Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Year of Reading Books I'm Excited About - Withering Heights + First Frost

In 2023 my reading goals were to focus on reading books I was excited to read or had been looking forward to reading.  Here are two recent reads that met that criteria.

Goodreads:  Withering Heights by Dorothy Cannell

Blurb:  Ellie Haskell, sleuth and Gothic romance addict, visits Yorkshire moors Cragstone House with her husband Ben and sidekick Mrs Roxie Malloy, on behalf of his young cousin Ariel. The kindly cook Mrs. Cake fell downstairs, a visiting vicar dies drinking tea, and one of the neighbors is a glamorous old flame of Mrs Cake's husband.

My Thoughts:  First off I'm not entirely sure the person who wrote the blurb actually read anything about the book.  Second off, this probably should have been a DNF.  It wasn't a DNF because I've really been enjoying cozy mysteries lately and this had an old manor house on the Yorkshire moors and a missing person and I kept expecting to fall in love with this any moment.  Unfortunately, I never did.  To start off with I didn't like any of the characters but what really did it in was that the interesting aspects of the mystery seemed to get buried in a surplus on meaningless details, pithy comments, or some Gothic-esque handwringing making this a bit of a boring read.  Add in an anti-climatic end to the missing persons case (and a somewhat confusing timeline) as well as never really getting the answer to the friend of the vicar who suddenly dropped dead in the conservatory and I was glad to see the last page of the book.  My Rating: Just Okay (2 Stars)

Goodreads:  First Frost (Waverley Family #2) by Sarah Addison Allen

Blurb:  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.

My Thoughts:  I have really enjoyed all the books I've read by Sarah Addison Allen and I adored the first book about the Waverley family.  I went into this book with super high expectations and at first it didn't quite live up to them.  Claire and Sydney are both a bit unhappy and off-kilter and are both flailing to try and figure out how to fix it.  Neither are exactly willing to ask for help or to really do some self reflecting.  For the first bit of the book Allen's usual magic felt a bit dimmer than in previous books.  It read quickly and I really enjoyed getting to know Bay as a teenager but it just didn't make me fall in love quite as much as previous books.  However, about halfway through the book things started clicking and that familiar magic returned.   And the ending left me with all the warm and fuzzy feelings that I could ever have asked for.  I think I went into this book with impossibly high expectations which kept me from enjoying the first book fully at first and I do think it dragged a bit at first.  However, once I got over it and the plot picked up speed I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's been awhile since I read a book by Sarah Addison Allen but I won't wait that long again!  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)


  1. That's too bad about Withering Heights. I like the title of that one! :)

  2. Yes sometimes it can be a cold slap in the face when we go into a book and our high expectations fall a bit flat. I am happy First Frost came through in the end.

  3. I hate it when you stick with a book thinking it will get better and it doesn't work out. I remember enjoying First Frost but can't remember anything else about it.