~First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen~ “No matter how hard you try, you can’t make someone love you. You can’t stop them from making the wrong decision. There was no magic for that.” “It had taken her a long time to realize that a prison sometimes isn’t a person at all. Sometimes it’s simply a door you assume is locked because you’ve never tried to open it.” “The right men make all the difference in the world. But the wrong men do, too.” “Maybe you don’t have to be lead into the future. Maybe you can pick your own path. Maybe you don’t fall in love. Maybe you jump. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all a choice.” First Frost is a delightful read. As with all of Sarah Addison Allen’s books, this story is infused with a bit of magic. This novel is a sequel to Garden Spells, but can be read as a stand-alone.
Each of the Waverley women has a unique talent. Sydney can do magic with your hair, giving her clients a “do” that does much more than empower them. While a good haircut can work wonders, Sydney’s are extra special. Claire has a special talent for cooking. Her candies are becoming famous, the special ingredients promoting happiness and well-being. Bay, Sydney’s daughter, has the gift of knowing where things belong. For instance, she knows that a certain boy belongs with her, but he is not receptive to that idea.
All of the Waverley women get agitated and tense while waiting for the first frost, the only time the apple tree in the backyard blooms. The anticipation of the season’s changing stirs them up.
This book is satisfying and sweet. Sarah Addison Allen’s storytelling is beautiful and unique.
I especially enjoyed the idea of an over protective apple tree that throws fruit at the suitors and husbands of the Waverley women.
Sarah Addison Allen’s stories are unusual, having that special something, and so easy to fall into. Her novels have never failed to capture my interest.
~Pretty is As Pretty Dies by Elizabeth Spann Craig~
Myrtle Clover loves to solve mysteries when her son, the police chief, isn’t getting in her way. The retired schoolteacher, an octogenarian, considers herself to be a clever sleuth, and can’t pass up mysteries even when she’s been warned off. This is the first book in the Myrtle Clover cozy mystery series. In this book, Parke Stockard, a local realtor who is not at all well liked in the community, has suffered a fatal blow at the church altar while tampering with the flowers. I read these cozy mysteries out of order, but it wasn’t difficult to go back and fill in with the ones I missed. The main character is full of spunk and attitude. All the supporting characters are just as enjoyable to read about. These cozies make me chuckle. I get a kick out of Myrtle showing displeasure with her police chief son by putting out garden gnomes. The neighbors can tell how irritated she is with him by how many gnomes decorate the lawn. In fact, it’s quite common for her yard guy to be unable to cut the grass due to a plethora of garden gnomes, so he has to weed eat around them.
If you’re looking for a good cozy, I recommend this series.
~The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls ~
12-year-old Bean and her older sister Liz are abandoned by their mother and, left to their own devices, decide to go to search out their Uncle Tinsley, lifelong resident of a small town in Virginia. This is the first time the girls have met their uncle, who turns out to be a bit of a recluse and eccentric to boot. Having nowhere else to turn, they end up staying in the dilapidated mansion that has been in the family for generations. The setting and the storytelling is authentic to the 1970s.
Bean is smart and funny, and a thoroughly enjoyable character. I do tend to like coming-of-age stories. This audiobook was read by Jeannette Walls herself and I always enjoy listening to an author read their own work. I thought this was a good weekend read.
~Like A Watered Garden by Patti Hill~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I know I say this too often, but this book really is one of my favorites. This is an inspirational Christian read. It was published in 2005, but remains at the top of my personal list of best loved Christian inspirational novels. Mibby has lost her husband and is trying to find her footing. This isn’t an easy thing to do, especially with the twists and turns in her story. She’s working to get her small business of designing gardens going while at the same time raising her 13-year-old son on her own. Mibby’s a real woman. She has a pear shaped figure and uncooperative hair. She has a next-door neighbor who dispenses comfort with words of wisdom and sugary home-baked goods. She kind of reminds me of some people I know. It makes me wish for the company of a good friend. I love all the characters in this book.
I don’t generally like characters that cry, but Mibby gets a pass because the scenes are so well done. Her crying fits are honest. None of that fake stuff here. I love a character who finds comfort in prayer, sugar laden snacks, and in the occasional indulgence of a good ugly cry.
It isn’t a fast, action-packed book, but I liked the flow. The pacing seems perfect to me for this kind of book. Is it strange that I find a story about grief comforting even from the beginning? This is the first book in a three-part series and I would like it very much if Patti Hill would write some more of Mibby’s story.🙂
~The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“We read to know we are not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.”
This is one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to tell someone about it.. The book is a beautiful story about second chances, life, and love. Recently widowed AJ owns a bookstore on Alice Island. He is drowning in grief and isolates himself more and more. Then something happens to change his life. I was touched by the novel. It reminds us that life is full of the good and the bad. “In the end, we are collected works. He has read enough to know there are no collections we are each story is perfect. Some hits. Some misses. If you’re lucky, a stand out.”
There’s no magic in this novel, but somehow to me it felt magical.
The book contains some language, tragedy, and a bit of misbehavior, but it is a beautiful and life-affirming work. I find myself quite enamored with it. I suspect that if you are a book lover you would enjoy this one. It makes me want to go visit a bookshop.
~Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When Charlotte’s husband dies, she sells out and moves out, lock stock and barrel. An advertisement for a spot in paradise arrives. Paradise Trailer Park, that is. She buys a double wide trailer, packs her car, and takes off, bringing along a stray dog that has adopted her. When she arrives, however, her purchase is not exactly what she expects. I think this may be my favorite book in the Bright Pond series. Joyce Magnin can weave a tale. The characters stayed with me long after I finished reading. The story is a mix of humor and serious issues, with a positive takeaway message. This is one of the books I label as worth re-reading. ‘sFiction
~Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A beautiful coming of age story. Alice’s father has been deployed to Iraq and she misses him terribly. This story unveils all the emotions, following the lives and struggles of one family as they wait for their loved one to return. This novel had some odd point of view shifts, but is so heart tugging I still recommend it. You are going to cry. I feel like crying just thinking about this book!
~Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate~ Lisa Wingate delivers. This book wrecked my productivity. Once I started I had to finish it. The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was a real organization that removed and sometimes even kidnapped children from poor families and sold the children to wealthy families wanting to adopt.
Twelve year old Rill is the eldest of five, and the siblings are taken away against their will to a boarding house of horrors while waiting to be placed. Rill knows her parents would never give them away. The story alternates between 1939, Rill’s story, and present day when Avery narrates as she unravels the past mystery of deep family secrets.
I had heard about the Tennessee Children’s Home before, but I didn’t realize the extent of the abuse. I was holding my breath hoping for Rill to get away. This one may end up being my favorite Lisa Wingate novel. It is definitely on my list.
This book will make you hate Georgia Tann, the woman who ran the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. I don’t think I can read another story about her for a while.
~The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I finally got around to reading The Feathered Bone. I love the descriptions of New Orleans and its unique culture. Once I started, I didn’t take long to read this book. It was an emotional read. A few twists in the story surprised me and kept me reading. I will definitely be reading more books by Julie Cantrell. If you like Christian fiction or fiction with a strong theme of redemption this might be a book for you.