Friday, July 30, 2021

When a Duke Loves a Governess by Olivia Drake

Oh my goodness, I forgot how much I love Olivia Drake’s writing style. Within minutes of opening When a Duke Loves a Governess, I was transfixed watching the Duke of Carlin and his daughter’s spirited governess fall for each other. Keeping reading to see why this is one of my favorite books of 2021…

 


Tessa James has worked and planned tirelessly to open her own millinery shop. All she needs now is a loan from the lord who sired and abandoned her. The only problem is, she doesn’t even know his name. What’s a woman to do to find him but enter the aristocratic world by becoming a governess?

Guy Whitby, the new Duke of Carlin, has returned to London after years abroad to discover that his young daughter Sophy has become a wild-child known for scaring away every governess who's crossed his doorstep. When Tessa James applies for the job, he hires her in desperation despite his misgivings that she’s too bold and beautiful–and that she might be fibbing about her qualifications.

Their blooming attraction leads them on a completely unexpected path to love that neither wants to deny. But when an old enemy threatens Guy's family, their forbidden romance goes up in flames. Can they still learn to love and trust each other as forces try to tear them apart?

Series: Unlikely Duchesses #3 | Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks |  Genre: Historical Romance | Source: Publisher  | Rating: 4.5 Cups 

As a Jane Eyre fan, I absolutely love a good governess/employer relationship and this one delivered a fun Regency romance with a bit of action, a bit of mystery, and a lot of fun.

Guy is the brand new Duke of Carlin. As fourth in line, he never expected to inherit the dukedom—he’s more comfortable exploring the flora and fauna of exotic locations—but due a series of accidents while abroad, he now finds himself in a position he never really prepared for. To make matters worse, he’s come home from his voyage to discover that his wife has died and his young daughter (he really doesn’t know) hates him. He’s in desperate need of a governess that can tame is wild child.

Tessa hasn’t had the best life. After her mother’s tragic death, she was raised in the workhouse then become the assistant to a milliner, who underappreciates her hard work. When she hears the new Duke of Carlin is looking for a new governess, she sees this as the perfect opportunity to search for the lord she believes to be her father in hopes of securing a loan to open her own millinery shop. Even though Guy has qualms about her qualifications, Tessa is determined to prove she was the right choice.

As Guy and Tessa develop an attraction, her lies and an outside threat looms over them.

It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up an Olivia Drake romance and this book reminded me of how much heart and soul she puts into her writing. Her characters are realistic and realistically flawed, which really endeared them to me.

Tessa’s a very strong-willed, feisty, and intelligent person who is very task/goal focused. She knows what she wants and she’s determined to make it happen. Guy is not your typical duke, and I liked that because it’s not a role he was trained for. If he had been all high and mighty, roar is me, I’m the duke I don’t think I would have liked him. He’s someone who followed his passion and now he’s struggling to fit back into his home life, if that makes sense.

Tessa and Guy have a lot going on emotionally. He’s working through some guilt and trying to figure out how to connect with his daughter as well as how to be a duke. She’s trying to figure out where she came from as well as juggling the white lies she’s told Guy. Even though they have a lot going on, they have this great connection, this pull of attraction that they want to explore. I loved watching how they navigated the tricky class divide.

I also loved watching Tessa mend the relationship between Sophie—who was quite the little scene-stealer—and Guy. It was magical watching the three of them on the page together and I would have liked more of it.

While this is one of my favorite books of 2021, it’s not a perfect 5-cup read. The way Guy handled something towards the end of the book, after something was revealed about Tessa, should have come sooner. I don’t think that Drake meant for it to come across as some readers are going to take it—I’m not going to give anything away—but I would have liked it earlier.

There’s also the late addition of the mystery/danger aspect, which I did enjoy but I think it should have been added a bit earlier into the story. There was a sampling of it spattered about but, again, had it been earlier it could have added more intrigue.

I would have also liked to see more of Guy and Tessa’s romance develop on the page. While this was in no way an instalove story, it felt like some of the development was behind the scenes so to speak.

