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December 31, 2021

A Look Back at 2021

by Donna Huber



We are at the end of 2021 and what a year it has been. We have all been adjusting to new normals or trying to get back to our old normals. Here at Girl Who Reads we got back to our regular reading after struggling, like many of you, to focus on books in 2020. We've experienced shortages of most things. While some publication dates were pushed back, we still had more than enough books to keep us busy. Let's take a look at some of our most popular posts, our featured guests, and more of 2021.

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December 30, 2021

MK's 10 Favorite Reads of 2021

by MK French


Going through the year's books made me realize how much I actually read. It's a lot! Here are my favorite reads this year.

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December 29, 2021

Susan's 2021 Reading Wrap Up and 2022 Reading Goals

by Susan Roberts


2021 has been a year full of fantastic books and extra time to read since COVID-19 has kept us from travelling.  I had a tough time picking a top 10 so here are my top 15 books of the year (in no order of preference).

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December 28, 2021

The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard @JackieMitchard ~ a Review & Excerpt

by MK French



Thea's son Stefan was imprisoned for three years after killing his girlfriend Belinda. Belinda's mother and formerly Thea's friend galvanizes the neighborhood to protest him in her daughter's memory. Stefan is wracked with guilt and the trauma of prison, making him hard for Thea to understand. His attempts to make amends are met with increasing resistance. Was there more to the night Belinda died?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 27, 2021

The Taste of Ginger by Mansi Shah ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts
 


“My family was no different from every other Indian family we knew, and putting on the pretense of being a happy family was more important than actually being one.”  

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 26, 2021

Last Month of Reading for 2021

by Donna Huber


I can hardly believe that we are at the end of 2021. While this year was a little more normal there were times that I forgot we were in 2021 (maybe it is because it felt like 2020 didn't happen).  December was a good month with many days off from work, a lot of cookie baking, and definitely some good reading.

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December 25, 2021

The Lighthouse by Christopher Parker ~ a Review

by MK French


The lighthouse in Seabrook had been dormant for the past thirty years. Now it's lit up, sparking gossip in town. Amy Tucker was planning on spending the night in town and moving on when she meets Ryan. They spend the weekend together, growing closer; as they do, the lighthouse grows brighter. Amy discovers something about Ryan that's startling, and she decides to enter the lighthouse to uncover the truth.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 24, 2021

Celebrate Jolabokaflod with these Christmas Books

by Donna Huber


Iceland has a cool tradition of giving books and reading them on Christmas Eve. I recently read in a book that mentions the tradition and it is thought that it got started because books were hard to get and could be expensive in Iceland so it was a real treat to get a book. Apparently, new books are released to coincide with the celebration. This Country Living article mentions that the tradition started during WWII as paper was one of the few things not rationed in Iceland. For me Christmas Eve always feels like the quietest night of year - like a hush falls upon the earth. So really it is a perfect time for curling up with a good book. And of course, I have a few suggestions for Christmas books. If you are still looking for a gift or don't want to read Christmas stories, be sure to check out my list of favorite reads this year. And if you are needing a bit more relaxation before reading, I recommend 40 minutes of blanket yoga.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

December 23, 2021

The Mysterious Bookshop Presents the Best Mystery Stories of the Year: 2021 edited by Lee Child ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


The short story can't expand on multiple themes, characters, subplots, and dozens of different settings in the same way a novel can. There is just no room. ... The length, number of characters, and the condensed structure make short story writing more difficult than novel writing.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 22, 2021

Our Trespasses by Michael Cordell ~ a Review

by MK French


Matthew has a strong connection with his twin brother Jake, causing him to collapse in agony. This tells him that Jake was violently murdered, but the psychic connection between them has now intensified. Determined to break it, Matthew returns to their hometown in Nebraska to investigate the murder and atone for Jake's sins. But when a demon invades the psychic bond, it might become the route to releasing hell on earth.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 21, 2021

4 Books for Fans of Women's Fiction

by Susan Roberts



There have been some really great books in women's fiction this year. And as we wind down the year, you may be trying to cram in a few more from this year before falling in love with all the 2022 new releases. Here are four novels you won't want to miss.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for honest reviews.

