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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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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish

Author: Liv Constantine
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Harper

The mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy "golden couple," from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.
Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

And she hoped that tomorrow night, there would be more fireworks than the ones in the sky.

That was the first time I saw it – that little smile that played at his lips, and the look in his eyes that read Victory.

She wanted to be very much out in the open, to be Mrs. Jackson Parrish.

Amber was already unzipping her skirt as she heard the lock click.

Lately I have been all about the thriller novels! Not only is it perfect for Halloween, but I would be completely and utterly shocked if Hollywood does not pick up this story for the big screen. Y’all, I am sitting here gushing out loud about what I just finished reading. I am so in love with this story and how it kept my attention the entire time. The characters were unreliable yet believable and enchanting yet repulsive. Amber is our leading lady and the character that causes all the drama. She comes to this quaint town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut and decides she has had enough of her ordinary, mundane life. She sets her sights on the elusive Daphne Parrish and soon wants everything that Daphne has, including her husband Jackson. There are subtle hints from the very beginning that Daphne is running from something and could have mental health issues or a dangerous past.

I love books like this one that feel like you are sitting and having a good ole’ gossip sesh with your best friend. It is a quick read and will be perfect for a chilly autumn day or a day laying in the sun on the beach. Small secrets are revealed as the plot unravels; some I expected, but some I never saw coming. Amber is understandably very distasteful; I mean she is trying to steal someone’s husband, but she also has a quality about her that makes you want to trust her or pity her. It’s like as the reader you know and can sense that she is crazy and a psychopath, but you still want to be her friend. This book was a perfect little segue into a week of Halloween/thrillerish reads for me!

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

Book Review: What Can I Bring?

Author: Elizabeth Heiskell
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Oxmoor House

Become one of the most sought-after guests in your circle and be asked back time-after-time with a little bit of help from Elizabeth Heiskell.

It is usually the first question you ask after receiving an invitation to a gathering or event: "What Can I Bring?" Now you'll have the answer! Based on the popular monthly feature "What Can I Bring?" in Southern Living magazine, no matter what the occasion, you'll have the perfect dish. From housewarming party to garden party, a new baby, a wake, a wedding, christening or anything in between, Elizabeth delivers over 100 delicious recipes, including appetizers, mains, sandwiches, desserts and more, that are sure to please a crowd, no matter how big or small. Additionally, these are all dishes that can be prepared in advance and travel well.

But let's not forget the most important question: What can I bring to my own table? Whether you're looking for some new ideas for dinners to please a fractious family or want to make Sunday brunch a more special event, What Can I Bring? has you covered.

Recipes include Elizabeth's take on Sour Cream Coffee Cake (perfect for welcoming a new neighbor!), delicious salads - Chicken, Shrimp, and Pimiento (you won't go wrong at the church picnic), amazing sides, including Lemon Rice and Spoon Bread (perfect for rounding out the potluck table), and comfort food that no one will be able to say no to, including Vegetable Beef Stew, Chicken Pot Pie, and Chicken and Dumplings, plus an array of desserts so good that that's the only thing people will remember about the meal.

Above all, these are all delicious dishes, served straight from the heart, with no stress required.

When a friend invites you to a party, it’s an ingrained response to ask, “What can I bring?” and most times the response will be, “I have it all taken care of.” That doesn’t mean don’t bring anything. It just shouldn’t be something the host feels compelled to serve that evening. These recipes can be set aside or set out, depending on the host’s preference. Either way, you’ll impress.

“I like to died the first time I put these fried deliciousness in my mother.”

Yes, I know, I know. This recipe uses instant pudding and a box cake mix. Don’t judge me. Sometimes I’m in a hurry and need something quick and easy. This is a cake you can take to a friend who’s going through a hard time or the one that you forgot was going through a hard time months ago. Always better late than never! And no one will know it wasn’t made from scratch.