Guy’s relationship with his daughter—or rather, the lack there of—isn’t going vibe well with some readers. Honestly, some may end up disliking him because of it, but it needs to be judged according to the era and not by the era we live in now. Back then, society or aristocratic fathers (and mothers) had very little to do with the upbringing of their children—it was rare if they shared a household and often visited very little. That wasn’t something that dissuaded me from Guy or the book.

This is the third in the Unlikely Duchesses Series and I had no problem following along having not read the first two books.

Overall, this was a great read with some fun twists and turns. There were a few things I would have changed but I thoroughly loved it. I have a feeling you’re going to have fun with Guy and Tessa—even Sophie’s antics are amusing.

Go forth and get your Regency Romance Read on! 

Unlikely Duchesses Series

The Duke I Once Knew #1

Forever My Duke #2

When a Duke Loves a Governess #3

 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Another Quick Blog Update

 


Hello Lovelies,

 

I hope you’re doing well!

Just a quick little update; somehow I broke my blog. Hopefully, I’ve fixed the problem and posts are now going to start publishing again. Follow.it should also be active. I’m still working on Disqus so I’ll be able to reply to comments.

Fingers crossed, all things are going to start flowing again.

 

Cheers,

Angela

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Sunday Post

 Hello Lovelies and Happy Sunday!

It’s been a minute since I’ve been back in Bloglandia and I’ve missed all of you lovely people! There’s been a lot going on from health things to breakups and everything in between (more about what’s been going on in a later post) and I had to step away for a bit but I’m back and ready to get my blogging groove back on.

There was a lot going on this week. Monday I spent some time with family having a little picnic, which was nice seeing as it’s been a while since we were able to visit. I normally make a Victorian sponge cake but it was way too hot (100+) to turn the oven on so I picked up some frozen pound cakes and improvised. Everyone seemed to love them.

I finally started tackling my house projects I’ve been putting off. I had intended to have a contractor to do some of the remodeling, but due to the Covid restrictions in my area, that’s not going to be possible yet so the projects have turned into DIY projects. I’ve spent a lot of time purging items and ordering the storage/organization items I’m going to need. There’s a lot that I still need to do but it’s been such a relief to get the pre-prepping out of the way, especially since I fell in a hole Friday and either strained or tore my calf muscle. I’m more or less couch bound for the next week or so to see if it heals on its own.

Reading-wise, I’ve tackled several audiobooks. Currently listening to—and loving—Pause by Kylie Scott. I’ve also made my way through several e-ARCs. I have a feeling a lot of reading will be done in the week to come as I rest my leg.

What I’m stitching: Daffodil Doily from Duftin. I’ve been flying on this one; it also helps that the stiches are a decent size. I’ll probably have this finished by Monday.



Blog-Wise, I’ve been scheduling posts—I’m actually getting ahead!—and doing a bit of maintenance as I switched over to a new subscribe by email service.

Here’s what was on the blog:

Monday:  Falling in Love on Willow Creek by Debbie Mason (review)

Tuesday: Outlandish Book Box Review

Wednesday: June Empties

Thursday: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper(review)

Saturday: Subscribe by Email Update 


The Sunday Post is a blog news meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on your blog for the week ahead. Join in weekly, bi-weekly or for a monthly wrap up.


 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Subscribe by Email Update


Hello Lovelies,         

 

I’m popping in today to share that starting Monday, there will be a new subscribe by email service delivering all the happening at Simply Angela straight to your in-box.

 

If you were an active Feedburner subscriber, you’ll now be receiving blog emails from Follow.it. New subscribers can use the link below to sign up.

Get new posts by email:

Thursday, July 8, 2021

How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper


Anna Moder has just witnessed a shooting, seen her car pulverized, and rescued a wounded stranger - only to discover he's really a werewolf. And by her recent standards, things are actually looking up. Lycanthropes don't faze Anna. Doctoring a wolf pack outside Grundy, Alaska, is the closest thing to home life she's known in years. But hitching a ride to Anchorage with long-absent pack member Caleb Graham - that's a risk. Part of her itches to whack his nose with a newspaper. The rest is trying unsuccessfully to keep her own paws off every delicious inch of him.

