Book Review: Lost Lake

Lost LakeImage
Sarah Addison Allen
Fiction, Contemporary
Published: January 21st, 2014
5/5

 

                Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming.
                Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone.
                As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages – and her heart – back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again and sometimes you never even knew they were lost… until they are found.
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                I feel like I had to wait a million years to read “Lost Lake”, I had pre-ordered it but had also pre-ordered another book at the same time and they made me wait until they released the second book before they’d send me Lost Lake, which was unfair, considering they sent them separately. Not understanding why it had to be that way, but “Lost Lake” was definitely worth the wait at either rate.
                “Lost Lake” is the first book that Sarah Addison Allen had released since her diagnosis of Breast cancer in 2011, I’m happy to report that she has since beaten cancer and is currently in remission, which means that she’s (I’m assuming) happily writing again. When I heard that she was releasing a new novel I was over the moon excited and “Lost Lake” was well worth the wait.
                Sarah Addison Allen writes contemporary novels infused with magic, good food and strong family ties. “Lost Lake” has all of her staple elements and she pulls it off brilliantly. I loved hearing about the wet, humid, hot summer of Suley Georgia. I was able to imagine the whole setting without a hitch, the old dusty, faded cabins, Aunt Eby, the lakes mysteriously imaginary alligator, the hanging lanterns and I was able to even smell the delicious meals that were cooked by Lisette; a troubled young woman that Eby and her husband had met on their honeymoon in Paris.
                This book was over abundant in delightful, eccentric characters. I wish they all had their own books just so I could learn more about them. Never have I read a book with so many fulfilling, engaging, and fantastic side characters. I was enthralled with all their stories, all their backgrounds and the glimpses we were given into each of their lives.
                I loved how everyone came together in the end, and that even characters that didn’t seem like they were invested as much as others helped pull everything together and create a fantastic ending, to a fantastic novel.
                There is just something about Sarah Addison Allen’s books that resonate with me, they fill my heart full of hope and promise and we live in a world where there isn’t enough of that. Her books are perfect to curl up with and read all afternoon.
                I think if I had any issues with “Lost Lake” it would have been the length. It was really short in my opinion and I felt a little cheated. As though I wasn’t able to spend enough time at Lost Lake and I felt as though I missed out because of that. She’s never written very long novels, but Lost Lake felt shorter than all her others and part of me wonders if that’s because there was such an amazing cast of characters. I just wanted to know so much more about all of them, and spend more time with each of them.
                However, my expectations were met and exceeded and I’m already eagerly anticipating her next novels. In the mean time I am planning on re-reading some of her other novels… and I’ve re-read all of them 2-3 times.Image

Book Review: Plain Truth

Plain TruthImage
Jodie Picoult
Fiction, Crime
Published: November 1st, 2004
4/5

                The small town of Paradise, Pennsylvania, is a jewel in Lancaster country – known for its picture-postcard landscapes and bucolic lifestyle, but that peace is shattered by the discovery of a dead infant in the barn of a Amish farmer.
                A police investigation quickly leads to two startling disclosures: The newborn’s mother is an unmarried Amish woman, eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher and the infant did not die of natural causes. Although Katie denies the medical proof that she gave birth to the child, circumstantial evidence leads to her arrest for the murder of her own baby.
                One hundred miles away, Philadelphia defense attorney Ellie Hathaway has achieved an enviable, high-profile career, but her latest court victory has set the sands shifting beneath her. Single at thirty-nine and unsatisfied in her relationship, Ellie doesn’t look back when she turns down her chance to make partner and takes off for an open ended stay at her great-aunts home in Paradise.
                Fate brings her to Katie Fisher, Suddenly, Ellie sees the chance to defend a client that truly needs her, not just one who can afford her. But taking on this case challenges Ellie in more ways than one. She finds herself not only in a clash of wills with a client who does not want to be defended but also in a clash of cultures with a people whose channels of justice are markedly different from her own.
                Immersing herself in Katie Fisher’s life – and in a world founded on faith, humility, duty, and honesty – Ellie begins to understand the pressures and sacrifices of those who live plain. As she peels away the layers of fact and fantasy, Ellie calls on an old friend for guidance. Now, just as this man from Ellie’s past renters her life, she must uncover the truth about a complex case, a tragic loss, the bonds of love – and her own deepest fears and desires.
                Moving seamlessly from psychological drama to courtroom suspense, Plain truth is a triumph of contemporary storytelling.
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                Plain Truth is a thought provoking and intriguing read. Vastly original the ending will surprise you and you’ll either enjoy the deceptive plot twist or you’ll hate it. Fast paced and filled with colorful characters, Plain truth will grab your attention until the very last page and the very last sentence. The amount that Jodi Picoult must have put into studying the Amish culture had to have been enormous because everything fit together so seamlessly and seemed extremely believable. However, as she isn’t Amish I can only imagine that it was not completely correct.
                I really enjoy how Jodi Picoult takes cliché’s and twits them, giving them a new spin. You can almost guarantee that what you think is happening isn’t the truth. I really, really, love that about her writing, and Plain Truth doesn’t fail to deliver on my favorite aspect of Jodi Picoult’s writing.
                You can’t help but feeling for poor Katie Fisher, and the very real, and very ‘English’ problem that’s she has found herself faced with. You spend most of the book wondering what the heck is going on with her. She seems dazed and confused most of the book, spending time talking to a dead sibling and wondering alone in the night time often. She has her heart smashed open and is betrayed brutally by the last person you’d expect.
                Often times I found Ellie a little annoying, I did not enjoy her side romance at all and found it was a needless addition to the plot. However, like with most movies, most books need to have a romantic sub-plot line. It gives us something to root for.
                Thought the storyline shifted easily between the court-room and the dramatic events taking place outside in the main progressive part of the story line. Blended great and didn’t feel like an abrupt change.
                Really looking forward to reading my way through all of her books, and discovering different ways to look at things.

