Thursday, May 21, 2015

ArmchairBEA 2015

by Donna Huber

credit: Amber
It again time for the book blogger to come together for the great book event known as ArmchairBEA. While many people in the book publishing industry are making their final preparations for Book Expo of America, bloggers are preparing to participate from the comfort of their own chairs and couches.

I have been participating in ArmchairBEA since I started blogging. And while it is a busy week with writing posts, visiting other blogs, reading the special coverage at, joing Twitter parties, and, of course, entering GIVEAWAYS! it is also a great time to remember why we love book blogging - the community. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with some bloggers that I have lost contact with through the year as well as meeting new bloggers.

It is free and easy to participate, just follow these steps.

1. Go to and register
The event runs Wednesday, May 27 through Monday, June 1. I think with a weekend in the middle of it will make it easier for those who work to participate and I hope there will be a Twitter party or two planned during that time. They have chosen a theme for the week: DIVERSITY. I think you will find that there is a lot of diversity among book bloggers. I have met bloggers through the event from every walk of life and many different countries. Some blog only about Classics or translated literature, others focus more on specific genres or target audience (i.e. kid lit). It is fun to see all the different ways people blog about books.

2. Start working on your posts (it is a HUGE time saver to schedule your posts in advance)
Seriously, with all the parties and blogs to visit, you don't want to be writing your posts during the event. This year's event is a bit shorter, but it will still be exhausting and you want plenty of time to visit the other blogs (that is really the point of the event). You don't have to write on each topic each day, but for each topic you do write on you are entered into a drawing to win prizes from the supporters (remember to submit your link to the linky every day). The topics are already posted (follow the link to get post ideas for each topic) so you can get started now.

Wednesday: Introductions & Library Love
Thursday: Visual Expressions & Social Media
Friday: Character Chatter & Blogging Q&A
Saturday: Giveaways & Book to Movie Adaptations 
Sunday: 2015 Wrap-up
Monday: Survey

I highly recommend doing the introduction post and they have already posted a list of questions to do your own self interview.

If you don't have time to work on your posts in advance, then consider writing short posts. Really, people will probably thank you for writing a paragraph or two on the day's topic. There's usually about 500 participants which is a lot of blog reading.

3. Have Fun!
The event is all about having fun and interacting the community. Try to visit a few blogs each day and leave a comment. Try to make at least on Twitter Party, but be warned they can be CRAZY with a bunch of people talking at once.

Don't stress and do what you can do. Don't worry about the right or wrong way to participate.

I hope I will see you next week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

by Donna Huber

The exciting conclusion to Deborah Harkness's blockbuster All Souls Trilogy is coming out in paperback on May 26. I like for the books in a series to match and I first heard of A Discovery of Witches (book 1) when the paperback came out so now my collection will be complete. I love this series and have read the first two books in the series about as many times as I read Harry Potter.

I recently saw that the audio version read by Jennifer Ikeda had been added to my digital library system so I'm thinking of checking it out. You can listen to clips here:

To celebrate the upcoming release, I have a fun giveaway you can enter at the bottom of this post. You can also check out my reviews from the series:

And you can read a conversation with Deborah Harkness from last year when the hardcover came out.

And now you you can read an excerpt of The Book of Life:

The Book of Life
THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness
Chapter 1 Excerpt

Ghosts didn’t have much substance. All they were composed of was memories and heart. Atop one of Sept-Tours’ round towers, Emily Mather pressed a diaphanous hand against the spot in the center of her chest that even now was heavy with dread.

Does it ever get easier? Her voice, like the rest of her, was almost imperceptible. The watching? The waiting? The knowing?

Not  that I’ve  noticed,  Philippe de Clermont replied shortly. He was perched nearby, studying  his own transparent  fingers. Of all the things Philippe disliked about being dead—the inability to touch his wife, Ysabeau; his lack of smell or taste; the fact that he had no muscles for a good sparring match—invisibility topped the list. It was a constant reminder of how inconsequential he had become.

Emily’s face fell, and Philippe silently cursed himself. Since she’d died, the witch had been his constant companion, cutting his loneliness in two. What was he thinking, barking at her as if she were a servant?

Perhaps it will be easier when they don’t need us anymore, Philippe said in a gentler tone. He might be the more experienced ghost, but it was Emily who understood the metaphysics of their situation. What the witch had told him went against everything Philippe believed about the afterworld. He thought the living saw the dead because they needed something from them: assistance, forgiveness, retribution. Emily insisted these were nothing more than human myths, and it was only when the living moved on and let go that the dead could appear to them.

This information made Ysabeau’s failure to notice him somewhat easier to bear, but not much.

“I can’t wait to see Em’s reaction. She’s going to be so surprised.” Diana’s warm alto floated up to the battlements.

