Monday, October 30, 2023

With Love, from Cold World by Alicia Thompson

Cold World is a small tourist attraction in hot and humid Orlando, Florida, that offers visitors a fun taste of winter all year round. But numbers are down and it's in danger of closing if they don't come up with a plan soon to revitalize it and draw in more people. 

Lauren Fox is the bookkeeper at Cold World. She's reserved and guarded and likes to keep tight control of everything in her life, especially at work. She grew up in foster care and doesn't really know how to relate well with others. Though part of her longs for family and friends. 

Asa Williamson has worked at Cold World since he was eighteen, and he knows all the ins and outs of the place. He sports tattoos and blue hair and is friendly, confident, and a bit cocky. And he loves needling uptight Lauren, not realizing how often his teasing words hurt. 

Lauren and Asa aren't exactly friends. And Lauren absolutely does not want to work with Asa to save cold World. But fate keeps pushing them together. And as they spend time together, their relationship takes an unexpected turn. 

This is a very character-driven romance and I absolutely loved it. Thompson's writing drew me in right from the first chapter. Asa and Lauren are well-layered characters complete with flaws, hidden talents, and surprising depths. I enjoyed watching their journey together and how they each grew as characters. There are some fun moments of banter, cute Secret Santa gifts, and I really loved the game they invented the night they got trapped inside Cold World together. Their romance just made me happy. 

Melody and I read this one together. And it was so much fun. Be sure to check out her review.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

So haunting....

Doesn't this house look totally haunted? I love how broken and eerie it looks. It would make such a great setting for a scary ghost story. 

This one looks pretty haunting as well:

But I think this one is my favorite. This is one I'd love to buy and fix up...even if it is haunted.  

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Two Quick Bookish Books Recommendations...

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

First Thea gets laid off. Then she discovers that her husband of twenty years is cheating on her with one of her friends. So when she finds out she's inherited her great uncle's house and antique book collection, she gladly escapes to Baldochrie, Scotland to claim her inheritance. One thing leads to another and soon Thea is happily working at the local bookshop for the grumpy (and handsome!) owner, Edward Maltravers. 

Scotland and a bookshop? Yes, please! Those are two of my favorite things to read about. And I loved how Thea's and Edward's humorous bickering led to some very honest conversations, friendship, and ultimately deeper feelings of love.   4/5 stars. 

Bookshop Cinderella by Laura Lee Guhrke

1895, London. The Duke of Westbourne has just made a bet to turn a quiet and plain bookshop owner into the bell of the ball. And he has six weeks to do it. Evie Harlow isn't interested in his proposition until her bookshop suddenly needs some major repairs. She agrees to help him with his bet, but neither one of them planned on falling in love. 

This is a fun if predictable romance with two engaging characters. I liked that Evie knew about the bet right from the start, and I thought their dancing lessons were very cute.  3/5 stars. 

Happy Reading!

P.S  These two books count towards Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Haiku Reviews...


Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison

One bite. Now its fur,
fangs and claws every full moon--
What's a girl to do?

Fiction.... 324 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Amazing prose and a strong heroine!)

The Witch is Back by Sophie H. Morgan

They were engaged. He ran. 
Now he's back. Can Emma trust him
with her secrets...and her heart?

Romance ....378 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(Cute and magical.)

The Duke Alone by Christi Caldwell

Alone at Christmas,
Myrtle finds solace, friendship and love
with the duke next door.

Regency romance ... 304 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(A captivating romance between a mischievous heroine and brooding widower; loved the humorous banter and sweet kisses.)

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 20, 2023

The Nightmare Man by J.H. Markert

Ben Bookman writes horror novels inspired from the nightmares of his childhood. Now those nightmares are coming to life as several recent murders in Crooked Tree, the town where Ben and his wife and daughter live, uncannily mirror the murders in his book. When the police come to question him he doesn't have many answers for them. Because Ben has secrets. And sometimes he sleepwalks. And something happened when Ben was writing the end of his novel out at his grandfather's secluded Blackwood Mansion that he can't quite remember. But he knows it wasn't good, and it's made his own wife suspect the worst.

