Review: The Next Breath by Laurel Osterkamp

Happy Monday!  I know that for those of you on the East Coast of the USA we are getting quite a bit of snow and the rest of you are getting to enjoy your Monday without the white stuff.  Today I am bringing to you another great book by Laurel Osterkamp.  In this book you will see some familiar faces from her book The Holdout.  This book was a very emotionally charged read.  Your heart is broken in many different ways and be very prepared to go through a few tissues by the end.  For my full review keep reading after the book blurb.  I hope you all have a great week ahead.

23208650Book Blurb:

Robin loves sweet, responsible Nick, with his penchant for Beethoven and Ben Folds Five. But she also still loves her college boyfriend Jed, an irreverent playwright plagued with cystic fibrosis. Now Robin is struggling to reveal her secrets and confront her past, as she finally performs in the play that Jed wrote for her, eleven years ago. Will Robin have the strength to keep her promise and stay true to her heart?

Alternating between present-day scenes, college flashbacks, and segments from Jed’s play, this tear-jerking yet uplifting tale illustrates how life is finite but love is infinite, and the road to recovery begins with the next breath.

Review:

Robin knows she loves Nick, but she also knows that he doesn’t know everything about her.  He doesn’t know her past pain and why this play is so important to her.  The love she still feels for her college boyfriend, Jed, plagues her dreams.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t feel she can tell Nick about Jed or that she will probably always love him.  Her dreams and memories continue to come back to her all they while she is trying to deal with her relationship with Nick.  Can Robin reconcile her feelings and memories of Jed and still have a future with Nick or will all be lost to the past?

I think this was probably the most emotionally touching book I’ve ready by Laurel Osterkamp.  She masterfully balances the past and the present while showing us Robin’s heart.  You won’t be able to not shed a tear while reading this.  It is emotionally powerful and it brings to light the pain and suffering someone with cystic fibrosis goes through.  The love triangle of Robin, Nick and Jed is very well conducted.  Though it’s not a current triangle anyone who has loved someone in the past knows that they will always have a piece of your heart no matter the way you separated from them.  I think this story had an honest feel that really draws you in and helps you to relate to the characters.  If you are looking for a good read that will definitely leave you with a book hangover then you need to pick this one up.  The more books I read by Laurel Osterkamp the more I love her writing.  I know you will feel the same after picking up The Next Breath.

Coffee and a Review with The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp

coffee_smileAnother week is beginning and I have another wonderful book for you guys.  It’s been snowing all day here.  So, what better way to spend it then curled up with a good book.  Today’s spotlight is just the kind of entertaining book to curl up with and enjoy.  Laurel Osterkamp’s The Holdout is a great mixture of humor, reality and politics.  For my full review be sure to keep reading after the book blurb.  I hope you all have a wonderful week and like me anticipate the weekend.  🙂

18605055Book Blurb:

Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story. But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she’s not a survivor. Or maybe she’ll have the last laugh Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again. Laurel Osterkamp’s award winning novels have been hailed as funny, intelligent, snarky and poignant. She is the author of four novels and two novellas, including the November Surprise series, which, like The Holdout, features the Bricker family. Laurel was recently on a federal jury, and she loves watching Survivor.

Review:

Robin has always been seen as the low man on the totem pole in her family.  She is the actress and viewed as the adult that isn’t really an adult.  When she finally gets a real chance at hitting it big by competing on the reality television show she is met with skepticism and ridicule by her brothers and cousins.  Robin sets out to prove to all her critics that she is tougher than anyone thinks and very capable.  What Robin doesn’t anticipate is during the game being played by one of the players and feeling like a fool.  Losing her heart on national television, facing the decisions by watching the episodes and having jury duty while reliving all her humiliations places Robin in a position to change her life or let those holding her back win.

This was a very fun read.  I enjoyed Laurel Osterkamp’s previous novel November Surprise and was happy to see my opinion didn’t change with this book.  I loved the way that both the reality show and the jury duty were connected and intertwined.  In today’s society much of the social outlets have connections to basic structures whether governmental or cultural.  This is definitely shown and highlighted in The Holdout.  It wasn’t just the connection that made this a fun read.  The characters of Robin and Robin’s family really bring depth and understanding to the whole story.  Overall, this was another great novel by Laurel Osterkamp.  If you like reality tv, jury duty or both you will love The Holdout.

