Readers' Favorite

May 6, 2017

So Many New Books This Month

by Susan Roberts

I've read a lot of wonderful books that are publishing in May 2017 - so many that I divided them into two posts. Publishers know that people have more time to read in the summer and this is the time of the year that many of the best books are published.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. ARCs were provided for honest reviews.

All the Best People
May 2017; Berkley; 978-0399583490
ebook, audio, print (368 pages)
women's fiction
All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE is a novel about mental illness and its effect on three generations of a Vermont family. It's a fantastic novel and the characters are extremely well written. It also shows how mental illness was dealt with in the past by family and society.

Solange is the first member of the family to suffer a breakdown in the novel. Her story takes place in the 30s when she was a young girl from the 'wrong side of the tracks'who fell in love with a rich man. They disagreed vehemently about how the poor and the mentally ill should be treated until their lives were so far apart that they began to dislike each other. They had a child, Carole, and then later a second child who inadvertently was the reason that Solange was sent to a mental hospital, where she remained for the rest of her life. Carole is Solange's daughter and she is having hallucinations and no longer able to cope. She is afraid to tell anyone and just pulls more into herself much to her family's confusion and dismay. Allison is one of Carole's children and her only daughter. She is totally bewildered by what is going on with her mother and she feels unloved as her mother retreats into her own world.

The characters are fantastically written in this novel. The way that the author tells us Carole's story as she becomes more and more detached from reality is so well done that I could feel her pain and confusion. The ending of the novel is perfect and now that I've finished the book, I'd like to check back with Carole and her family to see how they are doing!

My prediction is that this is going to be one of the top books of 2017. Get your copy as soon as it publishes - you need to and want to read this book!

Buy All the Best People at Amazon

The Baker's Secret
May 2017; William Morrow; 9780062369581
ebook, audio, print (320 pages)
historical fiction
The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

I read a lot of WWII fiction and this is one of the best that I've read that concentrates on the suffering of a small town in France during the occupation. The people in the town don't have any real idea of what is going on in the big picture of the war, they mainly know how it is affecting them to have German troops occupying their town and ruling their lives.

The novel takes place in Vergers, a small village in France about a mile from the ocean near Normandy and centers around the town baker, Emma. Emma had been ordered by the German command to bake 12 loaves of bread for them every day and was given enough flour to bake just 12 loaves and no more. Instead she mixed ground up straw with her dough so that she had enough dough to make 14 loaves and could share 2 loaves with the people in town who were the hungriest.   Her mentor had been killed by the Germans, her father had been sent away on a train and her boyfriend had been sent to join the German army, Emma feels that it is her duty to help the people in her town as best she can. Emma is courageous and puts her life on the line to help other people. She doesn't think of herself as heroic but feels that she is doing what needs to be done to help people get through each day.

The author does a fantastic job of depicting the realities of war on the people who are not part of the fighting but are the collateral damage of the war. He gives an honest portrayal of the indignities that the Germans forced onto the citizens and depicts the lives of the people who are starving and desperate in detail. This is a novel about looking for a flicker of light in the darkness and being able to find it with the help of friends.

Buy The Baker's Secret at Amazon 

The Book of Summer
May 2017; St. Marten's Press; 9781250070623
ebook, audio, print (416 pages)
women's fiction
The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

I loved this book. All of the main characters were fantastic and so well written with all of their character flaws on display. The main characters are Bess - a physician from California who has returned to Nantucket to help her mom pack up her house; Cissy - Bess's mom who is a real rebel;
Ruby - Bess's grandmother who is long deceased but tells much of the story and The Cliff House - the magnificent house, build by Bess's parents that is now close to falling into the sea due to erosion of the cliffs. The story is told in alternating time periods - Cissy and Bess in modern day and Bess's narrative takes place in the 40s. It's a story of love and loss, family and forgiveness. But overall it's the story of a house and the women who lived in it and tried to live their lives as well as they could despite issues that were going on in the world outside their door. I have read all of Michelle's books and they are all fantastic.

Available May 9
Buy The Book of Summer at Amazon

I'll have more May books that I've read later in the month.  Thanks for reading and let me know what new releases you are reading!

