3 Year Blogiversary Giveaway WINNER!

August 12, 2020

WINNER!

3 year blogiversary & giveaway (balloons, banner, and polk-a-dots)

LYNNE @ Fictionophile

You are the WINNER of the Giveaway!

Lucky #6

Please email me (readingladies1@gmail.com) with your selection for an e-book from amazon (not to exceed $20 U.S.) within 24 hours! Or…because you’re Canada, tell me which works best for you! I can also figure out Book Depository!

Congratulations Lynne!

 

ENTRIESrandom number 6 (app screenshot)

  1. Nicki
  2. Afoma
  3. Jevannel Academy
  4. Swirl and Thread
  5. Stargazer
  6. Fictionophile
  7. Sejal
  8. Kayla
  9. Tina
  10. Browneyedbookworm
  11. Wanderingsofabookbird
  12. Mani
  13. Hayley
  14. Gayla
  15. Lashaan
  16. Jennifer
  17. Michelle
  18. Deb
  19. Carhicks
  20. Linda

 

THANK YOU everyone who participated!

Thanks Nicki for being the first to comment!

Looking forward to another great year of reading and conversation!

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

August 9, 2020

Are you grateful for books during this Pandemic?

What would we do without our beloved books and reading?

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

National Book Lover's Day, August 9 (image: a blue coffee mug sits on the spines of a line of books

What are you reading today?

I Love Reading

image of a girl reading with one hand while pulling a wagon piled high with books

giphy

a young woman sitting on the kitchen floor leaning against a cabinet reading a book (I was going to lean the house, but then I realised...this book isn't going to read itself)

a drawing a young woman reading while sitting on a stack of books among many stacks of books (when I've had enough of reality, I just open a book)

Happy reading everyone!

QOTD: What are you reading today?

AOTD: I’m reading Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (author of An American Marriage).

 

5 Light Women’s Fiction Reads [Book Reviews]

August 7, 2020

5 Light Women’s Fiction Reads

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My focus-challenged COVID brain craves lighter reads recently. Does yours?

Carla @ Carla Loves to Read suggested these two authors that were just right! So, in the event that you might be looking for some lighter women’s fiction at the moment, here are five suggestions! (I’ve also linked to Carla’s reviews)

Moonlight Harbor Series by Sheila Roberts

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and Educated by Tara Westover [Book Reviews] #throwbackthursday

August 6, 2020

Compelling Characters in The Great Alone (fiction) by Kristin Hannah and Educated (nonfiction) by Tara Westover
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for
#throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my reviews of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and Educated by Tara Westover, a focus on compelling characters…

a collage of Educated and The Great Alone covers

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Two compelling characters…

Introduction:

Today I’m highlighting two compelling characters: Leni from The Great Alone (fiction) and Tara from Educated: A Memoir (nonfiction). Leni and Tara share some similar struggles and challenges. The two stories reminded me at times of The Glass Castle (charismatic yet unpredictable fathers, unstable homes, neglect, poverty) and Hillbilly Elegy (chaotic family life, nurturing grandparents)….a fascinating book club discussion could be centered around discussing the connections between these books and characters.

Continue here for my review of the Great Alone and Educated

QOTD: Have you read The Great Alone or Educated or are they on your TBR?

Paris Never Leaves You [Book Review] #blogtour

August 4, 2020

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman (cover) Image: a young woman in a dressy white dress sits looking pensively to the side, the Eiffel Tower is seen through an open window

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour celebrating the release of #parisneverleavesyou by Ellen Feldman. Thanks, Maria Vitale, #stmartinspress, and #netgalley for a complimentary e ARC. All opinions in this review are my own.

Paris Never Leaves You Blog Tour Banner

Summary:

Survivor’s guilt ….

Charlotte, a young French widow, lives through WW11 while working in a Paris bookstore with her friend, Simone. Charlotte has an eighteen-month-old daughter which she brings to the shop with her. Conditions are difficult: food is rationed, the food lines are long, the possibility of stocking banned books is worrisome, and the German soldiers are intimidating. Charlotte makes decisions that allow her to survive but these decisions haunt her long after she has escaped Paris and left the war years behind. Told in dual timelines, the story alternates between the war years and Charlotte’s current life in New York City (the 1950s). She keeps many secrets because she still fears being charged as a collaborator as a result of the decisions she made to survive. In addition to her fears, she also experiences survivor’s guilt as she remembers her past. Paris never leaves you.

