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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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Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Crossing On The Paris

Author: Dana Gynther
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books

Downton Abbey meets Titanic in this sweeping historical novel about three women of different generations and classes, whose lives intersect on a majestic ocean liner traveling from Paris to New York in the wake of World War I.

The year is 1921. Three women set out on the impressive Paris ocean liner on a journey from Paris to New York. Julie Vernet is a young French woman from a working class family who has just gotten her first job as a crew worker on the ship. Escaping her small town and the memory of war, she longs for adventure on the high seas...

Constance Stone is a young American wife and mother who has traveled to Paris to rescue her bohemian sister, Faith, who steadfastly refuses to return to America and settle down. Constance returns home to New York, having failed at the duty her father asked of her...


Vera Sinclair, a rich, ex-patriate American is leaving France after thirty-one years to live out her remaining time home in America. Over the course of the transatlantic voyage, she reflects on her colorful life and looks forward to a quiet retirement. While each of these women come from different walks of life, their paths cross while at sea in a series of chance encounters. The powerful impact these disparate lives have on one another make for a magnificent and unforgettable read.

 

 
“She slid her fingers along the sturdy rail. All her life, Julie had seen spectacular ocean liners come in and out of port, right outside their kitchen windows. She watched them as they passed through their surprisingly short life cycles: their feted launches and fashionable youths, their less popular mature years, then their retirement, sometimes terribly scarred by fires or accidents only five or eight years after maiden voyage. This, however, was the first time she’d ever boarded one.” – Finished Copy pg. 25
 
“In these volumes, the margins, and sometimes a full page, were scattered with line drawings – comic sketches, portraits leaning toward caricature, illustrations for the text – also made with the pen, but occasionally shaded in later with pencils or pastels. Although Vera had never liked needlework, she loved drawing. In fact, when she’d first arrived in Paris, she attended the Academe Vitti, a private art school for women, but she soon tired of the routine or live models and weekly critiques. Preferring to work on her own, she visited the Louvre often and copied works in pencil or pen, simplifying Greek of Egyptian sculptures into a few sharp lines. Writing and drawing came together to make up her journals, the disjointed story of her life.” – Finished Copy pg. 39 & 40
 
“Though they were quieted by the full bowls in front of them, Julie was saddened by these bursts of national pride. She knew these passengers were abandoning their homelands, forced to look beyond their borders for better circumstances. Julie realized that the ship was a No Man’s Land, a gap between two worlds: their former lives and the next. What, then, did that mean for the people who worked on board? Were they forever in limbo, without country or home, tied to thankless tanks on a never-stopping ship?” – Finished Copy pg. 95
 
“Hailey’s Comet…Vera was reminded of that quote by Mark Twain, who was born as the comet passed and rightfully predicted that he would die when it returned. ‘The Almighty has said, no doubt, Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ Twain was one of the few great Americans, in her opinion, only rivaled in humor and ingenuity by Benjamin Franklin.” – Finished Copy pg. 104
 

All of my readers know that I love books that follow the lives of more than one person and join them together, and I am here to tell you that this book fits into this category! This story takes place in June of 1921, just after the end of World War I. Three women who lead extremely different lives all board the ocean liner known as the Paris, each of them is trying to escape a part of their lives that seem empty and unfulfilled. Julie Vernet, Constance Stone, and Vera Sinclair are all traveling in three different classes and have different dreams, hopes, aspirations, and ailments. This book slowly walks you through their lives and leads you up to the reason that each of them has boarded this ship and is sailing to America.

I love anything that surrounds culture or a mixture of many different cultures. The characters in this book are each from different parts of the globe and have very different and diverse backgrounds. I loved switching back and forth between the view points of the three women because they each have something different to bring to the table. Vera is an older woman who is suffering from a fatal disease, Constance is middle aged, married, and has a family of her own, and Julie is our youngest traveler who is looking for a better life than what she already has with her parents. I loved the fact that each of these women were at different points in their lives and all had completely different circumstances.

I have to say that my favorite character was Julie Vernet. She is a young girl whose family is poverty stricken and she takes a job as a waitress aboard the Paris in order to make a better life for herself. Her character is so young and shy and this is her first sea journey. She was naïve at times, and my heart crumbled when because of what she experienced aboard the ship. I don’t want to go into detail, but Julie’s character is just so heart wrenching at times and I became so enthralled with her story. She is the least fortunate of the three women, and I have always been a supporter of the underdog. I just wanted a better life for Julie. Not to mention the tragedy that her family had already faced with the previous war. I will say that I did love Vera Sinclair as well. She wrote personal memoirs throughout the novel that were very inspiring to read!

