Friday, August 1, 2014

Sneak Peek: Steampunk Carnival by Cassandra Leuthold

With a gentle lurch, the car rose into the air. Katya grabbed hold of the partitions between the seats, her knuckles bumping the hand of the guest on her left, who had also grabbed for it. Maddox did not reach for a stronghold. His mouth twisted in amusement, watching Katya seek security as everything that held her ascended ten, twenty, thirty feet.

The climb proved gradual and effortless. Once Katya began to relax, she realized how far she could see. The lamplights of the carnival looked beautiful and elegant below them. The slight flickering of the burning gas gleamed off the metal structures throughout the carnival. It lost itself in the velvet of patron jackets and glimmered off their silks. It flashed across buckles on top hats and shoes. It lit up gold and silver jewelry.

Katya could barely breathe. She almost forgot how nervous she had been moments before. The car reached the top of the tower and stopped there, offering its occupants a rare view at the world around them. Katya stared down at the carnival, trying to pick out the details of the band playing in the center of it all. The massive Beast behind it still intimidated, but from this height, Katya marveled in the majesty of its design.

The car shuddered and lowered itself, detaching from its part of the sky. The other occupants chattered to each other excitedly, but Katya could barely form thoughts in her head.

“What do you think?” Maddox asked her.

Katya recited the first thing that came to mind. “The ride lasts for three cycles.” She admonished herself for relying on the only words she knew about the carnival and gave in to sharing Maddox’s enthusiasm. “It’s thrilling.”

The car paused briefly at the bottom before lifting again. Each time it rose, Katya focused on a different part of the carnival. She looked across to the other side, where the Kaleidoscope competed against the game stalls and the Cannon for popularity. It really did shift like a kaleidoscope from this height, the colors of the booths smearing in her vision as they rotated. She looked past Maddox to the El and the food stall beyond it. Magdalene would be handing out cinnamon-sugar desserts and sausages on buns, but Katya was riding the carnival they had staked their lives on. She was riding the dream Brady had worked on years ago. She doubted even he had been able to enjoy it.

The car rested on the ground and stayed there. The operator made his rounds again, helping the patrons get unbuckled and return to their feet. He directed them to an exit gate in the fence. Katya and Maddox filed out with the others to the common grounds of the carnival.

“Where to next?” Maddox prompted.

Katya’s heart pounded with the possibilities. “The coaster.”

“The big one?”

“No, I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough for that.” Katya watched the Beast’s cars roar high above them. “The smaller one here.”

Katya linked her hand around Maddox’s arm, and they walked to the nearby El. Maddox repeated Katya’s lie to the ticket taker. “Mr. Warden wants us to make sure the coaster’s operating properly.”

The man hurried them past, offering a more courteous front to the waiting customers. “You’ll all have a turn, I assure you. Just a routine inspection.”

Another operator stood a few feet inside the fence, and he motioned for Katya and Maddox to stop where they were. They watched the coaster cars slide and weave their way along the track. A minute later, they slowed into loading position on the platform. The operator stepped over to help the guests out, and once they left the platform, his flexing fingers invited Katya and Maddox toward him. He buckled them into the front seat of the first car.

“Are you nervous now?” Maddox whispered into Katya’s ear.

Katya nodded, but she felt the rush of anticipation filling her chest. “It’s not too fast, is it?”

“You should know.”

“I don’t know. I can’t think of anything except how fun this is.”

The operator filled the remaining seats in the connected cars. With a signal to the ticket taker and the man Katya could not see who ran the switches, the cars jerked forward. This time, Katya and Maddox both reached for the metal grab bar in front of them. A mechanism in the track pulled the train of cars up the initial slope. The passengers behind Katya and Maddox murmured with apprehension and breathed audibly, awaiting the first of many drops.

The train rose steadily, taking its passengers up to a short plateau. Within seconds, the cars slid down, lifting Katya’s stomach into the top of her chest. She let out a shriek amidst the screams and shouts behind her. The train twisted to the left, curving to parallel the outer fence of the carnival. It rose a short distance and fell again, racing its passengers lower toward the ground. A second mechanism pulled the cars even higher than before.

In one graceful motion, the cars slipped down the next slope of track, curving away from the back of the grounds. They dipped down beside the side stage, where Katya could not tell what contest was taking place. The cars sped along, turning left only to bend back to the right. The track led them down beneath the iron structure and returned them safely to the platform.

Katya barely had time to catch her breath before the ride operator unbuckled her belt. She walked with Maddox to the exit gate, where a small wooden sign bore the words Thank You in painted, curling letters.

About the Author

Cassandra Leuthold always writes about love and friendship under pressure.  This is her first time setting such adventures within a 19th-century carnival.  Join Cassandra in counting down to the release of Steampunk Carnival later this summer by clicking the links below.
Facebook  *  Blog  *  Goodreads  *  Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is paid by Amazon when purchases are made through the above link. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 Book Blogging Topics That Aren't Reviews

by Donna Huber

I'm wrapping up my de-stressing your blogging with 5 topics you can write on either to expand the focus of your blog or when you don't have a review to post.

1. Genres. There is a lot you can write about on this topic. For the last two years at Armchair BEA we have had daily genres for discussion topics and each blogger had a unique view and method of handling the topic. You can take about changes taking place in the genre or books that are great examples of the genre. You could plan your week or month around that genre. Right now, new adult and how it just seems to be a way to make young adult more erotic is a hot topic and sure to do well in search.

2. Publishing news. There is always plenty going on in the publishing world for you to write multiple posts. Right now weighing in on the Amazon vs Hachette controversy or Amazon's new service Kindle Unlimited would have your blog showing up in search. There is also plenty of indie news to share. Following Publisher's Weekly and Dear Author will help keep you in the know and allow you to put your own spin on the news of the day.

3. Adaptations. This is a particularly good topic for bloggers who want to expand their blog's focus but not get too far outside the book blog niche. You can discuss latest movie news and many books are being made into movies, particularly those that are for young adult. You could also discuss fanfiction and other fandoms (forums or other online sites), though that may lend itself more to the next topic.

4. Pop culture. How is today's society changing plot lines and genres. And conversely the impact books have on life. I'm thinking about the Slendarman headlines and Fifty Shades.

5. Author focus. While this may be a bit more gossip column than you want to go, but there are classy ways you can approach this topic. Do more indepth interviews - go beyond the "what inspired you to write" questions and delve into the meat of who the author is and what they write. Or you can scour the internet to piece together a "Who is" piece like I did for my post on Sylvain Reynard. This topic could also focus on a book series and you can post bookish news - movie deals, who's narrating the audio book, where the author is appearing, any news about the next installment, etc.

While these topics will require a bit more work, they can pay off well in the notice your blog will get. The variety may also add a bit of fun to your blogging which will lessen the stress and the burnout that stress leads to. I hope you found this series helpful. I'm always open to suggestions for future tips posts, so if you have a topic in mind just drop me a line in the comments.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: That Night by @ChevyStevens

by Donna Huber

That Night
I fell in love with Chevy Stevens's writing when I read Still Missing. The realism of her plots captures the shock due to such headlines, yet is not so over the top to be for shock value alone. All of her stories have simply enthralled me, and That Night was no exception. Actually, I stayed up until 1 am because I had to finish it. I just couldn't stop with "just 1 more chapter".

When I started That Night I thought perhaps Stevens was throwing a curve ball my telling the story from the criminal's point of view instead of the victim as the previous novels. Given that she added the twist of telling Always Watching from the shrink's point of view, I wouldn't put it past her. However that wasn't the case, the twist may have been the absence of Dr. Lavioe who has been present in the last three books.

Toni was 18 when she and her boyfriend were sentenced to serve 15 years for the murder of her sister. For the 15 years she has maintained she is innocent. Sure she played by the rules and expressed remorse so she could earn her freedom with the parole board. Indeed she has all but given hope of ever clearing her name. On the contrary, her boyfriend Ryan has grown more fervent in wanting to prove their innocence.

They are both paroled at the same time and have resettled in their home town, however as convicted felons they can have no contact with one another. Toni returns to rebuild her life and perhaps re-establish some kind of relationship with her parents. Ryan, though, returns for one purpose. He knows the only way for them to be together and truly have a life, their names must be cleared.

