Three Words For Goodbye [Book Review]

August 4, 2021

Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (cover) Image: two young women reading promotional material and wearing hats stand against the railing of an ocean liner

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Sisters, (1937) Europe

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

In 1937, two sisters are sent to Europe by their beloved grandmother to deliver three letters. Complicating this mission is the fact that the sisters haven’t spoken to each other in years and have grown apart in many ways. Clara is the careful and dutiful one and is engaged to marry millionaire, Charles Hancock. Madeleine is more independent and free spirited and strives to be a journalist like her hero, Nellie Bly. Both sisters are devoted to their grandmother and are committed to fulfilling her dying wishes. Clara looks forward to embracing her love of art and visiting Europe’s art galleries while Madeleine envisions writing articles on the political unrest in Europe and submitting them to U.S. newspapers in an attempt to be published. The sisters traveling experiences on the Queen Mary, the Orient Express, and finally the Hindenburg provide the backdrop for many of their most dramatic and challenging moments. What will this trip mean for their relationship? Will they successfully deliver the letters and what secrets will they discover?

My Thoughts:

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4 Year Blogiversary: 4 Things to Share!

July 31, 2021

4 Year Blogiversary: 4 Things To Share

Four Year Blogiversary: Four things to Share (banner, balloons, confetti)

Balloon Banner Image Source: Unsplash

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4 Things To Share About Being 4:

Having some FUN on the blog today celebrating an ANNIVERSARY!
If you’ve been with me for 4 years, thanks for sticking around! If you’re new here, welcome!
To celebrate FOUR, I have FOUR things to share with you.

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4 Of My Best Blogging Tips:



  1. Consistency (in posting, in promoting)
    Start out in blogging by publishing posts at a rate that will work for you. Don’t jump into posting five days a week if it’s something you can’t maintain. It’s better to post once a week consistently rather than post inconsistently. I think that posting consistently builds trust in your brand. I started by posting once a week and worked up to posting 3-4 times per week. After every I post, I continue to focus on consistency by following a routine for promoting. (see next tip)
  2. Promote, promote, promote (develop a routine)
    This was so hard for me! I’m not one to toot my own horn…..however, no one will find your blog without promotion. Some bloggers choose one social media platform, but I promote across several (and find that each platform reaches a different group of supporters. How do you start promoting? In your blog settings, you can connect to your social media accounts and your post will automatically publish to those accounts when you hit publish. I have my Twitter account linked (for my other accounts I prefer to write a more targeted and specific message). As you tweet posts from other bloggers, they will likely reciprocate. My monthly stats reveal that I receive more blog visits from Twitter than other social media platforms. Pinterest (although not a social media platform) is often tied for first (or at times out performs Twitter. From the very beginning, set up your social media accounts and start promoting. It took me a while to get going on this and my delay is one of my blogging regrets. Here is a post I wrote about social media promotion.
  3. Establish a Routine and Work Smarter
    • I find I am most successful when I follow a schedule (I keep a separate blog planner). For me, I have a goal of posting on Tuesdays (#TTT, a discussion post, or ARC review), Thursdays (#ThrowBackThursday), and Fridays (main review of the week) as a minimum. There are weeks I’ve posted more, but three is a reasonable number to strive for each week. 
    • When I created templates and acquired enough bravery to copy old posts, blogging became significantly easier…i.e. less time-consuming. Using a template is a brilliant hack and I have a book review template, a Top Ten Tuesday template, etc. I also copy previous posts as a jump start (Monthly wrap-ups for example)……there is one danger with this: you MUST carefully edit out old information (like dates, feature image, excerpt blurb, etc.) Templates and copying previous posts are significant time-saving strategies.
    • Working ahead is a hack for working smarter because it reduces stress. In addition to my content schedule, I devote Saturdays to blog maintenance and Sundays/Mondays to drafting and scheduling the week’s posts. On a good week, by Tuesday I have all the week’s content written and scheduled. This gives me “thinking space” for reading, social media, blog hopping, and creating more content. (Also? I’m retired, so I read and blog like it’s my job!)
    • An important tip for establishing a routine (and working smarter) is to create drafts when the inspiration strikes. As I finish a book I will be reviewing, I start a draft of that post and jot down some initial thoughts. You think you’ll remember, but writing that post a few weeks later or even a few days later will cause you to work harder in trying to capture your thoughts and mood. I don’t worry about formatting at this time…I’m just getting thoughts out. If I have an idea for a discussion post, I start a draft. I always start my quarterly TBR posts early…as soon as I have one title (for example, I just heard that Fredrik Backman’s new release is set for October, so I started a Fall TBR draft!…..It’s much easier to work a bit at a time on a post than to work for hours the night before. I will also check out the Top Ten Tuesday list of topics and put them into my blog calendar and start drafts. If you’re looking for one consistent post to start with, the TTT meme might serve that purpose.
    • My last tip I’ll list here is to check your spam folder on a regular basis. Whereas some bloggers might not ever check their spam folder, I like to check it regularly to check for legit comments. I have only found a handful, and I (99%) trust the WordPress spam filter. The reason I suggest checking it on a regular basis is that waiting will be overwhelming. If I wait a month, I am faced with about 1,000 spam comments. So I try to remember to check and delete spam once a week when the task only takes minutes (part of Sunday blog maintenance) and I have peace of mind knowing that a legit comment has been saved. What is your favorite hack for working smarter?
  4. Develop a community!
    One of the greatest joys of blogging is the supportive and friendly worldwide blogging community! I’m an introvert, so I was nervous when leaving my first comments. First, you can be assured that leaving a comment is one of the best ways to support a blogger! Community cannot be underestimated. Jennifer @ TarHeelReader alerted me to the fact my Twitter option wasn’t working and walked me through the steps to straighten it out; Marianne from Let’s Read noticed that my gravatar wasn’t linked to my blog and helped me find the right screen to make that correction; Karen at Booker Talk is always gracious to answer my technical questions; and Kristen at Kristin Kraves Books has helped me with Story Graph and given tips on other apps. Recently, I invited a few (20!) of my blogging friends to collaborate on a post….you can find that post here: Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book. One last note about community is to emphasize the importance of acknowledging all comments with a like or reply (preferably). Comments are blogging gold. It is my goal to reply to all legitimate comments and if I’ve missed yours for some reason, it’s probably because it was filtered into spam. If you don’t respond, visitors will quickly lose interest in returning or leaving comments.

