Readers' Favorite

April 9, 2016

H is for Historical Books - Real and Fiction

reviews by Susan Roberts

Historical events and people make a great basis for fasicnating and often thought-provoking stories. Girl Who Reads started with a review of the historical fiction novel Skeletons at the Feast. Whether the story is fiction, non-fiction, or a blend of the two, they transport us to a time we lived through or perhaps only heard about, but give us a deeper appreciation or a new perspective on it.

67 Shots
67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence by Howard Means

In May 4, 1970, four college students at Kent State University were killed by the Ohio National Guard after several days of protest about the Vietnam War. This book by Howard Means gives the background of the shooting, tells us about the people who were shot and the aftermath of the shooting. I had just finished college when the Kent State shootings occurred and thought that I understood all about them but I learned so much in this book that I either didn't know or had forgotten. But even if you weren't alive in 1970, this book is one that you should read - it gives a clear picture of the state that the country was in at this time, the way the town's people felt about the college students and the way the college students felt about the war. The author does a fantastic job of giving the facts but also humanizing the story to make it very readable and interesting. It was a sad time in American history and shouldn't be forgotten. (I received this book from NetGalley for an impartial review)

Buy 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence at Amazon

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp

Dawn Tripp has painted a wonderful portrait of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe in her novel about the artist. I knew her paintings and a little bit about her life before I read this book but I learned so much more about her life and her struggles to become accepted as an artist in what was really a man's world. Alfred Steiglitz, already a famous photographer and much older than she, was her mentor, her lover, her husband and ultimately the person who tried to hold her back. She was a gifted, brash, solitary but very honest person who knew that her goal in life was to create art out of the life around her.  After she moved to NYC to be close to Alfred and allowed him to take nude pictures of her that were shown in one of his shows, the art world saw her as his companion instead of seeing her as an artist in her own right and she had to struggle to establish an identity separate from his.

Even though this is a fictionalized account of Georgia O'Keefee's life, the author did a tremendous amount of research to make it as realistic as possible. Her writing is wonderful and she painted a wonderful portrait of the artist with her words.

The book was fantastic and I couldn't put it down. Since I finished, I have been on line, looking at her paintings and Alfred's many photos of her. Its more than just a book about a famous artist, it's a book about a woman who breaks out of the norms of her times and the struggles that she has to go through to be successful.

Buy Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keefe at Amazon

The Race for Paris
The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

I thought that this book was phenomenal and highly recommend it for two main reasons. First, it was a fantastic story. The characters were so real and so believable that I felt that I could sit down and talk to them - especially Jane. I found myself reading slower as I got to the end because I didn't want the story to end. Second, way back when I was in school, we were never taught about women who did heroic things during wars and this book was a real eye opener for me. It was based on the real life female journalists and photo journalists who were side by side (or tried to be) with the men during World War II. The two main characters Liv, a photographer, and Jane, a journalist, go AWOL from behind American lines to try to get to Paris for the liberation. They put up with lots of hardship to accomplish what was a major career and personal goal for both of them - to report the stories as they were happening. To sum it all up in two words -- READ IT!

Buy The Race for Paris at Amazon

What are some of your favorite historical books? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Susan Roberts: reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively and just returned from a month in Paris. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: 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.

April 8, 2016

G is for Giggle-filled Cozy Mysteries #AtoZChallenge

reviews by Elisa Hordon

I tell you it was very hard to pick out my top 5 most Giggle-filled cozy mysteries but here they are, if you love to laugh out loud, tears streaming down your face and fall out of your chair laughing antics you will love these books. They are all part of awesome series and I highly recommend you read every book in the series for a lot more laughs.

A Good Man Gone
A Good Man Gone A Mercy Watts Mystery By A.W Hartoin

A.W Hartoin brings us Mercy Watts a nurse by trade who looks very much like Marilyn Munroe. Mercy's dad Tommy Watts and an ex cop turned PI who wants Mercy working for him as an investigator and no one ever says no to Tommy Watts and even when Mercy manages to say no to her dad he still never listens, so Mercy is generally left juggling cases for her dad along with her nursing job and the rest of her crazy family, who always want more from Mercy and she can never say no and that always gets her into trouble a lot of trouble sometimes fun trouble and sometimes deadly trouble.

