Monday, August 4, 2014

Double Review: "Lost Lake" & "Promises to Keep"

Last time I was at the library, I checked out 3 adult books, as opposed to the massive amounts of young adult I usually get. I feel a little weird calling it "adult" sometimes, do you? Like it should be censored or something lol. Anyway, I picked up two old favorite authors and one new to me. I've read the first two so far and thought it'd be good to do a double review day for them. Mostly because I'm lazy, but also because they share a similar theme of over-coming hard times and having the strength to move on. Have you read any good/great adult books lately? I'd love to hear about them...sometimes I do feel like I read waaay too much YA.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
3.5 out of 5 stars

I've read all four of SAA's previous books and adored them, so I was really looking forward to her first new book in four years. She was battling a big health crisis in that time (happily recovered now) and you can feel a tinge of that in this book, along with the magical hope that is a trademark of her books. I really want to go reread one of her other books now, maybe I will as a reward when I finish Jane Eyre (I'm having an awful time with that one, unfortunately.)

Lost Lake alternates between two main stories: that of Eby Pim, an elderly woman who is ready to close down the lakeside paradise she and her late husband built up so many years ago; and Kate Pheris, a young woman who is finally waking up after losing her husband a year before. When Kate's daughter, Devin, finds a postcard from Great-Aunt Eby, they decide to make a spontaneous road-trip to see her and the old lake. Eight year old Devin is an adorable and precocious child who likes to wear crazy mismatched clothes and sees things that others don't, such as the alligator at the lake who wants to help her save the camp.

There is an all-star cast of secondary characters, any of whom I'd love to read a full story about: Lisette, a small beautiful French woman who cannot speak but still has a way with words; Jack, the man who has loved her for 30 years but can't seem to tell her; Bulahdeen & Selma, best friends but complete opposites; and Wes, the boy who helped Kate have the best summer of her childhood. Oh, and the alligator...he's a big part of the story too.

I loved the flashbacks to Eby's honeymoon in Paris and Amsterdam and the glimpses we get of the older folks' lives too, especially Bulahdeen. "You can't change where you came from, but you can change where you go from here. Just like a book. If you don't like the ending, you make up a new one."

Promises to Keep by Jane Green
3 out of 5 stars

This is hard to review. I picked it up because of the Goodreads summary, which is blatantly wrong (and I plan on trying to get it fixed soon.) I was expecting a light-hearted typical Jane Green book and this was so not it. If you've read any of her earlier books: Jemima J, Mr Maybe,'ll know what I'm talking about. Well, apparently Jane is sick of writing the fluffy, twenty-something, chick-lit books and wants to write serious books for "grown-ups" now. Kind of disappointing.

This book started out decent, two sisters, one 30 and one 39, living great lives in and around New York City. The 30 yr old, Steffi, is a perpetual dater of up & coming wannabe rock stars, a chef at a booming vegan restaurant, and is constantly ready for change. Callie is 39 and very happily married with 2 wonderful kids, a lovely home in the suburbs, and a booming photography career. Then there's Lila, the 42 yr old BFF, who gave up on having a happily ever after years ago because she's too fat, too Jewish, too blah blah blah. And of course, as soon as she gives up and becomes happy with just herself, she finds a man.

Sounds like a normal chick-lit book right? The first half really is, telling about the 3 women's lives and relationships with various men (for Steffi, at least) and it's decent. But you start to get this sense of foreboding, when Callie says, for the millionth time, how perfect her life is. Something is going to happen and it's going to be bad, right? This is about when I posted on FB that I needed to put my book in the freezer and read something lighter for a while lol.

I'm going to try to be really non-specific here, okay? The last half of the book gets serious and while it's still a good read and all, it wasn't what I was looking for. The 3 women and their loved ones have to deal with this serious thing and it's hard to read. Green does to try to have an uplifting message in the end, but it feels kind of flat to me. "[She] sees pain, and grief, sadness and loss. And yet...and yet...there is love, and laughter, and life." So, if you're looking to have a good cry, this is a perfect read. If not, maybe try one of her earlier books.

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