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July 29, 2017

Perfect Cozy Mystery: On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen

by Donna Huber



If you have been reading my articles this summer, you know I've been craving cozy mysteries. On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen hit the spot. I loved it so much I gobbled it up in 2 days.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free ARC was provided for an honest review.

August 2017; Berkley; 978-0425283509
ebook, audio, print (304 pages); cozy mystery
On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service is book 11 in Her Royal Spyness series. It is also the first book I've read by Rhys Bowen. But like any perfect cozy mystery, it is okay if you haven't read the other books in the series. I didn't feel lost, though I feel that there might be more to Georgie's family relationships.

In addition to being a fun story, it has a feel of Downton Abbey to it. Actually, the novel is set only a few years after the end of the show. There is an appearance by David, the Prince of Wales (who I pictured the whole time as the actor who played him on the show), but he is with Wallis Simpson (who he would later abdicate the throne in order to marry).

Why is royalty showing up in the story? Georgia is in the royal line. She is, like, the 35th person in line for the throne. This fact is actually a sticking point for her marital happiness. She is engaged to Darcy O'Mara. I'm not sure why he isn't acceptable as a spouse for her, but she is willing to give up her seat in the royal line to marry him. But she needs the permission of Parliament and Queen Mary in order to do so.

Queen Mary is willing to make sure the request goes through without a hitch if Georgie will do a small favor for her. Georgie is, after all, heading to Italy to visit a "sick" friend (her friend is pregnant out of wedlock), so would it be so bad if she dropped into a house party that David is attending nearby?

However, there is a much more dangerous liaison going on at the house party than just the salacious affair between Wallis and David. Will Georgie's spying be discovered?

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service was a light read with several fun moments, usually revolving around Georgie almost being found out.

I really liked her character. She is the perfect example of a 1930s lady, one that is balancing the changing world. Everyone is shocked that she is traveling abroad without a chaperone or maid, but Georgie feels confident she can manage. Of course, it isn't all smooth sailing (well it is done mostly by train, but you get the picture).

Bowen took care to be as historically accurate as possible, which I greatly appreciated as not all authors of cozy mysteries and romcoms are as careful. It added a layer of realism to the story. I looked up the event after I finished the book. It isn't often that a cozy mystery leads me to do more research.

Summer is winding down and, really, there isn't anything much better than a light, fun read to wrap up the season before the hecticness of fall sets in. Whether you have read one, none, or all the book in Her Royal Spyness series, this is a book you don't want to miss.

Buy On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service at Amazon

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.



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July 28, 2017

4 Novels for Your Young Adult to Read Before School Starts

Reviews by MK French



School is already going back in some areas and others will be following over the next several weeks. If your teen hasn't finished their reading assignment for summer and needs a book to read, here are 4 young adult novels for teen to choose. The books can be enjoyed by the young at heart, too.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.


Murder in Little Shendon by A. H. Richardson



Murder in Little Shendon
August 2015; 978-1515283973
ebook, print (256 pages); mystery
Little Shendon is a picturesque village in England full of colorful characters, including the belligerent shopkeeper Fynche, who is found murdered. Almost everyone in the village had some kind of motive for doing him harm, or at least enjoy the thought of him getting what he deserved. Police Inspector Burgess has his hands full, so he invites his amateur detective friends Sir Victor Hazlett and the actor Beresford Brandon to help him conduct interviews of everyone in the village.

There's a timelessness to the book even though it likely was to have taken place in the fifties based on offhand remarks made about characters being in "the war." It felt like they were referring to World War II, and the details about plugging in a telephone to use and needing a switchboard added to that feeling.

I adored reading Agatha Christie books as a kid, and this book is definitely in keeping with the spirit of her mysteries. Where Agatha Christie's detectives somehow knew details that hadn't been discussed in the book prior to the big reveal, A. H. Richardson absolutely has all of the details in the book. They are definitely little, easily glossed over, and made me want to thwap my head at the end for missing it.

This is a very thinky and detail oriented book... Don't read it in a rush like I did!

