Monday, October 31, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby


Title: The Champagne Conspiracy
Series: Wine Country Mystery #7
Author: Ellen Crosby

Goodreads Summary: Winter has come to the Montgomery Estate Vineyard in Atoka, Virginia. Lucie Montgomery and winemaker Quinn Santori have decided to make champagne, a first for the vineyard.
But then Gino Tomassi, Quinn’s uncle, turns up on their doorstep one afternoon, demanding help in solving the mystery of what happened to Zara Tomassi, the first wife of his grandfather, who died in a San Francisco hotel in 1923 under suspicious circumstances. And it seems there’s no coincidence that her death came the day after President Warren Harding passed away in that same hotel. Gino needs answers before his blackmailer takes him for all he’s worth—or exposes an explosive family secret.
Lucie searches for what happened almost a hundred years ago as she delves into Prohibition-era Washington, D.C.—a town of bootlegging and duplicity, jazz clubs and speakeasies. But then the investigation turns deadly, threatening Lucie, her relationship with Quinn, and the vineyard, as they realize someone is still out there nearly a century later who will go to any lengths to keep the truth about Zara’s death a buried secret.

My Review: **I voluntarily reviewed this ARC**

I really enjoyed this book, but I felt there were too many threads to the story. In the end, they were all tied up in a neat little bow, but during the story it just felt a bit confusing. I haven't read any of the other books in this series, so I felt a little lost when it came to some of the characters and relationships, but I was still able to follow the story.

My Manicure: Oops, accidental wedding nails. I originally wanted a Grim Reaper along with the champagne flutes so it would coordinate with the cover, but I don't have a Grim Reaper stamp. I started out with two coats of Finger Paints Paper Mache. I don't know if the formula is a lot better than other white polishes or if the ridge filling base coat is a miracle product, but for once I had no issues trying to apply white polish. I topped that with one coat of Sinful Colors Kovet to give it a nice, neutral, off-white look since white is just too stark against my skin. Then I stamped the champagne flutes with Bundle Monster plate H22 and Bundle Monster Heart of Gold. The result? Nails that are more suited for a wedding than a murder mystery, but still a lovely look that ties in with the title.


Friday, October 28, 2016

26 Great Nail Art Ideas - Halloween in the Wrong Colors

**Nothing to Disclose**

Ooooh this is such a fun prompt. I immediately knew exactly what I wanted to do. The base is two coats of ILNP Bikini Bottoms. Such a fun, summery color... for Halloween. Then I stamped the spiderwebs with MoYou London Festive 15 and Bundle Monster So Metal. I absolutely adore this look. I originally thought of using black for the stamping but figured it broke the rules of "wrong colors". I'm glad I went with the silver instead - it goes so well with this look.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - A Killer Closet by Paula Paul


Title: A Killer Closet
Series: N/A
Author: Paula Paul

Goodreads Summary: In a fashionably cozy short mystery novel, Paula Paul introduces a tenacious heroine who leaves big-city life behind and returns to picturesque Santa Fe, New Mexico—where murder lands on her doorstep.

Irene Seligman loves the warmth and beauty of her Southwest hometown, but only one thing could make her quit her prestigious job as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan to return there: the guilt applied by her demanding mother, Adelle. After Adelle’s most recent husband dies, leaving her with nothing, Irene decides to take a break from prosecuting criminals to move back to Santa Fe and open an upscale consignment store. With Irene’s determination and her mother’s eye for haute couture, they’re sure to make a killing.

But on the day of the grand opening, Irene discovers the body of one of Adelle’s friends in her storeroom. And although the intrigue causes business to boom, when someone else from Adelle’s social circle is murdered, Irene begins to suspect her mother might be in danger too. Ever the protective daughter, Irene investigates her mother’s friends, suspicious that they’re hiding more than designer clothes in their closets. But as she gets closer to uncovering some real skeletons, Irene might not live to regret coming home again.

My Review: **I received an ARC from NetGalley**

The idea behind the mystery was really good, it just didn't feel like it was executed very well. There were many parts where I felt confused, and the ending was very muddled. The setting was very well written. I've never been to Santa Fe, but I did feel like I was back in New Mexico reading it.

