Tag Archives: Sarah Addison Allen

December Book Reviews

One of my personal goals for the year was to challenge myself to read 100 books. I KNOCKED IT OUT this last month, and reached my goal! It was harder than I thought to reach this goal, but felt pretty great accomplishing it. Without further ado, here is a review of each of the books I’ve read this past month!

“Girl Online: Going Solo” by Zoe Sugg was a clever and heartwarming wrap up to her Girl Online trilogy. It is a story of friendship, love, overcoming fears and obstacles and being true to yourself. I for one hope she comes out with more novels, even if they aren’t in this Girl Online universe. Her writing is light and airy yet deep. It’s hard to explain, but easy to read and enjoy.

“Bloom: Navigating Life and Style” by Estee Lalonde was a lovely novel. It follows Lalonde’s life, but also focuses on giving the reader the confidence to live the life perfect for them. The novel feels a lot like one of her YouTube videos, crafted and designed well, and full of funny moments, sad moments and honesty. Loved it!

“The Magnolia Story” by Chip Gaines was so incredibly interesting. I imagine it would be more interesting for fans of their show ‘Fixer Upper’ on HGTV (which I am) but I think it would also appeal to someone who has no clue who they are. (If such a person exists). There are so many tidbits of their history and how they got to where they are now. Two thumbs up!

“Life Without Envy: Ego Management for Creative People” by Camille DeAngelis was self-indulgent and honestly pretty boring at times. It is meant to help creative people manage their egos, but I found that it regurgitated many common thoughts and the organization was jumpy and disjointed. Not worth a read- just stick to the other countless creativity based books in the same vein, they are generally better reads and not so yawn-inducing.

“The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway is a classic. I’ve heard that one either loves or hates it. Not having read it before I was most curious to see which side of the spectrum I would land on. I loved it. So poetic and sad, but so so beautiful at the same time.

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte is more than just a love story. It is the forming of a strong and independent female protagonist. One from the nineteenth century! She is forced to make her own way in life without the luxury of a rich male relative. She is a rebel. She sets out to have her own career in a male-dominated world, and refuses to let anyone rule her life. A must read.

“Margarita Wednesdays: Making a New Life by the Mexican Sea” was slow in the making, but that made the ending that much sweeter. I guess what they say about the journey being the adventure is true. Give this one a chance, it’s worth it. All the happy tears.

“My Story” by Elizabeth Smart was so emotional and raw. Again, a book I would not have easily gotten through if it were not for the joys of Audio books. Read by the author, and the woman who experienced this nightmare herself it is an incredible book to listen to. If you remember her story in the news like I did, give this book a listen, you’ll not regret it.

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry was another classic I’ve not ever read. It was pretty fantastic, although not exactly what I was expecting, having watched the 2014 movie of the same name. I have my own thoughts on what the ending means, what are yours?

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay” by J.K. Rowling was freaking incredible. I watched the movie before reading the screenplay, and let me just say- Rowling is a genius and this is the most amazing thing. It is exactly what the movie is. I can’t get over it. Can’t wait for the rest in the series of FIVE!!!

“The Peach Keeper” by Sarah Addison Allen was interesting, but definitely my least favorite by Sarah. I love her novels, they are so magical and come together in unexpected and lovely ways- except for this one. I found it fairly predictable and slightly rambling.

“Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process” by Peter Ahlberg was an interesting read on multiple graphic artist’s thoughts on creativity, their profession and their work process, (if they have one). As an artist with a lower case ‘a’ myself, I found their interviews very interesting and in numerous locations similar to my experiences.

“On Living” by Kerry Egan was one of the best novels I’ve read all year. I actually listened to it on Audio book- read by the author it was inspiring, tear jerking, and hopeful. Egan is a hospice chaplain, and this novel is her compilation of stories from those who were dying or caring for the dying. I cannot recommend this book enough.

“Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days” by Jeanette Winterson was a big disappointment for all the fuss it has been creating. It is basically twelve ‘Christmas’ stories followed by a little personal story and recipe. Only a few of the stories I liked, and in general it was not very ‘Chrissmasy’ at all.

“Victoria” by Daisy Goodwin was a fantastic book, and I’m happy it was the one that got me to 100 this year! It is essentially a novel following Queen Victoria from a little before her coronation to just after she asks her husband to marry her. It is fiction, so of course Goodwin took liberties with the particulars, but the essentials seem (to me at least) match up with history. A page turner, this one!

That’s books 86 through 100!


Click here to see my goals for 2016

You can also see my goals for 20152014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!



September book Reviews

One of my personal goals for the year was to challenge myself to read 100 books. Despite an absolutely insane September I am still on track to reach my goal! So without further ado, here is a review of each of the books I’ve read this past month!


‘The Reluctant Duchess’ by Roseanna M. White was an excellent follow up novel to the first in this series, ‘Ladies of the Manor’. Lady Rowena Kinnaird is not as bright and bold as our first heroine in the series, but she is tough and resourceful. It is a well written and entertaining novel. Vibrant characters, a beautiful landscape and plot line run throughout and it was a lovely read from start to finish.




