Cover Image: Flowerheart


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Howl's Moving Castle x The Luminaries. Wonderful and warm and full of love. Magic as a representation of anxiety. Victorian Novel Disease. Flower magic. Childhood friends to strangers to lovers. Strong girl x soft boy but full of hope.
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Flowerheart is a sweet, light-hearted young adult fantasy romance. Unfortunately, I found it a little too lighthearted, given the story stakes that were presented and the themes that the story attempted to address. 

Flowerheart follows Clara Lucas, a girl whose magic has always been wild and uncontrollable. When a magical outburst puts her father's life in danger, she offers her magic to her estranged best friend Xavier Morwyn in exchange for training that she believes will allow her to save her father's life. Throughout the story, we also learn that there is an illegal magical potion called Euphoria that offers a world of bliss but with the side effect of making you catatonic.

I thought the way mental illness was discussed in this story was interesting, if not as nuanced as I would have preferred. We eventually learn that Euphoria was intended as an attempt to treat depression, or "melancholy," that went poorly. Apparently in this world, using magic to treat mental illness is illegal, but they don't actually have an alternate system in place to help people with mental illnesses, which leads to people being desperate enough to submit themselves to Euphoria. I don't feel this aspect of the world-building is explored as deeply as it could have been and ultimately it was left rather unresolved at the end of the story, but it was interesting. 

Clara's relationship with her magic also seems almost like a metaphor for anxiety. Her magic is sort of personified and seems to be the direct source of all of her negative self-talk and doubt. This was, again, interesting, but I wish it had been set up more clearly and resolved further. What are the implications of an individual's magic having a literal mind of its own? We don't find out. At the beginning of the story I wasn't sure if the personification of her magic was a metaphor but as it turns out, it is quite literal.

I quite appreciated that Catherine Bakewell went out of her way to write a fantasy world where LGBTQ+ identities are normalized. There are two trans characters (who are specifically called transgender in the text, interestingly enough), multiple mentions of various same-gender couples, and Clara herself references being attracted to boys and girls. It was a nice touch. This fantasy world may not have anti-depressants, but at least they support LGBT rights.

The pacing of this story moves very quickly and so does the timeline. If I'm not mistaken, the entire book takes place over about three weeks. I wish the timeline had been stretched out a little, as it's a little hard to believe that Clara could make such strides with her magic or such progress in her relationship with Xavier in so little time, but I suppose it's not that important. This book feels more like a cute, quick read for someone wanting a fantasy romance than something you're really supposed to analyze and pick apart. The descriptions are vivid and definitely make you wish you could visit the locations in this world, but the actual worldbuilding is pretty sparse. The stakes never really feel pressing, but the relationship between Xavier and Clara is probably cute enough to satisfy most readers.

Although this is a young adult book, I think it would be suitable for middle grade readers as well. The darker themes are dealt with simply enough that I doubt they would be too challenging for slightly younger readers. The overall effect of this book is that it's very sweet, but rather lacking in the substance I hoped it would have.
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This was an interesting concept and the cover caught the mood of the character pretty well. It was a bit slow and repetitive for me but I liked the visual of her magic being related to flowers. It just didn't excite me. Their relationship was sweet and the mood of it reminded me of the musicals I love, but I didn't like the main character enough to make a connection. Perhaps a fan of the genre will find it delightful, sweet, and emotional.
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Clara is a young witch with uncontrollable magic. She’s a dash of Sabrina Spellman, Anne Shirley, and Kiki (from Kiki’s Delivery Service). When her magic harms her father, a childhood friend steps in to be her mentor. There’s obviously strain, tension, and old feelings bubbling up as their apprenticeship starts up. Xavier is keeping secrets, vows have been made, and Clara just wants to remove the curse she’s placed on her father. There’s also the pesky problem of this illegal potion going around causing serious harm to people. Can Clara and Xavier accomplish it all?

This is the perfect cozy, cottage core fantasy. It feels like a Studio Ghibli movie (not one specific one, just the overall warm hug that the movies give you). This is also the kind of book that demands to be read as a physical copy. It was sheer perfection in the cozy fantasy genre.
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Flowerheart is a beautifully written story, with intriguing characters, set in a magical, whimsical world, with dire events, and a mysterious love interest. 

