Murder Mystery, Marketing, Second Marriages, Frozen Embryos, & Short Stories Galore Read Last Month!

As usual, I enjoyed reading a variety of books in October. By reading my blog post today, I hope you’ll discover a new book or new author to add to your TBR (To Be Read list.) There’s something here for almost everyone.


Under the Southern Sky, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Under the Southern Sky, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Right off the bat, this novel got into the hot button topic of frozen embryos. Parker’s wife, Greer, with whom he’d frozen those embryos has died of cancer.

Their marriage appeared to be a match made in heaven. Amelia, the proverbial girl next door during their childhoods, is a reporter researching frozen embryos for a story.

Will Amelia and Parker get together? Can Amelia overcome the idea in her head that Greer was perfect? Surely, she can’t compete with Parker’s memory of his perfect deceased wife. Or can she?

When Amelia approaches Parker with her idea of being the surrogate to give birth to one or more of those frozen embryos how will he respond? How will their families react? How will Greer’s father react?

I enjoyed the frozen embryos aspect of the novel. The on again, off again friendship and romance of Amelia and Parker was sappier than what I like to read, but that’s just me. The dynamics of their relationship are complex and they have to grapple with a lot of emotional baggage.

If you’re looking for a southern beachy story with a hefty dose of what happens to forgotten or abandoned frozen embryos, I think you’ll love this novel by Salisbury, North Carolina native Kristy Woodson Harvey.

I read this novel for the October 24th meeting of Rocky River Readers Book Club at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. We had a good discussion. Everyone read the entire book, which is a good sign. We were in agreement that the ending was predictable, but it was a good book club selection.


The Second Husband, by Kate White

The Second Husband, by Kate White

This is a murder mystery with a chilling twist. Did Emma’s second husband kill her first husband?

Emma’s 37-year-old husband is killed in an alley in the Soho section of New York City. The crime is not solved.

A few months later, Emma meets Tom through a work connection. They marry. Life is good. In fact, it’s perfect until the day a police detective shows up to ask some leading questions.

Suddenly, Emma feels like she’s Suspect #1 in Derrick’s murder. But she knows she’s innocent. She didn’t kill him and she didn’t hire a hitman.

Then, her suspicions turn to Tom.

I learned of this book by reading a review of it on the Linda’s Book Obsession blog on June 28 of this year. Thanks for bringing the book to my attention, Linda! Here’s the link to her review: Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Second Husband” by Kate White, Harper, June 28, 2022 – Linda’s Book Obsession: (lindasbookobsession.blog)

I think this novel would be a good choice for a book club.


Your First 1,000 Copies, by Tim Grahl

Your First 1000 Copies, by Tim Grahl

I give this nonfiction book about marketing for writers 10 stars on a scale of 1 to 5. I took copious notes. There are so many pointers in this book for someone in my position as I’m anticipating releasing several books in the coming 12 months.

Mr. Grahl has helped many authors launch their books. He’s been through the process enough times and recently enough that he knows what works and what doesn’t work. If you’re a writer hoping to publish a book – whether via the traditional publisher route or by self-publishing – you can benefit from reading this book.


Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity and Loss

Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

Eight writers contributed short stories for this special anthology about identity and loss.

The book includes two short stories by Elizabeth Gauffreau, whose website and blog I wrote about in my September 26, 2022 blog post, Do you know about these 5 book bloggers?

Other authors featured in Distant Flickers are Donna Koros-Stramella, Keith Madsen, Carol LaHines, Jim Metzner, Joyce Yarrow, Rita Baker, and Amy E. Wallen.

Distant Flickers grew out of a spark of inspiration provided by a group of writers known as Telltale Authors. Each story ties into the subtitle. The topics are varied. There are secrets, loss, and identity issues. Each author writes in a way to pull you into the story. Soon you find yourself empathizing with the main character.

The name of that group gives me a perfect segway into the name of the other book of short stories I read in October….


Tell Tale, by Jeffrey Archer

Tell Tale: Stories, by Jeffrey Archer

Since I’m putting together a book of historical short stories, I’ve wanted to get back to reading more short stories. I need to get a handle on just what makes a good short story, right?

