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My name is Chelsey and I am the creator of Charming Chelsey's! I read and review anything and everything that I find to be "charming." I accept ARCs or already released books for review, and I'm also available to participate in any blog tours or book reveals too. If anything, please don't hesitate to email me any time for any reason at: charmingchelseys(at)gmail(dot)com

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Book Review: Rock-A-Bye Bones

Rock-a-Bye Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney, #16)Author: Carolyn Haines
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Sarah Booth Delaney # 16

Sarah Booth Delaney and her friends are still recovering from the attack on Scott Hampton's blues club in Zinnia, Missippia, and Sarah Booth herself is still overcoming her grief at ending things with her fiancé. One bitterly cold night at her family's ancestral home in Zinnia, Sarah Booth hears what sounds like a kitten as she passes the front door. She opens the door to find a newborn baby in a basket on her front porch - with bloody footsteps leading up to the door and back down the driveway. As soon as she steps outside, a loud engine guns and a dark colored vehicle takes off. It's too far away for Sarah Booth to get a good look, and besides, the baby is now her first priority.

After rushing the baby to the hospital and calling the police, Sarah Booth and Tinkie Richmond, her partner at the Delaney Detective Agency, know they need to do everything they can to find the baby's mother...even if they are starting to fall in love with the baby themselves. But as she tracks the baby's mother, Sarah Booth soon begins to suspect the woman might be in danger; in fact, she might be running for her own life. And following in the woman's footsteps, Sarah Booth might be next.

I pushed that thought away and jumped in the car. I had a human baby to care for. We’d need diapers and everything else on the long list Doc had written.

“Motherhood is the most blessed of all conditions,” she said in a light, pleasant voice. “I have been blessed with a passel of children, all smart, all eager to journey into the world.”

“Just goes to show when you raise your boys to be outlaws, you can’t expect ‘em to come when you call.”

Sarah Booth Delaney and her funny friends are some of my favorite characters to rejoin every year when a new book is released. I very much enjoyed this story because it leads us to believe that Sarah Booth may be making some big life changes soon and because we are finding out more and more information about the murder of her parents. Their story is a subplot to the larger mystery at hand, but it is so intriguing and has me dying to know exactly what happened. In the latest installment, Sarah Booth is trying to find the mother of the infant that has just been left on her doorstop. Well, of course, you can imagine that all types of chaos follows this – and you are right! We have reappearances from all of the gang: Jitty, Tinkie, Sheriff Coleman, and more! It is always so hard for me to put these books down – they are laugh out loud hilarious and Sarah Booth has become almost like a friend to me.

There was so much going on in this story for me not to love it: kidnapping, a mystery, jealously, physical and mental abuse, temporary insanity, love, and so much more. What I love most about these books is that even if you have not read another one, you are guaranteed to find it entertaining and jump right in with the characters. They are by no means standalone books, but they can be enjoyed without having read the others. I know I said that these books are funny, but they are often equally emotional. There is always a strong amount of love and friendship, and this book doesn’t disappoint in that area. I am so connected to these characters and whenever this series does end, I will hate to see them all go!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Minotaur Books in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: The Pursuit of Pearls

The Pursuit of Pearls (Berlin #4)Author: Jane Thynne
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Series: Berlin #4

Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, Robert Harris, and Susan Elia MacNeal, here is the next thrilling historical novel featuring Clara Vine, the British actress and special agent who glides through the upper echelons of Nazi society, covertly gathering key intelligence—and placing herself in mortal peril.
In the spring of 1939, the drums of war beat throughout Europe, but nowhere more ferociously than in Berlin. The film studio where Clara Vine works is churning out movies, but each day that she stays in Germany is more dangerous than the last. Spying on the private life of the Third Reich, passing secrets to contacts in British intelligence, falling into a passionate affair—any of these risky moves could get Clara shot. So she is wholly shaken when someone close to her is murdered instead. The victim is Lottie Franke, an aspiring costume designer and student at the prestigious Faith and Beauty finishing school that trains young women to become the wives of the Nazi elite. While the press considers Lottie’s death in the Grunewald forest the act of a lone madman, Clara uncovers deeper threads, tangled lines that seem to reach into the darkest depths of the Reich—and to a precious discovery that Hitler and his ruthless cohorts would kill for.

And she guessed, whatever this meeting was about, it would certainly be no party.

The Fuhrer’s fiftieth birthday had been a moment of excitement, a firework flash against an ever darkening horizon.

She might as well have proposed flying to the moon.

“I hear Elizabeth Arden’s Velvet Red is his absolute favorite.”

This book is such a beautiful story from start to finish. The words are so eloquent and the language just flows swiftly off the page. I am such a huge fan of books set in WWII Berlin that I was unable to put the book down; it killed me to be away from the characters for more than a few hours. I tried to read as slowly as I could muster in order to savor every last word. Clara Vine is a German actress who is secretly working for the British Intelligence Agency in order to uncover the Nazi Party and their deepest secrets and plans. The portrayal of Hitler and Nazi Germany is what kept me so enthralled with my reading. I imagine that everything on these pages was exactly how it was in 1939 Berlin. It is obvious that Thynne did extensive research into everything WWII related. This book shows the hatred that the Nazi party inflicted upon many and how they punished those who spoke out against them.

The Pursuit of Pearls is everything you want in a good book. It is blindingly obvious that Jane Thynne would make a great conversationalist. I found myself having to stop reading and just sit and ponder over the many beautiful words that she strung together as she was telling this story. Another of my favorite pieces about Thynne’s writing is the fact that she intertwines real people from history into her pages. We see appearances by Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, and a young John F. Kennedy in this book. She makes this world that is far in the past seem so real as if it is happening all over again all around you. I did not realize that this book was part of a series when I sat down to read it, and I must say that it was pleasant to read thinking it was a standalone novel. It is actually the fourth book in a series, so I have some reading to catch up on!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Ballantine Books in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Book Review: The Girl From Summer Hill

The Girl from Summer Hill (Summer Hill, #1)Author: Jude Deveraux
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Series: Summer Hill # 1

The first book of a new contemporary romance series set in the mountains of Virginia in a town with full of family legends, romance, and secrets from New York Times bestselling author of the Nantucket Brides trilogy.

Sparks fly as fiery Casey Reddick and brooding Hollywood actor Tate Landers clash in the Virginia summer heat. A chef who puts her career first and her love life second, Casey doesn’t see what every girl in town is swooning over. She made up her mind the moment she met Tate—he’s gorgeous, but stuck-up, nothing like his ex-brother-in-law, Devlin who’s playing the Wickham to Tate’s Darcy in local production of Pride & Prejudice. Casey makes the perfect Elizabeth Bennett—how could she be star-struck when she’s heard Devlin’s damning stories about Tate? As they rehearse together, however, Casey finds herself attracted to Tate—he’s much more down-to-earth than she expected and any physical contact between the two of them literally gives her a tingling, electric shock. As opening night draws near, Casey has some difficult decisions to make. Whom should she believe? The seemingly sincere, slighted Devlin or Tate, whose rough, arrogant exterior may only be skin deep. She’s come to love that jolt she gets when they touch—but will she get burned?

Smiling, Kit turned away. He’d always meant for young Tatton to play Darcy. He just wasn’t sure who would be Elizabeth. But now he was almost certain that he’d found her.

He’d used his best smile on her and she’d felt nothing. As had he. They were destined to be friends and nothing more.

As snotty as Tate Landers was, he’s probably throw the food out. It wouldn’t be good enough for someone so grand and glorious.

“You Summer Hill people are a lusty lot,” Jack said as they ran, and they all laughed together.

Pride & Prejudice is without a doubt my favorite book/movie ever (sitting beside, Harry Potter, of course). I have read multiple retellings of the charming tale over the years, and this one is just another fast, fun read to add to my list. Summer is right around the corner and this book goes onto the Beach Read List as well. It is so light, fun, and has characters that have quirks that make them unforgettable. The romance between Casey and Tate in this book was much like the romance between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I think what I enjoyed the most was that Tate took some getting used to just like Mr. Darcy. I loved getting past his cold exterior because he was really such a passionate, loving character.

My favorite part of this book was Casey! She was a really funny leading lady. Just like Elizabeth, she was spunky and outspoken. Casey had all the quirks that make Elizabeth Bennet one of my favorite characters of all-time. There are parts of the story that feel slower than others, and if I am being honest, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that I was going to really be able to get into the book when I first started. However, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with this romantic comedy and wish I was on the beach while reading it! I am very excited for more from this author and in this series!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Ballantine Books in exchange for my honest review***

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: Some Women

Some WomenAuthor: Emily Liebert
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: NAL

An engrossing and thought provoking novel that examines the intricacies of marriage, friendship, and the power of unexpected connections…

Annabel Ford has everything under control, devoting her time to her twin five-year-old boys and to keeping her household running seamlessly. So when her husband of a decade announces that he’s leaving her, without warning, she’s blindsided. And suddenly her world begins to unravel.

