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October 14, 2017

3 Books for Fans of Women's Fiction

by Susan Roberts


Women's fiction is defined as books from contemporary to historical, commercial to literary, with romance or without, as long as the story’s focus is on the main character’s emotional journey.  Another phrase that is sometimes used to describe these types of novels is 'chick lit'. Do you prefer one phrase over another?  Personally, I like Women's Fiction because I think it better describes the type of book you'll be reading.  Regardless of what you call the genre, there have been many good books in this category to read this year.  Here are a few tht I have recently read.

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Secrets of Worry Dolls by Amy Impellizzeri

Secrets of worry dolls
When Lu and Rae were about 6 years old, their mother gave them worry dolls. According to Guatemalan lore, each person should whisper their troubles to the dolls each night and the dolls would do all the worrying for them. Mari (the mother) had used her for many years and wanted to share this custom with her daughters. The dolls were a theme throughout the book as Lu and Mari tired to deal with the life that they faced.

As the book begins, a plane has crashed into their neighborhood and killed several people and when Lu returns home from the airport, she is unable to find her mother. Given the tragedy that this family endured on 9/11, it was terrible to think that they would face even more.

I don't want to say much about the plot because the book is so beautifully written, that you need to let the story unfold without any potential spoilers. The story is told in alternating chapters by Lu and Mari which is a wonderful way to give the reader a look at what is happening today (Lu's chapters) and the family history (Mari's chapters).

This is a wonderful book about mothers and daughters, family and how what happened in the past so greatly affects the present day in everyone's lives. I loved this novel and I think that Lu and Mari will be characters who I won't forget.

Buy Secrets of Worry Dolls at Amazon

The Season of Us by Holly Chamberlin

The season of us
This was my first book by Holly Chamberlain but it won't be my last. It's the perfect Christmas book about love and family and forgiveness and the ending will leave you with a smile.

Gincy couldn't wait to leave the small town of Appleville and her family. Her mother was always critical of her and her brother was the favorite child. Twenty years later, she is living in Boston with a wonderful job and a perfect family (maybe too perfect, which did bother me at times as I was reading the book). Her dad had died six months earlier and her brother (a real loser according to Gincy) called to say that there was something wrong with their mom. So Gincy and her daughter head back to Appleville (very reluctantly on Gincy's part) to make everything right again.

The novel answers the question of whether you can go home again and if you will find that your memories of your upbringing are real or are part of your misinterpretations of the intentions of your family.

Great Christmas - or any time of the year - book!

Buy The Season of Us at Amazon

The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith

The year of needy girls
The Year of Needy Girls is a novel about bigotry in a small town.

After a young boy is kidnapped, raped and killed at the beginning of the book, the idyllic life that the townspeople of Bradley, MA, think they live comes to an end. The death of the boy is a thread throughout the book but there is so much more. SJ, a librarian, and her partner Deirdre, a teacher at a small private school, have just moved into their first house together. At first, they appear very happy together but their lives begin to fall apart. SJ starts to teach a young man how to read even though her partner thought that he was pretty creepy and he is being accused of being the killer of the young boy. Deirdre, a French teacher who always puts the concern of her students first, is accused of trying to molest one of the girls. As the town takes sides, the bigotry that was just below the surface becomes very apparent and sides are taken.

The characters are very well drawn - SJ and Deirdre are very well rounded, with their flaws apparent throughout the story. The rest of the town leaders and the girls at the high school are people that we all know and read about every day!

I thought that this was a very well done, very readable book that definitely gives the reader a lot to think about throughout and after the story is done.

Buy The Year of Needy Girls 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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October 13, 2017

Review: Beautiful Hero by Jennifer Lau

by Donna Huber

This is an awesome story of survival. If you enjoy world literature, historical stories, or memoirs, then Beautiful Hero is a definite must-read.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was won through a Goodreads giveaway.


