Readers' Favorite

January 16, 2016

"Great Love Story" ~ A Cry from the Deep by Diana Stevan

A story of a love so powerful it spans several lifetimes.

Is it fate that we meet the right one? How do we know? And when we die, is it over?

When Catherine Fitzgerald, an underwater photographer covering the hunt for one of the lost ships of the Spanish Armada, buys an antique Claddagh ring, she is troubled by nightmares that set her on a path to fulfill a promise made centuries before. As she begins to unravel the mystery of the woman who haunts her dreams, she has to come to grips with her own struggle to find true love.

Set in Provence, Manhattan, and Ireland, this suspenseful tale exposes not only two women’s longings, but also the beauty of the deep, where buried treasures tempt salvagers to break the law.

Beautiful prose. ~ Margaret Conway, author of A Thieving Forest

Sweet romantic twist in both the present and the past. ~ David Burnett for the Kindle Book Review

All the elements of a great escape novel. ~ Author of A Stop In The Park

Buy A Cry in the Deep at Amazon

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.

January 15, 2016

Topping #YA Book Charts

Whether you have teens are home or you enjoy reading young adult books yourself, here are the popular books for this month.

cover Truthwitch

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Buy Truthwitch at Amazon

cover This Is Where It Ends

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Buy This Is Where It Ends at Amazon

cover The Dark Days Club

New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Buy The Dark Days Club at Amazon

cover Sword and Verse

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Buy Sword and Verse at Amazon

cover The Love That Split the World

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start... until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Buy The Love That Split the World at Amazon

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.

January 14, 2016

My heart raced ~ Cut Too Deep by Marissa Farrar

by Claire Rees

cover Cut Too Deep

Cut To Deep is a romantic suspense novel by Marissa Farrar.

On the run from a very abusive ex boyfriend, Jenna, never stays in one place for too long; terrified that he will catch up to her. Until her car breaks down and she is forced to stay at a small out of the way town for longer than she is comfortable with.

The thing that makes it easier is Ryker, the owner of the garage fixing her car, who is very hot and sexy. Ryker seems to really like Jenna and she pushes him away as much as she can, knowing that she won't be able to stay in town for very long. She will not allow herself to get attached to anyone or anything.

Until her past catches up to her and she is forced to fight for not only her life but the ones she has come to care about.

Cut Too Deep kept me on the edge of my seat all of the way through. The relationship between the two main characters seems destined to fail, but somehow over the space of a few days they become very closely connected, so that nothing can tear them apart.

Then enters the crazy ex, I actually felt my heart start to race when he got her. The writing was so well done that I was scared for the character, and found myself rooting for her to get away and back to safety.

Recommended to all who love a book filled with love and romance but also with the darker side of obsession and stalking.

Buy Cut Too Deep at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: audio, ebook, print (206 pages)
published: March 2015 by Warwick House Press
ISBN13: 978-1511961035
genres: romance, suspense

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.

January 13, 2016

A List of Books for 2016

Heaven. Courtesy wikipedia
by Alison DeLuca

Like many writers, I love blank notebooks. Those lined pages are filled with possibilities, unborn stories and poems. 

A new year offers the same magic, a blank slate on which to write the story of your life. One thing I love to do each year is read lists of recommended books. This year I’ve gone a step further to create my own lists.

Making lists is an art. You start with your blank notebook you just bought and draw up ideas. What genre will you read? 

Perhaps you’re a confirmed a sci-fi fiend. Maybe you prefer literary fiction and are looking for additions to your book club’s offerings. Or perhaps you prefer to browse the non-fiction section.

I’ve listed my own three must-read sections below, one in each genre: literary, sci-fi / fantasy fiction, and non-fiction. Stay tuned after the pretty shiny books, and I’ll complete your reading time with a snack.

Literary fiction has exploded over the past few years, although I’d say it’s always been a huge genre and people just didn’t realize. It goes at the top of my list of lists, since I love good writing and clever turns of phrase.

1. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I can’t tell a lie. I’m already a few chapters in and entranced with this novel about a blind French girl and a German boy, whose paths collide in Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast during World War II. 

There’s a mysterious jewel involved, one with a strange curse, as well as a miniature city Marie Laure uses to learn her way around Saint-Malo. (My link leads to the paperback version since it's cheaper than the Kindle.)

2. Keeping with the World War II theme, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is next on my list. The sample on Amazon promises a riveting tale with a clunkier writing as Doerr’s. However, according to Goodreads reviews  it’s not a ‘desperate romance played across the war-torn fields of France’, and for that I’m grateful.

The book is about two sisters, one married and one single. Again, there’s a German soldier, which I find very intriguing – I love to get a feel for the humanity of what was then the enemy. Nightingale promises personal growth, a theme I dearly love. It’s probably the main book for a lot of book clubs, so I’m going to join my fellow readers and put this one on my nightstand.

3. Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos looks really promising. It’s the story of Cody, a low-functioning autistic boy given ‘stimming’ exercises as therapy for some of his behaviors. His father, a high school Language Arts teacher, does his own form of stimming, endlessly drawing Palmer loops (those circles kids used to have to draw to learn cursive.)

Language and the loss of words, as in the case of a nun in Language Arts who is entering dementia, is perhaps an inner World War. Narrated by Cody’s sister, Emmy, the language seems plain and layered with tender emotion as well as the everyday trauma many people suffer.

4. Voices in the Night by Steven Millhauser – I had to start reading this short story collection the night the library emailed to say it was in. Slipstream is my not-so-secret addiction, and the Pulitzer-winning Millhauser serves up lovely little slices of magical tragedy. The first story, Miracle Polish, could be seen as a riff on Dorian Grey: magic liquid changes your reflection to a more vivid version of yourself. Mermaid Fever is about how the discovery of a dead mermaid changes a town forever: women start wearing sequined tails, legs are seen as unattractive. 

Most haunting, however, was the story Sons and Mothers, in which a man visits his aging parent and can’t stop falling asleep. Each time he wakes from his naps his mother recedes, and the house slips into a darker, more abandoned form.

His writing is spectacular – free of embellishment, the simple words drag you in with bare poetry.

5. Look, I know it’s popular to mock all things Elizabeth Gilbert, but the truth is I loved Eat Pray Love and Gilbert’s TED talk on inspiration. Yes, the final section was a bit of a disappointment, like the movie. (Sorry, Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem.) 

So The Signature of All Things goes on my list, even though the book was published a few years back. This is another historical novel, the story of a family of botanical explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries. There’s the same spiritual discovery, according to the jacket copy, reflecting the search for ‘the hidden mechanisms behind all life itself.’
Sounds damn interesting.

My fantasy/sci-fi blends with the literary list, since I always look for expert writing along with my magic.

1. Station Eleven, yet another post-apocalyptic novel, came recommended from several sources. It follows Kristen, a member of Shakespearian actors and musicians. They do their best to follow the Star Trekkian quote tattooed on Kristen’s arm: ‘Because survival is insufficient.’

Of course, not all survivors agree, and the little troupe runs into violence and insanity as well as the eternal concept of love.

2. The Buried Giant is by Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of The Remains of the Day. In the novel, the Romans have departed from Britain and, as a result, the island is in decline. An elderly Briton couple go in search of their son. They are joined by three travelers, a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and a knight. Together they face mysterious dangers and strange adventures, framed by the changing nature of their own memories.

Did I mention this has a gorgeous cover and an untitled map? I love maps, and the mystery of this one draws me in.

3. A Darker Shade of Magic (‘epic and gripping’) highlights the travels of Kell, a magician who can move between parallel universes. They are delineated by colors: there’s Grey London, dirty and boring, Red London, White London caught in a fight with itself for magic, and Black London, a place no one even speaks about any longer.

Kell is officially an ambassador from the established and settled Red London, but unofficially he works as a smuggler. When he encounters Delilah, a thief, the pair is drawn into a perilous and deadly adventure.

Oh hell yeah.

And here are my nonfiction choices:

Orange is The New Black – Okay, it’s not really nonfiction but more of a memoir. Piper Kerman writes about her year in a women’s prison, and to preserve people’s privacy she changed many of the names and characteristics. Still, I’m fascinated by life behind bars, so I can’t wait to dive into this book. And I love the Netflix show, so there’s that.

