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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...

September 2, 2017

Review: No Place I'd Rather Be by Cathy Lamb

by Susan Roberts

I just finished this book and all I can say is WOW - what a fantastic book. As always, Cathy Lamb has presented her readers with a complex book about family and love and acceptance. It was a book that caused laugh out loud moments as well as tears. I was so involved in this book that I canceled lunch plans today so that I could finish it which was probably not a good idea because there are lots of wonderful food descriptions in the book which made me really hungry so I ended up eating junk food while I read it.

September 1, 2017

Plenty of New Books are Arriving This Month

With school back in full swing and cooler weather arriving, are you finding more time for reading? There are so many great new books coming out this month. What are you looking forward to reading this month?

August 31, 2017

Excellently Plotted: The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

by MK French

Miranda Rader is a respected police officer, a far cry from the troubled teen she had been in her hometown of Jasper, Louisiana. She thought she put the past behind her, but it has come back with a vengeance during her investigation of the gruesome murder of a respected college professor. Her fingerprints are found at the scene, as well as a newspaper clipping of the night she escaped a potential attack. Her coworkers and supervisor doubt her integrity, and soon blame her for the murder.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Other Girl
August 2017; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250083654
ebook, audio, print (256 pages); crime, mystery
This was an excellently plotted mystery.

The relationships that Miranda had with all of the other people in her life are well done, and none of them ring false. She can be stubborn and hurt, especially by those she thought she could trust, and we feel the disillusionment along with her.

I really enjoyed how well this novel was put together, as well as its resolution. I don't want to spoil too many features of the plot or the ending, but I stayed up late to finish this book. As tired as I was the next morning, I didn't regret it one bit.

Buy The Other Girl 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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August 30, 2017

Review: Red Year by Jan Shapin #TLCBookTours #RedYear

by Susan Roberts

This is a very well researched novel about a little-known character who was a significant person in the Communist Party in the 1920s despite her growing up in American.  It's very enjoyable and well-written and a chance to learn about a little-known person in history.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. 

About the Book

Red Year
June 2017; Cambridge Books; 978-1613864029
ebook, print (286 pages); historical
Can a red-haired woman from Chicago single-handedly force Joseph Stalin to back down?

China, 1927. Thirty-three-year-old Rayna Prohme, accompanying her left-wing journalist husband, becomes the political confidante and lover of Mikhail Borodin, the Russian commander sent to prop up a failing Chinese revolution. In a bid to continue their love affair, Rayna hatches a plan to accompany Mme. Sun, the widow of the Chinese revolution’s founder, to Moscow. But Moscow doesn’t welcome the women. Borodin shuns them. Rayna’s stipend and her housing arrangements are cancelled. “Go home,” she is told.

But Rayna does not want to go home to an ordinary life, to her husband and Chicago. Instead, she applies to a Soviet-espionage school that soon demands she spy on Mme. Sun. The Chinese widow is, by now, in grave danger as her exit visa is blocked. Rayna must make a choice — Borodin and Russia or Mme. Sun and China.

Buy Red Year at Amazon

About the Author

Jan Shapin is the author of three novels as well as several plays and screenplays. She has attended Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Sewanee Writers' Conference, The Film and Television Workshop as well as various other writing programs. She lives in Rhode Island with her photographer husband. You can reach her at, through her publisher, Write Words. Inc., or email her at jshapin.writer@gmail,.com

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 her on Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.

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August 29, 2017

New Release: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

by MK French

Sallot Leon is a gender fluid thief intent on winning the auditions to become one of the Queen's Left Hand, the assassins named after the rings that she wears. Sal is the sole survivor of a nation that was sacrificed to protect a larger one, and now Sal wants to infiltrate the court and slaughter those responsible for the massacre. In order to do that, Sal has to win the role of Opal and become part of the nobility.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Mask of Shadows
August 2017; Sourcebook Fire; 978-1492647492
ebook, audio, print (352 pages); dark fantasy, YA
It's a deadly game that Sal plays, and one where the tension is effortlessly maintained throughout the brutal audition. Sal is entrant number twenty-three, and masks abound; in a society where names, faces, masks, and clothes are everything, Sal's gender fluidity is remarked upon but not always treated with disdain. Sal finds love in the midst of the intrigue and is able to let go of insecurity enough to trust in a few people.