November Surprise by Laurel Osterkamp

I’d like to welcome Laurel Osterkamp today.  She is stopping by today to promote her book November Surprise.  It a contemporary romance with politics in the background.  Be sure to read my review after Laurel visit.  So without any further adieu here is Laurel Osterkamp.

Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?

Definitely! Lucy, the main character, even states the theme towards the end. “It’s our history that brought us to this point, and it’s made us who we are.” Since the whole book is about finding parallels between Lucy’s personal dramas and the country’s public dramas, I think that’s pretty fitting.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have a writing group where we share our work and give each other feedback. They always tease me about the lack of setting in my books, and when I actually describe the setting, they tease me for that too! I forget to provide details, so that’s something I really need to work on.

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

I’ve written three full length novels: Following My Toes, Starring in the Movie of My Life, and November Surprise.

Also, two novellas: Looking for Ward and Campaign Promises

I think my favorite is a tie between Starring in the Movie of My Life and November Surprise. I really pushed myself and discovered new things about my writing while working on both of them, but in different ways.

If you had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?

That’s hard. Whoever plays Lucy has to come off as smart, pretty without realizing it, and believable from the ages of 17 to 37. Perhaps Gennifer Goodwin.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing things for fun, like journals and short stories, for as long as I can remember. I started writing sketch comedy about 15 years ago, and my first book, Following My Toes, was written about eight years ago.

How long did it take to complete your first book?

The first draft took about six months, but all the revisions took well over a year. I guess all total, it was around two years.

Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?

Oh, sure. There are tons. Today I’ll mention Jennifer Weiner. She’s very prolific, and I love how she helped to redefine the romantic heroine. Good in Bed was one of the first “chick lit” novels with a flawed main character, who was beautiful and strong in her own way.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Probably revisions. By that time I know the characters and the story arc really well, and I can work on refining the details and making it as perfect as possible. The challenge can be a lot of fun.

Describe your latest book in 4 words.

 Awesome political love story!

Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?

I have a blog written in Lucy’s voice about the current election and her marriage to Monty. It’s fun to continue their story. You can read it at http://novembersurprises.blogspot.com

This spring I was on a federal jury, and of course the whole time I was thinking about how I could use the experience for my next novel. I have some ideas, so that’s what my next book will be about. Since it’s going to be fiction, I can make jury duty much more exciting than it actually was!

Date Published: 8/2012

 Synopsis:

For Lucy Jones, the distinction between love and politics is hazy at best. Both can be all-consuming, and either can lead to a heart-breaking loss or an exhilarating win. Whatever the case, if you’re seen as a loser, you probably are one. Lucy first learns this lesson in 1988, when she’s a shy girl, battling a high school bully and rooting for Dukakis. Through the years Lucy will experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as she makes the choices that define her. Meanwhile, she also struggles to define her relationship with Monty, who comes in and out of her life like the changes in public opinion. Is Monty simply a one-night stand, a kindred spirit, or the love of her life? And by 2008, can he offer her a change to believe in?

 Over the course of twenty years and six presidential elections, Lucy grows and adjusts with the times. Filled with snarky political and pop-culture references, November Surprise is about the journey we take to believe in a candidate, in love, and in ourselves.

 November Surprise is a companion piece to Campaign Promises, which is free on Amazon. They can be read in either order. Both have a liberal slant.

Excerpt:

Monty and I have been dancing together all evening. The slow songs are the best, but we also do the Macarena and even the Chicken Dance. I can’t stop laughing the entire time I’m quacking my hands.

Jack and his new wife, Petra, have fed each other cake. Petra has thrown her bouquet, and all the toasts have been given. The night is winding down, and Monty leads me off the dance floor.

“I’m really glad neither of us had dates,” he says.

“Yeah, me too.” My heart beats just a little bit faster than normal.

