Brooklyn Girls – Gemma Burgess

I was given a chance to review the two Brooklyn Girls books by Gemma Burgess for Chick Lit Central and I am so happy that I said yes! After reading the first one, I can’t wait to dive into the second one titled ‘Love and Chaos’.

Here is a link to my full review: http://www.chicklitcentral.com/2014/04/guest-book-review-brooklyn-girls.html

If you’d like to buy this book, go here!

PopSugar Must Have Box Review – April 2014

I can never get enough of PopSugar Must Have boxes and I am always excited when one lands on my doorstep. I received this box on Thursday but didn’t get around to posting my review until today. So here it is, a peek into the Must Have Box for April:

The box is shipped via FedEx and comes with an information packet detailing every item you receive in the box.

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Blue Avocado (Eco) Shopper – Collapsible Tote Bag ($25): I love this bag although after I looked at the website, I wish they would have given us a different pattern. However, this is still one of my favorite items in the April box and I plan on using it on my next trip to the grocery store!

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Too Faced Natural Eyes ($36): This is one of my favorite shadow palettes I’ve received in a while – the colors are absolutely perfect for me. In addition, this item comes with a ‘how to’ guide which shows you how to mix/apply.

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Graphic Image Pocket Notes ($20): What is it with every subscription box putting in a notebook these days? I admit that I do love notebooks but at the rate I keep receiving them, I probably won’t need to shop for a new one for a few years! However…this particular notebook is very well made and I love the blue color it came in.

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Caldrea Rosewater Driftwood Hand Soap ($10.50): This soap is fantastic and smells wonderful. I immediately put it out in our house and have already received compliments from some of our visitors. I will definitely be picking up another bottle of this when we run out.

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Fresh Pastry Stand Totally Awesome Tea Towel Set ($18): I really like these towels – they are a lot of fun and I think I will put them in our bar downstairs (since they will break up the color scheme in our kitchen).

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NatureBox PopSugar Must Have Mix ($5): I love NatureBox products and this mix was specifically made for PopSugar. It’s definitely tasty – it’s a medley of almonds, soybeans, corn and cranberries.

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Verdict: I really enjoyed the products in the April PopSugar box plus I paid $39.95 for this box and received around $115 worth of products. The shopper bag and eye shadow made the box for me. Overall, another great month for PopSugar!

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Are you a PopSugar member? To sign up, go here!

Coupon: Use code REFER5 to save $5 off your first box!

Ladies Night – Mary Kay Andrews

ladies-nightSummary: Take a splash of betrayal, add a few drops of outrage, give a good shake to proper behavior and take a big sip of a cocktail called…Ladies’ Night!

Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool.  Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style.  Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal.  So is attending court-mandated weekly “divorce recovery” therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality.  When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday “Ladies’ Night” sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined.  Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there?

Heartache, humor, and a little bit of mystery come together in a story about life’s unpredictable twists and turns.  Mary Kay Andrews’ Ladies’ Night will have you raising a glass and cheering these characters on. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: Mary Kay Andrews is one of my favorite authors and I just can’t get enough of her books. I read Ladies Night last summer before I started my blog and figured since the paperback version is coming out on April 29th, I would write my review now!

Ladies Night is another winner from Mary Kay Andrews and was one of my favorite summer reads from 2013. The story centers on the protagonist Grace Stanton, who is the voice behind GraceNotes, a lifestyle blog that she built from the ground up. Grace has the ideal life – a gorgeous husband and business partner, an exquisite mansion and a fantastic job. However, one night that perfect life comes crashing down when Grace finds her husband cheating on her with her assistant J’Aimee and reacts by running her husband’s car into their pool. Then, the next day Grace finds herself locked out of her home, blog, and bank accounts and is forced to attend group therapy sessions and move in with her mom, who lives above a local beach bar.

It is through these therapy sessions that Grace meets a group of other divorcees, who all have their own heartbreaking stories to tell. I loved the different women (and one male) in Grace’s group who are very unique and amusing in their own ways. After the group’s coach turns a little odd (by even passing out in one session), the girls and Wyatt (the lone male member) decide to meet at Grace’s mom’s bar The Sandbox, which becomes their local hangout for drinks, food and conversation.

Ladies Night takes you on Grace’s journey to rediscovery and redemption as she attempts to renovate a rundown cottage and reinvent her blog while developing a connection with Wyatt, who is struggling with his own divorce and custody battle with his ex Callie. The cast of characters in this book are magnificent and hilarious – I absolutely loved the craziness and humor of Wyatt’s dad Nelson and how adorable and sweet Wyatt’s son Bo was.

