Sarah Addison Allen’s Lost Lake


Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen | Jorie’s Store on Amazon

Lost Lake  
by Sarah Addison Allen
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
on January 21, 2014 
Genres: Fiction
Source: Harris County Public Library

Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: In 2011, I rapidly read all of Allen’s works I could find. So, when Allen’s newest book came out, I requested it as soon as I could.

Summary: Suley, Georgia is a sleepy, swampy little town near the Florida border. Suley boasts the Lost Lake Cottages run by Eby Pim, an enchanting retreat from the daily grind. After losing her beloved husband, Kate and her free-spirited daughter, Devin, find themselves heading to Lost Lake and the arms of her comforting Aunt Eby (her great aunt, really). Yet, when Kate and Devin arrive, they discover Eby intends to sell Lost Lake. Eby no longer feels the magic. Nonetheless, the Lost Lake Cottages faithful, journey back for one last summer. Kate and Devin stay on, too,  and wait for memorization.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I never considered parts of Georgia to be swampy. Then again, it’s close to Florida! 🙂

What I Liked: I liked Eby and her resilience. Thankfully, I found dashes of the magical realism which make me seek out Allen’s works. Simply, I was grateful to get my hands on another book written by Allen.

What I Disliked: A lot was happening in Lost Lake and I would’ve preferred more of a focus on Eby and Kate’s growing relationship. This just wasn’t Garden Spells or The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

 

 

Song: Blind Melon – No Rain

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Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art


Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore | LibraryThing

Moore, C. (2012). Sacre bleu: A comedy d’art. New York: William Morrow. 9780061779749

Reasons for Reading : I posted Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art on my TBR list. Check out my reasons for reading there.

Summary: News of the suicide of volatile artist Vincent van Gogh rocks Parisian baker and artist Lucien Lessard and his good friend  Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Compounding issues is the sudden reappearance of Lucien’s MIA girlfriend, Juliette and the nasty little guy who’s known as The Colorman. Lucien and Henri take the reader for a ride on the crazy train, encountering figures in the French art scene along the way.

What I Liked : Author Christopher Moore is uproariously humorous. There were numerous “ROL” (read out loud) moments throughout this novel. Characters such as fictitious Lucien and Juliette appealed greatly. The physical book is gorgeous with images discussed in the narrative and has blue typing.

What I Disliked : Some curse words here and there don’t bother me but the language used by various characters was beyond nasty. Also, I thought sometimes Moore crossed the line between amusingly irreverent and crazy wicked. One point late in the novel made a reference to bestiality that had major cringe factor.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet – YouTube

Setting : Paris, France with stops in the French countryside, Italy, England, and the US

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Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia


Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell | LibraryThing

Powell, J. (2005). Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316109697

Reasons for Reading:  I’m no gourmet but I enjoyed watching cooking shows on PBS ever since I can remember. One of those heroic translators of French cuisine was the unforgettable Julia Child. She empowered people nationwide to  Since this book was about the experiences of a blogger working her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I decided I wanted to read Julie and Julia someday. A couple of years ago, I heard Julie Powell speak at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference. I found the book on the shelf at the HCPL where I work.

Summary: As secretarial government drone Julie Powell eyes her approaching thirtieth birthday, she yearns for something to do. While visiting her family in Austin, Texas, Julie eyes her mom’s copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This sighting inspires Julie to work her way through 524 recipes in a year and blog about her experiences. 

What I Liked : I enjoyed the mention of Samuel Pepys and the segments from Julia and Paul Child. I also liked reading about Austin, Texas, the capital of my home state. The following Julie’s blog built amazed me. It’s impressive how these kind souls even sent her foodstuffs when she remarked on wanting something.

What I Disliked : I didn’t care much for Julie. This fact alone really colored my opinion of the book. I wanted to know more the actual blogging and how it became so lucrative for her. I didn’t find much of that here. Unfortunately I saw the movie before I read the book and that disappointed me as well. Maybe my expectations are too high. 

Two Out of Five Pearls

Song: ‪The French Chef Theme Song

Setting: New York City, Austin Texas, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Paris, Boston

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Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key


Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay | LibraryThing

Rosnay, T. . (2010). Sarah’s key. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin. 9781250004345

Reasons for Reading : I recalled my mom reading this book a few years before the movie hit American theaters. Also, working on my library’s contribution to the Holocaust Museum Houston’s Butterfly Project led me to Sarah’s Key. I checked out the book from HCPL.

Summary: Beginning in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942, the French police arrest a ten year-old girl and her family in the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. The girl manages to lock her younger brother in a secret cupboard in the family’s apartment. She promises to return in a few hours.

