Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Review and Q&A - - The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

The Book Charmer
by Karen Hawkins
Dove Pond - Book 1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

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.

My thoughts:

I have fallen in love with Dove Pond and her citizens, both old and new. Karen Hawkins brings this small North Carolina town and her inhabitants to vibrant life in this charming novel filled with humor, heart, a touch of magic (who among us wouldn't want the ability to converse with the books we love), and satisfying emotional depth. This story, and these characters, really spoke to my heart. This is the first of a series so expect some stage setting as well as introductions to several characters. Also, keep in mind that while the author's previous books were full-on romances, The Book Charmer is more contemporary fiction with a romantic thread. Expect the signature humor and heart that are intrinsic to Hawkins' other books but not as much focus on romance. There are the first tentative threads of a blossoming romantic relationship for Grace but the primary focus of this story is not on that romance. It's more about the inter-twining relationships among several characters, with Grace's family relationships and her new friendship with Sarah taking center stage. That friendship is the bedrock of this book and one that I enjoyed immensely. I'm looking forward to the continuation of their friendship, as well as the evolution of Sarah's romantic journey, as the series continues. And I'm excited for the stories to come for the other Dove sisters as well. 

Q&A with Karen Hawkins

Hi Karen! Welcome back to The Romance Dish. Thanks for visiting with us today.

Thank you. It’s always a delight to be here!

Your newest novel was released yesterday and, I have to say, it’s one of my favorites of your entire collection. Please tell our readers what they can expect from The Book Charmer and the Dove Pond series that it launches.

I’m excited to share THE BOOK CHARMER with readers. It really is the book of my heart and it took me almost a year and a half to write it.
It seems to me that the world is a little dark right now, and I wanted to write a hopeful book, one that inspired readers to smile. So I wrote about a family of seven sisters who had special abilities and their quirky, fun town in the mountains near Asheville, NC.
I’ve been writing magic realism into my historical romances since The Talisman Ring series first came out back in 2002, so when I decided to write a contemporary magic realism book, it was a natural step to take.

I’ve fallen in love with the Dove Pond community. How many books do you plan to set there? Are you able to share anything about the next book in the series?

There will be seven books in this series, one for each sister. Every one of the Dove sisters has their own special abilities, so it’ll be fun to explore them all.
Right now I’m writing about Ava Dove, who makes specialty teas that help people. Everyone thinks Ava is the sweet, simple, happy-go-lucky Dove sister, but they don’t know that Ava has a secret trapped in a shoe box wrapped in duct tape under her bed, and it’s fighting to get out . . . A CUP OF SILVER LININGS will be out next spring.

I think all of us who love books have tried our hand at book matchmaking from time to time though certainly not with Sarah’s unique ability. You’ve given each of the Dove women a magical gift. If you could choose one such gift for yourself, what would your magical ability be?

Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I’d guess I’d like the ability to make the people around me happier. It’s what I strive to do in my writing and is probably what I’d want to do in real life. But I wouldn’t mind having Sarah’s ability to know who should read what book. That would be a way to make people happy, too.

I was in Grace’s corner from the get-go and thoroughly invested in her journey. Her romantic thread is enjoyable, and her family relationships tugged at my heart, but it’s the friendship she and Sarah form that, for me, is the bedrock of this book. Will we continue to see Grace, and her relationships within Dove Pond, evolve throughout the series?

Oh yes! And as you must have noticed as you read The Book Charmer, Sarah’s story isn’t finished, either. That’s the beauty of a small town series – a number of character arcs can travel through book after book. I LOVE that!

Without giving away spoilers, what was your most difficult scene to write in this book? Which was the most fun?

The scenes with Mama G and Grace were the hardest to write because I loved Mama G SO much and yet I also knew what was happening to her. I’d write and weep, write and weep, even as I wrote happier scenes. She meant a lot to me.
The most fun scenes to write were the ones with Mama G and Trav, because they connected so well. They shared a similar fear – their world was changing and they were struggling to handle it, but in opposite ways. Mama G was fighting to keep her memories while Trav was trying to forget his, and yet they had such a positive impact on each other.

I’m recommending everyone add The Book Charmer to their summer reading list. What books are on your reading list this summer?

Thank you! Here are some books I’ve recently read:
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (fabulous and fun)
Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries (such a fresh and entertaining read)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman (I’ve devoured every book he’s written and still want more)
It’s Getting Scot in Here by Suzanne Enoch (this hero – OH MY GOSH, so GOOD) 

Will you be attending any book signings or events this year where readers will have an opportunity to meet you?

On August 3rd I’m having a book launch party complete with hors d’oeurves and beverages at Blantyre, a Gilded Age manor and now a luxury hotel in Lenox, MA right off the Massachusetts Turnpike. There will be a huge book giveaway, too!

Where can readers find you online?

Thanks again for visiting with us, Karen.  Do you have anything else to add? Would you like to ask our readers a question?

First, if you enjoyed THE BOOK CHARMER, there’s also a fun enovella set in Dove Pond called LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON. It’s about a man who has a ghost living in his bathtub handing out life advice. It’s a fun introduction to Dove Pond.

And second, yes, I’d love to ask a question! PJ asked me what special magical ability I’d like to have. The sisters in my book can do everything from speaking to books, to making tea that can help you find your car keys. If the sky was the limit, what one magical ability would you like to have?


  1. Sounds like a great book and series.

    1. I loved it, Patoct. Also, the introductory novella, Love in the Afternoon.

  2. I read Love in the Afternoon and loved it. Can't wait to read this book.

    1. Wasn't that a wonderful story? I think you'll be charmed by The Book Charmer as well.

  3. The magical ability I'd most like to have is to eat and lounge as much as I want but still be thin with lean muscle mass and healthy health numbers. I call this magical ability the "Have my cake and eat it too" ability.

    I will be seeking out this book ASAP, I see. Just the kind of magic I love in my reads!

  4. If I could have a magical quality in my life, I would like to be able to touch people physically and make their emotional pain go away. I formerly worked for FEMA and seeing people who feel shell shocked after a terrible event always made me want to do more....more touching, more hugging more letting people realize that things can get better.

    This books sure does sound like it would be right up my alley. And I will also seek Love in the Afternoon. What a splendid idea.

  5. I am so looking forward to reading this book. Magical gift would be to make people kind to others. If they treat others with kindness then there's more tolerance and love in the world. Thanks PJ and Karen.

  6. I love series linked by siblings, and am curious to read about their special abilities. I'd love to be able to teleport so I could avoid long car rides or the cost & shrinking plane seats.

  7. I'd love to teleport like Samantha on Bewitched.


  8. I'd like to be able to help people see the worth of others and to stop the strife in the world.

  9. I have only read your historicals and have thoroughly enjoyed them. This new series is set not far from where we live. I love the premise of the series and look forward to reading the series.