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PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Lost Lake

lost lakeFrom Goodreads:
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. But Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, and 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 know they were lost . . . until they are found.

My Thoughts:
Oh Lost Lake, where do I start with you? You are the place in my dreams. A little cabin on the lake, a summer of memories at any age. You are the small, quaint vacation spot I always imagine when I think of the perfect getaway. I like to travel and spend time on the beach and sight-see. But more often than not, the places that always appeal to me the most are the eccentric B&Bs and small cottages. I always think of all of the reading and writing I could get done at a place like this.

But this book is much deeper than a summer vacation to get away life. Every single character in this book is longing for something. For Kate and even Devin, it’s getting past the death of Kate’s husband. For Eby, it’s the decision to stay or go. You have longtime guests Bulahdeen and Selma, the mute French chef Lisette, and the boy from Kate’s memorable summer at Lost Lake. There is an extremely ecclectic mix of characters in this book, but they all put together such an amazing puzzle. I absolutely love Devin. She is a young girl wise beyond her years. And I really liked Lisette. The ones who don’t speak sometimes leave you with the most.

While this book is magical, it is also very sad at parts, but also very hopeful. I always have so much respect for an author who can reach so many emotions at once and make you think so deeply about the hand we are dealt in life and what we make of it.

I give Lost Lake 4 out of 5 bookmarks and highly suggest it to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction. I also think that I will look for more of Allen’s books next time I am struggling with finding something to read. In most reviews I read for Lost Lake, readers have mentioned her other works and how much they were enjoyed.

I read this book as the March selection on SheReads.org. Head over to the website to see what other reviewers are saying about Lost Lake. You can also get a sneak peek into Allen’s writing space and a yummy recipe to go along with the book.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: January 2014
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: Love, Water, Memory

love water memoryFrom Goodreads:
If you could do it all over again, would you still choose him?

At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is. Her memory loss is caused by an emotional trauma she knows nothing about, and only when handsome, quiet Grady Goodall arrives at the hospital does she learn she has a home, a career, and a wedding just two months away. What went wrong? Grady seems to care for her, but Lucie is no more sure of him than she is of anything. As she collects the clues of her past self, she unlocks the mystery of what happened to her. The painful secrets she uncovers could hold the key to her future—if she trusts her heart enough to guide her.

My Thoughts:
Can you imagine finding yourself with water rushing around you and not knowing how you got there? What a strong way to start a book.

Lucie is quite an interesting character. This is the second book I’ve read recently where you had a bad girl lose her memory and turn good. I would like to do a little research on this to determine if  this is common, or if it’s just a trend in writing. It’s funny how I tend to pick books at random and they have similar themes. Does anyone else run into this??

The thing I found most interesting about this book was that Lucie was the one who lost her memory and had so much re-learning to do, but how Grady had just as much growth in the book as Lucie did. I was expecting this book to be about her regaining her footsteps, not as much about him, but it was a welcome and unexpected surprise.

Along with Grady, some of the other characters in this book are very memorable, like Lucie’s aunt who tries to help give Lucie her memories back, along with the neighbors, who once despised Lucie, but now she becomes friends with. And don’t forget the cast of Grady’s siblings who play a minor role, but are obviously a big part of his life and his growth.

I thought this book started strong, but it was a bumpy ride for me. There were parts of it that I couldn’t get through quick enough, and there were other parts that I wanted to read more about. I loved when Lucie’s history unveiled itself and watching her grow, but her relationship with Grady wore on me. Granted, I can’t imagine my husband or myself losing our memories and how it would impact our relationship, but I just couldn’t get on board with it. I wanted them to be happy together, but I wasn’t so sure they were happy together before the memory loss happened…. so should they really be together? I’ll leave that up to you to decide when you read it.

I give Love, Water, Memory 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: January 14, 2014
Author Website
More on SheReads.org

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis Best of 2013

Wow! Today’s the day. The last day of the year. Where did the time go? I fee like when I was a kid, time passed at a snail’s pace. Summer never got here fast enough, it took forever for basketball season to start, the dance was always so far away. But now, that I’m adult and look back and wish I cherished that time more, the time is flying before my eyes.