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends.  She 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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May 5, 2017

Point of View and the Empathetic Writer

by Chris

One of the stories I’m currently in the progress of writing involves a plethora of viewpoints (seriously—there are at least a dozen throughout the novel), all surrounding a couple of main characters. It’s an interesting way to approach the story because we actually don’t get to experience the ‘main’ character’s thoughts or voice until very late in the novel. It’s also a difficult way to approach writing a story because each point of view needs to be fresh, vibrant and, crucially, unique.

Most stories are told from limited points of view; we are introduced to a main character, a protagonist, and rarely see the world from outside their perspective. Some will branch out to a few subsidiary characters, but generally, we get to experience the thoughts, actions, and feelings as told by the main character, or as told by a third-party narrator who has an innate understanding of the main character.

There are, of course, exceptions. One of my favorite multiple-POV books is Dracula, where the narrative is told exclusively through diary entries and newspaper articles of the book’s cast of characters. In fact, the titular antagonist is never heard from, only heard about, and this is one of the things that makes it such a terrifying novel: the villain remains mysterious, and thus dangerous, throughout.

The question for me—particularly in writing my current novel—is how to authentically portray a variety of characters whose thoughts and experiences might not match my own. I am a thirty-plus white male, and many of my characters are teenage girls. Even if I draw on the memories of my own teenage years, there are by definition things these girls go through that I will never have experienced. How does one make such characters three-dimension, vibrant, and believable?

Naturally, part of this dilemma comes from the premise of the story in the first place. If the book is primarily plot-driven—as is most fantasy and sci-fi, and indeed most genre fiction—then the characters’ viewpoints at best serve to advance the plot, and often represent a way of describing events that the primary characters are unable to witness or participate in. When Tolkien split The Two Towers, it was to ensure that the reader kept up with the progress both of Frodo and Sam toward Mordor, and of Aragorn against the armies of Isengard. Both of these are plot points that the story hinges on, and we wouldn’t have known about one or the other had we stuck with just one character.

But what about when the story is not about the plot as much as about the characters themselves? The thoughts, emotions, and motivations of the cast come to the front, and it’s in these types of stories that the points of view must be entirely believable. Every thought, every piece of dialogue, must sound as though it could only have come from that character to the point where the reader would be jolted out of the world you’ve created if the dialogue is misappropriated.

This is where the writer’s ability to empathize with their characters becomes paramount. When Jay Asher wrote Thirteen Reasons Why, he made the choice to write from the point of view of a teenage boy, listening to the point of view of a teenage girl. So how does a grown man empathize with a young girl? How did Asher know how to make Hannah’s tapes believable and authentic?

It’s very difficult to pin down what empathy truly is, and even harder to explain how to have it. Some people might define it as ‘feeling with’ someone; that you feel the same pains and joys that they do. Yet this relies on experience—of having lived through something similar, if not identical. When I write about a young girl with severe depression I can empathize because I’ve been there. I’ve suffered that misery.

But what about when you haven’t been through anything even remotely similar? I can’t physically empathize with a young girl because I never was one. I can’t say that I know how it feels to lose a mother, or a daughter, because (thankfully) I’ve never been there.

At what point does empathy stop being about what you’ve experienced yourself, and how do you handle that? The writer’s imagination comes to the forefront here, and this is perhaps a better measure of that imagination than even the plot or story itself. For a writer to be able to write about something that they haven’t experienced and still come across as genuine to someone who has lived through it, takes a quality of imagination a step beyond the ordinary adventure tale.

Some of these stories are successful; some are not. I recently watched M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, which deals with Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID. And while the story itself is engaging and thrilling, I couldn’t help but feel that it does a disservice to those people who genuinely suffer from DID. I’ve interacted with a couple of people with DID, and I couldn’t help wonder if they would be offended by the summarizing of their disorder into what is, essentially, a madman.

The act of writing a story is kind of like telling a lie: the most effective ones blend a measure of truth into the falsehoods. It shouldn’t be apparent which parts of the story have come from the writer’s own life, and which came from their imagination. A seamless integration of fiction and reality is what drives a compelling story, and encourages the reader to see the author as an authority on their subject matter, whether it be mental illness or fantastical creatures.

