Thursday, March 31, 2022

Speed Reviews: The Veil by Rachel Harris & How it Ends by Rachel Howzell Hall

I’m back with two more shorts from the Audible Plus catalogue. Like the Facts of Life theme song, ‘you take the good (which I posted Tuesday), you take the bad (which is what we have here today)’. In this round, we have a ghostly romance, The Veil by Rachel Harris, and an avenging thriller, How it Ends by Rachel Howzell Hall.

Title: The Veil

Author: Rachel Harris

Narrator: Louisa Krause

Length: 47 minutes

Source: Audible Plus

Rating: .5 Cup 

Sally has recently left an unfulfilling job to volunteer at a living history museum, where she is assigned to the Death House. Every day, she dons Victorian mourning garb and describes traditional funeral services to tourists. It sounds depressing as hell, but for Sally, it’s less depressing than her tepid marriage to her childhood sweetheart.

This becomes all too clear when she accidentally travels through time and space to a liminal world where the ghosts of the living history museum haunt its grounds. There, she meets and falls hard for Victorian-era pretty boy Nathaniel. Their heady, romantic encounters douse Sally in the sad reality that her marriage is anything but and leave her tempted to join Nathaniel permanently in his realm.

Is Sally’s marriage literally a fate worse than death, or is there another way altogether?

 Sally works in the ‘Death House’ in a living history museum where she talks about Victorian funeral and mourning customs. One day, she goes to sleep in a Victorian Herse and wakes up to find Nathaniel—a Victorian-era ghost—she seems to prefer over her living high-school sweetheart who is now her husband. Now she has to choose between her tepid marriage or her ghostly beau.

Loved the premise: a living history museum worker time travels, sort of, and falls in love with the ghost of the Victorian era man that lived there. Hated the book. It was a waste of 47 minutes, thank goodness it was an Audible Plus freebie. I don’t know why so many people are raving about this short story. Not only was Sally the whiniest character, the plot was a waste of time.

This was a poorly executed mash-up of Emily Dickinson’s poem Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Title: How It Ends

Author: Rachel Howzell Hall

Narrator: Joniece Abbott-Pratt

Length: 2 hrs and 32 mins

 Source: Audible Plus

Rating: 1 Cup

Marti Greenwood has just moved into a brand-new home after a bitter divorce from her husband Emery, and while she’s still not quite done with him—of course, some of her most cherished possessions are nowhere to be found once she unpacks her things—a fresh start in a beautiful LA neighborhood is exactly what she needs.

But days after her arrival, Marti is attacked in her home. She's found shaken and beaten, and her neighbors immediately call the police. She never saw the face of her attacker, so there is little to go on as detectives open an investigation—but Marti will do whatever it takes to find her assailant.

Not only is Marti going through a divorce, she’s just been attacked in her new home. While she’s terrified, there’s little she can do to help the police find her attacker because she never saw his face. Still she’s determined to catch the person who did this to her.

Another book that started well, had amazing potential, but fell flat. Not only was the character inconsistent (one minute Marti was unable to move from fear then the next she was ready to be her own personal avenger) but the ending was absurd.

You know when you’re taking a creative writing course at uni and the professor gives you 30 minutes to come up with a short story and things are going well until you look at the clock and realize you’re coming up on the 30-minute mark and you’re a long way from the ending so instead of tying things up in a nice bow you crumple up the wrapping paper, hoping the one piece of tape holds the entire thing together.  Well, that was this ending. 

Have any of your recent reads not lived up to their potential?


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Bone to Pick with #BoxyCharm (Subscription Box Review/Rant)

I have been a fan of BoxyCharm since they came out with their revamp years ago. I’m often posting their praises when I share my boxes on here but, sadly, they’re starting to let me down.

October 2021 they announced they were raising their Premium Boxes from $35 to $39.99 (plus tax) but their Base Boxes were going to remain the same. Fast forward to January 2022 and they announced that Base was increasing from $25 to $27.99 plus tax but we were going to be receiving the hottest new brands and new-to-Boxy brands.