In this series there are 5 full length novels with number 6 out soon and then there are 5 short stories, I am reviewing the first full length novel A Good Man Gone.

Mercy's parents are on a cruise so of course Mercy thinks she can finally have a break from being pushed into investigating for her pushy but lovable father Tommy Watts, but then Tommy's best friend Gavin dies of a heart attack?? Tommy has one of his famous gut feelings that there is a lot more to Gavin's death but he is stuck on a cruise and can't investigate himself so now it's up to Mercy to unravel the mystery surrounding Gavin's death was it a heart attack or was it murder and if Mercy starts poking around will this make her a target?

Mercy is not a fan of nursing which is why she chooses to work through an agency instead of taking a permanent job, but she is good at what she does and she prefers nursing to helping her dad, even though most would say she is good at investigating to, a chip off Tommy's block is how a lot of people would describe Mercy but with her mother’s looks.

Mercy's mum is just as much fun as her dad Caroline is always sticking her nose into Mercy's life but in a loving and her 2 Siamese cats are just awesome I can't help but laugh at their antics. Mercy's mum is also her dads assistant and just as nosy as Tommy if not more so Caroline loves to be the centre of attention by knowing everything that’s going on.

Even amidst death Mercy had me laughing from the beginning from growing up thinking her mother’s wardrobe was the one out of the lion the witch and the wardrobe to dodging her mother 2 Siamese to keep from getting her ankles shredded I really did laugh a lot through this book.
In between all of the laughter and family antics that go on Mercy does solve the mystery and generally gets herself into trouble doing it, you know  little concussion here, a few bruises there, all in a day’s work for Mercy even if it's work she really doesn't want.

Even when Mercy is exasperated at one or both of her parents I love the feeling of family togetherness and the family stories are all really funny they add a great background touch to the book, as you read you feel like your becoming one of the family.

Buy A Good Man Gone at Amazon

Sprinkled A Lacey Luzzi Mystery By Gina Lamanna

Gina Lamanna, is one of my all-time favourite authors I have loved everything she has written, but especially her Lacey Luzzi series and really what's not to love about a woman who finds out she is related to the mob, Lacey then goes to work for her family and every problem she is assigned to fix becomes one Hilarious disaster after another.

There are 8 books in this series so far and each new story is funnier than the previous, I really love this series.

Book 1 is Sprinkled and yes I do recommend you start with book 1, the series as a whole makes more sense if you start at the beginning. There is also a prequel 'Scooped' so if you want the scoop from the very start then go with the prequel first.

Lacey has always felt like she didn't belong, her mum did an amazing job raising her and Lacey appreciated everything her mum had done for her but now her mum is dead and Lacey is on her own, well not really she does have her best friend Meg her new cousin Clay and her Mobbed up grandparents, but Lacey still feels like she doesn't truly belong.

Lacey is full of sarcasm, whit and sparkle, even on the worst of the worst days Lacey still finds a way to sparkle or maybe that’s just all the sugar running through her blood stream.

Lacey's grandfather finally gives her an assignment within the 'family' to find fifteen million dollars of 'the good stuff' hmmm so what exactly is 'the good stuff'? Lacey will soon find out in a roundabout adventure that just had me cracking up with every page. Lacey gets help from her best friend Meg who is always good for a laugh and just a tad on the crazy side, Lacey's cousin Clay is the super tech genius he helps keep Lacey out of trouble kind of, then there is Anthony Lace's grandfathers right hand man and head of security, plus he is also tall, dark, handsome and dangerous, well dangerous to Lacey's heart anyway.

Once Lacey has her 'back-up' it's time to go after 'the good stuff' for Carlos this involves the Russian mafia and they maybe a little more dangerous than Lacey was expecting.

Sprinkled is a laugh out loud hilarious mystery, it's a must read for anyone who loves, funny, crazy families, best friends who get you into more trouble than they get you out of and sexy, hot dangerous men who make you weak at the knees.

