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September 9, 2017

New and Upcoming Books with Strong Female Main Characters

by Susan Roberts

No matter what the age, I love to read books about women who are able to overcome adversity and stay strong.  Today I have reviews of 4 current and upcoming books that I've read about strong women.  Are there other recent books that you would add to my list?  Please share them - I always love to hear about books that I haven't read yet.

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


Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber

Any Dream Will Do
August 2017; Ballantine Books; 978-0399181191
ebook, audio, print (336 pages); women's fiction
Debbie Macomber never fails to provide her readers with a wonderful well-told story. Even though she seems to be moving away from her total romance genre, her move to women's fiction has continued to provide fantastic books for her readers.

Shay had grown up with an abusive father and after her mother died she tried to help raise her brother. When Shay finally gets a good job as a bank teller, her brother, a drug addict,  convinces her to embezzle some money to help him out for a few days and then lets her take the fall for him and she spends several years in jail for her crime. When she gets out of prison, she has no one to meet her and nowhere to go. She takes the bus to Seattle and goes into a church to keep warm. There she meets the pastor, Drew, who is struggling with his faith after the death of his wife two years earlier. Drew helps Shay get into a recovery program and they become friends....but can their radically different paths allow them to become more than friends?

This is an engrossing book about family and forgiveness and dreams coming true.

Buy Any Dream will Do at  Amazon


The Memory of Butterflies by Grace Greene

The Memory of Butterflies
September 2017; Lake Union Publishing
978-1542045674; ebook, audio, print (288 pages)
women's fiction, thriller
Grace Greene is a new author for me and after reading The Memory of Butterflies, I have just ordered her previous books. I loved her writing style and am not sure how I missed reading her earlier. This is a book that grabs you at the beginning and quickly has you emotionally involved with the characters. It's a story about family and secrets that can destroy a family.

Hannah is a single mom who has totally built her life around her daughter Ellen. As the novel begins, Ellen is excited to be going away to college and Hannah has decided to rebuild a house on the land that she grew up on with her grandparents. As Hannah spends more time at the remains of her grandparent's house, she reflects on the secrets that they kept from her about her parents and how she accepted the secret and went on with her life. She knows that she has kept a major secret from her daughter and that if her daughter finds out, their life together may be destroyed but fate intervenes and Hannah finds out the results of keeping secrets within a family.

This is a beautifully written novel about the love of a parent for a child and the sacrifices that a mother will make to bring happiness and well being to their child. It's a wonderful, emotional story that will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

Buy The Memory of Butterflies at Amazon

Magnolia Nights by Ashley Farley

Magnolia Nights
September 2017; Kindle Press; ebook (237 pages)
women's fiction
Magnolia Nights was another great book by Ashley Farley. It caught my interest on the first page and had me turning pages at a fast pace to read the entire story. The main elements of southern Gothic novels are that they contain decay, outsiders, violence, and are set in the south. That said, this book is Southern Gothic at its best.

The main character, Ellie, is amazed when her grandmother, who she hadn't seen in almost 35 years, leaves her house and her fortune to her. Ellie has few memories of the grandmother that she had last seen at 6 years old and only knows that something happened in her grandmother's house that had kept in her therapy for almost her entire life. When she walks into the house in Charleston, SC, the memories start to come back and when she finds her mother's diaries, the truth of her first six years is revealed.

I loved this book and the characters and the setting. Even though Ellie's story is basically complete by the end of the book, the author leaves us with some unanswered questions. I can only hope that the author has another book in store for us about these characters. Or even better a trilogy!

Buy Magnolia Nights at Amazon

The Welcome Home Diner: A Novel by Peggy Lampman

The Welcome Home Diner
October 2017; Lake Union Publishing
978-1542047821; ebook, audio, print (352 pages)
women's fiction
Warning: Don't read this book if you are hungry or else have something close to your reading spot to snack on. Actually, even if you aren't hungry, you will be after you read about the wonderful food served at the diner. Added bonus - recipes at the end of the book on how to make some of the wonderful food from the diner!

