Readers' Favorite

July 25, 2021

Summer Reading Continues - July Wrap Up

by Donna Huber

Though there is a week left in July, it is the last Sunday so I'm doing my end-of-the-month wrap-up. I've been flying through books the past couple of weeks so I will update the books read section throughout the week.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.


I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that summer is almost over. We have schools going back at the end of the week and college students will start coming back next week with the university set to start in mid-August. 

It has been so humid and a lot of rain so I haven't been in the pool very much this summer. It turned hot and sunny this weekend though which meant a lovely afternoon of reading on a float. Otherwise, my days have been pretty boring. 

My book club met in person for the first time since March 2020. Even though we've met by Zoom the whole time it was still good to be in person. 

I made strawberry jam over the July 4th holiday - it is delicious! I haven't felt like baking, though I did make a yogurt cake when we had a cool day. I've been having jam on biscuits to satisfy my sweet tooth.

I've kept up with my daily yoga practice. Even though it is so humid that I don't want to move, this month's calendar featured a lot of stretching which is exactly what I need. Especially since I woke up on July 4th and couldn't turn my head. I still don't have the full range of motion but it is so much better now.

I'm still working on my French. I feel like I might be making progress.


July has been filled with so many good books. We've had to do several round-up posts so that we could fit them all in. In case you missed them,

Our most popular reviews:

Discussion posts:

Popular on Instagram

I will be sharing the recipe with my reviews of the last of my July reads on Thursday.


I have read some really terrific books the past week or so which means I've devoured them. I started a bit slow this month and didn't think I would read very many as it was taking forever to get through the books, but that changed last week and now I've read about my monthly average with a week left. I've read 15 books - this is the most I've read in while. Of the 15 books, 10 were audiobooks, 3 ebooks, and 2 print book. 14 of them were for review. Here's how I'm doing on my goals:
  1. Read more or as many reviews copies: 14/15 (YTD: 64/87)
  2. Read 12 backlog (prior to 2021) review copies: 0 (YTD: 1)
  3. Read/listen to 125 books: 87/125 (I'm 15 books ahead of schedule)

Books in the Mailbox

I only received one book in the mail this month - Half Lives: The Unlikely History Radium by Lucy Jane Santos.

Books read...

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

The Librarian of Saint-Malo

While I knew about Hitler having books destroyed and that rare and priceless artifacts (usually art) confiscated and sent to Germany, I haven't read any books about the people who had spent their lives curating and caring for these things. The closest book I've read along these lines was The Zookeeper's Wife. It was interesting to see how this small town lived amongst the Germans and resisted though there didn't seem to be any Maquis near them (if there was they aren't mentioned by this term in the story). For those that like a more romantic bent to their WWII stories, then this one would be a good one to pick up. Read my full review. I received an e-galley via Netgalley but I checked the audiobook out from the library.

Saint-Malo, France: August 1939. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.

After the French capitulation, the Nazis occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city's libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.

What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn's description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved. (Goodreads)

Tom Clancy Target Acquired by Don Bentley

Tom Clancy Target Acquired

It's a Jack Ryan novel. It had everything I like about Jack Ryan novels. How beat up Jack, Jr got became a little unrealistic - he's human, not SUPER human. Read my full review. I received an e-galley via Netgalley but checked the audiobook out from the library.

Jack Ryan, Jr. would do anything for Ding Chavez. That's why Jack is currently sitting in an open-air market in Israel, helping a CIA team with a simple job. The man running the mission, Peter Beltz, is an old friend from Ding's Army days. Ding hadn't seen his friend since Peter's transfer to the CIA eighteen months prior, and intended to use the assignment to reconnect. Unfortunately, Ding had to cancel at the last minute and asked Jack to take his place. It's a cushy assignment--a trip to Israel in exchange for a couple hours of easy work, but Jack could use the downtime after his last operation.

Jack is here merely as an observer, but when he hastens to help a woman and her young son, he finds himself the target of trained killers. Alone and outgunned, Jack will have to use all his skills to protect the life of the child. (Goodreads)

Buy Target Acquired at Amazon

Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey

Very Sincerely Yours

I don't read a lot of chick lit anymore. It was one of my favorite genres in my 20s and early 30s so I still like to occasionally read it - usually Christmas and summer. This one was cute with a great "meet-cute" moment. It is a clean read too as I don't care for steamy chick lit. I can see this being made into a Hallmark movie. Read my full review. This is another book that I received as an e-galley via Netgalley but checked out the audiobook from the library.

