Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell


Title: Once Upon a Dream
Series: Twisted Tales #2
Author: Liz Braswell

Goodreads Summary: What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

It should be simple--a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess's, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy's last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent's agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

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

The story started out so confusing, with conflicting versions of what was happening. After a while, it does finally settle into something a little bit less confusing. Since it takes place in a dream world, don't expect anything to follow any sort of rules you might be used to. In spite of all that, it was a very interesting book, and it was nice seeing the princess having to save the day rather than the prince. The ending was a little bittersweet, with no true happily ever after for Aurora, but it is a dark retelling of the story, so it's understandable.

My Manicure: Ohhh my I love this manicure. This is my first time trying Vapid Lacquer and I am in love with it! I actually received it as a gift Monday, so it was perfect timing and it was just begging to be used for this manicure. The base is Vapid Lacquer Catch Me If You Can, and I stamped using Pure Ice Silver Star and Messy Mansion MM05. I was inspired by the prince fighting Maleficent in dragon form, and on my thumb is a castle that doesn't want to show itself for pictures.


Monday, June 27, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon


Title: Cracked to Death
Series: Webb's Glass Shop Mystery #3
Author: Cheryl Hollon

Goodreads Summary: When a treasure hunt leads to deadly plunder, it's up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer . . . 

It's the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb's Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat--a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake. Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane . . . 

Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah's interest. But intrigue turns to shock when Martin's lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag. With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through unchartered territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin's death . . .

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

Oh, what a tangled web we weave... A couple of characters have managed to make a bit of a mess with their blatant lies and convenient omissions. The mystery was well written, although it felt slightly jumpy at times. There were quite a few different narrators, but my favorite had to be the dog's point of view. There was only one part of the book that I didn't like, and that was a heartbreakingly accurate description of dementia, which hit a little too close to home for me.

My Manicure: Oh wow I love this manicure so much. But a little nail stamping 101 tip - make sure your nails are shorter than the image before you start stamping. Oops... I was inspired by the cobalt colored bottles that were brought in for one of the classes. I used Sinful Colors True Kolor, which really is that perfect bottle blue shade. One little note, it does smell a little stronger than some other polishes I have, which I'm assuming is due to the blue coloring. The stamping was done with Pure Ice Silver Star and Bundle Monster BM-208. It is just so bold, yet simple.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Finally Friday - Save Our Cozies Readathon

**Nothing to Disclose**

Image courtesy of Franz Chapman/Save Our Cozies readathon

Welcome to my new feature - Finally Friday. These will be posted any Friday that I feel like posting something different. Today's post is about a very important thing to me - the Save Our Cozies group. On July 16th, the group will be doing a readathon to help bring more awareness to cozy mysteries. For more information, you can visit the readathon page here, or join the Facebook group here. I will also be posting on Twitter during the event.

Since the readathon page explains what you need to know about it, I'll be explaining why this cause is important, and what you can do to help. First of all, if you aren't familiar with cozy mysteries, they are the nice, light mysteries. They normally have an amateur sleuth, and little to no gore or sex scenes. The most well known, and probably first, cozy author is Agatha Christie.

Now, the whole reason for this group is because some of the publishers suddenly decided to cut a lot of cozy series. Cozies may not sell as much as some other genres, but the following is very loyal. Save Our Cozies was designed to help fight these cuts by bringing more attention to those awesome series. Some of the more popular series that have been canceled are:
-A Piece of Cake by Jacklyn Brady
-Cheese Shop by Avery Aames
-Betsy Devonshire Needlework by Monica Ferris
-Family Skeleton by Leigh Perry (one of my mom's favorites)
-Bad Hair Day by Nancy Cohen
For more canceled series check out the Save Our Cozies group linked above.

Here are some ways to save your favorite series, whatever the genre, that I have found through the group:

  1. The best way to help is to preorder books in your favorite series, or buy during release week. According to authors, those are the most important sales figures that the publishers look at.
  2. If you can't afford to buy the books, encourage your library to order them. That initial sale of the book helps boost the numbers, although sadly there is no way for them to count the checkouts towards sales numbers.
  3. Leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else you can think of. Once Amazon hits a certain amount of reviews on a book, the book is featured more. It also will help sway people who are waiting for reviews before they buy, which can mean higher sales - a total win-win situation. It doesn't even have to be an elaborate review. Mine are always short and straight to the point, and I normally start it out with if I liked it or not since that is the main thing people want to know.
  4. The final way to help is to suggest the books to people. On Facebook, on a blog, in person, or however you want, it doesn't matter as long as you get the word out about your favorite books.

