Readers' Favorite

October 25, 2016

Brenda Perlin: GET YOUR REBEL ON!

Today (October 25) is Punk for a Day and author Brenda Perlin, who has compiled three books of stories and pictures from her days as a Punk Rocker shares how you can celebrate.

History of Punk for a Day

Punk for a Day was made up to celebrate the history of Punk Rock. This original  movement transformed rock music and the face of the musical world. Punk rock offered something different for people who were cynical and knew there was more to what came before. A little teen rage helped fuel the teenaged angst platform.

How to Celebrate Punk For A Day

Punk for a Day gives anyone an excuse to let their Inner Punk Rocker out for the day.

Here are the ingredients for being a punk for a day, though if you talk to some of the old punks (me included) we would say PUNK IS DEAD. Never mind that! In 2016 we are still busy reliving our youth and punk days so what does that say about the movement? It’s far from DEAD!

1) You have to be a fan of BLACK. Day glow is fine on occasion but black never fails. If you use spray on hair dye, YOU are a poseur.

2)  Start your day with The Damned, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. If you don’t know who they are then YOU are a poseur.

3) Venture out to thrift shops and secondhand stores. Pull out some old band shirts. And I don’t mean Journey or Kiss! If you buy your punk ensemble from say, Torid or Hot Topic YOU are a poseur.

4) Punks are not into blending in so make sure you are ready to get stares everywhere you go. If you think you look punk and dress like everyone else, YOU are a poseur.

5) If you think you know what punk music is and you are listening to Boy George and Flock of Seagulls, YOU are a Poseur.

6) Have plenty of hair products on hand. The more color the better but if you want to be more subdued dye your hair Jet black or Blue Black and spike it up.

7) If you are an old punk and still feel like one, get together with some friends (old and new) and do something you would have done back in the day. For example, bake a cake, have a party at a graveyard after dark or invite people over for a seance to bring back Darby Crash like I did right after his overdose.

 And by all means, get drunk, pop some pills (just kidding) and rock the night away!

If you want to want to relive, or experience for the first time, what life as a punk rocker was like here are the books…

at Amazon

And while you are looking at my photos from my punk days in L.A. Punk Snapshots you can also listen to the free playlist that goes along with it.

Brenda Perlin lives in Orange County, California. She spent most of her working life in the physical fitness arena. She loves the gratification that comes with helping people achieve their fitness goals and the fulfillment that comes with having a healthy body.
She moved from the Los Angeles area where she was raised to Orange County in the Spring of 2005. During that time she was a housewife with a couple of dogs. Now she is not. Instead she is writing her adventures for all to read.
Brenda has been writing just for fun since she was a young teen. For many years she wrote on paper napkins.

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October 24, 2016

4 Books for Fans of Family Drama #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

Books about family drama are usually real page turners.  Here are four excellent books that are about drama within families- one is about the death of a mother, one is about a mother being stalked, the third one is a historical fiction book about the Dust Bowl years, and finally love and loss across generations rounds out this list of family drama novels that you will want to add to your reading pile.

These books were provided by the author or publisher in exchange for a review.

cover Fractured
Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

This is a fantastic book full of twists and turns that you won't see coming. It's told by two different people in two different time periods and it doesn't take very long to get into the rhythm of how the author is unfolding the story.

Julie and her husband and two children move to a new community in Ohio to get away from a stalker in their old home. Julie has written a bestselling novel about the perfect crime and is trying to write her second novel. The family lives in a house with alarms and cameras to try to protect themselves in their new home. John is the neighbor across the street who has just lost his job in IT and starts running with Julie every morning. He isn't aware of the scope of her past but knows that she is hiding secrets. The entire book takes place in a seemingly friendly suburb where the neighbors have monthly parties and keep in constant contact with each other. But nothing in life is ever what it appears to be on the surface.

I loved this book and I especially enjoyed the way the author told the story from two very different viewpoints. It was a book full of twists and turns that kept me riveted to the story until the last page.

Buy Fractured at Amazon

cover All the Time in the World
All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell

All the Time in the world is a book about family and grief. It's a tough book to read in parts but was worth sticking with it. It's told in different time periods - basically before the accident and after the accident as the family struggles to adjust to their new normal.

Charlotte is the babysitter for Gretchen and Scott's two young sons - George and Matt. Gretchen works part time and Scott is gone most of the time since his job requires him to travel. They appear to be a normal family until Gretchen is killed by a car while walking across the street. The family (and Charlotte) are devastated and have to learn how to continue their lives. The most difficult parts of the book for me was watching the children deal with the loss of their mother.

This is an interesting read about love and loss and creating families out of the people who love us the most.

Buy All the Time in the World at Amazon

cover I Will Send Rain
I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

I enjoyed Grapes of Wrath years ago and this is a period in history that has always interested me. I Will Send Rain is a novel that presents life during the Dust Bowl in all of its grittiness and the struggle that the families went through when their farms were no longer producing enough to keep their families alive. This is a book filled with characters that you won't soon forget after you read about their fight to survive the problems that nature has given them.

