Readers' Favorite

November 5, 2016

Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

by Emily Morley

May 2015; HarperCollins; 9780062278234;
ebook & print (266 pages); young adult
A fan of web comics? Enjoy sword fights, science, and villains? Then meet Nimona, a shape-shifting girl with serious power and an unquenchable thirst for evil. Lord Blackheart may be the kingdom’s resident bad guy, but Nimona is a huge fan and quickly joins his team. With his brains and her brawn, they just might be able to take down Sir Goldenloin and save the kingdom! But things start to spiral out of control when Nimona’s power becomes sporadic, and Blackheart realizes she might not be who she claims.

I grabbed Nimona because—hey, I know that drawing style! Chances are (if you’re a Tumblr addict like me) you’ll recognize it, too. This may be Noelle Stevenson’s debut graphic novel, but she’s no novice. With several published comics and gigs with heavyweights like Marvel, DC, and Lumberjanes, it’s clear she’s in her element.

Chock full of plot twists and one-liners, Nimona has everything you want in a comic—a badass lead character, an unpredictable plot, and a big helping of sarcasm. This novel had me laughing out loud and on the edge of my seat. I love Stevenson’s mix of science and magic. She artfully balances the lighthearted humor with the heavier themes that emerge towards the end of the novel. Besides, it’s fun to side with the bad guys every once in a while.

I devoured this in one sitting and immediately called my sister to tell her about it. It’s too good not to be shared! My only disappointment is that Stevenson doesn’t have another full-length graphic novel out yet. For now, you can find me obsessively checking her Tumblr.

Buy Nimona at Amazon

Born and raised in Michigan, Emily Morley is an artist and aspiring author who’s been writing and illustrating books since she was six years old. She gravitates towards fantasy (hello, fellow Harry Potter fans) and books about complicated characters overcoming the impossible. She’s also an avid traveler who’s managed to read on six continents and hopes to add the seventh soon. When she is home, she likes to curl up with a huge cup of steaming tea and a good, thick book. 

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November 4, 2016

Ghosts in Fire

by Chris

All it takes is one ember.

The house was old, older than either of them knew. Its history was traced back in the fading tapestries and haunted halls, century upon century of ancient portraits staring at them as they wandered from room to room. Much of the house remained uninhabited, for they were young, and in love, and needed only a few rooms to themselves. They had let the servants go, and found work elsewhere for the cook, and lived alone, just the two of them, in Blackwater Hall.

He had inherited the house from some distant relative, now long-deceased, to live in when he married. It had been kept up through the intervening years to the sparsest degree, and dust caked all but the most-used rooms. When he took his new bride to see it and they pushed open the front door, he gasped and she sighed, for to her it was beautiful. Grand, sweeping staircases wound away from the entrance, a chandelier of crystal drooping massively over the cold, marble floor. The door shut behind them, and in the silence, the hall resonated with a deep, ominous bang and startled them greatly.

To him, the house was dark, and cold, and whispers filled the halls at night. He heard the voices of his ancestors through the walls, telling him of tragedies that befell those who lingered now in the darkness, unable to escape. He did not believe in ghosts, but he knew what his ears told him: he knew what his skin felt: a coldness, deeper than the coming winter, filled this place.

For weeks she danced joyfully through the labyrinthine passages, or watched birds from behind clouded windows, or played at the ancient piano, dreadfully tuned. Her melodies were sonorous and pleasant, and he would sit and watch her for hours, admiring this charming and delightful woman who had taken him as her husband.

Autumn came, and with it the fall of leaves through the grounds made rich carpets of reds and golds for them to tread. They would venture far from the house then, right down to the river that marked the edge of their land, and back again. Through the orchards, they walked day after day, though the trees had not borne fruit in an age.

But as the weather turned and the clouds came in, so too did her mood begin to change. Where once joyful music sprang from her fingers and lips, now her melodies were haunting and sad. He wondered at this odd change in her, for he had never seen it before—always she had been cheerful and sprightly. Now she languished in the halls and the rooms and said to him that she could bear no more, and wished for the clouds to depart. She said this even on sunny days.

The house grew cold indeed then, for it felt to him of a chill deeper and more chilling than that of winter’s wind. When the last leaf fell from the great oak that stood tall outside the parlor window, he brought in wood and set going a great fire in the hearth, so that they might have some cheer and warmth. Outside, the tree looked on in silence, its branches clawing at the window.

