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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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Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: The Brickmaker's Bride

The Brickmaker's Bride (Refined by Love, #1)Author: Judith McCoy Miller
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Series: Refined by Love # 1


Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it's Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he'll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business
and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura's heart.


Winston patted her gloved hand. “You have more strength in that small hand than I would have ever imagined. Don’t falter now.”

Her father hadn’t returned from the war. Still, the Tygart River continued to flow, and the seasons still changed without fail. Fall had arrived and the ancient trees that surrounded the Tygart River Valley were already bursting with color.

This novel is set in the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War. When I think back to other books I have read set in this time, I cannot count very many so this was a nice change of setting. Laura, our main character, and her mother decide to sell Laura’s father’s brickyard after he is killed in the war. Enter our main male lead, Ewan, who has moved to America with his aunt and uncle from Ireland. Yes, I read this book pretending that I could hear his Irish accent. Ewan and Laura do not get off to a great start, making readers understand the importance of looking beyond first impressions. Laura comes off a little abrasive at first, but I am glad to say that Ewan stuck around to see all of her good characteristics as well.

The setting of this book really allowed the story to come together for me. The economy is still struggling and trying to rebuild itself after the war. Ewan and Laura come together with help, love, and support from their families. It was nice to read a story that could serve as being very relatable for couples even today. People struggle to make ends meet each and every day, and reading and following this interesting young couple added a bright spot to my day. They face things that we all face within our relationships and marriages and that is what truly makes this story so great!


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




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Book Review: Stray

StrayAuthor: Elissa Sussman
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow
Series: Four Sisters # 1


“I am grateful for my father, who keeps me good and sweet. I am grateful for my mother, who keeps her own heart guarded and safe. I am grateful for my adviser, who keeps me protected. I am grateful for the Path, which keeps me pure. Ever after.”

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?


The dream was a warning, a reminder that a maiden’s heart was capable of both growing roses and thorns.

“I will accept the Path I am taking. I will not stray. I will not yearn for what I cannot have. I will heed the words of my advisers and guard my loving heart against cursed magic. Ever after.”


Like a loaf of bread, she felt herself expand and let the magic flow from her palms.

For fairy tale lovers like me, this book was a breath of fresh air. I loved the new take on fairy tales and I loved the world building, allowing me to see where the author plans to take this series. This could possibly be one of my new favorite series of books. I am interested to see where it goes from here because there were some questions that I felt were left unanswered. Aislynn, the heroine/female lead, gets “reassigned” to a new role as a fairy godmother because of her own mistakes and must learn a new take on life. She is assigned to an orphaned princess named Linnea, who she must learn to get along with. Aislynn is a wonderfully flawed character; I found myself loving her at times and hating her at others.

The characters and the world completely made this story what it was in my eyes. The world appeared dark and harsh at times and I would even say creepy. Boarding school settings always win me over very quickly and this one was no different. Plus, it’s a boarding school for princesses and fairy godmothers. How does it get any better than that? Let me answer that for you; it simply does not. Every character felt complete to me. I enjoy the good guys and the bad ones. So much thought has gone into this story and I hope the other books in this series live up to my expectations as well. This story was a welcome change of pace for me and a perfect read so close to Halloween.


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






Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: The Queen of Zombie Hearts

The Queen of Zombie Hearts (White Rabbit Chronicles, #3)Author: Gena Showalter
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles # 3


I have a plan. 

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us. 

Either way, only one of us is walking away. 

In the stunning conclusion to the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice "Ali" Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers…until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters…and the worst has only begun. 

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies…and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing—and turning—Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima—even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.


Considering all I’d been through, my love life should have been a sparkling diamond in a sea of coal. Or a sea of “Cole”. Har har.

Slayers could produce fire; it was necessary to kill zombies. I could produce fire. When summoned, the flames crackled at the ends of our fingers. We pressed them into zombies, and the heat spread, purified, burning away evil and darkness. Eventually, zombies exploded. For some reason, I could flame from head to toe and only a moment of contact was needed to end a zombie.


“I agree with you. Now let’s put on our big-girl panties and go convince Mr. Always Right that he’s seriously wrong.”


Another book to add to my Halloween list for this month; I am doing great so far! This is the third book in what has been an awesome zombie fighting trilogy from Gena Showalter. I have been a dedicated fan right from the start of these books. I have patiently waited each September for the next book to be released and for good reason. This book packed an adventurous punch as Ali and her crew of zombie fighting teenagers are ready to get back at it and down to business. I am not going to say much about this book as far as content because I do not want to spoil anything for people that have not read the first two books. I needed a change from all the vampire and werewolf love stories, and this supernatural series packed with zombies was just what I needed!

Ali Bell is one of my favorite characters of all-time and in order to not give away any important pieces of the book I thought it would be safe to stick with talking about her and how she makes these books what they are. This girl is completely fearless and I admire all the obstacles she has waded through since the first book. I really adore her voice and appreciate all the humor that she brings to a story about fighting flesh-eating zombies. I am happy to report that even though I loved Ali Bell in Book 1, I really admire her now. She is so much stronger now and is truly fearless. If you love chicks for fight supernatural, paranormal beings and have fun while doing it, then this series is right for you!


