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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

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

February 17, 2017

February's Mystery Box Giveaway

Congratulations, Elizabeth, for winning the January mystery box. Want to know what was in it?

Thank you, Christine Brae, for co-sponsoring the mystery box. Be sure to read the interview with Christine and MK. French's review of In This Life.

What will be in this month's mystery box? There is at least one book, plus a number of other goodies for the book lover. This month's box is co-sponsored by Kathleen Barker.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you are an author/publisher who would like to sponsor a box or provide small promotional materials (bookmarks, postcards, magnets, etc.), please email donna (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.

February 16, 2017

eStories - a New Audiobook Subscription Service

by Donna Huber

Recently I was contacted to try out a new audiobook subscription service - eStories. Is this company a viable competitor to Audible? I think so.

Like other subscription book services, you pay a monthly fee to receive credits that are then used to purchase books. Their basic plan starts at $11.99 for 1 credit per month (it's a little cheaper if you pay the fee annually instead of monthly) and you have 6 months to use the credit. They have an app for Android and iPhone, plus you have the option to listen in browser. Interestingly, instead of popping up a separate window the player runs along the bottom of their page and you can continue browsing their site without interrupting the player.

As for the selection: it's great. I saw a lot of classics like Orwell's 1984 and Hinton's The Outsiders, but there were also brand new releases such as I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi. There was an overwhelming number of choices. I had a hard time choosing but decided to go with a cozy mystery since it is difficult to find cozy mysteries at my digital library. I got A Most Curious Murder (A Little Library Mystery #1) by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli and I look forward to listening to it.

It was easy to navigate the site and "purchase" the audiobook. The app seems pretty straight forward. I like that when I clicked on "view book details" was I not only offered suggested reads but that there was a link to "more by narrator". I don't see this option very often, but I do occasionally love a narrator so much that I want to hear more books by them.

I downloaded the book on my computer so that I would be sure to have it forever. The MP3 tracks come in a zip file and can be listened to using any media player that uses MP3 files.

Overall, it was an easy site to use with a large selection of audiobooks that ranged from the classics to new releases. There were titles I readily recognized as well as ones I'd never heard of (I'm going to look for a paperback copy of How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster).

If you are looking for an audiobook subscription service, I recommend eStories. But don't take my word for it: Sign up for a 30-day FREE trial today and see for yourself.

Donna Huber 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.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an eStories and Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at eStories or Amazon using the links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

February 15, 2017

Susan's Recent Reads

by Susan Roberts

If you read my reviews, you know that I like to group several books under the same topic and post the reviews together.  Here are some books that I've read lately that don't really fit into a category but are great to read.

cover Burning September
September 2017; 978-1537570686;
ebook & print (222 pages); romance
a free book was provided for this review
Burning September by Melissa Simonson

When I first started reading this book, I didn't like it but there was something that told me to keep reading and I'm so glad that I did. It's a wonderful book about family (unconventional but still family) and learning to trust yourself. Days after finishing it, I am still thinking about the two sisters.

When Kat is very young, her father died and Caroline her teenage sister was granted custody. Caroline is a perfect sister and she takes raising Kat very seriously. She plans her life and her future and Kat follows her plans to the letter....until a policeman comes to the door to arrest Caroline for setting fire to her ex-boyfriend's house with him in it. Once the sisters are separated from each other, Kat has to learn to grow up and trust herself to plan her future while she diligently works to get her sister out of jail.

This is an excellent character driven coming of age novel that will keep you cheering for Kat to learn to be her own person.

Buy Burning September at Amazon.

cover Three Blonde Mice
August 2016; Diversion Publishing;
9781682302859; ebook &
print (268 pages); cozy mystery
a free book was provided for this review
Three Blonde Mice by Jane Heller

Elaine and her best friends Jackie and Pat decide to take a week's vacation at a cooking retreat. It's a retreat about farm to table cooking, something that doesn't appeal much to Elaine and after she meets the other people in the group, she is really not happy with the subject. Much to her dismay, the boyfriend that she just broke up with, shows up at the retreat to try to win her back. After a few days, Elaine finds out that someone plans to murder the celebrity chef who is leading the retreat. The police don't give her any help so she and her two friends make plans to stop the murder before it happens.

