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R is for Romance #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

August 6, 2016

2 Book of the Month Club Deals

The Book of the Month Club has two great deals this month that I just had to tell you about. If you have been hestitant to sign up, then this is the best deal I have seen yet. You can get a 1 month membership for just $5!

That is a tremendous deal; especially when you see this month's selections, which I highlight below. You will need to use the code READ5. (affiliate link)

cover of Circling the Sun
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, selected by Allison Williams from the HBO comedy-drama series Girls

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

cover of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible "adult" around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

cover of Dark Matter
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable--something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

cover of The Woman in Cabin 10
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read.

cover of Siracusa
Siracusa by Delia Ephron

Marriage and deceit from author Delia Ephron that follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed and relationships are unraveled.

New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage.

Ephron delivers a meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming.

Don't those books sound wonderful? Remember you can get a 1 month membership for just $5 with code READ5. If you want to keep enjoying great books like this month after month, then right now would be a good time to sign up for a 3 month membership because you will get a BOTM Club beach bag as a free gift.

You must hurry though. These two deals, as well as these great selections, will be gone August 31.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is a Book of the Month Club and 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.

August 5, 2016

Writing Drafts

by Chris

I’ve been writing for an awfully long time. I remember drawing comics with no words before I really knew what a book was, trying my infantile best to tell stories in the only way I knew how. As I grew up, this matured into short stories, novellas, and—after a lengthy period of focusing on music composition—full-length novels. Throughout all this time, I’ve often wondered at the best way to sit down and write that first draft, particularly when my school teachers would insist I do it their way, despite my protestations that I really was better at typing than handwriting.

The first story I have any solid recollection of was a sort of fictional retelling of the Luistania disaster: an enormous, beautiful cruise liner torpedoed by a submarine and sunk with almost all aboard perishing (now that I think about it, my stories were pretty dark even then). I was living in Switzerland at the time and wrote it for class at the local grade school, so although I remember drafting certain parts in English, the majority of it was written in French. I wrote it all out by hand in a cahier, a pink-covered lined notebook that all my literary compositions went into. It took hours upon hours to complete, and when I handed it in and saw it come back covered in Monsieur Bertrand’s red-inked scribbles, I re-wrote it all out again, corrections and rewrites and all.

Later in my youth, I remember writing Star Trek fan fiction (in fact, I still have a copy that my mother lovingly printed and bound for me) on a computer (I was past the age of typewriters by this point), using a primitive version of Microsoft Office. At first this was painfully slow, but it ultimately taught me to type, and the last of the four books flew out from my fingers. I loved the ability to go back and correct typos, editing to my heart’s content without worrying about the flow of pages.

Ultimately, when it came time for me to try my hand at writing professionally, things had moved on rapidly, and along with advances in technology came advances in writing software, and so I purchased a computer program called Scrivener that claimed to be the Photoshop of writing (or something), and I’ve never looked back.

Writing by Hand

Throughout my teens and well into my adulthood, I kept long-running diaries in a series of notebooks, chronicling my ups and downs, joys and fears, furies and depressions. There was a lot for me to talk about, and these journals weren’t typical ‘Dear Diary’-style entries. Full of piss and vinegar, many of them were nothing more than long, drawn-out tirades against my parents, society, and the world in general. Like many young adults, I think, I struggled to come to terms with myself, where I fit in the world, and what purpose I could drag out of my wretched existence. I was very insular, and rarely talked to anyone; I remember going to therapy once and simply falling asleep for the entire session.

But these written documents, painfully scratched out by hand, were my true therapy. They allowed me to focus my anger and despair, channel it onto the page, and exorcise my demons. There is something uniquely intimate about writing by hand, and to this day if I need to write a deeply personal letter, or just to work something out in my own head, I will typically write it in my own handwriting. If you’re anything like me, you probably think faster than you type, and type faster than you write. This deliberately slow pace forces the writer to think carefully about what they intend to say; verbosity becomes greatly reduced as the hand weakens and tires, and you begin to realize that conciseness is the key to preventing cramp.

I remember this from my early childhood stories. I wanted them to be lengthy, I wanted them to be full-length novels, and they certainly felt that way when I was done. In truth, they would amount to probably no more than three or four pages of typed text. A page, handwritten, contains probably half the words (if that) of a page typed, but takes twice as long and disproportionately more effort. There is something genuinely satisfying about looking back over pages of handwritten notes, knowing the deliberate thought that went into it.

