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Secondhand Charm

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In a secluded village, magic sparkles on the edges of the forest. There, a young girl named Evie possesses unusually strong powers as a healer. A gypsy's charms—no more than trinkets when worn by others—are remarkably potent when Evie ties them around her neck. Her talents, and charms, have not escaped the notice of the shy stonemason's apprentice. But Evie wants more than a quiet village and the boy next-door. When the young king's carriage arrives one day, and his footman has fallen ill, Evie might just get her chance after all . . .

352 pages, Hardcover

First published August 24, 2010

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Julie Berry

26 books2,253 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 443 reviews
Profile Image for Cara.
279 reviews703 followers
August 28, 2016
I can't believe how dense I am. The part of the book where it's revealed what "power" she has I was suprised. Now, if I had just paid more attention to the cover and the clues given I wouldn't have been so taken aback about the revelation.

Evelyn has grown up in the small town of Maundley, where unfortunately her prospects of becoming a doctor are small. Her chance comes when King Leopold III comes to their little town and he grants her admittance to the college in Pylander. Evie is excited to go to Pylander and start her studies, but strange things have been happening to her. All of a sudden young men are taking interest in her, and at first she thinks it's the charms she bought from a gypsy, but is that really it? She begins her journey to Pylander with her friends Priscilla and Aidan but things as always don't go as planned...

I honestly was engrossed in the book when I was reading it, and even though I had not expected this kind of story it fits oddly enough. Evie is a sensible character and you can feel how branded she feels once she knows what she is. She realistically feels bitter towards the gift at first and finds it hard to let other people know. Eventually she does come to accept things and even feels grateful that she comes to know her true self. I thought the dyanmic between Evie and Aidan was genuine, even if sometimes it was painful to see when they couldn't understand each other.

The plot is strong and is filled with adventure and intrique. As a whole the idea is original, and shows how being true to yourself is the only way to feel at home in your own skin.
April 20, 2015
When I picked up this book I was pretty sure I'd love it, as in 5star rating kind of love. The cover is charming, wholesome, sweet, and with just the right hint of magic. The title , Secondhand Charm ,sounds just my thing and after reading the blurb I was a goner. I just had to read it.
I learned first impressions are really unreliable.

Minus 1 star for:
Blurry Plot and Weak storytelling
This event that you'd think important and would lead to something as the story progress would be completely forgotten as another crazy thing, totally unnecessary and unconnected leaps out of nowhere to blow your mind.
Most of the time I'm not even sure what's going on anymore. Even the setting is not well established. Julie Berry just let loose names of places like Maundley and Chalcedon as if her readers are residents of those places. There wasn't even enough descriptions so that we could get the feel of them. With Italian sprinkled here and there I assumed the kingdom of Pyradin is somewhere near there and based on the clothing and lack of electricity and such I figured the setting is on the very distant past.

Minus one star for:
Annoying characters( the main protagonist most of all):
The story started with our heroine describing her supposed to be friend's fish eyes and spend most of her time pointing out other characters' extreme flaws or possible illnesses( the mayor is gigantically fat and eternally sweating, Lord Franklin apparently has jaundice because his face is yellow). I don't know if this is the writer's attempt for humor or she just wanted a snarky protagonist.
Other characters are useless and idiotic(His majesty himself King Leopold), silly and childish(Princess Annalise)
and utterly absurd(the bandit prince who rob people because his father refuse to raise his allowance,honestly what is Berry's inspiration for this a high school bully stealing lunchboxes because his mummy didn't pack him one?)

Minus one star for:
Inconsistencies and Absurdities

One moment Evie is telling me both her parents died of flu, the next she's explaining to her levithian(this is a giant seasnake) that her mother died giving birth to her so help me God. I figured either the poor woman died multiple deaths or Julie Berry is as unsure of what's going on with her story as me. In the end it was revealed that her mother died because Evie's grandfather who is really her father killed her mother's levithian which means Evie's mother is also a serpentina like Evie and by the way while your brain is still asking you where the hells and why oh whys how come on earth, the king whose wife just escaped with a lover after failing to kill him is proposing to Evie and also her grandfather who is her 60year old father who had just defeated bandits, hired killers, and giant seasnakes by himself is marrying their widowed neighbor. Pleasant surprises they are , weddings and proposals but they just came out of absolute nowhere , not even out of the blue. So.
Regarding the absurdities there are just too many. Like maybe 89% of the book hardly make any sense. Enumerating all of them would be a complete waste of time. I've wasted enough time on this one.

