The Friday Five: Veiled Revenge by Ellen Byerrum

In honor of my favorite day of the week, I bring you The Friday Five. Every Friday I will ask the same five questions to myself, or any other willing participant! All my fellow book lovers are welcome to join in on the fun.

15808443From the publisher: Washington, D.C., fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian has always believed clothes can be magical, but she’s never thought they can be cursed. Until now. Lacey’s best friend, Stella, is finally getting married, and at her bachelorette party, fellow bridesmaid—and fortune-teller—Marie Largesse arrives with a stunning Russian shawl. A shawl, Marie warns, that can either bless or curse the wearer. When a party crasher who mocks the shawl is found dead the next day, the other guests fear the curse has been unleashed. But Lacey has her doubts, and she must employ all her Extra-Fashionary Perception to capture a villain who has vowed that nobody at this wedding will live happily ever after…

Why did you choose this book? I recently watched a re-run of Killer Hair on the Lifetime channel and felt the urge to delve into another Lacey Smithsonian adventure. And really, how could I turn away from a mystery revolving around a cursed shawl? Plus Stella’s getting hitched, which means lots and lots of outrageous fashions and melodrama galore!

Where did the author go right? Or if it’s a turkey, what went wrong? Like going to my favorite hamburger joint in a city full of restaurants, I know without a doubt that any book by Ellen Byerrum is a surefire winner. It’s like she studied me and figured out how to blend all of my most favorite elements into a book series: Quirky gal pals, vintage fashions, a headstrong reporter sleuth, and just a dash of romance. As a journalist, I tend to be a little biased toward my fellow newshounds, which must be why I’m rather fond of Lacey. But there are many other reasons why she stands out among the many amateur sleuths on my bookshelves. She’s fiercely devoted to her friends, and she’s got this mysterious connection to her aunt Mimi. Although Mimi is long gone, she still gives comfort to Lacey through the treasure trove of vintage fashions she left behind in her trunk. Wouldn’t it be fun if the author wrote a spinoff about the enigmatic Aunt Mimi? Perhaps she was a fashionable amateur sleuth back in the 1940s!

Did anything bug you about the book? Ugh, yes! Stella’s sanctimonious new-agey mother totally bugged me. I almost threw my book against the wall when she threatened to torch Stella’s pretty princess wedding gown in a “cleansing ritual.” Oh and while I’m at it, I’m also really annoyed that the Lifetime channel didn’t continue on with the series. Go here to read more about my thoughts on the books vs. TV series.

Dear Lifetime Channel, please reinstate the Crimes of Fashion series. I miss these ladies!

Dear Lifetime Channel, please reinstate the Crimes of Fashion series. I miss these ladies!

Would you read another book by this author? Absolutely! I’ve been reading this series out of order, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

How would you sum up the book in three words? Hilarious, witty, suspenseful.

The Friday Five: Naturally Charlie by S.L. Scott

In honor of the coolest day of the week, I bring you The Friday Five. Every Friday I will ask the same five questions to myself, or any other willing participant! All my fellow book lovers are welcome to join in on the fun.

15821735Synapsis: Twenty-five year old Charlotte “Charlie” Barrow is caught between her old life, and the one she is beginning to build, when she crosses paths with a handsome stranger on the subway. Not looking for romance, she closes her heart off to the possibilities of love. With a knack for mishaps, Charlie maintains her sense of humor while befriending the kind stranger who seems to be there at all the right times. New York freelance writer, Charlie Adams, is forging his own path beyond the expectations of the society circles of his childhood. Rejecting family money, and fast-lane friends, he is snubbed by his family as he follows his own compass to a life more extraordinary. Through a coincidence of events, they come to rely on each other for comfort. This is the tale of two Charlies learning to trust again while fighting their fates to create their own destiny.

Why did you choose this book? I came across this book at the Texas Book Festival last fall and couldn’t resist picking up a new title by an up-and-coming Texas author.  Although I have to admit that I dragged my heels for a while because I’m rarely in the mood for a light-hearted romance novel without sleuths, vampires or ghosties.

Where did the author go right? Or if it’s a turkey, what went wrong? Let me start off by explaining why I’m not a big fan of straight-up romance novels. The leading ladies are typically one-dimensional and painfully neurotic. They jump at the chance to be haughty and angry toward their love interest and it just grates on my nerves. There’s always a miscommunication and stupid squabbles ensue. I guess authors feel they need to do this to keep the romantic tension boiling, but it just annoys the crap out of me. But you know what surprised me about this book? I actually liked Charlie! She’s just your typical girl-next-door who loves to bake cupcakes and watch movies on a Friday night. We could totally hang out! Sure she has some serious emotional baggage, but it didn’t turn her into a complete ninny. The dynamic between her and Charlie (the dude) is very reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally….only the male Charlie is WAY hotter than Billy Crystal!

I also have to give the author props for thinking up the most bizarre first date of all time. I loved how the Charlies forged a bond under such stressful and emotionally-straining circumstances. From that moment on it was clear they were meant to be together.

Did anything bug you about the book? There were quite a few moments when I just wanted to shake Charlie and yell, “Get the hell out of the friend-zone, you idiot! He’s freakin’ perfect!”

Would you read another book by this author? Yes! When it comes to writing romance, S.L. Scott really knows how to hit the sweet spot. Her characters are believable, the dialogue is entertaining, and the grand finale is ultimately satisfying. Although I have to say that I’m a little tired of the Manhattan scene. Hopefully her next story will be set in Austin, or perhaps a small Texas town.

How would you sum up the book in three words? Sweet, romantic, cute.

The Friday Five: Pretty When She Dies by Rhiannon Frater

In honor of the coolest day of the week, I bring you The Friday Five. Every Friday I will ask the same five questions to myself, or any other willing participant! All my fellow book lovers are welcome to join in on the fun.

5966254From the publisher: Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disoriented, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry… … in a new, horrific, unimaginable way… Sating her great hunger, she discovers that she is now a vampire, the bloodthirsty creature of legend. She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travels across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature. All the while, her creator is watching. He is ancient, he is powerful, and what’s worse is that he’s a necromancer. He has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind. But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation… or her death?

Why did you choose this book? The Bookish Brunette gave it a crowned rating, so I knew it was worth a read. Plus the cover is really gruesome!

Where did the author go right? Or if it’s a turkey, what went wrong? What really set this book apart from the rest is that the author went old-school, meaning these aren’t your happy, friendly vampires that sustain themselves on animal blood. Ooooh no – they prey on humans, and sometimes it gets downright messy.  Just when I thought I was burned out on vampires, she brought me back into the fray with this spellbinding tale of bloodlust, romance and adventure. I love that the vampires abhor mirrors, and that they can’t cross over a threshold uninvited. This gothic throwback is a welcome departure from a lot of the urban fantasy crap I’ve been reading lately.  Oh and did I mention zombies are involved? Think Buffy meets The Walking Dead meets Anne Rice. In case you’re wondering, that’s the trifecta of blood-sucking awesomness!

On a side note, I would also like to mention that I REALLY appreciated the Austin infusion. Clearly this Texas woman loves her home state – and it shows in her descriptions of the rugged Hill Country landscape and Austin’s eclectic nightlife. She even mentions the gingerbread pancakes at Kirby Lane, which is pretty much the yummiest breakfast ever.

Did anything bug you about the book? The fact that it had to end kind of bugged me. Other than that, everything about the book – the plot threads, the characters, the romance – is spot on!

Would you read another book by this author? Absolutely, positively 100 percent YES! I’m already moving on to Pretty When She Kills.

How would you sum up the book in three words? Bloody, intense, fun.