 

The problem is, Caleb employs his lupine tracking abilities as a not-quite-legal bounty hunter, and Anna is suspicious of both him and his profession. On the run from her past, with old problems closing in, she'd like to stay far, far away from anybody with connections to the law. Caleb, however, seems determined to keep her close. Are his intentions noble, or is he working a more predatory angle?

Series: Naked Werewolf #3 | Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Amanda Ronconi | Length: 8 hours 39 minutes | Genre: Paranormal Romance | Source: Purchased | Rating: 4.5 Cups 

It’s been a minute since I’ve visited Molly Harper’s Naked Werewolf series and…I completely forgot that I hadn’t finished it. I spotted this one during Audible’s sale and picked it up.

Here’s what’s going on. Anna’s been content hiding out in Alaska but when she witnesses a shooting that leads to her car being destroyed, she has no choice but to rescue the man that’s been shot. Imagine her surprise when she discovers said man’s a werewolf. While that doesn’t bother Anna, whose been doctoring a wolf pack, it does bother her that she’s developing some kind of feelings for Caleb, who happens to be an off the books bounty hunter.

Although Anna doesn’t want to be connected with any type of lawman, Caleb’s determined to keep her close and that has her wondering what his intentions are.

I completely forgot how fun this series is, which makes me want to re-read the first two books. If you’re looking for snarky werewolf goodness, then this is the book for you.

Caleb and Anna were fun together. She wants to run, he wants to keep her and that made for an interesting journey as they traveled around Alaska while Caleb did his bounty hunter thing. The bounty hunter aspect was also a fun thing to watch as Caleb wanted to get the jobs done quickly and Anna wanted to take a gentler approach. It was fun watching Caleb sort of let Anna navigate certain situations.

The romance wasn’t quite insta-love but it was a bit faster, like most paranormal romances, and I didn’t mind that as I felt the characters were given enough time to develop feelings. There is a bit of deception involved—on both sides—and I feel like there were some things that they both could/should have been upfront about but it wasn’t enough to ruin the story and some of the things I had a feeling about from the start.

This one was a bit heavier than the first two as it deals with domestic violence but it still had that Molly Harper levity.

As always, Amanda Ronconi is the perfect narrator. She truly brings the characters and the sass alive.

Overall, I loved this book. It was exactly what I needed when I listened to it. Sadly, I think this was the last in the series (I can always hope she’ll decide to put out another one) but it was a fantastic way to end. 

Naked Werewolf Series

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf #1

The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf #2

How to Run with a Naked Werewolf #3


 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

June 2021 Empties


Hello Lovelies!


I bring a ton of beauty/skincare/makeup products in each month from subscription boxes, purchases, gifts, and review items so I thought I would start sharing my monthly empties. Not only will it be a place for me to share what I liked and didn’t like/what worked and what didn’t I thought it would hold me accountable to actually using up the mountain of products I received.

Empty Minis

 


Tatcha The Water Cream—as this is for normal to oily skin, I wasn’t sure if it would work for me but I ended up finding this rather moisturizing.

Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream—this was my favorite of the two. It’s a heavier, exceedingly moisturizing formula that gave my skin a lovely dewy finish.

Glow Recipe Banana SoufflĂ© Moisture Cream—I wasn’t sure I was going to like this since it smells like banana’s (not a massive fan of the scent) but I ended up loving this. It calmed and hydrated my skin like a dream. I was actually going to purchase a full-size but, luckily, I received one in a Boxy Charm box. 

It Confidence in a Cream—this is one of those face creams that I like to get in a subscription box/bag but I’d never buy as it’s a nice face cream but nothing extraordinary. 

Youth to the People Maqui + Prickly Pear and Goji Glow Oil—this is one of my favorite face oils. Prickly pear is great for locking in moisture and this oil is fast absorbing without leaving a greasy residue. I will be picking up a full-size once it’s back in stock.

