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.

(more…)

Blogiversary and Giveaway!

July 27, 2020

Three-Year Blogiversary & Giveaway!

See my second-year reflections here.

See my first-year reflections here.

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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.

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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)

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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.

giphy-5

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

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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.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***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

The Salt Path [Book Review]

July 24, 2020

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (cover) Image: two people hike a steep cliff next to the ocean

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Nature

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Moth and Raynor have been married thirty-two years when they suddenly lose their livelihood and home. At the same time, Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Soon to be homeless and with nothing to lose, they impulsively embark on a six hundred thirty mile hike along the South West Coast Path also known as the Salt Path. How did they fare? Can the answer to their life crisis be found in extreme hiking?

 

My Thoughts:

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Secret Daughter [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 23, 2020

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda #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 Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, a story of loving sacrifice.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (cover) Image: a young mom and daughter stand on a beach with backs to camera overlooking a body of water one arm around the other

Genre/Categories: contemporary fiction, adoption, cultural heritage, family life, mothers/daughters, Asian, Asian American

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What would you do to ensure that your newborn daughter has the right to live?

My Summary:

Secret Daughter is a compelling story of adoption from three perspectives: Kavita, the mother who gives up her newborn daughter to an orphanage in Mumbai in hopes of saving her daughter’s life; Somer, a heartbroken, newly married physician in San Francisco who, upon hearing the news she cannot have children, decides to adopt; and Asha, Somer’s adopted daughter from Mumbai, India.

Continue here for my full review of Secret Daughter

QOTD: Have you read Secret Daughter or is it on your TBR?

The Book of Lost Names [Book Review]

July 21, 2020

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (cover) Image: a young woman with her back to the camera stands on a bridge overlooking the Eiffel Tower holding an old book behind her back

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Inspired by true stories from WW11, a young Jewish woman who flees Paris with her mother after the arrest of her father finds herself committing to a forgery ring whose primary goal is to create documents that will help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. The story is told in dual timelines from the present-day perspective of Eva who is a semi-retired librarian living in Florida and the young Eva as she flees Paris and joins an underground forgery operation in a small mountain town near the Switzerland border. The Book of Lost Names becomes an important link between the two timelines.

My Thoughts:

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Summer’s One #MustReadBook 2020

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.

(more…)

Left Neglected [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 16, 2020

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
#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 Left Neglected by Lisa Genova….courageously living with a traumatic brain injury.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (cover) Image: a partially ripe pear

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Issues, Traumatic Brain Injury

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Do you think “accommodations equal failure”?

My Summary:

Left Neglected is the compelling story of thirty something Sarah, a career driven, over achieving, competitive type A, and perfectionist mom of three. She and her husband live near Boston and manage a frantic and fast-paced life as they each pursue careers and tend to the family’s schedule for soccer practice, piano lessons, parent/teacher conferences, and day care. As they are striving to have it all, a car crash leaves Sarah with a traumatic brain injury called “left neglect.” As the story unfolds, readers journey alongside Sarah as she fights to regain her independence and seeks to answer questions about an uncertain future. While Sarah experiences relinquishing all the control she thought she had to her once absent mother and her physical therapists, she begins to envision a life apart from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets and wonders if a happiness and peace greater than the success she has known is within her grasp.

Continue here for my full review of Left Neglected

QOTD: Have you read Left Neglected or is it on your TBR?