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BONUS: This edition contains excerpts from Sarah Addison Allen's The Peach Keeper and The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

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.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on May 20, 2008
ISBN: 9780553905243
List price: $11.99
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This book is so tastey! I love how Allen uses candy so intricately in the plot. The Sugar Queen is a cozy book to read during winter.read more
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Josey Cirrini is startled to find a woman hiding in her closet, not least because that's where she keeps her secret supplies of sweet foods, travel magazines and romance novels hidden from her disapproving mother.When Della Lee Baker refuses to leave the closet, claiming she needs to hide out for a few weeks before she heads north, Josey reluctantly agrees to let her stay. What's one more secret hidden in the closet after all?But Della Lee has a curious effect on Josey and her household. With maid Helena trying to track down the "bad thing" she feels has arrived in the house and her mother Margaret determined to keep Josey in her place, more servant than daughter, Josey finds herself making her first real friends. First Della Lee, then Chloe Finley who works at the courthouse and makes the best grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches ever, and finally Adam, the mailman Josey has had a crush on for three years.Josey suddenly finds that it isn't to late to change your life and that magic can happen to everyone, every single day, if only you are prepared to let it.The characters are mostly lovely, although one are two are not quite so charming.I really enjoyed this book and I wish that some of Chloe's magic would rub off on me. Having books magically appear when I need them would be a lot of fun and save me a fortune. I gave this book: 4 starsread more
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Having read and enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's first book, Garden Spells, I was a little annoyed at the opening of this book, which makes it apparent that we are in for essentially the same premise: a lonely woman with grievous self-esteem issues, all of course stemming from a tragically dysfunctional childhood, stays in her house and uses substitute-love (in this case, candy and sweets she keeps hidden in her closet) to fill the hole in her life. It is a familiar scenario, and one wonders if Allen has been working through her own issues and these books are the result. The other annoyance is the very fact that the main character, the lonely woman in question, is unhappily overweight and obsessive about food, a too-common idea that has become tiresome to me (given that I am an overweight woman who enjoys food and does not feel that there is anything really wrong with her body). The (unintentional?) subtext in this premise is that there are only two alternatives for women: either you don't eat sweets at all, and thus are slimmer and therefore happier, or you hoard sweets and eat them in the dark, away from society, because a woman who eats candy must of course be unhealthy, ashamed and deeply unhappy. Still, despite my initial trepidation, I read on and found that the story had its charms. Sure, there are still issues of the necessity of external validation (the main character has a secret crush and the flowering of that relationship, the approval of her chosen man, pulls her from her shell -- another plot point that has become a cliched part of the literary ideal), but one does invest in the characters and, ultimately, cheer them on through the processes of self-discovery and romantic bloom. That's what this really is -- a Southern romance, with a veneer of magical realism (the mysterious visitor in the closet, the books that appear when needed, etc.) that makes up for in charm what it lacks in originality. You know, instinctively, that there will be a happy ending. Pleasantly, Allen has tempered the saccharine with a touch of the bittersweet and one finishes the book feeling satisfied, if unsurprised.read more
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What a delightful whimsy book. I read this in a couple days and was totally entranced. The characters were great and the story line was nice. I loved that everyone had a magical mystical secret. It was a nice light, fun read. I recommend, highly!read more
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Just as good as her first book and totally different. She is an excellent writer.read more
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What an interesting story this was! It held my interest -- the characters so engaging. There was humor, romance and action. I will most definetly read other books by this author.read more
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After spending her whole life being the doting daughter, Josey knew she had to make up for her childhood, she wanted something for herself, mainly the mail man Adam, but didn‘t think that would ever happen. Waking up to find Della Lee in her closet changed more than just her eating habits (Josey had a secret stash of candy in the double size closet), it changed how she remembered her father, her relationship with her mother and the whole town. Della Lee had a way about her, she brought together Chloe and Josey at just the right time, they both needed a friend to lean on, they both had their secrets and they both had interesting relationships with the men they loved. Beautiful, touching and very enjoyable. This was a great story, actually about 3 couples finding their way together, or back together with the help of an interesting character. I didn’t put it together for more than half of the book, I am shocked (in a good way) to be a little surprised by the twist. These characters are (in my opinion) so well told, the tension between Adam and Josey in the snow gave me tingles, then Margaret’s confession made me tear up, and Helena’s ranting made me laugh, the whole time Josey held on to the since of duty for her mother, I just wanted to yell. Those kinds of emotions only come out for a well written character. This book should in no way be compared to Sarah Addison Allen’s other book (Garden Spells). She is a wonderful writer that can pen two great books that are not a cookie cutter version of the other, I am hoping she takes on another project soon.read more
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In this follow up to her debut, Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen displays exceptional and brilliant talent, with The Sugar Queen. Ms. Allen's characters are vivid and come easily to life The story draws the reader into its pages and transports them to a delightful Southern setting. Even the book cover is gorgeous and represents the story completely.Josey Cirrini is a twenty seven year old woman, who has convinced herself that it is her duty and life's destiny to care for her unappreciative and condescending Mother. She lives vicariously through her hidden closet filled with sweets of every kind, travel magazines and romance novels. That is until one day, Della Lee, a not exactly reputable society member, shows up in her closet and declares it to be her new home for the foreseeable future. It is through Della Lee's request for a sandwich, that Josey comes to meet and befriend Chloe. Chloe is a wonderful and unique character in the respect that she has this magical draw to books. No matter where she is, if a book deems it necessary, it will find her and follow, until it gets it's point across. With each woman holding a secret, they are bond together by unknown and inevitable ties.The Sugar Queen is a delightful and magical tale of faith, fate and the power of friendship. Sarah Addison Allen is an author that I feel truly blessed to have come across and discover. Both The Sugar Queen and Garden Spells are books that are on my all time favorites list and I anxiously await her new release in 2009!I highly recommend this to anyone looking for an engrossing and excellent read!*276 pgsread more
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The book opens with Josey, the unloved Princess of Bald Slope, North Carolina, opening her bedroom closet door to find Della Lee Baker, local waitress, sometimes prostitute, and newly found position of "fairy godmother" sopping wet in her floor blocking Josey's way to her stash of candy, cookies & romance novels. This of course does not sit well with Josey but what is she to do, she has never been one to cause a lot of trouble, not since her father passed away when she was 9 years old and she decided to stop being the town terror (of which no one in the town, least of all Josey's mother, will let her forget).Della Lee has chosen Josey's closet to hide in while she runs away from her abusive boyfriend, but before Della Lee heads North she has decided to transform Josey's life. Josey is not so sure she needs her life transformed but ends up reluctantly going along with the plan. Della Lee discovers Josey has been pining for a man for three years and begins to train her in the art of love. Della Lee also knows that Josey has no friends, so she sends her over to the cafe at the courthouse where Chloe Finley runs "Reds" her great-grandfather's sandwich cafe. Josey and Chloe immediately become fast friends. And Chloe is by far my favorite character. I don't feel bad for sharing this as it happens early in the book and is not a spoiler at all....book lovers will definitely relate: " She could remember the first time it happened to her. Being an only child raised by her great-grandparents on a farm miles from