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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

January 23, 2016

"Amazing" - When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

cover When I Found You

While duck hunting one morning, childless, middle-aged Nathan McCann finds a newborn abandoned in the woods. To his shock, the child—wrapped in a sweater and wearing a tiny knitted hat—is still alive. To his wife’s shock, Nathan wants to adopt the boy…but the child’s grandmother steps in. Nathan makes her promise, however, that one day she’ll bring the boy to meet him so he can reveal that he was the one who rescued him. Fifteen years later, the widowered Nathan discovers the child abandoned once again—this time at his doorstep. Named Nat, the teenager has grown into a sullen delinquent whose grandmother can no longer tolerate him. Nathan agrees to care for Nat, and the two engage in a battle of wills that pans years. Still, the older man repeatedly assures the youngster that, unlike the rest of the world, he will never abandon him—not even when Nat suffers a trauma that changes both of their lives forever.From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes When I Found You, an exquisite, emotional tale of the unexpected bonds that nothing in life can break.

Unusual, moving, deft ~ Marian Volkman

Well written and I would definitely recommend! ~ Jeanne A.

Achingly beautiful story beautifully told ~ Debra Richlin

Buy When I Found You at Amazon

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January 22, 2016

How do you know if you want to be a writer?

by Byddi Lee

Do you remember when you were young and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? I changed my mind so many times that my mother had trouble keeping track. Before I’d even left high school, I’d seriously contemplated the following professions:

Airline pilot – until I discovered I didn’t even like driving a car.

Geological engineer – just like my uncle, I wanted to go work on oil rigs and mine for precious minerals. He tried to put me off the idea, saying it was not a good job for a woman, sharing a rig with all those men. As a boy-mad teen, that didn’t sound like such a bad thing, but I followed his advice.

Veterinarian ¬– until I did a work placement with a vet. It broke my heart when they euthanized healthy animals whose owners no-longer wanted them.

Zoologist - because of Willard Price’s Amazon Adventure and the rest of his books, coupled with a love of David Attenborough’s TV programs. This one I kept coming back to even though my careers teachers tried to advise me to apply for medicine, dentistry or pharmacy at university. I just wanted to be a zoologist. Most of my friends didn’t even know what a zoologist did, thinking that I wanted to work at the local zoo.

During this time I didn’t consider writing as a career. I did like creative writing, but loathed writing the exposition necessary for an essay in History or English Literature. In fact, English Literature was the subject I hated the most. I found the book choices uninspiring and the lessons boring. Consequently, I believed that scientists couldn’t write and that they could be neither creative nor artistic. I had to pick a camp. I chose science.

However, that didn’t prevent me from keeping a daily diary for every single day of my teens. I threw it out when I was in my late early thirties. I wish I’d kept it.

I started my university career as a zoology student, but by the time graduation arrived that had morphed onto an Honors Degree in Environmental Biology. As my teachers had predicted, it was hard to get a job. I spent three years working as a Research Associate at Queen’s University, Belfast. I even had a paper published in a science journal. Writing beckoned even then, though I didn’t recognize it.

As a member of university staff, I signed up for a Masters of Science in Computer Science. It was a really interesting course that combined my curiosity about how the world works with, what was then, cutting edge technology. I realized that writing my thesis had been the most satisfying part of the course. My classmates thought I was nuts.

Unwilling to plunge in to a career in computers, I went back to university, for a third time, to study for my teaching certification. I loved teaching and found myself relating to the pupils by telling stories to illustrate my point.

In my free time, I signed up for a correspondence course in creative writing, wondering if maybe a scientist could write. This one sure wanted to. Life got in the way, and I never finished that course. I travelled a lot. My experiences were sometimes so intense that they hammered from the inside of my brain to get out, to take the form of words, begging to be shared.

That was when I realized that I just had to write. The urge to communicate at times overpowered the desire for privacy. I had stories to share, jokes to crack, tears to release. I was a scientist, and this scientist wanted – no – actually needed to write!

But could I write? How would know if I could? Some say everybody has a novel in them. Others say that notion is an insult to writers. Either way, one thing I do know - you’ll never know if you don’t try.

So I did. And here’s how…

I went back to the grammar texts from school and completed the exercises at the end of chapters to hammer home the lesson. I relearned how to use commas, and quotation marks. I revised sentence structure, paying close attention to grammar rules and how I employed them. I went online and researched rules that confused me, though my jury is still out on the oxford comma! I curbed my enthusiasm for using exclamation marks – but only just!

Basically, I sharpened the tools I needed to be a writer - and discovered you need more than just a pencil.

Then I read. I’d always been a voracious reader, but now I started to take notice of what I liked to read and why.

I read Stephen King’s On Writing from cover to cover, not least because he has a wonderful way of writing with an engaging flow that doesn’t feel like work, but also because what he said made sense. His main take-away message, use simple language and keep your writing clear and concise, i.e don’t try to be too “writerly.”

I joined a writing group, and when that didn’t work out, I joined another and another until I found the right groups. I took in all the advice I could then carefully dropped some, like a child who sneaks unwanted food to the dog under the table. Sometimes advice is contradictory. Most times it’s just an opinion. That’s the hard part - figuring out what advice to follow and which to ignore. Go with your gut instinct, learn to trust yourself even as you self-critique.

You need to keep learning and throw away your ego. You will be wrong. Your writing will be awful. Your writing group may even laugh at you. Mine laughed at me, and I’m the better for it! Don’t give up, or at least if you do, know this, you tried and that beats wondering if you should be a writer or not.

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 21, 2016

Popular Romance Novels to Warm Your January Nights

Are your nights cold? Warm up with these popular romances that are heating up the Goodreads shelves!

cover Beautiful Burns

Fresh out of college, Ellison Edson has fallen through the cracks of rock bottom. While staying in her family’s vacation home in Colorado, her behavior has finally gained the attention of her parents—but not in the way she hoped. Cut off from the millions she’s always taken for granted, and left alone to fend for herself, Ellie spirals further out of control, making a mistake she can’t take back.

Like his twin brother Taylor, Tyler Maddox is a member of the Alpine Hotshots, fighting wildland fires on the frontline. As arrogant as he is charming, Tyler’s nomadic lifestyle makes it easy to contain his relationships to one night. When he meets Ellie at a local party during off-season, her extreme personality and dismissive attitude fascinates him at first, but as his feelings deepen, Tyler realizes that the crippling inner demons of the woman he loves might be the strongest enemy any Maddox has ever faced.

Buy Beautiful Burn at Amazon

cover Forbidden

USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins returns with the first book in a breathtaking new series set in the Old West

Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he's always dreamed of—one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the fa├žade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything . . . and the price seems worth paying.

Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won't risk her heart for him. As soon as she's saved enough money from her cooking, she'll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden . . .

Buy Forbidden at Amazon

cover Never Tear Us Apart

Perfect for readers of Colleen Hoover, Jay Crownover, and K. A. Tucker, the first novel in this darkly sexy contemporary series from bestselling author Monica Murphy kicks off an emotionally powerful two-part tale of forbidden love.

Crazy how eight years can disappear in an instant. One look at Katie Watts, and I’m a fifteen-year-old again—the one who risked everything to save a terrified girl from her twisted kidnapper. She’s grown-up now—beautiful, quiet, composed—and telling her story to the world. A story that involves me in more ways than you can imagine. She used to call me her guardian angel. Sure, I risked my life, but she was worth dying for.

I need to make contact with her. Just to ensure that she’s safe.

Somehow we reconnect. We become friends . . . but I want more. I want to make her mine. And she wants me too. Does she know who I am? Has she figured me out? Not yet. But she will. In the meantime, I need to make sure that whatever hold that animal had on her is gone.

So, yeah, I’m stealing these moments with her. Savoring them. Knowing, dreading, that she’ll soon find out who I really am. And everything will fall apart. All because of that twisted, perverted monster sitting on death row. Her kidnapper. A convicted serial killer.

My father.

Buy Never Tear Us Apart at Amazon

cover So Into You

Screenwriter Noah Ashley has a few four-letter words for his agent when she suggests he improve his script by shadowing a PI. Still, because he’s an artist dedicated to his craft and she knows where the bodies are buried, he agrees. Then he spends a little time with the gorgeous PI, and suddenly it seems like a really good plan. The PI doesn’t seem to entirely love the idea, but Noah has never been afraid to go after what he wants.

PI Drew Rodriguez is used to people depending on him. He’s the classic rock for his family. Responsible. Dependable. The classic rock would never succumb to the borderline sleazy temptation of friends with benefits, no matter how sexy that temptation is. Drew is looking for something enduring.

Despite Drew’s misgivings, it’s not long before they’ve got all the requisites for friends with benefits going. Friendly, good conversation? Check. Fun times in and out of bed? Check. Hot, electrolyte-sapping sex? Double check. Falling in love? Yeah. About that….

Buy So Into You at Amazon

cover Sin and Suffer

"Some say the past is in the past. That vengeance will hurt both innocent and guilty. I never believed those lies. Once my lust for revenge is sated, I'll say goodbye to hatred. I'll find a new beginning."


She came from a past Arthur "Kill" Killian never forgot. She made him sin and made him suffer. She tugged him from the shadows and showed him he wasn't as dead as he thought. And with her resurrection came betrayal, deceit, and war.

But then they took her. Stole her. Imprisoned her.

Now Kill's carefully laid plans for vengeance are complete. He craves action, retribution-the blood of his enemies. War has begun. War is all they'll know until they've paid their penance. He will get her back-and rewrite their destiny . . .

