Monday, January 30, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Artsy Reader where each week they post a new top ten list and ask fellow bookish folk to share their lists on that topic. 

This week is a freebie and since I missed this one a couple weeks back, I thought I'd do this one:

Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023:

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

What's on your list?

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday Post #193


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.

It's been mostly a quiet week. We were home again and it was nice! I did a few workouts, went running and completed a puzzle while listening to The Girls Who Disappeared. I finished the puzzle late while listening and got so absorbed in the story I forgot to take a picture of the finished puzzle, but it was fun. Based on Wuthering Heights:

We binge watched The Undoing with Nicole Kidman last night. Was up until 1:30am to finish and find out who did it! Also watched The Lost City with Sandra Bullock, Tatum Channing, and Daniel Radcliff. Silly fun that had me laughing and also The Woman in the Window with Amy Adams based on the book by A.J. Finn. It was a reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. I guess you can understand why I didn't get much reading done this last week. I haven't watched this much TV in ages. 

I bought flowers for a fresh arrangement and there were some stems that had little nubs that looked like the may sprout so I put them in water and they've got leaves on them now. I bought rooting hormone so I can transplant them. Never done that before so I'm crossing my fingers it works. The directions say I need to use a mixture of peet moss and sand, but I'm wondering if it'll work in regular potting soil. I'll have to do some research. 

I wish I would've noted the name of the rose, but it was a pretty yellow one. Maybe Brighton? Don't mind my patio chairs in the background, with no cushions, full of leaves. We had to put the cushions away because of the rain. We have quite a bit of fall/winter cleanup. Leaves need to dry out first.

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

All three audiobooks. Not one a review book. Eeeek! I'm currently listening to a review book (Exiles by Jane Harper) and loving it. 

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

I'm excited for all of these! Jane & Edward is a Jane Eyre re-telling and it sounds really good. Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murders has an elderly sleuth and sounds fun! Love Allison Brennan and Karen Rose's mysteries and I think I've only read one from Lora Leigh, way back so we'll see.


Loved Don't Open the Door! 

How was your week?

Friday, January 27, 2023

Review: Don't Open the Door by Allison Brennan


Don't Open the Door (Regan Meritt #2) by Allison Brennan
Publication Date: January 24th 2023 by MIRA
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher 
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Regan Merritt quit the Marshal service and left town ten months ago after the murder of her son, Chase, and the subsequent unraveling of her marriage.  Her ex, Grant blamed her job for the murder, and the FBI closed the case without satisfying answers.  However, her former partner, Tommy, leaves a message that he’s had some breaks in the case and is close to finding out the truth. Then Regan finds out Tommy’s been murdered right after making the call.

Regan heads back to Virginia determined to find justice for Tommy and her son with the help of the US Marshals office at her back. As Tommy’s laptop and phone were stolen in the assault, Regan has to piece together the clues in other ways. She’s surprised to find out Tommy’s been talking to her ex-husband a lot!  

I love Allison Brennan’s mysteries, so I was excited to get more Regan Merritt, the star of her newer mystery series. In the last book, The Sorority Murder, when we meet Regan, she’s back in her childhood home in Arizona, grieving her son’s death, and she’s drawn into an old cold case. Her personal crisis wasn’t at the forefront of that story, but it is here. Sometimes it’s a gradual process, getting to know a character, becoming invested in their story and I really feel Don’t Open the Door solidified that for me with Regan. More than just a police procedural mystery, which was compelling on its own, I cared about the personal lives of her characters, too!

As Regan pieces together the clues it’s apparent she’s getting closer to the truth as she faces danger at every turn. I was nervous for her and a few characters while reading! Definitely a page turner!

Don’t Open the Door was a riveting police procedural, with perfectly imperfect, complex characters! The mystery is solved and while still painful for Regan, I feel like she had to get through this to open her up to other possibilities in the future. I’m excited to discover what’s next for Regan Merritt!

4.5 Stars

Book Description:

A child is shot while playing video games at home. His mother will stop at nothing to find out who did it—and why.

After their ten-year-old son, Chase, was senselessly murdered, Regan's life unraveled. Her corporate lawyer husband, Grant, blamed the death on Regan’s work as a US marshal. Unable to reconcile their grief, they divorced, and Regan quit her job and moved away.

Now she's back after a voice mail from her former boss Tommy said he had important news to share about Chase’s killing. Regan is stunned to learn Tommy is dead too. When she reaches out to Grant, his panicked reaction raises her suspicions. Then a lawyer with ties to her ex also turns up murdered, and the police make Grant their top suspect.

Unsure of his guilt or innocence, Regan risks everything to find Grant before the police do so she can finally get the answers to all that has haunted her since losing Chase. But the truth is not even close to what she imagines—and now she fears she has no one to trust.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Spotlight/Excerpt/Currently Reading: Do I Know You by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

I do love a good marriage-in-crisis romance and so far so good! Love the setting of the resort they're staying: Coastal Northern California where the pines and cliffside beach views are gorgeous!  Perfect setting while finding a way back to each other! 

