Readers' Favorite

April 29, 2019

Bookstagram Challenge, Bookish Accessories, and Books Read

by Donna Huber

April seems to have gone by a bit more slowly than some of the other months. I'm definitely enjoying the warmer weather, even if I'm sneezing all the time. I had a really good month and can't wait to share it with you.

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I meet an author whom I've known since the early days of Girl Who Reads but have never met in person. JB Lynn, the author of the Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman series, was passing through my state and stopped over just to meet me (I feel special!). We met at a local park since she was traveling with her dog Smudge. I packed us a picnic and then we walked the nature trail and let the dog run around the dog park. She brought me a wonderful bag of literary goodies that I will be showing off on Instagram in the future (the scarf in the photo for S below was part of the goodies she gave me). We spent 4 hours together. It was so much fun.

It has been another creative month. Last month, I showed off the vanity bookshelves I made. This month I learned to sew at my Ladies Homestead Gathering. I made the bookbag pictured above and I also made a couple of pairs of steampunk-inspired earrings. One pair for me and another for my niece for her birthday. I'm wondering if I could sell them. Would you buy a pair?

I was hoping the creative bug would extend to my picture taking abilities so I participated in the A to Z Challenge. While it is supposed to be a blogging challenge that encourages daily blog posts, I made it an Instagram challenge as I need to work on building my presence there as well as posting more regularly. I didn't start until the letter E, but I went back and made photos at A - D so that my grid below would be complete. There's also one more day in the challenge, but I went ahead and included Z below. My theme was book titles. On my shelve, I had at least one book that started with each letter, except for Q, V, and X. During a trip to the bookstore I just happened to see Q and then I went to the library for V and X. If you have an Instagram account, I encourage you to follow us as I hope to continue to take book pictures.

In the midst of all the creative stuff, I still find time to do quite a bit of reading. I finished 10 books: 5 audiobooks, 3 ebooks, 2 paperbacks. 5 of the books were ARCs. I had 6 ARCs for the month of April so I'm pleased to have gotten through 5 of them.

Books Read:

The Loch Ness Papers by Paige Shelton
THe Loch Ness Papers
This was a really enjoyable cozy mystery. The author is new to me, but I will look for more of her books. I received an ARC from NetGalley. Read my full review.

Bookseller Delaney Nichols befriends a Loch Ness monster enthusiast; when he stands accused of murder she'll do whatever it takes to learn who the killer is―and whether Nessie herself is really lurking in the Scottish waters.

Delaney Nichols is delighted with her life in Edinburgh, working at The Cracked Spine―a shop that specializes in hard-to-find books and artifacts. With a job she loves, and her fast approaching marriage to devastatingly handsome Scottish pub-owner Tom Shannon, Delaney's life could be straight out of a fairy tale―at least it would be, if the pastor meant to perform the wedding ceremony hadn't recently passed away. Outside the church where Delaney is searching for another reverend, she stumbles across Norval Fraser: an elderly man obsessed with the Loch Ness monster. Always attracted to the interesting and unusual, Delaney befriends Norval. But when his nephew is found dead, the police decide Norval's obsession has moved from monsters to murder.

With a wedding to plan, her family arriving soon from Kansas, and the arrival of an over-the-top Texan with a wildly valuable book, Delaney's plate is full to bursting, but she can't abandon her new friend. Determined to help Norval, she sets out to learn the truth. The Loch Ness buries its secrets deeply, but Delaney is determined to dig them up―whether Nessie likes it or not

Buy The Loch Ness Papers at Amazon

Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
This book has a really pretty cover and I liked her Article 5 series well enough. However,  I really didn't care much for this story. I didn't connect with the characters. I checked the audiobook out from the digital library.

Best friends Colin and Ty live one day at a time - the only way it's possible to survive in Metaltown, where money is in short supply, illness runs rampant, and street rules are the highest law. With the other near-starving teenagers of Metaltown, they work long, grueling hours for pennies at the Small Parts factory, attaching fuses to bombs and manufacturing weapons. When they're worked to the bone, they seek shelter where they can find it, and do it all again the next day.

Meanwhile, in the wealthy River District across town, Lena Hampton spends her days learning useless ancient languages and the art of being a lady, all the while secretly studying the ins and outs of Hampton Industries, dreaming that one day her father will take her seriously and she'll become the first woman to run the family's expansive network of factories and businesses.

Colin's, Ty's, and Lena's paths intersect when Ty is injured on the job and Lena, desperate to prove herself, fires her. In one morning, their dreams of a better future disappear, and Colin and Ty must find a way to transform their own lives - and Lena's - into ones that matter.

Buy Metaltown at Amazon

Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer
Saving Meghan
A great thriller. There were enough clues to make you think you know how it will end but there is a twist at the end you won't see coming. A free ARC was provided by the publicist. Read my full review.

Can you love someone to death?

Some would say Becky Gerard is a devoted mother and would do anything for her only child. Others claim she's obsessed and can't stop the vicious circle of finding a cure at her daughter's expense.

Fifteen-year-old Meghan has been in and out of hospitals with a plague of unexplained illnesses. But when the ailments take a sharp turn, doctors intervene and immediately suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Is this what's going on? Or is there something even more sinister at hand?

Buy Saving Meghan at Amazon

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
I enjoyed the story. I liked that we got to know how other characters' stories ended that we had met, but at the same time it felt a little disingenuous to how the story was set up. The unnamed midwife didn't always know the other characters stories after they left her and the story is set up as scribes copying her journals. Just a little nitpicky thing. I'm not sure if I'm vested in the story enough to continue to the series, but this book might be a suggestion for my post-apocalyptic book club. This was a free Prime ebook with Audible narration.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

Buy The Book of the Unnamed Midwife at Amazon

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted
The languid, lazy pace of the story is perfect for lounging in a hammock with a glass of lemonade. The beautiful writing signals that this story will end in profoundness. I got a free ARC from NetGalley, Read my full review.

Tom Hope doesn’t think he’s much of a farmer, but he’s doing his best. He can’t have been much of a husband to Trudy, either, judging by her sudden departure. It’s only when she returns, pregnant to someone else, that he discovers his surprising talent as a father. So when Trudy finds Jesus and takes little Peter away with her to join the holy rollers, Tom’s heart breaks all over again.

Enter Hannah Babel, quixotic smalltown bookseller: the second Jew—and the most vivid person—Tom has ever met. He dares to believe they could make each other happy.

But it is 1968: twenty-four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. Tom Hope is taking on a battle with heartbreak he can barely even begin to imagine.

Buy The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted at Amazon

Timekeeper by Tara Sim
I had checked this book out for the JORD watch promo picture I did last month. It sounded like it would be a good story, but I didn't have time to read it right then. So I checked out the audiobook from the digital library. It was an interesting story. There was a bit more mythology than I was expecting, but it tied in well with a society ruled by clocks and time.

Two o'clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time - and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It's a truth that 17-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors. And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems.

Danny's new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: He is the tower's clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield's time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden and means risking everything he's fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target, or he'll lose not only his father but the boy he loves - forever.

Buy Timekeeper at Amazon

Lost Without the River by Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic
Lost Without the River
I really enjoyed this memoir. I loved the historical bits intertwined with family history. Scoblic is a great storyteller. A received a free ARC from the publicist. Read my full review.

Barbara Hoffbeck never quite felt she fit into the small farming community of Big Stone City, South Dakota―and as the youngest of seven growing up during the post-Depression era, she struggled to find her place within her large Catholic family. Barbara defied expectations at every turn, determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated time and place, whether it be by joining a "no girls allowed" hunting trip with her brothers, racing to help save her family's burning barn, or moving across the United States to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. Barbara took her experiences in stride, grounding herself in the beauty of her surroundings―an appreciation stemming from her Dakota roots. Lost Without the River is the story of a girl who grows up, leaves home, and eventually discovers an appreciation for the farm she left behind. It demonstrates the emotional power that even the smallest place can exert, and the gravitational pull that calls a person back home.

Buy Lost Without the River at Amazon

The Temporary Agent by Daniel Judson
The Temporary Agent
I enjoyed this thriller. Since I listened to it on audio, I did find myself lost a time or two because I became distracted, but overall I could follow the story easily. I would listen to more book in this series. This was a free Prime ebook with Audible narration.

Scarred by war, former Navy Seabee Tom Sexton vows to leave his violent past behind, only to be drawn back into that life when a deadly conspiracy forces him to face an agonizing choice no man should ever have to make.

Five years after his life was saved in Afghanistan by Marine Force Recon Leader Charlie Cahill, Tom lives a bleak, nomadic existence, haunted by the debt he can never repay. Salvation appears in Stella—a woman as damaged, and resourceful, as he. But when a coded distress call from his former CO leads him to a shadowy NSA operative, Tom is recruited for a “black op” to bring back the now-rogue man who saved his life.

As he searches for Cahill, Tom quickly uncovers a much larger web of treason and betrayal that calls his entire world into question—and forces him into the ultimate no-win scenario.

Buy The Temporary Agent at Amazon

Wives of War by Soraya M. Lane
Wives of War
Kind of a typical romantic WWII story. It was still interesting as it was set at a field hospital. The audiobook was well done. This was a free Prime ebook with Audible narration.

London, 1944. Two young nurses meet at a train station with a common purpose: to join the war effort. Scarlet longs for the chance to find her missing fiancĂ©, Thomas, and to prove to her family—and to herself—that she’s stronger than everybody thinks. Nursing is in Ellie’s blood, but her humble background is vastly different from Scarlet’s privileged upbringing. Though Ellie puts on a brave face, she’s just as nervous as Scarlet about what awaits them in France.

In Normandy, the two friends soon encounter the seemingly unflappable Lucy. Scarlet and Ellie are in awe of her courage and competence, but the experienced nurse is well aware of the dangers of the job they’ve chosen—and even she is terrified they won’t make it home alive.

Pushed to their limits by the brutality of a world at war, Scarlet, Ellie and Lucy will need to rely on each other—and the power of their friendship—to survive.

Buy Wives of War at Amazon

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline
Someone Knows
Scottoline is still a relatively new author to me and I love her books more and more. It was such a good mystery. You want answers as much as the main character Allie. I received a free ARC from NetGalley. Read my full review.

Twenty years ago, in an upscale suburb of Philadelphia, four teenagers spent a summer as closest friends: drinking, sharing secrets, testing boundaries. When a new boy looked to join them, they decided to pull a prank on him, convincing him to play Russian roulette as an initiation into their group. They secretly planned to leave the gun unloaded—but what happened next would change each of them forever.

Now three of the four reunite for the first time since that horrible summer. The guilt—and the lingering question about who loaded the gun—drove them apart. But after one of the group apparently commits suicide with a gun, their old secrets come roaring back. One of them is going to figure out if the new suicide is what it seems, and if it connects to the events of that long-ago summer. Someone knows exactly what happened—but who? And how far will they go to keep their secrets buried?

Buy Someone Knows at Amazon


I fit in a few discussion type posts this month.

Is Our Reading Obsession Unhealthy?
Vintage Books - a look at literary history
5 Audiobooks for Road Trip Reading
Best Books of April 2019 

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. Great variety of books. I love all your pictures of books too. Come see my week here. Happy reading.

  2. Very Attractive Article and very awesome.
    It really helped me ton. Please to be continued and posts like these.
    Mothers Day Is coming I will prefer you to check out my collection and wish others.
    mothers day wishes from daughter

  3. I love the earrings!! I bet if you made some and created and etsy shop, you'd get lots of orders!!

  4. Seems like it was a great month for you, love the earrings. I’m looking forward to reading Bookshop of the Broken Hearted.

    Have a great reading week.

  5. How wonderful that an author you love came out specifically to meet with you! I love the earrings--I actually have a similar pair that I bought from Etsy, so I'm sure you could sell them. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  6. I also enjoyed your creative earrings and am always happy when people get to meet authors in person. Your photo challenge looks fun and I enjoyed looking at your selections.