town, she was bored a lot. When she ran out of books to read, it only got worse. She was walking by the creek along the wood line at the end of the property one day when she was twelve, feeling mopey and frustrated, when she saw a book propped up against a willow tree. She walked over and picked it up. It was so new the spine creaked and popped when she opened it. It was a book on card tricks, full of fun things she could do with the deck of cards her great-grandmother kept in a drawer in the kitchen for her weekly canasta game. She called out, asking if anyone was there. No one answered. She didn't see any harm in looking through the book so she sat under the tree by the creek and read as much as she could before it got dark. She wanted to take it with her when her great-grandmother called her home, but she knew she couldn't. The owner of the book would surely want it back. So she reluctantly left it by the tree and ran home, trying to commit to memory everything she'd read. After dinner, Chloe took the deck of cards out of the kitchen drawer and went to her bedroom to try some of the tricks. She tried for a while, but she couldn't get them right without following the pictures in the book. She sighed and gathered the cards she'd spread out on the floor. She stood, and that's when she saw the book, the same book she'd left by the creek, on her nightstand. For a while after that, she thought her great-grandparents were surprising her with books. She'd find them on her bed, in her closet, in her favorite hideouts around the property. And they were always books she needed. Books on games or novels of adventures when she was bored. Books about growing up as she got older. But when her great-grandparents confronted her about all the books she had and where did she get the money to buy them, she realized they weren't the ones doing it. The next day, under her pillow, she found a book on clever storage solutions. It was exactly what she needed, something to show her how to hide her books. She accepted it from then on. Books liked her. Books wanted to look after her. " And from that passage on I was hooked. Anybody who would write about how books find us right when we need them and the magic of books, ahhh, that is an author I want to follow. The twists and turns and the growth of Josey throughout this book is nothing short of magical. There is no other word for it. I've tried to thesaurus the word, but nothing comes close. It is a treasure of a book and one that sits with you afterword like a good friend. Oh Sweet Friends, read this book. You'll be happy, and somewhat bittersweet, but mostly happy, that you did.read more
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About two or so years ago I picked up Garden Spells and was completely entranced by Sarah Addison Allen’s writing. While I’m not a huge fan of magical realism, I’m good with a small, semi-believable bit and I think that’s what she does so well. I also introduced a co-worker to her books, and thanks to that same co-worker, I got to read The Sugar Queen which was the last of Allen’s books I needed to finish.Josey Cirrini is the daughter of the man who made the small North Carolina town where she lives what it is today thanks to his Bald Slop Ski Resort. Josey lives a boring life caring for her mother’s every whim and constantly being put down even when she does things right. When Della Lee Baker, a woman from town, shows up one morning in her house, her life changes forever and Josey, for the first time in her life, is starting to experience life, friendship, love, and happiness.Poor Josey spends her days trying to make up for being an awful child but her mother keeps putting her down as if she were the same rude, ill-mannered child of ten. Della Lee, someone Josey knew about from town but never really met, helps her see that life has much more to offer than a closet full of candy and cookies. With a little help from Della Lee, Josey meets Chloe Finley and for the first time in her life, has an actual friend. It’s a happy and sad moment because up till this point, Josey did nothing but cater to her mother’s needs and comfort herself with snacks she keeps hidden in her closet. The whole world begins to open up and she realizes how much she’s missed. She wants to travel, see the world, and experience new things. Really, the woman needs an adventure. I feel I should say something about the ending here because it did bother me slightly. While I don’t mind a vague ending, as long as the main story is somewhat wrapped up, this one felt rushed and one story line ignored all together. Everything doesn’t need to be wrapped up nice and neat for me but I prefer to feel like I’m not being pushed through a door and told not to worry about any of the things I’m seeing on the way. I kind of felt that way about the ending of The Sugar Queen. I did enjoy the book but it did feel rushed to the point where I was wondering why she was keeping one particular storyline hidden. Now that I’ve read all of Allen’s books, I have to say Garden Spells is still my favorite. The Sugar Queen is a happy story, short and sweet, with moments of reality to ground it. I was looking for this type of read when this book just happened to come my way. It was a perfect little read for me --- comforting, funny with a bit of a happy ending. Sometime I need that in my reading.read more
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What a great summer read! This book is just deep enough to get you thinking ... but it's not so deep you can't understand it. It's just suspenseful enough to keep you reading ... but you can put it down when you really have to. It's just mysterious enough to keep you wondering ... but without an ending you won't find, well, plausible, if you are of a mind to.It's the story of a privileged young woman with a houseguest living in her closet and a mailman she's in love with, and what it takes to break her from a lifetime of caring for her mother. You won't be disappointed with this book; it is aboslutely perfect to take on your summer vacation!read more
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I found this to be a very unusual book, a fairy tale in concept perhaps, bringing to mind thoughts of Cinderella, maybe even Sleeping Beauty. I loved it. A revelation in a way. Part pathos, yet very funny, with magic thrown in for good measure. Our heroine, Josey, daughter of the very rich but deceased Marco Cirrini, is a perfect example of the way some people live their lives demoralized, feeling unworthy of anything better, and basically isolated from their surroundings. She lives with an adversarial mother who expects Josey to wait on her, stay home always, be available whenever she wants her, yet doesn't really like or want her. What happens to these people when something in their lives changes? How wonderful it would be to have something vastly out of the ordinary open a whole new life. This, then, is the basis of the story.Sarah Addison Allen has an inimitable way of looking at things, a superb imagination, as in her debut book Garden Spells. In The Sugar Queen, she has changed direction while maintaining that bit of magic and illusion found in her first book. Josey is approaching thirty, living with her mother in the luxurious home her father bought when he made his fortune building the ski resort that made the town the place to be in winter. Making up the third person in the household is the housemaid, of unknown nationality, but a woman full of superstition. Josey's only pleasure in life is found behind a false wall in her closet where she stores "lots and lots" of sweets, romance paperbacks, and travel magazines. One winter morning she finds something else in her closet: an interloper, Della Lee Baker, the hard luck, tough-talking girl of the town and about as unlike Josey as she can be. The last person in the world Josey would think of as a fairy godmother. But Della Lee is about to change Josey's life, with or without her consent or knowledge of her machinations. The interaction between these two is funny and perceptive. The housemaid, Helena (or is she?), is sure something bad is in the house and casts superstitious spells around the house, adding to the fun.It is difficult to review this book without spoilers, so I will cut to the chase. Through Della Lee, Josey meets several people, some good, some bad. She learns to make friends, especially Chloe, who needs Josey as much as Josey needs her, but neither are aware of it when they meet. She learns how to live outside of her own imposed isolation. What draws these three girls together? Why is Josey able to feel such an affinity with them as she becomes more familiar with them? There is action, danger, mystery, and many secrets to be revealed as Josey begins to open up to the world. Why is Della Lee still living in her closet? What is the big secret surrounding Josey? If you liked fairy tales as a child you'll recognize some similarities, but this is not a fairy tale, much as it contains what appears to be magic. This is a story of life and living it, not wasting it. Great fun, but there is truth in the overall picture of how people's lives can become so mixed up and self-damaging. But like a fairy tale there is a happy ending, although tinged with sadness. I really enjoyed the trip through Sarah Addison Allen's imagination once again and look forward to more.read more
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Although I am a fan of this author, this was not my favorite.read more
