Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (audio)

Title: First Frost   
Author: Sarah Addison Allen   
Series: Waverly Family, #2   
Narrator: Susan Ericksen  
Published: January 2015, Brilliance Audio  
Length: 8 hours 34 minutes   
Source: Publisher  

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves...

It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

My thoughts: About two years ago, I listened to Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells and really enjoyed it. I found myself wishing there was more to the story, as I had really come to love the Waverly sisters, so imagine my delight when I head that SAA's newest book, First Frost, was the bringing us back to them!

I just love these characters - Claire, Sydney and Bay, who is now a teenager. The relationship between sisters and mothers/daughters, while not always as strong as it should be, is a bond that can never be broken. Each of these characters have struggles that are real and so it's easy to relate to them. The characters themselves are so fully drawn that at times it's easy to forget that they are just characters in a book. 

While there is some action in this book, including that of the mysterious stranger that comes to town to cause trouble for the Waverly's, this book is more character-driven than anything. It's about knowing and accepting yourself for who you are. Each of the Waverly's has had to go through this rite of passage, sometimes more than once, and we now witness Bay finding herself as she learns to accept her gift and figure out how to live alongside it. Even Mariah, Sydney's daughter, finds out what her gift is...though she is still so young.

My favorite part of this book is the way the magic is woven into the story. It seems to just enhance the storylines without overpowering them - it never feels as if it's too much, but rather you need to suspend belief just a little. It's the perfect little extra that makes these stories so good! And really, don't we all claim to have those special powers every once in a while - that special remedy that only you know about or that perfect way of calming down an infant that only you seem to be able to do?

Picking up this book was like revisiting old friends. While I had only read/listened to Garden Spells two years ago, I had no problem remembering these characters once I got into this book. It did help that First Frost picks up ten years after Garden Spells ends, and there is enough explanation of who's who in the beginning that if it's been seven years since reading the previous book or you've never read it, I think you'll be fine. I do hope, though, that this isn't the last we've seen of the Waverly's. The way the book ended gave me the glimmer of hope that just maybe there will be more...

Audio Thoughts: I just love listening to Susan Ericksen. She actually narrated Garden Spells, which I also listened to, and I felt like I was right back in Bascom, NC, as soon as this book started. Susan is able to give every character their own unique voice and infuses just the right amount of sass and emotion when needed. I'm really glad that she narrated this second book!

Books in this series:
  1. Garden Spells
  2. First Frost


  1. I loved these books and SAA is one of my favorite authored.

  2. The audio of this one sounds fantastic and I love Susan Erikson's narrating. Yes I am with you, would love another Waverly book too!

  3. I need to start reading this author. I know. I know. Everyone has. Maybe I'll try them on audio. :-)


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