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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...

October 28, 2019

October Reading and Blogging Wrap Up

by Donna Huber

October has been filled with a bunch of books. So many of my favorite authors published books this month that I wound up with 8 ARCs. I usually read about 5 books a month (no including the audiobooks I listen to), so I was a little stressed when I looked at my calendar. Thankfully, several of them were Christmas stories so they were quick reads. I took a week off work to thoroughly scrub my house - August and September were so hot and dry that I barely cleaned a thing and I did want to close in the dirt when I close the windows for winter. I spent a day per room and got it all done. My house is sparkling! While I was off I went to a watercolor class at the library where we made 3 bookmarks. I want to add some quotes to mine.

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We didn't have any discussion posts this month. Alison reviewed her recent read City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. My most viewed review was A Spell of Murder. MK's review of 7 Horror Novels for Halloween Reading was her most viewed review. Susan's most viewed review this month was One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow. Be sure you check these posts out if you missed them. Also, we named our favorite book read in October.

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Books Read

I read 15 books. Nine were ARCs as ebooks, 5 were audiobooks, and 1 was a print book. My reading genres were more varied than it has been for the past few months. Only 5 were cozy mysteries, 3 books were historical fiction, 2 were holiday romances, 2 books were women's fiction, 1 was post-apocalyptic fiction, 1 was alternative history/scifi and 1 was nonfiction.

A Spell of Murder by Kennedy Kerr

I don't like reading horror so for my Halloween reading I like to read fun books with a Halloween vibe, which usually means cozy mysteries. A Spell of Murder is not a Halloween book per se, but it does feature a couple of witches. This is the first book in the series. The characters have potential and the mystery was good. Read my full review. I received a free galley from NetGalley.

In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…

Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.

When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.

If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?

Buy A Spell of Murder at Amazon

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

The Reapers are the Angels
This was this month's book club read. I was worried that it would be too much of a zombie novel, but the zombies were pretty inconsequential. The book read really quickly. I liked Temple. I struggled with the "hand waving" over details like how the electrical grid was still working or that there was gasoline at the pumps. It made for a good discussion for my book club. I got a copy from the library.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself - and keeping her demons inside. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

Buy The Reapers are the Angels at Amazon

What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren (Young Reader Edition)

I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit of a memoir with science, history, geography, geology, law enforcement, and animal behavior thrown in. I think homeschooling families could find a number of fun and interesting lessons to incorporate into their learning time from this book. I received a free galley from NetGalley. Read my full review.

In this young readers edition of the New York Times bestseller, Cat Warren and her canine companion, Solo, teach readers that the nose knows no bounds when it comes to working together, being persistent, and helping others.

Solo has a fine nose and knows how to use it, but he’s only one of many thousands of scent-detection dogs all over the United States. That’s a group that includes cadaver dogs, tracking, trailing, and apprehension dogs; dogs that can locate unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers; and even dogs that can find drowning victims more than two hundred feet below the surface of a lake.

All these dogs love to use their noses. They think their job is simply the best, most interesting game they’ve ever played! What good working dogs can do may seem magical or mysterious, but What the Dog Knows shows the science, the rigorous training, and the skilled handling that underlie these amazing abilities.

Buy What the Dog Knows at Amazon

The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio

The Memory of Us
I enjoyed the narrator and the story was interesting. I really liked the characters. As I was listening to the audiobook, I did have some trouble distinguishing between the two timelines. It was a Prime free ebook with Audible narration.

Julianne Westcott was living the kind of life that other Protestant girls in prewar Liverpool could only dream about: old money, silk ball gowns, and prominent young men lining up to escort her. But when she learns of a blind-and-deaf brother, institutionalized since birth, the illusion of her perfect life and family shatters around her.

While visiting her brother in secret, Julianne meets and befriends Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic groundskeeper studying to become a priest. Caught between her family’s expectations, Kyle’s devotion to the Church, and the intense new feelings that the forbidden courtship has awakened in her, Julianne must make a choice: uphold the life she’s always known or follow the difficult path toward love.

But as war ripples through the world and the Blitz decimates England, a tragic accident forces Julianne to leave everything behind and forge a new life built on lies she’s told to protect the ones she loves. Now, after twenty years of hiding from her past, the truth finds her—will she be brave enough to face it?

Buy The Memory of Us at Amazon

Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer

I didn't know Nancy Thayer wrote Christmasy stories. I love her beach reads in the summer so when I saw this book at Netgalley, I had to pick it up. While I don't like to read Christmas stories until after Thanksgiving, I was really excited to read this book and it isn't overly Christmasy. I loved it! I received a free galley from NetGalley. Read my full review.

A Nantucket shopkeeper discovers that Christmas is the perfect occasion to make unexpected friendships . . . to warm the coldest of hearts--and maybe even find love.

Christina Antonioni is preparing for the holidays at her Nantucket toy shop, unpacking last-minute shipments and decorating for her loyal Christmas shoppers. But when her Scrooge of a landlord, Oscar Bittlesman, raises her rent, it seems nearly impossible for Christina to continue business on the wharf.

Even so, Christina hopes there is a warm heart underneath Oscar's steely exterior. When she bonds with Wink, his sweet, young granddaughter who frequents the shop, it becomes clear that perhaps he isn't so cold after all. And with the help of Wink's uncle, who happens to be a charming and very handsome bachelor, this may be the best Christmas any of them could have ever imagined. Nancy Thayer's enchanting Nantucket setting provides the perfect backdrop for this holiday love story.

Buy Let It Snow at Amazon

Christmas in Vermont by Anita Hughes

This made me think a little of the movie A White Christmas as it is set in an inn in Vermont and the owner isn't sure she is going to be able to keep it open. Also, kids must be the thing this year in Christmas stories. This is the second one I've read this month that has a 9-year-old girl featured. It's a sweet, clean, romance. Another great Christmas story. I received a free galley from NetGalley. Read my full review.

Emma can’t believe her luck when she finds an open pawn shop on Christmas Eve in Manhattan. She’s there to sell the beautiful bracelet her ex-boyfriend gave her when a familiar looking watch catches her eye. It’s the same engraved watch she gave her college boyfriend, Fletcher, years ago. On a whim, she trades the bracelet for the watch and wonders at the timing.

Practical Emma thinks it’s just a coincidence, but her best friend Bronwyn believes it’s the magic of synchronicity that caused Emma to find the watch. Fletcher was the one that got away, and somehow Emma never quite moved on.

When Bronwyn finds out that Fletcher is in snowy Vermont at a romantic inn for the week, she can’t help but give synchronicity a push. She signs Emma up to help the inn keeper as the children’s activity coordinator. Emma agrees that a week filled with quaint shops and maple syrup would do her good… and maybe Fate really does have a Christmas gift in store for her. That is until she sees Fletcher with his daughter and fiancée.

Suddenly, the fairytale trip seems doomed to fail… much like the innkeeper’s dwindling cashflow. It will take a miracle to save her heart and the inn. And that just might be what Fate has in mind.

Buy Christmas in Vermont at Amazon

Closer Home by Kerry Anne King

Closer Home
I enjoyed the story. At first, I thought it was going to be more of a romance novel, but it turned out to be women's fiction with a little bit of romance. I liked the characters and the ending wrapped up all the loose ends. It was a free Prime ebook with Audible narration.

When Lise Redding’s estranged sister, country-pop star Callie Redfern, is killed during a publicity stunt, the small-town music teacher is dragged from her quiet life into the spotlight.

Lise hadn’t spoken with Callie in ten years, ever since Callie’s betrayal split them apart, so she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited her sister’s massive estate. Not only that, but Lise is now the guardian of her sixteen-year-old niece, Ariel, to whom she’s practically a stranger.

Overwhelmed by grief and her new responsibilities, Lise thinks things couldn’t get worse. But overnight she becomes the paparazzi’s latest obsession. Suddenly she and her longtime friend Dale are plastered over the front pages of the tabloids. Desperate to escape both the media and her memories, Lise sets off with Ariel on a search for the girl’s father. Yet instead of granting Lise a reprieve, the quest brings her face-to-face with long-buried secrets. Only by learning to forgive will she be able to find her way back home.