This is the perfect beach read and will have you laughing the entire time. I think I finished this in one weekend and couldn’t bring myself to put it down. Ladies Night is an uplifting story of overcoming obstacles while staying true to yourself and is full of plot twists and unexpected surprises. Another satisfying novel and hit from Mary Kay Andrews – I highly recommend picking up a copy!

Also, we are thrilled that Mary Kay Andrews has agreed to participate in a Q&A session and giveaway with Karen’s Korner around the end of April to celebrate the paperback release of Ladies Night – stay tuned!

Nina Garcia Quarterly Box – #NGQ02

I was skeptical signing up for the Nina Garcia Quarterly box after seeing the first one (which seemed a little too ‘out there’ for me). However, I decided to take a chance and order her second box and wow am I glad that I did – this box had SO many amazing items and was a great value!

Here’s a peek into the Nina Garcia Quarterly Box (#NGQ02):

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The box ships UPS Ground and every item in the box is neatly packaged.

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Each Quarterly box comes with a letter from the curator describing the theme for the box, and background on every item they selected. Here’s the theme of this box:

“Marking my fifth year anniversary as Creative Director at Marie Claire, I have curated a celebration box that includes a mixture of accessories, beauty products, and home items.” – Nina Garcia

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Muy Cool T-Shirt by SPƎNGLISH ($55): I love this t-shirt (so soft) and it was made specifically for subscribers of this box. I didn’t receive an email asking for my t-shirt but after I washed it, it fits pretty well (so well done Quarterly!)

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Sara Beltran Sterling Silver Shark Tooth Necklace ($100): This goes great by itself or stacked with other necklaces although I could never imagine paying $100 for this. This item just paid for the entire box!

C Wonder Bangle – ‘Delicate Pave Spike Cuff’ ($34): The bangle looks really small but can bend to whatever size your wrist is. I love this bracelet – it’s light and very cute.

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O.P.I Greenade by #NB ($9): This polish is perfect for the spring and summer. I think I just found what I will be using for my next pedicure!

Revive’s Moisturizing Renewal Serum ($47): The full size bottle of this product is $235 so I wouldn’t have ever bought this on my own but it is nice to get the chance to sample such a fancy item like this.

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Wallet from Charming Charlie ($15): I love this wallet – it’s perfect for the spring! The print is fun and floral but based on the fabric, I’m not sure if it will hold up very well over time.

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LAFCO ‘Fleurs de Baies’ Bath Soap ($17): I love the smell of this soap and it’s huge so it will last a while. Plus, the packaging is stunning.

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Tom Ford’s Latest Perfume, Jamin Rouge ($2): I love this sample and the scent is great but I don’t really like to change up my perfume. I will definitely try this out when I travel next since it’s a perfect sample size.

Donkey Co. Nina Special Edition of Pret-a-Portea ($7): I love tea and these tea bags were so fun to use. Such a great, personalized touch to the box!

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Graphic Image Pocket Notes Notebook ($37): This notebook is great although I’ve received so many different ones in the past few subscription boxes. I love the color I received and have added it to the top of pile of my notebooks!

X-Pen Ballpoint Pen ($5): I love how this is signed by Nina Garcia – I’ve already started using it.

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Marie Claire March Magazine ($5): I don’t have a Marie Claire subscription but I usually pick one up every now and then so I was very happy to see this in the box.

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Laura Mercier Bonne Mine Compact ($48): I really like this compact and what makes it better than any of the other ones I’ve received is that it has step by step instructions on how to apply.  And the best part – 100% of the proceeds go to the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund!

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Philosophy’s Time in a Bottle ($74): I’ve already started using this and it makes my skin feel very soft – not sure about it reducing lines but it smells nice and feels great on your skin! I love Philosophy’s products but never want to shell out that much money so I was happy to see this item in the box.

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Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler ($15): I love this frame; it’s already filled and propped up in our living room. Also, this frame is part of the Jonathan Adler collection from JC Penney so it’s much more affordable than his usual stuff.

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Fausto Puglisi Collage: This collage was created to celebrate Nina’s 5th year at Marie Claire but I can’t imagine where I would hang this.

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Verdict: I LOVE this box – yes, it is a little pricey but it is definitely worth it (especially since it only comes 4 times a year.) After paying $100, I received over $450 worth of products which is an incredible value! I cannot wait to see what she comes out with next.

