Thursday, May 30, 2024

Review: Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins


Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins
Publication Date: May 28th 2024 by Berkley
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
A multi-generational story that filled my heart with joy!
Lark, a thirty-something oncology resident that’s just been kicked out of the specialty for not being able to hack the emotional impact. We find out how her happily-ever-after was shattered, which was heartbreaking. She gets a bit of fun with an offer from “Dr. Satan” which was so fun! It ends up being instrumental in her moving on from her grief.
Ellie, Lark’s mom has a marriage and career everyone envies, but she encounters a bump in the road that has her spiraling and hopping mad! I loved her story and rooted for her marriage and career-in-crisis situation. She had wonderful support from Joy, Lark’s landlady.
Joy, an older, rich, glamorous woman with little going on in her life. She had a hard beginning. Awful parents but an amazing brother!  Until Lark and Ellie came into her life, she was kind of directionless. I loved that as she helped them, they also helped her find purpose and self-esteem!
Look on the Bright Side was so utterly wonderful! It brought out so many emotions! I laughed, I cried, I was ticked! By the end my heart soared with joy!

5 Stars

Book Description:

From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and deeply moving novel about the unexpected rewards that come from life’s detours.

Lark Smith has always had a plan for her life: find a fantastic guy, create a marriage as blissful as her parents’, pop out a couple of kids and build a rewarding career as an oncologist.

Things aren’t going so well.

For one, the guy didn’t work out. Theoretically, she’d love to find someone else, but it hasn’t happened. Two, she’s just been transferred out of oncology for being too emotional. (Is it her fault she’s a weeper?) Three, her parents just split up.

Deviating from the plan was…well, not in the plan. A potential solution comes from the foul-tempered and renowned surgeon Lorenzo Santini (aka Dr. Satan). He needs a date this summer for his sister’s wedding. His ancient Noni wants to see him settled. In exchange, he could make a few introductions and maybe get Lark back into the field of her choice.

As a sucker for old people and fake relationships, Lark agrees. Teeny problem—she instantly falls for his big, warm family. Especially his estranged brother.

Meanwhile, Lark’s mom has moved in with Lark’s flamboyant landlady, Joy, and an unlikely friendship blossoms. The three women have a long summer and a big beautiful house on the ocean to figure out what’s next…and quite possibly learn that the best things in life aren’t planned at all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Review: If Something Happens to Me by Alex Finlay


If Something Happens to Me by Alex Finlay
Publication Date: May 28st 2024 by Minotaur Books & Macmillan Audio
Pages: 336
Audio Book Length: 7hrs 16min
Narrators: Helen Laser, John Pirhalla, Paul Detah
Source: Publishers
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
High school sweethearts, Ryan and Ali, are attacked while parked in “lover’s lane”. Ryan is knocked out and Ali disappears along with her car. For years Ryan has had to deal with everyone’s suspicions. Now five years later Ali’s car is found with two dead men and a preserved note in Ali’s purse saying: “If something happens to me…”. Then Ryan spots the man who took Ali and a mad chase across Europe ensues.
Poppy is back in her hometown after being discharged from the army, taking a job as Deputy Sheriff when Ali’s car is discovered. Poppy went to school with Ali, remembers when it all happened and so the case is personal. Strange facts come to light. Who can she trust?
Shane O’Leary, a mob boss, going through his own tragedy, and Michael Lane, his accountant. I wasn’t sure how they fit into the story, but it all comes together!
If Something Happens to Me was an exciting page-turner I didn’t want to put down!  I felt the characters’ urgency at piecing things together with bad guys on the loose. I was rooting for Ryan, Poppy and Michael! There were several twists I didn’t see coming! My favorite Alex Finlay to date!
I alternately read and listened to an audio copy of the story. I enjoyed both versions! Having three narrators gave each of the characters a distinct voice and made the switch in POVs seamless! I listened to my usual 1.5x normal speed and higher at times.

4 Stars

Book Description:

For the past five years, Ryan Richardson has relived that terrible night. The car door ripping open. The crushing blow to the head. The hands yanking him from the vehicle. His girlfriend Ali’s piercing scream as she is taken.

With no trace of Ali or the car, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Ryan. But with no proof and a good lawyer, he’s never charged, though that doesn’t matter to the podcasters and internet trolls. Now, Ryan has changed his last name, and entered law school. He's put his past behind him.