Annie and Samuel are the parents of Birdie and Fred and they all work to keep their small farm in Oklahoma producing in the summer of 1934. Annie was a preacher's daughter who fell in love with Samuel and decided to give up her life to be a farmer's wife. Birdie is 16 and newly in love. She knows that her new boyfriend will help her get away from the farm to a better life. Fred has never spoken and has asthma but he makes the best of his life. As the book begins, it's been over 70 days since the last rain and the first dust storm is getting ready to begin. The results of the dust storm are told in detail and make the reader wonder how the family could handle this new hardship. But they DO handle it and so much more in this lovely novel.

This is a beautiful novel about hope and love of family while dealing with unrelenting hardship. I loved all of the characters and the book was told in such a way that the readers sees their faults and the pain as well as their struggle to survive.

Buy I Will Send Rain at Amazon

cover Root Petal Thorn
Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen

This is a fantastic book about love and loss and connections to past generations. One line in the book (from Ivy's list of how to survive) sums the novel up for me: "Understand there is a little sad in every story."

As the novel begins, Ivy is waking up and realizing, once again, that her husband Adam is dead. He was killed in a car accident and Ivy is having difficulty in accepting his death. Ivy and Adam lived in an old house with their two children and Adam spent a lot of time doing upgrades to the house. Ivy decides that she needs to tackle the home projects and as she works she finds small items from the previous owners of the house. As these items are found, Ivy decides to do research on the previous owners of the house. The novel consists not only of Ivy's attempt at recovery but also the stories of the lives of the previous owners of the house. The stories take the reader through WWI, the Depression, and WWII as well as modern times. All of the stories are interrelated with and the house that they lived in ties the stories together.

Often times when you read a novel with several characters telling their part of the story, you enjoy the story of one over the others. I must admit that I liked reading about Ivy the most but the rest of the characters were also wonderful and I didn't hurry through any of the stories to get to a character that I liked more because I liked them all.

This was a fantastic debut novel and I look forward to this author's future books.

Buy Root, Petal, Thorn at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in NC when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and helping to take care of their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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October 22, 2016

Review: The Widower's Wife by Cate Holahan

August 2016; Crooked Lane Books;
9781629537658; hardcover (304 pgs) &
ebook; thriller
a free book was provided by the author
by Susan Roberts

If you want a book that will keep you reading way past your bedtime...will have you convinced that you know how it will end and then to find out in the next chapter that you were totally wrong...that has an ending that you won't see coming....If you are looking for all that and more, The Widower's Wife is the book for you.

Ana and Tom Bacon and their daughter live in extravagant lifestyle until Tom loses his job and they have no income to support their family. They are in debt over their heads and will soon lose their house. While on a short cruise, Ana falls overboard, When Tom tries to collect the ten million dollar insurance policy, the insurance company sends Ryan, a former NYC detective, to investigate whether Ana fell overboard or was pushed.

This is an intriguing story with a crisp plot that will keep you rapidly turning pages. The story is told in alternating chapters by Ana about the past and Ryan about the investigation. It was a great way to tell the story so that the reader sees the entire story.

Catherine "Cate" Holahan is the author of not only The Widower's Wife (August 2016) but also Dark Turns (November 2015), both are published by Crooked Lane Books.

An award-winning journalist and former television producer, her articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on websites for CBS, MSN Money,,, and CNBC. Her short fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine published by the writer's group of American Mensa.  

Keep an eye on this author, I think we'll see some great books from her in the future.

Buy The Widower's Wife at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Car when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and helping to take care of their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

October 21, 2016

Let’s Talk About Writing Dialogue

by Byddi Lee


Well, we did it again! We’ve relocated to a different country, and though I’ve joked about it in previous posts, it’s probably just what I need to force me to write my next book. This time we’ve moved to the wonderful city of Paris, France. Having only learned high school French, integrating here will be quite the challenge. I have noticed that the way we learned French in school – very formal and in full sentences – is different to how people actually talk. For example when we learned to apologize in French we used the complete sentence, “I am sorry.” (Je suis désolé.)  In reality, we simply say, “Sorry.” Writers do something similar to this when writing good dialogue.

Readers are pulled into a story by the characters. What a character says and how they say it helps our readers connect with them and become invested in the narrative. To write engaging and realistic dialogue, listen to how people talk to each other. We often don’t speak in full sentences, and many of our words are contracted. For example, “I am …” becomes “I’m …” Pay attention to how things are said and especially to the things that may be left unsaid in a conversation – this is known as sub-text and can artfully create tension and illustrate character traits.

Notice how a real dialogue flows, then read lots of dialogue. It is slightly different to how people really talk. As a writer, you need to figure how and why. Writing dialogue is not just about transcribing what people say. It involves a somewhat truncated version of how people talk in reality but with enough real nuances thrown in to provide flavor.