There are drawbacks, however, to writing by hand as well, and this pacing, so useful for being concise, turns into a double-edged sword when making attempts at lengthier prose. My first novel clocked in at around 103,000 words; the sequel is nearly 125,000. (Book three is already at 80,000, and is only just half complete.) I can’t realistically imagine writing that much by hand—especially knowing that it would have to be retyped again anyway, if for nothing other than publishing, never mind the editing process.

I don’t know how authors like Charles Dickens wrote the length of stories they did. Realistically, I can’t quite grasp the concept of writing with a typewriter, knowing that an extra paragraph on page one would affect the pagination for the rest of the entire book. I’m glad to be working in a time of non-linear editors, where I can add or remove entire chapters without worrying about the flow and impact on the rest of the document. But I can’t deny that writing by hand has its advantages, despite the shortcomings that it also entails. It’s a shame kids these days aren’t taught handwriting as much as they used to be.

Word Processors

Computers have undoubtedly changed the writing landscape forever. Typing before that was fantastic for creating easy-to-read documents at a rapid pace, and of course we owe this, going far enough back, to the invention of the printing press in the 1400s. If Gutenberg’s printing devices revolutionized the read word (allowed documents to be disseminated en masse), the personal computer revolutionized the written word, allowing anyone and everyone to type documents rapidly and without fear of making mistakes.

While the history of the word processor can be traced all the way back to a program called ‘Bravo’, developed by Xerox, the true dawn of personal word processing was with a partnership between Microsoft and Apple, allowing the then-prototypical Microsoft Word to run on the Mac operating system. The ability to manage text, undo mistakes and re-type in any order is so standard today that it becomes difficult to think just how incredible this was at the time.

I probably first started working with Microsoft Word in the early 1990s, and I distinctly remember Word 5.1 being fully-featured, although not necessarily easy-to-use or intuitive, Even by then, Microsoft were showing their penchant for adding feature after feature with little regard for how useful they are to the general population. I remember having to hunt endlessly through menus and dialog boxes just to change fonts and other basic settings, but for all of that, it allowed me to write faster and more fluidly than I had ever written before.

With such an impact on the ability of people to write, it’s easy to overlook the downsides to word processors, especially when compared with what our software technology is capable of today. Many, many authors still use Microsoft Word or its equivalents for their daily use, and it becomes clear that it isn’t always the best at everything. Bashing out words? Yes. Formatting? Probably. Non-linear editing? Moving chapters and sections around fluidly? Exporting to the numerous digital formats required today? Not so much.

Probably the biggest drawback to virtually any word processor is that their job—their primary function—is to help people write words in order, from start to finish. It’s understandable that this was all people could think of thirty-five years ago; after all, it was how things were done since time immemorial. (Well, since 1440.) But when it comes to writing, whether it be stories, novels or articles like this one, the linear process isn’t always the most effective. Sometimes you have an idea for a scene, and you just need to write that scene before anything else. Sometimes you get stuck, and want to move on to something else. Sometimes you just realize that a certain chapter works better earlier in the novel. Word processors, even advanced ones like Microsoft Word, just don’t have the capability to manage this kind of workflow.

Additionally, most word processors fall on either side of the line between feature-rich and intuitive interfaces, with very few straddling the border. Microsoft Word is a massive, blundering ogre of an application, with every feature you could imagine under the sun. Good luck if you actually need one of those features, though, because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find it without at least a five-minute hunt. Others, like Apple’s Pages, have a simple, clean interface that, while hiding a surprising number of advanced features, lacks distinctly in areas that Microsoft dominates in (Pages can’t even create separate headers for left and right pages, an essential staple of print publication). Yet others, like Google Docs, try to take the word processing to the cloud, but woe be you whose internet goes down.

Writing Apps

The good news is, I’m not the only one to have noticed this deficit in word processing, and in recent years a whole host of dedicated apps, specialized for certain jobs, has started to appear. A quick search for the term ‘writing’ in the Mac App Store brings up things like Scrivener, iA Writer, Ulysses and Final Draft, amongst countless smaller and lesser-known applications. Each one professes to have a different speciality, like novel writing, CSS markdown, or screen writing, and many of them are very, very good at what they do.

