Meredith and Nina Whitson rarely agreed on anything except that their mother, Anya, was stern, distant and unfathomable. Drawn together when their father dies, the sisters encourage their mother to fulfill his last wish, which is to tell them the story of a Russian girl and the prince who saved her. That simple request uncovers long-held family secrets, taking the women into the dark past to show them the way to a happier, brighter future. Winter Garden is a beautifully rendered story that revitalizes a familiar theme thanks to Kristin Hannah's skillful mix of contemporary fiction with Anya's Russian fairy tales of hardship and survival. Readers are transported from the security of the family apple orchard and Anya's winter garden to the horrors of war-torn Leningrad and the bitter cold of Alaska. As the older woman spins her story, the sisters learn the truth of their mother's experiences, opening the doors to love and understanding.
Not all gardens are places of beauty, and Jessamine Luxton knows this firsthand. In 18th-century England, her healer and herbalist father, Thomas, must mix his own cures and tend his own plants, some of which can be dangerous if used by the uninitiated. When an orphan boy known as Weed enters their lives, something begins to stir in the gardens, and Jessamine finds herself at a crossroads. The Poison Diaries, the first installment of a trilogy by Maryrose Wood, is a compelling young adult tale of good and evil that combines Gothic elements with solid historical fiction. The reader is quickly drawn into the Luxtons' world, wondering if Weed is friend or foe, if Thomas is sane or crazy and if Jessamine is naive or wise. Wood reveals clues slowly, expertly building the tension and mystery. Be prepared to be swept away by this exciting story that appeals to teens and adults alike.
The Waverleys' garden is well-known to the folks of Bascom, North Carolina. The edible flowers, sweet herbs and sturdy apple tree and the family that tends them seem to have special powers. For example, Evenelle has a knack for giving the perfect gift, the apples are known to be prophetic and food from the garden can change people's fate. Although generations of Waverleys have fed and helped their neighbors, Claire thought she was the end of the line until her sister moves back home with a 5-year-old daughter in tow. As the women mend past hurts and strengthen new bonds, their shared legacy brings rekindled hope for the garden's future and opens their hearts to the possibility of love. From the Waverley sisters' journey to reconciliation to the antics of the wily apple tree at the heart of the garden, Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells is a magical reading choice for a warm spring day.
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