Kismet Bright & Bubbly Lip Scrub—this was a decent lip scrub but I’d never purchase one in a container as it’s super easy to DIY one.

 

Skin Care/Face Cleansers

 


First Aid Beauty Coconut Water Cream—this is a hydrating and calming face cream. It’s a product that I do love but I wait until it goes on sale to pick up.

Volition Beauty Snow Mushroom Water Serum—this is favorite serum. I received this in my Boxy Charm, tried it out for a week, then went and ordered two more bottles from Volition’s website. If you have dry skin, I highly recommend this serum. It’s been a game changer for my skincare routine.

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser—this is a great cleanser that works brilliantly at removing everything, including sunscreen, but it’s not something I would pay full price for. If it goes on sale, I would probably pick it up but it’s not a life changing cleanser.

Honey Jarret Clean Whip Cleanser—I received this in an IPSY bag, loved it, and ended up purchasing several in their Add-Ons Sale. This is very hydrating, removes everything, but it does have a strong tulip scent, which I don’t mind. Surprisingly, this lathers with my PMD Clean (it’s a silicone, electric facial cleansing brush) where a lot of cleansers do not.

Skin & Co Roma Truffle Therapy Toner—this is one of my favorite toners. It’s alcohol-free, moisturizing, and allows my skincare to sink into my skin. I do have several bottles of this, thanks to subscription boxes, so I won’t have to repurchase this for a bit.

 

Bath and Body



Cuccio Somatology Yogahhh! Calm + Clean Body Wash—I love this lavender scented body wash. It’s hydrating and so relaxing. I have a ton of these—they come in just about every subscription box I get—but I do pick them up when they’re included in the Add-On Sales.

E.L.F. 50mg CBD Body Cream—I picked this up on a whim when Ulta was having a sale and ended up loving it. Not only is this super hydrating, it does help to calm and repair the skin. I also find that it does help to alleviate some of my minor aches and pain. I did pick up another one of these and this will be a repurchase item.

Dr. Teal’s Wellness Therapy with Rosemary and Mint Epsom Salt Soak—I’ve always been a massive fan of Dr. Teal’s but I’ve really been loving this soak, especially since I injured my lower back. This blend worked brilliantly on my achy muscles. I also enjoyed the scent; there’s a slight rosemary scent but it’s mostly a very fragrant mint scent.

Village Naturals Therapy Chronic Pain & Fatigue Body Soak With Arnica + Epsom Salt—I was looking for a soak that had arnica in it and this was the only one that I could find and I wasn’t as impressed with this one as I was with the Dr. Teal’s. It has a very herbal/blueberry scent, which I didn’t mind but this one tints the water blue, has shimmers, and bubbles. I’m not a massive fan of soaks that dye/tint the water or bubble as I find them a bit drying. I’m also not a fan of the shimmers because they tend to remain on my skin for what feels like forever and I don’t really want to go around sparkling like Edward Cullen. As for the pain relief aspect, sadly, I didn’t really see where it helped. It did relax me but that was about it. Also, there’s a ton of ingredients in this one, including mica (why it shimmers) and sea salt whereas the Dr. Teal’s only contains the Epsom salts and the essential oils (maybe 5 ingredients tops).

 

Random

 


Secret No. 22 Coconut Oil + Mandarin Antiperspirant—this was okay. I liked the coconut/mandarin scent but it’s not one of my favorite antiperspirants. This felt a bit heavy and, sadly, it did leave a white patch on my black/dark clothes. I like their gel formula so much better than their solid.

Rimmel Scandaleyes Mascara—one of my favorite drugstore mascaras. It lasts all day without flaking or smudging.

Ayam Beautycare Dead Sea Minerals + Vitamin C Serum Makeup Remover Wipes—this came in a Boxy Charm and was way too harsh on my face so I ended up using these to wipe off makeup swatches. Makeup wipes aren’t something I generally buy—I try to buy reusable makeup wipes—but I will use them if I receive them in a box.

 


Hello Bello Hair, Skin, + Nails Vitamins—my body struggles to tolerate vitamins, so it’s safer for me to target concern areas, which happens to be my fingernails (the hand sanitizer has done a number on them). I’ve been trying these out since the start of the year and I’ve had success.

 

Tazo Chai Vanilla Caramel Tea—I’ve never been a massive Tazo fan but I picked this up on a whim in my local grocery and I loved it. It’s a creamy chai with a lovely caramel flavor and the perfect amount of spiciness. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Outlandish Book Box from Pretty Literate (Review)


As most of you probably know, I’m a massive Outlander fan so I was excited to see an Outlander-themed box releasing. This box stated it was curated around the series and would be something that would ‘bridge the gap’ until the new novel releases.

 

Before we get into what was in the box, let me tell you a bit about it. 

What is The Outlandish Book Box? It’s a one-time themed box that was curated for Outlander fans in anticipation for the ninth novel that releases in November.

 

Price: $49 (plus shipping) and had to be pre-ordered before May 29th.

 

Website: Pretty Literate https://prettyliterate.com/

 


How was it packaged? The items ship in a sturdy, white cardboard box with the Pretty Literate logo sticker on the top. There is tissue paper concealing the items but on the inside of the lid, there is an itemized list of what the box contains. Personally, I like to be surprised, so it would be nice if the item card had been in an envelope. I do like that she incorporated a bee theme to symbolize the upcoming book.



 

Here’s what was in the Outlandish Book Box.

 


1-Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon (Paperback)—this is a collection of short stories from the Outlander world. I love that a book was included—and I do think that this was a good choice as I know a lot of people purchased these only in e-book—but I do have this in hardback. This will go in an Outlander themed giveaway that will post at a later date.

 


2-A Wooden Herb Stripper from North to South Designs—this was such a great and unique item to throw in and I love how this was chosen to represent Claire and her use of herbs. This was something that I was actually looking to purchase so I’m very happy one was in the box.

 


3-Handmade Dragonfly Earrings from Babs’ Boutique Studio—not only are dragonflies a big part Outlander, the ‘pearls’ on the dragonfly are to represent Ellen Fraser’s pearls. I love seeing dragonfly jewelry included but I don’t have my ears pierced. I make jewelry, so I can easily turn these into a necklace, but I think that earrings need to be an option rather than just something included.

 


4-60’s Era Craigh Na Dun Keychain—when I spotted this, I immediately recognized the retro look of the keychain (my grandparents had similar looking keychains). While I don’t think I’ll actually use this for my keys (it’s a little large), I do think that I’ll use it on my Outlander handbags to hang things off of. I thought this was a fun little addition to the box.

 


5-Standing Stone Bookmark with JAMMF Quote—while I do like this—and like that it’s nearly postcard size so it can be used as a small print—I’m not a massive fan of getting cardstock bookmarks as gifts in subscription boxes. This would have been grand if it had been wood or metal but cardstock bookmarks are normally extras thrown in book subscription boxes.

 


6-3 Michel et Augustin Triple Chocolate Cookie Squares—these are ‘French treats to tantalize your tastebuds’ and they’re okay.  While I like these, I think they should have been a ‘bonus’ item.

 

7-Bonus Item: Sassenach’s Wish Celtic Knot Wish Bracelet—the idea of this bracelet is that you wear it until it breaks, then your wish comes true. This is a cute little bracelet and would be simple to remove the Celtic Knot charm and put it on a charm bracelet.  It was a nice addition.

 

My overall thoughts on the Outlandish Book Box: I love anything Outlander so this box was such a treat but it was a little on the pricey side (It was over $100 for 2 boxes, I picked up one for my Mum) for the items included.

 

All items were nice quality and well-made but I was expecting something a bit different. A mug or a candle would have been nice to receive. I was also expecting to see something from their line of Outlander gifts. I would have also like there to have been an option regarding whether or not you wanted earrings. It would have been nice if there would have been a little questionnaire on the order form asking if you have pierced ears. I also think that the little cookies and cardstock bookmark should have been bonus items.