This is a perfect romantic comedy for the not so young. I enjoyed it - especially Elaine who had a great snarky side to her personality.

This is a sequel to Princess Charming but you can read it as a standalone without any confusion.

Buy Three Blonde Mice  at Amazon

cover The Westhampton Hurricane
November 2016; 978-1540302328;
ebook & print (186 pages; mystery
a free book was provided for this review
The Westhampton Hurricane by Gerald Kubicki

This is book #27 in the Colton Banyon series and I think I'd have enjoyed it more if I had read the books in order.

This book takes place in 1966 in Westhampton. A hurricane has caused a lot of damage to the sand dunes and when 17-year-old Colton and his best friend Dale decide to check things out, they are kept away from the location by army vehicles. They do some investigation on their own and find out that a Nazi u boat that had been sunk, had surfaced and washed to shore. During the following week, Colton and Dale have all kinds of adventures trying to solve the mystery of the boat and its cargo.

This was a fun coming of age novel with lots of references to the music and life in the 60s. When I have time, I plan to go back and read the entire series.

Buy The Westhampton Hurricane at Amazon.

cover Jeopardy Surface
January 2017; Perpetuity Publishing;
978-0998132600; thriller;
ebook & print (358 pages)
a free book was provided for this review
Jeopardy Surface by Sheri Leigh Miller

Jeopardy Surface is the first book in a new series featuring agent Regan Ross who is part of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. Her area of expertise geographic profiling and predictive analysis is very helpful in pinpointing similar areas in a string of crimes which was very interesting to learn about.

As the book begins, Regan is asked to consult on the body of a missing coed. The body had been mutilated and left in a remote area. As Regan and Rob Haskins (the lead investigator and a former boyfriend of Regan's) a similar crime is committed. It appears to be a serial killer but they were unable to find any similar crimes until Regan goes to an FBI conference and meets Rourke, an investigator from N Ireland who is lecturing on five similar murders in her country. Will Regan and Rourke be able to catch the killer before he continues his killing spree?

Regan is a very well crafted lead character. She has a lot of flaws and leads a solitary life -- her parents are dead and she only has a sister and a niece and the aunt who raised them. She is ex-military and was injured both physically and mentally. It was very interesting to see her learn to trust other people and to start to heal.

This was an excellent mystery and kept me turning pages to see who the murderer was. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Buy Jeopardy Surface at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with 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.

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.

February 14, 2017

Review: The Gilded Cage by Vic James

by MK French

February 2017; Del Rey Books; 9780425284155;
ebook & print (368 pages); young adult, fantasy
a free ARC was provided for this review

In an alternate version of England, the Equals are the ones that rule. They have Skill, different powers that set them above the commoners, who must serve their aristocratic families for ten years as slaves. There are no rights, no privileges, not even the consideration of being human during those ten years. Abigail tried to arrange for her entire family to serve their ten years for the most powerful family in England, but her brother Luke is sent to a work camp. Even among the Equals, there are rivalries and jealousies, as well as machinations and conspiracies that threaten to overtake the government. Luke is caught up in a rebellion, and Abigail is simply trying to survive.

The story is compelling and the background is immersive. Details are laid out over time so that the reader discovers more about the Equals as Abigail and Luke do in their different locations. Descriptions of the alternate history of this England is fascinating, as well as the actual powers that the Skilled have. They are the ones with rights and privileges, wealth and rank. The powers they have could bring great benefit to their families or be the source of tragedy; grief from one Skilled woman led to utter destruction and a twenty-five-year coma. It isn't just in England, too. Mention is made of other countries all over the world having Skilled people, and the Civil War in the United States led to a divided nation. The north believed in equality and not having Skilled people in charge, and the South kept their Skilled elite. It's a very interesting take on class and social structures.