Single mother Piper Whitley has always done her best to balance it all—raising her daughter Fern by herself and advancing her career as a crime reporter. Only now that she’s finally met the man of her dreams, Fern’s absentee father arrives on the scene and throws everything into a tailspin.

Married to the heir of a thriving media conglomerate, Mackenzie Mead has many reasons to count her blessings. But with an imperious mother-in-law—who’s also her boss—and a husband with whom she can no longer seem to connect, something has to give.

She needed a whole new plan. A clear direction with which to forge ahead. Either that, or she feared she might stay lost forever.

It was a really bad idea to rummage through a friend’s dirty laundry. Even if you planned to wash, dry, and fold it for her.

“That's the funny thing about children. When they were around, you wanted peace and quiet. A mere moment to yourself. You felt absolutely desperate to go more than three minutes without hearing the word Moooooooom echoing throughout the house. To go to the bathroom or - if luck was really on your side - to take an uninterrupted shower. Yet, when they were absent, no matter how infrequently that happened, it felt as though someone had amputated your limb and left a stinging open wound in its place. And you craved them like a cold beer on a blistering summer day.”

I love stories that bring different characters from different backgrounds together and allow them to bond over the smallest things. The three women that form an unbreakable friendship in this story first meet in an exercise class. Their lifestyles and situations are all different, but it was not hard at all for me to bond with each of them. Emily Liebert has such a knack for writing stories that get you hooked right from the beginning. She puts so much thought into her characters. They are so believable and after just a few chapters you will find yourself longing to read from their perspective again. You will never be bored and the story will never lag!

There are very few authors who have a talent that lasts through every word, every sentence, and every page. Emily Liebert’s writing is so fluid and so eloquent that you might even have to pause and read back over certain sentences because of the beauty of the juxtaposition. Her characters give us hope and we revel in their successes and root for them in their defeats. Each of the women in this story have a difficult struggle they are facing, and Liebert shows, through her theme of friendship, how having the right people to believe in you and encourage you along can make all the difference. This is a perfect summer read that you don’t want to miss.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at NAL in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, April 11, 2016

Book Review: The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem

The Beauty Queen of JerusalemAuthor: Sarit Yishai-Levi
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the binds that tie four generations of women.

Gabriela's mother Luna is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there's more to her mother than painted nails and lips.

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family's previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swingin' '70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

Many years after her death, when I found room in my heart for my mother, my Aunt Rachelika told me the secret of her suffering, the never-receding pain. But by then it was already too late to fix what had been broken between us.

I’m a woman of autumn, of yellowed falling leaves. I was born at its back door, two steps before winter.

But she was prepared to suffer a thousand deaths for a few minutes in Gabriel’s arms.

That’s how it is with old age. There are things you miss.

This beautiful and intricate tale brings four generations of women together: a family saga, to be exact. Each of these women are strong and complex characters. Not only are we given bright, wonderful female leads, but we are also given a historical fiction novel that transports us through time back to a time when Jerusalem was in the midst of political upheaval. If I had to choose, I could not choose which was my favorite the rich history lesson I received or the family dynamics. I was able to picture fully a place I had never been before; the cities, the food, and even the people meandering around the streets. The story was a thrilling journey and I had only the best guides to accompany me along the way.

The biggest complaint that I had while reading is that the book started somewhat slow, but it did pick up after the first few chapters. The more that is revealed about the family the more I found myself holding on and being less and less able to put the book down. I forgot to mention before that these women believe that their family namesake suffers from a curse. This curse is the bait and when family secrets start to unravel, any reader will be hooked. I am all for powerful relationships among women; they are sisters, mothers, and daughters and anyone will fall in love with their stories, hardships, and triumphs.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Thomas Dunne in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, April 8, 2016

Book Review: Miller's Valley

Miller's ValleyAuthor: Anna Quindlen
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Random House

A novel about family and the secrets that we keep—a young woman learning to love and leave home and realizing that, maybe, she never quite left. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Still Life with Bread Crumbs and Rise and Shine.

This story begins in the 1960s, and explores how Mimi Miller comes of age, over and over again.

As a young girl in Miller’s Valley, an ordinary farming town that may be facing its final days, Mimi is observing adults, selling corn, growing up and changing, and watching the world around her change, too.