The kingdoms and their histories were effortlessly woven together, and you really get a sense for the cultures involved. Differences in languages, names, dress, and customs are discussed as Sal observes the other contestants for clues, and we slowly learn more about the nation that Sal wants to avenge. I was immediately drawn into this world, and I can't wait to see what will happen in the next book.

Buy Mask of Shadows 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, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 28, 2017

August Reading Round-Up: Read, Reading, to Read

by Donna Huber

Here we are at the end of another month and I'm reviewing my reading progress. I'm about 4 books ahead of schedule for reaching my reading challenge for the year. My reading has slowed a bit because of a dense historical nonfiction book and a show that I watched a few seasons of before it changed networks and I couldn't watch it anymore came to Amazon Prime, so I've been binge watching 9 seasons! I'm almost done with the show and I miss reading.

Here's what I've read, currently reading, and what I'm looking forward to next.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.


In ebook...

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel
You can read my full review that posted last week.

Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face when you check into the hotel that’s full of dreams…

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

Buy The Big Dreams Beach Hotel at Amazon

Puddin' Up With Murder by Julia Buckley
Puddin' Up With Murder
I found this on Netgalley and though I haven't read any of Julia Buckley's books it sounded fun and you know I've been on a huge cozy mystery kick this summer. I need to write down the recipes before my copy expires. My review will post on September 5 which is also the day you can get your copy.

Customers trust Lilah Drake to keep her mouthwatering meals under wraps, but when a millionaire meets his untimely end, some sinister secrets become the main course.

Spring is right around the corner, and with the warmer temperatures come plenty of food requests from Lilah Drake's covered-dish clients. Lilah pulls out all the stops with a sweet new casserole for the birthday party of Marcus Cantwell, a wealthy curmudgeon who has some angry ex-wives and more than a few enemies.

When he's found facedown in Lilah's casserole, it's anyone's guess as to who might have wanted the old man dead. A possible new heir to Marcus’s fortune adds some unexpected spice to the investigation, but Lilah fears that the old adage is true, and "the proof is in the pudding."

Buy Puddin' Up With Murder at Amazon

In print...

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Her Royal Spyness
After reading the latest book in the series, In Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service (read my review), I went back and picked up the first book in the series. It gave me the background that I was missing when I read book 11 in the series. As I have time, I will probably try to read the other books in the series as they are fun, quick reads.

London 1932. Narrator Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the throne, is flat broke. She bolted from Scotland -- and engagement to Fishface (Prince Stiegfriend) -- for London, where she has:

a) built a fire in the hearth
b) fallen for an absolutely unsuitable Irish peer
c) made a few quid housekeeping incognita, and
d) been summoned by the Queen to spy on her playboy son

When an arrogant Frenchman trying to swipe her family estate winds up dead in her bathtub, how can she clear her very long family name?

Buy Her Royal Spyness at Amazon

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
I haven't read any of the Sookie Stackhouse books before but I found this one on my bookcase this summer. I'm not big on paranormal novels, but I enjoyed it. I probably won't seek out the rest of the series, but if I'm in need of something to read I would read more of the series.

As a person with so few living relatives, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never guessed that it would be her cousin Hadley—a consort of the Vampire Queen of New Orleans. After all, technically speaking, Hadley was already dead. And now, as unexpected heir to Hadley’s estate, Sookie discovers the inheritance definitely comes with a risk. Someone doesn’t want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley’s past—or for that matter, Hadley’s possessions. And they’re prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. But who? The range of suspects runs from the Rogue Weres who reject Sookie as a friend of the Pack to the Vampire Queen herself, who could be working through a particularly vulnerable subject—Sookie’s first love, Bill.

