Saturday, December 30, 2023

Sunday Post #234

 


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.

I'm in Sequoia National Forrest with a bunch of family. I haven't had much time to myself, hardly enough to get this post up, but it's been fun catching up with extended family/friends. We're heading home tomorrow (Sunday). It's a six hour drive back home so I hope we're on the road early. It's been a busy few weeks! Before we left I sat down and worked on 2023 favorites and hope to post next week. I can't believe we're at the end of the year, it's flown by!

Read:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link)


Ice: 4 Stars
The Weekend Retreat: 4 Stars
A Lawman's Christmas: 4 Stars
Bad Luck Vampire:  4 Stars
Home From the Storm: 4 Stars
The Takedown: 4.5 Stars



Received/Purchased Library Lend:


Thank you to Macmillan Audio!

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Final Check-in 2023 Challenges & 2024 Sign-ups

 Hope everyone is doing well! I'm out in the Sequoia National Forrest with family but just saw I need to do my wrap-up/final check in for my challenges this year. I made all of my goals. Here's my totals:


The challenge is hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer  again & That's What I'm Taking About. Thank you ladies! 

I signed up for The 100 Club Audiobook Addict. I surpassed my goal of 100 book with a total of 133. Some of my favorites:

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)



This year I'll sign up for 125-150 books: I Can't Hear You (earbuds are always in):

The challenge is again hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer  again & That's What I'm Taking About. Click HERE if you want to see about signing up, too.




Library Love Challenge is hosted by Anne @Books of My Heart and Angel's Book Nook. You can sign up for the 2024 Challenge HERE.  

I signed up for Overdrive Junkie 36 Books: I also surpassed this goal with 68 books read. 

This year I'll sign up for:

Library Card on Fire 60+ Books

Some of my favorites:







Bookish Books Reading Challenge is hosted by Susan @Blogginboutbooks. 

I went conservative with Picking and Perusing: 10-20 Books. I made my goal with 12 books. 

Here's some of my favorites:



And my final one was Goodreads. I surpassed my goad of 125 books reading 186, so I'll increase that goal too. Maybe I'll do 175?


So that's all my goals. 

How did you do on all your challenges? 



Friday, December 29, 2023

Blog Tour Review: The Weekend Retreat by Tara Laskowski

 



The Weekend Retreat by Tara Laskowski
Publication Date: December 26th 2023 by Graydon House
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble Harlequin BookShop.org | Goodreads | Books-A-Million

My Thoughts:
The Van Ness siblings with their significant others are gathering at their winery estate to celebrate the twins, Harper and Richard’s thirty-fifth birthday. Lauren, Zach’s girlfriend is nervous and eager to fit in, Elle, Richard’s wife, is all about making the gathering and party perfect, and Harper is eager to get the weekend over. Little do they know, there’s a surprise guest bent on revenge, however they hardly notice any strange occurrences with all the snipping and one-upmanship going on between them. For the most part this was not a likeable bunch, and all had secrets. As the weekend goes on rivalries and tensions escalate. A perfect storm is brewing!

The story is from the POVs of Lauren, Elle, Harper, and the unknown “Party Guest”. Of the three women, I only liked Lauren. Harper was a straight up self-centered witch and Elle was conniving and annoying with a “sweetheart” veneer. Lauren wasn’t an angel either, but I found her to be the most likable/relatable. I felt for the “party guest” once their identity and motivations were revealed.

The Weekend Retreat was a real page-turner and I finished it in one day.  While I did figure out some of the reveals, I was surprised by who was behind the revenge plot. 

4 Stars


Book Summary: 

Every year, the illustrious Van Ness siblings, heirs to a copper fortune, gather at their lush winery estate for a joint birthday celebration. It's a tradition they've followed nearly all their lives, and now they are back with their significant others for a much-needed weekend of rest and relaxation, away from the public spotlight.

With lavish comforts, gorgeous scenery, and indulgent drinking, the trip should be the perfect escape. But it soon becomes clear that even a remote idyllic getaway can’t keep out the problems simmering in each of their lives. As old tensions are reignited, the three couples are pushed to the edge. Will their secrets destroy them, or will they destroy each other first? And who’s been watching them from beyond the vineyard gates?

When a torrential rainstorm hits, plunging them into darkness, the answers prove all too deadly…


Photo Credit: Ron Aira


Author Bio: 
TARA LASKOWSKI is the author of The Mother Next Door and One Night Gone, which won an Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and Anthony Award, and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Left Coast Crime Award, Strand Critics' Award, and Library of Virginia Literary Award. She is also the author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, has published stories in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Mid-American Review, among others, and is the former editor of SmokeLong Quarterly. Tara earned a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University and currently lives in Virginia. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, @TaraLWrites.


