Readers' Favorite

December 13, 2014

Featured Book: Escape by @NadiaKilrick

About the Book


Carolyn Breckenship discovers the man she married, is not only mean, he is a serial killer. He sees her as a weak and stupid woman. She is not. She gathers evidence of his crimes, which date back to his childhood. Before collecting proof of his crimes, Carrie suffers greatly at the hands of her husband. Still, she finds the strength and courage needed to carry on despite the urging of her friends that she give up and get out.

Enter an old love, Gabe Stuttshire, and fireworks erupt. Gabe, having done well for himself since he left their hometown, has everything he ever wanted - except Carrie. Coming home to find her in peril stirs up old feelings and he becomes a rock for Carrie and the other friends he left behind.

After a brutal attack by her husband, Carrie finally escapes with the truth, but so does Jim. He continues to wreak havoc on the little village until Gabe decides that Carrie has to leave town for her own safety. And, he has just the place for her to hide out. 

Buy Escape at Amazon

About the Author

Nadia Kilrick is a Florida native who finds tranquility in the simple life of the Deep South. She believes there is no better place to contemplate life's journey than sitting beside a slow moving creek shaded by mighty moss-draped oaks. It's there that dreams burst free from within the chasms of the human heart. Nadia has written fiction since childhood. The busyness of life and raising a family slowed the progress of her writing for two decades. When her children moved away, she began writing articles for the web. While writing articles related to gardening, family, self-sufficiency and do-it-yourself projects her passion for fiction writing quietly stirred. Now she writes fiction full time. Thriller, suspense/mystery and paranormal are her favorite genres to write. When reading, she reaches for psychological thrillers, true crime, mystery/suspense, horror, paranormal, western and historical fiction.

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December 12, 2014

Featured Book: There is no Going Back by Siggy Buckley (@Hernibs)

About the Book

There's No Going Back

Based on true events at the end of World War II, this short story depicts a moment in German history that is not well known. Having lost the war, German citizens in the Eastern territories are being expelled from their homes and land by the victorious Russian and Polish troops. The author describes in vivid detail the long and dangerous trek of refugees through ice and snow to safety in the West. 60 years later, after borders have been redrawn and the political landscape reshaped, not least due to the EU (European Union), a trip back 'home' turns out to be an eye opener.

Buy There is no Going Back at Amazon

About the Author

Siggy Buckley
A former English teacher, Siggy Buckley's life took an unexpected turn when her husband, a CPA, opted out of the rat race in Germany and made his family emigrate to Ireland to become organic farmers. Her new life only produced a crop of misgivings and the breakup of her marriage. Single again, she reinvented herself, launched a dating service in Dublin. Remarried, she now lives and writes in Florida. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women.

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Review: Murder Most Deadly by Simon Okill (@SimonOKill)

by Claire Rees

Murder Most Deadly

She gave Jethro a thoughtful look, wondering if Joey or Topsy had let slip what they had been doing in the back garden. No, surely they wouldn’t have been that stupid as to say they had been looking for smugglers loot or worse still mentioned they were un -planting bods. Just wait till she got home, she’d give them what for with a kick up their backsides.......

The Review

Come along on a most fascinating journey to Cornwall, England to meet the famous author Bianca Penhale. She has become famous by writing a biography about her aunt Isobel who was a well known, famous medium. Now we meet Bianca’s cousin and last living relative Hugh and his girlfriend when they come to visit Bianca looking to get some money off her, but when Hugh’s girlfriend discovers some family truths Bianca feels forced to take some drastic measures in order to keep the family name well respected.  Soon Bianca, Hugh and Bianca’s two workers are caught in a game of murder and lies and with Bianca sleeping with the town police officer things start to get tricky when things come back to haunt her. She tries to escape this horrible life by going to stay with an old lover in Wales hoping that the bad luck would not follow her, but it does in the form of her other ex lover Maldini.

I would class Murder Most Deadly by Simon Okill as a dark comedy. I like murder mysteries and comedies and this book has both. It had me chuckling out loud on many occasions and gasping in shock at other places. For me the ending was the best bit and I certainly did not see it coming.

The writing is clever and will keep you interested all the way through. I got through this book very quickly as I was so excited and could not wait to see what naughty things Bianca would get up to next. I would recommend this to all who love a good bit of dark humour, with ghosts, werewolves and vampires.

Buy Murder Most Deadly at Amazon

Available formats: ebook & paperback (264 pages)
Published: December 2014
ISBN13: 978-1505315004
Genres:  dark fantasy
Target audience: Adult
Read: December 2014

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December 11, 2014

Featured Book: Killer's Countdown by @WendyHJones

About the Book

Killer's Countdown

First book in the DI Shona McKenzie series

Dead Women.

A Ruthless Killer.

A detective with something to prove.

Newly promoted DI Shona McKenzie struggles to cope with her new job, the respect of her colleagues, and the need to solve the hardest case of her life.

Will She succeed?

Buy Killer's Countdown at Amazon

About the Author

Wendy H. Jones
Wendy H. Jones lives in, Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals.

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Blogging through the holidays

by Donna Huber

The busiest time of the year is upon us. Between rushing to the store to get that perfect gift and the calendar filled with parties and plays, you may be feeling the pressure to blog regularly. If you need someone to tell you that you can slack off on your blogging this month, then consider me that someone.

However, if you are going to post irregularly or not at all this month then I recommend interacting with your fans on your other social media channels. And it doesn't have to be all about books! My Facebook posts about my Christmas tree saw some great interaction. I've also chatted about Christmas movies. If you are dressing up for a holiday party consider posting a picture of yourself. Focusing on building your relationships with your readers can be one of the best things you can do for your blog and this time of year is great for conversation starters. You can also promote past posts to keep the traffic coming to your blog.

If you want to keep up with some sort of posting schedule, I recommend planning out some topics and scheduling posts. By scheduling ahead of time you won't be stressing when that last minute costume crisis occurs for your child's play. This time of year are all kinds of best of 2014 lists, consider making your own. If you have a bit more time, research some of the best of lists and discuss them in a post.

As for keeping up with reading during this time. My solution is audio books that I can listen to on my commute and ebooks on my Nook for any awaiting in line. I'm also keeping the books I'm set to review to a minimum right now so that I don't have to write the review if life gets too crazy. I have a some reviews waiting in the wings so there will be a few reviews posted the next few weeks.

The holidays can be stressful enough you don't need to add blogging stress. Remember you aren't the only one running around, your readers are too. So make it more about the fun than keeping up with any kind of schedule or "must do".

December 10, 2014

Featured Book: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Goodreads Choice Award Winner 2014: Fantasy

About the Book

The Book of Life

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches--with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

Buy The Book of Life at Amazon

About the Author

Deborah Harkness
My life has been a series of left turns that nevertheless took me in the right direction (though it didn't always seem so at the time). I went to college to be a theater major and ended up studying the Renaissance. I went to grad school to become a college administrator and loved to teach so much I became a college professor instead. I thought I wanted to be a Tudor-Stuart historian, and found myself a historian of science. I started blogging because a friend needed help on a project in 2006 and am still blogging about wine today. I started writing a novel in the fall of 2008, and it became a New York Times Bestseller in February 2011: A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

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Cures for the Winter Doldrums

by Alison DeLuca

George Henry Durrie - Winter Scene in New England
George Henry Durrie [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This week has been incredibly dreary along the Eastern seaboard. We’ve had zero sunshine and weather not quite cold enough to deliver pretty snow, just day after day of gloomy rain and dark, threatening skies.

It’s enough to drive me back inside, shivering, after chores or shopping trips. The fireplace is looking pretty good right about now, as well as my Kindle and a cup of tea.

I’m the daughter of an Irishwoman, and as a result I drink tea strong enough ‘to trot a rat across it’ (her words.) I have to heat the teapot, bring the water back to the boil, plop in several Barry’s tea bags, and cover the whole with a tea cosy my mother knitted for me years ago. It’s a ritual.

Along with that enormous cup of tea, I’m going to need some treats. Since my half of the family is Irish and my husband’s side is Italian, I’ve become pretty proficient in both types of cookies. Without a doubt the best baker on the Italian side was wonderful Aunt Jancie, who always had at least five tins of cookies ready to bring out whenever we used to visit. My favorite was her biscotti, and I’ve included the recipe below.

My mother-in-law, rest her soul, willed me her pizzelle maker, an old-fashioned machine with cast iron and a heavy cord. I really think decades of cookie-making soaked butter into its metal pores, because that thing makes the best pizzelles ever. I’ve included Mom-Mom’s recipe as well.

On the Irish side, winter meant time for Christmas cake and pudding. Those are both exhausting projects involving grating suet, chopping candied peel, and cutting little hats out of paper for the pudding bowl to tie on with string (I wish I were kidding about this.) Oh, and also a lot of Irish whiskey. None of this is fun except the alcohol, so instead I’ll include Granny Clancy’s shortbread recipe.

The Pillars of the Earth
Now we’re all set with food and tea, so we need some long comfort books to read. I just finished The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, which I’ll recommend for the amazing world-building and vibrant characters.

The writing style itself is extremely prose-y. There’s no poetry or quaint phrasing for Ken. Reading this book made me realize just how much I value original writing, the surprise of words and the myriad of ways writers use them. Still, I persevered, since I loved the story of beautiful Aliena and her struggle as a woman to make a way for herself in the medieval world of wool-farming.

All of this is set against the cathedral being built at Kingsbridge, a process lovingly detailed by Follett. It all leads to a fictional account of Thomas Becket, which I found fascinating - if you like learning as you read, I highly suggest this book. (There is a sexual attack on the main character in the fifth chapter with aftermath detailed in Chapter 6, so if this is a trigger for you avoid the novel or at least that section.)

Stylistics abound in The Drowning Girl by Caitlín  Kiernan. It’s hardly a comfortable book to read, but I was sucked right in by the unreliable narrator, Imp, and her tangled version of a ghost / mermaid / werewolf story. This is no paranormal romp – the things happening to Imp could be real or simply the shadows of her own broken psyche.

Finally, if you don’t mind a bit of self-marketing, my book Hunted Heart appears December 12th. It’s an adult take on Snow White, and I flipped the gender roles: the hunter is now a woman, Tali, who is hired to kill Kas, the prince. This is a charity project priced at 99 cents, with all royalties going to (There is some background sexual abuse in this book, with an attempt detailed in chapter 21 and some background abuse throughout the novel. As with Follett’s book, if this is a trigger for you, please reconsider buying the novel.)

And now for the recipes:

Aunt Jancey’s Biscotti:
Oven 350º

Beat together:
6 eggs
1 ½ cups Wesson oil
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp anise extract (or almond if you prefer)

Sift and add to egg mixture:

3 cups flour
1 ½ Tbls baking powder

Beat entire mixture for 2 – 3 minutes on medium speed.

Pour mixture into sprayed jellyroll pan or baking pam 14 x 18 x ½ inches deep.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes, remove from oven. Raise heat to 375º. Cool a few minutes. Loosen around edges with knife and cut into bars about 1 x 3 inches. Return to pan on their sides. Toast slices in oven until light brown; repeat on other side.

Makes about 75 – 80 cookies; can be frozen.

Pizzelle in a loose stack, April 2010.jpg
"Pizzelle in a loose stack, April 2010" by Steve Snodgrass - originally posted
Flickr as Pizzelles. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Mom-Mom’s Pizzelles:
Plug in the pizzelle maker.

3 eggs
1 ¾ cups flour
½ teaspoon anise seed or extract (I use both because I’m an anise freak. As with the biscotti, you can substitute any flavor you prefer.)
½ cup melted and slightly cooled butter
2 tsps baking powder
¾ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I just put more anise in its place. I’m weird.)

Beat eggs and sugar. Add cooled melted butter and extracts. Sift flour and baking powder; add to egg mixture. Batter will be stiff enough to be dropped by a spoon.

Drop by teaspoon onto pizzelle maker – if you’re lucky, you can find an old-fashioned one at a tag sale or secondhand shop.

Granny Clancy’s Shortbread:
325º oven

½ pound butter
¾ pound flour
¼ pound castor sugar
3 ounces ground almonds

Soften butter. Mix with ½ of flour and  other ingredients. When mixed well add remainder ¼ pound flour. Knead together with hands (Granny Clancy underlined this in her spidery script, so it must be important) for about five minutes.

Press into two buttered and floured baking pans and bake 25 minutes – ½ hour. When you take out the pans you can cut decorative lines into the shortbread. You can cut wedges, for example, with fork marks around the outside.

I’ll leave you with Granny’s final word on the subject: “Some chopped almonds in the mixture are an improvement.”

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December 9, 2014

Featured Book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Goodreads Choice Award Winner 2014: Best Historical Fiction

About the Book

All the Light We Cannot See
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Buy All the Light We Cannot See at Amazon

About the Author

Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall , Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho. Become a fan on Facebook and stay up-to-date on his latest publications.

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Review: Breeder by @KBHoyle_author

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the opening scene from a book.

The Intro

I awake in a sea of darkness that changes quickly to hazy yellow light. I'm in pain, but I can't remember why. I blink, and the light changes from yellow to pale blue. I blink again, and it sharpens, as does the pain.
Pain is a sensation almost foreign to me, one nearly forgotten. I groan and press my hands to my abdomen, the nucleus of my pain. My stomach feels flat and smooth to my touch, but inside I feel swollen, ballooned, ready to burst apart.
I blink again, but the light does not change this time, and all I can see is the pale blue of the ceiling. There is a soft beeping beside me. I try to turn my head toward it, but I can't move.
Then there are voices.

The Review

K.B. Hoyle has done it again. She has created a world that you will jump into with both feet and never want to leave. While the world of Breeder isn't as magical as Aletheia (the setting of her Gateway Chronicles), it is no less compelling. I didn't want the book to end. And it is not a short read, but it does read quickly (mostly because you won't want to put it down).

Seriously Breeder needed to come with the warning "clear your calendar before starting".

B-Seventeen lives in a world that she believes to be utopia and she is the cream of crop. She has been chosen to be a breeder. Chosen to replenish the human race because of her perfect genes. She is among the brightest and most beautiful left after the Great Devastations. The Unified World Order is ensuring not more destruction comes to the people of earth through eliminating any possible divisions and differences are the chief divisions. Everyone looks alike. Curiosity is also discouraged - it may lead to independent thought and differing opinions or disillusionment. But maybe asking too many questions will lead to uncovering truths the Unified World Order rather not have its subjects discovering.

Fans of Hoyle's Gateway Chronicles should probably know that Breeder is not for the middle grades reader, but more for the young adult reader. I don't think my niece would enjoy this book as much, at least not at her current age. Maybe in a year or two.

Breeder is not, at least so far, a violent dystopian like Hunger Games. Though rebellion against the government is inevitable. But is Seventeen fully onboard?

I absolutely loved this book. From the writing style to the characters, everything flowed so well. Will I have to wait a year between books like I did with the Gateway Chronicles? I want the next one right now.

If you have a young adult reader on your Christmas list this year, get this book and you'll get several hours of quiet as she devours the story.

Buy Breeder at Amazon

Book info:
Available formats: ebook & paperback (300 pages)
Published December 2014 by TWCS Publishing House
ISBN13: 9781612132914
Genres: Fantasy, dystopian, romance
Target audience: Young adult
Source: Netgalley
Read: November/December 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. A free egalley was provided for this review.

December 8, 2014

Featured Book: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Goodreads Choice Award Winner 2014: Mystery & Thriller

About the Book

Mr. Mercedes
In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the "perk" and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable. 

Buy Mr. Mercedes at Amazon

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What I'm reading this week

by Donna Huber

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.

I'm trying to meet my Goodreads Reading Challenge, but I'm a few books behind so it is all about the quick and short and audio books from here to the end of the year.

Just Finished

The Silver Linings Playbook
During his years in a neural-health facility, Pat Peoples has formulated a theory about silver linings. He believes that his life is a movie produced by God, that his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and that if he succeeds, his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki.

When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki, and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. Then, Pat meets clinically depressed widow Tiffany, who offers to act as a liaison between him and his wife - provided he agrees to a secret contract that includes giving up football and performing in the next Dance Away Depression competition.


The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani's childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani's. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered.

Buy The Last Winter of Dani Lancing at Amazon

Nate Rocks the City
Hey New York! Are you ready for Nate Rocks?

Fifth grader Nathan Rockledge has been counting down the days—and meals—until his class trip to New York City. Now that the big event is finally here, he can barely stand the excitement. After all, isn’t this what being a fifth grader is all about? Oh sure, his Mom is one of the chaperones, his annoying sister Abby is tagging along, and that know-it-all classmate, Lisa, will be there as well. However, none of that matters. Not when he’ll be with his best friends, Tommy and Sam.

While seeing the sights, his teacher wants his class to take notes, but Nathan has other ideas. With paper and pencil in hand, Nathan prefers to doodle, transforming himself into Nate Rocks, boy hero. Amid ninja pigeons to fend off, aliens to attack, and the baseball game of the century to save, will Nate Rocks be able to save the day one more time?

Buy Nate Rocks the City at Amazon

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December 7, 2014

Featured Book: Landline by Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell)

Goodreads Choice Award Winner 2014: Best Fiction

About the Book


Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Buy Landline at Amazon

About the Author

Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (ATTACHMENTS and LANDLINE). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (ELEANOR & PARK and FANGIRL). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they're screwing up. And people who fall in love. When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

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