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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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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Top Ten Best Debut Books | Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers’ answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND post a comment on our post with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. If you can’t come up with ten, don’t worry about it—post as many as you can!

NEXT WEEK THE TOPIC IS: Top Ten Characters I’d Name My Children After. Click HERE for a list of future Top Ten Tuesday topics.

Top Ten Best Debut Books (of any year..just your favorite debut/”first from an author” books. If you want, you can focus on debuts of a specific year but it’s open to debuts of any year).

* Since I’m suffering from severe congestion at the moment, I’m only listing my picks. Please ask why I chose them and I’ll explain when I’m feeling better.

  1. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. Sense and Sensibility by A Lady (Jane Austen)
  4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  5. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  6. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  7. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  8. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  9. La Princesse de Clèves by Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette
  10. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane


Howe, K. (2009). The physick book of Deliverance Dane: A novel. New York: Voice/Hyperion. 9781401340902

After hearing about the book being touted as the Summer 2009 must read, I added my name to the waiting list for The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. When I checked it out from the library, it only took me a few days to read.

Howe gives us at least two different threads to follow. One storyline pertains to Harvard doctoral candidate Connie Goodwin who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1991. Connie is an American colonial history student who needs to work on her dissertation. Thanks to her free-spirited mother, Connie finds herself preparing her late grandmother’s home for sale. In the process, Connie finds an old family Bible. Within it, Connie uncovers an old key with a scrap of paper which says “Deliverance Dane.”

Then there’s the story of Deliverance Dane, a woman living in Salem Village, Massachusetts during the late 1600s.  Deliverance becomes embroiled in the Salem witch trials in an unprecedented way.

I could not stop reading. Howe told a good story as well giving us great visualizations. Connie was definitely a visual person; seeing history tomes in the library of her mind’s eye. She also imagined homes in the 1600s!

Another profound element was the blending of near puritanical Christianity with witchcraft. I never considered the combination.

Okay, this gets Five out of Five pearls. I can’t wait for Howe’s next book.

Places: Massachusetts – Salem, Boston, Cambridge, Marblehead

Word Bank: academia, alchemy, bastion, belladonna,  Brahmin, chortle, desultory, epithet, mandrake, physick, simulacrum, tetragrammaton,

(links to words pending)

For more on Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, check out the following links: