Cozumel, Day 7

I end up in Griffin Jail many times over the morning. This seems to be his new addition to the Chase game.

Kat makes omelettes for those who want them. She makes pretty ones.

Kind of a lazy day otherwise, and, on parole, I go up and work a couple hours. Jason and Kayla head out to pick up JR at the airport, then pick up a few things at the store. Griffin takes a long, deep nap.

Out for the count. Photo by j a-b.

When I come down, I hang out with Colt on the patio awhile, ask if he wants lunch. Grilled cheese sandwich? No problem. Shortly after consuming one, the growing boy asks for another. Good thing Jason’s picking up bread as this will finish off what we have.

Calm morning. Photo by Nora.

The Mexican grackles come along—always one or two at a time—to stand on the edge of the pool and drink. And take a quick shower while they’re at it.

JR arrives, safe and sound. He gets settled in, and Kayla shows him around before they take a dip in the pool. Somewhere in the neighborhood, people are playing a game as every couple minutes, we hear cheering.

Time to clean up for dinner. Meanwhile Griffin decides Kayla and JR are fair game for chasing.

We’re nine now, and pile into our two cars for the drive to town. We’re for Italian tonight. A pretty restaurant, open air, and as close to the water as you can get. Wonderful view, one of the skyscraper size cruise ships out there, and a couple of people swimming closer in.

BW, Logan, Kayla and JR. Photo by Nora.
Ship on the horizon. Photo by Nora.

Our server claims they have the BEST margaritas. Okay, I’ll be the judge! I order their salad special, a citrus deal, and a margarita pizza to go with the BEST margarita. And that drink is most excellent.

The salad’s amazing. Fresh grapefruit and apple with greens so fresh they snap and a dressing with tiny chunks of mango. Kat got the same, and we agreed: Yum.

Griffin’s all about the bread, sort of a round, airy pita. I can’t blame him, and as Jason and I both bake bread, we ask if they’ll give us the recipe. Our very friendly server comes back with a little note, handwritten in Spanish. Ingredients—no measurements or instructions. I think we’ll give it a shot.

Ingredients. Photo by j a-b.

Time for pizza or pasta.

Now Griffin’s all about the spaghetti, which does look delish. My pizza takes me back to Italy.

We eat while the sun sets, and it’s spectacular. All that color over the water, spreading and blending and bleeding. We decide we’ll have dessert tonight, and cappuccino. When mine’s cool enough, Colt samples it. He is undecided.

The start of the sunset. Photo by j a-b.
Preparing for the competition*. Photo by Kat.
Sunset 1. Entry by Nora.
Sunset 2. Entry by Kat.
Sunset 3. Entry by Kayla.
Sunset 4. Entry by BW.
Sunset 5. Entry by JR.

Back home after a very happy meal for another couple rounds of chase. A good idea after that very happy meal.

Then off to bed.

It rained overnight, and was steamy when I got up this morning. Today’s a make bacon day, and once that’s done, it’s workout time. While I clean up after, I hear happy, excited noises from downstairs.

The Chase is on, with Kayla and JR. When I come down, I’m immediately put in jail. I don’t know my crime. But when I escape and get out on the patio, I have time to write the blog.

Laundry’s on the schedule for some time today. But not right now. Right now feels like lazy time.


*Please note this is an imaginary competition as I really couldn’t choose a fave. ~Laura

Cozumel, Day 6

A day at home for me. Apparently I slept through a storm last night, and this morning clouds rolls in, roll out. A quick shower, sunshine, a sudden hard rain with the sun beaming. Then sunshine alone.

Inside, Griffin challenges Nana to a chase. But he’s changed the rules! Now as I chase, he can turn and shoot fire at me. I counter with a hose, but it’s no match for his inferno. He leads me to the kitchen where it seems I’m trapped.

Griffin explains the rules to his Nana. Photo by Kat

I escape.

Watching me, he circles the dining room chairs, then takes my hand and leads me inside the blockade. I appear to be in jail.

Jail break! Wild chase. I am recaptured. Multiple times. You can’t escape the long arm of The Griffin.

Logan’s still feeling yesterday’s boat ride, so taking it easy in his room. Nana makes him a sandwich.

A group heads to the store for supplies for tonight’s dinner, and I head upstairs to work awhile.

