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May 27, 2019

May Reading Wrap Up

by Donna Huber

Here we are at the end of May. It has been an up and down kind of month. Work has been all kinds of crazy. We had our annual meeting on May 1 so I've been playing catch up on all the things that got pushed to the back burner in the lead up to the meeting. Then I came down with an awful upper respiratory infection and had a fever for 4 days. Then last week the wellness program at work hosted a 5K fun run/walk. It was super hot (90F+) and the course had killer hills. Going down was as hard as going up. I'm shocked I did it in 50 minutes while holding a conversation with a fellow walker most of the time.

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Even with all that going on (and a week of not feeling well enough to actually read a book), I didn't do too badly reading-wise. Audiobooks really helped me keep up and I took this past week off from work so I got caught back up a bit. Let's take a look at what has gone on at the blog.

Discussion Posts

What kind of reader are you? - Do you plan what you will read or is your next read based solely on how you feel in the moment?

Hidden Treasures on the Internet - Alison shares some of her favorite fun sites.

When you're too sick to read - I share what I did while sick to fulfill my bookish needs.

I also wrote a post for Bad Redhead Media for National Novel Promotion Month - How to Work with Book Bloggers (By a Book Blogger) If you are an author or do book marketing, then you should check out all the posts in the series as there is a lot of great information.

May's Best of the Bunch - our staff had the difficult task of choosing their favorite read of the month.

Popular Posts

Our most viewed review was MK French's review of The Night Window by Dean Koontz.

Susan's review of several spring books was also very popular - April Showers Bring May Flowers and Spring Brings Hours of Great Reading.

Our most liked Instagram post:

Books Read

In May, I read 10 books. Of the 10 books, 5 of them were for review. I've been trying to get through my overflowing shelves of review copies so this is pretty good. Four of the review books were ebooks, 2 books were in print (one was a review copy and the other was for my book club) and 4 audiobooks.

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
Lost Roses
This was the one April ARC I didn't get to in April. But that worked out as it was the May book club book at Barnes & Noble. I loved the book, but I didn't enjoy the book club as much as I do my usual one. Read my full review.

It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanov's. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia's Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller's daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya's letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend.

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian emigre's who live there, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

Buy Lost Roses at Amazon

The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni
The Eighth Sister
It was a good novel. It was kind of interesting to see the inner working of the CIA. It was not a heart-pounding thriller. Even in moments where it could mean life or death for the main character I had no problem turning the audiobook off and doing something else. I even went a few days without listening to it and didn't feel pressing need to return to the book to "find out what happens next". This was a free ebook with Audible narration for Prime members.

Former CIA case officer Charles Jenkins is a man at a crossroads: in his early sixties, he has a family, a new baby on the way, and a security consulting business on the brink of bankruptcy. Then his former bureau chief shows up at his house with a risky new assignment: travel undercover to Moscow and locate a Russian agent believed to be killing members of a clandestine US spy cell known as the seven sisters.

Desperate for money, Jenkins agrees to the mission and heads to the Russian capital. But when he finds the mastermind agent behind the assassinations—the so-called eighth sister—she is not who or what he was led to believe. Then again, neither is anyone else in this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Pursued by a dogged Russian intelligence officer, Jenkins executes a daring escape across the Black Sea, only to find himself abandoned by the agency he serves. With his family and freedom at risk, Jenkins is in the fight of his life—against his own country.

Buy The Eighth Sister at Amazon

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
The Plot Against America
I am sad that I missed the book club discussion for this book as it has a lot of discussion-worthy points. I'm not a big fan of alternative history novels, but this one was interesting and I like that had the end the author gives the correct timeline. I borrowed from the library.

When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America.

Buy The Plot Against America at Amazon

Sweet Lake by Christine Nolfi
Sweet Lake
I have had a book my Nolfi on my ereader for some time and haven't found the time to read it so when I saw this book at Amazon for Prime members I thought I would try it. Unfortunately, I couldn't really get into the story. I really have to be in the mood for a romance and I just wasn't feeling it. (I was also trying to listen to this while still recovering from my illness.) I did enjoy the Sirens. It was well written so I might be willing to try more in this series. 

Linnie Wayfair knows just how many people are counting on her. But knowing doesn’t make doing any easier.