So why would you choose one of these applications over a multifaceted word processor like Microsoft Word? Are their costs justified, and do they live up to their expectations? In general, you need to look at what each application offers, and why you would benefit from its unique feature set. For example, iA Writer (available for MacOS, iOS and Android) provides an utterly clean, simple interface with in fact very few features at all. Like Pages to Microsoft’s Word, it focuses on the writing experience at the expense of a vast array of tools. In fact, its primary selling point is that fact that, once you’re in the app, it doesn’t really do anything except write. An empty blank screen awaits you, and the focus is kept on the single sentence you’re currently writing. As soon as you press the period key, the sentence dims, allowing you to continue writing without worrying about what you just wrote. Perfect for bashing out first drafts.

Another major application, Scrivener, just released a version for iOS after years of waiting. Scrivener touts itself as a ‘complete writing studio’; I often liken it to Photoshop for images, or Premier for video. After all, why shouldn’t there be a Swiss Army Knife program for writers, when there have been the equivalents in other media for decades? Scrivener, however, is not for the faint-hearted; the interface is daunting to say the least, and contains more writing-related features than all of Microsoft’s programs combined. That being said, it is definitely a one-stop-shop when it comes to drafting, writing, editing and publishing. Everything from reorganizing chapters and sections dynamically to exporting directly as ePub and Kindle files is packed into this remarkably well-priced application. If you want a single piece of software to manage everything you will ever write, this is the program for you.

With the advent of mobile computing (not just phones and tablets, but all-day portable computers, too) and the proliferation of apps for these mobile devices, writers no longer have to contend with the Microsoft-or-die mentality that was so prevalent even just ten years ago. I started using Scrivener for my novels, and it’s what I’m currently using to write this very article. I would recommend it in a heartbeat, but with the caution that you will be taking some time to learn how to use it, first. If you want an application to just write, and nothing else, there are better apps out there for you.

Where Do We Write?

There is something inarguably Bohemian about the image of a struggling author, sitting at a typewriter in a dark, smoke-filled room knocking back whiskey in despair. (Or maybe in a cafe in Paris, I’m not sure.) That image is often in the minds of many struggling authors today, and quite a few I know personally have taken to the typewriter as a way of paying homage to the past.

I’m not one of these, though. I firmly embrace technology (perhaps to my own detriment), and believe that the portability of our devices can only aid in the writing process. Typewriters are large, clunky and cumbersome, and not easy to take with you. They root you to a desk. When personal computers replaced them, the location didn’t change—you still needed power, and a desk, and a keyboard, and all that nonsense.

When computers started becoming portable in the mid-1990s, however, people realized they could take their work with them. No longer did one have to to find a house in the midst of the Swiss Alps to find inspiration—they could literally sit on a hillside and type away.

This is more true than ever today. I personally use a desktop iMac at home, an iPad Pro when traveling, and an iPhone when neither of the other devices are accessible. This allows me to bring the Bohemian to the streets (or the hipster, as the case may be); I can write in airports, in coffee shops, and even on the train. Realistically, I usually sit and think about writing in these places more than I actually write, but the concept is there. The point is, I can work literally anywhere I want to.

And it becomes important, therefore, that I be able to take my work with me. I don’t want to carry around bundles of paper, printed documents and drafts, to review and revise in red ink, like my grade school teacher. I want to be able to touch the words digitally, or even with my very fingers. And this requires software that can synchronize seamlessly across my devices. For the longest time, this was difficult to achieve; software for desktop computers didn’t have mobile versions, and vice versa.

In fact, for a while the only real solution was to invest wholly in a single ecosystem—Apple’s software on Apple’s devices, or Google’s on theirs, but never could you use third-party software and achieve the same level of synchronization. With cloud-based services like Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud, however, this is becoming more of a reality. Just last week, as I believe I already mentioned, Scrivener was released for iOS, syncing between MacOS and Windows versions of the same program via Dropbox. All I had to do was transfer my projects to the Dropbox cloud system, and suddenly everything I’d ever done on my Mac was right there on my iPad. So far, it’s been working brilliantly.

The ability to take our work with us is important, and only getting better. I think that in only a few years it will become natural for us to no longer consider what device we need to do what kind of work—instead, we’ll simply reach for the nearest one, and know that we can carry on precisely where we left off.

In conclusion, I think it’s important to remember where we writers came from, and what our ancestors had to struggle with. I’m lucky enough to have grown up in a generation that bridged the technology gap from pen and paper to digital creations—my son, who’s twelve, will never write a story by hand. It’s doubtful he’ll even keep a manual diary, especially since on his computer he can password-protect anything and everything he writes. I recently bought him a cute, leather-bound notebook and artisan pencil at a renaissance festival; I doubt he’ll ever use them.