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About Quarterly: Quarterly Co. ™ is a subscription service that enables people to receive physical items in the mail from influential curators of their choice.

If you’re interested in purchasing the Nina Garcia Quarterly Box, go here!

Disclosure: All views in this review are the opinion of the author.

Hazel Lane City Explorer Deluxe Subscription Review (Lady Explorer) – New Orleans

Hazel Lane is one of the newer subscription boxes which will allow you to experience a new city every month, from the comfort of your own home. The first two boxes were San Francisco and Los Angeles, which I absolutely loved. And this month was…New Orleans!

I loved the items in my box but unfortunately, one of the items leaked so when I opened the box, it was quite messy. Luckily, most of the items were packaged so not a lot was ruined.

Here’s a peek into my Hazel Lane City Explorer Deluxe Box – New Orleans:

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The box comes with a handwritten note from the Hazel Lane team and a piece of paper detailing all the items in the box with their price.

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The box was shipped via USPS Priority Mail 2-Day.

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Beau & Stella Bracelet ($26): I love this bracelet and I think this is by far my favorite item in the box. It’s very light and 14k gold – I’ve already started wearing it and gotten a few compliments so far!

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Dirty Coast T-Shirt – ‘Listen to You City’ ($30): When Hazel Lane emailed me and asked me for a t-shirt size, I was curious what type of t-shirt was going to come in this month’s box. I love this shirt – it’s totally my style and I have already worn it out a few times.

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Hopscotch Gumbo ($13.50): I love making gumbo and can’t wait to use these spices for my next big pot. The box smelled a little bit like the spice mixture when I opened it up, which I love. I would have been sad if there wasn’t something like this in the New Orleans box.

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Cake Face Soaping Hangover Spray ($13): I know this sounds a little strange but this spray is very refreshing (and smells great too!)

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Cake Face Soaping Detox Scrub ($23): I love this scrub however, the seal and top weren’t on tight enough because this leaked through my box and stained a lot of the items. Luckily, there was still some left but I was kind of disappointed that half of it leaked out.

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J Brewton Nola Print ($15): As I mentioned before, the Detox Scrub leaked so it unfortunately ruined my picture. Regardless, I love this picture and would love to see it in a poster size. My friend has one of these from DC and I’ve always loved the idea.

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Verdict: I am happy with the New Orleans box and love a lot of the items in here. Also, I paid $59.99 for this box and received around $120 worth of products so it has great value – I may move down to the smaller box in the future because I don’t think I can justify paying $60 for this box. However, Hazel Lane is still becoming one of my favorite subscription boxes and I can’t wait to for next month’s Brooklyn box.

Are you a Hazel Lane member? To sign up, go to: http://hazelln.com/subscription/

Disclosure: All views in this review are the opinion of the author.

Three Souls – Janie Chang

12748230413_c594623bd2For my second blog post on the Book-alicious Mama, I reviewed ‘Three Souls’ by Janie Chang. This definitely isn’t a book that I would normally pick up on my own and therefore am SO glad Jennifer sent it to me to review – I loved it!

Buy the book here!

Here’s a link to my full review:

http://www.bookaliciousmama.com/historical-fiction/three-souls

Socialbliss Style Box Review – March 2014

The Socialbliss Style Box is one of the newer subscription fashion boxes that came out a few months ago. I was extremely happy with last month’s box and was even happier with what I received in the March box!

Here’s a peek into the March 2014 Socialbliss Style Box:

The box is shipped via USPS Priority Mail 2-Day and I received tracking emails when the box was in transit and when it was delivered.

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The box comes with an information card with details of all the items in the box plus a description of the theme which is ‘Spring in Paris.’

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Spring in Paris Mattie Bag by Melie Bianco ($80): I LOVE this bag and was so happy I received the pink/blush color since my last two purses were cream. The inside has a fun polka dot pattern and the outside is absolutely stunning – easily my favorite piece (and the most expensive) in the entire box! The bag did not come with a shoulder strap however I heard that if you email Socialbliss, they will send you one for an additional charge. I emailed them today and they immediately wrote back saying they will send the strap for $4 – of course I said yes and now I cannot wait for it to arrive!

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Eco-Chic Beauty Brushes Set ($25): These came at the perfect time since my brushes were getting somewhat old and needed to be replaced. The case is very pretty and perfect for traveling – I can’t wait to start using these.

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Flourishing In Florals Headband ($14): I love this headband and would wear it with the bow or without; the bow comes on and off easily. It is perfect for the springtime and I love the print that it came in – very feminine and chic!

