Monique's Reviews > Garden Spells

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
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's review
Jul 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, chicklit, fiction, romance, young-adult, magic-realism
Read from July 15 to 18, 2012 — I own a copy

Original post here.

Garden Spells is easily one of the best feel-good YA books that I've read of late. I loved the element of magic, most especially, and was pleasantly surprised when I found I couldn't put the book down until I was done with it.

The entire time I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think about the 1998 film Practical Magic starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, who also played sisters in the movie. Just as Sally and Gillian Owens were diametrical opposites in Practical Magic, so were Claire and Sydney in Garden Spells. There is also the ever-present elder aunt/cousin/relative to help the sisters out once in a while: in the movie, there were Aunts Frances and Bridget; in the book, there was Evanelle, whose gift of anticipation, consisting in that uncontrollable urge to give someone something and completely not knowing what it was for, I most certainly wished I had.

There are a number of things that appealed to me about this book. I loved the relationship between Claire and Sydney: admittedly, they spent a good chunk of their time growing up apart, and were only thrown together – reconciliation to come a bit later – by circumstances and people. But I liked how they took their time with each other, supported one another in the most touching and hilarious ways, and eventually, bonded. As I said before, I also loved the element of magic – I've always been fascinated with magical powers and spells and witchcraft (but not to the extent of actually dabbling in or experimenting with it, no), and I enjoyed how, in this book, flowers and herbs and garden things added more fun to the mix. Of course, the pièce de résistance – the magical apple tree that seemed to have a mind of its own – was a delight in itself.

Look! Hyacinth bulbs and Lemon Balms are

I also loved the very real characters: sheltered and uptight Claire, free-spirited Sydney, headstrong Bay, yummy steadfast Tyler, shy Henry, quirky Evanelle, and even sex-driven Emma, whose only fault was that she was constantly listening to her mother, who might as well have been pimping her own daughter by constantly doling out seduction advice (duh?). At this point, I note how most of the families or clans mentioned in the book had their own special “thing” - the Waverleys had their magic, the Clark women are seductresses and proud of it, and the Hopkins men gravitate towards older women and prefer them as partners. It suddenly made me think what my family's special thing is. Hee. :P

And yes, the love story/romance angle. The part where I had warm, fuzzy feelings, especially when I was reading about Tyler. Who cares if I'm in my 30s, married and with a kid? Fuzzy feelings translate to happy, and I'm happy, so fuzzy feelings, come on over and fill me full. :P

This is my first Sarah Addison Allen, and it will definitely not be the last. As far as YA books go, this is another one that suits my tastes perfectly.
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Reading Progress

07/16/2012 page 20
7.0% "... what meat did you serve with magic wine?"
07/17/2012 page 77
27.0% "The book is reminiscent of the old movie, Practical Magic which starred Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Except that the sisters in the movie actually like each other. :D"
07/18/2012 page 147
51.0% "Evanelle's gift of anticipation. I'd love to have it, especially on a day that starts out sunny and becomes wet with rain by mid-afternoon, or when that regular visitor arrives way too early. :))"

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Tina Ah I love this book, even if reading it made me hungry. :D I'm glad you liked it too.

I think with the other SAA books, Sugar Queen is a second favorite. But I love the title of The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I've yet to read Peach Keeper, but since I consider her books comfort reads, I'll have to wait until I get into that kind of reading mood. :)

Monique I already have Sugar Queen in my shelf. I saw Peach Keeper at NBS today, but it's MMP so I'll have to wait until I can get a TP. Or maybe just buy it off Amazon when I get impatient. :P

Angie Love SAA books. LOVE them. The Sugar Queen was my fave for a long time. But then The Peach Keeper came along and it's just perfect.

To clarify, they're not YA. YA-friendly, perhaps. But definitely pubbed adult.

Monique ANGIE: Thanks for the clarification. I associated it with YA because our book club members who have read it are mostly YA readers. :)

Angie Monique, oh that's interesting. I've often wondered how her books would go over with primarily YA readers. They are such comfort reads for me.

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