Buy That Night at Amazon

Stevens weaves the readers to the answer of what really happened THAT NIGHT through present day clues and character building flashbacks. I almost had to wonder if she hadn't stepped over the well-crafted realism she displayed in her earlier books into a type of fantasy. Surely "mean girls" as mean as the ones Toni had for classmates couldn't exist in real life. Would they really go so far to torment? But then the headlines of my internet news were alive with tales of the 12 year old being stabbed to please Slenderman and realized Stevens plot is totally plausible.

I thoroughly enjoyed That Night though it is not necessarily my favorite of Chevy Stevens's work. That is probably because there wasn't as much of a psychological element in this book as the previous ones. But it still was a thrilling tale.

Book info
Published June 2014 by St. Martin's Press
ISBN13: 9781250034601
Source: Netgalley
Read: June 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is paid by Amazon when purchases are made through the above links. A free egalley was provided for the review.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Benton (Benton #1) by @JolieduPre

by Claire Rees

WOW. I started Benton by Jolie du Pre and was hooked from the first few pages. 

We meet Jennifer Benton. The only person left alive in her household after zombies take over the world. She is pretty level headed and has planned for this apocalypse since she first heard the reports of zombie people attacking others. However she realises that soon she will run out of food and water and knows she will have to move on soon. With her back pack full and all she needs in the boot of her car. 

She leaves her home for the last time and starts a journey to a camp she has heard about where other survivors are.  But the journey does not go as planned and she ends up losing her car and some of her belongings. 

Buy Benton at Amazon

She meets up with a new group of people holed up in a garage and they take her in. The survivors in the garage are also looking to move on soon after one last supply run and are making their way to Texas to a ranch owned by one of the group members.

They ask Jennifer to go with them and she agrees, and so her journey starts again, only this time she has friends.

I loved this book and cannot wait to read number two. The author’s writing style is descriptive and very entertaining. The characters are a varied group and just the sort of different personalities you may expect.  I think that if you like zombies or post apocalyptic books then you would love this book.                         

Also keep a look out for book two that is being released in a few weeks!!!!

Book Info
ebook & paperback
Published May 2014 by Precious Monsters Press
ISBN13: 9780615986036
Read: July 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is paid by Amazon when purchases are made through the above link.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ten Things To Know About @JB_Lynn_author

After reading about so many of JB Lynn's books on Girl Who Reads, I thought readers might like to know more about the author herself. Here are 10 fun facts:

1. JB is fine with you calling her Jen.

2. It’s a cliché, but she thinks coffee really is the fuel of writers.

3. JB writes on a Mac. Or in spiral notebooks using pens with purple ink. Or she gets a little high on the fumes from the markers she uses on her giant whiteboard. Or she’s been known to cover tables (or even walls) with Post-it notes.

4. She’s completed three half marathons and is training for her fourth despite the fact she’s so slow, that she’s routinely passed by runners decades older than her and those with physical impairments.

5. Given the choice between cheese and chocolate she’ll always choose cheese.

6. While she’s an animal lover, who’s been known to talk to her pets, she doesn’t really think that animals talk back like they do in the CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN series. Or does she?

7. JB has no artistic ability whatsoever and is pettily jealous of all those that can draw, paint, knit, sculpt, etc.

8. She can (and does!) listen to the same song on an endless loop all day.

9. She spends an inordinate amount of time daydreaming. (That’s a job requirement, isn’t it?)

10. She hasn’t killed anyone. Yet.

JB Lynn is the author of the hilarious Hitwoman series that includes,
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman (buy at Amazon)
Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman Gets Lucky (FREE at Amazon)
The Hitwoman and the Family Jewels (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman and the Neurotic Witness (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman Hunts and Ghost (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman and the 7 Cops (buy at Amazon)

She has also started a spin-off series that begins with the novella The Mutt and the Matchmaker (buy at Amazon).

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is paid by Amazon when purchases are made through the above links. The views, opinions and beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Douglas R.: 5 Things Everyone Should Do Before They Die (character guest post)

Hi! I'm Ivey. From the story, Horizon. It is a pretty cool story as much as people say, but one fact a lot of them forget is how boring my life was before I decided to do some of the most craziest things I have ever done in my life. 

