Sunday, October 18, 2015

Update and Two Reviews (Party Girl and Kaleidoscope Hearts)

I made a commitment to myself when I started this blog that I would post, at minimum, twice a week. I've aimed for three since the start, but this week I didn't even make much of an effort. It's not that I didn't want to read, but after I finished The Broken Hearts Book Club I picked up a book that I thought had promise. I gave up on reading it, marking it as DNF at 40%. It was a big letdown, the kind of book that didn't get enough attention from the editor. I really struggle to pick up books after that happens, afraid the next will be that way.

In this case, I had no opportunity to read more, work got busy; I was coming home at 5pm and getting on my computer until 7pm. I figured I could put off reading until the weekend, except mother nature had another plan. For those of you who don't know, two major mudslides occurred here in Central California, including one right between my town and my work. A third smaller one occurred at my only alternate route to work. A coworker got stuck out of town, I was stuck at home without road access, one coworker made it in, and nothing went right at work that day. I spent my Friday on my work computer, taking phone calls from my driveway where I could find service during the weather. We had worried family and we worried too, about people we knew stuck in the mud, about the gas stations that were running out of gas, and everything else that comes with a natural disaster, no matter how small. I was worn out, I just wanted a break this weekend.

T and I opted out of all our plans and priorities; we watched movies, cooked some good food, and slept in a lot. Today T left for a work trip and I finally decided to sit down and read (and blog). In the past couple of weeks I have read some really astonishing books, though not for review. However, when in a slump, why not go back to those books that gave you that 5 star feeling? These two books, both by authors I met at Authors in the OC, really blew my mind and I am patiently waiting for some free time to read both of their sequels.

Party Girl - Rachel Hollis
5 stars
Published: December 2014
"Landon Brinkley’s dreams are all coming true. She’s landed an internship with the fabulous Selah Smith, event planner for the Hollywood elite, taking her from small-town Texas to the bright lights of LA. Landon soon finds herself in a world in which spending a million dollars on an event—even a child’s birthday party—is de rigueur and the whims of celebrity clients are life-and-death matters. At first, the thrill of working on A-list parties and celebrity weddings is enough to get Landon through the seventy-five-hour workweeks and endless abuse at the hands of her mercurial boss. But when the reality of the business reveals itself, she’s forced to make a choice: do whatever it takes to get ahead, or stay true to herself.
Drawing on the author’s real-life experiences as an event planner to the stars, Party Girl takes readers on an adventure among Hollywood’s most beautiful—and most outrageous—people, revealing the ugly side of Hollywood’s prettiest parties."

Landon is a hilarious, naive, and incredibly book smart woman. She's fresh out of college and in a starting position at her dream company. Her adventures in LA in the event planning business are totally perfect to what I'd expect out of someone new to California, particularly to LA. She's girlie, polite as all get out, and her innocence is just plain charming. I liked that she stuck to her goal, working for the tough-as-nails Selah Smith, even when it effected her personal life drastically. I related to Landon in more ways than I expected to, especially when she continued to fight every thing tossed at her. The event planning storyline is well done and you can tell Rachel Hollis put the truth into this book. There are a lot of details given, not only at events, but in the workplace, at Landon's apartment, and at every various location they visited. I appreciate detail like this, that gives me a clear image, but doesn't overwhelm me. Fortunately for me, I have been to a pile of LA events and I can confirm that all of the scenes are pretty believable.
Landon's drive and willingness made this book impossible to put down, plus there happens to be some awesome friends, hilarious banter, and a very attractive man (of course). I can't wait to read about Landon's best friends, Miko and Max, because they're so different than Landon but likable just the same.

Kaleidoscope Hearts - Claire Contreras
5 stars
Published: January 2015
"He was my older brother's best friend.  
He was never supposed to be mine.  
I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.  
One of us did.  
Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. 
And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.  
He broke my heart last time.  
This time he'll obliterate it."

Elle and Oliver. Oliver and Elle. They've been in each other's lives since they were kids, he is her brother's best friend and completely off limits. Oliver broke Elle's heart when he let her brother stand between then and chose to focus on his ambitious dreams. Elle used art to move on, but is now facing a heartbreak too staggering to get over easily. She goes to her brother, Vic, for support, but along with Vic comes Oliver. Oliver realizes now that Elle was it for him, but her emotional baggage is weighing her down and may keep them apart.

I was blown away by Kaleidoscope Hearts, I cried a lot, I laughed quite a bit, and most of all I really felt for the characters. Elle is one incredibly strong woman, even when her naivety got the best of her, especially in her past. She gave everything she had freely, connecting with not only every character, but also me as the reader, on a very emotional level. At one point I was cheering her on and fist pumped in the air. She's just a likable character and her baggage makes her relatable. Plus, I love her relationship with Oliver, both as a friend and as a lover. Their relationship was both funny and steamy, all at the same time. The relationship felt real, like one I would talk to my friends about, because I could feel Elle and Oliver's feelings, even when they were apart or going about daily life. I liked that it dealt with a heavy subject in a way that readers could both understand and relate to. Sometimes I find that an author throws a heavy subject in just to cause a scene, but it's never really dealt with. I felt like Elle matured, grew as her own person, and found what made her happy on her own as she was dealing with her grieving and the impossibilities of a relationship with Oliver. This was an incredibly moving read and I plan to recommend it to all of my friends.

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