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

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Blog Tour Book Review: The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (Pink Carnation, #11)Author: Lauren Willig
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade
Series: Pink Carnation # 11

In the latest Pink Carnation novel from national bestselling author Lauren Willig, rumors spreading among the ton turn deadly as a young couple unites to solve a mystery....

In October of 1806, the Little Season is in full swing, and Sally Fitzhugh has had enough of the endless parties and balls. With a rampant vampire craze sparked by the novel The Convent of Orsino, it seems no one can speak of anything else. But when Sally hears a rumor that the reclusive Duke of Belliston is an actual vampire, she cannot resist the challenge of proving such nonsense false. At a ball in Belliston Square, she ventures across the gardens and encounters the mysterious Duke.

Lucien, Duke of Belliston, is well versed in the trouble gossip can bring. He’s returned home to dispel the rumors of scandal surrounding his parents’ deaths, which hint at everything from treason to dark sorcery. While he searches for the truth, he welcomes his fearsome reputation—until a woman is found dead in Richmond. Her blood drained from her throat.

Lucien and Sally join forces to stop the so-called vampire from killing again. Someone managed to get away with killing the last Duke of Belliston. But they won’t kill this duke—not if Sally has anything to say about it.

For all the rumors, up close, there was nothing the least bit incorporeal about the duke.

What manner of a man cloistered himself away from the world in a garden such as this?

In the hollow between the lace ruffle of her dress and the dark fall of her hair, the woman’s skin was a clear, pale white. Aside from the two red marks of her throat.

I have only been following this series for the past few years and this is only the third one that I have read. They are each, so far, just as intriguing as the last and the best part is that they all offer a little humor as well. This story is a little disconnected from the Pink Carnation spy plot that is the norm. In this installment a recent vampire craze is sparked when a book called The Convent of Orsino becomes suddenly popular alerting people to the mythical creature known as vampires. Sally Fitzhugh, our leading lady, is not riding the bandwagon on this latest outbreak. In fact, it is her ultimate mission to prove that Lucien, the Duke of Belliston, is not the vampire that he is rumored to be. After she meets him there is a murder and Lucien becomes the prime suspect. They must work together to prove that he is neither a vampire nor a murderer!

This book is full of humor and there is a little bit on every page. This is the most I have ever laughed at a book in the historical genre in my life. Lauren Willig really is a fantastic author and the best part is that she is able to have fun with her books. When I was first recommended this series that was one of the primary reasons that I decided to pick it up because I was promised that I would have a good laugh. The story just feels cozy and Sally and her two best friends are hoot when they are altogether. Lauren not only gives you plenty to laugh at but she also keeps the pace move quickly as well. There is plenty of action and adventure in this story!

Lauren’s books serve not only as humorous, witty, historical novels but as eerie mysteries as well. This would be a perfect book to read around Halloween because of the sheer spookiness it provides. These stories literally have something for everyone. The mysteries always make me think, nothing is handed to you and it is always fun trying to solve them before the main characters do. I read somewhere that the book that will release next year, The Lure of the Moonflower, will be the last in this series. I feel that Lauren’s writing gets better and better with each book and I do not want to see them end!

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

Follow Me Friday (17)

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Question of the Week: What is the biggest city you live near (or interesting landmark)? Show us a postcard picture.

My answer: The beautiful Asheville, NC! I loved growing up in the mountains. Once you see some of the pictures below you will understand why. It was an amazing experience and it is something that I cannot wait for my future children to experience!

Biltmore Estate

Chimney Rock State Park

This is my view every Fall!

Blue Ridge Mountains

Pearson's Falls

I am so anxious to see everyone else’s posts as well!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: Sometimes It Lasts

Sometimes It Lasts (Sea Breeze, #5)Author: Abbi Glines
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: Sea Breeze # 5

Cage York has to choose between a love of the game and a love of the girl in this sultry Sea Breeze novel from New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines.

Cage York finally has everything he ever wanted.

And Eva is at the very top of that list; the perfect girl with a temper as hot as her fabulously flawless body. But for Cage, a baseball scholarship has always been a close second. So when Cage finally gets his chance, he and Eva must endure a long distance relationship and all the dangerous temptations that come with it. Temptations that former bad boy Cage York may not be able to escape.

Then after receiving some illicit photos that show Cage has been behaving badly very badly. Eva finds solace in the comforting arms of her insanely attractive neighbor Jeremy, who vows that he will take care of Eva in ways Cage never could. It’s an offer that may be too good for Eva to turn down.

Torn between his baseball dream and the girl of this dreams, Cage must prove he’s worthy of Eva’s love, or risk losing her to Jeremy forever.

“But dreams change. Fate has a way of showing you paths you want more.”

“No excuses; those were just weak.”

“I was desperate but I wanted to hear her tell me I was it for her. That the future was us.”

“Somehow I’d managed to function without feelings.”

