Reading is a pleasure I had to give up for most of the second half of last year, and since my eye surgeries completely reversed my vision I've also had some trouble adjusting to the changes. The good news is that I can finally focus well enough to read regularly again, and managed to knock out seven books in January:
As promised I picked one of my reads to be my book of the month for January, and (probably to no one's surprise) it is First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen, the long-awaited sequel to her enchanting novel Garden Spells.
First Frost takes the reader back to the magical little town of Bascom, North Carolina, home of the Waverley sisters. The story takes place some ten years after the events that unfolded in Garden Spells, so a great deal has changed -- both Claire and Sydney Waverley are married and settled down, and the next generation of Waverley women are growing up fast. Trouble in several forms has been brewing or blown into town, and the challenges all the Waverleys face are not of the common, contrived purely for conflict variety. Commercial success has distracted Claire so much that it's shoved her into the realm of self-doubt, while Sydney has been valiantly trying (and failing) to give her husband a son. Sydney's daughter Bay has come into her unique gift but it's causing her nothing but heartache and trouble. And then there's the old carny drifter, and the secrets he's brought with him to Bascom as he watches Claire from a discreet distance.
I chose this book as my January pick as it is a wonderful, beautifully written story that did not disappointment me in the slightest, and it's been a awhile since I can say that about any book. It's definitely one of the wisest sequels to a beloved novel I've ever read, and demonstrates in innummerable ways just how talented the author is, and how great her affection for her characters has grown over time. I also adore the subtle, magical cover art; whoever at St. Martin's Press is responsible for it deserves a huge hug and a hefty raise. Those of you who are devoted Allen readers will enjoy this one a lot. Those of you who haven't tried this author should first read Garden Spells because it makes reading First Frost that much more enjoyable.
So what book did you read in January would you pick as your book of the month, and why? Let us know in comments.