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My name is Chelsey and I am the creator of Charming Chelsey's! I read and review anything and everything that I find to be "charming." I accept ARCs or already released books for review, and I'm also available to participate in any blog tours or book reveals too. If anything, please don't hesitate to email me any time for any reason at: charmingchelseys(at)gmail(dot)com

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: Emma In The Night

Emma in the NightAuthor: Wendy Walker
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.
 


“Sorry happens after something bad has happened, after people have let it happen. It had become contemptuous to me, all these I’m-so-sorries.”

"The truth can evade us, hiding behind out blind spots, our preconceptions, our hungry hearts that long for quiet. Still, it is always there if we open our eyes and try to see it. If we really try to see." 

 "Some people needed to believe I was dead because it was too hard to wonder." 

"Not knowing, not seeing, being deceived—it makes you question everything you have come to trust. It makes you doubt your own judgment, and the truths you have come to believe in, which sometimes are so deeply embedded, you don't even know they're there, shaping your thoughts."
This story was far more than I bargained for – but it an absolutely good way! The story starts with the return of Cass, one of the two Tanner sisters that disappeared three years prior to the opening of the book. The story is told from the perspectives of Cass and her psychologist, Dr. Abigail Winter. I found Dr. Winter’s perspective the most fascinating because at times I thought Cass seemed to be unreliable. Dr. Winter was very intriguing because she suffered an upbringing very similar to Cass and her relationship with her mother and her sister, Emma. The entire book focuses around Dr. Winter and the police investigator assigned the case trying to locate Emma and find out what exactly happened these two sisters disappeared. Right from the beginning, I knew that Cass was hiding something and only a little was being unveiled at a time. The pace of the book seemed to go a little slow at times, but the whole book on encompasses about 6 days after Cass returns. A lot happens in those 6 days.

What I loved about this book was that there were a lot of characters involved in the Tanner sister’s lives that could have possibly played a part in their disappearance and it was up to readers to help decipher who wanted the girls out of the way or out of their lives. Their mother was a completely despicable character and I wanted to repeatedly slap her – she did not act bothered, concerned, or even emotionally torn over the disappearance of her daughters. Many characters in the story were questionable and came with shady motives, which is a huge reason why I enjoyed reading. I had my suspicions all the way through but kept being pleasantly surprised with every twist and turn.

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


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Review: Pieces of Happiness

Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and ChocolateAuthor: Anne Ostby
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Doubleday


A novel of five lifelong friends who, in their sixties, decide to live together on a cocoa farm in Fiji, where they not only start a chocolate business but strengthen their friendships and rediscover themselves. 

"I've planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don't you join me? Leave behind everything that didn't work out!" 

When Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth each receive a letter in the mail posing the same question, the answer is obvious. Their old high school friend Kat--Kat the adventurer, Kat who ran away to the South Pacific as soon as they graduated--has extended the invitation of a lifetime: Come live with me on my cocoa farm in Fiji. Come spend the days eating chocolate and gabbing like teenagers once again, free from men, worries, and cold. Come grow old in paradise, together, as sisters. Who could say no?

Now in their sixties, the friends have all but resigned themselves to the cards they've been dealt. There's Sina, a single mom with financial woes; gentle Maya who feels the world slipping away from her; Ingrid, the perennial loner; Lisbeth, a woman with a seemingly picture-perfect life; and then Kat, who is recently widowed. As they adjust to their new lives together, the friends are watched over by Ateca, Kat's longtime housekeeper, who oftentimes knows the women better than they know themselves and recognizes them for what they are: like "a necklace made of shells: from the same beach but all of them different." Surrounded by an azure-blue ocean, cocoa trees, and a local culture that is fascinatingly, joyfully alien, the friends find a new purpose in starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness. 

A story of love, hope, and chocolate, Pieces Of Happiness will reaffirm your faith in friendship, second chances, and the importance of indulging one's sweet tooth.

“I’ve planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don’t you join me? Leave behind everything that didn’t work out!” 

“So I’m going to send this now, stroking my fingers across the stamps once more for luck, and hoping the wind will send you to me.”

The enthusiasm in his words, but most of all, this is what I saw: This is for me. He loves me. The sweet, heavy pleasure it takes months to cultivate, a long and laborious process: the love in the glistening fat brown cocoa bean. It’s all for me.

“Can you taste the flavor of papaya and coconut? Can you hear the wind whistling through the palm trees on the beach? Can you see the arc of the horizon, where the Pacific Ocean meets the sky?”


A lovely story about five elderly women who have taken up residence on a cocoa farm in beautiful Fiji. I love books about friendship and the binding powers of the relationships we hold most near and dear – these five women are stages in their lives where they are experiencing heartbreak, loss, the effects of old age, and regret. The leader of the pack, Kat, decides to invite them all to her farm in Fiji where she hopes they will forget the worries of their past lives and maybe live out their last days together building a chocolate empire. The book starts out a little fluffy and readers might think they will get tales of happiness, charm, and sparkle, but I was surprised by how many secrets these women have buried and are still trying to hide from each other all of these years. I think the book sends a great message about finding what is important to you and tuning out all the rest. The story focuses around living your days with no regrets, secrets, or people that weigh you down.