I decided to cancel my Premium box because 1—I didn’t want to pay over $40 for a box that had not been the best over the last few months and 2—I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of makeup/beauty items I’m bringing in because I need to use up the hoard of makeup/beauty items that I have here. Even with the price increase, which is now the second increase, I decided to stick with the Base Box.

This year hasn’t kicked off with the best boxes. Nothing matches my profile and I’ve received several duplicate items. Then March’s Base Box arrived and I was excited. For my choice pick, I selected the Charm Your Cheeks Blush Palette from Ofra and it was confirmed via email after I made my selection.


Well, I open my box and pulled out the card, which happened to be the card for Boxy Flourish—this month’s Boxy Charm Theme is Boxy Game Changer. Boxy Flourish was the box from May 2021 (the card is coded C2105127-BA-GWP, which means it was the base box for May 2021 and I received variation 127). I started looking through the products and this is what I received.


1-Murad City Skin Overnight Detox Moisturizer

2-KAM Cosmetics Day + Night Eyeshadow Palette

3-Lavish Essential Eye Collection (bush set)

4-Ciate London Bamboo Bronzer

5-Sophia + Marbelle Hydrating Hybird lip balm

I also received the Breakfast in Bed Eyeshadow Palette from Beauty Bakerie (not listed on the card)

This box was the exact same box I received in May 2021—the only thing that changed was the Sophia + Mabelle Hydrating Hybrid Lipstick is a different shade and they threw in a Beauty Bakerie eyeshadow palette, which I’ve received numerous times in Boxy Base.

I paid $30.93 in March 2022 for the same box I paid a little over $26  for in May of 2021 yet, the price increase was supposed to bring *new* products to your box. I email the company basically saying, ‘hey, I received a past box instead of the current box and I’m not happy about it’. This was the reply I received…


Basically, it was a brush off. I decided to have a little snoop around their Drop Shop Sale (it’s where Boxy members can shop items at a discount). Not only did they have everything for sale that my mother received in her March box, they had every single item that two of my friends received as well as items that the majority of people on Insta and Youtube received.  

If they had the stock to sale, they had the stock to make sure I received a current box. I have a feeling that they were trying to get rid of their backstock and I’m not okay with that or the fact that I paid more for a box I already received. I’m wondering how many people Boxy Charm did this to this month.

Boxy Charm is turning going downhill rather quickly. This box fiasco was just the icing on the cake. For months there has been issues with choice not opening when it was supposed to—normally it’s been opening half-an-hour to an hour (sometimes longer) after it’s scheduled to open, which makes it challenging for those who scheduled things around the time they announced. Then there’s their ‘oops, we made a mistake and somehow sent out old emails and we have no idea how it occurred’ situation, which is occurring rather frequently .

There’s also been a lot of mistakes with their boxes lately. Not only has some of the products come swatched, there’s been several times when I receive a different product than the one listed on the product card, or a product has been expired. And, sadly, the value just hasn’t been there with some of the past few boxes.

I’m on the fence about Boxy Charm. A big part of me wants to cancel my subscription—I’m just not please with it—but I also want to stay for their members-only Mega Sale and Drop Shop because they offer amazing discounts for products I love but don’t want to pay the insane MSRP for. 

Do you receive Boxy Charm?

If so, have you ever received a past box?

What would you do if this happened to you?

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Speed Reviews: Stay Tuned by Jeffery Deaver and Still House by Christian White & Summer DeRoche

I’ve had a lot to do lately, so to help me get through my tasks, I’ve been listening to shorts from the Audible Plus catalogue and I haven’t been disappointed. I have two mystery/thrillers to be sharing with you today. The first, Stay Tuned by Jeffery Deaver, will have you wondering what’s roaming the woods while the second, Still House by Christian White and Sibylla Budd, will have you trapped in house where a couple went missing.

Title: Stay Tuned

Author: Jeffery Deaver

Narrator: Zoe Chao

Length: 52 minutes

Source: Audible Plus

Rating: 3

Amanda and Charlie are spending their first weekend away in months. They’ve rented a luxurious vacation house on Lost Valley Lake. Swimming, bicycling and romance are the order of the day, and all is good. That is, until someone—or something—appears on the shore across the lake, just as the sky turns gray and the water chill and choppy.

When the apparition, or whatever it might be, grows closer and closer, it soon becomes clear there are certain types of evil that you can’t protect yourself from with locked doors and windows.

And perhaps you can’t protect yourself from them at all.

 Amanda and Charlie’s rented a vacation home on Lost Valley Lake—a place that holds all of Amanda’s secrets. Things begin to go awry when a storm rolls in only to become further complicated when they realize something is lurking outside.

Was this a memorable read? Nope, I had to find my notes to recall what it was about, but it was an okay listen. It’s short but it offered a nice bit of backstory, a little suspense, a little atmosphere, and a dash of paranormal. There’s not too much going on but just enough to keep things going and to keep me entertained. The mystery aspect was a bit predictable but still a decent listen.

If you want a quick, light thriller to listen to while driving, taking a walk, or sitting around the fire pit this is perfect. 

Title: Still House

Authors: Christian White, Summer DeRoche

Narrators: Luke Arnold, Sibylla Budd

Length: 3 hrs and 57 mins

Rating: 3.5 Cups

Situated in a beautiful setting abutting the Balarang waterways and located on an acre of natural bushland, this three-bedroom country home is full of promise, character and potential. Featuring private access to the many splendours of Balarang Creek, this idyllic property is perfect for anyone seeking fresh air and serenity.

Nostalgic for childhood summers a world away from his manic Melbourne life, Dave Johnson purchases a secluded house in a postcard-perfect coastal town. A savvy investment, he convinces his wife. One year on, and his seaside dream has turned into one big headache, with his tenants not paying rent, and now simply vanishing into thin air, leaving all their belongings behind. Summoned back to the house to inspect the abandoned property, Dave and his wife Lisa become trapped in the isolated spot after their car breaks down. Spooked and alone, they become lured into investigating what really happened to their mysterious tenants.

Dave and Lisa Johnson purchased a house in Balarang Creek to use as a rental but, a year later, things have fallen apart and now their tenants have skipped the rent—leaving their possessionsbehind and the house in a state of chaos. When the Johnson’s car breaks down during their visit to check out the property, they soon realize something’s in the house. Trapped and alone, they try to figure out what happened to their tenants and what’s going on.

For a little under four hours, this book truly delivered on the suspense. I can still remember feeling on edge to see what happened to the previous tenants and what was happening to the Johnsons. I was hooked from the start.

I will warn you, there’s some odd content that was tossed in, maybe for filler, but I did truly enjoy the majority of this short. There’s a nice combo of mystery, thriller, suspense, paranormal but the ending, sadly, fell flat. There was so many ways the authors could have gone that the ending chosen just didn’t live up to the books potential. Still, it was a decent listen. 

What short stories or novellas have you been reading?


Monday, March 28, 2022

My Reading Journal Journey Part 2

Hello Lovelies and welcome to part 2 of My Reading Journal Journey. You can find part 1 HERE. Sorry this was delayed; I had intended for this to be posted the day after part 1 but I had some things going on that took my focus away from the blog.

Today I’m going to be sharing with you the reading journal that I’ve been using for the last 3 years as well as 3 new-to-me reading journals that I’ll be trying out over the next 3 months.  Because of everything that’s been going on, I am 3 months behind in getting started. I had intended to test out 12 reading journals (3 each quarter) and since I don’t want to use more than 3 quarterly, I’ll pick out the 3 that I don’t think I’ll use and do either a separate post or maybe an Instagram post about those.

I know that it’s going to seem like I’m wasting the journals by only using them 3 months at a time, but I will actually use them up next year so there’s not going to be any waste. In addition, some of the reading journals have a small amount of review forms, which will be easy to use within the allotted period.

In this post, I’ll be sharing my full thoughts for 1 reading journal (The Reading Log) and my first impression thoughts as well as the contents of the other 3.

The journals have either been gifted to me by the publisher/creator, gifted to me from friends, or I’ve purchased them myself. I will leave a link to the original site and/or Amazon. If I’m using affiliate links, they will be mentioned beside the link. 

