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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...

July 29, 2019

July Reading and Blog Wrap Up

by Donna Huber
How I like to spend my summer days.
Work has continued to be stressful though things are a little better this month as the new accountant started. We still have one vacant position. I took a few days off to spend with my niece when she came over to visit my parents. The break from work was nice, but not really relaxing as I couldn't shake off the list of things that needed to be done at work. My reading life though is definitely benefiting from the stress as I lose myself in a book every evening (well, until I started reading a nonfiction book on the history of the mosquito). It is also helping my waistline - I've lost 5 pounds since the end of May. Four more pounds and I will be back to my high school weight.

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Discussion and Popular Posts

By the middle of July, I had all the posts formatted and scheduled to post except for the Best of Bunch post as I have to wait for everyone to turn in their favorite read of the month. I'm really proud as this has been a long term goal and I hope to continue it going forward. I've already started on August's posts! Oh, and be sure to check out the new banners I've been making for the posts. I'm pretty proud of them too.

We had some great discussion topics this month and I hope you will add to the conversation.

Doctor Sleep, aka I Miss the Overlook (Alison)
Do You Suffer from Tsundoku? (Susan)
What is it about cozy mysteries? (Donna)
Getting Organized! How to Deal with the Review Pile (Donna)
What my Post-apocalyptic Book Club is Reading (Donna)
Our Favorite Reads of July (staff)

In case you need some reading recommendations, here are some of our top viewed reviews.

7 Books to Read this Summer (Susan)
Forever in a Moment by Charlotte O'Shay (MK)
A Whisker in the Dark by Leighann Dobbs (Donna)

And because I'm trying to grow my Instagram audience, here's the most liked post to give you a glimpse at what I post.

Books Read!

There's still not a lot on television to watch. I finished Endeavor on PBS and now I'm watching the new season of Grantchester. But that gives me a lot of time to get ahead on blogging and reading.

This month I finished 9 books: 3 ebooks, 4 audiobooks, and 2 in print. All 3 ebooks were ARCs.

I was hoping to read more (I finished the 8 books in 18 days), but I started reading a nonfiction book, The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator by Timothy C. Winegard. It's interesting, but it's taking forever to get through. Though my goal was to have it finished by the end of the month, I'm only 30% through it. And my audiobook listening has decreased as well as I'm being interrupted several times a day at work.

Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber

Window on the Bay
I almost finished this book in June. I usually just read her Christmas books because I don't feel like starting a series. When I saw this stand-alone novel available at Netgalley I thought I would give it a chance. Though still heavily romance, I enjoyed that the characters were older women (some of her Christmas novels have been more chick-lit than women's fiction). It doesn't fill like the typical romance novel either. Yes, it deals finding love and all that but it is more about relationships - the relationship between two best friends, the relationship between a mother and her children, the relationship between a woman and her mother. Of course, there is also the relationship of new love. I enjoyed the story and really grew to care for the characters. A free ARC was received via Netgalley. Read my full review plus there is a recipe for a sweet summer treat.

Jenna Boltz's life is at a crossroads. After a messy divorce from her surgeon husband nearly twenty years ago, she raised her two children on her own, juggling motherhood with her beloved job as a Seattle intensive-care nurse. Now that Paul and Allie have gone to college and moved out, Jenna can't help but wonder what her future holds.

Her best friend, Maureen, is excited for Jenna's newfound independence. Now is the perfect time to finally book the trip to Paris they've been dreaming of since their college days. But when it comes to life's other great adventure--dating--Jenna still isn't sure she's ready to let love in . . . until an unexpected encounter begins to change her mind.

When Jenna's elderly mother breaks her hip, Dr. Rowan Lancaster saves the day. Despite his silent, stoic exterior, Rowan is immediately smitten with Jenna. And even though Jenna is hesitant about becoming involved with another surgeon, she has to admit that she's more than a little intrigued. But when Jenna's children approach her with shocking news, she realizes that she needs to have faith in love and embrace the unexpected--before the life she has always dreamed of passes her by.

Buy Window on the Bay at Amazon

The Practice House by Laura McNeal

The Practice House
An interesting story set during 1930s dust bowl. Not quite The Grapes of Wrath, but an enjoyable enough tale. I liked the varied voices the narrator used on the audiobook. It really helped give the characters their own identity.

Nineteen-year-old Aldine McKenna is stuck at home with her sister and aunt in a Scottish village in 1929 when two Mormon missionaries ring the doorbell. Aldine’s sister converts and moves to America to marry, and Aldine follows, hoping to find the life she’s meant to lead and the person she’s meant to love.

In New York, Aldine answers an ad soliciting a teacher for a one-room schoolhouse in a place she can’t possibly imagine: drought-stricken Kansas. She arrives as farms on the Great Plains have begun to fail and schools are going bankrupt, unable to pay or house new teachers. With no money and too much pride to turn back, she lives uneasily with the family of Ansel Price—the charming, optimistic man who placed the ad—and his family responds to her with kind curiosity, suspicion, and, most dangerously, love. Just as she’s settling into her strange new life, a storm forces unspoken thoughts to the surface that will forever alter the course of their lives.

Buy The Practice House at Amazon

A Shattered Lens by Layton Green

A Shattered Lens
I really like the character of Preach. He's flawed and he knows it, but he doesn't allow it to keep him from doing what is right. He's much more of a loner in this murder investigation. Ari has her own job and he only lets the other cops do the research. The novel felt more like a police procedural. Read my full review. A free ARC was provided by the publicist.

Annalise Stephens Blue is a Creekville high school student with plans to become a world-famous filmmaker. As she begins filming an exposé of the town called Night Lives, she uncovers more than she bargained for: on the very first night of filming, she stumbles upon a murder in the woods, and flees the scene steps ahead of the killer.

Detective Joe "Preach" Everson is called to investigate the murder. The victim, David Stratton, is the town's golden boy and high school quarterback. A modern version of what Preach used to be. Not only that, the boy's mother is Claire Lourdis, a beautiful divorcée who Preach fell for in high school. She is also the main suspect in her son's murder.
Despite the cloud of suspicion hanging over her, old feelings resurface between Claire and Preach, straining the detective's relationship with his girlfriend Ari, a prosecutor in nearby Durham. As Preach delves into the secrets lurking beneath the surface of the town and searches for a missing girl who may have witnessed the crime, he must put his own feelings aside and pursue the answer to a terrible question: is a mother capable of murdering her own child?

Buy A Shattered Lens at Amazon

A Likely Story by Jenn McKinlay

A Likely Story
I finished my second "pool book" of the summer. It was a little weird to be floating on the raft and reading about cold weather. It is a cute cozy mystery and I will be looking for more in this series. I loved all the characters. My only complaint was all the librarians wearing pencil skirts. 

Delivering books to the housebound residents of the Thumb Islands, just a short boat ride from the town of Briar Creek, library director Lindsey Norris has befriended two elderly brothers, Stewart and Peter Rosen. She enjoys visiting them in their treasure-filled, ramshackle Victorian on Star Island until she discovers that Peter has been killed and Stewart is missing. Now she's determined to solve a murder and find Stewart before he suffers his brother's fate.

Buy A Likely Story at Amazon

Love in an English Garden by Victoria Connelly

Love in an English Garden
I listened to The Rose Garden, also by Connelly, when it was a Prime free ebook so I thought I would give this one a try when it came up on Prime free ebooks. A well-done audiobook. I enjoyed all the characters. The family dynamics made for an interesting story and the budding romances are sweet. I enjoyed this one more than The Rose Garden.

The Jacobs family has lived at Orley Court for generations. But when Vanessa Jacobs’s husband dies and leaves the property to her, she finds costs spiralling out of control. In order to stay in their beloved home, she and her daughters will have to sell part of it off—a decision that drives a wedge between Vanessa and her live-in mother-in-law.

The new owners of the north wing are Laurence Sturridge and his father, Marcus. Laurence wants to escape the constant pressure of his corporate job in London, while Marcus longs to heal from the grief of losing his wife. Could the beauty of Orley Court offer them a fresh outlook on life?

As the two families embark on a challenging new chapter over the course of a glorious English summer, secrets are revealed and relationships tested. But as Orley Court begins to weave its magic over them, will it be love, above all, that brings the two families together?

Buy Love in an English Garden at Amazon

A Whisker in the Dark by Leighann Dobbs

A Whisker in the Dark
A cute mystery with talking cats who help solve the murders. It pretty much can be read as a stand-alone as I didn't read book 1. I really liked the cats in the book, maybe more than the human characters. I received a free ARC via NetGalley. Read my full review.

Discovering the 300-year-old skeleton of shipping tycoon Jedediah Biddeford in the ballroom wall is a big old hassle for Josie Waters, owner of the Oyster Cove Guesthouse. Especially when Biddeford’s descendants turn up, certain that a family legend about treasure buried nearby must be true.

Josie is too busy dreaming up the perfect cake for the Oyster Cove’s 250th anniversary celebration to worry about the Biddeford family – plus half the town – digging up her yard... until one of her guests is murdered in the guesthouse garden.

With worries that her guesthouse will get a reputation for being the kind of place you only leave in a body bag, Josie must put her detective skills to work to find the killer. Lucky for her, Nero and Marlowe and their gang of cat sleuths are also on the case.

From the old wharf, to the town common, to the guesthouse itself with its many nooks and crannies, the cats are sure to sniff out the killer… but can they help Josie stop the person behind the mysterious murder before they strike again?

Buy A Whisker in the Dark at Amazon

Death Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd

Death Comes to the Fair
My third pool book of the summer. Though I only read some of it in the pool. It was too good for me to go through a full week until I would be back at the pool on the weekend to pick it up again. It was the perfect escapist read. I think if Poldark was a cozy mystery, it would be a bit like this book. I'm going to have to see if my library has any of the books in this series. And I'll be compulsively checking Netgalley to see if the new book coming out in January 2020 is offered there.

As Miss Lucy Harrington, daughter of the village rector, and Major Sir Robert Kurland plan their nuptials, the major is beginning to wonder if he'll ever hear wedding bells. He's seen complex military campaigns that involved less strategy, and he's finding Lucy's meddling family maddening.

When the body of Ezekiel Thurrock, the church verger, is discovered crushed by a gargoyle that has fallen from the bell tower, the wedding is delayed. But the evidence suggests this was no accident, and Lucy wonders if bad blood at the village fair had anything to do with the man's mysterious demise, since there was much bitterness over Ezekiel's prizewinning vegetables.

As Lucy and Robert uncover long-standing village feuds, the town's dark secrets begin to take their toll and the couple soon finds they too are in grave danger . . .

Buy Death Comes to the Fair at Amazon

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend
If my book club wasn't reading it, I would never have picked up this book. I don't care for vampire books. I almost quit reading when the dog was introduced to the story as that is usually a hard no for me. I did finish it and I think it will be a good discussion. I listened to the audiobook from my digital library.

Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth... but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood.

By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn.

How long can one man survive like this?

Buy I Am Legend at Amazon

Gone to Sea in a Bucket by David Black

Gone to Sea in a Bucket
I really enjoy WWII set stories so when I saw one about submarines during the war available as a free Prime ebook with Audible narration, I decided to give it a try. When I was a teenager we had a submarine computer game. You could set it to a WWII-era battle. This story reminded me of that game. It was much more of a military story than I was expecting. If you enjoy military battles, then this would be your kind of book. Unfortunately, that isn't my cup of tea. 

Norway, 1940: Sub Lieutenant Harry Gilmour’s first encounter with battleship action is not the adventure he had hoped for. Faced with a thankless task and ill equipped to handle it, Gilmour’s inexperience leads to a damning allegation. His future hangs in the balance.

But then Lieutenant Peter Dumaresq steps in to offer him a lifeline—an advanced navigation course that will take him aboard a crack submarine, HMS Pelorus, under the command of a Royal Navy hero. Faced with a possible court martial, Harry chooses life underwater. Once aboard, however, Harry is confronted for the first time by the full horror of submarine warfare. If he can just overcome his fears, it will be the making of him.

Because survival itself is the challenge now. For Harry and the rest of the crew, the next depth charge could be the one that sinks them.

Buy Gone to Sea in a Bucket at Amazon

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 assortment of books! I like the sound of the one by Jenn McKinlay. I never once wore a pencil skirt in my 41 years as a librarian. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. So many good books. I'm especially interested in A Shattered Lens and A Whisker in the Dark. My weekly update

  3. I’m sorry work is so stressful at the moment, I hope it improves soon. The cosy’s sound cute..our local librarians have a uniform - a navy blouse with the council logo, and navy slacks, or a skirt.

    Wishing you a great reading week

  4. Ah work can be so busy, but reading and making blog banners can be good for destressing. I had kind of moved away from Debbie Macomber but now reading what you have to say I'll keep an eye out for this one at the library.

  5. I think you would like her series book as well. They are mostly stand alone even though they are in a series but they are really good. Debbie Macombers and I have read a few of her books that are in a series. I do not feel lost when I pick hers books up. I have read few. Check out my blog for her books that read. -

  6. The Practice House sounds interesting. I hadn't heard of this novel before. And I did love the I Am Legend audiobook when I listened to it a while back even though it's not really my usual type of book. A provoking book club read!

  7. some original titles here, nice! Here is my wrap-up:

  8. Okay first, I need your pool float because it is adorable. Sorry work has been so stressful though, that is terrible! Glad that you got a lot of reading in, at least! Hope August is a bit calmer for you!

  9. I want to catch up on my Debbie Macomber books.

  10. I hope your August is less stressful! I'm so glad you are still able to relax with books in the evenings, which is how I end most nights. I have Window on the Bay, a book I won on Goodreads! My first by the author.

  11. Glad you are able to de-stress with reading!

  12. I hope that August is less stressful for you. I love the sound of A Shattered Lens so I'm hoping my library gets it so I can read it. I hope you have a calmer August.

    Tina @ As Told By Tina