She thanked him for his efforts and apologized for her mood: it was the coming of winter, she said, and nothing more. But he was not so certain and began to listen again for the whispers and voices that roamed the passages in the depths of night, portraits of the dead furtively speaking in hushed tones amongst themselves that this house, this place—it was not for the living. It was for them, and these trespassers, these intruders, had no business living among them.

He heard these voices in his head when he could not sleep, and all the house was black as pitch. He heard them in the day when the sun was hidden behind storm clouds and rain. He heard them, even, in the dreary and despondent notes from her piano, which she now played only seldom.

But come the sun—which always returned, eventually—the voices ceased, and he thought himself childish and foolish for entertaining such wild thoughts as ghosts. Soon it was winter indeed, and snow covered all the grounds and weighed at the branches of the orchard. Now they stayed often indoors, fires roaring in parlors and kitchens and they sat and spoke tenderly, or played at cards, or sang, or said nothing at all and kept each other company in contemplative silence.

But the voices would not be so easily dismissed, and they began to call to her, then—outsider, not of the line of the house, they said to her; she did not belong. He could stay, if he must, but she must leave. She shivered in her sleep, and when he pulled her close he felt her chill, and was afraid.

So he left their bedroom for the parlor, where the fire that had warmed them in the evening smoldered still, safe behind the grate that kept the sparks and embers at bay. To the fire he went, and grasped a long branch that had not fully burned, taking it from the fire and bringing it with him back to the bedroom. He would set a fire there, he thought, and so keep them warm through the night—though his mother had told him sleep in cold prevented the ague. And as he did, the voices saw their chance and blew a cold wind through the flue. It rushed around the room and tousled his hair, and he looked back for a moment, frightened.

But there was nothing in the room, and so he left the parlor, shutting the door behind him. The room glowed gently, light from the diminishing fire in the hearth … and the growing one at the tapestry, for the wind had blown an ember from his smoldering log.

He returned to their bedroom, set a fire in the hearth, and was about to retire when he saw their bed was empty. In the gloom, he looked about, but she was nowhere to be found.

Out of the bedroom, down the hall—he called out to her, and her name rang loud in the silence. Soon he found himself in a part of the home that he had never seen before and pushing open a door looked in on a drawing room, thick with cobwebs and dust, the pale moonlight casting an eerie glow on the silhouettes of cloaked and draped furniture. Even here, in this dreadful and abandoned wing, she was nowhere to be found.

And so he turned back, and it was as he was making his way to their bedroom once more that the scent of terror breathed around him: smoke and death. He forwent the bedroom, continuing on down the corridor, and was stopped in his tracks by a great and terrible heat, flames licking at the rugs and wood panels desperately, furiously, hungrily. He screamed for her—and heard only the roar of flames in response.

So he plunged himself into the flames, batting away their invitation to burn, racing down one hall and then the next, the fires of doom growing all the while. Soon the smoke was billowing thick and black, and he began to choke and smother. And that was when despair took his heart in its icy grip, for he knew that after such a time, she must surely have perished. And facing a life without her light, he lay himself down in the great hall, as a flaming beam crashed down upon him and took his breath away.

Come the morning, the flames were spent, and the home was a charred skeleton, scarce a pillar left standing to remind of its former glory. And in the remains of the great hall, under smoldering beams and collapsed roofs, there was a hand, reaching out in a desperate plea to the skies above—a plea never to be answered. And beside it was another, for in the end they had, of course, died together as they lived together, never to know how close they had been.

And for all the remaining ages, he wanders the halls still, calling her name and seeking in the desolate ruin for a beauty that he can never find. And she seeks for him, never to know that they had joined the chorus of whispering voices, now silenced.

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 ErĂ¢th. A dark epic fantasy, it is a tale of the bitter struggle against darkness and despair, and an acknowledgment 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

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November 3, 2016

3 New Books About World War II

by Susan Roberts

photo credit: Stranger Strikes Again by Alicja. From Tookapic.
World War II ended in September 1945, and there continue to be excellent books written about this terrible time period in world history.  I have reviews for three very recent books about life during the war from totally different perspectives:

Shelby's Creek is about an Iowa farmer who has to go to war, The Velvet Hours  is about a Jewish girl in Paris as the Nazis are preparing to take over the city and Mischling is about twins who are sent to Auschwitz.

cover Shelby's Creek
Shelby's Creek by Mark Matthiessen

Shelby's Creek is a wonderful novel about life during WWII. The story is told in alternating chapters by an Iowa farmer and members of the French resistance in Paris. The beautiful and peaceful life on Valentin's farm is juxtaposed with the killing and fear in Paris during the war. Valentine has been deferred from the military because he is a farmer and even though he understands the need to defeat the enemy in Europe, he is a strong pacifist and a lover of the land that he grew up. Valentin's chapters are very peaceful and meditative. In contrast, the chapters told by the French resistance members are painful and angry as they work to defeat the enemy by any means possible. When Valentin receives a letter from his grandmother in Paris, he knows that he needs to help her and the only way to do this is to join the resistance. This is book 1 in a new series and I am anxious to read the next book.