Whoever it is, they’re definitely dangerous—and Sookie’s life is definitely on the line…

Buy Definitely Dead at Amazon

In audio...

Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton
Death of a Valentine
I love M.C. Beaton's cozy mysteries and I discovered that my digital library had several of her books in audio book. The first available one was Death of a Valentine in her Hamish Macbeth series. I liked listening to the audio book because I could hear the accents which I had trouble with when I read Death of a Policeman this summer.

Amazing news has spread across the Scottish countryside. The most famous of highland bachelors, police sergeant Hamish Macbeth, will be married at last. Everyone in the village of Lochdubh adores Josie McSween, Macbeth's newest constable and blushing bride-to-be.

While locals think Josie is quite a catch, Hamish has a case of prenuptial jitters. After all, if it weren't for the recent murder of a beautiful woman in a neighbouring village, there wouldn't be a wedding at all.

For it was a mysterious Valentine's Day package, delivered to the victim before her death, that initially drew Hamish and Josie together on the investigation. As they work side by side, Hamish and Josie soon discover that the woman's list of admirers was endless, confirming Hamish's suspicion that love can be blind, deaf . . . and deadly.

Buy Death of a Valentine at Amazon

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
I started this audio book in June, but then I went on vacation and didn't get much time to listen to it so it returned to the library before I finished. There are so many holds on this audio book and my turn finally came around again last week. I really enjoyed it. If you are a fan of the television series, I recommend reading the book. It pretty much follows the series, but with a few extra details. it also ends with her proposal to Albert whereas the TV series goes past that.

Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world. Surely she must rely on her mother and her venal advisor, Sir John Conroy, or her uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who are all too eager to relieve her of the burdens of power.

The young queen is no puppet, however. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

Everyone keeps saying she is destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.

Drawing on Victoria's own diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin brings us the brilliantly imagined life of a young woman about to make her mark on her nation - and the world.

Buy Victoria at Amazon

Death of a Nurse by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Nurse
Hamish is stood up for dinner by gorgeous private nurse Gloria Dainty, caring for rude old Mr Harrison. Four days later, Gloria's body washes up on the beach. While trying to keep his very large constable from falling for their married superior, he starts on the trail of -- one killer? -- or more?

Buy Death of a Nurse at Amazon

Currently Reading

In print...

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent
Last Call
I was reading this for the book club at the Special Collections Library last week. It is very dense read, though interesting at times. I don't remember learning much about Prohibition in my history classes. I've learned some cool facts like the reason we have workers' compensation largely because of the Prohibition Movement. There have even been some literary references like that fact that Daisy's comments about Jay Gatsby owning drug stores in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. They weren't drug stores as you and I know drug stores; instead, Jay made his money from bootlegging.

A brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of America’s most puzzling era, the years 1920 to 1933, when the U.S. Constitution was amended to restrict one of America’s favorite pastimes: drinking alcoholic beverages.

From its start, America has been awash in drink. The sailing vessel that brought John Winthrop to the shores of the New World in 1630 bcarried more beer than water. By the 1820s, liquor flowed so plentifully it was cheaper than tea. That Americans would ever agree to relinquish their booze was as improbable as it was astonishing.

Yet we did, and Last Call is Daniel Okrent’s dazzling explanation of why we did it, what life under Prohibition was like, and how such an unprecedented degree of government interference in the private lives of Americans changed the country forever.

Writing with both wit and historical acuity, Okrent reveals how Prohibition marked a confluence of diverse forces: the growing political power of the women’s suffrage movement, which allied itself with the antiliquor campaign; the fear of small-town, native-stock Protestants that they were losing control of their country to the immigrants of the large cities; the anti-German sentiment stoked by World War I; and a variety of other unlikely factors, ranging from the rise of the automobile to the advent of the income tax.