Simple Secrets to a Happy Life by Luci Swindoll ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


Back in November when I was putting my books back on my new bookshelf I didn't have quite enough room to put all my review copies on one shelf. This shelf is for books that I accepted for review quite some time ago. I was so excited to be pitch books that I didn't do a good job of saying no or really knowing how many books I could read in a year. Well, I couldn't fit one book on the shelf so I decided to read one. I picked up Simple Secrets to a Happy Life Luci Swindoll.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 20, 2021

The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai Randel ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


"I'm sixty years old, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a troubled woman."  (loc 91)

In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, two people from different cultures are drawn together by fate and the freedom of music…

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 19, 2021

Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas by Josh Malerman, Jane Yolen, et al. ~ a Review

by MK French


Some lands belong to shadows and spirits, and these haunted places are not for the living. They exact a terrible price and those who explored them in the past left behind instructions for the living, which eventually became superstition and ghost stories. To reclaim this lost knowledge, the Umbra Arca Society was created and maps were drawn of the explorers' travels.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 18, 2021

Two Thrillers for a Long Winter's Night

by Donna Huber


While the weather isn't truly frightful yet, it is cold enough at night that all I want to do is curl up with a book so delightful. Add a cup of hot cocoa and it is the perfect evening for a bookworm. 

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

December 17, 2021

The Sultan’s Court by R. A. Denny ~ a Review

by MK French


Following the events that left Peri and Daniel stranded in the past, Peri is left behind and gives birth to a daughter. Daniel and Ayoub have gone to the New World, and Peri winds up in the court of the ruthless sultan Moulay Ismail. As a slave, Peri has no rights, so her rescue will be a dangerous one.

 Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 16, 2021

Spend Another Christmas with Soul Sisters at Cedar Mountain Lodge

by Susan Roberts



Last year a group of authors collaborated on a Christmas series and published books 1 - 6 of the Soul Sisters series. In November 2021, five more Christmas books were added to their series.  All of the books can be read as standalones but it's more fun to read the entire series in order.  This is a review of books 7 - 11.  If you want to read my review of books 1-6, you can read it here.

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December 15, 2021

A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


Despite the snowy cover and "season" in the title A Season of Second Chances is not a Christmas story. It does take place during the off-season in a small seaside village in England and there are a few fall and winter holiday celebrations. Even though "second chances" in the title would make you think this is a romance, it is actually more of women's fiction.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 14, 2021

The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby ~ a Review

by MK French


Tartelin Brown answers an ad for a personal assistant for Marianne Stourbridge, an eccentric old woman whose only companions for years had been butterflies and memories. Marianne's family once owned the island she lives on, but it had been commandeered by the British government in World War II. Some of Marianne's painful memories involve family secrets, and she can only get past them if she can share them with Tartelin.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 13, 2021

3 New Books of World War II Historical Fiction

by Susan Roberts


Most of the historical fiction that I read takes place during World War II.  I enjoy reading about the bravery of women during this time period who work to overcome the atrocities of the war.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for honest reviews.

December 12, 2021

The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman ~ a Review

by MK French 



Sonny Dunes is replaced by a virtual meteorologist at her Southern California job, and the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old a chance is back in Michigan. Now she's stuck moving back in with her mother, dealing with winter, facing grief over her dead sister, addressing the people she left behind years ago, and the college frenemy who is now her boss. As she tries to throw herself into this new job, she sees hope for her future with an upbeat widower. Someone is trying to undermine this new life, leaving her to face who she used to be and who she wants to be next.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 11, 2021

The Unannounced Christmas Visitor by Patrick Higgins ~ an Audiobook Review

by Donna Huber



Most of the Christmas books I read are light and fluffy like a delicious sugar cookie. And if that is all you want in your holiday reading, then The Unannounced Christmas Visitor is not the book for you. But if you are looking for something more serious, something more focused on the true reason for Christmas, then you will want to pick up this book.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

December 10, 2021

Her Second Death by Melinda Leigh ~ a Review

by Donna Huber



The busy holiday season is upon us, and if your go-to self-care escape is reading, short stories can be a great option to give you a quick time out without taking up too much of your already too little time. I'm super picky when it comes to short stories and I sometimes find police procedurals a bit boring, but I'm glad that I picked up Her Second Death by Melinda Leigh.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 9, 2021

Dark Night by Paige Shelton ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


Dark Night is the third book in Paige Shelton's suspense-filled mystery series Alaska Wilds. You may know Shelton as a cozy mystery author (that's how I first discovered her) but she does a great job with straight-up mystery too. In fact, I love this mystery series a bit more than any of her cozies. 

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 8, 2021

Pacific by Trevor J Houser ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


I'll admit that it took a few chapters for this book to grab me.  The writing was almost stream of consciousness plus the chapters were short - sometimes only a paragraph.  However, once I really got into the book, it was fantastic.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Christmas Movie Night! A Castle for Christmas

by Alison DeLuca

Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes in A Castle for Christmas

My daughter is at the age when she'd rather spend time in her room rather than be with two clueless adults, aka her parents. One way to lure her out is to put on Christmas movies... which isn't as easy as it sounds. 