Buy Shelby's Creek at Amazon

cover The Velvet Hours
The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

"Those hours were like velvet to me. Stories spun of silken thread."

This wonderful novel brings together two stories based in Paris. The first story is that of Marthe deFlorian, a poor girl who became a courtesan during the Belle Epoque era and her granddaughter Solange who doesn't even know of Marthe's existence until 1938. After they meet, Marthe starts sharing the story of her life with her granddaughter who wants to be an author. Over the two years that they talk, Solange learns about her grandmother's life and her love of art and beautiful objects. In 1940, after Marthe's death, Solange locks her grandmother's apartment for the last time before she flees Paris before the Germans arrive. This apartment was not unlocked again until 2010 after the death of Solange.

The book alternates between the stories of the two main characters. Often in books with two main characters telling their story, I like one more than the other but with this book, I was equally interested in the stories of both women. They both gave a beautiful look at their time periods, not just the clothes and the art of the time but also the mood of the people in Paris. The reader can feel the unrest going on in Paris as the Germans get closer to invading France.

This is a fantastic historical fiction novel with two main characters that Alyson Richman's readers won't soon forget

Buy The Velvet Hours at Amazon

cover Mischling
Mischling by Affinity Konar

"We don’t always know ourselves, who we can become, what we may do, after evil has done what it likes with us."

Mischling is a term that was used by the Third Reich to describe people who had Aryan and Jewish blood. The novel begins when 12-year-old twins Pearl and Stasha are in a cattle car bound for Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 along with their mother and grandfather. When they arrive, the twins are sent to 'the Zoo' by Dr. Mengle. The Zoo is where he kept twins, triplets and other children that he thought were interesting so that he could perform physical and mental experiments on them. In this area, they had a little more freedom but the things that were done to them were unimaginable. This story is told through the eyes of Pearl and Stasha in alternating chapters.

Pearl and Stasha are definitely two halves of the whole. Pearl remembers the past and the sad while Stasha is assigned to remember the funny and the future. They are so connected that they know what each other is thinking and feeling until they start trying to block the pain that Dr. Mengle is inflicting on them to keep the other from feeling their pain. They make friends and learn to live in their new environment because they are told that their cooperation will help their mother and grandfather. Their story is heartbreaking but there is also hope for the future sprinkled through their stories.

I am not going to tell you that this is an easy book to read. I had to put it down more than once because I just couldn't imagine what was being done to these children in the name of medicine. One good thing is that the author doesn't go into great detail about the experimentation but if you are at all familiar with this time period, you know what's happening. I am definitely glad that I read this book and I know that the characters of Pearl and Stasha are going to stay in my mind. Will you cry while you read it -- ABSOLUTELY -- but you will also see those small opportunities for hope in the future.

Buy Mischling at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in NC when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and helping to take care of their grandson.  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. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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November 2, 2016

Book Spotlight: An Enlightening Quiche by Eva Pasco

Two headstrong women in their forties coming from different moral directions clash:

AUGUSTA BERGERON: Dysfunctional. Deceptive. Demure. More than meets the eye at face value, and stuck in a holding pattern, the town siren engages in reckless behavior she attributes to maternal abandonment until she eggs-humes her mother’s quiche recipe.

LINDSAY METCALFE: Pedigreed. Privileged. Proper. Mourning the recent death of her mother, the historian-in-residence hailing from Boston, sets out to preserve the legacy of an impoverished mill, but gets more than she bargains for when taking a self-centered adolescent under her wing.

Their alternating first-person narratives relate how an heirloom quiche recipe and baking rivalry between two bosom buddies redress erroneous assumptions, misdeeds, unleashed secrets, and malicious intent—all of which wreak havoc, altering the lives of those affected from the fallout of a tragedy.

Start Reading:

Buy An Enlightening Quiche at Amazon

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November 1, 2016

Charity Book Drive

child looking at books

Girl Who Reads is excited to announce we have partnered with Athens, Georgia-based charity Books for Keeps to host a book drive this holiday season. Donations will be accepted by Girl Who Reads from November 1 through December 19 (more information below).