My Manicure: The whole time I was reading this, all I could think about was New Mexico. So I dragged out my Winstonia Viva la Fiesta plate and got to work. The base is ILNP Interstellar because I just could not bear to remove it. I then stamped with Viva la Fiesta and Bundle Monster So Metal. The images are peppers, because when it's chile pepper season in New Mexico, you know it. All of the grocery stores have people outside roasting sacks of peppers for people. The parking lots are filled with the spicy, slightly charred scent of peppers for weeks. The other image I used is a floofy skirt. Yes, I intentionally used that spelling because poofy and fluffy just don't describe it. I can just imagine wearing one of these skirts (in bright primary colors) and dancing to Tejano music (or was that Texas?).


Monday, October 24, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Putting on the Witch by Jim and Joyce Lavene


Title: Putting on the Witch
Series: Retired Witches #3
Author: Jim and Joyce Lavene

Goodreads Summary: In the latest mystery from the bestselling authors of Looking for Mr. Good Witch, the retired witches of Wilmington, North Carolina, are ready to kick up their heels...

With their coven’s spell book still missing, Molly and Elsie—along with their ghostly friend Olivia, her daughter Dorothy, and her boyfriend Brian—are all on edge, especially now that Dorothy’s infamously wicked father is back in the picture. So when they receive an invitation to an exclusive Witches Ball, the ladies jump at the chance to dress up and have some fun.

The castle locale is spectacular and the party is hopping, but the festivities come to a swift end when a member of the Grand Council of Witches is murdered. With the whole place on lock down, the coven is determined to find the cunning killer, even with an angry council and a real Spanish Inquisitor breathing down their necks...

My Review: **I received an ARC from NetGalley**

This was an absolutely magical book. I haven't read the first two, yet I was immediately swept up into their world and never felt lost. They give just enough information that you understand the characters, but never so much that it spoils previous books. The characters were beautifully written. I loved that the elderly characters were nontraditional yet still felt like real people. The magical twist on a locked room mystery was a nice change from typical books.

My Manicure: I am adoring how magical this manicure looks. I kept it simple by doing two coats of ILNP Interstellar. Yup, all of that amazingness is packed into one polish. I didn't do any art with this because I feel that anything I do would detract from the polish. It really is even more magical than the picture shows. If you look at my pinky, you can see a hint of the shiftiness that is trying to hide from the camera.

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October 3 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

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October 8 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW*

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October 10 – Socrates' Book Reviews - SPOTLIGHT

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October 11 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT*

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October 15 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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October 21 - Murder, Mystery & More... – REVIEW

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Finally Friday - What Makes a Cozy Uncozy?

Earlier this week, I came across an interesting conversation. Does cursing violate the rules of a cozy? What made it so interesting was the variety of opinions on cozy rules. According to, cozies typically follow the rules of "no gore, no profanity, and no explicit sex" (you can read more of their definition here). As you can see, these rules consider profanity to be uncozy. But what about "personal  rules" for cozies? And if cozies are a sub-genre of mysteries, can you have a sub-genre of cozies that allows for breaking some of these rules?

I'll start with my opinions of the big issue - profanity. While I personally don't mind some cursing in books, I do have a mini set of rules for cozies. The biggest one is that it has to feel in-character. If I'm reading a long-running series where the character never swears, and all of a sudden they are swearing, I won't like it. But, if I'm reading a new series and the character swears a bit, I won't mind because that is how the character is introduced. This isn't saying that I approve of it, just that it can still work in a cozy depending on the scenario. But, I do wish authors would put a warning in the book description if there is either a lot of swearing or if it uses strong curse words

Now, on to gore. This is the main reason I love cozies so much. I don't need graphic descriptions of a crime scene. Give me a super quick description of the scene and my imagination can fill in the rest without a problem. This is one of the cozy rules I am very strict on. Gore fits much better with the feel of thrillers than cozies.

Hmm, explicit sex scenes. These definitely do not belong in cozies. A little romance, a little hinting at what might have gone on, etc is fine. Anything beyond that turns into a romance with a dash of mystery. I know this sounds like a nit-picky distinction, but the amount of romance in a book with explicit scenes takes so much away from the mystery that it feels like the mystery isn't the main focus of the book.

