Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Coloring and Classics Subscription Box Review (December 2020)

Hello Lovelies,


I’m back again with the Coloring and Classics Box.  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 December’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)

-Hart’s Hollow Farm by Janet Dailey (hardback, MSRP $27.95)—this is a 2019 release published by Kensington. While this looks like it’s going to be an amazing read, I think I’m going to add this to a future giveaway because someone will probably enjoy this one more than I will.

-Blockbuster Paint-Doku (MSRP $8.95)—this is a different type of Sudoku where you map out an image by creating a series of black and white rectangles. While the book is nice quality and spiral bound, I’m not a massive fan of this type of puzzle as I find it slightly boring. I’ll probably pass this on to a friend.

- Hamilton: An Adult Coloring Book by M.G. Anthony (MSRP $10.99)—this is a fantastic coloring book. Each page contains an image from Alexander Hamilton’s life as well as little snippets from his life that pertain to the picture. The pages are one-sided, the images are clear, the paper is crisp and white, and of a decent thickness (although I would put a piece of paper behind the page your coloring). If you’re a history fan or are currently homeschooling I highly recommend picking up this coloring book.


This month’s sweet treat was a peppermint candy spoon that will be perfect for hot chocolate.


Total value of December’s Coloring and Classics box: $47.89


My Overall Thoughts: This wasn’t my favorite box but it wasn’t a bad box. The items are quality items but the book and activity are not items that will hold my attention. The Hamilton coloring book is stellar. I also liked we received something other than a sucker. 

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)


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Curious Incident by Vicki Delany

"I am not a Consulting Detective," Gemma Doyle reluctantly tells 10-year-old Lauren Tierney, when the little girl comes to the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium to beg Gemma to find her missing cat, Snowball. Gemma might not be able to follow the clues to find the cat, but her dog Violet follows her nose to locate the missing kitten in a neighbor's garden shed. Gemma and Violet proudly return Snowball to her grateful owner, and Gemma basks in praise for a job well done. But a few days later Lauren is back with ten dollars in hand, wanting to once again hire a consulting detective, and this time for a far bigger job: Her mother has been accused of murdering her garden club rival.

Sheila Tierney's garden, which everyone said was the one to beat for the West London Garden Club trophy, had been vandalized the night before the club's early summer tour. Sheila confronted her former friend and gardening partner Anna Wentworth in a towering rage, and the women nearly came to blows. Later that night, after having won the trophy for best garden, Anna is found murdered and Sheila Tierney is the police's prime suspect.

Despite herself, and despite the disapproval of her police detective boyfriend Ryan Ashburton, the game is once again afoot, and Gemma finds herself and Jayne Wilson using their powers of deduction to ponder yet another curious incident.

Series: Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #6 | Publisher: Crooked Lane Books |Release Date: January 12, 2021 | Genre: Cozy Contemporary Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4 Cups

Bookshops, Sherlock Holmes, and a garden to die for? It was just as intriguing as it sounds.

Here’s what’s going on. When a young girl comes to Gemma to find her missing cat, Gemma never expected that the girl would return begging her to clear her mother of a murder charge. Unable to say no, Gemma soon finds herself trying to figure out if Sheila’s vandalized garden was motive for her to murder her former best friend and garden club rival, Anna.  While Sheila swears she’s innocent her actions, and the fact she possibly skipped town leaving her daughter on her own, has Gemma wondering if Sheila truly is guilty. To make matters more interesting, Gemma now finds herself looking after Sheila’s daughter, Lauren, while trying to catch a killer.

This cozy mystery was a pleasant surprise. While I’ve read—and enjoyed—a few of Vicki Delany’s Year Round Christmas Mysteries, this was the first in her series that I’ve read. I was a bit worried because this is the sixth book in an established cozy mystery series but I had no problem following along.

Gemma was an easy character to like. She’s rather unique and has clever reasoning as well as brilliant observation skills. And while these traits annoy some, I found that they made her rather interesting. The secondary characters, Gemma’s best friends, were just as fun and intriguing and gave this book a bit more depth.

Like most cozy mysteries, there is a love interest for Gemma, which so happens to be police detective, Ryan. Because I started so far in with this series, the relationship was established and it was nice to see a healthy adult relationship rather than a constant love triangle.

The mystery in this one wasn’t difficult to solve and I had an inkling from the start but I still enjoyed watching Gemma’s process of elimination. I also enjoyed the red herrings thrown in.

While this is a cozy mystery, this book was also very character driven yet I didn’t feel as though one aspect was more prominent than the other. They blended brilliantly to make one of the most well-rounded, fleshed out cozy mysteries I’ve read.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. There are references to Sherlock—both the books and the show—and it has a similar tone with the original Sherlock books. I look forward to reading the previous books in the series as well as seeing what types of investigations Gemma gets involved in in future novels. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Bout of Books 30 Starts Today

Hello Lovelies,


I’m so excited for Bout of Books 30 to start today. What better way to kick off a new year than with a read-a-thon. The timing of this was perfect for me since I’m on vacation until the 11th.


I have a few errands to run this morning before the freezing rain starts then a bit of light cleaning. Do you change your tablecloths to match the season? I’m very OCD about my tablecloths, especially the one on my dining room table and I have to change them every few weeks.