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A sweet, somewhat unexpected story about Josey, the perfect example of a loving daughter, caring for her overbearing mother, who comes home one day to find a disreputable woman hiding out in her closet. This untimely arrival heralds the beginning of many other unlooked for changes in Josey's life including a new friend, relationships and family revaltions. I was totally rooting for Josey and loved Chole (the new friend) espeically. I loved that books were 'drawn' to her and that they kept showing up to offer advice. Allen's storytelling is wonderful and constantly infused with little touches of magic - like it's a part of everyone's daily life. Such a fun, great book, my only complaint was that I wish it had been longer!read more
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Josey Cirrini's life is at a stand-still. As a child, she was bad-mannered and rude. When her father passed away at the age of nine, and she swore to make up for the bad ways that she treated her mother, she started hoarding sweets and romance novels in her closet. Now, at twenty-seven years old, she is a shy, obedient daughter to am overbearing mother, and is in love with her mailman. She keeps her dreams of traveling, adventure, and romance safely in her closet with her comfort foods. But when she wakes up to find that a strange woman has taken up residence in her closet, her entire life begins to change.How did you like the book?I loved it, and would read it again in a heartbeat.What did you like most about the book?I like that this book (and Sarah's other book, Garden Spells) has real-life scenarios that most books don't deal with like abuse and overeating. Sarah manages to weave these problems into a wonderful love story, while still respecting the consequences that these problems can have.This book also has some really good plot twists!What did you like least about the book?Some parts were a bit predictable.Would you recommend this book to others?I sure would!Any last words?Sarah's writing differs so far from other writers I can't explain it, but I like it. I love the way she effortlessly weaves magic into her stories. I adored her first book, Garden Spells, and the magic it held (who wouldn't love an apple tree that throws apples?). I was afraid that this book wouldn't hold up to the first, but it does! Who doesn't love persistent know-it-all books that appear out of nowhere?!read more
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Very enjoyable read. Some interesting characters. A great read for anyone who likes magical realism.read more
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Nice modern feel, I wanted to read in a day, not because of anticipation, but because it was just a good read. Had a great twist at the end I never saw coming.read more
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I read this book late into the night. I didn't want it to end. In fact the ending was something I did not predict and it brought me to tears. I have not picked up her first book but I definitely will now and I look forward to all the rest. I highly recommend this wonderful book!read more
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Another amazing book by Allen I couldn't put down. Anyone who liked Garden Spells would love this.read more
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Another girly fun read. Pure pleasure!read more
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Josey has lived in the same little town her entire life. As the daughter of the man who brought the town back to life, her life has been under constant scrutiny. When she was younger, she was a little hellion well known for throwing tantrums but after her father died, Josey has done all she could to a sweet daughter to improve her relationship with her mother, Margaret. That decision has turned her into a door mat. She is under the thumb of her ruling mother so much so that she can hardly leave the house. Her only comfort is in a stash of candy in the back of her closet as well as a stack of trashy romance novels, neither that her mother has any aware of. After a difficult day, Josey goes to her closet to endulge in both secret pleasures, she finds a woman in her closet. Not just any woman, but Della Lee, a woman with a shady past but a heart of gold. So like a fairy godmother, Della Lee is about to turn Joseys closeted world upside down. This was such a great book. It reminds me so much of Allen's previous book, Garden Spells. It is like your favorite candy that you just want to sit back and enjoy but find yourself eating it far to quickly. I didn't want this book to end! I love the main character of Josey with all her flaws and sweetness and Della Lee with her wit and practical advise. The supporting characters were well rounded and made you want to know these people in real life. I can't wait to see what Sarah Addison Allen will write nextread more
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The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen"The thing is, books just appear to me." This quote, from one of the central characters in the novel The Sugar Queen, accurately describes how I often stumble upon the books I read. Although I can't say I've had the same kind of magical experience as Chloe, for whom books just "arrive" in her life without having to go buy them at the store or check them out from the library, I often find that I am surprised by how appropriate or timely a book is for me.This book by Sara Addison Allen very much "wanted" to come home with me; as I perused my other options in the local Barnes and Noble, I kept coming back to the description on the back. I've been wanting to keep my promise of adding some reviews of novels about food to my blog, and I saw potential in this book. I also found the part about Chloe bumping into books that demanded to be read rather intriguing -- as if I was having the same experience with this book.The Sugar Queen is a book about a young woman, Josey, who loves sweets, but is trapped in a going-nowhere existence living with her rich, controlling mother. Josey, a plump but pretty girl, hides her amazing stash of old-fashioned candies and treats and romance novels behind a false wall in her closet. Since the outside world of the small, cutesy, Southern town of Bald Slope really holds nothing for her, Josey dreams about escaping from her mother's guilt tripand travelling the world.One day, Josey opens her closet -- where a horde of mallowmars and soda pop awaits -- to discover a visitor. Sitting there is Della Lee Baker, a woman with a shady past but a heart of gold and a knack for getting Josey to see the dead-end she is in. With Della Lee's encouragement, Josey breaks out out her rut and makes some new friends and discovers the power that comes from admitting her own desires, instead of hiding them in a closet.One of the friends is Chloe, a sweet, passionate, yet practical young woman who runs a sandwich shop in the courthouse building. Della augers that Josey and Chloe should meet, so she tells Josey to go get sandwiches from her: tomato and three-cheese, fried egg, turkey on cheese bread. The sandwiches sound tasty, and we even get a description of Chloe making the fried egg and cheese (spoiler! she uses a bit of dill on the cooking egg). Her storyline touched me even more than Josey's for entirely personal reasons. In her tale, her long-term boyfriend cheats on her one night -- a meaningless, one-time thing. Obviously hurt, Chloe turns the man out of his own apartment . . . and then begins to realize how deeply entwined their lives are. This is a couple who makes water boil when they are together (I had reminders of Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate here). However, Chloe also needs to develop some autonomy -- she has given everything to this man. Jake, her boyfriend, for his part, feels awful and is desperate to get Chloe back. While Chloe is trying to figure where her head is at, she is visited by a witty plague of books with titles, such as "Finding Forgiveness," and "A Girl's Guide to Keeping Her Guy." Though she never reads the books -- they seem to irritate her with their embarassing appearances -- Chloe seems to get the message anyway.Organized into chapters named for candies -- "Everlasting Gobstoppers" and "Sugar Daddy" are a couple -- The Sugar Queen would seem to put comfort food at the center of the novel. It's not. While the author cleverly dusts this tale with sugary descriptions, I felt that I was getting the "icks" -- a little too sweet, not enough substance. I couldn't help but feel a little grossed out by the thought of a grown woman eating so much junk. By the end, the book becomes a light adventure and a lesson in learning to be oneself. A nice message, but it could have been a little less predictable -- I saw the wrap-up to Della's story coming a mile away.I hestitate to call the book magical realism because it doesn't really have the substance of the typical offering from that movement/genre even though it does make use of unexplainable events. The strange occurences are not really depicted as "realism" -- they are weird even to the people who live with them everyday. This book falls more into the formula of a romance novel, a light story that uses magical events, like a modern fairy tale. I have to say that after just finishing Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses -- a book that can genuinely be defined as magical realism -- I found this book a little too light and fluffy for my tastes. It is a sweet story, and I found the two storylines of the lonely Josey and the betrayed Chloe to remind me of both my own past as a lonely girl who used food for comfort (in secret) and as a woman who knows the sting of being cheated on, to be a comforting distraction. But I didn't really learn anything, I wasn't moved to think of my world in a different way, and I didn't experience anything significant from a foodie's point of view that would make me recommend this book to other food-folk.Grade: C+read more