Finally,minus another star for the total disappointment that this book is.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Allison.
550 reviews566 followers
April 23, 2017
Secondhand Charm is quite a unique fantasy with a fairytale sort of feel. It’s not a retelling, which I enjoyed because it was fresh and new, but still with the feeling of a fairytale. I read it all in one sitting, and was pleasantly surprised by the turns it took. There’s a bit of romance, very mild, and not the focus of the story. I found it a very enjoyable YA fantasy that stands alone and doesn’t feel teenagery. I’d recommend it to any fairytale fantasy reader. Well, unless you really hate snakes.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,632 followers
October 17, 2010

This was a very fun book, with quite a few surprises. And I hate to say much else, in case I spoil something! I really didn't see most of this book coming . . . each chapter was a fresh piece of the puzzle! Julie Berry has created a truly unique world and unique type of magic that I just adored!
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 26 books2,253 followers
April 2, 2010
Once again I reveal my bias. I'm more than a little fond of this title. Advance copies are starting to trickle out; books come available in October. I hope YA fantasy/historical readers will find something to love in Evie's story. More details to follow soon.
Profile Image for La Femme Readers.
429 reviews67 followers
October 10, 2010
Secondhand Charm was a magical and adventurous story that captured the essence of its time period. Julie's story was stunning and presented the qualities of detailed descriptions, and solid character definition. Evie, a vibrant and intelligent protagonist won me over with her strength and poised maturity. Possessing the skills of a healer, she longed to follow in her mother's footsteps as a doctor. With luck, her goal of attending a university worked in her favor. However, the journey to reach her dream education became a trip full of unexpected occurrences with eccentric people. The author did a great job establishing distinct personalities for the secondary characters. Some were wacky, while others turned into long time friends.

On the path, Evie not only opened her eyes to a world of wonder but, also learned her true self in the process. The power hidden within Evie was interesting and made me enjoy her persona even more. Another person I grew to love was Aiden, a boy next door who was entertaining and protective around Evie. I don't want to give too much away of the main points in the plot, so I'll keep it short and simple. All in all, the creativity and out of the ordinary figures brought life and excitement to me. The extreme lengths endorsed by Evie were difficult but she proved to be one tough maiden I respected and admired. I recommend this book if you're looking for a refreshing tale that will leave you smiling in the end.
Profile Image for Caitlin Mcg.
34 reviews
July 17, 2012
I don't normally do in-depth reviews but for some reason I feel compelled to do so for this book. Secondhand Charm is a good example of book I'd probably like more if someone else had written it. There were some great concepts, but a variety of factors held it back.

First and foremost was the setting. I had a really difficult time envisioning the world the book was set in. The characters all used fairly modern speech but were clearly supposed to be part of an old-fashioned world: one where travel is done on foot or horseback, where gypsies roam free selling trinkets, where wicked bandits rob horse-drawn carriages in broad daylight. Yet Evie, the heroine, discusses finding tuition for University like any high school senior.

The country where the action takes place, Pylander, is fictional-- as are neighboring lands that play a role in the plot (Merlia, Rovary, et cetera). My first thought was that this was a self-contained fantasy world. There was mention of religion, which I assumed was something fictional, but analogous to Christianity. But then, jarringly, there are mentions of the real world. Evie mentions she can read some Latin, and says her Christian name is Evelyn. The actors she encounters are undeniably Italian, and list previous performances in Milan, Florence, and Rome.

I found this confusing. If the author wanted to insert magical elements into existing history, why bother creating fictional countries? Conversely, if she wanted to build her own world, why throw in mentions of our reality? In the end I had to accept that the most definition I was going to get was 'probably Europe, olden times.'

Beyond that, I encountered issues with the writing. Often, it seemed to lack detail. It wasn't just that people weren't really fleshed out beyond 'He was handsome' or 'She had black hair.' I felt like there were genuine gaps just in explaining what was going on. For example, when Evie boards a ship to head to the Capitol, she is asked to dance by a fellow passenger:

I turned to see a cheerful read-haired young man bowing and beckoning me to dance with him. I hesitated, then held out my elbow and let him lead me to join the dancers.
"Is that your brother with you?" The young man nodded toward Aiden.
Oh, dear. If I said Aiden was my husband, how would it look, dancing with strangers? On the other hand, if he wasn't my husband, I could receive more unwelcome attentions.
"Thank you for the dance." I released his arm. "It warmed me considerably."