And I suppose that true empathy is also a mixture of experience and imagination; the ability to see the world through another’s eyes is a difficult task, and the masters of this skill are often those best able to tell stories … or lies.

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's 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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May 4, 2017

A Fantasy Geek's Dream Comes True in The Brothers Three by Layton Green

by Donna Huber
March 2017; Cloaked Traveler Press; 9781545056592
ebook, print (330 pages); fantasy

I have been a fan of Layton Green for since I read The Egyptian so when he contacted me about reviewing his newest book, The Brothers Three I wanted to say yes. But The Brothers Three is described as a blend of urban and epic fantasy, neither of which are high on my favorite genres list. My love of Green's writing style led me to say yes and I'm glad I did.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. A free ARC was provided for an honest review.

Fantasy novels that I have enjoyed usually have one or more characters that are new to the fantasy universe of the story, like with Harry Potter discovering the wizarding world of Hogwarts. In The Brothers Three, we have not one but four characters who are thrown into an alternate universe where wizards rule the world. But this is no Hogwarts.

The Blackwood brothers were left basically as orphans when their father died on an archeological dig and their mother had a mental breakdown. The oldest brother Val raised his two younger brothers while putting himself through college and law school. Now he is a high-powered attorney in New York. Val is all no-nonsense, a literal, black & white thinker. While he no longer lives in New Orleans he still sees himself as the family caretaker and will do anything for his brothers.

Youngest brother Will is a construction worker by day and a sword welding actor by night. He is a fantasy geek that seeks his adventure in game boards and books because of his debilitating panic attacks. The alternate universe they find themselves in is like he stepped into the pages of one of his novels. His knowledge of fantasy mythos helps the brothers navigate the new world.

Middle brother Caleb has a laissez-faire mentality to life. He bartends because it supports his any goes type of lifestyle. There's food, there's drink, there are girls so why not live life even if he could die at any time while in this alternate place. But is there more to Caleb than perhaps even he knows?

Then there is ex-military, police officer Lance who gets accidentally taken along in the adventure. He's the warrior the in the group and faces every challenge head on, ready or not.

Each character comes to the alternative reality with their own perspective and I think a reader can find their own reaction in one of them. This provides for better buy-in to the story which is so important in a tale that requires the reader to suspend belief pretty rapidly.

The Brothers Three is a great fantasy novel with plenty of deadly adventure. There are winks to Dungeons & Dragons and Harry Potter (possibly others that I didn't catch due to my lack of fantasy knowledge). I had to wonder though if these "winks" were tributes to inspirations or just easy ways out.

I love Green's writing and his ability to sweep me completely into a story. Yet, with The Brothers Three, I felt his writing wasn't up to his normal standard. I still felt completely consumed with this story, stay up late into the night to read "just one more chapter". However, there were times that I felt pulled out of it by certain elements that usually came with a thought of "really you went there", like when they had to play wizard chess, or "gee that was convenient" when we were told something worked in this universe just because it needed to happen that way.

Even though I don't feel that The Brothers Three is Green's strongest novel, he did create an accessible fantasy adventure with great characters that fantasy geeks will love. I know I'm anxious for the next book in the series so I can find out what happens next (yes, there is a bit of a cliffhanger).

Buy The Brothers Three 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.

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May 3, 2017

A Graphic Memoir for Kids: Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

by MK French
May 2017; First Second; 978-1626724167
ebook, print (224 pages); middle grades, memoir

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. An ARC was provided for an honest review.

Shannon and Adrienne had always been friends, which helped when Shannon felt shy. Adrienne later became friends with Jen and The Group. Some of the girls would be willing to do anything to be closer to Jen in The Group, even bully others not as popular.

This is a very real and sometimes painful look at elementary school years for girls. It's soul crushing to not be popular, and Shannon Hale drew on her own memories to tell this story. That gives it the emotional resonance for the reader, who inevitably would have felt the same growing up.