Reading Log by smART bookx

Website: Amazon | Price: $5.99 | Source: Purchased | Dimensions: 8x10


-100 Review Forms

-Table of Contents—allows you to fill in the book title as well as tick the genre (6 genres are filled in and three are left blank for you to fill in) I write small enough that I’m able to include the author’s name and sometimes the series.

-The Big Read Top 100 Voted Fiction Books—this is a list of classics and modern books.

-Notes Page (lined)

-Loan Record—to record loaned and borrowed books

 Review Form Contains:

-Format (paperback, hardback, e-book, audiobook)




-Page Count

-Pub. Date

-Fiction or Non-fiction (with space to fill in genre)

-Start/Finish Date

-Source (bought, loaned, from)

-Inspiration Tree (why it was read, inspired you to, recommend it to)

-Rating System (plot, characters, ease of reading, overall)

-My Review Section (lined)

-Quote Block

 My Thoughts: I’ve been using this brand of reading journal for the last 3-4 years and, while it’s worked for what I’ve needed the actual review section is on the smallish side (there’s 17 lines) and I end up writing in any blank space available so my review thoughts end up looking like a Regency letter. I also rarely use the quote section (I generally keep my bookish quotes in a separate book) so I also use that space to write more of my thoughts. I do write small, so I am able to get a lot of my thoughts down on the page.

 I do like that this is customizable to a point. In the blank spots in the genre section of the Contents, I added in the format (audio, e-book, print) so it makes it easy to glance at for my stats I also color-code the titles for subgenre. While there’s no dedicated space for narrator or series, the Title block is big enough to add those details. I will also swap out the Page Count for book length if it’s an audio. I generally use the one-page Notes section in the back of the book to track my reading challenges. I use the blank, inside cover to keep track of my favorite books of the year; again, it’s a quick way to access stats that I look for.

 This has a soft, floppy cover, and the book lays flat allowing for easy writing. The page quality is nice but, occasionally, there is minimal bleed though. I often use Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens and have no issues with them bleeding though, although I did have issues with the Wal-Mart store brand felt tip pens. Depending on the color, some highlighters do bleed through (I’ve tried several brands and, for some reason, the greens and pinks in all brands do bleed through slightly).

 I could have done without the Book List and the Loan Record; they’re just not something that I use although I imagine the Loan Record will come in handy for some. I do like that they have several cover designs to choose from—I’ve used both the Antique Books cover as well as the Classic Books cover.

 Overall, for the price point ($5.99), this has been a great reading journal. It’s easy to store, holds up well, and is customizable enough to allow me to use it for what I need. A place to add a series tracker would be nice so I wasn’t constantly switching between two books to look up series info. It also would have been nice to have more space for my reviews; they could have easily assigned the back of the page for more review space and extended the book. 

My Reading Life: A Book Journal Created by Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy blog (Ten Peaks Press)

Website: Modern Mrs. Darcy (contains a listing of where to buy) | Price: $14.99 (on Amazon) | Source: Publisher | Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.75 x 7.25 inches


-100 Review Forms

-Table of Contents (with blank spaces to fill in book titles)

-Quote Pages

-Introduction from Creator

-How to Use the Journal

-Reader Questionnaires (several)

-Reading Habit Tracker

-Book Lists (several)

-TBR List (7 pages)

-Reading Tips (several pages)

-Favorite Books Log (2 pages, lined)

-Favorite Authors Log (2 pages, lined)

-Favorite Quotes Log (4 pages, dot grid)

-Borrowed/Loaned Log  (2 pages)

-Books Given/Received Log (2 pages)

-Favorite Books Log


 Review Form Contains:






-Year Published


-Fiction/ Nonfiction


-How I Discovered This Book

-Memorable Quotes

-Thoughts & Impressions

-Rating Section (enjoyment, craft, overall)

-Recommendation Section

 My Thoughts: the first thing that I noticed about this book was that it was
super small. The pages are the size of the new mass-market romance books. From first glance, there seems to be a lot of ‘extras’ in this book that I, personally, don’t need (there’s 21 pages of book recommendations, 11 pages of reading tips/guides). The review forms are a little small and this is a dot grid page.