But writing by hand is not just a thing of the past; it still can have benefits today, if only psychologically; there is something essential and vital about taking pen to paper. From a practicality point of view, though, there is nothing easier and more convenient than cloud-syncing apps that enable us to do our best work wherever we are, on whatever device we choose.

How about you? How do you write and draft? Do you prefer to write by hand, or do you have a favorite app of your own? Let me know in the comments!

Chris, features writer. Raised between the soaring peaks of the Swiss Alps and the dark industrialism of northern England, beauty and darkness have been twin influences on Chris' creativity since his youth. Throughout his life he has expressed this through music, art and literature, delving deep into the darkest parts of human nature, and finding the elegance therein. These themes are central to his current literary project, The Redemption of Erâth. A dark epic fantasy, it is a tale of the bitter struggle against darkness and despair, and an acknowledgement that there are some things the mind cannot overcome. Written from a depth of personal experience, Chris' words are touching and powerful, the hallmark of someone who has walked alone through the night, and welcomes the final darkness of the soul. However, for now he lives in New Jersey with his wife and eleven-year-old son. You can also find him at

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.

August 4, 2016

Review: The Promise by Fredrik Nath

by Susan Roberts

cover of The Promise
This is the first book that I've read by this author and now that I've enjoyed it so much I plan to go back and read the rest of this series. This is book 6 in the France WWII series but it can be read as a stand alone with no problem. There are minimal references to previous books or characters because each book highlights the story of a particular character.

Promise begins in 1937 with Jean and his sister Rebecca returning to France from Rio , where their father was an ambassador. Both of their parents have died and even though they are both young, they know that they need to return to their homeland. Jean promises his sister that he will always watch out for her and protect her. On board the ship, Rebecca meets Phillippe and they fall in love. When they arrive in France, Jean starts medical school and Rebecca and Phillippe marry. Moving ahead a few years, Jean has been injured in fighting in France and has lost a leg and is recruited into the English secret service and he is working with the French resistance. When he goes to visit his sister and her daughter, he finds that her husband, now a high ranking official in the Nazi leadership in France has told the authorities that his wife has a Jewish grandparent and has had her sent to a work camp along with the baby. Because of the promise that he made to his sister years before, Jean makes rescuing his sister and niece and killing Phillippe his main goals.

To be successful in the Resistance, the fighters needed to work quietly behind the scenes. Jean is so full of the need for revenge that he continues to do things that make life difficult for him and for those around him who try to help him. He shoots two Nazi soldiers in broad daylight and it causes great problems to the underground members in the small town. He has to learn to keep a clear head and follow orders but he is too overcome with his need for revenge to be able to do that. Even as he finds out what is going on at the camp his sister was sent to, he still plans to try to find her.

I thought that this was an intriguing story and I was very impressed with the main character and how hard he worked and risked his own life to keep the promise that he made to his sister. He definitely worked outside the lines but everything in the book was believable and interesting.

The author moved back and forth between two time periods but it wasn't confusing at all. In alternate chapters, we read about Jean and Rebecca leaving Rio and the other chapters were about what Jean was doing to try to save his sister.

I read a lot of books about WWII and the resistance and I definitely enjoyed this one. I have already ordered the first five books in the series because I enjoyed this book so much.

Buy The Promise at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (314 pages)
published: November 2015
ISBN13: 978-1519574237
genres: historical fiction, war & military
source: publicist

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

August 3, 2016

Review: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French

by Elisa Hordon

cover of Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency
A rip roaring laugh from start to finish.

Melody comes from an unusual family, ok ok they are all completely bonkers, crazy and totally insane, they also have paranormal gifts that make them different to everyone else.
Melody sees dead people, and yes it's true even if some people namely a nosy, sexy super-hot reporter don't believe her and think Melody and her whole family are fakes but that doesn't stop Fletch from kissing the bejeezers out of Melody every chance he gets which just leaves Melody frustrated and confused, it also makes for some really funny scenes, I really enjoyed all of the interplay between Melody and Fletch I could really see them going somewhere together once Fletch starts to

Melody's love life is one disastrous date after another and her Mother just loves setting up blind dates for her they go from bad to worse to totally hilarious.

Melody's family run a business from home helping people contact spirits but Melody decides to go out on her own forming The Girls Ghost busting agency with her best friend Marina and then they take on Arty, the three of them work well together I could even see some potential romance between Marina and Arty at some point, Glenda who normally works for Melody's Mother is great at popping in to keep the admin side of the business organised.

The story gets even more hilarious when Melody's ex-boyfriend Leo Dark comes back into her life after dumping her and moving on to bigger and better things namely a TV spot where he uses his own paranormal gifts to make a name for himself. I really don't think Leo is a bad guy but he is selfish and arrogant he also uses Melody every chance he gets, Melody is much better off without him, Leo is all self-serving, I enjoyed the way Melody handled herself with the Ghosts and helped them move on by solving the murder where Leo just wanted his five minutes of fame in front of the camera Melody just wanted to help the ghosts I love how she went above and beyond so all three ghosts could move on.

I really enjoyed this new book by Kitty French it was light hearted, totally hilarious with a great supernatural ghost busting side that just hit all of the right notes for me, I loved every page from beginning to end and I am looking forward to a lot more in this series

A few of my favourite quotes :-)

‘For Bittersweet women, love is big and sweeping, all-consuming and life-altering.’

“I knew your skin would feel like that,” he says. “Too soft for all your hard edges.” I frown. “I don’t have hard edges.” “Yes you do. You’re all sharp edges, sarcasm and trouble, but your skin isn’t playing games. It’s smooth and warm, and it likes me much better than the rest of you does.” 

‘I’ve spent my entire adult life either trying to fit into the outside world like a square peg in a round hole,…and however hard I try, I’m never going to be a round peg.’

Buy Melody Bittersweet and the Girls' Ghostbusting Agency at Amazon

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.

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (290 pages)
published; July 2016 by Bookoenuture
ISBN13: 978-1786810397
genres: cozy mystery, supernatural

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.

August 2, 2016

My Visit to UGA's Special Collections Libraries

by Donna Huber

Richard B. Russell Building University of Georgia Athens
Richard B Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.
photo credit: Donna Huber

Inside this regular looking college campus building at The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, is the treasure trove known as the Special Collections Libraries. It is kind of a library-museum hybrid. And it is GORGEOUS.

Last week I had a training workshop for work and it happened to be held at the Richard B, Russell Building.. The bibliophile inside me was doing a happy dance. It is on the opposite end of campus from where I work and I hadn't made my way there.

There is so much to absorb; I think I could visit it every day for a week or more and not get bored.

Since I know the readers of Girl Who Reads live all over the world and it might not be feasible for you to travel to this awesome site, I videoed some of my tour. Keep in mind that I'm not a videographer and this is my first time trying something like this.

After climbing the grand staircase, you enter a lovely rotunda. On my visit the display cases were filled with items devoted to fanzines.


1980s copier used for publishing fanzines

After crossing through into rotunda, you can choice three galleries and as you saw in the video above I choose the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library's Signature Gallery. The entry way seen in the video gives an introduction to the the exhibits within.

The Hargrett Library is home to the largest collection of publications about Georgia and by Georgians. It houses 200,000 volumes in its rare book and Georgiana collections. Also included are millions of pages of historical manuscripts and photographs, along with maps, broadsides, and UGA archives and records.

Some of you may not know, but I'm a science geek. I have a degree in biology and I was really excited to see the botanical book display.There was a a book that looked like a hand-drawn field notebook that had me envious since my field notebook drawings were crap. And there were beautiful botanical prints on the walls.

A photo posted by Donna (@girl_who_reads) on

In addition to the botanical books and Civil War memerobilia (seen in the video), there was also a selection of Tarzan novels on display.

Tarzan books

Next, I visited the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection. I didn't realized until I started working at UGA that it was the home of the Peabody Awards.

Interesting facts:

  • It is the only public insitiution in the State of Georgia devoted solely to perserving and making accessible the moving image and sound history of our state.
  • It is the 3rd largest publicly accessible media archives in the country.

Currently there are 500,000 items in the archive, which includes a variety of audiovisuals dating back to 1917.

I loved the interactive stations where you could watch the archival films. And there were some cool displays of historical film and audio equipment.

interactive station at Peabody Awards Collection

interviewing equipment at Peabody Awards Collection

Finally, I stepped into The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. It is the only repository in Georgia directed solely toward support of scholarly research in modern political history and public policy development.