LeUyen Pham's art fits very naturally with the narrative, giving each character their childlike appearance and mannerisms without seeming "cartoony." We don't see the motivations for the other characters unless they tell Shannon, who is the point of view we're following.

My daughter also read this book and enjoyed the artwork. Shannon's story really resonated with her, and she particularly liked the hopeful ending. The characters felt very real and approachable to her.

This is a middle-grade book, but even older readers will appreciate it and its honesty.

Buy Real Friends 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.

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May 2, 2017

Great Historical Fiction: Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson

by Susan Roberts

May 2017, William Morrow; 978-0062675576
ebook, audio, print (400 pages); historical fiction
I love reading great historical fiction and Goodnight from London is one of the best that I've read about London during WWII.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. A free book was provided for this review.

From the back cover:  In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. It’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby’s new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby tries to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

My review:  Jennifer Robson's previous three books have focused on WWI and this is her first book about WWII.  It's a wonderful book about London told from a woman's perspective.

The main character, Ruby Sutton, is a strong woman who is trying to make a success of her life as a reporter despite the resistance from some of the male reporters. When she is first assigned to London, she is quite shy and unsure of herself but as she gets more familiar with the city, she becomes the strong character that is seen in the rest of the book.

The author did a fantastic job of describing the Blitz and the way that the people felt while the bombs were dropping every night.  The reader can feel the characters' fear and despair during the bombings and the relief as they leave the shelters.  Ruby's reporting assignments gave the author a chance to show us different parts of England during the war and provided some very interesting human interest stories.

This novel has everything that I want in a good historical fiction book - a well-written book that shows that the author did considerable research on the subject, a strong main character - an extra bonus because this one is female, great friendships and a romance.  This is my favorite book by this author so far and I look forward to whatever she writes in the future.

Buy Goodnight from London at Amazon

About the Author:
Jennifer Robson first learned about the Great War from her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and young children. Goodnight from London was inspired by the wartime experiences of her grandmother.

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

May 1, 2017

New Releases for May 2017

by Donna Huber

Summer is coming! And the plethora of new releases this month rivals the blooms of May flowers. The summer months see some of largest rollout of new releases, presumably because people have more time to read as they take vacations and kids are out of school. You will see a number of reviews of new releases this month, but here are some of the new books coming out from authors I've read.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.

A four man unit brushes up against Mason and his 'Keepers' unit. Sparks fly from the beginning as not one of the men are looking for romance. But there's no choice - cupid has a soft spot for SEALS and he's lined his sights up on Devlin next. :)

The right place at the right time… or the very wrong place…

As part of a group helping to training Iraq soldiers, Devin is doing additional training on how to use the latest drones. But when a murder is committed on the base and suspicion is thrown on the drone’s designer, he can’t stop himself from helping her. When they return stateside, another employee in the same company is murdered. Once again suspicion falls on the designer. And as tension climbs, Devin wonders who will be next…

Bristol didn’t want to take her latest drone models to Iraq, but she was behind schedule and her bosses were pushing.

Then disaster strikes, and she’s the one everyone blames. She loses her research and her best friend, and now she’s determined to find out who did this… no matter how dangerous it is.

The killer isn’t done. He got what he wanted but there’s more that he needs… and he’ll kill to get it. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time…

Available May 1
Buy SEALS of Honor: Devlin at Amazon

The Dark Prophecy
Zeus has punished his son Apollo—god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more—by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers?

After experiencing a series of dangerous—and frankly, humiliating—trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he's gaining in new friendships—with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride...

Available May 2
Buy The Dark Prophecy at Amazon

From Percy Jackson
In response to an awful camp orientation video created by the god Apollo, Percy Jackson and other residents of Camp Half-Blood answer such questions as "What is this place?" and "Do I get to keep the T-shirt?" Newbies can check out the section on the Divine Cabins, read up on Magical Landmarks, and consult the chapter of Training Arenas. But Camp Half-Blood Confidential explores much more than just the buildings and grounds. It includes info that can only be learned from those who live there. For instance, campers do not always co-exist in peace and harmony. The camp is not run with superior efficiency. Prophecies do not flow forth with great regularity. Sprinkled throughout are stories from heroes who have called Camp Half-Blood home or just passed through on their way to places unknown. Chiron himself introduces the book with a brief history of training based on his millennia of experience. And, of course, there are divine words of wisdom from the god Apollo himself, because . . . well, because the demigod authors would prefer not to be struck down, thank you very much.

