Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

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...

November 25, 2019

November Reading & Blogging Wrap Up

by Donna Huber

This has been an up and down kind of month. Work has been busy as we head into the holidays and the end of the semester. I haven't read as many books this month, but I read a few longer books and a couple of nonfiction books (since it is Nonfiction November). A little cat showed up at my house. She is really skittish but she was warming up to me so after several of weeks of seeing her all the time at my house I trapped her, took her to the vet, and then on Friday I started introducing her to my other cats. One of my cats didn't take meeting her well and ran out of the house when I was trying to bring in my dog. My cats are indoors only, and he totally freaked when outside. I couldn't get him back inside. It rained all day on Saturday so I didn't seem him at all. Then Sunday morning I did another sweep around my house and I found him hiding behind an old door that is leaning against the bench seats on my deck. I fed him some meat sticks and he let me pet him and then I picked him up. He was close to the back door and I had locked the rest of the animals in rooms so I had the door open and just had to take a few steps back into the house. I'm overjoyed!

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

Popular Posts

Alison's review of The Institute by Stephen King was our most viewed post this month. My review of Camp Lake by John A. Heldt was my most viewed post. MK's most viewed post was her review of the anthology Maiden, Mother, and Crone edited by Gwen Benaway. Susan's review of 4 books for fans of historical fiction was her most viewed post.

I posted my annual book buying guide listing my favorite reads this year that I think would make great gifts. We named our favorite reads of November.

Our most liked Instagram post

Books Read

I read 9 books this month. Five of the books were ARCs; 4 were ebooks, 1 was a paperback. I also listened to 2 audiobooks - one was more than 17 hours of listening!, read a paperback I had purchased, and a hardcover I checked out of the library. 2 of the books I read/listened to were nonfiction. Three books were cozy mysteries, one was a time-traveling romance, one was a romantic thriller, one was a spy thriller, and one was for my post-apocalyptic book club.

Haunted in Hollywood by JA Kazimer

Haunted in Hollywood
This was my Halloween read, but I didn't finish that night. I'm probably being generous giving it 3 stars but since I'm not the target demographics I didn't want to judge too harshly. I only finished the book because I hate not finishing a book and it isn't a very long book. It started off promising, but then it got kind of ridiculous and annoying. It felt like this was part of a series, but I can't find any other books featuring Loey Lane. The characters are pretty shallow - kind of the stereotypical millennial. They felt more like they were 16 rather than 21. Perhaps this is the type of fluff reading teens enjoy. As an adult, the book wasn't enjoyable to me. I purchased this paperback.

When a fashion magazine offers YouTube vlogger and model, Loey Lane, a cover shoot at the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, she jumps at the chance, flying from her small hometown in Kansas to the City of Angels . . . and ghosts.

Soon after arriving, speculation of a murderous ghost haunting the hotel reaches Loey’s ears. As the rumor goes, those that see the ghost will be the next to die. That very night, Loey watches, mesmerized, as the ghost materializes outside her poolside bungalow. Now she, along with her friends known as the LitSquad, will do anything in their power to save Loey from her supernatural fate. Of course, Loey’s best chance of surviving involves teaming up with a ghost-hunter from her past, a guy hot enough to melt away the promise that Loey made to keep him at a distance.

Buy Haunted in Hollywood at Amazon

Camp Lake by John A. Heldt

Usually, the books that I read by John A. Heldt are set in decades that I only know from textbooks. But in the final installment of the Carson Chronicles, the time travelers are in 1983. I was only 6 but I still remember some of the 1980s. And it was a bit nostalgic reading about PacMan and Asteroids. I was glad to forget the clothing choices we made popular at the time. But outside a few "iconic" moments in the beginning, most of the story revolves around Cody and Caitlin at the camp where their parents first met. So while they had to forget about cell phones and laptops, it is probably the easiest time period they've visited. It is an enjoyable story to wrap up the series. A free ebook was provided by the author. Read my full review.

Phoenix, Spring 1983. For the Carsons, five siblings from the present day, it has come down to this. Find the parents they have chased through time for more than two years or go home and resume their lives without them.

While Adam and Greg remain in Arizona and Natalie searches the country for leads, Cody and Caitlin travel to a summer camp in Maine, where their mother and father met as counselors. The twins, now 19, hope to intercept the older versions of their parents even as they work beside the younger ones.

All of the Carsons prepare for a reunion that seems inevitable. Then tragedy strikes one family member and seductive strangers pull two others in unhelpful directions as a summer of promise turns into one of uncertainty and sacrifice.

Filled with humor, romance, and heartbreak, CAMP LAKE, the poignant conclusion of the Carson Chronicles series, follows the lives of several spirited adults as they confront choices and change the era of big hair, space shuttles, and video arcades.