My Thoughts:

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July 2020 Reading Wrap Up

July 31, 2020

July 2020 Reading Wrap Up

July Reading Wrap Up (a collage of covers)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Favorite July Read?

From a numerical standpoint, July was the best reading month I’ve had in a while. I read 15 books (17 if I count the last two I squeaked in at month’s end after I had already written this post…I’ll count them for August). I ended up with two five-star reads (4.5 rounded up) and three four-star reads, nine three-star reads, and one two-star read. I did not have a DNF although I admit to skim-reading my two-star read.

Reading in July looked a bit different for me in that I read quite a few light women’s fiction selections. For some reason, my Pandemic brain craved lighter reads, and then I inadvertently read #4 in a series and I always read series in order, so I needed to go back and read books 1-3! #bookproblems

My favorite fiction read of the month is a tie between The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel for their page-turning storylines and inspirational characters.

Find all my July reads listed below in order of Star Rating. Keep in mind that I normally recommend five- and four-star reads on the blog; three-star reads receive mixed reviews from me for various reasons; and two-star reads are books I may or may not have finished but they were not for me. One star reads are usually shelved as DNF or perhaps quickly scanned.

Did we read any of the same books?

Under COVID-19 conditions, I hope that you’re all doing well and staying safe!

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Titles are Amazon links and available reviews are linked.


The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

4.5 Stars (rounded to 5). Historical Fiction, Multigenerational Family Drama. Vietnamese. My full review of The Mountains Sing.


The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

4.5 Stars (Rounded to 5). Historical Fiction. WW11. Engaging and page-turning. My full review of The Book of Lost Names.


Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

4 Stars. (ARC: Pub Date: 11/24/2020) Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction/Adventure mashup. Quite a unique read! Review coming soon.


Wish by Barbara O’Connor

4 Stars. (Middle Grade) Heartwarming. Finding a home. Not reviewed.

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Killers of the Flower Moon [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 23, 2020

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for
#throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, a story of true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (cover) Image: White text over a burnt orange and goldish moonlit sky .... a tall oil derrick is silouetted by the moon

Genre/Categories: Narrative Nonfiction, Osage, Native Americans, True Crime, U.S. History, Racial Injustice

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

My Summary:

Killers of the Flower Moon is a true-crime murder mystery involving the wealthy Osage Indian Nation of Oklahoma in the 1920s. After oil was discovered beneath the wasteland that they had been forced to live on, the Osage became extremely rich. However, one by one, members of the Osage began to die under suspicious circumstances, or as some believed to be killed off. To introduce readers to this community and the crime, the author closely follows the story of Mollie Burkhart and her family.  It was dangerous to investigate the murders because investigators could also die under mysterious circumstances. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly formed F.B.I. took up the case.  The F.B.I also experienced difficulty in the investigation until J. Edgar Hoover enlisted Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, to form an undercover team to unravel the mystery. White’s team (which included a Native American) infiltrated the region and employed the latest modern techniques of investigation. This story tells whether or not they were able to expose one of the most monstrous and heinous crimes in American history.”

Continue here for my full review of Killers of the Flower Moon

QOTD: Have you read Killers of the Flower Moon or is it on your TBR?

Blog Audit Challenge 2020: July #blogauditchallenge2020

July 29, 2020

July’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our area is mostly locked down again because of a surge in COVOD-19 cases. Stay safe, book buddies!

 

July’s Challenge Focus: Quality Content

Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content.

Design, SEO, and Links all contribute toward quality content. For July’s challenge, the focus is on the information that is provided.

1. Determine whether your older posts meet your current standards.

WOW! This is a huge, HUGE task! Obviously, I’m doing things differently in my third year of blogging than I did in my first year. Starting in January, I’ve been systematically returning to old posts and updating them. Here’s the checklist I created:

  • Read through content:
    • In three years, I have developed kinder ways of writing negative reviews!
    • Does the format of my review reflect the format I use today?
    • Can I add more content (text or links) or delete extraneous content?
    • Can I remove outdated or irrelevant content?
  • Check all links.
  • Run the content through Grammarly. I was not using Grammarly the first year of blogging and I have found several errors by using it to update old content.
  • Check categories and tags.
  • Fill out the Twitter share section (shockingly, I was not sharing my posts to Twitter in the first year).
  • Fill out the Excerpt section (I was not doing this in the beginning either).
  • Create a Pinterest graphic for the post (yup, I didn’t use Pinterest the first year either) and make it my Featured Image. (I also share this updated post to Pinterest with the Pinterest worthy image.)
  • Check the size of all my pictures and add Alt Text.
  • Change the size of Headings and Subheadings to match today’s format. (one thing I was doing was using H4 for less significant headings and I read that it’s best to simply bold the text and not use H4)
  • When updating, DO NOT change the original URL! Sometimes I feel like a title change is needed and I have to live with the original URL if I make a change.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve created an entirely new post! However, this investment of time is worth it because my DA has jumped several points since January! SEO rewards updating.