Beautiful Hero
October 2016; Lotus Book Group
 978-0998079899; ebook, print (364 pages)
 world literature, memoir, history
In school, my history classes rarely made it past World War II, so the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia was something I had never heard of. Beautiful Hero by Jennifer Lau is an eye-opening tale of one family's struggle for survival during the communist take-over of Cambodia in 1975 - 1979.

Author Jennifer Lau was only 5 years old when she and her family were forced from their home and relocated to the countryside where they were basically sentenced to hard labor on rice farms.

This emotional memoir is a compelling read. I couldn't put it down. I read this while I was without power during Hurricane Irma and I was racing against the setting sun to get through as much of the book as possible. While I knew ultimately the author survives, she has a large extended family and with the harrowing conditions in which they lived, death often seemed to be only a page away.

Beautiful Hero is everything a great memoir should be - emotional, informative, inspiring. If you are like me and have little or no understanding of this period of world history, there is some historical information provided, but it is largely a look at the harsh reality of this one family. As this also occurs on the heels of our involvement in Vietnam, questions of how the U.S. influenced this course of events swam through my head.

Actually, the book is full of discussion possibilities and there is a helpful discussion guide at the end. If you are part of a book club that reads women's fiction, memoirs, historical stories, and/or world literature then you really should consider Beautiful Hero for next read.

Buy Beautiful Hero 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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October 12, 2017

Review: Planet Grim by Alex Behr

by MK French

This is a collection of twenty-eight short stories, and Alex Behr's writing style is fairly eclectic. This gives some of the stories an unfinished feel as if there's no real purpose to the story other than to listen to the narrator speak. We're getting snapshots of uncomfortable moments in unpleasant people's lives, which feels very unsettling while reading. There's a distance between the reader and the characters, even if we're shown their intimate thoughts and actions. Characters are sometimes never named or are framed in odd terms.

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

Planet Grim
October 2017; 7.13 Books; 978-0998409221
ebook, print (222 pages); literary, anthology
In "Wet," the unnamed narrator refers to her son as "the son" several times, and it's a disjointed retelling of the odds and ends left of her life after a divorce. "Teenage Riot" reads like diary entries, but there are no dates and no clear theme; the ending line of "I want something to love" is probably the closest thing that could tie it all together.

"Fairyland" is more like a traditional story that we're used to. Conversation flows, we see the world from Cookie's point of view and drawn into the hopes she has to make a friend and see Theresa as her sister. The events in the story itself are random, as life can be, with no clear resolution at the end, it does actually feel complete. "Some Weird Sin" feels like it's the start of a story, yet got cut off at the end; perhaps because the narrator is named Joe, and we belatedly find out that the nameless narrator in the previous story had a fake ID with the name Joe. Or perhaps that's just me. The fragmented sentences are less prominent in this story, and Joe is hopelessly lost: he's divorcing, he can't connect with his son, and his thoughts linger over the past as if it could save him.

"The Garden" is another story that feels less disjointed and more like a complete story, even if the ending is abrupt. It doesn't matter that we don't find out the narrator's name until halfway through the story because we learn enough about her character by how she interacts with others and sees them. The numb pain that she has at the end is echoed in the language used, so Behr's writing fits both the theme and the tone here.

"A Reasonable Person" is painful to read in contrast because we're deep in Mary's thoughts, and she is so very anxious. Everything makes her nervous, she doubts herself completely, and the distance she has from others is based out of fear. The choppy style that Behr used in other stories wouldn't fit here, and instead, the rhythm of Mary's doubts evoke that feel without the actual disjointedness.

"The Desperate Ones" starts off with an unpleasant high narrator, and then kind of slides into a freeform poetic sadness and desperation. I'm not sure it really works as an entire story because it seems more like a snapshot in time than anything progressing from a start to a finish. In contrast, "Zài Jiàn" is also a snapshot in time but carries more weight to it and feels a little more complete. Maybe because we get a bit of Hazel's history or her thoughts, or because there's a little more substance to the story than a sentence repeated for the ending.

There is some continuity, in that the Cookie of "Fallen Nest" is indeed the same Cookie of "Fairyland." There are some elements in it that echo earlier fragmented short stories, which made me wonder if these short stories were all meant to be interconnected, or were the fragments of a novel that didn't quite fit together.

These stories all have the theme of emotional disconnect from others, and sometimes the characters are even disconnected from themselves. Most of the time, I found it extremely difficult to like the stories and had to stop myself from skimming through them. The advertising blurb says that the stories "draw blood while making you laugh," but I couldn't laugh. They certainly draw blood, but I felt sorry for these characters, not pleased to be reading about their miseries.

Buy Planet Grim 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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October 11, 2017

The Hope Store by Dwight Okita: #BookReview

by Alison DeLuca
cover of The Hope Store by Dwight Okita

The Hope Store
is another wonderful title from Dwight Okita. He's the author of The Prospect of My Arrival, one of my favorite soft-science fiction novels. Hope Store also showcases the spare, poetic prose I've come to expect from this author. Dwight is a poet and artist as well as a novelist, and these artistic sensibilities show in his books.


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With touches of fantasy and whimsy, Hope Store follows Jada Upshaw, a woman who has 'desina sperara': a condition that makes her hopeless and has driven her to consider suicide. Jada is literally 'hope-impaired.'

In order to help people like Jada, Luke Nagano and his husband, Kazu, have just opened a store to install hope.  Their motto is, "We don't just instill hope - we install it." This isn't as esoteric as it sounds: Okita has carefully created his own little universe in near-future Chicago.

All the best stories pose What If questions. In this case, Hope becomes something you can buy.

The Hope Store's logic sells the idea. Even as Luke and Kazu open their new business, they are mobbed by protestors who rename it The Hype Store. At the same time, Jada becomes the face of their campaign as a suicidal woman who has a new life.

Of course, everything comes with a price. Jada is thrust into celebrity status even as her happiness grows and intimacy with her boyfriend deepens. At the same time, Blair Matters, an expose reporter approaches her to research The Hope Store from the inside.

All of these plot arcs are handled expertly by Okita. The point of view switches from Jada to Luke, made clear by chapter headings and is very easy to follow. The writing is crystalline. However, there are hidden layers of emotion in deceptively simple scenes. I can see why there has been such a long wait between the author's titles: Hope, like Prospect, has been crafted into a masterpiece.

author headshot of Dwight Okita
Dwight Okita
Okita adds nuanced layers by confronting modern issues as he tells his story. Hope Store, while on the surface a book about a woman without hope, also confronts the nature of news and Big Pharma. Is creating news-for-news-sake ethical? And when do newscasters become new themselves?

And do modern medicines promise incredible results at the risk of life-changing effects?

I mentioned earlier that Okita is an artist. His book is filled with tiny touches: little stars, beautiful chapter headings - that add to the reader's enjoyment. Reading an Okita book is an experience.

Finally, the characters themselves spring to life in the very exciting story. Jada, Luke, Kazu, and even Blair Mathers (the journalist) are living, breathing people. They take you by the hand and pull you into their tiny, hopeful world.

Buy The Hope Store at Amazon



Alison Deluca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. Connect with Alison on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and her blog.


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October 10, 2017

Review: The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

by Susan Roberts



I have read all of Wiley Cash's books and I while I definitely enjoyed the first two, The Last Ballad, his third book, is definitely my favorite. The writing is so beautiful that I read the book slowly so I could savor his words. I felt like I was part of the action and could clearly see the scenes he set in this novel. The characters were so well done that I felt their pain as they worked to bring better pay and working conditions into the NC textile mills. This is a must-read book about an early history of not only the labor movement but also the women's and civil rights movements in our country.

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

The Last Ballad
October 2017; William Morrow; 978-0062313119
ebook, audio, print (384 pages); historical fiction
My husband grew up in an NC mill village and his parents and grandparents before him all worked in textile mills. I used to hear family stories about working in the mills and often questioned how they felt about the mill owners. Without a pause, they all assured me that the owners were all part of the mill family and were doing their best for the workers.

Coming from Detroit with a grandfather who was a union organizer in the 30s, I had trouble believing that the mill owner looked out for their best interests. This book was a real eye-opener for me and answered a lot of questions that I had - why my husband's grandparents moved to the city from farming in Tennessee, why the textile mills stayed non-union for so long and how the workers were treated in the mills.

Beyond a personal interest in the story, I will tell you that this was one of the best, if not the best, book that I've read all year.

The author's use of language is beautiful and helped create a beautiful, though violent, story.

The main character Ella Mae Wiggins, who worked 72 hours a week for barely enough money to keep her children fed. Her husband has run off again and she is trying her best to keep her children fed and clothed even though it keeps her away from them for hours every day. When she sees a leaflet about the union, she decides to check it out to see if they can help provide her with a better life for her and her children and ends up as a crucial member of the drive to unionize the textile mills.

The author uses a number of voices to tell the story but as they all come together at the end, the reader is left with sadness but more importantly, left with a feeling of pride and awe in Ella Mae Wiggins, a poor mill worker who tried to make a difference in her life and the lives of all of the other mill workers - both black and white - of the time.

This is a beautiful book and I highly recommend. Not only was the book fantastic but it is based on real people and a real strike at Loray Mills in Gastonia, NC, in 1929 that seems to have been forgotten in the history books. There was a real Ella Mae Wiggins who was a mill worker that started working with the unions. Wiley Cash does a wonderful job of telling her story and the time she lived in. I highly recommend this book!

Buy The Last Ballad at Amazon

Other Books by Wiley Cash:
A Land More Kind than Home
This Dark Road to Mercy

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.

October 9, 2017

Donna's Reading Update

by Donna Huber
Rainy Day Reading



Fall television has started and my reading time is being usurped by a few new shows. Poldark is back! I'm enjoying The Brave so far. I'm also trying out SEAL Team since I love David Boreanaz, but I think I like The Brave a bit more. Another new show I'm trying out is The Good Doctor. I like the concept, but it just isn't clicking with me. I don't really care for any of the characters. Even with all the television shows, I still finished up my books from last week and started a few new ones.

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Finished


In print...

The Water Knife
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
I've been attending a post-apocalyptic book club for the past 3 months and this is the first book I really loved. It is much more of a thriller than post-apocalyptic. I highly recommend reading it.

In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, leg-breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel "cuts" water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her luxurious developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, it seems California is making a play to monopolize the life-giving flow of the river, and Angel is sent to investigate. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a drought-hardened journalist, and Maria Villarosa, a young refugee who survives by her wits in a city that despises everything she represents. For Angel, Lucy, and Maria, time is running out and their only hope for survival rests in each other’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

Buy The Water Knife at Amazon


In audio...


Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
Baltimore Blues
This is one of the free Audible books for Prime members. Even though it is an older novel (there are references to VCRs and discmans!), I really enjoye the mystery and the characters. I will be looking for more from this author.

Until her paper, the BALTIMORE STAR, crashed and burned, Tess Monaghan was a damn good reporter who knew her hometown intimately--from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill. Now gainfully unemployed at twenty-nine, she's willing to take any freelance job to pay the rent--including a bit of unorthodox snooping for her rowing buddy, Darryl "Rock" Paxton.

In a city where someone is murdered almost everyday, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer's notoriety--and his noontime trysts with Rock's fiancee--make the case front page news...and points to Rock as the likely murderer. But trying to prove her friend's innocence could prove costly to Tess--and add her name to that infamous ever-growing list.

Buy Baltimore Blues at Amazon


In ebook...
Christmas at the Falling Down Guesthouse

Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse by Lilly Bartlett
This is a great Christmas novella. My review will post during the tour at the end of the month, but go ahead and put this one on your holiday reading list.

Put your feet up and tuck into the mince pies, because you won’t have to lift a finger to enjoy this Christmas!

Too bad the same can’t be said for single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie.

When her beloved Aunt Kate ends up in hospital just before Christmas, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter rush to rural Wales to take over her B&B. A picky hotel reviewer and his mad family are coming to stay, and without the rating only he can give them, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But Lottie can barely run her own life, let alone a hotel. How will she manage to turn the falling-down guesthouse into the luxurious wonderland the reviewer expects? And could the mysterious taxi driver, Danny, who agrees to help her, turn out to be the real gift this season?

As the snow sparkles on the trees and hot chocolate steams in your hand, snuggle into the delicious magic of Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse.


Currently Reading


Hollow CityIn audio...

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
My hold came in and I'm about a third of the way through it. I'm enjoying it. 

This sequel to the first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended.

Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered vintage photographs.

Buy Hollow City at Amazon


In print...

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches
I know I was suppose to start Picnic at Hanging Rock next, but I was a bit under the weather this weekend and wanted to read something familiar. I read almost all of it yesterday and it was so fun to be back with these characters. There is a television show in the developments and I'm really looking forward to it. 

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery, so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks, but her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries--and she's the only creature who can break its spell.

Buy A Discovery of Witches at Amazon


Up Next

In print...

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Picnic at Hanging Rock
I just received this book last Thursday from the publisher for review. It comes out tomorrow.

A 50th-anniversary edition of the landmark novel about three "gone girls" that inspired the acclaimed 1975 film and an upcoming TV series starring Natalie Dormer

With a foreword by Maile Meloy, author of Do Not Become Alarmed

It was a cloudless summer day in the year 1900. Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the secluded volcanic outcropping. Farther, higher, until at last they disappeared. They never returned. . . .

Mysterious and subtly erotic, Picnic at Hanging Rock inspired the iconic 1975 film of the same name by Peter Weir. A beguiling landmark of Australian literature, it stands with Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides as a masterpiece of intrigue.

Buy Picnic at Hanging Rock at Amazon


In audio...

The Glass Castle  by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle
I've had this on hold for a while and of course it became available just a couple of days after I got Hollow City. I hope I can get through it before it has to be returned to the library.

The perennially bestselling, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers—soon to be a major motion picture starring Oscar winner Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

Buy The Glass Castle at Amazon


Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Mr Dickens and His Carol
I requested this from Netgalley because I really reading Charles Dickens and thought this might be an interesting read. Plus the cover is lovely. It comes out on October 31.

Shakespeare in Love meets A Christmas Carol in this transporting debut novel set during the whirlwind period in which Dickens wrote his beloved classic, as he embarks on a Scrooge-like journey of his own.

For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. His novels are literary blockbusters, and he is famous on the streets of London, where avid fans sneak up on him to snip off pieces of his hair. He and his wife have five happy children, a sixth on the way, and a home filled with every comfort they could imagine. But when Dickens’ newest book is a flop, the glorious life he has built for himself threatens to collapse around him. His publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, he accepts, but with relatives hounding him for loans, his wife and children planning an excessively lavish holiday party, and jealous critics going in for the kill, he is hardly feeling the Christmas spirit.

Increasingly frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace and inspiration in London itself, his great palace of thinking. And on one of his long walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets a young woman in a purple cloak, who might be just the muse he needs. Eleanor Lovejoy and her young son, Timothy, propel Dickens on a Scrooge-like journey through his Christmases past and present—but with time running out, will he find the perfect new story to save him?

In prose laced with humor, sumptuous Victorian detail, and charming winks to A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva breathes new life into an adored classic. Perfect for fans of Dickens, for readers of immersive historical fiction, and for anyone looking for a dose of Christmas cheer, Mr. Dickens and His Carol is destined to become a perennial holiday favorite.

Buy Mr Dickens and His Carol 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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Review: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

by MK French

The Nyette are gifts handed down within the bloodline that can manifest in different ways. Hanne's gift is that of a berserker: she is driven to protect those that she loves, even to the point of killing enemies. As a result of this trait, her mother left the family years ago, she and her siblings lost their father, her brother is blamed for a crime he didn't commit, and now have to leave Norway for America. They're followed by those interested in the Nyette, and are led through the wilderness by Owen, their guide through the Montana wilderness to find the uncle that had left Norway years ago.