I felt like I was aboard this ship and I constantly caught myself envisioning the lives of each of these women among the different classes. This book was full of historical facts and details that were significant to the times. Dana Gynther really knows her stuff, and she left quite the interesting historical note in the back of the book that lets readers in on a little more of her reasons for writing this book. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves historical fiction.

***I would like to say thank you and give a huge shout out to the publishers at Gallery Books. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***    






Follow Me Friday (15)

 
 

Q: Activity! Who is your to-die-for book crush? What do you think they look like? Add an image to make us all happy.

My Answer: I just recently read Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter and I fell in love with Alice’s relationship with Cole Holland. Okay, so I have a thing for bad boys and he, well, he fights zombies on a daily basis! I don’t really remember his description, but I kind of pictured him looking like Penn Badgley! That’s probably because I picture everyone looking like Penn Badgley! Anyway, I really liked Cole subtly. He didn’t go after Alice straight away, but he was super protective of her from the start. He was rugged and misunderstood by some, but I saw the beauty in his devilish ways!
 



He definitely looks like someone who would fight Zombies, right?!




Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: Secrets & Lies

Author: Ella Monroe
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Series: Capital Girls # 2

Jealousy, rivalry, and dark secrets threaten to tear the girls apart in this sizzling follow-up to Capital Girls

It’s the start of senior year, and Excelsior Prep is on Code 3 lockdown. Secret Service agents swarm the halls searching for the First Son’s girlfriend, Jackie Whitman. Outside a SWAT team hunts for the man who’s been threatening the First Family for weeks. Only this time he’s singled out Jackie, leaving a menacing message on the school’s voicemail. Jackie's safe for now, but for the Capital Girls—three privileged kids who live in a political fishbowl in the nation’s capital—every day is filled with tension and thrills. Though, even for them, a raid on the school by AK-47-toting marksmen is a standout.


And a stalker isn't Jackie's only problem. Still shattered by the shocking news that Andrew cheated on her with Taylor the night Taylor died, Jackie's whole world has fallen apart. Not only did the love of her life betray her, so did her best friend and idol. What made Taylor do it? Who was she really? On top of it all, Whitney Remick is plotting to take Taylor's place, and Jackie will do anything to stop her
?


“‘Pass it here.’ Jackie held out her hand and took a swig. All the stress and worry of the day melted away. This was just what she needed: time with her best friends.’” – Finished Copy pg. 34

“Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so bad after all. She’d hang out with the Crapital Girls, and get some dirt for her mom. There were worse ways to spend a Friday night – like in a jail cell.” – Finished Copy pg. 36

“Her mother placed her hand on top of Jackie’s. ‘Jackie, honey, what’s really going on? Andrew’s been walking around like a zombie, and he’s been spotted drunk more than a few times. I barely see the two of you together anymore. And at the house the other day…well, it was like the two of you were enemies, not dating.’” – Finished Copy pg. 261

“‘I know you haven’t worn your Capital Girls bracelet in a long time, Jackie. But they still mean something to me – to us.’ She nodded at Lettie, who was holding hers up with a wide smile. ‘I had this made to show we’re indestructible. Nothing can tear us apart – not men, not politics. Nothing.’” – Finished Copy pg. 291


This is the second book in the Capital Girls series, and I am hooked! I reviewed the first book in the series on its release date, August 7, and absolutely could not wait until I could get my hands on this book. This story picks up right where the last one left off with Lettie, Laura Beth, Jackie, and unfortunately, Whitney Remick. They are all harboring secrets in this book and their lives are consumed of one lie after another. I think the reason that I love this series so much is because of the snarky girls, web of lies, and constant pit in my stomach to know what is going to happen next!

Jackie Whitman is my absolute favorite Capital Girl, and she is also known as Washington D.C.’s It Girl! Jackie was let in on a HUGE secret by her boyfriend Andrew Price, the president’s son, which could change their lives forever. Not to mention she is also receiving threats from someone and fears of a possible kidnapping are roaming around the White House. Jackie is just such a held together kind of person, and to see her completely falling apart in this book was a nice change. I really saw her develop as a character and her love life is what is now interesting me the most. By the end of this book, Jackie has entered into a possible love triangle. Eeeekkkk! I am so excited, but I am not going to spoil anymore for you.

I loved the political atmosphere from the first book and I could really see a change in the sequel. In the first book more talk of current politics and the political scene were described, but that didn’t happen as much in this book. I did kind of miss it this time around, but the drama and intrigue was enough to fill its place. I wish that I could find more books like this on a daily basis. I read each page faster and faster because I am constantly dying to know what happens next. It takes a talented author to truly keep me this intrigued in a sequel. Once I had finished this book even more questions without answers had been placed on the table and we are still up in the air as far as what really happened on the night that Taylor Cane, former Capital Girl, died. I was hoping so badly that I would have some more answers by the end of this book, but sadly I only have developed more questions. I have a long time to wait until April 2013!

If you like stories about friendship, secrets, lies, and webs of deceit then I highly recommend that you pick up this series of books. I am sold, and will forever cherish them on my personal shelves!

***I cannot thank the publishers at St. Martin’s Griffin enough for all of their hospitality towards me. I received this book in exchange for my honest review***








Blogspiration (5)


Blogspiration is a new weekly meme hosted by Growing Up YA and Saz 101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.


Ok, so this picture basically describes my entire shelf! I have like twenty books in my Top 5! I know that’s a lot but there is just no way that I can simply pick just 5 books to be in my Top 5 :) That’s impossible and I am sure that many of you feel the exact same way. I hope you all have a very Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Miss Fortune Cookie


 
I am very fortunate to have Lauren Bjorkman, author of Miss Fortune Cookie, with me on the blog today! Lauren has graciously answered some Interview Questions that I prepared for her, and out of the goodness of her heart has offered to all my readers a fabulous interview full of surprises! I hope you enjoy the Interview and don’t forget to scroll on down and enter for your chance to win what I thought was an amazing book! Thank you again, Lauren!
 
Me: What was your inspiration for writing this story?

Lauren: Fortune cookies have always fascinated me. My fortune collection keeps growing. I can be a little superstitious. And, like Erin, I’m afraid to give bad advice. I tend to shut up when I should speak out. From that, I got the idea of a girl that keeps quiet around her friends, but dares to voice her opinions through her blog.

Also, I wanted to write about that special time—the end of high school craziness—when everything is about to change. You have to figure out your whole future, when you’re not even sure who you are. Plus you have to cope with parental expectations, and possibly saying good-bye to your closest friends. But it’s an exciting time too. Anything can happen.
 
Me: Name a random fact about yourself that your readers would never guess.
 
Lauren: I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until my ninth birthday.
 
Me: What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
 
Lauren: Eating delicious food. Dancing to live music. Watching Indie movies. Going to plays. I also enjoy climbing small mountains, sewing, and knitting. Most of all, I love traveling to new places with family and friends.
 
Me: Who is your favorite author? Any authors that you draw inspiration from?
 
Lauren: LOL! You may as well ask me which of my sons I love best. I’ll just answer the second part of your question J.
 
In high school, I was forced to read a lot of literature, most of which I did NOT appreciate. The exceptions were Jane Austen, Jack London, Shakespeare, and Saki. For fun I read romance novels. Later, I checked out many contemporary authors, and especially enjoyed Rita Mae Brown, Amy Tan, and Barbara Kingsolver. When I FINALLY discovered YA lit, it blew my socks right off—KL Going, John Green, Carolyn Mackler, David Levithan, Laurie Halse Anderson, E Lockhart, Melina Marchetta. All of them inspire me.
 
Me: What is next for you?
 
Lauren: I am working on a contemporary YA about a girl named Jak whose mom is accused of stealing corporate secrets about a technology—a soon-to-be-released device that could provide relief for people suffering from stress and depression. As her mom’s troubles grow, Jak has to do something. Unable to trust her stepfather, she runs away from home to seek help from an old friend of her mom’s, learns secrets about her past, and finds herself torn between two very different worlds.
 
Me: Do you have any advice that you would like to share with any aspiring authors?  
 
Lauren: Write about the things that excite you. The things that fire up your imagination. Write A LOT. Don’t hold back anything.
 

