Book Talk Thursday:

Once more, I’ve read a ton of good and great stuff, so I’m going to post some quick reviews. Check back next week, I’ll have some more. I was on vacation and got to read some really good books! Also, I only review books I enjoy and recommend.

THE SISTER EFFECT by Susan Mallery (hard cover)

I’m a sucker for:
Susan Mallery books
Family drama books
Smart and capable heroine books

The Sister Effect has all that and more! I laughed and cried and had all the feels.
Finley is raising her niece, Aubrey, while Aubrey’s mom works on her sobriety. She’s determined to keep Aubrey safe and happy, while also trying to keep her sister from drinking again. Then Finley’s estranged grandfather moves in with Finley, her mom, and Aubrey. Finley has vowed to never forgive the man for something that happened two decades ago.
While working through the issues with her sister and grandfather, Finley is also developing feelings for local developer Jericho, who has his own family drama to deal with.
I really enjoyed this latest from Susan Mallery and I’m looking forward to her next book!

I received an advance copy of this from the publisher, but it did not induce me to post a review, favorable or otherwise.

PLEASE, SORRY, THANKS by Mark Batterson (ebook)

I love Batterson’s transparency. (Previously I’ve read and loved DRAW THE CIRCLE, and WIN THE DAY.) He shares personal stories and solid teaching in a relatable way. Each of the important words has the potential to change hearts and restore relationships.
Batterson writes with warmth, humor and humility. Yet this book isn’t an “easy” read. I was challenged and convicted by the idea that a simple word of apology or gratitude could have a profound impact on someone else. A few quotes I especially loved:“Nothing opens doors like please. Nothing mends fences like sorry. Nothing builds bridges like thanks.”

“The best predictor of success in life, in love, and in leadership is your proficiency at please, sorry, and thanks.”

“Legacy is not what you accomplish. Legacy is what others accomplish because of you.”

Overall, I loved this book and I highly recommend it!

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley, from the publisher, but that did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

DEAR HENRY, LOVE EDITH by Becca Kinzer (audio)

I enjoyed this one a lot. It’s original and includes some fun characters. Edith is a young widow who needs a place to live until her passport arrives and she can leave for her mission trip to Africa. Henry’s niece inveigles him to let Edith, the “elderly widow” volunteering in town to have his upstairs room. Henry has injured his leg and has been living downstairs only as it heals.

Both Henry and Edith think the other is elderly and leave notes as they keep missing each other. The book is part epistolary, part narrative. It’s set in a quirky small town and many misunderstandings ensue.

(I bought and paid for this one. No advance copies here!)

FRASER by Susan May Warren (ebook)

Another book I bought and paid for. And Susan May Warren is another author I love and I auto-buy everything she writes. FRASER is the first in her newest series, The Minnesota Marshalls. We previously met another branch of the family in The Montana Marshalls series.

Fraser is the oldest in the Fraser family. He’s ex-Navy SEAL, injured, and trying to figure out what’s next. He gets a panicked call from his kid brother, Creed, who then disappears in Europe. Fraser goes to find Creed, because that’s what he does.

Pippa is about to ready to tie down Princess Imani. Pippa is the princess’s security as they’ve been traveling the world for the last year. But when Imani disappears on Pippa’s watch–along with the young American man she met in Switzerland–Pippa must join with the man who claims to be that young man’s brother if she wants to find her princess and keep her job.

I loved this and can’t wait for Jonas’ story, out next month.

POIROT AND ME by David Suchet (ebook)

A few months ago I started listening to a podcast called ALL ABOUT AGATHA. The two co-hosts break down Agatha Christie novels and short stories, discuss them, and rate the novels. They also talk about any film adaptations. The podcast started in about … 2014? I think. I’m listening to the episodes in order, from the beginning. I’m up to about 2017. (SPOILER ALERT: One of the hosts died very suddenly near the end of 2021. They were close to finishing the last of Christie’s works and the remaining host chose to go ahead and finish without the other. I expect to be a basket case when I get there, eventually. The remaining host still posts occasionally about goings on in the Christie universe.)

