Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

 


Wishing you a safe, healthy, and merry Christmas filled with all the books! 

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Timeless Christmas by Alexis Stanton


Megan Turner is in love with the past. As a tour guide at a beautiful historic mansion, she tells visitors about its original owner, Charles Whitley. An inventor and businessman in the early 1900s, he rose from poverty to wealth…only to disappear without a trace.

 

Charles was always intrigued by the future. He just never expected to go there. But when he repairs a mysterious clock he bought on his travels, he’s transported to the twenty-first century, with his home decorated for Christmas and overrun by strangers.

 

Charles is determined to find a way back to his own era, especially when he learns about what happened after he left. But as Megan introduces him to the wonders of smartphones, pizza, and modern holiday traditions, they both feel a once-in-a-lifetime connection. Could it be that, somewhere in time, they belong together?

 Publisher: Hallmark Publishing | Genre: Time Travel Christmas Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups
Challenges Read For:  - 'Tis the Season-a-thon Bingo Prompt: Book with a holiday word in the title  

This was first book by Hallmark Publishing that I’ve read and it really does read like their movies. It’s cute, charming, Christmassy, and a little cheesy but I really enjoyed it.

Here’s what’s going on. Working as a docent for the Whitley-Moran Mansion is a dream come true for Megan. Not only does she love the past, she’s developed a crush on Charles Whitley, the mansions original owner who disappeared mysteriously in 1902. When a man shows up claiming to be Charles Whitley, Megan’s convinced he’s just a method actor until Charles starts revealing information that’s not in the journals.

Charles has always been curious about the future although he never imagined he’d find himself magically transported there. While he’s finding the ‘new inventions’ and ‘modern’ living interesting, he’s eager to get back to his own time and stop his rival from taking over his life. Although the connection he’s developed with Megan is more than just a friendship. Now he must decide if his future is here or in the past.

If you’re looking for a fun, light, clean Christmas romance with a bit time travel, then this is the book for you.

Charles has mysteriously arrived in the future and he’s landed in the middle of the Christmas season. He’s never been much of a Christmas type of person, but Megan’s determined to help him have a fun, modern holiday. As the book progresses, we see different traditions observed and gain a bit more insight into Charles’s reasoning for why he’s not a fan of Christmas. I enjoyed watching the friendship develop between Megan and Charles and you could see feelings were starting to develop between the two of them but Charles was adamant about returning to his own time. I was never really sure if he would stay or go back to his own time until the end, and I enjoyed that aspect was left until the end.

While this book was a bit slow in places, I really enjoyed it. It almost reminded me of the movie, Kate and Leopold, which is one of my favorite movies.

 Overall, a little cheesy but still a solid read. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Vine Oh! Sips & Surprises Oh! Ho Ho! Holiday 2020 Box Subscription Review


Hey Lovelies,

 

I have a new-to-me subscription box to share with you and it’s the Vine Oh! Sips & Surprises Seasonal Box.  While I’m not a wine drinker, I love this box because the ‘Surprises’ are curated to help women unwind. I’m all about self-care, so having a box that gives me comfy, cozy items and fun gifts/treats is right up my alley. The wine, well that makes the perfect gift to give to friends and family members.

 

Before I get into what was in my box, let me tell you a bit more about Vine Oh! 



What is Vine Oh!? Vine Oh! is quarterly subscription box that includes 5-6 FULL-SIZE PRODUCTS that’s fun, rejuvenating, and delicious along with 2 bottles of wine.

Website

Price: $59.99 (seasonally) free shipping

This link*: http://vineoh.refr.cc/angelasimmons will save you $10

Guaranteed box value? Each box will have a MSRP value of at least $120 value (it’s often higher).

Where do you ship to? Vine Oh! ships to all states expect for Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Utah.



How is it shipped and packaged? Vine Oh! ships free via FedEx Ground, expedited shipping is available for an additional price. ID and an adult signature are required when the box is delivered. The box and wine ships together in a larger outer box with the box on top and the wine nestled in cardboard cradles in the bottom.



They offer SMS text messaging for shipping notifications to let you know when you need to be home (or arrange for an adult) to receive your box.



Can I pick my wine? You can selected Red, White, Sweet, or Mix.

Are product cards included? Yes. Each box contains an envelope which contains individual product cards, a box value card, and a Vine Oh! wine card. While the product and value card offers a lot of info, the wine card is general information about the company. I think it would have been nice if the wine card offered info on the types of wine included in the box.



Items included the Oh! Ho Ho! Holidays Box

 


--Willow Collective Plaid Throw (50”x60” $30)—this is a super soft and comfy throw. While this would be nice to cover up with or lay on the back of chair/couch for a touch of festive décor, I’m leaving this wrapped up because I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it or give it as a gift.

--Stephanie’s Bridal Boutique Earrings ($25)—these are a gorgeous with pink cubic zirconia stones set in gold tone brass. I don’t have pierced ears, but these are lovely—and rather large—so I’m actually going to turn these into necklace pendants.

--The Potted Plant Hemp Body Lotion in Vanilla Chai (16.5 fl. oz $23)—this smells amazing—think fresh baked Christmas cookies or a vanilla chai latte—and it’s so hydrating. It’s also a clean-beauty brand, which I love seeing in sub boxes. I have this sitting on my bathroom vanity and I’ve been using it as hand lotion. While this is a hemp-based product, it’s not a CDB product.

--Willow Collective Warm & Cozy Mug (18 oz $15)—if I’m opening a box that’s supposed to have comfy, cozy items then I expect to get a mug and this mug did not disappoint. It’s heavy and large (almost the size of a soup mug) and will make the perfect Winter cocoa mug.

--Sexy Hair Holiday Light Up Charger ($12)—this is a cute decorative charger. While it’s supposed to be compatible with Android devices, the charger is a little too large for my phone. While I can use this for a bit light decoration for Instagram photos, I’m going to pass this to my Mom because she needs a new charger for her tablet.

--Price’s Fine Chocolate Peppermint Bark (2 oz bar $5)—I loved that this box contained a sweet treat and that it matched the season. I’m eager to give this bar a nibble although I’m more eager to add a chuck of it to my hot chocolate. If you’ve never had peppermint bark-infused hot chocolate, you have to give it a try. It’s the perfect Winter drink.

--Cozy Hub Cozy Socks ($12.99)—nothing screams cozy more than faux Sherpa, fluffy socks and I’m so pleased to have received them in this box, especially since I live in an old house with cold floors.

Number of products in box: 7 items

Wine Received ($24 a bottle)

I’m not a drinker, so I have no clue about wine.

2018 Tines California Chardonnay

2017 Speechless California Red Wine Blend

2019 Mad Love Pinot Grigio California

2019 New Crush California Rosé

Total Value of the Oh! Ho Ho! Holiday Box: $218.99

My Overall Thoughts: This is a great box. The monetary value of the products is there and the value of use is there. I know that I will use 5 out of the 7 items I received. The light up charger will go to my Mom and I’m still deciding on whether or not to use the blanket as a gift or keep it.

As for the wines, I really can’t give my opinion as I’m not a wine drinker but they will make fantastic gift additions. I’ve included some gifting ideas below. 



What would I like to see in the future from Vine Oh!

-I would like to see them offer a profile you could fill out that included things such as if your ears are pierced or if you have food allergies. Perhaps a complexion profile as makeup items are included.

-I think that a corkscrew should be included in your first box along with bottle stoppers.

 

 Gifting Ideas

 One of my favorite things about subscription boxes is that the items make amazing gifts.  Here’s a few ideas on how to turn your sub box products into great gifts. I either use the boxes or use a reusable gift box. All items expect for the two romance books and Paris gift box came in sub boxes. 




 Most of the product cards contained Coupon Codes, so I’ll leave these here for you to use if you so wish.

The Potted Plant Co  VINEOH2020 for 20% off your order Expires 2/28/2021

Beauty Brands  EC17345 for 10% off one regularly price Sexy Hair item Expires 2/28/2021

Willow Collective VINEOH for 15% off one item Expires 2/28/2021

 *affiliate link. I earn $10 to spend on Vine Oh! when the link is used

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

I Loved You First Anthology by Molly Harper, Suzanne Enoch, Karen Hawkins


Take Two by Suzanne Enoch

Eleanor Ross has it all: Fame, fortune - and Brian MacCafferty, the perfect combo of bodyguard and assistant who makes every day a breeze. MacCafferty anticipates her needs, puts out her fires, and - once upon a time - nearly put a ring on her finger.

And when a scandal erupts that could ruin El, it’s Brian who rushes to the rescue and joins her in hiding. Will El discover there’s no hiding from true love? And is she finally ready to take a second chance for her own, real life happily-ever-after?

Pasties and Poor Decisions by Molly Harper

Anastasia Villiers has hit rock bottom. And that rock is named Espoir Island.

Abandoned by her disgraced investment banker husband who liquidated all of their assets and fled the country, Anastasia is left with nothing - except for Fishscale House, a broken-down Queen Anne in the Michigan hometown she swore she’d left for good.

If Ana quickly renovates and flips the dilapidated building, she can get back to Manhattan and salvage her life. The problem? The only person on the island with historical renovation cred is Ned Fitzroy - Ana’s first love - who insists she help him with the labor herself. As Ana gets reacquainted with Ned, and her hometown, she realizes home may be just what she’s always wanted.

Last Chance Motel by Karen Hawkins

Every big romance deserves a second chance. But Evan and Jessica Cho Graham are looking at the last chance: More specifically, The Last Chance Motel in Dove Pond, NC where Jessica has escaped to start a happily independent life, separate from her smart, sexy, but driven husband.

Evan has been wildly successful in every endeavor, except keeping the heart of the one woman he loves more than anything. If he’s going to repair this mess, he’s going to need all the help he can get - even if it's from the crankiest handyman in B&B history - to turn his second chance with Jess into a perfect storybook happy ending.

 Series: | Publisher: Audible  | Narrator:  Amanda Ronconi | Length: 8hrs 19 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance  | Source: Publisher  
Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook Challenge -

It’s been a minute since I’ve listened to romance on audio and this anthology was just the things I needed to remind me how much I love a good romance read.

Take Two by Suzanne Enoch Rating: 2.5 Cups

My Thoughts:  Okay, so this one wasn’t my favorite. There’s a history between Eleanor and Will. When they were dating, she found him overbearing and annoying but now she says those are the qualities that make him ‘the perfect assistant’.

I wasn’t a fan of Eleanor; she was selfish, rather rude to Will who was bending over backwards for her, and I couldn’t really see much change in her. Will was a decent guy but I really can’t see/understand why he just didn’t leave Eleanor on her own and find someone who actually cared about him.

Pasties and Poor Decisions by Molly Harper Rating: 4 Cups

My thoughts: It’s been a while since I’ve read something by Molly Harper that wasn’t paranormal and, I have to say, I forgot how good her contemporary romances are.

Ana’s life’s been turned upside down and now she’s moved back to her hometown and finds herself having to deal with Ned, the guy she left behind. As they work together to restore her family’s home, there’s no denying the flame’s still there but can Ned forgive her for leaving? And will Ana stay this time?

This was just a super cute, second chance romance featuring older characters that have it a little more together than most of the other characters I see in romance novels. It was funny, snarky, and a good time read.

Last Chance Motel by Karen Hawkins Rating: 4.5 Cups

My thoughts: This was yet another cute and charming second chance romance.

Jessica has had enough of Evan being married to his work and has decided to move back to her hometown to open a B&B. Not wanting to give up on his marriage, Evan decides to go to Dove Pond and attempt to win Jessica back. While he had meant it to be a quick trip, car issues and a cranky handyman have him taking up residence in the Last Chance Motel. While Jessica starts to see the man she fell in love with, Evan still seems consumed by his work. Will Evan be able to ignore the call of work and make Jessica a priority?

I’ve been really enjoying the Dove Pond series and it was nice to get a short story from this charming little town. Evan and Jessica have some things they need to work on and it was interesting watching how she coped with having him back in her life as she worked on restoring and opening this B&B. There’s also the handyman who added a bit of insight and amusement (I won’t give it away, but you’ll love the handyman and enjoy seeing him turn up again).

