The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

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The Sugar QueenThe Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Entertainment Weekly said that The Sugar Queen was “like a dessert.” Considering that I just devoured it like it was a slice of chocolate cake, I would have to agree.

I bought this book several years ago at a book fair. I picked it up in the first place because I loved the cover. This is usually one of the biggest things for me when picking up books by authors I’m not familiar with. Second, after reading the teaser on the back cover I was intrigued. And then finally, I was getting it for $3.50 instead of $13. I love books, but I also love a bargain.

For whatever reason, The Sugar Queen sat lonely and unread on my bookshelf for several years. A few months ago I moved and both of the Sarah Addison Allen books that I own (I didn’t even know I had two!) ended up in the first box of books that was unpacked. (There are many, many more still waiting for me.)

We are having a little down time at work due to some department changes and I knew that I was going to be bored by 9pm last night (I work until 11p), so I decided to take a book along with me, even though we aren’t really supposed to read at our desks. I grabbed The Sugar Queen, settled it in my purse, and headed off to work.

When I got home from work last night I had read the first four chapters and I was hooked. The story is woven like a web, and each person is a string in the web, so every movement one string makes, it affects the ones around it. Each character, whether they were aware of it or not, and for a long time most weren’t, was affecting those around them in such subtle ways. It really is beautifully written.

There is also an element of magic in the book but it’s not really a focus so much as just a matter of fact part of the whole. Books follow Chloe from the time she is a lonely little girl living with her great-grandparents. It seems perfectly normal in the context of the world SAA has created, when the first book pops up in front of Chloe, trying to help her handle her feelings. It’s just part of who she is.

Josey lives a lonely existence, hoping to one day gain her mother’s love, while constantly being reminded that it’s not likely to ever happen. You are able to watch Josey blossom like a tulip in springtime between the first and last pages of The Sugar Queen. And while nothing overtly magical happens to or around Josey, you do start to see that she has a magic all her own.

Della Lee, probably the most disadvantaged of the three women, yet possibly, in the end, the smartest, is an interestingly, complex character. But still simple in some ways as well. She’s very matter of fact, not a lot of thought needs to go into things. Do you like something? Yes, then do it, have it, eat it, go to it, etc. No, then don’t. I came to enjoy the relationship that she and Josey had as much as if she was living in my closet! (That will make more sense when you read the book)

When I went to bed last night I planned to read another chapter or so before going to sleep. After all, I did have to work this morning. But, as so often happens, next thing I knew, it was two in the morning and the story was done.

I like to stop after reading a book and think about the characters and the lives they might be leading now, after I’ve closed the book on this particular moment of their life. I savored the story of three women, each one different but still a little bit the same, wondering what they might be doing now. I will certainly be picking up more works by Sarah Addison Allen.

5 stars

5 stars

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Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone


Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

“When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Escaping from his unbearable Muggle guardians to Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles into a sinister adventure when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous, or both.”

It was 2000 when I first read Harry Potter. My friend Super Suz recommended the series to me but I put off reading it for ages. I wasn’t into reading much young adult stuff back then and my argument for not reading them was that I wasn’t interested in reading children’s book. How book-snobbish of me.

It was around the time the first film was coming out and I was hearing a lot about the controversy that was being stirred up over witchcraft and censorship. Censorship and banning books is one of my pet issues so it piqued my interest in the books a bit more. I finally broke down and borrowed the first three books.

I read them all in less than a week! I couldn’t put them down. Didn’t want to put them down either! I was hooked from chapter one of the first book. I immediately told my mom that she needed to read them. After she read them, she and my daddy went to see the first movie. After they saw the movie Daddy decided to read the books as well. Now we’re all three addicted to the entire series.

I own several copies of all seven books. This edition of HP & TPS is a Bloomsbury edition that they put out to satisfy adult readers in the UK. Adults didn’t want to be seen on the train reading books with cartoon covers so they released these with adult covers to satisfy that audience. These editions are hard to find as they are only sold in the UK. I was able to get mine on eBay but even then they’re hard to find at a good price.

I read the entire series once a year. I always try to stretch it out and read one book a month so it’ll last for seven months, but I usually end up reading them all back to back and finishing them in a month or less.

332 pages
Published July 10th 2004 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN13: 9780747574477
British Fantasy Award (1999), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adolescent Literature (2008), British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year (1998), Smarties Prize (1997), Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002)
Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (2000), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (2001), South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2001), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2000), Charlotte Award (2000), Nene Award (2000), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2000), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2001), Blue Hen Book Award for Chapter Book (2001), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Reader Category (2000), Sasquatch Reading Award (2000), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2000), Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2000), Carnegie Medal Nominee (1997), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)

5 stars

Magyk (Septimus Heap #1)

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Magyk (Septimus Heap #1) by Angie Sage

“The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus? “

This series has been on my to-read list for a while. I was pleased, when I finally got around to getting it from the library, with how long the book was. Typically, for me, the longer the book the better. Not so in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story. It was just. So. Freaking. Long. Sage probably could have told the story in half the pages and sped the pace up a little bit and it would have been just as good. I’m going to read the second book in the series next month but if I feel the same about the second book, I’ll probably give the series up as a lost cause and move on. I can see kids getting bored with the book in the middle, but when the action picks up, it is a really good story.

564 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN13: 9780060577315

3 stars