December 7, 2021

The Surrogate by Toni Halleen ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts



A probing novel about a newly married couple, the surrogate they hire to carry their baby, and the unexpected consequences of their decisions. 

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 6, 2021

Don't Miss These Fantasy Books

by MK French



Are you looking for gift ideas for the fantasy reader on your list? Or perhaps you have some downtime coming up and you want an epic fantasy to lose yourself in. Either way, these last few fantasy new releases of 2021 will fit the bill. 

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

December 5, 2021

Burglary at Barnard by Lynn Morrison ~ an Audiobook Review

by Donna Huber



Last week I reviewed the first book in Lynn Morrison's Oxford Key Mysteries series. Book 2 Burglary at Barnard is now available as an audiobook as well. I love listening to cozy mysteries as you get a fun story and a few minor distractions won't cause you to lose the plot. I listen to this one while getting Christmas out of the closet.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

December 4, 2021

A Collection of Entertaining Holiday Short Stories

by MK French



This winter, rejoice in a festival of entertaining new tales from Amazon Original Stories. Unwrap unique short reads by bestselling authors to keep your holiday season merry and bright. Visit www.amazon.com/holidaystories to browse a curated selection of stories — free for Prime Members and Kindle Unlimited Subscribers — and read on for reviews of the titles by Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker. 

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

December 3, 2021

3 Suspenseful Books to Read

by Donna Huber


I have a collection of books today that I'm loosely gathering under the category of suspense. There are definitely elements of suspense in all three. The Bone Cay leans more towards mystery, Outback Creed is a solid thriller, and The Hitwoman Owes a Favor is packed with humor.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

December 2, 2021

Into the Sound by Cara Reinard ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts



“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

December 1, 2021

2 Holiday Romances to Kick Off the Season

by MK French



If you like to wait until December 1 to start everything Christmasy, then you will want to pull out your reading list and add these new Christmas romances.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

November 30, 2021

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


“I have never understood “gardeners” who refuse to garden because it is unseemly for a lady or gentleman to dirty their hands. Perhaps they don’t know the thrill of plunging a trowel into spring-softened soil to toss up the sweet, earthy scent of leaves and twigs and all manner of matter. By refusing to stain their aprons, they miss the sensation of damp, fresh dirt crumbling between their fingers or breathing the fresh air deeply. They don’t know the satisfaction of knocking the dust off one’s clothes when retreating into the house for a well-earned cup of tea.”

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

November 29, 2021

Murder at St. Margaret by Lynn Morrison ~ an Audiobook Review

by Donna Huber


I don't read too many paranormal cozy mysteries and when I do, it is usually in October. but I was too busy this October with other books so I've started picking up some at other times. That's why I decided to try Lynn Morrison's magical mystery series Oxford Key Mysteries. The first two books are now available as audiobooks.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

November 28, 2021

Thankful for Books - November Wrap-up

by Donna Huber


I hope everyone who celebrated had a nice holiday. I enjoyed my long week off from work. I made some progress on the "junk" room this week and my niece came over for a few days. Of course, there was plenty to eat. And I did a little bit of reading.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

November 27, 2021

A New Coming of Age Duology From Marjorie Jackson

by MK French



Debut author Marjorie Jackson has a new young adult coming of age duology focused on friendship. Both books are now available.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

November 26, 2021

Holiday Buying Guide 2021 - Books to Give

by Donna Huber


It's time for my annual Holiday Buying Guide. Since 2011 (the first year of Girl Who Reads) I've been recommending books to buy the readers on your list. I have read 148 books this year and so many of them were really good, but only 27 garnered 5 star ratings. From those 27 books, I've narrowed my list of recommendations to 11 books with a few getting an honorable mention. I hope you find this list helpful in choosing the perfect book for the readers in your life.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

November 25, 2021

3 Books for Fans of Women's Fiction

by Susan Roberts


Women's fiction is one of the most popular literary genres. I think the draw is the strong female character facing issues that most women can identify with. We often see ourselves, coworkers, relatives, and friends in the characters. The story often gives us hope that we too can overcome our own struggles.
 
