Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

N is for Nonfiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

October 25, 2020

October Wrap Up: A Month of Reading Treats

by Donna Huber

It's the last Sunday of the month which means I give a little update on life, the blog, and reading. Life feels like it has fallen into a nice routine. While I'm not doing things I did before the pandemic - no shopping (besides grocery runs) and no eating out (not even takeout) - I find that I no longer miss those things. I was able to read/listen to a lot of books this month.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

Life Update

I cleared 9 full bags of ivy vines
I can't say there was anything terribly exciting this month. I've just finished a week off from work. The weather was perfect and I got my outside project accomplished - ripping English ivy out of my side yard. I'm not sure how much longer I will get to work from home as cases have kind of leveled off. I would like to telecommute permanently, pandemic or not. My dog Schatz came down sick earlier this month. She's doing better now but at 14 years of age, I wasn't sure if she was going to bounce back. I decided to brush up on my French language skills so I've been going through lessons with Duolingo. I remember a lot more than I thought I would given that I haven't taken a French class in nearly 25 years. We had a few really cold nights so I picked up an electric blanket during Prime Days. Of course, it didn't arrive until after the cold snap, but I will have it for this winter. Since I live alone I keep the thermostat really low overnight as it doesn't make sense to heat the whole house when I'm only in one room. I tried to buy a vacuum cleaner but by the time I decided that I really did want it, it was sold out. Did you get anything good during the Prime Day sale?

Blog Update

We reviewed so many new and recently published books this month. There aren't as many new releases as we head towards the end of the year so we are getting to some of the books that released earlier this year that we just couldn't fit in at the time. I hope you found something entertaining to read. Here's a look at some of our most popular reviews.
We had a few discussions and author posts this month as well.
We name our favorite reads of the month next weekend.

Popular on Instagram

(My library has just recently reopened to allow people inside for limited hours - we were doing curbside pickup only this summer- so of course I marked it with an Instagram photo.)

Reading Update

I've read or listened to a total of 16 books this week. There's still a week left in the month and I hope to get another book in. It will either be a Halloween-ish story or if my library hold comes in, my November book club book. So far, though, I've read 5 print books (1 was a review copy), 5 ebooks (all review copies), and listened to 6 audiobooks.

I made progress on all my goals this month:
  • Goal 1 - Read as many, or more, review copies as non-review copies: 6/16 this month. (YTD: 58/114)
  • Goal 2 - Read at least 12 nonfiction books this year: 0 this month (YTD: 11).
  • Goal 3 - Read 12 backlog review copies: 1 this month (YTD: 2).
  • Goodreads Challenge: 114/120
I only had a few new release ARCs this month so I got caught up on some library books for my book club and series that I really enjoy so my review copy reading was a little low this month but I'm still doing well on goal 1 for the year. I need to read one more non-fiction book to complete that goal for the year.  Yay! I read another of my in-print backlogged review copies this month. I think at this point if I read one or two more this year, I would be happy. I'm way ahead on my Goodreads challenge.

Books Read

Death Comes to Bath by Catherine Lloyd

Death Comes to Bath
I love Robert and Lucy but they were particularly enjoyable in this book. I loved seeing them work together to solve the mystery. I have read it completely out of order but that hasn't diminished my enjoyment of the series. There's a new one coming out in January and I still have a few past books to read. I checked this book out of the library.

On a visit to Bath, Major Sir Robert Kurland and Lady Lucy Kurland discover that the English spa town is not beneficial to everyone's health . . .

After Sir Robert's injury from the battle of Waterloo begins troubling him again, his wife Lucy insists they relocate from the village of Kurland St. Mary to Bath, along with her sister Anna, so that Robert can take the waters and recover.

At the Roman baths, Robert befriends an elderly and pugnacious businessman, Sir William Benson, ennobled by the Crown for his service to industry. Their acquaintance is short-lived, however, when the man is found drowned in the baths. Robert vows to find his killer, with Lucy's aid.