Available May 2
Buy From Percy Jackson at Amazon

Rebel Rising
When Jyn Erso was five years old, her mother was murdered and her father taken from her to serve the Empire. But despite the loss of her parents she is not completely alone—Saw Gerrera, a man willing to go to any extremes necessary in order to resist Imperial tyranny, takes her in as his own, and gives her not only a home but all the abilities and resources she needs to become a rebel herself.

Jyn dedicates herself to the cause—and the man. But fighting alongside Saw and his people brings with it danger and the question of just how far Jyn is willing to go as one of Saw’s soldiers. When she faces an unthinkable betrayal that shatters her world, Jyn will have to pull the pieces of herself back together and figure out what she truly believes in…and who she can really trust.

Available May 2
Buy Rebel Rising at Amazon

Threads of Suspicion
Evie Blackwell's reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor's new Missing Persons Task Force. This elite investigative team is launched with plenty of public fanfare. The governor has made this initiative a high priority, so they will have to produce results--and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn't be more different. While Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood to find a missing college student, David searches for a private investigator working for a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that "justice for all" truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But Evie must also find answers to the questions that lie just beneath the surface in her personal life.

Available May 2
Buy Threads of Suspicion at Amazon

Independence Cake
Celebrate American independence with this delightful picture book as you travel to Revolutionary America and meet the amazing Amelia Simmons: mother's helper, baker of delectable cakes, and soon-to-be authoress of the first American cookbook!

Master of the historical fiction picture book Deborah Hopkinson takes us back to late eighteenth-century America and the discombobulated home of Mrs. Bean, mother of six strapping sons, who simply can't manage until Amelia Simmons arrives and puts things in order. And how well she cooks everything from flapjacks to bread pudding to pickled cucumbers! She even invents new recipes using American ingredients like winter squash. Best of all, she can bake, and to honor the brand-new president, George Washington, she presents him with thirteen Independence Cakes one for each colony. "Delicious!" he proclaims. Author's Note and original recipe included!

Available May 9
Buy Independence Cake at Amazon

Secrets in Summer
Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It s also Darcy s chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow.

Darcy must also navigate the highs and lows of a new romantic relationship with local carpenter Nash Forester even as she becomes smitten with handsome vacationer Clive Rush, a musicologist in town to write a book and visit family. And she finds herself pulled into the concerns of Boyz, Autumn, a charming elderly neighbor, and an at-risk teen.

As the season nears its end, Darcy must decide her next move: retreating to the comforts of her steady and secure island life, or risking it all for a chance at true happiness.

Available May 16
Buy Secrets in Summer at Amazon

Flynn's Firecracker
Welcome to Flynn’s Firecracker, book 5 in Heroes for Hire, reconnecting readers with the unforgettable men from SEALs of Honor in a new series of action packed, page turning romantic suspense that fans have come to expect from USA TODAY Bestselling author Dale Mayer.

Some jobs are more pleasant than others…
Flynn agrees to do a security job for Levi as a trial run for more work. Looking after Anna and her animal shelter is a breeze. Trouble free. Until he leaves…

Having Flynn around was both good and bad. To have the help at the shelter was huge, but they drew sparks just being around each other. She tells herself she’s relieved when he’s gone but when a dead man shows up, she’d do anything to have him back.

Someone is after Flynn… and he doesn’t care who he kills in the process…

Available May 16
Buy Flynn's Firecracker at Amazon

Shacking Up
Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can't seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed--and then coughed on--her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he's out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby's dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

Available May 30
Buy Shacking Up at Amazon

New this month from Roane Publishing:

Battle for Love
It’s not easy, being an unmarried woman in the England of 1814. But Nancy Worth will not marry where there is no love, and every man in her small Sussex village is either too old, too young, or has a face like a fish. Except for the handsome Bartholomew Boult, and he has his own reasons for pursuing her.