Buy Sin & Suffer at Amazon

cover Dark and Stormy Knight

She’ll risk everything for their love—even her life.

Aspiring screenwriter Gwyn Morland is ready for her big break. That means securing the film rights to elusive author Lady Ruthven’s acclaimed novel—which means traveling to Scotland. It’s a trip timid Gwyn isn’t prepared for, and her fears seem justified when her tour bus careens over a cliff outside of Castle Glenarvon. But the plot thickens when Gwyn is rescued from the brink of death by a handsome and mysterious stranger…

Leith MacQuill is not only the writer behind Lady Ruthven’s novel, but a shape-shifting faery knight bearing a tragic curse: the woman he gives his heart to will die. Saving Gwyn proves to be a dangerous choice when he finds himself falling for her the longer she stays in the castle. Not even his usual BDSM role-playing games are enough to thwart the intense desire they feel for each other. But to stay together, Gwyn and Leith must embark on a dangerous mission into Avalon, the realm of the faeries. Will their love be strong enough to conquer the curse? Or will Gwyn’s new life be stolen from her before it’s even begun?

Buy Dark and Stormy Knight 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 20, 2016

Delightful Characters ~ Fighting Mad by Kathy Bryson

review by Elisa Hordon
cover Fighting Mad

Fighting Mad is Kathy Bryson's third book. This story centers around Carla a single Mum with 2 impressionable teenage daughters. Carla is a fighter; she fights for everything and everyone except what she wants most of all: Murphy. Murphy is the local barman he is gorgeous and Carla has been drooling over him from a far for years. When Carla looses her job at the bank, then crashes her car beyond repair, she feels like her whole world is collapsing until Murphy steps in to help her. Carla is confused by Murphy. She wants him, but she is also scared of choosing the wrong guy again. Carla doesn't believe in herself and she constantly hides behind her daughters putting them first instead of herself.

Murphy has watched Carla watch him for years. and yes, he loves most of what he sees. He loves that Carla is a fighter and a feisty independent woman. He also loves that she is a mum, her girls are great, but Murphy is frustrated that all Carla does is stare at him from afar when all he wants to do is protect her and carry some of the weight from her shoulders. However, she always keeps him at a distance, until the day she looses her job and her world comes crashing down. Murphy finally sees his chance to step in and help Carla but is it enough or will Carla keep pushing him away with her stubborn will to take care of herself and set a good example for her daughters?

Carla seems to go from one disaster to another and crying on Murphy's shoulder is becoming a very familiar pastime. But when her best friend Jinx's grandfather dies, Carla steps up to plan the funeral and memorial services while also planning a wedding and running a stall at the farmers market and every time she turns around, wondering how she is going to manage it all, Murphy is there to help. Whether Carla wants his help or not! When two fighters come together there is bound to be a lot of sparks and Carla and Murphy do not disappoint.

Can Carla really have it all? Can she find her happily ever after with Murphy, keep her daughters safe, get her business up and running and save the town from war with the fairies? Once she wraps her head around the fact that faeries and leprechauns and mystical creatures are real that is, Oh and that Murphy is a mystical creature himself. Can Carla find her belief in herself and in Murphy, so they can finally be together? Let's hope so.

Fighting Mad was my favourite book from Kathy Bryson. I found the characters grew in strength with each book making this one the best by far. The story itself was engaging and kept me wanting to read until the end. I love how believable the characters were even adding a mythological element into the story all of the characters were delightful. I would happily recommend any of Kathy Bryson's books they are charming.

Buy Fighting Mad at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook
published: December 2015 by SoulMate Publishing
genres: fantasy, romance, paranormal
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 19, 2016

3 is the Lucky Number: The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig

review by Susan Roberts

cover The Forgotten Room

New York City June 1944
The patter of rain against the blacked-out stained glass dome above where I sat numbed me like a hypnotist's gold watch.  Neither the hard marble step beneath me nor the delicately carved staircase spindle pressed against my forehead was enough to override the lullaby effect of the raindrops.  I tried to focus on the ornate staircase of the old mansion, to study the fine architectural details of the structure that even the conversion into a hospital couldn't mask.



The Forgotten Room is written by THREE fantastic authors - Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig.  This book is so seamlessly written that there is no way to tell which author wrote which character or what part of the book.  It reads as if it were written by one author.

There are THREE main female characters in the novel and it takes place during THREE time periods.  In 1944, Dr. Kate Schuyler is working at what used to be the Pratt family mansion and trying to overcome the prejudice against her from the male doctors.  In 1920, Lucy Young is working for a law firm and living in a boarding house in the old Pratt mansion.  In 1892, Olive Van Allen goes to work as a maid in the Pratt mansion to try to find out why the Pratt's ruined her father's reputation as an architect.

