Review – Paying Back the Dead

I recently discovered the novels written by author Carrie Marsh and am excited to share that I am now a part of her ‘street team’ or review team for those of you unaware of the term. Basically this means that I get access to her latest novels a little bit before the book is released to the public. Read on for my review on her latest novel that was just released called Paying Back the Dead.

Paying Back the Dead by Carrie Marsh

My Review:

This was the first novel I’ve read written by author Carrie Marsh and I’m happy to report that I am now officially a big fan of her work. Cozy mysteries are one of my favorite reading genres and I love when supernatural touches are thrown into the mix, especially when it involves a cat! One of the best things about Carrie’s novel is that even though it’s technically part of a series, it can totally be read as a standalone. If you love the book then you can go back and read the ones that came before it and the new book hasn’t ruined the storyline for the previous ones.

Paying Back the Dead is a cozy mystery set in a small town where news travels fast and the dead body count seems to be on the rise. Laura finds herself involved in uncovering clues for another mystery and puts herself in danger while attempting to clear her family from being charged with a crime they didn’t commit. This story is filled with mystery, humor, love and just a touch of magic. I enjoyed the writing style and I thought the clues were well-placed in the story without giving away whodunnit too early in the game.

This was a quick, fun read, and I suggest it to anyone looking for a bit of laughter and mystery that won’t make you scared to fall asleep at night. I’m looking forward to going back and reading the previous novels in the series and then working my way back through the author’s other novels too.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a complimentary review copy via the author. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Book

Title: Paying Back the Dead

Author: Carrie Marsh

Published: March 31, 2017

Book Blurb: The only thing worse than death is taxes…

With two solved murders behind her, Laura Howcroft is more than content with her calm, tranquil existence as The Woodend Cottage Hotel receptionist. Little more than year in the small village of Millerfield and Laura has already seen enough bloodshed to last her a life time. Things have been quite recently in the small British village and Laura can only hope they stay that way. Peaceful, calm and simple.

But when Laura discovers she has a cousin in the village, an encounter that rapidly uncovers the unexpected murder of her cousin’s husband, Laura knows that the only way to help out is to investigate for her. With the Police pointing fingers at Judy Hugh, the wife of the recently deceased local tax-official, Laura, Howard and Monty are on the trail again.

After all who in their right mind would want to murder a much-mistrusted tax official..?

Can Laura uncover the real killer that left a tax-man horribly murdered?

Or will her own recently-rediscovered cousin take the fall for the death of her husband?

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 Arielle Joy

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Review – See You Soon Broadway

Today I’m excited to share a review for a novel called See You Soon Broadway, written by author Melissa Baldwin. The second in the series is about to be released next week on Tuesday, April 5th, and I thought it was appropriate to start from the beginning, where it all began.

Seen You Soon Broadway by Melissa Baldwin

My Review:

See You Soon Broadway is the first in series by Melissa Baldwin. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Melissa’s writing and it’s all completely true. Her story was thoroughly entertaining and well-written. Filled with subtle humor, romance, major life decisions and changes, this was a wonderful story to read and I can’t wait to read the next one, which is about to be published!!!

The first book in the series begins the story of Maris finding herself, both in her personal and professional life. There’s an interesting twist where she begins to learn about her grandmother that she was named for and how some of her grandmothers’ past connects with her current life and potential future. We’ve got an interesting love triangle, an annoying co-worker and some thoroughly entertaining characters. I can’t wait to read the second novel to see what happens next in Maris’s life… The wait won’t be long because the second in the series, See You Later Broadway is being released soon!!

My only regret upon finishing this novel was waiting so long to read one of her stories!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a complimentary review copy via the author. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Book

Title: See You Soon Broadway

Author: Melissa Baldwin

Published: August 2015

Book Blurb: Maris Forrester has a wonderful life with an amazing boyfriend and a fulfilling job. She’s happy and content . . . or so she thinks. Maris has always had huge dreams of being on Broadway. Ever since her very first performance as a child, she has envisioned herself on the stage under the shining lights. Now she has to decide whether she should to give up her wonderful life to chase those dreams.

When her parents announce they are moving, she comes across a long-lost family treasure. She doesn’t realize that this treasure may hold the key to her future and to all her dreams coming true.