This year was a big year for me in the term of books. This year I actually followed through with a few of my reading goals from last year. I didn’t set a number goal for this year, but I did get through 76 books. I’m pretty proud of that number. I never count until the end of the year, and honestly, am horrible at guessing, so it’s always a surprise.

This year, especially toward the end of the year, I did a lot better with reading books off NetGalley. This is also in part to another goal: being more picky and choosy about my review books. For several years I felt obligated to read every single book that came into my inbox. I still get several of my books that way and always give an extra credit to those who have found me and taken the time to email me. But, like everything else in life, some books just aren’t meant for some people.

One thing I did, unintentionally, this year, was to expand in genres. This year I read about art, travel, countries I had to look up on a map, history, ghosts, teens, murder and mystery. I even read a chick lit book with the main character being a man. Who would have ever thought? I would never have imagined reading so many different genres and actually enjoying them. I give a lot of that credit to SheReads.org. They have opened my eyes when it comes to reading. There are several books that are on my favorite list this year that came from their recommendation. And they are books I would not have picked up without them.

One thing I super slacked on this year was cleaning off my TBR shelf. But hey, two outta three aint bad… right? I did add a few to my shelf, like The Great Gatsby. One of these days, I may not want to review books anymore (lol just kitten with ya)… but I may need to fall back on my shelf. And when I do, I’ll have months of reading before needing to restock.

So, you’re here for my favorite books of 2013. Hold on for this one. We are all over the place!

Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain: I listened to this book on audio book and fell in love. There are several in this series, and I missed the first few, but there were definite “Oh sh!t” moments in this book. You know it’s good when you are texting people tell them they HAVE to get to the library immediately to check this one out.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks: Do I really have to explain this one? What put this one on the list, other than my love for NS, was the fact that I felt this book was completely different than his others. Yes, you have a little love story, but this was deep and dark compared to my other loves of his.

Hysteria by Megan Miranda: This. Book. Was. Crazy. Enough. Said.

The Boy from Reactor Four by Orest Stelmach: I denied this book when it first came in. Then I had an opening and thought, ‘What the heck’. Boy am I glad for that opening. Totally not what I would consider up my alley, but this book blew me away and led to me doing quite a bit of research, which if you can get me to do historical research, you deserve a prize!

The Sixth Station by Linda Stasi: Why not throw a religious mystery into the mix. Is your head spinning yet? This book blew me away. You don’t have to be “into” religion to like this book. It’s a fast paced thrilled that keeps you on your toes from start to finish. And the research done to make this book come together. Very commendable.

The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb: When I reviewed this book back in April I said it was going to be on my favorite list for this year, and here it is. Oh and this was another audio book. I really nailed it at the library this year. From the cover to the story. I loved its intensity.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: I think this is an absolute, must read for this year. Amazing story weaving the past with the present, fiction and reality.

Shadowlands by Kate Brian: We all know I’m a fangirl of Kate Brian. Have been since my husband bought my a random book from the Private series. This book had been hooked from the summary. And will keep you hooked until the very last period. Then infuriate you that you have to wait until you can get your hands on the next book. I didn’t love the second book in this series as much, but Shadowlands was top notch.

Oh and you are probably wanting to know what my FAVORITE  book of 2013 was, right? Drumroll please….. Here we go!

calling-me-home-197x300

Julie Kibler set the bar so high for me back in February, there was no chance anyone could get close to topping this one for me. I am still gushing about it 10 months later. From the Kentucky setting of this book, to a story that is told through the past and the present, to the characters who jump from the pages, straight to your heart, Kibler nailed it with Calling Me Home. And what I love most about this, is that I have seen that I am not the only one who made this the top read of 2013. I even had a former teacher, who shares a love for reading, have my mom ask me about this book because she had to share it with someone. Kudos to SheReads.org for an amazing pick and Julie Kibler for the homerun!

What were your top reads of 2013??? Let me know if you have posted them so I can make sure I add them to my TBR!

Happy Reading in 2014!

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: And Then I Found You

and then i found y ouFrom Goodreads.com:
Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices.

She’s made them before. Now it’s time to do it again.

Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. And she’s getting on with her life.  Her business is thriving. She has a strong relationship with her family, and a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. If Kate had ever made a list, Rowan would fill the imagined boxes of a perfect mate. But she wants more than the perfect on paper relationship; she wants a real and imperfect love. That’s why, when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan’s drawer, she panics.

