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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, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Bad Hair Day

Author: Carrie Harris
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: Kate Grable # 2

Senior year is positively hair-raising.

Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school’s pre-med program. Except when he’s arrested for murder, she’s left with the bodies. And when Kate’s brother Jonah stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, she realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone’s murdering kids—something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.

Is it werewolf awesomeness like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate’s supposed to be a butt-kicking zombie killing genius...but if she can’t figure out who’s behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what’s left of them—are going to keep piling up.

It’s scary. It’s twisted. It’s sick. It’s high school
.
 
 
“The freshman elbowed his buddies before putting his back pack on his head and staggering around with his arms out-stretched. They laughed so hard I thought they’d burst something. Some people thought the zombie virus was hilarious. Obviously they hadn’t seen the victims; my boyfriend’s best friend was still in assisted living. Brain damage. So I didn’t think it was all that funny when zombie boy staggered over and accidentally grabbed my breasts, one in each hand. And when I say accidentally, I really mean on purpose.” – Hardback Copy pg. 2

 
“Aaron snorted. ‘You don’t need anyone to rescue you from anything, Kate.’” – Hardback Copy pg. 5

 
“‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’ll be completely honest with you, Kate. I’m not in surgery. The surgeons tried to claim you based on your…ahem…clearly stated preferences. But I haven’t had a student in two years, so I got first pick. I’d be honored to work with the girl who cured the zombie virus.’” – Hardback Copy pg. 10

 
“I swear I wasn’t being egotistical. It’s just that I was the infamous zombie girl, and I’d resigned myself to the notoriety. People recognized me in the bathroom at restaurants these days, for god’s sake. It just figured that my reputation failed me the one time I actually could have benefited from it.” – Hardback Copy pg. 16

 
“She led me into the so-called jousting room. The body was impossible to miss, because it was smeared across most of the floor. One look and my stomach threatened to rebel.  Yeah, I’d seen dead bodies before, but it didn’t mean I had to like it.” – Hardback Copy pg. 43

 
“Unfortunately, the rest of the body wasn’t so pristine. From the neck down, there was an explosion of gore and coconut bits. I was never buying an Almond Joy again.” – Hardback Copy pg. 46


This is the second book in the Kate Grable series and I must say that I expected to enjoy it a little more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, there were aspects of this book that I greatly enjoyed, but I expected to love it all. Our story once again focuses around Kate Grable as she defeats the supernatural. In the first book, Kate develops the remedy to cure the zombie curse. Kate develops quite a name for herself in the first book and is returning for more in book number two. Only in this book, she is fighting a whole different evil. The question is, what is it?!

Let’s start with what I didn’t like about this book first. I like the idea of Kate having a boyfriend and I like Aaron’s character for the most part, but Kate became a little too obsessed for my liking. A new girl steps on the scene named Elle, who has her sights equally set on Aaron. By the end of the book Kate had stopped going on so much about Aaron and Elle, but at first I found it rather annoying. It’s just all too predictable to me and I think it could have been cut out, especially because Elle was such a clichéd character. I mean come on, give us something different here! I am here to read about zombies and werewolves, not a silly and rather immature teenage girl who is trying to move in on another girl’s guy.

Now I am going to sandwich in the good things about this novel. Carrie Harris’ writing is always fast, smooth and very easy to breeze through. This is always important to me because I like being able to get through a book at a steady pace. I can honestly say that with Carrie’s books I seldom get bored and she keeps me in the action, front and center at all times. Carrie’s witticism came out through Kate and many of Kate’s one liners had me dying laughing. This is one of those stories that most anyone would probably breeze through and should be a fairly quick read for anyone.

Kate wasn’t necessarily a character that I connected directly to, but I am by no means saying that this is a bad thing. I mean she does fight zombies and werewolves with a passion, so I am glad that I don’t personally connect to her. Kate is witty, smart, and sometimes cynical, but I love her character and she is easy to follow. I love the almost sarcastic voice that Carrie has written for Kate. I usually hate science and any talk of anything medical, but because Kate has such a passion for it I think I was able to actually enjoy those parts of the book. The werewolves were a nice twist on the typical werewolves, but I don’t want to spoil that aspect for readers!

This book was enjoyable, but not as much as the first book in the series. I wanted to really love this book and instead I only liked it. I would still recommend this book to readers who like to pick up incredibly fast and easy reads. Also if you enjoy any part of science then you may really enjoy this book!

***A big thank you to the publishers at Delacorte Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***







Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: A Change of Fortune

Author: Jen Turano
Publication Date: November 1, 2012
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Series: Ladies of Distinction # 1

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. Her fortune was the last thing she had left after losing her father, her fiancé, and her faith. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Mr. Hamilton Beckett, much to his chagrin, is the catch of the season, and all the eyes of New York society—all the female ones, at least—are on him. He has no plans to marry again, especially since his hands are full keeping his business afloat while raising his two children alone.

Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune unexpectedly put her right in Hamilton's path. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces and, before she knows it, Eliza has a whole retinue of people helping her. Eliza's determination not to trust anyone weakens when everyone's antics and bumbling efforts to assist her make her wonder if there might be more important things than her fortune and independence.

When all of Hamilton's and Eliza's best-laid plans fall by the wayside, it will take a riot of complications for them to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.
 
“Heat seared through Eliza at his touch. She’d had her hand kissed numerous times before, but not once had a simple grazing of a gentleman’s lips against her knuckles caused her to react this way. She tugged her hand out of his grasp, mumbled one last ‘good evening,’ and stepped away from the table, this last action causing the remainder of her bindings to roll down her legs. Gathering what little dignity she had left, she turned and moved as quickly as she could out of the room.” – Paperback Copy pg. 34

“The conversation was turning tricky. Eliza knew it wouldn’t be prudent to blithely admit she’d assumed a disguise in order to perpetuate a fraud, especially as she was currently a governess to Agatha’s sisters. ‘I didn’t care to attract unwanted attention from my employer,’ she settled on saying.” – Paperback Copy pg. 40

“She really needed to be more careful with what she let slip. ‘My father died of a long illness, and I prefer not to speak of my ex-fiancé, as the gentleman turned out to be nothing but a cad.’” – Paperback Copy pg. 44

“Eliza didn’t have the strength to tug her hand out of Hamilton’s grasp. There was something decidedly comforting about having his warmth seep through her skin, and even though she was still incredibly put out with the gentleman, she wasn’t prepared to abandon his comfort just yet.” – Paperback Copy pg. 219
 
Lady Eliza Sumner has just lost her family, her fiancé, and her family’s entire fortune. So she decides to do the only rational thing and travel across the ocean from Europe to New York City in order to track down the thief that stole it from her. She abandons her title, her aristocracy, and her good name and lands a job as a governess to two young, beautiful girls in hopes that she can get closer to the fraud that took her family’s name and virtue. Eliza doesn’t expect all the trouble and mayhem that are in store for her, and neither does she expect to hold the favor of Mr. Hamilton Beckett.
 
Eliza Sumner had guts, lots of them. She was such an inspiring character to follow. She traveled all the way to America, after having lost her family and her fortune and finding out that her fiancé was nothing more than a gold digger, just to reclaim what was rightfully hers. She has no idea how she is going to do it, but she is determined to find a way. I loved her quirky nature. She was not described as being the most beautiful maiden in all the world, but she seems smart and witty, almost like a Nancy Drew type character. Not to mention she tends to land herself in trouble more than a few times. I laughed with embarrassment for her at times and nodded my head in appreciation of her witty remarks at others. Just from the cover of the book I knew that our heroine would be a ball of fire!
 
Eliza and Hamilton’s relationship was perfect for me. It came around slowly but the spark was there from the very start. I knew right away that they would be the perfect match. Personally I like it when the heroine is a little stubborn and doesn’t give in to any male that lies down at her feet so easily. Eliza makes Hamilton ponder the situation and ponder Eliza’s intentions. I really enjoyed watching them develop and all the twists and turns that came along with that. Eliza had her sights set on regaining her father’s fortune and she didn’t let Hamilton stand in the way of that. I have to say that I admire that trait in any heroine.
 
Agatha, although not the main character, provided me lots of belly laughter. She was such an unlikely sidekick for Eliza and at first I honestly had my doubts about her, but when I found out that she carried a pistol with her at all times I changed my mind instantly. She was just such a finicky character and had some unusual ways about her, and I believe that this is what made her my favorite character out of the bunch! She also had some great one-liners, and I do enjoy those the best.
 
This was an awesome debut and an awesome start to a new series which I will be sure to follow to the end!
 
***A huge thank you to the publishers at Bethany House for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***
 
 


Stacking The Shelves (19)



Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews, in which we share the books that we have bought, received, or borrowed from the previous week!



  • Books Mentioned
Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters | Goodreads
The Vincent Boys | Goodreads
The Vincent Brothers | Goodreads
Delusion | Goodreads
Victoria Rebels | Goodreads
The Painted Girls | Goodreads
Cinders & Sapphires | Goodreads
Mistress of my Fate | Goodreads
The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow | Goodreads
Finding June | Goodreads

Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Review: The Ingredients of Love

Author: Nicholas Barreau
Publication Date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

 A charming restaurant

A book and its mysterious author

A little secret

A romantic meeting

Paris and all its magic . . .

Cyrano de Bergerac meets Chocolat and Amélie in this intelligent, charming, and entertaining publishing sensation from Europe.
While in the midst of a breakup-induced depression, Aurélie Bredin, a beautiful Parisian restaurateur, discovers an astonishing novel in a quaint bookshop on the Ile Saint-Louis. Inexplicably, her restaurant and Aurélie herself are featured in its pages. After reading the whole book in one night, she realizes it has saved her life—and she wishes more than anything to meet its author. Aurélie’s attempts to contact the attractive but shy English author through his French publishers are blocked by the company’s gruff chief editor, André, who only with great reluctance forwards Aurélie’s enthusiastic letter. But Aurélie refuses to give up. One day, a response from the reclusive author actually lands in her mailbox, but the encounter that eventually takes place is completely different from what she had ever imagined. . . . Filled with books, recipes, and characters that leap off the page, The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau is a tribute to the City of Light
.

“During the day we both went our own ways. I was never quite sure what Claude did in the evenings when I was working in the restaurant. Perhaps I just didn’t want to know. But at night, when loneliness descended over Paris, when the last bars had closed and only a few night owls walked shivering on the streets, I lay in his arms and felt safe.” – Paperback Copy pg. 7

“Bernadette’s apartment is full of books. They sit around in tall bookshelves that stretch over the door frames, they lie around on dining tables, desks, coffee tables, and bedside tables, and even in the bathroom I discovered to my amazement a few books lying on a small table next to the toilet.” – Paperback Copy pg. 15

“If I’d read this story in a novel, I would have found it highly amusing. If you yourself have to play the comic hero in the story, it’s no longer quite so funny.” – Paperback Copy pg. 94

“Whenever I saw the Eiffel Tower thrusting so bold and indestructible into the Paris sky, I would think proudly of my great-grandfather, an engineer and prolific inventor who had been involved in the construction of that impressive monument of iron and steel.” – Paperback Copy pg. 117


The Eiffel Tower sold me. Sadly the story line did not. Aurélie, a beautiful Parisian restaurateur, has just been dumped by her long-time serious boyfriend, Claude. In order to overcome the recent depression, set in by the break-up, Aurélie begins wandering the streets hoping that anything can take her mind off Claude. Conveniently she stumbles into a quaint little book store and finds a book that immediately catches her eye. She takes it home and reads it all the way through in one night, proclaiming that it has changed her life. She comes to the conclusion that she must meet the author and let her know just how much he has helped her come through this devastating time in her life.

Okay, so to be honest I thought that they storyline had some massive potential, but it just seemed like everything fell into place too quickly. There were a lot of convenient moments when I found myself saying, out loud, that was convenient! When Aurélie meets the author, Andre, it seemed to cliché to me as well. I mean he meets her one time and falls in love with her and wants to marry her etc. This just really bothered me and I am not sure if it was just the character development that bothered me so much or how they came across to me, as the reader. Aurélie seemed immature at times and Andre was almost too perfect. I wanted some crazy twist in the story, but after they met it was pretty much uphill for them for the most part. Everything was just incredibly predictable, to the degree that I almost wanted to put down the book.

Not all parts of this book did I dislike. I loved Paris, as I always do, and I thought the description and detail of the city was amazing. I loved exploring the sights alongside Aurélie and Andre, and my favorite part is to experience a place as magnificent as Paris in the way that the characters do. Their reaction to the scenery, places, and people that they come into contact with is the best part about reading a far off destination like this one. Paris stood out to me more than the characters or the story line, and I would say that this is a pretty significant problem. Next week I won’t remember Aurélie or Andre, but I will remember the beauty that Barreau described to be Paris!

***A big thank you to the publishers at St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***







Book Review: The Farm

Author: Emily McKay
Publication Date: December 4, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Series: The Farm # 1

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...


“Guess I should have led with that. The phrase ‘Red rover, red rover’ was our code for the plan to escape the Farm and cross the Red River. That was one of the benefits of having a sister who spoke almost entirely in nursery rhymes. Most of the time, I hated that living on the Farm had made her regress to how she’d been as a child, but at least it meant we could discuss our escape plans anywhere and no one would know what ‘red rover’ meant.” – Paperback Copy pg. 3

“Back in the Before, the Farm had been a prestigious private liberal arts college. For more than a hundred years, the college had sat nestled against the banks of the Red River, just south of Texas-Oklahoma border, home to pampered students. The admin building dominated the east side of the campus. Whatever its purpose had been back in the Before, now…now, it just creeped me out. The real monster might be on the other side of the fence, but sometimes, horrible noises came from the admin building and the shadows at the windows seemed to move with inhuman speed.” – Paperback Copy pg. 5

“I sucked in my breath at his smile, faint though it was. People didn’t smile much on the Farm – not Greens anyway – and I’d completely forgotten that warm fluttering feeling a smile could give you.” – Paperback Copy pg. 40

“He was going to have to handle the next few days very carefully. If she knew why he was really here and what he really wanted from her…if she knew he was playing her, she’d probably slit his throat in the night. For the first time in his life, his motives were selfless and noble – he was trying to save the world, for cripe’s sake – but since saving the world involved manipulating Lily, he didn’t think it would win him any points with her.” – Paperback Copy pg. 52

“Though, in Carter’s defense, she’d been trying to kill him and he’d been doing his damnedest not to actually hurt her, because if he was right and Lily Price was the key to defeating the Ticks, he sure as hell didn’t want to be the one to accidentally kill the savior of all humanity.” – Paperback Copy pg. 53

Lily and Melanie Price are sisters, twins actually, who have been living on the Farm for months now and they are faced with the fear of death and punishment every day. No one really has the answers for what happens outside the wall of the Farm, but Lily Price only knows one thing – she wants out. Things were always like they are now for the Price sisters and Lily knows that with their eighteenth birthday approaching, they must act fast. Lily suspects that when you turn eighteen you are fed to the Ticks, even though they have always been told they will be released when they come of age. Lily devises a well thought out plan to help them escape and everything is running smoothly, until Carter, a boy that Lily remembers from the Before, shows up and puts a dagger in her plans.

What I loved most about this book was the point of view switch. While reading, you will be given Carter, Melanie, and Lily’s point of views. I like being inside of each of these character’s minds because they are all thinking things that they are too scared to share with the others. And the best part is that they don’t share all of their secrets all at once, you really have to keep reading to get all the juicy details. Carter’s character was probably my favorite just because of how mysterious and mischievous he was. I am not going to give all Carter’s secrets away, but I will tell you that they are worth reading about.

Melanie’s character was written perfectly, just like someone with an autism spectrum disorder would be. Her chapters were usually short and almost lyrical because of her tendency to speak only in nursery rhymes. This small detail made Melanie real for me. She was extremely dependent on Lily, which I completely expected. Her character was intriguing and I almost wanted to see more and hear more from her. Lily was everything that I expected her to be. She was the alpha and would do anything to get herself and her sister out of the Farm and away from the Ticks. She was the protective one and she almost reminded me of Katniss. No, actually she did remind me of Katniss. A lot! I love that role and I think Lily’s character was executed perfectly as well.

The last thing that I am going to comment on will have to be the world building. Emily McKay took vampires, which I am starting to tire of but only if they are written in the light of Edward Cullen, and made them freaking fascinating. The Farm and the Before were written so that I could feel them and see them. I felt like I had stepped into an extremely dark underworld while reading about the Farm, and at times chills journeyed up my back. I mean, honestly, this is not a place you want to be. She also explored the Ticks without writing them too terrifying. For example, when Lily sees the Collabs tying a young girl to a post outside the Farm, she knows what will happen to her; however, the way she talks about it is almost nonchalant and expectant. After awhile you just get used to things.

***Thank you to the publishers at Berkley Trade for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***







Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: For What It's Worth

Author: Karey White
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Cedar Fort

Twenty-four year-old, Abby Benson has dreams of owning her own wedding cake shop. An inheritance from her aunt gives her the ability to make those dreams come true. She hires Dane, a handsome contractor, to help her get the bakery up and running and soon they’re moving toward their own happy ending.

Unsure what to charge for her cakes, Abby has a crazy idea to let the customers decide what they think their cake is worth. This plan has its ups and downs, but the novelty of the idea makes her a local celebrity. When she is interviewed on television about the unusual idea, business booms and Abby has cake adventures she never dreamed possible. But as her fame grows, Abby is swept up in a whirlwind that threatens everything she values. With the challenges that face her, will she be able to determine what is worth the most
?

“Of course Aunt Grace knew of my dream. I’d been fourteen the first time I told her. She’d been sitting at the kitchen table grading papers while I baked a batch of her favorite cookies – snickerdoodles. They weren’t my favorite cookies to make – they don’t have any chocolate – but when Aunt Grace came to visit, she’d leave disappointed if she couldn’t take home a little bag of ‘heaven rolled in cinnamon and sugar.’” – Paperback Copy pg. 4

“I love romance. Nothing makes me swoon like a good love story. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are old friends, and by the age of fourteen, I’d lived through Scarlett and Rhett’s turbulent romance three times – all 1,307 pages of it, although the third time through I skipped all the boring Ashley and Frank parts and beelined it to the Rhett parts. My favorite movie scene is in Say Anything. My heart turned to mush when Lloyd Dobler stood outside Diane Court’s house, boombox held high above his head in a desperate effort to win her back. I still can’t understand how Diane could possibly turn away and ignore a gesture that romantic? I’d have leaped out the window into his arms.” – Paperback Copy pg. 5

“The bookshelf filled with all that cake experience calmed my fears. At least for a little while. At the bottom of the box was my tattered copy of Gone with the Wind. I put it on the shelf with the wedding cake books and magazines and made a mental note that I need to expand my library beyond cake.” – Paperback Copy pg. 11

“My notebook filled up with more lists – things to do, things to purchase, cake designs. I almost needed a list to keep track of my lists. I opened to the first to-do list and looked it over. It made me feel satisfied to see lines through several of the items.” – Paperback Copy pg. 23

“I’d expected to feel anxious on the day of my first cake, but instead I felt calm and relaxed. The bride had chosen a different flavor for each of the three tiers. I was unhurried and precise as I baked and assembled the cake. After the layers had cooled, I circled the top of each cake with a wide band of buttercream icing. I filled the layers of the lemon cream tier with a Bavarian cream pudding and fresh raspberries and topped it with another layer. A quick crumb coat and the first tier was in the cooler.” – Paperback Copy pg. 58

“That afternoon, my mind was in New York City as my hands cut and painted little fondant squares for a mosaic tile cake.” – Paperback Copy pg. 102

 

This book deserves every bit of the five pink cupcakes that it has received! I saw the cover of this book and immediately knew that the story behind it would be unmistakably charming; I was right! This story follows Abby Benson, whose Aunt Grace has just passed away and in her will has left Abby with enough money to achieve her biggest dream; own a wedding cake shop. When faced with one of the grandest decisions of her life Abby is hesitant and speechless, but with the persuasion and help of her family she decides to make her dream a reality.

There was honestly not one single aspect of this book that I did not love entirely. From the characters, the setting, the cakes, and the romance, I was pleased with all of it. Abby Benson was a phenomenal character and I loved her from the very first page, mainly because I found it extremely easy to connect with her. She was a very precise and on point kind of person. She had lists, lists, and more lists and this is pretty much how I survive every day. But seeing her in her bakery for the first time was when I really connected with her. She was just so passionate about what she loved to do. When she started preparing and talking about her creations it was like her character just lifted right off the page. It is wonderful to see a character in their favorite environment and it is so easy to love Miss Abby Benson and her beautiful wedding cakes.

What I loved most about this story was how the title tied in with the plot. When Abby first opens her bakery she realizes that she is going to have to set her prices. Only she comes up with a better idea. She decides that she will allow her customers to set their own prices. Yes, you heard me. She will bake a cake, leave an invoice, and then they can pay her however much they believe their cake was worth. Abby knows that she will not always receive the payments that she probably deserves, but it is a risk that she is willing to take. Not only does this title, For What It’s Worth, apply to Abby’s wedding cakes, but it also applies to other areas of her life as she finds love and learns to love in return. The whole entire story was perfectly tied in by the end.

Dane was Abby’s love interest in this book and he first started as her handyman. Their relationship was like the buttercream on Abby’s cakes: soft, creamy, and delectable. I loved how patient and gentle he was with Abby and he completely supported her business endeavors. Their relationship started slow and easy and eventually picked up as the story progressed. It was really great to see their relationship grow alongside of Abby’s new business as well!

A cute little side note: at the start of each new chapter is an awesome recipe from Abby’s collection! I love tiny details like this one.

***Thank you to the publishers and Karey White for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***






Book Review: The Chocolate Kiss

Author: Laura Florand
Publication Date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: Brava
Series: Chocolate # 2

The Heart of Paris

Welcome to La Maison des Sorcieres. Where the window display is an enchanted forest of sweets, a collection of conical hats delights the eye and the habitues nibble chocolate witches from fanciful mismatched china. While in their tiny blue kitchen, Magalie Chaudron and her two aunts stir wishes into bubbling pots of heavenly chocolat chaud.

But no amount of wishing will rid them of interloper Philippe Lyonnais, who has the gall to open one of his world famous pastry shops right down the street. Philippe’s creations seem to hold a magic of their own, drawing crowds of beautiful women to their little isle amidst the Seine, and tempting even Magalie to venture out of her ivory tower and take a chance, a taste…a kiss.

Parisian princesses, chocolate witches, patissier princes and sweet wishes—an enchanting tale of amour et chocolat
.

“And Magalie Chaudron, stirring chocolate in the tea shop’s blue kitchen, felt smug to be tucked into the heart and soul of all this warmth, not wandering the wet streets searching for a home.” – ARC Copy pg. 1

“She spoke the word macarons lovingly, the way any Parisian would. Bearing no resemblance to the chewy, coconut-filled American macaroon, the heavenly sandwiches of air and lusciousness that were the Parisian macaron were the test of a pastry chef’s quality. And, according to all reports, Philippe Lyonnais did them better than anyone else in the world.” – ARC Copy pg. 11   

“He saw her at that lift of her chin. Caught in mid-laughter, his blue eyes sparkled merrily as they met hers. His eyebrows went up, and he grabbed a towel to wipe off the apricot cream. His gaze ran over her once and then focused back on her face – and focused intently. Alive. She recognized the look. She had met males who thought to pursue her before. Quite a lot since she had moved to Paris, in fact.” – ARC Copy pg. 23

