Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Audio Review: A Change of Pace by Freya Barker


A Change of Pace (Northern Lights #3)  by Freya Barker
Publication Date: November 30th by Spectrum Audio
Audio Book Length: 9 hrs 14 min
Narrators: Stephanie Nemeth-Parker & Matthew Maddux
Source: Publisher
Pages: 440

My Thoughts:
Frederique is a counselor for troubled youth and Newt has just moved to the small town of Parry Sound to help his daughter cope with some events that led to self-destructive behavior.  Newt and Frederique knocked heads a bit on first meet, but that made getting to know each other all the more fun. They’re thrown together when Frederique is called in to help with Millie, Newt’s twelve-year-old daughter.  Frederique’s caring and unconventional approach by using her menagerie of animals to help break the ice works wonders with Millie and the two bond while working on Frederique’s mini-farm.

Newt and Frederique form their own bond not able to fight the chemistry and attraction they’ve felt from the start. They lend each other support while dealing with a few outside dramas, one dangerous situation and another with a health scare. I really appreciated that both Newt and Frederique were determined to stick by each other no matter what.

I loved A Change of Pace and devoured the audiobook in one day! I’m really enjoying Freya Barker’s Northern Lights series. All are set in small lake towns with rustic cabins, and beautiful scenery as a backdrop making me long to leave city life! I also love that she’s made these mature romances with the couple in their 40s, more comfortable in their identity and not prone to insecure dramas.

I really enjoyed both Stephanie Nemeth-Parker and Matthew Maddux’s audio performance. Ms. Nemeth-Parker had a calm sultry lilt, and Mr. Maddux was nice and masculine.  Both were a pleasure to listen to, enhancing the story. I listened at 1.25x.

4 Stars

Monday, December 28, 2020

Favorites of 2020: Contemporary Romance & Romantic Suspense

 Can't believe were at the end of 2020, but I'm happy for it! For the next few days I'm featuring my favorite reads of 2020 (not necessarily published in 2020) starting with the Contemporary Romance & Romantic Suspense categories.

I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday today because the topic is Top Reads for 2020 so it works along nicely.

Favorite Contemporary Romance/Women's Fiction of 2020:
Click on covers for Goodreads link:

Secrets From a Happy Marriage by Maisey Yates:
A heartfelt story about being yourself, accepting past mistakes, forgiving yourself and moving on. Of course there was romance!

The Reckless Oath We Made:
A hard book to categorize it was so original, but it boiled down to family love, bad choices and falling for the last person you'd expect.

Her Christmas Cowboy by Jessica Clare:
Love these shy Wyoming cowboys with a fierce protective streak!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Dreamy, steamy romance in a magical wintery/holiday setting. 

Beach Read by Emily Henry:
So much fun, full of soul-searching, longing, and lusty encounters, but also serious with some heavy emotions. So much more than just a "beach read".

Cowboy Come Home by Carly Bloom:
Well-written with just the right amount of sizzle! And omg was it laugh-out-loud funny in parts!

Favorite Romantic Suspense of 2020:

Unforgiven by Jay Crownover:
Unrequited love, mystery, and danger. Loved the whole series!
Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard:
Few do romantic suspense as well as Linda Howard and this one is an oldie (written in 1989!) but goodie!

After Sundown by Linda Howard & Linda Jones:
Yes, another Linda Howard! Read this one at the beginning of the pandemic. Riveting with just the right amount of urgency without sending me into a panic. More end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story than post-apocalyptic and a little outside the box as far as romantic suspense goes, but I wasn't sure where to put this one, lol.

A Change of View by Freya Barker:
Mature romance, bossy, protective alpha hero with a big heart. Sweet, sassy heroine. The rustic lake setting was just a cherry on top for me!

My favorite Historical, Fantasy/Urban Fantasy and Mystery/Thrillers are next. 

What were your favorites from 2020?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday Post #103


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. My time off was subdued and I was happy for it because we were slammed at work.  