Until, on a summer trip abroad to Italy with his law-school classmates, Ryan gets a call from his father: Ali's car has finally been found, submerged in a lake in his hometown. Inside are two dead men and a cryptic note with five words written on the envelope in Ali’s handwriting: If something happens to me…

Then, halfway around the world, the unthinkable happens: Ryan sees the man who has haunted his dreams since that night.

As Ryan races from the rolling hills of Tuscany, to a rural village in the UK, to the glittering streets of Paris in search of the truth, he has no idea that his salvation may lie with a young sheriff’s deputy in Kansas working her first case, and a mobster in Philadelphia who’s experienced tragedy of his own.

In classic Alex Finlay form, If Something Happens to Me is told from several distinct, compelling characters whose paths intersect, detonating into a story of twist after pulse-pounding twist. The story cements Finlay as one of the leading thriller writers today.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Sunday Post #251


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 Montana with the family. There was snow when we first got here but it's melted and now just on the mountain tops. It's been busy. I did manage to sneak off and get a hike in by myself:

Montana hike

(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

Long Time Gone by Charlie Donlea: 4 Stars
I thought I read more for some reason and I'm wondering if I didn't log something on Goodreads, lol. There's been a lot going on so I wouldn't doubt it. I'm currently loving both books I'm reading now: Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins (e-copy) and If Something Happens to Me by Alex Finlay (audio).


Thank you to Kensington Books and Macmillan Audio!


How was you week?

Friday, May 24, 2024

Audiobook Review: First Contact by Kim Harrision


First Contact (Eclipsed Evolution #1) by Kim Harrison
Publication Date: April 2nd 2024 by Penguin Audio
Pages: 168
Audio Book Length: 5hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Xe Sands
Source: Publisher
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Dr. Renee Caisson is drafting into a military project without knowing aliens are at the center of her study. However, once she discovers them her insights help them to connect and communicate with them in a way they hadn’t before. The aliens came to Earth for help, but the higher-ups are concerned about their intentions, as would be expected.
First Contact was a quick listen and captured my attention from the beginning! There are good and bad players here and Renee is one of the good ones! I really liked and connected with her! She applied her smarts and instincts and I applauded her courage fighting for what’s right.  There is a potential for romance (I think) and I’m interested in seeing where that goes.
I’m eager to pick up with the next installment as this one ended in a “to-be-continued” situation.
I listened to an audio version and enjoyed Xe Sands’ performance of all voices.

4 Stars

Book Description:

In the wake of the solar eclipse, a portal between our world and a paranormal realm opens—and a scientist’s life will never be the same, in this thrilling serialized adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hollows.

Dr. Renee Caisson knows there are worse things than an attractive man in uniform drafting her into a secret government project—especially when Major Jackson makes it clear that he isn’t bothered by her questionable past. But when her labs come back with decidedly odd results, the Major is forced to come clean over who the government is actually studying. Renee is shocked to learn her subjects are demonic-looking beings who call themselves “Neighbors”—refugees from a dying world, who arrived during the nation-wide solar eclipse.

The Neighbors’ technology is unlike anything Renee’s ever encountered. At first, she dismisses an injury that inexplicably heals as “just one of those things”. And surely August, the most gregarious Neighbor, begins to speak English overnight because of the team linguist’s skills?

Not until August begins evolving in real time to withstand Earth’s brighter, dryer atmosphere does she admit that the Neighbors’ “tech” feels less like science and more like magic—the same magic that brought them here in the first place, and the same they’re trying to rekindle with a mysterious labyrinth in order to return home and save their world.

At least, that’s what August claims they came for…

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Review: Liar's Point by Laura Griffin


Liar's Point (The Texas Murder Files #5) by Laura Griffin
Publication Date: May 21st 2024 by Berkley & Dreamscape Media
Pages: 368
Audio Book Length: 9hrs 26min
Narrator: Teri Clark Linden
Source: Publishers
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
As with Laura Griffin’s past stories in this series, Liar’s Point was an engrossing combination of crime procedure and romance, that I breezed right through!

 A jogger discovers a woman dead in her car, which appears to be an overdose. However, it turns out the woman was murdered. Nicole and her partner Emmett, as well as all the Lost Beach police force come together to find the killer.

I’ve been eager to read Nicole’s story since Midnight Dunes and Deep Tide where she contributed significantly to nailing down the killer. Nicole and Emmett have been circling around each other with chemistry and attraction brewing between them, so I was pleased to finally see them paired.  

I really enjoyed getting back to Lost Beach, Texas, as I’ve gotten to know the small, tight-knit group of detectives and their families.  Nicole is a persistent detective with good instincts, and I was thrilled to see her recognized as such. Her determination, constantly following up with the witnesses, and pursuing the evidence is what ultimately solved this case.

The story is part of a series, but it’s not necessary to read the previous stories to enjoy this one, as each features a separate couple and mystery that’s wrapped up by the end.

I alternately read and listened to an audio copy of Liar’s Point narrated by Teri Clark Linden. I’ve enjoyed many stories narrated by her! She expertly performed both male and female characters, bringing Nicole and Emmett, as well as the other characters, to life!

4 Stars

Book Description:

Two homicide detectives must separate the puzzling truth from a growing web of lies while investigating a murder victim’s friends and lovers in Lost Beach, Texas.

Detective Nicole Lawson is fed up with her job and nonexistent love life. Her first date in months gets cut short by an urgent call from the chief of police. A body has been discovered at Lighthouse Point, and the medical examiner finds an array of strange clues. When the death is ruled a homicide, the news quickly reverberates through Nicole’s beachside hometown.

The Lost Beach police department swings into high gear. Leading the investigation is Emmet Davis, a veteran detective who is Nicole’s fiercest rival at work and also the man she has secretly harbored feelings toward for years. With Emmet calling the shots, Nicole sets out to search for leads, starting with the enigmatic yoga instructor who first discovered the body. Nicole is certain the witness knows more than she’s revealing and may even hold the key to unlocking the case.

When another person turns up dead under suspicious circumstances, Nicole sees a bizarre pattern, but no one believes her theory. Under the gun to solve the case, Nicole must put aside her tumultuous feelings and work closely with Emmet to figure out who is targeting her beloved hometown . . . before she becomes a target herself.

About the Author
Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty books and novellas. She is a two-time RITA Award winner, as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Review: Mind Games by Nora Roberts


Mind Games by Nora Roberts
Publication Date: May 21st 2024 by St. Martin's Press & Macmillan Audio
Pages: 432
Audio Book Length: 14hrs 52min
Narrator: January LaVoy
Source: Publishers
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Twelve-year-old Thea’s parents are murdered. It’s a senseless and cruel act by a no-good, evil man, but his plans to get away are thwarted by Thea’s unusual gift. It’s heartbreaking, but thankfully she has her loving grandmother and brother. They band together and try and live a good life while remembering their loss. I adored both her brother and her grandmother, Lucy, who was a big-hearted, salt-of-the-earth kind of woman!

Unfortunately, Thea captured the killer’s attention, as they share the same psychic gift and he’s bent on vengeance.  He is a dark presence on and off throughout the story, but Thea’s gift is stronger, and she has her family and loved ones for support. I enjoyed how she fought back!

Mind Games wasn’t a fast-paced story, but it captured and held my attention from page one! I loved the world Ms. Roberts created: family, friends, animals, gardening, cooking in the small, tightknit community of Redbud Hollow. The slow-burn romance was just icing on the cake!

I alternately read and listened to an audio copy of Mind Games and recommend either version. January LaVoy is one of my favorite narrators! She has a rich, pleasing voice, and nailed the wide range of ages, male and female voices here!

5 Stars

Book Description:

The #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Identity presents a suspenseful new novel of tragedy and trauma, love and family, and the evil that awaits.

As they do each June, the Foxes have driven the winding roads of Appalachia to drop off their children for a two-week stay at their grandmother’s. Here, twelve-year-old Thea can run free and breathe in the smells of pine and fresh bread and Grammie’s handmade candles. But as her parents head back to suburban Virginia, they have no idea they’re about to cross paths with a ticking time bomb.

Back in Kentucky, Thea and her grandmother Lucy both awaken from the same nightmare. And though the two have never discussed the special kind of sight they share, they know as soon as their tearful eyes meet that something terrible has happened.

The kids will be staying with Grammie now in Redbud Hollow, and thanks to Thea’s vision, their parents’ killer will spend his life in supermax. Over time, Thea will make friends, build a career, find love. But that ability to see into minds and souls still lurks within her, and though Grammie calls it a gift, it feels more like a curse―because the inmate who shattered her childhood has the same ability. Thea can hear his twisted thoughts and witness his evil acts from miles away. He knows it, and hungers for vengeance. A long, silent battle will be waged between them―and eventually bring them face to face, and head to head…


Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sunday Post #250


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 didn't post last week since I was busy in Texas. Our visit included wild weather, energetic grandkids, helping daughter and family settle into their new house, and a football game! Came home Tuesday and went to work the next day.

Texas wildflowers

It's been a busy, short week home, with work and chores. I worked today, Saturday. I don't normally work on the weekend and with traveling home during the week I feel off with my schedule. 

