Published by Swoon Reads on May 17th 2016
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Romance, Young Adult
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Aspiring love charm maker Hijiri Kitamura was excited to come back to Grimbaud for her sophomore year-until she learns about the upcoming charm making competition. Grimbaud has just started to recover from the tyranny of Zita's love fortunes and it would be too easy for the winning charm maker to take Zita's place. The only solution is for Hijiri, with the support of her friends and fellow rebels, to win the contest herself.
Unfortunately, that's easier said than done, especially when Love itself has decided to meddle in Hijiri's life. Concerned that it's favorite charm maker has given up on finding a boyfriend of her own, Love takes matters into its own hands and delivers the perfect boyfriend to her in a giftwrapped box...literally.
Get ready to be charmed by this magical, quirky sequel to Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius.
I was so delighted when I learned that the author’s previous debut work, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, would be getting a companion sequel. Love Charms introduces a competition going on in Grimbaud for love charm-makers that want to fill in the spot that Zita left after she was defeated in the first book. Obviously, our resident charm-maker Hijiri joins the contest. But before it gets started, Love (who is a character in the story), delivers a surprise to her door.
The box trembled as the something in the inside pushed. The ribbon fell away. The top flaps opened with a loud tar of tape and wrapping paper.
A boy stepped out of the box.
So why does this happen? Basically, Love believes that Hijiri’s heart is so small that she herself can’t experience love, even though she helps other people and couples around her. Thus, the her “gift boyfriend” – who’s already in love with her – is a test. Can she unlock his secrets? Is he really composed of charms, or someone who has a heart that can be loved?
“Your heart is so small,’ Love said quietly. ‘There’s no room for love. Or so you believe. Let me prove you wrong. Give Ken a chance.
I really enjoyed the different conflicts that Karalius sets up with the original rebellion in the first book. There are tensions across couples and siblings that make Hijiri even busier as she tries to think of charms that could remedy their situations. Add to that the competition, and we see that homegirl has a lot going on her plate. And with all that, she still has a charm-boy to sort through! But Hijiri has the support of her friends, and that helps her get through it all. I really loved reading about her character development, and how she slowly opens up her heart to Kentaro (Mr. Charm-Boy) as the story progresses. Because at first, she’s not too sure what to make of him. It’s not every day that you get a boy that says he loves you from the very first encounter. But his continuous loyalty towards her and charm really gets her heart pumping. Their dialogue was so adorable as she tried to discover how he came to be, while all he wants is her acceptance that he’s not just a charm.
The love charm competition was just as exciting as I thought it would be! Hijiri’s competition features a couple who employs the use of make-up and beauty as charms, a father and son who combines the magic of charms with the metal of technology, and an entrepreneur who focuses on mass market goods like cheap charm candy for the kids. They all have different ways of using their love charms, and pose a threat to Hijiri as the reigning charm-maker in Grimbaud. I loved seeing Hijiri improve on her charms and seeing the steps she took to create them. It has to do with a lot of symbolism and understanding about the couple’s or individual’s situation. Karalius’s charming writing makes for delightful magical sequences that can’t help but make you fall in love with the lovely town of Grimbaud. Seriously, if such a place existed, I would visit it like every month.
Grimbaud a setting that has definitely left an impression in my heart, and one whose story and characters will stick with me, even though the last page has been read. We get to see Hijiri progress as a character, and also explore her dynamic relationship with her parents as well as friends, all the while trying to beat other charm makers in a competition. Love Charms and Other Catastrophes is certainly a story that will leave your heart warm and bright – no love charm necessarily this time.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you Kimberly Karalius for sharing a review copy!