‘How to Be a Blogger and Vlogger in 10 Easy Lessons” by Shane Birley is a resourceful if silly at times book that will teach you to do just what it promises. You can judge this book by its cover as the target audience is certainly for teenagers, and much of the advice is directed toward that age category. Still, I got a few good ideas for my blog.




‘The Cake Therapist’ by Judith Fertig is a fluffy read that tries to be serious. The characters are fairly one dimensional and the plot needs some fleshing out. The novel grows tangled plot lines that don’t all connect and that grow thin and snap at several points. I barely remember reading this book later in the month, and once I looked up the plot remember being bored through over half of the novel and only getting to the interesting bits near the end.


the-underground-railroad‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colson Whitehead was a fantastic listen on audio book. It was so poetic yet straightforward. The acts that white men committed made me literally sick to my stomach. We follow Cora’s story. She is a young lady coming into womanhood on a plantation in the South. She escapes and we hear her story and that of others around her. I imagine this would be a tough read if I had to actually read the words myself. Listening to it on audio book helped, although it was still hard to listen to.


god-and-the-afterlife ‘God and the Afterlife’ by Jeffrey Long was the most amazing book. It is written by a doctor who collected research on individual’s near death experiences, and what they saw while nearly or medically deceased. It is the largest ongoing study on this subject. I found this book fascinating and at many points incredibly awe inspiring and hopeful. It is specifically written looking at the experiences people had with God and many of them share similar traits. So amazing. Totally recommend this book.

the-school-of-essential-ingredients ‘The School of Essential Ingredients’ by Erica Bauermeister is a pretty spectacular novel. It follows the lives of those taking Lillian’s cooking class- as well as the proprietor herself. It reads with such a flow that one is inspired by simple words. As a foodie it inspires thoughts of cooking and eating as well. Each student has their own background they bring to the kitchen and work through it in their own way. At times it is difficult to keep track of them listening to the audio book, but otherwise a fantastic read.


‘Seriously… I’m Kidding’ by Ellen Degeneres was hilarious and that’s about it. It skips around like a jumping bean and doesn’t focus on much of anything, but in true Ellen fashion she’ll have you in stiches. Especially since I listened to it on audio book and she narrates it herself. I especially liked the bit about her short stint on American Idol. A definite must read for any fan of hers.




‘Art Before Breakfast’ by Danny Gregory is a fabulous read to inspire you to create more. Danny gives excercises to complete, short little lessons on basic sketching techniques and generally encourages the reader. I am involved with Sketchbook Skool, an online community of artists of all skill levels who take online klasses from Gregory and his co-teacher along with other artists they are able to get. A fantastic time- and a fantastic book!



‘and furthermore’ by Judi Dench is a really interesting novel. I listened to it on audio book and her friend narrates it beautifully. Prior to reading this book I had not known much about her, other than the fact that she is an amazing actress. This novel is the follow up to a prior novel which I have not read, but showed me so much about her life it was inspiring and truly interesting and entertaining. Dench has led an incredible life. I would definitely recommend her novel!



‘The Girl Who Chased the Moon’ by Sarah Addison Allen was a fun listen- but basically a more sophisticated ‘Twilight’ story. Allen’s novels are always touched with a bit of magic, and this one is no exception. As entertaining as it is, I think it would make a really fantastic movie. I love the aspect of the novel where our heroine’s wallpaper changes with her mood and circumstance. Set in the South, this novel is romantic, drenched in history and superstition, and a fun read from the word go.



‘A Very Special Year’ by Thomas Montasser is a pretty special book. This is a book about the love of books. It seems like each chapter starts a new aspect of Valarie’s life, and she grows to know herself more as she cares for the bookshop owned by her Aunt Charlotte who has disappeared. At the end of the novel the story comes full circle, but it is the journey that is actually quite interesting. It’s written like it is her life. We are learning as she is. It’s really hard to explain, one just needs to read it for themselves. 🙂


That’s books 54 through 64 of 100! Stay tuned at the end of October for a wrap up of all of the novels I read in the next month!


Click here to see my goals for 2016

You can also see my goals for 20152014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!


‘Garden Spells’ by Sarah Addison Allen [ REVIEW ]

Garden Spells

One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is a lighthearted romance with a touch of magic. The Waverley women of Bascom, North Carolina all have a special skill (magic) which some accept and some do not. Claire Waverly is at peace with her family inheritance, living alone in the ancestral Queen Anne home running her catering business by herself. The business thrives because of the magic from her garden that she measures into her cooking. The townsfolk will pay for lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Claire has all but secluded herself when her rebellious sister Sydney shows up with a young daughter. About the same time Claire meets the new guy in town, Tyler. Claire’s life is turned upside down.

The book centers on Claire and Sydney as they rebuild their relationship. The thread of relationships throughout also connects Claire and Tyler and Sydney and her childhood friend Henry. The depth of the characters is surprising. All of them are oddballs for sure, but honest and real. The flavor of the magic as well as the old southern charm feels as old as time but as fresh as the morning dew. Overall, Garden Spells was a cute, quick read with likable characters, a richly detailed setting, and an enjoyable plot. It asks nothing of the reader but to enjoy it. That’s not hard.



Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!