So those are my opinions on the major cozy rules. But, I've added personal rules for cozies. Do NOT put children or animals in danger. Nothing ruins the coziness of a mystery for me like violence towards the defenseless. A minor one is when a beloved character is murdered. I know this happens in real life, but I always feel it adds too much realism to a story. Also devastating diseases. Again, too real for cozies. Complete psychopaths are also a bit of a no-no for me. I know that one is a bit weird, but those characters disturb me more than just the typical killers. Speaking of killers, I also do not like when it ends up being self-defence. I think the reason I hate it is because I try to figure out who the murderer is and what their motive was, so self-defence ruins the whole motive bit.

The sub-genres of cozies is something I always find interesting. There are many of them, but even the romantic cozies still follow basic cozy rules - including no explicit sex scenes. The way they differ from regular cozies is that they focus on the romantic aspect more than a typical cozy. I would love if there was a sub-genre that allowed for something in between cozy and traditional mysteries. This would allow for books that are a little much for a cozy but a little light for a regular mystery. Sort of an "edgy cozy" sub-genre for those days that you want something a little more.

I would absolutely love for everyone to comment with their opinions on this, and also if you have some personal rules. The only request I have is this - please respect others' opinions.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

**Nothing to Disclose**

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Author: Sarah J Maas

Goodreads Summary: Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

My Review: 3.5 stars

I'm a bit torn on this one. Overall I think I liked it, but all the romance was a bit ridiculous. It dragged a bit during the middle and towards the end, but that ending. Wow. Even though I wasn't 100% in love with this book I have to read the next one to see what is going to happen.

My Manicure: Not my normal style, but I'm loving the simple yet bold look. The design is based off of Feyre's tattoos from her bargain with Rhysand. That part happens in A Court of Thorns and Roses, but, since they are a form of tattoo, she still has them. The base is three coats of Pure Ice I'll Shine For You. The stamping was done with Bundle Monster Straight Up Black and Mash 58.


Monday, October 17, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides by Mary McHugh


Title: High Kicks, Hot Chocolate, and Homicides
Series: Happy Hoofers #5
Author: Mary McHugh

Goodreads Summary: Murder takes center stage . . .

It’s a Christmas miracle for the Happy Hoofers—Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini. They’ve scored a gig at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall with the legendary Rockettes, complete with sexy Santa suits and microphones on their shoes. But when a dazzling diva of a dancer is found dead under the stage, there’s quite a lineup of suspects. In between rehearsals and seasonal sightseeing—and the discovery of a multi-talented, multi-colored cat—the toe-tapping troupe has to sort out the intrigue before another victim kicks the bucket . . .

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

This is a great winter book. I can just imagine being snuggled into a blanket next to a fire, sipping a nice hot cup of coffee while snow is gently falling outside (or, since I'm a northerner, watching blizzard conditions). It's light, it's cozy, it's predictable. Pretty much, it's just that perfect mix for a cold winter's day. I do feel that it leaned a little more towards “light romantic mystery” than a straight cozy mystery, but the main characters felt so real that it didn't matter. It felt weird to me that the entire mystery was fully explained by about 2/3rds of the way in, leading to a few too many climactic scenes. Although it did get amusing when Mary Louise realizes how ridiculous it was getting. A major plus for me was the fact that this can be read as a standalone, and it also doesn't leave any unresolved plotlines.

My Manicure: I went super simple on this one. Sinful Colors Rich in Heart because is such a gorgeous chocolatey brown. It really reminds me of a nice, cozy cup of hot chocolate.


Friday, October 14, 2016

26 Great Nail Art Ideas - Blue and Silver

**Nothing to Disclose**

Hooray! Time for another round of Crumpet's Nail Tarts. This year, it is 26 Great Nail Art Ideas. This means every other Friday I'll be posting a new manicure based on the prompt. Since the first prompt is blue and silver, I went with my absolute favorite blue - Sinful Colors True Kolor. Blue and silver makes me think nautical, so I looked through my plates until I found my Winstonia Absolutely Nautical plate. I used Bundle Monster So Metal for the stamping. I love how opaque it is, but I do find it a little thick to work with. I've had to relearn how to scrape with it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Death By Pumpkin Spice by Alex Erickson


Title: Death By Pumpkin Spice
Series: Bookstore Cafe #3
Author: Alex Erickson

Goodreads Summary: Bookstore café owner Krissy Hancock would rather spend Halloween serving pumpkin goodies than wearing costumes with Pine Hills’ wealthiest at Yarborough mansion, especially when the soiree shapes up to be more trick than treat . . .

