Shoot That Book: Garden Spells and Nail Polish

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

This is another Shoot That Book nail polish post because I was bored while waiting to meet up with friends for dinner last Friday so I decided to have my nails done. I wanted a color that’s bright and happy so it would be perfect for summer. I chose this frosted light green polish and was delighted when I found out that it matches the cover for one of my favorite books: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen:

I think Sarah Addison Allen’s books are comfort reads and I love going through them. Garden Spells is my favorite, which is funny because I have a used paperback copy of it while I have hardcovers for the rest of her books. Hopefully, I can find a hardcover edition to match the rest. I think the Garden Spells cover is lovely, especially with the gold trim near the title:

I promise this will be the last nail polish post for a while! I need to think of more creative Shoot That Book pictures to show you guys. In the meantime, feel free to let me know what’s your favorite Sarah Addison Allen title and if you have any recommendations similar to her writing.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen is one of my anticipated releases in 2011. I have loved Sarah Addison Allen’s books ever since I read Garden Spells. Her books are my first foray into magic realism and I keep saying I should read more from the genre but I haven’t had the chance to do so. I couldn’t help but read The Peach Keeper as soon as I could get my grubby hands on it because I knew I was going to like this one just as much as her other novels.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam — built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home — has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate — socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood — of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones — those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago — are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families — and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Wow, look at that summary. Quite long, isn’t it? I think it provides enough background about the story and I don’t want to add anymore because I don’t want to give too much away. Going into the novel, I had a feeling it was going to be different from Sarah Addison Allen’s usual because of the mystery involved. It is a bit different in that sense and also because the subtle magic and the mouth-watering descriptions of food that has become Sarah Addison Allen’s signature was absent in this one. The usual themes of friendship and romance are still present though, which made me a very happy reader because those are what I love in her books. As with her other books, the perspective changes based on the two main characters, Willa and Paxton. Both of these women and even the men in their lives, Colin and Sebastian, went to the same high school together. It’s funny how they were never good friends when they were teenagers but their lives now intersect in ways that they never expected. All four of these characters went through big changes in their lives throughout the course of the book. My favorite chapter was the one called, “The Joker, The Stick Man, The Princess and The Freak”, when these four unexpectedly had a meal together and the fascinating conversation that ensued. I guess it’s not surprising that another favorite scene of mine was when there was a cameo from a Garden Spells character.

I’ve said this before and I’ll probably end up saying it again: there’s something about Sarah Addison Allen’s books that make them good comfort reads. I’ve seen some people classify her books as chick lit or contemporary romance and while that makes sense, I find that her characters have much more depth than other characters in that genre. Like in The Peach Keeper, there is romance in the story but it was never the focus. It was more about the characters learning more about themselves and developing relationships that let them grow as persons more than anything else. The Peach Keeper is a delightful read and it’s the kind of book that I feel like I could recommend to just about anyone. I was afraid I was going to experience a reading slump because I wasn’t feeling the books that I’ve picked up lately. The Peach Keeper got me out of that almost-slump. If you’ve never read a Sarah Addison Allen (her name is quite a mouthful and I keep repeating it in my review) book before then you could start with this one. If you have recommendations similar to her style of writing, please mention it in the comments. I’d love to read more books like this.

Other reviews:
Angieville
Chick Lit Reviews
The Reading Fever
Make of it what you will

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen has been recommended by several people – namely Celina, Angie and Michelle. It’s a book that falls under the genre magic realism and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it.

Here’s the Summary from Sarah Addison Allen’s website:

Welcome to Bascom, North Carolina, where everyone has a story to tell about the Waverleys. There’s the house that’s been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, and the wild rumors of dangerous loves and tragic passions. Claire has always clung to the Waverleys’ roots, tending the enchanted soil in the family garden from which she makes her sought-after delicacies. She has everything she thinks she needs, until one day she wakes to find a stranger has moved in next door and a vine of ivy has crept into her garden… and Claire’s carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.

What a lovely surprise Garden Spells turned out to be. I’ve had my copy for several months now and I only felt the urge to pick it up this weekend, when I felt like I could use a bit of magic in my reading. It looks like I’m going to become a fan of magic realism because I like that it’s mostly contemporary fiction with just enough magic sprinkled in to make things more intriguing. The Waverley women have always had a hint of magic in their blood. In Claire Waverley, this comes out in her cooking. She has the power to influence how other people feel by using flowers and plants from the Waverley garden. The apple tree in the garden is famous because when a person takes a bite from one of its apples, they see the biggest point of their life (good or bad). Claire embraced her Waverley roots early on but her younger sister Sydney feels the opposite. Sydney left town as a teenager, just like their mother did, but she’s realized that Bascom, North Carolina is still home. Out of the blue, she comes back home with her young daughter in tow. Claire welcomes them even though she’s afraid of change and that they’ll eventually leave her again.

This book was a delight to read. It’s the sort of book that will probably become a comfort read in the future. It’s also a perfect gift for female relatives and friends because it’s light and there’s a bit of everything in it – some romance, a little magic, small-town gossip and family issues. It will also make you hungry because there are a lot of references to food due to the nature of Claire’s work (she’s a caterer) and her Waverley magic. I like how both Claire and Sydney developed as characters throughout the book. Claire’s a shy, reserved person who’s afraid to let people in because she has abandonment issues. Slowly but surely, she learns to open herself up to the people who matter the most. While her sister Sydney starts putting down roots and learns that being a Waverley isn’t as bad as she remembered. The minor characters in the book are also well-developed and I like how they flesh out the story. Even the Waverley garden (the apple tree in particular) has a mind of its own. I highly recommend this book and if Sarah Addison Allen’s other books are just as good as this one, then I’d be more than happy to read them.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Angieville
Hey Lady, Watcha Readin’?
Best Fantasy Stories
I Heart Paperbacks