Book Review: The Book Charmer

42202000Title: The Book Charmer
Author: Karen Hawkins
Genre: Literary, Magical Realism
Publisher: Gallery Book (Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages: 368
Format Read: book & ebook
Standalone or series: Book 1 of Dove Pond series
Where I got the book: BookishFirst (book) & NetGalley (ebook)
Date finished reading: July 23, 2019

Goodreads Description: New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins crafts an unforgettable story about a sleepy Southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself. Prepare to fall under its spell.

My Review: I was fortunate enough to receive two ARC copies of this book. I received an ebook from NetGalley so am using this as my first review for the NetGalley #Reviewathon. I received a physical copy from BookishFirst, which I look forward to passing along to someone in my book club, which meets soon.

This is a sweet story filled with likable characters. The town of Dove Pond reminds me a bit of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls, where everyone knows everything about everyone, but unfortunately does not have a Taylor to keep the city running – until Grace moves to Dove Pond.

Grace moves to Dove Pond to afford to take care of her foster mom, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and her niece, whose mother passed away from a drug overdose. It is only natural that Grace is struggling with these new responsibilities. Throughout the story, the reader can see the everyday difficulties of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. On a personal note, as someone who watched a family member struggle with this disease, I found those moments in the book very realistic. With all these responsibilities and a stressful city clerks job, Grace is convinced by other members of the town to help organize the town’s Apple Festival, which will also hopefully save the town from financial ruin.

There is a bit of magical realism in this story that adds a some fun and intrigue to the plot. Mama G seems to be able to read people’s thoughts. The Dove family is known to have certain powers. Ava Dove has an amazing green thumb and with the plants she grows, she creates teas that help people, depending on their needs. Sarah Dove’s power is that books talk to her. The books let her know when they will be useful to someone. Sarah has a special connection with a book about Dove Pond that insists that Grace will place an important role in Dove Pond. While the book does not tell Sarah exactly know what that role is, she befriends Grace and encourages her but can she convince Grace to stay in Dove Pond?

I enjoyed this enchanting read. It was a bit repetitious at times, but the plot still managed to flow, and I enjoyed the character interaction immensely. I feel this story possessed a lot of great lessons in hope, love, compassion and the importance/power of relationships.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Advertisements

Book Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy

41150456Title: Once Upon a Bad Boy
Author: Melonie Johnson
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Pages: 384
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: Book 3 of Sometimes in Love series
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: June 24, 2019

Goodreads Description: NEVER SAY NEVER
Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE
Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

My Review: The Sometimes in Love series follows five close friends – Cassie, Bonnie, Sadie, Ana and Delaney – and their romantic escapades. I recently read Bonnie’s story, which was Book 2 and enjoyed it. Once Upon a Bad Boy is Book 3 in the series, and I enjoyed it even more than the one before. This story focuses on Sadie and what happens when her childhood boyfriend reenters her life. Can they move beyond the past and the secrets to have a second chance at love?

This story was entertaining, humorous, touching and quite steamy at times. I enjoyed the relationship Sadie has with her grandmother, as that is something I can relate to in my own life. I also laughed pretty hard when Sadie’s co-star, Ryan, talks about being afraid of bananas. The supporting characters, such as Sadie’s girlfriends, Bo’s family, and the cast/crew of the movie Sadie is starring in, may not have added much to the romantic story of Sadie and Bo, but those characters added some more excitement to the story and helped you get to know Sadie and Bo a bit better.

It was a very enjoyable read! I will definitely read the next book in the series when it comes out!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Summer Reading – 2019

Summer is almost here! I will be continuing to read for my Reading the Classics Challenge and my 2019 Focus on Authors Challenge. Titles are mostly based on giveaways, book club picks, and books set in Ireland, as I get ready to travel there in August. What are y’all reading this summer? Any read you are most looking forward to? Here is my list:

Book Club Reads

  • The Plague by Albert Camus
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
  • Recollections of Things to Come by Elena Garro

NetGalley Reads

  • Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson
  • A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
  • The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins
  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
  • How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul; Maria Russo

Readalongs

  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

2019 Focus on Authors

  • Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  • Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  • Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson

Other

  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand- audiobook
  • The Children by David Halberstam – audiobook
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama – audiobook/book
  • Made for This by Jennie Allen – audiobook
  • The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy – audiobook/ebook
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt – audiobook
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – audiobook
  • The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – audiobook
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – book
  • 1916: The Easter Rising by Tim Pat Coogan – ebook

Book Review: The Seduction Expert

34020885Title: The Seduction Expert
Author: Saya Lopez Ortega
Genre: Romance
Publisher: VSP Publishing
Publication Date: June 26, 2019
Pages: 174
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Series (Book One of The Seduction Expert)
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: June 2, 2019

Goodreads Description: She’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationship, their breakup, and very often their partner’s affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a super-heroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.

My Review: I was really excited to get this book from NetGalley. It looked like it could be a fun, short read to enjoy as we head into the summer months. Short it was. Fun? Not for me.

