I don't have a biological sister, so I don't know how it feels to have one (I do have a very awesome sister-in-law, but...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I don't have a biological sister, so I don't know how it feels to have one (I do have a very awesome sister-in-law, but that's for another post), so I often live vicariously with books with sisters. When I first heard of The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and Juneby Robin Benway, I wanted to read it not only because I really enjoyed her other novel, Audrey, Wait!, but because of the magic realism and the sisterhood angle. I figure it's a fun novel with all those elements, right?
Sisters April, May and June share more than a last name -- on their first day of school in a new town, the three sisters discover that they have some kind of powers: April can predict the future, May can disappear and June can read everyone's minds. They all freak out on their own terms when they discovered this, but they have to pull themselves together when April gets a vision of a disaster that she doesn't know how to stop. But with their constant bickering and wishes and selfishness, will they be able to do that?
I was looking for fun, and yes, I wasn't disappointed! I really liked The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and Junewith all its cute quirks. The three-person narration was interesting, and I was glad to see that the voices of the characters were totally different and easily distinguishable. I saw a bit of myself in each of the sisters, but mostly in April because even if I am the youngest in the family, I tend to have that "mother hen" instinct for people I care for. I kind of liked June the least, but she did kind of win me over in the end. I liked their sister dynamics, and I bet that if I had a sister close to my age, we would probably bicker like that.
However, there seemed to be too much bickering in some of the parts that it made me a bit exhausted. I kind of missed the wit and lines that was in Audrey, Wait!, and instead, there was more dialogue of bickering rather than descriptions of scenes. I guess it's part of having three narrators, but reading the fighting and arguments and doors slamming for several pages was just kind of tiring to read.
But I really did like how the sisterhood "magic" factored in the story. I liked the brief idea of a history behind their powers (and I wished it was explored more!), and I liked how despite there were some romance in the story, it didn't take the spotlight (that much, anyway) over April, May and June's relationship as sisters. The ending was just right, and it made me shed a few tears when things finally went down.
I liked this book. Maybe not as much as Robin Benway's debut, but I like this enough to watch out for her other books and put her in my contemporary YA to-read list. If you're looking for a feel-good, quick-read book with a lot of heart, or if you have sisters, then I hope you will enjoy The Extraordinary Secrets of April May and Juneas much as I did. :)(less)
I've heard so many good things about Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, but it took me a while before I acquired it...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've heard so many good things about Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, but it took me a while before I acquired it and even some more time before I decided to read it. Every now and then, there's a book that comes along and takes you in and makes you comfortable with every page. They're those books that you just sink into effortlessly, almost like it was an old friend welcoming you with warm food after a long day's travel. I am very, very glad to say that Garden Spells is one of them. :)
Claire Waverley has lived alone for a long time now, choosing to stay in the Waverley house, running her catering business that offers the strangest but life-altering delicacies. Being a Waverley, Claire possesses a kind of magic that is unique to her: she can cook food from their garden that can shape the minds and moods of people who eat them. Claire is content with living alone and is not in any hurry to relinquish control over her routines until her wild and rebellious sister Sydney comes home with her daughter. Claire's quiet life is turned upside down as she deals with her sister's homecoming, and she tries desperately to stay in control even if she's afraid of the changes this would bring in her life.
Garden Spells, in a word, is lovely. This book reminds me of Marisa de los Santos' books, Love Walked In and Belong to Me, both of which I loved. The prose is lyrical but never flowery, the characters quirky but never too much that they'd be annoying or forced. I love that all characters had something going on with them -- even the apple tree had a personality. Just like Waverley magic, there's something really magical about this book, just enough that you wouldn't question the people's abilities or the things they believed in the little town of Bascom. Granted, there isn't anything that surprising with regards to the book's plot, but there's just a certain charm in this book that would stop you from caring too much. It's like you want to live with them there. This book should also not be read while hungry because all the descriptions of food made me hungrier! It makes me wonder if there is some truth in the life-altering food that Claire makes. Maybe if I put candied violets in my cake...? Haha, right. I can dream.
