Cover Image: The Book Charmer

The Book Charmer

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The Book Charmer was charming and delightful!  I enjoyed the way that the story was written in a way that made the town feel familiar and cozy.  Grace has moved to Dove Pond with her foster mother and her niece.  Grace isn't very happy about moving to such a small town, but she feels responsible to take care of her family now that her sister has died.  She is angry that she's stuck living there and doesn't want to bother with anyone.  But somehow she finds herself in charge of the annual Apple Festival and starts to get to know her neighbors and the other people who live there.  Sarah somehow has books talk to her and delivers books to the people who need them.  Sarah has reasons of her own to get to know Grace and her family, You will love this novel if you enjoy books about small towns and wonderful characters!  All of the characters were delightful and the story contained both moments of humor and moments of real life challenges.
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Title:  The Book Charmer

Author:  Karen Hawkins
Pages: 344

Genre: Contemporary fiction magical Realism with a hint of romance

Rating: 4 stars

Publisher:  Gallery Books
The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins is the first book in the Dove Pond series.  A small town in North Carolina that basically finds out that they are going broke. Can a town actually go broke?  Sarah Dove who just happens to be the town book whisper as well as the town librarian.  Wants to save the town but doesn't know-how.   That changes when Grace Wheeler comes to town, Grace doesn't plan on staying in town longer than she has to.  Especially since she's now the guardian of her niece and her foster mother whose health is failing.  She determined not to make friends and she avoids Sarah at all costs despite them being neighbors.  To add to the typical small-town everybody pretty much knows each other’s business. There's also the whole bad boy next door, in the form of cynical veteran Travis Parker.  Who may understand what Grace is going through more than most? 
Even though The Book Charmer was a bit out of my normal reading genre, I don't tend to read magical realism I enjoyed the book. The small-town North Carolina setting was perfect. I love small-town setting especially small towns with festivals that are a small town staple. The small town that my mom grew up in had a honey fest every year.  And just like the back cover says, North Carolina has the best BBQ this side of Atlanta I prefer North Carolina BBQ.    Dove Pond is a fictional town not too far from Ashville.  I'm always wary of how author's write veteran's as characters, but Karen did a good job of writing Travis and what he was going through adjusting to civilian life. 
 When it came to Sarah's book charmer skills I mean what book worm hasn't dreamed that their books might actually talk to them.   As well as wishing that their local librarian knew what book was perfect for them before they even opened their month.   
This book is great for all book worms.   There is a bit of romance in the book but it subtle.  I look forward to reading the next book in the Dove Pond series. 
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine
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***Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***
This book immediately made me think of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. While I do not like to compare authors or books, I think The Book Charmer did not quite live up to what I thought this would be. Sometimes charming and cozy, I also lost interest half way through.
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While this book had me at hello, it lost its charm somewhere near the middle. I loved the idea of this story, especially the books speaking to the librarian and being placed with certain townsfolk – people united with a book they didn't know they needed, hence, the title of the book. However, the author veered away from this idea and, to me, focused entirely too much on business transactions and saving a small town with an Apple Festival. The book charming message got kind of lost amongst a storyline that could've meant more without seeming so unrealistic. When I began reading, I was so excited about the direction I felt this book would take, a magical Sarah Addison Allen spin. Unfortunately, it fizzled for me midway and the magic was lost.

*E-copy provided by Gallery Books and NetGalley.
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I'm a fan of Sara Addison Allen and have been hoping for another book like "Garden Spells" for a long time. This one seemed to tick all the boxes- quirky Southern town, magical realism (plus magic books!), women who learn to rely on each other. Why not try it?

I will answer my own question. The book is slow, bland as unsalted butter, and I didn't care about the characters. I will give detail:

The pace of the book is glacial, and I don't even think we're really going to get to the end of the "plot" in this book. Basically, the town of Dove Pond is in the red financially and has been going downhill for 25 years. The same mayor, an utterly uncharming and negligent man who only wants to go fishing, has been elected for 15 years. No one in town knows how bad things are until Grace blazes into town with her mother and niece, takes the town clerk position even though she is a financial advisor whiz and the job is far beneath her (no joke, it really is, and it's too bad no one has been doing that job for the last 15 years) and discovers the financial mayhem. There's some handwaving about how the mayor has no oversight, no town council, no board of directors or anything, but basically everyone has either been incompetent or oblivious. This revelation takes over 200 pages to appear, because the author is more concerned about discussing how everyone drinks their coffee and setting the stage for quirky characters. This could actually be in interesting plot in a different book in which the author cared about how to save the town. But the author really is setting many slow burn romances in motion and doesn't want to focus on this idea, just needs it as an excuse to talk about quirky characters. I don't actually mind the idea of quirky characters but they are also

