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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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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: Magnolia

MagnoliaAuthor: Kristi Cook
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

Glancing out my window, I hold up my finger and thumb, creating a little frame around Ryder Marsden, who stands outside on the lawn below. I close one eye to get the illusion just right and then pretend to squash him. Take that.

I shake my head. “Mama’s going to have their hides for making such a racket.”

Maybe there’s a chance I’ll get that other life I imagined, after all.

Then yeah, I’ll admit it – I allow myself a nice long look at his backside as he walks away from me. And let me tell you, it was well worth the look.

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi we have a little taste of Southern royalty. Which of course is right up my alley! The Cafferty and the Marsden families are old friends who share many aspects of life together. So of course when one of them has a boy and the other has a girl, around the same time, they get the bright idea that the two will be joined in marriage one day. There is only one small problem: Jemma and Ryder hate each other extremely.  I love when this happens in books and this one was no exception. What also made for an interesting twist was the fact that Jemma and Ryder were stuck together because of a huge violent storm that tore through Mississippi.

Besides being incredibly adorable and filled with more Southern charm than I can handle, this book is an extremely fast read. It is light and the character’s actions and dialogue make everything go a lot faster as well. Jemma’s voice, especially, is one of my favorite parts about this book. She turned out exactly how I pictured her from the start and I think her attitude and a lot of her actions fit the personality that Cook was trying to build for her. Reading through Jemma’s eyes is like reading her diary, and those are always some of my favorite types of books to read. Jemma is very realistic and is always able to admit when she has made a mistake. Loved this about her!

This book brings a little bit of everything and wraps it all into one. We have teen issues, familial relationships, a lot of sexual tension between our two love interests, romance, and an unbelievably awesome setting. The end of the book became a little too predictable, but I am still a huge fan of what Cook has concocted here. I cannot wait for more from her, and I hope she is willing to write more stories with characters like these who build as much sexual tension as these two did! This romance was so steamy and was well-paced!

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: Deadly Little Sins

Deadly Little Sins (Prep School Confidential, #3)Author: Kara Taylor
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Series: Prep School Confidential # 3

In Kara Taylor's Deadly Little Sins, Anne Dowling investigates a mysterious disappearance in this fast-paced, twisty conclusion to the Prep School Confidential series.

It’s August and Anne is back in New York City for the summer, but she can’t escape the memories of the terrible things that happened at the Wheatley School last spring— and the possibility of being expelled looming over her. When an unexpected— and suspicious— turn of events gets Anne sent back to Wheatley, she’s determined to figure out what happened to her favorite teacher and only adult ally at the school: Ms. Cross.

After a shocking, gruesome murder with connections to the Wheatley School occurs, Anne is convinced there’s more to Ms. Cross’s sudden disappearance, and that her favorite teacher is in danger. But after an ugly breakup with Brent and a new, inexplicable distance between her and Anthony, Anne isn’t sure who she can trust. And even worse, someone at Wheatley knows the truth about what happened to Ms. Cross— someone who will stop at nothing to keep Anne from learning the truth in this engrossing, unputdownable read.

Maybe it’s because the only thing that scares me more than the thought of being kicked out of Wheatley is going back there.

And I believe in that moment that maybe there’s enough good waiting for me in Wheatley to block out the bad.

“That’s why you may notice several changes around campus this year.” Yeah, I think. Like a disturbing trend involving teachers going missing.

In the final installment in this series, our heroine, Anne, seems to get herself into even more trouble than ever before. She very nearly gets herself killed and then finds herself chasing down a mystery that involves drug activity and identity theft. I have been an extremely devoted fan to this series and all of these books have been amazing; however, this final installment lacked a little luster for me. I still loved the book, but the others had just a little more sparkle than this one. It felt a little rushed and some of the things Anne discovered rendered me speechless. The criminal activity was a little darker in this book, and the murder twist was a bit gory when described. However, I am still a huge fan and I hope that Kara Taylor will write a spin off series from this one!

Once again we have Anne Dowling, who for the love of everything sweet and precious in the world cannot keep herself out of harm’s way. Her relationships are a little more complicated in this book, and it was nice to see an author not afraid to stay away from a love triangle or any of that mushy gushy love stuff. This story was all about Anne finding her way, realizing who was meant to be in her life and who was obviously not, and of course for Anne to discover some much needed answers once and for all. I still love Anne’s witty attitude and her drive and determination. She has made a wonderful heroine and I hope Taylor is not finished with her yet. Hint hint, Kara Taylor!