The two main detectives on the case are Detective Winchester Mills and his daughter, rookie detective Samantha Blue. Mills has a reputation for solving some pretty bizarre cases over the years, but this latest murder investigation is the most gruesome. And if Bookman's novel is anything to go by, the murderer isn't done. Mills also has the ability to see the nightmares of others. But the nightmares he's seeing now seem to lead to Ben and his family.

My thoughts:  This thriller is atmospheric, unexpected, and riveting, with a supernatural element that I loved. Markert's take on nightmares is deliciously creepy, and I really liked the way he weaves together Ben's dark childhood memories and his family's long-buried secrets with the present investigation. Detective Mills, with all his flaws and his strange ability, is a fascinating character. I enjoyed his interactions with his daughter, Sam, as well as Ben's interactions with his young daughter, Bri. Their family dynamics added a nice layer of normality to this compelling thriller. And while the murders that take place in this one are disturbing, the author never gets graphic or too gory when he describes them, which I appreciated. This book hooked me right from the beginning and kept me engaged all the way to the end.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's theme is Books With Weather Events in the Title... or on the Cover.

I managed to find ten books that fit the theme that I've actually read, liked and would recommend. Here they are:

Lightning by Dean R. Koontz

Outage by Ellisa Barr

Whiteout by Adriana Anders

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Waiting on the Rain by Claudia Conner

The Fog by James Herbert

Flood Tide by Clive Cussler

Thunderhead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Sandstorm by James Rollins

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

A Death in Door County by Annelise Ryan

From the blurb:  
"Morgan Carter, owner of the Odds and Ends bookstore in Door County, Wisconsin, has a hobby. When she's not tending the store, she's hunting cryptids--creatures whose existence is rumored, but never proven to be real. It's a hobby that cost her parents their lives, but one she'll never give up on. So when a number of bodies turn up on the shores of Lake Michigan with injuries that look like bites from a giant unknown animal, police chief Jon Flanders turns to Morgan for help. A skeptic at heart, Morgan can't turn down the opportunity to find proof of an entity whose existence she can't definitively rule out. She and her beloved rescue dog, Newt, journey to the Death's Door strait to hunt for a homicidal monster in the lake."

My thoughts: 
It was the words "fabled lake monster" and "cryptozoologist" that made me want to read this one. I really liked Morgan Carter with her quirky bookstore and her sweet labrador mix, Newt. She's got a very interesting past. And I liked that while she believes in the possibility of the existence of these cryptids, she's skeptical when it comes to this supposed lake monster. She wants proof either way. And her investigation turns up something rather unexpected.

This is a well-written and entertaining mystery with likable characters in Morgan and Jon, and Morgan's co-workers at the bookstore. There are also great descriptions of the islands in Lake Michigan and their history; they make for a fascinating setting. Though the lake monster itself plays less of a role in this one than I originally thought it would. So if you choose to read this book, don't expect a chompfest; this is more of a straightforward murder mystery. But a fun one! I gave it 4 stars. And I'm looking foward to reading the next book in this series. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 12, 2023

October's Bookish Art...

Jean Edouard Vuillard -- Woman Reading in the Reeds

"You are never alone when you have a good book."
--Freya Sampson

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Hollows by Mark Edwards


The plot:  Tom Anderson and his teenage daughter, Frankie, have come to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort nestled deep in the woods of Maine, for their summer vacation. Tom lives in England, so these ten days each summer is his only time with his daughter. But what they don't know is that twenty years ago this very week there was a double murder in the woods, and the murderer was never found. Rumor around the resort is that he's still hiding somewhere in the woods. But as eerie as those past murders were, there's something else going on at the resort...something that seems to be threatening Tom's daughter in particular. And Tom finds himself torn between leaving with Frankie before their week together is up, or staying and  trying to figure out the truth of those past murders in order to resuscitate his own writing career.

My thoughts:  Mark Edwards knows how to write a compelling pyschological thriller where "scary things happen to ordinary people". Between the resort's dark past and the creepy things happening to Frankie there's a nice build-up of suspense. It's also very atmospheric. And I liked the push and pull between Tom and Frankie, too, as Tom constantly struggles to deal with her teenage attitude and still be a good dad. Their relationship felt very real. And the mystery of what really happened in the past, and how it connects to the present, kept me guessing right up to the end. I didn't love the epilogue (and felt it was completely unnecessary!), but the rest of the book was great. 

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 6, 2023

Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates

 "Gallows Hill is cursed."