Diana and Matthew, Emily and Philippe said in unison, peering down to the cobbled courtyard that surrounded the ch√Ęteau.

There, Philippe said, pointing at the drive. Even dead, he had vampire sight that was sharper than any human’s. He was also still handsomer than any man had a right to be, with his broad shoulders and devilish grin. He turned the latter on Emily, who couldn’t help grinning back. They are a fine couple, are they not? Look how much my son has changed.

Vampires weren’t supposed to be altered by the passing of time, and therefore Emily expected to see the same black hair, so dark it glinted blue; the same mutable gray-green eyes, cool and remote as a winter sea; the same pale skin and wide mouth. There were a few subtle differences, though, as Philippe suggested. Matthew’s hair was shorter, and he had a beard that made him look even more dangerous, like a pirate. She gasped.

Is Matthew . . . bigger?

He is. I fattened him up when he and Diana were here in 1590. Books were making him soft. Matthew needed to fight more and read less. Philippe had always contended there was such a thing as too much education. Matthew was living proof of it.

Diana looks different, too. More like her mother, with that long, coppery hair, Em said, acknowledging the most obvious change in her niece.

Diana stumbled on a cobblestone, and Matthew’s hand shot out to steady her. Once, Emily had seen Matthew’s incessant hovering as a sign of vampire overprotectiveness. Now, with the perspicacity of a ghost, she realized that this tendency stemmed from his preternatural awareness of every change in Diana’s expression, every shift of mood, every sign of fatigue or hunger. Today, however, Matthew’s concern seemed even more focused and acute.

It’s not just Diana’s hair that has changed. Philippe’s face had a look of wonder. Diana is with child—Matthew’s child.

Emily examined her niece more carefully, using the enhanced grasp of truth that death afforded. Philippe was right—in part. You mean “with children.” Diana is having twins.

Twins, Philippe said in an awed voice. He looked away, distracted by the appearance of his wife. Look, here are Ysabeau and Sarah with Sophie and Margaret.

What will happen now, Philippe? Emily asked, her heart growing heavier with anticipation.

Endings. Beginnings, Philippe said with deliberate vagueness. Change.

Diana has never liked change, Emily said.

That is because Diana is afraid of what she must become, Philippe replied.

Marcus Whitmore had faced horrors aplenty since the night in 1781 when Matthew de Clermont made him a vampire. None had prepared him for today’s ordeal: telling Diana Bishop that her beloved aunt, Emily Mather, was dead.

Marcus had received the phone call from Ysabeau while he and Nathaniel Wilson were watching  the television news in the family library. Sophie, Nathaniel’s wife, and their baby, Margaret, were dozing on a nearby sofa.

“The temple,” Ysabeau had said breathlessly, her tone frantic.  “Come. At once.”

Marcus had obeyed his grandmother without question, only taking time to shout for his cousin, Gallowglass, and his Aunt Verin on his way out the door.

The summer half-light of evening had lightened further as he approached the clearing at the top of the mountain, brightened by the otherworldly power that Marcus glimpsed through the trees. His hair stood at attention at the magic in the air.

Then he scented the presence of a vampire, Gerbert of Aurillac. And someone else—a witch.

A light, purposeful step sounded down the stone corridor, drawing Marcus out of the past and back into the present. The heavy door opened, creaking as it always did.

From The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, published on May 26, 2015 by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright by Deborah Harkness, 2015.

Buy The Book of Life at Amazon

Here's your chance to win a fun gift pack: Diana's commonplace book, All Souls alchemical buttons, and small mirror with ourboros design. (Open to US addresses only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Divisive by John Tucker

by Claire Rees

Divisive by John Tucker follows a man called Dennis Rask, although he has gone by many other names in the past. Dennis is a master manipulator and loves to pray on single mothers who have relationship problems with their children. He Inserts himself into their lives and then turns them against each other so bad that it always ends up in tragic circumstances. His new game is to be played with Carolyn Conners a single mother of two girls that she hates and they hate her. He courts Carolyn and gets her and the girls to fall in love with him and  within a few months he is engaged to Carolyn and has moved into their house. The girls, Emily and Elizabeth are happy with this as with Dennis in the house their mother is that little bit nicer to them. What they don't realise are the secrets Dennis is keeping and the way he manipulates them to hate each other even more. Carolyn's jealously grows even more and on the fateful night it all goes wrong and their lives are changed forever.  We also follow two Detectives Bostick and Taylor as they try to piece together the events from that night to work out what has happened. Bostick doesn't like Rask from the very beginning but cannot pin anything on him as Rask is too clever.