Buy Camp Lake at Amazon

The Evolution of Charlie Darwin by Beth Duman

The Evolution of Charlie Darwin
Since it is Nonfiction November I thought I should read at least one of the nonfiction review copies I have. I've had this book on my bookshelf since the first year I started blogging. I'm happy that I could get one book off my "old review requests" shelf. If you aren't sure how to get started with training a dog or just need a few new ideas, this book is a great resource. A free book was provided by the author. Read my full review.

Do you want to learn to train your dog using the gentlest dog-friendly methods but you get overwhelmed reading long, complicated training books? If so, this is the book for you! Trainer and educator, Beth Duman, Takes you step-by-step through living with and training your new dog by chronicling her first year's experience living with a funny little rescued dog. She named him Charlie Darwin in hope that he's evolve into a dog she could enjoy as a personal friend and an ambassador for the use of positive training methods

Buy The Evolution of Charlie Darwin at Amazon

Under the Guise of Death by Vivian Conroy

Jasper once again attempts to enjoy a restful retirement vacation, but murder follows him. This time he is caught up in a murder tied to a previous case of his. The mystery was interesting with lots of twists and turns. I didn't like any of the characters, which I think the author did on purpose. In the opening pages, I was really hoping the current Lady Bantham would be the murder victim. A free ARC was provided through Netgalley. Read my full review.

In the City of Masks, deadly secrets are about to be revealed…
While attending a lavish masked ball in Venice, retired Scotland Yard detective Jasper has a shock when, at the midnight demasqué, he spots a woman whose accidental death he investigated in England three years ago.

Even more stunned than Jasper is the woman's husband, Lord Bantham, who has since remarried, not to mention his new wife who sees her acquired position and wealth slip away. Then there are her old friends who all seem to have known more about the 'accident' than they ever let on.

When the resurrected lady is found dead the next morning on one of Venice's many bridges, the question is: who wanted Lady Bantham to die, again?

Buy Under the Guise of Death at Amazon

Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown

I think this is still considered a cozy mystery, but it isn't a typical cozy. There is not an amateur detective. Actually, the mystery is not really the focus of the story. Yes, a murder occurs and it only comes up among the characters through gossip and speculation. The story focuses largely on foxhunting. A free ARC was provided through Netgalley. Read my full review.

"Sister" Jane Arnold hopes to play matchmaker, but winds up playing detective when hunting season kicks off with a murder in a riveting mystery from the bestselling author of Homeward Hound.

Every fall, the start of hunting season brings crowds of people to Tattenhall Station. "Sister" Jane Arnold has long served as the proud Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt, but this year she's noticed a new phenomenon: the men in their hunting scarlets are having an amorous effect on the women in the club. Delighted, she sets her mind to playing matchmaker, but the joys of hunting season are cut short when a body is discovered.

Was the death from illness, as everyone, including Sister Jane, is led to assume? She isn't so sure, and soon, with the help of hunters, horses, foxes, and hounds, she uncovers a nefarious scam involving an inheritance--turning this seemingly innocuous death into a murder.

Buy Scarlet Fever at Amazon

The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin

The Origin of the Species
Evolutionary biology is not my area of expertise or really interest, but as it is nonfiction November I thought I should listen to some nonfiction. This book was often referenced in my science courses and as it was a free listen for Amazon Prime members I decided now would be a good time to pick it up. It is long - more than 17 hours. And rather dry, as many scientific papers can be. There were some interesting bits. I thought it was interesting that he brought up arguments against his theory and as they are still the questions people as I wonder if it is partly because he brought them up in the first place. If you ever discuss evolution and Darwin's theory (whether for or against) then I think it is important to have read the document that is at the heart of the discussion. The narrator did a good job. This was a Prime free ebook with Audible narration.

Darwin's theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specifically created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fitted for the task.

Yet The Origin of Species (1859) is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological interrelatedness, revealing the complex mutual interdependencies between animal and plant life, climate and physical environment, and - by implication - within the human world.

Written for the general reader, in a style which combines the rigour of science with the subtlety of literature, The Origin of Species remains one of the founding documents of the modern age.

Buy The Origin of the Species at Amazon

Into the Dark by Karen Rose

I loved Say You're Sorry and I have to say I loved Into the Dark just as much. I will definitely need to find more books by this author whenever I'm in the mood for an emotional thriller. I was in tears before I even 10% into the story. Her writing is so raw and realistic. A free ARC was provided through Netgalley. Read my full review.

Former army ranger Diesel Kennedy considers himself a dead man walking. To help cope with his PTSD, he coaches youth-league soccer, during which he notices two brothers, Joshua and Caleb, who seem to have a troubled home life. When he finds out the boys' stepfather was murdered, Diesel takes them under his wing and enlists the aid of Dani Novak, a beautiful doctor he's loved for years.

