Readers' Favorite

April 25, 2018

Arc of Triumph

by Ross M. Kitson

Image from MovieWeb
This week marks the release of Avengers 3: Infinity War, which I’m sure everyone with a social media account/ television/ eyes/ ears/ child is aware of. For those with only a passing interest in pumped-up actors fighting through a CGI saturated environment, you’d be forgiven for rolling your eyes and wondering what all the fuss is about. Yet beyond the likely movie profits that’ll rival the GDP of a small third world nation, I think the Avengers 3 marks a key moment in movie history—the culmination of a movie plot.

April 24, 2018

The Advice Column Murders by Leslie Nagel ~ A Cozy Mystery Review

by Donna Huber

Last summer I went through a cozy mystery phase and binged a whole bunch of cozies. I feel the craving for quirky characters and fun mysteries again. So I was happy to find The Advice Column Murders on Netgalley. I haven't read the previous two books in the Oakwood Mystery series, but I know for most cozies that's not necessary.

Here's the first paragraph of the first chapter. Would you keep reading?
She felt like death warmed over.
Charley Carpenter stood in the pretty green and white bedroom at her home on Hawthorn Boulevard, her eyes closed as she willed the pain relievers she'd taken to start tackling her insomia-induced headache. Yet another night of tossing and turning had left her dry-eyed and exhausted. She was currently nursing a pounding head, stiff neck, and a sour mood.

April 23, 2018

#Horror Reviews: Haunted by Heather Beck & Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

by MK French

Horror is one of my favorite genres. Today I review an anthology if you need some quick reads and a novel that is part of a larger series.

April 22, 2018

Dream Job, Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager by Janet Garner ~ An Excerpt

March 2016; 978-1483447476
ebook, print (178 pages); contemporary
There he was!  Ponytail Man/PTM. Melie spotted him through the window as she was running across the New Rochelle platform to the Metro North train.

The good thing about being a klutz, or at least a bit off balance, was that she didn’t have to fake falling into his lap.

“Sorry.  Sorry!” she said as she scrambled into the seat opposite his.

She had never been this close to him before—the lacquered nails, the pointy Italian leather shoes, the beautifully tailored suit that fit his tall, lean muscular frame like a second skin.  And of course the dirty blond hair, luxuriant, swept into a thick ponytail.   He looked to be in his late forties—he had a faint scent of the sixties, the strange and the hippie.  Her type.

She’d been watching him for over a year.  Now was her chance.

“What do you think of the book?” Melie, queen of pickup lines, asked. She smiled sweetly and tried not to let her chin tremble too much when she spoke.

“Oh, this?  Piece of crap!”

Succinct.  A man of few words.  The strong, silent type.

“I kinda liked it,” she ventured.

“Deviant. Dangerous. Dreadful.”

Alliterative critique.  He must be bright.  She stared at his forehead, longing to reach out to smooth the stray blond hairs from his perfect brow.  She watched as he pushed the hair back himself, catching the telltale glint on his finger.  Oh no!

Wedding rings on the train always struck her as a personal affront.  They hurt her eyes—solid gold bands, so boring really, thrust into her line of vision, folding the Times, whipping out the commuter ticket at the conductor’s voice, popping out of leather gloves like maladroit rabbits just when you least expected it, like a slap of cold water in the face.

“You’re not wanted here,” they seemed to scream out at her, a sound like spoons striking the sides of a stack of wineglasses:

We don’t want you.
We don’t need you.
You’re not wanted here.

The Ponytail Man seemed to register the change in the weather.  He took a long look—she fidgeted.  He leaned in so she did too.

“You know, you’re not a bad-looking chick.  What did you say your name was?”

“Melanie . . . Melie.”

“Seriously, Mel, the book is well crafted.  It held my interest.  But those sex scenes, huh?  Not too likely.  Not many girls will do those things—without being paid.”  He chuckled to himself.  Then, leaning in even closer (she could smell his cologne), he whispered, “Would you?”

Hmm.  Yep.  You bet.  Can’t wait.  Have been waiting so long. Too long. Forever.  I could cry. . .

She backed up, grabbed her coat, scarf, hat, gloves.

“My stop!  Bye now.”

Exiting, she knew she’d just have to wait for the next train.  She was one stop short.  If he’d ever even noticed her before, he’d know she got off at Grand Central Station, the same as everybody.

She walked to a bench and sat on the edge, miles away from a bleary-eyed drunk.

“You’re so pretty.”

“Oh, shoot me now,” she muttered to herself as she glared down the tracks, willing the next train to appear.

About the Book

Melanie Kohl is like a hamster on a treadmill, running in place and getting nowhere, starting with her mind-numbing commute to work, her job as Employee Relations Manager/Mrs. Fix-It/Emergency Rescue Team at the large out-of-control Medical Center in New York City, ending each day when she crawls into her basement apartment, bemoaning her sexless, uneventful private life, rocked by disturbing dreams of mayhem and murder.

Praise for Dream Job

"Janet Garber utilizes her keen sense of the HR world to create a funny glimpse into what might happen in a company run amok. Her writing style is a joy." Tony Lee, VP Editorial, SHRM

"This short novel has a promising premise with its flawed, endearing, and comical protagonist and her zany work environment." Publishers Weekly

"Dream Job” is hands down one of the most engaging and surprisingly good books I’ve read in a long time! I was completely drawn in from the opening pages, and absolutely loved the author’s use of description of the different characters and attention to detail on all fronts. We feel transported not only into Melie’s life, but her amazing life experiences inside and outside the office. . . .it felt like I was living through Melie’s life, from her professional, romantic and social experiences, and it was interesting to see how it all tied together in the end, which I loved! Wonderfully quirky but with serious points, I was really impressed and would recommend this book with the highest of praise." Sherri Warner

Buy Dream Job at Amazon

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April 21, 2018

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

I kept seeing great reviews for this book and finally decided to buy a copy to read. I am really glad that I did because the book was fantastic.

April 20, 2018

Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr ~ A Review

by Donna Huber

A couple of weeks ago Susan reviewed Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr. When she gave me her review I had just started the book. I have to agree with her, it is a great novel.

April 19, 2018

We Own the Sky by @LukeAllnutt ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

We Own the Sky is a sensitive and beautifully written debut novel about the death of a child. Yes, it's sad and yes, you will shed some tears but the feeling after I finished the book was not sorrow but a feeling of love, forgiveness, and hope. This book shows how far parents will go to protect their children and it's a book that I won't soon forget.

April 18, 2018

Horror Edition: Jack Sparks and Head Full of Ghosts

by Alison DeLuca

I have a full-blown addiction to horror novels. In the movie theater I’m the baby who watches through her fingers and cries at the scary parts, but when it comes to reading I’m all about the scares

April 17, 2018

The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

I can tell that it's finally Spring in NC. The trees and flowers are in bloom and there's a new Kristy Woodsen Harvey book to enjoy sitting outside in the perfect spring weather.