Again there were interactive stations with key political moments. And there is even an "opinion" wall where you could make note of your favorite Georgia vacation spots among other things.

interactive station at the Richard B. Russell Library

Station for visitors to live notes

Richard B. Russell was a public servant for Georgia, serving in the state legislature and as govenor before going to Washington, D.C.. He became a U.S. Senator in 1933 and served until his death in 1971. There is a replica of his senate office inside the library.

The mirror that is over the fireplace is also a video screen showing interviews with Russell.

I hope you enjoyed the tour and will make your own plans to visit. What is on display in the galleries is just a small glimpse of treasures housed inside the walls of the Richard B. Russell Building.

The Special Collections Libraries are open to the general public for research. Researchers need to create an online account to request materials, but it will give you access to all the archives has to offer. If you write historical fiction, particularly if focused on Georgia, then this would be an awesome resource for you. Learn more about setting up an account and using the resources.

The galleries that I visited are open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturdays, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm. (It's closed on home football weekends). On Tuesdays at 2:00 pm there are FREE docent-led tours, but groups of all ages can schedule a tour. The Special Collections Libraries would make a great field trip venue for school groups and homeschoolers. There is a beautiful lawn in front for picnicking and to let the kids run around a bit.

While on the campus of The University of Georgia, you may also enjoy visiting the Georgia Natural History Museum, Georgia Museum of Art, and Georgia Botantical Gardens.

If you do plan a visit to the Special Collections Library, please let me know. The displays change regularly and as I said in the beginning, I think I could visit several times and still find a new detail I missed.

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, but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances.

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August 1, 2016

New Books Coming This Month #MondayBlogs

School may be starting, but there are still plenty of of long hot days ahead. It's the perfect time to dive into a great book. Here are some of the books coming out this month.

cover of Sweet Tomorrows
The much-anticipated conclusion to Debbie Macomber’s beloved Rose Harbor series, set in the picturesque town of Cedar Cove, Sweet Tomorrows is a vibrant and poignant novel of letting go of fear, following your heart, and embracing the future—come what may.

Nine months ago, Mark Taylor abruptly left Cedar Cove on a perilous mission to right a wrong from his past. Though Mark finally confessed his love for her, innkeeper Jo Marie Rose is unsure if he’s ever coming back. The Rose Harbor Inn barely seems the same without Mark, but Jo Marie can’t bear to lose herself in grief once more. Determined to move forward, she begins dating again, and finds companionship when she takes on a boarder who is starting a new chapter herself.

Recovering from a twice-broken heart, Emily Gaffney, a young teacher, is staying at the inn while she looks for a home of her own. Having given up on marriage, Emily dreams of adopting children someday. She has her eye on one house in particular—with room for kids. Although Emily’s inquiries about the house are rudely rebuffed, her rocky start with the owner eventually blossoms into something resembling friendship. But when the relationship verges on something more, Emily will have to rethink what she truly wants and the chances she’s willing to take.

The inn seems to be working its magic again—Emily opening herself up to love, Jo Marie moving on—until Jo Marie receives shocking news.

With Debbie Macomber’s trademark charm and wisdom, Sweet Tomorrows brings to a close the journeys of cherished characters who feel like old friends. Macomber has created an enchanting place in the Rose Harbor Inn that readers will never forget.

Available August 2
Buy Sweet Tomorrows at Amazon

cover of Infinite Risk
In a world of infinite risk, the stakes have never been so high.

Beyond the pull of life and death lies the Immortal game. Edie Kramer has leaped back to put things right and save the boy she loves. Alone in the wrong timestream, she must reinvent herself and square off against dangerous Immortals determined to win this mortal match once and for all.

But righting past wrongs carries fresh dangers. As she navigates a new school and tries to put Kian on a different path, she also battles those will stop at nothing to keep her from derailing their deadly schemes. With few allies and her first love treating her like a stranger, Edie faces the most dangerous enemy of all―time itself. Yet she's come a long way from that dark night on the bridge, and when her back's to the wall, she'll go down fighting...

The conclusion of New York Times-bestselling author Ann Aguirre's Immortal Game trilogy is thrilling and unforgettable.

Available August 2
Buy Infinite Risk at Amazon

cover of 3 of a Kind
Who will hold the winning hand? Sherlock meets Ocean's Eleven in this wickedly funny, action-packed crime caper.

Darkus Knightley is used to expecting the unexpected. An extraordinary solver of crimes, with immense powers of deduction, and regularly found bedecked in tweed, Darkus is anything but the average 13-year-old. But he is the person to call when strange goings-on are afoot!