On the reading front, I’ll probably pop on an audiobook while I clean.  One Fine Fae by Molly Harper (the next in her Mystic Bayou series) is up next in my Audible queue. I always have a good time with Molly Harper’s books.

 As for my physical books:


While I don’t have my TBR set, I’m wanting to read The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, which is the first in the The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series by Theodora Goss. I also have The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick, which is a Tudor time-slip mystery that looks amazing. There’s also The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab that I’m itching to read.


I’m not sure which of the three books I’ll pick up today but I’m aiming to finish at least one physical book today.


I have at least on E-ARC, A Curious Incident by Vicki Delany, which I need to read this week. It’s a cozy so it shouldn’t take me too long to finish it.


If you’re interested in following my progress, I’ll be posting updates on Instagram @simplyangelarenee as well as posting an update post here on the blog on Wednesday and Saturday.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Tudor Book Challenge 2021 Goal Post

This year I wanted to take a different approach to the reading challenges I’m participating in. I wanted to take on a challenge that would allow me to pick up books that I’ve been missing and books/genres that I’ve been wanting to get back into.


I’m such a Tudor/Stuart/WoR fanatic but, sadly, it’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a book (either fiction or nonfiction) about the people or the times and this is the perfect challenge to allow me to dive back into their fascinating worlds.


I haven’t picked out my TBR yet although, other than the book published in 2021, I think I should be able to shop my Renaissance/Medieval bookshelf for each prompt because my bookshelf is brimming with books I’ve not yet read.


Challenge Host: Laura Ann Riddling from the Facebook Group: Tudor Books in Every Nook


The Rules:

-One book per prompt

-Preferably a new-to-you book

-Nonfiction or Fiction (unless stated in the prompt)

-No time limit 


-A book you’ve chosen only for the cover.

-A Tudor mystery (fiction or nonfiction).

-A book by an author who shares the first letter of your first or last name.

-A book with a time slip (can be from WoRs, Tudor, or Stuart time period).

-A book whose main character is NOT a king, queen, prince, or princess.

-A book about a battle or set during a battle from the WoRs, Tudor, or Stuart time periods.

-A book published in 2021.

-A book about Anne Seymour, Amy Robsart, or Frances Howard.

-A book about a Spanish king or queen that reigned during the Wars of the Roses, or the Tudor or Stuart periods.

-Flip a coin: Heads-biography of a man from the Tudor period; Tails-biography of a man from the Stuart period.

-Roll a dice and read a book about the person the number is assigned to:

  1: Margaret of York

  2: Charles Brandon

  3: Juana of Castile

  4: Lettice Knollys

  5: Katherine Willoughby

  6: Jasper Tudor

-A book that is the first in a series.

-A book about a murder during the WoRs, Tudor, or Stuart period.

-A book about a castle or palace.

-A book within the theme of plays, actors, actresses, Shakespeare, etc.

-A book about medicine or health during the WoRs, Tudor, or Stuart period.

-A book about the Tudor Navy or an explorer.

-A book about a York lady.

-Read a book about one of the following: Margaret of Anjou, Margaret Beaufort, Margaret of York, Margaret Tudor, Margaret Douglas.

-A book by an author you’ve never read before.


Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 Goals

Hello Lovelies! 

Happy 2021!


It’s that time of year where I set my goals for the year ahead. I’m not even going to comment about how my 2020 goals went—2020 is like Vegas for me, what happened there, stays there.


It’s a new year, with newish goals.


As for my 2021 theme, I’m still sticking with the Oscar Wilde quote I had for the last two years as a reminder that I don’t want a reinvention but rather I want to continue getting back to myself.


-Be consistent with content

-Update GoodReads—I can’t seem to remember to post on GR—I didn’t add one single book last year. I’m going to add a tracker/reminder to my reading journal that will hopefully help me remember to actually add the books I read.

-Add discussions to the blog

-Be consistent with blog visits

-Discover new-to-me blogs

-Be consistent with social media updates.



 -Tackle my TBR pile mountain

-Conquer NetGalley

-Shop my bookshelves instead of buying—not only will this help to curb my spending; it will help me with my goal of tackling my TBR mountain.

-Try out different genres

-Read more non-fiction

-Read more historical fiction

-Use the reading journals I received as gifts



My two house goals were left over from last year.

-Replace my bookshelves so they match my new desk—apparently, the bookcases I want to get are a hot commodity and have been on backorder. I’m hoping to have them by at least Spring.

-Turn my bedroom closet into a makeup/dressing area—because of everything that happened with the restrictions, this will probably end up being a DIY project that I’m aiming to complete by Fall 2021




-Dedicate at least an hour a day to ‘self-care’/me time/unplugging—this was something that I really need last year and I’m rolling it over to 2021.

-Exercise at least three times a week—I’ve built up a nice bit of easily storable at home exercise equipment and I need to get back into using them regularly.

-Do more yoga—this was something I was really enjoying at the start and middle of last year and I need to get back into it.  

-Remember to take my vitamins—I started using a habit tracker in my planner at the end of year that’s been helping me to remember to take my vitamins and I plan to continue using it in 2021.

-Learn something new

-Drink more water

-Create a work/home balance—I tend to work all hours of the day and I need to keep to set hours.