There are a few authors who are on my automatic review list. They're the ones who get a enthusiastic "hell yes!" when they email me to ask if I can review their latest book. Anna Garner is one of those authors. She had told me a bit about her new series awhile ago and when she eventually asked if I would review the first I said of course! Sugar Spun Sister is the first in the Sweet Dreams series and I. Loved. It. Anna, you have another winner!
Here's the synopsis:
Life isn’t exactly sweet for Cricket Whittier. Her boss hates her, her work is soul-destroying, and the sexy guy she’s hooking up with doesn’t want to date her. But this girl is far from hopeless. When Cricket’s in the kitchen with her ice cream maker and a few choice ingredients, her troubles slip away as she becomes a delectable dessert-designing powerhouse. She loves it so much, she dreams of opening her own ice cream shop one day.As it turns out, “one day” just might be closer than she thinks. Propelled by the help and encouragement of her best friends, Lindsay and Nora, Cricket starts making plans to set up shop. Which is easier said than done what with the internal squabbling, the sky-high costs, her parents forecasting failure and her increasingly complicated love life. Despite all these hurdles, will Cricket be able to make her sweet dreams come true?Like with all of Garner's characters, I immediately fell in love with Cricket. She was so much fun and so easy to relate to. Also like most of Garner's characters, she's not afraid to drop the occasional f-bomb which, to me, makes her more real. I know some people could be put off by the swearing but that really doesn't bother me (because I've been known to swear like a sailor myself...). The dialogue between characters is totally believable and conversations always seem like ones I could have with my own girlfriends. But back to Cricket...I liked how invested she was in her little shop (once she finally realized her dream could be achieved) and that she allowed her friends to be a part of it. Sometimes I worried that she was letting them walk all over her but she learned how to balance business with friendship and how to keep the vision of her shop alive, even with the contrasting visions her friends had. I think she really learned a lot about herself by the end of the story.
I did find myself wondering about a few things...there was a lot of humour with how horrible Cricket's gargoyle boss was but sometimes I wondered if it was taking things too far. I also couldn't understand why she wouldn't try to make sure everyone knew that she wasn't living off of her uncle's money, even if he did help get her a job. I guess I just wanted to see her stand up for herself a bit more. There were also a lot of catering jobs that were described and sometimes I thought there were too many. The children's party was funny in a "can anything else go wrong?" kind of way but it didn't quite work with the flow of the story.
We've been seeing a lot of baking type stories in the chick lit/romance world the last little while (I've actually reviewed two just this week!) and I thought the ice cream shop was a great twist on this current fad. Garner did a great job of really showing both how hard it can be to open up your own shop and how fun and exhilarating it can be. Thanks to her writing I was both stressed and excited for the girls as they went on their entrepreneurial journey! And I really wish this ice cream shop existed in my neighbourhood! It sounds like it's just the cutest shop ever and it helps that they hired some hot guys to work for them too! ;) Still on the ice cream theme, I loved that Garner put recipes at the start of each chapter and that they had something to do with the chapter and Cricket actually made them within that chapter. Several of them made my mouth water...especially this one:
I'm a sucker for mint chocolate anything!
Finally, I liked that the romance in the novel took a bit of a backseat to the rest of the story. Sure, I always like having a nice romance in the books I read but I knew it wasn't the point of this story, not totally. But it wouldn't be a great chick lit without a little bit of relationship drama! I knew Cricket thought she was happy with Jimmy (and I thought it was hilarious that they called him Jiminy...you know, Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio?) and I was so hoping that she'd realize it was actually a toxic relationship. And also realize who she was supposed to be with! One of the reasons I'm looking forward to the next book is to see how they're getting along!
I think Sugar Spun Sister was amazing and I couldn't put it down! Anna Garner has created a great series and I can't wait to read the next book in the Sweet Dreams collection. I'd guess that Nora will be the next main character, only because her story was left totally up in the air at the end of this one. If you're looking for a fun, real, and sweet read make sure you check this one out!