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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...

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.
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In print...
The City, Not Long After

The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
This was my book club read for the March meeting. It was interesting reading a post-apocalyptic novel written in the late 1980s. It made me want to find older titles to see how they treated the genre.

Half a generation ago, a gesture in the name of peace turned out to spread plague and disaster. In San Francisco, the survivors are heir to a city transformed. It is a haunted, dreaming place peopled with memories, and in a strange way nearly alive itself. And although it is only beginning to recover from near-ultimate disaster, the city is at risk again. An army of power-hungry men are descending on San Francisco. Teenagers Jax and Danny-boy must lead the fight for freedom using the only weapons they have art, magic, and the soul of the city itself.

Buy The City, Not Long After at Amazon

Peregrine Island
Peregrine Island by Diane B. Saxton
It took me a while to get into this book and I thought of giving up, but I'm glad I didn't. If you are looking for a book that you can read slowly, a story in which you can savor the characters and the prose, then you must pick up this novel. Read my full review.

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

Crowned and Dangerous
Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen
I'm almost got up in the Royal Spyness series. I think I have 3 more books. As I'm still reading out of order, this is book 10. It explained a few things about book 11 (the first book I read in the series). We get a bit of backstory on Darcy as it is his father they have to rescue this time. While the characters change, the mystery is starting to become repetitious. 

Nothing is simple when you're thirty-fifth in line for the British crown, least of all marriage. But with love on their side, and plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O'Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules... With Darcy driving me out of London in a borrowed motor car, I soon discover that he isn't planning to introduce me to the pleasures of sinning in secret--as I had hoped--but to make me his wife! Of course, there are some quibbles to be dealt with, such as my needing special permission from the King to marry a Roman Catholic and the question of where we might live after the honeymoon. Though he will inherit a title, Darcy is as broke as I am. Even his family's Irish castle has been sold to a rich American who now employes Darcy's father as a hired hand. Throwing these cares to the wind, nothing could deter us from our mission--except perhaps the news that my future father-in-law has just been arrested. It seems the rich American was murdered and Darcy's father had more than enough motive to do the deed. With the elopement postponed, we head for Ireland where he insists he's innocent, and it's up to us to prove it--for better or worse--

Buy Crowned and Dangerous at Amazon

In ebook...
Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty

Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty
 by Stacy Juba
A fun novel. A bit predictable, but that is typical for chick lit romance and didn't diminish my enjoyment. Read my full review.

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?

Buy Prancing Around with Sleeping Beauty at Amazon

Night Music
Night Music by Deanna Lynn Sletten
A sweet novel set during an unsettling time in the US. Read my full review.

1968 - 1971

Charlotte Parsons is devastated over losing her brother in the Vietnam War. Desperate to learn more about the war, she joins a group of college women who send letters to soldiers and befriends Joseph Russo, a young soldier. But a few months after they begin corresponding, his letters stop coming, and Char moves on, still confused as to why so many young lives are being lost so far away from home.

Two years later, Char begins college in her small Illinois town of Grand Falls. She’s been dating her brother’s long-time best friend, Deke Masterson, who is a senior in college and is deep into the anti-war movement. Char isn’t sure how she feels about the war. Then a stranger comes to town and changes everything.

Joseph Russo served in the Vietnam War, earning a Purple Heart for his injury as well as a life-long limp. He’s ready to put the war behind him. While in Vietnam, he’d corresponded with a girl from Grand Falls and he enjoyed reading about her idyllic life. When he’s discharged, he moves there to attend college. And when he meets Charlotte in person, he’s taken with her sweetness, intelligence, and beauty.

The battle lines are drawn as Deke resents Joe’s presence around Char. What started out as a well-deserved escape to a small town for Joe soon turns into a battle of wills between him and the idealistic Deke. And there stands Charlotte, right in the middle.

Night Music is a story about a moment in time when the world was chaotic and nothing was completely clear. In the midst of all the chaos, can Char and Joe find enough middle ground to fall in love?

Buy Night Music at Amazon

Take a Chance on Me
Take a Chance on Me by Jane Porter
Since discovering the Marietta, MT universe, I've been trying to read the many books set there. They have all been enjoyable reads. This is a light, clean romance - great for sitting on the front porch sipping a glass of lemonade. Read my full review.

Savvy stylist Amanda Wright loves Marietta, her hair salon, and her clients, and no client is more dear to her heart than eighty-year-old Bette Justice–even if her years have made her a little fragile. So when Bette asks Amanda to help her convince her determined grandson, Tyler, a successful game designer, that Marietta is the right home for Bette, Amanda can’t say no.

Tyler Justice has a one-track mind–he wants to take care of his beloved grandmother. He can’t understand her resistance to move to Texas and is sure that the young friend she keeps mentioning–Amanda–is taking advantage of his grandmother’s generosity. He reaches Marietta determined to put the salon owner in her place and bring his grandmother home…until smart, kind Amanda starts to tug at his heart in ways he never expected.

But just as Tyler and Amanda start to form a real connection, will a long-buried family secret destroy their chance at love?

Buy Take a Chance on Me at Amazon

The Flight Attendant

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
The very first book I reviewed on Girl Who Reads was by Chris Bohjalian. This book is causing me a bit of anxiety - probably because one of the main characters is experience quite a bit of anxiety. I'm pretty sure this is going to be another winner.

Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She's a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing. When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police--she's a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home--Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it's too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai. Could she have killed him? If not, who did?

Buy The Flight Attendant at Amazon

In audio...

Pushing Up Daisies
Pushing Up Daisies by M.C. Beaton
I've loved the cozy mysteries by M.C. Beaton, but for some reason, I didn't enjoy this one as much as the others (it may be because of the new digital library service). 

New York Times bestselling author M. C. Beaton's beloved Agatha Raisin is back on a case and poking around where she doesn't belong.When Agatha Raisin left behind her public-relations business in London, she fulfilled her dream of settling in the cozy British Cotswolds where she began a successful private detective agency. Unfortunately, the village she lives in is about to get a little less cozy. Lord Bellington, a wealthy land developer, wants to turn the community garden into a housing estate. When Agatha and her friend Sir Charles Fraith attempt to convince Lord Bellington to abandon his plans, he scoffs, "Do you think I give a damn about those pesky villagers?" So when Agatha finds his obituary in the newspaper two weeks later, it's no surprise that some people in town are feeling celebratory.The villagers are relieved to learn that Bellington's son and heir, Damian, has no interest in continuing his father's development plans. But the police are definitely interested in him--as suspect number one. His father's death, it seems, was no accident. But when Damian hires Agatha to find the real killer, she finds no shortage of suspects.The good news is that a handsome, retired detective named Gerald has recently moved to town. Too bad he was seen kissing another newcomer. But when that woman is also found murdered, Gerald is eager to help Agatha with the case. Agatha, Gerald, and her team of detectives must untangle a web of contempt in order to uncover a killer's identity.

Buy Pushing Up Daisies at Amazon

The Fix
The Fix by David Baldacci
A really enjoyable book. As I haven't read the first two books in the series I was a little lost as to who all the characters are. 

Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself.

Even with Decker's extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, the killing is baffling. Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter - a family man with a successful consulting business - and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

Enter Harper Brown. An agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, she orders Decker to back off the case. The murder is part of an open DIA investigation, one so classified that Decker and his team aren't cleared for it.

But they learn that the DIA believes solving the murder is now a matter of urgent national security. Critical information may have been leaked to a hostile government - or, worse, an international terrorist group - and an attack may be imminent.

Decker's never been one to follow the rules, especially with the stakes so high. Forced into an uneasy alliance with Agent Brown, Decker remains laser focused on only one goal: solving the case before it's too late.

Buy The Fix at Amazon

The Third Victim
The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner
I really enjoyed this novel. I liked the characters and even though it is the first book I have read in this series, I didn't feel at a disadvantage.

The past isn't over....An unspeakable act has ripped apart the idyllic town of Bakersville, Oregon, and its once-peaceful residents are demanding quick justice. But though a boy has confessed to the horrific crime, evidence shows he may not be guilty.

Officer Rainie Conner, leading her first homicide investigation, stands at the center of the controversy. It's hitting too close to home, bringing back her worst nightmares, threatening to expose her secret sins. But with the boy's life at stake, she won't let anything stop her from finding the real killer.

With the help of FBI profiler Pierce Quincy, Rainie comes closer to a deadly truth than she can imagine. Because out there in the shadows a man watches her and plots his next move. He knows her secrets. He kills for sport. He's already brought death to Bakersville and forever shattered the community. But what he has really come for is Rainie -- and he won't leave until he has destroyed her.

Buy The Third Victim at Amazon

The Secret Life of Mrs. London
The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg
This is the audiobook I got from Audible for review. I love the cover. I wasn't sure about the time period, but as I've read some other novels set in the early 1900s and really enjoyed them. I'm two-thirds of the way through and loving it. The narrator is perfect. 

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

Buy The Secret Life of Mrs. London at Amazon

I'm so far behind on my review copies, I'm not sure what I will read next. I know for one thing, after attending a local indie author event I'm not hurting for reading material (truth be told, I wasn't hurting before it either).

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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  1. Looks like you had a good reading month. I read the first Royal Spyness book but haven't had a chance to go on in the series. I'm the type who has to read a series in order. It sounds like this series would be best that way. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    1. I've read most of the series out of order. After reading the first book it didn't seem to matter. There is some progression in relationships, but for the most part once you know who are all the characters (which you meet in book 1) then I think they can be read in any order.

  2. I sympathise with you over the digital library, I don't use ours either because of the format and the lack of choice. I don't review for audio but do listen to them from Audible but a slow listener!

    1. I don't usually review audio either since I listen while at work and sometimes miss things. But I'm going to try it. Maybe do a round up or mini-review type of thing so I don't have to get too detailed.

    2. Great job reading so many books this month. The kittens sound adorable!

  3. I’m glad the kittens are doing well. Congrats on reading 9 books! It looks like you found some good ones, too.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  4. Looks like you had a good month of reading in March. I like historical fiction so I was drawn to The Secret Life of Mrs. London. Glad it's as good as its cover suggests.

  5. Peregrine Island looks really good.

    I like Crowned and Dangerous too.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and have a great week.

  6. My local library doesn't have a great ebook or audio selection and I find that SO frustrating. Hope you make it to 10 by the end of the month!

    1. I actually made it to 11 books read this month as I just finished The Flight Attendant and I finished up the Secret Life earlier in the week.

  7. March was a horrible reading month for me, only one book compared to the 11 in January and February. I will have to check out a few of these to get back on track.