The weather has been unseasonably hot this last week and so my sister and BIL came up to our house to water twice when we were gone. Not a small job! We went out to dinner with them last night, to say thank you and to catch up.

Climbing rose from the garden: Aloha

So happy to be home with my cuddly kitty!

Peanut napping


Mind Games by Nora Roberts: 5 Stars
The Recital by Gregg Hurwitz: 4 Stars
The Poisoner's Ring by Kelley Armstrong: 4 Stars
Happy Medium by Sarah Adler: 3 Stars

This may look like a lot read, but it's for two weeks and one is a novella. 


Thank you to Berkley!


How was your week?

Friday, May 17, 2024

Review: Love at First Book by Jenn McKinlay


Love at First Book by Jenn McKinlay
Publication Date: May 14th 2024 by Berkley
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Love at First Book warmed this book lover’s heart! Such a winning combination of humor, romance, complicated family dynamics, friendship, and dealing with grief! The quaint, beautiful setting of Finn’s Hollow, Ireland was just icing on the cake!

Emily Allen, a librarian in Martha’s Vineyard, felt inspired by Samantha and Ben’s HEA (the couple from Summer Reading) to take life by the horns move to Ireland to take her dream job all the way in Finn’s Hollow, Ireland. Working for her favorite author, Siobhan Riordan, as assistant part of the time and filling in at her son’s bookstore, The Last Chapter the other part. While she’ll miss Sam, her best friend, taking the job removes Em from her mother’s manipulative clutches. That woman was something else!

What Em doesn’t count on is Kieran Murphy, Siobhan’s son, being less than happy with her arrival. This still doesn't dim Em’s elation with the whole situation. Siobhan is a dream to work with and the town and its quirky occupants are just lovely!

I find enemies-to-lovers a tricky trope. If the exchanges are too mean I’m not a fan. Not the case here. I absolutely loved the slow journey Em and Kieran took to love. They had some fun push and pull between them, and I was thrilled to see Em stand up for herself.  I was so happy Em had done the work to get free of her mother’s bullying and used that going forward.

I didn’t expect the story to quite so emotional and break my heart, but it did, but it also left me with so much joy!! I won’t spoil the story by elaborating. There was plenty of humor and lightness to balance out the grief and it just felt right. Love at First Book is a definite recommend!

5 Stars

Book Description:

When a librarian moves to a quaint Irish village where her favorite novelist lives, the last thing she expects is to fall for the author’s prickly son… until their story becomes one for the books, from the New York Times bestselling author of Summer Reading .

Emily Allen, a librarian on Martha’s Vineyard, has always dreamed of a life of travel and adventure. So when her favorite author, Siobhan Riordan, offers her a job in the Emerald Isle, Emily jumps at the opportunity. After all, Siobhan’s novels got Em through some of the darkest days of her existence.

Helping Siobhan write the final book in her acclaimed series—after a ten-year hiatus due to a scorching case of writer’s block—is a dream come true for Emily. If only she didn’t have to deal with Siobhan’s son, Kieran Murphy. He manages Siobhan’s bookstore, and the grouchy bookworm clearly doesn’t want Em around.

When Siobhan’s health takes a bad turn, she’s more determined than ever to finish her novel, while Kieran tries every trick in the book to get his mother to rest. Thrown into the role of peacemaker, Emily begins to see that Kieran's heart is in the right place. Torn between helping Siobhan find closure with her series and her own growing feelings for the mercurial Irishman, Emily will have to decide if she’s truly ready to turn a new page and figure out what lies in the next chapter.

About the Author

Jenn McKinlay is the award-winning New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series. Her work has been translated into multiple languages in countries all over the world. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Review: People in Glass Houses by Jayne Castle


People in Glass Houses (Harmony #17) by Jayne Castle
Publication Date: May 7th 2024 by Berkley
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Molly Griffin’s sister, Leona, has gone missing from the underground Hollister Expedition and Molly’s determined to find her. When she discovers the location of Joshua Knight, the navigator of the lost expedition she heads out to find him and piece together what happened and how to rescue her sister. However, Joshua has no memory of what happened.

People in Glass Houses takes place in Jayne Castle’s fun, futuristic world of Harmony. People came from Earth after interstellar travel opened up, and those who colonized ended up with paranormal abilities awakened by the planet’s energy.

Both Joshua and Molly have paranormal abilities they use to help solve the mystery and end up getting close and of course falling for each other. This is a low angst romance, with the majority of the conflict coming from the mystery and danger they encounter trying to look for Leona.