Now it is time for the giveaway! You can see in the picture below everything that Lauren is putting up for grabs, and one lucky winner will receive all of it! There is a signed copy of her book, Miss Fortune Cookie, a totally cool blue nail polish, and blue crystal bracelet! I am so excited for this and I hope you guys enjoy this giveaway! This is for the US only.
 


 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waiting On Wednesday (19)

 
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!
 
Author: Liesel Schwarz
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Del Rey
Series: The Chronicles of Light & Shadow # 1

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—the intrepid heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.

Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.

But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: When I Fall In Love

Author: Miranda Dickinson
Publication Date: November 8, 2012
Publisher: Avon
 
Elsie Maynard never expected to be starting again...

...but eighteen months on from the biggest challenge of her life, she is doing just that –because she made a promise to the person who believed in her the most.

Determined to step into her uncertain future, Elsie meets handsome Oliver Hogarth, who seems intent on winning her heart; she inadvertently founds a choir, and overcomes obstacles – most of which involve arrogant Torin Stewart.

Then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the final item on ‘The List’ that she never dared complete.

Can Elsie follow her heart and put her past to rest?

 
“‘Who do you think you are, Lancelot? And where do you get off interfering in other people’s business, anyway? I am entirely capable of looking after myself, you know. I am not a damsel in distress that needs rescuing by a big, strong bloke. I would have sorted the situation, without your help. I would have managed. So thank you very much for jumping in, but I really didn’t need you to.’” – Finished Copy pg. 6

“Sundae & Cher was filled with 1950s and 1960s memorabilia, from the gold-framed Elvis and Frankie Valli photographs on the wall behind the green glass counter, to the black and white harlequin tiles on the floor, replica Wurlitzer jukebox, black and white checked tablecloths and red leather and chrome chairs. It had the air of being simultaneously retro and chic, and modern and cool – and Elsie loved to see people’s expressions when they walked in for the first time. Of course, the killer detail was that all the ice cream sold in the café was made onsite, in the basement kitchen with its large ice cream mixing machine and large freezer cabinet. This meant that Sundae & Cher could offer flavors nobody else in Brighton could match, changing them regularly to keep the ever-enthusiastic customers come back for more. From Tossed Popcorn to Blue Cheese and Walnut, Maple Banana and even a Tomato, Basil and Olive combination, Sundae & Cher’s unique ice cream flavors had become a talking point in the famous seaside town.” – Finished Copy pg. 16 & 17

“‘Elsie, I am trusting you to see this through, because both you and I know the importance of real love…’” – Finished Copy pg. 270


 
Elsie Maynard has decided that it is time to start again and pick up the pieces of her rather broken heart and spirit. She has faced a tragedy that I would never wish on anyone, and I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to give key elements in the story away. When I started reading the book, Elsie seemed very solemn and somber and maybe even a little bitter. I later learned why. After a few pages in she makes an announcement to her sisters and family that she is ready to start dating again, and I immediately started asking questions. I became attached to Elsie rather quickly and was cheering her on the entire time. This story is Elsie’s journey through heartache and her rebirth!

Miranda Dickinson can write some really strong and moving characters, and believe me this book was full of them. I personally fell in love with the relationship that Elsie shared amongst her sisters, Daisy and Guin. I loved their connection and the laughter that they brought right from the start. We also have Elsie’s dad who I could tell was where a lot of her strength and support came from. Possibly one of my favorite characters was Cher, who owns the café in which Elsie works in called Sundae & Cher, quoted above. All of these secondary characters, and so many more, help Elsie on her trying and tremendous journey to start all over again. I was laughing my head off because of the wittiness and just pure sparkle that some of these characters brought the pages.

Elsie finds herself in some pretty amazing situations and presented with some awesome opportunities that I am sure she never thought she would experience. This book is about learning to live and love again, and Elsie is a truly inspiring and dynamic character. From her moments in the ice cream shop, Sundae & Cher, to the streets of Paris with her choir, she is experiencing a life-altering change and I felt like she invited me, graciously, along for the ride. This is truly a story about love, loss, and learning to start over from the ashes. I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter story that truly pulled on all of my heart strings. This book made me question things in my life and what I would do if I were ever in Elsie’s shoes. Truly a great reflection novel and I am new born fan of Miranda Dickinson!

***Lots of hugs and thanks to the publishers at Avon for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***






Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Review: Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women's Literary Society

Author: Amy Hill Hearth
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books

A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo.