To go full circle and return to my World War II theme, I’m going to read Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard. I adore books on Japan (I devoured Murakami’s Underground about the Tokyo subway gas attack) and, as I mentioned earlier, I’m really interested in World War II. Plus, I’m always up for learning about one of the deadliest events in history in order to keep those victims in mind.

As a bonus, a sort of free prize inside my box of Cracker Jacks, I’m going to reread Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. It’s a Victorian romance but a very unconventional one, the story of a kidnapped girl who turns out to be much more than she seems. Forced into the life of fingersmithing or being a pickpocket, she becomes maid to Maud Lilly and ends up falling in love with her.
Waters may have invented this genre, the lesbian version of historical romance. Fingersmith was my favorite novel by her. Violent and tender, it’s really good.

Now, look. I know it’s difficult to budget for books AND silly things like food. I got most of these from the library, although I’ll probably end up buying two or three of the ones I really love. Fingersmith was a gift, so I get to read it over and over again.

When you have your list of books ready, don’t forget to treat yourself with a snack and beverage. My choice is tea, properly made in the pot with boiling water and Irish teabags. I’ll pair my brew with some shortbread, since that stuff goes with everything and it’s so easy to make. Here’s my own Granny Clancy’s recipe, transcribed from her exquisite script:
Mmmm. courtesy Wikicommons

Preheat the oven to 325.

½ lb. butter
¾ lb. flour
¼ lb. castor sugar
3 ozs. ground almonds

Mix butter with ½ lb. flour and other ingredients. When mixed well add remainder ¼ lb. flour. Knead together with hands for about 5 mins.
Press into round tart pan about 9” with removable bottom. Score into triangles and prick the edges with a fork for a classic petticoat tails pattern. (You can also put the mixture into a rectangular tin and score into bars.)

To quote Granny Clancy, “Some chopped almonds in the mixture are an improvement.”

Do tell me what you plan to read in the comments, won’t you? I’m always looking for new ideas for my reading shelf.

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.

January 12, 2016

Strong Characters ~ Restless Spirits by Kathy Bryson

Review by Elisa Hordon

cover Restless Spirits

Restless Spirits is the first book of Kathy Bryson's series. The story is about Merilee, a no nonsense take charge woman who also struggles with personal self esteem and she can be a bit of a klutz as well. After Merilee accidentally burns down her best friend's house she looses her job at the bank where she works and gains a job running a bed and breakfast all in one day thanks to her Mum who is a woman on a mission herself to make sure her daughter has a great life even if Merilee has no idea what she actually wants out of life. When Merilee's mother gets her out to the bed and breakfast for an interview, Merilee meets John Smith the owner of the bed and breakfast and a math professor at the local college. First impressions are always a good start right? So when Merilee gets into an argument with her Mum in front of John and then accidentally backs over John with her car you would think omg disaster but funnily enough I think that's when John fell head over heels for Merilee. See John is a huge klutz himself. He is forever falling off his bicycle or tripping over furniture. He knew even before he was formally introduced to Merilee that she was the one for him, John had seen Merilee at the bank many times and he could not wait to have her run the bed and breakfast he was renovating. He just knew she was perfect for the job and he loved that she also took care of her Mum who had been sick recently. Even though Merilee never let on her Mum had been sick people in town knew, small towns are just like that -  no one can ever keep a secret for long.

Merilee and her Mum move into the bed and breakfast while the renovations are being finished and this is where the fun begins because this bed and breakfast is haunted. Yes that's right haunted! The house used to be an old convalescent hospital so ghosts are a plenty so when lights start flickering, faucets turn themselves on and balls start flying around rooms Merilee's take charge attitude is put to the test as she struggles to believe what she is seeing and get the bed and breakfast up and running before John runs out of funds and looses everything.

John is struggling to keep up with everything: his work at the college, renovating the bed and breakfast and getting the new road organized so the bed and breakfast will be more profitable and easier to access. John is also struggling with his growing feelings for the feisty woman he hired to run the bed and breakfast. Merilee is amazing in John's eyes he loves how strong and independent she is but he also sees she has a vulnerable side and then there is her penchant for arguing, John tries his best to stay professional around Merilee but one magical kiss leads to so much more he just cannot stay away. John has fallen for Merilee completely.