So... did she actually dance? Or did the young man take her arm, ask his question, and then was immediately abandoned?

On the other hand, sometimes I felt like there were entire scenes that happened for no reason. On the same boat ride, she saves the life of a monkey trainer who later turns out to be part of a team of assassins hired to kill Pylander's king. There are quite a few pages devoted to this, but besides emphasizing (again) that Evie has a knack for healing, it doesn't seem to serve a purpose. The sailors do drop a few cryptic hints about snake charmers while she does her work, but she could have healed anyone. Why make it one of the assassins? It's not like they remember later and offer to spare her life for her help, or anything. She could have just, I don't know, wrapped up a cut on a sailor's hand. We still get the foreshadowing, but without the expectation of a payoff when she meets the assassins again.

The characterizations were really weak to me. Aiden is a love interest because the author tells us so. His interactions with Evie are limited and he spends most of that time ignoring her because she's revealed to be Different, or accusing her of having a new fancy man in the castle. But they totally kissed so we know they are Meant To Be. Annalise is shallow and insensitive of others, and nothing else. She's kind to Evie but only because she wants a companion. It's not really a shock when she turns out to be a conniving witch. Prince Roland is totally evil and even though he's a prince from another land and apparently a diplomat, he spends his time roaming Pylander, robbing peasants and murdering indiscriminately. Because his dad doesn't give him enough allowance. The book kind of makes it sound like he's not new to the whole robbing-and-killing thing, but no one seems to connect the Rovarian diplomat's absence from court with sudden spikes in the local crime rates.

Evie herself is kind of a mess. I really liked that here was a heroine who was devoted to learning and improving herself. That's something I'd really like to see more of. But beyond that, she's hard to get a handle on. Her determination to get to the University seems to waver in and out. She resents her leviathan until suddenly he's the one thing she loves in this world. She clearly doesn't actually care for Annalise's company, but mourns the loss of her 'sister' when they part. She complains that she doesn't know anything about being a Serpentina but is critical of the information Annalise gives her. And she is WAY TOO ACCEPTING of her Grandfather turning out to be her father, and that he accidentally murdered her mother. It took her all of 2 minutes to come around to that.

There is more I could list... the miraculous arrival of her grandfather AND boyfriend AND the Widow Moreau at the climax of the story. The fact that, even though Evie helps people without asking anything in return, the best treatment she can expect to get from them is to be ignored (the monkey trainer barely thanks her... the companion of the king that she treated comes onto her, then tries to throw her out). The only other Serpentina she meets has no qualms about killing her when she interferes with her plans (so much for a sisterly bond). But basically what it boils down to is that this book was a big mess for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,985 followers
July 5, 2012
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Evelyn Pomeroy is a small town girl from the village of Maudley in the kingdom of Pylandrian - but she has big dreams. It has been her greatest hope and dream to leave Maudley to attend university in the kingdom capitol and become a healer, though the likelihood of her ever attaining that dream is a slim and distant thing indeed. When the announcement makes it to town that the King himself will be visiting to partake in the local festivities, however, Evie's prospects change drastically - especially when the King shows up with a grievously ill Secretary of the Exchequer that needs immediate medical aid, and Evie is the only capable healer around. Winning the King's favor and the promise of tuition and board at the university, Evie sets out on the journey of a lifetime from Maudley to the city capitol, escorted by her best friend Prissy and her next door neighbor and dear friend Aidan. On the road to university, however, Evie and her caravan run into desperate trouble - a highwayman holds up their coach, stealing their goods and killing their driver. Aidan and Evie press on to the capitol, but more isfortune befalls them as they take to sea and are caught in a violent storm.

But it is here, on the high seas, the Evie discovers her true mettle - here that she learns just who she is, what power she wields, and the destiny that lies before her. Caught up in a royal wedding, plots and double-crosses, and an ancient heritage, Evie's path is fraught with danger - but with the guidance of her own heart, and help from those friends and family loyal and true, she will find a place in this strange new world.

Guys. GUYS. I loved this book so very much. I am prefacing this part of the review with an apology - I apologize, because this is going to be one giant love-fest for Julie Berry's beautiful book. When I started Secondhand Charm, I was desperate for a good fantasy read that would restore my faith in the YA, fairytale-ish subgenre (coming off of two very, very bad misses with Snow White and the Huntsman and Kill Me Softly) - I wasn't expecting to be swept off of my feet. But swept off my feet I was, thanks to Julie Berry's beautiful, masterful, Shannon Hale-esque YA fantasy. Secondhand Charm is a sweeping adventure, a coming of age tale, and a novel about romance and magic. Immediately, I fell in love with Julie Berry's writing style, which is evocative and reminiscent of the Books of Bayern - in fact, Secondhand Charm reminds me of The Goose Girl (thought I think heroine Evelyn is far more Enna than Ani).

