Monday, January 29, 2024

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

The topic this week: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2023:

I enjoyed each one of these books by new-to-me authors. I linked my review to each of the titles below. Or if I didn't review I linked to Goodreads.

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak
Kate Burkholder Number one by Linda Castillo
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
The Shop on Royal Street by Karen White

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham
Jane & Edward by Melodie Edwards
City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

The Couple at No Nine by Claire Douglas
The Happy Life of Isadora Bentley by Courtney Walsh
Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto

What new authors did you discover in 2023?

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Sunday Post #238


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.

We had a quiet week here with a lot of rain, just over three inches here. Last night we went out with my sister and her husband to a new (to us) restaurant called The Stonehouse, built in 1857, the place was full of historic charm. Their homemade pasta and woodfired pizzas were delicious! 

Today the weather was nice, warm for winter here so we went on a hike, then went to the hardware store and I bought some primrose to plant in the pots out in front of our porch. I've been working a puzzle while listening to an audiobook. 

Deer Creek hike

Deer Creek hike

Red Jelly Fungus on hike. Very strange looking!

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

The Rom Con by Devon Daniels-3.5 Stars

I had a good reading week! I also managed to check off one of my older ARCs from 2023. 

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

Thank you to Tantor Media, Simon & Schuster Audio,, and Bethany House via Austen Prose.


How was your week?

Audiobook Review: No One Can Know by Kate Alice Marshall


What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall
Publication Date: January 23th 2024 by Macmillan Audio
Pages: 336
Audio Book Length: 10hrs 15 mins
Narrators: Karissa Vacker
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Emma’s parents were murdered when she was sixteen, her two sisters and she came under suspicion, but the police couldn’t pin anything solid on them. Fast forward fourteen years later, Emma’s married, pregnant and in a financial pinch when her husband, Nathan, loses his job and their rental is kicking them out.  They decide to move back to Emma’s family home. She hasn’t seen her two sisters in years, but they end up reuniting when Emma moves back. Living in the same small town stirs up the past and Emma wonders what really happened that night.

The story is told from the three POVs of Emma, Daphne, and Juliette, from the past and now. Emma didn’t fight the suspicion heaped on her since they couldn’t prove anything, but it’s been a dark shadow cast and she’s ready to be free of it, so she starts questioning the players from the past. New revelations make her question what she thought she knew. Emma’s poking around isn’t the safest course of action when others would like the past to stay buried.
No One Can Know was a page-turner! I rooted for Emma and her sisters after having such an awful childhood. Their parents wouldn’t win any parenting awards, so I wasn’t really sorry over their murder, just hopeful none of the past would drag them down again. I wanted to know the truth of what happened! I was happy to see a reconciliation between the sisters, and there was also second chance romance I was on board for. Another exciting mystery/thriller from Marshall! I really enjoyed it!

Karissa Vacker is one of my favorite narrators. She has a smooth, sultry voice, and does well with both male and female characters. I listened at my usual 1.5x normal speed.

Book Description:

The author of What Lies in the Woods returns with a novel about three sisters, two murders, and too many secrets to count.

Emma hasn't told her husband much about her past. He knows her parents are dead and she hasn't spoken to her sisters in years. Then they lose their apartment, her husband gets laid off, and Emma discovers she's pregnant―right as the bank account slips into the red.

That's when Emma confesses that she has one more asset: her parents' house, which she owns jointly with her estranged sisters. They can't sell it, but they can live in it. But returning home means that Emma is forced to reveal her secrets to her husband: that the house is not a run-down farmhouse but a stately mansion, and that her parents died there.

Were murdered.

And that some people say Emma did it.

Emma and her sisters have never spoken about what really happened that night. Now, her return to the house may lure her sisters back, but it will also crack open family and small-town secrets lots of people don’t want revealed. As Emma struggles to reconnect with her old family and hold together her new one, she begins to realize that the things they have left unspoken all these years have put them in danger again.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Blog Tour Review & Excerpt: The Friendship Club by Robyn Carr


The Friendship Club by Robyn Carr
Publication Date: January 23rd 2024 by MIRA 
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher 

My Thoughts:
Marni McGuire is a famous cooking show host, married twice, widowed and then divorced, she is now happily single. Her life is filled doing a job she loves, cooking and styling food, with her best friend and production manager/chef, Ellen, and regular visits with her sister and daughter. Her pregnant daughter, Bella, worries that her mother isn’t as happy as she could be though, and arranges a date for her. However, Marni strikes up a friendship with a man on her own and the sparks of chemistry fly between them.

Bella, Marni’s daughter has her own issues being overloaded with pregnancy hormones, her emotions are all over the place and her marriage is suffering because of it.

Marni’s best friend, Ellen, married later in life to an older man. He suffered an aneurysm two years after, severely crippling him mentally and physically, and she ended up a caregiver for many years before he died. Widowed and happily single as well, she’s surprised when her neighbor, a retired firefighter, invites her over for dinner.