From the blurb:  It's been more than a decade since Margot Hull last saw her childhood home. And she was young enough when she was sent away that she barely remembers its dark passageways and secret corners. But now she's returned to bury her parents who died in her childhood home from mysterious circumstances. She's also inherited Gallows Hill and the winery that is her family's legacy...along with all the dark secrets that lie buried beneath the crumbling estate. Secrets she was never told.

My thoughts:  Margot should never have returned to Gallows Hill, not even for her parents' funeral. The name alone hints at its macabre past. And there are worse horrors hidden within. This book is seriously scary. From the ringing of the bells throughout the house, to the blood in the attic, to the reflection Margot keeps seeing in the mirror of her own corpse. And that's just the beginning! The house may be haunted, but what emerges from the tunnels beneath Gallows Hill is like a disturbing nightmare come to life. Coates does an amazing job of building suspense throughout the book, and creating an atmospheric and haunting setting. It gave me chills. And what an ending! I loved this one; it's a great October read.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's theme is on Reading Goals I Still Want to Accomplish This Year. So I thought I'd look back at the goals I set in January and see which ones, if any, I've finished, which I'm still working on, and which I've completely abandoned. 

#1 -- Find a book from the A shelf and finish my Reading the Alphabet Challenge. 
✅ Totally did this one: I read Minor Adjustments by Rachael Renee Anderson back in January.

#2 -- Dust my bookshelves.  ✅ (Though it needs doing again!)

#3-- Weed my bookshelves and donate the books I know I'll never read again. 
✅  I did this at the first of the year and ended up giving away about 25 books, which freed up some much needed room on my crowded bookshelves.

#4 -- Read at least one Agatha Christie and one BLCC mystery. 😐 Haven't done this one....yet.

#5 -- Delete titles from my Goodreads list that I no longer want to read. 
😕 I've been working on this one, but for every title I delete from my list I seem to add three more, defeating the whole purpose.

#6 -- Participate in Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge. 
✅ I feel like I've been rocking this challenge this year; I've read eleven books for this challenge already, and have a few more I intend to read before the end of the year.

#7 -- Read more Science Fiction.  😐 I've read eight so far, and DNFed two others, but I had originally planned to read 1-2 each month, and I haven't done that. 

#8 -- Limit my book buying to 10 books or less. 👎 Big fail. I've already bought 16 books this year...and I have a feeling I'm not done. 

#9 -- Stop using the phrase "fun read" or "fun character" in my reviews. 👎 I'm not going to go back and look, but I have a feeling I've failed at this one, too. 

#10 -- Check my blog's spam folder daily to rescue all those legitimate comments that keep getting sent there...including mine!  ✅ Yep, I've been doing this one. Everyday. (Stupid Blogger.) 

So, there are the ten goals I set back in January, and how I'm doing on them. I feel like I've accomplished 6/10. I guess that's not too bad. Maybe next year I won't set any goals at all. 🙃

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 1, 2023


 It's October! I'm loving the cooler temperatures. Especially at night. Autumn is my favorite time of year. All those beautiful fall colors. I'm NOT loving the higher gas prices. We're at $4.32/gallon where I live. Ugh. The other thing I'm not loving at the moment is my new work schedule; they gave me extra hours and it's really been cutting into my reading, writing, and blogging time, which is why I haven't been commenting as much lately. I miss having an hour at lunch everyday to read, though the added money on payday has been nice. 

Even though I have less time to read these days, I couldn't stop myself from checking out all of these books from the library: 

Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates
Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison
The Dark by Emma Haughton
Fervor by Alma Katsu
The Man Trapped by Shadows by Pete Zacharias
The Nightmare Man by James Markert
A Death in Door Country by Annaliese Ryan
The Hollows by Mark Edwards
The Witch is Back by Sophie H. Morgan
What the Hex by Jessica Clare
The Nevermore Bookstore by Kerrigan Byrne and Cynthia St. Aubin
Night Will Find You by Julia Heaberlin

This is the time of year when I really like reading thrillers and books with that supernatural edge. A few paranormal/witchy romances are always good this time of year, too. I probably won't have time to read all of these this month, but it never hurts to try...right?  🎃

I couldn't choose between these two bookish quotes this time...I love them both:

Happy Reading!