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I went into this book kind of the same way I go into candy stores – not knowing what exactly I’m going to get, but expecting it to somehow taste good. - What I liked best about The Sugar Queen was Sarah Addison Allen’s writing style. Her prose is simple yet really elegant and also packed with all sorts of literary techniques that will have English teachers squealing in delight. There are several times when this book just seems so savory! I am probably going overboard on the references to sweets, but come on, sweets play a major role! And so do books. Goodreads pals, we all can probably see a little of Chloe in ourselves when it comes to her “relationship” with books! There are also several passages in my copy that are underlined; not only does Allen have an amazing style of prose, but she is so good about conveying the messages and themes of her story. Unlike candy, The Sugar Queen is not all fluff and sweets: there are important lessons that can be learned from the stories of all the characters. - Characterization is another of Allen’s strong suits. She is able to take several characters, give them all important stories, connect them all together and yet keep them somehow independent. Josey Cirrini – a 27year old “this side of plump” young woman with a penchant for sweets and romance novels is the main character, but the omniscient perspective of the story follows pretty much every character at least once – I counted at least 7 perspectives by the end. While it was certainly interesting to get the dibs on every major character in this small town, and watch their emotional growth, it got a bit hectic at times. For example, if there were 3 people in a scene, the perspective would switch back-and-forth so rapidly that I wasn’t sure who was doing the thinking and the speaking. That’s the downside of omniscience, I guess. - And also, because each character is explored in such a complex way (kind of like putting characters under a microscope) you really start to develop feelings for all of them. I can’t believe it, but Allen was able to make me sympathetic to characters that I thought I’d already figured out (Jake - for finished readers)! All of her characters are flawed – they all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that are binding them in some way and keeping them from living their potential. That’s always an interesting thing to see in fiction – particularly grown up fiction. I guess at some point in literary history, characters were idealistic and “super-human,” without faults or weaknesses at all, because now the pendulum has pretty much swung in the clear opposite direction: we have characters who are so flawed they run the risk of being unrelatable. Sure, nobody’s perfect in real life so that needs to be seen in fiction, but if authors “screw up” their characters too much, they lose common ground with the reader. That’s probably my main disappointment when I read – authors write characters who are such screwballs that not only can I not relate, I can’t sympathize. The reason I want to introduce this idea is because Allen does not do that in her book. You can trust me on that – I’ll be the first to say how critical and hard-to-please I am! While I can’t relate specifically to certain characters, like what Chloe is going through (completely dependent on a man and thus in a passionate but one-sided and unhealthy relationship) I can relate to the feeling of not being in control of your own life. I'm sure we all feel that way sometimes. That’s pretty much the theme here – every character, for some reason or another, has a hurt, habit, or hang-up that they’re "in bondage" to. This book is about what happens next. And so I find this book appealing on the broad scale – on the lessons that Allen teaches through the story. And sure, I don’t see eye-to-eye with the author on some plot-y parts of the story, but I definitely am on board with her themes. So bottom line: I ventured out on a limb with a bona fide adult book and was pleasantly surprised not only by the sweet story and emotion-grabbing characters (you can’t help but cheer for Chloe and Josey and even Della Lee!) but by the substance of the thematic elements. I love books that teach, or at least, books with messages. Since this is an adult book, I wasn't surprised to find sex (not explicit but more that 'la la la how romantic!' feel and usually in flashbacks only) and language (I think like 3 'f' words toward the end). I only turn into a screaming banshee when I see that in YA stuff, so I guess I have no complaints. And I love the idea of books being magical, enchanted objects with minds of their own! That in and of itself is a brilliant and endearing concept!4/5. :Dread more
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I loved "The Sugar Queen". There. I've said it. My "literary" friends would never understand, but reading Sarah Addison Allen's books are like coming home. There's a large dose of fantasy in them, maybe a really large dose, but not menacing fantasy. Josey Cirrini is a prisoner--her mother keeps Josey at her beck and call--but at night she escapes with romance novels and sweets. One day a young woman takes up residence in Josey's closet, starts talking to her about her escapism and things begin to change for Josey and the people around her. Along the way Josey develops a friendship with a woman who "attracts" books--when she needs a lesson or a change of direction, books begin appearing for her. It sounds like total escapist fantasy and...maybe it is, but it's magical and entrancing. I just hope that Sarah Addison Allen never takes off those magical glasses.read more
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Great book! Loved, although don't really know why. I usually don't like any magic things. This one was really good though. Liked all the characters. Makes me want to read the first one now.

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The Sugar Queen has a little bit of everything: family drama, friendship, romance, mystery and a little magic to make it even more interesting. It’s the second release from the author of Garden Spells from last year, which I read and loved. If you’d like to read that review click here. This story centers around Josey Cirrini, a 29 year old woman who still lives with her mother, Margaret and does everything possible to gain her acceptance, which she’ll probably never get. Josey lives her life for her mother and the hope that the people of Bald Slope, North Carolina will one day forget what a terrible child she was and how horribly she treated Margaret. Because of her mothers’ relentless bossing around and Josey’s desire to make amends, she doesn’t have any friends, unless you count the sweet treats and romance novels she has hidden in a secret space in her closet. Those friends don’t judge her, they make her feel good. Margaret certainly would not approve of these indulgences. However, things start to change when local rough girl, Della Lee shows up in Josey’s closet one day and threatens to tell her secret unless she does a few things for her. Desperate to keep her secret, Josey reluctantly does what Della Lee says and even though Josey doesn’t realize it right away, she begins to change. Through Della Lee, Josey meets Chloe, who has just found out the love of her life has cheated on her. Their friendship grows quickly and Josey becomes someone Chloe turns to and trusts. Chloe has a special relationship with books that brings a whimsical feel to the story. I liked this story and the cast of characters very much. They each have their own issues, but it all fits in together to tell a complete story with a satisfying ending. As I’ve said before, I’m not big into the fantasy genre but what I like about Ms. Allen’s books is that the magical element is subtle and incorporated into her stories very nicely. As with Garden Spells, it didn’t monopolize the story at all or become to ’out there’. THE SUGAR QUEEN was an enjoyable, quick read and I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who enjoy magical realism.read more
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I really enjoyed the book. I really loved the characters, they were real to me.read more
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Allen sells this unbelieveable story well. A woman finds another woman living in her closet. Another woman is stalked by books. The love stories actually take away from the beauty and magic of Allen's work.read more
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A Readers Digest Condensed Book story . Easy read. Good story.read more
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I was on a roll of four star books for awhile there, but I guess it had to end sometime. There's nothing actually wrong with this book, its a reasonably charming small romance with some hints of southern gothic and magical realism. A young woman lives a dull life waiting on her elderly mother, the social queen of a small North Carolina town, until a few supernatural interventions knock her out of her rut and she and many of the other people she interacts with start making some more satisfying choices.

As I say, not a bad book, just not a great one. I like the characters well enough, and the story is fine but there isn't any great depth or passion here. Everyone has money and/or a good job, a reasonable education and some good friends and family - they just needed to clear up some misunderstandings. So, some stuck people decide to stop doing the things that made them get stuck - everybody pairs up and lives happily ever after in their nice, unexceptional safe world.

