Bev’s Imaginary Book Club: Hello Beautiful, The Plot and Garden Spells

Time for an overdue (haha) book chat! Three in total, each wildly different yet unbelievable must-reads in their own way. Each non-put-downable, gripping, horribly sad and energizing.

Bev's Imaginary Book Club: The Plot, Hello Beautiful and Garden Spells / Bev Cooks

Y’all ready for dis DUN DUN . . .dun dun dun dun dun DUN DUN…


Hello Beautiful– OMG.

You know those books that span the decades, that follow the grit of a broken family from day one to the last page, that dive into the tenderness of what love can do, and then immediately turns around shows you the havoc that love can wreak, that leave you gutted but satisfied yet on the verge of a complete mental breakdown?

Welcome to Hello Beautiful. It’s wonderful.

Four sisters, all very close. Then you have William Waters entering the picture. William comes from a severely broken family. So when he meets Julia (one of the sisters) and falls in love with her vivaciousness, and the bond that her family extends to him, he’s hooked. Until something happens. And it all falls freaking apart.

It has a massive Little Women vibe (it even references it a couple of times), so you’ll be emotionally dead immediately. Doesn’t follow the story exactly, but more like a modern take on it. However the mom in this story is NOTHING LIKE Marmee March so I’ll prepare you for that heartache now.

You’ll cheer for the sisters. You’ll get upset at the sisters. You’re constantly teetering between, “Yes! Live your life, ya strong woman!” to “Wait how could you DO THAT.”

There’s also a basketball thread to it, which for me was a lot of fun to follow.

You have to read this is what I’m getting at.

The Plot – WHAT!

Okay, it was awesome. At first I didn’t realize what the word plot could mean. A plot of land, a plot in a story, an evil secretive scheming plan to take over the earth.

But it’s literally a book plot. Which funnily enough is the plot of this book. It’s a book within a book.

Book book book.

What happens is: this aspiring student writer dies (early on, this isn’t giving anything away), and the professor of the student (who is struggling himself to put out a new best seller) does the unthinkable DUN DUN DUUUUN.

Straight up yoinks bro’s plot and slaps it in his own book. (!)

But no one could even know this, right? a) Student’s book was never published. b) Professor had his unpublished draft. It’s as safe as can be!

Guess again, Chachi.

You have to get in this immediately or I will scream.

There’s love in it. There’s an upstate New York bed and breakfast in it. There’s a bit of misty Seattle and gritty New York City in it. You’ll be hooked. Swearsies.

Then come back and tell me if you saw that ending coming. W H A T.

Garden Spells: innnnnnn love.

First of all, I adore anything Sarah Addison Allen does, touches, is.

This is her debut novel, and it is spectacular. The backbone is simple: The south. A house. A garden. An apple tree. Two sisters. One estranged but begrudgingly finds her way home with a five year old daughter. The other grounded in life but fighting the urge to feel. How that comes together, you ask? Well, in the most delicious, syrupy, oozing-with-magic, small town way imaginable. There’s a tinge of fantasy, but it’s not cheesy. It’s mystical. There are characters that you wish you could stick in your pocket and carry around forever. There’s lust! There’s JEALOUSY. There’s abuse. There’s sisterhood and motherhood and neighborhood gossip and an intense richness about the book that leaves you the best kind of warm and fuzzy.

Order this right now if you need an uptick in life giddiness.

So there we have it! I’m reading Demon Copperhead right now (hoooooooly) and it is heavy heavy heavy. But so beautifully written. I can tell this one will stick around for a good long time.

Your turn! Did you read any of the above? And what would you recommend for me to add to my never-ending stash?


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6 Responses to Bev’s Imaginary Book Club: Hello Beautiful, The Plot and Garden Spells

  1. Katy K March 21, 2024 at 11:06 am #
    The Plot reminds me Deathtrap. I haven’t read but saw the movie (Christopher Reeve, Michael Caine).
  2. Ruth March 21, 2024 at 11:48 am #
    I am adding ALL the books you just recommended to MY 'never-ending stash' right this minute. Recently for me: 'Nora Goes Off Script' - LOOOVED. Such a fun escape and is basically a Hallmark movie wrapped in a Hallmark movie. A departure from the absurd and dark and twisty I normally read. Had to get her second book "This Time Next Summer' to add to the pile. 'The Housemaid's Secret' - really really enjoyed the first one and this one was good but not as good as the first. Will read the third and have her newest one 'The Teacher' on my short-list. Have you read 'The Teacher'? 'The Women' - I mean dayum. I am obsessed with Kristin Hannah's historical fiction. The Four Winds is my all-time fave. This one was so freaking good I didn't shower, eat, blink for the 48 hours it took me to devour. Read immediately. 'First Lie Wins' - such a fun cat and mouse game. I truly enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. It reminded me a little of the show 'Imposters' if you ever watched it. Currently reading 'Romantic Comedy' - I feel like you red this one and liked it? Can't remember. Hugs!!
  3. Christi March 21, 2024 at 4:32 pm #
    Gotta love a random Chachi reference. Can't wait to read Garden Spells.
  4. Nicole March 22, 2024 at 10:02 am #
    Just finished Long Bright River by Liz Moore. Heavy at times but really took me away into another world.
  5. Victoria March 24, 2024 at 9:32 am #
    I recently read Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. It’s a modern day retelling of Antigone (if you’re a Sophocles fan, then you know it’s a tragedy). It’s about family and what we would and wouldn’t do to protect those we love. Shamsie’s modern day version is also about Islamophobia in the 21st century (and how social media amplifies hate and mixed messages). There’s also romantic love too (which adds more complexity to everything), and these characters are so complex that even if you don’t agree with their choices, you can still make sense of it. Oh, and the ending will blow your mind. Beautifully written too, and Shamsie manages to tell a compelling story in like just under 300 pages. Crazy impressive. Easiest five stars I ever gave.
  6. Sarah March 25, 2024 at 3:34 pm #
    Great stack!! I loved Hello, Beautiful and got to meet that author recently. She was as lovely and sharp as you'd expect. The Plot was a page turning masterpiece, and I just started Garden Spells per your recommendation after owning it for YEARS. Garden Spells is perfection so far, I'm loving it so much that I came here to write this comment. And it's perfect for Springtime. Have you read Marisa De Los Santos? I think you'd really like Love Walked In. Quirky, warm, and great old movie references!

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