Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book Review - The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Title: The Sugar Queen 
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Year: 2008
Page: 276
Genre: Fiction - Magical Realism

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from

In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush.

As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’s fast-changing life.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.

First Sentence:
When Josey woke up and saw the feathery frost on her windowpane, she smiled.

My Thoughts:

Why this book?
  • We are choosing our books for our book club for Aug 2011-July 2012. The librarian hosting the book club gave us a list of choices (some of them are our suggestions... okay a lot of them are MY suggestions :p). One book that caught my eye was Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I have never heard of her before, but that book sounded intriguing even though it's not my usual type of books. I did a little more research, and found all her books have great reviews. I decided to try The Sugar Queen out instead (so if the book club ends up choosing Garden Spells, I would read it then along with the book club members)
First thought:
  • I think I may have found a new favorite author, even though this is not my usual genre!
Cover Art:
  • I like it but I don't love it. I wish I have a window view like that though!
  • Sugar? Queen? Sounds like a winning combo! (Though admittedly, I am not really into the whole princessy, royalty thing. It gets your attention though, especially since I have a sweet tooth!)
  • Easy to read. No complaints here. Probably not literature standard but hey that's why I am reading this since I am not into literature!
  • A bit predictable, but I really like how everything tied together and that took me by surprise.
  • My only other experience with magical realism was The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahren (my review here) and I didn't like it very much because the magic seemed out of place - it was more of a convenience than an integral part of the story. It wasn't explained very well either (okay, maybe you can't really explain magic, but my logical mind needs some type of a resolution or explanation!) So when I read The Sugar Queen, I wasn't quite sure how I'd like the whole magical realism theme but I am glad I gave it a try. Is it plausible? It depends on your belief, but at least the author helped explained how the story went from Point A to Point B.
  • The characters are likeable. While I was reading the book, I kept thinking about I wish I could try all the candies that Josie had! It wasn't until later I found out the author had put a list of all the candies in the book on her website here :)
  • It was a satisfying ending! Finishing this book was like eating some candies you love :) Just a sweet story. Maybe a bit bittersweet.
  • Good thing we usually don't have much snacks at home or I'd be indulging on candies the whole way through!
What I Learned:
  • Chick-lit is not my genre, but when it is done right like this book, I do enjoy it (okay I don't really know if this book should be classified as chick-lit or not, but it is closer to chick-lit than other genre I read)
Read this Author again?
  • Yes!

"Books can be possessive, can't they? You're walking around in a bookstore and a certain one will jump out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what's inside will change your life, but sometimes you don't even have to read it. Sometimes it's a comfort just to have a book around. May of these books haven't even had their spines cracked. 'Why do you buy books you don't even read?' our daughter asks us. That's like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company, of course." (p180)

Overall Rating:
4 Stars. Would have been a bit higher if a bit less predictable.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

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