Thursday, November 5, 2009

Leaving Carolina / Limelight / What Matters Most

Author: Tamara Leigh
Publisher: Multnomah
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-166-1
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina twelve years ago, ditching her southern drawl, and half of her last name, and made a new life for herself as a public relations consultant in Los Angeles. She is also as-good-as engaged to a U.S. Congressman.

But when her Uncle Obadiah Pickwick decides to change his will to atone for four generations of family misdeeds, Piper isn’t too worried, until she learns that at least one of those misdeeds was hers. And this could threaten Piper’s future plans.

Determined to make Uncle Obadiah change is will back, Piper charges in for battle. But when she breaks into the family estate, she is unprepared for Uncle Obadiah’s rugged, blue eyes gardener. And for all the family messes she must clean up before she can even get close to Uncle Obadiah.

LEAVING CAROLINA is a beautifully written story about family. Piper has been wounded by her family, to the point where she’s almost afraid to be around them. She has disassociated herself completely from her past, and made a positive future for herself in California. But when Pickwick, North Carolina, summons her home, Piper goes, attempting to free herself from the webs of the past, and, as the Bible says, knock the dust off her feet when she leaves, hopefully, permanently.

Piper is a realistic heroine, one that I could completely identify with even though I really have no family, completely unlike Piper. Written in first person, present tense, I was quickly drawn into the story and lived it alongside Piper. I also fell in love with some of the other characters in the story, like Axel, and quirky Uncle Obadiah. All the characters were so realistically developed they could be real. I thoroughly enjoyed LEAVING CAROLINA and highly recommend it. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book as well as a preview of the sequel, The Next Adventure of Maggie and Devyn coming in the summer of 2010. $13.99. 358 pages.


Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Multnomah
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7082-4
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Claudette Fiore is an eighty-four year old has been. She used to have it all, money, youth, fame, and beauty. But age has a way of stealing beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving Claudette penniless and alone.

Left in a “nut house” after Claudette tried unsuccessfully to kill herself, she calls her step-son, a gay man only six years her junior, to rescue her. Michael is quick to respond when he learns he might get some of the expensive things Claudette managed to salvage from the estate sale. But even he is clueless about what Claudette will do next.

With no where left to go, Claudette gathers what’s left of her pride and heads to her little hometown, a mining town, in northern California, to the family home that her mother left to her. Claudette’s estranged sister lives in that town, and Claudette is more than nervous to admit that her life has been reduced to this shame. Is it possible for a has-been to find new life and true beauty?

Ms. Carlson is a prolific, talented author who’s latest novel LIMELIGHT is a step-aside from the expected. While Claudette is not anyone I would ever identify with, Ms. Carlson did make me care about what happened to Claudette, and hope that she would find a new and improved relationship with her sister, plus friends in her hometown. It’s been said you can’t go home again, and I hoped that wouldn’t be the case for Claudette. She needed to find some value to her life.

LIMELIGHT is a wonderful read; a coming of age story, but one on the other end of the spectrum. This is a book you won’t want to miss. Written in first person, I was instantly engaged in the story and grew to care for the acerbic Claudette. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 378 pages.


Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Multnomah
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-119-7
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Maya Stark is sixteen and has more decisions to make than an average sixteen year old. She discovers that she has the choice of being either a junior or a senior in high school—does she want to graduate early when she just discovered what a high school is really like? Maya is considering it, when super popular cheerleader, Vanessa Hartman decides to make life miserable for Maya because Vanessa’s ex-boyfriend thinks Maya is “hot.”
Then Maya’s ex-boyfriend, Dominic, starts getting the wrong idea.

On open-mic night at a local business, Maya and Dominic play some songs, Maya on her dad’s old acoustic guitar, and she discovers some unexpected talent. Maya is jazzed when a couple members of a local all girls band ask her to jam with them. But on the way to their house, Maya learns that her mother has been released from prison, and she wants Maya to live with her again.

When Maya is offered a contract to play with the all girls band, she must decide if she really wants to do it, or is it an opportunity to escape her mother? Will Maya choose a “normal” life, or a more glamorous one?

WHAT MATTERS MOST is the final book in Ms. Carlson’s Diary of a Teenage Girl series, and I personally think it was the best one in the series. I totally related to Maya and enjoyed getting to know her better, and watching her as she struggled to make decisions that would ultimately affect her for the rest of her life. I also enjoyed reading her green tips. Though most are common sense, they serve as good reminders.

WHAT MATTERS MOST is very well written and I think most teenage girls would relate well to Maya and even envy her some of her freedom! I know my teen daughter would. I also think that a lot of teen agers could learn a lot from Maya, she seems to be “others” oriented, and not just “what about me?” I highly recommend this book for your favorite teenage girl. Discussion questions are available at the end of the book as well as a letter from Melody Carlson. $12.99. 244 pages.

Leaving Carolina :

What Matters Most:


Thank you to Liz at Multnomah books for providing a copy of these three books.


Shawntele said...

Leaving Carolina sounds like a book I would enjoy, great reviews! :)

Krista Phillips said...

LOVED Leaving Carolina! :-) Melody's books sound great too!