Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Baby for Christmas by Joan Kilby

When Mia Tempesta goes into labor during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, she stumbles into Will Jackson’s cherry packing shed. As a war widow, she’s lost everything–her husband, her home, and her job. But when Will, a caring stranger, delivers her beautiful baby boy into her arms, she has hope for a brighter future.

After being betrayed and dumped by his long-time girlfriend, Will’s dreading the holidays, but when he helps deliver Mia’s son on Christmas morning, he gains a renewed purpose in life. The beautiful Mia and her child tug on his protective heart strings and he finds himself longing to help. They fight their growing attraction–Will’s on the rebound and Mia is still grieving. Will their reckless passion end in heartbreak?

Can two damaged hearts find healing and happiness? One Christmas baby might just be the miracle they need to love again.

Series: Sweet Home Montana Book 2 | Publisher: Tule | Genre: Contemporary Christmas Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 2.5 Cups

This was one cute and sweet but also annoying and totally made me all growly—Christmas books should not make me growly.
Here’s what’s going on. Not only is Mia trapped in a snowstorm, she’s in labor. Taking shelter in a cherry packing shed, she soon receives help from Will Jackson, who delivers her baby. After being dumped by his girlfriend, Will was prepared to have a blue Christmas but Mia and her newborn son puts his life back on track. As the weeks pass, they soon discover their connection goes deeper than just gratitude but they’re both carrying around past wounds that could end their relationship before it starts.
Okay, so I liked this one to a point. It had a cute premise and potential but I feel like the potential was buried under too much internal drama from the characters.
Mia has some things she has to sort out. She’s just given birth, she’s dealing with her husband’s death and his gambling problems, she’s also dealing with his controlling parents. Will’s struggling to figure why his high school girlfriend left him for another guy just days before he was going to propose, he’s also trying to figure out what he wants in life.
The relationship just sort of annoyed me. Both are mad about the other but they are too stubborn to sit down and talk to each other and explain what’s going on. Instead of clearing the air, Mia decides that she’s just going to use Will as a bed buddy then, more or less, treat him poorly when in public. I’m not a fan of thing angle, it just feels slimy to me.
Then there’s the fact that Mia lets her ex-in-laws to walk all over her. She goes on and on about their treatment of her in her head but refuses to say anything to their face. I just have a hard time getting behind timid heroines.
Overall, it had its cute and sweet moments but there was just too much drama and poor decisions that made this one just an okay read rather than a great one. 
2017 Christmas Reads


Monday, November 20, 2017

Tea with Milk and Murder by H.Y. Hanna

While at an Oxford cocktail party, tearoom owner Gemma Rose overhears a sinister conversation minutes before a University student is fatally poisoned. Could there be a connection? And could her best friend Cassie's new boyfriend have anything to do with the murder? Gemma decides to start her own investigation, helped by the nosy ladies from her Oxfordshire village and her old college flame, CID detective Devlin O'Connor.
But her mother is causing havoc at Gemma's quaint English tearoom and her best friend is furious at her snooping...and this mystery is turning out to have more twists than a chocolate pretzel! Too late, Gemma realizes that she could be the next item on the killer's menu. Or will her little tabby cat, Muesli, save the day?

Series: Oxford Tearoom Mysteries # 2 | Publisher: H.Y. Hanna | Narrator: Pearl Hewitt | Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins | Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery | Source: Publisher | Ratings: 4.5 Cups