Work’s done. Groceries hauled in. We’re adding chicken to the menu as the fish won’t be quite enough.

The three oldest kids and I settle into a game of Hearts.

When it’s time for me to marinate the chicken, Kat takes over for me. When it’s time for her to peel carrots, Jason takes over for her. Despite the tag team, Kayla wins.

Jason’s turn to fill in. Photo by Nora.

Rosemary was not to be found at the store, so I make do with thyme and oregano. Carrots are in. Kat scrubs and halves the pretty potatoes, and in they go.

Kayla and Colt play some Mario Cart which always entertains Griffin.

I give the carrots and potatoes a good start before I pull out the chicken. Oil in the skillet, then Kat’s finely minced garlic, some herbs and spices. No white wine handy, but we’ll make do again.

Roasting. Photo by Nora.

The gang clears and sets the table, and while the chicken’s sautéing, I tackle the fish BW filleted and Kayla makes some Mac and cheese. BW slices a pretty baguette.

Finished fish. Photo by BW.
dinner’s ready. Photo by BW.

And there we are, a hearty, home meal. Fish eaters declare the fish good—which is a relief to the cook! And yes, as I sample, it’s pretty tasty.  Plenty of food for all, and no complaints.

Cooks are excused from clean up, as is the house rule wherever I happen to be the cook!

But the cook isn’t excused from Chase! Whew!

When the boy settles down, the rest of us—after a tutorial by Logan—play Texas Hold ‘em. Fun. And Jason who rarely has luck at cards wins the first two hands. Handily.

Wins and losses, near misses and sneaky bluffs. In the end, I come out five fake dollars ahead. I think BW and Kat are the big winners, wiping out Colt and Logan while Jason and Kayla came close to breaking even.

So a game-filled, food-filled day at home.

Cloudy this morning, but it seems to be lifting as a breeze comes up.

Kayla’s boyfriend, JR, is flying in this afternoon to spend the next week with us. Not sure what other plans are, but there was talk of doing the Italian restaurant for dinner, and BW said something about driving down to the lighthouse.

I’m at a place in the work where I’d like another couple hours before the weekend. But I’m flexible there if any plans solidify.


Cozumel, Day 5

As our Kat isn’t feeling well, Jason designates himself our chauffeur for shopping while the guys head off to fish. Kayla has enough Spanish to explain to housekeeping not to open the door to Kat’s bedroom as she’s resting.

Before we head out we have a quick game of Daddy Gate.

While Jason, Kayla, Griffin and I are getting ready to go, Griffin spies Colt’s blue icing cupcake on the counter. And he wants it bad. Blue cupcake! He doesn’t cry or even whine, doesn’t melt down or throw a tantrum. He just repeats. Blue Cupcake!

We promise we will get him one while we’re out so he’s okay with going. He takes a little spill on the gravel outside, looks up at me as he gets up, and says: That was a close one.

The kid makes me laugh a lot.

On the drive, he and Kayla have a very fine time in the back seat.

We get to the shopping area, which is lined with little shops and stalls, and boy, are the merchants hungry for shoppers! We’re told the cruise ship passengers flood in about one—we’ve got just over two hours before that flood, so we’re good.

I’m after my traditional I’m Away Christmas Shopping. In the first shop I try, I do find a couple things, but the merchants are just too helpful, to put it mildly. I like to poke and browse and consider, but they insist on showing me this, and that, and things I’m not really looking for.

So I take what I did find, and we move on. Lots and lots of shop choices, and as we breeze through one, Griffin spots a Peppa Pig toy that’s just at his level. He’s dealt with the shopping so far without complaint (Blue Cupcake ahead!) so Nana indulges.

Another shop where the merchant is friendly, but not pushy, at all. And there I feel we made his morning. Left to ourselves, I find several gifts, and he offers a good price. Jason finds a lovely birthday present for Kat.

And while we’re waiting for them to bag all the pieces, there’s a show about to begin out in the plaza.

Out we go to watch acrobats, young men in native costumes. They climb up a very high pole, and descend part way and circle—hanging upside down—from ropes. Around and around, pretty high up, while one plays a flute. It’s impressive, dizzying and a little bit scary.

Climbin up. Photo by Kayla.
Mid spin. Photo by j a-b

We park in the garage, which Griffin decides is haunted. He spots ghosts, a vampire!, more ghosts.