Bland as unsalted butter. The author seems like she is using a Pinterest board of things that people like and then put them all in this little Southern town. She has included: a family of seven sisters who can all do different semi-magic things. One bakes cake, one makes teas, one is a librarian who chooses books for people. Who doesn't like cake, tea or books (who is this book's target audience)? I love all these things myself. Other things include: cats, ghosts (maybe), flowers, old houses, childhood sweethearts, festivals and ( think I can see this one coming) makeovers. Really, if you can turn your brain off and just get a dopamine response whenever you read about a cat, a book, coffee, cake, or coffee cake, you'll actually do very well. But the characters don't make sense.

Characters: Grace is a "financial advisor" from Charlotte (or another big Southern city, it doesn't really matter). I don't think the author has much of a clue what a financial advisor does, but she needs a character who knows money because that character must save Dove Pond. Grace is Uptight. She, to be fair, has to care for her niece (sister's tragically dead) and her foster mother who is going downhill from dementia- this is why they came to Dove Pond in the first place; Mama G needs familiar surroundings. Although Grace is in her mid-twenties, the first time she sees her obvious love interest driving his motorcycle, she despises him because he rides a motorcycle, has long hair and tattoos (looks like Khal Drogo in the author's attempt to get us into the twenty first century despite all the characters acting like they live in 1980) and has scars. So, she was told that he's a veteran before she ever sees him, but looks down on him because he has scars. Really. I never really took to Grace, not because she's uptight, but because she feels like a character idea rather than a character. Her traits are: uptight, angry, city girl. Grace's love interest is Travis. His traits are: angry, depressed,deep down a real find. The author even lists why Travis is a find: he is an adult male, he has a house, he has a business (it's a manly mechanic business inherited from his father), he was captain of the high school football team. I am serious. The author lets us know that many women in Dove Pond have been trying to get Trav to "notice them" (because I guess in Southern USA Brigadoon women can't ask a guy out, they can only hope he notices them). Despite Travis's long hair and tattoos, he acts like a guy in a Cialis ad. He only drives his motorcycle in town, under the speed limit (although he does like to rev the engine), and his favorite thing is to wash and wax the motorcycle. He doesn't like kids (I have sympathy for him on this one; our child character Daisy has a bad case of Adorable Urchin Syndrome) except of course he really does like kids; he just doesn't know it yet. Also, Sarah our magic librarian and Travis are best friends and have been forever even though Travis was the popular captain of the football team/valedictorian/homecoming king and Sarah was "edgy", whatever that means in Dove Pond. Nothing about this makes much sense ( do the most popular kid in school and a social outcast usually stay friends without any complications or baggage in small town high schools?) but because all of these characters are just a collection of character traits instead of characters who act like people, I guess you have to just go with it.

Grace, Travis and Sarah the magical librarian all act like they are at least in their 50's, more like 70's although they are supposedly in their 20's( I say as a 50 year old woman). Dove Pond has apparently never heard of Powerpoint or websites, because all meetings and notifications are done with handouts and flyers. I have a feeling that Dove Pond is entirely white ( a few characters have "brown skin" but otherwise the default is white and middle class). If this book had been set back in the 80's, it would make a lot more sense, but as it is, it's written for a target audience that likes its paper instead of technology, in more interested in a VERY slow semi-romance than in a plot, and really is just reading for a pleasant way to turn the brain off for a bit. If you're looking for that, you may find it here. But I got irritated instead of calmed due to the cookie-cutter characters and the paper-thin plot (which looks like it will get strung out over at least seven books because there are seven magical Dove sisters). It takes a lot for a book with books, cake and magic to utterly fail with me, but two thirds of the way through I can't take it anymore.
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If you need a fluffy but makes you think book add this to your TBR list now.  If you need a little 'magic' to make you smile move it from TBR to reading.    Karen Hawkins is definitely on my authors to follow list. 
Thank you Netgalley for the ARC
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A super cozy read about a small town with a hint of magic. The perfect kind of book for curling up with next to a big mug of tea or cocoa. Quirky neighbors, magic and a librarian with talking books. What more do you want?
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THE BOOK CHARMER by Karen Hawkins was a delightful read with just the right balance of heartbreak and joy.  I know there has to be another in this series to see what happens with the Dove and Wheeler families.  The author does a great job building up the back-stories, but I want to know more about Sarah and Blake.  This is a solid book for those that like a little magic in their books and a lot of community.
I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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Thanks to NetGalley  and the publisher for this ARC book. I had this ARC book for a while and I'm so happy I have finally read it. This is such a charming and heart-warming book. I want to move to Dove Pond and meet all these lovable characters. But most of all I really want to meet Sarah Dove. I wish I have a gift like her, hearing or having to talk to books would be amazing. But I also wish I’d meet someone like Sarah, it would be interesting to know which book would choose me. I’d say this is definitely one of my favorite book this year. l’m looking forward to read the next book.
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“The Book Charmer” by Karen Hawkins