In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and anonymously hosts a radio show, calling herself Miss Dreamsville.

The racially segregated town falls in love with Miss Dreamsville, but doesn’t know what to make of Jackie, who welcomes everyone into her book club, including a woman who did prison time for allegedly killing her husband, a man of questionable sexual preference, a young divorcee, as well as a black woman.

By the end of this novel, you’ll be wiping away the tears of laugher and sadness, and you just may become a bit more hopeful that even the most hateful people can see the light of humanitarianism, if they just give themselves a chance.


“My name is Dora Witherspoon but most folks know me as the Turtle Lady. A long time ago, I rescued a snapping turtle the size of a truck tire from the middle of Highway 41, a move deemed so foolish it became local legend. I can’t say I’m partial to it, but here in the South, nicknames stick like bottomland mud.” – Finished Copy pg. 1

“Now I understood how Robbie-Lee, Naples’s only obvious homosexual, was able to survive: no one messed with him on account of his mother.” – Finished Copy pg. 73

“I wondered about these new friends of mine and hoped I hadn’t gotten in over my head. I had a funny feeling they were either going to drive me nuts of become the best group of friends I’d have in my whole life. As things turned out, it was a little of both.” – Finished Copy pg. 74

“There’s an old southern saying that if you’re worried about your weight, your clothes, or getting old, then you don’t have any real problems.” – Finished Copy pg. 85



From the first page on I knew that this book and I would become the best of friends. I happen to be a Southern Belle, and this book is based deep, deep in the South. I was already in love. I love reading Southern Fiction and especially Southern Fiction that is set anytime in the past. This book takes place in 1962, right smack in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. We are given a cast of highly unlikely characters who form what is known as the Women’s Literary Society and take the town of Naples, Florida by storm.

There is so much humor to be found in this book. We are given, as stated before, a cast of highly unlikely characters who are joined together in what is essentially a women’s book club, well except for Robbie-Lee, Naples’s only known homosexual. Each of these characters has some pretty interesting mannerisms and traits that constantly kept me laughing out loud. Our main character, Dora, has a tendency for taking in oversized turtles that could grab hold of her at any second and refuse to let go, and even the thought of this makes me laugh. One of the members calls herself Plain Jane and another one is an ex-con who murdered her husband some years before. If you don’t catch the drift by now, they are all hilarious! I can just picture them all now, and how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

This book is stocked full of historical information and is a great representation of its time. Like I said before, it takes place in the 1960’s when the Civil Rights Movement was at its height. Things in the South were a little different from the rest of the nation, and threats of terrorist attack from Russia were rampant as well. I could feel the down home country feel that made up the town of Naples and the Southern twang/dialect used by our narrator matches my own. The author used hilarious clichés and “old timey” sayings throughout her writing that I have often heard my grandmothers and father use. Issues like race, discrimination, sex, and homosexuality were simply not discussed back then, and if they were then it was done behind closed doors and amongst groups just like The Collier County Women’s Literary Society!

This book will have you dying laughing and emotionally connected to the stories that make up each character. The Women’s Literary Society brings a ray of hope and sunshine into the lives of these characters just when they needed it most. It was quite the charming read and I was delighted to follow the stories that made up this book. If you read deeply enough you may find that one or all of these characters have the will to touch a small part of your life as well!

***A big thank you to the publisher at Atria Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***








Book Review: Alice In Zombieland

Author: Gena Showalter
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles # 1

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.



“Mom was still trying to soothe him. Thank goodness she’d managed to disarm him before we’d left the house. Usually he carried guns, knives, and throwing stars whenever he dared to venture out.” – Finished Copy pg. 23

“No, they weren’t men, I realized they couldn’t be. They had sagging pockmarked skin and dirty, ripped clothing. Their hair hung in clumps on their spotted scalps, and their teeth…so sharp as they…fell upon my dad and disappeared inside him, only to reappear a second later and…and…eat him. Monsters.” – Finished Copy pg. 29

“I would never mention the fact that my mom had been in the car when I first opened my eyes after passing out. But the next time I’d opened them? Her body had been outside the car, the headlights spotlighting her just as they’d spotlighted my dad, her body jerking and writing as the things dove inside her, disappearing for endless seconds before coming back up for air. Her skin had bubbled up, as if burned and turned black, before finally splitting open and welling with blood.” – Finished Copy pg. 33

