Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Two for Tuesday

Enchanted by Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells, I knew I would enjoy The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I wasn't disappointed. Full of magnolia and moonlight, the threads of Allen's story weave a magical southern tale. The characters are many, but the stories and their intersections focus on two women: Emily Benedict and Julia Winterson.

Emily Benedict moves to Mullaby, North Carolina to live with her grandfather after her mother, Dulcie Shelby, dies. Known as the town giant, he's nearly eight-feet tall, quiet and reclusive. He mystifies Emily. Why didn't Emily's mother tell Emily about her grandfather or his reclusive ways? Will he ever really talk to her? Does he even want her living with him? Why did Emily's mother keep Mullaby and her past a secret?

Next-door neighbor, Julia Winterson, a Mullaby native, comes to Emily's rescue not only with the hope-filled cakes she bakes, but also with friendship that gives Emily a sense of place and belonging. Heartbroken but determined, Julia has a two-year plan to restore her now dead father's restaurant and then sell it. She makes magical cakes. Butter, sugar, flour, chocolate and more combine to reveal Julia's heart and call forth a past love.

Love, redemption, family ties and friendship The Girl Who Chased the Moon doesn't disappoint.

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My favorite book by Chris Bohjalian is The Double Bind, a twisted Gatsby-esque tale of intrique and one woman's tragic spiral into mental illness. His latest thriller, Secrets of Eden, focuses on the pastor Stephen Drew's loss of faith after newly baptized, Alice Hayward is murdered seemingly by her abusive husband. Bohjalian is a master of the telescopic moment--zooming in and out of time reeling in readers with the unexpected detail. Drew finds temporary salvation in Heather Laurent, an acclaimed angelologist and author, but like Drew's God, Laurent withdraws from him amid suspicions of murder.

Bohjalian masters suspense. The novel takes many points of view and readers who enjoy a good run with Jodi Piccoult will find intrigue and satisfaction reading Secrets of Eden.

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