The members of Sir William's family seem the most obvious suspects to benefit from the wealthy man's death, but his will has gone missing. To deduce who sent Sir William to a watery grave, Robert and Lucy must investigate with the utmost discretion—before they too find themselves in over their heads. (Goodreads)

Buy Death Comes to Bath at Amazon

Commander-in-Chief by Mark Greaney

Jack, Sr has a bigger role in this book than in most of the more recent Jack, Jr books I've listened to. Maybe because it involved Russians, but it felt like the early espionage books in the series. I checked the audiobook out from the digital library.

When Russian President Valeri Volodin’s ambitions are foiled in Dagestan, he faces a difficult choice. The oligarchs who support him expect a constant flow of graft, but with energy prices cratering, the Russian economy sputters to a virtual halt. Unable to grow the Russian market at home, his hold on power relies on expansion abroad—a plan that has been thwarted by the United States in the past.

But this time Volodin has determined that an indirect approach is the best. A floating natural gas facility in Lithuania is blown up. A Venezuelan prosecutor is assassinated. A devastating attack on a Russian troop train kills dozens. A chaotic world is the best camouflage for a series of seemingly unrelated attacks.

Only one man recognizes an ominous pattern in the reports of terror from around the globe. U.S. President Jack Ryan sees a guiding hand in the worldwide chaos, but before he can act he needs proof.

While his intelligence agencies race to uncover the truth behind the attacks, the President struggles to unite a fractious and distrustful coalition of Western nations against the schemes of the Russian dictator.

With five thousand Russian troops poised to invade a NATO nation, can Jack Ryan move swiftly enough to stop Volodin’s grand plan of global conflict and conquest? Or will he succeed in changing the balance of world power forever? (Goodreads)

The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian Conroy

The Butterfly Conspiracy
I really love this series. I read book 2 first and so glad I finally found the time to read book 1. I love Merula and Raven and can't wait for more stories in this series. I checked this book out from the library.

In late Victorian times, when new inventions cause both excitement and terror, a mysterious death at a zoological lecture brings together two unlikely allies in a quest through London's upper crust and underbelly to unravel the ingenious murder method and killer behind it.

Miss Merula Merriweather is not like other women her age: instead of hunting for a husband at balls and soirees she spends her time in a conservatory hatching exotic creatures. As the Royal Zoological Society won't accept a woman's accomplishments, she has her uncle Rupert take credit for her achievements. But at a zoological lecture, the guest of honor dies after contact with one of Merula's butterflies, and Merula's uncle is arrested for murder.

In an attempt to safeguard evidence to prove his innocence, Merula almost gets killed but for the timely interference of enigmatic Lord Raven Royston. Viewing natural history as a last resort to regain respectability lost by too many dubious business investments, Raven didn't expect his first lecture to take a murderous turn. Feeling partially responsible because he encouraged Merula to release the gigantic butterfly from the glass case in which it was kept, Raven suggests they solve the puzzle of Lady Sophia's sudden death together by looking closer at her relations with estranged friends, long suffering staff and the man groomed to be her heir, so close to her money and yet unable to touch any of it.

With the police looking for them, and every new discovery raising more questions than answers, especially about the murder method which left no traces of foul play on the body, Merula will have to risk her own life to get at the truth and save her uncle from the gallows in The Butterfly Conspiracy, Vivian Conroy’s enchanting series debut. (Goodreads)

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The Last House Guest
An interesting story. It was a bit more sedate than other books that I have read by this author but I still really enjoyed it. The narrator of the audiobook was very good. I checked it out from the digital library.

Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.

Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her. (Goodreads)

Buy The Last House Guest at Amazon

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Something in Between
If you are looking for an own-voice book about immigration, especially for a young adult, then this would be a good book to read. I liked the main character Jasmine. I could some of my high school self in her. I received a free book. Read my full review.

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what's expected of her. She's studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship to the school of her dreams.And then everything shatters. Her parents are forced to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.As she's trying to make sense of this new reality, her world is turned upside down again by Royce Blakely. He's funny, caring and spontaneous--basically everything she's been looking for at the worst possible time--and now he's something else she may lose. Jasmine will stop at nothing to protect her relationships, family and future, all while fighting the hard truths of being undocumented. (Goodreads)

Buy Something in Between at Amazon

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs
I've been wanting to try this series for a while and I enjoyed this first book in the series. I did get a little lost when the story flashed back to WWI and then back to the present as it wasn't clear while listening to the audiobook. I look forward to reading more in this series. I checked out the audiobook from the digital library.