Connect with Tara Laskowski:







Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Review: Home From the Storm by Laurel Blount

 

Home From the Storm by Laurel Blount
Publication Date: December 26th 2023 by Berkley 
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Caleb Hochstedler’s parents were violently murdered and he left his Amish life and wife behind to pursue their killer, Trevor Abott. Two years later Caleb narrowly misses Trevor, and what he’s left behind chills him to the bone: pictures of Caleb’s wife, Rhonda.
 
Caleb high tails it back home to Johns Mill and has the shock of his life when he discovers he’s a father of two-year old twins. There’s so much he missed. There’s hurt, betrayal and old wounds that need to be addressed. Not the least is Caleb’s issues with the church. Will he be able to reconcile his differences of opinion with the Amish faith, his love for his family, and his pursuit of justice to lead to a HEA? That’s what I wanted to know.
 
Caleb and Rhonda’s story has been brewing in the background throughout the series. I felt bad for Rhonda, but also for Caleb since his grief caused him to act hastily. Details of Rhonda and Caleb’s history were revealed and even though it seemed like Caleb was the one mainly in the wrong, there were other factors at play. Both needed to step back and examine their actions, past and present. There was still so much love between Caleb and Rhonda, and I was rooting for them to heal and make their way back to each other, especially since they now had the two little ones to think about.
 
I loved the Hochstedler’s close knit family. The bumped heads a bit here and there, but there was an abundance of love between them. Caleb and Rhonda’s twins were so adorable, too!
 
Like the other stories in the series, there was a bit of danger and suspense with Trevor lurking about and unhinged. I was afraid for all the Hochstedler’s, not knowing when or where he’d surface and what kind of damage he’d inflict.
 
Home From the Storm was a well-done second chance/marriage-in-crisis romance. Not only that, it was also an uplifting story of healing, forgiveness, looking for the best in each other, and love. I’ve loved this series from the start! A definite recommend!

4 Stars


Book Description:

In this stirring Amish romance about love and second chances, a shunned man returns to protect the wife he left behind—and falls in love with the family he never knew he had.

After a senseless loss, hotheaded Caleb Hochstedler left his Amish faith and his young wife to seek justice. Two years later, he tracks his parents’ killer back home to Johns Mill, where he’s astonished to learn he’s the father of twins. Now he's determined to protect his children and the woman he still loves—if she’ll let him.

Her new husband’s abandonment broke Rhoda Lambright’s heart and proved her father, the bishop, right. Such a stubborn man could never be happy among the peaceful Amish. When Caleb unexpectedly returns, Rhoda is caught between her rock of a husband and a very hard place.

Her church forbids divorce and requires forgiveness, so Rhoda lets Caleb back into their home. But can she ever let him back into her heart? One thing’s for certain sure. This second chance will take all the faith they can find.



Saturday, December 23, 2023

Mini-Review: The Takedown by Carlie Walker

 

The Takedown by Carlie Walker
Publication Date: October 3rd 2023 by Berkley Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher & Library audiobook
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble | Kobo Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed The Takedown! I had put it aside after starting a while back, realizing I wasn’t in the mood for the story, but it hit me just right this time around!

CIA Agent, Sydney is back home to catch a crime lord with the perfect cover since her sister is about to marry him! Johnny, the sister’s fiancĂ© seems like a good guy on the surface, but quickly reveals his smarmy side. Nick, Johnny’s best man and bodyguard is nothing more than a way to get closer to her target. Or is he?

I loved seeing Sydney reconnect with her sister and grandmother after holding herself back from any relationships. Past grief and abandonment had made home a painful place.  Nick was a sweetheart, and their romance was a wonderful slow-burn, built by sharing pieces of each other, and getting close. Just the right amount of tasteful sexy times without overwhelming the plot. A cute rescue dog named Sweetie Pie, holiday fun, a bit of action/danger round out the story to make it a winning read! Loved the winter wonderland setting of Maine, too!

4.5 Stars


One thing I wasn't a big fan of was the cover. I like this one more:


Which is your favorite?




Book Description:

An undercover CIA agent is sent home to investigate her sister's criminal fiancé but the last thing she expects is to fall in love with his bodyguard along the way in this sexy romantic comedy.

It’s been a long time since Sydney Swift has gone home. An unrelentingly successful CIA field officer, she has spent the last three years pretending to be someone — anyone — other than herself.

But this year, the festive season is coming with some added surprises. Sydney’s beloved little sister has just announced that she’s engaged to Johnny Jones, the heir of an organized crime dynasty. With her built-in cover and her best-in-class reputation, Sydney is approached by the FBI as their way to infiltrate the Jones family at last.