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




Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: Bless Her Dead Little Heart

Bless Her Dead Little HeartAuthor: Miranda James
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Southern Sisters # 1


The new series from the author of The Silence of the Library and Murder Past Due...

New York Times 
bestselling author Miranda James returns to Athena, Mississippi, with an all-new mystery featuring Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote, two snoopy sisters who are always ready to lend a helping hand. But when a stressed socialite brings murder right to their doorstep, even they have trouble maintaining their Southern hospitality…
 
With the Mississippi sun beating down, An’gel and Dickce are taking a break to cool off and pet sit their friend Charlie Harris’s cat, Diesel, when their former sorority sister, Rosabelle Sultan, shows up at their door unexpectedly, with her ne’er-do-well adult children not far behind.
 
Rosabelle’s selfish offspring are desperate to discover what’s in her will, and it soon becomes clear that one of them would kill to get their hands on the inheritance. Suddenly caught up in a deadly tangle of duplicitous suspects and deep-fried motives, it will take all of the sisters’ Southern charm to catch a decidedly ill-mannered killer…


Miss An’gel Ducote fixed her houseguest with a gimlet eye. “I expect you to behave like a proper gentleman while you’re here.”

“That was supposed to be me out there, dead on the floor, not Martha.”


Probably mice, Dickce thought. It had been a few months since anyone had checked the place. She turned to offer an apology for the apartment’s likely condition but instead froze, her mouth open. Above them, the floorboards creaked, the sound much too loud to be caused by a mouse.

Any book that promotes southern hospitality has garnered my full attention. To my understanding this new series is a spin off based on another series written by Miranda James. The main characters in this new series are the Ducote sisters, An’gel and Dickce. These two are fabulous main characters and are a complete and utter joy to read about. They bring a little bit of everything to the table, and being sisters they always add in a bit of sass and humor when it comes to their sisterly bond. I thought it was especially nice to see them feed off of each other and be able to work together so nicely.

This book is full of so many charming characters; Clementine, the housemaid, being one of my favorites. I am always a fan of versatile secondary characters that actually add depth to the plot. Mystery readers are sure to love this book because of the list of possible victims. I would not really call this book predictable; I changed my mind quite a few times when it came time to decide who the killer was. If this first book was any indication of where the story is going to go, then I am patiently awaiting the next book and another fun adventure with the sweet, southern Ducote sisters.


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






Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Review: Mistletoe on Main Street

Mistletoe on Main Street (Briar Creek, #1)Author: Olivia Miles
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Forever
Series: Briar Creek # 1


Sleigh bells, snow, and second chances . . .

Briar Creek's quaint shop windows, cozy homes nestled in snow, and neighborly residents are what Christmas dreams are made of--for everyone except Grace Madison. She left her hometown years ago to pursue a writing career. But when her father's death leaves his bookstore empty, Grace must return to face why she fled Vermont in the first place: Luke Hastings, who still heats her up like a shot of smoky whiskey on a cold winter's night.

Grace is back, and Luke is worried. How much has she changed as a bestselling author in the big city? What memories will she stir up? And was the choice he made five years ago the biggest mistake of his life?

Now, with their past, present, and future rocking around the Christmas tree, it's time for Grace and Luke to face the music . . . and the mistletoe.


But Grace Madison could never be nothing to him. And that was just the problem.

Pretty as a postcard. As much as she wished to deny it, Grace Madison knew that nothing could top Vermont at Christmastime.

Snow was falling slow and steady, neatly covering the slated roof in a white blanket. Someone had just hung a wreath complete with a red velvet bow just above the arched opening, and icicles gave a natural picot edging to the red-hued truss.


And one thing was for certain: she never walked away from anything – or anyone – without a fight.
I know I am supposed to be focusing on Halloween reads, but when I saw this one and received it in the mail for review I just had to take a break from my Halloween to be read list and give this one a try. This book put me in the mood for Christmas, and I still have about two and a half more months to go. The book is filled with Christmas charm and second chances. Grace Madison, our leading lady, is forced to return to the small town she was raised in after the passing of her father. Upon her return to Briar Creek, Grace runs into an old flame, Luke Hastings. Grace and Luke share a long, emotional history and their story is not one that I can easily sum up in a few words.

I loved Luke and Grace and I wanted to shake and scream at Luke and Grace at the same time. There were plenty of opportune moments for Luke and Grace to rekindle their past romance. Luke was too busy living in the past and Grace could just be downright stubborn. However, once they finally do start to reconnect, their relationship is so bright and forgiving that is enough for me to forget all their mistakes and flaws. This was the perfect book to sit down with at night with a cup of hot chocolate and a warm blanket. I thought about their story while I was at work all day and could not wait to return home to see if they found a happy ending. I am looking forward to more happenings in Briar Creek!


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





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review: A Lady at Willowgrove Hall

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall (Whispers on the Moors, #3)Author: Sarah E. Ladd
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Series: Whispers on the Moors # 3


Willowgrove Hall is full of secrets, but soon everything hidden is brought to light.