I highly recommend drinking sugary coffee drinks and eating lots of chocolate while reading these books :-)

Check out other books in this series Sparkled, Salted, Sauced, S'mored, Spooked, Seasoned and Spiced.

Buy Sprinkled at Amazon

Who What Where When Die
Who, What, Where, When Die An Avery Shaw Mystery by Amanda M Lee

Amanda M Lee writes the most wonderfully, funny books, but for me her most hilarious series is the Avery Shaw series, talk about roll on the floor laughing they really do crack me up. Avery is giggle snort hilarious, I love her fashion sense and her 'go get them' attitude, which is an awesome attitude for an investigative reporter to have, her tough exterior and her wonderfully sarcastic whit also help make these books more enjoyable as does Avery's temper which happens to get the best of her constantly. It's a good thing her cousin is a police officer and her best friend Jake is the country sheriff otherwise I think Avery would be locked up permanently with all of the trouble she gets herself in.

There are 8 books in this series so far and I have really enjoyed reading them all. I'm reviewing book 1 today Who, What, Where, When, Die.

Avery is smart, sometimes too smart for her own good according to her mother. Avery is also really good at her job, when she gets a hold of a story there is no stopping her no matter how dangerous, this frustrates her family and friends to no end, but Avery always gets the job done even if her methods are unconventional.

Avery is also the most immature, snarky character and I just love her geeky side especially when it comes out in her fashion sense, it’s just too funny to read everyone’s reactions to whatever t-shirt she is wearing that day, her Mothers reactions are just priceless.

I really love the antagonistic relationship Avery has with Jake her high school boyfriend and now the county sheriff, they both know which buttons to press with each other, it's funny but then Avery seems to know which buttons to press with everyone and that’s what makes her an awesome investigative reporter, there really is nothing she won't do for a good story, Avery is dedicated to seeking the truth even if it leads her into trouble more often than not.

Avery is having the worst week, first she covers a story on a gunman who barricaded himself in and then danced naked in front of the window, and people think Avery is crazy!!, then she starts getting death threats which she should probably take a bit more serious than she does but Avery feels it's all part of her job, so when she starts to follow a new lead which has her tangling with not only Jake but Elliot a local pawn shop owner and private investigator, maybe she has taken on more than she can handle, let's hope Avery survives the week because if the killer doesn't get to her first Jake and Elliot might end up killing

These books are fully loaded with sarcasm and snarkyness so if that’s not for you then skip Avery for sure but if you love a dose of funny sarcastic humour then grab a copy because you will die laughing.

Buy Who, What, Where, When, Die at Amazon

Christmas Spirit A Middle Aged Ghost Whisperer Mystery By Morgana Best

Morgana Best writes wonderfully funny cozy mysteries and I have enjoyed reading all of her books, but my favourite series would be her 'Middle aged Ghost Whisperer' series. There are 2 books in this series so far but they both really grabbed me I laughed a lot, there are some really hilarious moments in these stories, there were some sad moments as well and a great mystery to solve.

I loved the main character Prudence, she is a clairvoyant medium of a more mature age, Prudence is divorced and trying to make life work for her in her own way. Prudence has a gaggle of funny friends and family who add to the entertainment value in the stories and also Prudence has a penchant for stumbling onto mysteries, which she solves with the help of her new ghost friend a former detective. Even though Prudence’s friends are hard to take at times they all seem to mean well they just need to know when to step back and let Prudence live her own life, her own way.

What I loved most about book 1 Christmas Spirit was the way the humour melded within the book but didn't take over the mystery and also I didn't pick the murderer that always makes for a good mystery and the ending was so good I couldn't wait for book 2.

Buy Christmas Spirit at Amazon

Bubblegum Blonde
Bubblegum Blonde a Barb Jackson Mystery by Anna Snow

Bubblegum Blonde is the first full length cozy mystery so far in this series for Anna Snow. I really enjoyed it so much I cannot wait for more in this series. There is a Christmas short as well called 'The Blonde Before Christmas' which was a great short story and there is also another short in the 'Killer Beach Reads' collection called 'Blonde's Night Out'

Barb Jackson is a Private Investigator her motto is 'Expect the Unexpected' lol that really is the perfect motto for Barb as she always has a way of finding the unexpected in a totally funny but sometimes dangerous way.

