Showing posts with label Kathleen Long. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathleen Long. Show all posts

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review: Changing Lanes by Kathleen Long

Abby Halladay has the perfect life. Or, rather, she will…as long as everything goes exactly according to plan. Abby never leaves anything to chance—not her job as a syndicated columnist, not her engagement to her fiancé, Fred, and certainly not her impending wedding in Paris (New Jersey, that is).

Unfortunately for Abby, even the best-laid plans often go awry—like when Fred runs away to Paris (France, that is), her column is canned, and her dream home is diagnosed with termites. Forced to move back in with her parents and drive her dad’s cab, Abby’s perfect life has now officially become the perfect disaster.

Then a funny thing happens. Slowly but surely, Abby begins letting go of her dreams of perfection. As she does, the messy, imperfect life she thought she never wanted starts to feel exactly like the one she needs.

Poignant and heartfelt, Changing Lanes celebrates the unexpected joys of everyday life—and the enduring promise of second chances.
In the book summary for Changing Lanes by Kathleen Long the female protagonist is presented as a woman whose 'perfect life' unravels all at once so that she must shift gears to accommodate all the changes that come along with the unraveling. The words perfect, imperfect, and planned life are prominently used in the summary. I wanted to know what this woman believed a perfect life would entail. Additionally, a few questions immediately popped up: what drives a person, in this case Abby, to plan the details of her life to the point that she doesn't know the people around her (her fiancé) let alone herself, so than when life's little surprises come along they indeed become disasters?

Abby Halladay is the type of woman who plans her life in minute detail and believes that being thought of as "predictable" is a compliment. Her life goes into a tailspin when she loses her job as a syndicated advice columnist and finds out that the beautiful Victorian home she's supposed to move into is riddled with termites. But as she arrives at her parents home in Paris, New Jersey where she'll be staying temporarily, Abby's life goes from disaster to catastrophe when her fiancé Fred calls to say that he is in Paris... France! The reason he gives for leaving two months before their planned wedding? He is. . . "bored!" This humiliating moment is magnified as it is witnessed by high school friend and next door neighbor, Mick O'Malley. Abby hasn't seen Mick since he left town years ago in disgrace right after a graduation party. Now Mick is back in town to care for his mother Detta.

Abby's family offers temporary solutions to her problems. A place to stay, a job driving her retired father's taxi cab, and 24 hours after getting dumped by Fred her mother begins inviting men to dinner so Abby can "move on with her life!" Abby is in denial, she doesn't want to drive a cab, nor does she want to move on. . . she wants to talk to Fred to find out if he will be back before the wedding! What? Why is she not angry with Fred? But Abby's family doesn't talk things out as a rule. It's a loving family that always kept masks firmly in place. Abby recognizes this, but she herself is very much a part of the family.

I couldn't understand certain aspects of Abby's rather frustrating personality. She plans everything and for her it is all about doing what is right, being nice and polite, and making sure everything falls into place in her life. Image is key to Abby. Even as the 30 year-old woman who returns to Paris, she won't take responsibility for a mistake if it damages her image. Kathleen Long takes her time with Abby's character growth so that even as this character takes steps forward, moments of doubts and lack of confidence return. Questions: Why does Abby refuse to see Fred's actions for what they are? Why is she still contemplating marriage when Fred returns from France?

It takes a village to help Abby change lanes. First, an encounter with Mick's mother Detta changes her perspective after they share a magical moment. Later, her family -- mother, father, sister, and grandmother -- all contribute to Abby's decisions about her future. As Abby begins to see her family members anew, she also begins to appreciate life's moments and discovers what she wants out of life. This is the bulk of the story with Abby driving the cab, helping her family and others around town see their own happy moments, and using Mick as a sounding board when needed. Question: Why does Abby go around town fixing other people's lives so easily and naturally when she can't figure out how to fix her own?

You wonder if there is a romance in this story? Well, yes and no. Mick and Abby reveal pieces of their lives to each other, but they leave much unsaid in between the lines. Their conversations are always left unfinished or end abruptly with either one or the other not saying what they really have to say. So, although there is a romance and a happy ending, it is not a satisfying one where the characters' feelings for each other are explored in-depth. On the other hand, although as a character Fred has little page time, his presence is felt from beginning to end and drives much of what happens in Abby's life. This off-page secondary character is well done. Question: Why doesn't Abby show her anger when she confronts Fred?

Despite the fact that Kathleen Long introduces some pretty heavy subjects as the core to Changing Lanes, she approaches this women's fiction story with humor and a light touch. It is a quick read and not heavy at all. As a matter of fact, in my opinion, the heavy subjects are treated with too light a touch and not enough substance. Were my questions answered? Some were, others were left unanswered.