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Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep

Before I go to SleepImage
S.J. Watson
Adult, Crime thriller
published: June 14th, 2011
3/4

 

                Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man.
                She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.
                But it’s a phone call from Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities – tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life – and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?
                Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past and the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.
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                I’m not going to lie, I was one of those people who went into this book fearful it was going to be some strange re-write of fifty first dates because in all honestly it sounds a lot like fifty first dates. Before I go to Sleep however, is most assuredly NOT anything like fifty first dates and I kind of wish it was.
                “Before I Go to Sleep” was crazy, a whole big train of crazy. It was tantalizing and deliciously creepy. I honestly sat down on a beautiful sunny afternoon and devoured it. It’s a very easy read for the most part. The chapters mainly consist of her waking up and starting fresh again, which did drag on a big and did become quite daunting.
                There were a few aspects of the book that I didn’t enjoy and I think that it was mostly because this story was drawn out and in the end that made things rather predictable. In my opinion this would have made an awesome short story.
                I can give S.J. Watson big props for writing an original story however, at least it was to me. I’ve never read anything quite like it. The effort that was put into Christine’s life story was pretty intense. The Lies, the deception, the twists and turns were all fantastic and great, however there were a few moments that gave away the ending.
                Despite not having enjoyed this book a lot, it was a good read and I mostly enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s a book I’d ever read again, but if you like Crime Thrillers with an original story like I believe “Before I Go to Sleep.” Would make a great addition to your collection.Image

Book Review: The Fault in our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
John GreenImage
Contemporary YA
Published: January 10th, 2012
4/5

                Diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumour in her lungs… for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends, and post-normalcy. Even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means) Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Agustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly, to her interested in Hazel. Being with Agustus is both an unexpected destination and a long needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and healthy, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

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                The Fault in our Stars by John Green has been raved about for what seems like eons now. As I’ve grown a bit older from when looking for Alaska was originally released (and that’s the year I first read it) I’ve found some of his other work has left me wanting. I find his characters have been replayed over again. The soft spoken geeky boy just trying to fall in love with the girl of his dreams. What I enjoyed in terms of fiction then and what I enjoy now has greatly changed, HOWEVER, the fault in our stars re-sparked my joy in reading John Green’s work.
                The Fault in our Stars is funny, honest, brutally harsh, and brilliantly heartbreaking. It wasn’t a cliché love story, it wasn’t a cliché anything really. It just was. I could spend time telling you what I’ve liked about the book, however if you’re reading this and you’ve already read it, stop here this review isn’t for you.
                This book review is for all the people who too scared to take the leap, this review is for the people who scoff at the very idea of reading something so trendy and so young. The Fault in our stars is a great work because it can be read by everyone and most everyone will be touched. It’s not a happy story, it will rip out your heartstrings and then stomp on them. This is a story about second chances, appreciating the time you do have and the people that are around you.
               I am a strong believer that people are put into our lives to shape and mold it, to change who we are and to help us grow and see our own potential by pushing us through all the battles of heartbreak, love, sorrow and joy.
                The Fault in our stars isn’t just a story about cancer, or just a story about a boy and a girl. The Fault in our Stars is about accepting what we cannot change, and how we move on from tragedy and grow.Image

Book Review: Wedding Night

Wedding NightImage
Sophia Kinsella
Chick-lit, Romance
Publish Date: April 23rd, 2013
4/5

                Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose, but then his big question involves a trip abroad – not a trip down the aisle. Completely crushed, Lottie reconnects with an old flame, and they decide to take drastic action. No dates, no moving in together, they’ll just get married… right now. Her sister, Fliss, thinks Lottie is making a terrible mistake, and will do anything to stop her. Lottie, however, is determined to say “I do.” For better, or for worse.

