Would someone please tell Mother Nature that it’s spring?! Way too much snow considering it’s mid-April! I’ve been trying to ignore the wintry weather outside by reading some more spring-like books.

Let me start with The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick.

Friends. Friends….! 

Have you discovered Ellen Herrick yet?

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I read her first book, The Sparrow Sisters, when it came out three years ago. I loved it, but had forgotten how just how much until I picked up the sequel.

The books revolve around (surprise) the Sparrow Sisters:

With echoes of the alchemy of Practical Magic, the lushness of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and the darkly joyful wickedness of the Witches of East End, Ellen Herrick's debut novel spins an enchanting love story about a place where magic whispers just beneath the surface and almost anything is possible if you aren't afraid to listen.

The Sparrow Sisters are as tightly woven into the seaside New England town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk.

The first book deals with Patience, the healer. The second with Sorrel, the garden whisperer.

The Forbidden Garden 

Every garden is a story waiting to be told....

At the nursery she runs with her sisters on the New England coast, Sorrel Sparrow has honed her rare gift for nurturing plants and flowers. Now that reputation, and a stroke of good timing, lands Sorrel an unexpected opportunity: reviving a long-dormant Shakespearean garden on an English country estate.

I love love love Herrick’s writing and storytelling. They’re lush and textured, elegant and intricate. Both books have historical elements in them, but they are threads of the story, rather than timeline shifts. And the hints of magic are totally my catnip.

Sorrel travels to an English estate to save a garden, but as she brings the landscape back to life, she also breathes new life into a wounded family and helps them face an ancient scourge in their history. Herrick brings quirky characters to life and sets a contemporary story against a backdrop of curses and betrayal that casts a long shadow, and needs Sorrel’s special brand of  rejuvenation to heal the family and the land.

I just loved these books and have added Herrick to my must-read list of authors.

Speaking of second books from authors whose debuts I loved, I also had the pleasure of reading Abbi Waxman’s recent release, Other People’s Houses. An L.A. neighborhood is rocked by one woman’s affair with a younger man, which makes various members of the community question their own relationships. This is Waxman’s second book, and while it doesn’t quite hit the effervescent charm of her debut (last year’s The Garden of Small Beginnings - review here), it is still a terrific character-driven look at suburbia in crisis, and how the big and small ways people care for each other can make an immense difference.

From the Kirkus review (here): “Waxman is a master at purveying the wry humor that rides just below the surface of even the tough times. An immensely enjoyable read.”


Waxman is another new favorite for me, and I highly recommend both of these books. The Garden of Small Beginnings was one of my favorite books last year, and while both titles are centered on an interesting story, it’s Waxman’s keen eye for detail and ability to draw authentic, multi-faceted characters that make her books great. It doesn’t hurt that the main characters are warmly approachable, yet flawed—and self-aware enough to express themselves with honesty, humor and grace.

I sincerely hope you’ll give these two authors a try, if you haven’t discovered them already.