Here's the first paragraph of the first chapter. Would you keep reading?
Time had lost its meaning. I only realized it was night because the water outside my bedroom window at my monther's home in Peachtree Bluff, Georgia, wasn't blue anymore. It was black and shining like fresh-paved asphalt. Bust inside, in my room, on my TC, it wasn't night. It was Saturday morning, the third precious birthday of my son Adam, Jr., or AJ, as we called him. My strong, national hero of a husband, in his off-duty khaki shorts and collared shirt, was holding our other son, six-month-old Taylor, in one arm. I was behind the camera cooing, "Smile for Daddy one more time. Can you smile for Daddy?" Taylor smiled. Who wouldn't smile for the handsome man holding him?

Note - The Secret to Southern Charm is Book 2 in Kristy Woodson Harvey's Peachtree Bluff series. You need to read these books in order to get the most enjoyment out of them.

April 16, 2018

The Perfect Duchess by Erica Taylor ~ A Review #MondayBlogs

by MK French

Andrew Macalister stopped trusting women after his fiancee left him for the footman. There is an annual birthday ball, which he hates, but it's at one of these that he sees Lady Clara Masson, the twin sister of his former fiancee and a social outcast. Her brother Jonathan is threatening her, so Andrew proposes marriage to save her life.

April 15, 2018

The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell - An @Audible_com Review

by Donna Huber

The Tangled Lands is an epic fantasy told as 4 related short stories. I did not know that when I started listening to the audiobook and thought I must have missed part of the story which happens sometimes with audiobooks. But looking further at the comments on Goodreads I realized that I didn't miss anything. I loved Bacigalupi's The Water Knife when my book club read it and even though epic fantasy isn't a top genre for me I wanted to give this book a chance.

April 14, 2018

Reviews: Don't Forget Me, Bro by John Michael Cummings

by MK French

Mark Barr returns to West Virginia following the death of his mentally ill brother. He thought there would be a funeral for his older brother, but his estranged family really had no intentions of holding one. Mark discovers that there was more to Steve than his mental illness, and is determined to celebrate the life he had never gotten to know.

April 13, 2018

4 Excellent Books for Eclectic Readers

by Susan Roberts

I like to write review posts with several books on the same subject but there are some books that just don't fit into a category.  It isn't that they aren't fantastic books, they are just difficult to categorize.  Today, I have reviews of four excellent books that aren't listed in any real order.

April 12, 2018

Review: Dark Surrender by Erica Ridley

by MK French

Violet Whitechapel fled her teaching position when she killed in order to save a student from predation. Without anywhere else to go, she accepted the position of governess for a child that has "sun sickness," where any sunlight caused severe burns and blisters on the skin. The superstitious villagers had thought the girl was a monster, but Violet grows to love her and her taciturn father in spite of her determination not to be close to anyone ever again.

April 11, 2018

Of Scars & Courage: 10 Stories of Facing Life's Challenges (sponsored by @talkspace)

by Donna Huber

This post is sponsored by TalkSpace which offers on-demand therapy and counseling from licensed therapists on your Android device. Get private and anonymous help for depression, stress, and more.

We know reading can have a number of health benefits. It can help you unwind and de-stress after a long day at work or give you much needed "me time" from dealing with the pressures of taking care of a family. Turning off the television and picking up a book before bed can lead to a better night's sleep. Not to mention, getting lost in a good book can be like taking a mini-vacation.

Books can also be a safe way to explore issues that are difficult to talk about. Many authors have used their writing to share their own experiences with mental health, abuse, and other life challenges. I've selected 10 books that allow you to explore mental illness as well as read stories where authors share their personal experiences.

April 9, 2018

Review: The House on Harbor Hill by Shelly Stratton #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

Set in the past and present, The House on Harbor Hill is a murder mystery that tackles the issues of racial prejudice and spousal abuse in the lives of two very different women...

April 8, 2018

Review: Finding Fisher by Dakota Madison

by MK French

Franklin Smith seemed to have everything going for him, and his fiancee Chloe Woodford thought life was perfect. When he died during spring break visiting family she never knew existed, she sets out to discover the truth about him and finds herself along the way.

April 7, 2018

Review: Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr

by Susan Roberts

Normally I try to write reviews as soon as I read a book but this one affected me to the point that I had to wait a few days and think about the book before I could review it. It's about integration in Winston Salem NC in the early 60s. Even though I didn't live in the South during that time period, I have lived in a town close to WS for 40 years and have heard stories about the sit-ins at the Woolworth stores in Greensboro and WS. This wonderful, well-written book gave those events a human perspective.

April 6, 2018

What to Do When Someone Already Wrote Your Book

by CM North

Around this time last year, I wrote about the value of derivative fiction, and how there is little true originality left in the world. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily; after all, most stories follow similar plot lines (see virtually every one of Marvel’s superhero movies), which can provide a sense of comfort to the audience. It’s exhilarating to see the dangers faced by the hero, but safe to know they’ll survive at the end.

April 5, 2018

Double Review: Not That I Could Tell and Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

by Susan Roberts

Not That I Could Tell is Jessica Strawser's second book. Her first book, Almost Missed You, was really strong and this one is even better - it's a real page-turner.

April 4, 2018

Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

by Donna Huber

The first book I reviewed on Girl Who Reads was by Chris Bohjalian. I loved that book so much that I had to start the blog. I felt the same way about his latest novel The Flight Attendant. It was so good.

April 3, 2018

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor ~ A Review

by MK French

Scarlett Hart is the orphaned daughter of two famous monster hunters. The Royal Academy for the Pursuit and Eradication of Zoological Eccentricities (TRAPEZE) feels she's too young to follow in her parents' footsteps, but she is determined to do it anyway.

April 2, 2018

Review: In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is a beautiful, well-written novel about a horrific event in world history - the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. It's about love and creating our families not just from blood but from the people who mean the most to us.

April 1, 2018

It's Raining New Releases

This is no joke. There is a bounty of new books coming to bookstores near you this month. Here's a look at just a few to be on the lookout for. What is on your radar for this month?

March 31, 2018

Virtual Networking Event #BookBlogExpo Participant Sign Up

Calling all book bloggers and other book industry people for a virtual networking event. Join us for daily topic discussions, Twitter chats, Facebook party and more!

March 30, 2018

Review: Risen by Cole Gibsen

by MK French

Charlie's aunt Rachel disappears, and it turns out that she was not only kidnapped by vampires but that she might have been turned into one. The three vampire clans of Mentis, Animus, and Corpus are close to war, and Sebastian is tasked with eliminating Charlie. She somehow is able to unlock memories of his life before he became a vampire, so now Sebastian has own agenda in keeping her alive.

March 28, 2018

From the YA Bookshelf: Along for the Ride - A Review

by Kathleen Barker

Spring break signals the coming end of the school year as well as time off from classes.  Not every family has the resources to fly away for a mini-vacay, so I wanted to find a top-notch read for the teen reader.  My choice?  New York Times bestselling author Sarah Dessen's Along for the Ride.

March 27, 2018

Review: The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

by Susan Roberts

(first chapter, first paragraph)
March 2002
She sleeps beside me, her narrow chest rising and falling, and already I miss her.

The Room on Rue Amélie is a wonderful new book about the resistance in Paris during World War II. The characters are well written and the story is a real page turner that will keep you reading to find out how it ends.

March 26, 2018

Donna's March Reading Round-up #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

March has been a bit of a better month for reading - 9 books read so far and probably one more will be finished before the end of the week. My new babies (the kittens) are fully integrated into the household and though they are still totally adorable they largely amuse themselves. I'm still not liking the new digital library service (and from what I've heard, I'm not the only unhappy patron) so I dug out my contact at Audible and got a list of audiobooks available for review.

