Friday, August 16, 2013

Double Feature Book Review: Dazzling Debuts!

By Melissa Amster

I've seen other blogs do this so I thought I'd give it a try....two reviews in one post! This review is for two debut novels that I really liked.

The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms

The HomeSweetHome Network has just announced this year's lucky winner of a brand-new, fully loaded dream home: Janine Brown of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Both Janey Brown and Nean Brown believe that they are the true winners and head to Christmas Cove, Maine, to claim their prize. Janey is painfully shy and gets hives from having to interact with other people. She would prefer to be alone in her kitchen, coming up with new recipes, even though her aunt Midge wants her to live a little. Nean is through with lousy jobs and drunk, abusive boyfriends. She sees this house as a chance to redeem herself to the world. When their lives and personalities intersect, however, they discover that more than just a million-dollar dream home awaits them at the water’s edge. These three women (Janey's aunt Midge comes along for the ride!) arrive at their newfound mansion only to uncover what exactly it means to truly be "home." (Synopsis adapted from Goodreads.)

I really enjoyed this novel and felt sympathetic toward both Janey and Nean. I wanted only good things for them. Aunt Midge was quite a character, full of life and personality, as well as a huge heart. She was impossible not to love. The story is funny and heartbreaking throughout. Although I worried it would be predictable, Kelly still found a way to shake things up a bit, leaving me to wonder how the story would turn out. The descriptions of food sounded amazing, even though I wouldn't eat certain things due to personal and religious reasons. The only criticism I have is that it was confusing to have both characters written in first person, even with their names at the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes I forgot who the chapter was really focusing on. This didn't deter from my enjoyment and I highly recommend this sweet and charming novel.

My movie cast suggestions:
Janey: Riki Lindhome
Nean: Krysta Rodriguez
Aunt Midge: Betty White....because that's what Midge would want!

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby

When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements--her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude--Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home. As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance--and especially wine--comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself. (Synopsis adapted from Goodreads.)

Knowing that Lydia Laceby is an avid chick lit reader should be an instant sign that she knows how to write it too! Her debut novel is extremely well-written, with great descriptions that did not take away from the plot and dialogue. I couldn't believe it was her first novel, as it was very strong throughout and had a Catherine McKenzie feel to it. I'm not normally interested in gardening, but reading Redesigning Rose made me want to plant some flowers. I think the only thing that could have made it even better would be to mention Degrassi High, since it takes place in Canada. The only concerns I had were that some conversations felt a little vague or took a while to get to the point and that it wrapped up a little too nicely, even though I wanted only good things for the characters. I hope you will pick up this wonderful novel when you have a chance!

My movie cast suggestions:
Rose: Rose Byrne
Becky: Anna Kendrick
Frank: James Wolk

Thanks to Lydia Laceby for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More fabulous debut novels:


Lydia Laceby said...

Thank you so much, Melissa! I'm so thrilled you enjoyed Rose's journey and tickled that it had you wanting to plant some flowers! Thank you!

Lydia Laceby said...

Thank you so much, Melissa! I'm so thrilled you enjoyed Rose's journey and tickled that it had you wanting to plant some flowers! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Redesigning Rose sounds great! Going to put it at the top of my list. Great review Melissa.