And you know what? It was such a relief. I've even made a list of the 5 top things I think everyone has got 
to do. At least once in their lives. 

So here goes:

1. Everyone should switch passports at the airport with a lookalike!

My mom and I were moving from place to place like clueless gypsies—actually, I was the clueless one and 
she knew exactly what the hell she was doing—and she wanted me to go to Chicago. But I had always wanted to travel back home to India. 

Luckily, I stumbled upon a friend who was stuck in the opposite situation. She wanted to go to Chicago to see her dad and her mother wanted to go to Delhi. We were lookalikes and the game was on. 

What a fun time we had at the airport in France, switching travel docs and iPods and caps!

2. Everyone should time travel—after a flight in a private jet—on the very same day. 

I didn't tell you this: when I got to India they abducted me. 

Buy Horizon at Amazon

Who's they? 

The secret agents living among you, making sure the world is safe from extraterrestrial disasters. 

They call themselves the Secret Circle. 

Anyway, they needed me to go back in time on a mission. Time machines can be sickening. I was in the 
hospital wing for hours. But the irony of remembering you ate breakfast yesterday in the future is kinda fun. 

3. Everyone should save the world.

That's the reason the Secret Circle abducted me and sent me back in time to Amazonia. I wasn't alone on 
the mission. There were four others just like me and an entire military base with soldiers from all over the 

I know it's very unlikely to get that kind of shot at saving the world but you can save the world in other 
ways too. For example, do stand-up comedy the next time you board a subway or a quiet bus. Or even at your school or workplace. The world could use some more humor, don't you think?

4. Everyone should fight a dinosaur.

I know, I know. They're extinct. Considering the fact you might be too freaked out to time travel and the 
Secret Circle will never show you the Time Machine anyway no matter what, your only best option is Play 

The pros? 

You don't have to scream for your life and you revive every time you lose. 

5. Everyone should Travel the world. 

It's safe as long as the pilot doesn't have a stroke. It's not sickening. It's not life threatening and anyone can 
do this. 

Except in my case. 

Ever since I was a kid my mom has taken me to China, Croatia, Spain, France, Germany and some places I 
don't even remember anymore. I later realized that she was a Chinese spy who was running away and hiding 
me from our enemies.

I always wondered where those sexy BMWs came from whenever we needed to make a quick one!

Well, I guess it's going to be super difficult to copy what I've done and paste it into your own life. Not everyone gets to have a super cool spy mom. 

That's why God has gifted us with novels. When your life feels pointless they are the perfect escape. Trust me, I know this stuff firsthand on an exaggerated scale. 

And speaking of stories, are you ready to take the journey with me into Amazonia? To face monsters and fight for survival? Are you brave enough to join me?

If you're crazy enough to answer YES then I've got a video for you about what goes down in Amazonia. Plus, you'll also receive a freebie for Horizon in PDF, mobi (Kindle) or ePub (iBooks) formats.

It's been great talking to you,


Ivey xoxo

About the Author

Douglas R is a young author who's all about alternative music, football, learning new recipes and finding new
books to blow his mind away-if unavailable, he will write one. P.S: He currently is. 

Twitter  *  Goodreads

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is paid by Amazon when purchases are made through the above link. The views, opinions, beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Social Media for Your Blog

by Donna Huber

This month I've been looking at ways to reduce the stress that continuous blogging can cause. I discussed setting an editorial calendar so you know what to post when, consider a different format for your reviews to make them easier to write and read, and finding time to write posts. Today, I'm taking on social media. If you want your blog to be noticed you have to be active on social media, but that can be a source of stress as well. Particularly if you run afoul of a nasty author or others who think it is fun to belittle and bully others. At the same time, it can also be a source of support.

5 Social Media Channels to Use

There is a lot of options when it comes to what social media channels you can participate. I recommend these 5 channels.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Goodreads
I know that may seem to be a lot of places to be active on a regular basis. However, each has its own nuances and will be used differently in support of your blog. Let's take a closer look of how to use them effectively and with ease.