On that note, the reason why the novel soars is because of the defiant strength of its heroine. I absolutely adored Evie, a heroine that knows what she wants and manages to stay true to herself and her beliefs, even when making the right choices are so very hard. It's also incredibly refreshing to see a heroine that doesn't take any crap, who gets annoyed with cryptic answers and what she perceives of as hokum/superstition (she is an aspiring scientist, after all), and who desperately tries to do what is right instead of what is easy.

Beyond the heroine, I loved the actual magic of the novel, the idea of Serpentinas, the fact that all of these things I'm saying about magic and serpentinas is actually a mystery until you read it happening (and I won't divulge because I LOVE that for once there is a blurb that doesn't give away the meat and potatoes of the story!). Ok, ok, one more slight divulgence - I love the relationship between Evie and her leviathan, and how their lives and fates are so intertwined. But that is all I will say of the matter, because theirs is a story that deserves to be discovered as a pure surprise.

Regarding the actual plot and other characters, I found myself similarly enamored. The story proper focuses on Evelyn and her adventure to find herself and her heart's true desire, but along the way there are many others involved and plots afoot - from her humble plans to secure an education, there's magic, an ancient inheritance, a sinister plot to overthrow a kingdom, and friends lost and found. I loved the relationship that unfolds between Evelyn and her new mentor and friend, the gregarious foreign princess Annalise.

And, of course, there's a romance too. One that is firmly on the backburner to the larger story, but so very well executed. I loved the love story.

What else can I say? I loved Secondhand Charm unequivocally, and it will certainly be on my list of notable reads of the year (if it were published in 2012, it could make my list of favorites). Absolutely, wholeheartedly recommended - and now I'll have to check out Julie Berry's debut novel The Amaranth Enchantment immediately.
Profile Image for Amelia, free market Puritan.
349 reviews35 followers
January 7, 2011

Every once in awhile a book comes along that you'd never heard of before and would have otherwise missed entirely. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of Secondhand Charm and bringing author Julie Berry to my attention. I'm going to have to check out her other novel - The Amaranth Enchantment, because I certainly liked this one.
First of all, the timing of this novel was perfect. I'd just finished The Knife of Never Letting Go, a powerful but emotionally exhausting novel and was really looking for an upbeat, entertaining weekend read. And Charm didn't disappoint. Personally, I just have a soft spot for sweet, fairytale-ish books that aren't complicated or convoluted or loooooong.
Oh, and have I mentioned how much I love creativity and originality? The magic in this book was very intriguing, and I loved the concept of the serpentina. It's always fun to read something with a truly unique feel :)
So while I did love the magical elements, I never really felt engrossed by the concepts.
And I think it's because the book spent a lot of time focusing on the life of the main character, Evie, in her small, simple village, which is good, but ultimately didn't really have a lot to do with the overall story. So we don't even meet the "magical creature" (don't want to drop a spoiler) until 100 pages in, and we don't begin to understand the magical elements until halfway in, which didn't leave a lot of time for all of the elements to come together.
Also (and this is entirely just a personal thing), Evie was a little hard for me to warm up to. See, she has this unyielding, extremely focused dream: she wants to study at university. No matter what happens (and some pretty darn extraordinary things happen), she wants what she wants. And for someone like me, who is on the brink of a major life crossroads, that just kind didn't resonate with me. How can you be that bent on what you want? How do you even know what you want? I guess there just really didn't seem to be any depth, any internal struggle to her, and so that was a little underwhelming. Plus the romance was pretty nonexistent, at least for me. It didn't really come together until the end, either, and left a lot to be desired...
Interestingly enough, Secondhand Charm is one of those books where I ended up liking the villain character more than the protagonist. The villain in this story - first of all - didn't really seem all that "evil" and whatnot, and s/he (again, trying not to spoil anything) seemed to have way more personality than our extremely goal-oriented main character, so that was pretty enjoyable.
Do you guys ever find yourself secretly rooting for a story's "bad guy"?

