Friday, August 28, 2015

Best Books of August

It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time to share all of the great books I read this month.

August was a catch-up month. After this crazy summer, I needed it! I was able to finally get caught up on my work and my reading...only to be piled down with more work and a growing to-read list. But I did manage to mark a few to-reads off my list!

The first book I read this month is from a fellow Aladdin M!x author. She's one of my favorites, too, because I was a fan BEFORE I got published with that line. Her latest book is another example of why Aladdin M!x has the best covers!

The character development in The Sister Solution is phenomenal. Trudi has captured perfectly the dynamic that exists between two sisters. Instead of going for the typical "my sister is more popular and I feel inferior" storyline, the author has made the sibling relationship complex and, therefore, realistic. Sammi is on the fringes of being popular but feels just average while her younger sister, Jorgianna, is quirky and artistic but excels at everything. I loved this story and it inspired me to write, which is always a sure sign I've read a good book!

Another of my Aladdin M!x favorites is Cindy Callaghan, whose earlier Aladdin M!x novel is now a TV series! There is an interesting story with this one. I downloaded it from Edelweiss months ago but waited to read it until release month. When I started reading, it was immediately apparent that the book, marked "Lost in Rome" at the top of every page, was not that book at all. The main character was a boy named Zeke who was called by the President of the U.S. to battle aliens. I read a little of it before I went to Amazon and downloaded the real book. What do you know? No mention of aliens at all!

Lost in Rome is the next in a series of books that both educates and entertains. I love the way Cindy works the hotspots of every location into each book. In Lost in Rome, the main character, Lucy, travels to Rome for the summer to work in her aunt's pizzeria. Warning: you will crave pizza and spaghetti while reading this book! Lucy has a talent for matchmaking based on the pizza toppings customers order...and her talent manages to attract quite a few customers to the once-dying restaurant. Add in a restaurant saboteur and you have a fun read for kids of all ages!

I finally got to read Medeia Sharif's 52 Likes, which I've been dying to read all year! Just a few pages into it, I realized I've been missing out. This is an incredibly riveting read.

After a high school student endures a rape, she isn't sure if life will ever get back to normal. Making matters worse is the fact that her fellow students regularly bully and taunt her based on a mistake she made the previous school year. But soon, mysterious messages begin showing up on her phone, begging her to solve a mystery that could be tied to her rape. You'll find yourself thinking about this book in between reads, wondering what will happen next. Medeia is not only prolific--she's jaw-droppingly talented.

You can tell the next book is going to be fun from the second you look at the cover. Doesn't this just make you want to read the story?

In I Live in a Doghouse, Beverly Stowe McClure hits you right in that soft spot. She manages to capture exactly what it feels like to be a child dealing with a combined family and an absentee dad. Nick is a sweet, lovable character you can't help but cheer on. Most importantly--it has something every middle grade book needs: a sweet dog!

And now for something completely different. My audiobook this month was this oldie but goody:

I heard about this book when I was reading about author Ann Rule's death. She and Ted Bundy worked side by side at a crisis center in the early 70s and became good friends. I admittedly knew not much at all about Ted Bundy before reading this book, but between reading this book and watching this interview, I now realize he isn't quite the Mark Harmon-ish charmer I'd always heard he was. I LOVE audiobooks that make me forget I'm doing boring household chores and this was one of the best at that. Highly recommend! It was also made into a movie you can rent on YouTube.

What books did you read in August?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Key to Celebrity? Dimples

I've noticed something recently. It started when I was observing this former supercouple, both of whom are known for being among the most adorable people in entertainment:

Dimples! Miranda Lambert only has one on the right side of her face (in that picture anyway), but Blake Shelton's dimples are fairly prominent, even when he has facial hair. 

It isn't just the two of them, either. Check out the dimples on some of Hollywood's most beautiful.

Jason Sudeikas and Olivia Wilde:

Rachel MacAdams:

Two of the women on People's top 10 most beautiful people list...

...Ariana Grande...

...and Gabrielle Union...

Leighton Meester:

Jake Gyllenhaal:

and Evangeline Lilly:

In fact, if you go to the movies or watch TV, you'll see lots of dimples. Which makes me wonder...are dimples the key to beauty?

Or are they a birth defect, as implied by this article?

Interestingly, dimples eventually diminish in people as they age. Which makes it all that much more interesting when you see adults with them. I propose that check dimples, like chin dimples, make a person's face more interesting--which makes them much more watchable on the screen.

People's Most Beautiful Person, Sandra Bullock, may be missing cheek dimples, but she has that chin dimple going for her:

Do you think dimples are a birth defect...or a beauty mark?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Changing the Romance Cover

For years, romance novels have had a bad reputation. This isn't helped by the fact that some of the covers look like this:

But in recent years, this has started to turn around. It was helped by the brief (but impactful) popularity of chick lit. Chick lit covers looked like this:

And this:

Although chick lit is (mostly) gone, its legacy lives on in some of the romance covers you see today. Like this:

And this bestseller:

But mostly romance covers still fit in the "bodice ripper" category. It sucks, especially since few women wear clothing with rippable bodices in 2015. I searched and searched and searched for more contemporary covers. I searched small presses and big publishers. Avon still comes the closest. They've always sprinkled a few fun covers in with the grabby-couple ones.

And this one:

Close, but not 100 percent. I think it's time we reimagine the romance cover. There's no reason they can't all be more like this:

Do you know of any romance covers that break the stereotype?