Do you have books your children have outgrown or maybe you have duplicate copies of? Is it time to thin your bookshelves to make room for more favorites? Will you consider donating them to children who may never have owned their own book or even have easy access to libraries?

Books for Keeps is a 501c3 charitable organization committed to providing low-income children with books (for keeps!).  I'm excited to share my love for books with children through this organization and I hope my awesome readers will join me by donating to this organization.

A note from executive director Leslie Williams Hale

books for keeps infographicBooks for Keeps was founded in Athens, Georgia, in 2011, with a simple mission: improve children's reading achievement by addressing barriers related to the accessibility and appeal of reading material. We give books to children whose reading opportunities outside of school might be otherwise limited due to geography, income, and other factors.

Books for Keeps partners with elementary schools with a high proportion of low-income students, focusing on those schools and school districts where 90 percent or more of students qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs. In these schools, every kindergarten through 5th-grade student is invited to choose - and keep - 12 books just in time for the end of the school year. All books are new and like-new and are selected by Books for Keeps based on feedback from students gathered at each year's giveaways.

In 2016, Books for Keeps gave away 50,000 books to 4,300 students at 11 schools. The organization recently launched an expansion effort to add 14 schools over the next three years, reaching an estimated 11,000 children annually by 2019 - that's roughly 140,000 books to be given away each spring! In BFK's home of Athens-Clarke County, 92 percent of elementary-school-age children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Books for Keeps plans to reach all of those students at 14 schools, plus new high-need schools in Atlanta and rural areas of Georgia.

How you can help

Donate your gently used books. While Books for Keeps ensures that every student in the identified elementary schools receives books, they also work individually with middle and high school media specialists to identify students who are at risk of not have access to books. Therefore, used books for any age and any reading level are welcome, from picture books up to adult books. Contact me at donna (at) for information on where to send your books. Remember to use Media Mail when shipping to receive the best postage rate and books should be received by me no later than Monday, December 19. This will give Books for Keeps time to inventory, sort, and package the books for their Spring distribution.

girl readingYou may be thinking you have no books you want to part with and will purchase books instead. DON'T! Instead, make a cash donation.

Make a cash donation.  Books for Keeps has brokered deals with publishers and book distributors to purchase new books at a deeply discounted rate. Therefore, that $10 you would spend on 1 book would be better donated as cash directly to Books for Keeps who then can buy 3 books with that same $10. Donate via the Books for Keeps website, and make sure to select "Girl Who Reads campaign" under the donation designation field (found below the Payment Information section)

*If you are an author or publisher who would be interested in partnering with Books for Keeps by providing books at a discounted rate, please contact me at donna (at) and I will put you in touch with Leslie.*

Will you share the love of reading with a child this holiday season?

happy child getting books

A side note: All donations, whether in the form of books or cash, made during this campaign qualify as charitable giving and a receipt can be provided upon request for tax purposes.

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November New Releases

May the books on your shelves be as many as the leaves in your yard.

The leaves are falling rapidly, but the beautiful fall days are just calling to me to sit outside with a good book. And there are plently of good books coming out this month.

cover The Bone Collection
The Bone Collection: 4 Novellas by Kathy Reichs
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the hit Fox series Bones comes a collection of pulse-pounding stories featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan—including an all-new story that tells how she got her start!

Available November 1
Buy The Bone Collection at Amazon

cover All I Want For Christmas
All I Want For Christmas (14 Novellas to Benefit Diabetes Research)
“5-B POPPY LANE” by Debbie Macomber
Come visit with Helen Shelton, her granddaughter Ruth and Ruth's husband, Paul. They'll offer you a cup of mulled cider and the story of how they met—and they'll share Helen's breathtaking adventures during the Second World War.

For Mary Sullivan Christmas has always been about family. As she hangs her ornaments, she's swept back to the first days of her whirlwind romance with her husband--and the love that would be the foundation on which they built their family.

Brayden Steele gave up his love of Christmas many years ago when he lost his mother and father in a car wreck. But just because he no longer believes in Santa Clause, doesn’t mean the magic has given up on him.

If anyone can make Drew Lawson believe in the magic of Christmas, it's the mind-wreckingly beautiful Skylar Sullivan.  She's the girl-next-door he'd classified as completely off-limits two years ago--and she's standing on his doorstep on Christmas Eve.