Overall, this was a pleasant, fun, and entertaining read. It was a quick read, but definitely memorable. And again, the magical premise was incredibly creative. I'd definitely recommend Secondhand Charm to all ages - cute, creative, and clean.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,035 reviews55 followers
May 21, 2011
I’m going to start by saying that Secondhand Charm was not what I had expected it to be. That being said, I didn’t really enjoy it. I guess it just wasn’t my kind of book.
I did like the premise of the book. The summary of the book I read sounded amazing. Maybe, I read too much into it, I’m not sure, but I think it could have turned out a little better. There were parts where I was really enjoying the book and was sucked into the world with Evie. It was really good in that aspect.
Then there were parts that just frustrated me. Evie, seemed to be a little bit of a pushover, she basically let people tell her what to do for most of the book. As for Aiden and Evie, I felt like tearing my hair out whenever they were near each other after a certain point in the book.
There were also a couple of inconsistencies in the story line that made absolutely no sense and weren’t addressed in any way. It could be that the copy I read of Secondhand Charm was and ARC so that part hadn’t been fixed yet however. I also felt that there was a lot happening and it felt like something would get set into motion and then all of a sudden would just change the direction of the event. A lot of the ideas felt half finished.
The book itself was a really light read, it was quick and the chapters are really short so it seemed to make the book flow really fast.
Secondhand Charm had a really promising story line and being a part of the fantasy genre I was really excited to read it. Unfortunately, Secondhand Charm just wasn’t the book for me. But, if it sounds like your kind of book then definitely give it a go!
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,020 reviews102 followers
September 26, 2010

Julie Berry has certainly crafted a whimsical, well written tale in Secondhand Charm, one that's sure to entertain readers from all backgrounds with its interesting premise!

Secondhand Charm tales the tale of Evie, an ordinary girl who dreams of doing extraordinary things, such as being a doctor and studying at her kingdom's grand university... a dream that certainly isn't going to happen to a girl from her background. But everything changes the day she helps heal one of the king's men, marking her as being any thing but ordinary and giving her the chance she so greatly deserves, a chance of a future far away from her secluded village. Now she's on the journey to the university with her best friend, who has also been awarded a scholarship, and the boy-next-door, one that Evie may just like a bit more than she says. Soon enough it's apparent that this trip will be anything but smooth, as she stumbles upon a plan and a secret of her parents' past that might just change her life and her kingdom's forever.

Evie was a smart, fiery, and fascinating girl, one that I couldn't help but love and root for as the story went on, and I'm most readers will feel the same way! I loved her determination in finding out a way to stop her kingdom from becoming anther's prey, as well as learning the most about her serpentina past as she could. Another favorite character of mine was Aidan. He nothing but charming and sweet!

The premise of this was fantastic, and the execution was even more so! I loved the idea of serpetina's and how they each had their own person serpent (especially the one Evie had- he was adorable and funny addition to the story!). Even better was the whole master evil plan against the kingdom that left for me and the main character to spend most of the book curious at what exactly was occurring, especially with the capricious' nature it had!

As mentioned before, Secondhand Charm was nothing but well-written, and I have to say, it officially landed Julie on my favorite author list and Secondhand Charm as one of my favorites of the year! I can't wait to see what Berry has in store for us next! I'm sure it'll be even better than this one.

In all, Secondhand Charm was an imaginative and delightful novel that I utterly adored! I can't suggest this one highly enough!

Grade: A-
Profile Image for Valerie.
249 reviews74 followers
August 1, 2015
As with a lot of fantasy books I wasn't surprised by the formula of this book (smart village girl + unknown ability/identity + romance + journey). This usually isn't a real negative for me; it’s gotta be pretty predictable for me to hold it against the book. And this book did have unique aspects to it, like snakes being sort of good guys. My sister didn't even know what Evie's special power was until Evie herself found out -that almost never happens. There’re a few twists and turns in this book. I was surprised by a few of the events but then again it’s me.

Overview: Evie is the town healer because she never gets sick. So when she gets noticed by the king after she helps heal his tax collector or whatever he offers to send her and her friend to the University in Pylander, free of charge. Evie's dream is to be a physician like her late mother so she is anxious to leave. With her best friend and friend/neighbor with a few other people she sets off for Pylander. But things never go as planned in books do they. All too soon trouble finds them and then she is left with only her neighbor Aidan. Do you see where this is going?