In Bubblegum Blonde, Barb is thrown unexpectedly when her cheating ex turns up begging for her help, seriously that in itself is just hilarious reluctantly Barb takes the case because even though her ex is a lying cheating scumbag he is not a murderer, well Barb hopes not anyway.

This story has a great murder mystery element that kept me guessing, great characters that made me laugh, laugh and swoon plus some good girl power which I always love.

Barb has the 3 B's Boobs, Brains and she's a Blonde to boot so yes most people underestimate her constantly which makes this story even funnier when Barb solves the mystery and avoids getting killed in the process, with a little help from a hunky detective named Tyler Black.

I am really looking forward to more adventures with Barb Jackson, I can't wait to read how the series develops.

Buy Bubblegum Blonde at Amazon

G could also mean - Go, Grab these now! Do you have any cozy mysteries I should add to my reading list?

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives on the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia were she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and home schooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

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April 7, 2016

F is for Five Family Sagas To Read #AtoZChallenge

reviews by Susan Roberts

Every family has it - drama - and some of the very best stories and life lessons can be found in the midst of that drama. Whether it generations learning from one another, or a mother grieving, or any of the other trials life likes to throw at us, we embrace the characters and their struggles as if they are our own.

Check out these 5 stories of family that Susan recommends, including two that are coming out later this month.

Miller's Valley
Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen

I have read all of Anna Quindlen's books and every time I read one, I say that its the best one yet. I think that this time....this book is the best one yet FOR SURE. From the first page, I was caught up in the coming of age story of Mimi. She lives on a farm in Miller's Valley with her two older brothers and parents. From the very first, we learn that the government plans to flood the valley for a recreation area and that plays a huge part in the story but the story is so much more than that. Its all about family dynamics - a brother in Vietnam, Mimi's first love, her plans for college, her friends and so much more. I loved the story but more than that I loved the main characters - they felt like people that I know in my day to day life - especially Mimi and her mother. During the book, I laughed with them and cried with them and now that the book is over, I miss them. This is a fantastic book - one that I won't soon forget. (I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review)

Buy Miller's Valley at Amazon

Dear Carolina
Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Dear Carolina is a love story of two mothers to their infant daughter. One mother is the biological mother, Jodi, who has made some bad decisions in her life and is poor in money but so rich in spirit and hope for the future. The other mother is the mother who adopts Carolina, Khaki. She is ambitious, nurturing, caring and loving. Both of the mothers love their daughter and Khaki realizes very early that 'you can never have too many people to love you'. I live in North Carolina and these characters are so well done that I feel like they are people that I know in my daily life. Jodi is a serious gardener and canner and Khaki is a designer who has great thoughts and a heart of gold. The characters proved that that families can be made by more than birth - they are formed by love and care and concern.  The book made me laugh out loud and it made me cry. These are characters and this is a book that I won't forget and I really look forward to Kristy Harvey's next book. I see great things ahead for her and for her readers.

Buy Dear Carolina at Amazon

Lies and Other Acts of Love
Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey

'The Lies that Matter Most are the Ones we Tell Ourselves'

Dear Carolina was one of my top 10 books of 2015 so I was very excited to get an arc of Kristy's Woodson Harvey's new book Lies and other Acts of Love. Even though it's very early in 2016, I already know that this book will be one of my top 10 books for 2016. It is a fantastic story full of wonderful Southern women. I live in North Carolina and I know these women - Kristy's characters are so real that they are just like the women that I interact with in my life.

Lies and Other Acts of Love is about family and love and the lies that we tell in our families - not big lies but the little white lies that hold our families together. The story is told by Lovey, the grandmother of the family who is dealing with the impaired health of her husband Dan and her grand-daughter Annabelle, who has just left her rich fiancĂ© to marry a musician she has only known for 3 days. Also part of the story are Lovey's five daughters but the story is told in alternating chapters by Lovey and Annabelle. As the story of Lovey's past and Annabelle's current life unfold, some family secrets are uncovered and Annabelle must decide how to deal with her newfound knowledge and how it will affect her family.

