Category Archives: Book Chats

Some updates & reading recs

Mark your calendars! Nora’s travelogues start promptly tomorrow (Monday, July 3) morning. Stay tuned for the adventure.

Since it’s prime summer reading time in the Northern Hemipshere and snuggle-up by-the-fire reading time in the Southern, I thought I’d share what I’ve read recently.

First up, as to be expected, are Nora’s next three books. To be very honest, I read Payback in Death a while ago — so long that I’ll have to do a reread in order to share teasers in late August. I remember enjoying it — as I do every visit to Eve’s world. Payback is out September 5.

Inheritance — the first book in the Lost Bride Trilogy — is the final book of 2023 and I promise to share all my feelings about it when I open the discussion thread on release day. It’s one of those books that you caution yourself to read slowly, then hurtle to the ending. In a good way. Inheritance is out on November 21.

I’m not sure it’s always fabulous to be so far out on the schedule. Random in Death is the first release for 2024 and boy, is it a good entry. I’ll do a reread when it’s time for teasers but I’ll say this: a good case, some fun character updates. Random in Death is out January 23, 2024 from St. Martin’s Press.

I freely admit to asking for books from people I know when I’ve exhausted Nora’s. Several years ago I discovered (on my own) The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall about a woman who runs a business posing as a bridesmaid while making sure a wedding runs smoothly. (The text conversations from different weddings are hilarious.) Then she runs into the greatest Bridezilla of them all. Imagine my happiness when I realized Marissa of Team Nora works on Katy’s books! The Wedding Season was a lot of fun last year so I was very happy to grab and early copy of The Last Word. Two people with a tangled past working together in the present? Yes, please and thank you.

I’ve been a huge fan of Erica Bauermeister since reading The School of Essential Ingredients in 2009. Nora’s editor knows this well and sent me a very early copy of No Two Persons in 2022, even though it came out in May of this year. It’s a fascinating book about, well, a book and how it affects a variety of people from the author to readers in their reading lives as well as real lives. I’m not going to adequately explain the premise here because it’s sprawling, yet intimate. Isn’t that what reading is for all of us? NTP is available now.

Ages ago, the universe put Sarah Morgan in my path and I’ve been grateful for 12 years. If you don’t know by now, Sarah’s Christmas books regularly hit the London Times best seller lists. Her lovely summer books now make that list as well. The Island Villa is the story of a wedding on the island of Corfu that changes the relationships between a mother, her daughters and their personal stories of the past. I loved it. But then again, I love Sarah too.

I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through the years whether it’s connected to Nora, reading, conversations about So You Think You Can Dance — I like to talk and meet new people. I met Shauna years ago, then we had that SYTYCD conversation and things settled into place. She’s edited some of my favorite books over the years, including the newest one from Elissa Sussman Once More with Feeling (yes, Nora wrote a book with that title back in the early 80s, but titles are not copywritten). Broadway? Chapters in the past and the present? Antagonistic love story (aka enemies to lovers)? Yes please. Read it in one evening when it came out. Then had a lovely conversation about the book with my daughter.

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer was an unexpected delight (I found by myself, even though it’s a SMP release). It’s the story of a death doula who may have intimate knowledge of the process of dying, but needs to learn more about the process of living and loving. I read a sample and was immediately drawn in. It’s out now.

My new philosophical question: is it REALLY summer without a delightful book by Katherine Center? I’ll have to say no. Hello Stranger tells the story of an artist dealing with a “temporary” condition called face blindness. As Sadie deals with the condition while trying to still create her art, she learns that blindess can apply to many areas of one’s life. I read it in March (my pals Erica and Marissa have me covered on Katherine’s releases) and loved it. And look for Happiness for Beginners (another Katherine Center favorite of mine) on Netflix in late July.

Nalini’s US readers will get Resonance Surge earlier than expected on July 18. All I’ll say about Resonance Surge (other than I loved it, of course) is that your bear addiction is fully satisfied. IYKYK.

Ever since I read The Switch, I’ve been a Beth O’Leary fan. The Wake-Up Call — a September 26 release — is another entry that will stay on my shelf. I didn’t think I had a subject style, but this is another book with enemies who are coworkers falling in love. It’s also filled with a fun set of secondary characters who propel the story along (plus it’s an early Christmas gift).

A bit of a Christmas caper is The Takedown. I loved the holiday background to a story of Sydney Swift, a woman who’s kept distant from people and relationships to avoid being hurt. When her sister is about to marry into a Boston crime family, that distance dissolves. I’m not always drawn to books about spies, but this one was a lot of fun. Out October 3 from Berkley.

