Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle

Shannon Hammer’s younger sister, Chloe, left Lighthouse Cove after high school to make it big in Hollywood. And she did it! Chloe is the cohost of a popular home-repair show on the Home Builders Network. Now, after 10 years, she has returned to their quaint coastal hometown to film several shows featuring her sister, Shannon, along with some special mini-segments on Victorian style and design. 

But Shannon quickly realizes that things are not exactly blissful in TV land. Bree, the executive producer of the show, has a knack for stirring up sticky situations, and when she’s found dead, Chloe and the entire crew are under suspicion. Shannon, her thriller-writer boyfriend, Mac, and their crime-solving friends soon unearth the real reason Chloe left home.


Is that 10-year-old secret connected to Bree’s death? And can Shannon track down the real killer before her beloved sister becomes the next victim?
Series: A Fixer Upper Mystery #6 | Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Eileen Stevens  | Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins  | Genre:  Cozy Mystery| Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook Challenge
 
This series, while I generally enjoy it, has been hit and miss for me. This was one of the better ones in the series but it still had its problems.
 
Here’s what’s going on. When Shannon’s sister brings her home improvement show to Lighthouse Cover, Shannon is excited for her and her crew to be a part of it until she and her sister discover Bree—the executive producer—dead. As the show progresses and more danger unfolds, Shannon starts to wonder if her sister is the real target.
 
It was fun seeing Shannon and her sister, Chloe, work reunite after Chloe’s been gone for so long. Although there’s a reason (even if it sounds a little overly dramatic) that Chloe left ten years ago and while she’s ready to set things to right, she’s still worried about the fallout from it. And of course, Shannon is willingly to do all that she can to protect her sister from being wrongly accused.
 
While Shannon finally seems to be maturing, the way she acted when Eric was questioning Chloe was rather childish. She’s been questioned by the police several time yet decided to make a big fuss out of them questioning Chloe to the point she was telling Eric how to do his job.
 
The mystery aspect of this one was interesting if a little predictable. I knew who the killer was when the body was discovered and ended up being right. I was a little surprised that this one wasn’t very investigation-focused until the last 60% of the book. Instead of Shannon focusing on finding the killer, she was more focused on working on her sister’s show.
 
Of course, there’s a bit of romance mixed in and we see Shannon and Max growing more comfortable in their relationship (although I will always say that Shannon should be with Eric). We also see the start of something between Chloe and Eric.
 
This is the first time Eileen Stevens has narrated a book in this series and just didn’t work for me. Her narration was okay but she just didn’t seem connected to the book. I’m not a fan when narrators are switched in an on-going series.
 
Overall, this was a nice addition to the series. I’m still not as wowed as I was before but I feel like it’s getting back to where it was before.
Fixer Upper Series
A Wrench in the Works (Fixer-Upper Mystery #6)

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Confessions of a Makeup Magpie: LA Splash Golden Gatsby Review

If you’re a fan of The Great Gatsby or the roaring ‘20’s or just excited that the ‘20’s are back then I have a few makeup palettes to share with you that will have you doing The Charleston.

While the Golden Gatsby collection from LASplash Cosmetics has been around for a bit, I just received the Golden Gatsby Eyeshadow Palette and the Golden Gatsby Old Money Highlighter Palette (both $28.00 USD) for review.


This line also includes, lashes, liner, lipstick, lip gloss, and mascara, which I did not received. What surprised me a bit about this line is that it didn’t include blushers. When I think about makeup from this era, the rosy cheeks stood out. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have a blusher.

My first impression: The gorgeous art deco packaging blew me away. I had to smile at the era-appropriate shade names. They really went the extra mile with the packaging and presentation. I was immediately drawn to the ‘foil shades’ in the eyeshadow palette. They looked buttery smooth but, when I swatched them it was a different story.
 
Now On To My Review…
 
Packaging
 
The packaging on both the eyeshadow palette and the highlighter is a lovely art deco theme in a matte black with golden details.
 

The eyeshadow palette has cardboard packing with magnetic closure and a mirror. On the back of the palette it says, “Darling, it wouldn’t be a party without you” in embossed gold lettering. It comes with a gold embossed slipcover, which explains the meaning of the shade names on the back.
 
While the packaging is adorable with the art deco design of a flapper on the inside of the lid of the highlighter palette, I would have preferred a mirror. The case is a sturdy plastic, I know some don’t care for plastic packaging but I actually prefer it because it protects the highlighters better. This comes in a gold embossed cardboard box.
 