And if that wasn’t sign enough, a mysterious stranger throws another wrench in the mix at a dazzling rooftop party benefiting the Arts. These could be signs of things to come.

But will she remain content in her perfect world, or will she step into the unknown world she has always dreamed of?

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Interested in Melissa’s newest addition to the series, or already read the first one? Check out her new novel, See You Later Broadway.

See You Later Broadway by Melissa Baldwin

Published: April 5, 2017

Book Blurb: It’s finally here . . . the much-anticipated sequel to See You Soon Broadway! Maris is back!

Decisions, decisions, decisions . . .

Maris Forrester’s exciting new life is not everything she was hoping it would be. Although she’s happy in her new career, she’s plagued with the feeling that something is still missing. Imagine her surprise when an old friend presents her with an unbelievable opportunity that could change everything. This new career sounds almost too good to be true, including the upcoming trip to London. She quickly learns that even the most perfect scenarios have their drawbacks, and when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is . . .

In addition to making a life-changing career choice, Maris realizes she has other decisions to make—whom to love and where to find happiness. What if neither is what she thought they should be?

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 

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Guest Post – 5 Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep during Pregnancy

Today I’m sharing a guest post written by a fellow social media influencer and I’m excited because this is the first time I’m sharing a post about health and wellness. I’ve always envisioned my blog to be a lifestyle blog that encompasses a variety of topics that affect myself and those around me and there’s nothing more important than one’s well-being. Many of the following tips can be helpful for anyone looking to feel better and get better sleep, not just for that gals that are pregnant.

5 Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep during Pregnancy

Guest Post by Sundus Munir

Sleeping difficulties are not all that uncommon during pregnancy, as it can be challenging to find that proper position that allows you to drift off into dreamland. There are also hormonal fluctuations to consider, as well as the usual anxiety and depression. As your bladder becomes increasingly cramped, you may also have to get up several times during the night to empty it.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to enhance your ability to get a good night’s sleep during your pregnancy, so be sure to read on and learn more. After all, few things are more important during this period than getting the proper amount of rest.

1. Get Into the Correct Position

Once your pregnancy has passed the 20 week mark and finding the proper position becomes even more important, you will want to avoid lying flat on your back at all costs. Sleeping on your left side allows the blood to flow to the fetus more easily and enhances the health of your kidneys and uterus. If you have problem getting the perfect position, consider using a U shaped pregnancy pillow that will support your body during pregnancy.

2. Don’t Skimp on Fluids

While some women will cut down on the amount of fluids that they are taking in throughout the day in hopes of avoiding repeated trips to the bathroom during the night, it is best to consume plenty of fluids during the day time and cut back as you get closer to bedtime to enhance your chances of being able to sleep through the night with minimal distraction.

3. Remain Active

The prospect of remaining active during a pregnancy may seem counter intuitive, but by exercising on a regular basis, you are able to steer clear of the issues that are caused by a lack of circulation. This helps to cut back on the occurrence of nighttime cramping in the legs and by exercising during the early part of the day, you can release all of the adrenaline that serves to keep you awake once bedtime has arrived.

4. Cut Down on Stress and Anxiety

Exercising is a great way to start cutting down on your levels of stress and anxiety, as it releases powerful endorphins that promote happier thoughts. When you allow stress and anxiety to build for too long, this will alter your sleeping patterns in an undesirable manner. If you are having problems that keep you from being able to fall asleep at night due to the worries that they are causing, don’t be afraid to contact a professional who can listen and provide you with assistance.