In and up we go. They check your purses and bags at security. Not sure why, but fine. The bakery has the blue cupcakes. Final Mission Accomplished!

And back through the haunted garage. More hilarity from the backseat on the drive.

I reward myself for a good shopping job with a Bellini, and Griffin settles down with his Blue Cupcake. Jason goes to check on Kat.

I run up to put gifts away, and while I’m gone, Kayla attempted to wipe the blue mustache from Griffin’s face. He responded, as she showed me, by doing the boy thing. Swiping his sleeve over his face. So he now sports a blue icing sleeve, and a blue beard, and is fully enjoying the cupcake.

A boy and his cupcake. Photo by Nora.

I decide it’s too late to start any work—and I’ll earmark time for that tomorrow. I read instead until the fishing crew returns.

With three red snappers.

Okay, good job! But do not present me with fish that still have their heads. I ain’t touching that. Kayla, the vegetarian, and I have similar reactions.

We learn nothing was biting for quite some time, and there was a four-five foot roll. Colt and Logan got pretty seasick, but Colt rebounded and caught a snapper.

Colt and his catch. Photo by BW.
Logan, chillaxing. Photo by BW.
O Captain, my captain. Photo by BW.

I don’t have the supplies to deal with the fish—which someone else will have to dehead and filet (the tour guys cleaned them). But I make a list, so it’ll be back to the mega store for the spices, and potatoes, more carrots for sides I’ll make. I figure I’ll sauté the filets, roast potatoes and carrots. They can pick up some nice bread. That should do it. We’ll see how that goes tonight.

But for dinner, we head into town—with Kat who’s feeling rough, but better. Drinks, Nachos, soup for Kat. I order a rib eye—haven’t had any red meat in quite some time.

It’s really good, and really big. BW polishes off what I couldn’t manage.

We miss sunset, but there’s still time for Nana and Griffin chases apparently, and more Daddy Gate.

I sit out for just a bit and watch the crescent moon and the star that dogs it.

Up early, so since I conquered the strange-to-me-oven, I make bacon for the bacon lovers before my workout.

Today, for me, is put in some writing time, then make a meal. Yeah, we’ll see how both of those go.


Cozumel, Day 4

We experience, and test our mettle with, a day without power.

No AC, no water, no internet, no nothing!

Our hopes that this will be a quick fix are dashed. It’s island wide.

So we have the pool, we have the Gulf, we have books and toys and cards. And make use of all.

I finish the last fifteen minutes of my workout with an admittedly lazy swim. It felt just fine!

We have bread, cheese, crackers, peanut butter and jelly, chips, fruit. Nobody starves. Lots of drinks, including big jugs of filtered water. No one will die of thirst.

Griffin’s disappointed he can’t go on-line for his usual morning entertainment, but as a child of the internet, he gets it.

I read awhile, watch Kayla paddle board awhile. Colt asks me to teach him another card game.

Gin Rummy it is! After a couple of open hands to explain, he proceeds to kick my butt. I’m pretty good at Gin. I feel he’s going to be better at it.

We keep the patio accordion doors all the way open, and open the front door. There’s a blessed cross-breeze. It’s not nearly as hot as it has been, so we can be grateful there.

But by late afternoon it’s starting to get pretty steamy.

I make a big salad. Washing everything with our filtered jug water. Jason uses the gas stove top to make boxed Mac and cheese. BW does hot dogs on the grill. I do some raw veg with some Ranch dressing, some cheese and crackers. Again, no one starves.

Jason and the older kids head to the store—more ice. We have a cooler and can store some of the perishables in there if the power stays off much longer. They buy a couple more flashlights and candles—in case.

As it’s Kat’s birthday we have cake—and some very soft ice cream.

Birthday ice cream! Photo by j a-b

Griffin decides on a combo of chase and the locked-gate game we play at home. Jason becomes a gate at the library door and locks us in. We have to find the right color key—which Griffin chooses by some color on a book cover or something on my library shelves.

In this version Jason is the gate that locks me on the other side of Griffin. I have to find the right color key, unlock the gate, and give chase.

Hey, it worked off dinner.

The end of the day. Photo by Nora.

And suddenly, just after 8, boom! Power! There is joy and jubilation throughout the land.