Challenges Read For: Blogger Shame

So, yeah, this one was a blogger shame. *hangs head* I received the audiobook for review then completely forgot to download it to my Kindle. I found it when I was going through my audiobook library and it was just the right cozy mystery that I needed.
This is such a great cozy mystery series and I’m having such a good time reading through it.
In this one, we have a death by poison—very Agatha Christie—that occurs during her best friend’s gallery show. Now Gemma’s left wondering if Cassie’s new boyfriend is the murderer. As the investigation heats up and another person is poisoned, Gemma becomes the prime target.
Gemma is such a fun character. She left the corporate world behind, moved back to her hometown, opened a tearoom, and now finds herself acting as amateur sleuth. But she isn’t in it alone, there’s an entire cast of secondary characters, including a charming yet quirky cat, that we finally get to know more about them and I really enjoyed that.
Like most cozy mysteries, there’s a love triangle developing. I’m not entirely thrilled about this, I think that the romance angle should focus more on the second chance romance between Gemma and Devlin. While I’m not a fan of the love triangle, it was expected and it wasn’t overly trying on my nerves.
The mystery was pleasing. I do like a good death by poisoning mystery because it makes the where, when, and by whom a bit more challenging to nail down and I wasn’t disappointed. I had a short list of suspects and, when the killer was revealed, the clues made sense and I was proved right.
So some of the scenes felt a little—I don’t want to say odd—but perhaps forced. Obviously, it was necessary to have Gemma in certain spots as she’s investigating but a smoother approach would have been nice.
I enjoyed Pearl Hewitt as the narrator but I still feel that she portrays Gemma older than she is.
Overall, I had such a great time with this one. The mystery was solid and I really enjoyed getting to know more about the characters.   

Oxford Tearoom Mystery Series
All-Butter ShortDead 0.5
Tea with Milk and Murder #2 
Two Down, Bun to Go #3 
Till Death Do Us Tart  #4 
Muffins and Mourning Tea  #5 
Four Puddings and a Funeral  #6 
Another One Bites the Crust  #7  


Thursday, November 9, 2017

DIY No-Sew Fabric Covered Journal/Planner

I’ve been using Pen+Gear’s Lay Flat Journal that I found at Wal-Mart for my planner for about a year now. It’s a little smaller than the planners that I’ve used in the past but, for some reason, the smaller size works better for me. One of things that drew me to this journal was the fact it lays flay. I also liked that the pages aren’t white but a nice light craft-paper brown and they’re acid-free, which is a plus for me since I use it as a sort of scrapbook/memory keeper and not just a standard planner
Sadly, I reached the last page and had to get a new one. I ordered one on-line thinking I was going to get the cute little gold dot cover that I had before. Unfortunately, this one had a horrid looking hot pink cover that was so loud it was practically screaming. Yeah, that wasn’t going to work. So, I browsed around and ended up ordering a dot journal from Etsy. It was cute but the dot/grid paper just really isn’t my style and I just couldn’t get into planning my layouts in it.
So, I decided to get creative and transform my screaming hot pink journal into something more me.

Supplies Needed
Pen+Gear Lay Flat Journal
Heat ‘n Bond Ultrahold iron-on adhesive
Fat Quarter of Fabric (I used Creative Cuts in pattern PCQ Words Onyx)
Superglue (I used the gel type because it doesn’t run or leak through the fabric/paper)
Stick glue ( I used Sticky Thumb because it offers a two-way bond)

1—Gently remove the front and back covers from the journal’s binding tape then remove the decorative covers from both covers. Both covers should be blank pieces of cardboard.

2—Iron fabric and cut two panels leaving about an1 inch of fabric around the covers.

3—Cut out two pieces of iron-on adhesive the same size as the fabric panels. Iron adhesive to the back of the fabric per adhesive package instructions. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. 

4—Iron fabric on to the correct sides of the covers per adhesive package instructions. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes.

5—Flip covers over and iron down the remaining fabric to the back of the covers creating neat tucked in edges. Allow to cool 3-5 minutes.

6—Lift up the edge of the binding tape, run a line of superglue on down the back and attach to the page beneath it. Then add lines of superglue along the perimeter of the journal including on the binding tape. Apply stick glue in the middle of the page. Then carefully place on the fabric-covered cover and press down. Allow to dry for 5-10 minutes.
7—Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the remaining cover and allow to dry overnight.