Picture courtesy of LuAnn Braley

That is all I have for you today. Just remember that if you want your favorite series to survive, please promote them in any way you can. They really do need all the sales they can get.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Final Fondue by Maya Corrigan


Title: Final Fondue
Series: Five-Ingredient Mystery #3
Author: Maya Corrigan

Goodreads Summary: Val Deniston certainly has her plate full running a café, dabbling with recipes, and helping her grandfather prepare for the town's upcoming tri-centennial celebration, but she's grown fond of her new life in the Chesapeake Bay town of Bayport. . .

So when Val is asked to reclaim her old position as a cookbook publicist in New York City, she puts off her decision in order to help her grandfather perfect his chocolate fondue for the weekend festivity's dessert cook-off. But after the opening ceremonies, Val finds a houseguest strangled to death in her grandfather's backyard. She suspects a classic case of mistaken identity, especially when another guest nearly bids her life a fondue farewell. Now it's up to Val to keep the killer from making another stab at murder . . . 

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

When a body is found in Val's yard, there are more questions than answers. Was the victim the intended victim? Who is playing dangerous pranks on the guests? What secrets are the guests hiding? Will The Codger Cook win the cook off? All these and more will be answered in the latest installment of the five-ingredient mystery series.

That was my second attempt at writing a review for this. Just for fun, here is the first attempt:

A great addition to the five-ingredient mystery series. I was slightly hesitant on reading this book, but any issues I had with book one were gone from this book. Between Val's past catching up with her and a murder mystery, there is no break for our poor characters. The mystery kept me guessing right up to the reveal – and wow, what a reveal it was.

My Manicure:  Ok, this is definitely the most disturbing manicure I have ever done. Pointer/pinky fingers are a base of Zoya Trixie stamped with Sinful Colors Black On Black and Winstonia plate W205. This was chosen because of the Hitchcock themed rooms - one of them was The Birds, and it was the only one I could figure out how to put on my nails. The middle finger is a base of Pure Ice I Shine For You. Then I sponged on OPI I Saw...U Saw...We Saw...Warsaw, Cirque Sample, and Zoya Posh. That was then topped off with a piece of twine since our victim was strangled. As I said, it ended up being a disturbing manicure. Finally, my ring finger was a base of Sinful Colors Snow Me White with a freehanded chocolate fondue drip using Ever After Polish The Good Stuff. I chose fondue because Grandpappy makes chocolate fondue for the guest's arrival, and I needed something to cheer up this manicure. And, as we all know, chocolate makes everything better.


Monday, June 20, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Murder Has Nine Lives by Laura Levine


Title: Murder Has Nine Lives
Series: Jaine Austen Mystery #14
Author: Laura Levine

Goodreads Summary: The future is looking bright for freelance writer Jaine Austen. She's signed up for a new job, she's looking forward to a tropical vacation, and her cat Prozac is slated to star in a major commercial. But when the claws come out behind the scenes, Jaine worries that murder might be the only thing to meow about. . .

A writer's life is far from glamorous. Still, Jaine's new gig to write an ad campaign for Toiletmasters' new line of self-flushing toilets comes with a few perks--including a date with the president's dreamy nephew. And with a much-needed trip to Maui on the horizon, it seems life couldn't get any better--until her cat Prozac is tapped to star in a Skinny Kitty commercial. But Jaine never would have guessed the world of cat food could be quite so catty. . .

Jaine is nervous that Prozac won't be able to take direction, but the finicky furball ditches her diva behavior for the camera, eating and napping on cue like a seasoned pro. But just as Jaine begins dreaming of fame and fortune, Skinny Kitty's inventor drops dead on the set. Everyone is a suspect--including Jaine. And she'll have to get her paws on the truth before the killer takes a swipe at another victim. . .

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

Oh wow, I did not see that ending coming at all. The easiest way to sum up my thoughts on this book is this – if you liked her previous books, you will most likely like this one. Prozac doesn't have as many crazy antics, but Jaine's parents are still absolutely ridiculous, Lance is a pain in Jaine's butt, and Jaine is still Jaine.