 

With that being said, I did enjoy opening this box and will use the items. This is my second themed-box from Pretty Literate (the first was Jane Eyre, which will be in an upcoming post) and look forward to seeing their next box will be. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Falling in Love on Willow Creek by Debbie Mason


Single mom-to-be Sadie Gray will do anything to find her younger brother before the law catches up with him. Even if it means returning home to the small town of Highland Falls with a baby due any moment. But when that moment comes sooner than expected, and Sadie finds herself stranded on the top of a mountain—in labor--she couldn’t be more grateful for the park ranger who finds her and helps deliver her daughter safely. Soon they’ve formed a tight friendship, and while he may be hinting at more, Sadie isn’t planning to stick around after she finds her brother.

FBI agent Chase Roberts wasn’t looking for love when he agreed to go undercover as a park ranger to find an on-the-run informant. But he can’t help being drawn to beautiful, warm-hearted Sadie and her sweet baby daughter. He’s always longed to put down roots and start a family. But how can he hope to keep Sadie’s trust when she finds out that his job is to arrest the brother she’s been looking for?

Series: Highland Falls #3 | Publisher: Forever | Genre: Contemporary Romance  | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5 Cups

I love visiting Highland Falls. Every time I pick up a book in this series, it’s like visiting old friends.

When Chase Roberts started surveying Sadie Gray in hopes of finding her brother, he never imagined he would be the one delivering her baby or falling for her and her daughter. Sadie’s falling for Chase but he’s lied to her and on the hunt for her brother, who Sadie’s spent her life bailing out. While they’re both sure they’ve fallen head over heels, they’re not sure if they’ll get past Chases lies and deceptions.

Chase and Sadie were great together. They both have things they’re going through and a massive cloud—Sadie’s brother and his connection to a murdered deputy—hanging over them but I loved how they were both determined to figure out if there’s something substantial between them. I also loved the way Chase bonded with Sadie’s daughter.

There is mystery and action in this one as the search goes on for Sadie’s brother and figuring out exactly what happened. This does take up the majority of the book but I love the way it blends in with Chase and Sadie’s romance without taking over. With that said, I do feel there could have been more of Chase’s personal story included as a lot of Chase revolves around the investigation.  

While I loved Chase and Sadie (and their story), the beauty of Debbie Mason’s books is the hometown atmosphere and the way she incorporates what’s happening with the loveable characters from the previous books without taking away from the main story.

This is the third in a series and while it does work okay as a standalone I do recommend reading the previous books, especially the first one, just to get the feel of the characters.

Overall, I loved this book. It was another great addition to the series and I highly recommend it. 

This book does include a bonus story, A Wedding on Honeysuckle Ridge, and it added so much to the story. We finally get to see more of Chase’s backstory, which I felt was missing from the full-length story, as we meet his grandfather, who’s set on separating Chase and Sadie. 

Highland Falls Series

Summer on Honeysuckle Ridge #1

Christmas on Reindeer Road #2

Falling in Love on Willow Creek #3

A Wedding on Honeysuckle Ridge #0.5 


 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James


A very young woman's first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate...An estate haunted by a beckoning evil. Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls... But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil. For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.

 Publisher: Audible | Narrators: Emma Thompson with Richard Armitage (intro) | Length: 4 hrs 40 mins | Genre: Psychological Thriller | Source: Audible | Rating: 3.5 

When a young governess takes a job at the remote Bly Manor, she wasn’t prepared for the odd and distant children or the phantoms haunting the halls. To make matters worse, it doesn’t seem that the children are frightened by the ghoulish creatures. As her time at Bly Manor stretches on, the governess begins to grow frantic in her need to save the children. But what is she saving her young charges from?

The Turn of the Screw starts with an unknown narrator recalling a ghost story he heard at a Christmas Eve gathering. From there a note from the unnamed governess recounts the events that occurred during her time at Bly Manor.