Anyways I thought the magic was creative, the characters vivid, and the plot thoroughly interesting. It's hard for me to believe that the whole story was done within a week. So much happened in so little time and I was engrossed once I got to the last third of the book. Secondhand Charm is a story that I would've enjoyed when I was a pre-teen and of course enjoyed now.
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
November 16, 2012
Maundley is putting on a celebration for the king. As the king comes to the celebration, the town is in a whirlwind. Evie, a young (read: teenage) resident, impresses the king with her academic prowess. Her good luck and skills help land her a full ride scholarship to the university provided by the king. What ensues in Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry, is adventure, as Evie journeys toward the University. As for matters of the heart, Evie is at a crossroads where she must choose between the one who is familiar or the one who is royal and can give her anything she desires.
Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Rebecca M.
492 reviews5 followers
October 3, 2020
I read an advanced copy of Secondhand Charm yesterday, and couldn't put it down. It's fantasy fiction, so expect the unexpected. I really liked how the main character, Evie evolves from simple girl to strong young woman by the end of the book. She's stands her ground and learns through experience who she is, and what she's capable of striving for and achieving. It's always nice to find such a character for teen girls to read about....my 13 year old daughter read Secondhand Charm and liked it as well.
Profile Image for Kelsey.
466 reviews11 followers
October 24, 2010
Secondhand Charm was a thrilling and beautifully written sophomore novel by Julie Berry.

Evie is now one of my favorite protagonists. She is brave, determined, and has a mind of her own. I loved reading about her different trials and triumphs and my heart went out to her whenever she got caught in a rut. Her dreams are to attend the University and use her knack for healing to help people everywhere. I also loved Evie's Grandfather and Aidan, the sweet boy next door. Both of them would do anything to ensure Evie was safe and protected, but they still supported her dreams and ambitions.

Secondhand Charm was historical fiction, but it took place in a world of Berry's creation. The people, places, and sights were all of the author's own creation and I enjoyed hearing about the different places Evie visited, especially the royal kingdom.

Evie has a variety of adventures throughout the novel, and I was always on my toes. There was never a page where something new and exciting didn't occur and by the last page I didn't want it to end.

There was some magic and legend tied in. The idea of serpentinas are something I'd never encountered before and it was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the book. There was also romance. It was a charming and sweet romance that was meant to be right from the start and I enjoyed watching Evie and Aidan grow closer throughout the story. There was also some mystery and intrigue with the royal kingdom that Evie got involved in and by the last few pages I was on the edge of my seat- dying to know how things would turn out for Evie and the rest of the characters.

Overall, I definitely recommend picking this book up. It's an entertaining and unpredictable read filled with excitement, romance, and intrigue. Evie was a fantastic main character and her story was so original and always filled with adventure. I can't wait to read more by Berry, including her debut, The Amaranth Enchantment!

Overall: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Angelc.
422 reviews49 followers
December 9, 2010
"The Amaranth Enchantment," Julie Berry's first book, is one of my favorite books of the year, so I couldn't wait to read "Secondhand Charm." This book is filled with all of the things I loved about the first book, magic, adventure, a strong heroin, and a sweet, swoon-worthy romance.

I loved Evie's bond with her leviathan and how the story touched on how this had caused jealousy in past generations of her family. Her leviathan had many qualities of a loyal puppy, if your puppy could instantly morph from cute and cuddly to a huge sea monster.

Aiden was incredibly sweet. He's the hard-working boy next door who suddenly seems like more than a friend. Aiden is so so supportive of Evie and wants to know more about her secrets but never judges or dismisses her because of them.

The author puts an awesome twist on the typical fairy tale at the beginning of the story. The King comes to the small village of Pylander and singles out Evie and her best friend. But in this story, it's not because they are the prettiest girls in town, it's because they're the smartest. The King gives them both scholarships to the university based on their high grades. It's empowering to see girls moving forward in life based on their merit, not their appearance.

Overall, another fantastic, magical adventure from Julie Berry!

book was sent by publisher in exchange for an honest review

reviewed for http://inthehammockblog.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Allison.
712 reviews411 followers
October 2, 2010
I really enjoyed reading this! It is a really quick read (the ARC is just under 300 pages), and I read straight through it in one sitting. Plus, its a stand alone novel. I love finding books that aren't going to be dragged out into a series. Beyond being just a regular fantasy, it has a very fairy tale/mythological feeling. I love the extra innocence and magic that those vibes added to the book. I would definitely recommend this as being appropriate for younger middle grade readers as well as teenagers.

There are creepy sea serpent creatures called leviathans featured in the story, and they aren't evil! I love that. Ever since Harry Potter, I've associated snakes with Slytherin and Nagini and those are not pleasant associations. Having a snake being on the good side was a pleasant switch from the norm. Very cool.