This story is everything I expect a sequel to be, but then again I expected nothing less from a book by Abbi Glines. In While It Lasts, readers fell in love with bad boy Cage York who was sent to work for one long, hot summer on a farm because of a DUI. Here he met Eva Brooks and their love story magically unfolded. This book picks up where the first left off, but this time around Cage has been accepted into his dream school and that means suffering through a long distance relationship with Eva. We will watch them fight and struggle to keep their fairytale romance intact. They face brand new obstacles in this book, and another boy is thrown into the mix for Eva. As always, Abbi Glines delivers a wonderful, addicting new book with absolutely amazing character to boot!

Rollercoaster ride in hyper drive. This is the best description that I can come up with for this book. I was experiencing so many emotions as Eva and Cage break up and reunite and fight for one another. It was all so passionate and just the kind of story that made me fall in love with Abbi’s writing in the first place. I would even venture as far to say that I enjoyed this book more than the first. Eva and Cage were really put to the test here and I thought this was a pretty accurate representation of a long distance relationship and the kind of emotions that you experience while in the middle of one. Beautifully written!

All of Abbi’s book are written and paced so well. I always fly through them in about a day’s time. I got through this story even faster because once all the drama hit the fan there was no way I could ever put it down. I really enjoyed some of the added information that Glines put into the story that allowed us to catch up with characters from some of her past novels and see where their lives had taken them. I will remain a true, devoted Glines fan for as long as she is writing these awesome books!

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review & Blog Tour: When I Fall In Love

When I Fall in Love (Christiansen Family, #3)Author: Susan May Warren
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Tyndale
Series: Christiansen Family # 3

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.

The Christiansen family stored up happiness like stones on the rocky Lake Superior shore.

There was more waiting for her. She just didn’t want to travel halfway around the world, alone, to find it.

He tasted good, like hot summer nights. And freedom. And happiness.
I absolutely love family sagas. I have never read one that I have not fallen in love with completely. The Christiansen family saga has welcomed me in with love and warmth over the last three books. My family has always been so close that this family just made me feel right at home and every book in this series has been nothing less than amazing. Susan May Warren has such a gift with words. She is one of those authors that every single book she writes makes me lose track of the time and miss the characters when I finally put it down. If you are familiar with these books then you know what I mean by my last statement. Get ready for Grace’s story in this new edition to the Christiansen family saga!

Max and Grace’s relationship is obviously my favorite part of this book mainly because it started out as a friendship. Their friendship is so endearing and their relationship unfolds just the way an actual relationship would. They are very understanding of one another and supportive of one another as well. Max and Grace both have difficulties and obstacles that they have to overcome, but Max more so than Grace at times because of the decisions that he makes. However, Grace is really good for Max because she keeps him down to earth and really strives to take care of him.

Susan May Warren writes about a tough situation in this book: a terminal disease. I was skeptical to begin with because I usually do not read books this heavily loaded. It is just a personal preference of mine, but this book changed my mind on that topic entirely. This book caused me to look at life a little differently because of the picture that Warren paints. We were also introduced to Raina and Casper in this book, who I am assuming will be featured in the next book!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Tyndale House and Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: A Grave Matter

A Grave Matter (Lady Darby, #3)Author: Anna Lee Huber
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Series: Lady Darby Mystery # 3

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her dear friend, Lady Kiera Darby is in need of a safe haven. Returning to her childhood home, Kiera hopes her beloved brother Trevor and the merriment of the Hogmanay Ball will distract her. But when a caretaker is murdered and a grave is disturbed at nearby Dryburgh Abbey, Kiera is once more thrust into the cold grasp of death.

While Kiera knows that aiding in another inquiry will only further tarnish her reputation, her knowledge of anatomy could make the difference in solving the case. But agreeing to investigate means Kiera must deal with the complicated emotions aroused in her by inquiry agent Sebastian Gage.

When Gage arrives, he reveals that the incident at the Abbey was not the first—some fiend is digging up old bones and holding them for ransom. Now Kiera and Gage must catch the grave robber and put the case to rest…before another victim winds up six feet under.

Or else why would I be running toward a dead body and a disturbed grave when by all rights I should be fleeing in fright?

I’m not sure what I expect to find. A fully dressed corpse? A ghost? A vampire like Lord Ruthven in Polidori’s story? I was not normally given over to fancy.

Lord Buchan’s best option was to hire a private inquiry agent, and he would find no gentleman better than Sebastian Gage.

I am so incredibly thrilled to see that this series is still keeping me on the edge of my seat even after the third book. I have gained so much respect over the years for mystery writers because it is difficult to write mysteries that are engaging, alarming to the reader, and most importantly that make sense. Anna Lee Huber is a solid author who builds an intense mystery and investigation in every single book she has written. I am a devoted fan just because of the heart that she obviously puts into her writing, her scenes, and her characters. Lady Darby has grown as a character and a sleuth and has used her past failures and the baggage she once carried to make her stronger and more confident.