My Manicure: I feel like I'm cheating a bit with this one, but I'm going with a Prozac manicure since Prozac managed to get Jaine tangled up in the middle of the murder. I used two coats of Zoya Trixie as my base, then stamped on a cat with plate QA40 and Sinful Colors Black On Black. I don't know the maker of the plate; it was just a cheap plate from a Chinese store.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder by Sara Rosett


Title: Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder
Series: Mom Zone Mystery #9
Author: Sara Rosett

Goodreads Summary: Ellie Avery is a professional organizer, not a diplomat. But by agreeing to help organize a family wedding, she's basically signed on to prevent two mothers-in-law from killing each other. It comes as a complete surprise, then, when another member of the wedding party is the one who's actually murdered . . .

Ellie's sister-in-law, Summer, has planned a four-day destination wedding at a posh private resort on one of Georgia's beautiful barrier islands, but it won't be a vacation for Ellie. Summer has asked her to assist with the last-minute details, which includes keeping the peace between the groom's mother and stepmother. 

The ladies are a handful, but the real problems are the ones Ellie and Summer haven't anticipated--like mysterious pranks directed toward the bride. When the best man shows up with the groom's gorgeous if unstable ex-girlfriend, she seems like an obvious suspect for the practical jokes. 

But when a suspicious death occurs, Ellie realizes there's more going on than mean-spirited pranks. Is Summer the killer's real target? And what could possibly be driving someone to murder? Ellie vows to get to the truth so the blushing bride can walk down the aisle without fearing she'll never reach the altar . . .

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

I really enjoyed this book. It is book nine in the series, but the first book that I have read in it, and I had absolutely no problem following the story. The pacing of the plot was great, and I adored reading about Livvie – she is such a mini-me. The ending was well written, and managed to end with me knowing who did it yet still being surprised by it.

My Manicure: This one was tough. I tried to go for wedding themed but not over-the-top wedding since I just did that two days ago. I ended up painting my nails with Sinful Colors Snow Me White. Then I painted on notebook lines with Sinful Colors True Kolor, and stamping champagne flutes with Maybelline Bold Gold and Bundle Monster plate BM-H22. The notebook lines were chosen because Ellie is an organizer, so she probably goes through a lot of notebooks. The champagne flutes are because, well, wedding.

Monday, June 13, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore


Title: Engaged in Death
Series: Wedding Planner Mystery #1
Author: Stephanie Blackmoore

Goodreads Summary: All appears peaceful in sleepy Port Quincy, Pennsylvania--but in this small town, old grudges die hard. . .

After dumping her cheating fiancé and cancelling the wedding, Mallory Shepard can't bear another disaster. So when the former bride-to-be unexpectedly inherits Thistle Park, a ramshackle mansion in her ex's hometown of Port Quincy, it's a problem she can't afford--literally. Abound with stray cats, peeling wallpaper, and nosy neighbors, Mallory is dying to sell it off--once she finally fixes up both the place and her messy life. . .

Turns out, Thistle Park has its charms. But the honeymoon phase is abruptly cut short when an unwanted visitor is found dead on the front lawn. Enlisting the help of her sister Rachel, Mallory vows to unveil the killer before she herself becomes married to the suspect list. . .

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

This was a great book. It had the authentic Pittsburgh feel, which was very important to me since I am familiar with the area. The author also did a great job of building the characters so that they were believable. Each main character had a distinct personality, and nobody felt like a “cookie-cutter” character. I also loved the slightly twisty ending.

My Manicure: Ugh this mani ended up looking like a hot mess. The idea behind it fits the book perfectly - wedding themed. I started out painting all but my ring finger with Sinful Colors Snow Me White. My ring finger was painted with Pure Ice I Shine For You. That right there was out of my comfort zone since I do not wear nude polish. Something about it ends up bugging me (one of my many quirks). For the stamping, I will explain it from thumb to pinky. It starts with love themed words stamped with Sinful Colors Black On Black and Bundle Monster plate BM-311. After that I have wedding bells from Bundle Monster plate BM-H22 stamped with Zoya Trixie - definitely not a good polish for stamping, but otherwise an awesome silver. Next comes a tuxedo with Sinful Colors Black On Black and Bundle Monster plate BM-420. Of course, you can't forget about the bride if you do a wedding mani, and that was done with Sinful Colors Snow Me White and Mash plate Mash-70, and the pearls were filled in with Sinful Colors Kovet. Finally, we have wedding bands with Zoya Trixie and Bundle Monster plate BM-H22 again.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - The Vampire Games by Stephanie Archer


Title: The Vampire Games
Series: The Vampire Games #1
Author: Stephanie Archer

Goodreads Summary: My name is Bianka, and I live in a world a lot like yours. Or at least, I used to.