“Only a single beat of silence this time. Then he uttered one word. Just one. But that one word forever changed my life, as feared. ‘Zombies.’” – Finished Copy pg. 175
 
 
This book would have been the perfect read for Halloween. I am so upset that I didn’t get to it sooner, but review books come first! Alice Bell’s story is one that I am sure just about anybody would not want to miss. Her dad, whom she believes to be crazy, warns her of what lurks in the shadows at night, but Alice is tired of being inside by five in the evening and never journeying out anywhere with her family outside of their home. Until one night, when her entire life changes forever and she finally realizes that her father was not so crazy after all.
 
At the start of this book I thought to myself that Alice Bell was not the ideal for fighting zombies. Boy, was I ever wrong! Alice turned out to be one awesome heroine that I cannot wait to read more about. In the beginning of the book she just seemed like an awkward and misunderstood teenager, but as the book progressed I began to see a girl on the road to revenge. I liked it! Alice’s story is creepy and eerie and sometimes the way she describes things just send chills up my spine. She is one of those girls without a weak stomach, which she would about to have to be as strong as they come after everything she has recently witnessed. This is a heroine with some tough skin.
 
Let’s talk love interests! Oh boy, were they ever juicy in this book! Cole Holland was mysterious and a little bad boyish! Ok, a lot bad boyish! There is a possible love triangle, but I don’t want to get too in depth into this because it could give away important parts of the story.  I just want to talk about Cole. He is the leader of the bad boy club and a zombie fighting machine! I kept trying to picture him in my head and I believe that he and Alice would fit quite nicely together. The “love” scenes in this book are not overdone but actually keep you guessing for more. Cole is a little stand offish when it comes to Alice and another girl, Mackenzie, who brings out Alice’s jealous tendencies. Some rather intense scenes take place where some not so nice words are thrown around over these girl’s affections towards Cole. I know, I know let’s not get carried away, girls. But, trust me; Cole Holland is worth fighting over.
 
This was my first read by Gena Showalter and I am anxiously awaiting more from her. I think at this point that I would try any genre that she wrote because from this book she made me feel eerie, scared, made me laugh, and made me question the existence of zombies when I go out at night. Seriously, I was looking around corners and up alleys! I highly recommend this book anytime of the year, not just Halloween!
 


Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: Meet Me Under The Mistletoe

Author: Abby Clements
Publication Date: October 25, 2012
Publisher: Quercus

Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel's lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Laurie is living in London and dedicated to her career, keeping track of her friends on Facebook. Rachel is seemingly living the family idyll in a cottage in Yorkshire - except she worries her marriage is starting to show cracks. When Rachel's mother in law falls ill and needs treatment in London, and Laurie decides she needs to get away for a break, a house swap falls into place. Soon Rachel is braving the mean streets of London while trying to keep her family together, while Laurie tries to figure out how to work an Aga and befriend the locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home in time for Christmas?
 
“Rachel took in the proposal. A house swap – she knew a couple of friends who’d arranged holidays that way and swore by it. It wasn’t a bad idea – she and the kids would be able to come and go as they wanted, visiting the hospital, without being in anyone’s way. For the few days Aiden was in Skipley he could stay at Bea’s, leaving the cottage free for Laurie.” – Finished Copy pg. 52
 
“Laurie laughed too, in spite of herself – their parallel love droughts had gone on for over a year, and they’d shared every step. They’d both kissed enough frogs in their twenties – and in their mid-thirties were looking for something more – but the quality and quantity of available men seemed to have dropped through the floor.” – Finished Copy pg. 41
 
“She put on a CD and went over to light the fire. After a little while the small flames on the logs flickered into life, and Laurie settled down at the kitchen table with a doorstep sandwich laden with Stilton. Things in Skipley were definitely looking up.” – Finished Copy pg. 208

My immediate thought after reading was that this book reminded me of the movie called “The Holiday” starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Jude Law. Two strangers who desperately need a break from their daily lives end up swapping houses and lifestyles for a few days. Only in this book the switch happens between two long lost friends whose lives have taken some unexpected turns. One of the friends, Rachel, is a mother to two children and needs some medical answers and relief for her mother-in-law, Bea. The other friend, Laurie, is a high end fashion designer who has recently lost her touch and possibly her heart. This story is set with a holiday theme in mind, and that makes it all the more enchanting.