As if a run-in with an old flame and a failed marriage proposal weren’t enough to horrify Krissy for one night, a woman is found strangled to death in a room filled with ominous jack-o’-lanterns. All signs suggest a crime of passion—but when the hostess’s jewelry disappears, malevolent intentions seem way more likely . . .

With the estate on lockdown and a killer roaming the halls, Krissy must help Officer Paul Dalton investigate each nook, cranny, and guest for answers—while also confronting a few demons of her own. Someone has lots of skeletons in the closet, and Krissy better tread lightly to expose them . . .

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

A highly enjoyable mystery. I loved that it was a locked room mystery. I feel like there aren't many of those written. The books are definitely best read in order. I haven't read book two yet and I was slightly confused with Krissy having a history with a character I've never met. Despite that confusion, I really enjoyed it and I'm curious what book four will bring.

My Manicure: Coffee! I love coffee! Even though my camera was a brat and wouldn't capture this properly. Base is Philly Loves Lacquer 2AM Coffee Run - the perfect base for a coffee manicure. Then I used MoYou London Cookbook 3 and Bundle Monster Straight Up Black for the coffee beans. I'm not sure what went wrong with the picture. I can see the stamping much better in real life than the picture. In case it's too hard to see, it's coffee beans on my ring and middle fingers. The photo is slightly color adjusted to bring out the stamping.

Monday, October 10, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - The Murder of a Queen Bee by Meera Lester


Title: The Murder of a Queen Bee
Series: Henny Penny Farmette #2
Author: Meera Lester

Goodreads Summary: All abuzz about murder . . .

Former police officer Abigail Mackenzie has made a fresh start as a beekeeper and farmer in picturesque Las Flores, California—but she never suspected her new hometown would prove to be a hive of criminal activity.

When Abby invites her free-spirited friend, Fiona Mary Ryan, owner of Ancient Wisdom Botanicals, to her farmette for lunch, she never imagines that Fiona’s no-show will lead to a murder investigation.

Only hours after their lunch date, Fiona’s body is found in a burning car in what at first appears to be a tragic accident. But after the coroner’s report is issued, it’s clear she was dead before being placed in the vehicle. Someone has gone to great lengths to cover up a murder. But who—and why?

Driven by her loyalty to her friend, and her deeply ingrained skills as a trained investigator, Abby sorts through suspects—who seem to be sprouting up everywhere. Speculating that Fiona’s herbal business might hold the key to motive, Abby isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to smoke out a killer . . .

Includes farming tips and delicious recipes!

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

It took me a while to get into this book, but I did end up enjoying it. The author paints an absolutely amazing picture, and strangely this was what made it hard for me to get into the book at the beginning. It seemed to have a little too much focus on the descriptions and not enough on the story. The ending also seemed to drag out a little too long, which made the climactic ending a bit anticlimactic by the time it ended. But overall it was well written with an interesting mystery.

My Manicure: So, I'm going to start by saying that it is really hard to draw a straight line on a curved surface with my non-dominant hand. Yeah, I ended up with slightly wonky bees that have a strange resemblance to the Steeler's throwback jerseys. The yellow is 3 coats of an unlabeled Color Club. Then I freehanded the stripes with a Kiss Black striping polish, and dabbed a coat of Finger Paints Th-ink Outside the Box on the other fingers. Simple, but with a very clear inspiration.


Friday, October 7, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - A Charming Voodoo by Tonya Kappes - Review and GIVEAWAY!!

**Press Sample**

I'm doing things a bit different today. It'll still be my normal post, but this time, I'm part of Tonya Kappe's blog tour. And, as an added bonus, there are not one, but TWO giveaways. So, without further ado, to the blog post!

Title: A Charming Voodoo
Series: Magical Cures #10
Author: Tonya Kappes

Goodreads Summary: Bubble. . . bubble. . . 
Whispering Falls is abuzz with the new 
housing development and new shops 
popping up all over the magical 
village right before the annual All 
Hallow’s Eve celebration. 

Cures and trouble. . . 
June Heal’s intuition 
is on high alert and she just can’t shake 
that something bad is about to happen. 

Magic stirs . . . 
June finds Violet Draper standing over a dead body 
In the new pumpkin patch hours before it’s supposed 
to open for hayrides. 