Teddy Phillips never thought she would still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she has kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out—and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there is still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something is missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want—and if the future they want includes each other. (Goodreads)

Buy Very Sincerely Yours at Amazon

A Hex for Danger by Esme Addison

A Hex for Danger

Summer is the perfect time for some mermaid lore. As this is book 2 in the series there was still a lot of world-building going on. The last hour or so is a lot of that - explaining the mythology. If you like paranormal cozies then this is a good one. I haven't read book one but I don't feel like I missed anything. The narrator did a good job. Read my full review. I received the audiobook via Netgalley.

The small town of Bellamy Bay has its share of skeletons in its closet, but it isn't used to bodies turning up in the local history museum. After all, this coastal North Carolina town is much like any other...except, of course, for the mermaids.

Helping to run the family business, an herbal apothecary while keeping her supernatural secret hidden is no easy feat for water witch Aleksandra Daniels. But somehow she's still found time to help her friend Celeste, who has her own Caribbean mermaid heritage plan the annual Mermaid Festival. As fun-seekers throng the beaches, Alex gets to know and is intrigued by renowned artist Neve Ryland, who's in town to decorate the local park with a mermaid-themed mural. Celeste, however, is less enamored with the artist, as Neve has been spending entirely too much one-on-one time with her boyfriend Jasper, director of Bellamy Bay's history museum. Then, a reception for Neve ends abruptly when the artist is found dead in his office.

The police investigation nets Celeste who asks Alex to find the true culprit. With the help of her magically-inclined aunt and cousins, Alex dives in to clear her friends name. But there was more to Neve Ryland than met the eye...and Alex fears she may be in way too deep. Will she catch the crook or be next on the hook? (Goodreads)

Buy A Hex for Danger at Amazon

The Therapist by BA Paris

The Therapist

If you enjoyed Behind Closed Doors then you will love this book. I was suspicious of all the characters. I didn't want to put it down. Read my full review. I received an audiobook via Netgalley.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbors, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem. (Goodreads)

Buy The Therapist at Amazon

The Council of Animals by Nick McDonell

The Council of Animals

An interesting read. A bit of a different take on the post-apocalyptic genre. It reminded me of A Hollow Kingdom without the zombies. There are some similarities to Animal Farm too. I think this would make a great book for discussion. Read my full review. I received an audiobook via Netgalley.

First came the pandemic, then came The Calamity. The few remaining humans are huddled in impoverished villages. The animals, meanwhile, have convened a gathering, each group sending a representative to debate and vote on whether to help the last human stragglers...or to kill and eat them.

As each animal makes its case, the fate of humanity depends on whether each species will act in its own self-interest, or if they will follow the lead of the kindly bear who believes that humans can be rehabilitated. The impending decision forces each animal to confront their past traumas at the hands of the humans while also putting them in the position to reign over the other subspecies - rodents and insects - if they so choose. The desire for power, deeply ingrained prejudices, and glimmers of righteousness guide the members of the council as they work to establish a new world order. (Goodreads)

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water

A lovely story. This isn't some fluffy, light-hearted read but if you want a book with some weight for your summer reading then you can't go wrong with this one. Read my full review. I received a free book from the publicist.

Willy Cherrymill and his stepdaughter Lacey are deeply bruised by a past brimming with unanswered questions. It’s been thirty years since May DuBerry, Willy’s young wife and Lacey’s mother, abandoned them both leaving Willy to raise Lacey alone.

Lacey Cherrymill is smart, stubborn and focused. She’s also a single mother to a young daughter recently diagnosed with a devastating illness. The last thing she needs to think about right now is the betrayal that rocked her childhood. Reluctantly, she has returned to her rural beginnings, a former dairy farm in the Maryland countryside, and to Willy, a man steeped in his own disappointments and all the guilt that goes with them.

Together they will pool their wobbly emotional resources to take care of Tasha, all the while trying to skirt the issue of May’s mysterious disappearance. But try as she might, Lacey can’t leave it alone. Just where is May DuBerry Cherrymill and why did she leave them, and how is it that they have never talked about the wreckage she left behind? (Goodreads)

A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe

A Woman of Intelligence

An interesting book. It started a little slow but once I really get into the plot it became a book I didn't want to put down. Read my full review. I received an audiobook via Netgalley.