March 25, 2018

3 New Graphic Novels From Lion Forge

by MK French

Graphic novels are a great way to interest visual people in reading. The following newly published graphic novels would be a great selection to start with if you haven't read graphic novels before.

March 24, 2018

When Bad People Do Good Things

by Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall

As we get set to publish the second book in a “what-if” series recasting the lives of Bonnie and Clyde, we reflect on the factors that draw readers to tales of atonement.

Bonnie and Clyde

March 23, 2018

Review: Take a Chance on Me by Jane Porter

by Donna Huber

Take a Chance on Me is set in the Marietta, MT universe and is the third book in Jane Porter's Love on Chance Avenue series. Like I have discovered with the Marietta books, you don't need to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one.

March 22, 2018

Review & Excerpt: Looking for Dei by David A. Willson #Giveaway

by MK French

Nara Dall hated the scar on her back and the secrets she had to keep about magic abilities she had. Every three years, a ceremony is held to find those with magic, but no one had been found in her village in decades. Once she fixes that, she and her best friend are on the run with her adoptive father. There are larger secrets than the ones she knows, which draws attention from those in political and religious power.

March 21, 2018

3 Suspense Novels That You Won't Want to Put Down

by Susan Roberts

I love nothing better than to read a suspense novel that keeps me guessing until the end. Here are three that I've read recently that are well written and full of twists and turns.

March 20, 2018

Review & Excerpt: The Folded Land by Tim Lebbon

by MK French

Angela Gough had learned the hard way that some myths are very real, and there is a black market for arcane items and creatures. Knowing this had put her on the run, but she is drawn back to the United States after finding out that her niece Sammi was struck by lightning and is missing. There is trouble brewing among the Kin, and she has to find Sammi and the Folded Land before they're lost.

March 19, 2018

Review: Night Music by Deanna Lynn Sletten

by Donna Huber

(first chapter, first paragraph)
Chapter One
September 1970
Charlotte Parsons slipped out of her 1964 Pontiac GTO and snoothed down her plaid skirt before picking up a pile of books. It was her first day of college, and she was bothe nervous and excited. It had felt like this day would never come, and now, here she was.

Last fall, I watched Ken Burns's documentary The Vietnam War. It was before my time, but 'too recent' to be covered in my history classes so I had little real knowledge of what went on during that time period. A number of novels have also been released recently which Susan has reviewed. When I saw Night Music on NetGalley I had to request it.

March 18, 2018

Review: Welcome to Romero Park by Amber Michelle Cook

by MK French

Edward Dorchester has invited several families to a ball at his estate, Romero Park, to celebrate the engagement of his ward Sophie. As they come together, the occasion is marred by the undead.

March 17, 2018

3 Books with Strong Female Characters over 30

by Susan Roberts

As a female over 30 (to be honest, way way over 30), I am always happy to find books with female main characters who are over 30 that are strong women and not doddering old ladies who have a house full of cats.   This month, I was lucky to find two books with strong female main characters.

March 16, 2018

Review: The Big Bad Wolf by Jus Accardo #Giveaway

by MK French

Kensey Deaton is the daughter of one of the werewolf leaders and considered a pampered princess. She has no intention of being handed off to the son of one of her father's allies and instead chooses Slade McAllister, her onetime friend and the son of the worst werewolf in town. It doesn't help that Slade has a bad reputation all of his own, but she is determined not to simply fall in line with tradition.

March 15, 2018

2 Historical Novels to Read for Women's History Month

by Susan Roberts

Today I have reviews of two books of historical fiction that would make good reads for Women's History Month. One is a historical memoir about the author's grandmother and the other is the debut novel of a female author. They take place in different parts of the world and different time periods but they both reflect troubling times in world history.

March 14, 2018

Fire and Ice: Books and Marathons for the last of winter

by Alison DeLuca

It’s the end of the winter here in New Jersey, and I’m ready to go outside. Except, it’s still really cold, and I can’t decide. Should we brave the rain and head out for the night? Or stay in by the fireside?

March 13, 2018

Review: The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

by Susan Roberts

(first chapter, first paragraph)
She was aware first of the scent of the hotel shampoo, a Middle Eastern aroma reminiscent of anise, and then - when she opened her eyes - the way the light from the window was different from the light in the rooms in the hotel where the crew usually stayed. Ths morning sun was oozing through one slender line from the ceiling to the floor where the drapes, plush as they were, didn't quite meet and blanching a strip of carpet. She blinked, not against the light but against the thumping spikes of pain behind her eyes. She needed water, but it would take a tsunami to avert the hangover that awaited. She needed Advil, but she feared the red pills that she popped like M&M's at moments like this were distant. They were in the medicine bag in her own hotel room, in her own hotel.

"I'm a very, very good liar. I lie all the time. I lie to other people. I lie to myself."

Chris Bohjalian's new book, The Flight Attendant, is an intricately plotted suspense novel. It's told from dual points of view by two well written female characters.

March 12, 2018

Series Review: Temporal Armistice by Matthew S. Cox #MondayBlogs

by MK French

Matthew S. Cox released the first two books in his dark fantasy series Temporal Armistice in the latter half of 2017.

March 11, 2018

Review: Peregrine Island by Diane B. Saxton

by Donna Huber

Peregrine Island is Diane B. Saxton's award-winning debut novel. Saxton demonstrates how a literary piece can be a true work of art.

March 10, 2018

Review: The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

by Susan Roberts

The Family Next Door, an excellent new book by Sally Hepworth, is about secrets, both those that we keep from our friends and neighbors but more importantly the secrets that we keep within our families. The author does an amazing job of giving us a great plot with people that we all feel like we know in our day to day lives.

March 9, 2018

Series Review: Return to Amston by Jordan Elizabeth

by MK French

Runners and Riders and Secrets of Bennett Hall are the first two books in Jordan Elizabeth's steampunk series Return to Amston.

March 8, 2018

New Virtual Networking Event for Book Bloggers

by Donna Huber

I know many people were disappointed to learn that there would not be an Armchair Book Expo event this year. It has been a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and catch up with old friends. It also gave bloggers an opportunity to explore different topics and help each other out. It is the only blogging event I have done every year since I started Girl Who Reads. Because I found the event beneficial, I've decided to organize a similar, but smaller, event for this year.

March 7, 2018

Review: The Hush by John Hart

by Susan Roberts

When you have to wait two years for a new John Hart book, you figure that it better be good. And when you find out that the main character is the grown-up version of one of John Hart's fantastic earlier book, you know that it's going to be good. And when you read it and find out that it's one of the best books you've ever read, then the wait was worth it.

March 6, 2018

Review: Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins

by MK French

"A thousand times he had murmured her name in the soft darkness; now, though, he didn't know her name. He didn't even know his own."

March 5, 2018

Review: Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty by @StacyJuba

by Donna Huber

Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty is a fun, light romance novel. Stacy Juba has created another great story in her Storybook Valley series.

March 4, 2018

Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

by Susan Roberts
Alaska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"In Alaska you can make one mistake. One. The second one will kill you."

