Monday, May 8, 2023

In a Nutshell Reviews - A Touch of Magic Edition

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

The Book Charmer
 by Karen Hawkins
Published by Gallery Books on July 30, 2019
Age/Genres: Adult, Enchanted Realism, Fiction

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.

I would say this book is appropriately named because it sure charmed me.

It was a delight getting to know the citizens of Dove Pond. This was the perfect place for Grace and her family to settle as they attempted to work through all the huge changes in their lives. My heart ached for Grace who was carrying all these burdens on her own, but then it filled with joy when she allowed others to shoulder some of that weight. 

Hawkins filled Dove Pond with many fantastic characters. Among them was Sarah. Sarah was the town librarian and had a very special relationship with her books. This storyline was a lot of fun and will delight all my fellow bookworms. Aside from her bookish brilliance, Sarah was also a very warm and persistent woman who was determined to return Dove Pond to its greatness and be a friend to Grace. 

Overall: Sweet and buoyant, I had a wonderful time reading this book. The strong focus on family, friendship, and community plus a touch of magic was a winning formula for me, and I am looking forward to visiting Dove Pond again.

Lost Lake
 by Sarah Addison Allen
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 21, 2014
Age/Genres: Adult, Enchanted Realism, Fiction

From the author of the beloved bestseller Garden Spells comes a beautiful, haunting story of old loves and new, and the power of the connections that bind us forever...

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby's past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that's left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It's a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she's all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer... and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren't sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it's too late?

At once atmospheric and enchanting, Lost Lake shows Sarah Addison Allen at her finest, illuminating the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.

Following her husband's untimely death, Kate had been sleepwalking through her life. It was well known that the women in her family grieved deeply and fell apart when they lost their husbands, but Kate had finally woken up. After finding a postcard from her great aunt Eby, Kate packs up her daughter to visit a place that brought her great happiness - Lost Lake. 

My heart ached for Kate as she began her delayed healing journey following her husband's death. What better way than to return to a favorite childhood place. Though things seem pretty dire when she arrives at the lake, many wonderful things happen too. 

As always, a great deal of this stories charm was due to the colorful characters who visited Lost Lake and made up the community at large. Everyone has a story, and these people had some fantastic stories to tell, but they also had tremendous affection for Eby and did not want to see this resort close. There is nothing that warms my heart more than when the community rallies and works together to save something they love. 

Overall: I adored the bits of magic and the multiple storylines of healing and moving forward. In the end, I was excited for Kate's future and extremely pleased with this feel-good story.

Have you been on a lake vacation?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I can't remember if I read Lost Lake or not. I should go check. I should probably read it if I haven't. It sounds good!

    1. I have no more Allen books to read. I am sad about that because I have been enjoying them so much. I am searching for more like her books.

  2. Oooh I love the cover of The Book Charmer and the title too! And knowing that it charmed you is even better Sam!

    1. This was my first experience with the author, and I will definitely be reading more. I especially hope to finish this series. I liked it a lot

  3. I'd not even heard of Sarah Addison Allen until I started seeing you mention her lately. I like the sound of the multiple storylines and how they came together.

  4. Sounds like these both have strong themes of community, and I love those vibes. Great reviews!

    1. Both of them really did, and that's something I adore. A great small town setting never gets old for me

  5. I really enjoyed The Book Charmer too. I keep forgetting that it's actually part of a series that I want to continue.

    1. The third book is coming out this year, so I need to read up