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                Wedding Night is the first book by Sophia Kinsella that I’ve ever read completely through. I was delightfully surprised by the witty dialogue and her use of dual character chapters. I thought that both Lottie, and her sister Fliss had distinctive voices; which is something that is not always concrete in fiction. I believe that this type of writing style has grown on me greatly; I believe that ‘Wedding Night’ inspired me enough to believe that it is a possible plot progression point and that it adds value in terms of the story.
                I thought the heroines were both sweet and very honest in terms of their personalities. I definitely enjoyed Fliss’ character quite a bit more however, as I believe she was more grounded in reality and not desperate enough to eagerly reach other and grab whomever would help her attain the next chapter in her life. I thought that Lottie’s ideals of who she wanted to be were not relevant to how her life had turned out. I can however, identify with this quality as I believe when we’re all younger we have ideals that we’ve set in stone before there is any chance of knowing what the outcome might possibly be in reality.
                I really enjoyed Lorcan (despite thinking that this name is absolutely ridiculous) he had to grow on me however, much like Richard did, but in the end they were great supporting characters with believable personality traits and agreeable story lines. What I thought was mostly great about them was how completely and utterly human they were. I loved their flaws and they added so much in terms of the story, it made the romance and interactions more believable.
                I don’t read a lot of ‘chick-lit’ books anymore, and when I do I have some authors that I tend to stick too but ‘Wedding Night’ has allowed me to cautiously branch out and perhaps discover some more great writers and perhaps in the future I’ll even read a few more by Sophia Kinsella despite my initial reservations regarding her work.
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Book Review: Sea of Shadows

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1)Image
Kelley Armstrong
YA Fantasy
Publish Date: April 8th 2014
*Received an Advanced Reader Copy in good reads giveaway
** This Opinion is 100% my own.

            In the Forest of the Dead, where the Empires worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

            Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

            Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sister’s journey to find each other sends them far from the only home that they have ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls’ cross a once empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court – one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

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            I’ve only recently started reading Kelley Armstrong’s work. I’ve already invested in her new series Cainsville and was really excited to try her young adult fiction. I definitely was not disappointed with Sea of Shadows!
            I really, really, really enjoyed the backstory and all the lore. The whole concept of the Keeper and Seeker, and even the Forest of the Dead really drew me into the story and hooked me. I’ve been getting into fantasy novels a lot in the past year or so, largely in thanks to my Husband and I am super pleased to be adding this series to my collection!
            It’s dark, edgy and has a strong sense of purpose. There is a point and reason as to why each scene in is in this novel and I find that extremely refreshing and uplifting that there were no needless fillers. The main characters each have their own voices and strongly defined personalities. There is personal growth for each character in Sea of Shadows which doesn’t always happen with series, so it was great to see that already taking off.
            The romance aspect is great and seems really natural. It never seems too forced or too rushed for me to find it awkward and unrealistic. I definitely have a favorite couple and a favorite character at this point in the story but will reserve on ‘fan-girling’ all over this book review.
            I’ve noticed that this book isn’t getting the best reviews currently and am hoping that will soon change as I think this series has a whole lot of potential and has a very fascinating story and cast of characters that I personally cannot wait to get to know even better. I love it when things are revealed over time and when you’re not bombarded with information and I think Kelley Armstrong’s writing style is really suited to my reading style and what I want from out of a novel.
            I am looking forward to the second part of this story and am deeply saddened by how long it is I’ll have to wait for it. Thank goodness Kelley Armstrong has many more books and series for me to try out while I wait!
           

Check out of Goodreads Page Here!

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & ParkImage
Rainbow Rowell
Young adult Contemporary
Published: 2013
5/5

                Two Misfits.
                One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.

Park… He know she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs as her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-old – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

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                It’s not often that a book touches me in the way that Eleanor & Park has. The simplest and realistic nature of their relationship was both heartwarming and beautiful. Rainbow Rowell has managed to deliver a love story that is timeless in its content and in its tenderness. Despite not having been born when this book took place, it easily reminded me of my first love, and all the heartbreak and confusion that came with it when I was sixteen.
                Rowell has delivered realistic characters with realistic obstacles. The beginning middle and end made perfect sense and I personally wouldn’t have wanted to see it written any differently. I liked the open ending, because life is open ended. Just because something happens or someone leaves or comes back doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be. Even if someone has hurt you in the past that doesn’t mean that person won’t be your best friend someday or maybe even the person you marry of course the story won’t always end perfectly either. I’ve seen this story happen so many times in my life with my friends and of course, with my own life. This story is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking.
                Worth all the hype, completely and with honesty.    

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