“‘Chocolate does what I want it to,’ she said crisply, and she turned to finally walk past him.” – ARC Copy pg. 127


Paris, a quaint and cozy chocolate shop, and a dreamy, charismatic Frenchmen…what else could you ask for in a novel? Magalie has been working on perfecting the art of chocolate making since she was a young girl and alongside the help of her aunts she has made a name for herself among the Parisian streets where chocolate is a delicacy. Everything is all buttercream and icing in Magalie’s world until a new pastry shop opens and threatens to steal some of her business away. Not to mention the owner of the new shop is Philippe Lyonnais, the most famous pastry chef around. Magalie is determined to do anything to keep him from opening his shop on her street. She doesn’t expect her mission to be so impossible, however. Philippe is not ready or willing to back down and he may have something else in mind when it comes to our sweet, precocious Magalie!

One of my favorite settings to read about is of course, Paris. What is more romantic that Paris? Throw in a chocolate shop and a lover’s quarrel and we have a deal. The setting kept me entranced throughout the entire book. When you are constantly reading about the aromas and scents drifting out onto the streets you cannot help but lick your lips in envy of the Parisians on the street. Magalie and Philippe were constantly whipping up a new creation and Laura goes into so much detail with each new concoction that these two bring out of the kitchen. Chocolate is often said to be an aphrodisiac and it truly brings the romance to life in this story. Listening to Philippe talk about his pastries and macarons was enough to make even me go weak in the knees. And everyone knows that things always tend to get a little heated in the kitchen!

This is of course the second book in this series and if you haven’t read Laura Florand before I highly suggest that you pick up the first book in the series because it is as equally enchanting and tantalizing as this one. Her characters are enjoyable and yet have the tendency to make you want to scream at times as well. Just like Philippe and Magalie. Philippe was a phenomenal character because of his ability to make me despise him one minute and then find him utterly charming the next. And the tension between Philippe and Magalie is to die for! I couldn’t have asked for more intense and realistic romantic encounters between our two main characters. A competition over whose chocolate and pastries is good enough to be deemed the best is a wonderful way to bring two people together and it made for a sweet, charming read.

***A HUGE thank you to the publishers at Kensington/Brava for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***












Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review: Sealed With A Curse

Author: Cecy Robson
Publication Date: December 31, 2012
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Series: Weird Girls # 1

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird…

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region—until one of them blows up a vampire in self-defense. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust-fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy—or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it’s coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough
.

“I glanced over, expecting him to take offense. Instead, he gave me a small nod and a wide, wicked grin. Either I’d impressed him with my backbone or my backside. Regardless, no way would I allow him to take a chunk out of me.” – Paperback Copy pg. 16

“The vampires greeted us on the steps of the mansion, standing at parade rest. Black cargo pants covered their muscular legs. Fine-gauge sweaters of black silk tightened over their powerful biceps, triceps, and abdominals. Combat boots sheathed their feet. These vicious creatures of the night looked dressed to maim, maul, murder.” – Paperback Copy pg. 133

“Infected vampires popped up from behind bushes, trees, the barn, and its rooftop, barely covered by the torn, blood-smeared rags they wore. Sickly glowing green eyes sparkled with gluttony as they fixed on me. Tongues flickered with growing anticipation. Twisted smiles spread across eager, jagged mouths. And Celia Wird just about peed.” – Paperback Copy pg. 154

“The hell it’s not. We killed the bloodlusters. Time to take our toys and go home.” – Paperback Copy pg. 156

 
I am slowly but surely adding paranormal/urban fantasy into my canon of genres to read! My avid readers know that I love stories that revolve around the relationship among sisters, and this new series by Cecy Robson fits both of those categories. This is a story about four sisters, the Wird sisters or better known as “weird,” and the curse that has been bestowed upon them since birth. The novel follows them as they defeat and destroy bloodlusters and other creepy supernatural beings that have no business messing around town. Each sister has her own gift or power that allows her to easily defend, help, and protect the others in combat. To sum everything up all you need to know is that these sisters are the most kick-butt team you will find!

The action in this book is like a volcano erupting. It was constant from the very first chapter. I tried to pull a few quotes out above to demonstrate just how action packed this book was. There is not one dull moment with Celia Wird and her sisters. I don’t know if I believe they find trouble or trouble finds them, I think probably the latter. Every time one of the sisters was attacked or attacked someone Cecy puts her readers right there in the action as well. I felt like I had a front row seat and my 3D movie glasses on. I think it was so easy for me to follow the action because of the awesome abilities and moves these girls use. They are prepared for every fight and their trash talk just adds the right amount of humor needed to make it feel real!