Yes, it is tedious to update old content. I set a schedule and update one to two posts per week. It will take me a while, but it will be worth it. I created a spreadsheet where I can track my updating project. I made columns for my checklist and also one for ‘reshare.’ That way I know exactly where I left off, which posts have had the ‘treatment’ and which have not, and which posts have been reshared. I’ve linked the older posts (reviews) to my #throwbackthursday posts. So, I’m accomplishing two objectives: updating an old post and creating new content. This provides extra motivation.

I have read that it’s not good to delete a post. (it messes with Google in some way) I’ve been tempted! I simply fix it up the best I can, rewrite parts of it, and leave it be.

Remember to reshare the updated evergreen content posts that you’ve worked hard to update!

2. Check for errors.

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Reblog: Summer’s One #MustReadBook 2020 #toptentuesday

July 28, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

Today I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie. For this week’s top ten list I’m reblogging a recent post in which twelve bloggers recommend their ONE recommendation for the summer. I know this is more than ten, but I think you’ll enjoy the bonus picks! I hope you find a great read!

(Originally published, July 17, 2020)

Find Your One “Must Read” Book of Summer 2020!

Are you pondering what book to choose for your vacation or staycation?

Are you in limbo trying to decide what ONE great book to read this summer?

Do you ever wish someone would just TELL you what book to read?

Are you looking for a list of trusted book review bloggers?

Do you spend more time thinking about which book to pack for your vacation than packing the clothes? (oh…just me?)

If you only have time to read ONE more book before summer’s end, what would you choose?

beach reads cartoon

I love the social distancing!

This is the time of year when readers look for “beach reads.” This term is puzzling to me because I think any book you read at the beach or the pool is a beach or pool read (similar to any body at the beach is a beach body!). Furthermore, “beach read” means different things to different readers: some want easy reading/light/fluffy, some want escapist, some want romcom, some want thrillers/suspense/mystery, while others are looking for heavier or longer reads that they might have more time for in the summer. During the summer, I look for the same types of reads I look for all year long: something substantial, engaging, memorable, unputdownable, and thought-provoking. What is your ideal beach or pool read?

Reviewers Recommend:

Some things bring joy to a blogger’s heart and this post is definitely at the top of the list!

I am thrilled to publish this post today! I contacted twelve experienced reviewers from a variety of geographical locations to ask them what they would recommend as their ONE “Not-to-be-Missed” Summer 2020 Recommendation. Today, I’m exceptionally excited to introduce you to twelve bloggers who chose ONE recommendation for YOU (listed in alphabetical order by blogger’s first name). Please take a look at their recommendation, check out their blog, and give them a follow!

I think you’ll enjoy the following “recent releases” recommendations that include some diversity and represent a mix of genres that will appeal to a variety of tastes (from nonfiction to historical fiction to books about literary characters to anti-racism to contemporary fiction to chick-lit to romcom to self-help to literary fiction to romance to science fiction to fantasy to “own voices”).

We hope at least one matches YOUR reading taste!

i love books

***Titles are Amazon affiliate links and full review links have been included.

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Blogiversary and Giveaway!

July 27, 2020

Three-Year Blogiversary & Giveaway!

See my second-year reflections here.

See my first-year reflections here.

giphy-1

Grown Up

At THREE, I feel pretty “grown-up.” I’m fairly steady on my feet; I’m becoming more fluent in my ability to craft and format reviews; I’m thoroughly enjoying the ‘playground’ of the world wide web.

giphy-2

Growth

Areas of growth this year include:

  • Using Alt Text
  • Using Gifs
  • Improving SEO
  • Gaining Followers and Views (THANK YOU!)
  • Expanding the types of posts (beyond book reviews) and participating in more memes
  • Updating Old Posts (in progress)

giphy-3

Virtual Friendships

One of the most treasured surprises this year is realizing how many virtual bookish friendships I’ve made in the book-blogging community! I’m not mentioning names here, but you KNOW who you are if you’ve interacted with me on our blogs! One result of the friendships is this recent collaborative post with twelve blogging friends. Right after I hit ‘publish’ I thought “I need to expand this next year to include more friends!” It’s not only friendly conversations, but it’s also the fact that these blogging friends are scattered around the world! It’s a diverse and interesting community!  It was this year that I realized I probably have at least twenty book/blogging friends that I could call for a coffee meetup if I were ever in their countries and their neck of the woods. From these virtual friendships, I’ve gained a support system that I’ve discovered is essential in the blogging community. I hope in your blogging world that you are connecting and conversing!