Close the doors and feel the cool start to happen. Plug in all devices that weren’t. And bless him, Jason does the mountain of dishes.

When I head up, I take the little flashlight I carry in my purse and put it on the nightstand, light a candle, in case.

And boom, power goes down. Oh, the moans! The curses! I use the candle to find the flashlight, start to head down to help any who need it. And boom, it’s back on. Whew.

Tiny moon among the trees. Photo by Nora.

And so far it’s stayed on.

This morning the guys are heading out on a boat/fishing trip. The girls and Griffin are going to drive into town and check out the shopping.

But that’s after, I hope, a full workout AND a shower!


Cozumel Day 3

The three oldest kids and BW try out the Gulf. What fun—for them, and for me to watch. The practicing snorkeling in the pool worked great. Kayla, however, goes in, comes out and ditches her mask. She decides she’d rather not know those fish are in there!

Kayla and her grandda. Photo by Nora.

Logan finds a conch shell with an occupant. Very cool! And puts it back in its watery home.

Beach meeting. Photo by j a-b

There are kayaks and a standing paddle board. All are put to good use. Those kids are good! Excursion boats fly by, making a nice wake for the water play.

A very fun way to spend a chunk of the morning.

We’re thinking since Griffin has his float jacket, he might like to try a dip there later this week. We’ll see.

Housekeeping’s here, so I read outside awhile. When they’re finished in the room I’m using to work out, and will use to work, I go up, and travel from Mexico to New York in 2061.

I put in a hour and a half, am well satisfied. And the screen freezes. This has happened once or twice in the past, but THIS time I neglected to copy from my thumb drive to the hard drive, then work on that. Just a mental blip that cost me 90 minutes work because it’s gone, baby, gone.

I have to come down, pour myself a drink and take some good, deep breaths.

While I was working, Kat, Jason, Colt and Griffin have gone out to take a submarine ride. But I can whine to BW, Kayla, Logan, and do.

Then I put on my big girl pants, go back up and reconstruct. I tell myself this is probably better anyway. Come down, reward myself with a Bellini, then bang—something flashes in my brain and I realize I can add just this revelation—Eve’s—to the end of the chapter.

Well, you don’t waste that kind of flash, so back up yet again and finish it out. So maybe that annoying 90 loss was worth it in the end.

Everybody’s back and had a fine time on their underwater excursion. There’s pool time, reading time, hang out time before we clean up for dinner.

A drive into town and another open-air restaurant with two for one drinks. Ho boy!

Family meal. Photo by j a-b

Super nachos for the table, and another big ho boy. HUGE. And yum.

Big ass nachos. Photo by j a-b.

There’s a band here, and though they’re a little loud to allow conversation, they’re good, and they’re fun. Chips come with two kinds of sauce—mild and burn your tongue off. I am alone in enjoying the burn your tongue off.

Sunset by Kayla.

At home BW, Jason, Kayla, Colt and I play some poker. Kayla’s getting it pretty good as we pretend bet from a penny to a million dollars.

A fine meal in a lively place with more awesome views. Can’t ask for better.

Shortly after, I follow Logan’s example and give it up for the night.

It seems I slept through the power outage. BW had settled down to read, but luckily had a flash light. Jason and Kat were about to take Griffin to the other villa for bed time—and Jason got the flashlight from the kitchen. Colt and Kayla used their phones to get back here.

BW tells me the dark was DARK, and brought the stars to brilliance.

A couple hours later, it came back on, and I never knew the difference.

Up just before the sun to enjoy the birds and that slowly creeping light.  Nice quiet start to my day. I’m about two-thirds done with my workout, and the screen freezes. Not just the internet. Power’s down again.

We’re fortunate it’s not blazing hot—at least not yet.

We’ll hope the outage doesn’t last too long, but there’s the pool, there’s the Gulf. I think we’ll manage.


Cozumel Day 2

The view. Photo by Kayla.

A fine day had by all. Some lazing around, some swimming.

Part of the gang hits the grocery store for the big run. While they’re out I teach Colt 5-Card Draw. Every boy should have this skill—and every girl, too, so we’ll teach Kayla.

Grandda comes out and we switch to 7-Card Stud.

When the gang comes back, we’re loaded. Lots of food to put away, and now nobody should be hungry!