Cost of project under $10.
Supplies: What they are and where I bought them.
Pen+Gear’s Lay Flat Journal: Available at Wal-Mart of Wal-Mart.com for under $5.
Fat Quarters: are taken from one yard of fabric,cut in half lengthwise, and then in half width-wise and are approximately 18" x 22". I bought mine from Wal-Mart for 97cents. You can also find them on Amazon, Etsy, or your local fabric/craft shop.
Heat ‘n Bond Ultrahold Iron-on Adhesive: I had this left over from a Renaissance outfit I’m working on and I probably pick it up at Wal-Mart or my local craft store. It’s available in most stores that have a craft department and runs under $3. Because the fabric is being attached to cardboard, it’s important to use the Ultrahold that comes in the red package because it’s a fixed bond.
Sticky Thumb 2-Way Glue Pen: I bought this during the Summer for a foil project and ended up liking the way the glue pen worked and the fact it can be used on just about any surface. It has a wide tip and a 2-way bond: permanent with wet/white or repositionable when sticky/clear. The tip is also reversible, which is another plus. I purchased it at Pat Catan’s for around $5.
  What type of planner do you use? 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

HoHoHo Readathon Goal and Progress Post

HoHoHo Readathon
The HoHoHo Readathon hosted by Kimberly @ The Caffeinated Reviewer kicks off today and I’m super excited to be joining in on the fun! It’s runs until November 15th and it’s a fun way to binge read holiday/wintery reads, meet new blogger/bookish people, participate in challenges, and win prizes. Sounds lovely, right?!
I have a pot of hot tea sitting on the stand and stack of books at the ready. I’m hoping to finish at least four full-length books and a few e-novella. We shall see how it goes.
I’ll be posting my progress on here as well as on my Instagram account, @simplyangelarenee, so feel free to stop by there as well. 

My Progress:

Good luck and happy reading, if you’re joining in on the challenge!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Just as they're beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt's body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can't accept Melodie's death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?


As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn't careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie's collection.


Series: Keepsake Cove Mystery #1| Publisher: Midnight Ink | Release Date: 11/7/2017 | Genre: Cozy Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5 Cups

I have a feeling this series is going to be one of my favorites. It’s cozy, friendly, charming, and quirky with unique characters and a fictional town I would love to visit.
Here’s what’s going on. Needing to clear her head, Callie Reed decides it’s time to reconnect with her aunt Melodie. Although their reunion is cut short when Callie discovers her aunt dead on the floor of her music box shop. Callie’s left wondering if her aunt’s death was truly accidental and now that she’s inherited her aunt’s shop and cottage, she’s able to search for the answers while getting acquainted with her new neighbors.
What drew me to this book was how unique the setting was. Not only was it different, I just loved the idea of a town full of unique collectable shops and it reminds me of a little town I like to visit that’s street after street of antique and collectable shops.
As this is the start of a new series, the first half of the book focuses on setting up the town and the characters with the mystery in the background but, thankfully, it didn’t drag and it held my attention.
I really liked Callie. She has some stuff going on in her life that she’s working through then she’s hit with the death of her aunt. Now she has her hands full trying to run a music box shop, figuring out who murdered her aunt, and getting to know a potential love interest.
So, I had a feeling who the murderer was then I started to question my guess and I love a mystery that allows me to do that.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It had all the right elements that pulled me in and hooked me.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Must Love Kilts: A Time Travel Romance by Angela Quarles

A drunken bet....

When computer game designer Traci Campbell gets too close and personal with a bottle of Glenfiddich while vacationing in Scotland, she whisks her kilt-obsessed sister back to 1689 to prove hot guys in kilts are a myth. Hello, hundred bucks! But all bets are off when she meets Iain, the charming playboy in a to-die-for kilt.

Wrong place, wrong time, wrong name....

Iain MacCowan regularly falls in love at the drop of his kilt. The mysterious red-haired lass with the odd accent is no different. But when his new love is discovered to be a Campbell, the most distrusted name in the Highlands, his dalliance endangers his clan's rebellion against King William.

It's all hijinks in the Highlands until your sister disappears....