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Death on a Winter's Day by Verity Bright ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


I love Christmas books and when one of my favorite cozy mystery series does one it's like a double helping of fun. Death on a Winter's Day is book 8 in Verity Bright's Lady Swift Mysteries series.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

November 24, 2021

The Simulated Multiverse by Rizwan Virk ~ a Nonfiction Review

by MK French


Rizvwan Virk is a successful entrepreneur, investor, bestselling author, video game industry pioneer, and indie film producer. Virk currently runs Play Labs @ MIT, leading to a unique experience able to explore the idea of parallel worlds and multiple simulated realities. With the media dealing with multiverses, it's definitely a hot topic right now. Riz had previously spoken on the topic and wrote the book "The Simulation Hypothesis," outlining the hypothesis that our reality is a simulation, rather like the Matrix.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

November 23, 2021

Lightning Down: A World War II Story of Survival by Tom Clavin ~ a Nonfiction Review

by Donna Huber


I read a ton of WWII fiction. In the last few years, I've been more drawn to biographical WWII fiction about real people (i.e. Code Name Helene). But I haven't read any WWII nonfiction. I remedied that during Nonfiction November by reading Tom Clavin's new book Lightning Down.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Unknown Assailant by J.L. Doucette ~ a Review

by MK French



Dr. Pepper Hunt and Detective Beau Antelope are called in to investigate a murder/suicide taking place on a family ranch in Farson, Wyoming. As they continue to uncover clues regarding the event, they find a legacy of trauma.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

November 22, 2021

2 Nonfiction Books for Cancer Survivors

by Susan Roberts


An estimated 1,762,450 cancers were diagnosed in 2019, which equals more than 4,800 new cases each day. The lifetime probability of being diagnosed with cancer is 39.3% for men and 37.7% for women, which is a little more than 1 in 3.  Two new books about facing cancer and suggestions of how to deal with cancer in yourself and others both give some excellent suggestions that I wish I'd have known when my dad was dying of pancreatic cancer a few years ago.
 
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for honest reviews.

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer ~ a Review

by MK French


Rachel is the daughter of a prominent rabbi and reproductive endocrinologist and has always tried to meet everyone's expectations. Because of that, she can't tell them about her love of Christmas and her life as a writer of Christmas romance novels. Her publisher insists that she write a Hanukah novel instead, so she must find inspiration where she can get it: the high-end Matzah Ball Max that is run by Jacob Greenberg, who she had last seen at summer camp at twelve. Even so, he still irritates her, and she's convinced he's still the awful prankster he used to be.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

November 21, 2021

The Cartographer's Secret by Tea Cooper ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts



A map into the past. A long-lost young woman. And a thirty-year family mystery.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

November 20, 2021

5 Entertaining Children's Books



Here in the U.S. we are headed into a holiday week which means rambunctious kids at home at least for part of the week if not all of it. Whether you are planning a quiet Thanksgiving at home and want some reading material to enjoy with your young readers or are needing something to keep them entertained while you prep or travel for the holidays, MK and Donna have some great recommendations for you.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

November 19, 2021

Miss Eliza's English Kitchen by Annabel Abbs ~ an Audiobook Review

by Donna Huber


It's Nonfiction November and everywhere you look readers are talking about all the great nonfiction they are reading. If you haven't read much in nonfiction since your school days. Well, you aren't alone. A few years ago I was in the same boat. How did I get started reading (and enjoying) nonfiction? I read fiction (mostly historical fiction) that was based on real people or events. These dramatizations led me to want to know more about the person or event. If you are finding yourself wanting to read nonfiction but not quite ready (or not sure where to start) to take the plunge, then I have the perfect book for you today - Miss Eliza's English Kitchen by Annabel Abbs.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

November 18, 2021

5 Great Romance Novels That Are Not Holiday Themed

by MK French

romance novels

For the last couple of months, there has been Christmas romance novel after holiday romance novle hitting shelves. And they are great fun to read, but they are kind of like sugar cookies and Christmas music. Wonderful as they are, you have to take a break every once in a while. Thankfully there have been plenty of non-holiday-themed romance novels coming out as well. Today, I share 5 recent and upcoming releases.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Q&A with Clark Rich Burbidge, author of StarPassage: Cyber Plague


Clark Burbidge was born and raised in the high mountain valleys of the Rockies. He earned an MBA from the University of Southern California and a BS from the University of Utah. Clark and his wife, Leah, live near Salt Lake City, Utah, where they enjoy their blended family of 10 children and nine grandchildren.

Clark's award-winning works include the StarPassage series, Giants in the Land trilogy, the acclaimed Christmas book A Piece of Silver: A Story of Christ, and a nonfiction work, Living in the Family Blender: 10 Principles of a Successful Blended Family.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.

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