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Ooh La La Baumes Pour Les Lèvres ($1): I can never have enough lip balm and this one smells great, goes on smoothly and is very light.

French Milled Lemon Verbena by South of France ($1): This soap smells absolutely amazing – as soon as I get through the sample bar they gave us, I will be purchasing the full size one soon. The soap is so fresh and perfect for the springtime.

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Bonus Gift – Fuzzy Socks: I received these socks and a handwritten note from the Socialbliss Team in my box as a thank you for writing up a review of last month’s box. I love fun/comfy socks and have already started wearing these. Thank you so much to the Socialbliss Team – you guys are awesome!

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Verdict: I love this box and the purse is absolutely amazing! I am so happy with the past two boxes and the Style Box is easily becoming one of my favorite subscription boxes. I paid $39.95 for this box and received around $120 worth of products so the value is there as well. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next month!

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Are you a Socialbliss Style Box member? To sign up, go here!

FabFitFun VIP Box Review – Spring Edition 2014

Every three months, Giuliana Rancic and her FabFitFun Team hand-pick a box full of the hottest seasonal items. Their motto is ‘indulge in fashion finds, glam beauty secrets, and fab fitness gear guaranteed to make you feel like a VIP all year long.’

Here’s a peek into FFF VIP Spring Edition Box:

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Each box comes with an information card detailing every product and it’s price.

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Kai Perfume Oil ($48): This perfume smells amazing and since I never really buy Kai products (too costly), I always get excited when they come in one of my boxes.

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Cover FX SPF 30 Protection Primer ($38): This will be great for the upcoming weather (hopefully!) and I can definitely see myself going through this pretty quickly.

Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Invisible Spray ($25): I love the smell of this spray and using dry shampoo so I was happy to see this in the box. It is a little overpriced in my opinion so I probably won’t end up buying this particular brand after this bottle runs out.

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Merrithew Mini Stability Ball and DVD ($28.94): I was really sad to see this in the VIP box considering I just received one in my PopSugar box about 2 weeks earlier. I will probably end up just giving this to a friend since I already have one although it was nice that it came with a DVD.

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Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Mitt ($19.99): I’ve never seen these before but I’ve already used it once and I love it – they make your skin feel really smooth.

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Cult Gaia Turband ($48): I don’t know if I can see myself actually wearing this outside the house and after seeing some of the other boxes, I’m a little jealous of the patterns other people received.

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Level Naturals Shower Bombs ($7.99): I’ve never heard of these before but now that I’ve used one, I can’t wait to get more. They are a little strong so I won’t use them all the time but they smell amazing and are perfect when you feel a cold coming on or have a runny nose – this will clear you right up!

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The Better Chip Spinach and Kale with Sea Salt ($1.99): These chips were tasty and I will most likely buy a bag whenever I’m at a health store next!

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Verdict: I am just kind of ‘meh’ on this box – there wasn’t really anything I was completely wowed with. The FabFitFun VIP box is $49.99 and after totaling up all of the items in this box, I received over $217 worth of products so the value is definitely there. With PopSugar and the new Socialbliss box, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue my membership with FabFitFun – I may wait for the next one before I make my final decision.

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If you haven’t signed up for this subscription box, go to https://vip.fabfitfun.com/and sign up!

Coupon: Use coupon code EARLY5 to save $5 off your first box!

Becoming Mrs. Walsh – Jessica Gordon

becoming-mrs-walshSummary: Shoshana Thompson is 26 years old, miles from home, and engaged to Andrew Walsh, the last single Walsh brother of one of Washington, D.C.’s wealthiest families. Throughout her engagement she becomes enamored with the Walsh lifestyle.

Life in the fast lane comes to a screeching halt when Shoshana develops feelings for another man. When she discovers the feelings may not be one-sided, things are about to get a lot more complicated. This man is not only part of her fancy new world, he is also completely off-limits. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I’ve seen so many great reviews on Becoming Mrs. Walsh so I was thrilled to be able to read it as part of the Chick Lit Plus (CLP) Blog Tour. I must say that it has definitely lived up to my expectations and was everything I thought it would be (plus more!)

Becoming Mrs. Walsh centers on Shoshana ‘Sho’ Thompson, an Iowa native who moved to DC after college and now works as a reporter at a local magazine. After recently getting engaged to Drew Walsh, Sho has been introduced to this life of glitz and glamour with one of Washington’s most elite and influential families and is trying her best to fit in. While she adjusts to this privileged lifestyle and gets to know the Walsh women, Sho is also trying to adapt to living with Drew, who is rarely home due to his secretive government job.