The trading viewpoints gives you insight into what Luke and Abigail go through; the situations are horrible in different ways, and I found myself getting angry on their behalf. Horrible things happen to slaves, and most of the people in charge, free or Equal, don't care at all. The ones that do care have to move carefully via "games" to ferment revolt among the commoners. Luke certainly has the worst physical punishment and wear, but Abigail is still used at the whims of the Skilled around her. At first, the machinations are subtle, and it isn't clear that there are other forces behind the revolts. The last third of the book is one surprising twist after another. Even so, the end is a complete shock and I kept hoping that something would change for the characters. This is the first book in a series, though, so likely the fallout from this book will play out in future books. I can't wait to read them.

Buy The Gilded Cage at Amazon

 Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French 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.

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.

February 13, 2017

Donna's February Reading List #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

I haven't had much time for reading. I volunteer with a children's basketball organization, and this year I'm in charge. Then I came down with the flu last weekend. It doesn't look like I'm going to get any winter weather that will keep me shut inside either. I did finish up a couple of books I started in January.


cover Some Luck
Some Luck by Jane Smiley (audio book)
I enjoyed this epic historical novel much more than I thought I would. It reminded me a little of a John Steinbeck novel. I've already checked my digital library to see if they have the next book in the series as an audio book. I'm waiting for a copy of it to come available.

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different yet equally remarkable children: Frank, the brilliant, stubborn first-born; Joe, whose love of animals makes him the natural heir to his family's land; Lillian, an angelic child who enters a fairy-tale marriage with a man only she will fully know; Henry, the bookworm who's not afraid to be different; and Claire, who earns the highest place in her father's heart. Moving from post-World War I America through the early 1950s, Some Luck gives us an intimate look at this family's triumphs and tragedies, zooming in on the realities of farm life, while casting-as the children grow up and scatter to New York, California, and everywhere in between-a panoramic eye on the monumental changes that marked the first half of the twentieth century. Rich with humor and wisdom, twists and surprises, Some Luck takes us through deeply emotional cycles of births and deaths, passions, and betrayals, displaying Smiley's dazzling virtuosity, compassion, and understanding of human nature and the nature of history, never discounting the role of fate and chance. This potent conjuring of many lives across generations is a stunning tour de force.

Buy Some Luck at Amazon

How to Manifest Money Effortlessly by Bruno R. Cignacco (ebook)
I reviewed this book last Friday.

This book is primarily focused on the most relevant techniques to manifest money effortlessly. The text pinpoints the main metaphysical principles related to the creation of wealth. It also sets out wrong assumptions about money and replaces them with positive connotations about it. The book goes on to highlight the main requirements to attract more abundance. It describes an overarching series of strategies to attract more prosperity, such as visualization, meditation, affirmations, Feng Shui, emotional release, objective setting, playfulness, generosity perspective, gratitude, intuitive insights, de-cluttering, positive thinking, chakra cleansing and energy management, among others. All these techniques are explained in detail, accompanied with easy practical exercises.

Buy How to Manifest Money Effortlessly at Amazon

Currently Reading:

I'm not very far along in either of these books.

cover The Beauty of the Fall
The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello (paperback)
Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss, Olivia Whitmore, fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.

Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. When Dan returns home with a fully formed vision, he recruits the help of three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change.

Guided by Dan’s generative leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?

Buy The Beauty of the Fall at Amazon

cover Like a Closed Fist
Like a Closed Fist by E.H. Nolan (ebook)
It was harmless enough: her best friend's wedding. But for California girl Phoebe, forty-eight hours in North Carolina changed her life.

No one is more surprised than Phoebe when she falls hopelessly in love with her dad’s much older, very married friend. Although she wants nothing more than to jump headfirst into an affair with Mitch, he refrains, telling her she’s just a kid.

Determined to prove him wrong, young Phoebe learns the irony of best laid plans. She travels to North Carolina for a wedding and accidentally falls head-over-heels for two very different men: Mason, the hotel concierge, and Frankie, a captain in the Merchant Marines. Throw in two old flames and a hunky masseur and you’ve got a most complicated love hexagon in this cautionary tale of love, sex, grief, and growing up.

Buy Like a Closed Fist at Amazon

Donna Huber 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.

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.