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September 30, 2019

Donna's September Reading Round Up

by Donna Huber

It is supposedly Fall, but the record high temperatures have it still feeling like summer. I went to see Downton Abbey the movie and it was so good. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. For the first time, I didn't see Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge (I've seen her in a few other things but could only think of her as Umbridge from Harry Potter). Maggie Smith is wonderful as usual, but there is one character that truly steals the show - don't worry I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't seen the movie yet.

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It has been a busy month on the blog. We've featured some great books, but not too many discussions.
Alison discussed When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. The staff picked out their favorite reads of September. In case you missed them, here are our most viewed reviews this month:

A Hero Born by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood - read MK's review.
A Purrfect Alibiby Leighann Dobbs - read my review.
The House by the Cypress Trees by Elena Mikalsen - read Susan's review.

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Books Read

It was a pretty good month reading-wise. I read 10 books. 5 were ARCs. I listened to 4 audiobooks and read one 1 print books. The ARCs were all ebooks.

A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

It was an enjoyable read. I haven't read the others in the series, but I don't think that was a problem. As Amory and her husband Milo are visiting New York, and presumably, none of the other characters have appeared in the previous novels so there wasn't a need to figure out who was who. Read my full review. I received a free galley from NetGalley.

As they travel by ship to New York for her childhood friend Tabitha's wedding, Amory Ames gazes out at the city's iconic skyline, excited by the prospect of being a bridesmaid. Her husband Milo, however, is convinced their trip will be deadly dull, since Prohibition is in full swing. But when a member of the wedding party is found murdered on the front steps of the bride's home, the happy plans take a darker twist.

Amory discovers that the dead groomsman has links to the notorious--and notoriously handsome--gangster Leon De Lora, and soon she and Milo find themselves drawn into another mystery. While the police seem to think that New York's criminal underworld is at play, Amory feels they can't ignore the wedding party either. Tabitha's fiance Tom Smith appears to be a good man, but he has secrets of his own, and the others in the group seem strangely unaffected by the death of their friend . . .

In an unfamiliar city, not knowing who they can trust, Milo and Amory are drawn into the glamorous, dangerous world of nightclubs and bootleggers. But as they draw closer to unraveling the web of lies and half-truths the murdered man has left in his wake, the killer is weaving a web of his own.

Buy A Dangerous Engagement at Amazon

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano, translated by John Brownjohn

Aunti Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
This was my last pool book of summer. I had some trouble getting into the story and wasn't sure if I would finish it, but then I started to really enjoy it. It was cool to read a translated cozy mystery. I don't read much-translated fiction and I didn't realize it when I purchased the book. I also don't think I've read a story set in Sicily before so this counts twice in my personal "expand your reading horizons" challenge.

On her sixtieth birthday, Auntie Poldi retires to Sicily, intending to while away the rest of her days with good wine, a view of the sea, and few visitors. But Sicily isn’t quite the tranquil island she thought it would be, and something always seems to get in the way of her relaxation. When her handsome young handyman goes missing—and is discovered murdered—she can’t help but ask questions . . .

Soon there’s an investigation, a smoldering police inspector, a romantic entanglement, one false lead after another, a rooftop showdown, and finally, of course, Poldi herself, slightly tousled, but still perfectly poised.

Buy Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions at Amazon

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

As this is not really a time period I prefer to read, it took me a while to get into the story. While there have been several fictional stories of Jane Austen, I didn't think the Brontes had been as widely done. So I was curious. The mystery was interesting. Had this been a true story, there would have been any aspects that played into the creation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. (Possibly other stories as well, but it is the book I'm most familiar with). I received a free galley from NetGalley. Read my full review.

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson's daughters--the Brontë sisters--learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent "lady detectors." Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, "detecting is reading between the lines--it's seeing what is not there."

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman's place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril.

Buy The Vanished Bride at Amazon

Bum Rap by Paul Levine

Bum Rap
It's a good legal thriller. The beginning was a bit hard to follow on audio and the ending seemed a bit rushed. But if you are looking for a relatively short book to listen to then this would be a good one to pick up. It was a free Prime ebook with Audible narration.

NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter has had it with shifty clients, dirty prosecutors, and a legal system out of whack. It’s enough to make a man want to leave Miami and never look back—until he gets a call from Victoria Lord, the better half of hot local legal team Solomon & Lord. Her partner in life and law has been arrested for murder. What’s worse: the only person who can clear him has fled the city. Now it’s up to Jake and Victoria to track down the witness—a stunning “Bar girl”—before she’s roped in by the feds…or eliminated by the Russian mob.

Jake knows that if he doesn’t get to the witness first, his client’s case is lost. Luckily, he’s got some good advice from his college football coach: “Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody.” And sometimes, the only way to win a tough case is to do just that.

Buy Bum Rap at Amazon

A Purrfect Alibi by Leighann Dobbs

I think I enjoyed this book more than I did book 2 in the series. I definitely enjoyed the characters more. I figured how who the killer was before the end, but not fully why he killed. Read my full review. A free galley was received through NetGalley.