The pacing and writing style is easy to get into and follow. The events of the story happen in a steady manner. The world building is quite lovely and colorful. There is a great cast of diverse characters. I felt very engaged while reading Flowerheart.

Clara is quite easy to ready for, and has qualities that are relatable and endearing. The honest relationship she has with her father is heartwarming.

Overall, Flowerheart was very well written and I would highly recommend it to other readers. Flowerheart is another favorite read of mine and I could see myself rereading it in the future. 

I would like to note, that Flowerheart has a certain je ne sais quoi, that is perfect for a spring read, which will be the upcoming season when Flowerheart releases. 

I was given an Advanced Reader's Copy through Netgalley and I give my honest review voluntarily. My review is my own thoughts and opinion; my experience in reading this story.
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I was lured in by a cover for once and not betrayed by what lat waiting for me inside! An absolutely adorable book. I'm willing to forgo some details that I would have had on my wishlist, if it means I get to keep these characters.
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4.5 Stars — This was such a fun read. It’s the perfect cottage core comfy read. There are *so* many LGBTQ+ characters. The way the author talks about them without making their queerness a big deal is so refreshing. 

Clara and Xavier are incredibly adorable and so much fun to follow. Xavier isn’t your typical male love interest. He’s fragile, talks about his feelings, and truly cares about Clara. 

This is a soft, quick read with minimal conflict, but it’s a lot of fun all the same. I’m typically a fan of fast-paced books with lots of actions, but I enjoyed reading this all the same. Flowerheart is such a nice break, a little vacation in a novel. I would read so much more about these characters.
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Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

I really liked this cute cottagecore/witch fantasy story. It was a good, easy, and somewhat heartwarming read. I liked most of the characters and thought the story flowed fairly well, although it was somewhat predictable. All in all a pretty good read though. I loved the cover art, so pretty.
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Flowerheart is a sweet, fantastical, fun romance that combines storylines of magic, family, and romances with former best friends to create a lovely book in the tone of Howl's Moving Castle. Bakewell has created a magical world and a magic system with fairly solid rules, and those serve as a strong base for Clara and Xavier's adventures. 

And what wild adventures they are! Both characters are beyond precious, but their circumstances--Clara's wild magic and Xavier's family legacy--lead them into some pretty crazy situations. In each case, the pair do their very best to help people, and their kind hearts truly shine. I love how truly strong Clara is to continuously fight her magic, but I also love that it often inadvertently manifests in the real world as flowers. The flowers give this book a cozy vibe, even when they're threatening, and I enjoyed reading the different Victorian-era meanings behind the different blooms.

Although there are some relationships and situations I'd like to see expanded in a sequel, Flowerheart does well as a standalone and will definitely be a book I revisit whenever I want a lovely, whimsical romance.
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This was a very cute and quaint story.

As far as the characters and plot goes, I feel it was relatively solid. I especially loved the characters in this novel. To me they felt developed and different from each other.

The world building felt a little wonky. The magic system is never really explained— you just sort of get used to what it is through the story telling. With that there were some elements where I felt they would’ve benefitted from more explanation.

At the same time, I felt like this novel was trying to tackle multiple things at once with Clara’s character. It made her confrontation with her mother Imogen feel rushed. Since there was already just so much going on in her story, this aspect was a bit underwhelming— I wanted more drama/resolution in that confrontation.

Overall though it was definitely enjoyable. I loved Clara and Xavier. Such a fun duo. It was a very cozy read!