4 Ways to Use Twitter

Being on Twitter has been huge for increasing my readership. If you have been reading Girl Who Reads for very long you may know that this isn't the first blog I've attempted. The others were before Twitter and it was very difficult to get a blog noticed.

  • Connect your RSS feed. To make things easier, I recommend connecting your RSS feed to Twitter so that when a new post goes live it automatically gets tweeted. I use Feedburner and have it set so that the categories I select for the post are turned into hashtags.
  • Tag authors. If I can quickly locate an author's Twitter handle, I will tag them in the review or their guest post so they can retweet the post. 
  • Share other content. Just using Twitter for advertising your blog won't get you far. You need to share other people's content either through retweets or tweeting from their blogs. I use Triberr to help find interesting content to share with my followers. 
  • Interact. Keep an eye on your mentions and reply to comments. There is not much need to thank people for just sharing or retweeting your content. I like to use to see who are most engaged and top new followers. They get a shout out each week.
3 Recommendations for Facebook
  • Set up a fan page. You will find times when you want to separate your personal life from your blogging life. Having a fan page will help protect your privacy.
  • Interact. More so than with Twitter, it is important to interact with your fans. For Facebook, though it means asking questions and making comments. Just advertising your posts doesn't really encourage discussion and that it of the utmost importance. 
  • Link Facebook to Twitter, but not the other way around. Twitter is a much more fastpaced environment than Facebook. You don't need to make but a post or two a day on Facebook, but Twitter is best with 10 - 15 updates a day. Reduce your double posting by having everything you post to Facebook be sent to Twitter. Bonus tip: if you are asking a short question or making an observation that's less than 140 characters, add a picture to the posting. People on Twitter will click on the link, giving your Facebook posts more views.
2 Things to Consider for Google+
  • Increased SEO. Connecting your blog to Google+ (for Wordpress bloggers you will need to claim your authorship) will increase your posting's rank in the search engine. The +1 acts like a vote and the more +1 a post gets the higher in the search returns it will appear.
  • Add to your circles. When sending a post to Google+ you can specify which circle gets notified (you can also make it public). People who interact on the blog - leaves a comment, shares on social media, etc. get added to my Girl Who Reads subscribers circle. The people that add me to circles most often get added to my Book People circle - these are usually authors and other bloggers. 
1 Reminder about LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn builds your reputation. LinkedIn is a professional site. It was created to connect professionals and job seekers. It is your online resume. Treat it professionally. Use it to highlight your expertise. I share posts that will be of interest to my professional network - usually my tips posts and other informative posts.
5 Tips for Goodreads 
  • Social site for readers. Unlike the other social media sites where your audience could be anyone, people at Goodreads are readers. If they are active on Goodreads, then they are likely more than an average reader. You can find people you have a common reading interest with to share your love of books.
  • Find support. A lot of bloggers are on Goodreads and there are several groups that you can get involved in with other book bloggers. While I'm part of blogging groups on Goodreads, most are lifestyle bloggers and not exclusively book bloggers. Having experienced book bloggers in your network will help reduce stress by having someone you can turn to with questions and for words of encouragement.
  • Link to your reviews. I write a short review, usually a few sentences, upon finishing the book and then when I write the full review for Girl Who Reads I add the link. I don't get a lot of traffic from Goodreads, but my older reviews will often get new views from there.
  • Connect Goodreads to Twitter and Facebook. My reading updates and reviews are shared on the other social media channels so I don't have to remember to post them there and it saves time.
  • Be cautious. Goodreads has become a hotbed for bullies and trolls. My advice is to use it as it is intended - to share book love. Be careful what you post in groups until you are familiar with the other members. Things can be taken out of context or read in ways you never intended on all the social media platforms, so just think twice before posting something that might be offensive or taken the wrong way.
I hope this overview of social media for your blog is helpful. I've written more extensively on each of these platforms if you need more help or ideas for implementing them with your blog. I will be wrapping up this series next week, so if there is a topic I haven't covered and it's causing you stress with your blog let me know.

And for a bonus tip this week I guest blogged on Write Divas about when and how to hire a publicity assistance. 

Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres (NO horror or erotica), but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances.


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