Although Jeffrey Archer is better known for his novels, I wanted to read some of his short stories. I found his stories in Tell Tale to be very entertaining.

My favorite stories in the collection were “The Road to Damascus,” “Who Killed the Mayor?” and “The Holiday of a Lifetime.”

Mr. Archer used a clever literary device in “The Holiday of a Lifetime.” He wrote three different endings for the story and encouraged the readers to select the one they preferred. What fun!


Until my next blog post

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post today!

I hope you have a good book to read and will find time to read it. If you have nieces, nephews, children, or grandchildren, it’s important for them to know you enjoy reading. They want to be like you.

If you live in the USA, vote tomorrow, unless you voted early. Our very democracy is on the ballot.

Don’t forget the people of Ukraine.

Janet

4 Popular Book Bloggers Who Will Give You Book Suggestions

In case you want to know about more book bloggers than I’ve written about in the last weeks, I’m suggesting a few more for you to check out. These are listed in random order.


Photo credit: Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog

I must admit, I was attracted to this blog by the word “chocolate” being in the title. What can I say?

Davida Chazan is originally from Illinois but moved to Israel at the age of 21. She writes this blog from her home in Jerusalem. She covers a variety of books, and you can always count on an honest review from her.

Here’s the link to Davida’s website: https://tcl-bookreviews.com/. By clicking on “A-Z Index of Book Reviews By Title” at the top of her website, you can bring up an extensive alphabetical list of the books she has reviewed. By “extensive,” I mean extensive!

Also, she has a fun drop-down list of authors you can access by clicking on “Countdown Questions Author Index.” You can really have some fun with this. Click on a book listed under the author’s name and it brings her Davida’s review of that book. Click on the author’s name, though, and it brings up a delightful list of questions Davida asked the author along with the author’s answers. The last time I checked, there are more than 40 authors on that particular list.

The website also has a clickable “Women in Translation” button at the top. Click on it to see the authors who write in a language other than English. They are celebrated in the month of August.


Photo by James Barker on Unsplash

The Reading Ladies Book Club

Carol, a retired fifth-grade teacher is the brains behind this book blog. Her favorite genres are historical fiction, literary fiction, and contemporary fiction. She is an ardent reader and enjoys sharing her thoughts about the books she reads.

Here’s the link to The Reading Ladies Book Club website: http://Reading Ladies – Book Club. On the home page, you can easily peruse and click on the titles and covers of the books Carol has recently reviewed.

Click on “Blogging Resources for Bloggers” at the top of her website for blog posts in which Carol has shared advice for bloggers.

If you’re in a book club (or if you aren’t in a book club), I highly recommend you click on “Book Club Recommendations” at the top of her website. As you might guess, it brings up a list of books by genre and how many stars Carol gave each one.

To see a list of the books Carol has reviewed, click on “Book Reviews A-Z & Book Lists.” After the alphabetical list of books is a list of her blog posts that were about more than one book.

There is a section to click on if you’re just interested in nonfiction books, and she has a special section that harkens back to her days as a teacher: “My Newberry Award Project.” Click on that button to bring up a list of the annual winner of The John Newberry Medal every year4 since 1922! That award is given by the American Library Association to the author deemed to have made the best contribution to American books for children.

As you can see, there’s something for everyone in The Reading Ladies Book Club Blog.


Photo credit: Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash

Steph’s Book Blog

I love the subtitle of Steph’s Book Blog:  “Read a Book – Be Amazed – Tell the World.” How great is that?

Steph says she is a lifelong reader who also dabbles in genealogy, local history, and photography. (Sounds a lot like me!)

By clicking on “Blog Posts” at the top of her website, https://stephsbookblog.com, you can scroll through her recent book reviews. Or, if you’re looking for her review of a book by a particular author, you can click on “Authors” for a drop-down menu of authors by alphabet.

There’s also a search box in which you can type a book title or author’s name.

Some authors participate in a “Blog Tour” in which various book bloggers read and review a specific book of theirs (usually a new release) on an organized schedule. Steph has a clickable “Blog Tours” button through which you can find a list of the books she has reviewed as part of a blog tour.