There are worse ways to pass a few hours. But, at least for me, its not really magical.read more
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This book is so tastey! I love how Allen uses candy so intricately in the plot. The Sugar Queen is a cozy book to read during winter.
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Josey Cirrini is startled to find a woman hiding in her closet, not least because that's where she keeps her secret supplies of sweet foods, travel magazines and romance novels hidden from her disapproving mother.When Della Lee Baker refuses to leave the closet, claiming she needs to hide out for a few weeks before she heads north, Josey reluctantly agrees to let her stay. What's one more secret hidden in the closet after all?But Della Lee has a curious effect on Josey and her household. With maid Helena trying to track down the "bad thing" she feels has arrived in the house and her mother Margaret determined to keep Josey in her place, more servant than daughter, Josey finds herself making her first real friends. First Della Lee, then Chloe Finley who works at the courthouse and makes the best grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches ever, and finally Adam, the mailman Josey has had a crush on for three years.Josey suddenly finds that it isn't to late to change your life and that magic can happen to everyone, every single day, if only you are prepared to let it.The characters are mostly lovely, although one are two are not quite so charming.I really enjoyed this book and I wish that some of Chloe's magic would rub off on me. Having books magically appear when I need them would be a lot of fun and save me a fortune. I gave this book: 4 stars
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Having read and enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's first book, Garden Spells, I was a little annoyed at the opening of this book, which makes it apparent that we are in for essentially the same premise: a lonely woman with grievous self-esteem issues, all of course stemming from a tragically dysfunctional childhood, stays in her house and uses substitute-love (in this case, candy and sweets she keeps hidden in her closet) to fill the hole in her life. It is a familiar scenario, and one wonders if Allen has been working through her own issues and these books are the result. The other annoyance is the very fact that the main character, the lonely woman in question, is unhappily overweight and obsessive about food, a too-common idea that has become tiresome to me (given that I am an overweight woman who enjoys food and does not feel that there is anything really wrong with her body). The (unintentional?) subtext in this premise is that there are only two alternatives for women: either you don't eat sweets at all, and thus are slimmer and therefore happier, or you hoard sweets and eat them in the dark, away from society, because a woman who eats candy must of course be unhealthy, ashamed and deeply unhappy. Still, despite my initial trepidation, I read on and found that the story had its charms. Sure, there are still issues of the necessity of external validation (the main character has a secret crush and the flowering of that relationship, the approval of her chosen man, pulls her from her shell -- another plot point that has become a cliched part of the literary ideal), but one does invest in the characters and, ultimately, cheer them on through the processes of self-discovery and romantic bloom. That's what this really is -- a Southern romance, with a veneer of magical realism (the mysterious visitor in the closet, the books that appear when needed, etc.) that makes up for in charm what it lacks in originality. You know, instinctively, that there will be a happy ending. Pleasantly, Allen has tempered the saccharine with a touch of the bittersweet and one finishes the book feeling satisfied, if unsurprised.
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What a delightful whimsy book. I read this in a couple days and was totally entranced. The characters were great and the story line was nice. I loved that everyone had a magical mystical secret. It was a nice light, fun read. I recommend, highly!
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Just as good as her first book and totally different. She is an excellent writer.
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What an interesting story this was! It held my interest -- the characters so engaging. There was humor, romance and action. I will most definetly read other books by this author.
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After spending her whole life being the doting daughter, Josey knew she had to make up for her childhood, she wanted something for herself, mainly the mail man Adam, but didn‘t think that would ever happen. Waking up to find Della Lee in her closet changed more than just her eating habits (Josey had a secret stash of candy in the double size closet), it changed how she remembered her father, her relationship with her mother and the whole town. Della Lee had a way about her, she brought together Chloe and Josey at just the right time, they both needed a friend to lean on, they both had their secrets and they both had interesting relationships with the men they loved. Beautiful, touching and very enjoyable. This was a great story, actually about 3 couples finding their way together, or back together with the help of an interesting character. I didn’t put it together for more than half of the book, I am shocked (in a good way) to be a little surprised by the twist. These characters are (in my opinion) so well told, the tension between Adam and Josey in the snow gave me tingles, then Margaret’s confession made me tear up, and Helena’s ranting made me laugh, the whole time Josey held on to the since of duty for her mother, I just wanted to yell. Those kinds of emotions only come out for a well written character. This book should in no way be compared to Sarah Addison Allen’s other book (Garden Spells). She is a wonderful writer that can pen two great books that are not a cookie cutter version of the other, I am hoping she takes on another project soon.
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In this follow up to her debut, Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen displays exceptional and brilliant talent, with The Sugar Queen. Ms. Allen's characters are vivid and come easily to life The story draws the reader into its pages and transports them to a delightful Southern setting. Even the book cover is gorgeous and represents the story completely.Josey Cirrini is a twenty seven year old woman, who has convinced herself that it is her duty and life's destiny to care for her unappreciative and condescending Mother. She lives vicariously through her hidden closet filled with sweets of every kind, travel magazines and romance novels. That is until one day, Della Lee, a not exactly reputable society member, shows up in her closet and declares it to be her new home for the foreseeable future. It is through Della Lee's request for a sandwich, that Josey comes to meet and befriend Chloe. Chloe is a wonderful and unique character in the respect that she has this magical draw to books. No matter where she is, if a book deems it necessary, it will find her and follow, until it gets it's point across. With each woman holding a secret, they are bond together by unknown and inevitable ties.The Sugar Queen is a delightful and magical tale of faith, fate and the power of friendship. Sarah Addison Allen is an author that I feel truly blessed to have come across and discover. Both The Sugar Queen and Garden Spells are books that are on my all time favorites list and I anxiously await her new release in 2009!I highly recommend this to anyone looking for an engrossing and excellent read!*276 pgs
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The book opens with Josey, the unloved Princess of Bald Slope, North Carolina, opening her bedroom closet door to find Della Lee Baker, local waitress, sometimes prostitute, and newly found position of "fairy godmother" sopping wet in her floor blocking Josey's way to her stash of candy, cookies & romance novels. This of course does not sit well with Josey but what is she to do, she has never been one to cause a lot of trouble, not since her father passed away when she was 9 years old and she decided to stop being the town terror (of which no one in the town, least of all Josey's mother, will let her forget).Della Lee has chosen Josey's closet to hide in while she runs away from her abusive boyfriend, but before Della Lee heads North she has decided to transform Josey's life. Josey is not so sure she needs her life transformed but ends up reluctantly going along with the plan. Della Lee discovers Josey has been pining for a man for three years and begins to train her in the art of love. Della Lee also knows that Josey has no friends, so she sends her over to the cafe at the courthouse where Chloe Finley runs "Reds" her great-grandfather's sandwich cafe. Josey and Chloe immediately become fast friends. And Chloe is by far my favorite character. I don't feel bad for sharing this as it happens early in the book and is not a spoiler at all....book lovers will definitely relate: " She could remember the first time it happened to her. Being an only child raised by her great-grandparents on a farm miles from town, she was bored a lot. When she ran out of books to read, it only got worse. She was walking by the creek along the wood line at the end of the property one day when she was twelve, feeling mopey and frustrated, when she saw a book propped up against a willow tree. She walked over and picked it up. It was so new the spine creaked and popped when she opened it. It was a book on card tricks, full of fun things she could do with the deck of cards her great-grandmother kept in a drawer in the kitchen for her weekly canasta game. She called out, asking if anyone was there. No one answered. She didn't see any harm in looking through the book so she sat under the tree by the creek and read as much as she could before it got dark. She wanted to take it with her when her great-grandmother called her home, but she knew she couldn't. The owner of the book would surely want it back. So she reluctantly left it by the tree and ran home, trying to commit to memory everything she'd read. After dinner, Chloe took the deck of cards out of the kitchen drawer and went to her bedroom to try some of the tricks. She tried for a while, but she couldn't get them right without following the pictures in the book. She sighed and gathered the cards she'd spread out on the floor. She stood, and that's when she saw the book, the same book she'd left by the creek, on her nightstand. For a while after that, she thought her great-grandparents were surprising her with books. She'd find them on her bed, in her closet, in her favorite hideouts around the property. And they were always books she needed. Books on games or novels of adventures when she was bored. Books about growing up as she got older. But when her great-grandparents confronted her about all the books she had and where did she get the money to buy them, she realized they weren't the ones doing it. The next day, under her pillow, she found a book on clever storage solutions. It was exactly what she needed, something to show her how to hide her books. She accepted it from then on. Books liked her. Books wanted to look after her. " And from that passage on I was hooked. Anybody who would write about how books find us right when we need them and the magic of books, ahhh, that is an author I want to follow. The twists and turns and the growth of Josey throughout this book is nothing short of magical. There is no other word for it. I've tried to thesaurus the word, but nothing comes close. It is a treasure of a book and one that sits with you afterword like a good friend. Oh Sweet Friends, read this book. You'll be happy, and somewhat bittersweet, but mostly happy, that you did.