It always happens this way. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she’s filled with dread. And she wants more than anything to make this feeling go away. But how?

When the mistakes have been made and the running is over, it’s time to face the truth. Kate knows this. She understands that a woman can never undo what can never be undone. Yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past. It’s time to act.

Can she do it? Can she travel to the place where it all began, to the one who shares her secret? Can the lost ever become found?

And Then I Found You gives new life to the phrase “inspired by a true story.” By travelling back to a painful time in her own family’s history, the author explores the limits of courage, and the price of a selfless act.

My Thoughts:

Before getting into this book, you have to read the note from Patti Callahan Henry at the beginning. Sometimes I read these, sometimes I skim them, and sometimes all I want to do is get immersed in another life and skip it completely. For some reason I read this one and learned that this book is near and dear to Patti and her sister because Patti has taken some real life events and woven them into a beautiful story. I will leave this vague and say there is an adoption in the book and part of the plot hinges on it. There’s not much more else I can say without being a spoil sport, but there is more you can read about it. While doing some research for this review, I found that Patti and her sister Barbi have co-written another book, a kind of behind the scenes of this one if you will, a story behind the story. It’s called Friend Request, and  you can get it for 99 cents.

As I said above, there’s not a lot you can tell about this story without giving it away. But what I can say is that once you start, you don’t want to stop. Normally the times I get so involved in books that I am using every last second of my lunch hour are when I just can’t wait to finish it and I know there’s going to be some be climatic scene at the end. I found this very early on in And Then I Found You and within the second day, I was almost in tears at the lunch table while reading and hoping that time would stop so I could keep going.

The summary above mentioned a Rowan as a love interest of Kate’s, but I’ll spill the beans and say there is another one. His name is Jack. There are several times through this book that I wanted to smack Jack and Kate. Like. Several. But at the same time I loved them. This is a story bringing the past and present together, a long lost love reunited. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think about Noah and Allie from The Notebook. Yes, I went there. I saw a lot of similarities in their stories and applaud Patti Callahan Henry because I’ve never read a love story like a Nicholas Sparks love story and she is the closest I’ve ever come across.

I give And Then I Found You 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

This was another great pick by SheReads.org. Head over there to check out some other reviews for And Then I Found You and sign up to win a copy.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Release: April 9, 2013
Author Website

PostHeaderIcon AnnAlysis: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

the silence of bonaventure arrowFrom Goodreads.com:
Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows Bonaventure’s silence is filled with resonance – a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house oh Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.

Bonaventure’s remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mere Letice, plagued by grief and long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.

My Thoughts:
This book is the March selection for SheReads.org. This is my third month with the online book club. I’ve loved the books I’ve read with them so far, but I wasn’t as sure about this one when I started. It sounded good, but it didn’t sound like one that I would be head over heels for.

There were some things that I really liked about this book. Leganski did an amazing job of speaking for a child who does not speak. When Bonaventure was having conversations with his dead father, we heard this thoughts, but for the rest of his story, we just heard a description of what he heard, and his signing. Who would have ever thought that a silent character could have such a strong role in a book? It proves that in some books, you don’t need dialouge to drive it home. Leganski is an amazing story teller and this book proves it.

But it wasn’t easy for me to get through this book. It took me eight days to get through it, which is a very long time for me. I think that there were times that it was so descriptive, I got lost, caught up in what was going on in the book, and listening for sounds that I knew only Bonvanture could hear. I started thinking about colors and what they would sound like if I could hear them. I loved that this book reminded me to stop and listen.

I really loved Bonaventure’s character. While the others will leave a mark on you, the young boy makes you want to be a better person. Stop and smell the roses. Listen to the wind and trees. And love. This young boy, so different from others in his class and life, is so full of love. He has such a strong relationship with both of his parents, even if one isn’t physically here. And he wants the best for them and for them to be happy, even if it means he has to do something that doesn’t make him comfortable.

This book reminded me a lot of the style of The Lovely Bones and I think, done the right way, it could be a very interesting movie.

I give The Silence of Bonvanture Arrow 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

Amazon B&N Goodreads
Released: February 26, 2013

Make sure to check out SheReads.org and other reviews on this book, along with the monthly chat. And follow #SRBlog on Twitter for updates!

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