Photo by Eliabe Costa on Unsplash

Bonnie Reads and Writes

I just recently found this book blog via Twitter. Bonnie says she’s “lucky enough to live in the Smoky Mountains.” I’d say she is, therefore, “lucky enough.” I love the Great Smoky Mountains! But I digress.

Here’s the link to her blog: https://bonniereadsandwrites.com/. Bonnie blogs throughout the week. One thing I really appreciate is that she sometimes has “Indie Weekend” blog posts in which she reviews indie-published books. For instance, on October 8, 2022, her “Indie Weekend” blog post highlighted Distant Flickers, a new collection of short stories by eight authors, including Elizabeth Gauffreau. That link is http://Indie Weekend: Distant Flickers #shortstorycollections #choices #crossroads – Bonnie Reads and Writes.

In addition to reviewing books on her blog, Bonnie reviews books for Historical Novels Review Magazine, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.

On Tuesdays, Bonnie blogs a ‘Top 10” list. A recent one was about her 10 favorite bookstores or bookstores she’d like to visit.


In case you missed my earlier posts about book bloggers

Two of my last four blog posts were about book bloggers I enjoy following. In case you missed those posts, here are the links: Do you know about these 5 book bloggers? and This Week: An Additional 5 Book Bloggers.


Since my last blog post

The ”Launch a Bestseller” course by Tim Grahl is going great! I have learned so much already and have gotten back on track with my writing.

I continue to format my “Did You Know?” local history newspaper articles for publication as a couple of Kindle books.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read – and time to read it!

Remember the brave people of Ukraine, the grieving people of Uvalde, the Floridians who lost so much to Hurricane Ian, and the people grieving last week’s mass murder in Raleigh.

Janet

Spy Thriller, WWI Novel, Nonfiction, and Historical Mystery Read Last Month

In addition to the three novels I blogged about last week, in September I read three other novels and one nonfiction book. It’s my pleasure today to blog about those four books. I hope at least one of them will appeal to you enough that you’ll decide to read it. Support your local public library and your local independent bookstore!


The New Neighbor, by Karen Cleveland

The New Neighbor, by Karen Cleveland

I read Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland in March 2018 and blogged about it in my April 2, 2018 blog post, More March 2018 Reading. I really enjoyed that novel, so I don’t know what it took me more than four years (has it really been four years since 2018?) to read another of her books.

The New Neighbor is a spy thriller. The main character and most of her neighbors on a quiet cul-de-sac work for the CIA. She’s been trying to identify and take down a spy who is working against the United States for 18 years of her career. The code name for this person is “The New Neighbor,” so it’s a constant play on words throughout the book – Is the new neighbor the actual new neighbor on the cul-de-sac, or is it one of her long-time neighbors and friends on the cul-de-sac, or is it someone who lives who knows where, or is it …?

I look forward to reading another of Karen Cleveland’s novels as soon as I pare down my current reading list. She is a former CIA Analyst.


Switchboard Soldiers: A Novel of the Heroic Women Who Served in the US Signal Corps in World War I, by Jennifer Chiaverini

Switchboard Soldiers, by Jennifer Chiaverini

This historical novel made me aware of the first women to serve in the United States Army. It was World War I and General John Pershing needed efficient telephone operators who were fluent in both English and French to serve throughout France – including the front lines.

It was taking male soldiers one minute to connect a call. That was unacceptable, so General Pershing did a radical thing. He put out a call for qualified female telephone operators. More than 7,600 women responded. The women could connect a phone call in ten seconds.

They proved themselves just as qualified and dedicated as any male American soldiers and were credited in helping the Allies win World War I. It’s a shame their story hasn’t been told for more than a century, but author Jennifer Chiaverini has down a wonderful job telling us their story now.

I learned in the Author Notes at the end of the book that, although they were considered soldiers in the US Army during World War I, took the oath of office, were issued uniforms, had to go through the rigorous gas mask training, had to obey all rules and regulations of the US Army, etc. – after the war they were not considered military veterans and were not eligible for any veterans’ benefits until 1977 when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed them to be veterans. Of course, by then fewer than 60 of the 7,600 women were still alive to enjoy any of the benefits.