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About two or so years ago I picked up Garden Spells and was completely entranced by Sarah Addison Allen’s writing. While I’m not a huge fan of magical realism, I’m good with a small, semi-believable bit and I think that’s what she does so well. I also introduced a co-worker to her books, and thanks to that same co-worker, I got to read The Sugar Queen which was the last of Allen’s books I needed to finish.Josey Cirrini is the daughter of the man who made the small North Carolina town where she lives what it is today thanks to his Bald Slop Ski Resort. Josey lives a boring life caring for her mother’s every whim and constantly being put down even when she does things right. When Della Lee Baker, a woman from town, shows up one morning in her house, her life changes forever and Josey, for the first time in her life, is starting to experience life, friendship, love, and happiness.Poor Josey spends her days trying to make up for being an awful child but her mother keeps putting her down as if she were the same rude, ill-mannered child of ten. Della Lee, someone Josey knew about from town but never really met, helps her see that life has much more to offer than a closet full of candy and cookies. With a little help from Della Lee, Josey meets Chloe Finley and for the first time in her life, has an actual friend. It’s a happy and sad moment because up till this point, Josey did nothing but cater to her mother’s needs and comfort herself with snacks she keeps hidden in her closet. The whole world begins to open up and she realizes how much she’s missed. She wants to travel, see the world, and experience new things. Really, the woman needs an adventure. I feel I should say something about the ending here because it did bother me slightly. While I don’t mind a vague ending, as long as the main story is somewhat wrapped up, this one felt rushed and one story line ignored all together. Everything doesn’t need to be wrapped up nice and neat for me but I prefer to feel like I’m not being pushed through a door and told not to worry about any of the things I’m seeing on the way. I kind of felt that way about the ending of The Sugar Queen. I did enjoy the book but it did feel rushed to the point where I was wondering why she was keeping one particular storyline hidden. Now that I’ve read all of Allen’s books, I have to say Garden Spells is still my favorite. The Sugar Queen is a happy story, short and sweet, with moments of reality to ground it. I was looking for this type of read when this book just happened to come my way. It was a perfect little read for me --- comforting, funny with a bit of a happy ending. Sometime I need that in my reading.
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What a great summer read! This book is just deep enough to get you thinking ... but it's not so deep you can't understand it. It's just suspenseful enough to keep you reading ... but you can put it down when you really have to. It's just mysterious enough to keep you wondering ... but without an ending you won't find, well, plausible, if you are of a mind to.It's the story of a privileged young woman with a houseguest living in her closet and a mailman she's in love with, and what it takes to break her from a lifetime of caring for her mother. You won't be disappointed with this book; it is aboslutely perfect to take on your summer vacation!
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I found this to be a very unusual book, a fairy tale in concept perhaps, bringing to mind thoughts of Cinderella, maybe even Sleeping Beauty. I loved it. A revelation in a way. Part pathos, yet very funny, with magic thrown in for good measure. Our heroine, Josey, daughter of the very rich but deceased Marco Cirrini, is a perfect example of the way some people live their lives demoralized, feeling unworthy of anything better, and basically isolated from their surroundings. She lives with an adversarial mother who expects Josey to wait on her, stay home always, be available whenever she wants her, yet doesn't really like or want her. What happens to these people when something in their lives changes? How wonderful it would be to have something vastly out of the ordinary open a whole new life. This, then, is the basis of the story.Sarah Addison Allen has an inimitable way of looking at things, a superb imagination, as in her debut book Garden Spells. In The Sugar Queen, she has changed direction while maintaining that bit of magic and illusion found in her first book. Josey is approaching thirty, living with her mother in the luxurious home her father bought when he made his fortune building the ski resort that made the town the place to be in winter. Making up the third person in the household is the housemaid, of unknown nationality, but a woman full of superstition. Josey's only pleasure in life is found behind a false wall in her closet where she stores "lots and lots" of sweets, romance paperbacks, and travel magazines. One winter morning she finds something else in her closet: an interloper, Della Lee Baker, the hard luck, tough-talking girl of the town and about as unlike Josey as she can be. The last person in the world Josey would think of as a fairy godmother. But Della Lee is about to change Josey's life, with or without her consent or knowledge of her machinations. The interaction between these two is funny and perceptive. The housemaid, Helena (or is she?), is sure something bad is in the house and casts superstitious spells around the house, adding to the fun.It is difficult to review this book without spoilers, so I will cut to the chase. Through Della Lee, Josey meets several people, some good, some bad. She learns to make friends, especially Chloe, who needs Josey as much as Josey needs her, but neither are aware of it when they meet. She learns how to live outside of her own imposed isolation. What draws these three girls together? Why is Josey able to feel such an affinity with them as she becomes more familiar with them? There is action, danger, mystery, and many secrets to be revealed as Josey begins to open up to the world. Why is Della Lee still living in her closet? What is the big secret surrounding Josey? If you liked fairy tales as a child you'll recognize some similarities, but this is not a fairy tale, much as it contains what appears to be magic. This is a story of life and living it, not wasting it. Great fun, but there is truth in the overall picture of how people's lives can become so mixed up and self-damaging. But like a fairy tale there is a happy ending, although tinged with sadness. I really enjoyed the trip through Sarah Addison Allen's imagination once again and look forward to more.
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Although I am a fan of this author, this was not my favorite.