5. Establish a Routine

If you are altering your bedtime every night, you are not giving your body a chance to settle into a comfortable routine. Establishing a soothing routine works wonders, whether it is reading a relaxing book, drinking a cup of non-caffeinated tea or receiving a shoulder massage from your partner.

~~~

About the Writer – Sundus Munir

Bio: 
 
Sundus is a SAHM (stay at home mom) of one amazing boy. She loves sharing her personal life experiences with other women across the globe. You can be friends with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter if you would like to connect: Facebook | Twitter
 
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Battle of the Boxes: January – March 2017

Could I possibly have an obsession with getting packages delivered in the mail? Hmm, the answer to that would without a doubt be a resounding YES!

I absolutely love knowing that a package is coming. I delight in getting my packages and parcels delivered and I immediately delve into what I’ve ordered. Many of the packages I have delivered are my monthly subscription boxes, which is even better because sometimes I don’t know what products are waiting for me inside. It’s fun to be surprised every so often, especially when it’s something pretty!

At the end of 2016 I decided to cancel my Birchbox subscription but I still get Ipsy and Sephora, so I decided to start doing a monthly battle of the boxes and will declare a winner each time. Since it’s already March, I decided to bundle the past three months into one post.

At the end of the year I’ll declare an overall winner, and then possibly I may finally decide to narrow it down to just one monthly subscription. Is that possible for an addict like me? I guess only time will tell! 😉

 

January 2017

Sephora Play – January 2017

This box was 50/50 for me. I loved the Clinique black honey lippie and the It Cosmetics CC cream was decent. Although I love Tarte, I was not a fan of this stick exfoliating cleanser. I literally had to look it up online to figure out what it was because I couldn’t figure out what the ‘3’ uses were. I’m not a fan of the Ouai brand because I don’t like the scent of many of their products. I haven’t had a chance to use the Drunk Elephant whipped cream moisturizer but I’ve liked their products in the past.

Overall Sephora Play January score: 3/5

Ipsy – January 2017

My favorite thing this month was the gorgeous gold glittery nail polish and it was such a beautiful color on! I loved the eyeshadow from Manna Kadar Cosmetics. The BB cream from Smashbox was nice, but not really my type of product. The tweezers were cute but you can tell they’re not very high quality and that the paint will chip off soon. They also don’t work that well, especially since I use pointy ones from Tweezerman. I was most disappointed by the lip sugar scrub from Jelly Pong Pong. I love lip sugar scrubs and although I loved the consistency of this product I absolutely hated the scent and threw it away immediately after trying it. Other than the nail polish and eyeshadow this was probably one of my most disappointing bags, especially since I didn’t think the bag itself was very cute.

Overall Ipsy January 2017 Score: 2.5/5

January Winner: Sephora Play

February 2017

Sephora Play – February 2017

My February Sephora Play box took almost the entire month to get delivered, so that was a little disappointing but they made up for it in the product selection they sent. There was only one product that I didn’t care for this month which was the Too Faced lip injection gloss. I’m not a fan of the venom lip plumper type products because I think they mostly just burn your lips and don’t do much on the visual aspect. Pain and no gain, no thanks! Yes please to the Origins eye cream, Clinique pep-start hydro-blur moisturizer, Sephora Lashcraft mascara and the Nars velvet lip glide.

Overall Sephora Play February Score: 4/5

Ipsy – February 2017

Ipsy made a major comeback this month and I fell in love with almost everything in my bag (other than the bag itself, which I liked but felt like it should have had a Valentine’s Day theme)! I loved the Luna highlighter, the NYX butter lipstick, the VENeffect anti-aging lip treatment and the Trust Fund Beauty nail polish in $12 latte. The only thing I didn’t love was the BellaPierre mascara because it took so long to dry that each time I used it, it got all over my under-eyes. I understand if a mascara takes a minute to dry, but 5 minutes should be more than enough time to not worry about making a mess on my face after application.

Overall Ipsy February 2017 Score: 4.5/5

February Winner: although they were both winners this month, Ipsy scored a bit higher

March 2017

Sephora Play March 2017

Sephora did just okay this month. I’m loving the Living Proof dry volume blast spray and the GlamGlow mega illuminating moisturizer. I haven’t tried the Josie Maran argan finishing balm, but it smells good and I’ll try it soon. Not a fan of the Bobbi Brown cream shadow stick and although I love Benefit, I’m not a fan of creamy highlighters, I prefer powder/shadow consistency highlighters.

Overall Sephora March Score: 3/5

Ipsy March 2017

Ipsy was AMAZING this month!! I LOVE the cosmetic bag, so gorgeous. Blush is one of my favorite colors, as is the beautiful turquoise blue of the Elizabeth Mott makeup brush and Mudmasky mask container. I love the liquid lipstick from Tarte. I’ve been wanting to try their liquid lipsticks but didn’t own any, and this color is a pretty neutral. Although I don’t really need new makeup brushes, the turquoise handle looks so pretty in the jar with my other brushes and it works well so it’s pretty and functional. I haven’t tried the mask yet but masks are my number one favorite product, so I’m excited to try it. The eyeshadow isn’t super useful for me because I love using a one-stop shop palette when I only have a few minutes to do makeup, but the color is pretty. The only disappoint here was the ModelCo eyeliner crayon. Even though my sample was sealed, when I opened it the entire thing was dried out like it had been sitting in a dry warehouse for three years. Since I loved the bag, that made up for getting a completely useless product.