As the years go by, the unthinkable starts to seem inevitable. Anna Quindlen’s novel takes us through the changing eras of Mimi and her family, as secrets are revealed, and the heartbreaks of growing up and falling in love with the wrong man are overcome.

A deeply moving, inspiring story of a young woman learning to love and leave, the place and family from which she comes.

My mother said if I shaved my legs before I turned sixteen I’d be cleaning the bathroom on Saturday for the rest of my life. We only had one bathroom but I wasn’t taking any chances.

I’ll remember that date for the rest of my life: August 21, 1966, the day Donald’s grandmother died and the day my brother Tommy enlisted in the Marines.

They called that Miller’s Creek because years ago it had been just a narrow little run of water, but once the dam went in it turned into something much bigger than that. I’d spent a lot of time around creeks when I was younger, looking for minnows and crayfish, and that was no creek. 
Miller’s Valley was different for me. A wonderful literary piece that will stay with me for months to come. The book comes in at just under 300 pages and is an easy 1 or 2 sitting read. Mimi Miller is the narrator of this wonderfully endearing story. Mimi does a wonderful job of allowing readers to feel a sense of belonging within her family. The characters feel more real than most; you will find yourself attached to them and missing them when the story is done. There is just enough drama, and humor, to make the characters feel like people you have known all of your life. The town is small and everyone knows everyone’s business. Gossip is rampant and neighbors stick together; well, most of the time!

The setting is, of course, a small town in the 1960’s. I immediately latched on to the town and the people in it. The time period was easy to pick up from so many descriptions and the way of life. Mimi’s family is a farming family and they depend on the land solely for their resources. I can relate so much with this story. I didn’t grow up on a farm but many of my friends did. I did, however, grow up in a very small town just like Mimi’s. Many of descriptions and anecdotes really hit home with me. Quindlen’s writing is very down to earth and feels like a pleasant conversation. This was my first book by Anna Quindlen, but after reading many reviews, I have decided to look into purchasing some more!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Random House in exchange for my honest review*** 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review: Brighton Belle

Brighton BelleAuthor: Sara Sheridan
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Kensington
Series: Mirabelle Bevan Mystery # 1

In post-World War II England, former Secret Service operative Mirabelle Bevan becomes embroiled in a new kind of intrigue…

1951: In the popular seaside town of Brighton, it's time for Mirabelle Bevan to move beyond her tumultuous wartime years and start anew. Accepting a job at a debt collection agency seems a step toward a more tranquil life. 

But as she follows up on a routine loan to Romana Laszlo, a pregnant Hungarian refugee who's recently come off the train from London, Mirabelle's instincts for spotting deception are stirred when the woman is reported dead, along with her unborn child. 

After encountering a social-climbing doctor with a sudden influx of wealth and Romana's sister, who seems far from bereaved and doesn't sound Hungarian, Mirabelle decides to dig deeper into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Aided by her feisty sidekick--a fellow office worker named Vesta Churchill ("no relation to Winston," as she explains)--Mirabelle unravels a web of evil that stretches from the Brighton beachfront to the darkest corners of Europe. Putting her own life at risk, she must navigate a lethal labyrinth of lies and danger to expose the truth.

“Everyone was important during the war. Everyone. We worked together and we won.”

“People are so different in wartime. No one gets to be ordinary. Not really.”

“Most fellas like the races, though, Miss. It’s only human nature.”

“The sky was a sparkling succession of black diamonds on black velvet made crystal clear by the blackout.”

I am so glad that I requested a copy of this book for review. I was immediately taken with Mirabelle’s character and the way she told the story. Mirabelle clues readers in to her past pretty early on. We learn that she is mourning her lover and has just retired from her wartime job, since the book is set post WWII. Mirabelle’s life seems so plain and ordinary until the day a gentleman by the name of Bert Jennings walks in and delivers our mystery. Immediately after hearing his report, she feels she must investigate this story and she quickly gets herself involved pretty deep in what appears to be a murder of convenience. Mirabelle soon enlists the help of a woman named Vesta Churchill and together they go about trying to crack the case.

There is no way I could have predicted the ending of this book or the culprit of the crime. The list of victims was very long and I had to reread certain parts of the book to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. The time period is also one of my favorite time periods to read about. Sheridan writes the post WWII scene very vividly and portrays the time exactly how I imagine it would have been. The dialogue, the lack and food and resources, and of course the deteriorated streets and buildings. This book was easy to read and took me no time at all to finish. Now I just have to wait for Kensington to publish more of them!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Kensington in exchange for my honest review***


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