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April 22, 2017

Supernatural Stories with #Static and Stiletto #AtoZChallenge

By Elisabeth Scherer

Supernatural elements in books are a fantastic tool to use with some plots. The two books I have chosen to review today use them quite well.  First is a book by Eric Laster called #Static which is a Young Adult Mystery/Fantasy.  The second book is by Daniel O'Malley called Stiletto, the sequel to the first in The Cheque Files after popular sci-fi/fantasy book, The Rook.   Both books have a wonderful humor throughout that kept me turning pages to see what would happen next.

If you like Jasper Fforde or Robert Rankin's books, you will definitely like these books as well.

#Static By Eric Laster
#Static by Eric Laster
April 2016; Automatic Publishing
9780991272938; ebook, print (336 pages)
YA, Fantasy

What would you do if you received a phone call from a recently deceased sibling? That is what happens to the main character, Curtis, in #Staticby Eric Laster. Curtis is sure his brother has called to help him solve Wilt's murder. His brother, Wilt, calls as part of the standard program of adjustment to the afterlife - an "inescapable, ever-expanding Walmart filled with discontinued products."

This book is a murder mystery but includes some wonderful coming of age moments for Curtis. It also has some touching sibling moments between the brothers that make this a great read. Curtis goes on a daring plan to catch his brother's murder and along the way has to navigate the hormones of a teenage boy, handle a rocky home life, and avoid his school counselor. Will Wilt be successful in organizing a rebellion in the Aftermart?  Will Curtis find Wilt's killer before someone finds him snooping around?  All these questions help push this story from page to page.

I would recommend this book to anyone high school age and up. Laster's humor along with his ability to weave in truly wonderful moments between the brothers and between Curtis and other supporting characters leave me wanting to read more from him. One of the things I appreciate about this book is the growth that happens to Curtis throughout the book. He is definitely a different person when the book ends.

Buy #Static on Amazon
Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
June 2016; Little, Brown, and Company
9780316228046; ebook, audio, print (583 pgs)
fantasy


Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley

The Checquy is Britain's century-old secret organization that protect the population from supernatural threats. The Grafters are a centuries-old supernatural threat. These two groups are forced to merge after many years of bloodshed and hostility. The synopsis of this book puts it best by saying,

"Only one person has the fearsome powers—and the bureaucratic finesse—to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women, who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war."

This sequel has more wonderful female characters to love with wit and humor that Daniel O'Malley brought to us with Myfanwy Thomas in The Rook. Pawn Felicity Jane Clements and Grafter Surgeon Odette Lelifield are complete opposites and have grown up being taught to hate each other. Now with the merger of the Grafters and Chequey they have been thrust together during this major time of change for the secret organizations. Both have supernatural abilities that quite frankly disgust the other. They must come together to help keep the peace negotiations intact while managing to find out who is behind the attacks.

O'Malley is brilliant as ever at creating strong, intelligent female characters. This sequel is a bit longer with larger chunks of exposition to give us readers enough to understand the motivations of the characters. Some readers may find this to be drier than The Rook, but it does its job. This helps push the readers into his world by giving us as quick a rundown of the secret warring groups. He uses this information to show just how far apart the divide between the two groups is at the beginning and how far they must come to keep the peace.

There are main layers of subtext to read in this book and for me it hit home with a quote from the book on grief. In my life, while reading this, I was hit with the death of a young girl whose family I am very close with. This quote summed up how I was feeling then and still how I feel today.

"It's been weeks now, and it doesn't stop I want it to go away!"

"It won't ever go away entirely," said Felicity. "I wish it did. But with things like this, with wounds on the inside, sometimes it's just a case of getting through the day. Or the hour. Or the minute. Sometimes the hard times come every other minute, and they'll keep slapping you, so that you can't ever relax. And sometimes you'll go for weeks and maybe even months before it gets you, right when you least expect it.  But it never goes away entirely." Odette sighed. "But it does get easier, Odette. And it's easier when you have comrades."

-excerpt from page 568-569

You can picture the relationships that O'Malley creates from this conversation. Intelligent humans coming together to fight forces unknown. Change is hard for everyone because as a human we struggle to get our brains to think in different ways. It can be done but it's a precarious dance where every move needs to be thought out as though you are playing a long game of chess.

Be forwarned with these books however that there were four years between publishings. though we can hope that another book in this series will come quicker, if we must I would recommend filling the void with rereads and find the nuances the Daniel O'Malley hides in this book.

Buy Stiletto at Amazon


Elisabeth Scherergrew up in a very small town in Minnesota but now lives in the lovely Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time raising her two young children. She and her husband have a large collection of books that takes a good space of their small condo. When she's not reading she has a variety of hobbies that include crocheting, drawing, baking, cooking, and movie watching. She is currently obsessed with making French Macarons and other baked deliciousness! You can also find her blogging athttp://kitchenstoriesetc.blogspot.com





Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

April 21, 2017

R is for Romantic Tales #AtoZChallenge

by MK French

A lot of stories have at least a romantic subplot even if the book isn't strictly Romance. There's historical romance, and paranormal romance, and fairytale romance, and on and on it goes. It is human nature to want to connect to another person on an intimate, romantic level. MK French recently reviewed several romantic tales. ~ Donna

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. Free books were provided for honest reviews.


Campbell's Redemption
November 2016; Loveswept; 9781101964903
ebook (240 pages); Scottish romance
Campbell's Redemption by Sharon Cullen

Iain Campbell is laird and feels responsible for all the people of his clan. He feels responsible for the death of Cait's husband years before and had avoided her. At the start of this novel, however, he brought an injured man to her home, knowing that she has renowned healing skill. They are constantly in each others' orbits after this, and Iain has to confront his feelings for her, as well as the mounting tensions between clans and coming from England.

This is the third book in a trilogy, but it all made sense even without reading the first two books. Cait's history is one of intense tragedy and loss, starting from her birth. Everyone she has ever cared about was eventually lost to death or estrangement, so it's difficult to earn her trust. Iain walks a fine line between his Scottish and English heritage, especially with England trying to tighten its stranglehold on the Scots.

They're a likable hero and heroine, even with all of the background hurt between them, and the other characters in the book also feel believable. There are so many obstacles in the way of these two getting together, it almost felt as though it couldn't be the traditional happily ever after of a romance novel. There was a very sudden change in circumstances at the end of the book that allows it to happen; I wonder if it would be less of a shock to me if I had read the first two books of the trilogy. All in all, I enjoyed the book and was rooting for Cait to finally find happiness.

Buy Campell's Redemption at Amazon


An Unseen Attraction
February 2017; Loveswept
audio, ebook (209 pages); Victorian romance 
An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles

Clem Tallyfer runs a boarding house at his brother's bequest. He likes how peaceful it is, the people he works with, the hobbies he has and his quiet evenings with tea. He especially likes sharing that tea with Rowley Green, one of his tenants. They're good friends, slowly becoming more in spite of the norms of the era. When another tenant is left murdered on the house's doorstep, Clem is uncomfortably thrust into the middle of an investigation that forces him to question his loyalties.

This is a wonderful look at the Victorian era, especially for those who aren't in the titled class. It starts off slow, really getting to know these characters separately before throwing them together as a pairing. We see the ins and outs of running a lodging house at that time period, as well as some background into being a taxidermist. It's fascinating, because these professions for our main characters gives us a window into the class system of the era and how they feel about it. Clem has difficulty with reading and tolerating loud noises or crowds, which is never formally named as dyslexia or ADHD as it would be in our time, but as a very real struggle that he has to deal with on a daily basis. He has made a number of adaptations that are available in that time, and it's wonderful to see Rowley deal with them and learn how to address them as a couple. There's a definite sense of fondness and emotional connection even before the physical aspect is dealt with, which was also lovingly handled.