When, against all the odds,  Nancy does find love, both her family and his are determined to put a stop to it.  He is gentry, and she a farmer’s daughter. With lies and gossip flying, as well as the unexpected resumption of war, it seems everyone is trying to separate her from Will Carlton.

Even Napoleon Bonaparte.

Available May 8

Are any of your favorite authors publishing books this month? Please share in the comments!

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April 30, 2017

Zilch! Ways to Read for Free

by Donna Huber

Here we are at the end of April and the end of the A to Z Challenge. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. For our regular readers, we tried out a few new ways of presenting reviews and discussing books in general and for those who just discovered us this month, you will see the same kind of content throughout the year as we celebrate books, authors, writing, and the reading experience.

If you've read us frequently, your wish list of books has grown a bit, while your book budget probably has not. So what are you to do? While reading is probably one of most inexpensive means of entertainment, for the avid reader it can add up quickly. Just this month alone I've read 8 books (4 were audiobooks) and if they averaged $10 each, that's $80.

So what is an avid reader on a budget suppose to do? Find ways to read for zilch! And there are a number of ways to do so legally (no pirate sites for us!)

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.

The Library

I was so excited the day I walked into the library, filled out an application and got my very own library card. Weekly trips to the library were the norm for my family growing up. Now you don't even have to show up at the library to just to renew the book you couldn't finish in 2 weeks or wonder if the book you want is available. I think every library has an online catalog and with an account you can renew and put holds on books. With my library card, I'm able to request books from any library in the state and have them sent to my local branch.

Don't have time to get by the library or maybe you prefer audio or ebooks? A lot of library systems now have digital libraries through Overdrive or other such service that allows cardholders to check out digital material. All the audiobooks I listened to this month were checked out of the digitial library.

Review Books

It used to be that you had to be a librarian, a bookstore owner, or a media professional in order to get free advance reader copies or books to review. But then the doors opened a little wider and if you had a book blog, publishers would come knocking (well emailing!) I started Girl Who Reads in part to get free books to read. Now you don't even need a blog, just write reviews at Amazon. I think just about anyone can get a Netgalley account these days as long as you agree to write a review.

Haven't heard of Netgalley? Publishers, big and small, offer digital review copies to professionals and general readers through this site. You can read a book 6 monts before it hits shelves. Talk about being the envy of your friends. Just because you request the egalley, it doesn't mean the publisher will approve you for a copy. You will need to build a proven track record of writing reviews to get the really blockbuster books.

Another way to get free review copies is to join your favorite author's newsletter or street team. The author will usually send out a notice when review copies of their next book are ready.

Sign Up for Newsletters

Many authors give a free ebook to new subscribers as a Thank You for signing up for their newsletter. You can also visit Instafreebie as many authors use the service to gain subscribers by providing free ebooks.

If you sign up for Girl Who Reads's newsletter, you will get a free ebook as a Thank You, plus throughout the year I pick out free ebooks for your birthday and holidays.

Free Kindle and Nook Books

Did you know that you can see the 100 most popular free ebooks in a number of genres at Amazon? And if you are a Prime member, as part of your membership you get access to a bunch of ebooks for free (and its not just books, but magazines too). And if audio books are more your thing, your membership gives you access to Audible titles at no additional charge.

It isn't as easy for Nook users to find free ebooks, but they are out there. I usually browse the the Amazon free list and then search B&N for the ones I'm interested in.

Just a note: These free ebooks are often for a limited time or may be for the first book in a series. But if you are in need of reading material and you have reached your book buying budget limit, these ebooks can fill the need. As bonus you might discover a new favorite author.


Giveaways are a great way to get you hands on free print books. One of the books I read this month and another one I just started were won from Goodreads. LibraryThing also offers giveaways for advance reader copies.

Bloggers also have giveaways.

And that concludes the A to Z Challenge 2017 for Girl Who Reads. I'm going to spend a few more days reading blogs and leaving comments, so be sure to leave a link to your site in the comments. If you find yourself in need of a reading recommendation, I hope you will turn to us.

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.

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