Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Review: Famous For a Living by Melissa Ferguson


Famous for a Living by Melissa Ferguson
Publication Date: April 25th 2023 by Thomas Nelson
Pages: 320
Audio Book Length: 7hrs 49min
Narrator: Talon David
Source: Publisher &
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Librofm | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Cat Cranwell is a famous Instagramer with millions of followers until an app partnership leads her to be “canceled”. Cat had partnered up with a shifty friend, got pressured to sign last minute documents and then it was discovered it wasn’t aboveboard. Many followers and brands dropped and vilified her. Now as the case goes to court her best friend, Serena, encourages Cat to take Uncle Terry’s offer of a job in Montana working for the small Kannery National Park, to get her out of the city and out of the public eye. Uncle Terry is Cat’s closest family member, and beloved father figure and she knows part of the offer is to help Cat get out of the spotlight. But the park does really need her help to get it noticed more so it’s not absorbed into the giant Glacier National Park.

Famous for a Living was very much about Cat’s journey figuring out what’s important in life without trading in her identity. Cat was likeable and thoughtful from the beginning, so it wasn’t like she needed major positive changes, but more that she got swept up by fame and maybe missed the important bits of living, like being in the moment and not concerned with every “like” or with being at the top of popularity. Social media can be really great, but it can also overtake a person’s life, and I thought the story captured the positives and negatives well.

Zaiah, even though he clearly didn’t like social media, wasn’t judgmental and appreciated all Cat could do, but he had a history that made his position make sense. He was an absolute sweetheart and I loved seeing them get close and fall in love.

I loved the setting! The rustic cabins, the snowy mountains, pines, wildlife, and the fun local winter festivals!  The cast of secondary characters from Uncle Terry, Cat’s BFF Serena, Mina, to Kevin were quirky and so much fun! I laughed out loud so many times!

Famous for a Living was engaging, low drama, and a just a pure delight! Loved everything about it!

I alternately read an e-copy and listened to the audio version. I really enjoyed Talon David’s performance of both female and male characters! She enhanced an already wonderful story! I listened at my usual 1.5x normal speed. I recommend either version!

4 Suns

Book Description:

From Park Avenue to the Parks Department—the world’s most beloved social media star is about to get a rude awakening.

With her millions of followers, Cat Cranwell is adored around the world. But when an app partnership goes very, very wrong, Cat suddenly finds herself shunned from the community that not only fed her soul all these years but paid her bills. When Cat’s closest living relative, Uncle Terry, offers her a position on his staff at a small national park in Montana to get away from the city, Cat hesitantly accepts the opportunity.

What she doesn’t realize is that as the new social media strategist her goal is to save Kannery National Park from being absorbed into Glacier National Park by boosting the number of visitors. And at least one of her new colleagues—namely, handsome and rugged ranger Zaiah Hudson—thinks social media is the root of everything that’s wrong with the world. Written with bestselling author Melissa Ferguson’s signature wit and charm, this romantic comedy of opposites attract is full of hilarious romp and a romance that will melt readers’ hearts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Review: Courage in the Storm by Laurel Blount


Courage in the Storm by Laurel Blount
Publication Date: April 25th 2023 by Berkley
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
I’ve been looking forward to Miriam’s story since she witnessed the tragic murder of her parents when were gunned down by an obsessive “Englischer” in her family’s general store. Since then, Miriam has suffered from major PTSD, and has not been able to leave the family home in more than a year. Only now has she been able to venture outside to feed the chickens and visit Breeze, a traumatized horse. A horse she’s become attached to, and unfortunately may not last if they can’t get him past his fears enough to be useful. Breeze is her brother-in-law’s horse injured in a buggy accident that scarred them both and Sam doesn’t want to sell the horse for slaughter, so he decides to call in a favor from an old friend with a special talent for working with horses.

Reuben Brenneman left the Plain/Amish life when the abuse of his father, a mean drunk, was reported and overlooked. Reuben felt betrayed by the people he felt should’ve protected him, and so going to the Hochstedler’s farm, an Amish one, isn’t something he wants to do, but he owes Sam. What he doesn’t count on is Miriam. The Amish woman terrified of him at first, in his Englischer clothes, but she’s willing to try to work with him to help Breeze, since Breeze has formed an attachment to Miriam. They work together and form a friendship, Miriam making progress overcoming her fears while helping with Breeze and with Reuben seeing a different side of the Amish people. Both falling a little more for each other with every day that passes.