Do you get those photo memory messages from your phone every once in while? Like "your memories a year ago"?  Just yesterday I got photo memories from my time in France four years ago, and I wonder when I'll get to visit again with all this craziness. Seeing all the photos brought back such wonderful memories! We traveled all over the place but I thought I'd share this fun photo: 

This was on the grounds surrounding Chateau d'Amboise, a castle in the Loire Valley, and I just loved all the rounded shapes. Even the trees in the background you can see are rounded, too, even though they are without leaves (we visited end of November-December).

Anyhow, I was feeling nostalgic. I think there's a lot of beautiful places here in the States, too. I'm longing for my next trip. What about you? Anywhere you'd like to visit or re-visit?

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

I had a great reading week. Lots of fun short reads/listens. I'm still trying to meet my Audio Challenge so I've been looking for novellas or shorter books to meet my goal. I loved The Getaway by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen! It was only a 2 hour 24 min audio book, but it was a riveting read! Mistletoe Between Friends was also a fun short listen! I've read a lot of Linda Howards, but never got to Mackenzie's Mountain. Renee brought it to mind and I couldn't resist. I loved it! Can't believe it was written back in 1989. Man Down by Kate Meader was another win, even though it broke my heart just thinking about the loss Gunnar went through. 

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

I was excited to get a copy of Tell No Lies as I loved the first book. Allison Brennan is almost always a win for me. I've started listening to Happy Trail, an opposites attract romance while hiking the Appalachian Trail, a 2000 mile "thru hike"! Another one of Lark's books I had to read! Lord Dashwood Missed Out and Stay Close are both audio novellas to help me meet my Audio Challenge. 


Nothing too exciting. Just my old standby. Pretty soon we'll be out of episodes. 

How was your week?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren


In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Publication Date: October 6th 2020 by Gallery Books
Pages: 334 
Source: Publisher & purchased audio copy
Narrator: Patti Murin 
Audio Length: 7 hrs 40 minutes
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Maelyn is meeting her family and friends at a cabin in Park City, a cabin they’ve been meeting at for the holidays ever since she can remember. This is a welcome respite from her life where she’s unhappy in her career and love life.

For as long as Mae’s been noticing boys as more than just an annoyance, she’s had a crush on Andrew, the son of one of her parent’s long-time friends, while he’s never seemed to notice her other than as a friend.  The prospect of seeing Andrews sends zings of anticipation and happiness through her.

However, the holiday doesn’t go as expected: Mae makes a tipsy mistake and is full of regrets as she heads home, but things don’t go as planned. A curious series of events sends Mae to the beginning of her vacation, just arriving at the cabin to live it all over again.  Can she get it right and find happiness this time around? Fans the films Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow will definitely have fun with the story!

I loved In a Holidaze! It was magical! Sparkling lights, shopping for that perfectly imperfect tree surrounded by the smell of pine, the cold of snow, hot chocolate, and crackling fires! Seeing Andrew and Mae fall for each was oh-so-lovely, dreamy and steamy! I’m such a sucker for the unrequited love troupe and this is one that had me all swoony with big heart-eyes! A total recommend!

I alternately listened and read an e-copy. The audio version was fantastic! Patti Murin made this enchanting story come alive with her performance! I listened at 1.3x-1.4x.

4.5 Stars


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Review & Giveaway: Dream Chaser by Kristen Ashley

Dream Chaser (Dream Team #2) by Kristen Ashley
Publication Date: December 15th 2020 by Forever
Pages: 480
Source: Publisher
Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Ryn Jansen has been holding Boone Sadler at bay even though he’s kind of her dream man. She’s afraid to take a chance fall hard and then lose him. But circumstances, and a kidnapping make her throw caution to the wind and go for it.

Boone Sadler is tired of seeing Ryn taken advantage of by her family and so he takes steps to open her eyes. Even though Ryn is glad to know about her family’s deceptions, she isn’t thrilled by how Boone took it upon himself to butt in without her permission or request. She’s pushed Boone away, but a threat makes it impossible to stay away from her. They have to sort out their hang-ups all the while trying to find out where the danger is coming from and how to neutralize it.