Products
 

Golden Gatsby Eyeshadow Palette $28.00 USD
 
Shades:
Top Row
French 75: satin vanilla, Mary Pickford: satin peach, Highball: matte burnt orange, Old Fashioned: matte brown, Mint Julep:  matte moss
 
Bottom Row
Hotsy-Totsy: Pink foil with silver shimmer, Ritzy: 24k Gold foil, Sheba: Copper foil, Zozzled: Forest Green shimmer with gold flakes, Speakeasy: matte black



The foil shades are not nearly as sparkly as the ones in the promo picture
The matte and satin shades (French 75, Mary Pickford, Highball, Old Fashioned, Mint Julep, and Speakeasy) blend like a charm and are highly pigmented. They do have a bit of kick-up in the pan when lightly tapped with a brush. The shades Mary Pickford and Speakeasy seem to have more than the others do and I feel like I’ll go through those shades faster (especially Mary Pickford) because of the amount of kick-up they have.  After tapping off the excess, I still noticed quite a bit of fallout with Speakeasy.
 
Applied with finger over primer


The foil shades all perform a bit differently so I’m going to break them down individually.
 
Hotsy-Totsy and Ritzy are both extremely flaky and, while you can use your finger, I highly recommend that you wet your brush to achieve flake-free coverage.
You can see that the shade Sheba has flaked off in the pan


Sheba is still flakey but I would consider it a nice foil. While it can be used with a dry brush, to achieve a true foil look it’s best to use your finger or a wet brush. Zozzled is one of my favorite shades in the palette—I’m such a sucker for greens). While I wouldn’t consider it a full out foil, it is a nice shimmer with gold flakes. This one does deliver a nice color payoff when used with a dry brush although there’s a little more pop when applying with your finger or a wet brush.




From left to right: Shade: Ritzy applied over primer with a wet brush, applied over primer with finger, applied without primer with dry brush, applied without primer with finger

To get the best application these eyeshadows need to be applied over a concealer or eyeshadow primer. I tried several primers but I had the best color payoff and application when using NYX Proof It and Milani Eyeshadow Primer that I lightly set with a translucent setting powder. The brushes I used were Luxie brushes (Luxie 243 Precision blending, Luxie 231 Small Tapered Blending, Luxie 121 Mini Tapered, Luxie 245 Small Shader).


When using the foils, I do recommend wetting your brush. If you’ve never used eyeshadows wet before, here’s how I liked to do it. I pick up the eyeshadow on either a flat shader or concealer brush (my favorites are Luxie 245 small shader and F.A.R.A.H. 10F concealer), spray it once with the Hyrda Primer spray from Essence (any setting spray or hydrating spray will do), then apply to my eyelid. Before going back into my palette, I wipe my brush off on a towel then repeat the process.
I never go into my pans with a wet brush. Not only can it cause hardpan, it can cause mold and bacteria to grow in your eyeshadow pans. 
 




Golden Gatsby Old Money Highlighting Quad $28.00 USD
 
Shades:
Dough—Frosty White, Mazuma—Golden, Sugar—Champagne, Scratch—Pink Champagne
 
These are some of the most gorgeous and buttery highlighters that I’ve used and I have to say they are right up there with the same quality as Ofra’s highlighters.
 
All four of the shades in this quad have the same quality of color payoff and, when I put these on, I don’t have to worry about my highlighter disappearing throughout the day.
 
When swatched with my finger, they were a tad bit flaky but when I actually applied them with a brush, they went on smoothly. They do have a bit of kick-up in the pan both with a brush and from just sitting in my makeup drawer.



The kick up in this was just from sitting on the table waiting for me to photograph the highlighter.
Although all of the shades are lovely, I use Sugar, Scratch, or a mix of the two as my highlighter. Dough is nice for an inner corner highlight and Mazuma makes a lovely eyeshadow. If you prefer icy white or gold highlights, you’ll love Dough and Mazuma.



My overall impression: The Highlighter Quad is amazing. I’ve been reaching for this one over and over again since it arrived. Very nice quality that lasts all day. I highly recommend adding this one to your collection.
 
The Eyeshadow Palette was nice but it takes some work. The mattes and the satins glide on and blend effortlessly. The foils need to be applied wet for any color payoff or staying power. Considering this is a $28 palette, I was expecting more from the foils. I’ve had palettes that have cost less and their foils have performed better. With that being said, I do think this is a nice palette and I’ve received several compliments on my eyeshadow while wearing it.








I use Essence Primer + Studio HD Hydra Primer Spray to wet my brushes when I applied the foil shades. Not only is it hydrating for my eyelids, it keeps the foil shadows from looking like they’re dried out.