Below I have the book info and an excerpt to share.

Do I Know You by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publication Date: January 24th 2023 by Berkley Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads


Say something.

I watch my husband out of the corner of my eye, imploring, wishing he would end the silence filling our car. In the window past him, the ocean glitters, unchanging. The California coastline should inspire wonder, with its rippling cliffs and its crystalline expanse, even when you've spent hours watching the water through the windshield. Instead, the thing I notice most is how it just keeps going.

Say something.

Graham doesn't. He drives, his long fingers clamped on the pebbled leather of the steering wheel, his posture stiff. The quiet, interrupted only by the occasional whoosh of cars passing us, prickles over me like the start of a sunburn.

Is this how this week will be?

I told myself it wouldn't. I've told myself that pretty much every day since Graham's parents handed us an envelope over dinner containing a weeklong, all-expenses-paid romantic getaway at the Treeline Resort to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. I convinced myself the week would be wonderful instead of awkward or claustrophobic. What couple wouldn't want to celebrate five years of marriage at a five-star hotel famous for its romantic ambience?

The quiet filling our car says it knows. Determined, I fight off my discouragement. I wish Graham would speak up, would offer something up into the silence-even comment on the weather-but he doesn't.

It's not only him not speaking, I remind myself. Screw sitting here waiting. Maybe I need to be less narrator, more main character.

I clear my throat. "We're doing good on-"

"Just three hours to go-" Graham quickly cuts in.

"Time," I finish, then wince, hearing the unintentional overlap of our voices. It's less like cutely finishing each other's sentences, more like two supermarket shoppers coincidentally reaching for the same shelf. Less unison, more collision.

I don't blame him for cutting in, for intuiting exactly what I was going to say. Every exchange my husband and I have managed in the past twenty-four hours has consisted of nothing except this one meaningless subject. When we should leave, how long the drive is, whether we should take the 1 or the 5 freeway. Unable to help myself, I glance over, wondering whether Graham shares my desperation to change our conversational flat tire.

He does. He shifts in his seat like someone's stowed rocks in the soft leather cushion under him.

I remember the way I described Graham Cutler to my friends and my parents fresh off our first dates. He's tall, I'd said. He's got blond hair, a cleft chin, intelligence in his eyes. The kind he could use to eviscerate rhetorical weaknesses, but he doesn't, not with me. We'd met and chatted with each other on a dating app, and when we got together in person, these observations were the first I connected to the personality I'd gotten to know on my phone.

The problem is, they're what I hear now. Observations. I've been married to Graham for five years, and when I look over from the passenger seat, my mind does nothing except reproduce the list of identifying marks I jotted down in my head when me met. He's tall. He has blond hair.

Book Description:

When a couple starts to feel like they're married to a stranger, a flirtatious game of pretend becomes the spark they need to reignite their relationship.

Eliza and Graham are anticipating an anything-but-sexy, weeklong getaway to celebrate their five-year anniversary. Nestled on the Northern California coastline, the resort prides itself on being a destination for those in love and those looking to find it. For Eliza and Graham, it might as well be a vacation with a roommate.

When a well-meaning guest mistakes Eliza and Graham for being single and introduces them at the hotel bar, they don't correct him. Suddenly, they're pretending to be perfect strangers and it's Eliza and Graham find themselves flirting like it's their first date, and waiting with butterflies in their stomach for the other to text back.

Everyone at the retreat can sense the electric chemistry between Eliza and Graham's alter egos. But when their scintillating game of roleplaying ends, will they still feel the heat?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Review: The Devil You Know by P.J. Tracy


The Devil You Know (Detective Margaret Nolan #3) by P.J. Tracy
Publication Date: January 17th 2023 by Dreamscape Media & Minotaur Books
Pages: 304
Audio Book Length: 7 hrs 12 mins
Narrators: Abby Craden
Source: Publishers
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Evan Hobbs a famous, wholesome type of actor is found dead in a beach cliff landside the day after a faked video showing him as a child molester. Is it an accident, suicide, or murder? Detective Margaret Nolan and her partner, Al Crawford are called to the scene to figure it out.

The blurb makes it sound like Evan’s agent, Seth Baum, is part of the investigation into the death of Evan, but while we do get his POV he’s not part of the investigation. He’s what you’d expect an agent in that cutthroat business in Hollywood, but he was one of the more likeable of the array of unlikable characters here.  The workings of the entertainment business featured in this case. The lengths people will go for fame and fortune is unsettling.

Sam Easton was also part of the story, but not featured in the investigation at all. There was some movement in his personal life, but to be honest his story wasn’t of much interest to me. Margaret’s personal life, her romance with Remy was on the backburner, but I didn’t mind that either, because I was more invested in the mystery anyhow.

I do enjoy a good police procedural, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous Monkeywrench series. Still, it was an entertaining mystery. I did figure out the main plot but there was a surprise at the end I wasn’t expecting!