Overall, I enjoyed two out of three of the novellas. I wasn’t really surprised that I didn’t like the first one as I often struggle with Suzanne Enoch’s contemporary romances (although I love her historicals) but the other two were stellar reads

Of course, Amanda Ronconi rocked this narration as always. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Coloring and Classics Subscription Box Review (November 2020)


Hello Lovelies,

 

I’m back again with October’s Coloring and Classics Box. It arrived on October 29, so it was a little late getting to me (apparently, there was some kind of shipping delay). Adult coloring books and activity books are great stress relievers as well as great items to use while carving out a little ‘me time’. Because I’m such a fan of adult coloring books and activity books, I was eager to give this box a go.

 

Before I tell you what I received in November’s Coloring and Classics Box, let me tell you more about the box. 



What is Coloring and Classics? It’s a monthly subscription box that contains one hardcover book in your chosen genre, an adult coloring book, and an adult activity book.

There are two options: a Coffee option, which will contain 12oz of premium hand roasted coffee in your choice of ground or whole bean and a No Coffee option.

There are seven genres to choose from: Acclaimed Fiction, Acclaimed Nonfiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Romance, or Sci-Fi.

Your first box will contain a pack of colored pencils. Each box is 2 to 3 times the value of what you pay.

Cost: No Coffee Option: $18.99 (shipping included) Coffee Option: $30.99 (shipping included)


How it is packaged: The box is a sturdy cardboard (there’s no outer packaging) and on the inside. The items were wrapped in lime green tissue paper.

Is a product card included? There was no product card included but most of the items did have prices listed on them. 

Website: Coloring and Classics or Amazon (not affiliate links)



What I received in November’s Coloring and Classics

(I selected the No Coffee option and Romance Genre)


-When All the Girls Have Gone by Janye Ann Krentz (hardback $27)while this is a 2016 release, it’s been on my ‘to buy’ list for ages so I’m very happy to have received this in my box. I’m also happy that this is a hardback copy.

-Spy School (hardback $16.99)-if you’ve ever wanted to be a spy, then I guess this is the book for you. Although it’s not a puzzle-type of activity book (such as a crossword or Sudoku), it is brain/memory improvement type of activity book and it looks like it will make for an interest activity. While I do like this book and think it’s rather neat, my cousin absolutely loves these types of brain games so I’ll probably add this to her Christmas Eve Jolabokaflod (Christmas book flood) package that I’ll be sending out.

-Mouse Guard Coloring Book by David Petersen ($14.99)—according to the back of the coloring book, this is based on the comic series, The Mouse Guard, and it’s such an adorable coloring book that tells a story through the images. The images remind me of a woodblock print and the paper is a nice, heavy, creamy type that seems like it will hold up all types of medium. While the images are printed on both sides, they will hold up to fine-liners and watercolors without bleeding through. So far, this has been my favorite coloring book I’ve received in this box. 

I also receive a chupa chups lollipop (strawberry flavor).

Total value of November’s Coloring and Classics box$58.98

My Overall ThoughtsThis has to be my favorite box thus far. All of the items are of nice quality and in perfect shape, (last month’s box was a bit dinged up). The coloring book is very unique and I love that it tells a story through the images and the images have that old-fashioned woodblock print look. The Spy School book, while not an actual activity book, is interesting and I know my cousin will get hours of use of it.

 

Out of the three boxes I’ve received so far, this box has had the best content. I do feel like the value is there with this box.  


What I would like to see in future boxes:

-I would like to see a tea option for us non-coffee drinkers.

-It would be nice to have a subgenre offer

-I would like to see additional coloring implements included in each box (such as sharpeners, pencil cases/pouches, blenders, burnishers, and such)

 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Down The Rabbit Hole Book Box (November 2020)


Hello Lovelies,

 

I have a thrilling new book box to share with you and it’s the Down The Rabbit Hole Book Box. This book box is a bit unique because it’s a box that’s been curated around a dark read (more about dark reads in a bit). As someone who has always loved dark, gothic novels, I was intrigued by this book box.  

Here’s a little more about the box before we dig in.

 


What is Down the Rabbit Hole Book Box? Down the Rabbit Hole Book Box is a monthly book box that sends you one dark, mesmerizing, and gripping read (either paperback or hardback) along with 4-6 individually wrapped gifts that’s been curated around the book.