 This seems to be a book journal that’s for someone that’s just starting to get into reading and only wants to share a brief reaction to the book. I’m not sure this is something that would be suited for me, as a reviewer, to use. 


The Bookish Sleuth Mystery Reader’s Journal & Planner (2022) Created by Sara Rosett

 Website: Amazon | Price: $28.99 | Source: Gifted | Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.66 x 8.5 inches


-72 Review Forms

 -Table of Contents

-Yearly Book Tracker Grid

-Books to Read Section (36 books)

-Series to Read Section (36 books)


-Recommended List

-DNF List

-Monthly Spread Planner with Bookish dates

-Review Form

 Review Form Contains:





-Series #

-Page Count



-Star Rating System

-Date Started/Finished

-DNF Checkbox

-Main Character(s)

-Supporting Characters





 This is a guided book review journal so the following is included instead of a place for a review.

-Thoughts on Plot/Theme

-Thoughts on Mystery

-Thoughts on Characters

-Why I Read This Book

-Favorite Quotes

-Things I Liked

-Things I Didn’t Like

-Recommend This To

My Thoughts: This is such a unique reading journal—I don’t think I’ve seen a mystery specific reading journal before—and Sara Rosette did an amazing job creating this one

I’ve already started using this one—I’ve added a list of mystery ARCs and release dates to the Books to Read section, I’ve also marked their release dates on the monthly calendars as well as added some specific things I need to tick off once the reviews are posted (where to send the reviews, reminder to add to GoodReads).

There were some specific things that I like my reading journals to have (book index, publisher section) that weren’t included but they were easily added. I do need to go in and add a ‘source’ section, just so I won’t forget where the book came from so I can send the review link to the appropriate place.  I will say that the Books to Read section, Series to Read section, Wishlist section, Recommended List, and DNF list are super small, which doesn’t bother me since I do write rather small.

The only thing I’m not sure about is the guided review format. There are a few sections that I won’t use (Why I Read This Book, Favorite Quote, Recommend This To) so I’ll probably end up using those sections for extra review space. Sadly, there’s not a dedicated ‘Notes’ section, but there is a blank page before each month starts that can be used to jot things down. There’s also a few blank pages at the end of the book.


The Reading Journal from Lit Joy Crate

Website: LitJoy Crate | Price: $24.99 | Source: Gifted | Dimensions: 8.5 inch X 6.5 inch


-100 Review Forms

-Table of Contents

-Reader Profile

-Reading Goals (2 pages)

-Books to Read (3 sections)

-Reading Recommendations (3 pages)

-Bookshelves (10 pages)

-Thoughts & Feeling Pages

-Literary Artwork & Quotes

-Blank Dot Grid Pages

–Literary Locations & Map  

-Favorite Audiobooks Section (2 pages)

-Book Club Picks (2 pages)

-DNF section (2 pages)

-Books to Movie Adaptations (6 pages)

-Favorite Book Quotes (4 pages)

-Books by Season Section (add 6 books per season)

-Reading Resources Section | Ribbon Bookmark

Review Form Contains:




-Format (text\audio)

-Year Published

- # of Pages

-Start/Finish Date

-Recommend Section

-Book Made Me Fill Section

-5-Star Rating System

-Lined Section for Thoughts

-Quote Block

Thoughts: This is the reading journal that I’ve been the most excited about using. It’s aesthetically pleasing, very sturdy, and is printed on decent paper. It has a lot of the things that I look for in a reading journal. Of course, there’s still things that’s missing on the review form that I’ll have to add in but the actual review space is a decent size (if more space is needed I can always use the quote box). There’s a lot of extras in this one that will make it fun to use, and they are extras that I will use. I also like that this one will allow me to get a little creative as there’s bit to color in

The journal comes in a sturdy storage box, which is a plus.

Those are the three journals that I will be using over the next three months. I’ll have an update posted sometime in June with my thoughts on these ones. Will I have found the perfect reading journal? Does it exist? We shall see! 

Have you tried any of the Reading Journals listed here?

Did one catch your fancy?

What reading journal are you using?

 Let me know down in the comment section.