I’ve been a fan of Kristen Ashley for a long time. She definitely has her own signature brand of storytelling and it comes through in Dream Chaser. Ryn is typical of her heroines, strong and sassy, but with a few insecurities. Ryn has her a posse of female friends there for her when she wants to have fun or needs counsel or support, and I’ve always appreciated that Ms. Ashley usually makes positive female friendships part of her romances. There’s a little bit of a BDSM to this romance, but it was so light and didn’t really feature much, IMO.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Kristen Ashley without an Alpha hero and Boone fit the bill nicely. He was a jerk to Ryn in their first fight, and I was seriously ticked at him! I think Ryn got over it a little more quickly than I would’ve, but this is fiction and fun and so it was easy to get past that.

I think long-time fans will enjoy that this felt like Kristen Ashley getting back to her roots.  I look forward to Axl and Hattie’s story next!

4 Stars

The wonderful people of Forever generously provided a Paperback copy of Dream Maker and Dream Chaser and I'm giving them away to one lucky reader.  The giveaway is open to US Residents only. Fill out the rafflecopter below for a chance to win. Good luck! 

Sunday Post #102


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

Well I'm one book away from finishing my Goodreads challenge! I've read 149 of my 150 goal. I'm getting close to meeting my Audio Book Challenge too. I was shooting for 100 and I'm now at 87. Phew! I was wondering if I was going to make it this year. 

In other news, I got the first shot of the Covid vaccine on Thursday and I'll be getting the second the first week in January. I usually don't feel great after the flu shot (I get one every year) and it was a little worse with the Covid vaccine for me. I had other co-workers that also had it and they didn't feel bad at all. Just sore at the injection site. 

This is good because our hospital is inundated with Covid patients! We are busting at the seams and they're scrambling for help asking all departments to help wherever and whenever they can as support as runners, answering phones, etc. We canceled all elective surgeries and all outpatient services for the time being because we can not handle any more patients. Not only is every floor full, but so is our ER and the ER waiting room.  Let's hope it settles down soon.

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

I loved In a Holidaze! More than I thought I would. I got a review copy, but I bought an audio copy and I'm so happy I did, because the narration really enhanced the story! I enjoyed A Minute to Midnight more than the first book and now I'm ready for the third book. I hope the mystery with her sister is solved finally. Dream Chaser was typical Kristen Ashley.

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:
Click on cover for Goodreads link:


In the spirit of In a Holidaze with a similar concept I thought it'd be fun to re-watch Groundhog Day. It was fun.

How was your week?

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Sunday Post #101


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

Nothing exciting this week other than being on stricter lockdown restrictions, which doesn't change my day to day life as I still work at the hospital as usual.  

All employees at my hospital who work with patients have been offered the vaccine as early as next week. They sent a survey to find out who is willing to take it and I filled it out saying I would.  We'll see what happens. 
The weather has been nice, but we need rain. So it goes in California. Here's a pretty sitting place I spied on one of my runs:

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

I'm trying to meet my Audio Book Challenge goal of 100 books so I "read" a couple of novellas. Snow Day was a novelty as it featured sound effects in addition to the performers voices, but it resembled a radio drama more than an audio book to me. You didn't have the characters internal thoughts and views like you would in a normal book and so I didn't feel the pull of attraction between the two main characters.  Plus, it was soooo short. Blond Date was a much better novella IMO.

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

I've had a copy of Chaos Reigning but I borrowed an audio copy from my library thinking my husband and I would listen while driving up to our daughter's in Northern California. That didn't happen so I'll have to listen later in the week. My audio library request came through for Hallowe'en Party. Will try to get to in next week. 


Yep, back to Forensic Files. I also watched one episode of the new reboot of Unsolved Mysteries which was far less satisfying. I like seeing the bad guy caught and punished by the end!