Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas!

To all my wonderful blogging friends:
I wish you a very Merry Christmas
And I hope you enjoy this holiday season.
I'm taking this week off to spend time with family and friends,
read, relax and catch my breath, and try to recharge my batteries.
But I'll be back blogging in January. 
See you in the New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2023

2 Quick Book Recommendations...

Silver Trail Christmas by Nik James

I've always liked a good western. This one is a sequel to High Country Justice which I read and loved this past summer. In this one, Caleb Marlowe has to deal with squatters on his land illegally mining for silver, cattle rustlers, outlaws, a corrupt judge, and the man who murdered his mother when he was sixteen....his own father. He also has to deal with his growing feelings for the lovely Sheila Burnett.

While this one wasn't quite as good as the first, I still had fun reading it. Mostly because Caleb is such a great character. 
"(Sheila) had forced his eyes open to see and recognize who he was. Caleb Marlowe was a gunslinger, a fighter, and a killer when the need arose. And that was fine. This was the frontier. This was the life that he'd chosen and that Sheila was trying to find a place in. They were not as different as he'd thought. They were survivors."

 A Cross-Country Wedding by Courtney Walsh

This friends-to-lovers romance is a sequel to A Cross-Country Christmas, though it's about different characters, Maddie and Simon, and can be read as a standalone. It also has a fun road trip in it. Maddie bugged me at first, but she grew on me as the story went along. Simon, on the other hand, I liked right from the start. And the two of them end up being really good for each other. Theirs is a cute relationship, and while this book isn't quite as good as A Cross-Country Christmas, it's a lighthearted and sweet romance. And I enjoyed it. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Reading Challenge Wrap Up


When I decided to participate in Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge last January, I had a list of 20 books that I wanted to read for it. And I came really close. Out of those 20 books, I DNFed two of them, wasn't in the mood for two others, and one that I really wanted to read ended up having so many holds on it by the time I went to check it out of the library there's no way I'll get a copy of it until sometime next year. But I read the rest of them. (Drumroll, please!) Here are the 15 bookish books I read this year:

So, if you're in the mood to read a book about books, bookshops, bookstore owners, authors or libraries, I recommend any of these...but especially the ones with hearts by them, because those were my favorites. And I want to thank Susan for coming up with and hosting this very fun reading challenge. She's going to do it again next year, if you're interested in joining in. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Dedicated to the One I Love by Beth K. Vogt


Kylie is the best-selling romance writer, Veronica Hollins, but she hasn't been able to write a word on her next novel since her husband died three years ago. And Joe writes military suspense novels as Tate Merrick, but his books aren't selling well enough to get him on the bestseller list, and his publisher thinks he needs to add some romance to them. But Joe doesn't write romance! So his publisher suggests they bring in Kylie to help him rewrite his latest manuscript; and Kylie's agent pushes her to accept the arrangement hoping it will help get her writing again. 

Only no one knows that Kylie and Joe are already online friends; and they don't know that Kylie is Veronica, or that Joe is Tate, until they start collaborating on Joe's book.

My thoughts:  I liked Joe's and Kylie's online friendship. But their first meeting in real life didn't go well. They have some funny push and pull moments, but I thought Kylie was a little too pushy when she started telling Joe how she was going to rewrite his novel to include the romantic story line she'd come up with without even talking to him about it first, or getting his ideas. And I didn't blame Joe for getting upset about it (though all his friends did). I thought Kylie should have been a little more respectful of the fact that it was his novel they were reworking. But Joe was the one who always ended up apologizing for being too stubborn and arguing with her. 

Over time, their interactions did get better, and I liked how they each started to respect the other one, and the other's writing, too. Joe was definitely the more likable character in my opinion. I thought it was cute how he came around to appreciating romance stories and their happy endings. So overall, I enjoyed their friendship and romance. I'd give this one 3.5/5 stars. 

This also counts as my last bookish book of the year for Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 15, 2023

North of Nowhere by Allison Brennan


The plot:  Sixteen-year-old Kristin McIntyre and her ten-year-old brother, Ryan, have been in hiding from their criminal father, Boyd McIntyre, for five years. But he's finally managed to track them down in Montana. And when their guardian and protector tries to fly them to safety, their plane ends up crashing in Lost Lake. Now Kristin and Ryan are on their own in the middle of the Montana wilderness, with a blizzard closing in on them, and several bad guys hot on their trail. Luckily, their Aunt Ruby is also looking for them, along with local rancher Nick Lorenzo and his teenage son, Jason.