Then I got harvested.

Taken into eerie darkness underneath the surface of my world, I’ve learned that cities like mine – Hidden Oaks – are just places that the vampires keep humans until it’s time to drink their blood. Now it’s my turn. They’re harvesting me.

But I’m fighting hard, and the vampires have noticed. A sponsor is buying me. A handsome, mysterious vampire with piercing eyes, who wants me to fight other humans in The Vampire Games. If I lose, I’ll be harvested. If I win, I’ll join my sponsor, Phillip, as one of them.

I’ll be turned into a vampire.

All I must do to spend an eternity with Phillip is sell my soul.

The scary part? I’d do a lot worse for him than that.

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

A quick, enjoyable read. I ended up reading this in one sitting. It didn't end on a cliffhanger, but I wish book 2 was already out because I want to see where the story will go. There were a few predictable parts, and the dreaded instalove, but otherwise it was a great story.

My Manicure: I kind of cheated on this manicure and went with the simple vampires=bloodsplatters, even though this wasn't a bloody book. I started out with two coats of Sinful Colors Black on Black. Then I took a coffee stirrer that I had cut in half and used Cupcake Polish Bloodhound to do the splattering. Next time I am definitely going to try making decals - this was such a mess (and I have pictures to prove it).

This is the nice, cleaned up version. Holographic "blood" looks totally realistic, doesn't it?

And here is my awesome pre-cleanup version. The splatters all over my fingers add to the overall effect, don't you agree? I'm really not sure which version is my favorite. Had I been able to apply the black without making a mess of my fingers, I think the pre-cleanup one would definitely be my favorite of the two.


Monday, June 6, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver


Title: Murder at the Mansion
Series: Kelly Jackson Mystery #2
Author: Janet Finsilver

Goodreads Summary: Fortunes, fineries, and foul play . . .

It’s whale-watching season in Redwood Cove, and B & B manager Kelly Jackson’s battening down the hatches for the tourist rush at Redwood Heights—a Victorian-style estate owned by her boss. And due to recent jewelry thefts, her duties include keeping track of the many dust-covered artifacts spread throughout the property. But when Kelly finds Sylvia Porter’s lifeless body, menial tasks don’t seem so terrible. Enlisting the help of a ragtag group of brainy retirees, aka the “Silver Sentinels,” Kelly’s on the hunt for clues hidden behind the mansion’s glamorous façade. . .and for a killer who may want to make history of her next!

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

Oh. My. Gosh. I think I need a vacation to coastal California after reading that. By the end of the first chapter, I could practically smell the salty ocean air. The mystery was beautifully written, with twists and turns every time I thought I had figured something out.

My Manicure: Oh my gosh this was nearly impossible to photograph. Either the holo wouldn't show and my skin tone was crazy, or the holo showed but was crazy blurry. This picture had the best balance of in focus and holo bling. I chose a raven/feather theme for two reasons. The first reason is because Kelly chose a raven before she left home. The other reason - well, you'll just have to read the book to find out. I started with 3 coats of ILNP Mega (X). I nearly blinded myself with the holo when I topcoated it - it is seriously that intense. Then I stamped the ravens with Winstonia plate W205, and the feathers with Bundle Monster BM-419. All stamping was done with Sinful Colors Black on Black.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - High Strung by Janice Peacock


Title: High Strung
Series: Glass Bead #1
Author: Janice Peacock

Goodreads Summary: After inheriting a house in Seattle, Jax O'Connell is living the life of her dreams as a glass beadmaker and jewelry designer. When she gets an offer to display her work during a bead shop’s opening festivities, it's an opportunity Jax can't resist—even though Rosie Perez, the store's owner, is the surliest person Jax has ever met. 

The weekend’s events become a tangled mess when a young beadmaker is found dead nearby and several oddball bead enthusiasts are suspects. Jax must string together the clues to clear her friend Tessa's name—and do it before the killer strikes again.

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

This was an interesting book. The characters were well written, and I loved the little cat-astrophe early on in the book. The mystery had a nice pace, and some good minor twists.

My Manicure: For this manicure, I was inspired by - what else - beads. I used Zoya Rue as my base, and stamped it with Maybelline Bold Gold and Pueen-26. It ended up with a sort of drapey beaded look - not as flashy as the beads described in the book, but a nice, sophisticated look.