This is a novel full of wonderful characters, bits of wisdom from Lovey, laughs and a lot of tears. I have to admit that I cried several times during the book but at the end of the book, I was so happy that I got to know two wonderful characters who will stay in my mind long after the last page of the book. Thank you Kristy for creating such wonderful characters and a fantastic story. (The book was provided by the author for an unbiased review.)

Buy Lies and Other Acts of Love at Amazon

Scout's Honor
Scout's Honor by Dori Ann Dupré

Dori Ann Dupre has written a wonderful debut novel about a character named Scout - after the character in her mother's favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird. The book covers Scout's life with all of its joy and pain, mistakes and successes. She is a real multi-dimensional character and I found myself thinking about her even after the last page of the book was read. I didn't always agree with some of the decisions that she made in the novel but it all made sense within the context of the story, nothing was forced just to move the story along.

The novel begins when Scout is 14. She is a real tomboy, playing baseball with her best friend and looking forward to going back to camp where she can see the older camp counselor that she has had a crush on for years. She is a happy and carefree child. What happens at camp that summer, changes her and her outlook on life for years to come. This is the story of how one mistake can change our view of the world and most importantly  our attitude towards ourselves.   It's about the struggle to overcome that attitude of self-loathing and try to learn not only how to treat other people better but most importantly how to treat ourselves better.

I loved this novel and it was hard to believe that it was this author's first novel. I look forward to her next novels and predict some great books in the future from her. (I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest review.)

Buy Scout's Honor at Amazon

Center Ring
Center Ring by Nicole Waggoner

I have only one complaint about this book and its that I have to wait for book 2 and 3 in the trilogy! I got so involved in the lives of Norah, Ellie, Cami, Kate, and Leila while I read Center Ring that I want to spend more time with them NOW. But, I will try to be patient and give debut author Nicole Waggoner a little time (not too much though) to use her fantastic talent to continue their stories.

This is a novel about 5 women facing modern day problems. The chapters are told by alternating women but are woven together by their friendship. There was no confusion in keeping the women and their stories separate, their voices were so different and they were easily identified. They all faced problems that are being faced by young women today and they each have distinctive strengths and weaknesses but they are all bonded together by their friendship.

I can't wait for Book 2 to get back into their world! (I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

Buy Center Ring at Amazon

What are some your favorite family sagas?

Susan Roberts, Reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively and just returned from a month in Paris. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: 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.

April 6, 2016

E is for Emma Thompson's Reading of The Turn of the Screw #Audible #ad

by Donna Huber

I'm continuing the A to Z Challenge today with the letter E and I've chosen Emma Thompson's reading of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This post is sponsored by Audible.

If you read Monday's post about Classics you know that I rarely have time to get around to reading one with all the review requests I get. But I do get in a few classics each year by listening to audio books. Sometimes I think certain classics are easier to get through when someone else reads it to you.

You may be familiar with Emma Thompson as the actress who played professor of divination Sybil Trelawney in Harry Potter. Wasn't she wonderful in that part?

She also appeared in a screen adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility and the Nanny McPhee movies.

Now she is lending her voice and incredible talent to the audio book The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

Henry James was an American literary giant during the 19th century. The Turn of the Screw is a Gothic ghost tale wherein a governess is hired to care for two children at a British country estate. She begins to sense an otherworldly presence around the grounds. Are they really ghosts she's seeing? Or is something far more sinister at work?

I think Emma Thompson is perfect as the narrator. Don't believe me? Then listen to the audio clip and decide for yourself:

Audible is great for avid audio book listeners. You may remember that I reviewed Audible a few years ago and loved it. Well, since that review I have been back to listen to other audio books and have discovered they have a "play in browser" option. All I can say is AWESOME.

The computer policy has changed at my workplace and I'm not allowed to download non-work related programs which meant that I couldn't listen to audio books at Audible through the desktop dashboard anymore. So I was beyond excited to see the "play in browser" as I listen to probably 99% of audio books while at work (I'm in a windowless office all by myself so it makes a great compliment to my work day).
If you are new to audio books, then I recommend trying out Audible. It is easy to use. You can listen on your desktop like I do or use the app to listen on your mobile devices. Customer service was helpful on the one occasion I've had to contact them.