Everyone in Sweet Lake, Ohio, wants her to muster all her business sense and return the Wayfair Inn to its former glory. Her parents hope she’ll forgive her scoundrel of a brother and reconcile the family. The eccentric Sweet Lake Sirens want her to open the inn—and her heart—to new possibilities. And her hilarious lifelong friends Jada and Cat are dropping none-too-subtle hints for her to ignite a romance with Daniel Kettering, the sexy attorney who’s been pining for her for years…

Now a shocking turn of events will open old wounds and upend the world Linnie has carefully built. She has to make changes quickly—and the results, though not entirely what she expected, might be what she’s been yearning for all along.

Buy Sweet Lake at Amazon

Truth and Lies by Caroline Mitchell
Truth and Lies
British crime novels can be a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love watching them on TV, but I don't usually enjoy the books. So I wasn't sure I would like this book, but I'm happy to say that I loved it. While it is about a crime, there is a lot of interpersonal character stuff going on that I found really interesting. This was another Prime free ebook with Audible narration.

DI Amy Winter is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her highly respected police officer father. But when a letter arrives from the prison cell of Lillian Grimes, one half of a notorious husband-and-wife serial-killer team, it contains a revelation that will tear her life apart.

Responsible for a string of heinous killings decades ago, Lillian is pure evil. A psychopathic murderer. And Amy’s biological mother. Now, she is ready to reveal the location of three of her victims—but only if Amy plays along with her twisted game.

While her fellow detectives frantically search for a young girl taken from her mother’s doorstep, Amy must confront her own dark past. Haunted by blurred memories of a sister who sacrificed herself to save her, Amy faces a race against time to uncover the missing bodies.

But what if, from behind bars, Grimes has been pulling the strings even tighter than Amy thought? And can she overcome her demons to prevent another murder?

Buy Truth and Lies at Amazon

The Hitwoman's Juggling Act by JB Lynn
The Hitwoman's Juggling Act
Another great book in this series. I seriously don't know how JB Lynn keeps the story fresh. Usually, by book 20 in a series, I've given up because the stories have become too cookie cutter. But not with this series. You don't know what will happen. There's a lot of stress on Maggie in this book. Some may be her own doing, but most of it is because the adults in the family don't want to act like adults. I really disliked Darlene in this book. I received an ARC from the author. Read my full review.

You know things are out of hand in Maggie Lee’s world when the least of her problems is tripping over a body.

Her family has lost their home.
Her friend, Armani, has lost her psychic mojo.
And Maggie’s in danger of losing custody of her niece.

Making matters even worse is she can't refuse the latest job from her mobster boss. Not to mention she must team up with her murder mentor, Patrick Mulligan, and that's….complicated.

Innocents are at risk, lives are in danger, and a family secret could change everything.

Buy The Hitwoman's Juggling Act at Amazon

The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel
The Ocean Liner
An interesting story that weaves fact with fiction. I liked that it followed the characters well past their WWII introduction. It does not paint Rose and Joe Kennedy in a very good light. Now learning all that happened to Rosemary, I wish there had been a Cubby in her life. I finished this on Friday which I was happy about as it was a good way to end the week and I'm off all this week and won't be listening to audiobooks. This was a Prime free ebook with Audible narration.

Cousins Masha and Rachel Morgenstern board the luxury liner the SS Manhattan bound for New York, desperate to escape the concentration camps that claimed the rest of their family. America offers a safe haven, but to reach it they must survive a hazardous Atlantic crossing.

Among their fellow passengers fleeing the war, each with their own conflicts, secrets and surprises, are the composer Igor Stravinsky, making a new start after a decade of tragedy, and Rose Kennedy, determined to keep her four children from harm. Particularly worrying to Rose is her daughter Rosemary, a vivacious but troubled woman whose love for a Californian musician may derail her family’s political ambitions. And then there’s young Thomas, a Nazi with a secret…

But, under the waves, the Manhattan is being stalked by a German U-boat. Will any of those aboard the ocean liner ever achieve their dream of a new life in America?

Buy The Ocean Liner at Amazon

Gold Digger by Rebecca Rosenberg
Gold Digger
Even though I didn't know who Baby Doe Tabor was nor do I usually read books set in the 1800s, I loved this book. Rosenberg is a talented storyteller who will make you fall in love with her characters. Read my full review.

One look at Baby Doe and you know she was meant to be a legend! She was just twenty years old when she came to Colorado to work a gold mine with her new husband. Little did she expect that she’d be abandoned and pregnant and left to manage the gold mine alone. But that didn’t stop her!

She moved to Leadville and fell in love with a married prospector, twice her age. Horace Tabor struck the biggest silver vein in history, divorced his wife and married Baby Doe. Though his new wife was known for her beauty, her fashion, and even her philanthropy, she was never welcomed in polite society.

Discover how the Tabors navigated the worlds of wealth, power, politics, and scandal in the wild days of western mining.

Buy Gold Digger at Amazon

Meltdown by GP James
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. A few times it felt like the author had swallowed a thesaurus. I really like the characters and how they faced their struggles. I received a free copy for an honest review. Read my full review.

A timely thriller illuminating facts regarding the state of the world’s energy crisis, climate change, and the quandary of nuclear energy—inspired by events in Fukushima, unexpected earthquakes across the planet, and the deterioration of nuclear power plants worldwide.

Bear Mountain Nuclear Energy Center sits one mile outside the active Ramapo fault line, thirty-five miles from the center of New York City. The fault line rocks causing a massive earthquake in the town of Peekskill; power is clipped and control of one of the reactors at Bear Mountain is abruptly lost.
Plant supervisor Trace Crane fights to save the reactor while his wife Avi searches for their daughter in the destroyed Northeast. As the condition of the reactor plummets and radiation is released into the environment, Trace is left to choose between saving the nuclear plant, the East Coast, and the twenty million residents of the NYC metro area or finding his family and saving himself.

Buy Meltdown at Amazon

Whiskers in the Dark by Rita Mae Brown
Whiskers in the Dark
I finished this right before bed. It was a good book to read while on my staycation. The mystery was interesting and I liked the characters. I haven't read any of the other books in the series (yet) but this book could be read as a stand-alone. Read my full review.

A massive nor'easter has hit northern Virginia, where Mary Minor "Harry" Harristeen joins groundskeeping efforts at the National Beagle Club at Aldie as the date for its springtime Hounds for Heroes veterans' benefit approaches. Harry's fellow volunteers, including her oldest friend, Susan Tucker, comprise a spirited group of hunting enthusiasts, some former service members themselves. But things take a sinister turn when, after a routine tree cleanup along the Club's hunting trails, retired foreign services officer Jason Holzknect is found dead, throat slit from ear to ear. Soon enough, another murder in their midst jolts the preparations, convincing Harry that the killer is familiar with the Club--and must be close by, masked in plain sight.

The intrigue extends to the grounds of Harry's beloved local church, where the identity of an eighteenth-century skeleton wearing precious pearls remains a mystery. The anonymous woman's neck had been snapped, and marks on the grave where her body was secreted indicate that someone recently tried to remove it, leading Harry to question how well she really knows those around her.

As always, Harry's crime-solving cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the Corgi share her determination to sniff out the foes among friends, even those long buried. Harry will need her four-legged companions' help more than ever: a ghostly beagle only they can see may hold the key to the culprit.

Buy Whiskers in the Dark at Amazon

How was your May? Read anything good? How was your Memorial Day weekend?

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. Such a nice variety of books. I hope June is a good reading month too. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. Sounds like you had a good month, Truth and Lies sounds pretty twisted, I’m glad you enjoyed it

    Have a great reading week

  3. Congrats on finishing the 5k! Happy June!

  4. The Ocean Liner looks like a good one!

  5. Great wrap-up! I hope you have an awesome June.

  6. Amazing that you managed a 5k after being sick! Sounds like you had a great month :)

  7. Some great reads for sure! All the best in June

  8. I love that photo of the cat and the bookshelf, certainly looks like he/she has all the books taken care of. No wonder it was a popular photo on IG.

  9. Congrats on your 5K success! Audios are great to help the book count. Hope June is a great reading month for you.

  10. You definitely had tough conditions for you 5K. Great job muscling through! 10 books is really awesome with all you had going on. Thanks for sharing the cute kitty on the bookshelf.

    1. Taking the last week of May off from work really helped me get caught back up on my reading.