A Fifth Avenue address, parties at the Plaza, two healthy sons, and the ideal husband: what looks like a perfect life for Katharina Edgeworth is anything but. It’s 1954, and the post-war American dream has become a nightmare.

A born and bred New Yorker, Katharina is the daughter of immigrants, Ivy-League-educated, and speaks four languages. As a single girl in 1940s Manhattan, she is a translator at the newly formed United Nations, devoting her days to her work and the promise of world peace - and her nights to cocktails and the promise of a good time.

Now the wife of a beloved pediatric surgeon and heir to a shipping fortune, Katharina is trapped in a gilded cage, desperate to escape the constraints of domesticity. So when she is approached by the FBI and asked to join their ranks as an informant, Katharina seizes the opportunity. A man from her past has become a high-level Soviet spy, but no one has been able to infiltrate his circle. Enter Katharina, the perfect woman for the job.

Navigating the demands of the FBI and the secrets of the KGB, she becomes a courier, carrying stolen government documents from D.C. to Manhattan. But as those closest to her lose their covers, and their lives, Katharina’s secret soon threatens to ruin her. (Goodreads)

It's Better This Way by Debbie Macomber

It's Better This Way

I have always preferred Macomber's Christmas books but I've been trying to get into her summer books. I think this one is my favorite of her summer books. I immediately liked the characters - they weren't as angsty as some of the characters in her other summer books. The plot was a little silly but it was a great feel-good kind of story. Read my full review. I received an e-galley via Netgalley.

It's been nearly six years since Julia Jones had her heart broken. After her husband became involved with another woman, she did everything she could to save their marriage, to no avail. Their two daughters continue to stand by Julia in the wake of their father's behavior--and they've had a tough time getting along with the other woman who became their stepmother. Distraught after selling the family home, Julia moved into a condominium complex that offers the warmth and charm of a fresh start. Now, having settled into her new community and sold her successful interior design business, she's embraced a fulfilling new life, one that doesn't seem to need a man in it. Her beloved father's trusty saying is ringing truer than ever: It's better this way.

But when Julia meets a handsome new resident in the building's exercise room, she can't help but be drawn to him. Heath Johnson is a welcome change from the men she's encountered on the occasional--mostly disastrous--dates her sister has eagerly planned for her over the years. As she and Heath, a divorce himself, begin to grow close, their friendship blossoms into a love neither of them had expected. However, they soon realize that combining families, even with four adult children, presents inevitable challenges.

When a dramatic revelation threatens the happiness they've found, Julia and Heath must reconcile their love for their children with their love for each other. If they can't, their bright future together may be nothing but a dream. (Goodreads)

Buy It's Better This Way at Amazon

Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman

Radar Girls

While there is a lot of coverage of the day Pearl Harbor was attacked I haven't read much about the continuing war effort in Hawaii. I've read a lot of books focused on British women in military service, but fewer on the American women so it was interesting to see how they were used. There was a bit more focus on romance, but really it was "a slice of life" type story. I loved the characters and couldn't put the book down. I received an e-galley via Netgalley. Read my full review.

Daisy Wilder prefers the company of horses to people, bare feet and salt water to high heels and society parties. Then, in the dizzying aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Daisy enlists in a top secret program, replacing male soldiers in a war zone for the first time. 
Under fear of imminent invasion, the WARDs guide pilots into blacked-out airstrips and track unidentified planes across Pacific skies.  

But not everyone thinks the women are up to the job, and the new recruits must rise above their differences and work side by side despite the resistance and heartache they meet along the way. 
With America’s future on the line, Daisy is determined to prove herself worthy. And with the man she’s falling for out on the front lines, she cannot fail.

From radar towers on remote mountaintops to flooded bomb shelters, she’ll need her new team when the stakes are highest. Because the most important battles are fought—and won—together.

This inspiring and uplifting tale of pioneering, unsung heroines vividly transports the reader to wartime Hawaii, where one woman’s call to duty leads her to find courage, strength and sisterhood. (Goodreads)

Buy Radar Girls at Amazon

False Witness by Karen Slaughter

False Witness

A great story. I liked that the pandemic was present but did not take over the story. I definitely didn't want to put the book down and I was on the edge of my seat through several sections. I received an audiobook via Netgalley. Read my full review.

He saw what you did.

He knows who you are ...

From the New York Times bestselling author of Pieces of Her and The Silent Wife, an electrifying standalone thriller


Leigh Collier has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defense attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilized--her life is just as unremarkable as she'd always hoped it would be.