I think my favorite part of the story is Newton, the dust bunny! He could go from full on “adorable mode” to “sleeked out” and ready for a fight on a dime!

This was a fun combination of romance, humor, sci-fi with paranormal elements mixed in. The story is part of a larger series, but the story works well on its own and Ms. Castle does a nice job introducing and explaining the world of Harmony in the prologue.

4 Stars


Book Description:

Two people desperate for answers wade through smoke and mirrors within the alien world of Harmony in this new novel by New York Times bestselling author Jayne Castle.

His name is Joshua Knight. Once a respected explorer, the press now calls him the Tarnished Knight. He took the fall for a disaster in the Underworld that destroyed his career. The devastating event occurred in the newly discovered sector known as Glass House—a maze of crystal that is rumored to conceal powerful Alien antiquities. The rest of the Hollister Expedition team disappeared and are presumed dead.

Whatever happened down in the tunnels scrambled Josh’s psychic senses and his memories, but he’s determined to uncover the truth. Labeled delusional and paranoid, he retreats to an abandoned mansion in the desert, a house filled with mirrors. Now a recluse, Josh spends his days trying to discover the secrets in the looking glasses that cover the walls. He knows he is running out of time.

Talented, ambitious crystal artist Molly Griffin is shocked to learn that the Tarnished Knight has been located. She drops everything and heads for the mansion to find Josh, confident she can help him regain control of his shattered senses. She has no choice—he is the key to finding her sister, Leona, a member of the vanished expedition team. Josh reluctantly allows her to stay one night but there are two rules: she must not go down into the basement, and she must not uncover the mirrors that have been draped.

But her only hope for finding her sister is to break the rules…

Photo Credit: Marc von Borstel

About the author:

Jayne Castle, the author of Sweetwater and the Witch, Guild BossIllusion Town, Siren's CallThe Hot ZoneDeception Cove, and more, is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She writes contemporary romantic suspense novels under the Krentz name, as well as historical novels under the pseudonym Amanda Quick. Learn more online at

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Blog Tour Review & Excerpt: The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan


The Sumer Swap by Sarah Morgan
Publication Date: May 7th 2024 by Canary Street Press
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher 
Rating: ★★★★½

My Thoughts:
Loved The Summer Swap! Three women, all at a low in their lives: Cecilia, who’s lived in the shadow of her husband throughout their marriage is now widowed. She has mixed emotions about her loss and how she’ll move on.  Kristen, Cecelia’s daughter, is grieving her father and lonely in her marriage. Kristen has been there for her husband, but he doesn’t make it a priority to be there for her.  Lily, a young woman overwhelmed by the pressure to become a doctor, drops out of college, escaping to Cape Cod where she runs into Cecilia at Dune Cottage.

Cecilia and Lily strike up an unexpected friendship providing support and a listening ear. Cecilia’s reconciling the past and Lily’s figuring out what to do about her future. I was thrilled there was a second chance romance for both Lily and Cecilia! Even though I wasn’t thrilled with Kristen at the beginning, my heart when out to her as all was revealed.

I absolutely loved everything about The Summer Swap! Finding a way to find the courage to grab up happiness and do what you love, no matter your age. Dune Cottage and Cape Code sounded idyllic and a perfect place to start fresh!

4.5 Stars



Book Description:

A recent widow’s plan to spend the summer in Cape Cod hiding from her interfering family is upended when she discovers her beach house has an unexpected guest, and the secret she's been keeping about her marriage threatens to be exposed. Perfect beach reading for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Emily Henry.

70 year old widow Cecilia Lapthorne can’t bear the prospect of a family party to celebrate her birthday and the memory of her husband, famous artist Cameron Lapthorne. They had a toxic marriage but stayed together for the children, and bound by a big secret. She runs away to the Cape Cod seashore cottage she owned with Cameron--it’s where they first fell in love--but she hasn’t returned since she discovered him cheating on her there (for the first time). No one in her family knows about it, so she will be perfectly, delightfully alone for the summer.

Except struggling artist Lily has been secretly crashing on the sofa of the seashore cottage for the last couple of weeks. Unable to make rent after dropping out of medical school to pursue her dreams of becoming an artist and working as a housekeeper in Cecilia's Cape Cod enclave,

Photo Credit: Ev Sekkides

Author Bio:

Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of contemporary romance and women's fiction. She has sold more than 21 million copies of her books and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe. Sarah lives with her family near London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office. Visit her at

Connect with Sarah Morgan: