I’m working my way through a goal of 50 books for my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. So far, I’ve polished off 20 books which puts me a bit behind on my reading goal, but I’m picking up steam lately so I have high hopes that I might still meet my goal. I’m also trying to make sure atleast 50% of the books I read this year are by female authors. I hope you’ll join me in my challenge, however big or small your reading list for the year is.
I’ve been a fan of Gayle Forman’s books for years, having polished off her Just One Trilogy as well as her book I Was Here, so I knew I Have Lost My Way was going to be a worthwhile read. This book follows the lives of three strangers in NYC over the course of one day who are each struggling to overcome huge personal challenges. Freya has lost the ability to sing, right before she’s supposed to record her first record, Harun is struggling with how to tell his very traditional family that he’s in love with another boy, and Nathaniel has just suffered an extreme loss that leaves him abandoned and alone. The story unfolds from the perspective of each of the three characters in turn.
This book had well-defined, interesting characters. Each character’s struggle was so different from the other, but in the end there was a sincere message of empathy and friendship weaved throughout. This was a decent read and I really waffled between giving it a 3 or a 4; If only Goodreads would let you rate in halves!
Goodreads rating 3/5
The Girl Who Drank the Moon feels like a classic fairytale. For as long as everyone in the Protectorate can remember, they’ve left a newborn baby in the woods as a yearly sacrifice to an evil witch so that she will stay away. What they don’t know is that the witch, named Xan, is really good. Every year she travels to rescue the newborn babe from the woods so that it doesn’t get eaten by wildlife, and rehomes it with a family who can’t conceive. Xan has no idea why the townsfolk leave a baby every year, she just knows that she must help that child get to safety every year.
One year, on Xan’s journey back to her home she accidentally feeds the baby moonlight rather than starlight and she becomes enmagicked. Instead of rehoming the child, she names her Luna and raises her as her granddaughter. This story follows as Luna grows up and the Protectorate begins to challenge the tradition of sacrificing their children each year.
This was a slow-moving, but decent read full of interesting characters and a little magic. I had a hard time identifying the origins that inspired this tale, as there seemed to be influences from Native American, European, and Japanese lore. But that made it all the more unique and interesting to read.
Goodreads rating 3/5
Living in Portland comes with its quirks. If you spend any amount of time here you’ll soon realize that bicycles, Birkenstocks, and breweries are a huge part of our culture as is the inevitability of finding tater tots at nearly every eating establishment. Transplant Alexander Barrett chronicled all of his observations after living here for the better part of a year and they are equally funny and spot on. The fella and I purchased This is Portland after randomly coming across it at Powell’s Bookstore, a very Portland establishment, and both read through it the same afternoon. A short and cute homage to all things that make Portland so intrinsically Portland.
Goodreads rating 4/5
I chose this book as part of a recipes in novels collaboration I participated in with a group of other fantastic food bloggers and was so thrilled with my choice!
Garden Spells follows the Waverly sisters, Claire and Sydney, as each struggle through dark events in their lives, learning to trust each other and accept their magical gifts. This book blended two of my favorite things to read about: magic and food! For a full summary and review of this novel, including a recipe for Claire’s Chive Blossom Vinegar, check out this post!
Goodreads rating 5/5
I loved the first book in this series so much that the day after I finished the first book, I started reading the second and breezed through it. First Frost picks up 10 years in the future with both sisters and their families, still living in the southern town of Bascom, North Carolina. Claire is now running a successful candy business, churning out hard candies that do everything from sooth sore throats to bring back memories of first loves. Or is it running her? Claire is struggling to balance her business, her family, and her identity as a Waverly.
Claire’s younger sister Sydney is thriving in Bascom after running away from it as a broken-hearted teenager. When she finds out that her introverted daughter Bay is dating the son of her high school boyfriend, Sydney decides that she must do everything she can to keep Bay from making the same mistakes she did as a teen. On top of everything, a mysterious visitor arrives in town bent on blackmailing the Waverly’s over long-held family secrets – but are they true?
Both books both expertly weave together the struggles of daily life with a little magical realism and are a joy to read. I really hope Sarah Addison Allen continues to write more novels in this series.
Goodreads rating 4/5
I picked this book up immediately after polishing off the current books in Sarah Addison Allen’s Waverly Family series. I hoped that the characters would delight me just as much as her other books, and I was not disappointed. This novel follows the intersecting lives of several people in the fictional southern resort town of Bald Slope, North Carolina.