Buy Murder in Little Shendon at Amazon


Dragon's Future by Kandi J. Wyatt


Dragon's Future
June 2016; 978-1533212351
ebook, print (258 pages); fairy tale
Ruskya and Duskya are twins from a poor family in their village, yet are chosen as riders by the two dragons that have waited year after year. They train for the next fifteen years, and the future of the dragons and the surrounding villages is put at risk when a strange turquoise dragon arrives.

I was reminded of Anne McCafferey's Dragonriders of Pern series, though I find this one a little lacking in comparison.

The naming conventions with y's everywhere gets annoying to read after a while, and it can be hard to keep characters' names straight. The plot starts off slow, without a lot of explanation for the traditions discussed, and the time jumps are a bit startling. The pace picks up about halfway through, which definitely helps. Some of the characters don't quite ring true, most notably Carryl's father, but it could be that she had overstated the disaster their relationship had been in the past.

Still, these issues aren't likely to bother the YA audience that it's aimed at.

The action sequences are well done, and there's a good amount of tension in the second half of the book. That will definitely hold the interest of a younger reader, and I think they will likely want to read the rest of the series, too.

Buy Dragon's Future at Amazon


Love is Love by Mette Bache


Love is Love
August 2017; Lorimer; 978-1459412323
ebook, print (176 pages); romance
Sent to live with her cousin's family in Vancouver, Emmy feels continually out of place and lacking in comparison to her more glamorous cousin. Then she meets Jude, who is confident, cool, funny and transgender. Emmy is sure that he doesn't like her, but the two of them do share a real connection.

This is a short novel targeting a YA audience.

Emmy's insecurities about her appearance, weight, and sense of self lead her to do just about anything to be seen as worthwhile to other people, and it's hard for her to connect with her mother. She's just as insecure around her cousin Paige or all of her friends, and the outsider feeling never really goes away unless she is with Jude.

He has the same feeling of being an outsider: because he is transgender, his family all but disowned him, friends misgender and put down his choices, and he feels out of place in his own body. The two bond well, with awkward moments; we really feel Emmy's anxiety and awkwardness, and it definitely resonates with any aged reader of the book. Those kinds of worries are universal, regardless of the source of it.

Possibly because this is such a short book, we really don't see much about why Emmy and her mother don't really connect. There are some mentions of Emmy taking medication, but we never see it or any of the care that should go along with having some kind of prescription. She's on her own a lot so that most adult figures are absent and conveniently out of the way for her.

It's a failing that most YA stories seem to have, and I was disappointed that Emmy's bonding with her uncle didn't really go anywhere. I would have liked to see more emotional growth for Emmy, but it was great to see someone like her be the main character and get the guy in the end, as well as having Jude as a nontraditional love interest. Neither are caricatures played for laughs, and we really root for their happiness along the way.

Buy Love is Love at Amazon


Satan's Son by Simone Elise


Satan's Son
April 2017; 978-1545337097
ebook, print (122 pages); paranormal romance 
Addison Meyer died in a car accident and went to hell because of her poor attitude and disrespectful behavior. She has a job to do in order to atone, and Ethan Beast, the Devil's son, has to explain what she needs to do. She finds him incredibly attractive, if annoying, and feels that he's her soul mate.

I wanted to like the idea of this based on the plot, but I actually found Addison too annoying. She was scatterbrained, deliberately obnoxious, clumsy, and had no respect for authority. As far as sins go, she was a fairly typical nineteen year old, so the thought of her going to hell didn't sit right.

I like the concept of Hell being endless lines and bureaucracy, as well as cramped dorm room accommodations.

Ultimately, the Devil having a suburban family and Ethan being so awkward and like a teenager around Addison didn't work for me. I didn't get much of a sense of either them as separate people, let alone as a potential couple.

Buy Satan's Son 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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July 27, 2017

#BookReview: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

by Donna Huber



I was invited to review Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka because I had read similar books such as All the Missing Girls, yet this was unlike any book I've read recently. I'm not sure if this difference is a good thing or not.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free ARC was provided for an honest review.


Girl in Snow
August 2017; Simon & Schueter; 978-1501144370
ebook, audio, print (368 pages); mystery, literary



What I loved about the book was the mystery. Who killed Lucinda Hayes? We are sent on twists and turns as alibis and motives are doled out in pieces. The focus on each member of this small community slightly different depending on whose chapter it is. You will at one point think 'that is who did it' only to wonder 'maybe not' a chapter later. Even as the murderer is revealed part of you will be thinking, no that isn't really the murderer.

If impossible to solve 'who done its' are your cup of tea, then definitely add Girl in Snow to your reading list.

What I really didn't like about the novel were the three main characters who tell the story. I love character driven stories and with the deep dive into the lives and minds of these characters, I should have been wanting to turn pages faster than I could read. But characters themselves rubbed me the wrong way. They are all outskirts of what is probably considered the social norm. Maybe it is because of the close look into their thoughts that made it more difficult to like them.

Russ, the cop, gave me the creeps. I couldn't tell for sure if he was in love with Cameron's dad or just wanted his life - a life with Cameron and his mom. I felt bad for Russ's wife. I almost think that if Russ had been a secondary character, there only to provide insight into the investigation, I would have liked the book more.

Cameron, the anti-social kid, is also a bit creepy, but not in the same sense as Russ. It is never explicitly stated but I wonder if he is on the autism spectrum. It would explain some of his anti-social behavior and obsessions. He is a gifted artist, but he only really seems to want to draw Lucinda. He is in love with her and he thinks in a secret way she is in love with him too. He sneaks out at night to spy on her and her family (and sometimes other neighbors). If he is autistic, I don't think he is getting the support he needs at home. His dad is gone (fled after being arrested for the murder of a young woman, conveniently evidence that would have convicted him disappeared) and his mom is dealing not with the abandonment of her husband (both in terms of being absent as well as having cheated on her with the young woman). Towards the end, I kind of warmed up to him.

Jade, the goth girl who knows more than she is saying, is the only one I kind of liked. Her sarcasm and refusal to be part of the mainstream are largely due to the abuse at home and the rejection by her best friend, I think. Unfortunately, it seemed like less of the story was focused on her - that even as a main character she is in the shadows.

What I'm undecided on about the story is how it is told. Kukafka is clearly a talented writer, but I don't think the method in which the story is told worked well for me.

There is often attention to details, like crusty toothbrushes and descriptions of condiment bottles, that weighed the story down.

Also, the deep dive into the thoughts of Russ, Cameron, and Jade left the mystery of Lucinda's death feeling like it was more a subplot instead of the focus of the story. Therefore, the character's storylines sometimes veered off into tangents that had little to do with the murder. And I was clearly drawn to the murder and wanted to keep the focus there.

There is also little direct dialogue. At one point I even flipped back through a few pages because I was starting to wonder if there was actually any direct dialogue; it is that sparsely used. Instead, conversations are often told through the lens of whoever's chapter it is. While the unreliableness of it increased the mystery element, I wonder if it isn't also what made the novel feel dense and slow to me. I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish it, but I did want to know who murdered Lucinda.

If I were to compare Kukafka to another writer I've read, I think her writing is similar to Tana French.

I'm still as undecided on how I really feel about this novel as I was when I turned the last page on July 1. I loved the mystery; Kukafka definitely has a knack for keeping the reader guessing. I think the elements I didn't like in the story are a matter of personal taste or perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for this type of story. It did feel like it should be read on a cold, winter day instead of in the sunshine of summer.

You can get your copy on August 1 and make up your own mind.

Buy Girl in Snow at Amazon

(There's a giveaway that ends on July 29 at Goodreads.com)


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.



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July 26, 2017

A Sure Way to Ignore Presidential Tweets - THE NIGHTINGALE

by Kathleen Barker



We tremble and hesitate to open a newspaper, turn on the news, or click on a link that details the events of the day. War, murder, and chaos are expected, everyday events. Should we despair or slog along, working diligently to make things better?

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There is something to be said for aging, for having lived through the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Presidential resignations and assassinations.  Perspective is a powerful coping method. Yet there comes a point at which we need to escape the present day via a retreat, a massage, or a deeply engrossing book such as Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale.

This historical fiction novel is set during World War II, a time that many felt was the beginning of the end of peace and order on this earth. It tells the tale of two sisters, one in the city of Paris and another in the French countryside, who worked with the underground resistance. Filled with sorrow and despair over the death of their mother and the abandonment by their father, their lives take us on a roller coaster of love, danger, courage, and survival.

The opening line of the book eternally rings true: "If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are."

One caveat - do not begin reading this just before bed. You will be up all night. You have been warned.

Buy The Nightingale at Amazon

Kathleen Barker was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. A graduate of Blessed Sacrament, the Institute of Notre Dame and Towson University, she spent twenty years as the much-traveled wife of a Navy pilot and has three children. While working for a Fortune 500 insurance company in New Orleans, she wrote feature and human interest articles for their magazine and received the Field Reporter of the Year award. After Hurricane Katrina, she returned to her beloved state of Maryland where she started work on "The Charm City Chronicles". All four volumes, "Ednor Scardens", "The Body War", "The Hurting Year", and "On Gabriel's Wings" are available in Amazon's Kindle store.

 



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July 25, 2017

Review: Sun at Midnight by Rosie Thomas

Review by Susan Roberts

This is the first book I've ever read about Antarctica and the setting was absolutely beautiful.  The author gives wonderful descriptions of the landscape and the ice and it almost makes the reader feel chilly even when reading on a hot day.

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

Sun at Midnight
July 2017; Overlook Press; 978-1468314953
ebook, print (496 pages); romance
Not only was the setting beautiful but it was also stark and lonely. There were only 10 people at a small research station - they were strangers to each other, from different countries and were basically going into their months at the station with no information about anyone's past.  The loneliness and isolation caused them to become friends very quickly but not true friends.

The main character is Alice Peel, a geologist who went to do research because her mother (a world renowned scientist) asked her to go in her place and because she needed to get away from her home due to a painful breakup with her boyfriend. Even as a scientist who often worked alone, she was shocked at the isolation and the unpredictable weather.  As Alice learns how to survive in the cold, she also learns how to survive with the other nine people in the station - who can be trusted and who to avoid. When it looks like the weather may trap them for longer, everyone's true colors show and the reader avidly waits for their rescue.

It is very apparent the author did significant research into the setting of this book. To research the Antarctic background for Sun at Midnight, Rosie spent a month living with the scientists on a Bulgarian research station on Livingstone Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula.

This is a great book to read about love and loss and how living in such a desolate (though beautiful) place can help you learn who you really are and what is really important in your life. There is romance and conflict and secrets and the beautiful setting of Antarctica.  Fantastic book!

Buy Sun at Midnight at Amazon

About the book:

An epic love story and adventure set against the stunning backdrop of Antarctica.

Alice Peel is a geologist. She believes in observation and proof. But now she stands alone on the deck of a rickety Chilean ship as a stark landscape reveals itself. Instead of the familiar measurable world, everything that lies ahead of her is unknown and unpredictable.

Six weeks earlier her life was comfortably unfolding in an Oxford summer. Then, with her relationship suddenly in pieces, she accepted an invitation to join a group working at the end of the earth: Antarctica.

James Rooker is a man on the run. He's been running since his childhood in New Zealand. Now, there is nowhere further to go. He has taken a job working on the same small Antarctic research station.

Alice discovers an ice-blue and silver world, lit by sunlight. Nothing has prepared her for the beauty of it, or the claustrophobia of a tiny base shared with eight men and one other woman. The isolation wipes out everyone's past, and tension crackles in the air. But there is a jolt of recognition between Alice and Rooker that is like nothing she has ever known. And it is in Antarctica that she discovers something else that will change her life forever … if she survives.

About the Author:  

Janey King, née Morris was born on 1947 in Denbigh, Wales, and also grew up in North Wales. She read English at Oxford, and after a spell in journalism and publishing began writing fiction after the birth of her first child. Published since 1982 as Rosie Thomas, she has written fourteen best-selling novels, deal with the common themes of love and loss. She is one of only a few authors to have won twice the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists' Association, in 1985 with Sunrise, and in 2007 with Iris and Ruby.

Janey is an adventurer and once she was established as a writer and her children were grown, she discovered a love of traveling and mountaineering. She has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, spent time on a tiny Bulgarian research station in Antarctica and traveled the silk road through Asia. She currently lives in London.