 Courage in the Storm was a moving, emotional story with three souls overcoming a tragic past: Miriam, Reuben and yes, Breeze. I was invested in their journey of healing and love! It was a gradual process, but every step brought me such joy. The story is inspirational, compelling, and filled me with happiness!

5 Stars

Book Description:

In this powerful Amish romance, an isolated woman and a compassionate man learn that love can build a bridge between their two worlds.

Since witnessing the murder of her beloved parents, Miriam Hochstedler suffers from paralyzing anxiety and a deep-seated fear of the Englisch . Unwilling to venture beyond her family’s Tennessee farm, she forms a close bond with a badly injured gelding. Like Miriam herself, the traumatized animal seems unlikely to recover—until skilled horse whisperer Reuben Brenneman arrives.
A survivor of an abusive childhood, Reuben understands fear better than most. He’ll do whatever it takes to help a terrified animal, but his compassion doesn’t extend to the church that turned a blind eye to his family’s suffering. Once he finishes this job, he’ll return to the Englisch world, putting his Amish heritage behind him forever.

As Miriam works alongside Reuben, battling the horse’s fear—and her own—an unexpected friendship blooms and deepens into romance. But the Amish faith that sustains her inspires only distrust in Reuben, and the Englisch world he’s chosen has already broken her heart once.
Falling in love was easy. But staying together will take all the courage they have.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Sunday Post #208


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'm also linking up to The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance @Readerbuzz.

It's been a busy week with my son, DIL and grandson visiting. Thankfully, they stayed at my sister's since my husband's pink eye has been hanging on stubbornly. Finally it's getting a little better. 

We've been having a heat wave here with upper 80s. I got out for a jog earlier this morning. Lots of wildflowers and still so green! 
Jogging trail

Wildflowers on the trail

Neighbor's Sweet mock orange. Smelled heavenly!

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

Loved Famous for a Living, Courage in the Storm and Investigation, Mediation, Vindication. The Boyfriend Candidate was a mixed bag.

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

So excited for the newest Allison Brennan and Katherine Center! Also for The Only Survivors. 


          How was your week?

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Review: Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune


Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune
Publication Date: May 2nd 2023 by Berkley Romance & Penguin Audio
Pages: 320
Audio Book Length: 9hrs 56min
Narrator: A.J. Bridel & Carley Fortune
Source: Publishers
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Fern and Will meet and spend the day together, an immediate, intense connection felt by both. Unfortunately, neither are in a place where their feelings can be acted upon, and so the reluctantly part and agree to meet again one year later at Brookbanks Lake Resort, Fern’s family’s resort. But Will doesn’t show, crushing Fern’s heart.

Fast forward nine years later, Fern is back to run the family resort after the tragic death of her mother, a thing she never wanted to do. Much to her dismay and surprise, Fern finds out the resort is struggling, and Will is the consultant her mother hired to help get it back on track.

The writing beautifully captured Fern’s feelings of nostalgia over the good times growing up at the lake resort (that sounded absolutely gorgeous!). Something she didn’t fully appreciate at the time which fills her with regret since losing her mom.

The romance was full of longing, some hurt over the past, but also the joy and desire with finally getting the one you’ve wanted for so long. And I loved it! Even though the story was told through Fern’s POV, these feelings came through from Will, too.

Meet Me at the Lake was a second chance romance, but also an emotional story with Fern dealing with grief, growing up, figuring out what’s important in life, what makes you happy. It also touched on some mental health issues in a thoughtful way. The writing was beautiful with complex characters, a heady romance, and wonderful settings! I’ll definitely be reading more of Carley Fortune!

I alternately listened to Meet Me at the Lake and listened to the audio version which was a delight! A.J. Bridel performed Fern and all other characters to perfection! The wide range of emotions coming through loud and clear.  I listened at my usual 1.5x normal speed.