Traci thinks men are only good for one thing - thank you, Iain! - but when she awakens once again in Ye Olde Scotland and her sister is gone, she must depend on the last person she wants to spend more time with. He wants to win a heart, she wants to keep hers, but can these two realize they're meant for each other before the Jacobite rebellion pulls them apart?
Series: Must Love Series # 3| Publisher: | Narrator: Mary Jane Wells | Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins | Genre: Time Travel Romance | Source: Author | Ratings: 4 Cups 

A spunky game designer and an eighteenth-century Highlander? Oh, yes, please!! And thank you very much!
I am seriously loving this series! If you’ve finished the Outlander books or if you’re not able to watch series 3, then I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this to get you through Droughtlander.
Here’s what’s going on. Blame it on the empty bottle of Glenfiddich. After a night getting acquainted with one of Scotland’s finest spirits, Traci is determined to prove to her sister that hot guys in kilts is just a myth so, thanks to the help of the magical calling card case, they travel back to 1689 Scotland. But there’s only one problem, Traci finds herself enamored with a sexy Highlander named Iain. And things go from bad to worse when she not only discovers that she somehow married the man but she’s also lost her sister somewhere along the way. Now not only does she have to prove that she’s not a spy for Clan Campbell, she has to try to ignore her feelings for Iain while searching for her sister.
This one was really fun. Hailing from Clan Campbell myself, I always enjoy when one of the characters is a Campbell.
I liked Traci. Having been dragged to every Highland Game around by her parents, it’s sort of gotten old to her and made her lose interest in all things Scottish. So when she has a chance to prove to her sister how wrong she is about the whole hunky-highlander-in-a-kilt thing, she jumps at the chance not realizing that her world’s about to be turned upside down.
I felt a bit bad for Iain. From boyhood he’s been treated like he was daft and he’s grown to believe that he’ll screw up whatever he sets his mind to doing. So he’s lacking confidence yet at the same time he wants to try to prove himself. There’s also this natural born leader quality to him that he’s ignored for so long he doesn’t believe he possesses it. Most of the time, I found myself rooting for Iain but there a few times I wanted to shake some sense into him.
The romance was interesting. There was attraction and sparks but they both had their reasons for fighting it and eventually they figured things out. But it did get a bit iffy from time to time.
There is a bit of alternate history in this one and, given that this is a time travel romance and the fabric of time has shifted a bit due to time travel, I was okay with it. It felt natural rather than something that came out of left field.
Overall, another great addition to a brilliant series. Each time I pick up a book in the Must Love series, I know I’m in for a treat.
 Must Love Series
3-Must Love Kilts


Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Right Kind of Rogue (Playful Brides #8) by Valerie Bowman

Viscount Hart Highgate has decided to put his rakish ways behind him and finally get married. He may adore a good brandy or a high-speed carriage race, but he takes his duties as heir to the earldom seriously. Now all he has to do is find the right kind of woman to be his bride―ideally, one who’s also well-connected and well-funded. . .

Meg Timmons has loved Hart, the brother of her best friend, ever since she was an awkward, blushing schoolgirl. If only she had a large dowry―or anything to her name at all. Instead, she’s from a family that’s been locked in a bitter feud with Hart’s for years. And now she’s approaching her third London season, Meg’s chances with him are slim to none. Unless a surprise encounter on a deep, dark night could be enough to spark a rebellious romance. . .for all time?