Praise for Rosie Thomas

“Thomas’s novels are beautifully written.”
—Marie Claire

“Thomas writes with a sharp nib, not a dull computer key. She is neither mawkish nor squeamish, but full of fresh images.”
—Washington Post Book World

“Rosie Thomas has the rare and wonderful ability to create stories and characters that take you instantly into another world—one you are most reluctant to leave until you have reached the end.”
—Penny Vincenzi, bestselling author of No Angel

“Her characters are so interesting and realistic that readers will be reluctant to let them go.”
—Library Journal Review

“Thomas can write with ravishing sensuality.”
—The Times


Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends.  She 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 her on Facebook.



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July 24, 2017

July's Reading Round Up #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber




Updated: 7/31/2017:
I finished as couple more books last week so I thought I would update. Even without audiobooks I read 7 books. I did checkout an audiobook on Friday (the HVAC system was down at work and it was so completely silent in my office I thought I would go crazy!) I should finish it today. I'm really pleased with my reading progress this summer.

I have been reading 8 or 9 books a month, but this month it looks like I'm only going to read 5, maybe 6 books (I still have a week!). Work has been really busy with long hours on the computer which makes my eyes tired. Also, I haven't listened to any audiobooks this month. I'm on the wait list for 2 at the library (one is Victoria, which I started last month but then when on vacation and didn't get it finished before it was due back). Also, I've been listening to the lectures on Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction on Coursera.org. It's been really enjoyable.

So here are the books I've read, am reading, and will read for the month of July. See if you can spot my summer reading trend (which was totally not planned on my part).

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

Read:

In ebook...

Girl in the Snow
Girl in the Snow by Danya Kukafka
I got a jump on a number of review copies that come out August 1. Girl in Snow is an interesting read. It was a bit different kind of psychological thriller than I normally read. I didn't really feel get the thrill I usually do from a thriller, but the mystery was good and kept me guessing.


When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

Buy Girl in the Snow at Amazon


Links by Lisa Becker
I've had this ARC since May and I thought I had missed the release date for it, so I was happily surprised when I went to add it to my currently reading shelf at Goodreads that it doesn't come out until August 1st. I love serendipitous moments like that. Anyways, this is an adorable story and one of the best romantic chase stories that I've ever read. I didn't roll my eyes once!

Charlotte Windham, a nerdy high school prodigy who tutored classmates to earn money for college, escapes her geeky past to become a celebrated novelist. During a chance encounter at a Los Angeles restaurant 15 years after high school, she reconnects with her secret crush, Garrett Stephens, the popular star athlete and teen heart breaker. Garrett, still leaving broken hearts in his wake, is now a successful professional golfer who recently suffered a possible career-ending shoulder injury. As he and Charlotte spend time together, developing a friendship based on mutual respect and comfortable companionship, can Charlotte forgive the past and can Garrett reform his lothario ways for a chance at love?

Buy Links at Amazon


Southern Spirits
Southern Spirits by Angie Fox
I've been on a sort of cozy mystery kick lately and before summer started I went looking for cozy mysteries to read. I picked this one up from the top free ebooks list and then sort of forgot about it. I arrived early to a meeting and wouldn't you know it that my Nook was dead?! So I pulled out my phone (which I hate reading on) and pulled this one up. It sucked me right in with its lightness. A perfect cozy mystery.

When out of work graphic designer Verity Long accidentally traps a ghost on her property, she’s saddled with more than a supernatural sidekick—she gains the ability see spirits. It leads to an offer she can’t refuse from the town’s bad boy, the brother of her ex and the last man she should ever partner with.

Ellis Wyatt is in possession of a stunning historic property haunted by some of Sugarland Tennessee’s finest former citizens. Only some of them are growing restless—and destructive. He hires Verity put an end to the disturbances. But soon Verity learns there’s more to the mysterious estate than floating specters, secret passageways, and hidden rooms.

There’s a modern day mystery afoot, one that hinges on a decades-old murder. Verity isn't above questioning the living, or the dead. But can she discover the truth before the killer finds her?

Buy Southern Spirits at Amazon


A Sudden Gust of Gravity
A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Laurie Boris
I went into the depts of by ebook ARC vault and pulled this one out from 2015. I'm not very far into it as I've been focused on my book club book, but I really liked the opening and can't wait to get back to the story.

Christina Davenport, waitressing to pay the bills, has given up on becoming a magician—until she meets the mesmerizing Reynaldo the Magnificent. He offers her a job as his assistant in his magic and juggling show. She takes it, hoping she can revive her dream without cutting his giant ego in half.

Devon Park, a surgical resident escaping his own problems, visits the street performers in downtown Boston. But the young doctor worries that the bruises beneath Christina’s makeup go deeper than the training accident she professes.

Suspecting the doctor’s interest is more than clinical, the mercurial magician attempts to tighten his grip on Christina. Now she needs to decide—is the opportunity Reynaldo offers worth the price of admission?

Buy A Sudden Gust of Gravity at Amazon


In print...


As Chminey Sweepers Come to Dust
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
Several of my followers mentioned loving this series, and I think if I had started at the beginning I would have loved it too.  Unfortunately, I didn't start at the beginning and instead started with this one, book 7. I found it on the bargain shelf of my local B&N and picked it up as pool book (books I read in the pool and don't mind if they get a little wet). Books in series should be more clearly marked. But with all that in mind, I did enjoy the story. I loved the use of vocabulary in this middled grades novel. It felt a bit like an English Nancy Drew, though I don't think there were any secret societies that Nancy was a part of.

Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.

Buy As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust at Amazon


Death of a Policeman
Death of a Policeman by M.C. Beaton
I discovered M.C. Beaton when I checked out Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Quiche from the library several months ago. I absolutely loved the book and Beaton's fun storytelling. So when I saw Death of a Policeman on the bookstore's bargain shelf I quickly snapped it up for a pool book. Though I haven't read any other books in her Hamish Macbeth series (this is book #29 - do you see a trend this summer?) I loved it and can't wait to find more Hamish Macbeth books. M.C. Beaton is definitely one of my favorite new-to-me authors this year. I have one more book of hers in my summer reading pile.

Local police stations all over the Scottish Highlands are being threatened with closure. This presents the perfect opportunity for Detective Chief Inspector Blair, who would love nothing more than to get rid of Sergeant Hamish Macbeth. Blair suggests that Cyril Sessions, a keen young police officer, visit the town of Lochdubh to monitor exactly what Macbeth does every day. Macbeth hears about Blair's plan and is prepared to insure that Cyril returns back to headquarters with a full report. But Cyril is soon found dead and Hamish quickly becomes the prime suspect in his murder.

Buy Death of a Policeman at Amazon


American War
American War by Omar El Akkad
There is a post-apocalyptic book club at a local library and I've always wanted to go to a book club. I enjoy dysptopian and post-apocalyptic novels so I thought this would a great one to try. I wish I was enjoying the book more. While the narrator introduced in the prologue does live in a post-apocalyptic era, the story itself (so far and I'm halfway through it) does not. Instead, it takes place during the 2nd American Civil War. This would be fine if the premise wasn't so thin. It seems like the author is just staying on the surface and there is so much more politically he could explore. 

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war – part of the Miraculous Generation – now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past, his family’s role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.

Buy Amercian War at Amazon


Currently Reading

In print...


Definitely Dead
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
My 4th pool book of the summer. I found this in a sorting through a stack of books I bought in the spring at the library book sale. I have a confession: I have never read a Sookie Stackhouse book. I'm not really into vampires or paranormal stories, but when I saw it on the table during the 'all the books you can put in a bag'  sale I thought "why not?". (I didn't watch True Blood either. I tried one episode when it came to Amazon Prime, but there was too much graphic sex for me that I didn't watch more than 15 minutes.) I started the book (of course, it is book #6) this weekend, and it is cute so far.

Since Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has so few living relatives, she hates to lose one - even her cousin Hadley, undead consort of the vampire Queen of Louisiana. Hadley's left everything she has to Sookie, but claiming that inheritance has a high risk factor. Some people don't want her looking too deeply into Hadley's past, or Hadley's possessions. And they're prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. Whoever it is, they're definitely dangerous - and Sookie's life is definitely on the line...

Buy Definitely Dead at Amazon


In audio...


As the Pig Turns
As the Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton
I noticed the digital library had added an Agatha Raisin title to its collection and I couldn't help but check it out. These are great to listen to. They are fun, but nothing too deep so I can keep working. The characters are wonderful and colorful so it is a little like listening to small town gossip.

Winter Parva, a traditional Cotswolds village, has decided to throw a celebratory hog roast to mark the beginning of the winter holiday festivities and Agatha Raisin has arrived with friend and rival in the sleuthing business, Toni, to enjoy the merriment.


But as the spit pig is carried towards the bed of fiery charcoal Agatha—and the rest of the village—realize that things aren't as they seem.

Buy As the Pig Turns at Amazon

To Read Next:

In print...


Dishing the Dirt
Dishing the Dirt by M.C. Beaton
This is my next pool book if I get to another pool book (you never know what August weather will be like so I might not get in the pool as much as we head in the latter part of the month). I picked this one up at the library sale in the spring and forgot I had it. It was a pleasant surprise when I re-discovered it on my bookshelf. It is part of her Agatha Raisin series (book #26 - how did I not discover her sooner?)

A therapist had moved into the village of Carsely and Agatha Raisin hates her. Not only was this therapist, Jill Davent, romancing Agatha's ex-husband, but she had dug up details of Agatha's slum background.

Added to that, Jill was counseling a woman called Gwen Simple from Winter Parva and Agatha firmly believed Gwen to have assisted her son in some grisly murders, although has no proof she had done so.

A resentment is different from a dislike and needs to be shared, so as the friendship between James and Jill grows stronger, the more Agatha does to try to find out all she can about her. When Jill is found strangled to death in her office two days' later, Agatha finds herself under suspicion - and must fight to clear her name.

Buy Dishing the Dirt at Amazon


In ebook...


The Big Dreams Beach Hotel
The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lily Bartlett
I'm on the tour in August so I will need to get to this book soon. If it follows all the other books that I've read by this author then it should take me more than a day as they are usually light, fun, and fast reads.

Rosie’s life isn’t exactly going the way she expected. Three years after ditching her career dreams in New York City, she’s still managing the faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

The hotel’s new owners want to turn the quintessentially English institution into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s oddball residents stand in the way of the developers’ big plans. To them, the hotel is both home and family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce all the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side. He might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends. What’s worse, she’s supposed to be helping him do it.

This is Rosie’s only chance to revive the career she’s always wanted. But how can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

Buy The Big Dreams Beach Hotel at Amazon


Did you spot my summer reading trend?

I intentionally set out to read cozy mysteries this summer and I have read quite a few. But what I didn't plan for was to start reading so many books in the middle of series. Counting the books I read in June, I have read 5 books that belong to series that I haven't read. Thankfully most didn't matter, like Death of a Policeman this month and On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service last month. But it did seem to matter for As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. It's too early to tell for the Sookie Stackhouse book.

Have you picked up a book only to later discover it is part of a series? Did you go back and read the others in the series?

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.

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Book Date




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July 23, 2017

Engaging: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Review by MK French

Billie Flanagan, a former radical, had become a Berkeley mother with some need for freedom. She had started hiking and backpacking by herself on weekends, so it wasn't unusual for her to go away, until she didn't come back at all. A year later with no contact, the courts are ready to declare her dead. Her daughter Olive starts having visions of her, and her husband Jonathan is trying to write a book about his marriage as a way to cope with his grief. Both start feeling that Billie is still alive and try to search for her.

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

Watch Me Disappear
July 2017; Spiegel & Grau; 978-0812989465
ebook, audio, print (368 pages); women's fiction
I found the book difficult to get into at first. It's not that Olive or Jonathan are hard to get to know, but it felt like the distance they had from each other also affected me as a reader.

As they started diving into their separate searches for Billie that they were more approachable and engaging. The story really took off at that point, and that's where I lost track of time and pages read.

Billie becomes more fleshed out as Olive and Jonathan discover different sides to her than they knew, and it alters how they see the relationships they had. It remains a mystery about what had happened to her until the very end, part of which made the story so engaging.

People aren't who they initially seemed to be, and relationships completely changed by the end of the book.

Overall, it's a great book, fast paced emotionally as the mystery unfolded.

Buy Watch Me Disappear at Amazon

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, sign up today! 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.

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