The pace of the book picks up as the murder mystery truly begins, shifting from day-in-the-life romance story into more of a thriller. There are the inevitable contacts that Clem has which allows the mystery to be pieced together without the police's help. Still, Clem and Rowley aren't supermen able to finish off everything themselves, and they do support each other to the very end of the book.  As the first in a trilogy, the book is very much a standalone with a hint at possibilities for more that are picked up in the rest of the trilogy.

Buy Unseen Attraction at Amazon


Geekerella
April 2017; Quirk Books; 9781594749476;
ebook, audio, print (320 pages)
YA, fairytale romance
Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Elle lives with her stepmother and twin stepsisters, who are all interested in makeup, social media, impressing others, and looking their best. Elle, on the other hand, loves the show Starfield, which her late parents had loved. In fact, her father had founded ExcelsiCon, the large convention in Atlanta. Elle and all the other fans of Starfield are upset with the movie reboot being filmed, and Darien Freeman is just as nervous. Unbeknownst to the public, he's also a fan of the original show and doesn't like the publicity stunts his manager father pushes him to do. He tried to call ExcelsiCon's staff to get out of some appearances, leading to him beginning to text Elle and discuss fannish theories.

The book is subtitled "A Fangirl Fairy Tale," and that it certainly is. There are wonderful nods to other fannish interests, and Starfield is very reminiscent of Star Trek. ExcelCon seems more like Dragon*Con, and the Cosplay Ball is a great way to tie cosplay and the Cinderella stories. Elle's fairy godmother is a fun addition because it isn't such an obvious parallel in the beginning. Elle herself is a believable and relate-able mix of defeatism and hope, just as every other geeky seventeen year old would be. There's a strength in her, even when she feels trapped by others' expectations and her lack of resources. While she still gets "rescued" by her prince in a way, Elle also has her own independent attempts to break free and still be true to herself.

This is a fun YA book that lovingly understands the teen geek and fully lives up to the "part love letter to nerd culture" description for the book.

Buy Geekerella at Amazon


right
March 2017; Diversion Books; 9781682307014
ebook, audio, print (268 pages);
paranormal romance
Souljacker by Yasmine Galenorn

Lily O'Connell is a succubus and owns a sex salon. When one of her clients is murdered by a vampire, not only is her reputation tarnished, but her life is at stake. The murderer is an insane tattoo artist that escaped a prison for the criminally insane supernaturals, and he is going after everyone that he ever gave a tattoo to. This includes Lily and many of her close friends. The police can't do much for this case, so she is referred to the private investigator Archer Desmond, who is also a chaos demon.

There is a wide range of supernatural creatures: the fae, vampires, weres, demons, witches, and ghosts as well as humans. They all interact in this world, mostly uneasily, and in a realistic manner. There were discussions about property ownership, citizenship, how the laws interact with the supernaturals, as well as the fae courts. The relationships between all of the characters were really well done, slowly unfolding and giving more information and backstory as we went further into the book. Lily discovered more about behind the scenes events as she dug into the investigation. She doesn't have superhuman strength, agility, intelligence or any of those kinds of powers. She does have the power inherent in her succubus nature, which is to charm others and to draw in their chi, or life force. That allows her to heal from some of the damage dealt, but that doesn't mean she can combat all of her obstacles on her own.

This is the beginning of a new series of books by Ms. Galenorn, and the dovetailing of the different supernatural creatures reminds me a bit of the October Daye books. This will hopefully shape up to be a series just as good because this is a great start.

Buy Souljacker at Amazon


Pretend Princess
March 2017; Williamson Press
ebook (299 pages); romantic suspense
Pretend Princess by Carolyn Rae

Tricia is visiting Cordillera, a tiny kingdom located between Spain and France where her parents are doing missionary work. She intends to watch over her younger sisters while her parents are at a conference for two weeks and is briefly mistaken for the Crown Prince's cousin, who had disappeared. She agrees to take the princess's place at public functions in order to help the royal family avoid scandal while they search for her. In the meantime, she gets close to the Prince and tries to fight their growing attraction.

Romance novels often rely on tropes, and the lookalike impostor that helps solve the mystery and falls in love with the hero(ine) is a favorite trope. The novel begins with this, and the setup is done beautifully. It just gets a little repetitive and runs down after a while, because there's nothing new and no additional obstacles for our hero and heroine to overcome.

The advance copy had a lot of quotation errors (action breaks in the middle of a statement meant that the quotes weren't picked back up for the rest of it) that I hope are fixed in the final copy.

The prince didn't impress me very much, and not just because he's a product of his country's culture. I didn't find him particularly charming or noteworthy. Tricia liked some aspects of his character, but he steamrolled over some of her objections or outright dismissed them, which never appeals to me. The expected happily ever after ending was abrupt and a complete turnaround from the royalty/commoner conflict throughout the book that it felt very contrived. For such a promising beginning, I was disappointed by the ending of the book.

Buy Pretend Princess at Amazon


Disenchanted
March 2017; Loveswept; 9780399178436
ebook (303 pages); fairytale romance
Disenchanted by Susan Carroll

Ella Upton lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters. They tend to live with their dreams and are somewhat oblivious to the realities of the world around them. Even in a kingdom where magic exists, there are bills to be paid, meals to be cooked, houses to clean. Ella loves her family, and won't let her best friend Malcolm put them down. She has no interest in going to the royal ball, but her stepsisters do. They still believe in true love and the possibility of marrying the prince, but Ella had already lost her sense of magic.

This is a wonderful retelling of Cinderella. Instead of Ella being horribly abused by her stepmother and stepsisters, they're simply absent-minded children she felt responsible for taking care of. Her stepmother has never been mean to her but simply wasn't her mother.

There are a plethora of possible suitors by the end of the novel, in keeping with this being a Loveswept title, but it isn't terribly contrived. Of course, the Harper she once fell in love with wasn't who she thought he was, and the dour Commander isn't the relentless slave to rules that she thought he was. Even Malcolm's motives give her pause, though he remains a good friend throughout the book. I really enjoyed seeing how nuanced her relationships with each of the characters was. She's stubborn at times, but a very kind and loving person. It shows in how she acts toward her family and how she feels guilt over past mistakes, and I felt very connected to her as a result. There isn't anything more than a few kisses scattered throughout the book, and the ending feels rather open for future installments. I don't know if this is meant to be a series, but if it is, I would definitely read more novels.

Buy Disenchanted at Amazon


Meet Me On the Ice
December 2016; Hartwood Publishing
ebook (131 pages); romance
Meet Me on the Ice by Laura Jardin

Elise had missed out on a lot in her troubled childhood, so as an adult she decides to learn to ice skate. At the public rink, she meets Zachary, who is trying a different route to work through his grief at losing his best friend. They get to know each other, and Zach is convinced he's all wrong for her, just as she's convinced that it will work out between them.

This is a cute story, and fitting for winter. Our two leads meet cute, and they are instantly attracted to each other. Elise thinks Zach is gorgeous and he is instantly drawn to her cheerful mood and determination to succeed despite how often she falls.

It's a short book, very sweet and with a predictable but heartwarming end. It's a book version of hot cocoa in front of the fireplace.

Buy Meet Me on the Ice at Amazon


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

April 20, 2017

Q is for Quindlen...Anna Quindlen #AtoZChallenge

by Susan Roberts


Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: OBJECT LESSONS, ONE TRUE THING, BLACK AND BLUE, BLESSINGS, RISE AND SHINE, EVERY LAST ONE, STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS, and MILLER'S VALLEY. Her memoir LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bestseller. Her book A SHORT GUIDE TO A HAPPY LIFE has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, LIVING OUT LOUD and THINKING OUT LOUD. Her Newsweek columns were collected in LOUD AND CLEAR.

Have you ever read any Anna Quindlen books or seen one of the movies made from her books?  My favorite of her books was Still Life with Bread Crumbs (see review below) and my favorite movie was ONE TRUE THING (1998) starring Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger.  If you have a favorite, please share in the comments below.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.


Still Life with Bread Crumbs
October 2014; Random House; 978-0812976892
ebook, audio, print (288 pages); women's fiction 
Still Life with Bread Crumbs 

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

MY REVIEW:  It isn't often that you get to read a novel with a main character in their 60s. Younger people always think that they will have life figured out by the time they reach their 60s. This novel shows that women at that age are still struggling to be what and who they want to be.

It was a refreshing and fun read. There are quirky characters but the main character, learning to live her life is the best. This was a great, easy, fun book to read. Its very different from her other novels but its another winner for Anna Quindlen!

Buy Still Life with Bread Crumbs at Amazon


Miller's Valley
April 2016; Random House; 978-0812996081
ebook, audio, print (272 pages); women's fiction
Miller's Valley

For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley. Mimi Miller tells about her life with intimacy and honesty. As Mimi eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.”

Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home. As Mimi says, “No one ever leaves the town where they grew up, even if they go.” Miller’s Valley reminds us that the place where you grew up can disappear, and the people in it too, but all will live on in your heart forever.

MY REVIEW:  I have read all of Anna Quindlen's books and every time I read one, I say that its the best one yet. I think that this time....this book is the best one yet FOR SURE. From the first page, I was caught up in the coming of age story of Mimi. She lives on a farm in Miller's Valley with her two older brothers and parents. From the very first, we learn that the government plans to flood the valley for a recreation area and that plays a huge part in the story but the story is so much more than that. Its all about family dynamics - a brother in Vietnam, Mimi's first love, her plans for college, her friends and so much more. I loved the story but more than that I loved the main characters - they felt like people that I know in my day to day life - especially Mimi and her mother. During the book, I laughed with them and cried with them and now that the book is over, I miss them. This is a fantastic book - one that I won't soon forget.

Buy Miller's Valley at Amazon


Movie Trailer for One True Thing:



Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.


Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

April 19, 2017

Photos: Post, Prompts, and Challenges #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber

Pictures can say a thousand words and it can be more eye-catching than a screen of words. Using photos and other images is important to blogging. It can also be fun to find the perfect picture that conveys your post's meaning.

Post Photos

It is imperative that we use images responsibly. Like any other created work (also known as intellectual property) photos, drawings, digital images, etc are protected by copyright law. That pretty photo or fun clipart belongs to someone. And unless you created it, that image you want to use may not be free to use. Just because it came up on Google images, it doesn't mean you are free to use it.

There is a clause in the copyright law that allows for "fair use", but there are stipulations to what can be used. If you are doing a review of a book, movie, or album then you can use the cover because it provides a visual reference to what you are discussing.

Beyond fair use the easiest way to use images freely is to use ones that are in the public domain or have a creative commons license that the owner specifies how their images can be used. There are a few different creative commons licenses so be sure you understand the agreement before you use the image. I use images that have a CC0 license because I can use it for personal or commercial projects, I can modify the image, and I don't have to provide attribution (though it is still nice to do so).

Where do you find these free stock images? I mostly use a site called LibreStock which searches a number of sites with free stock images. But in truth, most of my images come from Pixabay. Wikimedia Commons is another good source for public domain images. Be sure to read the details with the image as there may be requirements such as linking to a specific site.

A word of caution: Protect yourself when even when using an image from a free stock site. I have read about 2 instances where the blogger claimed to get an image from a free stock site with a free to use license (public domain or creative commons), but then was sued for copyright infringement. They had no record of where they got the image or proof that it was listed under a creative commons license.

Whether is a person taking an image that isn't free, claiming it is theirs and then publishing it on a free stock site under a CC license or the person who owns the photo posting it under CC and then pulling it, it is your responsibility to protect yourself. To do that it is recommended that you take a screenshot that shows the website and license. With this 'proof' you may be able to show that you, in good faith, used the image as the license allowed and that the offending party (the person who uploaded the image or perhaps the website) are responsible. **I'm not a lawyer so it would be best to get the advice of a lawyer if you are concerned about the images you use and your liability.**

According to CreativeCommons.org, CC licenses are irrevocable. If you use an image that is under the license and later the owner of the image decides to stop distributing the image under the CC license, you can continue to use the image. Again, this is why it is important to take a screenshot to show that when you got the image it was under the license.

Of course, using your own images can eliminate this headache. You can dress up your photos with online programs like Picmonkey. So simple staging can also yield a nice picture. I used a pillowcase for the background and some glass rocks for a bit of sparkle.



Photo Prompts

Another great thing about photos is using them for inspiration. A number of sites, mostly geared towards fiction writers, have weekly photo prompts. Have you used a photo prompt for inspiration?

I have thought about doing a photo prompt that would be open to any bloggers. Would you be interested?

Here's the deal. There would be a photo with a link up and then you could write a short post on whatever would fit your site and the photo. For me, the image might remind me of a favorite book and I would write about it. A fiction writer might create a short story, a mommy blogger might share a family memory the image invoked. After doing your post, you would add it to the linky. Everyone participating would be encouraged to visit the other blogs.


Photo Challenges

Since today is the Letter P in the A to Z Challenge I tried really hard to come up with all P words (plus I like alliteration), but I couldn't find anything to substitute for challenges.

Photo challenges can be a fun way to create your own database of photos to use on your blog. I've done the Photo A Day challenge a few times. In this challenge, you are given a word for each day of the month and then you find something to take a picture of that day. Sometimes they are easy, like the flowers, or they can be difficult, like cascade.

I have thought about doing a bookish Photo A Day challenge. Anyone interested?

The challenge really got me thinking creatively. Both to take a great photo, but also to creatively think about the challenge that day.


Post your photos!

Having great photos is just the first step. Even if they don't go into a blog post, sharing them on your social media sites is a great way to encourage engagement. Instagram is all about the picture. But Facebook and even Twitter are becoming more image-centric. On Facebook, if I ask the question "what you are reading? and then upload a cute picture to go with it, I get much more interaction than if I just posed the question alone (plus Facebook shows it to more people).

You don't have to have a fancy camera or much photography knowledge to take a great photo, so don't be afraid to snap a few dozen each day.

How do you use photos in your blogging?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.


Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

April 18, 2017

Outstanding Suspense Novel: Duplicity by Jane Haseldine #AtoZChallenge

by Susan Roberts

Today I am going to review an outstanding suspense novel.  It's book 2 in the Julia Gooden series but can be read without reading the first book.  Do you enjoy reading suspense novels or watching suspenseful TV shows that keep you guessing until the end?  What are some of your favorite suspense novels and/or TV shows?

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. A free book was provided for an honest review.


Duplicity
March 2017; Kensington Publishing; 9781496704078
ebook, audio, print (352 pages); suspense
a free book was provided for this review
This is the first book that I've read by Jane Haseldine. Even though you can read Duplicity as a stand alone, I enjoyed it so much that I want to go back and read book 1 and am already anxious for the next book in the series.

Julia Gooden is a reporter for one of the major newspapers in Detroit. She covers some of the worst stories in the city and lives in the suburbs with her two young sons. She still struggles with the memory of her brother who disappeared when he was eight years old and tries to overprotect her children because of that memory. She and her husband, David, are trying to reconcile their marriage despite the stress of him starting a big trial as lead attorney to try to convict Nick Rossi for a number of crimes. A bomb at the courthouse that critically wounds David, throws their lives and the criminal trial into chaos.