When my friend Erica described Raiders of the Lost Heart, how could I resist? And I learned a bit more about myself as I started another enemies-to-lovers story. (Reading is the key to the soul, and tropes, apparently.) Seriously though, from the cover to the archeology expedition in Mexico to solving the mystery, this was a lot of fun. And hey, a minor hint to where Nora will be on vacation! Raiders of the Lost Heart is out December 5 from Berkley.

Finally, we have Finlay Donovan is Killing it. It was actually released in 2021, but Leslie, Nora’s editor, thought I’d enjoy getting to know Finlay, a very stressed single mom trying to meet her writing deadline. Then, of course, things happen. I raced through it, laughed a lot and really enjoyed how Elle Cosimano built her world. And a ready made backlist? Yes, please and thank you. (This is the first book in the series — #4 will be out early 2024.)

And there you have it. What are you reading these days?


Identity discussion spot

Does summer (or winter if you live in the Southern Hemisphere) start when Nora’s standalone hits shelves? (I personally think so.)

Well, you can consider the season officially changed as Identity is on sale today.

I read it a long time ago, but can clearly remember all the twists, turns and fun of reading about Morgan Albright and the challenges she faced.

What’s Identity about?

Former Army brat Morgan Albright has finally planted roots in a friendly neighborhood near Baltimore. Her friend and roommate Nina helps her make the mortgage payments, as does Morgan’s job as a bartender. But after she and Nina host their first dinner party―attended by Luke, the flirtatious IT guy who’d been chatting her up at the bar―her carefully built world is shattered.  

Soon, a horrific truth emerges: “Luke” is actually a cold-hearted con artist named Gavin who targets a particular type of woman, steals her assets and identity, and then commits his ultimate goal: murder.

Morgan’s nightmare is just beginning. Soon she has no choice but to flee to her mother’s home in Vermont. While she struggles to build something new, she meets another man, Miles Jameson. He isn’t flashy or flirtatious, and his family business has deep roots in town. But Gavin is still out there hunting new victims, and he hasn’t forgotten the one who got away.

This is the spot to discuss all things Identity so spoilers will be in the comments.

Share away!


Nightwork discussion thread

I know it’s a month off, but I think of release day for Nora’s summer book as the first day of summer (or winter in the southern hemisphere). Nightwork is on shelves now!

Harry Booth started stealing at nine to keep a roof over his ailing mother’s head. He slips into luxurious, empty homes at night to find items he can trade for precious cash for medical bills, the mortgage, for food. When his mother finally succumbed to cancer, he left Chicago—but kept up his nightwork. He developed into a master thief with a code of honor and an expertise in not attracting attention or getting attached.

When he meets Miranda Emerson, the powerful bond between them upends all his rules. But along the way, Booth has made some dangerous associations, including the ruthless Carter LaPorte, who sees Booth as a tool he controls for his own profit. Knowing LaPorte will leverage any personal connection, Booth abandons Miranda for her own safety—cruelly, with no explanation—and disappears.

But the connection between Miranda and Booth is too strong, pulling them inexorably back together. Now Booth must face LaPorte, to truly free himself and Miranda once and for all.

Here’s the place to discuss everything related to Nightwork — so spoilers very much ahead.

Personally, I loved this book so very much. Can’t wait to reread.


Book Notes

Greetings from the Cranky Publicist desk.

And Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who’s a mother of the heart in any way, shape or form.

I know you’d all prefer a Kentucky Derby post, especially after that amazing race yesterday evening, but Nora and Bruce opted not to attend this year due to the crowds and continuing Covid risks. Griffin is still too young to be vaccinated and there’s a family vacation in June, so they want to keep him safe. Let’s hope for next year.

It’s 3+ months out from the hip replacement and I’m increasing my distance in walks, can do most yoga poses, am back to building strength in the upper body. So, I’m well on the path full movement – including dancing at my son’s wedding next weekend.

I’ve planned this post for a while. Right before surgery I pre-ordered a ton of books, then reached out to my pals in publicity at St. Martin’s Press and Berkley to beg for reading material. I just KNEW I’d spend days reading when I wasn’t doing PT.

Turns out that was not correct.

You know what I did during recovery? Work. Kept up with the social media, answered emails. The stuff that makes up a day. Fortunately, I did have evening time and dove into my little treasure trove of books already out, or coming soon. (Yes, ARCs are a reward for answering FAQs with kindness.)

I know a lot of you claim to only read Nora and JD Robb. Much as I love both of them, I do like to explore outside this universe and if you’re interested in some new material/authors, take a look.

Of course, I have to start with Nightwork. It’s Nora’s perfect summer read about a gentleman thief with some really high standards. It’s out May 24. I seriously know you’ll love it. Can’t wait to open the discussion thread!