Through it all, Americans kept drinking, going to remarkably creative lengths to smuggle, sell, conceal, and convivially (and sometimes fatally) imbibe their favorite intoxicants. Last Call is peopled with vivid characters of an astonishing variety: Susan B. Anthony and Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan and bootlegger Sam Bronfman, Pierre S. du Pont and H. L. Mencken, Meyer Lansky and the incredible—if long-forgotten—federal official Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who throughout the twenties was the most powerful woman in the country. (Perhaps most surprising of all is Okrent’s account of Joseph P. Kennedy’s legendary, and long-misunderstood, role in the liquor business.)

It’s a book rich with stories from nearly all parts of the country. Okrent’s narrative runs through smoky Manhattan speakeasies, where relations between the sexes were changed forever; California vineyards busily producing “sacramental” wine; New England fishing communities that gave up fishing for the more lucrative rum-running business; and in Washington, the halls of Congress itself, where politicians who had voted for Prohibition drank openly and without apology.

Last Call is capacious, meticulous, and thrillingly told. It stands as the most complete history of Prohibition ever written and confirms Daniel Okrent’s rank as a major American writer.

Buy Last Call at Amazon

In audio...

Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran
Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway
This is the audio book I'm listening to at home, but it's been interrupted by my binge watching. It is an interesting story, though it is a bit too much of a crime novel for my taste.

When Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt’s musician ex-boyfriend, is found dead in his Mission District home, the police are convinced it’s a simple robbery. But Claire knows nothing is ever simple.

With the help of her new assistant, Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul’s fate in her other cases—especially that of a missing girl in the gritty 1980s East Village and a modern-day miniature horse theft in Marin. As visions of the past reveal the secrets of the present, Claire begins to understand the words of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette: “The detective won’t know what he is capable of until he encounters a mystery that pierces his own heart.” And love, in all its forms, is the greatest mystery of all—at least to the world’s greatest PI.

An addictive new adventure featuring an irresistible heroine.

Buy Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway at Amazon

Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M. Boyer
Lowcountry Book Club
The audio book I'm listening to at work. Since it had book club in the title and I've been trying out book clubs I thought it would be a good read. I've just started it, but I'm not really into the story.

Who could have pushed Shelby Poinsett out her second-floor library window besides her husband? Private Investigator Liz Talbot enters a tight-knit community of Charleston, SC’s genteel women who have gossip to spill, secrets of their own, and a hundred-year-old book club they are dying to join.

Newlywed couple and business partners Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews are hired by a prestigious Charleston law firm to prove the innocence of Shelby Poinsett’s husband, Clint Gerdhart, before his trial begins. As the two begin to dig into the case, they learn that Shelby may not have been the perfect wife everyone thought she was. When Liz uncovers a photo of Shelby and Sonny, a Talbot family friend and Charleston police officer, looking too cozy for comfort, Shelby’s true character comes into question. Did the woman who ran a book club, adopted animals, and volunteered at a homeless shelter have a past that would make someone kill?

As Liz interviews the eighteen members of the closed club, she notices an anger bubbling under these women’s polite exteriors. Through conversation, she finds that the hostile undertone of the book club began when Shelby was named president. Liz is convinced that one of them knows who pushed Shelby Poinsett out her window—or may be the murderer herself.

Liz must run the gamut of Southern society to keep an innocent man out of jail and bring a killer to justice. With Boyer’s authentic Southern voice, Lowcountry Book Club merges Charleston charm with a mystery that leaves readers guessing until the very end.

Buy Lowcountry Book Club at Amazon

In ebook...

Spirit Mage by Layton Green
This is the next book in Green's Blackwood Brothers series. It is due out September 15. I totally got sucked into this story at lunch the other day and I can't wait to get back to it. It is kind of my reward for finishing Last Call. There will be a special deal on the 2 ebooks ($2.99 each!) in this series during release week - Sept. 15 - 22 so be sure to pick up your copies then. Read my review of the first book.