The novel is written between alternating viewpoints of each of these women and a maid/hired help that lives close by and helps take care of Kat and her property. After reading each of the backstories of these women, I can genuinely say that I felt sorry for some and felt anguish for others because they lived for others or let others dictate their lives. Each women has something that I would say she regrets or some way that she wishes her life were different, but the greatest part was watching them evolve as they learned to adapt to living on the cocoa farm and working together as a unit. Each of them finds some piece of solace in their new lives and it was all so magical to read about – such an amazing and riveting read!

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



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review: The Witches of New York

The Witches of New YorkAuthor: Ami McKay
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Harper Perennial


In the vein of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, comes a new novel from historical fiction maven Ami McKay that transports readers to the heart of Victorian New York, where three witches practice their craft—to the delight of some—but at their own peril.

Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply. 

New York in the spring of 1880 is a place alive with wonder and curiosity. Determined to learn the truth about the world, its residents enthusiastically engage in both scientific experimentation and spiritualist pursuits. Séances are the entertainment of choice in exclusive social circles, and many enterprising women—some possessed of true intuitive powers, and some gifted with the art of performance—find work as mediums.

Enter Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair. At their humble teashop, Tea and Sympathy, they provide a place for whispered confessions, secret cures, and spiritual assignations for a select society of ladies, who speak the right words and ask the right questions. But the profile of Tea and Sympathy is about to change with the fortuitous arrival of Beatrice Dunn.

When seventeen-year-old Beatrice leaves the safety of her village to answer an ad that reads "Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply," she has little inclination of what the job will demand of her. Beatrice doesn't know it yet, but she is no ordinary small-town girl; she has great spiritual gifts—ones that will serve as her greatest asset and also place her in grave danger. Under the tutelage of Adelaide and Eleanor, Beatrice comes to harness many of her powers, but not even they can prepare her for the evils lurking in the darkest corners of the city or the courage it will take to face them.

Her cards: Deceit. Ruin. Death.

Stepping off the stool, she gave herself over to God to do the rest.

“What if I’m too scared?” “All the more reason to speak your mind.”


I love anything “witchy” so I knew this book would be right up my alley. Honestly, I got serious Practical Magic vibes when I was reading. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite books of all-time. This book is filled with three strong, independent, and confident women who are living in a time when witchcraft is shunned and your actions involving witchcraft will make you a pariah. They are brave, resourceful, and not afraid to be stand outs in a time when women were expected to blend in. The story opens with a little background about Eleanor and Adelaide as they bring on Beatrice for extra help in their apothecary shop. Beatrice is just a young girl trying to find her way and is surprised to learn that finding her way might include unraveling her “spiritual” gifts.

This is a whopper of a book coming in at over 5oo pages, and the only reason that this book did not receive a five star rating from me was because there were quite a few storylines going on simultaneously and it was at times hard to follow for me, even though I never have trouble with this. I was much more intrigued with Beatrice’s story, but I completely understood the need for everything that went on in this book. The writing was outstanding and completely historically relevant which I greatly appreciated. Everything felt so real and intense, especially when ghosts were introduced and talked about. I loved this author’s writing and even though this was my first book by Ami McKay – it will not be my last.

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


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Review: Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, VitaminAuthor: Rachel Khong
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt


A young woman returns home to care for her failing father in this fine, funny, and inescapably touching debut, from an affecting and wonderfully original new literary voice.

A few days after Christmas in a small suburb outside of L.A., pairs of a man's pants hang from the trees. The pants belong to Howard Young, a prominent history professor, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Howard's wife, Annie, summons their daughter, Ruth. Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and still broken up about it, feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job and arrives home to find her parents' situation worse than she'd realized. Her father is erratically lucid and her mother, a devoted and creative cook, sees the sources of memory loss in every pot and pan. But as Howard's condition intensifies, the comedy in Ruth's situation takes hold, gently transforming her grief. She throws herself into caretaking: cooking dementia-fighting meals (a feast of jellyfish!), researching supplements, anything to reignite her father's once-notable memory. And when the university finally lets Howard go, Ruth and one of her father's handsome former students take their efforts to help Howard one step too far.

Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humor, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one's footing in this life.

"What imperfect carriers of love we are, and what imperfect givers. That the reasons we can care for one another can have nothing to do with the person cared for. That it has only to do with who we were around that person—what we felt about that person."

“…all of a sudden it didn’t matter what you remembered or didn’t, and the remembering - it occurred to me – was irrelevant. All that mattered was that the day was nice – was what it was.”

Today you were so readily impressed by me.


How can a book that is so short and so simple be packed with so much beauty, realism, and powerful themes surrounding life, family, friendship, and understanding. Ruth, the main character, has journeyed home at the request of her mother in order to help care for her father who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Ruth is recently untethered from her fiancé and is struggling to “restart” herself without the man she thought would never betray her. She agrees to stay for the year and in that year learns more about herself than she ever intended to. There are moments of humor, reflection, frustration, and beautiful emotion; there are moments where I found myself having to pause to reflect on my own life and my own thoughts on the findings and revelations of Ruth and her family and friends.

The best thing about this book is that it is essentially about a family’s journey through good times as well as difficult ones. Anyone who has suffered from the loss of a family member with an illness similar to Alzheimer’s may have a hard time reading this novel, but it is so worth it in the end. I am very close with my parents, so this book pulled on all my heartstrings. Ruth has a hard time watching her father’s memories slip away and it is powerful and completely mesmerizing to watch Ruth learn to cope with all that is crumbling around her. This book is short and sweet and full of some pretty powerful themes and just downright real life feelings.

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


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