Evie's journey from the small town where she grew up, to a disastrous trip to the city and on to a lot of shocking discoveries about herself and her past all make for very entertaining reading, and I was always excited to see where the story would go next. I also loved reading about her relationships with all the characters around her (especially Aiden! Sa-woon). She was a great MC, a very sweet and intelligent girl.

I definitely found this book worth reading. The plot and characters were both entertaining and original. If you get the chance - definitely pick up a copy!
Profile Image for Kiirsi Hellewell.
490 reviews12 followers
November 17, 2010
I LOVED this book. Loved, loved, LOVED. I rarely read a library book that makes me want to race to the bookstore the second I finish the last page and buy my own copy...this one did.

From the cover and synopsis, I never imagined what a delightful, fantastical journey lay inside. This is a lovely fantasy with strong, likable characters...and a very unique fantasy element that I've never seen anywhere else. I loved how unique it truly was, and that I couldn't see what was coming next. I don't want to spoil anyone, so I will just say that the best part of this book for me was the relationship between Evie and Clair. Their love and attachment and bond was so sweet and beautiful. I adored Clair from the moment I read his first words and now I want my OWN. :)

I picked this book up because I enjoyed "The Amaranth Enchantment," despite its somewhat-strange ending, and figured I was in for another good read. This book far surpassed Ms. Berry's first. What a lovely, amazing book--I'm recommending it to my own kids and to all my friends.

I REALLY HOPE there's a sequel!!! Even though the book has a good ending, there's certainly room left for another. I am dying to spend more time with the leviathans and that amazing world.
Profile Image for Michelle.
14 reviews2 followers
September 24, 2012
Because you never know which authors read reviews of their books, I prefer to be constructive where possible. If you look at "Secondhand Charm" as an original fairy tale, many of what would otherwise be confusing and inexplicable plot points and character inconsistencies can be glossed over. Ultimately, this was not a satisfactory book. Despite being a first-person narrative, much of the story is told to us, instead of shown to us. The narrator reacts to pretty much everything that happens with a placid acceptance, until, near the end, she whips herself into action. Fortunately, this book was a quick read, and the chain of events that occurs in the resolution of the conflict unroll in the space of a score of pages, with the rapid pace (if not the humor) of a Shakespearean comedy.

In order to enjoy this book, you should speed through it quickly, and avoid pausing long enough to ask "Why?" to any of the events, reactions to events, or lack of reactions to events by the characters. Asking "Why?" breaks the spell, and leaves you not in a fairy tale, but bogged down in a mediocre story with a wooden heroine, abandoned plot elements, and a series of coincidental appearances and actions to resolve the main plot conflict to save the day.
Profile Image for Teri.
685 reviews16 followers
July 6, 2011
This was a great read. Julie Berry did a great job of letting her characters' voices shine through and carry the storyline along.

I think this is a great book for younger readers, particularly those who are fans of Jessica Day George, Patricia Wrede, Jane Yolen and others who write about dragons.
Profile Image for Annabelle.
470 reviews917 followers
November 1, 2010
It was awesome! Sweet, believable, and utterly intriguing, I fell completely in love. I can't say too much though, without having to mark my review as containing spoilers, so I'll won't say too much more. I will say it's totally worth anyone's time and an amazing read!
Profile Image for Suey.
832 reviews189 followers
September 18, 2010
I really loved this one. It was like a movie playing in my head and the movie it reminded me of? Princess Bride. Yeah, I loved it.
Profile Image for Adrienne.
15 reviews1 follower
April 29, 2012
I loved this book,
I've read it twice and i loved it both times.
I love books with kings and princesses and
Mixed up fairytales
Profile Image for Jen.
265 reviews
August 18, 2020
3 1/2 stars if I could. Its a fine enough story. The beginning grabbed me right away. Never saw the twist coming, but then, unfortunately it devolved a star or two, to what felt far more like a farsical (Did I just make that word up? Maybe.) version of its previous self. I was invested enough to finish. Entertained enough to not feel my time was wasted, but not blown away enough to, well, give it more stars. A nice clean, diverting story.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
Author 1 book132 followers
December 3, 2017
This review (ahahah i don't write reviews, I write absurd reactions) comes in two parts.

a.) snakes are better than boys

b.) I have absolutely zero ability to tell where a Julie Berry plot is going at any one time. I like it. I think?
Profile Image for Heather Moore.
550 reviews4 followers
May 28, 2021
3.5 stars, rounded up. This was a happy find at a used book store as Julie Berry is a fave of mine, and it really was quite charming. This book would be well suited for teens as it has higher level circumstances than middle grade but is not fraught with anxiety, feeeeeelings, and very adult behaviors that constitutes so much of the YA genre.
Profile Image for Karissa.
3,916 reviews192 followers
October 29, 2017
I have had this book on my TBR pile for some time and was excited to finally read it. This was a cute and sweet YA fantasy read about a girl who finds out she’s not a girl at all but a Serpentina. When her dreams of education take her to the palace, she ends up embroiled in a plot with a fellow Serpentina.