The story is written from different points in time, but flows lovely and is easy to follow. Tucker has written this very cleverly and even though you think you know what has happened from the beginning be prepared for a surprise ending. I am glad that there is a book two as I am dying to find out what happens next in the life of D. Rask. Whose life will he ruin next and will Detective Bostick ever be able to charge Rask with anything? Recommended to those who love a good mystery with sexy scenes paired with emotional scenes.

Buy Divisive at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (382 pages)
published: November 2012
ISBN13: 978-1461182184
genres: psychological thriller
read: May 2015

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fun Beach Read Recommendations

by Donna Huber

Reading A Book On The Beach by xoan seoane

Next week is Memorial Day in the US, the official kick off to summer vacations. Whether you will be lounging by the sea, lake, or pool this summer here are 4 fun reads that won't break the vacation budget.

The Hitwoman's Downward Dog

I absolutely love JB Lynn's Hitwoman series. Every book is full of laughs and are quick, fun reads. If you will be spending your summer poolside, you could read the entire series and Lynn's spinoff series, Matchmaker Mysteries, in a couple of weeks. But beware you might find yourself laughing out loud.

Buy The Hitwoman's Downward Dog at Amazon

The Hitwoman's Downward Dog

Another fast, fun read that also happens to be FREE is Julia Kent's Shopping for a Billionaire #1. The boxed set of all 5 books is only $3.99. It is prefect for an afternoon in the sand and surf. Though not indicated in the description, this series reads more like a serial. However, I found this first "book" to be satisfying enough to be a stand alone.

Buy Shopping for a Billionaire at Amazon

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

Another free read. I really liked the plot. Thought I wasn't thrilled with the main character, I loved the secondary characters and want to keep reading the series just for them (though the main character did redeem herself a bit at the end).

Buy Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic at Amazon

Easy Bake Coven

I picked up this free read after Claire's review and really enjoyed it. I thought it would be about witches and there is a coven, but it is more about the Fae. The book started off a bit slow, but picked up and stayed strong after the first couple of chapters.

Buy Easy Bake Coven at Amazon

What books will you be packing in your beach bag this summer?

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Susan Paulson Clark: Five Awesome Books on the Craft of Writing

The Romance Shoppe
Over the years, I repeatedly turn to my favorite writing books for inspiration and instruction. I’d like to recommend these five and highlight some quotes to give you a flavor of how they’re written. Read these … only if you want to improve your own writing.


This title written by a literary agent and author touches on mechanics issues and doles out practical advice. His examples are specific. When addressing the ever-problematic show-not-tell problem, he gives a concrete example:

“Instead of saying ‘It was very dark outside,’ the writer could say ‘The guards needed flashlights to patrol the corridors.’”


This excellent reference, written from a book editor’s point of view, sheds light on the psyche of a writer and includes her own experience.

“As far as I can tell, people write for exactly two reasons”: (1) They are compelled to, and (2) they want to be loved.”

BIRD BY BIRD, by Anne Lamott

This famous writer and writing teacher recants her journey and provides sage advice.

“So much of writing is about sitting down and doing it every day, and so much of it is about getting into the custom of taking in everything that comes along, seeing it all as grist for the mill.”


Written in 1983, this book is still relevant. He addresses topics such what makes a good writing workshop and includes his experiences as a novelist and professor. Here he discusses his creative process:

“All I myself know for sure, when I come out of one of those trance moments, is that I seem to have been taken over by some muse.”

STORY, by Robert McKee

Although this is primarily a book about screenwriting, the fundamentals apply to the book author. McKee elaborates on structure such as the “inciting incident,” and in the following quote about shaping your protagonist:

“(The protagonist) must make a decision to take one action or another in a last effort to achieve his Object of Desire.”

Writers, if you want to improve by leaps and bounds, check out these five books!

Buy The Relationship Shoppe at Amazon

About the Author:
Susan Paulson Clark
Susan Paulson Clark has been writing for fifteen years. She's an avid reader of women's fiction, mysteries, and non-fiction titles. Susan enjoys painting (acrylic and oil) and spending time with her husband. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with degrees in English and Education -- and she's an avid believer in writers' critique groups!

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small Commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Earn Review Rewards with Reading Alley

by Donna Huber

I received an email this weekend about a interesting new program called the Reading Alley. It is from the people who run The Romance Reviews. I've never done much with The Romance Reviews outside of some client work, mostly because I'm not much of a romance reader. With that being said, I did check out the Reading Alley.

Reading Alley proposes to be a review repository site for all genres of fiction and non-fiction. It appears that they will be similar to Netgalley, but presumably offering lower cost options to authors and publishers. (The introductory offer is $25). That's great for indie authors and publishers who found Netgalley to be cost prohibitive.