Maisie Dobbs isn't just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence and the patronage of her benevolent employers, she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.  (Goodreads)

Buy Maisie Dobbs at Amazon

Jingle All the Way by Debbie Macomber

Jingle All the Way
I loved this book. It was the perfect fluffy holiday romance story. It reminded me a bit of Dashing Through the Snow which was the first Macomber Christmas book I read (and made me want to read all her Christmas books). I received a free ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.

Everly Lancaster always dreamed of leaving her hometown in rural Illinois. Now she helps run a burgeoning startup in Chicago, where her professional goals leave little time for friends...or a vacation.

When a massive snowstorm hits, Everly's mother urges her to come home for Christmas, but she hesitates to return to the life she's worked so hard to escape. Searching for other holiday plans, Everly tasks her assistant with booking her a cruise--the perfect getaway. Embarking on a weeklong tour of the Amazon guided by charming naturalist Asher Adams, Everly slowly but surely begins to realize that relationships are more important than work--and just might decide to journey home just in time for Christmas Day. (Goodreads)

Buy Jingle All the Way at Amazon

The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

The Christmas Swap
This was a fun read. I think it would be fun to go to another country for Christmas (at least in theory). These 3 friends sure made it seem like fun. It had everything that a good Christmas story should have - family, friends, and a little romance. I received a free ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.

Chloe, Jules, and Lucy meet at a Maui resort kids' club, aged 11, forging a lifelong friendship spanning two decades and three continents.

Twenty-two years later, they decide to swap Christmases, none of them expecting the hilarity and romantic escapades that will ensue.

Chloe from Melbourne spends her Christmas with Lucy's mum and dad in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England, stunned to the core when she discovers who grew up across the road from Lucy.

Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules's loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.

And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend a balmy 'Orphan's Christmas' with Chloe's friends in Melbourne, finding that time away from her mundane life is just what she needed.

Join these three lovable women as they each get a Christmas to surpass their wildest dreams. (Goodreads)

Buy The Christmas Swap at Amazon

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

The Pull of the Stars
I had requested this book through Netgalley but it is still "pending". When I saw that my digital library had the audiobook I checked it out. An interesting look at the 1918 flu pandemic as it is told from the perspective of a midwife nurse working on a maternity/fever ward in Ireland over the course of 3 days.

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work. (Goodreads)

Buy The Pull of the Stars at Amazon

The Post by Kevin A. Munoz

The Post
I missed the discussion with my book club for this book because my copy from the library didn't come in until way after the meeting but I still wanted to read it since it is set in Georgia. I thought a bit too much emphasis was placed on places. I'm familiar with the area but I didn't care to have a map drawn for me and I would think that some of the place names would only be important to readers from the area (it felt a little like name-checking). Like would it be important for readers to really know where the College of Education and Vet Med are located on UGA's campus as they are just buildings? That being said, I'm not sure you can actually see the track from Barrow Elementary as the Butts-Mehr building is directly across from the school and the track is kind of behind that complex. I figured out who the head of the network was before it was revealed and I'm not sure the main character had put two and two together yet. Overall it is an interesting story that held my attention. I just think the story could have been a bit tighter.

Ten years after the world’s oil went sour and a pandemic killed most of the population, Sam Edison is the chief of police of The Little Five, a walled-in community near Atlanta, Georgia. Those who survived share the world with what are known as hollow-heads: creatures who are no longer fully human.

A man and a pregnant teenager arrive at the gate and are welcomed into the town. They begin to settle in when suddenly both are murdered by an unknown assailant. In the course of investigation, Chief Edison discovers that the girl was fleeing a life of sexual slavery, and that some members of the Atlanta community were complicit in the human trafficking network that had ensnared her.