Buy Closer Home at Amazon

Death Beside the Seaside by T. E. Kinsey

A while back I listened to the first book in this series, but I have kept up with it. I saw this book on Netgalley and decided to see if I enjoyed the series more. It was a bit slow at the beginning and I was afraid I was going to be bored, but things picked up and it turned out to be a rather enjoyable story. A free galley was provided by NetGalley. Read my full review.

July 1910. Lady Hardcastle and her tireless sidekick Flo have finally embarked on a long-overdue seaside break. But just as they’re wavering between ice creams and donkey rides, their fellow guests start to go missing—and the duo find themselves with a hysterical hotel manager and a case to solve.

The first to disappear is Dr Goddard, a scientist doing something terribly top-secret for the government. Gone too are his strongbox and its mysterious contents. By the time Lady Hardcastle has questioned the horde of international guests, her number-one suspect has been dispatched in grisly circumstances—and then the others start vanishing too.

As the case begins to look like a matter of national security, Lady Hardcastle takes advice from her brother in the secret service. But could there be an even more personal connection at play? To solve the case, Lady Hardcastle may face a shocking discovery of her own.

Buy Death Beside the Seaside at Amazon

Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan

Girls on the Line
As the author mentions in her note at the end, WWI is given little notice in the U.S. I barely remember studying it in history classes while WWII was a big fixture. I'm glad that this period is getting more attention. And similar to recent books about WWII, this book features the women's role in service. I'm not sure I knew what the signal corp did (broadly yes, but not how they did it) and I definitely didn't know that it was largely women who filled that role. The story was very good. I'm not sure if it is the writing or how the narrator read it, but at times the characters' speech patterns sounded stilted. It didn't truly hinder my enjoyment of the story, but it was noticeable enough to be an annoyance. It was a Prime free ebook with Audible narration.

December 1917. As World War I rages in Europe, twenty-four-year-old Ruby Wagner, the jewel in a prominent Philadelphia family, prepares for her upcoming wedding to a society scion. Like her life so far, it’s all been carefully arranged. But when her beloved older brother is killed in combat, Ruby follows her heart and answers the Army Signal Corps’ call for women operators to help overseas.

As one of the trailblazing “Hello Girls” deployed to war-torn France, Ruby must find her place in the military strata, fight for authority and respect among the Allied soldiers, and forge a victory for the cause. But balancing service to country becomes even more complicated by a burgeoning relationship with army medic Andrew Carrigan.

What begins as a friendship forged on the front lines soon blossoms into something more, forcing Ruby to choose between the conventions of a well-ordered life back home, and the risk of an unknown future.

Buy Girls on the Line at Amazon

A Mrs. Miracle Christmas by Debbie Macomber

I love Macomber's Christmas novels and the ones featuring Mrs. Miracle are among my favorites. If you want a Hallmark movie in book form, then pick up this book. I received a free galley from NetGalley. Read my full review.

As the holiday season begins, Laurel McCullough could use some good news. She and her husband, Zach, have been praying for a baby that seems more and more like an impossible dream, and they've had to move in with her beloved grandmother, Helen, who's having trouble taking care of herself. But when Laurel contacts a local home-care organization for help, there are no caregivers available.

Then Mrs. Miracle appears at her door. No stranger to lending a helping hand to a family in need, Mrs. Miracle reveals herself to be nothing short of a godsend. Helen's even convinced she's an angel! Still, Laurel has to admit that Helen has become noticeably happier and more engaged, decorating the family Christmas tree and setting up the nativity with Mrs. Miracle's companionship. In the meantime, Laurel and Zach begin to encounter curious signs, all pointing toward the arrival of a special baby.

With Christmas approaching, there appears to be even more to Mrs. Miracle than meets the eye. In a classic turn of Debbie Macomber's signature seasonal magic, Laurel, Zach, and Helen experience a holiday of heavenly proportions.

Buy A Mrs. Miracle Christmas at Amazon

Christmas Sweets by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, Leslie Meier

Joanne Fluke is the only author in this collection that I've read before. I think all of the novellas in this collection have been published before as the author notes explain that the characters have moved on from where they are in the story. It is definitely meant to be a sampler and some of the author notes seemed to be pushing their series a bit too much. The stories were enjoyable and would be a fun collection for the holidays if you haven't already read them. I received a free galley from NetGalley. Read my full review.