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4 Things To Share With My Followers and Visitors:



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  1. FIRST, a special SHOUT OUT to each of my followers and visitors! THANK YOU! This happens to be my 600th post which is a significant milestone for me! Your views, comments, and shares are treasures to me and they do not go unappreciated!
  2. I return ALL 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 its thing and filter the spam, so I usually don’t question their filtering system unless I happen to recognize you as a regular commenter. I try to check spam once a week, but they add up fast (hundreds in a month) so please let me know if I’ve missed your comment.
  3. Commenting on a blog is probably the number one way you can support your favorite blogger! (In addition to using my Amazon affiliate links for your shopping!). Thank you for supporting me!
  4. I tremendously enjoy having followers and blogging friends from around the world. The international book community is the best! 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 twenty blogging friends. From this diverse community and 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!


4 Things To Share With You About My Goals:



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  1. Making 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 updating my old posts has increased my DA several points!
  2. Using the new WP Block Editor
    I need to admit that this is a big fail! As long as Word Press is offering the Classic Editor an option, I’m using a ‘work-around’ by copying an older Classic Editor post as a template. This post shares my frustrations with Block Editor. Karen at Booker Talk has many blogging tips on her website and is always willing to help if she can!
  3. SEO is a work in progress and something I implement in every post to the best of my ability. SEO will also raise your DA.
  4. Increasing the number of Comments
    Rather than focusing on views only, I have been tracking the number of comments which offers me more insight into engagement…a high priority for me. I have found that participating in various memes like #TopTenTuesday and creating discussion posts generate more comments. Book reviews will remain my primary content; however, I think a variety of posts encourages comments, attracts new followers, and overall benefits my blog. In 2018 I had 605 comments (my first FULL year of blogging); in 2019 I had 2,044 comments; in 2020 I had 2,937 comments; so far as of July 31, 2021 I have 2,274 comments (so I’m on track to set a new record). Thanks everyone for taking time and making an effort to comment!


4 Things To Share With You About Stats:



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  1. If you are consistently working hard, your stats will show growth over time. The most important stat to me is the number of comments (see above) because I value engagement and discussion. But comments are the most difficult to generate.
  2. Stats are tied to social media promotion and the support of other bloggers.
  3. 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 four years might look like for one blogger, I’m available to answer specific questions about my stats. Overall, I’m very pleased with my stats and I’d love to share in comments (if you have a specific question) so that I don’t bore those who are uninterested.
  4. One big question that bloggers have is how much money can you make as a blogger? Well, my blog is a labor of love (reading, sharing, and connecting) and I don’t sell anything or accept money for reviews, so I haven’t set out to make big bucks…..but I figure as long as I’m doing this, I might as well use Amazon affiliate links and utilize WordPress Ads in hopes of recouping my expenses and padding my book budget. From this standpoint, I feel that I’ve achieved my financial goal. To provide a realistic picture, since April of 2018 (I didn’t monotize for a while) I have received $1,140 from my affiliate link and WP ads. It’s not much (considering the hours I invest!), but this amount covers my yearly expenses for my WordPress blog privileges (I’m on the Premium plan), secures my domain name, and allows me to purchase a few books a year. As the years go on, this amount increases due to increased viewers and traffic.