 Website

Price: $34.99 (plus shipping) at the moment this is only offered in the US

Use the coupon code SIMPLYANGELA10 for 10% off your first box or a year's subscription. This code is good for the month of December and is not an affiliate code.

How is it shipped and packaged? The box is shipped via USPS and does come in an outer package. The box itself contains shredded paper packaging that protects the items inside. Each item inside the box (other than the book and pamphlet) is individually wrapped and numbered.



What is a dark read? Per their website, they define dark books as a book without a happy ending. The books we will choose for you will have scary and dark plots, not so nice protagonists that will leave you questioning the world as it is.  There will be no books with happy endings coming from us!

Genres included (but not limited to): Southern Gothic | Dark Fantasy | Psychological Thriller | Horror | Mystery | Dark Fiction | Crime

Because of the content of the dark reads, the website does recommend that this book box is for those 18 years of age and above.

Can I find out the title of the book? Unlike other companies, Down the Rabbit Hole Book Box makes it easy to discover the title. Each month hints will be revealed on their website and Instagram. You can also email the company directly to discover the title. 


Here’s what’s in November’s Down the Rabbit Hole Book Box.

 


November’s Book: The Secret History by Donna Tartt (paperback)—while this book was published in 1992, it’s been on my ‘to buy’ list for ages so I’m very happy that this is November’s book.

November’s Theme: Dark Academia


What is Dark Academia? Dark academia is a genre of literature that generally focuses on the humanities and liberal arts and is set in either a boarding school or university. It often contains gothic elements.

Each month you receive a pamphlet that tells you the theme of the month, a little about the author, and how to open your gifts. Because this is an Immersive Experience Book Box, it’s best to open the gifts as you read (you’ll find a little sticky tab on the page telling you which gift to open).




What is an Immersive Experience Book Box? It’s a box that’s been curated to pull the reader further into the sensory experience of the story with sounds, scents, tastes, and objects of interest from within the story. While items like candles, drinkware, and jewelry could be included, it also includes story specific items such as letters, photos and such.

Item #1—College Brochure from Hampden College, the college mentioned in the book.

Item #2—Bookmark with quote from The Secret History

Item #3—Cup and Saucer from Amazing Ware

Item #4—Wick & Whimsy Soy Candle in Dark Academia (black coffee, bourbon, and burnt sugar) 4 oz, 100% soy

Item #5—Typewritten letter addressed to Julian Morrow

I also received a sticker based on the characters.

 

My thoughts on the November box: This was a great box that fit the book—and theme—brilliantly. The story specific items (college brochure, bookmark, and typewritten letter) were perfect. The college brochure and typewritten letter are straight from the pages. The bookmark is not mentioned but the quote on the bookmark is.



The bookish gifts (the candle and teacup and saucer) are amazing. The candle has a nice throw and burns clean. It’s a heavy-scented candle that has a strong coffee and bourbon scent when cold and a sugared coffee scent when lit. While I’m not a fan of coffee-scented items (I know, I’m the odd one that doesn’t like the smell of coffee) this is going to look great on my bookshelf and as a bookstagram prop. The bourbon and coffee-scents are mentioned in the book. The teacup and saucer (mentioned in the book) is my favorite item in the box. My little teacup collecting soul did a happy dance when I unwrapped this item. It’s a lovely dark-green, scalloped-edged set rimmed with gold that’s nice and heavy. There’s a little crown design inside the teacup and it’s easy to hold.

Honestly, I think this is a great box that really does give you an immersive reading experience. There’s nice mix of bookish gifts and story specific items so you do feel like you get your money’s worth then some from the box.

The only gift that I would have changed would have been Gift #2, the bookmark. The page where the quote is mentioned also talks about a journal, so it would have been nice to have received a journal with the quote printed on it or a post card with fall foliage and the quote (a post card is also mentioned). While I don’t mind getting a bookmark, we normally see these types (standard laminated cardstock) of bookmarks thrown in as extras rather than an actual gift.

Number of Items received: 5 Gifts (3 story specific and 2 bookish) plus the book.

