Judy Blume’s Forever. . .


Blume, J. (1975). Forever: A novel. Scarsdale, N.Y: Bradbury Press 9780027110302

Reasons for Reading : I remember loving all the Judy Blume books I read as a child – Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Just As Long As We’re Together, etc. As I grew, I read Deenie and It’s Not the End of the World. When I read Wifey as a high school senior, the book scandalized me. From what everyone told me about Forever…, I decided not to try it until November 2011. I requested and checked it out from HCPL.

Summary: When Katherine meets Michael at a New Year’s Eve party thrown by best friend Erica’s cousin, she immediately catches his eye. Soon, the two high school seniors are dating and can’t get enough of each other. Michael wants to “go all the way” with Katherine. Ready for true love, Katherine agrees that their love is a “forever thing” . . . but is it really?

What I Liked : I wish Judy Blume had been my Life Science teacher. She doesn’t back away from the pros and cons of teen sex. The book even began with a note from Blume on how Forever… was published before HIV prevalence. The characters were identifiable, especially narrator Katherine.

What I Disliked : I didn’t care for Michael. I thought he pushed Katherine around the proverbial baseball diamond. Simply put, he pressured her into having sex with him.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: The Shirelles – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Setting : New Jersey

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Sarah Addison Allen’s The Peach Keeper


The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2011). The peach keeper: A novel. New York: Bantam Books. 9780553807226

Reasons for Reading : Okay, I’ve enjoyed all of the Sarah Addison Allen’s books thus far and I wanted to read The Peach Keeper. Upon returning from England, I happily found two copies on the shelf of my HCPL branch. I checked out one and read it within a week.

Summary: Thirty-year old Willa Jackson has resigned herself to a quiet life in her hometown of Walls of Waters, North Carolina. She runs a camping goods store and looks forward to laundry night. Her days of high school joker are long behind her. Willa discovers that her old high school classmate, philanthropic socialite Paxton Osgood, has restored the Jackson family’s former home – the Blue Ridge Madam. Paxton anticipates turning the Blue Ridge Madam into an inn. Then, the landscaping crew unearths a skeleton beneath the lone peach tree. Willa’s quiet life shatters as she and Paxton face their intertwined family histories.

Review : While I enjoyed more Garden Spells and The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I also liked The Peach Keeper. I appreciated the reality of these characters, especially Paxton’s relationship with Sebastian Rogers as well as several characters’ attempts to reconcile the past with the present and the future. However, I didn’t care for the 1930s storyline of their grandmothers. Lastly, my absolute favorite part of this novel were the Easter eggs of Garden Spells’ Claire and Bay Waverly.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Heart – Magic Man – YouTube

Setting : Walls of Water, North Carolina

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Sarah Addison Allen’s The Girl Who Chased the Moon


The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2010). The girl who chased the moon. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 9781444706611

After reading her two previous books, I couldn’t wait to read Sara Addison Allen’s third – The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I requested the book from HCPL.

Seventeen-year-old orphan Emily Benedict, travels to Mullaby, North Carolina. She moves in with her maternal grandfather, gentle giant Vance. Grandpa Vance does not talk much of the late Dulcie, Emily’s mother. Soon, Emily finds many folks in Mullaby hold a grudge against Dulcie. However, Emily discovers friends as well. One of these is Julia Winterson, a woman paying back her late father’s debt and once a girl Dulcie bullied. Julia bakes delicious cakes at her dad’s old BBQ restaurant. There’s Win, a boy just about Emily’s age who hasn’t inherited his family’s grudge against Dulcie. Then, there’s this amazing light show at night.

I liked The Girl Who Chased the Moon almost as much as Garden Spells and more than The Sugar Queen. The characters are more my speed – especially Julia. Maybe it’s the cakes.


Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Van Morrison – Moondance – YouTube

Places : North Carolina

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Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen


The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2008). The sugar queen. New York, N.Y: Bantam Dell. 9780553805499

I enjoy Garden Spells so much that I checked out Sarah Addison Allen’s second novel, The Sugar Queen from HCPL. I looked forward to returning the enchanted world of Allen’s North Carolina.

Josey Cirrini leads a predictable life in ski resort town Bald Slope, North Carolina. The twenty-seven year olds lives with her mother, the quintessential Southern Belle, whom Josey serves hand and foot. She loves winter and enjoys her stockpile of candy and romance novels in her closet. This all changes when Josey finds local waitress Della Lee Baker living in her closet. What should Josey do?

While I didn’t adore The Sugar Queen the way I did Allen’s Garden Spells, I liked this book. Characters from the warm Josey and Chloe to the chilly Margaret Cirrini are of the slice of life variety. I wasn’t terribly crazy about the mystery of Jake’s one night stand. Still, I appreciated that Allen didn’t tie all loose ends neatly – making this an authentic novel about everyday life with a dash of magic.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – ‪The Archies Sugar Sugar‬‏

Places : North Carolina

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Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells


Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen | LibraryThing

Allen, S. A. (2007). Garden spells. New York: Random House Large Print. 9780739327432

Back in February, I attended a Reader’s Advisory workshop. The speaker, Neal Wyatt, sang the praises of Garden Spells. Then, I heard this book was the alchemy of Practical Magic and Like Water for Chocolate. After hearing the rave reviews of my coworkers, I checked out Garden Spells from HCPL.

The Waverley women possess special abilities. In their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina, the Waverlys’ apple tree bears magical fruit of magical properties. Their garden yields unique, edible flowers. At this time, 34-year-old Claire Waverly embraces the family traits and runs a lucrative catering business. On the other hand, her younger sister, Sydney wants little to do with family inheritance. Sydney left behind her hometown.

However, Sydney returns to Bascom, bringing her daughter, Bay with her. In Bascom, Sydney faces the ghosts of the past, determined to make a better future for Bay.  

Reading Garden Spells was a true joy for me. Sarah Addison Allen rendered a beautiful picture of the Waverlys and the Bascom community. Even villainess Emma is relateable and Allen deals with her kindly. I enjoyed the Waverlys more than the Owens sisters in Practical Magic but strong similarities can’t be denied.  

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Strange Magic by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra)

Places : North Carolina, Seattle

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Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic


Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman | LibraryThing

Hoffman, A. (1995). Practical magic. New York: Putnam. 9780399140556

I admit – I approach Alice Hoffman with trepidation. My freshman English teacher assigned us the task of reading At Risk, a story of a young gymnast who contracts AIDS from a blood transfusion. After finishing, I cried and cried. Twelve years later, I read Blue Diary as one of her characters bore the name Jorie (like me). Okay, so she doesn’t write the happiest literature. Yet, numerous colleagues and friends encouraged me to read Practical Magic. It pleases me that I managed to read this book without copious tear shed.

When their parents die in a fire, sisters Sally and Gillian Owens come to live with their eccentric aunts in a 200-year old house built by their ancestress, Maria Owens. Their aunts are witches and help many “upstanding women” by casting spells on the sly.

Sally and Gillian grow up without rules but virtual outcasts. Gillian elopes, heading west of the Mississippi while Sally falls in love with a local guy, Michael, marries, and has two daughters – Antonia and Kylie. Michael dies and Sally blames the family heritage – witchcraft. Sally and her young girls move to New York. Ultimately, Gillian nor Sally can outrun their roots and must admit who they are and what they can do.

While bittersweet at times, Practical Magic is my favorite Alice Hoffman work. Hoffman created clear, likable, and relatable characters in Sally and Gillian. Her vivid settings acted as characters as well.  My favorite part came towards the end and involves Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet and the girl next door.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Coconut by Harry Nilsson

Places : Massachusetts, New York, Arizona

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