Anna Lee Huber really knows how to write not only a great mystery, but a killer romance as well. It is no secret that Kiera and Sebastian’s steamy romance is one of the best reasons to follow this series. They have survived many ups and downs since the first book came out, and I always love to follow their newest escapade. They do frustrate me at times, but Huber knows how to build suspense and she does always give readers a juice little scene to hold onto! They are the perfect match and their relationship is always growing and changing, which is what makes it so interesting to read about.

I was happy to see that Kiera is a more established investigator now. This particular investigation was given to her by someone outside of her immediate family, so I was very pleased to see that Kiera is making a name for herself. Kiera’s family is so great and has been so supportive of her from the very beginning. I love the bond that she has with them and how much they believe in her and her ability to investigate. We get to meet Kiera’s brother, Trevor, in A Grave Matter, and he is a great edition to an already so loveable family!

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)Author: Erika Johansen
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Harper
Series: The Queen of the Tearling # 1

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.

Queen. There was the word again. Kelsea tried to think of herself of a queen and simply couldn’t.

“I am the long death of the Tearling. Forgive us.” He nodded, looking over her head, and before Kelsea could turn around, the world went dark.

Perhaps daring will win them.

I’m the Queen. I’m not bound by them.
I have been unable to find many positive reviews for this book, and if you are hoping to read another review in which the reader was displeased with this novel then you will not find that here. I really enjoyed this book. I find that a lot of readers are complaining that the book was compared to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, but here is the difference for me. This book does not really remind me of either of these books, but I do not let something like a bad book comparison cloud my judgment of a novel. This new series has a lot to offer, in my opinion. The world, the new queen, and the fantasy was enough to entice me to fly through this book, and that was no easy feat because this book was around 440 pages. Plus this book has already been picked up by Warner Bros., I believe. To top it all off, Emma Watson with play the Queen of the Tearling!

This is a debut novel, but I honestly had no idea of this fact until about three quarters of the way through. Erika Johansen writes with such confidence that you would never guess on your own that this was her debut novel. The Queen of the Tearling is a phenomenal read with a less than confident heroine who finds her way in this new kingdom that she has recently inherited. She is a called the “True Queen” and really lives up to her title throughout the first novel in this series. Kelsea, the queen, is an enrapturing character who goes from weak and timid to strong and valiant. She is a bit awkward at times, but that is what makes her so realistic. Kelsea was one of the best parts about this book and I cannot wait to see Emma Watson portraying her.

This story does contain some explicit and graphic scenes. There is quite a lot of talk about the slave trade organized between the Tearling and Mortmesne, and there are some brief talk about rape and bad language. I usually will not read a book in which rape is even discussed, but here I was able to read over because it helped me realize what type of world Kelsea and the Tearling were living in. It also helped me see how powerful and intimidating the Mort people were to the Tearling people. I will say that the graphic parts are enough that I would not allow even a young teen to read this book. However, it does not take away from the story. The Tear Queen, Kelsea, becomes so confident and decides to overcome all that her people has witnessed and been a part of. I cannot wait for the next book in this series!

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

Book Review: Landline

LandlineAuthor: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

“Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen - because you love each other.”

“I love you more than I hate everything else.”

“Neal didn't take Georgie's breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay--that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.” 

“Georgie. You cannot be jealous of Dawn – that’s like the sun being jealous of a light bulb.”

“Nothing good is easy.”
Landline turned out to be a bit different than I expected it to be. I knew going in that this was not young adult, and of course this does not bother me because I read just as many adult books as I do young adult ones. This book breaches on the genre known as magical realism. The main character, Georgie, is transported to the past when she uses her parents’ old yellow landline that is stored away in her bedroom closet. Georgie is facing a lot of realistic problems within her marriage and when she uses the landline one night to contact her husband, who has left for Christmas to visit his parents in Nebraska, she realizes that she is talking to the Neal from the 1990’s, not 2013.

This book was not my favorite from Rainbow Rowell, but it did have its shining moments. The only thing that I really disliked about the book was the fact that Georgie questioned the phone and her sanity over and over again. She spent pages deciding if it was real or not. What shined through for me was the wonderful picture that Rowell painted of these two lovers and their broken marriage. We learn so much about Neal and Georgie through their late night phone calls, Georgie in 2o13 and Neal in the 1990’s. They face problems that many people face each and every day. Georgie is wrapped up in her job and Neal is unhappy about how his life has turned out.

We go between past and present Neal and Georgie and like I said before we learn a lot about their marriage and their relationship. I really enjoyed Georgie and Neal in the past. They were very relatable characters. Rowell does a really great job with relationships, always! She just gets them and how to make readers fall in love with both characters despite obvious flaws. I actually wish that Georgie would have spent more time on this magical phone. She was not on the phone as much as I would have liked. Those were the best moments of the book!

***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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