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

Berserker
October 2017; Feiwel & Friends; 978-1250055200
ebook, print (352 pages); historical, fantasy, romance
Hanne's fears for the berserker trait and the desire to keep from killing led most of the family's actions and need to move throughout the novel. It's a reasonable fear, given all the family had lost, and one that her younger sister resents. Her brothers Steig and Knut don't fear their gifts, and are able to use them when needed.

Their story eventually links up with Owen, a hard working and likable young man hoping to make it as a cowboy rather than a ranch hand. The romance between Owen and Hanne is very slow going, and even by the end of the book there's no big spark or flare to passion that usually is seen in the paranormal romance genre. As a result, this is a book that is very much geared toward a young adult audience.

It's more historical paranormal fiction than romance, really. There is more attention given to the powers of the Nyette and the family interactions, as well as the two men following them with the intention of collecting them and returning them to Norway.

The descriptions of their travels in this time period and the concern involved were very vividly done, and I could easily picture cinematic sequences for them.

This is a great book, and I would love to read more adventures regarding the rest of the siblings.

Buy Berserker 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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October 8, 2017

A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light

by Susan Roberts
English: Eiffel Tower as seen from rue de Mont...
English: Eiffel Tower as seen from rue de Monttessuy in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Paris All Your Own is edited by Eleanor Brown and includes contributions from Michelle Gable, Jennifer Coburn, Cathy Kelly, Julie Powell, Lauren Willig, Therese Anne Fowler, Maggie Shipstead, Meg Waite Clayton, J. Courtney Sullivan, Ellen Sussman, Susan Vreeland, Megan Crane, Paula McLain, Jennifer L. Scott, Cara Black, and M.J. Rose.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

A Paris All Your Own
July 2017; G.P. Putnam's Sons; 978-0399574474
ebook, audio, print (288 pages); world literature
When my husband and I retired, we decided that we would travel as much as we could afford.  We have been lucky enough to have traveled all over Europe plus places like Budapest and Prague.  Every new city we go to gets compared to our favorite city to visit - Paris.  We have seen all of the major sites there and now our favorite things to do in Paris are to walk (and often get lost) and people watch.  I must admit that we've found some of the most amazing things when we were lost - little parks and out of the way museums.  Because of my love of Paris, I have really been looking forward to the new book edited by Eleanor Brown called A PARIS ALL YOUR OWN.

This book is a compilation of essays by 18 female authors who have written books about Paris.  It details their love or lack of love of this great city.  As with any anthology, some of the essays were fantastic and some were so-so but together they made this a fantastic book to read.  So whether you've been to Paris and want to have your memories re-kindled, it's on your bucket list of places that you must visit or you just enjoy reading books about Paris, this is the book for you to read.

I loved Michelle Gable's essay "Too Much Paris" about a trip she took with her husband, mother and father, and two daughters ages 8 and 10 during one of Paris's heat waves. I laughed out loud at her descriptions of climbing stairs and trying to keep her daughters engaged in what they were seeing. I mean how thrilled is an 8-year-old going to be to see Monet's water lilies.

I also enjoyed Susan Vreeland's essay "A Myth, a Museum and a Man" about getting behind the scenes at the Louvre and the man at the museum who helped her gather information for her novel in places where the public doesn't usually even get to see.

"We'll Never Have Paris" by Jennifer Coburn tells about her taking her mom to Paris so that they can spend more time together and how much her mom disliked Paris. This was another laugh out loud essay.

And the last essay in the book was one of my favorites "Thirty Four Things You Should Know About Paris" by Meg Waite Clayton talked about rainy days in Paris with lots of information about food and wine.  At the end of each essay, each author gave more information about themselves and their Paris travel - favorite book about Paris, best things to see in Paris, what you can skip and songs you like about Paris.

Overall, this is a fun book to read while you are dreaming about having your picture made at the Eiffel Tower and seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

Buy A Paris all Your Own 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.


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