But I wanted to focus on the benefits to readers. I know a lot of readers are hesitant to purchase indie books, particularly the ones in the $2.99 to $4.99 (or higher). Looking at the available titles right now many are indie published books. So one benefit of being a member of the Reading Alley is getting to read for free some of the indie books that you are interested in trying.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Who can join the Reading Alley? Any reader! That's right, you don't have to have your own blog or write for a publication, You can be a regular reader. The only catch is that you have to write a review of any books you get through the program. The review will be posted at Reading Alley and if you want you can post it on Amazon or Goodreads as well. And if you do run a blog you can post it there.

Another benefit of the program is the rewards. For each review you write, you earn reward points, which can be redeemed for prizes. As of right now there is no information on how many points will need to be earned in order to redeem a prize. Also there's not a lot of information on what the prizes will be, though it does look like Amazon gift cards will be at least one of the prizes. If you sign up right now during the soft launch period you can earn 20 reward points.

Reviewing takes work and it is nice to be able to earn a bit of a reward. That is definitely in the plus column for the program.

It is the early days of the program and it looks like most of the initial books available for review come Romance Reviews site. There's only 4 books in the young adult category. And the covers I saw in the mystery and thriller category had me double checking to make sure that I clicked on the right link because I thought was in the erotica category. So that's a drawback. at least for now. Hopefully they will be able to quickly remedy this problem.

I have signed up for an account (why not get the 20 bonus reward points) and will see how things develop. Not that I need more books to read, but being able to earn some rewards is too tempting. If you are a casual reader that wouldn't mind writing a review in exchange for free ebooks, then I definitely think it would be a good thing. For book bloggers who are having trouble getting books for review this is probably a nice way to get your foot in the door. For experienced reviewers, it's your call. Right now, I don't see anything negative about it. For galleys I get from Netgalley, I post reviews on their site so I don't see how this would be any different.

Here's the link again for you to sign up: The Reading Alley (and no I don't get any extra reward points for recommending the program).

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happily Ever After (@AlisonDeluca)

Snow white 1937 trailer screenshot
Snow White 1937 trailer screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Alison DeLuca

Fairytales are addictive. Who can get enough of Cinderella, magic wands, poisoned apples, and Prince Charming? If you look at Snow White, Rapunzel, or The Little Mermaid, the actual stories are actually simple. But the idea of a girl giving up everything she knows (include her own fishy tail) to chase love touches some part of us so deeply we tell those stories over and over again, in many different ways.

I’m a sucker for new versions of old stories ever since I got hooked on Eleanor Farjeon’s The Silver Curlew (and if you’ve never read the book, go and chase it down. It’s a funny, exciting YA version of Rumplestiltskin complete with imps and romance.)

Disney’s Snow White, with its amazing art and incredible animation, grabbed me from the start. Same with Cinderella, 60’s hairdo and all.

But what really makes a rework of a fairy tale sparkle is a new slant on an old tale. Look at how Wicked and Into the Woods took off – and yes, I’m counting Oz as a fairy tale. I realize Into the Woods is a return to the blood of the Brothers Grimm, but the grit of real life gives the musical a different perception, especially of happy ever after.

Disney continues to release their versions, including series like Once Upon a Time. Every so often a new twist on Snow White is released. And as for us readers, there’s a slew of glass slippers and evil stepmothers.

  1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer is one of my favorites. I love this steam / cyberpunk take on Cinderella, complete with exotic setting, gorgeous prince, a Martian princess, and an android looking for a new leg. Forget that wimpy shoe business – this heroine needs an entire limb.
  2. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen uses elements of Grimm in a literary exploration of extermination camps and Nazism.
  3. The Once and Future King by TH White is an amazing version of King Arthur’s legend. White makes Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, and Lancelot come to life in vivid color, with lots of the animals he loved so much including an owl named Archimedes.
  4. Naturally tales like Snow White are the best known, but really curious readers might seek out versions of Russian or Japanese tales like The Girl with a Bowl on Her Head (Read online: ) Yukimi Ogawa wrote In Her Head, In Her Eyes, an interesting version of the story where it turns out a pot on one’s head really does have a purpose, after all.
  5. I love when several stories meet in one book. Sarah Pinborough does a great job bringing Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, and Red Riding Hood together. Plus it’s part of a series, so there’s more to love if you enjoy it.

Hunted Heart
And I always try to bring in an Indie book to round out the column. Humbly I offer my own version of Snow White – Hunted Heart. (All royalties go to , so there’s that.) In my novel the prince is the one who needs rescuing, and the hunter is actually a woman. My goal was to introduce a strong heroine who lives by her own sword and certainly doesn’t need anyone to fight her battles.

I don’t think we’re going to ever run out of modernized fairytales, and I’d love to know which books I missed on this list. Which are your favorite Happily Ever Afters?

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links. Thank you for supporting this blog.


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