Valjean Blackwood thought about how impossible it seemed that there was another world out there from which he had narrowly escaped. A world of manticores and cave fiends, magic swords and potions, spirit mages and necromancers. Wizard-monks who could shatter walls with their fists, a city of colored spires so beautiful it took his breath away . . . and a world in which Val’s brothers were still trapped.

Desperate to help his brothers, Val Blackwood manages to return to the world of Urfe. After landing in the dangerous underbelly of New Victoria, he concludes that the only way to find his brothers is to enroll in the Abbey—the school for wizards—and somehow gain entrance to a portal called the Pool of Souls. Yet to succeed, he will not only have to pass the wizards’ entrance exam and survive the hardships of the school, considered the most demanding in all the Realm, but also avoid a lethal assassin targeting students.

As Val struggles to survive, his brothers undergo an even deadlier trial. Reeling from the loss of Mala, an adventuress trapped in the mysterious Place Between Worlds, Will and Caleb and Yasmina are captured by slavers and taken to the mines beneath Fellengard Mountain. Even if they somehow manage to escape, a feat no one has ever accomplished, they must still find their way through the vast and untamed caverns of the Darklands—a place even the wizards fear.

To Read

In print...

The Trees by Ali Shaw
The Trees
This is the book for the September meeting of the Post-apopocalptic book club. I'm not sure about this book, but I enjoyed the discussion at the August meeting so I'm willing to give this book a chance.

 There came an elastic aftershock of creaks and groans and then, softly softly, a chinking shower of rubbled cement. Leaves calmed and trunks stood serene. Where, not a minute before, there had been a suburb, there was now only woodland standing amid ruins…

There is no warning. No chance to prepare.

They arrive in the night: thundering up through the ground, transforming streets and towns into shadowy forest. Buildings are destroyed. Broken bodies, still wrapped in tattered bed linen, hang among the twitching leaves.

Adrien Thomas has never been much of a hero. But when he realises that no help is coming, he ventures out into this unrecognisable world. Michelle, his wife, is across the sea in Ireland and he has no way of knowing whether the trees have come for her too.

Then Adrien meets green-fingered Hannah and her teenage son Seb. Together, they set out to find Hannah’s forester brother, to reunite Adrien with his wife – and to discover just how deep the forest goes.

Their journey will take them to a place of terrible beauty and violence, to the dark heart of nature and the darkness inside themselves.

Buy The Trees at Amazon

In ebook...

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
The Best Kind of People
Another book I picked up at Netgalley. It hits shelves on September 19.

What if someone you trusted was accused of the unthinkable?

George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.

Buy The Best Kind of People at Amazon

So that's what's been entertaining me this month and a peek at what I'll be reading in September. What are you reading?

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, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 27, 2017

Weave a Murderous Web by Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks

Review by MK French

Jane Larson is a lawyer that devotes hours of her life to her job, to the point that it barely hurt when her ex-boyfriend called off their relationship. She does help out a friend to serve as the lawyer for a mother trying to get child support from her husband. The case turns out to be much bigger than originally thought, as the deadbeat dad is a lawyer who had also dealt drugs and is soon found murdered. Jane herself is a target, and she has to find out who is involved.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Weave a Murderous Web
June 2016; Melange Books; 978-1680462524
ebook, print (218 pages); crime, thriller
The beginning of the book really sets up Jane as the hotshot NYC lawyer for Adams and Ridge. I loved the touches about the city, though I had to admit my back got up a bit when Queens was disparaged. (I will always be a Queens girl, you can't disrespect my borough!)

Jane was great as a main character. While she could be obnoxious at times, it was in a realistic way and tempered by the care she truly has for her friends and the dogged determination she had to do the right thing. I know I wouldn't have continued investigating things on my own the way she did in the book, but her bad decisions were relatable, too.

All of the characters felt real, even the annoying ones, and I was left guessing right until the very end who the murderer was. The mystery was well crafted, and I liked the twists and turns the plot took. I haven't read any Jane Larson novels before, but I look forward to finding more books with her in them.

Buy Weave a Murderous Web 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, sign up today!. 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.