**** 4 stars

Note: I received this book via Netgalley. This is my honest review.

Where do I begin with this? This little charmer is about love, community, and listening to the voice within.

This book gave me some of my favorite things –

Magical elements
Quirky individuals
Family drama
Bookish things within the book
Underdog scenario (this being the small town of Dove Pond)
Alternating points of view
After losing her sister to addiction , Grace moves her grief filled niece Hannah ,and her foster mother, battling Alzheimer’s to a sleepy small town. Her foster mom,Mama G, is from this town and Grace hopes that being back home will bring her comfort.

It would be easy to label Grace’s character as trite, but I allowed myself to just feel. To just be in the moment, to allow the words to guide my feelings, not thoughts of what should be or could be.

Grace presents herself as a tough, professional, focused, cold person but of course inside she is hurting and in need of friends.

Grace is the main character, but thanks to wonderful character development we get to know many of the people in the story quite well.

Two of The Many Characters we meet in Dove Pond:

Sarah Dove. She is the town librarian, from one of the founding families of Dove Pond. As a Dove she has a special gift, all of the Dove girls do. Sarah’s gift is that she can communicate with books. She can listen , and give books to the person who needs them. A terribly specific gift I know, but it is useful in the story, and I adore the thought of it. I love my books so much , I would love to have discussions with them, but I know I would end up in a ward, downing some meds. I love Sarah, if you know me that wouldn’t surprise you. I hope the next book in the series is focused on her. Sarah wants to save the town from ruin, and she needs Grace’s help. I love the relationship arc here, because Sarah can be a bit too much , and I can relate to that. Do they become friends? Do they save the town? You need to read and find out.
Travis. He is Grace’s neighbor in Dove Pond. He a rough looking veteran suffering from PTSD, He is also dealing with the grief from losing his father to Alzheimer’s. Travis is an old friend of Sarah’s. He also becomes quite taken with Grace’s family. I love the tenderness he showed Mama G and Hannah.
If Grace had her way the book would be all about her making life comfortable and stable for Mama G and Hannah , while trying to make money to get a better place in the big city. Which it is, until it isn’t. That is where Sarah and whispering history books come into the picture. She is on a mission to befriend Grace and make her realize she needs to help them save the town from ruin. Grace makes it all so difficult, she is not in the habit of having friends, and she is not wanting to get involved in anything that may make her want to gain roots. Thank goodness though the town decides she doesn’t have a choice and they do everything they can to make her help , and to eventually care.

Mama G is an amazing foster mom, and her story line had me in tears. Like ugly tears, Ugh. I know Alzheimer’s well, and I know that heartache. I am choked up now just trying to write about it.

“The Book Charmer” could make an excellent Hallmark film. It is a lovely read and I cannot wait for the next in the series.

“Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.” – Mark Haddon
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Thank you to Netgalley for the free copy for review! Overall, I found this book delightfully charming! There were bits where it would get kind of slow and lose me for a while, but on the whole I loved it all. A book lady is just the main character I can identify with in such a deep and subtle fashion. It's never who you think of for a protagonist, but it delivered.
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This book has some magical realism woven into the story about a woman that could hear books speaking to her. The story focuses on a  small town that is in need of saving. A young woman moves into town with her niece and elderly mother. The characters were likeable and it was a predictable story. I did enjoy the book, but sadly it did not stand out to me.
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Thank you Gallery Books and NetGalley for my free copy of The Book Charmer. Sara Dove is not your typical librarian…she knows just the book you need and she knows that because the books tell her. The town of Dove Pond is special but has been neglected and financially struggling. Grace Wheeler is just what the town needs but she doesn’t know it yet. The story unfolds as you fall in love with all of the characters and the town itself. If you love Gilmore Girls or Sarah Addison Allen books then this one if for you. It was a feel-good and delightful novel.
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I adored this book and the people of Dove Pond. It reminds me a bit of Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls fame but it has magical elements to it. It is not over the top magical but just the right amount that helps you envision the town and all of its wonders.