In retaliation for Edison’s discoveries, agents of the network abduct the stepdaughter of the town’s mayor. Sam Edison and three companions track the kidnappers to Athens, Georgia, where they discover that the entire city is engaged in human trafficking. By the time Edison has recovered the kidnapped girl, the other three rescuers have been killed, leaving Edison alone to bring the mayor’s stepdaughter home. Further complicating their return is Sam’s realization that a prominent member of the community is in truth the ringleader of the slave-trading network. Against such great odds, will Sam ever make it to Little Five alive? (Goodreads)

Buy The Post at Amazon

Severance by Ling Ma

My library hold for this book didn't come in until the Monday after my book club met but I decided to read it since I also had it on my list of Pandemic Fiction to read. I struggled to finish this novel. It was a little better in the last third of the story but mostly I just found it boring. I could see it making a good discussion for a book club though and hate that I missed the meeting.

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. So she barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.

Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers? (Goodreads)

Buy Severance at Amazon

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Code Name Helene
I really enjoyed the story. I think I would have liked it more had I read it to myself as I got lost with the multiple timelines when I would be distracted while listening to the audiobook. When I had distraction-free times of listening, I really got into the story. I also want to read Nancy Wake's autobiography. I checked it out from the digital library.

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid New Zealand expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence coming out of Vienna and Berlin when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER she smuggles people and documents across borders under the guise of an oblivious mistress. Soon enough the Gestapo hears of a female operative with a remarkable ability to evade capture, and Nancy earns a new nickname: THE WHITE MOUSE. But this one carries with it a five million franc bounty on her head. Forced to escape France and leave Henri behind for the safety of both of them, Nancy enters training with the Special Operations Executives, who transform her into Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ. She soon becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she--and the people she loves--will become. (Goodreads)

Buy Code Name Hélène at Amazon

Murder on the Dance Floor by Helena Dixon

Murder on the Dance Floor
While this is book 4 in the series, it is the first one I've read. I had no problem jumping right in. I loved the characters and the dynamic between Matt and Kitty was really good. I received a free ARC via Netgalley. My full review will post on Wednesday.

November 1933. Amateur sleuth-cum-dutiful granddaughter Kitty Underhay stifles a sigh of boredom as she attends the annual Hoteliers' Association Dinner and Dance on behalf of her grandmother, the proprietress of the Dolphin Hotel. She hopes the company of ex-army captain Matthew Bryant will enliven the otherwise dull evening. That is, until bullish and overbearing local councillor Harold Everton drops dead into his bowl of consommé.

While the local police are still scrambling for their whistles, Kitty and Matt waste no time leaping into action. Soon they find themselves caught up a dangerous search to uncover who amongst the distinguished guests used cyanide for seasoning?

When their digging throws light on a corruption scandal brewing in the local council involving Everton’s assistant Thomas King, they are sure they’ve cracked the case. But before he can be questioned further, King’s body is found in a smouldering car wreck. Meanwhile, the murderer has made a sinister plan to avoid detection or punishment, and it will lead Kitty and Matt into a dangerous dance with death. (Goodreads)

1 Flew Over the Raven's Nest by JB Lynn

1 Flew Over the Raven's Nest
I had a little trouble getting into the book at first but enjoyed it by the end. It kind of felt like one of the murder mystery games where all the guest are invited to an isolated area to solve a fake murder but that a real murder happens. This is no game, though the characters all meet in a campground. If you read Lynn's Hitwoman series, you may recognize this series main character RV. I've always been a bit ambivalent about this character but she is starting to grow on me and I liked the other characters in the book, many whom will appear at least in the next book in the series. I received a free book from the author.

You may think your mother-in-law is a witch, but RV’s really was.

And now there’s a very real chance she’ll be haunted by Mildred Bloodworth for eternity.

The only way to free herself from the curse that binds them, is for RV to make amends for Millie’s misdeeds.

Accompanied by a possessed Siamese cat, RV embarks, in her mother-in-law’s pink camper van, on a journey to right wrongs. But plans, like spells, can backfire.

RV drives right into a crime scene and quickly becomes the chief suspect in a mysterious murder.

