New Book Releases: January 2015

Contributor: Allie

A Wedding in Provence by Ellen SussmanA Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman – January 7, 2015.  Things (sorry Rich could NOT come up with another word)  get complicated for Olivia and Brody as the anticipation builds for their upcoming wedding.  The venue, a beautiful seaside inn owned by some friends, is in the Mediterranean town of Cassis.  The couple’s excitement is tempered by their families, who bring their own emotional baggage.  Each of Olivia’s daughters is dealing with a romantic dilemma and Brody’s playboy best man makes their lives even more difficult.  Add the bitterness of Brody’s brokenhearted mother and the soon-to-be-married couple find themselves wishing they’d eloped.

The Amazing Things About You by Jill MansellThree Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell – January, 15 2015.  Hallie is a young woman who doesn’t have long to live.  So the timing isn’t right to fall in love, but that’s what happens.  Should she seize what time she has left?  Or let true love go?  Flo has developed feelings for her friend Zander, but his sister hates her, which makes the chance of romance impossible.  Tasha’s happily committed to her boyfriend, but terrified by his love of danger.  Then Hallie learns that she has an organ donor, and a chance for survival.  But whose life was cut short?

First Frost by Sarah Addison AllenFirst Frost by Sarah Addison Allen- January 20, 2015.  This novel is the sequel to Garden Spells and picks up ten years later, with the Waverly women still considered as the eccentric residents of Bascom, NC.  Claire is now married, with a young daughter and a thriving candy making business.  Sydney is married and desperately trying to have another baby.  Her fifteen-year-old daughter, Bay, is experiencing the typical angst of a teenager.  Evanelle’s health is fading and she requires live-in care.  After a strange man arrives in town, their lives begin to twist and turn, and then the arrival of the first frost brings big changes.

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza PalmerGirl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer – January 27, 2015.  Poor Anna has more going on than any one person should have to deal with.  She’s an ad executive who’s desperately trying to sign “the hot model” for her client’s ad campaign.  Anna tracks the gentleman model down at a romance writing convention, where he’s winning an award as the romance cover model of the year.  While there, she meets the author who inspired her professional life, hooks up with a dashing financial executive, and signs her model.  Her success is marred by a coworker’s sabotage and the antics of her alcoholic brother.  To have the life she wants, Anna must make some drastic changes.

The Grown Ups by Robin AntalekThe Grown Ups by Robin Antalek – January 27, 2015.  The summer that Suzie and Sam are fifteen years-old, their friendship develops into something more than just friends.  At the end of that summer, Suzie and her family move to another state.  Her family’s sudden departure leaves a destructive wake.  Sam is heartbroken, but agrees to keep their relationship a secret from their group of friends.  The couple eventually loses touch.  Then, ten years later, Suzie runs into Sam’s brother, Michael.  She’s surprised to discover that her childhood best friend, Bella, and Sam have become a couple.   After Suzi starts dating Michael, things get very complicated…

Book Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Reviewer: Samantha

lost lakeI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

From the author of New York Times bestseller Garden Spells comes a beautiful, haunting story of old loves and new, and the power of the connections that bind us forever…

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing  Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve,  before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place:  love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended.  Can they find what they need before it’s too late?

At once atmospheric and enchanting, Lost Lake shows Sarah Addison Allen at her finest, illuminating the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.

Review:

As I started reading Lost Lake and getting deeper into the story, I grew excited for the possibilities the plot would take me. A love a little sprinkling of magic in my books, and this seemed to be right up my alley with “could it be real?” moments that Lost Lake provides those who visit. While I did end up highly enjoying this book, it didn’t leave me with the impression I thought it was going to. I think the book was too quick to really get into the magic of the lake and how it touches everyone who believes in its beauty. While I was a little disappointed in that, this really is a great story that I think can be described as spell-bounding. I liked getting different POVs from characters, and especially loved Devin and her innocence and her love for her mom. A well-written book that I think you should read!

4 stars

 

Book Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Reviewer: Allie

lost lakeI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

In the aftermath of her husband’s death, Kate’s grief has caused her to sleepwalk through life.  While she grieves, Kate’s controlling mother-in-law, Cricket, helps care for her daughter, Devon.  When her grief begins to subside and she “wakes up,” Kate discovers that Cricket has taken over her life.  Cricket has sold Kate’s house and business and enrolled Devon in private school.  While packing up, in preparation to move into Cricket’s home, Kate discovers a long lost postcard from her Great Aunt Eby.  Kate and Devon impulsively decide to visit Eby at Lost Lake, GA, where Kate had experienced her “last best summer” when she was twelve.

Eby owns a quaint lakeside resort, frequented by an odd cast of characters each summer.   Motivated by financial issues and a desire to travel, Eby agrees to sell Lost Lake.  Once word of the pending sale spreads, the community rallies to show appreciation for all Eby has done.  Kate also gets reacquainted with Wes, whom she met when she was twelve.  Eby, Kate and Wes, like many other guests at Lost Lake, have broken hearts and harbor secrets from their pasts.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this.  The characters were all a bit odd, yet they’re likable and relatable.  Grief is a central theme of the book, but so is healing.  Allen’s writing is very effective in conveying that – “When your cup is empty, you do not mourn what is gone. Because if you do, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again.”

The writing is very descriptive, which is of course, a good thing.  I struggled a bit though, because the scenery she created was very realistic, but not necessarily appealing to me.  I wasn’t quite sure why everyone loved Lost Lake so much.  There’s a bit of mystery surrounding everyone, but I had no idea that one mystery in particular would be so pivotal.  The plot of the story is a slow boil, building to an unexpected climax – I can honestly say I was shocked by a “big surprise.”  There are some unusual paranormal elements in the story: a talking alligator, ghostly visions and magical charms, which give the story its unique magical allure – you’ll need to forsake reality to appreciate the symbolism of these elements.

4 stars