Oh, and I may have read this:

Desperation in Death – out September 6

but we’ll discuss that later. (Loved it.)

The Christie Affair came out February 1. It’s an intriguing look at the time Agatha Christie went missing. It’s based on a true – strange – story: In December 1926 Agatha Christie disappeared from her home in southern England. When her abandoned car was found, it began the biggest manhunt in British history for a missing person. Eleven days later she was found in a northern spa town claiming to be the victim of amnesia.

Nina de Gramont writes from the point of view of the other woman – Agatha’s husband’s mistress. If you are a fan of mystery, star-crossed lovers, revenge, pick this one up.

The Suite Spot came out in March from St. Martin’s Press. I hadn’t read the first book in the series – Float Plan — but I didn’t need to. In this contemporary romance, a young single mom moves to a very tiny island in the Great Lakes to take a job at a hotel. The hotel owner is a grump but naturally they fall in love! (Ok that last sentence is from Marissa of Team Nora who loves both books, but it absolutely applies.) BTW, if I’m a sucker for anything, it’s a strong heroine who picks herself up and finds her path.

Ever Summer After (May 10, Berkley) is a second chance story about a couple who fell in love as teenagers over the course of six lakeside summers, but then it fell apart in one moment. Twelve years later, the two are reunited and they have to confront what separated them and decide whether their love is stronger than their biggest mistakes. My pal Erin at Berkley said this book’s happy ending was so hard won and beautiful she couldn’t recommend it highly enough! And I have to agree.

I’ve adored Katherine Center’s books since I read How to Walk Away and proceeded to purchase her back list in quick order. This was BEFORE I met her at a TTP signing in fall 2019 when I ended up loving her even more. The Bodyguard is out on July 19, from St. Martin’s Press. For me, it’s another joyful Katherine read with humor, family (blood and non) shenanigans, and a woman who can kick anyone’s ass learning about her other strengths. (BTW, Katherine’s newsletter is always a happy email that brightens a day.)

Last summer I devoured Beach Read by Emily Henry so I was looking forward to Book Lovers – just out from Berkley. A book about book people? Oldest sister responsibility (I’m the oldest of seven if you couldn’t tell)? Families breaking in order to heal? And really, two people good at what they do changing careers to do what they love? I devoured it.

BTW, if you haven’t read Beach Read — honestly one of the best head-to-head confrontations of genre and literary fiction — do yourself a favor and pick it up. You’ll find humor and fear and love all in one place.

You all know how much I love Nalini, right? Storm Echo – out in June — takes us back to San Francisco. We catch up with some familiar faces plus there are sightings of many favorite characters, including bears. I love Nalini’s bears. Even if they are far away. But there are also cats and a few wolves. And I’ll bet you love Ivan and Lei.

The only person I know with an output close to Nora’s is Nalini. And thank goodness for that — it fills in my Nora gaps. Nalini makes time to step away from the Psy-Changelings and Guild Hunter series to share her New Zealand Noir (see A Madness of Sunshine and Quiet in Her Bones) or to revisit the gang in the Rock Kiss and crossover Hard Play series. She surprised me with a get well ARC of Kiss Hard — Catie and Daniel’s story. It’s just released and a really wonderful outing with the Esera clan. Friends to lovers romance – done well — can be such a satisfying story.

Some of you may know of my love/competition with Lucy Score. We met at a TTP signing in February 2019 and have been pals ever since. She deserves a special place in my recovery reading for consistently making me laugh when I least expect it.

Maggie Moves On is Lucy’s first release for Grand Central, out June 21. What happens when a You Tube star who never stays put, starts a project in a town next door to a man fully rooted in that place? In Lucy’s hands, the project hits bumps, Maggie collects people who care and gets an eyeful of that nieghbor without his pants — among other adventures. Plus there’s a dog. Books about finding one’s place are also personal catnip and Lucy never fails to hit that kind of story out of the park. To fireworks. You can order a signed copy of Maggie Moves On From TTP.

I also loved Lucy’s Forever Never and Things We Never Got Over but I’m beginning to run out of space.

I couldn’t wait for Sarah Addison Allen’s first book in a long while and Other Birds (out September 13) completely delighted in every way. It’s pure SAA – love and magic and stories about the people who live in The Dellawisp on Mallow Island. When Zoey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment there she meets her quirky and secretive neighbors, including a girl on the run, two estranged middle-aged sisters, a lonely chef, a legendary writer, and three ghosts. As one does. It’s a book I’m sad to have finished. If you haven’t read Sarah Addison Allen, start with Garden Spells. And thank me later.

