Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RABT: "November Surprise" by Laurel Osterkamp Book Review/Guest Post/Giveaway (Ends 10/15)


Chick Lit / Womens Fiction
Title: November Surprise
Author: Laurel Osterkamp
Date Published: 8/2012

Synopsis: 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.

November SurpriseNovember Surprise by Laurel Osterkamp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is possibly one os the quickest, easiest poltiical romances you will ever read. I am not really big on politics, but I always enjoy the presidential election seasons. And it is nice that I have actually lived through every one of them that the author has chosen to cover. And it is quite unique to see it through the lens of one Lucy Jones, a liberal who seems to struggle with getting what she wants from life.

I am glad that there were no bedroom scenes. The profanity was there but not as bad as some books. The liberal mindset did not bother me too much (even though I am a conservative). I was pleased that the protagonist never discussed the more controversial topics of liberalism--gay rights and abortion. I fully expected that to be there, and I even thought she might make a decsion that would be in keeping with that. Actually, all she did was point out things about each president and candidate that I truly already knew. Or had heard. And I basically agreed with her view on the presidential candidates and campaigns.

The story itself was nothing shocking or overly intriguing. It was just an easy-to-read story that spanned a few decades. I enjoyed some of the author's references to things I remember from certain eras. This is an interesting book to read--especially during a campaign year. Nice review of recent American history!

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

View all my reviews


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.

Guest Post (by the author)

10 Ways to Improve Your Writing

I’m a high school teacher, and my favorite class to teach is Creative Writing. Teenagers are often so raw with their writing. They haven’t learned how to be pretentious yet, and their emotions are always brimming to the surface. That doesn’t mean they don’t have room for improvement though. There are lots of ways to improve your writing, and the tips I give them are from lessons that I have learned myself, over the years.

1.)   Read a lot! – I believe the best way to become a good writer is to be a voracious reader. It’s like learning a language. The best way to do so is to immerse yourself in it.
2.)   Pay attention to figurative language – Any writer knows that it’s better to show than to tell. What’s the best way to accomplish that? Figurative Language! Why say “I felt angry” when you could use a metaphor, simile, or personification instead? “My anger slapped me in the face like an offended lover” is so much more effective.
3.)   Use a plot diagram – All stories follow the same recipe: exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. It doesn’t matter what subject you’re writing about, if you use this formula, you’re on the right track.
4.)   Don’t describe conversations when you can use dialogue – Dialogue is fun to read, and it can be great for developing both the characters and the conflict. Never describe what people said in paragraph form when you can write out their conversation.
5.)   Make it active – One danger of having a lot of dialogue, however, is you can turn your characters into talking heads. No matter what they’re talking about or where they are, be sure to have them doing something.
6.)   Describe the details – This is the one I have to work on the most, especially with setting. I often forget to describe the setting in my books, and I’m doing myself a disservice there. Setting, appearance, clothing, sensory details: describing this stuff is what will bring your story alive.
7.)   Don’t be afraid to make your characters flawed – How many of your friends are perfect? Would you want to be friends with them if they were? Perfect people can be boring in real life, just like they can be boring in fiction too. Real people have problems and obstacles to overcome. Don’t be afraid to let your characters make mistakes.
8.)   Spend more time on revision than you did on writing the first draft – This is the one that my teenage students hate. They always want to believe that their first draft is impeccable. Personally, I love the revision stage, because that’s where I make the most discoveries about my characters and what is driving the story.
9.)   Show your work to honest friends – It’s hard to maintain perspective on something that you’re working on so closely. I have a writing group who I show my stuff too, and I gain so much from their feedback.
10.) No matter what, have fun! If you don’t enjoy writing it, people most likely won’t enjoy reading it. Don’t make your writing labored by following some self-imposed guidelines. In the end, the best method is to go with your gut.

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 She currently teaches high school, and is working on her next book,
which is inspired by her recent jury duty.

Links to Buy

The author herself is doing her own giveaway of a $30 Amazon Gift certificate in conjunction with this tour.  All you need to do is comment on any of the blog tour stops to enter (check here for more stops).
Anyone who buys November Surprise and forwards their receipt to will receive 10 entries!


  1. Thank you for the tips! I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing! saltsnmore at yahoo dot com

  2. The book sounds great. Thanks for the review, the excerpt and the writing tips

  3. "Through the years Lucy will experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as she makes the choices that define her..."
    isn't this the truth for each of our lives? ohh so well said! TY Laurel =)
    lovely writing, + tips + giveaway ! {MUCH appreciated!!}

  4. excellent post! had to tweet :) @_eHope

  5. My daughter loves to write! These are wonderful tips! Thanks so much for sharing :) The book sounds wonderful.

    ineedadietcoke at aol dot com

  6. this book sounds like something i would like.

  7. Love these tips on writing! Great post and November Surprise sounds like something I'd pick up!

  8. The books sounds like a terrific read! Thank you also for the tips. :) I am copying them down to be a better writer just in general. :)


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