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A sweet, somewhat unexpected story about Josey, the perfect example of a loving daughter, caring for her overbearing mother, who comes home one day to find a disreputable woman hiding out in her closet. This untimely arrival heralds the beginning of many other unlooked for changes in Josey's life including a new friend, relationships and family revaltions. I was totally rooting for Josey and loved Chole (the new friend) espeically. I loved that books were 'drawn' to her and that they kept showing up to offer advice. Allen's storytelling is wonderful and constantly infused with little touches of magic - like it's a part of everyone's daily life. Such a fun, great book, my only complaint was that I wish it had been longer!
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Josey Cirrini's life is at a stand-still. As a child, she was bad-mannered and rude. When her father passed away at the age of nine, and she swore to make up for the bad ways that she treated her mother, she started hoarding sweets and romance novels in her closet. Now, at twenty-seven years old, she is a shy, obedient daughter to am overbearing mother, and is in love with her mailman. She keeps her dreams of traveling, adventure, and romance safely in her closet with her comfort foods. But when she wakes up to find that a strange woman has taken up residence in her closet, her entire life begins to change.How did you like the book?I loved it, and would read it again in a heartbeat.What did you like most about the book?I like that this book (and Sarah's other book, Garden Spells) has real-life scenarios that most books don't deal with like abuse and overeating. Sarah manages to weave these problems into a wonderful love story, while still respecting the consequences that these problems can have.This book also has some really good plot twists!What did you like least about the book?Some parts were a bit predictable.Would you recommend this book to others?I sure would!Any last words?Sarah's writing differs so far from other writers I can't explain it, but I like it. I love the way she effortlessly weaves magic into her stories. I adored her first book, Garden Spells, and the magic it held (who wouldn't love an apple tree that throws apples?). I was afraid that this book wouldn't hold up to the first, but it does! Who doesn't love persistent know-it-all books that appear out of nowhere?!
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Very enjoyable read. Some interesting characters. A great read for anyone who likes magical realism.
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Nice modern feel, I wanted to read in a day, not because of anticipation, but because it was just a good read. Had a great twist at the end I never saw coming.
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I read this book late into the night. I didn't want it to end. In fact the ending was something I did not predict and it brought me to tears. I have not picked up her first book but I definitely will now and I look forward to all the rest. I highly recommend this wonderful book!
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Another amazing book by Allen I couldn't put down. Anyone who liked Garden Spells would love this.
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Another girly fun read. Pure pleasure!
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Josey has lived in the same little town her entire life. As the daughter of the man who brought the town back to life, her life has been under constant scrutiny. When she was younger, she was a little hellion well known for throwing tantrums but after her father died, Josey has done all she could to a sweet daughter to improve her relationship with her mother, Margaret. That decision has turned her into a door mat. She is under the thumb of her ruling mother so much so that she can hardly leave the house. Her only comfort is in a stash of candy in the back of her closet as well as a stack of trashy romance novels, neither that her mother has any aware of. After a difficult day, Josey goes to her closet to endulge in both secret pleasures, she finds a woman in her closet. Not just any woman, but Della Lee, a woman with a shady past but a heart of gold. So like a fairy godmother, Della Lee is about to turn Joseys closeted world upside down. This was such a great book. It reminds me so much of Allen's previous book, Garden Spells. It is like your favorite candy that you just want to sit back and enjoy but find yourself eating it far to quickly. I didn't want this book to end! I love the main character of Josey with all her flaws and sweetness and Della Lee with her wit and practical advise. The supporting characters were well rounded and made you want to know these people in real life. I can't wait to see what Sarah Addison Allen will write next
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The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen"The thing is, books just appear to me." This quote, from one of the central characters in the novel The Sugar Queen, accurately describes how I often stumble upon the books I read. Although I can't say I've had the same kind of magical experience as Chloe, for whom books just "arrive" in her life without having to go buy them at the store or check them out from the library, I often find that I am surprised by how appropriate or timely a book is for me.This book by Sara Addison Allen very much "wanted" to come home with me; as I perused my other options in the local Barnes and Noble, I kept coming back to the description on the back. I've been wanting to keep my promise of adding some reviews of novels about food to my blog, and I saw potential in this book. I also found the part about Chloe bumping into books that demanded to be read rather intriguing -- as if I was having the same experience with this book.The Sugar Queen is a book about a young woman, Josey, who loves sweets, but is trapped in a going-nowhere existence living with her rich, controlling mother. Josey, a plump but pretty girl, hides her amazing stash of old-fashioned candies and treats and romance novels behind a false wall in her closet. Since the outside world of the small, cutesy, Southern town of Bald Slope really holds nothing for her, Josey dreams about escaping from her mother's guilt tripand travelling the world.One day, Josey opens her closet -- where a horde of mallowmars and soda pop awaits -- to discover a visitor. Sitting there is Della Lee Baker, a woman with a shady past but a heart of gold and a knack for getting Josey to see the dead-end she is in. With Della Lee's encouragement, Josey breaks out out her rut and makes some new friends and discovers the power that comes from admitting her own desires, instead of hiding them in a closet.One of the friends is Chloe, a sweet, passionate, yet practical young woman who runs a sandwich shop in the courthouse building. Della augers that Josey and Chloe should meet, so she tells Josey to go get sandwiches from her: tomato and three-cheese, fried egg, turkey on cheese bread. The sandwiches sound tasty, and we even get a description of Chloe making the fried egg and cheese (spoiler! she uses a bit of dill on the cooking egg). Her storyline touched me even more than Josey's for entirely personal reasons. In her tale, her long-term boyfriend cheats on her one night -- a meaningless, one-time thing. Obviously hurt, Chloe turns the man out of his own apartment . . . and then begins to realize how deeply entwined their lives are. This is a couple who makes water boil when they are together (I had reminders of Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate here). However, Chloe also needs to develop some autonomy -- she has given everything to this man. Jake, her boyfriend, for his part, feels awful and is desperate to get Chloe back. While Chloe is trying to figure where her head is at, she is visited by a witty plague of books with titles, such as "Finding Forgiveness," and "A Girl's Guide to Keeping Her Guy." Though she never reads the books -- they seem to irritate her with their embarassing appearances -- Chloe seems to get the message anyway.Organized into chapters named for candies -- "Everlasting Gobstoppers" and "Sugar Daddy" are a couple -- The Sugar Queen would seem to put comfort food at the center of the novel. It's not. While the author cleverly dusts this tale with sugary descriptions, I felt that I was getting the "icks" -- a little too sweet, not enough substance. I couldn't help but feel a little grossed out by the thought of a grown woman eating so much junk. By the end, the book becomes a light adventure and a lesson in learning to be oneself. A nice message, but it could have been a little less predictable -- I saw the wrap-up to Della's story coming a mile away.I hestitate to call the book magical realism because it doesn't really have the substance of the typical offering from that movement/genre even though it does make use of unexplainable events. The strange occurences are not really depicted as "realism" -- they are weird even to the people who live with them everyday. This book falls more into the formula of a romance novel, a light story that uses magical events, like a modern fairy tale. I have to say that after just finishing Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses -- a book that can genuinely be defined as magical realism -- I found this book a little too light and fluffy for my tastes. It is a sweet story, and I found the two storylines of the lonely Josey and the betrayed Chloe to remind me of both my own past as a lonely girl who used food for comfort (in secret) and as a woman who knows the sting of being cheated on, to be a comforting distraction. But I didn't really learn anything, I wasn't moved to think of my world in a different way, and I didn't experience anything significant from a foodie's point of view that would make me recommend this book to other food-folk.Grade: C+