But Leigh's ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average ... a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.


Then a case lands on her desk--defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It's the highest profile case she's ever been given--a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realizes that it's no coincidence that he's chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.


If she can't get him acquitted, she'll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Callie, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice. (Goodreads)

Buy False Witness at Amazon

Dearest Mother and Dad by Christina Thompson

Dearest Mother and Dad

I'll be honest, about all I know about the Korean War I learned from watching MASH. This story is more "slice of life" and some of the scenes could have been made into a MASH episode. I liked how the story was structured with letters home. I received a free audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions. Read my full review.

“One hundred and twenty Marines wounded. Eighteen dead. All for one lousy hill.”

Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.

“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”

Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters. (Goodreads)

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Why are close-knit neighborhoods so creepy? This book had me guessing the whole time - who was telling the truth, who was lying? Everyone has their secrets and its okay that someone pays as long it isn't themselves. If you need a riveting read, then you have to get this book. I received an e-galley via Netgalley. Read my review.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

Buy Such a Quiet Place at Amazon

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens

Dark Roads

Chevy Stevens is one of my favorite thriller writers. I was so excited to get her new book that I requested it as an ebook and an audiobook at Netgalley and was approved for both. I listened to the audiobook and it was really good. I didn't feel like this was as intense a read as her previous books but I still liked it. I didn't see the twist at the end. My review will post next week.

For decades, people have been warned about the Cold Creek Highway. Hitchhikers have vanished along it over the years, and women have been known to have their cars break down... and never be seen again. When Hailey McBride decides to run away from an unbearable living situation, she thinks that her outdoor skills will help her disappear into the Cold Creek wilderness, and she counts on people thinking that she was the victim of the killer.

One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek to attend a memorial for the victims of the highway, but it might as well be one week for the amount of pain that Beth is still dealing with after her sister, Amber, was murdered the previous summer. Beth has quit university, is lying to her parents, and popping pills like Tic Tacs. Maybe this will finally bring her peace.

When she gets a job at a local diner where Amber once worked, she connects with people who knew her sister. Beth wants to find who killed her sister and put her own life back together, but as she gets closer to the truth, she learns that there is more than one person lying in Cold Creek. (Goodreads)

Buy Dark Roads at Amazon

The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders

The Rule of One

I finished my post-apocalyptic book club read for August (we meet next week) in the final hour of July. We usually pick a short book for August since we set the calendar in July and we only have a few weeks to read it. It was a fast read. Sometimes I have to "power" read to get our book finished in time, but the pages flew by. I really enjoyed it. It is the start of a series so there was a lot of world-building and character development, but still, the plot of the girls fleeing across the country had me glued to the page. I can't wait to get book 2. I borrowed it from the library.

In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.

She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown. (Goodreads)

Buy The Rule of One at Amazon
(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read and listen for free)

What have you been reading?

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.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us. Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter 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 admire your yoga stick-with-it-ness. I love yoga, but I can't seem to get into a routine unless I attend a class. I miss it so much, too.

    I've been working on my French by reading some children's books. French is close to English and the pictures help.

    I thank you for sharing your thoughts about Very Sincerely Yours and Council of Animals. I think I will look for both of these.

  2. Reading in the pool is always nice! I'm with you though, it's hard to believe it's almost time for back to school. Yeesh. Summer flew by.

    I'll have to check out that post apoc discussion post.

    I did like the BA Paris book I read a few years ago.

  3. So many books that sound good! I've only read one book by Karen Slaughter and I like it.

    I hope you have a great week!

  4. I don't even want to think about school starting soon! I do have a bit of work to do over the next two weeks, but mostly it's vacation until August 6 and then I am back for good with school officially starting August 17. It's too soon!

  5. Strawberry jam sounds really good. You had some really good reads in July! Radar Girls is on my TBR and several others sound interesting. The summer really is flying by. Hope you have a good August!

  6. Very Sincerely Yours sounds right up my alley! I'll have to see if my library has the audiobook. The Rule of One is on my TBR, glad to hear it was good! Have a great August!
    Lisa Loves Literature

  7. Great reading month! Yes to being able to meet with your book club in person. I love, love homemade strawberry jam and now I really wish I had some right now. My mom used to make freezer jam all the time and I always had "toast with my jam" LOL and also topped my ice cream with it. I hope your August has been a great one.