Solid 3.5
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Flowerheart is a standalone cottagecore fantasy novel brimming with flowers. It's cozy and wholesome and romantic. Clara Lucas has a special kind of magic that makes flowers bloom, but her magic is also a bit uncontrollable. So when she accidentally makes flowers bloom inside her father's chest, she seeks out the help of her childhood friend and magician Xavier Morwyn to help her heal her father. Xavier agrees to help, but only if Clara also helps him with his newest project: creating a cure to the poison Euphoria that has been sweeping the land. Clara and Xavier team up to practice magic and help those in need. While this novel seems to be all about flower magic, the true story is about helping those who aren't able to help themselves and making the world happier for everyone while also finding your own inner strength. I would recommend this book to fans of Charlie Holmberg and Rachel Griffin as the soft and wholesome magic felt similar to their stories. This book also gives off Ghibli vibes, so Ghibli fans may enjoy this novel as well. Flowerheart was an enjoyable book and it would be perfect for a calm afternoon read, but at the same time it wasn't life-changing and I don't think it will leave a lasting imprint on me. It's the kind of book that's fun to read when you're feeling sad or you need a warm hug, and you want a cozy story with a happy ending. It's not hard to get through and the subject matter isn't too heavy. I love reading soft fantasy stories like this one, so I look forward to seeing what other books Catherine Bakewell releases in the future and what other books come to be in the cottagecore genre.
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First of all..this cover art is amazing. I love all the flower references in the book. It has a great pace and is so, so good. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced digital copy.
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I loved reading a cottage-core fantasy book and I really like how the magic system is based off of what you choose to do and you are not limited by anything specific. It’s just magic in its purest form, something you can do anything with if you put your mind to it.

About halfway through or a little over when Clara finds out what Morwyn did, I feel like her reaction was all wrong. She judged him and called him names and I feel like she should have understood he never had bad intentions. She should have been upset over him not telling her and that’s it. It did lower it from a 4 star to a 3.5 because I personally did not like her moment there but I feel there are people out there who would not be as bothered by that as I was.

I do enjoy happy endings and this book definitely has one I just won’t tell you in which ways of course!!

I do love a quick read / standalone but sometimes they also make me sad because I always have more questions or more things I want to see. Like Clara’s mother and her coven, the Morwyn family and why the father is the way he is.

If you are looking for a cute, quick and fun read that has the cottage-core, fantasy and magical elements I recommend picking this book up!
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*****5 Stars! 

“Magic isn’t good or bad, right or wrong. It just is.” 

First I would like to thank HarperCollins Children’s Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read an arc of this book. I am honored to have been given a chance to read it and give it an honest review! 

Flowerheart is a story about a young girl named Clara whose magic has always been wild, but it’s never been dangerous. Then with a simple touch her magic causes poisonous flowers to bloom within her father’s chest. The only way to heal him is to cast an extremely difficult spell that requires perfect and complete control. The only person who is willing to help her is her former best friend, Xavier, who has grown from a sweet and shy child into a man who is distant and mysterious. 

In exchange for his help, Xavier asks a terrible price, knowing Clara would give anything in the world to save her father’s life. As she struggles to reconcile the new Xavier with the boy she once loved, she discovers just how many secrets he’s hiding. As he hunts for the truth, she instead finds the root of a terrible darkness that’s taken hold of the queendom--a darkness only Clara’s magic is powerful enough to stop. 

This book was such an interesting and cozy read! I really enjoyed how the author brought the world to life and so beautifully described Clara’s uncontrollable magic; her descriptions made it all so vivid and easy to imagine as I read. Another thing I really enjoyed about the main character’s magic was the fact that meaningful flowers would pop up that would express her emotions without the need for words, I thought that was a very clever addition to the story. The magic system used in this book was so interesting and I would have loved to learn more about it and how it worked, it seemed the magic was so personal to each character. 

I felt this book did a wonderful job with mental health representation as well, the topic was taken on in such an interesting and very descriptive way. I really appreciated how this issue was brought to the forefront of the story and how it was handled in such a relatable way, it gave the story so much depth and meaning. It was a message in the story that I truly appreciated! 

Clara and Xaiver was another aspect of the story that I absolutely adored! I will confess, I’m not the biggest fan of the friends to lovers trope, but this was written so perfectly that I couldn’t help but adore them and root for them every step of the way as the story progressed. I really enjoyed hearing about their past and the childhood that they shared together, it gave them so much more depth and understanding in one another. I really enjoyed how familiar they were with one another, it was a relationship that really set up that cozy vibe for the book. I also loved Clara’s relationship with her father, it was beyond sweet and charming! I admired how dedicated she was to finding a way to uncurse her father, it really expressed how deep their love and bond went. Another aspect of this book that I adored was the LGBTQ+ representation, it was absolutely perfect! 