Griffin picked out a pool toy—a big Orca float. This proves fun for all. Logan and Colt practice snorkeling in the pool to get a handle on it before trying the Gulf tomorrow.

Resting before pool time. Photo by Kat.
A new friend! Photo by Nora.
Snorkel prep and whale riding. Photo by Nora.

The neighbors are having a fine time, too. I hear lots of kids laughing. Nice someone’s enjoying themselves as much as we are.

I think it’s more getting our bearings, setting things up, figuring out a routine-ish, learning where everything is. And appreciating the lovely views.

We gather ourselves and head to a restaurant in town. I spot the shopping area we’ll hit on whatever turns out to be shopping day.

Dinner with a view. Photo by j a-b.

Fun restaurant, terrific water view and seriously good menu. Again, no one will be hungry! It’s two for one drinks. Logan and I—18’s the legal drinking age—order margaritas and Kayla a banana daiquiri. Didn’t realize we’re getting two drinks so we’ve got a lot! Jason takes a margarita. They’re excellent!

Hanging out. Photo by j a-b.

Logan and I appear to be in solidarity as we both order the grilled lobster. Beside me, Colt goes for a steak burrito. Not sure what everyone else ordered, but everybody was happy. Ice cream for dessert, but I try the flan. And it’s just fine!

Colt, waiting for his burrito. Photo by Nora.

I all but waddle out to the car.

After dinner sib group shot, Kayla, Logan and Cold. Photo by Kayla

Back home for some sunset picks—low clouds block the sun, but the sky turns into a painting of pinks and golds with orange highlights.

Sunset show. Photo by BW.
Sunset show, Nora’s version.

Griffin has some ice cream and entertains me with an on-line game that amuses the crap out of him. And Kat gives Logan a kitchen haircut at his request. Good job!

Another early night. The heat’ll do that.

Up early, enjoy the birds—a yellow warbler watches me as I watch him.

Logan’s already up, made his breakfast and coffee. Taking an early dip while I figure out how to work the oven. First challenge, translate centigrade—-but BW has his tablet handy. Then figuring out the symbols. BW and I both try various things, and I’m about to give up when I finally hit on it. Bacon will happen!

It takes longer than at home where it’s put the parchment paper lined sheet in a cold oven, turn it to 400 degrees for 20 minutes. It takes about 30, but I’ll adjust for it next time. And still a little floppy.

Time to work out, get cleaned up, and see what the day brings.


Cozumel – Day 1

Cozumel in sight. Photo by Kayla.

We take off for Mexico on a wonderfully clear day. Always a relief for me when flying. On this trip, we’re eight. BW, me, Jason, Kat, and all the grandkids—Kayla, Logan, Colt, Griffin.

Nora watching the approach. Photo by Kayla.

It’s not only Colt’s first trip out of the country, but his first plane ride. He handled it more than well. At take off, as usual, Griffin starts grinning—he’s a plane vet. Going super fast, and up, up, up.

Grandda and a cool Colt. Photo by Kayla.

We have some snacks, then Logan brings out cards. He wants Poker, Kayla wants Hearts. We end up with Hearts—Kayla, Logan, Colt and me—because Poker seems too complicated for those (K&C) who have no idea how to play. Plus Logan’s only Poker is Texas Hole ‘Em, which I can’t remember how to play.

I hope to teach them all 5-card draw on this trip.

Kayla and I watch Logan and Colt play Chess on another of Logan’s portable game deals.

Colt and Logan Photo by Kayla.

Games pass time well, and really before you know it, we’re on our way down.

It was clear and warm in MD when we left some 3 hours ago, and clear and HOT in Cozumel. I can soak that heat right in!

Through Customs, through the airport, and Kayla, Logan, Colt and I wait with the luggage while the others hike across the parking lot to where our rental car company’s based. Two cars due to eight people and a serious mountain of luggage.

Waiting with Nana and the luggage. Photo by NR.

We pack it in, people and luggage, and wind our way through town. Busy! A tree limb, good-sized, falls into the road in front of the truck in front of us. Guy gets out, hauls it over to the little central island.

I guess it happens.

We arrive at our home-away from home for the next couple of weeks. We have two villas—right beside each other. So it’s take a tour through, decide who stays where. Everyone wants a view, and everyone can have one!

Walk around—we have two pools, a hot tub and best of all a view of the Gulf, and a lovely little pergola on one side, a little roofed hut on the other for sitting by the water, or making your way down to it to swim, snorkel or kayak.

Everything is very blue and very green, with splashes and flashes of red from flowers.

Haul luggage, start the unpacking process.

One issue: The company was supposed to stock one of the villas—where we’ll gather as a family-with food and drink as outlined on the list provided. And someone didn’t get the memo.

Now we have some hungry people!

Off go BW, Jason, Logan for emergency groceries and a take-out meal from an Italian place. A lot of restaurants close at five on weekends, but this one has longer hours.

Everybody in the pool! Photo by Nora.

Meanwhile Kat, Colt, Griffin, then Kayla try out the pool. Water’s warm. Kat says it’s the best pool ever. There’s a wide ledge where Griffin can stand—he steps off it once, and under he goes.

Griffin and Colt. Photo by Nora.

Colt hauls him back up. I’m pleased our boy didn’t freak at the dunking, but just carried on.

A black bird drinks from the shallow end. Being a bird’s thirsty work.

Emergency food arrives, so we eat at the big, live-edged dining table. That’s better!

Big grocery run today, but there’s enough to sustain all until.

Jason and Kat set up the Switch in the living room, and it’s Kayla v Colt in Mario.

BW and I sit down by the water as the sun gets lower. Perfect weather now—warm, a little breezy. The gang—sans Logan who’s crashed in bed—comes down. We admire the sunset, watch the boats ply the water.

Sunset. Photo by Kayla.

Travel days wear you out so it’s not long until the rest of us follow Logan’s example.

Evening boat ride. Photo by Nora.

I’m up early, sit out on our little balcony and watch the world slowly wake. That starts with a lot of very happy birds. It’s pretty sweet to wake and not immediately think of work or duties.

I have an unoccupied room for workouts, so take advantage of that. I give it about 20 minutes on the balcony before even I have to say: Too hot for this.

I finish up inside.

Get myself a shower, get myself dressed. I could hear Griffin’s arrival during my workout. BW comes up and tells me he and the boy played several games.

I find Logan in the kitchen, making eggs for his breakfast. I like a grandson who cooks!

BW went down to snorkel, and I choose a book.

Logan’s had a turn in the pool, and Kayla must still be sleeping.

Another black bird, or the same one, used that shallow end as a birdbath for a bit. Hot and thirsty!

The gang’s about to take off for the grocery run, and I believe I’ll sit down in the shade outside and read.

It’s so lovely, such a blessing, to be able to take a trip like this with so much family.


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?


Fall into the story behind Inheritance

Note from Laura: Just as she did before the Chronicles of the One, Nora’s written a letter to explain the direction of her next trilogy: The Lost Bride Trilogy. I think you’re going to love this next adventure

Dear Readers,

When I think of hauntings, I first think of my maternal grandmother. I suppose this is because it was my earliest (that I remember) experience. Sweetheart, as we called her, lived with us for a number of years. I’m going to add sweet because I adored her—though it is NOT the first word that comes to mind when I think of her.

Tough, opinionated, funny, fey, acerbic, quick Irish temper all rank before I get to sweet. She had flaming red hair, and was quite the dish in her day. She was married five times (before I was born). Yes, I said five, and she didn’t keep any of them.

She had her own apartment in our house—bedroom, bath, living room with a fireplace, kitchenette. She read palms and loved watching the Roller Derby.

In the house where I grew up, we had a huge backyard, tons of fruit trees, a veg garden we worked in every summer. A good-sized front yard with a pussy willow tree sort of centered between the front and side walkways.

My father hated that tree. I have no idea why. My grandmother loved that tree. Also no idea. He would, periodically threaten to cut it down, and she’d bring the axe down on my father. The tree stayed.

One evening a week or two after Sweetheart passed, my father thought of that tree. I remember him saying: “Well, Eps is gone, (Eps was his nickname for her—something from a comic or cartoon), and I’m cutting that damn tree down tomorrow morning.”

And that night, it was hit by lightning, split cleanly in two and taken to the ground.

She just wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

She stayed in the house for some time, winding her cuckoo clock, closing doors, probably watching the Roller Derby or kibbitzing at the Friday night pinochle game at our dining room table. I know my mother felt her often, and it brought comfort—and amusement.