Wheatley Preparatory School has been a wonderfully creepy and eerie setting for the duration of this series, and in this book we find out more secrets that have been buried within Wheatley’s walls. A lot of the characters that we met in the beginning we have come to find are actually corrupt and some of them are downright evil. This book put a nice twist on things, but I wouldn’t read it right before bed! Anne discovers a plot even more sinister than the last in this wrap up to an overall amazing and unputdownable series of books!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at St. Martin’s Griffin in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Driving With The Top Down

Driving with the Top DownAuthor: Beth Harbison
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Three women, two weeks, one convertible: sometimes life doesn't take you in the direction you expect...

Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen’s brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she’s so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too.

The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen’s college hangout and run into her old friend, Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there’s more that Bitty isn’t sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida.

So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It’s a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara’s poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty’s secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.

If she could go back, would she do it all the same way again?

She was no high school badass. And now she would be going on a road trip with one.

Happily ever after. But that didn’t happen. I don’t believe in that anymore. I remember when I did, as clearly as I remember believing in Santa Claus. And I miss believing in happily ever after just like I miss believing in Santa Claus. A lot of magic went out of life with the realization of how ugly and stark and unfair things can really be.

Each woman in this book is having a hard time with life and certain people or things involved in their own. The three women, Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty, are all connected through Colleen and are each searching for something that seems to be missing in their lives. Colleen doesn’t quite know what she is searching for, Tamara is a troubled teen with a past, and Bitty is struggling in a horrible marriage. These three women end up together for a two week car ride up the coast looking for new items for Colleen’s shop. This book is very well-written, of course because it is a Beth Harbison book, and will have you laughing and crying as the stories of these women unravel and they share their desires, deepest secrets, and their deepest fears with you!

This novel is a little on the larger side at almost 350 pages, but it took me no time to finish. Once you learn about each woman you will instantly become invested in their stories and what they have to share with you. I could never decide which one I liked more, but I will say that I was rooting for Tamara because as a teen she was still so young and I wanted to see her change her life and come out on top. The story is light and this definitely qualifies as a summer/pool/beach read. It is so charming and I guarantee that you will connect with at least one of these women.

Beth Harbison is a phenomenal author. I have never disliked any of the books that I have ever picked up by her. This book has a lot to offer as far as relationships are concerned, and if you have any relationship in your life whether it is romantic, a friend, a colleague at work, or anything else then you understand the importance of them. What I love most about Harbison is that while she writes incredible fiction stories, she also makes you stop and think at the actions and thoughts of her characters. She puts thought into each one and I am sure she is trying to reach her readers using her characters. If this is the case, it works every time for me!  

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: Let's Get Lost

Let's Get LostAuthor: Adi Alsaid
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

 He shrugged and said, “I promised to show you a treasure.”

As the car picked up speed, Bree held on to Leila’s comforting hand and allowed herself to cry.

“Go,” he said, still holding the pose. “You’ve got a quest to fulfill.”

Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia are each experiencing their own set of problems that come with maturing and growing up. The one thing that all four of these people have in common is that they each encounter a girl named Leila, and Leila, in her own special way, changes each of their lives. Reading this book is like taken four different thrilling, exciting journeys because Leila changes each of their lives tremendously. Leila is one of the most free-spirted characters that I have read in a while and she in this story she is taking the road trip of her life. Along the way she meets each of the interesting people that I listed above. This book is so much more than a story about a road trip. This book is an exciting journey that will allow you to have a short vacation of your own!

Each of the characters that Leila meets up with are flawed and are facing in their lives that they do not necessarily want to. Leila comes in and acts as a partner in crime to them and serves as a guide through some of their most troubling times. I cannot really talk about Leila a lot because I do not want to spoil her character or anything about her story. Part of the fun and enjoyment of this book comes from accompanying her on her journey and discovering things with her together. None of these characters are perfect by any means, but I think that is what made them so enjoyable. Leila accepted them for who they were and did her best to guide them through some of life’s most difficult trials.

This book was so much fun to read. This sounds like a really minimal sentence, but those are the best words I have to summarize this book. It is so genius in the way it is written and the way that we get to hear about each character’s story and each character’s time with Leila. I have never wanted to meet an author as badly as I do now. I really just want to pick Alsaid’s brain apart and talk about the brilliance that is this book. This book is not some literary classic, but by the time you are finished you feel as if you have read a great masterpiece. It makes you stop and think, and really these are always the best books!

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly book meme that lets readers just like you guys know what to be expecting and waiting anxiously for. It is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. Want to participate? Grab the logo on her page, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

Being Audrey Hepburn: A NovelAuthor: Mitchell Kriegman
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

In Being Audrey Hepburn, Clarissa Explains It All-creator, Mitchell Kriegman, tells the story of a 19-year-old girl from Jersey who finds herself thrust into the world of socialites after being seen in Audrey Hepburn’s dress from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Lisbeth comes from a broken home in the land of tube tops, heavy eyeliner, frosted lip-gloss, juiceheads, hoop earrings and “the shore.” She has a circle of friends who have dedicated their teenage lives to relieve the world of all its alcohol one drink at a time.

