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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, September 25, 2016

Book Review: Ghostly Echoes

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3)Author: William Ritter
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Series: Jackaby # 3

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

Some corners of the city, I was coming to find, were always dark, as if to spite the sun.

“Send your expenses to my office, Miss Rook. You two are on the case.”

Jenny Cavanaugh was dead, and she wasn’t happy about it.

There is so much to love about this series. Firstly, it is perfect for Halloween and got me in the mood for all things spooky and supernatural. The series contains so many loveable characters and while eerie and haunting at times, there are added bits of humor thrown in to provide comic relief. In this third and most dark installment of the series, our investigators, Jackaby and Abigail Rook, are finally able to investigate the death of their favorite ghost, Jenny Cavanaugh. I found it so interesting that Jenny’s cold case was brought to light and I was thankful that so many questions I had have now been answered. This cast of characters is not one that you will forget easily. They are all unique and special in their own way. I was up way past my bedtime reading this one!

I am unsure what to think about another book. I am reading a lot of reviews where people seem to believe there will be more, but I have also heard talk that this book will be the last in the series. Either way, this is not a story that you want to miss out on. Like I said, these books are perfect for the spirit of Halloween, and this third book in particular has been the spookiest of all. There were times where I was unsure that I was going to be able to keep reading at night. William Ritter had me squinting my eyes, scared for what I would read next. I am so pleased with this series; I can honestly say that it gets better with each and every book!

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

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Review: Root, Petal, Thorn

Root, Petal, ThornAuthor: Ella Joy Olsen
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Kensington

In this beautifully written and powerful debut novel, Ella Joy Olsen traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same  historic home over the course of a century—braided stories of love, heartbreak and courage connect the women, even across generations.
Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the  home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially  an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms.  Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.
Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. Day by day, as she attempts to rebuild her house and her resolve, she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. For every story has its sadness, but there is also the possibility of blooming again, even stronger and more resilient than before…

Relieved to take a break from the sad twist in my own tale, I was more than eager to consider hers.

He was picturing his home freshly built, his wife a young woman with a baby on her hip. He was pondering 1944.

She smiled and leaned into him. “Yes, this house has harbored its fair share and it’s still standing. Surely it can handle you.”

This book is such a charming, cozy read. The book starts out with Ivy Baygren and her sudden bout of grief because of her husband’s unexpected passing. She tries to work through her husband’s passing by working on the sweet, little house that they purchased together. As Ivy works in and around the house she and her husband shared together, she starts to wonder about the history of the house and others that lived in it before her. Ivy finds small mementos left by other females that have lived in the house from 1913 onwards. As readers, we get a peek into the lives of each of these women. The story is told from alternating viewpoints and each character is just as crisp and carefully written as the last.

Each of the women who lived in the house had such interesting stories to share. I was so excited to get to a new chapter for each woman so that I could continue their stories. This book is so magical in its delivery. All of the lives you will read about are enchanting and personable; you won’t be able to put this book down. There are many emotional parts of this book. You will feel the same pains as the characters and you will find yourself rooting for their happily ever afters. I was so enthralled by how eloquent and completely endearing this book was that I struggled to put it down. I even woke up early one morning just to read some more!

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Review: Murder At Morningside

Murder at MorningsideAuthor: Sandra Bretting
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Series: Missy DuBois # 1

Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana's Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder? 

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women's bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder. With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she's going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair . . .

“I always forget you were Scarlett O’Hara in a past life.”

Never let it be said Southern men didn’t know how to dress.

“The house used to be a plantation with a bunkhouse for slaves. Think about it…there are probably hundreds of restless spirits here.”

What a perfect new mystery series featuring a lovable southern belle! Melissa “Missy” DuBois is a custom hat maker and her best friend, Ambrose “Bo” Jackson, is a prominent clothing designer. The two of them travel to Morningside Plantation for a wedding weekend. The first and biggest problem arises when the bride-to-be, Trinity Solomon is found murdered. Thus, Missy and Bo begin to take matters into their own hands and feel it is necessary to try and solve this murder. Missy is such a personable character. I loved her southern charm and the affect she has on the people around her. She is very relatable simply because she seems so down to earth. It seemed to me that she wants a deeper relationship with Ambrose; I was really able to pick up on this later in the story, and I am looking forward to watching their relationship grow as the series continues.

I love when a mystery author gives readers a plethora of possible murderers to choose from! I loved having to decipher everyone’s alibis and see who I thought in my mind the killer was, and turned out I was wrong! I wish the scene when Missy found the killer would have been a bit more dramatic or described in more detail, but I was still anxious and thrilled to see Missy kick the bad guy or girl’s butt (you have to read the story to find out which). Oh and I forgot to mention, there is supposedly a ghost that is haunting the mansion located on the plantation. This was an interesting twist too and a nice little detail that Bretting added to entice mystery lovers that much more. I am looking forward to the release of her next book in December!

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Curious Minds

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)Author: Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Series: Knight and Moon # 1

Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, teams up with Emmy-winning writer Phoef Sutton for a brand-new series of thrillers featuring the invincible and incompatible pairing of Knight and Moon.

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

“Riley reminded herself that she was a professional, and stabbing Emerson with her nail file wouldn’t be appropriate.” 

“If she had any sense at all, she’d clean out her desk and look for another job. Something safe and sane, like catching alligators or looking for land mines in Afghanistan.” 

“Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

“It was one of the biggest mansions in Washington, D.C., and it was appropriately called Mysterioso Manor. Emerson Knight, the resident owner, was appropriately known as a nutcase.”  

“She’d expected Emerson Knight to look like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.”