Determined to prove her innocence, RV investigates with the help of a lucky penny, a wise owl, a reclusive turtle, and a magician whose agenda is unknown. (Goodreads)

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments
Questions finally answered. I know that I was left with questions after reading The Handmaid's Tale. Perhaps had I watched the television show the ambiguous ending of the book would have been clearer, but I was happy to wait for The Testaments. I liked how Atwood made a character that we despised in the first book, a sympathetic character in the sequel.

More than 15 years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes. (Goodreads)

Buy The Testaments at Amazon

A Christmas Resolution by Anne Perry

A Christma Resolution
This story is written as if it had been written in the 1870s rather than modern day (think A Christmas Carol). It was not the fluffy romance that we typically read today. There were more serious themes of repentance and forgiveness as well as love and concern for your fellow man. I received an ARC via Netgalley. My full review will post on Tuesday.

Detective John Hooper, William Monk's right-hand man at the Thames River Police, is blissfully happy in his new marriage to Celia, the cousin of a victim in one of the river police's recent murder cases. Celia wants the same happiness for her good friend Clementine, who's just announced her engagement to Seth Marlowe, a member of her church. Christmas is nearing, and this should be extra cause for celebration, but when Marlowe begins receiving threatening letters about his first wife's death, it becomes clear that he is far from the devout man Clementine thought he was. In his rage, Marlowe accuses Celia of sending the letters, claiming she wants to ruin his engagement to Clementine. At a loss as to how to defend herself, Celia enlists Hooper to investigate the letters' claims, and what he finds makes her desperate to show Clementine the truth about her soon-to-be husband.

But Celia herself has not always been truthful, especially not during the murder trial following her cousin's death. How can she be believed now, when she lied on the stand? Especially when Marlowe knows that she did, and could use it against her. This Yuletide season finds love and faith put to the test--and Celia's and Clementine's lives on the line.

Buy A Christmas Resolution 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.
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. Our weather has been warmer than usual, but, considering there is yet another tropical depression making its way up the Gulf, I'd prefer warm to a hurricane.

    I've been thinking about watching for a good deal on a new phone. My iPhone is a 6. I need to at least get a new battery.

    Glad your library is available. Curbside has been wonderful. I don't know how I will ever thank my library enough.

    I really thought Pull of the Stars was well done.

    My Goodreads challenge is crazy this year. I'm setting records in 2020!

    Have a good week.

  2. It’s going to be interesting to see how work/if changes in the future.
    I loved Code Name Helene, I too want to read the biography.

    Wishing you a great reading week

  3. Glad you're dog is feeling better! Happy November!

  4. I also only read Maisie Dobbs a year or so back. Loved it! But still haven't read the rest of the series.

    You had an excellent reading month! Good for you.

    Hope your November will be even better.

    Enjoy your week and here's my The Sunday Post #16

  5. So many books! I am super impressed. I've wanted to read Maisy Dobbs for a long time. Not sure what my excuse for not doing it. Other books that crowd it out, I suppose. My Sunday Salon post

  6. Looks like you had a great week off and spending it outside in nature is so good for the soul. I hope your dog feels better and manages to bounce back more.
    The Butterfly Conspiracy sounds really good!

  7. Hi Donna, nice update! I used the early part of lockdown to pull a LOT of ivy out of the lawn under a huge Horse Chestnut. A big job but oddly therapeutic! Still working from home (well, my shed) 4 days a week. At least the time saved from commuting helps me get on with the Difficult Second Novel!

  8. My library has been doing book bundles as well. I love checking out what they put together. They just barely let the patrons back in without an appointment. Looks like some great reading. Glad you got a nice heated blanket for the cold months. I feel like we just had the cold months. What a time warp! Stay safe and healthy this week.

  9. I'm glad Schatz got better! I'd like to WFH permanently too, but I don't know if my company is going to allow it. England might be going into another full lockdown this coming week, so it only makes sense to get used to working from home and to fine tune any problems people are having. I think my company are dragging their feet with it though!

  10. I've been surprised that I haven't missed eating out much either. We do still occasionally get take-out, but that's it. At least we have our books to keep us busy!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  11. I think the virus has had a huge impact on how employers view the advantages/disadvantages of having a remote workforce. Hope you get the permanent change you're looking for. Glad your dog's health is improving too.