4.5 Stars

Book Description:

A random connection sends two strangers on a daylong adventure where they make a promise one keeps and the other breaks, with life-changing effects, in this breathtaking new novel from the New York Times and #1 Globe and Mail bestselling author of Every Summer After.

Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn't.

At thirty-two, Fern's life doesn't look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern's back home, running her mother's Muskoka lakeside resort--something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend's the manager, and Fern doesn't know where to begin.

She needs a plan--a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern's going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern's not sure she wants to know what it is.

But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Review: The Boyfriend Candidate by Ashley Winstead

The Boyfriend Candidate by Ashley Winstead
Publication Date: May 9th 2023 by Graydon House
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher 
Rating: ½

My Thoughts:
Alexis is off to her first one-night stand to celebrate a year of being rid of her cheating ex, who accused her of being unable to “satisfy his needs”.  She meets Logan Arthur, a gubernatorial candidate, unbeknownst to her at the time, and they hit it off splendidly, talking, laughing, all the while sparks fly. Unfortunately, what promises to be a lusty, unforgettable night ends abruptly when a fire causes the hotel to evacuate, and they’re caught on camera fleeing.

Logan has the rep of a playboy which has been hurting his campaign, so his team asks Alexis to pose as his girlfriend shutting down more gossip about his playboy ways.

The Boyfriend Candidate was in parts enjoyable to me, but it contained one of my least favorite forms of conflict: miscommunication. Logan and Alexis come close to being honest about their feelings for each other time and time again, but something stops every time them until almost the very end!  Logan was a sweetheart, and a blind person could see he was a goner for Alexis. I liked Alexis, but she tried my patience by breaking every one of their ground rules without regard to how her actions affected Logan or his team.  The whole Will situation was particularly frustrating.  Also, Alexis is touted as a shy character terrified of public speaking but somehow has a complete turnaround within a few pages and is speaking out for education reform with gusto.

With all that said, I did enjoy The Boyfriend Candidate overall. It was entertaining. I enjoyed the humor and the chemistry between Alexis and Logan. I was really rooting for them! There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. When Alexis adopts Patches, a long overlooked shelter cat, my heart soared! Alexis’ mom with her video to promote her cat/animal shelter was a hoot! Cute/fun cat scenes I loved! I enjoyed the positive female friendships, as well, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of her sister, Lee. 

I wouldn't hesitate to read another romance from Winstead. I would like to try her thriller: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

3.5 Stars

Book Description:

A laugh-out-loud rom-com about learning to embrace living outside your comfort zone.

As a shy school librarian, Alexis Stone is comfortable keeping out of the spotlight. But when she’s dumped for being too meek—in bed!—she decides she needs to change. And what better way to kick-start her new more adventurous life than with her first one-night stand?

Enter Logan, the gorgeous, foul-mouthed stranger she meets at a hotel bar. Audacious and filterless, Logan is Alexis’s opposite—and boy, do opposites attract! Just as she’s about to fulfill her hookup wish, the hotel catches fire in a freak lightning storm. In their rush to escape, Logan is discovered carrying her into the street, where people are waiting with cameras. Cameras Logan promptly—and shockingly—flees.

Alexis is bewildered until suddenly pictures of her and Logan escaping the fire are all over the internet. Turns out Logan is none other than Logan Arthur, the hotshot candidate challenging the Texas governor’s seat. The salacious scandal is poised to sink his career—and jeopardize Alexis’s job—until a solution is proposed: he and Alexis could pretend to be in a relationship until election day…in two months. What could possibly go wrong?

Photo credit: Luis Noble

About the author:
Ashley Winstead 2021 breakout thriller was In My Dreams I Hold a Knife. Her 2022 romance debut, Fool Me Once, was an Amazon Editor’s Best Romance as well as a USA Today, PopSugar, New York Post, and Goodreads best or most anticipated romance of the year. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages and optioned for film/TV.