Janet Evanovich has forever been one of my favorite authors to read. And while I didn’t like this new series as much as the Stephanie Plums, I must say that I am very excited for what this series will hold. Emerson Knight and Riley Moon are such an unlikely pair, but extremely comical. I must say that the way Emerson Knight was depicted reminded me heavily of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Riley is written to be much more grounded and cautious. Emerson makes a plan and he is sticking to it. His character carried the unlikely pair and added so much depth to the story. I was so glad to see that Evanovich has started a new series and I am happy to say that it was modern and I can see the story and characters progressing greatly over time.

The mystery here was incredible! There were so many possible scenarios that I was imagining while reading that could possibly play out. Missing people, murders, and missing gold was enough to keep me interested and on edge. It felt as if around every corner Emerson and Riley were discovering crucial evidence and adding to the already eccentric mystery. One thing that I have always loved about Evanovich was her ability to make readers laugh out loud. The witty banter shared between Emerson and Riley was too much to bare at times. Their personalities are so different and listening to them argue and plan together was what will keep me coming back to this series!

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: Swear On This Life

Swear on This LifeAuthor: Renee Carlino
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

"His name is Jase Colbertson. He and I used to finish each other’s sentences.”

I was breathing hard as I lay the book down on my chest, right over my throbbing heart. I remembered that moment when everything started crumbling down around us. There was nothing we could do; we were just a couple of powerless, poor kids, so desperate to find a way to be together…

"We can't always control our circumstances, who our parents are, where we live, or how much money we make, but in those rare moments when we can shape our fate, when we do have the power to make our own happiness, we can't be scared to do it."  

 "There once was a boy and a girl..."

Renee Carlino has done it again! This book managed to pull me in within the first few pages and I had a hard time stopping until I was finished. Her stories and her characters come to life instantly and the time it takes you to finish one of her books is short, but you will be wishing it lasted longer. The premise behind this story is new, original, and enough to make anyone cry their heart out. Basically, our heroine is introduced, by her best friend, to a new book that everyone is talking about. It is on the bestseller list and gaining awards from every direction. As Emiline sits down to read this book, she realizes that this is her story and that J. Colby, the author, is Jase, her first love. WOW! Can you imagine how I felt as the reader when I reached this point in the story? It was invigorating!

What I love best about the book is that we get to see glimpses into the past as Emiline and Jase were younger and things were different for the both of them. I also loved the fact that Emiline was in a present relationship and that complicated things a bit for her. I like to watch characters grow and have to figure things out, even when they are very messy. This was a story within a story and those of some of the best books to read. I feel very comfortable saying that this was the best second chance romance book I have ever read and I wish I could do it all over again. You will feel every single emotion as you read this book and trust me, you won’t want it to end!

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Language of Stones

The Secret Language of Stones: A NovelAuthor: M.J. Rose
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Series: The Daughters of La Lune # 2

As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

Of all the work I did, I found that it wasn’t the watches but the solace my lockets gave that proved to be my greatest gift to the war effort.

Trying to find where his amorphous fingers had lain, trying to pick up a sense of him. But there was nothing there. He’d gone. And I was alone. Again.

Every soul requires secret places for contemplation as well as open spaces for celebration.

This book looks and reads like a dream. Every single word was so eloquent, beautifully written, and perfectly placed. This story is enchanting and will be sure to capture readers from the first paragraph. We follow a group of extraordinary women, especially zoning in on Opaline. Opaline has a gift for working with stones and jewels and uses her magic as a connection from the living to the dead. The setting is the always wonderful Paris, but this time the book is set during World War I, when most of Europe was being ravaged by war. The author makes everything seem so real; readers will feel like they are time traveling right back into the pages of history.

The war is especially brought to life throughout the pages of this book. Readers will face love, loss, political intrigue, and a bit of the paranormal as they journey through this book. This book literally mixes all of my favorite genres into one: historical fiction, paranormal romance, and anything that has to do with magic. I was so entranced as I read this story. I couldn’t take my mind off of the characters and all the unanswered questions that I had even when I wasn’t reading. I didn’t realize after reading The Witch of Painted Sorrows that this would end up being a series, but I am so pleased and cannot wait to see where the story goes from here!

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

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Book Review: A Certain Age

A Certain AgeAuthor: Beatriz Williams
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow

The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband. 

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

And I decided, right then, that there was something to be said for a young lover, after all.

It’s Sylvo, who rises from his desk and kisses me tenderly, and then sits me down on the leather Chesterfield sofa, hands me a glass of cream sherry, and tells me he wants a divorce.

Too bright, really. Last night’s paltry fall of snow has given way to a sky make of blue ice, and a brilliant sun fixed at its eastern end. 

Beatriz Williams has such a way with words. I have read every single book she has published since 2013. I cannot get enough of her writing and her incredible characters and story lines. This time she writes a compelling piece set in the every elusive Jazz Age. Our story this time around follows a Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue who has fallen in love with a younger man while trying to hide it all from her husband. Throw another, much younger, woman in the mix and you have got yourself a little scandal, which is just what happens in this story. Not everything is as it seems and all of the characters in this fabulous new novel definitely have something to hide.

I must admit that Theresa Marshall, the main character, was my least favorite character for many reasons. However, I enjoyed reading about the mess she got herself into. The four or so main characters spin a web of lies and deceit and as the story unravels we, the readers, find out more and more about these characters. By the end of the story I was blown away by how meticulously Williams weaved a tale so spectacular and vivid that I did not want it to be over. I have not found a single one of her books that does not mesmerize me within the first chapter and give me so much to invest in. Beatriz, please do not stop writing!

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


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