My thoughts:  Allison Brennan writes a taut, action-packed and riveting thriller. I loved how she combines the suspense of the chase and wilderness survival in this one. She writes great characters, too; I especially liked Nick and his son and their relationship. And Kristin was so feisty and tough. I loved how she took care of and protected her younger brother. Ryan's deafness also added to the story line. Talk about an entertaining and fast-paced read!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

December's Bookish Art...

Ulisse Caputo -- Woman Reading

"Much pleasure was to be had in reading."
--Madeline Martin, The Last Bookshop in London

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Haiku Reviews...


The Ex-Mas Holidays by Zoe Allison

Two broken hearts. Past
hurts. New friendship. Can they ski
their way into love?

Christmas romance .... 373 pages .... 4/5 stars
(Cute second chance romance set in Scotland.)

All Shall Be Well (Kincaid and James #2) by Deborah Crombie

When his neighbor dies,
Kincaid thinks it might be murder.
Now he must prove it.

Mystery .... 268 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I'm really liking this series.)

Snowed In for Christmas by Jaqueline Snowe

Grumpy football coach
keeps sunny sorority mom warm
through a Christmas storm.

Christmas romance .... 323 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(A blizzard, a power outtage, some humorous mishaps, funny banter, and a few steamy sex scenes make this a fun read.)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon

From the blurb:
"It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe - eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty - is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.

"Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something - or someone - is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion."

My thoughts:  James Lovegrove does an excellent job of capturing the tone and spirit of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in this novel. I loved the Gothic atmosphere of Fellscar Keep, the forbidding and isolated castle where the Allerthorpe family lives, as well as the dark and sinister legend of Black Thurrick. And watching Holmes and Watson work their investigatory magic was as fun as always. Lovegrove really brings these beloved characters come to life. Plus, it takes place at Christmas time, which makes it extra festive. All in all, a very enjoyable and entertaining mystery. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 5, 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 a FREEBIE.

I was feeling lazy, so instead of coming up with something clever or fun, I decided to go with 12 Books I Just Checked out of the Library instead.

1. The Last Cold Place: A Field Season Studying Penguins in Antarctica by Naira de Gracia (I've already started this one and am finding it very interesting. But then it's set in Antarctica and it's about Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins and Antarctic fur seals...what's not to love?)

2. Sherlock Holmes & the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove
('Tis the season!)

3. Snowed In For Christmas by Jaqueline Snowe
(Because I love that snowed in trope!)

 4. Silver Trail Christmas by Nik James
(This is a sequel to High Country Justice which I thoroughly enjoyed.)

5. North of Nowhere by Allison Brennan

6. Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke

7. Proposing Mischief by Regina Jennings
(Just couldn't resist that cover.)

8. A Match in the Making by Jen Turano
(I enjoy her historical romances a lot.)

9. Fairest of Heart by Karen Witemeyer

10. Memory Lane by Becky Wade

11. A Cross-Country Wedding by Courney Walsh
(Because she's one of my favorite authors and I loved Cross-Country Christmas.)

12. Odd Man In by Stephen Whyno
(I threw this one in my bag on a whim...I don't even watch hockey, but the whole premise of these emergency goalies being signed to play for just one game kind of intrigued me.)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 2, 2023


My sister and I have been writing another story on Kindle Vella:  Christmas, Ghosts, and Mistletoe.

"Christmas week at the Thimbleberry Inn gives Ellie Benson a chance to put her ex-boyfriend in the past and make a fresh start. Maybe now she'll be able to pursue her own hopes and dreams. What she doesn't count on is an unexpected snowstorm, ghosts, an awkward mistletoe kiss, and the handsome Derek Sullivan."

This one's a cute and clean romance (no swearing, no sex), with humor and heart, and a ghost or  two. The first three episodes are free to read, and I hope you'll check them out. It's set in the town of Grayhaven, where our first Kindle Vella story takes place. So if you're more in the mood for some supernatural suspense than romance, I hope you'll check out Ghosts of Grayhaven. 

My sister and I had so much fun writing this one; we hope to start writing the sequel to it next year...because Zeb's and Mariah's and Moose's story is not done. (Moose is the dog; he's awesome!)

FYI:  If you've never read anything on Kindle Vella, it's a collection of episodic fiction in every genre imaginable. The first three episodes of any story are always are your first 200 tokens. If you want to buy more tokens you can get 200 for only $1.99. Then, once you start unlocking episodes with tokens that you've purchased, once a week you're given a fave vote which you can then award to your favorite KV story. And any story that gets enough fave votes is awarded a fave crown...which is what my sister and I are hoping happens with both our stories.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Cross-Country Christmas by Courtney Walsh


The plot:  From the time she was 12, Lauren Richmond had a big crush on her older brother's best friend, Will Sinclair. Then, when they were in college, Will did something that really hurt her, and she promised herself she'd never fall in love like that again. She's all grown up now, but when she ends up driving home to Illinois for Christmas with Will on a weeklong road trip, her heart is in danger of falling for him all over again. Because Will is attractive, funny, kind, and has no idea he once broke her heart.