I know this was supposed to be mainly Celia’s story, but I couldn’t help but love her sisters as well. Each of their personalities were developed so well, not only Celia’s. I felt like this was very necessary so that I, as the reader, could understand how they work as a family. Just after the first few pages I could tell that Emme was the quiet, Celia was the alpha, and Taran was the one with the saucy attitude that you didn’t want to cross. I felt much more connected to the story and I LOVE how each girl has her own unique spark and qualities that set her aside from her sisters. This makes the story easy to follow and I immediately start trying to decide which sister I am most like. The bond between sisters is one that you only understand if you actually have a sister, and I really thought that the family dynamics were played up really well in this story because it was obvious from the first page that none of these girls was going to let anyone mess with her sisters!

I would say that the paranormal aspects as well as the action were more apparent than the romance, but that is not to say that romance was not involved. It definitely was! Celia meets some pretty hunky supernatural dudes and I am dying to see what happens next in the romance department. This book had just the right amount of everything! I am going to try my best to wait until the summer when the next book in this awesome new series comes out!

***Thank you to the publishers at Signet Eclipse for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***

 





Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Once More With Feeling

Author: Megan Crane
Publication Date: December 6, 2012
Publisher: Quercus

She's suffered the very worst of betrayals. And now Sarah's facing a divorce she never expected. With Christmas around the corner, what better time to re-evaluate her life? As she reconsiders every choice she's made, she starts to wonder if her life was so perfect after all. This winter, lose yourself in Sarah's world of unmade decisions, lost friends and old flames...



We, we, we. I felt noble. I nodded along earnestly. He’d cheated on me, in my own bed, with my sister, and yet I sat at the tiny table too close to the busy kitchen and felt gracious. I’ll show him how reasonable and logical I am, I thought fiercely, as if our divorce were a competition and I could actually win it.” – Paperback Copy pg. 16

“I wanted to go home. I wanted that more than anything, with a yearning that seemed to sear right through me. But I didn’t want to maroon myself in that empty house of mine that sat up there on top of the hill – that monument to my completely fake life. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew it wasn’t that.” – Paperback Copy pg. 83

“He moved around the kitchen with that efficiency and grace that I discovered I still found entirely too attractive. I settled myself gingerly on one of the stools next to the granite counter at the kitchen island. He poured me a big mug of coffee and then slapped down a carton of hazelnut creamer beside it, without asking or even really looking at me. When he brought over his own mug and leaned against the counter across from me, he also slid a packet of sweetener and a spoon over my way.” – Paperback Copy pg. 204

“‘Friends don’t let friends cope with the aftermath of a cheating husband’s coma alone,’ Brooke said staunchly, as if she’d dealt with things like this so many times she’d put together some kind of Guide to Cheating Husbands and Comas. It made me smile to imagine it. As if it were a chapter in something she edited, and something brightly lit and fun, and maybe we would all go out for fruity cocktails afterward.” – Paperback Copy pg. 289

This book is one that you will want to grab a warm cup of cocoa and cuddle up with under a blanket for awhile. I read this book in one sitting and I purposefully saved it for close to the holidays. As I read this book I was hit with tons of emotions and I felt like I was facing a harsh winter storm with our main character, Sarah, who has just found out that her husband is cheating on her…with her sister. This book takes readers on a rocky roller coaster ride as we are with Sarah every step of the way, as she tries to put her life back in order.

I experienced Sarah’s tears, hurt, and happiness as it came to her, and I was pleased with how realistic she was as a character. She was fully developed and grew as a person after all the many events and happenings that she has to face in this novel. She lashed out at times and I really enjoyed this because who wouldn’t lash out after finding their husband sleeping with their sister? I know that I would. We walk through everything with Sarah, as the reader, and she welcomes us into her life as she struggles with some tough decisions, like confronting her ex-husband, Tim. I have read several other reviews as well and Sarah is all that people can talk about. She is a real person; someone that you can really picture in your mind and eventually becomes your best friend by the time the book is finished.

Megan Crane has constructed a very vibrant array of characters and has developed a wonderful supporting cast. She took a story/plot that I am sure many of us have read several times – divorce and its aftermath – and made it brand new. She brings all of her characters to life and gives them roles and characteristics that make them seem all the more real to the reader. I enjoyed this book so much because it really makes you re-evaluate your own life as well. Some of the thoughts and processes that Sarah goes through made me question if I am living my life to the fullest or if I could be doing more. Watching Sarah come through this awful time in her life, with the help of some great supporting characters, was very inspirational and very well written. I enjoyed each and every page of this book!

***Thank you to the author, Megan Crane, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***









Saturday, December 22, 2012

Book Review: Last Kiss Goodnight

Author: Gena Showalter
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books
Series: Otherworld Assassin # 1

The breathtaking first novel in New York Times best selling author Gena Showalter’s new paranormal romance series, Otherworld Assassins, featuring a black ops agent who is captured and enslaved…and the beautiful deaf girl who holds the key to his salvation…

THE SWEETEST TEMPTATION…

Black ops agent Solomon Judah awakens caged and bound in a twisted zoo where otherworlders are the main attraction. Vika Lukas, the owner’s daughter, is tasked with Solo’s care and feeding. The monster inside him yearns to kill her on sight, even though she holds the key to his escape. But the human side of him realizes the beautiful deaf girl is more than she seems—she’s his.