Grace is a women that has arrived into this town to try and rehabilitate her ailing Mama G. She is the guardian of her niece and and she is at a loss as what it is she needs to do to survive. As she meets more and more people in Dove Pond, she wonders if she made the right decision to move there.

I highly recommend this story and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.
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Overall, The Book Charmer was an enjoyable story. There are some parts that I found a bit slow.  I especially liked the friendships portrayed in this book.  If your looking for a light read with great characters, I recommend giving this book a chance.
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This is a charming book, but some of the charm did get lost on me because of foul language found throughout. Don't get me wrong it isn't filled with it, but it does take me aback and is worth mentioning. When you read a summary of a book and it tells you to expect a story about a woman that loves books and has a special talent -- the books tell her things then you are intrigued right? I was! Then you continue to read and learn the books have told her there will be someone arriving in town that will help handle all the problems in the area. This book sounds wonderful. But, it isn't what I thought I was getting when I saw the title or read the summary, but it is a nice read. <!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>The characters are interesting with one of the characters having a charming talent, but this is a book about various characters not just this librarian who helps books and readers find one another. A character moves with her family to this small town, but her goal is to only stay a year. She isn't interested in what the town needs or has to offer, but live her life. It is more about the town and these two women then the magical charming of books. So it wasn't what I expected or wanted. It disappointed me for that reason -- I wanted more on the Book Charmer story line. The other character's story takes over, but never really had that moment when something interesting happened -- never met it's potential for me. </p>
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<p>That being said this is a well written and moving story, but slow going for me. I also didn't feel I got a satisfying conclusion. This was an interesting just not the story I thought it was. Good for the story it was though. It is my understanding this is the beginning of a series -- Dove Pond series. I would be willing to read others in the series to see what else it has to offer.<br></p>
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Magical. Charming. Small town. 

I am not a fan of high fantasy, but I can be charmed by a sprinkle of magic and whimsy...this book struck that perfect balance for me. 

Sarah Dove has heard books speaking to her for years. She doesn't always know why, but she often give books to people, trusting the reason will be revealed. 

Sarah is discouraged by the decline of her town, the one that bears her family name, Dove Pond. A very special book tell her who will help save the town, but Grace has no interest in staying beyond her one year, self imposed deadline. 

If that's already too much magic for you, maybe pass on this one. But if you are willing to go along with it, a quirky, whimsical, heartwarming story awaits. 

Bigger themes: grief, PTSD and dementia are explored through these characters. I especially appreciated the way female friendships are portrayed and the realistic stress caregivers can experience.

I was very invested in Dove Pond, its survival and its residents It seems the story will continue, as this book is designated Dove Pond 1. I'll be happy to make a return visit. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the complimentary digital copy in exchange for my honest review.
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It might be because we have been slowly rewatching Parks and Rec at our house, but this book ended up feeling like a combination of Gilmore Girls (small town culture only in NC mountains) and Parks and Rec (city planner saving the town with festivals and committees and more.) The book starts out focuses on a different character and feel than where it ends up because at the beginning it's all about this family that goes way back and the seventh daughters have magical abilities. The librarian is one of those and she gives books to people they don't know they need. By the end the focus is on a woman who has brought the woman who was her foster parent back to her hometown to care for her and her sister's child, and the neighbor nextdoor who is a returned soldier slash mechanic.

All in all there's a lot thrown in that I would have saved for subsequent novels to really focus on a single story or relationship at once. But maybe the author intended to introduce the town and its characters in this first novel. Living so close to many NC mountain towns, I enjoyed the story from that perspective.
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This book started out so strong! It then started to drag on in the middle, and the ending was incredibly (disappointingly) rushed. These serious structural issues aside, I would still recommend this book for it's character development. The characters are fleshed out and struggle with real issues... but there's a lovely touch of magic thrown into the story. I'm glad that this will be a series so I can return to Dove Pond and spend more time with the characters.
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I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this from NetGalley and it was the greatest thing ever. This combines magic and books which are literally like 2 of my favorite things. I love how the prologue, as told by Sarah, serves as a history of the Dove family and just how special they are.

The Dove family are the founders of Dove Pond where Sarah, the youngest of 7 lives. Each of her family members has some sort of gift but Sarah just happens to be able to speak to books.The story unfolds into a magical journey that takes the reader on a trip that won;t soon be forgotten.

I really found myself immersed in this story from page 1 and never wanted it to end. I even found myself wishing that cranky books would demand I read them too.
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