Start your FREE 1 month Audible trial and download The Turn of the Screw (or any audio book of your choice) for FREE.

UK readers can start their free trial here.
Donna Huber: founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres (NO horror or erotica), but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances. 

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: . 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.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.

April 5, 2016

#AtoZChallenge D is for Detroit

by Susan Roberts

I was born in Detroit and even after my family moved to the suburbs, I spent a lot of time in the city going to the Art Museum and rock concerts like the Beatles in 1964.  I went to college in Detroit before moving South.  I still have a great love for the city, despite all of the hard times that its gone through and I hope for better days ahead for this once fantastic city.

Detroit An American Autopsy
Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

I was born in Detroit but like many families of the early 50s, mine moved to the suburbs. Even though we were in the suburbs, our lives were still shadowed by what went on in the city. Like Charlie, after college, I moved as far away from Detroit as I could get, but unlike Charlie, I never went back. I keep up with the news and knew that the city was in trouble but Charlie's book put names and faces to the troubles. Charlie was a reporter for the Detroit News and he reports about the various problems going on in the city in the last 20 years.   I found his chapters on the fire departments to be especially touching - to know that they are risking their lives on a daily basis without proper equipment is just so wrong.

At first I wondered if this book would touch people who didn't know Detroit as much as it did me. But after reading it, I think that it should be read by everyone. I think what has and is happening to Detroit is going to be replicated all over this country and people need to be prepared. Thank you for a fantastic book about a once fantastic and beautiful city.

Buy Detroit: An American Autopsy at Amazon

The Turner House
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Turner House is Angela Flournoy's first novel and it shows incredible talent for a first novel - I can only imagine where she will go from here. I look forward to following her writing career. The Turner House is about a home on the east side of Detroit that was lived in by Francis and Viola Turner and their 13 children. Francis has died (though we meet him through flashbacks) and Viola is living with her oldest son Cha-Cha due to her health. Due to the economic crisis in Detroit, more is owed on the house than it can be sold for and the family needs to decide what to do about it. Even though there are a lot of characters in the book, the author mainly concentrates on the parents, Cha-Cha and the youngest child Lelah. This is a family full of arguments and dissension but its also a family full of love and laughter and memories. I really enjoyed this book and would love to read about this family again in another book. I highly recommend it!

Buy The Turner House at Amazon

Do you have any Detroit books to recommend?

Susan Roberts, Reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively and just returned from a month in Paris. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: 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.

April 4, 2016

C is for Classic Literature #AtoZChallenge #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

A while back I asked readers what made a book a classic. The consensus seemed to be that the book was timeless, usually it challenged societal norms, and that these issues were still present today. What do you think makes a book a CLASSIC?

I actually like reading classic literature. I didn't mind being assigned most the books were assigned in high school. Did I read them all? No, but that was just because of the mere amount of books assigned and other classwork. I've been trying to make progress on the classics for the past couple of years. Thanks to audio books I get through a few more while also keeping up with all the books for review.

English: John Steinbeck
English: John Steinbeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here are just a few of my favorites.

Two of my top favorite American authors are John Steinbeck and Mark Twain.

I loved reading The Grapes of Wrath. When I think "great American novel", this is the first book I think of. There is so much commentary on society of the time, wrapped around memorable characters. Steinbeck's writing is very accessible, too. It is plain language, yet very descriptive. Even now, thinking about the novel I see scenes as if I watched a movie, but I don't remember ever seeing a movie addition of this book.

It is a little harder to narrow down my favorite Mark Twain novels. I read a bunch of them the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college because I volunteered at my local library and that shelf happened to be close to the desk. I would say it would be a toss up between A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court or The Prince and the Pauper.

I think a lot of people are a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. I think this is when I fell in love with Roaring 20s when I read this book. It is almost like the American version of Downton Abbey.