Thank you surrounded by a floral wreath

Thank you again, everyone!


Regarding blogs, Lashaan @ Bookidote once 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!

Thank you, Readers and Followers, for supporting me with visits, likes, shares, comments, bookish conversation, and clicking affiliate links! I hope my reviews have encouraged you in your reading endeavors and have helped you find some great reads!

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

a stack of three hardback books



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



ICYMI:

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book 2021

Summer 2021 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

My Best 6 Histfic Reads of the Year So Far

Project Hail Mary Review



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

July 2021 Reading Wrap Up

July 30, 2021

July 2021 Reading Wrap Up

July 2021 Reading Wrap Up (collage of covers)

How was your July reading?

Overall, July was a satisfactory reading month because of the variety of reads.
Out of eight books, I had two 5-star reads (one rounded up), four 4-star reads, and two 3-star reads.

My most compelling fiction reads of the month are a tie between Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and  The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. They are very different so it was difficult to choose a favorite.


Did we read any of the same books?

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Titles are Amazon affiliate links or my linked reviews
.
ARC=Advanced Readers Copy (complimentary copy for review)


Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (cover) Image: white text over the background picture of a large tree growing on a green lawn

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

5 Stars. Literary Fiction and Pulitzer Prize in Fiction Award (2005). Reflective and poignant. Not yet reviewed.


The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (cover) Image: the profiles of two native american young People (man and woman) in cultural dress

The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

5 Stars (4.5 rounded up). Page-turning Historical Fiction and Family Drama. My review of The Firekeeper’s Daughter here.


Tokyo Ever After by Eiko Jean (cover) Image: white text and the grahic image of a young asian girl holding flowers and wearing a small crown against a blue background

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

4 Stars. Young Adult Contemporary Fiction. Not yet reviewed.


Under the Magnolias by T.I. Lowe (cover) Image: a young woman with long blong hair stands under the leaves of a magnolia tree

Under the Magnolias by T.I. Lowe

4 Stars.  (ARC) Family Drama, Coming of Age. My review of Under the Magnolias here.


The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth (cover) Image: a young girl peers out the window of a house at the red roses growing in the garden

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

4 Stars. Family Drama with an unreliable narrator. My review of The Good Sister here.


Pride by Ibi Zoboi (cover) Image: purple text on a brown background

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

4 Stars. Diverse read. Pride & Prejudice retelling. Not yet reviewed.


A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher (cover) white text on a dark blue background....large blossoms of light colored flowers fill center right of cover

A Place Like Home: Short Stories by Rosamunde Pilcher

3 Stars. (ARC) Light-reading short story collection. My review of A Place Like Home here.


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Hum If You Don’t Know the Words [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

July 29, 2021

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais
#throwbackthursday

Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais (cover) Image: yellow text on a green background...twoimages of birds in black

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Apartheid, South Africa, Found Family

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a review of a compelling and memorable historical fiction, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“The Soweto Uprising of 1976 in South Africa brings together our two protagonists: nine-year-old Robin Conrad living in Johannesburg and Beauty Mbali living in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei. In Apartheid South Africa, these characters should never have met. Robin is living a comfortable life with her parents while Beauty struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. After the Soweto Uprising, Robin’s parents are dead and Beauty’s daughter is missing. Extraordinary circumstances bring them together and as they grieve their losses, they form a bond. This complex and heartfelt story is told through alternating perspectives.”

“I took one last look at the mother who never gave up and the prodigal daughter who found her way home, and it gave me hope that we imperfect creatures can find other imperfect creatures through the power of the imperfect emotion we called love.”

Continue here for my full review of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words



QOTD:

Have you read Hum If You Don’t Know the Words or is it on your TBR?

Radar Girls [Book Review]

July 27, 2021

Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman

Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman (cover) two young women sit on the wing of an old airplane

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, WW11, Hawaii, Women’s Air Raid Defense, Friendship

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Welcome to my stop on Harlequin Trade Publishing’s 2021 Summer Blog Tours for Historical Fiction. Thanks for the invitation Justine.

Harlequin Historical Fiction 2021 Blog Tour Banner (showing the covers of three books)

Thanks #NetGalley @HarlequinBooks for a complimentary eARC of #RadarGirls upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Inspired by real women of the Women’s Air Raid Defense (WARD) during WW11, Radar Girls is the story of new recruits and unsung heroes. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Daisy, a gifted horse trainer, enlists in a top secret program that recruits women to replace men who have joined the war. Their high stakes assignment is to guide pilots into blacked-out airstrips and track unidentified planes over the Pacific Ocean. The young women face many challenges including forming a team, working in a male-dominated field, facing unequal treatment of women, and surviving a war.

