Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - The Semi-Sweet Hereafter by Colette London


Title: The Semi-Sweet Hereafter
Series: Chocolate Whisperer Mystery #3
Author: Colette London

Goodreads Summary: As an authority on all things chocolate, Hayden Mundy Moore is traveling across the pond to lend her expertise to the owner of a posh London chocolaterie-p√Ętisserie. From coconut truffles to chocolate flapjacks, Hayden’s mouthwatering creations quickly impress her client. But her knowledge doesn’t end there. The detective constable is taken by surprise when she identifies an exotic murder weapon: a stone metlapil, used to grind cacao beans—and apparently to bludgeon someone to death—in Hayden’s own lodgings, no less…

The victim is a sexy celebrity chef who just happens to be the ex-husband of Hayden’s client. Now, amid the terraced town houses and local pubs, a killer is lurking—and the police have an assortment of suspects: a culinary rival, an ambitious agent, a recently-sacked assistant, and unfortunately, Hayden herself. The talented chocolate whisperer will have to find out what sort of nutter clobbered the famous cook—or her career may come to a bitter end…

My Review: **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

There is just something about this series. Chocolate, murder, mystery, mouthwatering descriptions of chocolate desserts, it just all works together. Lots of surprises in this one, and that ending was pretty funny. Did I mention there is chocolate?

My Manicure: I went with the obvious choice here - chocolate. The boxes of chocolate are Philly Loves Lacquer 2 a.m. Coffee Run stamped with MoYou London Festive 01 and Maybelline Bold Gold. The chocolate covered berries are Daily Hues Nail Lacquer Carol and Philly Loves Lacquer 2 a.m. Coffee Run, and What's Up Nails vinyls (bought through Lucky 13 Lacquer) in the drip design. I'm pretty sure these vinyls were designed as blood drips, but it makes a really tasty looking chocolate drip.


Monday, September 19, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton


Title: Pushing Up Daisies
Series: Agatha Raisin #27
Author: M.C. Beaton

Goodreads Summary: When Agatha Raisin left behind her PR business in London, she fulfilled her dream of settling in the cozy British Cotswolds where she began a successful private detective agency. Unfortunately, the village she lives in is about to get a little less cozy. Lord Bellington, a wealthy land developer, wants to turn the community garden into a housing estate. When Agatha and her friend Sir Charles Fraith attempt to convince Lord Bellington to abandon his plans he scoffs: “Do you think I give a damn about those pesky villagers?” So when Agatha finds his obituary in the newspaper two weeks later, it’s no surprise that some in town are feeling celebratory.

The villagers are relieved to learn that Bellington’s son and heir, Damian, has no interest in continuing his father’s development plans. But the police are definitely interested in him―as suspect number one. His father’s death, it seems, was no accident. But when Damian hires Agatha to find the real killer, she finds no shortage of suspects. The good news is that a handsome retired detective named Gerald has recently moved to town. Too bad he was seen kissing another newcomer. But when she is also found murdered, Gerald is eager to help Agatha with the case. Agatha, Gerald, and her team of detectives must untangle a web of contempt in order to uncover a killer’s identity.

My Review: **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

Agatha Raisin has to be one of the most unique characters that I've read. She should be obnoxious and exasperating, but instead she is almost endearing. The mystery was interesting, with plenty of twists. The only thing that I didn't like was that it seemed to focus too much on the tangled romantic lives of the characters.

My Manicure: Hmmm, no pie maker that brings people back to life? Just kidding, but if you get that reference, you are awesome! So, I was kind of stuck for what to do for this book. Then I remembered I have a crime scene plate. And that led to crime scene tape and chalk body outlines. I started with three coats of an unlabeled Color Club yellow, and two coats of Sinful Colors Black on Black. The stamping is done with Messy Mansion plate MM28, Sinful Colors Black on Black, and Zoya Purity.

After taking pictures of it all shiny and new looking, I thought "hmmmm, chalk outline... chalky look... matte top coat." Sadly, it ended up a little streaky, but the effect is perfect for this look.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - It's Your Party, Die If You Want To by Vickie Fee


Title: It's Your Party, Die If You Want To
Series: Liv and Di in Dixie #2
Author: Vickie Fee

Goodreads Summary: Between a riverboat gambler-theme engagement party and a murder mystery dinner for charity, Dixie, Tennessee, party planner Liv McKay is far too frenzied to feel festive. Add to the mix her duties at the annual businesswomen’s retreat and the antics of a celebrity ghost-hunting diva, and Liv’s schedule is turning out to be the scariest thing about this Halloween—especially when the ladies stumble across a dead body in a cemetery…

Morgan Robison was a party girl with a penchant for married men and stirring up a cauldron of drama. Any number of scorned wives or frightened philanderers could be behind her death. As Liv and her best friend, Di, set out to dig up the truth, they’ll face the unexpected and find their efforts hampered by a killer with one seriously haunting vendetta…

My Review: **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

Loved it! I really can't put my finger on what exactly I loved about it, but there is just something about it. There are a wide variety of characters, and plenty of quirkiness. There was a nice, cozy southerness to the setting that makes me want to move there. The mystery was a typical “which of the many people that hated the victim killed her” types, but the whodunit was a bit more interesting than most, and I adored the reveal.