This book was so beautiful and filled with such rich and inviting images that I often forgot that what I was reading was actually a cookbook. The cookbook definitely has a southern theme and all of the food is your typical southern fare but with a little added flair – Sausage, Eggs, and Grits Soufflé, Pound Cake with Fresh Peaches & Cream, and Mississippi Mud Brownies...just to name a few. A lot of the recipes that are shared in this book are a bit healthier than us true southerners are used to. The book features tons of appealing images to enhance the recipes and to show what a finished/fully prepared and dressed plate could look like. This book would be the perfect gift or edition to someone’s home that loves to cook, entertain, or enjoys reading cookbooks.

The absolute best part of this book was the small anecdotes that accompanied each recipe. The author put a lot of time into writing and sharing her experiences with each recipe and much care went into grouping the recipes into different sections of the book like “Moving Day”, “Under the Weather”, and “Dinner with Friends”. There are several different sections in the cookbook and a small write up introduces each section and gives a slight explanation of what readers can expect to see next. This cookbook is not gluten free or fat free; I felt like I need to make this clear even though most people associate southern cooking with lots of salt, sugar, and saturated fats! The 3 S’s! This book will be a perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season.

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review: Dream Spaces

Author: Victoria Hagan
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Rizzoli

Breathtaking new interiors from this iconic designer, called “the reigning queen of restrained elegance”

In her much-anticipated second book, Victoria Hagan features an exquisite selection of new interiors that embody the “soft modern” look that distinguishes her work.  A major force in the design community, Hagan is the master of juxtaposing old and new, showing luxury through simplicity, and creating homes that reflect their owners’ lives.

In these appealing, timeless projects—including a New York penthouse, a Nantucket beach house, and a Western ranch—formal architecture is loosened up with a generosity of spirit and an appreciation for the whimsies of style. Throughout, Hagan discourses on the spirit of the unexpected detail—a vintage mirror or a unique chair—that adds soul and modernity. After twenty-five years of running a successful business, she shares her philosophy on attaining good taste and expressing an attitude through her work.

Victoria Hagan: Dream Spaces is a beautiful and inspiring collection of this design superstar’s work and a must for every interior design library.

You can’t always compete with nature, but you can at least try to create the perfect collaboration.

I am so associated with interiors that people are often surprised to find out that one of my greatest passions is not even indoors. It’s outside: nature. When I look out and see almost nothing but water and sky, that’s heaven. I adore the color and light, unpredictably changing all day long.

To me, walking the line between contemporary and vintage, familiar and unexpected, is a crucial part of executing the perfect getaway. I don’t want to just give people an escape; I want to give them ways for their minds to wander once they get there.

These interiors designed by Victoria Hagan are bold, clean, modern, and completely breathtaking. Hagan showcases her amazing versatility by including interiors from places all over like New York, Nantucket, and even shows off some of her western charm. She goes from clean, white spaces to cozy log cabin interiors and everything that she designs looks inviting and charismatic. Many of the images included in the book show windows with beautiful views that allow readers to fantasize and image themselves traveling the world and visiting this luxurious locations.

A lot of the interiors shown in this book are open and full of space, allowing me to imagine living in a space like this myself. I would recommend this book to anyone with a love of design because of the appreciation I had for all the small details in the rooms. The fresh white flowers on the nightstand, the towels placed adorningly near the bathroom sink, and even the firewood stacked neatly by the fireplace. Anyone looking for inspiration or ideas for their own dream space or home will find solace flipping through the pages of this book. I wrote down so many ideas and my husband and I spent an hour or more discussing many of the images that we fell in love with for our own dream home.

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Book Review: Manhattan Beach

Author: Jennifer Egan
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Scribner

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.

“Baloney,” he said, kissing her again. “You were having the time of your life.”

She heard the muffled jingle of coins in his trouser pockets. His hand was a socket she affixed hers to always, wherever they went, even when she didn’t care to. Anna stopped walking, stunned by the power of these impressions. Without thinking, she lifted her fingers to her face, half expecting the warm, bitter smell of his tobacco.

“Some men find it a bitter pill to swallow, working for me,” Styles said. “They don’t like the change in times.”