Series: Playful Brides #8| Publisher: St. Martin's |Genre:  Historical Romance| Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups
A reluctant viscount, a love-struck wallflower, and a meddling matchmaker, what could go wrong?
Here’s what’s going on. Hart’s not thrilled with the notion of settling down, especially when there’s always a new carriage race to win, snifter of brandy to drink, or widow to dally with but he’s finally decided he must do what’s proper for an heir of an earldom. And that would be taking a wife, but not just any wife, one with connections and a dowry who isn’t out to trap him.
Meg’s loved Hart nearly all of her life and now that he’s announced his plans to find a wife, her hopes of him noticing her have been crushed. Not only is she poor as a church mouse, their parents are bitter enemies. Running out of time, Meg does the only thing she can think of and enlists the help of Lucy, Duchesses of Claringdon, who happens to be an expert meddler and matchmaker. Will Meg be able to ensnare Hart or will her circumstances condemn her to a life as a wallflower.
My first romance by Valerie Bowman and I’m addicted. I could not put it down and ended up finishing it in the wee hours of the morning.
One of my favorite historical romance tropes is the reformed rake so I was immediately drawn in because if ever there was a rake, it was Hart. While he was likable and charming, he had his moments of jackassery and there was a few times I so wanted to call him out and tell him to grow up and stop being a bloody wanker.
Oh, Meg, why couldn’t you have opened your mouth and speak your mind? I liked Meg, I did, but I also wanted to shake her on more than one occasion. Given her situation, I understand to a point why she was so timid but if she was willing to go to the length of getting Lucy and her matchmaking madness involved, then she needed to be willing to voice her feelings to all those involved.
The romance took more than a bit of work and it was definitely a slow-building one but the attraction was there. Hart had a lot of internal work to do on himself and Meg, dear Meg, needed to learn how to speak her mind. Honestly, so much drama could have been saved if Meg would have opened up. For being such a wanker at times, Hart was surprisingly open with Meg.
The conflict was actually interesting and came from several sources. However, while the major conflict did work, it could have been avoided if Meg had listened to Hart’s concerns and just played it straight instead of going about things Lucy’s way.
Overall, while I had a few annoyances, I found this one to highly entertaining and addictive. I cannot wait to read the previous books in the series.

Playful Brides Series
The Unexpected Duchess #1
The Accidental Countess #2 
The Unlikely Lady #3... 
The Irresistible Rogue #4 
The Unforgettable Hero #4.5
The Untamed Earl #5
The Legendary Lord #6
Never Trust a Pirate #7 
The Right Kind of Rogue #8
A Duke Like No Other #9 (Coming 2018)  


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ghost in the Wind by E.J Copperman

Never meet your heroes - especially when they're dead....
Guesthouse owner, single mother, and reluctant ghost whisperer Alison Kerby is about to sit down to movie night with her family and friends when she's struck speechless. Floating before her is the ghost of her musical idol, 1960s English rock star Vance McTiernan. He's in desperate need of help from Alison and her resident ghostly gumshoe, Paul Harrison.
Reports claim that four months ago, Vance's daughter died from a drug overdose. Vance, however, thinks she was murdered. While Alison agrees to help, Paul is suspicious of Vance's motives. But after the body of the alleged killer is found in the movie room, Alison and Paul must act quickly before someone else finds a stairway to heaven....
Series: Haunted Guesthouse # 7 | Publisher:  Audible Studios| Narrator: Amanda Ronconi | Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins | Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery | Source: Publisher | Ratings: 3.5 Cups  

Alison’s always been a reluctant detective but she goes along with Paul, her resident private investigator ghost, in order for him to participate in their daily spook show. Although when her rock star idol Vance McTiernan appears floating before her wanting to find his daughter’s killer, Alison suddenly becomes one very eager P.I. even though Paul has voiced his suspicions of Vance. With Alison and Paul at odds Vance’s motives, she has no choice but to wing this investigation on her own. Yet when her prime suspect is murdered in her movie room, she and Paul mend fences in order to stop a killer.
So, I spent a great deal of this book not liking Alison. Because her new client is her music idol, her personality does a 180 and she ends up turning on everyone, including Paul, and she refuses to listen to anyone. I’m not fan of this type of behavior. Thankfully, she does redeem herself but it was almost too late.
The mystery was solid and it wasn’t as easy to figure out as some of them. I do enjoy a puzzling mystery. There’s some red herrings thrown in and I was actually pretty convinced one of them was the killer and a bit shocked when I was proved wrong. There’s also a small secondary mystery that plays out—it was obvious to me from the start, but it was still an interesting addition to the book.
Once again, Amanda Ronconi’s narration shines. If you haven’t checked her out, please do so.
Overall, while Alison wasn’t my favorite, the secondary characters were still amazing and the mystery was outstanding.

Haunted Guesthouse Series

Ghost in the Wind