Fortune tellers and mediums have descended on the Oyster Cove Guesthouse, determined to solve the mystery of local seafarer Jedediah Biddeford’s murder 300 years ago... especially if it leads them to the treasure he buried on the guesthouse grounds. New owner Josie Waters has suddenly got bigger problems than burning the breakfasts: she’s up to her elbows in tarot cards and tea leaves…

When one of the mediums is found dead with an ominous note nearby, everything points to Jedediah’s ghost being the culprit. Suddenly, Josie finds that the fate of her guesthouse depends on not one murder but two, and she’s not going to rely on a crystal ball for answers. Despite the fact that cookbooks and candlesticks keep mysteriously falling off tables, Josie is sure there’s no such thing as ghosts. But guesthouse cats Nero and Marlowe know better…

Aided by her mom and eccentric family friend Millie, Josie sets out to prove the identity of the killer without summoning any spirits. Luckily Nero and Marlowe know the truth about ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night and they are on the case! Can they make Josie realize she is scratching up the wrong tree before the killer strikes again?

Buy A Purrfect Alibi at Amazon

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
I hadn't read any of the novels featuring Poirot so when I saw this available as a free read to Amazon Prime member I decided I should listen to the story. While I prefer Miss Marple, I enjoyed the mystery. There is just something so timeless about an Agatha Christie novel. 

Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in England near the home of Emily Inglethorp, who helped him to his new life. His friend Hastings arrives as a guest at her home. When the woman is killed, Poirot uses his detective skills to solve the mystery.

Buy The Mysterious Affair at Styles at Amazon

Last Pen Standing by Vivian Conroy

Conroy has created a great group of characters in a touristy town. I enjoyed getting to know everyone and the mystery was really good with a lot of suspects. Read my full review. A free galley was received from NetGalley.

As the new co-owner of Tundish Montana's stationery shop WANTED, Delta Douglas knows how to organize a killer crafting event. Creativity and cardstock are all she needs to move one step closer to her ultimate dream: developing her own line of crafting products. But on the night of the workshop, at the swanky hotel venue, glitter isn't the only thing found sprawled on the floor. A hotel guest is discovered dead in the bar, and amid the confusion, Delta's best friend is suspected of the crime.

Enlisting the help of her Paper Posse and Spud, her canine sidekick, Delta dives into the investigation. But with many high-powered suspects on the line, Delta soon realizes her sleuthing may come with deadly consequences.

Buy Last Pen Standing at Amazon

The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis

The Lemon Sisters
I've been wanting to read a Jill Shalvis book for some time and I finally figured that the only way to fit one in was to listen to an audiobook. I was not disappointed. I didn't realize The Lemon Sisters was book 3 in the series until I added it to my reading list on Goodreads, but it definitely felt like a stand-alone novel. The checked the audiobook out from my digital library.

Brooke Lemon has always led the life she wanted, wild adventures—and mistakes—included, something her perfect sister, Mindy, never understood. So when Mindy shows up on Brooke’s doorstep in the throes of a break-down with her three little kids in tow, Brooke’s shocked.

Wanting to make amends, Brooke agrees to trade places, taking the kids back to Wildstone for a few days so Mindy can pick up the pieces and put herself back together. What Brooke doesn’t admit is she’s just as broken . . . Also how does one go home after seven years away? It doesn’t take long for Brooke to come face-to-face with her past, in the form of one tall, dark, sexy mistake. But Garrett’s no longer interested. Only his words don’t match his actions, leaving Brooke feeling things she’d shoved deep.

Soon the sisters begin to wonder: Are they lemons in life? In love? All they know is that neither seems to be able to run far enough to outpace her demons. And when secrets surface, they’ll have to learn that sometimes the one person who can help you the most is the one you never thought to ask.

Buy The Lemon Sisters at Amazon

Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim

Wow. This book looked interesting, but I wasn't prepared for the powerful writing that illuminated a piece of immigration history that I knew nothing about. I didn't want it to end. This was a free Prime ebook with Audible narration.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

Buy Paper Wife at Amazon

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

Earlier this month I read book 6 in this series without having read any of the other books in the series. When I saw that book 1 was available on Netgalley I decided to see how the series started. I was wrong in thinking that the series started with Amory and Milo's wedding. While none of the characters in this book, except for Amory and Milo, appear in book 6, it was still good to get some of the backstory to the series. Read my full review. A free galley was received from NetGalley. Read my full review.

Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who regrets her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiancé, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will test not only her friendship with Gil, but will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies’ man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Amory is determined to prove his innocence and find the real killer, despite attempted dissuasion from the disapproving police inspector on the case. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Amory enlists his reluctant aid in clearing Gil’s name. As the stakes grow higher and the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim.

Buy Murder at the Brightwell at Amazon

I'm going to have to up my reading game in October as many of my favorite authors have new books coming out. But then November and December will be light and maybe I can get caught up on my print book reading. 

How was your month? 

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. Nice variety of books. I've been reading and enjoying a lot of historical mysteries lately so Ashley Weaver's books caught my attention. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  2. I only read the book by Agatha Christie, but it looks like you had lots of great books. Here is my recap:

  3. What a month you had, I hope October is just as great!!

  4. It's a delightful 64°F here today. It's wonderful being a little chilly. My weekly update

  5. I am enjoying the fall temperature when they are around but it seem like summer temps got a few more days and hopeful they will go away for it now Fall. Last Pen Standing sound interesting

  6. a good variety. it's still very warm here and i am lovin it
    sherry @ fundinmental

  7. I used to love Downton Abbey but stopped watching it for some unknown reason. I'd like to pick it back up again and then watch the movie. People seem to be loving it!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  8. Ooh, The Vanished Bride sounds really interesting!

  9. You had an excellent month with a great variety. I enjoy mixing up my genres and read historical fiction, sci-fi, contemporary, and fantasy books in September.

  10. I also went and saw, and loved Downton Abbey last month! Looks like you've got a good bunch of books to read!
    Check out my End of Month post