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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, October 16, 2016

Book Review: Stalking Jack The Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Series: Stalking Jack The Ripper # 1

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”

“Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.”

“There’s nothing better than a little danger dashed with some romance.”

“It was a great night for hunting Jack the Ripper.”

I have never been a huge fan of Jack the Ripper. I really hate stories where women are brutally murdered; however, I must say that this book was written exceptionally well. I am so intrigued after finishing this book that I believe I am going to find myself reading and researching more about Jack the Ripper. This story follows seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose, the daughter of a Lord and a young lady fascinated with dissecting cadavers. She becomes completely wound up in the case that soon becomes known as the Jack the Ripper serial killings. Audrey Rose was everything I could ever want in a female lead! When I tell you that I squealed a little when I found out this was a serious, I literally squealed…OUT LOUD.

I do not have what I consider a “weak stomach”; however, there were moments in reading this story that I had to look away and jump a few paragraphs forward. The author does a great job with imagery and fine detail – almost too good. Some parts are very graphic and the descriptions WILL make you cringe, which is perfect for a Halloween read. The end became predictable about three-fourths of the way through the book, but the writing is so superb that I was still hooked and wanted to see how Audrey reacted when she found out who, in fact, Jack the Ripper actually was. I am so excited for more from this author and more in this series!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Book Review: The Gilded Age

The Gilded CageAuthor: Lucinda Gray
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR

After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can't accept that her brother's death was an accident. 

A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There's a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother's killer claim her life, too?

John frowns, and I know he isn’t fooled. But, tapping his horse smartly with the reins, he does as I say. I am, after all, the lady of Walthingham Hall.

“You won’t catch me going outside after dark again,” one mutters. “Not now that the Beast of Walthingham has claimed another.”

The Beast of Walthingham preys on the wicked, they say…

Then I see the gaunt, dark figure watching me silently from the other side of the rise.

For the month of October, I am trying to read books that are either gothic themed or have a creepy storyline. This book had a very gothic feel, but in the end fell short for me. The main character Katherine, along with her brother, come into a huge fortune when a relative suddenly passes away. When they move to Walthingham Hall they are impressed by a lavish and grandiose lifestyle, far different from they have ever known, but their lives are soon changed because of the mysterious and even fatal occurrences that happen in and around the manor. The novel had all the necessary elements to be a spooky, haunting read, but it lacked something that I find very pivotal for a novel to be at the top of my shelf: characterization.

Katherine was not what I expected in a female heroine. She was a very flat character and was not characterized very well. The mystery fell flat for me as well. I had the “who-dun-it” figured out about halfway through, and I was pretty disappointed when I realized there were not going to be any more interesting twists and turns. The setting was absolutely magical; the estate was gothic, creepy, and everything you hope an 19th century manor would be. The story line sounds perfect for Halloween, but the plot left me wanting more and left me unsatisfied by the end of the book.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review: The Thousandth Floor

The Thousandth FloorAuthor: Katharine McGee
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: The Thousandth Floor # 1

New York City as you’ve never seen it before.

A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down…

“Maybe that's all that praying was, she thought, just wishing good outcomes on other people.”

“Sometimes love and chaos are the same thing.” 

“If you aren't sure, then you definitely aren't in love.”

This book gave me the biggest book hangover ever. No book that I read after this one was going to compare and I knew that about halfway through. The premise behind this book was so enchanting and after seeing so many people rave about it on YouTube, I decided that I had to give it a try. The book was full of drama and I loved learning more about the tower; I hope that in the series we learn more and more about the different floors. I will say, without spoiling the novel, that the higher to the top you are the more money and power you have. I just loved the idea that all of New York was in this thousand floor tower and even the modes of travel to get from one floor to the next were futuristic.

My favorite thing about this book was all the different perspectives that we are given. We get to read from the point of view of about five or six different characters which makes the world all the more entertaining because they all come from different backgrounds. Each character has something very interesting to add the story and reading from the different point of views allow you to feel like you are reading more than one story wrapped into one. The ending of the book answered enough of my questions to be satisfactory, but of course I am anxious to know where things are going from here. This is definitely a great book to pick up for Fall!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: Ghostly Echoes

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3)Author: William Ritter
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Series: Jackaby # 3

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fianc√©, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

Some corners of the city, I was coming to find, were always dark, as if to spite the sun.

“Send your expenses to my office, Miss Rook. You two are on the case.”

Jenny Cavanaugh was dead, and she wasn’t happy about it.

There is so much to love about this series. Firstly, it is perfect for Halloween and got me in the mood for all things spooky and supernatural. The series contains so many loveable characters and while eerie and haunting at times, there are added bits of humor thrown in to provide comic relief. In this third and most dark installment of the series, our investigators, Jackaby and Abigail Rook, are finally able to investigate the death of their favorite ghost, Jenny Cavanaugh. I found it so interesting that Jenny’s cold case was brought to light and I was thankful that so many questions I had have now been answered. This cast of characters is not one that you will forget easily. They are all unique and special in their own way. I was up way past my bedtime reading this one!

I am unsure what to think about another book. I am reading a lot of reviews where people seem to believe there will be more, but I have also heard talk that this book will be the last in the series. Either way, this is not a story that you want to miss out on. Like I said, these books are perfect for the spirit of Halloween, and this third book in particular has been the spookiest of all. There were times where I was unsure that I was going to be able to keep reading at night. William Ritter had me squinting my eyes, scared for what I would read next. I am so pleased with this series; I can honestly say that it gets better with each and every book!