I alternately listened to the audio version and read an e-copy. Abby Craden is a performer I’m familiar with and I enjoyed her performance of both male and female voices. I listened at my usual 1.5-1.75x normal speed.

3.5 Stars

Book Description:

Los Angeles has many faces: the real LA where regular people live and work, the degenerate underbelly of any big city, and the rarified world of wealth, power, and celebrity. LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan’s latest case plunges her into this insular realm of privilege, and gives her a glimpse of the darkness behind the glitter.

The body of beloved actor Evan Hobbes is found in the rubble of a Malibu rockslide a day after a fake video ruins his career. It’s not clear to Nolan if it’s an accident, a suicide, or a murder, and things get murkier as the investigation expands to his luminary friends and colleagues. Meanwhile, Hobbes’ agent is dealing with damage control, his psychotic boss, and a woman he’s scorned. But when his powerful brother-in-law is murdered, he and Nolan both find themselves entangled in a scandalous deception of deadly proportion that shakes the very foundation of Hollywood’s untouchables.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Artsy Reader where each week they post a new top ten list and ask fellow bookish folk to share their lists on that topic. This week:

New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022:

Stacy Willingham

 I really enjoyed her debut, A Flicker in the Dark last year and her second book All the Dangerous Things was even better! Looking forward to whatever she comes up with next!

Kimi Cunningham Grant

Her writing was beautiful and the story riveting!

Amy Berry

I adored Kit McBride Gets a Wife so much! It was a slow burn, sweetly passionate, and made me laugh several times! I'm so excited for the next one: Marrying Off Morgan McBride!

Jason Rekulak

I added Hidden Pictures after seeing that it won Goodreads Best Horror for 2022. I understood why after finishing. My husband and I listened to the audio in one go. Long car ride home. I hope he writes more adult horror/mysteries.

R. J. Jacobs

Always the First to Die had a slasher film vibe to it. Scary but a little bit of fun too. Maybe a little reminiscent of Grady Hendrix? Looking forward to his next book: This is How We End Things.

Josie Silver

One Night on the Island was oh-so-lovely romance! Gorgeous writing with clever banter. I adored the quirky and lovable people of this small island. 

Kate Forster

Kate Forster's writing is beautiful, full of emotion and funny!  I enjoyed both but The Upside Down Christmas was my favorite. Must read more from her!

Claire Douglas

When I figured out where it was headed, wow! What a twist. This was good! I have the audio of her newest, The Girls Who Disappeared from the library. I just need to make time to listen to it!

Julia Whelan

I've been a fan of Whelan's audiobook narration for a while now so I was pleasantly surprised that she's actually a talented writer as well! Thank You For Listening (which is also narrated by her) was amazing! 

Brenda Novak

Summer on the Island was the first Brenda Novak book I've read even though she's been a popular writer for many years. It was part women’s fiction, part romance with a little bit of danger mixed in and I really enjoyed it! I'm looking forward to her next: The Seaside Library

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Audiobook Review: What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall


What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall
Publication Date: January 17th 2023 by Macmillan Audio
Pages: 336
Audio Book Length: 11hrs 16 mins
Narrators: Karissa Vacker
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Naomi survived a brutal knife attack when she was eleven, witnessed by her two best friends, Olivia and Cass. Their testimony put away a serial killer who had murdered six other women, but is that how it happened? Twenty-two years later Naomi’s attacker dies in prison, and Olivia announces she wants to tell the truth about that day. What is the truth? Naomi wants to know because the details are hazy at best.

Naomi, Olivia and Cass had a complicated friendship in the present and the past, which is revealed bit by bit. Naomi tells the story, and we uncover pieces of the truth gradually along with her. Digging around doesn’t make people happy putting Naomi in danger all over again.

What Lies in the Woods was atmospheric, edgy and a bit dark! Nice and twisty. This one kept me guessing and the final reveal was surprising, but also not out of left field either.

I’ve listened to quite a few books narrated by Karissa Vacker and she’s fast becoming one of my favorite audiobook performers! She does a wonderful job of making each character distinct and her voice is rich and smooth. I listened at my usual 1.5-1.75x normal speed.

4 Stars

Book Description:

They were eleven when they sent a killer to prison . . .
They were heroes . . . but they were liars.

Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes.

And they were liars.

For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods—no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Sunday Post #192


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.

It's been a quiet week, staying home. I had my sister and her husband over for dinner last night so I spent the day cleaning house and then making dinner. We had a great time visiting. 

The rain stopped on Wednesday and we've had several sunny days. Cold but sunny, highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s. My cat has been so happy to get outside here and there! He's not the type to be cooped up inside so the constant rain has been tough on him. My husband and I got out and walked 5 miles to a nearby lake today and it was beautiful. Starting to think about plantings for spring. 

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

I had a great reading week! I enjoyed all the books, but I have to say Magic Tides was my favorite! All were really good, though, and I read five books! I've been lucky to read three lately, so yay!

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:


Haven't been super active this week on Instagram. This is one of the two posts I shared this week. Hopefully I'll have more this week...

How was your week?