Since that first experience, I’ve had others. But then I live on a Civil War battlefield, so—to me—it would be odd if I hadn’t. Hearing battle drums in the middle of the night while walking a fretful baby, or some strange knocking when no one’s there. A child’s voice—and I admit this one creeped me—downstairs while I worked upstairs, alone in the house, calling for Mama. I did get my guts up to go down and look for her, but I wasn’t Mama, so she didn’t show herself to me.

And as it happens, I own a haunted inn. Now, some of you will say: Oh, please, Nora, the others were coincidence or imaginings. But I know what I know. So does the staff at Inn BoonsBoro, who often have to turn off showers in locked, empty rooms, or put some item back from where it mysteriously moved. Doors opening, doors closing, footsteps on the stairs. Many guests have had encounters while staying there. Our ghosts are, fortunately, benign. Playful, but benign. We even have a ghost cat who visits guests in their rooms often.

His name is Johnson.

Once a year, along with several girl pals, I spend a week at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. We book a house that’s attached to the hotel. The very first time I walked in, I thought: Oh, okay. We’re not alone here. All of my pals, plus my grandson Griffin, who goes with us, have had encounters. Oh, I could tell you stories. So I decided to.

When I thought about the theme of my next trilogy, I thought of old houses with history and spirit occupants.

Personally, I love haunted houses, (and, so far, I’ve been comfortable with those who walk there), so why not write about one?

My fictional one stands on the coast of Maine, a house—or manor as it’s called—the main character inherits from an uncle she didn’t know she had. I don’t want to get into the reasons why and spoil it, but the reasons worked for me.

This manor‘s not only haunted, but carries a two-hundred-year-old curse. As it’s in the Prologue, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say a woman was killed on her wedding day by an evil, jealous, crazy witch—who cursed the house, and subsequent brides.

A haunted house, a curse, doomed brides through the ages. Well, that checked a lot of boxes for me. Add a mystery to solve to break that curse, some romance, the not-at-all benign witch who haunts the place, and a bevy of other spirits, and more boxes checked.

I liked the idea of having my very rational-minded main character find herself in a completely irrational situation, and discovering her heritage, her family history, while she takes the risk f rebuilding her career. With bonus points for learning to trust her heart.

I had such fun writing Inheritance, the first book in The Lost Bride Trilogy.

I hope you’ll enjoy it, and all the things that go bump in the night.


Me again! You can preorder Inheritance from your favorite retailers. Please note that you access Kindle pre-orders through Amazon. ~Laura

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Sunday in June

BW’s been off to the beach with pals this week, and I’ve tried to make the most of the quiet house—and no cooking. Good, solid writing days—a few interruptions for other business, other duties, but a good, solid week.

That left the weekend to catch up a bit with domestic chores. Weeding, deadheading, watering, laundry—and I do believe our washer is dying, which will be a PITA to deal with. Oh, and scooping dog poop off the pavers. Why, why do they do that? There are countless places for dogs to do their business around here.

BW’s in the habit of giving the paver-pooping dogs their evening treat right around eight o’clock. Since he’s not here, they come wherever I am, sit, stare with loving and hopeful eyes. Right about eight o’clock.

How do they know it’s time? And when I go to the closet where we keep those treats, it’s insanity. Dogs are so easy to make happy.

Though we have a sprinkler system for the garden beds, the lack of rain and the heat (I LOVE the heat!) meant pots needed watering pretty much daily. But they’re rewarding me for the attention.

And finally last night, the breeze started blowing through my open windows, and I heard it coming. Some rain, at last.

So today, on this Sunday in June, after a morning workout, I could just walk around the gardens and enjoy. Something’s knocking up in the woods, but it sure doesn’t sound like a woodpecker. I don’t know what else might make a softer, slower knocking sound, but hope it’s friendly.

I’ve already got Black-Eyed Susans blooming here and there though it’s early for them. And the nasturtiums I planted from seed are growing bigger. Can’t wait until I see them bloom. The sweet alyssum and heliotrope smell glorious. My woods are green and lush.

We’ll be heading out for our family vacation in just a couple weeks—destination to be revealed when we get there. But for now, I’m prizing this home and garden time. June rewards a gardener for work done in April.


The official blog for Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb readers