This book has so much more than mystery and romance in it. There is a Shakespeare element surrounding The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream and an Irish folklore element that sees the king of the fairies Oberon kidnap John. Let's hope Merilee can save the day and be John's champion when he needs her the most.

What I enjoyed most about Restless Spirits by Kathy Bryson was the strength in the characters. They are all well written; they all have their own strengths and weaknesses that when combined together to help each other works great. I also liked the Shakespeare element because I am a big fan and the author used The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream as references which are two of my favourite Shakespeare pieces. I know Shakespeare is not for everyone and if you’re not a fan the story loses a bit if you don’t understand the Shakespeare references. When you also tie in the Irish myths and legends which also tie back to the Shakespeare references it all works well together if you have a love for Irish myths and legends which I do so I loved it. What I didn’t like was that at times the story seemed to go too quickly to another point instead of finishing the storyline it was on which was a little confusing but all in all I found it a good read.

Buy Restless Spirits at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (288 pages)
published: June 2014 by SoulMate Publishing
ISBN13: 978-1619357716
genres: paranormal romance
source: author
read: January 2015

A free ebook was provided for this review. 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.

January 11, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

by Donna Huber

We are now in the second week of January. Have you found time for reading? I will admit I've been a bit slow getting back into the reading habit after the holidays. In my defense though I've been recovery from a sternoclavicular joint sprain and don't have full use of my right arm. But I did finish an audio book this past week!


cover The Divine Comedy


cover Match Me if You Can

Ever thought about recycling your Ex? 

Best friends Catherine, Rachel & Sarah are fun, smart, successful and single - just like millions of women with a low tolerance for idiocy in their dates. 

Mr. Right hasn't turned up yet, and Mr. Right-Now isn't worth booking a wax appointment for. So when Catherine, London’s finest matchmaker, gets Rachel and Sarah to join her dating site where they can recycle their ex-boyfriends in exchange for an upgrade, they soon realize that anything could happen . . . 

Three best friends, proving that sometimes it really isn't you... it's him.
Buy Match Me if You Can at Amazon

cover Love Letters

In this enchanting novel set at Cedar Cove’s cozy Rose Harbor Inn, Debbie Macomber celebrates the power of love—and a well-timed love letter—to inspire hope and mend a broken heart.

Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.

Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.

Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.

For each of these characters, it will ultimately be a moment when someone wore their heart on their sleeve—and took pen to paper—that makes all the difference. Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love.

Buy Love Letters at Amazon

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.

January 10, 2016

"Will Cause Book Hangover" ~ Obsessed by R.J. Lewis

I'm obsessed with Aston.
He became my addiction the moment I met him at 10 years old.
He was my best friend from childhood.
He protected me and guided me.
I loved him fiercely long before I really understood what love was.
We were inseparable.
He knew how I felt, and sometimes he would stare at me in ways that made me breathless.
But there were boundaries. Lines that couldn't be crossed. Looks that shouldn't be exchanged. Lips that shouldn't be kissed.
We weren't supposed to love each other. Not in **that** way.
Because, you see, Aston was also my adopted brother...

Elise was off-limits, a temptation that cursed my existence with this visceral hunger to have her, possess her, and taste her like she was made for me. I was tormented and on the brink of falling. If I stepped over that boundary, if I gave into my want, I wasn’t sure I could survive the disappointment of my adopted parents. We would all be affected. Our lives wouldn’t be the way it was. That change was irreversible, and the damage would be permanent. It was a scary thought, destroying a foundation and rebuilding it without knowing what it might end up looking like.
But my want for her…it sat in the core of me, growing and growing. And want is a dangerous fucking thing. It clouds your judgment, it makes you weak, and I knew…I knew without a doubt, it was only a matter of time before I cracked.
Obsession was devotion. Obsession was mania and need. It was a compulsive urge to self-gratify by wanting, and wanting, and wanting ‘til it hurt, ‘til you could feel it there in your bones, gnawing its way deeper within you.
Obsession was my craze for Elise. She was my impulse. My…pulse itself.
It wasn’t healthy. I knew that.
I didn’t f***ing care either.

This is a must read!!! ~ Grace Tuimamie

Emotional ~ Reese

Incredible ~ Need to Read

Buy Obsessed at Amazon

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.