Before I read The Great Alone I didn't know much about Alaska - about the people who went there to live a different life or about the beauty of the state. Kristin Hannah does a wonderful job giving the reader a beautiful story along with wonderful descriptions of Alaska. I must admit that I felt cold sitting in my warm house when I read her descriptions of the blowing snow and the cold temperatures. This is a wonderful novel about love and family - both your family by blood and those you collect along the way.

March 3, 2018

Books to Enjoy as Spring Approaches

by Donna Huber

Spring is just around the corner. Here is the south my yard is already green and turning a bit wild so I'll be spending my weekends with yard work and airing out the house. Then we lose an hour next weekend as we change to Daylight Savings Time. With all the new releases this month I need all the hours I can get for reading. But I guess the good news is that these books can be a reward for all that spring cleaning and yard work.

March 2, 2018

Review: Circus of the Queens by Audrey Berger Welz

by MK French

Donatalia was raised in a life of privilege in St. Petersburg before the fall of the Romanovs and had been in training to be a ballerina. Her father, a textile factory owner, sent her away as the restlessness in the city grew worse, and on the way to New York broke her leg. Unable to be a professional dancer anymore, she leaves her aunt and explores the United States. When she meets the circus "royalty" she knew in Russia, it's almost fated that she would join the circus as their fortune teller.

March 1, 2018

4 Books to Read Before the End of Winter

by Susan Roberts

I don't know about you but I sure am ready for spring.  We've had more snow in NC than normal and I've seen enough snow for this winter.  The only good things about these cold and snowy days is that there is more time to read.  I have reviews of four January and February books that I've read that will help spend your time until the warm weather arrives.

February 28, 2018

SAILING THE STARRY SEA: The Appeal of Space Opera

by Gareth L. Powell

While I have been known to write other types of science fiction, there’s something about space opera that keeps drawing me back.

The Darkside

by Ross Kitson

I've just released the second book in my YA sci-fi series, excuse the shameless plug, and one sci-fi trope that the book features is the darker version of the hero. I'd written it into the story before I'd even really thought about the classic nature of it, and it wasn't until I got talking to a mate at work that I recognised how commonly it's become used in literature/ media of late.

February 27, 2018

Review: The Vain Conversation by Anthony Grooms

by Susan Roberts

The Vain Conversation had such an impact on me that I can barely think of the words that I want to use to describe it. I think it needs to be read by middle school and high school children and their parents so that they can have an open dialogue in their homes about race. Even though the book is set mainly in 1946, it still resonates in today's racial problems in this country.

February 26, 2018

Donna's February Reading Round-up #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

I knew my reading streak wouldn't last. I'm still a couple of books ahead of schedule for my reading challenge so that isn't too bad. Two of the reasons my reading is down are pictured above. I adopt two 8-month-old kittens three weeks ago. They are now all integrated (I have 2 dogs) into the family so I'm getting more reading done. The other reason my reading is down is my library switch the digital library they use at the beginning of the month. I listened to 6 audiobooks in January and only 2 this month. The 'listen online' option at RB Digital is horrible - it doesn't save my spot, there is no rewind/fast forward function, and it constantly crashes and has to be reloaded. So I might be listening to fewer books from now on.

February 25, 2018

Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

by MK French

Tess Dombegh lives in Goredd, a Medieval-esque nation where women are meant to be perfect ladies, men are protectors, and falls from grace are expected to either be governesses or nuns. She decides to do neither and instead cuts off her hair to pose as a boy and take to the road. She is a prickly, angry young woman, and eventually joins the quigutl she had befriended as a child in search of the World Serpent. This search takes her across Goredd and Ninys, with various detours along the way.

February 24, 2018

February 23, 2018

Review: Like a Champion by Vincent Chu

by MK French

Like a Champion is a collection of eighteen short stories about average people at different moments in their lives. The description for the collection notes "that moments of glory can happen when we least expect it," but don't think of this as the geeky kid getting a spectacular three-point shot in basketball. Yes, "Squirrels" does include literally that moment, but that isn't the point of the stories. It could be something smaller in scope, a victory that no one else might understand or know about.

February 22, 2018

Review: Twenty-One Steps of Courage by Sarah Bates

by Sal

I haven’t read many military books but the cover and description of this book got my attention.  I enjoy military movies so I decided to give Twenty-One Steps Of Courage.  I am so glad I did!

Sarah Bates: Gratitude

In 2006, I was in the early stages of writing Twenty-One Steps of Courage. Prompted by the growing threat of war in Iraq, neighbors in my small town that borders on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton began readying for deployment. I was accustomed to the sounds of training; heavy artillery booms that shook my home, small arms fire, helicopters overhead, but this was different. As my novel progressed and I began to surround the protagonist with buddies, a girlfriend, his mother, the military deployment activity in my neighborhood and the protagonist’s similar preparation for war inextricably connected.

February 21, 2018

Review: Junkyard Leopard by Oliver Brackenbury

by MK French

The Figure is a woman dressed head to toe in leopard print Lycra, even over her face, with a white fur coat. She targets corporate bankers and lawyers with hammers, crowbars or acid, carving a bloody swath through Wall Street.

February 20, 2018

Review: The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

by Donna Huber

Rhys Bowen has penned an excellent family mystery that will have you turning the pages as quickly as possible.

February 19, 2018

Review: The First Kiss of Spring by Emily March

by MK French

The 14th book in Emily March's contemporary romance series Eternity Springs comes out February 27.

February 18, 2018

3 World War II #Books You Need to Read

by Susan Roberts

There are a lot of new books about WWII, a war that ended over 60 years ago.  It always amazes me that the new books are rarely a re-telling of the same story but instead, they look at the war from differing perspectives.  I have reviews of three new books today and even though all three of them are about the resistance, they take place in different countries - one is set in Italy, one in France and one in Germany.  In all three books, the authors did extensive research and give the reader fictionalized accounts of real events and real people.  If you enjoy historical fiction about this time in history, give these books a try.

February 17, 2018

Review: Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt @harlequinbooks #tlcbooktours

by Susan Roberts

How well do we know our friends - how about our best friend in the whole world, the one we share everything with - even more than we share with our husband and family. How well do we really know them??

February 16, 2018

Review: The Color of Clouds by J. C. Whyte

by MK French

When a cruise ship encounters dark matter in the middle of the ocean, it touches off a cascade of events. Two passengers are sent out of their bodies on a trip with a psychic's spirit guide. Another passenger, getting over a tragedy, is accused of murder. A tsunami is on its way toward the ship. All of these stories weave together over the course of the novel.

February 15, 2018

Review: The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner

by Susan Roberts

The Story of Our Lives is a wonderful story about 4 friends during 20 years of their lives. Even though they are best friends, they all live very different lives and only get together for an occasional weekend. More importantly, even though they are best friends who tell each other everything -- they are all keeping secrets from each other. Can their friendship survive when these secrets are brought out into the open?

February 14, 2018

4 Romance Novels for Valentine's Day

by MK French

Today is Valentine's Day. Weekday holidays are sometimes difficult to celebrate. If you find yourself alone tonight or just without plans, then here are 3 books to treat yourself plus one for your wishlist.

The Cat, The Crow, and The Grimoire by Marilyn Rucker

by Alison DeLuca

cover for The Cat, the Crow, and the Grimoire showing a book and a feather pen

The Cat, The Crow, and The Grimoire is another Marilyn Rucker novel. Like Sax and the Suburb, this wonderful writer serves up an action-packed plot with incredible writing.