What a feast of a book! Such beautiful and lyrical words jump off the page from the first sentence to the last. This is a lovely, gorgeously-written book that effectively interweaves three separate but connected characters, each with their own stories, all tied to the desire for reinvention. Manhattan Beach is a historical novel that tells the story of Anna, a young woman who works at a naval yard during World War II with a fierce determination to be a professional diver. It is also the story of her father, Eddie, a man who seeks out opportunities on the edges of organized crime to do work that is more or less legal and Dexter Styles the quasi-legit gangster he works for. But this is not a story about organized crime. Set in New York City during the Great Depression and the early years of the Second World War, this historical setting will appeal to fans of any world war setting. Egan’s look at a woman’s place in this world is what made it such a phenomenal read for me!

The quality of the writing is brilliant, as mentioned earlier. Egan manages to make Manhattan Beach a reality for readers, transporting them there through words, descriptions, and vivid use of imagery. Her characters come alive, although I was always hoping for more emphasis to be solely placed on Anna, an exquisite and fully developed character. The heroine is fascinating, standing out not only for her quest to become a diver, but for her strength to build her own life away from the confines of what is to be expected from a “woman” in this era. Egan’s portrayal of the work happening on the home front while a war is waging elsewhere, is inspiring and truly factual. Her research and care with these topics is evident and appreciated by readers.

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Review: Style Secrets: What Every Room Needs

Author: Sophie Donelson
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

From the country’s most popular interior design magazine comes a stylish, in-depth look at what it takes to make any room beautiful. House Beautiful Style Essentials: What Every Room Needs is an inspiring and hardworking handbook that shows readers how to create the rooms of their dreams by revealing what “every room needs.” Chapters like “Every Room Needs a Hiding Place” provide clever ideas for storage and organization, while sections like “Every Room Needs Something Shiny” give examples of how reflective surfaces can enhance and enlarge any space. Simple yet elegant advice from some of the biggest names in the interiors world is paired throughout with stunning photography of the best and most beautiful rooms featured in the magazine. From a room’s overall look and color down to its smallest details, House Beautiful Style Secrets provides tips, tricks, and secrets on how to cultivate a comfortable home and uncover the potential of every living space.

All the colors in the world are out there waiting, it just takes a bit of magic to bring them out.

Why can’t it be all about you?

Touch is literally the most sensual of senses. Don’t neglect it. Whether underfoot, beneath your hand, or caressing your cheek. Texture makes a connection.

There is COLOR on EVERY page and I am in love. This book and all its wonderful interiors showcase so many different styles, attitudes, and ideas. I was immersed right from the start and tabbed so many pages to come back to for a more extensive look. I absolutely LOVE how the book is organized. Each new section starts with “every room needs” and then fills in the phrase with things like “grand gesture”, “a splash of unexpected color”, among many others. Everything was so well organized and easy to follow. The pictures were beautiful and eye-catching. A lot of the rooms that were showcased held several wonderful pieces and I found myself going over a room three or four times before flipping the page.

The captions and writing on various pages were informative and explanatory as related to the room they referred to. The patterns and fabrics showcased were vibrant and varied in style, texture, and color. I never ran out of things to compliment in each room. This book would be perfect for anyone who has a love for interior design, someone who wants to admire and take in the latest trends, or anyone who is looking to spice up their own living space and needs a few recommendations. I am completely mesmerized by all this book has to offer and am excited for others to share in this experience with me.

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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Book Review: Beth Webb: An Eye For Beauty

Beth Webb: An Eye for Beauty: Rooms That Speak to the SensesAuthor: Beth Webb
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Rizzoli

The first book from the acclaimed Atlanta interior designer, known for elegantly collected interiors.

Beth Webb believes that regardless of who we are or what kind of style we prefer, beauty and comfort are paramount for any home. Because each room is an environment, her design elevates the everyday by speaking to the five senses. In this lavishly illustrated book, Webb explores the fundamentals of creating a home in which every element we see and touch, and how the room makes us feel, enhance our ability to live well.