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Followers!

A special SHOUT OUT to each of my followers!
Your views, comments, and shares are treasures to me and they do not go unappreciated!

  • I return comments as soon as I read them, so if you leave a legit comment and for some reason you do not receive a ‘like’ or return comment, please connect with me in an email because I do occasionally find legit comments in the spam folder. Regarding spam, I trust WordPress to do their thing and filter the spam, so I usually don’t question their filtering system unless I happen to recognize you as a regular visitor. I try to check spam at least once a month, but they add up fast (hundreds in a month) so please let me know if I’ve missed your comment.

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WordPress Reader

As long as you’re here, I want to mention how dependent I am upon the WordPress Reader to read YOUR blogs. The notifications in my email inbox are overwhelming ….in fact, my inbox on a typical day is exploding with spam. For myself, I find that using a ‘reader’ is more efficient than email.

giphy-6

Goals:

  • Make progress toward updating all my old posts
    (#throwbackthursday has helped motivate me as I reshare one older review each week); by the way, I discovered that when I started updating my old posts in January that my DA increased several points in a few months!
  • Start using the new WP Block Editor (I’m doing a ‘work-around’ right now by copying an older Classic Editor post as a template)
  • Continue working on SEO
  • Create my own Meme and Link-Up post

giphy-7

Stats:

I don’t compete with other bloggers. There’s space for each one of us and our unique voices. However, I do compete with myself! I love to look at my stats, and it seems that the learning curve is never-ending. For other stats nerds and new bloggers who are interested in what three years might look like for one blogger, here are a few stats with a comparison to the same time last year (scroll past if this doesn’t interest you!):

Total views: 130,558 (2019: 45,534)

Total followers: 1,924 (2019: 1,059)

Total posts: 393 (2019: 197)

Most viewed post: Where the Crawdads Sing 

First follower: Gail @ The Junia Project (thank you dear, faithful friend!)

Most recent follower: Amy @ Read.Dream.Live (thanks for the follow and welcome!)

Most frequent commenters (tied): Carla @ Carla Loves to Read and Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (your positive, encouraging, and supportive comments are dearly appreciated!)

Thank you surrounded by a floral wreath

Thank you again, everyone!
Regarding blogs, Lashaan @ Bookidote recently said, “I cherish its existence with my whole heart.” I completely concur Lashaan! Blogging requires a great deal of effort, determination, persistence, and time…but I love its existence with my whole heart!

Signing off for now because I’ve used up my quota of exclamation points!
With gratitude, Carol

a stack of three hardback books



Year THREE Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!

3 year blogiversary & giveaway (balloons, banner, and polk-a-dots)

Thank you, Readers and Followers, for supporting me! I hope my reviews have encouraged you in your reading endeavors and have helped you find some great reads! To celebrate I’m offering a Giveaway!

Giveaway limited to followers who can receive an Amazon (U.S.) digital title (sorry I don’t have an international account….it’s on my to-do list).

I’m giving away ONE ebook of your choice not to exceed $20.00 (U.S.). You must supply an email address and be able to receive an ebook from Amazon (U.S.). ***edited to add….if you are international, I’m willing to try out Book Despository!

To enter the giveaway:

1. You must be following this blog (please don’t follow to unfollow because that’s rude and uncool), and you must be at least 18 years old.

2. To enter, please comment on this post and let me know if you’ve read a book or added a book to your TBR as a result of reading the blog.

3.  Entries close at midnight PST on Sunday, August 9, 2020.

Good Luck! The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator on August 11 and announced on the blog on Wednesday, August 12 (and I’ll respond to your comment so that you receive a notification). If I don’t hear from the winner in 24 hours, I will draw another winner.

This is a GREAT chance to win that last book you’d like to read this summer!



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

At the end of the week, I’ll publish my July Wrap Up post.



ICYMI:

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book

Summer 2020 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

My Best Reads of the Year So Far

10+ Highly Rated and Favorite WW1 and WW11 Reads



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book covers and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com