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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, July 25, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Language of Stones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Book Review: A Certain Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Review: A Dangerous Age

A Dangerous AgeAuthor: Kelly Killoren Bensimon
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books

Couture royalty meets downtown grit and heady artists mingle with freewheeling socialites in A Dangerous Age, a sophisticated, indulgent, and delicious novel of contemporary New York City that women of all ages will devour.

It’s the dog days of a sweltering Manhattan summer, and four sophisticated best friends who once took New York by storm are secretly falling apart at the seams. Lucy’s marriage to a renowned artist is slowly crumbling, with an explosive secret that threatens them both. Sarah, in the middle of auditioning for an auspicious new television show, realizes that her socialite standing is in jeopardy after countless disastrous events. Billy—a queen in the kitchen—has finally left her former life behind to become a highbrow cuisine artist. And Lotta, a knockout downtown art dealer, spends her free time guzzling cocktails in both the grittiest and most expensive clubs around town—but now, she’s taken it a little too far.
In this addicting and refreshing comedy of manners reminiscent of Edith Wharton, Lucy, Sarah, Billy, and Lotta go to all ends to hide their troubles in a city that worships only the young, twentysomething it-girl. But in the end, there’s no denying that these women have all entered a very dangerous age...and who knows how they’ll emerge on the other side.

I wanted my heart to race in fear at the thought of a life without Titus. What worried me more than anything was that it didn’t.

Fire lilies, my darling, for your birthday. Like you, they are bold and beautiful and as priceless and rare as precious stone. They are delicate, and fleeting.

She went east. I went west. Into the sunset.

If love is a sandwich, then I wonder what desire is. Maybe the Haute Chocolate sundae at Serendipity.

This book was just my cup of tea! An absolute perfect read for summer! It reminded me so much of Sex in the City: New York City, four girlfriends all very different, but all very similar, these girlfriends trying to climb the social ladder, and of course the men they date, wed, or bed! I expected this book to be full of fluff, but I must admit that the author chose to take on some pretty weighty issues and dilemmas. The women in this book were all facing very different situations, but mostly focused on Lucy. Lucy has a bit of a mystery to solve throughout the story, but I am not going to reveal any more on this because I don’t want to spoil anything. Lucy’s character did turn out to be one of my favorite ones because of her sheer determination to find answers and rediscover herself and her marriage again.

This story is not for the faint-hearted, as I mentioned previously. There is some mention of drug use and one character in particular gets pretty heavily invested in drug use. There were times while reading when I questioned if certain characters would make it out alive, and at this time I realized that I was invested in their stories and interested in their lives. They share laughter, love, heartache, and cold hard facts with one another. You will find yourself laughing while reading as well as sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for something or someone to explode. I was finished with this book in one day and was sad to reach the last page. I am looking forward to much more from this author!

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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review: One True Loves

One True LovesAuthor: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Washington Square Press

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

When you lose someone you love, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever feel better. But it does happen. If you’re patient and you work at it.

You don’t tie yourself to something unless you’re scared you might float away.

“Just because something isn’t meant to last a lifetime doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant to be. We were meant to have been.”

Worse for wear and yet, somehow, never more beautiful to me than right now.

The summer sun is hot, the breezes are blowing, and my heart and soul are craving some contemporary romance. I decided to satisfy that craving with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s new book and she surely does not disappoint. I knew after reading the synopsis for this book that I would face some hurt right alongside the heroine, Emma. I wasn’t quite sure how the author would handle the situation of our heroine being in love with two men, one of which she thought was dead, but I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with how everything turned out. It is hard to say whose team I was on, Jesse or Sam, but I will say that both gentlemen had different charming and endearing qualities and a love for Emma that made it very hard to choose.

Not only for the romance was this book successful, but also because Emma’s journey is something to marvel at as well. She married her high school sweetheart only for him to go missing in their young lives and have to rebuild and start all over again. She was a strong, vivacious character who had a lot of tough decisions to make. She was able to grow so much through all that happened to her, but I won’t pretend that it wasn’t hard to read all that she was struggling through. I know I wouldn’t ever want to change places with her. The book was sweet, soft, real, and completely unexpected. It was everything I needed to read right when I needed to read it.

***A free copy of this book was provide to me by the publishers at Washington Square Press in exchange for my honest review***

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review: A Golden Cage

A Golden Cage (Newport Gilded Age #2)Author: Shelley Freydont
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Newport Gilded Age #2

The author of A Gilded Grave returns to Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, where headstrong heiress Deanna Randolph must solve another murder among the social elite.

With her mother in Europe, Deanna is staying with the Ballard family, who agree to chaperone her through the summer season and guide her toward an advantageous marriage proposal—or so her mother hopes. Relishing her new freedom, Deanna is more interested in buying one of the fashionable new bathing costumes, joining a ladies’ bicycling club, and befriending an actress named Amabelle Deeks, all of which would scandalize her mother.
Far more scandalous is the discovery of a young man bludgeoned to death on the conservatory floor at Bonheur, the Ballards’ sumptuous “cottage.” Deanna recognizes him as an actor who performed at the birthday fete for a prominent judge the night before. But why was he at Bonheur? And where is Amabelle?
Concerned her new friend may be in danger—or worse—Deanna enlists the help of her intrepid maid, Elspeth, and her former beau, Joe Ballard, to find Amabelle before the villain of this drama demands an encore.

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, my dear,” Lionel Ballard said. “At least not until after dessert.”

“It sounds hard, but exciting to have freedom. To be in charge of your own life.”

Her better judgment told Deanna it would be smart to leave now that she had the chance. Curiosity told her to stand her ground.

