused on grades and had a happy family with her mother and step-father.  Now, Emma is grieving and angry.  Her mother is dead, she and her step-father are estranged, and the only person Emma still has is her best friend Olivia.  Then Emma meets Caleb, the car stealing bad-boy of her high school.  Caleb understands Emma in a way no one else can, because he lost a family member too. Can Caleb and Emma help each other learn how to go on living with those they love have died?

I really love Elizabeth Scott's writing.  This story sounds like it could be very melodramatic, but Scott writes Emma so that she is amazingly sympathetic for as self-absorbed (by grief) that she is.  Emma's mother (who is dead the entire book) is very well described and without ever being present is actually a fleshed out character.  Emma's lamentations about ignoring her mother in favor of studying and pursuing her future are very touching.  There are times when Emma seems to be a bit exaggerated, and Caleb's home life is very convenient to the story, but those are some minor issues.  All in all, I think that Scott has written another touching book with a main character dealing with grief and redefining her life.

Friday, December 6, 2013

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

Lilac and Tarver are passengers on a luxurious space ship called the Icarus.  Lilac, the daughter of the richest man in the  universe, and Tarver, a boy from a humble background who became famous for heroic deeds he performed as a soldier, meet one night in a salon within the ship.  They are instantly attracted to one another, but Lilac must reject Tarver for fear of what may happen to him at the hands of her father.

Then, without warning, the ship drops out of hyperspace and it hits the fan.  Lilac and Tarver end up in the same escape pod that crash lands on a seemly uninhabited planet.  They are the only survivors of the crash of the Icarus, and they must learn to survive on the planet while they make their way to the site where the ship itself crashed in hopes of being rescued.

Disclosure, I have never sat through an entire viewing of the movie Titanic, and I've never seen the original movie of The Blue Lagoon, but this book reads like the YA novel love child of these two movies that has Twilight as its godparent.  The book is told in alternating perspectives from Lilac and Tarver after they have obviously been rescued.  They spend the first half of their time on the planet trying to be rescued, then the other half of their time there being all schmoopy and puppy-dog in love with each other.  This book is really unrealistic in the fact that Lilac takes only days to acclimate to roughing it (Survivor level roughing it) on the planet, and within a couple weeks is willing to give up her old life and stay in this remote place just so she can be with Tarver.

I almost gave up on this book a few times, but the mystery surrounding the planet made me keep reading it.  I'd kind of like to see what happens next, but I might be more likely to ask a friend who reads the next book to fill me instead of reading the whole book myself.