Connect with Ashley Winstead:

Monday, May 15, 2023

Review: The House on Prytania by Karen White


The House on Prytania (Royal Street #2) by Karen White
Publication Date: May 9th 2023 by Berkley & Penguin Audio
Pages: 400
Audiobook Length: 14hrs 8min
Narrator: Sophie Amoss
Source: Publisher & Purchased Audiobook
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Nola is still working on renovating her Creole Cottage in Louisiana thinking that the spirit of Beau’s grandfather and Jeanne Broussard have moved on. Unfortunately, Beau’s grandfather is still there along with a malevolent presence. Nola knows there must be something still holding Beau’s grandfather there, but with the appearance of Beau’s long-lost sister that issue gets sidelined. But not for long.

I really like Nola and along with her I wanted to know why the spirit of Beau’s grandfather, and his mother, Adele was still hanging around when Sunny was found. There’s also the matter of the evil spirit also lurking.  I love all the side characters in this series, Jolene, Nola’s best friend particularly! She cracks me up so much with all her Southern sayings, like “Never iron or fry chicken naked” her need to monogram everything for everyone, even their dog Mardi, her driving, and her constant efforts to bring Nola’s style up to par. Efforts Nola mostly tries to evade, but reluctantly appreciates. Nola and Jolene’s friendship is one of my favorite things about this series!

The ongoing messy romantic situation, with a Beau involved with someone else while there’s a clear attraction between Beau and Nola, would usually bother me, but somehow, it’s tolerable here. It’s part of the reason I keep reading on, and the fact that it isn’t the main feature of this story. The mystery, the ghosts, Nola’s friends, and progress in renovations make this story captivating. I love the setting of historic Louisiana and the subject of restoring old homes. I wish I was there in person to see it as it happens (yes, I do realize this is a fiction, haha)!  

This is a series where it's best to read in order. This mystery wraps up, but there’s an ongoing story arc and the relationships that make me eager for the next one!

I alternately listened and read an e-copy. Sophie Amoss’ performance bring the characters to life, and I love her Southern accents! I listened at my usual 1.5x normal speed. I recommend either format.

4 Stars

Book Description:

A woman is haunted--both literally and figuratively--by ghosts of the past in this second novel of the Royal Street series by New York Times bestselling author Karen White.

Nola Trenholm may not be psychic herself, but she's spent enough time around people who are to know when ghosts are present, and there are definitely a few lingering spirits in her recently purchased Creole cottage in New Orleans. Something, or someone, is keeping them tethered to this world. And not all of them are benign.

But with the sudden return of Sunny Ryan, Beau Ryan's long-lost sister, Nola has plenty to distract her from her ghostly housemates. Especially when the tempting--yet firmly unavailable--Beau, wanting to mete out justice to those he blames for Sunny's kidnapping, asks Nola for a favor that threatens to derail her hard-won recovery and send her hurtling backward. He asks her to welcome Michael Hebert back into her life, even though Michael is the reason for Nola's bruised heart. Beau is convinced that Michael's powerful family was behind Sunny's disappearance and that Michael is the key to getting information the police won't be able to ignore--if Nola is willing to risk everything for which she's worked so hard.

Torn between helping Beau and protecting herself, Nola doesn't realize until it's almost too late why the ghosts are haunting her house--a startling revelation that will throw her and Beau together to fight a common enemy. Assuming Nola can get Beau to listen to what the spirits are trying to tell him, because ignoring them could prove to be a fatal mistake...

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Sunday Post #207


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'm also linking up to The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance @Readerbuzz.

As reported last weekend we were in Texas visiting our daughter, SIL and grandchildren who were all battling pink eye and/or bronchitis. Didn't know this when we flew out, it was a surprise on arrival! Well, I came down with a mild case, but my husband is a mess. His eyes are awful even with prescribed drops. He took a Covid test yesterday just to make sure it wasn't that, since that's a symptom of one of the variants, and it was negative. Bummer since our son, DIL, and baby grandson are here on a visit. Thank goodness they're staying with my sister but we haven't been able to visit with them except for a dinner where we all sat outside and didn't touch the baby.

In happier news it's gorgeous here. Flowers blooming everywhere. I've been taking a bunch of walks just to enjoy the scenery.

Dogwood in the yard

Lilac in the yard

Carpets of yellow flowers

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

Loved Meet Me at the Lake and The House on Prytania! I listened to three prequel novellas for the Throne of Glass series because my daughter loves the series and has been telling me to read it. I'm thinking the series isn't for me. It's young adult, which I hardly ever read anymore, and has me rolling my eyes quite a bit. We'll see.

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

Looking forward to all three of these since I've enjoyed these authors in the past.


Didn't realize Lucy Gilmore is a pen name for Tamara Berry, the author of the By the Book mystery series. It's one I've been wanting to dig into and even more so now that I've enjoyed The Lonely Hearts Book Club!

How was your week?

Friday, May 12, 2023

Audiobook Review: The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore


The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore
Publication Date: March 28th 2023 by Dreamscape Media
Pages: 352
Audio Book Length: 11hrs 6min
Narrator: Angie Kane
Source: Publisher via
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Librofm | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Sloane Parker works as a librarian and loves the way books can lift your soul and transport you to other places. Sound familiar? Despite the fact she’s engaged, you can tell she feels a little alone in the world, still battling grief over losing the one person who truly got her, her sister.

Arthur is a grouchy old man who basically terrorizes the library staff, and they’re all terrified of him, except for Sloane. They spar over books which was hilarious, and Arthur starts showing up every day at the same time, a little after Sloane arrives. Until one day he doesn’t show up. Sloane’s worried for him so against her manager’s express orders she looks up his address and finds him very unwell.  

Sloane ends up caring for Arthur, even though he acts like he doesn’t need or want her help and along the way they end up picking up friends, a ragtag sort of group, all with a connection to either Sloane or Arthur, all dealing with issues, a bit sad and lonely just like Sloane and Arthur. They form, albeit reluctantly, a book club.

The Lonely Hearts Book Club was a fitting title and I just adored the story! There was a lot of humor that had me laughing out loud despite some of the heartbreak each character dealt with. They find friendship, camaraderie, and solace with each other and it made my heart soar with joy! There was a promise of romance in there, too.

I listened to an audio copy and enjoyed Angie Kane’s narration.  Her comedic timing was great, and the melancholy felt by the characters came through well in her performance. I recommend the audio. I listened at my usual 1.5x normal speed.

4 Stars

Book Description:

Sloane Parker lives a small, contained life as a librarian in her small, contained town. She never thinks of herself as lonely...but still she looks forward to that time every day when old curmudgeon Arthur McLachlan comes to browse the shelves and cheerfully insult her. Their sparring is such a highlight of Sloane's day that when Arthur doesn't show up one morning, she's instantly concerned. And then another day passes, and another.

Anxious, Sloane tracks the old man down only to discover him all but bedridden...and desperately struggling to hide how happy he is to see her. Wanting to bring more cheer into Arthur's gloomy life, Sloane creates an impromptu book club. Slowly, the lonely misfits of their sleepy town begin to find each other, and in their book club, find the joy of unlikely friendship. Because as it turns out, everyone has a special book in their heart—and a reason to get lost (and eventually found) within the pages.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Sunday Post #206


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'm also linking up to The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance @Readerbuzz.

It's been a busy week. Monday I visited a garden famous for their tulips with my sister, her husband and a couple of friends. We ended up at my house for an early dinner and had a wonderful visit. Spring in Northern California has been so beautiful! 

Crystal Hermitage Garden Tulips

More tulips

Shenanigans continue at work. They've called me in an extra day and I'm working another extra day this next week. Not excited about that since my son just decided to come visit this week.

 My husband and I flew out to Texas to visit our daughter, SIL, and the grandkids on Thursday. I'm writing this late Saturday. I'm scheduled to fly out at 6am so we have to get up and leave by 4am. We're leaving earlier than planned because the whole family has cold/bronchitis/pink eye. My husband and I are hoping to escape the infections. As usual. Seems like every time we visit they're some virus that has overcome the household and we are the unfortunate next victims. Would've been nice to know that before coming. My husband says his eyes are already burning...

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

You Shouldn't Have Come Here was a strange sort of horror story. More to come later. The Bride Wore White was an entertaining historical/paranormal mystery with a splash of romance. Total on brand Amanda Quick. Loved Seven Girls Gone. Allison Brennan is an auto read for me.

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

Two audios and a library lend.


How was your week?