Monday, January 6, 2020

The Gift: A Highland Novella by Margaret Mallory

Lily's well-honed sense for trouble tells her no healer is safe in London while gangs roam the city looking for witches to burn. In the dead of night, she escapes on a northbound ship, intending to return after Christmas celebrations calm the city's witch fever. But when Lily lands in the wilds of Scotland, her skills for surviving in the city can't save her.  

Roderick MacDonald is on a secret mission for his chieftain when he finds a lass near death on a barren hillside and is forced to take her with him. Though this mysterious Sassenach may have the gift his clan needs - and he burns with passion for her - he's determined to resist the enchantment she weaves on his scarred heart. When love blooms amidst the harsh winter beauty of the Highlands, will these two obstinate souls from different worlds accept the Yuletide gift?

Publisher: Margaret Mallory Author  | Narrator: Derek Perkins | Length: 3 hours, 17 minutes  |  Genre: Historical Romance | Source: Audible Escape | Rating: 4 Cups
Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook Challenge - Literary Pickers : Fireplace 
 
She’s a stubborn Sassenach and he’s a determined Highlander on a mission. Sounds fun, aye?
 
Lily’s a healer who has fled to Scotland during London’s witch hunt. Roderick’s on a mission to find the healer/seer his seanmhair (Scots Gaelic for grandmother) has sent him to find. When Roderick rescues a nearly frozen Lily and discovers she’s a healer on her way to learn from a more powerful healer, he’s sure she’s the healer/seer his seanmhair has him searching for. Convincing her to travel with him for her safety, they both find themselves falling for each other although when they return to Roderick’s home, Lily soon discovers he had ulterior motives. Will Roderick be able to convince Lily he’s in love with her?
 
It’s been a minute since I’ve read Margaret Mallory and I forgot how much I enjoy her writing. She has the ability to draw me in from the start and hold my attention until the very end.
 
Roderick and Lily made a fun pair—he’s determined, a bit broody, and a complete Highlander, she’s a sassy, stubborn redhead. They have chemistry from the start but they both have their qualms and, after learning of Roderick’s mission, Lily’s hesitant to trust him.
 
While this one was rather short—the audio was just over 3 hours—it was still a nicely rounded novella. Could it have been longer and would I have liked it to have been longer? Most definitely. Although I was rather pleased with how it was.
 
This is connected to the Return of the Highlanders series, is a standalone novella.
 
Derek Perkins is one of my favorite narrators of historical romance but I feel like he was almost a bit too proper sounding for a 15th century highlander. It’s just a personal preference but I like a little more roughness to come across in the Highland burr.
 
Overall, this was a fun little Yuletide Highland romance. If you’re wanting a quick refresher, then I recommend this novella.



Historical Trivia:
The Gift is set in late 1441 and Lily flees London to escape the witch-hunt of King Henry VI. While the book makes it sound as though the King’s Guard was beating down doors in search of ‘witches’ it wasn’t as dire as that.

While people in England were being accused of witchcraft and sorcery since the 10th century, it wasn’t until 1441 that the accused was burnt at the stake.

The story is an interesting and high-reaching one that started when Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester consulted astrologers to divine the future. This wasn’t an uncommon thing in this era or the ones that followed, the trouble lay in what astrologers Thomas Southwell and Roger Bolingbroke (also a physician) were predicting and that was the death of King Henry VI.

When the King’s guard discovered this prediction, they followed the rumors and began interrogating Southwell, Bolingbroke, and John Hum (Eleanor’s personal confessor). Soon after Southwell and Bolingbroke were arrested on treasonable necromancy charges, they named Eleanor as the instigator; she was also tried and charged. It was believed that her mindset was if the king dies, then her husband the Duke of Gloucester would be king. Once again, Eleanor would have the upper hand.

While Eleanor denied most of the charges, she confessed to obtaining potions from Margery Jourdemayne, "the Witch of Eye". These potions and her consultations with the astrologers, Eleanor claimed, were to help her conceive. Failing to believe her, all involved—with exception of John Hum—were found guilty.

Eleanor was banished for life to the Isle of Man. Southwell died in the Tower and Bolingbroke was hanged, drawn, and quartered. In October of 1441, Margery Jourdemayne, ‘the Witch of Eye’ and noted diviner, was burnt at the stake in Smithfield.

It wasn’t until the 16th century that witch hunts in Scotland and England started on a larger scale.

 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Something to Stitch About 2020 Goals

I have so many embroidery and cross-stitch projects that I’ve bought then just stashed in my sewing boxes and bags that it’s starting to get ridiculous. So, I decided that one of my goals for 2017 would be to tackle some of my stitching projects and so Something to Stitch About was born.

I’m going to be realistic with my goal and aim for 5 finished stitching projects by the end of the year. If I manage more, that will be great but 5 seems reasonable.
 