“And I’m sorry about earlier. Hitting on you like that. It was clumsy. Will you forgive me?” His face is flushed and his tie is loosened. I’m sure I’ve noticed before how good looking he is, but this is the first time I’ve let myself appreciate it.

“There’s nothing to forgive.” I look around, make sure nobody is watching, and then I stand on my tip-toes and plant a kiss on his cheek. When he doesn’t flinch or pull away, I give him the barest whisper of a kiss on the lips.

It’s all the encouragement he needs.

With a conspiratorial smile, he takes my hand and leads me outside the reception hall. I follow willingly.

When we get to a dark, hidden spot, he wraps his arms around my waist and kisses me deeply. I can feel it everywhere, my entire body is tingling, my knees are weak, and I’m sure that at any moment, my heart will explode.

I don’t want him to stop. But he does.

“Where are you staying tonight?” he asks.

“I was going to drive back to my parents’ house.”

“Hmm…” he leans in and kisses me some more. I press up against him like I can’t get close enough. He tilts his head back ever so slightly, so he can talk. “That’s a long drive. Do you want to stay with me, instead?”

“You have a hotel room?”

“It’s close to the airport,” he whispers. “I fly back to New York really early tomorrow.” Then he baby kisses my eyes, nose, and chin.

I don’t answer immediately. I’m trying to steady my breathing. “So you can make a clean get away?”

“It’s not like that.” he smiles. “And you haven’t even said yes, yet.”

But he knows I’m going to. “You can’t ever tell Jack,” I say.

“He just got married, Lucy. Do you really think he’ll care?”

I rub my hands down his back and across the taut muscles in his arms. “I never had sex with him, and we dated for months. If he finds out you and I had a one night stand…”

Monty cuts me off with another kiss. “I promise I’ll never tell him,” he murmurs, between kisses.

We make out a few seconds more, but our kissing is interrupted when I’m consumed with a fit of giggles.

“What’s so funny?” Monty asks.

I shake my head. “Sorry. It just occurred to me. I’m about to do it with the homecoming king.”

Monty chuckles. “Does that turn you on?”

“Yeah,” I admit. “Kind of. Is that okay?”

He kisses my neck. I tilt my head back and sigh in pleasure.

“Are you kidding?” His lips are a mere centimeter from my skin as he mumbles, and his arms tighten around me even more. “If I had known, I would have worn my crown.”

Now we’re both laughing.

“You know this isn’t the sort of thing I usually do…”

He raises his face so he’s looking me in the eye. “I know,” he says, and he smiles. Crinkles form around his green eyes, and I feel a moment of panic. There’s no way I’m casual enough to be with him for just one night.

“Let’s make it special, okay?” He reaches down and clasps my hand, and I let him lead me somewhere, again. This time, I follow him to the parking lot. Tonight, I’d follow him anywhere.

Review:

This was a very entertaining read.  With politics as an ongoing theme you really fall in love with the characters.  You love Lucy, Monty, Jack and Sharon.  With a contemporary romance in a political setting I was a bit worried with how this would work because you don’t normally see these two themes together.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The story flowed very well and moved along very quickly.  I think this was definitely a worthwhile read and had me really rooting for Lucy and Monty not to mention the presidential candidates they supported.  I would definitely read another of Laurel books.

I would like to thank Laurel Osterkamp for stopping by today and Reading Addiction Book Tours for allowing me to host one of the stops.  For more information about Laurel Osterkamp click on one of the links below.  For additional information about November Surprise you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

Author Bio

Laurel Osterkamp was a comedy writer in Minneapolis before she began writing novels.  Her first novel, Following My Toes, has been a Kindle best seller and won the 2008 Indie Excellence Award for Chick Lit. Starring in the Movie of My Life received honors in the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards for Chick Lit, and in the 2011 International Book Awards for Women’s Fiction and Young Adult Lit. Both books are indie approved at indiereader.com. She currently teaches high school, and is working on her next book, which is inspired by her recent jury duty.

Website/Blog: www.laurelosterkamp.com  www.laurelosterkamp.blogspot.com

Twitter: @laurelosterkamp

 

 

%d bloggers like this: