First Book of 2015: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

first book 2015



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From the New York Times bestselling author of GARDEN SPELLS comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves…
It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly.  As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.
Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies.  Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.
Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.
Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before.  And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.
Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins. (from the publisher)
First Frost (1:20:15)
I waited to start reading this book until today. I’m so excited because it is a follow-up to Garden Spells – the first book I read by Sarah Addison Allen. I was an instant fan.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

lost lake

  • Title:  Lost Lake
  • Author:  Sarah Addison Allen
  • Genre:  Fiction; Magical Realism
  • Published:  January 2014 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago. One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it’s too late?  (publisher)

My take:  I really liked this story about Lost Lake and the people who’ve had a connection to it over the years. They are people who’ve saved or been saved, loved and lost. They help each other realize they can find the ending they’ve hoped for instead of changing the ending to something more practical.

In her usual way, Sarah Addison Allen weaves a magical thread through her story. This time its in the form of an alligator that leaves clues for Devin, the young daughter of Kate. Devin reminds her mother of the innocence and hopefulness of her own youth. Kate’s happiest memories of her time spent at Lost Lake. Could this be the place for Devin and Kate to begin a new life?

Lost Lake is filled with quirky characters who add color and subtle depth to the story. I enjoyed them all and wasn’t ready to say goodbye as I turned the last page. Recommended to fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Southern fiction with a touch of magical realism.

Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen

waking kate

  • Title:  Waking Kate
  • Author:  Sarah Addison Allen
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Short Story
  • Published:  December 2013 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Free download

Synopsis:  From the beloved author of Garden Spells, comes Waking Kate, a story about a woman who soon will face an unforseen change in her life. One sticky summer day as Kate is waiting for her husband to come home from his bicycle shop, she spots her distinguished neighbor returning from his last day of work after eighty-six years at Atlanta’s oldest men’s clothing store. Over a cup of butter coffee, he tells Kate a story of love and heartbreak that makes her remember her past, question her present, and wonder what the future will bring.

My take:  This short story from Sarah Addison Allen (one of my favorite authors) serves to whet the appetite for her forthcoming novel Lost Lake. And that it did! There is something about her writing that mesmerizes me. Her descriptions of setting and characters draw me in completely. I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Kate and her daughter in Lost Lake. I won’t have to wait long because it publishes in a few weeks. 

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Title:  The Peach Keeper

Author:  Sarah Addison Allen

Genre:  Magical Realism; Women’s Fiction

Published:  March 2011 – Bantam

About: (from the Goodreads synopsis) It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

My brief take:  Sarah Addison Allen serves up another feast for the senses in her latest book The Peach Keeper. The magical realism woven throughout the novel is what I like most in her books. Well, that and her characters. I really enjoyed Willa and Paxton’s path to friendship. They helped each other get past the expectations of others and started to live their own lives. The same held true for Paxton’s friend Sebastian as well as her brother Colin. They all learned that happiness meant taking risks. It’s a lovely story and I look forward to Sarah Addison Allen’s next book.

Fate never promises to tell you everything up front. You aren’t always shown the path in life you’re supposed to take. But if there was one thing she’d learned in the past few weeks, it was that sometimes, when you’re really lucky, you meet someone with a map.  p.242

Source:  Giveaway at Life in the Thumb (Thanks, Staci!)

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

About The Girl Who Chased the Moon

In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world…no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. For instance, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? Why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life.

Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth and in the hope of bringing back the love she fears she’s lost forever. In Julia, Emily may have found a link to her mother’s past. But why is everyone trying to discourage Emily’s growing relationship with the handsome and mysterious son of Mullaby’s most prominent family? Emily came to Mullaby to get answers, but all she’s found so far are more questions.

Is there really a ghost dancing in her backyard? Can a cake really bring back a lost love?

In this town of lovable misfits, maybe the right answer is the one that just feels…different.


* * * * * * *


My review: Sarah Addison Allen has worked her magic again. There’s an enchanting vibe to each of her novels yet I find them quite believable (ok, the apple tree in Garden Spells and the wallpaper in The Girl Who Chased The Moon are exceptions). You could call them modern fairy tales.

The Girl Who Chased The Moon has interesting characters. There’s Emily who, after her mother’s death, goes to live with Vance – her very tall grandfather – in Mullaby, North Carolina. He’s a bit odd but very nice. Emily finds that many of the people in Mullaby are a little on the quirky side and dealing with their own issues. One of those people is Win, a member of the most prominent family in town. Win’s uncle died because of Emily’s mother – at least that is the story he’s heard all his life. What is Win’s quirk? You’ll have to read the book.

Although it may seem like this is Emily’s story I think it is equally Julia’s. She is a neighbor to Emily and bakes cakes in hopes of attracting a certain person. She leaves the window in her kitchen open so the aroma will bring that person to her. There’s so much more to her story but I’ll just say I really enjoyed it.

Many other characters add to this sweet tale of hope and second chances. My only complaint is that it was too short. I wanted to keep reading about Emily, Vance, Win, Julia and all the people of Mullaby. This is one of those novels I just know I’ll read again.




About Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen is the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells andThe Sugar Queen. She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is currently at work on her next novel. You can visit Sarah Addison Allen’s website at: www.sarahaddisonallen.com.







Review copy from Random House and Pump Up Your Book

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

From the book jacket: Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…Until she finds her closet harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis – and two parts fairy godmother…
The Sugar Queen is Sarah Addison Allen’s second novel – following the bestselling Garden Spells. I found it to be as enchanting as the first. I hesitate to explain the plot as I think it takes away from the wonderful experience of reading the book for the first time. I borrowed it from the library but will probably buy when the trade pb is published. I was happy to read that the author’s next book will be out in 2009. I’m a fan.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

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From the back of the book: A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants – from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, distributes unexpected presents whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys – except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.
I really enjoyed this book. I read it this morning! Garden Spells deals with the issues of abandonment and learning to trust. The characters are endearing and interesting. I found the book impossible to put down once I began reading. Did I mention the magical apple tree??? This would be a good beach/vacation book. Go get it!