Goal: 4 Stitching Projects and 2 Sewing Projects

Items I Want to Work On

Stitching:

1-Christmas Deer tablecloth and table runner (I started the table runner Thanksgiving night 2019 and completed on side)
2-Ship stand scarf
3-Thistle stand scarf and pillowcases
4- Item to be decided

Sewing:

1-Bee Quilt
2-A quilt for a gift

Friday, January 3, 2020

Friday Favorites; My Favorite Books of 2019

While I didn’t meet my reading goal for 2019, I did switch up my reading a bit. While I still read romance, I ventured out into more cozy mysteries, psychological thrillers, and mysteries and found them to be a nice change from my normal reading. I also discovered several new-to-me authors that I’m eager to read more from.
 
Here’s my Favorite Books of 2019

 


Peace, Blood, and Understanding by Molly Harper by Molly Harper—It’s been a minute since there was a new Half-Moon Hollow book and I have to say this series is back with a bang as Erik and Meadow—two vastly different vampires—try to navigate a relationship while he’s bent on shutting down the council office.

 


Selkies Are a Girl's Best Friend by Molly Harper—It’s no surprise that yet another Molly Harper book made my favorite books of the year list. This time it’s the latest book from her Mystic Bayou series where Will, a secretive selkie shifter, finds himself falling for Sonja, a woman who both inquisitive and determined.

 


Justified by Jay CrownoverJay Crownover was a new-to-me author and I’m glad I gave her a go. Sheriff Case Lawton finds himself in an interesting predicament when he had no choice but protect his enemy Aspen Barlow.

 


Cowboy Rebel by Carolyn Brown—This series is one of my favorites by Carolyn Brown. Tag’s a rebel who throws caution to the wind and Nikki’s a play-it-safe nurse; they make an interest pair.

 


The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths—This was my first book by Elly Griffiths and I’m now hook on her Ruth Galloway Mysteries. Ruth’s a forensic archeologist aiding DCI Nelson with his case of two missing girls that has ties to an Iron Age sacrifice.

 


Penhale Wood by Julia Thomas—this was a gripping yet heart-wrenching mystery. Iris is back in the U.K. prodding DI Rob McIntyre to reopen her daughter’s murder case.

 


Mine by Courtney Cole—I wasn’t expecting to like this book but I was hooked from the first page. Tessa’s just discovered her husband’s been cheating on her. With a hurricane bearing down on them, Tessa lures the other woman to her house determine. Now each woman is determined to prove the he is theirs.

 

Magnolia Mystic by Lisa Kessler—this was such a fun an interesting romance; Skye’s a psychic and Colton’s an immortal pirate on the hunt for the missing Holy Grail.

 


Blink by K.L. Slater—I had this author on my ‘authors to read’ list for a few years and I was rather pleased with how addicting this one was. It’s a psychological thriller/suspense novel where a little girl has gone missing and the only person who knows what happened to her is a woman who is trapped inside herself with no means of communication.

 


Murders and Metaphors by Amanda Flower—this was a charming little cozy where clues are magically revealed through classic literature.

 


The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin—another new-to-me author that hooked me; after a falling out, Joanne guilts her three friends into spending a weekend in a remote cabin for her birthday and she promises it will be filled mysteries and surprises they won’t forget although none of them counted on a murder being a part of the party.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Books I Want To Read In 2020

Hello Lovelies,

I decided to do something a bit different this year and make a set list of books from my TBR pile that I want to read this year. Most of these books have been sitting on my shelves for ages and I keep saying that I’m going to read these soon but never get around to reading them. I hope that this list will keep me on track and I’ll have these read by the end of the year.
 
Irish Born Trilogy by Nora Robert
  1. Born in Fire
  2. Born in Ice
  3. Born in Shame
 
Circle Trilogy by Nora Robert
  1. Morrigan’s Cross
  2. Dance of the Gods
  3. Valley of Silence
 
Sign of Seven Trilogy by Nora Roberts
  1. Blood Brothers
  2. The Hollow
  3. The Pagan Stone
 
Ruth Galloway Series by Elly Griffiths
  1. The Crossing Places read in 2019
  2. The Janus Stone
  3. The House at Sea’s
  4. A Room Full of Bones
  5. A Dying Fall
  6. The Outcast Dead
  7. The Ghost Fields
  8. The Woman in Blue
  9. The Chalk Pit
  10. The Dark Angel
  11. The Stone Circle
  12. The Lantern Men
  13. Ruth’s First Christmas Tree (Short Story)
 
Thomas Cromwell Trilogy by Hilary Mantel
  1. Wolf Hall
  2. Bring Up the Bodies
  3. The Mirror and the Light (to be released)


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My Goals For 2020

The goals that I set for 2019 helped get me back on track, albeit it took a while for me to get my ducks in a row but I feel like I’m getting there. Most of my 2020 goals are a continuation/expansion of the goals I set in 2019.