February 13, 2018

Interview with Cynthia Robinson, author of BIRDS OF WONDER

Cynthia Robinson's debut novel Birds of Wonder hits shelves on February 20. Today, Cynthia shares a bit about her new crime novel and her writing in general.

February 12, 2018

Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

by MK French

Sylvie and Dan have been together for ten years, and it's a seamless kind of marriage. They care for their twin daughters, work at their jobs, and know each other so well that they can finish each others' sentences. Both are in good health, so the doctor at their annual physical guesses they should plan for another sixty-eight years of marriage. That's when they're unnerved and start to panic, looking for ways to spice up their life together. It doesn't always go to plan.

February 11, 2018

Review: The White Pavilion by Ruth Fox

by MK French

Tierra Mejor, a world governed by clockwork, was built by La Relojero, the clockmaker. It has a Pattern and tiers within society, as well as seven major guilds to help the land run smoothly. The people believe in the myth, which is reenacted every year (known as cycle) by the dancers of the Pavilion. Imre had danced it before, but this time she had fallen and attracted the interest of the Prince, who demanded that she be placed in the Citadel within his Den full of concubines. The Prince has many enemies, and Imre doesn't know anything about this sort of politics and intrigue.

February 10, 2018

4 Books to Read This Month

by Susan Roberts

The weather is still perfect to wrap up in a blanket with a hot cup of tea and a good book. I have read some great books that will be published at the beginning of February that will help the month pass quicker.

February 9, 2018

Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Miskatonic Monstrosities by James Lovegrove

by MK French

Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson had many famous adventures, but many of them were altered to edit out the occult and eldritch phenomena they had worked with. In this particular instance, a man in Bethlehem Hospital with no memory is speaking in the language of the Old Gods. Holmes and Watson start to undertake the search for his identity and find more than they thought they would.

February 8, 2018

Review: Steal Away Home by @BillyCoffey #tlcbooktours

by Susan Roberts

Steal Away Home starts during Owen's first and probably only Big League baseball game. His entire life has been focused on baseball - it's the one thing that kept him close to his dad and the one thing in his life that he knows he excels at. Why then is he 29 and just playing in his first major league game after years in the minors?

February 7, 2018

Review: Second Guessing by Gail Ward Olmsted

by Susan Roberts

Jill Griffin & Ben Fein are meant to be together… said no one ever!

Second Guessing is a story about love in the celebrity world and how the media handles and sensationalizes stories that are personal.

February 6, 2018

Review: By the Book by Julia Sonnborn

by Elisabeth Scherer

There are two things I think of when I think of February. First of course is Valentine's Day. The second thing I think of is I love to read month!  Back when I was in elementary school we would do a readathon during February and I indulged with relish.  Now my six-year-old son is gearing up for the same tradition this month. It is wonderful to see him excited to read new books.

February 5, 2018

Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

by Susan Roberts

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE is showing up on all of the lists for the 'best books of 2018' and after reading it, I agree.  I was lucky to win a copy from LibraryThing and thrilled to be able to read an early copy.

February 4, 2018

Review: Women Float by Maureen Foley

by Donna Huber

As you may recall, I went through a huge backlog of emails at the end of last year. I found quite a few ebooks that were sent unsolicited. A few were passed on to my other reviewers, but some I kept for myself. Women Float is one of those ebooks.

February 3, 2018

Review: Video Dungeon by Kim Neuman

by MK French

This is a collection of Kim Newman's reviews of various horror movies for Empire magazine, so it's a little meta to be writing a review of a bunch of reviews.

February 2, 2018

Getting Stuck with Punxsutawney Phil

by C. M. North
English: Groundhog sculpture in Punxsutawney, ...
English: Groundhog sculpture in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If the weather forecast is anything to go by, spring should be here soon. Poor Punxsutawney Phil; I imagine it’s hard enough to be two hundred years old, and a groundhog; having the pressure of the world on you to predict the weather must be spirit-crushing. If it were me, I’d probably spend the day curled up in my burrow and let the rest of the world sort itself out.

Amusingly, Moscow’s equivalent, Archi, spent last year hungover and made no prediction at all.
It seems somewhat backwards to me, that if the weather is good on Groundhog Day, we get more winter; if it’s bad, we get spring. But then, the best stories are sometimes a little backwards; or, in the case of Groundhog Day, somewhat circular.

It seems odd to consider that Harold Ramis’ cult comedy came out twenty-five years ago because sometimes 1993 doesn’t seem that long ago. Day after day, year after year, time goes by, and certain things seem to just repeat themselves over and over and over. We’ve had four presidents, six leap years, eight Harry Potter films and countless interchangeable celebrities coming and going, and sometimes dying. And the world goes on. It makes you wonder whether, in each day that Bill Murray repeated, a different version of the world carried on past February 2, slightly altered for his actions in the previous loop.

This is a concept that is played within the 2011 film Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal. In it, Gyllenhaal’s character is forced to relive the last eight minutes of someone else’s life repeatedly under the guise of finding a terrorist who blows up a train. Each time he revisits the past, however, his actions change the outcome slightly until, eventually, he’s able to stop the train from exploding entirely. The philosophical question posed here is whether his actions actually make a difference or not, and which reality is true—to the outsiders, the train has already been destroyed; in the Source Code, a whole new world is born.

Time travel stories are some of my favorites, and time loop stories are, for me, the cream of the crop. I remember the first time I was exposed to such a concept, in a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode entitled Cause and Effect. Here, the Enterprise gets stuck repeating the same day over and over again, each time resulting in its total destruction in the collision with another ship coming out of a space portal (or something). As the repetitions progress, small changes begin to give the crew senses of déjà-vu, and certain patterns become evident. Rather cleverly, it turns out that the patterns were programmed to be sent back in time by Data as a warning to the next repetition, and when the solution is finally discovered the Enterprise escapes destruction.

Sometimes time loop tales are evident from the outset, as the reader or viewer can see what’s happening from an outside perspective. Sometimes, however, we get thrown for a loop (so to speak). In Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, the story starts out seemingly as a typical (by King’s standards, anyway) post-apocalyptic fantasy. Things start to get a little weird when Stephen King appears as himself in the novel, as the author of the novel in which he’s appearing (yes, you read that correctly), but the final line of the final book takes us full circle to the first line of the first book, and you realize that essentially the message is: read my books again.

I’ve always wanted to write a time travel/time loop story. It’s been done quite a few times (Before I Fall really is almost an homage to Groundhog Day), and it becomes difficult to think of an original way to present the issue. After all, from multiple realities to becoming your own father, film and literature have taken this concept and ran with it for decades. But at the end of the day, each story is unique at least from the storyteller’s point of view, and who knows? As we settle into the next few weeks and months of whatever rain, snow or shine is due to us, I might just find myself working on a new project—and what if I just so happen to sneak some wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff into it?

After all, if the weather forecast is anything to go by, spring should be here soon. Poor Punxsutawney Phil.

C.M. North is a trained musician, coffee addict and author of 22 Scars, a young adult novel about teenage depression and growing up with tragedy and trauma. He lives in northern New Jersey with his wife, son and cat Pia, who insists she take precedence over writing.