This is a wonderful page turner. On a personal note, I loved it because I grew up in the Detroit area and recognized many of the places that the author wrote about in the book. From a reader's perspective, once I started this book, I couldn't put it down until I was finished. Just when I thought that everything was solved, there were more revelations still to come. This was a great story and I am anxious to see where the author takes Julia (and her readers) in her next book

Buy Duplicity at Amazon 
Also available at Kensington Publishing and Barnes & Noble


Jane Haseldine writes the Julia Gooden mystery series for Kensington Publishing, including The Last Time She Saw Him (July 2016) and Duplicity, which will be published in April 2017. Jane is a journalist, former crime reporter and deputy director of communications for a governor. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons.


Author Links: janehaseldine.com, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.


Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.



Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

April 17, 2017

Nonfiction Review: Neurodiversity by Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky #AtoZChallenge

by MK French

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. A free book was provided for an honest review
May 2016; 978-0988344914; ebook & print (246 pages)
nonfiction; health
a free book was provided for this review

Barb Rentenbach is a woman with autism spectrum disorder that renders her mute, and she communicates by typing. Lois Prislovsky is her therapist, and also has ADHD. The two have collaborated on a number of projects, including a podcast where Barb's typed sections are read by her psychiatrist. The two alternate chapters in this book, discussing aspects of their personal lives and then giving practical advice on how to deal with similar situations. Their focus is on celebrating and respecting all people, regardless of how their brains function.


There is a lot of humor in this book, and the chapters are short and easy to read. It can sometimes feel disjointed, as the brevity of the chapters means that sometimes a topic first mentioned in one chapter isn't dealt with until later ones. The humor helps, as they are addressing concerns that many people have, even if they don't have the specific label.

Someone doesn't have to be autistic or have been diagnosed with ADHD or anxiety in order to appreciate this book. There are excerpts of therapy sessions as well, so people that might find the idea of seeing a therapist intimidating can see that it really is a conversation about how to be the best person that you can be. This is a very approachable and easy to read book, and helps bring humanity back to the labels that people carry.

Buy Neurodiversity at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.


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April 16, 2017

Two Books about two Different Kinds of Wars

by Susan Roberts



We've all heard the saying that 'war is hell' and I have reviews of two war books today, each from a totally different perspective.  We were the Lucky Ones is a novel about a Polish family during WWII.  The Weight of this World is about PTSD suffered by a soldier who fought in Afghanistan.  Both books show not only the horror of war but also the struggle by people who are trying to go back to their normal lives after suffering the trauma of war.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. Free books were provided for honest reviews.


We Were the Lucky Ones
February 2017; Viking; 9780399563089
ebook, audio, print (412 pages); historical fiction
a free ARC was provided by Netgalley
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

This is a wonderful historical fiction novel based on the true story of the author's family. As with all books about the Holocaust, it's difficult to read in parts but these are facts in our history that we don't want to forget if we don't want them to happen again.

It's the story of the Kurc family, parents and five children who are Polish Jews and the story begins in the late 1930s. The Nazis are gaining power but the family continues to feel safe because they are prestigious members in their community. As the Nazis continue to take over Poland with their goal being to wipe out the Jewish community in the country, the family travel to different places in Europe. For the duration of the war, most of them have no communication with each other and no idea if any of the family is still alive. It's a well-told story and follows each member of the family as they struggle to survive the horrendous conditions that were going on during these years.

I strongly recommend this book. It's a story about WWII but more importantly, it's the story of a family's love for each other and their ability to survive the worst conditions imaginable through their love and strength.

Buy We Were the Lucky Ones at Amazon

The Weight of this World
March 2017; G.P. Putnam's Sons; 9780399173110
ebook, audio, print (270 pages); crime fiction
a free book was won through Goodreads.com

The Weight of This World by David Joy

A combat veteran returned from the war, Thad Broom can't leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years. Between them is Aiden McCall, loyal to both but unable to hold them together. Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship, and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. On a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it.

This was a beautifully written but hard-to-read novel. It's very dark and pretty depressing but gives a fair portrayal of life with PTSD. It's the story of love and friendship despite the life that these characters are living.

Buy The Weight of This World at Amazon




Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.


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