I started this series last summer and fell in love with the characters and the mystery. Deanna is a great leading lady with a somewhat young, naïve, but yet smart and mischievous outlook. The setting is absolutely to die for and the diction plays into the time period very nicely. I loved everything about this book and thought it was a nice addition to the series. I am usually skeptical about the second books in a series because they often lack luster compared to the first. I will say that I enjoyed the first book more than this one, but this one was not far behind. I think I am most frustrated with Deanna’s love life because it did not go the way I wanted it to in the first book. However, the mystery in this book was just as powerful as the first and I guess that’s what really matters!

Deanna’s character is, as always, my favorite and I was happy to see more of her rebellious nature. She completely defies her mother and all of society’s expectation of what a proper woman should be and how she should behave. Deanna is more interested in being involved in the latest mystery and has no time to worry about securing a husband and pleasing her mother. I absolutely love this about her. It doesn’t hurt that she is smart and cunning and really cares for her loved ones. Shelley is a great writer and really allows readers to imagine what it is like to be alongside Deanna. I am looking forward to so much more from this author!

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Review: The Sign In The Smoke

The Sign in the Smoke (Nancy Drew Diaries #12)Author: Carolyn Keene
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Aladdin
Series: Nancy Drew Diaries # 12

Nancy and her friends are faced with another chilling mystery in this twelfth book of the Nancy Drew Diaries, a fresh approach to the classic mystery series.

When Bess asks Nancy and George to be counselors at her old camp, they’re a little wary. After all, running around after a bunch of little kids doesn’t exactly sound like fun! But Bess promises that the girls will get to enjoy nature, relax by the lake, and play some sports. Plus, it will give Nancy a much-needed break from solving mysteries.

But trouble always finds Nancy Drew! After hearing the disturbing tale about a camper who had drowned in the lake years ago, Nancy dismisses it as a ghost story. But then something pulls her under water during a swim lesson—something eerily human, with long, silvery hair. And the next night her entire cabin's sleeping bags disappear—only to show up at the lake, soaked.

Now Nancy isn’t so sure if she believes in ghosts! All she knows is she has to do everything within her power to make sure her campers—and her friends—are safe. Which means she’d better get to the bottom of what’s happening at Camp Cedarbark.

I don’t want to believe it could be her. But I need to look into this.

Well, I thought, straightening up as the words lifelong enemy replayed in my mind, you certainly won’t be the first.

As nervous as I was this morning, I thought camp is really starting to feel like home.

I have rediscovered my childhood! I loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries when I was a kid, and while these books are nowhere near as suspenseful as the others, they are just as loveable. I just discovered not too long ago and decided that I needed to start reading these, and I am so glad I did. Nancy is her same spunk, spry self and really brings back the feeling of comfort and warmth to her readers. The mystery was a bit more juvenile than those that I am used to, but charming and enjoyable nonetheless. I know that middle school girls and maybe even a bit younger will really enjoy these stories. This one takes place at a summer camp, so it gives readers that perfect segue into summer. School is almost out, but that doesn’t mean kids need to stop reading! These books would be wonderful for a timid or hesitant reader.

 Not only is this book filled with a great mystery that is sure to keep young minds entertained, but it is also full of practical advice about friendship and growing up. There is a young girl named Harper that is written to be “different” or more “quiet” than the other girls. While trying to solve a spooky mystery, Nancy also bridges the gap between these girls and helps Harper make friends and not feel so left out. Nancy is someone that the girls in the book can really relate to and I think this and her actions make her a great role model for young readers. I am very excited for more of these cute, fun-filled reads.

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

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Book Review: The Weekenders

The WeekendersAuthor: Mary Kay Andrews
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens...in a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.

Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can’t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.

“In times like these, I think it's a good policy to hope for the best, but expect the worst.” 

“Right on time,” Scott murmured. “Let the fun begin.”

“That bastard Wendell. I swear to God, if he weren’t already dead, I’d kill him myself,” Billy said. “My only regret is that somebody beat to me the punch.”

She’d find out for herself soon enough, and that would be the end of his stupid folly, of thinking that he could have it all – the island, the girl, the family, the life.

When I say this is the perfect read, I mean that you will stay on the beach all day until you have finished reading it! You might find yourself a little burnt once you have finished! I thought that this story had a different spin than what Andrews usually writes, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I was reading a mystery and a loveable chick lit novel. Riley Griggs is on her way to the coast of North Carolina when her world starts to fall apart: she runs into her ex-boyfriend, her husband is a no show for their family vacation, and her much loved beach house has been foreclosed. From this point, you are hooked and it only gets better from here. This book tackles some tough topics, so please do not think that because I said it was the perfect beach read that it’s all light and fluffy. Riley and her daughter, Maggy, have a tough road ahead of them once they learn of Wendell’s murder. However, as always, Andrews makes readers feel right at home.

Riley’s family is very chaotic, but tight. They support and care for each other, even if getting on each other’s nerves while doing it. It was most interesting to me to see how Riley, her daughter, her mother, and her brother handle the imploding catastrophe. Riley is a modern woman who does what she can to hold her life together as it crumbles all around her. Her relationship with Maggy was one of my favorite things to watch unfold. She is very concerned for Maggy’s well-being as everything begins to crumble around them, obviously, and even though Riley is fed up with her lying husband, she tries her best to keep her daughter from being more hurt than she already is. Riley was a great leading character and even better mom! I loved every piece of this book! Please do yourself a favor and introduce your senses to Mary Kay Andrews, if you haven’t already done so.

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


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