It's not often I let out a contented sigh at the end of a book, but this got one out of me. Sigh. If all of Sarah Addison Allen's books are as yummy and as magical as Garden Spells, then consider me a fan. I can't wait to get my hands on her other books. :)(less)
I read and enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells a few months ago and ever since then, I've had her other books on my wish list. I've seen some of them around, but never The Sugar Queen. I know friends have seen copies of this everywhere, but it remains elusive. So I figured, if other people can see it more than I do, then they can probably get it for me for Christmas right? Imagine my delight when Monique sent me this book as a Kindle gift. Squee! Thank you! :) I wasn't planning to read this anytime soon, but Chachic's Christmas Reads post got me craving for something Christmas-y. Unfortunately, I don't have a book that specifically fits the season, unlike last year when I had Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. The next best thing was to look for books that had the closest atmosphere to Christmas and wouldn't be so taxing to the mind. And that brought me back to my first Kindle gift, The Sugar Queen.
Josey Cirrini had always lived in the shadow of her mother, because she felt the need to repay her for all the grief she had put her mother up to when she was a kid. Now at twenty seven, she lives at home, answers to the beck and call of her mom, eats her secret stash of sweets and reads romance novels in the privacy of her bedroom closet. Until one night, she finds Della Lee hiding inside her closet, threatening her of blackmail of the contents of her closet if Josey didn't do what she asked. Della urges Josey to befriend Chloe Finley, a young woman who just came from a break-up with her boyfriend Jake, who also happens to be the best friend of Josey's crush, mailman Adam. Josey's world opens up and she discovers things about herself and her surroundings that she never knew, and also builds a friendship and a romance she never expected. Della's work is now done, but it wasn't long before Josey finds out the real reason why the older woman was hiding in her closet.
Now there is really something about Sarah Addison Allen novels that is just so comforting. It's like she brings magical realism into real life, and it makes me want to believe that the things happening in her books were real.
Like Clare in Garden Spells, Josey tends to keep by herself, but this time not because of her routine, but because she felt that she needed to be good after all the embarrassment she made her mom go through. Josey was kind of a tough character to like, but that's mostly because I'm don't think I have too much in common with her. But then, I also think Josey's mom is a tougher nut to crack. I really didn't like her especially with how she puts her daughter down if only to keep Josey home to order around. However, it was fairly easy to like Della and Chloe. Della was a bit of an oddball, but I liked how random she seemed to the point of nonsense but ends up making sense in the end. Chloe is my favorite character, though, if only for her special "ability". No, it's not sandwich making (although from the descriptions, she seemed to make very good sandwiches), but how books tend to follow her everywhere. Imagine how a book would just magically appear to you whenever you need it, depending on how you feel? The bookworm in me (which is really...well, me) would be delighted with that kind of magic -- maybe I should choose that as my superpower instead? But other than that, Chloe was also a strong character and a perfect complement to Josey.
I liked how the relationships of the people unfolded out here. Josey's friendship with Chloe and Della, Josey's relationship with her mom, Chloe and Jake's romance and Josey and Adam's. While I wasn't a fan of what Jake did, I really couldn't think of any other way for his relationship with Chloe would go. I'm no judge of course, but I don't know what I'd do if I were in Chloe's place. On the other hand, I loved Josey and Adam's banter. I loved the uncertainty, the push and the pull, the smiles. I was positively thrilled when someone finally made a move, and how natural the progression of their relationship felt.