The house is an important part of the novel.  It was built for the Pratt family in 1892 and Olive's father was the architect.  The Pratt family, parents, two sons and one daughter lived there and were very rich and snobby.  They didn't pay Olive's father for his work and he committed suicide so Olive went to work for them as a maid despite the fact that she was well educated to try to find out why they cheated her father.  By the 1920s, this once beautiful mansion wis a boarding house.  Lucy lived here when she went to work for a lawyer in a time when most women didn't work.  She wants to get details about what happened to her family and knows that she can find out by looking at documents at this firm.  By 1944, the house has become a hospital for injured men returned from battle in WWII.  Kate is a doctor in what is still a man's world.  She has no idea that she has any connection to the house.

Normally in a book with more than one story line, I find that I like one of the characters better than the others so I read quickly through the ones that I don't like to get back to the story line of the character that I like.  I have to say, in The Forgeotten Room, I liked all three characters and their stories.  The book had mystery, suspense, romance and fantastic character development.  I was sad to see the story come to an end.  Fantastic book by three great authors.

Buy The Forgotten Room at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (384 pages)
published: January 2016 by NAL
ISBN13: 9780451474629
genres: historical, mystery. family saga
source: Netgalley

A free egalley 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 18, 2016

Relateable Story ~ Match Me If You Can by Michele Gorman #MondayBlogs

review by Donna Huber
cover Match Me If You Can

I love Michele Gorman's books and was very much looking forward to reading Match Me If You Can. It sounded like a story I could really relate to.

Catherine runs a matchmaking business and her flatmates Rachel and Sarah join up to find love. I've been trying my own hand at online dating.

A side story is the house renovations with Nate and his crew of bumbling builders. Since November. I've had a crew in my house fixing the damage from when the tree fell on it.

I was hoping for some laughs and to escape some of the reality of my own life, unfortunately there weren't really any laughs. There might have been a few smiles, but really I felt like it was taking to long to get through the story. There also was no "I have to know what's going to happen" vibe to have me hurrying back to the book every chance I got it.

There are really 3 story lines intertwined yet pretty separate based on the three main characters. Here's a quick rundown...

Catherine - in her 30s, divorced, owns half of and matchmaking service with her ex-husband.
Rachel - in her 30s, a junior architect, competing for a high dollar account against ex-boyfriend James.
Sarah - in her late 20s, works from home designing wedding cards and she bakes. She has a 16-year old down-syndrome sister who, along with her brother Robin, are responsible for since their mother died.
Robert - Catherine's ex-husband who sells his half of the business to his fiance Magda.
Paul - a client of Catherine who she tried to "improve" to get better dates.
Alis - a client of Catherine who she signs to spite Magda though she has no clue who on their roster would want a date that is more than a bit out there.

I think I liked Sarah best, though I also think some of her plotline could have been cut to more streamline the story. Or perhaps her own book. Actually I kind of wondered if the whole book wouldn't have been better broken up into 3 separate but intertwined books. Because on their own I enjoyed each character's story but there wasn't any synergy having them all together.

While I was rooting for Rachel to win the competition and for Catherine to some how wrestle her business back from Magda, it was Sarah who I was most concerned about and probably identified best with.

She takes care of people and is happy with the status quo regarding her life. But she lets Rachel talk her into joining the dating site and into a makeover. And at first she really likes the new Sarah. In moderation I would have been all for it as it made her more outgoing. Yet, she wasn't being true to herself. She is also the youngest of the three woman who maybe had more responsibility. So I understand the whole "throw caution to the wind" thing. But when she screwed up the bake off because she had been out all night, I really hoped she would wise up.

Rachel, Catherine, and Sarah all grew through the novel, learned a bit about themselves and what love is, and if you are looking for happily ever after, then Match Me If You Can is your book. I did enjoy how the story wrapped up, but I want to know who won the bake off!

Buy Match Me If You Can at Amazon

Book info
available formats: ebook and print (448 pages)
published: January 2016 by Notting Hill Press
ISBN13: 978-1522887485
genres: romance
source: publisher
read: January 2016

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 17, 2016

Happy 5th Blogiversary #Giveaway

Can you believe it has been 5 years since I joined the book blogging community with this review. Back then I thought it would be great if I posted 1 review a week. Then I got into hosting authors with interviews and guest posts. Soon I was posting new content 4 - 7 days a week. And that's when I started to think about adding a reviewer or a regular contributor.

Now, we have 5 regular contributors and 5 reviewers (counting me) who provide new bookish content every day of the week.

Also, this past summer we surpassed 1 million viewers. I was pretty excited about that. I love my readers! And to celebrate our 5 years together, I'm putting together a mystery box of bookish delight!

There will be some fun bookish thing-a-bobs as well as a book or two. If you leave a comment with your favorite genre(s) and you win, I will try my hardest to put a book in the box that matches your preference.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.