My thoughts:  Courtney Walsh is one of my favorite authors and this Christmas romance is entertaining, clean, light-hearted, humorous and sweet. I'm a sucker for roadtrip books, and I totally wanted to be on that roadtrip with Will as he stopped at every quirky diner and vintage gas station along the historic highway from Los Angelos to Chicago. And his cheerfully persistent attempts to reconnect with Lauren and help her feel the Christmas spirit made me smile. If you're looking for a cute and joyful holiday romance, I recommend this one!

Happy Reading!

Other favorite reads:

My Phony Valentine

Tuesday, November 28, 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 Set in X leaving it up to you to decide what X should be. After much consideration--and clicking through lots of other possibilities online--I decided to go with:  Books Set in Lighthouses. (Mostly because I've always wanted to live in one and I think they're a very fun setting to read about.) 

1. Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore

2. The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

3. Lighthouse Beach by Shelley Noble

4. The Lighthouse by P.D. James

5. The Lighthouse by Christopher Parker

6. The Last Lighthouse Keeper by John Cook

7. 16 Lighthouse Road by Debbie Macomber

8. The Lighthouse Keeper by James Michael Pratt

9.  A Lighthouse Christmas by Jenny Hale

10.  The Lighthouse Sisters by Gill Thompson

Have you read any of these? They all look good to me.
Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Quick book recommendations...


Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Now I get why so many people love this book. It's smart, fast-paced, and humorous. Plus there are some good twists. The whole premise of a romantic suspense writer being mistaken for a hit woman makes me laugh. And I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series. 

Havoc by Ronie Kendig

This book has action, suspense and a little romance. I liked that the female protagonist was an MMA fighter and stunt double; she had some serious fighting skills. And all the military moments with Crew Gatlin, along with his issues with his prosthetic leg and hisdog handling skills felt authentic. And, of course, I loved his Belgian Malinois, Havoc. This is an entertaining read. (A big thanks to Ashley @ The Rustic Reading Gal for recommending this one.)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Watch Her Disappear by Lisa Regan

 "In all the years she had been on the Denton police force, Josie had never encountered a dead body on prom night."

The plot:  Gemma Farmer, a fifteen-year-old girl who went missing in January is found dead on her sixteenth birthday wearing a brand new prom dress. The way she was killed is eerily similar to another missing girl's murder two decades ago. That girl, who was also found on her sixteenth birthday, was Chief Bob Chitwood's younger sister. How are the two girls connected? Who helped lure them away from their homes in the middle of the night? And can Detective Josie Quinn and the other members of Denton's small police force find the murderer before he kills another teenage girl?

My thoughts:  This is the fourteenth book in one of my favorite mystery series. Lisa Regan writes a taut crime thriller. I've come to really like Josie Quinn, Noah Fraley, and her other characters. And the mysteries themselves are sometimes dark, always puzzling and often unexpected. Normally I recommend starting with the first book in this series, Vanishing Girls, but I think you could easily jump into this series with this book because the mystery is not tied to Josie's personal history and past like so many of the other books in this series are. Watch Her Disappear is well-written, fast-paced, suspenseful and compelling. Another solid 4-star read. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

November's Bookish Art...

Gotthardt Kuehl -- Lubecker Waisenhaus, 1894

"Reading takes us away from home, but more important, 
it finds homes for us everywhere."
--Hazel Rochman

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

From the blurb:  

"In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously at Dyatlov Pass. Eerie aspects of the incident--unexplained injuries, signs the hikers cut open and fled their tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of them, and radiation readings on some of their clothes--have led to decades of speculation over what really happened. 

"This gripping work of literary nonfiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers' own journals and photographs, rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and the author's own retracing of the hikers' fateful journey in the Russian for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain." 

My thoughts:  I saw a documentary about Dyatlov Pass and the baffling deaths of those nine young Russian hikers several years ago and have wondered about what really happened to them ever since. So I found this book riveting. I loved how Eichar weaves together the hikers' own words and photos with the ensuing search for their bodies, and investigation into their deaths. His more recent trips to Russia to interview friends and family, as well as his own hike up to Dyatlov Pass, was equally interesting. And in the end he figures out a very plausible reason for why those hikers fled their tent that cold and windy night, finally bringing a resolution to this decades-old mystery. For me, this was a 5-star read. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 14, 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 Mainstream Popular Authors That I Still Have Not Read.