I loved this book for several reasons - first, the personal reason. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit (on the east side) and went to college in the city so Detroit is a special place to me. I want to see it come back to being the great city that it once was and the revitalization of Detroit is one of the underlying themes of this book. Second, I love to read books that weave current issues of the day into it and this one does a great job of doing just that. The author writes about human trafficking, racial issues, drugs and white flight from the city to the suburbs among other topics. Third, I loved the characters in this novel. Two cousins buy an old gutted out diner in the city and try to become part of the neighborhood. They are met with resistance from the old time residents, no matter how hard they try but they keep trying. Not only are Addie and Samantha fantastic main characters but they are surrounded by great secondary characters who also work at the diner. And lastly, as mentioned earlier, the descriptions of the food served at the diner are awesome.

This is a fantastic well-written book about two women who are trying to do their part to make not only their neighborhood but also a beautiful city come back to life again. I loved it.

Buy The Welcome Home Diner 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 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, Goodreads or Twitter.


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September 8, 2017

Strings: A Love Story by Megan Edwards

Strings A Love Story
The Merino Rose. Ted Spencer has a hard enough time believing the celebrated violin really exists. To find it sitting on his coffee table is nothing short of incredible. The stuff of legend, the exquisite Guarnerius has been missing for centuries.

But even though the renowned instrument is a violin lover's dream come true, it holds only heartache for Ted. The value of the Merino Rose may be beyond measure, but he has acquired it at too high a cost.

Ted found his soul mate when he met Olivia de la Vega his senior year in high school. In the school's production of Camelot, Ted was cast as Lancelot, Olivia as Guenevere. They should have spent their lives together but strings got in the way--family ties, career objectives, and the tangled web of fate.

Will the Merino Rose bring the two star-crossed lovers together at last, or will their love always remain the melancholy sound of distant violins?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

The music featured in Strings: A Love Story 




About the author

Megan Edwards is the author of the travel memoir Roads from the Ashes, the humor book Caution: Funny Signs Ahead, and her debut novel Getting off on Frank Sinatra. She has lived and traveled extensively in Europe and spent nearly seven years “on the road” all over North America. Now at home in Las Vegas, Nevada, she is working on her next novel.

For more information visit MeganEdwards.com or Imbrifex.com and connect with Megan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


Strings: A Love Story is available for pre-order on Amazon 


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September 7, 2017

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

by Susan Roberts

On Ruby’s thirteenth birthday, a wish she didn’t even know she had suddenly comes true: the couple who raised her aren’t her parents at all. Her real mother and father are out there somewhere, and Ruby becomes determined to find them.

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The Doll Funeral
August 2017; Melville House; 978-1612196657
ebook, audio, print (320 pages); thriller
Venturing into the forest with nothing but a suitcase and the company of her only true friend—the imaginary Shadow Boy—Ruby discovers a group of siblings who live alone in the woods. The children take her in, and while they offer the closest Ruby’s ever had to a family, Ruby begins to suspect that they might need her even more than she needs them. And it’s not always clear what’s real and what’s not—or who’s trying to help her and who might be a threat.

Told from shifting timelines, and the alternating perspectives of teenage Ruby; her mother, Anna; and even the Shadow Boy, The Doll Funeral is a dazzling follow-up to Kate Hamer’s breakout debut, The Girl in the Red Coat, and a gripping, exquisitely mysterious novel about the connections that remain after a family has been broken apart.

About the Book

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They're not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I'm supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won't say. I won't tell them I'm going to hunt for my real parents. I don't say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he'd give me a medal for lying.

I wasn't lying. I'm a hunter for lost souls and I'm going to be with my real family. And I'm not going to let Mick stop me.

Buy The Doll Funeral at Amazon

About the Author:  

Kate Hamer grew up in the West Country and Wales. She studied art and worked for a number of years in television and radio. In 2011 she won the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize and her short stories have appeared in many collections. Her novel THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT was published in the UK by Faber & Faber, in the US by Melville House and has been translated into 17 different languages. It was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, The John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller. Her new novel THE DOLL FUNERAL has been a Radio4 Open Book editor's pick and a Bookseller Book of the Month.
Website | Twitter


From the Critics:

“Hamer has created a mystical world in which characters are haunted by specters of their present as well as their past, by the living and the lost. Her diction is lovely and tangible ... A powerful paranormal novel.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Hamer handles language beautifully, fashioning effortlessly evocative sentences.”
—Booklist, starred review

“[Hamer’s] fascination with the thresholds between childhood and adulthood, sanity and insanity, chosen and blood families, and her subtle understanding of the clean, often disturbing logic of childhood morality, evoke both Jeanette Winterson and Ian McEwan . . . This is an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free.” —Melanie McGrath, The Guardian

“I felt instantly protective of Ruby; the teenager with a secret so chilling I had to check the front door was locked. Hamer’s brilliant storytelling made me read on for fear Ruby’s fate depended on it.” —Anna Silverman Grazia


Also available at Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble


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, Goodreads or Twitter.


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.

September 6, 2017

Review: Water Memory by Mathieu Reynes and Valerie Vernay

by MK French

Marion and her mother inherit an old house, complete with a private beach. While they expect to have a good life at their new home, Marion soon finds strange rock carvings, a creepy lighthouse watchman and discovers local legends that seem to be coming to life.

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

Water Memory
September 2017; Lion Forge; 978-1941302439
ebook, print (104 pages); fantasy, children's
This graphic novel is translated from the French, and Valerie's art is lovely and full of details. The end of the book also includes notes from the author and artist, and sketches of the character design and the world-building after trips to Brittany for inspiration.

Marion is a curious little girl, exploring the area around her house, the stones with faces that were set up, and even trying to go to the lighthouse despite stories from the villagers about the watchman. The story unfolds steadily, and we learn more about the village and its history.

It's a simple overall story, in that there are no subplots and not too many characters to really complicate things. The focus is on Marion and the steps she takes to learn more about the village legends, and in the process we do, too. The book is likely to appeal to middle-grade readers as well as adults interested in the supernatural.

Buy Water Memory 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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September 5, 2017

Review: Pudding Up with Murder by Julia Buckley

by Donna Huber

Pudding Up with Murder by Julia Buckley is a cute culinary cozy mystery with recipes included.

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


Pudding Up with Murder
September 2017; Berkley; 978-0425275979;
ebook, print (304 pages); cozy mystery
While Pudding Up with Murder is the third book in the Undercover Dish Mystery series, it is my first book by Julia Buckley. I don't think it will be my last.

I liked the main character, Lilah Drake. She is a chef who works at a local catering company and appears on the local cooking television as the Friday guest chef. But the interesting part of her occupation is as a secret cook. She whips up culinary delights for customers to pass off as their own. I'm not sure how long she'll keep this under wraps as her clientele are all referrals. And since it seems that these secret dishes are present when murder is on the menu, it may soon become a secret everyone knows.

In Pudding Up with Murder Lilah makes a rice pudding for her friend Ellie (who is also the mother of her boyfriend) to take to her neighbor's birthday party. The old man next door is a bit odd, but Ellie seems quite taken with him. He likes dogs and Ellie asks Lilah to bring her dog Mick to the party. The man has a number of ex-wives and is presumed to be quite well off. So when he kills over dead at the party there are plenty of suspects including Lilah's rice pudding.

Buckley has created a fun cast of characters. Some of them have probably shown up in the previous books - best friend, co-workers - and then there is the Cantwell family who appears for the first time (I assume since I haven't read the previous books, but they are the focus of the murder case). I thought Buckley did particularly well creating Tim and Emma's kids.

Lilah's boyfriend Jay is a local police detective and he is in charge of the investigation. (I get the impression that the town they live in is small, but perhaps it just has a small town feel since the police station is always described as being busy.) Even though Jay grew up next door to the Cantwell's he knows he won't get all the answers he's looking for. So he asks Lilah to keep her eyes and ears open, and she does just that and more!

If you are like me and haven't read the series, you won't have any problem with knowing who is who. Since this is only book 3, even the plot threads that carry over from the previous books are easy enough to follow.

If you are looking for a culinary cozy mystery, then definitely check this one out. I'm looking forward to making a couple of the recipes.

Buy Pudding Up with Murder 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.

September 4, 2017

Susan's August Reading Round Up

by Susan Roberts


Summer is leaving us and August is over. Long summer days of reading at the beach or pool are coming to an end and it's time to get the kids back into school and start thinking about cooler weather. There's still time to read a few more books before fall comes and I have several to recommend to you.

September 3, 2017

Review & Excerpt: The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

by MK French



In the eleventh book of the October Daye series (named after the main character), she finally has a bit of peace. She can have a bachelorette party and take a break from being a hero of the realm... until her mother Amandine ransoms her fiance Tybalt and Jasmine so that Toby is forced to find her sister, who went missing in 1906. Toby has no choice but to go to Simon Torquill for help, and hope he still doesn't want to do her harm.

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