“Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells is the second novel I’ve read this year that emphasizes cooking and creative recipes in its story. The other novel was the first book I completed this year — Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, a contemporary novel about a 20-something woman who moves to New York City to work at a food magazine.

I feel as if Garden Spells has been hounding me, pushing me to read it. It kept popping up on many of the book recommendation lists I’ve looked at this year: lists featuring witchy books, books inspired by nature, books containing descriptive prose. It was the descriptive prose list that convinced me to finally give the novel a try, and I’m glad I did.

Genre:

Magical realism; romance

Pubbed:

2007

Series:

Waverley Family (book 1)

Unbound Worlds summary:

This is the brief synopsis included alongside the novel on Unbound Worlds’ list of nature-based fantasy novels. I think it does a better job than Goodreads of succinctly stating what the story is about without giving away too much:

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“The Angel Stone” by Juliet Dark

This is the first time in years that I started and completed a series in the same year. I usually start a series, maybe read the second book, and don’t complete the series until years later. Of course, Robin Hobb’s novels are exceptions. The only reason why I’ve made it so far in them (I’ll begin the Rain Wild Chronicles soon) is because I’m buddy-reading them with Emily from Embuhlee liest. If not for this buddy-read, I’d probably be stuck at the beginning of the Liveship Traders books.

Genre:

Paranormal; Romance

Pubbed:

September 2013

Series:

Fairwick Chronicles (book 3)

Goodreads summary:

A can’t-miss read for fans of Deborah Harkness and Karen Marie Moning, The Angel Stone weaves a tale of ancient folklore and thrilling fantasy with a passionate love story that transcends time.

For Callie McFay, a half-witch/half-fey professor of folklore and Gothic literature, the fight to save the enchanted town of Fairwick, New York, is far from over. After a hostile takeover by the Grove—a sinister group of witches and their cohorts—many of the local fey have been banished or killed, including Callie’s one true love. And in place of the spirit of tolerance and harmony, the new administration at Fairwick College has fostered an air of danger and distrust.

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“The Wedding Date” by Jasmine Guillory

This one has been receiving a lot of buzz lately. I listened to an interview featuring the author on First Draft Podcast and got curious enough to give the book a try.

Genre:

Romance; contemporary

Pubbed:

January 2018

Goodreads summary:

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

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“The Water Witch” by Juliet Dark

I completed the first book in the Fairwick Chronicles — The Demon Lover — in February and couldn’t wait long to jump into the second — The Water Witch.

These books are fluff reads with a slight dark side, and I love reading them! I enjoy the story and love the writing and am charmed by the setting. I get so swept up in the stories that I run through the books quickly.

Genre:

Paranormal/supernatural; romance

Pubbed:

September 2012

Goodreads summary:

After casting out a dark spirit, Callie McFay, a professor of Gothic literature, has at last restored a semblance of calm to her rambling Victorian house. But in the nearby thicket of the Honeysuckle Forest, and in the currents of the rushing Undine River, more trouble is stirring…

The enchanted town of Fairwick’s dazzling mix of mythical creatures has come under siege from the Grove: a sinister group of witches determined to banish the fey back to their ancestral land. With factions turning on one another, all are cruelly forced to take sides. Callie’s grandmother, a prominent Grove member, demands her granddaughter’s compliance, but half-witch/half-fey Callie can hardly betray her friends and colleagues at the college.

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“The Demon Lover” by Juliet Dark

Oh my gosh, this book. 😀

Anyone who knows me for any length of time knows I love fantasy, magic, and the supernatural. It’s one of the first things I’ll either tell you or you’ll deduce within 10 mins of meeting me.

When I was in middle/high-school, I would hurry home after school activities or hanging out with my friends to catch episodes of Charmed, a TV show about powerful witches living in Los Angeles. In college, I procrastinated on homework and projects by watching reruns of Ghost Whisperer, a TV show about a woman who can see and interact with ghosts, and when I got my first job and had the opportunity to work from home, I’d do so while watching reruns Supernatural, a TV show about brothers who’re bounty hunters of supernatural creatures.

I loved all those shows and continue to watch reruns of them to this day. Charmed is the one that started it all and since discovering it and watching its episodes so many times that I know a few by heart, I’ve tried to find TV shows and novels that are similar and are about witches.

Witches of East End, the TV show that aired on Lifetime back in 2013, came close, but the plot and characters started out weak and became worse as the story progressed. I thought the novel, written by Melissa de la Cruz, would be better, but unfortunately it wasn’t. Since then, I’ve continued trying to find TV shows and novels similar to Charmed without luck until I saw The Water Witch on my library’s Overdrive app. It’s the sequel to The Demon Lover and it sounded so interesting that I decided to give the series a try.

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“Delicious!” by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl’s Delicious! was the first novel I completed in 2018. I borrowed it from the library toward the end of last year because I was in the mood for something light and fun, possibly romantic, and about food, so I picked up Delicious! because its cover beckoned to me and the title made me curious.

Goodreads summary:

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love. (Goodreads)

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“Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes

me-before-youGreat and refreshing because it’s different from the books I usually read.

Goodreads overview:

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?  Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)

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