Drawing from her background in the fine arts, Webb offers insight into how form, line, and scale render a space timeless and promote a sense of well-being. There should be texture, calm colors, and plenty of visual moments to keep the eye moving. There should be impeccable tailoring and polished details. And most important, there should be soul, meaning that the house must reflect its owners and their evolving lifestyle. Webb gracefully shares ideas, images, and stories illustrating these principles throughout this rich visual resource and design reference.

Nature has her own kaleidoscope of textures, infinitely varied and profound.

The process of reinventing spaces always requires a deftness of hand. With a gentle touch, reminders of the past, and abundant texture, this renovation serves its purpose to provide embracing, welcoming surroundings for this family’s foreseeable future.

Our bodies feel quality. We instinctively know when we’re swathed in exquisite sheeting or swaddled in the ultimate cashmere throw. Even if we can’t put a name to the sensation or described the difference, we aspire to it nonetheless. Such is the primal, instinctual understanding of beauty and luxury.

The myth of a house that possesses the fragrance of a dream home isn’t a myth at all. It’s a verifiable reality, as any real estate broker will attest. Citrus, fresh-cut pine, and cinnamon are just a few of the scents that professionals advise sellers to use as they help put prospective buyers in the right mood to imagine their lives within the space.

Beth Webb’s book is filled with so many appealing images that showcase her take on utilizing space in a home and creating and designing rooms that are appealing to the senses. Beth fosters a strong belief in the old-fashioned cliché that “less is more” and refers to having a balance of “the precious and the practical” for everyday living. Beth even has a section of pages in which she addresses the scent of a home and how scent often serve as an emotional trigger for us. She has literally thought of every possible thing to address that makes a house a home and the images she has chosen to highlight her style are simple, yet so breathtaking. Her style is a little more varied than mine, but this is part of the reason I enjoyed the book so much.

This book only lost one star/cupcake from me and I must say that this came because of two reasons. The first reason that this book did not meet a five star rating from me was because of the limit of color in the rooms that were showcased in this book. Beth Webb purposely chose the all-white or almost all-white approach and does explain why, but I must say that I must prefer a better use of color. Color makes me feel more at home and at ease. I also did not like the fact that I could not put a label on Beth’s style. It is classical, traditional, contemporary, and modern all at once. This is just my own personal pet peeve, but I would have liked it if her style and these photos were more easily categorized. However, this book still received a four star rating from me because after much deliberation I decided that this was a credit to Webb that she was able to successfully transcend a mixture of decorative styles.

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Book Review: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #1)Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding # 1

"I would say it's a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness."

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper's great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn't exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor's control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there's a lot Alastor isn't telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

“See how many doors open, Alastor said, when someone with influence and ideas comes along with a key? Fortune can be hoarded, or it can be shared.” 

“I was no stranger to lies. In fact, I think if you were to line up all the lies I’d been told in my life, the ugly chain of them would probably stretch from Redhood to Jupiter.

“Come, servant. The moon sets, and the fiend rises.”

“It got bad. Real fast.”

This book was perfect for the upcoming season and gave me serious Hocus Pocus and Series of Unfortunate Events vibes. I fell in love with Prosperity Redding, our main character, from the very first chapter and never felt a lull in the story. I have read several other reviews that said the story was slow, but I must say that I strongly disagree. From the beginning of the novel, the readers are immersed in the lives of the Redding’s and all the good luck and bad luck that comes with them. The town that Prosper lives in is so charming and cozy and the descriptions are full of Halloween and fall festival vibes. I think this is what hooked me the most. Prosper was such a funny, charismatic character and the descriptions were so vivid and jumping completely off the page.

The ending of the book left on a pretty huge cliffhanger and of course I am heavily anticipating the next release in the series. This book has just enough “spooky” elements to be scary but not too scary for the middle grade audience that it was written for. Prosper goes on quite the adventure and I usually get lost in the action – I am more of a background story reader, meaning I like the small details about a character, a town, or a curse instead of the action that usually ensues after the world building. However, I must say that I was along for the ride the entire time. The pace was just right and enough twists and turns were happening to keep me guessing as to what was going to happen next. I did not expect to love this book as much as I did!


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