Women's Air Raid Defense: five women from WW11 sit around a table looking at charts

Image Source: Wikipedia

My Thoughts:

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Books I’d Love With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island #TopTenTuesday

July 27, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Love With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island

Books I'd Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island (Top Ten Tuesday) Image: purple text over a mountainous deserted island

Image Source: Canva

top ten tuesday

Today, I’m linking up a recent Reading Ladies blog post with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Like With Me While On a Deserted Island.

So…..you’ll be treated to a list of TWENTY great reads instead of ten (or think of it as two lists of ten!).

(the following post was originally published on Reading Ladies on July 9, 2021 and includes Amazon affiliate links)

One Great Summer Read (20 Bloggers Offer ) imOne Best Rec) Image: tight focus of a woman sitting beside water reading

Image Source: Canva

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

This is the time of year when readers in my hemisphere are looking for “Beach Reads.” (If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, happy “winter reading!”) The term “Beach Read” 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 a 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?

20 Reviewers Recommend:

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

As Gina describes our project: “A worldwide summer reading multi-blogger extravaganza!”

I am thrilled to publish this post today! I asked TWENTY (including yours truly) experienced reviewers from a variety of geographical locations what they would recommend as their ONE “Not-to-be-Missed” Summer 2021 Reading Recommendation.

Today, I’m exceptionally excited to introduce you to a few of my blogging friends who chose ONE recommendation for YOU (listed in alphabetical order by blogger’s first name). I want you to notice that these bloggers are an international group! One of the greatest joys of blogging is making book friends around the world and country (better than pen pals!). Please take a look at their recommendations, check out their blogs, and give them a follow!

I think you’ll enjoy the following TWENTY “recent releases” recommendations that include some diversity and represent a mix of genres that will appeal to a variety of tastes (from self-help to romance to literary fiction to engaging women’s fiction to family drama to southern fiction to historical romance to uplit to domestic thriller to intergenerational friendship to science fiction to contemporary mystery to page-turning histfic to mysterious retelling to crime thriller to kindred spirits).

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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A Place Like Home [Book Review]

July 26, 2021

A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher (cover) white text on a dark blue background, a group of large light colored blossoms fill the center right

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Short Story Collection, Women’s Fiction, Up-Lit

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @MacmillanAudio for a complimentary ALC (audio) of #APlaceLikeHome upon my request. All opinions are my own.

A Place Like Home is a collection of fifteen short stories by popular author, Rosamunde Pilcher (most likely your mother’s favorite author!). These stories were published in magazines and are now in book form for the first time. Each one explores different romantic stories (chaste) between couples that are married or courting or meeting for the first time (insta-love).  All are poignant and quietly told with Pilcher’s trademark skill for describing time and place.

My Thoughts:

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The Good Sister [Book Review]

July 23, 2021

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister by Sallhy Hepworth (cover) Image: a girl looks out the window of a house at red roses growing in the garden

Genre/Categories: Psychological, Domestic Thriller/Suspense, Siblings

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Twin sisters + one unreliable narrator + good storytelling.

Fern avoids crowds, bright lights, and loud noises. She has a strict schedule and routine, and she’s a popular librarian who cares for the patrons. Rose watches out for her sister, is protective, and a bit controlling. She’s trying desperately to get pregnant. Fern thinks she has a solution for Rose but this plan shakes up both of their lives. Who is the good sister?

My Thoughts:

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Miracle Creek [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

July 22, 2021

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
#throwbackthursday

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (cover) looking up at a night sky through several trees

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Murder Mystery, Crime Fiction, Courtroom Drama, Korean American, Virginia

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a review of a multilayered and character-driven crime fiction, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Miracle Creek takes place in a small town in Virginia of the same name. In this town, there is a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions. As the story begins, the chamber explodes and two people die. Is this an accident or sabotage or insurance fraud? Through multiple perspectives, we become acquainted with the owners and surviving patients and learn about their secrets, their anguish, their frustrations, their best intentions, their misconceptions, and their rivalries. The story is rich in vivid details about the trial, parenting a special needs child, and the immigrant experience.”

An expertly written, character-driven, and multi-layered mystery and courtroom drama ….

Continue here for my full review of Miracle Creek



QOTD:

Have you read Miracle Creek or is it on your TBR?

Summer’s One #MustReadBook 2021 [ReBlog]

Are you looking for ONE more great read this summer? Check out this recommendation list from 20 fabulous bloggers/reviewers! Happy reading!

Reading Ladies

July 9, 2021

Find Your One “Must Read” Book of Summer 2021!

One Great Summer Read (20 Bloggers Offer ) imOne Best Rec) Image: tight focus of a woman sitting beside water reading

Image Source: Canva

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

This is the time of year when readers in my hemisphere are looking for “Beach Reads.” (If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, happy “winter reading!”) The term “Beach Read” is puzzling to me because I think any book you read at the beach or the pool is…

View original post 5,300 more words