book review, Gothic Fiction

First Frost

first frost

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen is one of the best books I have read in FOREVER! It left me with tears in my eyes, wanting to tell you, Dear Reader, please read this book!

First Frost is a family story about the Waverley women living in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina. When the story opens Claire is making ‘beautiful, jewel-colored confections the size of wren’s eggs and covered with powdered sugar’ instead of running her usual catering business. Claire discovered the recipe for the hard candies in an old cookbook passed down from her grandmother Mary Waverley.  When the candy soothes her daughter Mariah’s laryngitis, Claire begins making the candies as ‘add-ons’ to the birthday and anniversary parties she caters. Soon the honey and lavender filled candy takes over in popularity to the point that her catering business falls to the wayside.

The Waverley women struggle through autumn with all its’ attendant craziness knowing that once first frost arrives, on Halloween night, all will be well and life will settle down to some normalcy. Or what constitutes normal for the Waverley women.  Claire creates food that makes people laugh, cry, or fall in love. Sydney brings either good or bad luck that lasts for weeks when she cuts a person’s hair. Bay, always feeling lost and out of place, knows simply by looking at a thing, exactly where it belongs. As the garden’s apple tree, which blooms only at first frost, showers them with a literal snowdrift of apple blossoms, Bay finally begins to feel that she does have a place that is truly her own. And Mariah?  Her gift remains undiscovered until the last few pages when the family gathers in their hidden garden for the annual First Frost party.

Throughout this delicious tale an elderly man named the Great Banditi approaches Claire in an attempt to destroy the life she has built for herself, a young man threatens to remove the blanket of protection Sydney has snugly drawn around her daughter Bay, and a young woman named Violet brings both heartbreak, joy, and a special gift of her own.

If you decide to read First Frost you may want to read Garden Spells first as it begins the saga of the Waverley women, though First Frost weaves its own spell regardless of the prequel. I give this book 5 Daisies for the sweet taste it leaves in my mouth. “Take a bite. I dare you.”

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First Frost

Sarah Addison Allen

St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2014


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Mystery Review, Thriller Review

The Life We Bury

life we bury

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens ranks high on my list of best thrillers of all time and is Eskins’ first mystery. If The Life We Bury is any indicator, we have a lot of great reading ahead. This book has everything you could possibly want: characters who draw you into their lives; intriguing setting, interesting premise, great dialogue, and bone-chilling action. The story revolves around college student Joe who lives alone, works as a bouncer, and likes a girl named Lila, living down the hall from his apartment. His mother is an alcoholic who cannot deal with the fact that she has an 18 year old autistic son, Jeremy, and often neglects him to the point that Joe sometimes must step in to protect his brother.

Joe’s been assigned to write a biography of an elderly person for an English class and selects Carl, an aged ex-prisoner dying of cancer in a nursing home. When Joe discovers that Carl may have been falsely accused and imprisoned thirty years previously, he sets out to prove the man’s innocence before Carl dies. Joe is smart, quick-thinking, and so kind to his brother Jeremy and Miss Lila-down-the-hall that you want to see him succeed in his mission. When Jeremy is beaten, Lila captured, and he himself is nearly killed, all Joe’s talents move into full throttle as he tries to save them and himself, while still trying to prove Carl’s innocence.

I give this book 5 Daisies for a totally un-put-down-able mystery that kept me reading until the last breathtaking moment.

Reviewed by: Leigh leigh 2

Rating:5 daisies

The Life We Bury: A Novel
Allen Eskens
Audio version read by Zach Villa
Tags: mystery, thriller, Minnesota, Minnesota State University, student, nursing homes, murder, rape, kidnapping, fires, Vietnam, winter, authors-first-novel, male-pop, stand-alone-novel, listened-to-audiobook, reviewed-on-amazon, reviewed-on-barnesandnoble, literary-fiction; thriller, contemporary-fiction, suspense, audiobook, 2015-new-releases, crime-thriller, literary-thriller, , autism,; adult-fiction, adult-mystery, adult-thriller; ibook-and-kindle, new-authors
ISBN: 978-1-4945-1388-7

About the Author: Allen Eskens, grew up in the wooded hills of Missouri and, after high school, migrated north to pursue his education. A criminal defense attorney for twenty years, Eskens honed his creative writing skills in the MFA program at Minnesota State University. He is a member of Twin Cities Sisters in Crime, and lives in Minnesota.
About the Reader: Zach Villa, a bicoastal stage, film, and television performer and classically trained in acting at Interlochen Arts Academy and the Julliard School, Zach’s audiobook work includes multiple fantasy series. When not voicing a goblin or a knight, Zach writes and records music.
Audio book: tantor. com.