Cecily Faire has a secret—and she intends to keep it. But when she arrives at Willowgrove Hall to serve as a lady’s companion, she comes face-to-face with the only person who knows the truth about her past.

As the steward of Willowgrove Hall, Nathaniel Stanton is dedicated to serving those around him. Nothing escapes his notice—including the beautiful new lady’s companion. He is certain the lovely Miss Faire is hiding something, and he determines to uncover it. But Nathaniel has a secret of his own: he is the illegitimate son of Willowgrove’s former master. Falling in love was not part of his plans . . . until he meets Cecily Faire.

When Willowgrove’s mistress dies, everything changes. Fear of exposure forces Cecily to leave under the cover of darkness, embarking on a journey to finally find her long-lost sister. When the will is read, Nathaniel’s inheritance makes him question his future plans. Cecily and Nathaniel are forced to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Is their love strong enough to survive?


Her chance at romance had passed, and besides, if he knew her history, he would likely have nothing to do with her.

“I just want happiness for you, Nathaniel. That is all. Do not pass up the opportunity for happiness because you are waiting for your circumstances to be ideal. They never will be.”

But she had secrets. The fact was written on her every expression, making him consider how trustworthy she may be. But did he not have secrets of his own?


“Never you fear, Miss Faire. I shall make it my mission to find you a suitable partner, just you wait and see.”

Last year I was introduced to a budding new author named Sarah E. Ladd and the first book in her Whispers on the Moors Trilogy. Now here I am more than a year later reading the third book in this series and loving it just as much as I loved the first and second books. Our latest heroine is named Cecily Faire and she finds herself sent away to Rosemere School for Young Ladies. After about five years at the all girls school she finds herself presented with the opportunity to be a lady’s companion to the widowed Mrs. Tryst, owner of Willowgrove Hall. Cecily finds herself involved in so much more than she could have ever dreamed upon her arrival to Willowgrove Hall, and we the readers get to witness every twist and turn. Sarah E. Ladd is an author you won’t want to miss.

This regency inspired historical romance is just as sweet and memorable as the others in this series. Cecily and Nathaniel, our two main characters, find themselves falling for each other despite all their previous hesitations. Sarah Ladd never fails to assist me in connecting to each character and feeling as if I have known them for years. She describes the setting as if it were sitting right outside my front door and she describes even the smallest things such as the weather as if I were experiencing all alongside the characters firsthand. There is a highly inspirational message in this book which is that God uses our struggles and our obstacles to lead us to our triumphs. This book was a perfect end to this series!


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


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Review: Stirring The Plot

Stirring the Plot (Cookbook Nook Mystery, #3)Author: Daryl Wood Gerber
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Cookbook Nook Mystery # 3


Halloween in Crystal Cove, California, is a big deal, involving a spooky soiree where the Winsome Witches, a fund-raising group, gather to open up their purse strings and trade superstitions. But party magicians, fortune-tellers, and herbalists are only the beginning of this recipe for disaster…

Jenna Hart has packed The Cookbook Nook chock-full of everything from ghostly texts to witchy potions in anticipation of the annual fund-raiser luncheon. But there’s one unexpected addition to the menu: murder.

When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead under mysterious circumstances, there’s no logical answer and plenty of blame to go around. With her aunt, Vera, unable to call on her ability to foresee the future, Jenna will have to use more than just sleight of hand and a few magic tricks to conjure up the truth…


“Superstitions aren’t conjured out of thin air. Centuries of folklore create them. Do you remember back in the eighth grade how we used to dash past the cemetery holding our breath?”

The Crystal Cove Inn, one of the original establishments in town, was a charming bed-and-breakfast made of stone and wood. The grounds reminded me of an estate right out of a Jane Austen novel.

Whatever the reason, I was sufficiently shaken and stirred.


While the tavern’s colorful told us the history of the place, we dined on Halloween spiced popcorn, mini ghost cupcakes decorated with white icing and black licorice eyes, and Black Cat brew, which was a lusty mix of root beer laced with cinnamon.

Yet another Halloween read for me this month; I am doing great so far. Stirring The Plot is the second book in the Cookbook Nook mystery series. The spirit of Halloween is in the air at the Cookbook Nook. Katie is preparing some new, festive recipes as well as preparing for the Winsome Witches’, not real witches I might add, annual fundraiser. The Winsome Witches get together to induct a new member, Emma, right before the fundraiser and not long after Katie receives a call that their head priestess, Maya, has been found dead in her backyard. Jenna, our lead sleuth, is soon hot on the trail of this murder investigation. This story is full of Halloween spirit and is sure to entice readers of all ages.


I like to take notes while I read mystery books and with this particular story I thought I had it figured out so many times just to be proven wrong again. I was so wrapped up in the story both because of the cozy feeling it gave me because Halloween is right around the corner and because of the fun, fast-paced mystery that kept me guessing. By the time I had finished reading, even though I had been proved wrong multiple times, everything came together like a puzzle and made perfect sense. Give yourself a little treat this Halloween and pick up this holiday themed cozy mystery!






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