Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sarah Addison Allen and the Comfort Reads.

Like I mentioned before in my previous TTT post - I spent some time in the hospital this past fall. Afterwards, there was quite a bit of time to heal up from the experience. Contrary to what you might think - it's like really hard to read when you're actually in a hospital bed with like a gazillion tubes attached to your limbs and your chest and neck. Plus, you know, my physical health was being all perilous and that can be exhausting. I spent most of my time watching the Hallmark Channel, sleeping, and listening to my Grammy read to me (a book I'll post about as soon as I find it and finish it for myself! We only got about a third of the way through. lol). Most of my reading happened in the after - when I was released.

The phrase 'Comfort Read' comes to mind.  That's what one does when one is healing up from a interesting if not Grey's Anatomy Shaming health crisis. And because it's me and I have a ready arsenal of comfort reads lined up on my bookshelf - I turned to one of my favorite authors. Sarah Addison Allen.

I visited a lot of my favorites the past few months. Sarah Addison Allen novels were some of them. Happy endings, food, beautiful imagery, and relatable and unique female characters. Basically a good recipe for the literary version of the Netflix Binge. And also - comforting reading.

Sarah Addison Allen

The first book I read of hers was her very first published novel :

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Published : August 28th, 2007
Publisher : Bantam
Page Count : 304 pages (Paperback, e-book)
Genre : Women's Fiction
Find the author : Look above, lol. 
"A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts 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. When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other. " - Borrowed from Amazon's Description. 

I've recommended this book in connection to Practical Magic often. Sisters, magic, love. However, I find this so much a brighter read than Practical Magic. This is something you want to pick up when you want your heart warmed. When you want to read a grown up fairy tale with real people touched with a bit of not so real but completely believable magic. Plus sisters. SISTERS. I am a huge sucker for stories about sisters. There is also an adorable little girl who I grew quite fond of. The best thing yet? SHE WROTE A SEQUEL. First Frost  (featuring said little girl as a little more grown up). I love when sequels happen. :)

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Published : May 20th, 2008
Publisher : Bantam
Page Count : 276 pages (Paperback, e-book)
Genre : Women's Fiction
Find the author : Look above, lol.  
"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 it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…" - Nabbed from Goodreads blurb. 

Basically this is like reading a cup of hot chocolate while wearing a favorite, warm fuzzy red sweater on a snowy, cozy day. Like...literally. There's a bit of a twist that still sort of surprises me when I wander back to my well-loved paperback copy. I also appreciate the unique twist on Josey's character. Or more so - her past. I think so many authors want to make their heroines complex yet perfectly relatable. I couldn't relate to certain aspects to her background but I felt for her. I felt for her hard! I rooted for her from the beginning.

The idea of comfort reads, to me, is subjective to the reader. When I was a pre-teen I went through this interesting phase of reading these paperback teen horror books in the dark of the night because... it was comforting? That was my version of a comfy read. A spooky, suspenseful read. I have no idea why except that maybe they weren't that scary in hindsight. It actually seems kind of cute to me as an adult looking back. Either way - point made. What comforts me might not comfort you. You might like a good romance (if so, I'm right there with you). You might like a epic long historical series with finite detail to historical accuracy (if so, you have my admiration).

So don't take my recommendation too seriously. To each their own! But, definitely give her a try if her stories sound intriguing because the writing holds up, the plots are steady, and the characters unique.

Happy comfort reading!

Jessica






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