This is one of those cute "fairy tale princess" type of YA reads with some interesting twists to it. It was a quick and easy read and I enjoyed it. There is a love interest for our heroine as well, but the romance is very light.

This was mostly a coming of age tale about finding out who you are and sticking with your dreams. I enjoyed the idea of the Serpentina race, it introduces some interesting folklore/mythology elements.

Overall this was a cute and sweet, fairytale princess type read. It was a quick read and was enjoyable, if not incredibly memorable. I would recommend to those who enjoy princess stories. It’s targeted at the female YA audience but would be fine for middle grade readers as well.
Profile Image for Krystle.
893 reviews337 followers
June 14, 2011
Forgive me if this review isn’t as thorough or detailed as I usually try to make my reviews be. I read this a while ago so I don’t really remember what happens for the most part in this book.

I picked this up because I thoroughly enjoyed Julie Berry’s first book, The Amaranth Enchantment, so I was expecting more of the same. And it is for the most part. It’s got this fairy tale touch on it and retains some of that lighthearted and sweet atmosphere. A great read if you wanted to relax and let your mind stew for a bit and forget about the troubles of the day.

I think it’s an interesting idea that Evie can talk to her sea creature which masquerades as a snake for the majority of the time. This is shunned and is often seen as a forebringer of bad luck and destruction. Evie’s shunned for this and the adventures she gets into is a lot more expansive than say the other book the author wrote. There’s a bigger cast of characters and they’re all relatively harmless. Nothing offensive or wrong and the protagonist is portrayed as something you can root for.

Except I don’t know, there was just something lacking about this entry. The whole plot didn’t seem as gripping, nor did it click with me. I’m sure I’m just being picky but I didn’t connect with it. The romance, while not one of those love at first sight things, doesn’t really work as well as the previous book because he’s absent for a good section so all that development you could have made between the two leads was passed up. But you end up feeling tickled at the end as they get together because the guy is very sweet and tries his best to look out for her while being a gentleman about it.

Another one of those fluffy reads (not that it’s empty of substance because there’s enough of it to whet your appetite) but just not as good as her other book. I think I was bored for a good part of the first half. Still, her writing is great as always so you don’t have to worry there.

This is a good choice for the more younger readers if someone wanted to give it to their kids.
Profile Image for Emily Coleman.
201 reviews255 followers
January 16, 2011
Younger readers will enjoy this fun, lighthearted story about a girl with big dreams and ambitions who suddenly finds out that everything she thought she knew about herself and her past isn't true.

I had previously read and reviewed Julie Berry's debut novel The Amaranth Enchantment (link). While I found the story delightful, I think I needed just a little more to push me over the edge to loving it. I feel very much the same about this book.

Evie is a great heroine with strong ambitions and talents. I love a girl that is smart and knows what she wants. However, once we get into the story and add in a secondary character that is her familiar of sorts, I became a little disenchanted. Frankly, her relationship with her familiar fellow was a little weird. I understood that they are bound to each other and require each other for survival, but her introduction to him and the way he latched on was just a tad over the top. However, once they are introduced and the story continues, a lot of those feelings mellowed out and the little guy grew on me.

At about Chapter 24, or halfway through the book I started to really get engaged in the story. Plot was flowing, intrigue was beginning to take place, and I loved the addition of Rudolpho and Alfonso, the actors, to the story. Evie's friendship with Annalise reminded me a lot of the relationship between Ani and Selia in The Goose Girl (which I loved). Annalise definitely has the gift of people-speaking, and she was a very nicely developed character.

As I said before, while I really enjoyed this book, I wanted a lot more back-story and information about Evie's leviathan. If you've been reading my reviews for awhile, you probably know how much I love a well-built story world.

However, this book is a perfect pick for those that love middle-grade fantasy. Another bonus? It's a stand-alone novel, which means no waiting for sequels!
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