Because of the podcast, and because they discuss screen adaptations, I got curious about the British series, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and Stud Muffin and I started watching them (available on BritBox through Amazon Prime). Then I decided to read this book, POIROT AND ME, a memoir by the actor who played the Belgian detective.

This is filled with details about Suchet came to get the role, how he prepared for it, how the series evolved, which episodes he loved, which he didn’t, what was going on in his personal life, and so on.

I enjoyed this glimpse into a character actor’s life and it made me like Suchet enough that I will probably also read his autobiography and will definitely look for other movies he’s made.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING by Julia Whelan (ebook)

This author, Julia Whelan, is also an audio book narrator, so she knows about she writes.

Sewanee was an up and coming actress until she left show business and became an audio book narrator. She got her start in Romance, but has moved on and doesn’t do Romance novels anymore. Until she’s made an offer she can’t refuse. And she gets to work with a male narrator who’s super popular and completely anonymous. They hit it off via emails and texts.

There’s a pretty big “twist,” that any romance reader will know right away, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of this fun read.


Wow, have I neglected my blog! Time has flown since the last time I posted. I’ll do much better. Or at least I’ll try, from here on out. I read so many great books, I should be posting here all the time about them, not just the ones I get free copies of. But that’s the rut I’ve fallen into. Sigh.

HOME SWEET CHRISTMAS is the newest offering from Susan Mallery in her Wishing Tree, Washington series. We haven’t been to Wishing Tree since last year’s The Christmas Wedding Guest. (Reggie and Dena are doing great, by the way!)

Camryn Neff left her life in Chicago to come back to Wishing Tree to take care of her dying mother and twin teenage sisters. Her mom has been gone a year now, and the three Neff ladies are healing and finding happiness again. Camryn is just marking time though until the twins start college and she can resume her old life in Chicago. Until her plans are derailed by a local woman’s plan to marry off her son and get some grandchildren.

River Best is new to Wishing Tree and while she’d like less snow and warmer temps, she’s enjoying her new home and new friends. She resolves to get more involved in the community so her friends nominate her for Snow Queen. She’s alternately terrified and gratified to be chosen. The one thing that helps is her Snow King. Dylan Tucker is kind and considerate and she could see herself falling for him. Until she discovers his secret.

Wishing Tree is the town we all want to visit at Christmas time and this book got me ready for hot chocolate and cookies and snuggling by the fire. After not loving Mallery’s last book, I’m so glad I truly loved this one. All the characters could be my friends. I’d shop at Wishing Tree’s charming stores and eat at the restaurants. There’s also a cute dog sub-plot. If you’re looking for a sweet Christmas read, I highly recommend HOME SWEET CHRISTMAS!

As a bonus, Susan Mallery is giving away a Christmas Cookie Cookbook on the Wishing Tree website. I downloaded it and it’s full of scrumptious looking recipes.

I received a free copy of the book, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.


School’s ending, the temps are climbing, and readers are talking about their beach books. So Susan Mallery must have a new book ready for the tote bag, right?

She absolutely does! Two, if you count The Summer Getaway that released earlier this year.

The Boardwalk Bookshop is one of three stores sharing space on a southern California beach boardwalk. Bree owns the book store, Mikki has a gift shop, and Ashley owns the bakery in between. The women began as business partners but ended up friends, meeting on the beach after work every Friday for champagne and sharing.

Bree is widowed from a man who didn’t love her and who betrayed her. She’s resolved to never love again and will do anything to protect her heart. When Ashley’s brother moves to town, she warns both Harding and Bree that he’s headed for a broken heart if they get involved. Mikki is divorced and, after a few years, finally ready to start dating again and move on. If only her ex and his parents would get on board with her plans. Ashley is in love with the perfect man. And Seth loves her, too. The only problem is he doesn’t want to get married. Live together, happily ever after? Sure. Buy a home and have kids? Absolutely. But the paper and being legal. Not so much.