Despite trying to leave his detective ways behind to lead a normal teenage life, when his father's loyal housekeeper, Bogna, goes missing, Darkus must return to the family fold and follow the clues to America and the bright lights of Las Vegas. Alongside his father, Alan, and stepsister, Tilly, Darkus must once again face the deadly criminal organisation the Combination – and this time, all bets are off. With danger at every turn, Knightley and Son will need an ace or two up their sleeves in order to win this game. Will the odds be in our detective duo's favour? Or will this be the Knightleys' final roll of the dice?

Perfect for fans of Sherlock, this thrilling crime adventure will keep you on the edge of your seats.

Available August 2
Buy 3 of a Kind at Amazon

cover of Santorini Sunsets
The seventh intoxicating love story by Anita Hughes, set in beautiful Santorini, Greece. When a Hollywood superstar and a NYC society girl fall in love, sparks fly and secrets are revealed.

Brigit Palmer is thrilled to be on the Greek Island of Santorini. She's here for her wedding to Hollywood heart-throb Blake Crawford, one of America's most eligible bachelors. Brigit's parents have rented a villa, and soon guests will arrive from all over the world for the intimate ceremony.

Brigit is a New York socialite, and she's just given up her position at a Manhattan law firm to run her father's philanthropic foundation. Things are finally falling into place. Love, career, family. Everything is going so well...until she steps into the garden and sees her ex-husband Nathaniel hiding in the rose bushes.

Nathaniel, a failed novelist, announces that Blake sold the rights to the wedding to HELLO! Magazine for two million dollars (donated to charity), and he is the reporter assigned to write the story. Everyone expects Brigit to have her happily ever after, including her mother who taught her how to lead the perfect lifestyle, her younger sister Daisy who impatiently wishes for her own love story, and of course, her fiancé. Things are supposed to work out for them. But when Brigit discovers an unsettling secret about Blake, she questions everything she's ever believed about love, and wonders if she's better off alone.

Told in Anita Hughes' spectacularly descriptive prose, SANTORINI SUNSETS is a story about family bonds, first loves, and the question of when to let go and when to hang on as tight as you can.

Available August 2
Buy Santorini Sunsets at Amazon

The Trespasser
Antoinette Conway, the tough, abrasive detective from The Secret Place, is still on the Murder squad, but only just. She's partnered up with Stephen Moran now, and that's going well - but the rest of her working life isn't. Antoinette doesn't play well with others, and there's a vicious running campaign in the squad to get rid of her. She and Stephen pull a case that at first looks like a slam-dunk lovers' tiff, but gradually they realise there's more going on: someone on their own squad is trying to push them towards the obvious solution, away from nagging questions. They have to work out whether this is just an escalation in the drive to get rid of her - or whether there's something deeper and darker going on.

Available August 11
Buy The Trespasser at Amazon

cover of Sting
When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn't belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.

As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother's ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive.

Miles away from civilization and surrounded by swampland, the two play each other against their common enemies. Jordie's only chance of survival is to outwit Shaw, but it soon becomes clear to Shaw that Jordie isn't entirely trustworthy, either. Was she in on her brother's scam, or is she an innocent pawn in a deadly vendetta? And just how valuable is her life to Shaw, her remorseless and manipulative captor? Burning for answers-and for each other-this unlikely pair ultimately make a desperate move that could be their last.

Available August 16
Buy Sting at Amazon

cover of Curious Minds
CURIOUS MINDS by No. 1 bestselling author Janet Evanovich and screenwriter Phoef Sutton is a must-read thriller for fans of the Stephanie Plum mysteries including ONE FOR THE MONEY and TRICKY TWENTY-TWO.

They couldn't be less compatible, but they make a great team...

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little-to-no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he's also brilliant, rich and (some people might say) handsome.

Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard. Her assertive (some people might say aggressive) spitfire attitude has helped land a dream job at Blane-Grunwald bank. At least, Riley Moon thinks it's her dream job until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

An inquiry about missing Knight money leads to a missing man, missing gold and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon could hope to stop it...

Available August 16
Buy Curious Minds at Amazon

cover of Spirits, Rock Stars, and a Midnight Chocolate Bar
Pyper Rayne is back in book two of this popular spin off of the Jade Calhoun series. Join her and the rest of the gang as they battle ghosts on a cruise liner to the Caribbean.