And to wrap up my favorite American Classics, I enjoy Willa Cather (O Pioneers!), Edith Wharton (Ethan Fromme), and John Knowles (A Separate Peace).

Madame BovaryWhile I do love American Classics, there are a few British, and even one French, authors who I enjoyed reading.

I've read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens more times than I can remember. After reading the iconic opening lines - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of the times" - I usually then skip to the carriage being pulled over and the message being delivered. That's when the story really begins.

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is another favorite. I based my senior term paper on the symbolism in the novel.

Probably the first book of translated literature I read (or at least realized was a translation) was Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. It is a book I would like to read again as it has been more than 20 years since I read it.

What are your favorite classics?

Donna Huber: founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres (NO horror or erotica), but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances. 

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April 3, 2016

April Special: 50% Off 3-Month Membership to Book of the Month Club

Now is the time to chose your new Book of the Month Club book. Haven't joined yet? Then take advantage of the April Special and get 50% off your 3-month membership with code APR50. You will get 3 HARDCOVER books for just $7.50 each. What a deal!

Let's take a closer look at the selection for April:

No One KnowsIn an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

A Mother's ReckoningOn April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.

Author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable foundations focusing on mental health issues.

Left of Boom
On September 11, 2001, John Smith was a freshman in college, on the path to becoming a doctor. But with the fall of the Twin Towers came a turning point in his life. After graduating he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, determined to get himself to Afghanistan and into the center of the action. Through persistence and hard work he was fast-tracked to a clandestine operations position overseas. Dropped into a remote region of Afghanistan, he received his baptism by fire. Frustrated by bureaucratic red tape, a widespread lack of knowledge of the local customs and culture and an attitude of complacency that hindered his ability to combat the local Taliban, John confounded his peers by dressing like a native and mastering the local dialect, making contact and building sources within several deadly terrorist networks. His new approach resulted in unprecedented successes, including the uncovering the largest IED network in the world, responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers. Meanwhile, John had to keep up false pretenses with his family, girlfriend and friends--nobody could know what he did for a living--and deal with the emotional turbulence of constantly living a lie. His double life was building to an explosive resolution, with repercussions that would have far reaching consequences.

Flight of Dreams
On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.

Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

The Nest
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

Read why Ellie Kemper chose The Nest:

The Nest does not meander gently through the paths of four troubled siblings and their various problems; it flies. I apologize for the bird pun in the very first sentence of this review, but what can I say? I’m giddy. I could not put this book down. The Plumb family is a messed-up, dysfunctional, self-obsessed unit full of messed-up dysfunctional, self-obsessed members – much like your family or mine. What makes their journey a delight to read is the way that Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney seamlessly and artfully weaves their stories together. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that an artist can induce pleasure from essentially unlikeable characters, and Ms. Sweeney does just that in this captivating story.

“The Nest” refers to the Plumb siblings’ shared trust fund, which they are due to receive on the birthday of the youngest sibling’s 40th birthday. As is often the case with oldest siblings (I myself am the second of four – incidentally, the second child is historically regarded as the “dove-like” child who can “do no wrong”), the eldest Plumb brother goes and gets himself into an accident mere months away from this long-awaited payday. The financial consequences from this event put the entire Nest in danger, and the remaining three siblings are left scrambling as this promised jackpot disappears before their eyes.

As a result of counting on this trust fund for years, the Plumb children have remained as just that: children. Their arrested development has produced any number of irresponsible life choices; Jack and Melody insist on living beyond their means to keep up appearances, Bea remains stunted in a writing career that never quite blossomed, and Leo Plumb appears to live first, foremost, and solely for himself. What the author does so masterfully in this novel is to continuously rotate the points of view; each chapter is told through a different character’s eyes. In this way, the story never takes a moment’s rest.

While reading this book, I involuntarily assigned the cast of Mad Men to play the various characters. I saw John Slattery as Leo, Vincent Kartheiser as Jack, Elisabeth Moss as Melody (we would have to age her a bit, but it could work). I think this is a comment on how easily the story dances in the reader’s mind; it lives and breathes and is as immediate as a theater piece playing out before your eyes. I was sad to reach the last page. I hope that Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney writes another one, very soon.

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