I'm such a sucker for a gorgeous book cover! Over the course of 2011, I've heard several times from those also doing the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge that Sarah Addison Allen was an author to check out! I've had her debut novel, Garden Spells, on my radar for a while now and finally settled down just before Christmas to read it. After whizzing through it in two days, I then followed it up with her second novel, The Sugar Queen. Her style is very similar to Alice Hoffman and Garden Spells is reminiscent of Hoffman's Practical Magic.
Garden Spells opens on the house of Claire Waverly. The Waverly family has always been special. The townspeople have sought potions from their garden to help them with life and love. Claire owns a catering business and has a special talent of making just the right food to make what her client's desires come true. Her distant elderly cousin, Evanelle, has the gift of anticipation. Evanelle is always giving people things she knows they will need down the road. When Claire's estranged sister Sydney returns to town with her 5 year old daughter Bay, Claire's life is turned upside down. What magic will happen when the Waverly women reunite?
In The Sugar Queen, 27 year old Josey is trapped. She lives with her elderly mother as her glorified errand girl, and she seeks comfort in her treasure trove of sweets, travel magazines, and romance novels she keeps in a secret room attached to her closet. When Della Lee, a tough talking hard living waitress, takes refuge in her closet, Josey's life starts changing. Is it for the better?
Both novels have similar plot lines---stifled heroine's life is up heaved when a mysterious person enters her life. Both novels have love (and a wee bit o' sex), a violent ex-husband or boyfriend, and supernatural forces at work. Both novels are also pleasant, mindless reads. After all the heavy reading I've done this year, it's nice to end December on a fluffy, cotton candy like note. If you need a pleasant book to tuck you in at night, Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen fit the bill.