The ending kind of took me by surprise, but it wasn't entirely unpredictable. The ending provided a good tug at the heartstrings, though, which I think is the perfectly sweet way to end this book. While The Sugar Queen didn't have that same magical feel that Garden Spells had, I thought it was still a very good and comforting -- and yes, Christmas-y -- read. I'm really glad that I have Sarah Addison Allen's next book on my TBR because I think I already know what to read the next time I need something comfortable and easy and magical. :) (less)
The Girl Who Chased the Moon is my third Sarah Addison Allen book, and I must admit that I was pretty excited to read t...moreOriginal post at One More Page
The Girl Who Chased the Moon is my third Sarah Addison Allen book, and I must admit that I was pretty excited to read this book mostly because I like the title and the UK cover. Of all covers, I think this one had the most magical feel to it -- even the text on the cover affirms it: Discover a place where magic lights up the dark. How pretty, right?
Emily Benedict moves to Mullaby, North Carolina to join her grandfather Vance Shelby, after her mother dies. Besides not having a place to live anymore, she also longs to solve the mystery surrounding her mother and her past, and she figures the best place to find it was where her mother grew up. But what she comes home to surprises her, on top of the other mysterious things in town: the darting lights she sees behind the house, the changing wallpaper in her room, and just why everyone has an opinion of Emily and her mom when she knows nothing. Next door, there's Julia, who spends her time counting the days till she can leave the town and baking cakes to call someone, until someone unexpected (and unwanted) comes to her instead. Julia befriends Emily in hopes of shielding her from the repercussions of her mother's past, but there are just some things that Emily has to find out for herself.
As usual, there's a certain comfort in getting lost in a Sarah Addison Allen novel, one that makes me just want to keep reading and keep getting lost. There's a little bit more heartbreak and sadness in this book, though, but not so much that it makes it a sad novel all in all. I just found that there seemed to be a little bit more characters with serious issues in this book compared to the ones in the previous books. The magic stuff didn't come from the two female leads, too, but more in the place and the people around them.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon read a bit like a fairy tale, and this fact was emphasized up to the end. I liked the dynamics of the characters with one another, how one avoided the other with all her might but couldn't, and how one chased the other but had to stop because of old issues. I thought there was more romance in this book too, and even one that kind of borders on a paranormal romance type with the secrets and the secret bedroom visits. It's not as bad as it sounds like for those who don't like paranormal romance -- it's actually okay, although that wasn't my favorite pairing in this book. I guessed the huge family secret chapters before it was finally revealed, so the surprise factor wasn't there anymore, but it unfolded pretty nicely and SAA painted a pretty sweet picture of a happy ending for them that I couldn't help but forgive those nitpicks after. I do love that there's talk of cake in this book. I love baking, even if I can't bake a cake yet to save my life. The significance of the cake and the sugar and all the sweet things made me yearn to not just eat one but make one. Someday, I will make a double layer cake successfully.
Compared to Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen though, this didn't feel as magical despite its whimsical title. Garden Spells still feels the most magical, and I thought The Sugar Queen explored the friendships of the characters better. The Girl Who Chased the Moon kind of scratched the surface on those ends, but I think it did pretty well with town secrets and finding forgiveness from each other and from the past. Overall, while it's not my favorite SAA, I still think it's a good read. :)
Just recently, some girl friends from the book club and I started having our own girls' night out. They're usually jus...moreOriginal post from One More Page
Just recently, some girl friends from the book club and I started having our own girls' night out. They're usually just dinner and some drinks, and a night of girl talk, which isn't really different when we're with the other boys except that we get to talk about the boys sometimes because none of them are there when we're on a night out. :P Anyway, it's becoming one of those sort of impromptu things that I'm really starting to like, because a girl must always have time for her girl friends, right?
I remember that I actually finished reading Sarah Addison Allen's The Peach Keeperon the afternoon before our first girls' night out last month. I find it quite fitting because The Peach Keeperis a story of two women who were friends from years ago and were fiercely loyal to each other, and their granddaughters who are not friends, but are drawn together because of a certain house history. There's romance, mystery and magic realism that makes SAA's fourth book just like her old ones, but also a little different, in a good way.
I've read mixed reviews about this book, so I wasn't really sure if I was going to like it as much as I liked Garden Spells or The Sugar Queen. There's still that comfort-read feel in this Sarah Addison Allen book, and the magic realism, as I mentioned, but the mystery is an entirely new thing. I felt that there was more going on in this book, so it took me a while to read it but then I fell in love with the characters and their stories soon after.