(Don't judge me, but it was embarrassingly easy to put together a list of 10 authors for this post that I haven't yet read. And they're all such popular authors, too. Many have been on my To Read list for years. And yet I still haven't read any of their books. 😔 )

Anne Cleeves

Mary Lawson

Elizabeth Strout

Fredrick Backman 

T. Kingfisher

Martha Wells

John Sandford

Jane Harper

Brandon Sanderson

Blake Crouch

Colleen Hoover

(Oops! I think that's eleven names. And I could go on, but I won't.
Hopefully next year, these same authors won't be on this list any more.)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa

Blurb from Goodreads:  Hidden in Jimbocho, Tokyo, is a booklover's paradise. On a quiet corner in an old wooden building lies a shop filled with hundreds of second-hand books.

Twenty-five-year-old Takako has never liked reading, although the Morisaki bookshop has been in her family for three generations. It is the pride and joy of her uncle Satoru, who has devoted his life to the bookshop since his wife Momoko left him five years earlier.

When Takako's boyfriend reveals he's marrying someone else, she reluctantly accepts her eccentric uncle's offer to live rent-free in the tiny room above the shop. Hoping to nurse her broken heart in peace, Takako is surprised to encounter new worlds within the stacks of books lining the Morisaki bookshop.

My thoughts:  This novel is quietly enchanting, especially the first half. I loved Takako's time at the bookshop with her uncle, and how books and reading became so important in helping her find her way out of her depression. I also loved reading about Jimbocho, Tokyo's famous book district. What a cool neighborhood! In the second half, Takako leaves the bookshop and her aunt, Momoko, who has been gone for five years, comes back. I didn't like Momoko very much, and Takako doesn't spend much time in Jimbocho or at the bookshop in this part of the book, so I didn't enjoy the last half nearly as much as I did the first half.  

Here are two of my favorite quotes from this book...the first one is Takako's Uncle speaking of his adventurous youth traveling the world, and the second one is Takako talking about her newfound love of reading.  
"I wanted to see the whole world for myself. I wanted to see the whole range of possibilities. Your life is yours. It doesn't belong to anyone else. I wanted to know what it would mean to live life on my own terms."


 "It was as if, without realizing it, I had opened a door I had never known existed. That's exactly what it felt like. From that moment on, I read relentlessly, one book after another. It was as if a love of reading had been sleeping somewhere deep inside me all this time, and then it suddenly sprang to life. ... I'd never experienced anything like this before. It made me feel like I had been wasting my life until this moment."

Happy Reading!

P.S. This book counts towards Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge. 


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Spring Girls by Karen Katchur


First line: 
Drowning is a quiet death.
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Setting:  Minsi Lake, Pennsylvania
Rating:  3.5/5 stars

Main characters:  Detective Geena Brassard, who is part of the team investigating the three Spring Girls murders, and her new partner, Detective Parker Reed. And Janey Montgomery, a single mom who has already survived one nightmare and who is about to become embroiled in another. Because Geena just found out that Janey was the Spring Strangler's first victim, and she needs Janey's help to catch him...only Janey doesn't remember anything about her attacker.

My thoughts:  This mysery is very readable and the two main characters are interesting, though I didn't really warm up to either one of them. Geena's very dogged in her investigatioon; Janey is fragile and struggling not only with her own fear but with her six-year-old son's behavioral issues. I liked Detective Reed the best, and he's more of a side character in this one. As with any thriller, there are several twists, but I felt like I saw most of them coming. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. This one reads fast and has a good ending. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 7, 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 Book Titles That Would Make Great Newspaper Headlines. 

I thought this one was a lot of fun. Here are my picks:

1.  The Cat Who Saved Books
(by Sosuke Natsukawa)

2.  Murder at Haven's Rock
(by Kelley Armstrong)

3.  A Fire in the Night
(by Christoper Swann)

4.  Kit McBride Gets a Wife
(by Amy Barry)

5.  Lockdown on London Lane
(by Beth Reekles)

6.  How the Penguins Saved Veronica
(by Hazel Prior)

7.  The Man  Burned By Winter
(by Pete Zacharias)

8. Snowed in for Christmas
(by Sarah Morgan)

9.  Local Girl Missing
(by Lisa Regan)

10. Nora Goes Off Script
(by Annabel Monaghan)

Don't these titles make for some great headlines? 
And they are all great reads. I recommend each and every one.

Happy Reading!