Though Diesel's feelings for her are crystal clear, Dani Novak has tried her hardest to keep him at arm's length because she fears her HIV-positive status makes any kind of relationship out of reach. Despite her efforts, together they are caught in a whirlwind of danger when they discover the boys' stepfather's killer has committed a series of murders--and all signs point to Caleb as the next victim. The more time Diesel and Dani spend together and learn to trust each other, the more he wonders if there's hope for them after all. But the real question is if they can get out of this alive.

Buy Into the Dark at Amazon

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
I'm not sure what to say about this book. It was quite boring and felt kind of pointless. I know there are more books in the series, but I think too much was left unexplained. I probably wouldn't have finished the book if I wasn't reading it for my post-apocalyptic book club. I checked this book out from the library.

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Buy The Forest of Hands and Teeth at Amazon

To Die in Vienna by Kevin Wignall

To Die in Vienna
This was a pretty good thriller. I think I missed some things because I was listening to the audiobook and occasionally got distracted. It would definitely be a good book to read. It was a free read/listen for Prime members. 

Freddie Makin is a spy for hire. For a year he’s been watching Jiang Cheng, an academic whose life seems suspiciously normal. To Freddie it’s just a job: he never asks who’s paying him and why—until the day someone is sent to kill him, and suddenly the watcher becomes the watched.

On the run from whoever wants him dead, Freddie knows he must have seen something incriminating. The only trouble is, he has no idea what. Is the CIA behind all this—or does it go higher than that? Have his trackers uncovered his own murky past?

As he’s forced into a lethal dance across Vienna, Freddie knows one thing for sure: his only hope for survival is keeping the truth from the other side, and making sure the secrets from his past stay hidden.

Buy To Die in Vienna at Amazon

I only have to read 5 more books to reach my reading goal of 115 books read this year. December is usually a big reading month for me so maybe I will get to 120 this year. Are you going to reach your goal this year? Or have you already reached it?

And because I'm so thrilled Oliver is back home I will give you one more picture. Here's how I had to write this post on Sunday.

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

Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


  1. I hope the kitty settles in with you all soon.

    I am a few past my goal, good luck reaching yours :)

    Wishing you a great reading week

  2. They all look like decent reads! Hope all goes well with your kitties. Happy December!

  3. I hope everything goes well with the kitties. The Vivian Conroy book looks good. Hope you have a good December.

  4. Looks like some very interesting reads!Have wonderful month of reading in December.

  5. Glad all your pets are safe indoors now. Hope they get settled with each other quickly!

  6. Awwww....glad Oliver is back. What a cute photo.

    Nice photo of your stack of books.

    Your November was good....SEVEN books is terrific.

    Have a great rest of the week and December.

  7. I'm so happy that it worked out with the kitty.

    Feel free to link up any weekend at the Sunday Salon.

    Also, we are reading all weekend at the Thankfully Reading Weekend. I have a giveaway going on, too!

  8. The kitty looks precious :) enjoy your books and this week!

  9. What a cutie!! How nice of you to do what you did for her. And I am glad that you were able to find your other kitty as well!

  10. I'm glad you were able to get your cat back <3

  11. Well done on sticking with 17 hours of Origin of Species! I read this one a few years ago and found it interesting, but hard work.
    Any I'm glad your cat got home safely. He looks a sweetie :-)

  12. Ah, I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Oh well. I do need to read The Institute, it seems like a Stephen King book I finally want to read again! Hope you have a great December!
    Check out my November Wrap-Up

  13. Looks like a couple of cute covers and enjoy the kitten. Thanks for stopping by my blog

  14. I am so, so glad that your cat came back!! I am really curious about The Institute, I will have to check out her review. Sorry about The Forest of Hands and Teeth, that's a bummer. Into the Dark sounds really good, I am definitely going to check that one out! Hope you're having a great December!

  15. Kitty!!!! Oh bless, he has what I call 'raggety-taggety ears' - so cute! >.< <3

  16. Wow, kudos for listening to The Origin of Species as an audiobook. That would take serious concentration! And I'm glad your cat story ended happily, I hope everybody can settle down and have a happy holiday time together.

  17. OMG, I should read The Origin of Species one of those days!
    Nice months, and so many cute covers! I do listen to a lot of classics, so that might be the way to go for me as well

  18. 9 books that's impressive! OMG that cat photo is classic. It's so nice of you to take the cat in.

  19. I just got a copy of Scarlet Fever last week, but haven't started it yet. Good luck with the new kitty! We can't have a cat here due to allergies, so I do enjoy cat tales (yes, pun intended). Happy holidays!

  20. It's great that you were able to find your cat and get him back inside. I hope that everything goes well from here on out integrating the new cat with the others!