Category: Women's Fiction
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Amazon Publishing/May 14, 2013
Source: ARC for review
Grade: C

Visit Kathleen Long here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hilcia's Weekly Reads + News

It's Sunday and a beautiful day! Hope you are having a good day too! My schedule is a bit more relaxed and not only did I read this past week, but I had the chance to visit a few of my favorite sites  and found a few interesting bits to share.

Weekly Reading:

My week began with A Family Affair by Mary Campisi. I thought this book might be a romance, but it turned out to be more contemporary fiction with a romance that develops in the middle of the whole angst-ridden storyline about a dysfunctional family. When Chrissy's father dies, she finds out that for fourteen years he had a second, secret family. Devastated, she keeps the information from her mother and goes to confront his father's long-time mistress only to find more than she expected. Campisi uses the dual narrative style, alternating between Chrissie and her Uncle Harry. There's a problem with finding sympathetic or unselfish characters in this story, and the romance felt as if it was tagged on quickly after much hostility between the couple. I would say there's much promise in the premise and some good elements to the story, but the execution doesn't live up that promise. Grade C-

Next I decided to check out Megan Hart's upcoming release, The Favor.

This book is due to release on June 25th, but once I had it in my hot little hands I read it immediately! Why? Well, it's Megan Hart and once begun, I couldn't put the book down but will post my review closer to the release date. I can give this much information to fans of this author as clarification -- so the book can be read with the correct expectations and won't end up disappointing. The Favor falls under the contemporary fiction or literary fiction category, this book is NOT an erotic or a traditional romance. Reading a book with the right mind-set always helps me.

I followed up by picking up the digital edition of When Love Comes to Town by Tom Lennon.This is a "vintage" young adult LGBT book set in Ireland in the 1990's. This coming-out story was initially released 20 years ago.  In many respects it is dated, but sadly, I found that it is also still very relevant. I read this story with both time and place in mind, which was not easy to do. Additionally, despite the title of the book which makes it seem as if it is a romance, I would say that this story falls more under the gay fiction with romantic elements category. I enjoyed it and will review it soon.

I also read Changing Lanes by Kathleen Long. Which did not signify that I really changed lanes in my choice of reading material at all since this book is also contemporary or women's fiction. There is a romantic thread that runs through the storyline but it is not the focus of the story. I love that Changing Lanes is set in a very recognizable New Jersey, but I'll tell you all about that in my review. This book releases May 14th.

But of course I didn't just read fiction the whole week! I also read poetry.

Throughout the week I picked up and slowly read Senegal Taxi by Juan Felipe Herrera, a small volume of poetry that is both political and raw in content. Herrera uses the voices of three children to focus his poetry on the suffering and horrors of war in Darfur. Reading Senegal Taxi was a heart-wrenching experience that has not loosened its grip on me yet. Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed California's 2012 Poet Laureate. Upcoming highlights.

Looking for The Gulf Motel by Richard Blanco
is the other poetry volume I chose to read last week. Blanco's uses a narrative style in this emotional biographical piece that touched and in some ways soothed me. I recognized and connected with many of his personal conflicts as the child of a loving, if tough and judgmental, immigrant Cuban family. I laughed in some places, but strongly felt his emotional anguish and nostalgia in others. This is a book I will definitely re-read. Richard Blanco just won The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Poetry. Upcoming highlights.

And, I concluded my week by reading the novelette “The Fountain” by G. David Nordley from Asimov's SF Magazine. My first encounter with Nordley's work turned out to be solid. I enjoyed the science fiction details in this piece, but most of all I really like the way Nordley portrays an alien race that is so different from humans, yet end up teaching humans a lesson or two about compassion. I was absorbed by this piece all the way to the end. Read Carl's detailed review at SF Signal here. Grade: B
Replacing Google Reader: I am experimenting with Feedly vs. The Old Reader to see which one works for me. So far, I'm loving Feedly's format. It was a snap to transfer information across devices, and I found that it updates RSS signals quicker than The Old Reader.

Editorial Post: If you haven't check it out yet, don't miss Wendy's post "Libraries, What Are They Good For?" at The Misadventures of Super Librarian. In her excellent post, Wendy tackles controversial reactions to digital lending by authors who see libraries as "The Problem."

SFF: The 2013 Aurora Award nominees have been announced by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. The awards will be presented at Can-Con ( in Ottawa, Oct 4 – 6, 2013. Check out the list here.  From the novels nominated on that list the only book I have in my TBR is The Silvered by Tanya Huff!

LGBT: Congratulations to Trebor Healey for winning the 2013 James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize and The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction

 for A Horse Named Sorrow (University of Wisconsin Press)

. I've dubbed this "Trebor Healey Week."

Looking forward to another great reading week!