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February 1, 2018

New Releases: February 2018

Winter might be hanging on a bit longer so there will be plenty of time to snuggle up with a good book. I have my fingers crossed for at least one more snow day before winter turns to spring. There are plenty of books coming out this month that would great for curling up on the couch for the day.

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Spirits, Diamonds, and a Drive-thru Daiquiri Stand
Spirits, Diamonds, and a Drive-thru Daiquiri Stand by Deanne Chase
Pyper and Julius are getting married. There’s a wedding to plan, dresses to order, and daiquiris to consume. But when Pyper’s younger brother starts dating a young woman who looks remarkably like the new ghost haunting her café, suddenly the plans are on hold until Pyper can unravel a curse that threatens to not only ruin her big day, but her brother, too.

Available February 4
Buy Spirits, Diamonds, and a Drive-thru Daiquiri Stand at Amazon

Speak The Graphic Novel
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, Emily Carroll (Illustrator)

The critically acclaimed, award-winning, modern classic Speak is now a stunning graphic novel.

"Speak up for yourself-we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless--an outcast--because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. Through her work on an art project, she is finally able to face what really happened that night: She was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. With powerful illustrations by Emily Carroll Speak: The Graphic Novel comes alive for new audiences and fans of the classic novel.

Available February 6
Buy Speak: The Graphic Novel at Amazon

The Book of Boy
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
oy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked and abused by the other kids in his town. Until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy’s climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter. Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics, and gaining dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end—for what if St. Peter can make Boy’s hump go away?

This compelling, action-packed tale is full of bravery and daring, stars a terrific cast of secondary characters, and features an unlikely multigenerational friendship at its heart. Memorable and haunting, Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s epic medieval adventure is just right for readers of Sara Pennypacker’s Pax, Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale, and Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo.

Features a map and black-and-white art throughout.

Available February 6
Buy The Book of Boy at Amazon

Surprise Me
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

Available February 13
Buy Surprise Me at Amazon

Fallen Five
Fallen Five by Erica Spindler
Descended from an ancient race, Earth’s few remaining Lightkeepers battle the forces of darkness that threaten humanity...

Detectives Micki Dare and Zach Harris are called in to investigate when a millionaire developer leaps from atop his luxury hotel on the night of its grand opening.

After Micki receives a mysterious package from her long-dead mentor, and Zach suspects something supernatural working against them, they realize this is no ordinary case. A dark force is once again threatening the Big Easy.

Aspects of this case prove eerily similar to an unsolved murder from years before, making the stakes dangerously personal for Micki. This time it’s her life on the line.

It will take the ingenuity and special skills of their misfit band of light beings and humans to bring this perpetrator down...but can they do it before they lose one of their own?

Available February 13
Buy Fallen Five at Amazon

Sunburn by Laura Lippman
One is playing a long game. But which one?

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through.

Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal.

Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?

Something—or someone—has to give.

Which one will it be?

Available February 20
Buy Sunburn at Amazon

Agent in Place
Agent in Place (Gray Man #7) by Mark Greaney
Court Gentry is back in action. This time he's working on behalf of a well-connected group of Syrian expats to secure the Syrian president's mistress so they can use her to bring down the president's regime. But the expats' plan goes awry when it's discovered the mistress has a baby--the Syrian president's only male heir--hidden away in a Damascus safe house.

Court goes after the baby, a decision that comes at the price of the mistress's life. The expat organization deems the boy now useless to their cause and refuses to protect him against the Syrian first lady and the notorious Swiss assassin in her employ. With no support on the way, Court realizes he'll have to take down the Syrian president himself if he and the boy are going to make it out alive.

Available February 20
Buy Agent in Place at Amazon

The Tuscan Child
The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen
From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now.

Available February 20
Buy The Tuscan Child at Amazon

The Tangled Lands
The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi, Tobias S. Buckell
From award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell comes a fantasy novel told in four parts about a land crippled by the use of magic, and a tyrant who is trying to rebuild an empire—unless the people find a way to resist.

Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them.

In four interrelated parts, The Tangled Lands is an evocative and epic story of resistance and heroic sacrifice in the twisted remains surrounding the last great city of Khaim. Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell have created a fantasy for our times about a decadent and rotting empire facing environmental collapse from within—and yet hope emerges from unlikely places with women warriors and alchemical solutions.

Available February 27
Buy The Tangled Lands at Amazon

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January 31, 2018

Review: In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist

by Susan Roberts

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive is an intense fictionalized autobiographical novel that will pull you in from page 1.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive
January 2018; Melville House; 978-1612197111
audio, ebook, print (240 pages); women's fiction 

At times it reads like a hospital drama but with added feeling and humanity. The book provides a gamut of emotions - at times the main character is confused, grief-stricken, selfish and full of love. It is written in a style that takes a bit of getting used to - the author is a poet and it is apparent in his beautiful use of language but he moves back and forth from past to present often and the reader needs to really pay attention to his words.

Karin is 8 months pregnant when she passes out and Tom takes her to the hospital. After tests, the doctors determine that she has an acute type of leukemia and they need to deliver the baby as soon as possible. Tom spends his days overwhelmed with grief over Karin's illness and hoping for recovery and overwhelmed by the needs of his newborn baby. He never really has a chance to properly grieve because he has to be mother and father to the baby.

This is an interesting well-written story of life and death.

Buy In Every Moment We Are Still Alive at Amazon

Also available at Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble

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 FacebookGoodreads,  or Twitter.
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January 30, 2018

Review: Enchanted by the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

by MK French

Gillian MacLeod is one of twelve daughters in her family and is known as the shy one. Her sisters and father tend to talk over her and offer their opinions in place of her own, and she wants adventure and to marry for love. Because of this, at a masked ball, she decides to kiss John Erly, a disowned Englishman that serves as the captain of her brother-in-law's guard. He has to fight off his own attraction for her as well, believing himself unworthy of a laird's daughter, even if she chooses him as her husband.

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

Enchanted by the Highlander
November 2017; Swerve; fairy tale, historical
Gillian is a fun kind of heroine because she is the overprotected girl that still manages to get skilled in various tasks that wouldn't be expected of her. She hunts small game and walks in the woods as a way to be alone and limit her stress when her sisters are too overbearing because she is withdrawn enough not to voice her own opinions. When she starts to, however, she's still talked over. It comes as a shock to others when she shouts and gives directions, which is amusing to the reader because we knew it was there all along.

John similarly isn't the heartless rogue that people gossip about, and his story makes you like him even more.

They're a great match in this, and both are stubborn in similar ways. Instead of a misunderstanding between the two of them that provides the wedge, it's the misunderstanding of others and their own principles. The happily ever after is sweetened up in an almost over the top way, but it fits Gillian and John well.

Buy Enchanted by the Highlander 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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January 29, 2018

Donna's January Book Round Up

by Donna Huber

My January snow day - fuzzy socks, good books, hot tea
I'm still shocked that I read 115 books last year. I credit audiobooks for the win, and if my list of books read this month is an indication, audiobooks are going to play a big part in reaching my 2018 reading goals. Do you listen to audiobooks? I prefer to read books, but it is a nice way to fit in books when I have other things that need doing - cleaning the house or at work.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Covers and descriptions are from


Saving the Sherriff
Saving the Sheriff by Roxanne Snopek
Over Christmas, I discovered the Marrietta, MT universe. I went looking for other books in that universe and came across this free short story (it's now 99 cents). While Snopek does write in the Marrietta universe, this book is not. As far as clean romances go, I really liked it.

The power might be out…but the heat is on.

Every year, free-spirited Frankie Sylva banishes her holiday loneliness with good deeds. This time, she's rescuing a truckload of neglected reindeer—until a blizzard sidetracks her scheme, and now she's stuck…literally.

Local sheriff Red LeClair is shocked to find a very cute, half-frozen woman trespassing on Three River Ranch in a ditched rig, with a suspiciously empty trailer. Is she a horse thief? Is she on the run? Is she out of her mind? He has no choice but to take her back to the ranch and keep an eye on her.

But when the power goes out, Red and Frankie are forced to depend on each other in a way that both have avoided for years. The sheriff's quiet holiday is suddenly festive: a crackling fire, candles, carols, and an irresistible stranger…who might be a felon.

Buy Saving the Sheriff at Amazon

A Rancher's Surrender
A Rancher's Surrender by Michelle Beattie
This is another Marietta, MT story. It is set in the 1880 and features Jillian whom I briefly see in Away in Montana. This book is more steamy than the other titles I've read in this universe. It reminded me a bit of the television show Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.

Denied entrance into vet school because of her gender, fiery and determined Jillian Matthews trained at her father's side and then headed west to Montana Territory after answering an ad using only her father's initials and last name. She is convinced that her skills will override local ranchers prejudice. She's wrong and handsome Wade Parker, the one who hired her, is the first to make his displeasure public. But Jillian refuses to back down and sets out to win Wade's approval. Soon that's not all she hopes to win.

Widower Wade Parker is furious the new vet he helped hire is a woman. The fact that she's beautiful, smart and wakes parts of him that he thought dead burns even more. Feeling tricked, Wade is determined to send her back east but when the town turns on Jillian and her enemies become dangerous, he steps up to be her protector. And that's not the only role Jillian has him contemplating.

Buy A Rancher's Surrender at Amazon
(the ebook was still free when I prepared this post this weekend)

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline
I discovered this series last year when looking for audiobooks. I really enjoyed the story. I liked the main character Judy. I'm undecided on how I feel about the family twist at the end.

The women of Rosato & Associates return, after the relaunch of the series that started with Accused. This second entry, Betrayed, stars Judy Carrier, who has had the starring role in only one previous Rosato book. When Betrayed opens, Judy Carrier finds herself at a crossroads in her life. Her best friend, Mary DiNunzio, has just become partner and is about to become a bride, leaving Judy vaguely out of sorts. She's not jealous, but she's not happy either and she's wondering where her own career and love life are going. To make matters worse, she is rocked to her emotional foundations when she learns that her beloved Aunt Barb has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She races to her aunt's side, and so does Judy's mother, only to find that her aunt is dealing with the sudden death of a friend who had been helping her through chemo. The friend, Iris Juarez, was an undocumented worker at a local farm, but her death doesn't look natural at all, to Judy. Judy begins to investigate, following a path that leads her into an underground world far more dangerous than she ever imagined. Judy has to dig to uncover what happened to Iris, and at the same time unearth the secrets in her own family.

Buy Betrayed at Amazon

This Could Hurt
This Could Hurt by Jillian Medoff
My first review book of 2018. At the start of the book, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. I thought is might be too depressing for the start of a new year. But after getting to know the characters, I really started to like the book and it didn't feel quite as depressing. By the end, I felt that it was a bittersweet story and one I'm glad I read. Read my full review.

A funny and deeply felt novel that illuminates the pivotal role of work in our lives—a riveting fusion of The Nest, Up in the Air, and Then We Came to the End that captures the emotional complexities of five HR colleagues trying to balance ambition, hope, and fear as their small company is buffeted by economic forces that threaten to upend them.

Rosa Guerrero beat the odds as she rose to the top of the corporate world. An attractive woman of a certain age, the longtime chief of human resources at Ellery Consumer Research is still a formidable presence, even if her most vital days are behind her. A leader who wields power with grace and discretion, she has earned the devotion and loyalty of her staff. No one admires Rosa more than her doting lieutenant Leo Smalls, a benefits vice president whose whole world is Ellery.

While Rosa is consumed with trying to address the needs of her staff within the ever-constricting limits of the company’s bottom line, her associate director, Rob Hirsch, a middle-aged, happily married father of two, finds himself drawing closer to his "work wife," Lucy Bender, an enterprising single woman searching for something—a romance, a promotion—to fill the vacuum in her personal life. For Kenny Verville, a senior manager with an MBA, Ellery is a temporary stepping-stone to bigger and better places—that is, if his high-powered wife has her way.

Compelling, flawed, and heartbreakingly human, these men and women scheme, fall in and out of love, and nurture dreams big and small. As their individual circumstances shift, one thing remains constant—Rosa, the sun around whom they all orbit. When her world begins to crumble, the implications for everyone are profound, and Leo, Rob, Lucy, and Kenny find themselves changed in ways beyond their reckoning.

Jillian Medoff explores the inner workings of an American company in all its brilliant, insane, comforting, and terrifying glory. Authentic, razor-sharp, and achingly funny, This Could Hurt is a novel about work, loneliness, love, and loyalty; about sudden reversals and unexpected windfalls; a novel about life.

Buy This Could Hurt at Amazon

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
I enjoyed this audiobook. It was a sweet coming-of-age type story. The book was made into a movie, but I haven't seen it. I'll probably look for it. Have you read it or seen the movie?

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America--to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland"--she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

By far Tóibín's most instantly engaging and emotionally resonant novel, Brooklyn will make readers fall in love with his gorgeous writing and spellbinding characters.

Buy Brooklyn at Amazon

Winter Storms
Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand
When I listened to the 4th book over Christmas, I realized I had somehow missed book 3. It filled in some of the missing gaps I had when I listened to the last book in the series. When I started this series I wasn't sure if I would stick with it, but I grew to love these characters. From the description, this was supposed to be the end of the series. I'm glad there was a 4th and I wonder if the series will spin off with some of the children.

Gather under the mistletoe for one last round of caroling with the Quinn family in this heartwarming conclusion to Elin Hilderbrand's bestselling Winter Street Trilogy. Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn's old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there's hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan. That doesn't mean there aren't a few dark clouds on the horizon. Kelley has recently survived a health scare; Jennifer can't quite shake her addiction to the drugs she used as a crutch while Patrick was in jail; and Ava still can't decide between the two lovers that she's been juggling with limited success. However, if there's one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it's Christmas. And this year promises to be a celebration unlike any other as the Quinns prepare to host Kevin and Isabelle's wedding at the inn. But as the special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinns away from the place--and the people--they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough upheavals to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog, in this touching novel that proves that when the holidays roll around, you can always go home again.

Buy Winter Storms at Amazon

22 Scars
22 Scars by C.M. North
It is kind of like an edgy indie film that either people hate or love. I liked the chapters with Beth as the narrator as they flowed more like a story. Read my full review.

Raised with apathy and spite, Amy’s life is a monotonous drone of deep despair, broken only by coffee and nights out with her best—and only—friend. She battles depression daily, fighting to keep her sanity in a world that, to her, is set on destroying her soul.

Her future is bleak, overcast with shadow and doubt; her past harbors terrible secrets that even those closest to her couldn’t begin to guess. When tragedy strikes someone she holds dear, will she succumb to the crushing weight of despair, or will she find the strength to fight—to live?

22 Scars is a story of what it takes to live daily with depression - and how the scars of a lifetime can pass through generations and beyond.

Can the past ever truly be forgotten?

Can depression ever be beat?

Buy 22 Scars at Amazon

Busy Body
Busy Body by M.C. Beaton
If you haven't tried audiobooks, and you like cozy mysteries, then I recommend picking up one in the Agatha Raisin. They are fun and easy to follow.

Agatha Raisin has always been ambivalent about holiday cheer, but her cozy little village of Carsely has long prided itself on its Christmas festivities.

But this year Mr. John Sunday, a self important officer with the Health and Safety Board, has ruled that the traditional tree on top of the church is a public menace; that lampposts are unsafe for hanging illuminations; that May Dimwoody's homemade toys are dangerous for children. Things have reached such a desperate pass that the Carsely Ladies' Society joins forces with the ladies in the neighboring village of Odley Cruesis to try to put a stop to Mr. Sunday's meddling - only to find that someone has literally put a stop to him with a kitchen knife.

Agatha's detective agency is on the case, but when a man has made as many enemies as John Sunday, it's hard to know where to start.

Buy Busy Body at Amazon

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood
The first book in this trilogy was a book club read and since I listened to it on audio, I decided to listen to the whole trilogy. I got it from the digital library in December, but with the holidays I kept running out of time and then would have to go back on the holds list. I don't know if it was the wait or because this one had a lot of recapping in it as the story was wrapped, but I found myself growing bored with it.

Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike. Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. Their reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is recovering from a debilitating fever, so it's left to Toby to preach the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator. She must also deal with cultural misunderstandings, terrible coffee, and her jealousy over her lover, Zeb.

Zeb has been searching for Adam One, founder of the God's Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. But now, under threat of a Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their newfound allies, some of whom have four trotters. At the center of MaddAddam is the story of Zeb's dark and twisted past, which contains a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.

Combining adventure, humor, romance, superb storytelling, and an imagination at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Margaret Atwood—a moving and dramatic conclusion to her internationally celebrated dystopian trilogy.

Buy MaddAddam at Amazon

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Susan reviewed this book back in the fall of 2016 and I've wanted to read it ever since. So I got the audiobook. It caused it me a lot of anxiety to the point I went looking for spoilers (since I couldn't just flip to the last page and find out what happens). It is an excellent psychological thriller, even knowing how it ends.

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Buy Behind Closed Doors at Amazon

Currently Reading:

Women Float
Women Float by Maureen Foley
I've felt much like reading in the evenings so even though it is a novella I haven't made much progress.

Lonely California pastry chef Win never learned how to swim, despite growing up just miles from the Pacific Ocean. Even Janie, her flaky pro-surfer single mother, couldn't convince her to brave the water, solidifying Win's fear when she leaves her at the tender age of 9. But when Win turns 29 and decides to take swimming lessons for the first time -- finally confronting her hydrophobia and trying to make sense of why her mer-mother suddenly swam off all those years ago -- she must also deal with a desperate crush she's developed on her New Age neighbor, mysterious postcards that keep arriving in the mail, and her bad habit of pathological lying. This touching and humorous look at female relationships and the dramas that come for contemporary women turning thirty also doubles as a loving ode to the small coastal town of Carpinteria and the laid-back SoCal lifestyle that guides it. Poetic and moving, Maureen Foley's fiction debut is both a perfect beach read and an insightful look at love, accidental families and the power of friendships.

Buy Women Float at Amazon

Peregrine Island
Peregrine Island by Diane B. Saxon
I'm not really sure where this story is going but it is interesting so far. It's won a bunch of awards.

Part “who-done-it” and part family drama, this award-winning novel reveals that neither people nor paintings are always what they appear to be

Contradictory relationships within troubled families are nothing new, but the award-winning psychological novel written by well-known journalist Diane B. Saxton elevates these relationships and the mysterious heirloom painting that both exposes and unites them to an art form.

Peregrine Island interweaves the stories of three generations of women, one valuable painting, the artist who created it, and those who would do anything to possess it – including kill.

Lush with sensory details, this psychologically complex mystery novel is set on a private island in the middle of Long Island Sound. It begins when the family’s lives are turned upside-down one summer by so-called art experts, who appear on the doorstep of their isolated home to appraise a favorite heirloom painting. When incriminating papers along with two other paintings are discovered behind the painting in question, the appraisal turns into a full-fledged investigation and detectives are called into the case— but not by the family whose members grow increasingly antagonistic toward one another.

During the course of the inquiry and as the summer progresses, the family members discover new secrets about one another and new facts about their past. Above all, they learn that neither people nor paintings can be taken at face value.

Buy Peregrine Island at Amazon

The Three-Body Problem
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
This is the book club read for February. I've just started it and my book club meets on Thursday! It took forever to get a copy from the library.

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

Buy The Three-Body Problem at Amazon

Up Next:

I have two reviews coming up in February so they will be my next reads.

Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty
Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty by Stacy Juba
This Sleeping Beauty isn’t sure she wants to wake up…

Dance instructor Rory Callahan likes to play it safe. When she meets Kyle, he’s impulsive, persistent, and her exact opposite. He’s pushing her to tango way past her comfort zone and keeping Rory on her toes more than twenty years of dance teachers ever had.

Unfortunately, he’s the grandson of her family’s archrival and she doesn’t want to disappoint them. After all, her parents imagine her as a proper princess - hence her namesake Aurora, AKA Sleeping Beauty. Complicating matters, Rory’s also dealing with a surgeon boyfriend who’s perfect for her (sort of), an obnoxious boss, and desperate dance moms. Kyle wants to change her whole life, but Rory doesn’t like the stakes. After all, princesses are the ones who get the happy endings. . .aren’t they?

This sweet romantic comedy is a standalone and can be read on its own. All books in the series can be read in any order so jump in at any time.

Buy Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty at Amazon

Birds of Wonder
Birds of Wonder by Cynthia Robinson
Fiction. One August morning while walking her dog, high-school English teacher Beatrice Ousterhout stumbles over the dead body of a student, Amber Inglin, who was to play the lead in Beatrice's production of John Webster's Jacobean tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi. Barely able to speak, Beatrice calls the police. That is to say, she calls her daughter. Jes is a detective with two years of experience under her belt and a personal life composed primarily of a string of one-night-stands, including the owner of the field in which Beatrice has found Amber. In addition to a house and a field, Child Services lawyer Liam Walsh owns a vineyard, where Amber Inglin, along with a handful of other teens who've had difficulty negotiating the foster system, was an intern. Set among the hills and lakes of upstate New York and told in six vibrantly distinct voices, this complex and original narrative chronicles the rippling effects of a young girl's death through a densely intertwined community. By turns funny, fierce, lyrical and horrifying, BIRDS OF WONDER probes family ties, the stresses that break them, and the pasts that never really let us go.

Buy Birds of Wonder at Amazon

What great books have you discovered this first month of 2018?

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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