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I went into this book kind of the same way I go into candy stores – not knowing what exactly I’m going to get, but expecting it to somehow taste good. - What I liked best about The Sugar Queen was Sarah Addison Allen’s writing style. Her prose is simple yet really elegant and also packed with all sorts of literary techniques that will have English teachers squealing in delight. There are several times when this book just seems so savory! I am probably going overboard on the references to sweets, but come on, sweets play a major role! And so do books. Goodreads pals, we all can probably see a little of Chloe in ourselves when it comes to her “relationship” with books! There are also several passages in my copy that are underlined; not only does Allen have an amazing style of prose, but she is so good about conveying the messages and themes of her story. Unlike candy, The Sugar Queen is not all fluff and sweets: there are important lessons that can be learned from the stories of all the characters. - Characterization is another of Allen’s strong suits. She is able to take several characters, give them all important stories, connect them all together and yet keep them somehow independent. Josey Cirrini – a 27year old “this side of plump” young woman with a penchant for sweets and romance novels is the main character, but the omniscient perspective of the story follows pretty much every character at least once – I counted at least 7 perspectives by the end. While it was certainly interesting to get the dibs on every major character in this small town, and watch their emotional growth, it got a bit hectic at times. For example, if there were 3 people in a scene, the perspective would switch back-and-forth so rapidly that I wasn’t sure who was doing the thinking and the speaking. That’s the downside of omniscience, I guess. - And also, because each character is explored in such a complex way (kind of like putting characters under a microscope) you really start to develop feelings for all of them. I can’t believe it, but Allen was able to make me sympathetic to characters that I thought I’d already figured out (Jake - for finished readers)! All of her characters are flawed – they all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that are binding them in some way and keeping them from living their potential. That’s always an interesting thing to see in fiction – particularly grown up fiction. I guess at some point in literary history, characters were idealistic and “super-human,” without faults or weaknesses at all, because now the pendulum has pretty much swung in the clear opposite direction: we have characters who are so flawed they run the risk of being unrelatable. Sure, nobody’s perfect in real life so that needs to be seen in fiction, but if authors “screw up” their characters too much, they lose common ground with the reader. That’s probably my main disappointment when I read – authors write characters who are such screwballs that not only can I not relate, I can’t sympathize. The reason I want to introduce this idea is because Allen does not do that in her book. You can trust me on that – I’ll be the first to say how critical and hard-to-please I am! While I can’t relate specifically to certain characters, like what Chloe is going through (completely dependent on a man and thus in a passionate but one-sided and unhealthy relationship) I can relate to the feeling of not being in control of your own life. I'm sure we all feel that way sometimes. That’s pretty much the theme here – every character, for some reason or another, has a hurt, habit, or hang-up that they’re "in bondage" to. This book is about what happens next. And so I find this book appealing on the broad scale – on the lessons that Allen teaches through the story. And sure, I don’t see eye-to-eye with the author on some plot-y parts of the story, but I definitely am on board with her themes. So bottom line: I ventured out on a limb with a bona fide adult book and was pleasantly surprised not only by the sweet story and emotion-grabbing characters (you can’t help but cheer for Chloe and Josey and even Della Lee!) but by the substance of the thematic elements. I love books that teach, or at least, books with messages. Since this is an adult book, I wasn't surprised to find sex (not explicit but more that 'la la la how romantic!' feel and usually in flashbacks only) and language (I think like 3 'f' words toward the end). I only turn into a screaming banshee when I see that in YA stuff, so I guess I have no complaints. And I love the idea of books being magical, enchanted objects with minds of their own! That in and of itself is a brilliant and endearing concept!4/5. :D
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I loved "The Sugar Queen". There. I've said it. My "literary" friends would never understand, but reading Sarah Addison Allen's books are like coming home. There's a large dose of fantasy in them, maybe a really large dose, but not menacing fantasy. Josey Cirrini is a prisoner--her mother keeps Josey at her beck and call--but at night she escapes with romance novels and sweets. One day a young woman takes up residence in Josey's closet, starts talking to her about her escapism and things begin to change for Josey and the people around her. Along the way Josey develops a friendship with a woman who "attracts" books--when she needs a lesson or a change of direction, books begin appearing for her. It sounds like total escapist fantasy and...maybe it is, but it's magical and entrancing. I just hope that Sarah Addison Allen never takes off those magical glasses.
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Great book! Loved, although don't really know why. I usually don't like any magic things. This one was really good though. Liked all the characters. Makes me want to read the first one now.

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The Sugar Queen has a little bit of everything: family drama, friendship, romance, mystery and a little magic to make it even more interesting. It’s the second release from the author of Garden Spells from last year, which I read and loved. If you’d like to read that review click here. This story centers around Josey Cirrini, a 29 year old woman who still lives with her mother, Margaret and does everything possible to gain her acceptance, which she’ll probably never get. Josey lives her life for her mother and the hope that the people of Bald Slope, North Carolina will one day forget what a terrible child she was and how horribly she treated Margaret. Because of her mothers’ relentless bossing around and Josey’s desire to make amends, she doesn’t have any friends, unless you count the sweet treats and romance novels she has hidden in a secret space in her closet. Those friends don’t judge her, they make her feel good. Margaret certainly would not approve of these indulgences. However, things start to change when local rough girl, Della Lee shows up in Josey’s closet one day and threatens to tell her secret unless she does a few things for her. Desperate to keep her secret, Josey reluctantly does what Della Lee says and even though Josey doesn’t realize it right away, she begins to change. Through Della Lee, Josey meets Chloe, who has just found out the love of her life has cheated on her. Their friendship grows quickly and Josey becomes someone Chloe turns to and trusts. Chloe has a special relationship with books that brings a whimsical feel to the story. I liked this story and the cast of characters very much. They each have their own issues, but it all fits in together to tell a complete story with a satisfying ending. As I’ve said before, I’m not big into the fantasy genre but what I like about Ms. Allen’s books is that the magical element is subtle and incorporated into her stories very nicely. As with Garden Spells, it didn’t monopolize the story at all or become to ’out there’. THE SUGAR QUEEN was an enjoyable, quick read and I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who enjoy magical realism.
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I really enjoyed the book. I really loved the characters, they were real to me.
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Allen sells this unbelieveable story well. A woman finds another woman living in her closet. Another woman is stalked by books. The love stories actually take away from the beauty and magic of Allen's work.
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A Readers Digest Condensed Book story . Easy read. Good story.
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I was on a roll of four star books for awhile there, but I guess it had to end sometime. There's nothing actually wrong with this book, its a reasonably charming small romance with some hints of southern gothic and magical realism. A young woman lives a dull life waiting on her elderly mother, the social queen of a small North Carolina town, until a few supernatural interventions knock her out of her rut and she and many of the other people she interacts with start making some more satisfying choices.

As I say, not a bad book, just not a great one. I like the characters well enough, and the story is fine but there isn't any great depth or passion here. Everyone has money and/or a good job, a reasonable education and some good friends and family - they just needed to clear up some misunderstandings. So, some stuck people decide to stop doing the things that made them get stuck - everybody pairs up and lives happily ever after in their nice, unexceptional safe world.

There are worse ways to pass a few hours. But, at least for me, its not really magical.
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