My Manicure: So, the major party planning that Liv has to do is plan a huge fundraising Halloween party. Obviously, my mind went "YAY! Halloween nails!" I started out with a base of Sally Hansen Silk Onyx, which is one of their Satin Glam polishes from a few years ago. That awesome satin/matte finish my nails have? That is how this polish dries. This gave me a Halloweenish color base without it being as harsh as straight up black, and it isn't orange (I don't get along well with orange). The stamping is all from MoYou London Festive 15 and Pure Ice Silver Star. Just as a quick summary, from thumb to pinky the images are - cobwebs, skeleton, "Halloween", haunted house, and bats.


Monday, September 12, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon


Title: Murder in G Major
Series: Gethsemane Brown Mystery #1 
Author: Alexia Gordon

Goodreads Summary: With few other options, African-American classical musician Gethsemane Brown accepts a less-than-ideal position turning a group of rowdy schoolboys into an award-winning orchestra. Stranded without luggage or money in the Irish countryside, she figures any job is better than none. The perk? Housesitting a lovely cliffside cottage. The catch? The ghost of the cottage's murdered owner haunts the place. Falsely accused of killing his wife (and himself), he begs Gethsemane to clear his name so he can rest in peace. Gethsemane's reluctant investigation provokes a dormant killer and she soon finds herself in grave danger. As Gethsemane races to prevent a deadly encore, will she uncover the truth or star in her own farewell performance?

My Review: **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

I chose this book without paying much attention to the description. I saw it was a music based mystery, and went “Ooh, gotta read.” Not always the smarted way to pick a book, but it totally paid off this time. This wasn't just music and mystery, it was also Ireland and paranormal, with tons and tons of sarcasm. The only downside was that I had Irish drinking songs stuck in my head the entire time I was reading it.

My Manicure: Ugh this one gave me so many problems. I tried so many times with my clear stamper and could not get it to pick up a decent image at all. So, I switched back to my Creative Shop stamper, and it picked up with absolutely no issue. The only problem is that I can't see to line up the image, so it ends up stamping funny. Plus I had to chop off my nails because the break finally grew out to where it was unpatchable, and I've never been super comfortable with my nails this short. I started out with three streaky, sloppy coats of China Glaze Dandy Lyin' Around (pretty color, horrific application). The stamping is done with Bundle Monster plate BM-411 and Sinful Colors Black on Black.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - A Catered Tea Party by Isis Crawford


Title: A Catered Tea Party
Series: Mystery With Recipes #12
Author: Isis Crawford

Goodreads Summary: Quiet Longely, New York, is abuzz with excitement over the opening of a revamped art complex—and catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons are helping put on an elaborate tea party for the opening night gala fundraiser. But when the billionaire behind the project drops dead, the Simmons sisters find themselves steeped in a whistling kettle of murder . . .

Everyone in Longely is talking about Blue House, an art complex that will bring the town a theater, an art gallery, and even a restaurant and coffee bar. But they’re less than enthusiastic about Ludvoc “Zeb” Zalinsky, the self-made billionaire who’s funding the complex—and rubbing everyone the wrong way. Bernie and Libby reluctantly agree to cater the Alice in Wonderland themed tea party he’s planned, but it quickly becomes clear that Zeb is madder than the hatter he’ll be dressed as . . .

The night of the benefit arrives and Westchester’s finest show up in droves, having paid $500 apiece to attend Zeb’s meticulously-orchestrated tea party. But just when it seems the production is going according to plan, Zeb lifts an electric tea kettle, clutches his chest, and falls to the floor in fittingly dramatic fashion. The kettle shorted out and his pacemaker malfunctioned—but it doesn’t take long for police to decide that this seemingly random accident was actually cold-blooded murder . . .

As Bernie and Libby set out to find the culprit, they realize Zeb might have had more enemies than money. With so many possible culprits to sort through, only one thing is clear: Zeb was poured a steaming cup of revenge—and a second serving may be on the menu… 

My Review: **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

My feelings about this book are a bit complicated. It started off seriously bizarre, but that was to set up the fact that the victim was horrible, possibly insane, and that many people feel he deserved to die. So, even though it was strange, I didn't have a problem with it because it was necessary for the setup. It then jumped right into a twisty mystery that had a lot of potential. I was enjoying the book right up until the ending. It was overly complicated and didn't make much sense. I liked the main characters, although I could've done with less of the subplot of how much they hate their dad's girlfriend.