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

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Review: Root, Petal, Thorn

Root, Petal, ThornAuthor: Ella Joy Olsen
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Kensington

In this beautifully written and powerful debut novel, Ella Joy Olsen traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same  historic home over the course of a century—braided stories of love, heartbreak and courage connect the women, even across generations.
Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the  home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially  an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms.  Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.
Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. Day by day, as she attempts to rebuild her house and her resolve, she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. For every story has its sadness, but there is also the possibility of blooming again, even stronger and more resilient than before…

Relieved to take a break from the sad twist in my own tale, I was more than eager to consider hers.

He was picturing his home freshly built, his wife a young woman with a baby on her hip. He was pondering 1944.

She smiled and leaned into him. “Yes, this house has harbored its fair share and it’s still standing. Surely it can handle you.”

This book is such a charming, cozy read. The book starts out with Ivy Baygren and her sudden bout of grief because of her husband’s unexpected passing. She tries to work through her husband’s passing by working on the sweet, little house that they purchased together. As Ivy works in and around the house she and her husband shared together, she starts to wonder about the history of the house and others that lived in it before her. Ivy finds small mementos left by other females that have lived in the house from 1913 onwards. As readers, we get a peek into the lives of each of these women. The story is told from alternating viewpoints and each character is just as crisp and carefully written as the last.

Each of the women who lived in the house had such interesting stories to share. I was so excited to get to a new chapter for each woman so that I could continue their stories. This book is so magical in its delivery. All of the lives you will read about are enchanting and personable; you won’t be able to put this book down. There are many emotional parts of this book. You will feel the same pains as the characters and you will find yourself rooting for their happily ever afters. I was so enthralled by how eloquent and completely endearing this book was that I struggled to put it down. I even woke up early one morning just to read some more!

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Review: Murder At Morningside

Murder at MorningsideAuthor: Sandra Bretting
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Series: Missy DuBois # 1

Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana's Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder? 

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women's bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder. With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she's going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair . . .

“I always forget you were Scarlett O’Hara in a past life.”

Never let it be said Southern men didn’t know how to dress.

“The house used to be a plantation with a bunkhouse for slaves. Think about it…there are probably hundreds of restless spirits here.”

What a perfect new mystery series featuring a lovable southern belle! Melissa “Missy” DuBois is a custom hat maker and her best friend, Ambrose “Bo” Jackson, is a prominent clothing designer. The two of them travel to Morningside Plantation for a wedding weekend. The first and biggest problem arises when the bride-to-be, Trinity Solomon is found murdered. Thus, Missy and Bo begin to take matters into their own hands and feel it is necessary to try and solve this murder. Missy is such a personable character. I loved her southern charm and the affect she has on the people around her. She is very relatable simply because she seems so down to earth. It seemed to me that she wants a deeper relationship with Ambrose; I was really able to pick up on this later in the story, and I am looking forward to watching their relationship grow as the series continues.

I love when a mystery author gives readers a plethora of possible murderers to choose from! I loved having to decipher everyone’s alibis and see who I thought in my mind the killer was, and turned out I was wrong! I wish the scene when Missy found the killer would have been a bit more dramatic or described in more detail, but I was still anxious and thrilled to see Missy kick the bad guy or girl’s butt (you have to read the story to find out which). Oh and I forgot to mention, there is supposedly a ghost that is haunting the mansion located on the plantation. This was an interesting twist too and a nice little detail that Bretting added to entice mystery lovers that much more. I am looking forward to the release of her next book in December!

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Curious Minds

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)Author: Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Series: Knight and Moon # 1

Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, teams up with Emmy-winning writer Phoef Sutton for a brand-new series of thrillers featuring the invincible and incompatible pairing of Knight and Moon.

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

“Riley reminded herself that she was a professional, and stabbing Emerson with her nail file wouldn’t be appropriate.” 

“If she had any sense at all, she’d clean out her desk and look for another job. Something safe and sane, like catching alligators or looking for land mines in Afghanistan.” 

“Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

“It was one of the biggest mansions in Washington, D.C., and it was appropriately called Mysterioso Manor. Emerson Knight, the resident owner, was appropriately known as a nutcase.”  

“She’d expected Emerson Knight to look like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.”

Janet Evanovich has forever been one of my favorite authors to read. And while I didn’t like this new series as much as the Stephanie Plums, I must say that I am very excited for what this series will hold. Emerson Knight and Riley Moon are such an unlikely pair, but extremely comical. I must say that the way Emerson Knight was depicted reminded me heavily of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Riley is written to be much more grounded and cautious. Emerson makes a plan and he is sticking to it. His character carried the unlikely pair and added so much depth to the story. I was so glad to see that Evanovich has started a new series and I am happy to say that it was modern and I can see the story and characters progressing greatly over time.

The mystery here was incredible! There were so many possible scenarios that I was imagining while reading that could possibly play out. Missing people, murders, and missing gold was enough to keep me interested and on edge. It felt as if around every corner Emerson and Riley were discovering crucial evidence and adding to the already eccentric mystery. One thing that I have always loved about Evanovich was her ability to make readers laugh out loud. The witty banter shared between Emerson and Riley was too much to bare at times. Their personalities are so different and listening to them argue and plan together was what will keep me coming back to this series!

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


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