Obsessed with everything Audrey Hepburn, Lisbeth is transformed when she secretly tries on Audrey’s iconic Givenchy. She becomes who she wants to be by pretending to be somebody she’s not and living among the young and privileged Manhattan elite. Soon she’s faced with choices that she would never imagine making – between who she’s become and who she once was.

In the tradition of The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, this is a coming of age story that all begins with that little black dress…

Book Review: Jane Austen's First Love

Jane Austen's First LoveAuthor: Syrie James
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Berkley

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

“I write because I cannot help it,” said I.

The short stories and plays I had written were only fluff and nonsense which I composed to amuse myself and my family.

“But, Mamma! I have the whole dialogue in my head. If I stop now, I will forget! Did Shakespeare’s mother interrupt his efforts with a pen? Did Mozart’s father oblige him to sew gowns for his sister?”

“Dancing does not necessarily lead to matrimony.”

Syrie James has quite the reputation as the queen of romance and I just want to know how I have never been introduced to her books before? After reading this four hundred page book in a day and a half, I feel that I should dive quickly into all her others. She brought Jane Austen to life for me like no other author ever has. Are you familiar with those books that make you lose track of time and forget that you haven’t stopped for dinner? This is one of those books. The writing was marvelous and the characters were just as real as you and me. I have now gone to Goodreads and marked every single one of Syrie James’s books. And according to all the reviews I have read on her other titles, I will not be disappointed with any of those either.

This is the story of the most incredible summer of Jane Austen’s life: the summer of 1971. At the beginning of the novel, Jane receives a letter that recalls to her mind a very pivotal moment between her and the person she remembers as her true love. Jane’s family is to journey to meet her brother Edward’s future wife and her family. Jane is overwhelmed with joy because she if just so happy to be able to get out of their stuffy house for a while. Cassandra, Jane’s sister, and Jane herself convince their parents that they must be allowed to stay here for the summer and Jane is just beside herself with all the luxuries, riches, and fine young men that lie in her path. Edward Taylor is the first one she meets on her exciting journey and it is obvious to see that he is quite smitten with our young Jane Austen.

Austen lovers will NOT be disappointed with this book. I thought it was all so well-written and very true to what we know of Jane’s character. I was so impressed with how easily the author was able to place me in the time period and make me feel like I belonged. I would sit down right now and read this entire book again; it was that good! Not only did I love this book but it inspired me to go and pick up one of Austen’s books from my shelves and begin rereading. I think any book that can do that deserves to be read over and over again!

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: In Perfect Time

In Perfect Time (Wings of the Nightingale #3)Author: Sarah Sundin
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company

Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don't want to go. Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?

Sarah Sundin seamlessly weaves together emotion, action, and sweet romance into a tale that transcends time and calls us to believe in the power of love.

For Lt. Kay Jobson, flight nursing meant more than physical care. It meant reconnecting a broken soldier with the shards of his humanity.

The questions ran ahead of the rhythm, but the only way to answer them would be to talk to her again. His original conclusion stood fast. The dame was dangerous.

For the first time since she’d run away from home, she’d lost control.

The beat returned, but faint and defeated. “We’re going to pray. Nothing else we can do.”

Sarah Sundin gets better and better with each and every book she writes. This series caught my attention when it was first released and I have remained faithful to it since then. These books proudly sit atop my favorite’s shelf, and I cannot rave enough about them. World War II is one of my favorite periods in history to read about and Suntan’s character bring everything on the pages to life. I fell in love with Mellie and Georgie in the first two books and I just knew I would fall in with Kay as well. Kay’s story is much like theirs and she is such an easy character to follow as she finds her way in the chaos of war and as she finds love. Every one of these books have been a day read for me because once I start these charming and inspiring stories there is no way I could ever leave them behind, not even for a second!

Sundin always reels me in and gets me emotionally invested with her characters. In this third installment we finally get to have Kay’s story. Kay came off somewhat cocky to me in the first books with the mentality that she so often carries around; she knows that she can have any man she wants and she uses that power to her advantage. She seeks to control men because of an awful relationship with her own father. The male lead in this book, Roger Cooper, is just what the doctor ordered for Kay. He seems fun-loving on the outside, but he has some high walls guarding his heart that even Kay is going to have trouble breaking down.

The action and adventure seemed to be a bit more amped up in this book. There were far more instances in Kay and Roger’s story when I was on the edge of my seat with worry and dread for the safety of these characters. As always, the descriptions and details provided about the war were top notch and really gave me a greater sense of understanding about the surroundings that they faced and were a part of. My favorite part of this book was the ending by far. It was sweet and sentimental and a great way to end this series. I am so excited to find out that Sarah has a new series coming out next year!

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


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