My Manicure: Tea party nails! Very loosely based on the cover, I went with a nice, pale green instead of blue, and stamped some cute desserts and teapots. I decided to try my Messy Mansion clear stamper 2.0, and I feel that I had a little more luck with it than their original clear stamper. I still had some very minor issues, but I felt it picked up a lot easier. I do wish it was a little squishier, the need to roll seems to distort the images slightly. The base color is Zoya Tiana, which was a little tricky to apply, but not the worst I've dealt with. The stamping was done with Pure Ice Silver Star and MoYou London Cookbbook 7 - a plate completely dedicated to tea parties. Could there be a better plate for this book?


Monday, September 5, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Death of a Pumpkin Carver by Lee Hollis


Title: Death of a Pumpkin Carver
Series: Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #8
Author: Lee Hollis

Goodreads Summary: For Hayley Powell, food and cocktails columnist for the Island Times, Halloween is all about costume parties and holiday treats—until a killer crashes the party...

This Halloween, Hayley can’t imagine a worse trick than her ex-husband Danny returning to Bar Harbor. Her kids may be happy to see their dad, but Hayley’s determined not to be taken in by his charms, and suspects he’s in financial trouble—again.

Still, the haunted holiday is about to get a whole lot scarier after Danny’s moonshine-making uncle is found lying dead next to a tombstone in a cemetery—and Danny quickly becomes the prime suspect. To prove her ex is innocent, Hayley will have to dig deep into her own bag of tricks to unmask the real culprit . . . before anyone else—including her—ends up in the graveyard...

My Review: **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

Poor Hayley has her hands full this Halloween. Her ex-husband is back in town, her daughter is working for her ex-boyfriend, and to top it off, she ends up stuck in the middle of yet another murder mystery. There are a couple minor story lines along with the murder, although the romance sub-plot seems to take over the story at times. Overall a nice, quick, easy read.

My Manicure: Is it fall yet? This summer has been ridiculously hot and humid, and even in September temps are in the 80s. I'm really looking forward to fall - the cooler weather, the decorating, the cute clothes, and of course pumpkin spice everything. Ok, back on topic, this book was just begging for a jack-o-lantern manicure. I mean, it's right there in the title. The base is China Glaze Sun Worshiper, a neon orange that is nearly impossible to apply nicely. I stamped using MoYou Festive 15 and Sinful Colors Black on Black. MoYou has this awesome thing where you can buy their plates with regular or XL images. With the regular size, I'd be lucky to fit the image on my nails and I'd have to watch the length of my nails. The downside to the XL images is that there are fewer images per plate, but the ability to stamp easier totally makes up for that. And they have the cutest packaging ever. Each plate comes in a sleeve decorated with the collection it is in.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Death Among the Doilies by Mollie Cox Bryan


Title: Death Among the Doilies
Series: Cora Crafts Mystery #1
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan

Goodreads Summary: For thirty-something blogger Cora Chevalier, small-town Indigo Gap, North Carolina, seems like the perfect place to reinvent her life. Shedding a stressful past as a counselor for a women’s shelter, Cora is pouring all her talents—and most of her savings—into a craft retreat business, with help from close pal and resident potter Jane Starr. Between transforming her Victorian estate into a crafter’s paradise and babysitting Jane’s daughter, the new entrepreneur has no time for distractions. Especially rumors about the murder of a local school librarian . . .

But when Jane’s fingerprints match those found at the grisly crime scene, Cora not only worries about her friend, but her own reputation. With angry townsfolk eager for justice and both Jane’s innocence and the retreat at risk, she must rely on her creative chops to unlace the truth behind the beloved librarian’s disturbing demise. Because if the killer’s patterns aren’t pinned, Cora’s handiwork could end up in stitches . . .

My Review: **I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

At the beginning of the book, I really wasn't sure how I would like it. For a first in series, I was expecting more set up and less dive right into the middle of the story. After a few chapters I was able to follow along with the story, and really enjoyed it. The two main characters are both damaged, and are starting a craft retreat in hopes of being able to heal and start over. As usual, that dream is quickly shattered as things start going wrong before the retreat even starts. But mixed in with the chaos are some heartwarming bonding moments and character growth. The mystery was well written, with some twists and enough clues to give a fair chance at figuring out the murderer.

My Manicure: So this inspiration is doilies. Not only is it right there in the title, but doilies show up in the book, too. I thought the aqua would make a pretty base, not overly bold, but not too subtle. The fact that the cover has a similar shade really is just a coincidence (but I do wish I had planned it). The base is Bonita Dali's Memory. Then I stamped it with Zoya Purity and Pueen 28. I'm absolutely loving this look, and I had better luck with my clear stamper.