The other novels by Ms. Chiaverini that I’ve enjoyed are Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (which I read in April 2013 before I started regularly blogging about the books I read); Resistance Women (see my September 2, 2019 blog post, 3.5 of the 5.5 Books I Read in August 2019; and Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters (see my August 10, 2020 blog post, Two Other Books I Read in July 2020.)


Listening Well: Bringing Stories of Hope to Life, by Heather Morris

Listening Well, by Heather Morris

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’ve read three excellent novels by Heather Morris.

To refresh your memory, I blogged about her first novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz in my November 15, 2018 blog post, Many Good Books Read in October!; I blogged about her second novel, Cilka’s Journey, in my December 2, 2019 blog post, I stretched my reading horizons in November; and I blogged about her third novel, Three Sisters, in my January 3, 2022 blog post, Books Read in December 2021.

In Listening Well, Ms. Morris writes a lot about her life. She grew up in New Zealand and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She writes about her growing up years as a way to tell us about the elders in her family and how they – especially her great-grandfather – taught her to listen.     

She recommends that we all practice listening actively and then she sets about to give practical tips of how to listen to elders and how to listen to children. She also encourages us to listen to ourselves and trust ourselves because if we can trust ourselves and be a friend to ourselves, we can be a good friend to someone else.

She writes about listening to Lale Sokolov, the tattooist of Auschwitz, and what an honor it was to listen to him.

Ms. Morris says that all too often we listen to someone only to think of what we can say and how we can turn the conversation about us and not the other person.

This is a good read. I imagine most of us can learn something from it.


Second Street Station: A Mary Handley Mystery, by Lawrence H. Levy

Second Street Station, by Lawrence H. Levy

I wanted to read this book because it is a categorized as historical mystery. I read about 60% of it. It was a bit of stretch for there to be a female detective in the 1890s, but I was willing to suspend disbelief and go along with it.

It was a bit of a stretch to think of Thomas A. Edison being a criminal, but I kept reading. Where the wheels fell off the wagon for me, though, was when Mary Handley was able to watch the trajectory of ricocheting bullets and roll out of their way.

Since there had been no reference to Mary Handley having such superpowers, I felt completely pulled out of the story at that point. I read a few more pages and decided to move on to other library books that were needing my attention. It suddenly felt like historical fiction meets sci-fi.

If the book had been publicized as such, that would have been fine – and probably would make an interesting genre; however, that wasn’t a direction I expected “historical mystery” to take. I’ve since read several reviews online that were also thrown off by this part of the novel.

All that being said, though, I hesitate to be critical of a novel since I’ve yet to publish one of my own. I have much to learn about writing historical fiction. If you enjoy historical mysteries, give Second Street Station a try and let me know what you think of it. I’d like to be proven wrong in my assessment.


Since my last blog post

I took a free 3-Day online “How to Write a Series” course offered by Carissa Andrews of The Author Revolution. It was very helpful. And did you hear me say it was free? It will probably be offered again next year, so if you aspire to write a book series, I recommend you check out The Author Revolution online.

The historical fiction series I’m working on just might be five books instead of four. Book 2, The Doubloon is written and put away. Book 1, The Heirloom is my work in progress. Books 3-5, The Betrayal, The Revolution, and The Banjo are in various states of being outlined. My body is telling me I should have started this project decades ago.

I continued to format the local history newspaper articles I wrote from 2006 through 2012 for publication as two Kindle books. Look for future announcements about Harrisburg, Did You Know?- Book 1 and Harrisburg, Did You Know? – Book 2.

I started working through the video modules in Tim Grahl’s “Launch a Bestseller” course last week. The modules have already helped me understand the marketing tasks I need to do beginning seven to nine months before I publish my first novel.

In terms of marketing, I’ll have to condense some of those early tasks into just a couple of months or so for Harrisburg, Did You Know? – Book 1 and The Aunts in the Kitchen.

Me thinks I have too many irons in the fire!


Until my next blog post

Today I start taking the five-week online “Sticky Blogging – Master Class: “Attract Your True Fans” Course. Who knows? Perhaps in the coming weeks and months I’ll write better blog posts. Maybe I’ll come up with more interesting and eye-catching post titles.

I hope you have a good book to read.

Remember the brave people of Ukraine, the grieving people of Uvalde, and the devastated people of Florida.

Janet