 


As for my 2020 theme, I’m sticking with the Oscar Wilde quote I had from last year as a reminder that I don’t want a reinvention but rather I want to continue getting back to myself.




Blog

-Update the blog
-Be consistent with content
-Update GoodReads—I can’t seem to remember to post on GR
-Conquer NetGalley
-Add discussions to the blog
-Be consistent with blog visits
-Discover different blogs

Reading

-Tackle my TBR pile mountain
-Read from my shelf instead of buying more books
-Expand more with my reading
-Read more non-fiction
-Read more historical fiction
-Use the reading journals I received as gifts


House

-Replace my bookshelves so they match my new desk (I’ve been putting off this task for the simple fact I don’t want to put them together)
-Turn my bedroom closet into a makeup/dressing area. (I had a few plans drawn up in October but I still haven’t settled on one I really like)
-Replace the blinds in the entire house (This doesn’t seem like a daunting task but I have a Victorian house, which means most of my windows are floor-to-ceiling and irregular in size so they have to be custom-made.)
-Organize the attic  


 Personal

-Take ‘Me’ Time (I really enjoyed this last year and I’m hoping to be able have more ‘me time’ this year)
-Meditate more                                            
- Do more yoga
-Remember to take my vitamins
-Learn something new
-Drink more water
-Focus on living greener
-Unplug now and again
-Take more pictures
-Do something profitable with my jewelry business

Saturday, December 28, 2019

2020 Literary Pickers Scavenger Hunt Goal Post

This is such a fun challenge and I can’t wait to search out the items!
Host: Delighted Reader Blog Sign up HERE
Levels:
Level One – Treasure Hunter in Training- 10 items/10 places
Level Two – Garage Sale Guru- 25 items/ 25 places
Level Three -Professional Picker- 50 items/50 places
My Goal: Level Three -Professional Picker- 50 items/50 places
 
Literary Pickers Scavenger Hunt List 2020
 
Around the House
Game console
Bed sheets
Pet
Cord or cordless phone
Musical instrument
Portrait/picture on wall
Fireplace
Kitchen chair
Pantry
Vegetable garden
House key
Microwave
Bookshelf
Security lighting
Yard ornament
Laundry basket
Candles/Lantern
Porch swing/rocking chair on porch
Cooking pot
Recycle bin/recycler on spaceship
 
Around the World
Mexico
Australia
Japan
Egypt
France
Caribbean Island
Ireland
Middle Eastern Country
Southeast Asia
A location (not listed above) on your travel bucket list- can be a region, territory or state
 
It Goes Zoom Zoom
Sailboat
Space cargo or transport ship
Public Transportation
Elevator/lift
Truck
Steam Train
Horse Drawn Carriage
Parachute/Personal flight equipment
Electric car/monorail
Elements to Factor
 
Enemies to Lovers
Threesome or Love Triangle
Sweet Romance (no more than kisses)
Dual or Multiple Narrators
First Person Point of View
Murder
End of the world/Disaster
Road Trip/ Personal Journey
Same Sex
A hated trope (DNF’d book ok)
Favorite trope
Over a Year on Your TBR
Borrowed/Loaned to you
Audio
Graphics or Illustrations
First time Author/Narrator
BDSM/Kink
Reunion/Second Chances
Arranged or Forced Marriage
Fake Mates
Fated Mates/Instalove
Known each other for years
Couple 40 years old or older
Alternate or fantasy world
Brother/Sister’s Bestfriend
 
All Terrain
On another planet
Island
Big City
Small Town
Ice/Tundra
 
Bon Appetite
Dessert
Cooked/baked/prepped right in the scene
Tea
Wine
Rice
Tropical Fruit
Salad
Picnic food
Frozen Dinner/MREs/Food from a space ship galley
Burnt Food/Kitchen Disaster
 
Tools of the Trade
Garden tool
Lap top/tablet
Monitor/Screen
Tool box/kit/chest
Sex Toy
Saddle
Firefighter gear
Knife
Body Armor
 
Wear It
Poncho/Wrap
Tattoo (not on arm)
Helmet
Tux/frock coat
Slippers/fuzzy socks
Engagement Ring
 
Cover Clues
 Primarily purple
Five Words or More in Title
People/person in shadow
A couple with one of them looking away
A proper name in the title
Animal on cover
 
Items Found
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