This was such a wonderful and fun YA fantasy and I’d highly recommend it! Words cannot express how much I enjoyed reading this book. I am very much looking forward to reading more of Catherine Bakewell’s work!
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Thank you NetGalley and Harperteen for allowing me to read this ARC for an honest review!

This was such a cute and cozy read! This writing was simple and sweet and engaged enough for the reader to be sucked into the plot! The magic system and use of flowers was unique and fun to learn. This is a good book for anyone interested in cottagecore vibe!
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The very image of flowers erupting in response to Clara's magic just makes me smile!  This book is so full of love for those struggling with mental health issues, for those whose feelings, like Clara's magic, feel too big to hold.  There was a sense throughout of the author's experience and compassion for those struggling with depression, and I deeply appreciated that message.

The system of magic in this book is rather vague, making it hard to understand.  Perhaps that was the author's plan? I found it a bit confusing, and it distracted from the story.  

I also wish I had understood more of the back story for this magical community (as well as Clara and Xavier's families.) I just had a lot of unanswered questions as I read.

The ending of the story brought me to tears.
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Flowerheart is a delightful fantasy that brings readers into a world with big magic that feels just small enough for a standalone.  Protagonist Clara is a fighter determined to save her father, whatever it takes, and her love and perseverance make her a character worth rooting for even when she seems to make some silly decisions.

I enjoyed that this book has a relatively narrow focus: Clara needs to hone her magic to save her father's life.  While the author does add a side plot more related to the overarching world to flesh things out and make them more dramatic with higher stakes, I did like the insular feel.  We are just watching Clara and her journey and hoping for the best for her and those she loves.  In a market filled with fantasy books where the stakes are epic (which I like, too, of course), this feels light and refreshing.  I think it would also be a good pick for readers looking for "lower YA."

While the cover is filled with flowers, I think it's worth noting that it's Clara in particular who has an affinity for flowers, and it's not really explained why, particularly since her magic seems different from other witches and wizards, but it's quite fun.  I also enjoyed Clara's notes about what different flowers and plants mean and how they can reveal things about what is going on in the story.

There are a few things I feel nitpicky about — Clara's blindness to people's obviously bad intentions, suddenness in the romance, a bit of ambiguity in the world building — but this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.  In fact, I think some of these things can just be facts of reading a relatively short standalone.  I have gotten used to every YA fantasy being a trilogy of 600-page books filled with excruciating detail, but if the price I have to pay to get a standalone is that sometimes some things in the book just ARE, I can deal with it.

The book does stand out for its ending, however, which I think is bold in its lack of neatness.  I love when YA dares to give me an ending that might not be exactly what I want, so that's a plus for me here.

If you want a lighter fantasy that will draw you in and have you cheering for the main character's success at every turn, while making you feel right at home, Flowerheart may be for you.
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I would classify this as an easy read—cute, but lacking any real substance. It leaned a lot younger than I was expecting—both character- and writing-wise—and while the story was cozy, it wasn't very memorable. The characters weren't fleshed out. It didn't feel like there were any real stakes. The dialogue left something to be desired.

That said, this is YA, and i'm sure a younger audience (maybe like twelve or thirteen) would really enjoy this! I suppose I just went into it expecting something a little more mature, and that's on me. This was still a sweet, quick read, and the plot is sure to charm anyone looking for a cozy romance.
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Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read this book. What a fantastic YA book! I loved it. Claras's magic that goes rogue and does whatever it wants was so sad in the beginning. Having it impact someone she loves and then having to figure out how to overcome that kept me turning the pages, looking for her way out. I adored Xavier and how much he supported Clara and wanted to fix his mistakes. I hope to see more from this author!
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This book is incredible! From the cover to the words inside I was pulled in and kept glued to my seat from start to finish. Flowerheart is a perfect friends to strangers to lovers story with such cozy magic that turns deadly. I loved the interactions between Clara and Xavier.
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