And trouble doubles . . . 
Once again, June has to put her sleuthing skills to work 
and figure out who the real killer is before the new 
citizens pack up and move right back out of town

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

This was such a cute story. And I have no idea why I just described a murder mystery as cute, but that really is how I feel about it. The setting is an adorable, quaint little village, the characters are quirky, and it just all works. The mystery was enjoyable. I didn't quite have it figured out, but there was enough there to give me that little niggling feeling.

My Manicure: Oh, this one looks much better in person. The colors I chose show up perfectly under my lighting, but my camera decided to be a total diva and not pick it up accurately. The base is one coat of Sinful Colors Black on Black. I love this color for two reasons - one coat for glossy black perfection, and it's cheap. Seriously, it's hard to beat $2 for a bottle of polish that applies this well. I stamped the leaves - June's newest charm - with Bundle Monster plate H11 and Bundle Monster stamping polish Expedition Pearl. The other fingers I wanted a magical type look, so I picked up Baroness X Doomfire. Funny thing, it's purple. So I thought I would have a nice purply magical look. But the red duochrome part came out instead, so now I guess I have slightly evil looking magical nails? Even weirder? In some lighting you can see green along with the red.

And now, for the giveaways! Both of them are nice, easy-peasy entries. For the first one - a chance to win an audiobook of one of the Magical Cures books - just leave a comment about your favorite Tonya Kappes series. My favorite is Kenni Lowry - Fixin' to Die was so much fun.

The second giveaway is in the Rafflecopter widget. Just follow the directions for a chance to win an awesome big prize! Look at how amazing that prize bundle looks!

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - Unlucky Charms by Linda O. Johnston


Title: Unlucky Charms
Series: Superstition Mystery
Author: Linda O. Johnston

Goodreads Summary: Rory Chasen, manager of the Lucky Dog Boutique in Destiny, California, hopes her new line of good-luck doggy toys will be a hit, especially the stuffed rabbits with extra-large feet. The timing of the line’s debut proves ill-fated, though, as several local shops—including Rory’s—are ransacked and vandalized with spilled salt and other unlucky charms.

The most likely culprit is disgruntled real estate agent Flora Curtival, whose issues with the town give her a motive. But when Flora is murdered and one of Rory’s toy rabbits is found with the body, Rory needs all the luck she can get while trying to determine just who killed the superstitious vandal.

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

I had such high hopes for this book. It wasn't bad, just not quite what I was expecting. The story was slower than what I'm used to, and it went on a bit too much about superstitions. I understand that the town takes superstitions seriously, but it felt excessive even knowing that. Any time that I thought the story was picking up, the action fizzled out fast. The climax was a little anticlimactic, but I was shocked by who the killer was.

My Manicure: Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore holo polish? If not, it's probably obvious by the amount of holos I've been using. As usual, I chose my base color because I wanted an excuse to wear it, and the black cats are because they feature in the story and are part of a common superstition. 3 coats of ILNP Mega (L). I probably could've gotten away with 2 coats, but with the length of my nails I wanted to be safe. Black cats are stamped with MoYou London Festive 15 and Bundle Monster Straight Up Black. It seems to stamp a lot better than Sinful Colors Black on Black. This look would also work as a non-traditional Halloween manicure.


Monday, October 3, 2016

My Nails and My Book Review - The Crown by Kiera Cass

**Nothing to Disclose**

Title: The Crown
Series: The Selection #5
Author: Kiera Cass

Goodreads Summary: When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

My Review: There is something that I just adore about this series. I loved Eadlyn's character growth through the story, and I loved watching her find out that she really does have a heart. I think overall it was a little bit more of a happy story than the original trilogy, although she still had many obstacles to overcome as she tries to find her true love.

My Manicure: Ok, no laughing at this one, even though the story is a bit funny. I chose Vapid Pegasus Poots (yes, the name makes me giggle) to coordinate with the cover. Not an exact match, but red/pink based purples don't work too well on me, so I'm working with what looks good on my skin tone. I wanted to do a tiara stamp because, well, look at the title. I figured a very literal interpretation of the book would work well, and Eadlyn has a bit of an obsession with tiaras, so it would be perfect. Except I don't have any tiara images. A couple of crown images, but that just wasn't going to work. So, plan b. I grabbed my tiara as a prop.Yes, I have a tiara. Yes, I have worn it when it isn't Halloween. And that's how I ended up with this seriously awkwardly posed photo (my fingers apparently do not like tiaras).