My favorite part of this book would have to be Paxton and Willa's "unlikely" friendship. I liked how each of them was described, with their own problems and faults, and how they ended up being on each other's side. I liked how this developed, how they weren't friends before even if they knew each other from way back and then they all became important in each other's lives later on. There's something about a well-written friendship that really gets to me, and I am reminded of the friendships that I have made now.
I find that I actually liked The Peach Keeperas much as I liked The Sugar Queen, which was my second favorite SAA book. I think I read it at the right time, just as I met (and had quite an adventure) with some of my favorite girls. It left me wanting to share this book to all my girl friends, and more than excited to build and keep my friendship with them. :) The author said it quite well:
Because we're connected, as women. It's like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there's trouble, we all know it. But most of the time, we're just too scared or selfish or insecure to help. But if we don't help each other, who will?
I feel a little sad that I have no more SAA books to read after this, but count me as one of her fans now. I will definitely read anything else she comes up with. :)(less)
Sarah Addison Allen is one of my go-to authors for comfort reads. I think everyone who’s ever read any of her books know this. There’s something about...moreSarah Addison Allen is one of my go-to authors for comfort reads. I think everyone who’s ever read any of her books know this. There’s something about her words, the magic realism in her novels that just hits the right spot. So I was very excited when Lost Lake came out, and I couldn’t wait to get lost in this new, magical world crafted by her SAA’s words.
A year after her husband’s death, Kate Pherris wakes up. Her mother-in-law, Cricket, plans to move her and her daughter Devin with her, but Kate didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. When Devin finds a postcard from her Kate’s Aunt Eby from Lost Lake, the mother and daughter drive off to Lost Lake. Eby Pim knew Lost Lake is going bankrupt, and with a heavy heart, she finally decides to sell it. When this news comes out, Eby’s old friends started coming back, to spend one last time in the lake. Eby thinks she made the right decision, but something doesn’t sit well with her. Lost Lake is a place where lost people find themselves, so what happens when they lose it?
I got lost in Lost Lake a few pages in, and I mean that in a good way. There’s the usual magic and beauty in this book. It’s not quite the same as Garden Spells, a bit more similar to The Girl Who Chased the Moon, but still unique in its own way. I really liked the setting. Most of my vacations by the water involve the beach - sun, sand and whatnot. Lakes aren’t too common here in the Philippines (at least, there’s not much of them that I know), so a lake vacation is interesting to me. I loved the old cabins, the lake that seemed like magic, and all the other memories that the cast of characters had in the lake. The history gave the place a lot more personality, and it was so nice to dip into all of it and see how much the place meant to everyone in Suley. I wanted to be there in Lost Lake, too, to witness the magic of the place first hand.
But in a way, I guess I was there, too. True to form, SAA’s words brought me there, too, and it was such a pleasure to be there. Reading this felt like a vacation, the one where I made new friends in the form of the characters in the story. I loved Eby and Kate and Devin, but the people who really shone here were the secondary characters - Lisette, Selma, Buhladeen (I love her name), Wes, the alligator. I loved them in their signature quirkiness, their whimsy and the little magic that they call carried in their own. The thing with SAA novels is that even if there is a little bit of magic, somehow you'd still believe that they were just normal, everyday things. That's what I love the most about magic realism - how magic is not new, and how it's all so subtle but it leaves a big mark in the character's lives.
Lost Lake was good, except maybe compared to the other SAA books, it had a little of a lost quality to it, too. I don't mean it in a bad way; perhaps there was just too many things to love that I couldn't really settle into any of them to love them fully. I suppose this isn't bad, but I had a lot of books for comparison and Lost Lake pales just a little bit in comparison to the others. If you're new to SAA and you want to dip your toes into her stories, then this may be a good one to start with, and then I would recommend you read her others, too, because trust me: it gets better from there.