One of the things that intrigued me about this book was the fact that the main character was a powerful, successful and ambitious woman, called the Baroness. By the description, I thought she was really helping a lot of women have successful relationships. However, I was immediately turned off by her cold demeanor. The Baroness was harsh to her clients (who often are going through difficult marital problems and possibly divorces), her employees (who work very hard) and her fiancé (whom she appears to only be marrying for money and status). She seemed incapable of sympathy and/or love. I disliked her future mother-in-law a lot, and yet I almost cheered her on for trying to destroy the Baroness’ business and relationship with her son. I almost always have to like at least one of the main characters to really like the book, and I just didn’t with this one. I don’t understand why a female character has to be cruel and manipulative enable to have her success and power.

Also, how is this classified as a romance? Is it a romance just because the main character got engaged? I felt no love or passion in this book unless the love and passion was for obtaining money and power.

This book should be out at the end of the month. While some of the early readers gave it some love on Goodreads, this one fell flat for me. The author did have an intriguing transition to the next book in the series, but I just don’t think I want to continue with these characters

My Rating: ♦ ♦ 

WWW Wednesdays – May 29, 2019

www

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

If you are located in the USA, I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I had a great weekend with family and friends and was even able to catch up on some housework and get in some quality reading time by the pool.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen – audiobook =♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
NetGalley ARC: Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
Focus on Authors Reading Challenge: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the title of the book to read my full review. All Kurt Vonnegut reads will be covered in a full Vonnegut review sometime next week.*

Reading Next

How was your week of reading? Post your WWW link in the comments section below if I haven’t already visited.

HAPPY READING!!!

Book Review: Smitten by the Brit

41150496
Title: 
Smitten by the Brit
Author: Melonie Johnson
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Pages: 384
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: May 26, 2019

Goodreads Description: English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene—and quickens Bonnie’s heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer—conveniently close to Theo—she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo’s life makes Bonnie feel like she’s wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

My Review: Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a feel good romance and this definitely fit the bill. You are rooting for the main character, Bonnie, right from the start. You want her to have her happy ending after her she catches her fiancé cheating on her. I love the cast of girlfriends. Their interactions are so amusing. The perfect thing for a romantic comedy. The reader feels the ongoing steamy attraction between Bonnie and Theo with an added bonus of an English countryside setting and quotes from Shakespeare, Austen and other English authors. Unfortunately, even when I just want a good romance story, I can’t just turn off my realistic sensibility. Is it really a good idea to have a main character go immediately from one long term relationship to jumping so quickly into spending the rest of her life with someone else? Seems too soon, even though Bonnie appears to be very mature and confident in herself. Maybe I could have overlooked that if the end was a bit stronger. Theo had his own family obligations and responsibilities that prevented a long term commitment to Bonnie, and yet in couple pages those obligations and responsibilities just disappeared and all was good. I would have liked further development in Theo’s family dynamics, especially since his family was full of interesting characters. Overall this was a quick and enjoyable read.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

book woman of troublesome creek by kim michele richardsonTitle: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author: Kim Michele Richardson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Pages: 320
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: May 8, 2019

Goodreads Description: “Richardson’s latest work is a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and – just as importantly – a compassionate human connection. Richardson’s rendering of stark poverty against the ferocity of the human spirit is irresistible. Add to this the history of the unique and oppressed blue-skinned people of Kentucky, and you’ve got an un-put-downable work that holds real cultural significance.” – Sara Gruen, #1 NYT bestselling author 

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people–a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman’s chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home. 

My Review: I received an ARC copy of this book via NetGalley. I found this story both fascinating and heartwrenching. I had never heard of the blue people of Kentucky or methemoglobinemia, which I found interesting. However, these people with such a unique medical condition just fueled an already prejudicial and racist society in Kentucky. This story focuses on one such person, named Cussy Mary or Bluet, who won the hearts of many of the hill folk in Troublesome Creek by delivering reading materials as her job as a Pack Horse Librarian. She shared her love of literature, but also tried to teach the people how different reading material could be useful in their homes, that these reading materials could be methods of educating people how to hunt, garden, cook, sew, etc. Cussy Mary put her heart and soul into trying to enrich these people’s lives and also save them from starvation and other ailments that were common in those parts.

Impoverishment and starvation were not the only hardships. If the men had jobs, it was most likely in the mines. Cussy Mary would worry about her father’s safety in the mines, a job that contained long, grueling work hours and life-risking tasks.

(Trigger Warnings for violence and sexual assault.) Cussy Mary’s every day life was a terrifying one. She was mistreated both physically and verbally by many townsfolk because of the color of her skin. I feared for her safety through the whole book as she traveled the path delivering the library materials all alone. I absolutely adored her mule (the one blessing she got out of her miserable marriage), who did try to protect her on multiple occasions.

Without giving too much away, after an incident happened at the home of Cussy Mary and her father, her father made a deal with the town’s doctor that the doctor could run medical tests on Cussy Mary to try to understand why she was blue. This led to him diagnosing her condition. After experiencing so much pain and hurt, the doctor didn’t have to spend too much time convinced Cussy Mary to take some medication that would turn her skin white even though this medication would make her sick. She thought she could have a normal life if she was white, that the townspeople would accept her as one of their own, but they didn’t.

The books displays so many harsh realities of poverty, starvation, vanity, racism and hate, but it also shares a story of the power of literature, which brings hope to the suffering, and the loving bond that connects the librarian to her patrons and friends, who don’t see the color of her skin but see her simply as the Book Woman.  I loved this story so much. It was sweet and powerful. I would give it a full 5 stars, but it made me cry so much and had hoped for a happier ending. Despite this, I highly recommend this book.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½