On the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary, Big Mac and Linda McCarthy take a look back at how they came to be, while each of their children confront a new challenge in their own lives. Come to Gansett Island to celebrate the holidays and the anniversary of the island’s most loved couple!

“A DUNDEE CHRISTMAS” by Brenda Novak
Welcome to Dundee, Idaho, where the town is small but the hearts of the people living in it are large. A woman seeking refuge in an unfamiliar town during a snowstorm is taken in by a man who helps her discover a new sense of home. But Ken Holbrook provides more than safety and comfort because with him, she also finds love.

“UNMATCHABLE” by Laurelin Paige and Kayti McGee
After Jane Osborne is unceremoniously dumped by a rich man, and then invited to his wedding, on (Christmas Eve no less), she decides to hire a date from Craigslist and pass him off as an upgrade.

When his goddaughter, Daisy, is orphaned, confirmed bachelor Cormac Sheenan adopts her. All goes well until Marietta's seasonal Santa Claus promises his daughter a mommy for Christmas. Cormac is livid, until his old flame Whitney Alder comes back to town.…

For the movie star and the single mom, will a Christmas Wish become their new reality?

Widow and caterer Jenna Wheeler is determined to spin Christmas into the stuff of magic for her four children, even if that means helping out her new landlord, sexy billionaire Carson McRaven. At first, Carson wants nothing to do with Jenna, children or the holidays, but he has a little to learn about the spirit of Christmas.

Simon Castle' s on his way to a make-or-break meeting unseasonably scheduled for December 25--until the gorgeous redhead subbing for his limo driver takes him on a detour.

Can carpenter Hamish MacFadden show free-spirit Essie Goodman how magical family--and Christmas--can be?

Available November 1
Buy All I Want For Christmas at Amazon

cover The Chemist
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.
She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now, she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life, but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors.

Available November 8
Buy The Chemist at Amazon

cover Fractures in Ink
Fractures in Ink by Helena Hunting
Sometimes the things we shouldn t want become exactly what we need . . .

Waitressing at a seedy strip club isn t ideal, but it pays Sarah Adamson s tuition. Her goal is to finish her master s program and get a job that doesn t involve tight skirts and groping hands. She doesn t need distractions. Especially not the one that comes in the form of a hot-as-sin tattoo artist who works across the street from her apartment.

Kicked out at sixteen, and a high school dropout, Chris Zelter is familiar with wanting things he can t have. His fractured life has never been easy. As the product of someone else s bad decisions, he knows exactly what happens when the wrong person controls your marionette strings. Now an accomplished tattoo artist in a renowned studio in Chicago, Chris has it together.


Apart from his infatuation with Sarah. She s way out of his league, and Chris knows it.

But he's willing to be her bad decision. At least for now.

Available November 14
Buy Fractures in Ink at Amazon

cover Turbo Twenty-Three
Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich
Speed is the name of the game as Stephanie Plum returns in Turbo Twenty-Three—the thrilling, fast-paced new adventure from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Available November 15
Buy Turbo Twenty-Three at Amazon

cover No Man's Land
No Man's Land by David Baldacci
Following THE ESCAPE and THE FORGOTTEN, #1 NYT bestselling author David Baldacci returns with his next thriller featuring military investigator John Puller.

#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci returns with his next thriller featuring military investigator John Puller.

John Puller's mother disappeared nearly 30 years ago. Despite an intensive search and investigation, she was never seen again. But new allegations have come to light suggesting that Puller's father--now suffering from dementia and living in a VA hospital--may have murdered his wife. Puller is officially barred from working on the case--and faces a potential court martial if he disobeys the order--but he knows he can't sit this investigation out. When intelligence operative Veronica Knox turns up, Puller realizes that there is far more to this case than he had originally thought. Puller will stop at nothing to discover the truth about what happened to his mother...even if it means proving that his father is a killer

Available November 15
Buy No Man's Land at Amazon

cover Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling's screenwriting debut is captured in this exciting hardcover edition of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay.

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.

Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader's bookshelf.

Available November 19
Buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at Amazon

cover The Mayakovsky Tapes
The Mayakovsky Tapes by Robert Littell
An intriguing novel of Soviet Russia and one of its most fascinating artists.

In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow’s deluxe Metropole Hotel. They have gathered, not altogether willingly, to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure.

Each of these ladies loved Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their memories of him, a portrait of the artist emerges. From his early years as a leader of the Futurist movement to years as a propagandist for the Revolution, to the censorship battles that turned him against the State, Mayakovsky is revealed as a passionate, complex man who lived at the center of history and fought to hold onto his ideals even in the face of a world changing for the worse.