THE ULTIMATE PRICE…

Vika endures the captives’ taunts and loathing, hoping to keep them alive even if she can’t free them. Only, Solo is different—he protects her. But as hostility turns to forbidden romance, his feelings for her will be used against him…and he’ll be put to a killer test
.

“Whenever he experienced a surge of anger, Solo’s skin would darken to a frightening shade of crimson – the last color his enemies saw before dying horribly. His teeth would elongate into something far worse than fangs. His cheekbones would double in size and his ears would grow and develop sharp points at the end. Metallic claws would sprout from his nails.” – Paperback Copy pg. 13

“He was Allorian – a race the humans knew nothing about – and because of the power of the guardian given to him by his biological parents, he healed quickly.” – Paperback Copy pg. 25

“Vika walked to the supplies her father’s worker had left behind, never allowing herself to shift her gaze to study the lips of the otherworlders to discover what they were saying about her – and they were saying something, she knew they were, because she could feel the vibrations of their words against her skin. At times like this, she was almost grateful for her deafness.” – Paperback Copy pg. 49

“So. Moving on. Each of the different species bore different physical characteristics, as well as different innate abilities. Some Bree Lians could poison an enemy with their teeth and nails. Some Cortazes could teleport. Some Mecs could hypnotize with the changing colors of their skin. Some Terans could leap a mile in a single bound. But it was utterly impossible to know each and every one of the abilities these particular otherworlders possessed, which was why her father had gone black market and purchased slave bands.” – Paperback Copy pg. 51

“‘How wonderful,’ she replied in the driest tone she could manage. ‘My eighth death threat today. I’ll be sure to make a notation in my diary.’”  - Paperback Copy. 63
 

I am slowly sinking my teeth in Urban Fantasy and I find myself craving to read it more and more. I picked up Gena Showalter’s newest young adult book, Alice In Zombieland, a little over a month or so ago and I really really enjoyed it. This was the first book that I had ever read by Gena but I have heard wonderful things about her other works. This was a step out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad that I did it. This story involves an otherworlder, Solomon Judah, and the girl who is going to set him free, Vika Lukas. Vika’s father, Jecis owns a zoo of sorts where he displays these so called otherworlders for the general public to mock and criticize. Vika hates her father’s abusiveness and his cruelty towards her and the “animals” that he keeps locked away in his precious zoo. She lays eyes on Solomon, of Solo, and becomes bound and determined to set them all free, and hopefully escaping with them.

Vika’s character totally impressed me. Showalter writes a deaf girl who is under the brutal care of her vicious father, and yet the girl still manages to have some sort of compassion for the beasts that rebuke and condemn her every day. It is Vika’s job to take care of all of the otherworlders in her father’s zoo, and while I admired her, I hated her lack of backbone when it came to her father. But Vika is constantly beaten by her father and knows better than to leave the zoo for fear of the consequences she will face. I honestly hated reading scenes between Vika and her father, especially after I learned that he was the reason that she was deaf. Vika had a lot of courage and had to dig deep to wake up every day and face her father and his awful sidekick, Matas, who has asked for her hand in marriage. I was beginning to bite my nails about halfway through the book because I began to wonder if she was ever going to break free from these awful men.

This is where Solomon Judah comes in and saves the day. Solo has been known as an ugly beast his whole life and has been feared by everyone that he has ever come into contact with. That is until he meets Vika. Vika immediately finds a fascination in Solo despite his rather odd skin tone and the fact that he can sprout claws. Vika’s romantic interest in Solo is like seeing the sun after forty days and nights of pouring rain for her. Her life has been no boat ride and I was glad when she formed such an infatuation with Solo. Solo is a little rough around the edges and it took me a few chapters to understand his “alter egos,” I guess that is what you would call them. He had two tiny voices, X and Dr. E, throughout the book that spoke to him on a daily basis. I believe they were supposed to be shoulder angels, good and bad. I felt like there was a lot of Solo’s story that we weren’t getting and I hope to find out more soon.

The entire concept of a zoo for otherworlders was very dark and evil but was not written about in such a manner than it was too painful to read. Vika lightened the mood a lot of the time because of her good-natured spirit. Her father was just downright evil and would drug all of the human guests that attended his circus. It was just an awful place, but as evil and as narcissistic as the place was it was almost necessary in order for Vika and Solo’s love to bloom. They found each other in the most horrendous of circumstances and their love helps Vika realize that she really deserves more. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and this will be a series that I keep up with!

***Thank you to the publishers at Pocket Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***





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