Available August 16
Buy Spirits, Rock Stars, and a Midnight Chocolate Bar at Amazon

cover Under the Lights
In the follow-up to Abbi Glines’s #1 New York Times bestseller Until Friday Night—which bestselling author Kami Garcia called “tender, honest, and achingly real”—three teens from a small southern town are stuck in a dramatic love triangle.

Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.

High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.

Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.

As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.

Available August 23
Buy Under the Lights at Amazon

cover First Star I See Tonight
A star quarterback and a feisty detective play for keeps in this sporty, sexy, sassy novel—a long-awaited new entry in the beloved, award-winning, New York Times bestselling author’s fan-favorite Chicago Stars football series.

Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. Problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.

Which is why a good detective needs to think on her feet. “The fact is...I’m your stalker. Not full-out barmy. Just...mildly unhinged.”

Piper soon finds herself working for Graham himself, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. Instead, he’s hired her to keep an eye on the employees at his exclusive new nightclub. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. (Hint: Not!) If only she weren’t also dealing with a bevy of Middle Eastern princesses, a Pakistani servant girl yearning for freedom, a teenager who just wants to fit in, and an elderly neighbor demanding Piper find her very dead husband.

And then there’s Cooper Graham himself, a legendary sports hero who always gets what he wants—even if what he wants is a feisty detective hell bent on proving she’s as tough as he is.

From the bustling streets of Chicago to a windswept lighthouse on Lake Superior to the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay, two people who can’t stand to lose will test themselves and each other to discover what matters most.

Available August 23
Buy First Star I See Tonight at Amazon

cover of Criminal
Following the horrors Pria discovered in the basement of Sanctuary and her miraculous rescue, there is no longer any doubt in her mind that the Unified World Order and its goals for humanity are wicked. Convincing the rest of the world will be another story. When it’s revealed the files she stole from Sanctuary are worthless to the rebel cause, Pria and the other Free Patriots must scramble to come up with another plan to convince the rest of the criminals to rise up in open revolution—before the UWO’s monsters hunt down and destroy them all. But Pria’s tenuous grasp of liberty, self-determination, and human nature complicates her role in the rebellion as she finds herself torn between Pax, her ever-present protector, and Henri, her good-natured friend. As she works through her feelings, she becomes increasingly anxious for Pax, who displays symptoms of a disturbing ailment.

Free Patriots from a neighboring Nest bring with them a new plan to infiltrate the seemingly impregnable UWO machine, and Pria is once again at the center. This time, she must be willing to erase her identity, just as she’s beginning to figure out who she is. It’s a sacrifice she’s ready to make to take down the UWO and save the world, but she has no idea just how difficult it will be.

Criminal follows Pria from the relative safety of Asylum, to the wilds of the mountains, to the ordered madness of Denver Commune, through the inner workings of her heart and mind, and straight to a shocking, inevitable revelation that shatters her confidence in that which is most precious to her.

Available August 25
Buy Criminal at Amazon

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July 31, 2016

#BigBookGiveaway - Into Dust by B.J. Daniels

It's the last day of the Big Book Giveaway and I'm featuring one last book. Into Dust is the latest book (it just came out July 26) in New York Times bestselling author B.J. Daniels' Montana Hamiltons series.

As the daughter of a presidential candidate, Cassidy Hamilton left the Montana family ranch to escape notoriety and live her own life. But when someone tries to abduct her off a Houston sidewalk, Cassidy finds protection in the tall, dark and sexy form of cowboy Jack Durand. The gorgeous Texan doesn't recognize her, wants nothing from her and is determined to keep her safe.

Jack hates keeping secrets from the beautiful Cassidy, but he knows more about her kidnapping attempt than he's admitting. Forced on the run, Jack and Cassidy begin piecing together a jagged family puzzle, exposing a plot years in the making—one that will either tear them apart or bring them closer together than ever.

B.J. DANIELS’ life dream was to be a policewoman. After a career as an award-winning newspaper journalist, she wrote and sold 37 short stories before she finally wrote her first book. Since then she has won numerous awards including a career achievement award last year for romantic suspense. Daniels lives in Montana with her husband, Parker, and three springer spaniels, Spot, Jem and Ace. When she isn’t writing, she quilts, snowboards, camps, boats and plays tennis. Check out her webpage and blog at or join her on Facebook.

Start reading:

Enter the giveaway before midnight July 31 for your chance to win Into Dust along with 10 other books.

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