Sydney has until Christmas to gather enough evidence on Johnny to take him down before he pulls off his most dangerous heist yet, all without losing her sister forever. But she hasn’t counted on the challenge of pulling this off right under her family’s nose or the complications of a romantic entanglement with Johnny’s handsome friend and bodyguard, Nick. Sydney always gets her man — but this time love is a target she can’t afford to miss.


Giveaway: 5 Romance Books!

 Hello! I hope everyone is doing well during this busy time of year!

I'm thankful starting today I have 11 days off in a row! Just wanted to pop in and post this giveaway:



I read and enjoyed all (click on title for my review) but Cosmic Kind of Love. Didn't get time to read it, but I've enjoyed Samantha Young in the past.

The giveaway is open to US Residents only. Fill in the rafflecopter for a chance to win. Good luck!




a Rafflecopter giveaway



Monday, December 18, 2023

Review: Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan

 

Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan
Publication Date: November 14th 2023 by Berkley 
Pages: 317
Source: Publisher & library audio copy
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Riley, like her grandmother before, has a knack for breaking curses. She enjoys the work and wants to carry on the family tradition. She’s finally found a way to make a living at it, slowly building a reputation, which leads to a job in Scotland breaking a curse plaguing Arden Castle for the last 300 years. A development company bought the property to turn it into a vacation destination, revitalizing the small town of Torridon with the tourists it would bring, but the curse has been hampering their progress.

When she arrives in Scotland, Riley meets Clark, an English archaeologist, hitting it off with him immediately, their attraction quick and intense. Until Riley discovers that Clark is also working at Arden Castle and he accuses her of being a charlatan, recommending she be fired immediately. Not surprisingly, this does not go over well, and the fight is on between Clark and Riley.

The enemies-to-lovers trope can be a tricky one to balance. If the “enemy” portion is taken too far then it can be hard to make it believable that the couple would forgive and then fall in love. I didn’t feel Clark and Riley crossed the line here. I felt like they wanted to be able to keep up the hate, but just couldn’t as they recognized all the good qualities in each other. Plus, they were smoking hot together! This romance was spicy! I was also pleased that there wasn’t any third act breakup!

I really enjoyed Do Your Worst! I liked the unique story line of curse breaking and I liked how Riley went about it, investigating the origin and then narrowing down the remedy. It was a little mystery within the romance. The history of how her grandmother got into curse breaking was interesting, too.

4 Stars

Book Description:

Sparks fly when an occult expert and a disgraced archeologist become enemies-with-benefits in this steamy romance.

Riley Rhodes finally has the chance to turn her family’s knack for the supernatural into a legitimate business when she’s hired to break the curse on an infamous Scottish castle. Used to working alone in her alienating occupation, she's pleasantly surprised to meet a handsome stranger upon arrival—until he tries to get her fired.

Fresh off a professional scandal, Clark Edgeware can’t allow a self-proclaimed “curse breaker” to threaten his last chance for redemption. After he fails to get Riley kicked off his survey site, he vows to avoid her. Unfortunately for him, she vows to get even.

Riley expects the curse to do her dirty work by driving Clark away, but instead, they keep finding themselves in close proximity. Too close. Turns out, the only thing they do better than fight is fool around. If they’re not careful, by the end of all this, more than the castle will end up in ruins.


Saturday, December 16, 2023

Sunday Post #233

 


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.

I am home and plan to stay home until after Christmas, so yay! I have one more week of working extra days this next week. I spent a good chunk of time on CME's (continuing medical education unites) to maintain my registry, due by 12/31. I still have 12 (hours) to go. My left shoulder and right elbow and wrist have been killing me. My left shoulder is something I've been dealing with for years thanks to my job, but the right wrist elbow, pinkie and ring finger are new. I'm told I have "trigger finger" and possible carpel tunnel syndrome. Whatever it is, it hurts. My old PT exercises help my shoulder. Trying to figure out what to do about the new issues. On top of that I had a migraine that just would not quit on Wednesday.

We raked a ton of leaves, filled out yard waste bin, and then five large trash bags full that'll go into the yard waste bin once this batch gets picked up. There's still a ton of leaves. 

Took my sister and her husband out to dinner for their anniversary tonight (Saturday). It was a fun night. 

Peanut "helping" with latest puzzle

Just completed Charles Wysocki puzzle

Winter blooms on my walk

Read:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

Do Your Worst: 4 Stars



Received/Purchased/Library Lend:


I listened to Always Only You a couple of years ago, but Berkley acquired it and has re-released with this pretty cover. I'll re-read since it was a fun hockey romance. I'm looking forward to Breakout by Aven Ellis, a new-to-me-author. Another hockey romance. 

Thank you to Berkley and Tantor Media!

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How was your week?