Josey Cirrini, the 27-year-old daughter of the late Marco Cirrini is an obedient child, to the point that her mother Margaret takes supreme advantage of her. Josey doesn’t have friends, she doesn’t go out and have fun, and she doesn’t wear anything her mother would disapprove of. Instead, she hides away in her bedroom closet with endless boxes of chocolate, romance novels, and travel magazines, dreaming of the day she will get the courage to leave. Her favorite time of day is when mail-carrier Adam Boswell delivers the Cirrini’s mail because she happens to be in love with him. If only he knew…
One day, Josey opens her closet to find Della Lee Baker a local waitress hiding in it and refusing to leave. She blackmails Josey into letting her stay, only to become Josey’s closest confidant, pushing her out of her comfort zone and into the path of freedom. Josey’s path intersects with several other fun characters, like her new friend Chloe Finley, who has the magical knack of making books appear whenever she needs them (regardless if she wants them or not).
The Sugar Queen was a super fun and quick read that I lapped up in about a day. I loved the characters in this book, both good and villainous but really wished that the author gave a different ending for Della Lee because her story wrapped up really quickly for how dark it was. I doubt the author will write a follow-up to this book, but if she does, I would pick it up in a heartbeat.
Goodreads rating 4/5
The Girl Who Chased the Moon has been on my “to be read” list for a few years, but I didn’t actually pick it up until I read Garden Spells and realized it was by the same author.
The story follows a 17-year-old girl named Emily Benedict who recently moved to the small North Carolin town of Mullaby to live with her grandfather after the death of her mother. Emily soon learns that her presence is not welcome among some of the residents of Mullaby, owing to a secret that her mother exposed of one of the town’s most prominent families, and a resulting death because of it. As Emily struggles to find out more about her mother’s past, she is befriended by Julia Winterson, an old classmate of her mother’s, who bakes seemingly magical cakes in order to heal her heart from past hurts and call to lost loved ones.
I love the elements of magic that the author sprinkles into each story. Emily’s grandfather, an aging gentle giant described as being over 8 feet tall, keeps asking Emily what the wallpaper in her bedroom looks like each day. Emily finds this odd, until one day the walls have completely changed from flowers to butterflies that look as though they have come alive. This was a fun read with really interesting characters that had a lot of depth to them, so I was disappointed when the book came to a close. I would be really interested to see if Sarah Addison Allen releases a follow-up novel, and would find this book particularly fun translated into a film.
Goodreads rating 4/5
It’s safe to say I’ve been on a Sarah Addison Allen binge lately. After reading Garden Spells and falling in love with the story, I thought it was only fair to give her other books a read too; I just didn’t realize I’d be devouring so many of them in such a short time period All of her books have proved to be fun, quick reads that I can polish off in the stolen hours at night before bed and The Peach Keeper was no exception.
This novel follows 30-year old Willa Jackson, former class prankster, who has returned to her small North Carolina town (see a location theme?) after the death of her father. She opens a small outdoor store complete with a coffee shop where her friend Rachel bakes wonderfully indulgent coffee treats and keeps a notebook full of research on how each person’s specific coffee order says something about them personally.
One day, Willa receives an invitation to an upcoming Women’s Society Club Gala, celebrating the grand re-opening of the historic Blue Ridge Madam, a mansion her ancestors built and lived in until her grandmother’s family lost their fortune and she ended up pregnant at 17. Willa has no interest in the gala or the club, even though her grandmother was a founding member, but she does have a curious interest in the Blue Ridge Madam; a place that was always said to be haunted, but she’s never dared go inside.
Paxton Osgood, the current head of the Women’s Society Club and Willa’s former classmate, is overseeing the restoration of the Blue Ridge Madam as well as the gala. Though Paxton looks like she leads the perfect life from the outside, she is struggling to come to terms with the fact that the club has become more of a show-and-tell than a place to do real good and support one another. She may never have enough nerve to actually move out of her parent’s guest house and have her own life and there’s also the problem that she’s fallen deeply in love with her best friend Sebastian – who she believes might be gay.
Paxton’s grandmother founded the Women’s Society Club with Willa’s grandmother, but the two have never really gotten to know one another. That is until a skeleton is dug up under the peach tree on the Blue Ridge Madam’s property, one that will tie Paxton and Willa together, just like their grandmothers.
This was another great read, with elements of history, mystery, and magic. Of course, there’s a little fun romance thrown in all of Sarah Addison Allen’s books, but my favorite part was the friendship between the women, the history of their grandmothers, and the overall theme of women supporting women. Definitely another novel that I would gladly pick up a sequel to if one was ever written.
Goodreads rating 4/5
What’s on your reading list?
I’d love to know what you’ve been reading lately. Do you have any recent reading recommendations you’d like to share? If you’re looking for extra inspiration past this list, check out my other reading recommendations to help get you jump-started on your own reading challenge.
Thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy for hosting a lit link up! To see what other bloggers are reading right now, check out her post here!