From the start, there’s a lot of ambiguity in this novella. Is the governess mad? Is she seeing things? Is she sane and there’s a real threat? Do the children commune with evil spirits? Was the governess inappropriate? The only thing that’s certain about this novella is that the relationship between the governess and the children is volatile and there’s some type of danger lurking in the halls of Bly Manor.

This story has never wowed me. The unreliable narrator leaves an unreliable story where the context changes based on the readers mood. One minute I’m convinced the governess is mad and the next I’m certain she’s actually seeing ghosts.

The Turn of the Screw is the Schrödinger's cat of literature. The ghosts are both there and not there as long you don’t peer into the story. The box is never opened and the truth is never revealed.

While this book is neither spooky nor gothic, it’s been the inspiration behind many modern gothic novels and horror movies because it builds up suspense and plays with the readers minds.

This is the first time that I’ve listened to this on audio and I highly recommend this rendition as Richard Armitage’s intro pulls you in and Emma Thompson’s performance has the right amount of desperation, urgency, fear, and panic that grips on to you and allows you to truly experience the plot.

Overall, this is never going to be my favorite classic. I’m always going to walk away from this one feeling that it left me a bit meh. At times there’s a lot going on in this book yet nothing happens. At times it’s repetitive—again, it’s going back to the fact the governess is unreliable.

When I read the physical book, it always came across as overly dramatic; everything the governess does/says is overly urgent, overly fearful, overly panicked. Where the physical book became grating, the audiobook allowed me to enjoy it as a dramatization. I highly recommend trying out this particular audiobook version. 


Have you read The Turn of the Screw?

Are the ghosts real?

Is the governess mad?

 

Monday, May 17, 2021

One Fine Fae by Molly Harper


Charlotte McBee knows she’s in for a challenge when she accepts a job as midwife for a dragon and a phoenix shifter. Being a fairy herself, it isn’t the supernatural world that scares her. It’s the thought of delivering a giant metal dragon’s egg, which has her gritting her teeth in pain for poor Jillian, the anxious mother-to-be.

 

While preparing for the big event, a handsome town resident catches her eye. Leonard is kind, charming, and a little bit mysterious. He’s also suffering from a highly unusual condition brought on by an ancient fairy curse, and he’s too wary of Charlotte to allow her to get close.

 

Will love overcome fear before the end of her assignment?

 Series: Mystic Bayou #4.5 | Publisher: Audible  | Narrators: Amanda Ronconi and Jonathan Davis  | Length: 3 hrs, 10 min | Genre: Paranormal Romance  | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5

I love heading back to Mystic Bayou and the zany—but lovable—residents.

Charlotte’s a fae in town to help Jillian deliver her giant metal dragon’s egg—yes, you read that right—but she’s can’t help to notice Leonard. While the guy is charming, the poor thing is a klutz thanks to an ancient fairy curse. The good thing for Leonard is that Charlotte can correct the curse—but first she has to convince him that she’s into him for him and not just to ‘fix’ him.

There’s a lot going on in this book—Charlotte’s midwifery duties, Jillian and Beal’s metal egg delivery, Leonard and his klutzy curse—and while I enjoyed it, I don’t feel as though Charlotte and Leonard had a lot of page time. I feel that in the other books we see more of the relationship and the development whereas this one seemed a bit mixed in with Jillian and Beal’s situation.  With that being said, the one thing that’s always consistent in a Molly Harper novel—besides the snark—is the sense of community and I do enjoy seeing what’s happening with the other characters.

As always, Amanda Ronconi and Jonathan Davis nailed the narration.

Overall, I still had fun with this one and found it to be a great addition to the series. I can’t wait to see what happens next in Mystic Bayou. 

 

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley


Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable—a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she's ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she's the first one her siblings turn to for stealing it back. No one expects that in doing so, she'll also abduct a handsome duke.

 

Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father's mistakes. To repair his estate's ruined reputation, he must wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven hell-for-leather down the cobblestone streets of London by a beautiful woman who refuses to heed his commands, he fears his heart is hers. But how can he sacrifice his family's legacy to follow true love?