What I loved so much about this book was the fact that the author put so much focus and detail on describing Washington D.C. and all of its wonderful landmarks, restaurants and my favorite, shopping! I lived in Friendship Heights for about three years and in Van Ness for about two so this book was located right around where I spent the first part of my twenties – I felt like I was taking a trip down memory lane. I especially loved the little jabs at the Metro, which if you live in the DC area, you know how much of a pain it is when it breaks down or they are doing track maintenance (which seems to happen every week).

Becoming Mrs. Walsh is a wonderful fun read that I have already started recommending to my friends. This book was very easy to dive into and is a page-turner from the very first chapter – I was so sad that the story ended! I am dying for Gordon to come out with a sequel and I would love to see this story on the big screen.

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About the Author:  Jessica Gordon is a Johns Hopkins University alumna for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She takes her readers to the Washington, D.C. area where her characters navigate through the complex world of family, in-laws, and love. Jessica lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband. For more information on the book, check out jessica-gordon.com. Feel free to contact Jessica at any time. She loves hearing from readers!

Connect with Jessica!

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author for review purposes.

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Paper Phoenix: A Mystery of San Francisco in the ’70s – Michaela Thompson

paper phoenixSummary:

First comes divorce, then comes murder…

…or at least sweet thoughts of murder. Maggie Longstreet has plenty of them after slimy, ambitious Richard trades her in for a more recent model. She’s so depressed she can barely get out of bed when Larry Hawkins, a seemingly not-at-all depressed acquaintance, commits suicide out of the blue. Suddenly Maggie goes on high alert, remembering something her evil ex said about Larry—something highly suspicious.

And from there, it’s just a short segué to a bracing new development:

“When some women get divorced they go back to school, I thought. Some do volunteer work at the hospital, or join communes and learn to birth calves. Some have affairs with inappropriate men. My new interest is burglary. Maggie Longstreet, former wife and mother, past president of the Museum Guild, now starting a career as a second-story woman.”

Fortunately, Maggie isn’t alone in her adventure—a very attractive, much younger man proves a lot more fun than Richard ever was. In fact, the real delight of this witty, sly mystery is seeing Maggie come alive again after a suffocating marriage. Set in the’70s, it has a bit of that Mad Men feel of women on the brink of something big. And completely unexpected.

You know Maggie’s going to be okay when she says: “I’d rather have had one of those cute little guns with a mother-of-pearl handle, but this (diamond pin) would have to do. I concealed it in my hand. At least now I was armed—or pinned.” (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Paper Phoenix is the ultimate guilty pleasure: it has suspense, drama, romance and so many unexpected twists. As the story progresses, I literally couldn’t put the book down because I was dying to know what happened next.

The story centers on Maggie Longstreet and her quest to figure out the secrets and connection between her ex-husband Richard and Larry Hawkins, the head of a local newspaper who commits suicide out of the blue. After her divorce to Richard, Maggie struggled to keep her life afloat and could barely leave her house without feeling some sense of panic. And then this mysterious murder happens and on her journey to discovering the truth (with a very handsome younger man Andrew), starts living her life again and believing in second chances.

The only criticism I have of Paper Phoenix is that it was too short and ended too fast! This was a fun quick read that I recommend to anyone looking for a little bit of mystery and romance tied into one.

Buy the book here!

About the Author:

michaela thompsonI grew up on the Gulf Coast, in the Panhandle area of Northwest Florida. A land of salt marshes, pine forests, barrier islands, and moss-hung oaks, the Panhandle is nothing like the tropical image most people have of Florida. I used this backdrop, and the era of the 1950′s, as the setting for Hurricane Season.

In time I moved on to other locales, and used them as settings for other mysteries: The San Francisco Bay Area (Paper Phoenix), France (Magic Mirror, A Temporary Ghost), Venice (Venetian Mask), and India (The Fault Tree). I have written seven mysteries, all of them originally published under the name Mickey Friedman. (I’ve now switched to Michaela Thompson, my original name, because many people seem to think Mickey Friedman is a man.)

Besides writing mysteries I have worked as a college editor, a reporter and columnist for a San Francisco daily newspaper, and a freelance writer and journalist.

The Florida Panhandle is still a big part of my life. My husband and I have a place on the beach near my home town, and we go there to vegetate every chance we get.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author for review purposes.

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