It's the perfect mix of naughty and nice when two lovestruck boarding school teachers watch six kids over Christmas break. But when someone wants the cozy couple's romance to burn out faster than a scorched fruitcake, it's Hannah Swensen to the rescue, armed with her sleuthing
skills--and twelve deliciously festive recipes.

Aside from the mortifying costume, how bad can a gig as a mall Santa's elf be? Jaine Austen finds out when she's teamed up with the Santa from Hell. But things go from bad to worse when he's found murdered on the job--and Jaine is a suspect. Now all she wants for Christmas is to find the real killer.

Elizabeth Stone is ready for a white Christmas in Tinker's Cove, Maine--until a fancy Yule ball at the Florida hotel where she works dumps snow on her plans. The sponsor's jewels have gone missing and the police are asking about her ties to a cute mystery guest. Good thing Elizabeth's mother, Lucy Stone, flew down to surprise her. ʼTis the season for a little investigating.

Buy Christmas Sweets at Amazon

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars
I'm relistening to this book for my book club. We are discussing it at our November meeting, which I thought was this upcoming Thursday, but it isn't until next Thursday. I'm leading the discussion and wanted to refresh my memory because I couldn't remember where this book ended since I listened to the sequel just days after finishing this one the first time. Have you read it? I loved it the first time around and I'm enjoying this second listen. I received a free audiobook from Audible. Read my review.

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

Buy The Calculating Stars at Amazon

A Merry Murder by Kate Kingsbury

A Merry Murder
This is book 22 of the Pennyfoot Hotel cozy mystery series. I haven't read any of the other books in the series, but I didn't have any trouble following the story. It is pretty clear who everyone is and while other mysteries are mentioned, they are only mentioned in the fact that Mrs. Baxter has experience solving murders. Set during the turn of the century it is truly an old-fashion English Christmas. I received a free galley from NetGalley. My review will post on Wednesday.

It is an Edwardian Christmas, and the Pennyfoot Hotel is all dressed up. But when one of the guests turns up dead, owner Cecily Sinclair Baxter realizes it is not only the Pennyfoot that is back in business—the hotel's Christmas curse is, too...

The Pennyfoot halls are decked with boughs of holly, a magnificently decorated tree graces the lobby, and the hotel's bookings are finally looking up. Owner of the Pennyfoot, Cecily Sinclair Baxter is in high holiday spirits until disaster strikes, threatening to ruin yet another Yuletide. Her chief housemaid Gertie McBride has found a man's body in the hotel laundry room—with a woman's scarf wrapped around his neck and a note in his pocket from the hotel's new maid.

Cecily is determined to track down the culprit, but with multiple suspects icing her out of crucial clues, she realizes this killer may be more slippery than most. With Christmas right around the corner, it is up to Cecily to prevent this holiday season at the Pennyfoot from turning out more fatal than festive.

Buy A Merry Murder at Amazon

The Hitwoman and the Fallen Angel by JB Lynn

The Hitwoman and the Fallen Angel
A lot is going on in this book. The family is out of control and Maggie's competing duties have her running around like a chicken with its head cut off. But in typical Maggie fashion, she manages to work things out. As usual, this is an entertaining read. I received a free ebook from the author. Read my full review.

Even a good man makes mistakes…

In Maggie Lee’s topsy-turvy world, Angel Delveccio is one of the good guys, but now it seems he’s gotten himself into some trouble. Can Maggie get him out of it?

It’s not like she doesn’t have enough problems of her own. She’s struggling to pacify both the people and pets of her household -- all of whom aren’t shy about voicing their litany of complaints and demands about their new home.

Stretched thin, Maggie attempts to broker familial peace while simultaneously contending with an external threat that revolves around a human skull.

And let’s not forget that a certain mobster has tasked her with keeping his nephew out of hot water.

Can Maggie protect Angel while keeping her family safe and together, or will someone be lost?

Buy The Hitwoman and the Fallen Angel at Amazon

The Sugar Men by Ray Kingfisher

The Sugar Men
A good WWII story. It is about a Holocaust survivor at the end of her life as she reflects on her past. I liked that we got to see glimpses of what happened to her after the war. How she dealt with the trauma and how those around her understood her trauma (very little it turns out). So many WWII stories I've read end with the liberation of concentration camps and you learn very little about what happened immediately following the end of the war and beyond. The audiobook was well done. It was a Prime free read ebook with Audible narration.