The girl’s story alternates with that Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in 2002 Paris with her French husband and daughter. Her editor asks her to write an article commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup. As Julia investigates, she stumbles upon a fateful connection to Sarah, that little girl who stowed her brother in the secret cupboard. This link may lead to better living for Julia or the undoing of her marriage.

What I Liked : Author de Rosnay created rich characters in Sarah and Julia. The latter narrated her of the novel and de Rosnay conveyed the thoughts of an American outcast quite authentically. Sarah’s point of view was related in third person.

I adored Jules and Genevieve. These people offer hope for humanity. They’re the sort that deserve Nobel Peace Prizes.

Also, I found it sobering to learn the French police’s involvement in the Holocaust. It just shows how far brainwashing can go.

What I Disliked : This story made me very sad. Obviously, the key issues weren’t the happiest. I promise that I went into reading this book with my eyes open.

The first part of the book alternated between Sarah’s 1942 and Julia’s 2002. Then, the second part of the book didn’t. Without revealing the end, I wasn’t too keen on losing one of those points of view.

Before I forget, Julia’s husband was horrendous!

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Linkin Park – In The End – YouTube

Setting : Paris, France, Germany, Poland, New York City, Boston, Italy

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Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | LibraryThing

Perkins, S. (2010). Anna and the French kiss. New York: Dutton. 9780525423270

Reasons – Okay, I gave into peer pressure. The bloggers, my colleagues, and other authors raved about Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. Of course, I had to read it. Lucky for me, it wasn’t walking off a cliff 🙂 . So, I requested the book from HCPL.

High school senior Anna Oliphant finds herself uprooted from her comfortable, Atlanta life and at the School of America – Paris (SOAP). “What the heck?” she wonders. Soon, though, Anna makes friends and meets the charismatic, handsome St. Clair. These two hit it off immediately. Oh, no, he’s got a girlfriend. Anna struggles to achieve a balance between friendship and desire in the City of Love.

Brava, Stephanie Perkins. This book totally rocked. She knew her characters well and the writing is so smooth that I felt as though I were viewing a movie. I remember those mean girls from my K-12 days, too. They would’ve called me a skunk, too, if my hair were as cool as Anna’s.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Coldplay – Violet Hill – YouTube

Setting : Paris, Atlanta, San Francisco

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Isabel Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea


Allende, I., & Peden, M. S. (2010). Island beneath the sea: A novel. New York: Harper. 9780061988240

A few years ago, I picked up Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune. Allende cast her spell on me with her characters and her storytelling. Oddly enough, several years passed by before I read another Allende work. As it happened, I chose her latest work Island Beneath the Sea which I requested through HCPL.

Allende tells the stories of numerous people living on 1700s Saint-Domingue (Haïti). First, she introduces readers to the young Toulouse Valmorain. He and the female Valmorains live comfortably in France thanks to his father’s sugarcane plantation, Saint Lazare, in Saint-Domingue.

His planter father sends a letter, requesting Valmorain to come the island in 1770. Valmorain arrives on the island, receiving a rude awakening. The elder Valmorain can no longer run Saint Lazare. So, it falls to Valmorain to make a go of it, turning Saint Lazare into a profitable plantation. Settling into Saint-Domingue, Valmorain marries a Spaniard Eugenia living in Cuba. In the midst of all of this, Valmorain purchases a slave to serve Eugenia.

This slave is a child named Zarité – called Tété. She’s the daughter of an enslaved African woman and a sailor. Tété leads a harsh existence and discovers comfort in voodoo and the slave community. Numerous passages in the book are related by an adult Tété. The rest of the novel told in third person.

Tété endures many abuses and hardships at the hands of Valmorain, who aims to be a “benevolent slave owner.” Yet, they later flee to New Orleans – together.

All I can say without further spoiling the plot is that I found the storytelling and character development of Tété mesmerizing. I also enjoyed learning about the enterprising courtesan Violette and Dr. Parmentier, the man of science with twenty-first century ethics. I even appreciated the complexity of Valmorain. Characters such as Gambo, Maurice, Rosette, Zacharie, and the Murphy family seemed unrealized, though. I could’ve easily done without Hortense! Nonetheless, I guess there was need for such a catalyst.

I also felt Allende did well with the rising action and then slammed the reader into a wretched nightmare that was Tété’s early life. Then, in the New Orleans part, the novel seemed rushed. I wanted to find out more about New Orleans life as well as denouement for Tété and her family. Overall, it was good storytelling but the plot needed help.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Places:

France, Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Cuba, New Orleans

For more on Isabel Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea, please check out the following links: