Readers' Favorite

August 15, 2015

"Beautifully written" ~ The CEO Buys In by Nancy Herkness

cover The CEO Buys In
Self-made billionaire Nathan Trainor feels restless and disillusioned. His company may be thriving, but he can’t find a woman who sees him for more than his wealth. With his love life in the red, he meets two other billionaire bachelors at the ultra-exclusive Bellwether Club. The three of them make a wager of the heart: they must find women who love them for who they are, not their money.

Savvy office temp Chloe Russell is trying to scrape together the money she needs to support her grandmother. So when a flu epidemic strikes Trainor Electronics and she’s promoted to Nathan Trainor’s assistant, she jumps at the lucrative opportunity. But then Nathan himself falls ill, and he and Chloe must work from his penthouse while he recuperates. Before long, it’s clear there’s genuine heat between them, and it’s more than just a fever spike. Will Nathan win Chloe’s heart—and the bet? Or will their differences destroy any chance for love?

Exciting, Romantic, and Sexy ~  Roni Denholtz

Good series kick off ~ Janet

Good fun summer reading ~ Ellen H. Hall

Buy The CEO Buys In at Amazon

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August 14, 2015

Book to TV adaptions to add to your read & watch lists

by Donna Huber

I've always been more of a television fan than a movie fan so it is no wonder that I'm finding myself drawn more to book to TV adaptions than I have ever been drawn to book to movie adaptions. Several of my recent favorite series are based on books, occasionally without me realizing they are based on books until I'm already hooked on the series. With the exception of one I haven't read the books yet and as someone with a towering pile of review books to get through, I may just have to satisfy myself with the shows (it's not much different than listening to an abridge audio book, right?)

Here's some recommendations for what to watch and read.

Under the Dome (CBS, based on Stephen King's novel)
cover of Under the Dome by Stephen King
The third season of this science fiction show is now playing. I really enjoyed the first season of this show about a town that is mysteriously trapped under a dome. I liked the characters and never knowing exactly who the good and bad guys were. Just as I love books that highlight human survival, I'm drawn to it in television shows. I've never read a Stephen King novel. Carrie, Misery. and Pet Sematary were the popular books in high school and the back cover descriptions alone scared me. I don't think it was until I was well into season two that I realized the series was based on one of his novels.

While I loved the first season, by about half way through the second season I was starting to lose interest as weird stuff was starting to happen that detracted from what I really liked about the show. Still I was happy to see it come back this summer and while it is a bit more focused on the "alien" aspects, I'm still curious to see what happens.

Under the Dome is on Thursday nights on CBS and streams free for Amazon Prime members.

Call the Midwife (BBC One/PBS, based on Jennifer Worth's memoir)
cover Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
Last week I reviewed the audio book that this series is based on and it is every bit as good as the show that will be heading into its 5th season in January 2016. I loved it from the start both because of its time period and focus on the characters. While it is based on Worth's memoir it really is an ensemble driven show (the book was too as there was almost more focus on the lives of the people Worth encountered than her own life).

The show is a bit graphic at times. Giving birth is never pretty and in the 1950s, without all the modern sterility that surrounds birth, it can be kind of gross. But it is so well worth watching. This past season I referred to it as my weekly cry because I think every episode brought me to tears with its often bittersweet tales.

Poldark (BBC One/PBS, based on Winston Graham's series)
It sounded kind of interesting when I saw it in the email about PBS's Masterpiece summer show.. I'm really loving the other BBC period dramas that I've watched so I thought I would give it chance. Post-American Revolution isn't really a period that typically interests me, but there was no denying that Aiden Turner who plays Ross Poldark is very nice to look at. After the first episode I figured I would keep watching for no other reason that to see Turner. I was not expecting the characters to capture my heart, but I absolutely love Demelza played by Eleanor Tomlinson.

I didn't realize it was based on a book series until Kathleen mentioned it in her column last month. At 12 books, I figure it isn't a series I will be starting any time soon. However, with the cliff hanger we were left with after just 7 episodes, I don't know if I can wait until next summer to find out what happens. I might have to see if I can get may hands on an audio version.

The Making of a Lady (PBS, based on The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett)
cover The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I was looking through the PBS app the other night on my Roku to see if I had missed any interesting shows and under popular videos I saw The Making of a Lady. I love period dramas and this one had a little bit of a Downton Abbey feel too it so I thought I clicked on it.

I wasn't sure if it was the start of a new series or just a television movie. It is the later and if you are looking for something enthralling for a Friday night at home I recommend queuing this one. It is a "romance" yet there are some frightening scenes. At one point I jumped along with the character and scared my dog who was sleeping at my feet.

Wayward Pines (Fox, based on Blake Crouch's series)
cover Pines by Blake Crouch
This show has an intriguing plot, but maybe not the best execution. Fans of the book series says that the books are much better and that the show gives away too much too early on. For a summer show it was kind of fun and if I find the time I will probably pick up the books. The season ended with a hint of more to come, but no official statement has been made about a second season.

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August 13, 2015

Let's Party! Hosting a book themed party

by Donna Huber

Book blogging is great because we can talk non-stop about books and reading with other people who get it. But sometimes it is good to get together with people in "real life" and talk books. Even if the people you are getting together with aren't as much of an avid reader as you are. It can still be fun and you never know you may turn them on to your favorite book or author.

Years before I even thought of book blogging, I use to host parties for the Harry Potter movies. The weekend before the new release I would host a movie marathon of all previously released movies. We had a lot of fun. Everyone would bring a Harry Potter themed food or drink item to share. I think one time I had something like 10 or 15 people over to watch the movie marathon, but it was a lot of fun.

After I started blogging I hosted a ladies night in with the Kama Sutra. It was a smaller gathering of close friends more apt for the topic. It was a blast. We had several bottles of wine, some fancy cheese and strawberries with creme. Then we passed the book around and randomly read snippets from the book. The more wine consumed the funnier things became. We were a mix of in a relationship and not in a relationship and at least one person was recently married. The conversation became quite lively at times.

Both parties were with people that are casual readers and probably wouldn't classify themselves as book nerds.

The key to a great party is to find a book that appeals to casual and even non-readers. It might be a book that is also a movie - like I did with Harry Potter. Or perhaps it is a book that everyone's heard of, but may not have read - like the Kama Sutra.

Flirtini - a featured drink from Gabriel's Inferno
by Sylvain Reynard (credit: Donna Huber)
Then add in some themed elements. The easiest way is with food and it has never been easier to find recipes for food and drinks featured in a book.

Depending on the book and crowd games can add a fun element. For one of the Harry Potter marathons I did a trivia type game that had people looking for movie mistakes (like the water freezing in the bottle in the Prisoner of Azkaban) and naming differences between the books and movies.

You can get a lot of ideas for book themed parties with a simple google search or looking on Pinterest. Recently BookRiot featured ideas for an Anne of Green Gables party.

One book I've always wanted to do a party with is Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy. With it in development with the BBC, now might be a great time. I think a wine tasting party would be fun since wine is featured prominently in the series. I don't know enough about wine (nor the budget), but there is a local specialty wine store nearby and they have hosted other parties. Even if we didn't get to taste the actual wines featured in the series (some are really rare) would could still learn a bit about them and maybe taste something similar.

A book themed party can be a great way to share your obsession, I mean, passion for books with your friends and get away from the computer screen for an evening.

Have you hosted a book themed party? What book would you like to host a party with?

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August 12, 2015

The Connection Between Kelly Link and Zombies (@AlisonDeluca)

by Alison DeLuca
cover Getting in Trouble
cover image from

I’m reading Get in Trouble: Stories for the second time. Kelly Link’s new book features superheroes, paranormal lovers, and faeries, as well as pocket universes and ghosts in outer space.

In the hands of lesser authors, these would become the usual seeds of dramatic fantasy. However, Link takes faeries (for example, in 'The Summer People',) puts them into a rental house owned by a moonshine-runner’s daughter, and adds NyQuil, bad parenting, high school parties in Lynchburg. The strange elements – a monkey egg, a mermaid combing garnets out of her hair, the carved words BE BOLD – are introduced as matter-of-factly as a grocery list.