The Mayakovsky Tapes is an ambitious, impressive novel that captures the tumultuous life of one of the most significant writers of the Soviet era.

Available November 22
Buy The Mayakovsky Tapes at Amazon

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October 31, 2016

Review: Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern #Horror #MondayBlogs

by MK French
October 2016; Tachyon Publications; 9781616962326;
ebook and print (432 pages); horror
a free galley was provided by Netgalley

Ellen Datlow has curated countless collections of horror and fantasy; anything with her name attached pretty much guarantees that the stories I'm about to read are high quality and will linger in my mind long after I finish reading the book. This volume of twenty-four stories is not an exception to that rule. The authors of the individual tales are well known in horror and other genres and do involve topics that might leave you queasy. There's the horror of the every day -- kidnapping, incest, murder, torture -- as well as the supernatural elements that include body horror and modification. Some of the stories have unreliable narrators, and most of the grotesqueries aren't described in explicit detail. Still, if you have a very vivid imagination, you can't help but picture it in your mind and feel the shivers.

Most people might think of horror as the blood and gore kind. The book description includes the story about two inexperienced thieves, and that story certainly has the chilling blood and gore horror that could make you queasy. The stories that stick with me more are the quieter ones, the horrors of the every day. Lisa Tuttle's "Closet Dreams" is one of those. The girl that was kidnapped somehow escaped through the wall then saw her kidnapper again. The end of that story was heartbreaking and hit me in the gut like a punch. Anna Taborska's "Little Pig" truly evoked the freezing cold of a Russian winter and horror that had to take place to survive it. Ray Cluley's "At Night, When the Demons Come By" nearly made me cry at the end of it; there are demons and people trying to survive the end of the world, but horrible thing is truly what people do to each other in the name of survival. And maybe that's the theme with all of these stories. The narrators try their best to survive awful situations. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you really don't want them to.

Buy Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror at Amazon

MK French, reviewer. Born and raised in New York City, M.K. started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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October 30, 2016

Review: Lovers and Newcomers by Rosie Thomas

by Susan Roberts
November 2016; Overlook Press; 9781468302653;
ebook & print (448 pages); women's fiction
a free book was provided by the author

Miranda Meadowe decides a lonely widowhood in her crumbling country house is not for her. Reviving a university dream, she invites five of her oldest friends to come and join her to live and to stave off the prospect of old age. All have their own reasons for accepting.

To begin with, the omens are good. They laugh, dance, drink and behave badly, as they cling to the heritage they thought was theirs forever: power, health, stability. They are the baby boomers; the world is theirs to change.

But as old attractions resurface alongside new tensions, they discover that the clock can’t be put back. When building work reveals an Iron Age burial site of a tribal queen, the outside world descends on their idyllic retreat, and the isolation of the group is breached. The past is revealed – and the future that beckons is very different from the one they imagined.

"Spellbinding...Honest and compassionate. (Thomas's books are a delight from start to finish."  Daily Express

"Her characters are so interesting and realistic that readers will be reluctant to let them go." Library Journal Review

"Thomas writes with a sharp nib, not a dull computer key.  She is neither mawkish or squeamish, but full of fresh images." Washington Post Book World.

My Review of Lovers and Newcomers:

Six college friends reunite in their 60s to live together on the same property.  It sounds like a great premise for a story - can friendships be re-ignited after people have lived totally different lives for many years?  Once I got all of the characters figured out, I really started to enjoy this book.  I think that it's a book that will be most enjoyed by readers the same age as the characters because many of the topics focus on aging, health and the struggles in  long term marriages.  Younger readers will enjoy it too but I think that older readers will understand the characters better. My favorite characters were the three women and I identified parts of each of them in my life.  By the middle of the book, I wanted to keep reading to find out how the women adjusted to the changes in their lives and how they lived with often strained friendships.  To me, the women in this novel are the reason that it's such a great book to read.

Buy Lovers and Newcomers at Amazon

About the Author:
Rosie Thomas is the author of numerous critically acclaimed, bestselling novels. She has won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award twice, for her novels Iris & Ruby and Sunrise. Born in a small village in northern Wales, Thomas discovered a love of traveling and mountaineering when her children were grown. In the years since, she has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, trekked in the footsteps of Shackleton on South Georgia Island, and spent time on a tiny Bulgarian research station in Antarctica. She   ranks among the top 100 authors whose books are borrowed from United Kingdom libraries.

Susan Roberts 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 they travel extensively. 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. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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