Overall, I enjoyed November’s box. I also enjoyed that this box is going to be curated around dark, gothic types of reads and that’s really what differentiates this box from the other boxes out there. The Down the Rabbit Hole Book Box is off to a good start. It would make a fantastic gift to yourself or someone who loves darker types of reads.  



Code is for December Only




Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last - inexorably - into evil.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Christmas Hireling by Mary Elizabeth Braddons


Sir John Penlyon is planning to spend Christmas at his estate with his niece and his friend Danby, the closest thing he has to family since disowning his daughter years ago. (She eloped with the parson, who was, of course, penniless.) Danby suggests that at Christmastime the estate needs the presence of small children, and offers to find some—the "hirelings"—despite Sir John’s skepticism. Three children duly arrive, and the youngest, precocious four year-old Moppet, quickly endears herself to Sir John. The season takes flight with merriment, warmth, and even affection, until Moppet—as young children are wont to do in Victorian holiday tales—falls deathly ill. With her life hanging by a tinsel-thin thread, how will the makeshift family cope?

 

Publisher: Audible  | Narrator: Richard Armitage  | Length: 3 hrs 53 mins | Genre: Literary Fiction/Classics  | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4 Cups

This was my first read for the ‘Tis The SeasonAthon and it was short and cute.

 Wanting to spend Christmas at his family estate, Sir John Penlyon’s a little baffled by the fact he can’t seem to find the Christmas spirit. Taking his friend Danby’s advice, John decides to take in three young children, the ‘hirelings’, to bring in some Christmas joy. Unexpectedly, John soon finds himself bonding with the youngest child, Moppet, who reminds John of someone from his past. When Moppet falls ill, John—having lost someone dear in his past—struggles to cope.

Originally published in 1875, this heartwarming classic should be on everyone’s Christmas TBR list. While it was a little slow for the first 30-40 minutes as backstories were revealed and the children were introduced, this soon picked up its pace and I enjoyed watching the antics of the children and how this curmudgeonly gentleman opened his heart and let them in.

There was a twist of sorts at the end; I had a feeling from the start how it was going to go. While I saw the surprise coming, I still enjoyed the process and the reveal.

As always, Richard Armitage does a brilliant job with narration and truly brought each and every character to life.

Overall, at just 4 hours, this was a quick listen that I’m still thinking about. If you’re looking for a Christmas classic but don’t want pick up a brick of a book or if you want to see Christmas through a child’s eyes, I highly recommend this book. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Cat Paws and Curses: by Nancy Warren

Knitting an ugly Christmas jumper at Cardinal Woolsey’s knitting shop in Oxford, is supposed to be relaxing. Until a knitter keels over. it’s soon clear to amateur sleuth Lucy that murder's in the air and the culprit is one of the knitters.


This is a fun take on a classic closed room mystery. Of course, no room is every closed when vampires live downstairs. But are the undead knitters to blame? Or is there more to this Oxford knitting circle than lumpy Santas and light-up reindeer?

 Series: The Vampire Knitting Club Novella  | Publisher: Nancy Warren |  Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery  | Source: Purchased | Rating: 3.5 Cups
 
I’ve been having so much fun with this series so when I spotted this Christmas-themed novella I knew I had to read it.
 
Here’s what’s going on. When Lucy decides to host a knitting circle for humans rather than just for the vampires who live in the elaborate tunnels below her shop, she never imagined things would turn to murder. With no one coming in—or going out of—the shop, Lucy must figure out which of her small knitting circle is a killer.
 
This one was rather short but still a nice little addition to the series. I’m not going to delve too deep because there’s not a lot to say about this one without revealing the entire plot.
 
While this one is marked as being the 10th in the series, this story, given some of Lucy’s thoughts and actions, seems to have happened earlier in the series.
 
Overall, this was a well-round short Christmas cozy that fans of this series would enjoy.
 
Side note: It was previously published in the collection: Six Merry Little Murders.





Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Making of a Marchioness & The Methods of Lady The Methods of Lady Walderhurst by Frances Hodgson Burnett

First published in 1901 as The Making of a Marchioness followed by its sequel The Methods of Lady Walderhurst, the two novels were combined into Emily Fox-Seton who is the two works' primary character. The story follows thirty-something Emily who lives alone, humbly and happily, in a tiny apartment and on a meager income. She is the one that everyone counts on but no one goes out of their way to accommodate. Her fortune changes, however, and the second half chronicles her adaptation to her new life and the dangers that arise from those who stand to lose most from her new circumstances.

 

Genre: Historical Romance  | Source: Purchased | 

A few years ago, I discovered—and fell in love with —the PBS movie The Making of a Lady. It’s such a lovely gothic movie and I highly recommend it. Having loved the movie, I finally decided to give the books it’s based on a read.

 

These books (also known as Emily Fox-Seton I & II) are about Emily, a poor woman working as a companion, who is aiding her employer with the task of marrying off the woman’s widower nephew and unintentionally becomes his bride. She then finds herself in jeopardy when her husband’s nephew attempts to murder her in hopes of becoming the sole heir to the Walderhurst estate.

 

The first book, The Making of a Marchioness (rating 3.5), really stands out. We get to learn more about Emily, Lord Walderhurst, and the events leading up to their marriage. We get to see more of their personalities, more of the way they think, and how they handle situations. I flew through the first part of this in no time and I really think it outshone the start of the movie.

 

The second book, The Methods of Lady Walderhurst (rating 2), fell a little flat and I had to force myself to finish it. I feel like the book dragged on and on and could have been summed up in a few paragraphs. I don’t know if it’s where the movie was a faster pace and I knew what was coming and the book was a bit repetitive at times. I just didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first book.

 

While I liked the first book better than the second, I wasn’t a fan of the way Emily was portrayed. She is constantly portrayed as stupid and a bit of a doormat and that got old fast. In the movie she’s naïve, which was understandable given she’s entered into a world she knows nothing about, but she wasn’t a stupid person and she wasn’t someone who didn’t attempt to do things her own way.

Overall, I would say read the first book, The Making of a Marchioness then watch the movie. The first book adds to the story, the second is was just too drawn out.

 



 

Monday, December 7, 2020

‘Tis the Season-a-thon Roundup


Hello Lovelies,

 

Happy Monday! ‘Tis the Season-a-thon has officially ended and I had such a blast. As always, my TBR pile changed (who’s surprised? I’m not, lol) and I ended up doing the Bingo Card rather than the Challenge.

 

Most of the week went smoothly. I started digging into my reads Monday after running errands and kept up a decent pace until Friday morning when a pipe in my upstairs shower burst. While I didn’t get to read Friday, Saturday, or the first part of Sunday, I did manage to finish 4 books and the Bingo Card. 



Here’s what I read:

A Timeless Christmas by Alexis Stanton (Bingo Prompt: Book with a holiday word in the title)—a lovely, little time travel, Christmas romance. While it was a little cheesy at times, I really enjoyed it.

The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Bingo Prompt: Short Story, 250 pages or less)this was a cute little classic featuring a curmudgeonly man sharing the Christmas season with three less fortunate children.

The Little Shop on Nutcracker Lane by Jaimie Admans (Bingo Prompt: Book I received as a gift)—this ended up being one of my favorites. It was a little slow at spots but it was such a great read.

Season of Joy by Annie Joys (Bingo Prompt: Free Space)—this was such an adorable romance. A single father needs a bit of help watching his two daughters during the holidays so he hires Joy, who ends up finding more than just a job.




Bingo Prompt: Make a Gingerbread House—oddly enough, I had a store-bought gingerbread house kit in the pantry (I think it was a joke gift I received last year) so I pulled it out, put on an audiobook (Christmas Charms by Teri Wilson, more about that in a minute), and started building. I had a good, messy time.

Here’s what I’m currently reading/listening to:

Christmas Charms by Teri Wilson—again, this is another book by Hallmark Publishing and I’m struggling to get into it. I’m not sure if it’s the narrator making me not like the main character or if it’s the character herself. I’m finding rather annoying. I still have a little over 3 hours left in this one and I’m not in a hurry to finish it.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss—I’m really enjoying this one and I have about 20% left; I’ll probably finish it sometime today. I started this one late Thursday night but didn’t get to pick it back up until Sunday evening due to a burst water pipe.