I loved reading about Rachel and Laurie and how they each adjusted to the other's home and everything that essentially came with it, including Rachel and Laurie’s variety of eccentric, yet warm neighbors. At the start of the novel I could tell that each of the characters were in their own little rut and needed a pick me up. I saw two different characters by the end of the novel and was really happy that a change of scenery and a new cast of characters could help each woman mend what needed mending. The chapters do countdown to Christmas, and lots of warm holiday festivities take place closer to the end. I can’t tell you how pleased I was that this story was set around Christmas because I just don’t think that it would have read the same being set in a different season.

I have to admit that I was Team Laurie. I don’t know why but I just liked her chapters better and I felt that I could really relate to her, but I still loved Rachel and her enormous love for her family. I was just rooting for Laurie to find love or some type of happiness that could help keep her mind off Jay (heartbreaker) and help get her career back on track. She was a big city kind of gal and much more accustomed to the fast paced lifestyle. I love books like this one where I feel really, really connected to one character. I think this shows the author’s ability to write to all different types of personalities.

This book really helped to build my Christmas spirit and really set the mood for the upcoming holiday. I fell in love with all of the characters and honestly reading this book was like taking a mini break for myself. I enjoyed following them all of their brief holidays away from home!

***Many thanks to Lucy, at Quercus, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***








Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Miss Fortune Cookie

Author: Lauren Bjorkman
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR

Meet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.

It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.

What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life.
 
“Sincere lies keep everyone happy.” – Finished Copy pg. 2
 
“When I started Miss Fortune Cookie freshman year, I had a serious shyness problem. Like every time a teacher called on me I’d blush, whether I knew the answer or not. Things had improved since then, but I still didn’t want to go public.” – Finished Copy pg. 12
 
Erin + Cute boys = Inevitable + Disaster.” – Finished Copy pg. 25
 
“Then again, the probability of Harvard, Princeton, or Brown admitting me was so minuscule, a person would need a microscope to see it.” – Finished Copy pg. 31
 
“Though I already knew I wasn’t Chinese, that afternoon was the first time I considered myself as different and apart from my community. After that, I spent too many weekends staring into a hand mirror at my Irish nose, freckles, and annoyingly bright hair, until I threw the loathsome thing out the window. Luckily, I didn’t believe in seven years’ bad luck.” – Finished Copy pg. 35
Miss Fortune Cookie was a phenomenal book that takes a look at a different culture, friendship, and the road to adulthood. Erin Kavanagh runs a blog under the pseudonym of Miss Fortune Cookie. Her blog is like an advice column where people write in with their random issues and concerns and Erin, secretly, gives them advice mostly in the form of proverbs that one would read in a fortune cookie. Erin is just your normal, average high school girl until she reaches her senior year and her friendships start to change, she starts applying to some big name colleges, and she has a crush. What?!
 
The thing that I loved most about this book was actually the Chinese culture that was incorporated. Erin was, of course, not Chinese but some of her closest friends were, and I believe that she began to strongly identify with that culture. I also think that within her community and school district the Chinese ethnicity was rather rampant as well. I loved how much I learned about the Chinese culture and even though most of it was humorous it was still pretty informational.
 
The fact that Erin ran a blog just made this book all the more relatable and completely understandable for me, obviously! I loved how much passion she had for her blog and how much confidence and voice that blog gave her. She started to feel important and like people were starting to care what she had to say, and that can be a pretty amazing feeling. Erin had aspirations to have an advice column of her own one day, and I think her blog was a great start towards that. It really showed me that the character had goals and dreams. Erin was pretty brainy and I am not going to lie, I wrote down many of her words of advice and many of her fortune cookie sayings. I would read the book again just for that.
 
Erin is facing a difficult time in her life because it is time to start thinking about college and possibly being separated from her friends. I was so impressed with Erin because by the end of the book she has really changed and grew as a person and a character. I could tell that Erin was a follower from the first page, and she had a hard time telling people things that they didn’t want to hear. Ironic for someone running an advice blog, I know. Erin was struggling to define herself as a person, and I wondered at times if her friendships would bring her down. However, they did not. I will let you figure out all the juicy details for yourselves. Just keep in mind that Erin may surprise you with some of her actions towards the end!
 
***I was graciously provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review***



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