Overall Ipsy March 2017 Score: 5/5

March Winner: Ipsy

Overall Battle of the Boxes Winner for January, February, and March combined is… Ipsy!

Interested in getting in on the monthly action? Use my referral link and I’ll get points through their affiliate referral program. Cheers!

Tune in again for the next battle and sign up to get my posts by email if you don’t want to miss out!

 

 

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Quote – Alicia Keys

Today’s quote of the day is from an article published in the March 2017 issue of Glamour Magazine by Kimberly Drew on Alicia Keys. Alicia is a strong, powerful, inspirational individual and I loved her perspective on beauty and making a statement about who you are.

 

 

 

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Quote – Tori Bergquist

Now that I’m in my late twenties I’ve made a habit of reading the daily local newspaper to stay updated on local and international current events. Last week there was an interesting article on a woman named Tori Bergquist, who runs a matchmaking company called The Agency. The company’s mindset is an old-school matchmaking ideology where two people are paired based on compatibility. No swiping or false profiles are included here, and there is a true authenticity to the way they operate. However, it’s got an exclusive club invite only vibe, and you’re only accepted into the club if you’re attractive and wealthy. Although it sounds ridiculously shallow, it’s also somewhat refreshingly honest.

Although Toni has had trouble finding the own love of her life, she has much experience on helping others. If you’re willing to take a little advice, here’s Toni’s words, directly from the article.

Toni’s Love Advice:

1. Love requires that you increase your emotional intelligence.

2. Prioritize relationships over possessions. “Without someone to share it with, it’s just stuff.”

3. Being nice is your most attractive quality.

4. Burn the checklist of what you think you need in a relationship. “Follow your heart.”

5. Look for love in your own age group, and try to find someone with similar life experiences.

6. Find someone who hates the same things you do.

7. Look for someone who wants to learn about life with you.

8. You don’t buy your way into someone’s heart, but you may laugh your way there.

This post contains information from the article written by Keith Sharon which appeared in The OC Register on March 24, 2017. 

 

 

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Review – Defining Her

Today I’m excited to share my review on Samantha March’s latest novel called Defining Her. I’m sorry to say that I’ve only read one of Samantha’s other books, even though I’ve purchased all of her novels and they’re all sitting and waiting for me on my iPad. This book definitely inspired me to bump those up the TBR list!

Defining Her by Samantha March

My Review:

Defining her is a wonderful women’s fiction novel about what defines us as individuals. We are not defined by who we were and what we’ve done in the past, but by who we are now and our current actions. We are not defined by where we come from and what our upbringing was like, but on where we are now and what we have made of our lives. Just because you have a history of being a good person, doesn’t give you a free pass to be a bad person now. And just because you’ve had a tough past, doesn’t mean that you can’t be a better person today.

We all have different experiences in life and have taken different paths to where we stand today. It’s so important to be true to yourself and sometimes that includes being 100% honest with those you care about, even if you have a rocky past.

One of the major themes of the novel is infidelity and the effect it has on both those that cheat and those that are cheated on. There’s a difference between having a physical affair and an emotional affair, and neither is okay but both have the capacity to be put in the past to move together towards a brighter future.

Samantha created complex characters that were thoroughly intriguing. The story is written in the first person and rotates between Prue and Nellie. It includes a bit from their past in order to help you understand how they got to where they are today. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would highly recommend it.

Side note: be aware that there is a blush-worthy sex scene, but it is not included just for the sake of including a sex scene and it does add something to the story. This story also contains emotional situations that one might find uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s good to get a bit out of your comfort zone to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I purchased a copy of this novel on Amazon for $2.99. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Book

Title: Defining Her

Author: Samantha March

Published: March 11, 2017

Book Blurb: Nellie Hawthorne is a woman who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty.

Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl. Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne.

Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you won’t see coming.

This novel contains adult content, graphic language and disturbing situations.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 Arielle Joy

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