 Series: The Wild Wynchester's #1 | Publisher: Forever |Genre: Historical (Regency) Romance  | Source:  Publisher | Rating: 4.5

What happens when a Duke on a mission is caught in a Wynchester’s web?

When Chloe accidently kidnaps Faircliffe in an attempt to retrieve her family’s painting, her gift of being invisible in a crowd goes out the window when she realizes that Faircliffe actually sees her. Changing plans, Chloe decides to implore Faircliffe to help her, a Wild Wynchester, to ‘fit into society’ so that she’ll have access to his estate in hopes of reclaiming the painting. Faircliffe’s agreed to helping Chloe but he never intended to fall for her—it simply wouldn’t do. He has a plan to repair the damage his father caused to the estate and he needs an heiress to do that not a Wynchester.

I had so much fun with Faircliffe and Chloe. They both have well thought up plans that they intend to see through. He is determined to be the model of society to fix the problems his father caused and he’s not going to allow anything to get in his way. Chloe will stop at nothing to get her family’s painting back, even if that means entering the enemy’s (Faircliffe’s) lair. Both are determined and headstrong so it was interesting watching these two fall for each other all the while saying that this was temporary and they had to stick to their goals.

I also enjoyed meeting the Wynchester family. They’re such an eclectic group but they’re the closest of families and I really enjoyed seeing how they interact and how willing they were to help each other.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I was kind of hoping that Chloe would confess her plan to Faircliffe when they started getting close. I was also hoping that Chloe would have her ‘pick me, choose me, love me’ moment but she was content to step aside. Although I do have to say that she did have a moment of growth where she finally figured out who she wanted to be and I really enjoyed that for her.

Overall, I really enjoyed this The Duke Heist and Erica Ridley’s writing style. I’m eager to see more from the Wynchester family. 

Wild Wynchesters Series

1-The Duke Heist  

 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole Book Box (April 2021)


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 not an affiliate code.

How is it shipped and packaged? The box is shipped via USPS and the last two months it has arrived  in a plastic poly mailer. 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. 

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. 



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

 




April’s Book: Death on the Nile (A Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Agatha Christie (paperback)—When I heard April’s theme, I had a feeling this was the book and I couldn’t have been more excited. This was actually next on my ‘to buy’ list so I can read it before the movie comes out next year. Very happy to have this and I love the cover!

April’s ThemeMurder and Betrayal Among the Pyramids





Item #1—Earl Grey Agatha ChrisTea from Tea Book

Item #2—Hercule Poirot Enamel Pin

Item #3—Newspaper

Item #4— Reticule

Item #5—Faux Pearl Necklace

Item #6—Scarf 

Also included is a bookmark, which happens to be a ticket for the cruise, and a card introducing you to Hercule Poirot. 

My thoughts on the April box: this has to be one of my favorite Down the Rabbit Hole boxes. The scarf is simply exquisite—I love tying these in my hair or hooking them on the strap of my handbag. The reticule is well made and I was actually looking for one to use with my Renaissance outfit so this is the perfect fit. The faux pearl necklace is a more of a choker-type, which I’m a bit too claustrophobic to wear but this will work great as part of my headdress for my Renaissance outfit. The enamel pit of Poirot is adorable and the newspaper article will make a fun addition to my book journal.

 

I’m always up for getting tea but can we just take a minute to appreciate the Agatha ChrisTea. How adorable is that?

 


One of my favorite things about this company is the thought and detail they put into each box. The themed labels, the art deco (nice quality) envelopes, and they even took the time to make a cruise ticket for the bookmark. They really do go above and beyond with each box and it’s truly one of my favorite bookish subscription boxes. 



Number of Items received: 6 Gifts (1 story specific and 5 bookish) plus the book.

OverallI loved the theme, the book, and how well matched each gift was not only to the book but also to the era of the book. April’s box was outstanding and bonus point because I was able to build-up my Renn Fest outfit!

 










The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life.

 

Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting’ nothing is ever quite what it seems…