What’s Nora reading? Well, when she’s deep in writing (in this case, next year’s single title) she relaxes with TV shows and movies. Then, at the end of March she was slammed by vertigo — took six days to feel back to herself.

During those interminable days she watched all the Oscar nominated Best Pictures she had interest in, and was thrilled with CODA’s win. Lovely, lovely movie according to Nora. She also loved Belfast and thought Kenneth Branaugh deserved the award for best original screenplay.

Streaming-wise, she counseled me to watch Julia (her wisdom never ceases to amaze, it’s lovely). In turn I told her to watch Moon Knight (she is) and in return she told me to watch Outer Range. “Modern-day Western meets X-Files with a visit from Fringe,” she wrote. “Josh Brolin. I’m completely hooked.”

I know there’s more, but these are the most recent.

And there you have it, entertainment in all forms.

Coming next? Girls Spa for Nora, wedding for me. We’ll catch you up as we can.


PS. Wait, there’s one more: Lessons in Chemistry showed up everywhere I turned in April, so I finally heeded the Universe and purchased. And I love it.

A Sunday Cover Reveal

A surprise for this Sunday — I’m pleased to present the cover of Nora’s next summer book, Nightwork — out May 24, 2022.

Here’s the official cover copy:

Harry Booth started stealing at nine to keep a roof over his ailing mother’s head, slipping into luxurious, empty homes at night to find items he could trade for precious cash. When his mother finally succumbed to cancer, he left Chicago—but kept up his nightwork.

Wandering from the Outer Banks to Savannah to New Orleans, he dons new identities and stays careful, observant, distant. He can’t afford to attract attention—or get attached. Still, he can’t help letting his guard down when he meets Miranda Emerson. But the powerful bond between them cannot last—because not all thieves follow Harry’s code of honor. Some pay others to take risks so they can hoard more treasures. Some are driven by a desire to own people the way they own paintings and jewels. And after Harry takes a lucrative job commissioned by Carter LaPorte, LaPorte sees a tool he can use, and decides he wants to own Harry.

The man is a predator more frightening than the alligators that haunt the bayou—and when he strongarms Harry into robbing a Baltimore museum, Harry abandons Miranda—cruelly, with no explanation—and disappears. But no matter what name he uses or where he goes, LaPorte casts a shadow over Harry’s life. To truly free himself, he must face down his enemy once and for all. Only then can he hope to possess something more valuable than anything he has ever stolen…

US and Canadian readers can pre-order from the following links:

Amazon: (This link offers the option of the Hardcover or Kindle)
Google Play:

Please note that covers and ordering info for the UK/AU/NZ/IRE/SA and Europe will follow.


Top of the In Death charts

While I’m not usually a list person, I know there are readers who love to create/debate/talk about them. So we’re adding another new, occasional feature here: Random Sunday Lists.

In the teasers for Forgotten in Death — which hit #1 on a few best seller lists, thank you all very much — I mentioned it was now in my top five In Death titles.

In the comments to that post, Lori K asked what’s in my top five.

My reply:

These four are set in stone. Number 5 rotates between Conspiracy, Survivor and now Forgotten — depending on the day/mood.

What are your top five In Deaths? Remember there are no rights and no wrongs. It’s just a little fun.

And no whining that I’ve set a limit. <g>


Legacy discussion spot

Legacy is on sale today! And here’s the place to discuss the book from start to finish.

A reminder of the cover copy:

Adrian Rizzo met her father for the first time when she was seven. It was the same day he nearly killed her mother, Lina.

A decade later, Adrian is as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial as long as neither crosses the other. And then the vicious letters begin to arrive. While Lina dismisses the death threats as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling.

Year after year, they arrive with different postmarks, but the same menacing tone.

Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins.

Did you race through Legacy or savor it? Share all in the comments.


The Awakening discussion thread

On sale now!

The Awakening is now available in stores/on e-readers! And this is the place to discuss all things about the first book in The Dragon Heart Legacy.

Just a quick reminder of the official cover copy:

In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own.

As a young girl, Breen Kelly listened to her father’s stories of magical places. As an anxious twentysomething she’s mired in student debt and working a job she hates.  Then one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. Worth nearly four million dollars, it was funded by her long-lost father.

Little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing an silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And learn her true destiny lies through a portal in Galway which takes her to a land of faeries and witches, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny.

Hope you enjoyed The Awakening! Share your thoughts in the comments. Remember Be Ware: spoilers up ahead.


UPDATED: Let’s talk about the book in the comments, shall we? As of 12/6 any comments not related to The Awakening and its plot will unapproved. Because, seriously, we need to chat about Sally and the nonblood family Breen creates. Love, love, love. ~Laura