Each woman sees her friends’ issues clearly, but struggles with her own.

I’m a huge Susan Mallery fan and I’ve loved nearly everything she’s written. This book though, is not a favorite. I found Bree brittle and unlikeable. She deliberately set out to hurt Harding, a man who was nothing but kind and patient with her. She’s smart enough to realize that she was angry with a dead man and hurting only herself by holding onto the anger. But she didn’t get it and preferred to stew in her bitterness.

Mikki seemed a bit dim about her ex-husband’s intentions and even dimmer about what her friendship with him would mean to her new relationship. Ashley stewed for. EVER about what to do about Seth, but when she did make her decision, I was really proud of her for how she handled herself and him.

There’s also open door sex and a lot of talk about sex, masturbation, and vibrators, to the point where I said, “All right, I get it, you like orgasms. Sheesh.” If you’re okay with that, THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP is an excellent beach read for your summer vacation. But if you prefer something with a little more depth, I recommend THE SUMMER GETAWAY.

I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher, but it did not induce me to review the book, favorably or not.

Book Talk : The Summer Getaway

It’s my favorite time of year: spring! Which means new life and new summer books!

I received an advance copy of Susan Mallery’s newest release, THE SUMMER GETAWAY and it’s the perfect beach read as well as the perfect book to read in anticipation of summer.

Robyn Caldwell is caught off-guard by her empty nest. Divorced four years, she should have seen it coming and finds herself undecided about what to do next. When her great-aunt Lillian asks her to visit in California, Robyn boards a plane, hoping the distance will give her perspective and help her decide her next steps.

Robyn finds though that not just her problems follow her to California. First her children show up, then everyone else she thought she left behind soon comes along too.

California, Aunt Lillian, her crazy mansion, and Lillian’s long-lost nephew show Robyn that she does have choices, that she’s more than enough, and that she can do whatever she wants.

Mallery has crafted a heartfelt tale of fresh starts and growing up–at any age. I highly recommend it!

I received a free copy of THE SUMMER GETAWAY from the publisher. This did not induce me to review the book, either favorably or not.


It’s fall! That means Pumpkin Spice Lattes, a chill in the air, and Christmas books and movies! Yes, it’s time for Christmas. Decorations are appearing in stores, ads are showing telling us what to shop for, and I just read my first Christmas book.

THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING GUEST is the first in a new small town series by Susan Mallery. Mallery has given us series based in Fool’s Gold, Mischief Bay, Blackberry Island, and Happily, Inc. Now, we have Wishing Tree, Washington, a town focused on Christmas. All year long. Mallery recently released a novella, SAY YOU’LL STAY, that introduces the town and some of their traditions.

In THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING GUEST, we meet the Sommerville sisters. Dena lives in Wishing Tree. She’s a teacher and owns a local B&B. She’s given up on finding “the one,” and is having a baby via a donor and IVF. Reggie lives in Seattle, but has come back to Wishing Tree to help her parents plan their vow renewal ceremony. Last year, she was engaged and dumped in the same Thanksgiving weekend.

Micah is a grieving rock star who lost his song writing mojo when his pregnant wife was killed in a car accident last year. His friend invites him to Wishing Tree to heal and help out at his Christmas tree farm. Micah never expects the sweet and attractive owner of the bed and breakfast where he’s staying to be the inspiration to get him writing again.

Toby left Wishing Tree at eighteen, intent on leaving behind his pain, including ex-girlfriend Reggie. But circumstances brought him–and his young son–back to town. It’s too bad he and Reggie still have a spark, because his son comes first, and he won’t allow anything–or anyone–to disrupt that order.

I love Mallery’s new setting of Wishing Tree. It’s fun and quirky, just like Fool’s Gold and Happily, Inc. Her characters feel real and have real problems and real reasons why they can’t get together immediately.

There are a couple of adorable dogs, Belle and Burt, that add to the holiday fun.

I highly recommend this book!

I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher, but that did not induce me to review it, favorably or not. I just happen to love well-written, quirky, small town, holiday romances.