Sixty-four years ago, Susannah Morgan managed to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. But the memories of that childhood ordeal have proven impossible to sweep away.

For most of her new life spent settled in sleepy North Carolina, the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession—one she has hidden from her family, and about which her heart is torn. Because for all the pain and the cruelty of those terrible years, she harbours sweet memories too, of unexpected friends who risked their own lives in order to save hers. As Susannah’s time on earth draws to a close, her innermost thoughts of those long-gone days become questions—ones that demand answers.

Against the wishes of her children, Susannah returns to Germany and the scene of unspeakable crimes. There she will come face to face with the Holocaust’s terrible, wretched legacy, and will finally make peace with the ghosts of her past.

Buy The Sugar Men 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 month, especially if you took a week off to clean. Anyway... Happy November!

    1. Thanks! It was a pretty good month and I love having a clean house (now just to keep it that way through the holidays!).

  2. Great assortment of books. I loved The Calculating Stars. Like you I read the second right after the first and would have to read again to separate what happened in each book. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    1. Now that I've re-listened to The Calculating Stars, I think I liked The Fated Sky a bit better.

  3. What a wide range of interesting books you read! Will add some to my Tbr list for sure.

    1. I'm glad I was able to add some variety to my reading this month. Which ones caught your eye?

  4. All your books are new to me. Have a good week. My weekly update

    1. You can't go wrong with any of them. They were all great.

  5. I really need to prioritise some cleaning.

    Wishing you a great reading week

  6. I really need to prioritise some housecleaning.

    Wishing you a great reading week

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I'm hoping I can keep up the housework as we go into the holidays.

  7. got some great looking books and a good variety too.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  8. Oooh! I love that banned book scarf!!

  9. wow, that's a lot of books, and already so many on Christmas!

    1. I don't usually start reading Christmas books until after Thanksgiving, but so many of my favorite authors had new ones come out in October that I started reading early.

  10. My house is desperate need of a good cleaning. We have been so busy with work and dance and rehearsals . . . You would think our house would be cleaner than it is since we are never home . . .

    I love your scarf! I have a similar themed mug, which I use now and then. It looks like you had a great month of reading. I've been getting into the Christmas themed books as of late and am enjoying them.

    I hope you have a great week!

    1. My house really needed it and I love that it is clean for the holiday season. I love Christmas stories and these were really good.

  11. You had a great month! I definitely want to check out a few of these Christmas stories!

  12. What the Dog Knows looks like a good book! And I know what you mean about so many ARCs this month, I didn't get to hardly any of the ones I had been so excited about. Oh well, some day. Thanks for stopping by my October Wrap-Up post earlier! Hope you have a good November!

    1. It was really interesting. I'm really happy I go through all the ARCs that I did but there are other books that came out in October that I would love read.

  13. Great job with the books. I would love to pick up some them. The Christmas ones I would enjoy and one with the dog on the cover is lovable. Thanks for stopping by my post.

    1. I love Christmas stories and these were all good. I thought What the Dog Knows was really interesting. It was the runner up as my favorite read of October.

  14. The Calculating Stars is one of those books I missed on first glance but it sounds really good and I hope I can get it at some point. :)

    1. Everyone in my book club loved it and most are going to pick up the next book if they hadn't already.

  15. Replies
    1. It helps that I took a week off work. November reading isn't any where near that number.

  16. I wish I would be so diligent to give my house a thorough scrubbing. You have so many interesting titles here! I don't read a lot of fiction so I always appreciate recommendations from those who do.

    1. It is my one time of year and this year I did a better job than some of the past years. It was really time for a scrubbing. I hope you found a title or two to pick up.

  17. Looks like you had a great reading month! A lot of these books look like a lot of fun!

  18. All those Christmas books look inviting and are on my list to read. I'm glad they are quick reads as I like to mix up longer and shorter books/lighter and heavier books to keep my reading fresh. What the Dog Knows has an adorable cover.

    1. It was nice having the variety. I think it is one of the reasons I read so much.