Here’s what I didn’t get to:

Christmas Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke—I just wasn’t feeling this one; honestly, I don’t think I was in the mood for a cozy mystery.

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren—I had planned to read this one Saturday and Sunday after finishing the Twelve Dates of Christmas but, unfortunately, I didn’t have time. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison

Aleksandra Daniels hasn't set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother's tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.

Bellamy Bay doesn't look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.


Alex's investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex's own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.
Series: Enchanted Bay Mystery #1  | Publisher: Crooked Lane Books |  Genre: Cozy Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5 Cups

 Magic, murder, mermaids, and magical rivals, A Spell for Trouble has all of that and so much more.

Alex has returned to Bellamy Bay, her mother’s hometown, to spend some time with her mother’s family. What she wasn’t expecting was to discover she comes from a long line of magical mermaids who just so happen to be in a power struggle with another group of mermaids. When a man is murdered and her aunt is blamed, Alex takes it upon herself to clear her aunt’s name. As secrets are revealed, Alex soon realizes she could be the killer’s next victim.

There’s a lot of magical goodness going on in this one and I was hooked.

Alex was a fun character to get to know. There’s a lot going on in her life and lot more happens once she steps foot in Bellamy Bay yet she wasn’t willing to throw her hands up in the air and walk away. She was determined to fight for her aunt’s name to be cleared even if it meant putting herself in harm’s way. While she was a little skeptical about her witchy ability, she also didn’t shy away from it.

The secondary characters (her aunt, cousins, and love interests) were also interesting well-rounded characters that had me wanting to know more.

The mystery in this book was solid yet predictable but I still enjoyed the process. The investigation in this one was slightly different due to some of the magical elements, but it highly detailed and rather enjoyable.

Of course, there’s a love triangle brewing and I’m excited to what how this one plays out.

Overall, If you’re looking for a cozy mystery with a fun magical twist, I highly recommend A Spell for Trouble.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Shifter Christmas Carol by Jennifer Ashley


Dylan Morrissey forgoes the Shifters’ traditional Yule celebration, to his family’s dismay. Instead, he joins Ben at the haunted house in New Orleans, planning to meet with potential, if dangerous, allies in the Shifters’ constant struggle for freedom.

But the sentient house has other ideas. Dylan wakes up—or rather doesn’t—unable to move or speak, and is taken on a journey to the past, present, and future.


Ben, Zander, and Tiger are his guides, but is what they are showing him truth?
Series: Shifters Unbound #11.75 | Publisher: Jennifer Ashley |  Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source: Purchased  | Rating: 4 Cups 



When Dylan skips out on the Shifters’ Yule celebration, he has a plan that could ensure freedom for all Shifters. Although these potential allies are dangerous and soon the house takes it upon itself to show Dylan just how dangerous this meeting can be. Will it be enough to convince Dylan to skip the meeting and return home to his loved ones?

A Christmas Carol is one of those books that’s been retold so many times and in so many different ways but I’ve personally never read a paranormal version until I picked up A Shifters Christmas Carol.

Being a fan of Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound Series, I’m always eager to learn more about her shifters. When I realized this one was about Dylan, I knew I had to read it because he’s always been a favorite of mine and I don’t believe we’ve ever received something from his POV.

Like the original tale, Dylan is visited by three ghosts (Past, Present, and Future), which present to him visions, so not only do we get to learn a little more about Dylan’s past in Ireland, we also get to see the effects of his decision to take this meeting rather than spend Yule with his family. I thought it was brilliant the way the house decided to show him future and I enjoyed the unique characters (Ben, Zander, and Tiger—some of my favorites from this series) that guided him on this journey.

While I did enjoy this book, there was a bit of an odd ghosty-type of sex scene between Dylan and Gloria that was just weird and out of place. I also thought that, while the pacing of the book was brilliant for a short, the ending was a little abrupt; I would have liked to see more about Dylan and Gloria’s relationship when he returned home.

Overall, this novella was a great addition to the series. I would have liked it to have been longer just so I could have seen more of Dylan but I feel like this was well-rounded.

If you’re a fan of this series, this one shouldn’t be missed.