Sophia, Marni’s college intern has found herself in a passionate relationship that quickly turns into a frightening situation when the guy turns obsessive. She’s reluctant to share, feeling embarrassed and somehow responsible, but Marni, Ellen, and her father, Sam all step in to help. I was frightened for her and all involved!

The Friendship Club was part women’s fiction, part romance, with a surprising amount of suspense thanks to Sophia’s storyline! I loved the strong, supportive female friendships portrayed here, as well as the two mature romances! Don’t even get me started on all the mouth-watering food mentioned! There’s a reason Robyn Carr is so popular. Her stories are completely engrossing from the first page, and I was fully invested as these women navigated the ups and downs in their lives! 

4 Stars


Book Summary:

Four women who work on a popular cooking show band together when they discover the youngest member of their group has an abusive boyfriend. The Barefoot Contessa meets Big Little Lies in this drama-filled novel about the power of female friendships.

Marni McGuire is the host of a popular television cooking show and leads a very happy life. Twice married, she has been widowed and divorced and now, in her mid-fifties, she enjoys being a successful single woman. But Marni's daughter Bella, who is pregnant with her first child, is convinced that Marni is lonely and she is determined to find a new man for her mother. To humor her daughter, Marni goes on a series of terrible dates. Marni's best-friend and colleague from the cooking show, Ellen, is a widow who has no interest in meeting anyone new and the two women have discussed the challenges of marriage and the joys of being single. But, while Ellen is adamant she wants nothing to do with men, Marni has to admit to herself that she would like to be with someone but only if he is the right fit.

As Bella's pregnancy progresses she admits to her mother that she has some concerns about the state of her own marriage, and all three women are concerned that the young intern on the cooking show is caught in a toxic relationship.

Marni and Ellen are determined to guide the two younger women to have the strength, confidence and support to improve their situations and the women gather regularly to talk about the important issues in their lives.

When Marni and Ellen each unexpectedly find themselves falling for new men in their lives the younger women help them navigate the dating world.

Together these four women form a strong bond of family and friendship that will anchor all of them as they navigate the challenges and celebrate the joys of life.

About the author:

Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including highly praised women’s fiction such as Four Friends, The Summer That Made Us and The View from Alameda Island, as well as the critically acclaimed Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan's Crossing series. Virgin River is now a Netflix original series. Robyn lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit her website at

Connect with Robyn Carr:

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Blog Tour Review: The Missing Witness by Allison Brennan

The Missing Witness (Quinn & Costa #5) by Allison Brennan
Publication Date: January 23rd 2024 by MIRA
Pages: 416
Source: Publisher 
Rating: ½

My Thoughts:
Kara Quinn has been called back to Los Angeles to testify in the case against David Chen, a human trafficker.  Months ago, Kara went undercover to expose David Chen’s operation, bringing women in from China for forced labor in LA sweatshops. However, things go terribly wrong the night of the raid and Kara’s informant as well as her partner Colton are murdered. Kara was forced to relocate as David Chen put a price on her head. After assisting Matt Costa and his FBI Mobile Response Team back in the first installment, Matt arranged for Kara to come work for him on loan from the LAPD. 

Now with the case against David Chen finally going to trial Kara’s days with the Mobile Response Team may be coming to an end. However, when Chen is shot the whole case starts to come undone. Kara, Matt, and Michael must piece together why Chen was killed and the plot is more complex and deeper than they imagined. Homeless assistance programs, corrupt city officials, leaks in the Los Angeles FBI office factor into their investigation. Plus, FBI Agent Bryce Thornton is still gunning for Kara's badge. They have an ugly history.  

The Missing Witness was a crime procedural with many layers. Kara reunites with the LAPD, and it’s bittersweet for her. This is what Kara’s been working toward, a chance to get her life and career back in LA, but things aren’t as she imagined. Kara’s become attached to working with Matt and his team of agents, solving cases all over the US. She’s become attached to Matt as well, albeit reluctantly.  Matt’s been a steady rock for Kara as she works through relationship issues. I’ve enjoyed seeing them draw closer.

Living in California, I’m disheartened to hear the story is based in part on the homeless crisis here. So many of the facts defy logic! More details from Ms. Brennan: The Story Behind the story: The Missing Witness.

I love Allison Brennan’s brand of mystery/crime procedurals! She blends complex characters, their relationships, and current topics into a riveting mystery! I breezed right through, glued to the pages, eager to see how it all turned out! I’ve grown attached to all the characters on Matt’s team, each being fleshed out a little more with each installment. The series is best read in order. 

4.5 Stars


About the Book:

When a key witness goes missing, Quinn & Costa must find her before a killer silences her for good…

Detective Kara Quinn is back in Los Angeles to testify against a notorious human trafficker, finally moving past the case that upended her life. But when the accused is shot in broad daylight, the chaotic scene of the crime turns up few reliable bystanders. And one witness—a whistleblower who might be the key to everything—has disappeared.

After another person close to the case is killed, it’s clear that anyone who knows too much is in danger, and tracking down the witness becomes a matter of life-and-death. But as explosive secrets surface within the LAPD and FBI, Kara questions everything she thought she knew about the case, her colleagues and the life she left behind months ago.

Now with FBI special agent Matt Costa’s help, she must race to find the missing witness and get to the bottom of the avalanche of conspiracies that has rocked LA to its core…before it's too late.

Photo Credit: Brittan Dodd

About the Author: 

ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling and award-winning author of over forty novels, including The Sorority Murder. She lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets. The Missing Witness is the fifth thriller in the new Quinn & Costa series.

Connect with Allison Brennan:

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

6 Romance Book Giveaway!

Once again my shelves are overflowing, so I'm giving away six books:

The Takedown by Carlie Walker-Paperback
Reckless Fortune by M.M. Crane-Paperback
Hunt on Dark Waters by Katee Robert
Love, Lists & Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz-Paperback
Last Call at the Local by Sarah Grunder Ruiz-Paperback
Luck & Last Resorts by Sarah Grunder Ruiz-Paperback

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Audiobook Review: My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

My Life as a White Trash Zombie

My Life as a White Trash Zombie (White Trash Zombie #1) by Diana Rowland
Publication Date: July 3rd 2012 by Brilliance Audio
Pages: 320
Audio Book Length: 9hrs 5min
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
My Life as a White Trash Zombie was unexpectedly good! I was a little hesitant that I’d like Angel being that she’s a self-described loser and drug addict. However, not only was this a zombie story, but it was also a story of positive personal growth, and a mystery. Angel is a smart cookie who had a rough start in life. I’m eager to see her take charge of her life and happiness and excel!

Angel wakes up in the ER told that she was saved from an overdose, but the flashes of memory she has doesn’t match up with the account she’s been given. Also, when Angel leaves the ER she’s given a note and instructions to show up and start work at the coroner’s office or be reported to her parole officer which would likely result in her going back to jail. A threat that motivates her to comply.

Angel’s job sounds like a nightmare for someone with a notoriously weak stomach, but there are some surprising revelations as she settles in. Also, there’s a string of murders where the corpse has been left decapitated.

My Life as a White Trash Zombie was a “page-turner”! A story I didn’t want to stop listening to! I listened to the story straight through and was tempted to continue with the next story, but it was getting too late! Allison McLemore’s performance was perfection! I loved her Southern accent, and her comedic timing was excellent! There wasn’t as much laugh-out-loud humor as I thought there’d be, more ironic, dry humor that worked well with this story.

I listened to the story for the read along I’m participating in hosted by Anne @Books of My Heart and we had a fun online chat about the book today (Sunday)! I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold off until next month to read the next one!

4.5 Stars

Book Description:

Angel Crawford is a loser.

Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she's a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who's been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.

That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in a horrible car crash, but she doesn't have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there's a job waiting for her at the parish morgue—and that it's an offer she doesn't dare refuse.

Before she knows it she's dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey—just when she's hungriest!

Angel's going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn't, she's dead meat.


Sunday Post #237


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.

Our flights back to Texas were canceled last Monday so we rescheduled for Sunday, the day before. Of course with all the flight delays we didn't get home until Monday at 3:30am. There were a lot of travelers in the airport trying to reschedule flights or just waiting as their flights were delayed, too. It was a busy place.  At any rate, we were glad to be home but it took a while to bounce back from all the shenanigans. At home it's been raining quite a bit, but I'm happy it's not snow. It's definitely a warmer winter than last year. 

I ordered a rose online called Brigadoon. I had it in my garden down south and loved it. It smelled wonderful and bloomed a lot.  I have a spot where I plan to plant a rose garden in the top of our property in the spring, so I'm starting to make a list of roses to buy. Buying from the garden center is cheaper but I couldn't find Brigadoon at any of the nearby places last year. The yellow rose is another rose I grew and loved, but I can't remember the name!! I thought is was a David Austin English Rose, but now I'm not so sure because all the David Austin's I've looked at don't look like it. It's frustrating.


English Rose-Unknown

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

My Life as a White Trash Zombie-4.5 Stars

I've been hunkering down and trying to get caught up on ARCs. I hadn't had a 5 star read since November so I was thrilled to have two this last week! Two others at 4.5 stars made for a great reading week! I listened to My Life as a White Trash Zombie for Anne's @Books of my Heart read-along straight through today and it was really good! I wanted to start book two right away as they had a teaser for it at the end, but I need to wait a bit. 

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:

Both are library audios.


How was your week?