Link’s prosaic style makes the strange elements all the more horrifying. If she wrote with hushed awe or overblown majesty, we’d expect the superhero convention, the snarky teenaged gods who live in the pyramid. But because she writes about familiar topics (Star Wars, false teeth, house paint, handbags) and takes them to weird, Carcosian places, we’re led into a place where zombies live behind the 7-11. Link makes that normal.

Her slipstream world is seductive, familiar, terrifying. One of my favorite stories in Get in Trouble besides 'The Summer People' is ‘Origin Story.’ It features a girl who floats gets drunk, and hooks up at a ruined Wizard of Oz amusement park.

Another is ‘The New Boyfriend,’ where high school girls collect paranormal boyfriends like their young sisters might horde Monster High Dolls. In this tale, Immy is jealous of her friend Ainslie because she just got a Ghost Boyfriend and plots to steal him for herself. It’s an amazing take on the well-worn paranormal trope, encompassing desire and teenaged, selfish bitchiness. One might think the dolls, in the end, know more about love than the humans do.

‘Light,’ the final story, features a woman with two shadows. She works in a storage facility for sleepers, people who never wake up, although dealing with her boozy brother is more of a pain in the butt.

Get in Trouble is the new arrival in Link’s bibliography. Those who have read Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen already know the dreamy dread inspired by her writing. If you don’t and you’d like to find out what Ms Link can do with language, she has some freebies online you can read.

One is ‘The Faery Handbag’. It starts in the Clothing District and ends beyond the mirror:
Down in the basement at the Garment Factory they sell clothing and beat-up suitcases and teacups by the pound. You can get eight pounds worth of prom dresses–a slinky black dress, a poufy lavender dress, a swirly pink dress, a silvery, starry lame dress so fine you could pass it through a key ring– for eight dollars. I go there every week, hunting for Grandmother Zofia’s faery handbag.

Perhaps her most famous story is 'The Specialist’s Hat'. Deceptively simple, the ending comes as a primal howl inside an old house with 100 windows. Yes, there are attics and ghosts, but the way they slither out from the chimney – and the Specialist’s Hat – is beautiful and terrifying.
“When you’re Dead,” Samantha says, “you don’t have to brush your teeth.”
“When you’re Dead,” Claire says, “you live in a box, and it’s always dark, but you’re not ever afraid.”
Claire and Samantha are identical twins. Their combined age is twenty years, four months, and six days. Claire is better at being Dead than Samantha.

As for those zombies, they appear in ‘The Hortlak,’ a story from Magic for Beginners. Those ones inhabit a 24-hour convenience store. They’re also in ‘Some Zombie Contingency Plans,’ another one you can read online. This one is more realistic than the others, but fear not – there’s enough mystery and horror to keep you awake after light’s out.
Zombies weren’t complicated. It wasn’t like werewolves or ghosts or vampires. Vampires, for example, were the middle/upper-middle management of the supernatural world. Some people thought of vampires as rock stars, but really they were more like Martha Stewart. Vampires were prissy. They had to follow rules. They had to look good. Zombies weren’t like that. You couldn’t exorcise zombies. You didn’t need luxury items like silver bullets or crucifixes or holy water. You just shot zombies in the head, or set fire to them, or hit them over the head really hard.

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August 11, 2015

Review: The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

by Donna Huber

cover The Guest Cottage

Outside her daughter's bedroom window, the apple tree was a cloud of white blossoms in the soft glow from the front porch light. Here on the second floor of their stylish suburban Boston house, Lacey slept with her nightlight on and her arms around one of her stuffed animals. At ten, Lacey clung to childhood, and Sophie was glad.

The Review

The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer is the perfect summer read. It was the book I read on the weekends while floating on a raft in the pool. I looked forward to this weekend respite each week. I loved Thayer's writing. It was simple, yet eloquent. Kind of like a soft summer breeze that pulled you into the story.

Sophie is a comfortable in her life. She has has two great kids and her husband has built a successful architecture firm. She loves her children, she loves cooking, she's thankful that her husband can provide her with this life. But "comfortable" may not be enough and really should that be it for her? Faced with the dissolvement of her marriage, she decides to rent her friend's Nantucket home. The sun and sea will be great for her and her children. Meanwhile, Trevor is struggling with some of the odd behaviors his 4 year old son has developed since the death of his mother. An impromptu call from a friend who needs money offers the respite he needs. The sun and sea will provide a great distraction for Leo.

Every summer since I started blogging I have been pitched a book for summer reading that is about a late thirties/early forties woman who is faced with divorce and runs off for a high end vacation for the summer to gain perspective on life and find herself and coincidentally find unexpected love. I kind of wonder about this theme. It that the fantasy of women my age, many who are going through divorce? It isn't my fantasy, but I've never been married. It would be great if there was a book about a never married late thirty-something who runs off to some fancy place for a vacation and finds love and it not be filled with the comedy of errors found in a chicklit novel, but rather a poignant tale of life and love.

It is the poignant tale that drew me into The Guest Cottage and made it such an enjoyable read. It probably didn't hurt that it is set in Nantucket. I have always wanted to visit the New England coast.

photo credit: Donna Huber
I loved the themes of friendship and passion (not as in romantic passion, but life passion). It doesn't hurt that there is a hot, wealthy, sophisticated European - the ideal man for a summer fling (at least in our dreams). And that is another thing about Thayer's writing that I really enjoyed, you could see yourself in Sophie's shoes. Very little of the story focuses on the fact she is getting a divorce at the end of the summer (probably because she is in denial about it most of the summer). Instead, she is have the dream/fantasy vacation that most only, well dream of. Even with the crazy cousins's mix up of renting the house out to people without letting the other one know, it was still an ideal vacation. Actually it was probably made better by Trevor being there.

The story is as filled as the house they inhabit with friends and food. Really there was a lot of attention given to food in this book. I'm pretty sure Sophie prepared more elaborate meals than the average mother would while on vacation. I also found slightly comical the mentions of having fruit always available and putting out healthy munchies, so they wouldn't turn to chips. I do have to say though that mentions of the meals provided a fuller picture of the setting and it was the small details like this that helped draw the reader into the story. While I wasn't going to prepare any elaborate meals this summer, I did find a nice bowl of cherries to be the perfect snack companion for reading this book book.

If you enjoy stories that deals with real issues but has a dash of fantasy life to them, then The Guest Cottage should be your next read.

Buy The Guest Cottage at Amazon

photo credit: AUT_3857.jpg via photopin (license)

Book info:
available formats: ebook, audio, print (336 pages)
published: May 2015 by Ballantine Books
ISBN13: 978-0345545510
genres: women's fiction
source: publisher
read: July 2015

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August 10, 2015

Calling all @DebHarkness Fans - @AllSoulsCon 9/21

AllSoulsCon is a one-day nonprofit convention celebrating Deborah Harkness‘s masterpiece, All Souls Trilogy.

THE ALL SOULS TRILOGY follows the journey of Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, who discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. In no time, Diana and Matthew are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and danger, and as the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.  Themes of power and forbidden passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences drive this intelligent, romantic and transporting saga, praised by People as “wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter or Twilight.”

The convention is a unique opportunity to meet the author, the outstanding narrator of the audiobooks, Jennifer Ikeda, as well as other trilogy enthusiasts. You’ll be able to enjoy AST-inspired food, wine, contests, renaissance music, and learn more about the Bodleian Library.

You can see the schedule here, but highlights include:

  •  Q&A sessions with Deborah Harkness and Jennifer Ikeda
  • A Renaissance Music Workshop, with performances by University of Southern California musicians and featuring original compositions by Isaias Garcia
  • A fan panel 

AllSoulsCon 2015 will take place on Saturday, September 12, in Los Angeles, California, and will be live streamed to virtual attendees around the world. That’s right! You’ll be able to participate no matter where you are. Early bird tickets are 20% OFF through August 13.

All proceeds from the sale of tickets will be donated to Bodley’s American Friends, the US-based organization that provides support for the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

One lucky Girl Who Reads reader will win a FREE virtual ticket. This giveaway is open to readers any where in the world and is sponsored by AllSoulsCon and Viking/Penguin Books. To enter, leave a comment with one question you would like to ask Deborah Harkness. Please remember to leave a contact email with your comment. A winner will be chosen using on at midnight EDT on Friday, August, 14.

AllSoulsCon logo

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August 9, 2015

The White Thread #ReadAlong & Giveaway: Chapters 7-12 @KBHoyle_author

by Donna Huber

cover The White Thread
I'm having trouble slowing down with this book. I just want to plow right thrfough, but part of the reason for this read along is to enjoy the books. I flew through each book as it was released the first time around and I would like to absorb more of the details of the story this time.

I always wanted to learn to fence and the swordplay with Tellius sounds like a lot of fun. But I don't think I could take the 4:30 am wake up call (though I did get up pretty early for swim team practice when I was there age).

I do like the growing relationship between Tellius and Darcy. I have said it from the beginning that the two needed a project and not forced to get to know one another through "interviews". And it seems to be working.

What do you think of Rubidius's reaction to finding Tellius teaching Darcy to use a sword?

I love the video game references for the effect of a coroneia. And the conversation comes back around to marriage between Tellius and Darcy.

What do you think of Voitto Vesa's trip to see the Oracle? The things people do for love, right? I mean, in a round about way the reason Darcy went to see the Oracle was a question of love. Would it be determined for her who she was to love and marry or was it her choice.

Were you nervous about Vesa telling Darcy the oracle?

It is nice thought that Vesa is willing to give Darcy the fighting chance to go on the journey to rescue Yahto Veli. She could have just told Rubidius instead of her.

The oracle:
With unraveled image, journey begins.
In error undone, destiny wins.
Pen of the Scribe shows the way.
Music, life-giving, holding sway
Held in the balance, the white thread reveals
The path, through lily fields
To serpent-eaters, down the hole
Once navigated the arcipelago.
Breath of life, breath-ed once,
Broken bond of covenant.
This probably the only downside of re-reading The Gateway Chronicles is that I know what the oracles mean. I remember the fun (and frustration) of finding out bit by bit what the riddle means. I've never been good at riddles so it took me a while to figure them out. This one was at least a more straight forward. Then again they needed to work it out over the course of one book and not the entire series.

It is interesting that Rubidius is treating Darcy as more than a child in chapter 9. Do you think she is more mature? She does seem to be trying to make better decisions this year.

Now the pressure is on Lewis. He hasn't really had much of a role in the previous two books so it will be nice to get to know him a bit more.

Though Darcy has little faith in her ability to work out the oracle, she does make an important discovery along with Amelia and Sam. And though it seemed in chapter 9 that Rubidius had confidence in Darcy's intelligence, in chanpter 11 he seemed surprised they had figured out part of it. Or was it because the answer was in the Hall of Tapestry? Darcy takes so much personally (I don't blame her I was the same. She thought everyone was accusing her of hurting Vesa.

We get more Tellius and Darcy time in the middle of the night. I think I like their interactions even better this time around.

What do you think about the history of the Ecclektos family? I don't think I realized how long they had been in hiding. His great-grandparents went into hiding. No wonder the people of Alitheia are frustrated.

And now everyone knows that Tellius is giving Darcy sword lessons. Well, they know they are doing something alone in the weapon room. It is also a catatlyst to a defining moment in Perry and Darcy's relationship. Poor Sam!

We get a closer look at the town surrounding the castle and meet one of Alitheia's loyal spies.

I'm glad Tokala is still making appearances. I don't think I noticed him much in my first reading, but he has definitely caught my attention this time around. Is there a character that you didn't notice until subsequent readings?

And now I know why I had a bad feeling about Badru during The Oracle. I was just a book off.

Oh and Darcy's secret is almost discovered when Tellius gets a little fancy with real swords. What do you think everyone's reaction be if the knew? I would hope they would be understanding, but I think a few may be reproachful. But most saw what bad shape she was in when they rescued her so I don't think those closest to her would be mad at her. I think they would be shocked, but want to help her. But I also get that she doesn't want to share her shame with the world or even those closest to her.

Next week we will discuss chapters 13 through 18 and be sure to enter the giveaway below.

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