For example, in real life, we use a lot of superfluous words upon greeting one another and taking our leave of each other. We make affirmation sounds when listening to someone else talking and inject shortened words that are mere utterances which don’t even make sense (and are quite impossible to spell!) This all needs filtering out.

Then there’s the small talk, the pleasantries that are socially required but are not required to help the reader piece together the components of the story. For example:
“Hello, Molly,” Tom said.
“Oh, hello, Tom. How are you today?” Molly asked.
“Good, and you?” Tom said.
“Pretty good too. So what are you up to today?” Molly said
“Nothing much. I’m just going for a coffee. Do you want to come?” Tom said.
It sounds quite flat, doesn’t it? That’s because it lacks conflict. It fails to push the story forward or work to paint a character or ratchet up the tension. It is simply not necessary.

Don’t let your characters talk in a vacuum. Inject action. Have the characters display some non-verbal signals. For example, the following amended dialogue gives us some clues as to the strained relationship that exists now between Tom and Molly.
“Hello, Molly,” Tom said, blushing as he stood up quickly.
Molly refused to look directly at him. She gathered the papers from the desk between them and moved towards the door, but he’d beaten her to it and blocked her exit.
“Please,” he said softly. “Let me take you for a coffee and explain.”
It is okay to use simple dialogue tags such as said and asked.  They are considered invisible words and the reader skips past them without noticing them too much. Let the words and actions describe the context. Flamboyant dialogue tags such as exclaimed or interjected are unnecessary and look amateurish. The example above illustrates how using action allows for less use of dialogue tags also.

In this example, it is also obvious that the characters have some issues. Dialogue is also a way to disclose information to the reader. Beware of the, “By the way, Bob…” syndrome, whereby information is presented in the dialogue solely for imparting information to the reader. A character will not tell another character something that they both already know, nor will a character give out information that is already common knowledge or isn’t relevant to the conversation. Often this kind of information dump happens when a character is brought into a new situation, or a new character is introduced and needs to be briefed, for example, in a detective story where the character is talking to an expert of some kind. In this way, information can be shared with or re-capped for the reader without making it obvious.

A character might have a particular phrase that they repeat often. This may be colloquial, or indicative of age, or background. A character who often says, “Jolly good,” is very different from one who might say, “Awesome dude.” Profanity and swearing can also display a character’s traits, but use it with caution and with your target audience in mind.

When attributing dialogue, place the proper noun or pronoun before the tag e.g. Molly said or she said. This makes the sentence more active.

Use the correct punctuation for writing dialogue. Surround the speech with quotation marks. All punctuation must be inside these inverted commas. For example -

“Hello,” Tom said.

Not -

“Hello”, Tom said.

The first word after a comma and closing quotation marks should be lower case unless it is a proper noun, for example -

“Hello,” he said.

Not – 

Hello,” He said.

A new paragraph is needed each time a new person speaks or is referred to, even if they don’t speak, for example -

“I’m not going for coffee with you,” Molly said. “Now move out of my way or I’ll start screaming.”

Tom stepped aside.

These are just the basics of punctuation for dialogue. I’ve concentrated on the areas where I see the most mistakes being made. It is worthwhile referencing a comprehensive grammar text or website to make sure that you follow all the rules.

Getting dialogue right makes a huge difference to your writing. Practice dialogue in your head. Let the voices chatter and argue, even voice them aloud, though this is probably best done when you are alone, or with a phone bud in your ear. Just make sure you have the other end plugged into your phone at the time!

Byddi Lee grew up in Armagh, Ireland, and moved to Belfast to study Biology at Queen’s University when she was 18. She made Belfast her home for twenty-one years, teaching science and writing for pleasure. In 2002 she took a sabbatical from teaching and traveled around the world for two years, writing blogs about her adventures as she went. She returned to Ireland in 2004 and resumed teaching. In 2008 she and her husband moved to San Jose, California where she made writing a full-time career. After the publication of her short story, Death of a Seannachai, she decided it was time to write, March to November. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

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October 20, 2016

5 Hot Romance Novels for Cool Fall Nights

If you'd rather be cozying up with a wonderful romance rather than hiding under the covers with latest Halloween horror novel, then this list is for you.

cover Punk 57
"Where'd you go? I miss you so. Seems like it's been forever that you've been gone."


I can’t help but smile at the lyrics in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.


He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his phone number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

*Punk 57 is a standalone New Adult romance. It is suitable for ages 18+.

Buy Punk 57 at Amazon

cover Deadly Silence

Under siege. That's how Ryker Jones feels. The Lost Bastards Investigative Agency he opened up with his blood brothers has lost a client in a brutal way. The past he can't outrun is resurfacing, threatening to drag him down in the undertow. And the beautiful woman he's been trying to keep at arm's length is in danger...and he'll destroy anything and anyone to keep her safe.

Paralegal Zara Remington is in over her head. She's making risky moves at work by day and indulging in an affair with a darkly dangerous PI by night. There's a lot Ryker isn't telling her and the more she uncovers, the less she wants to know. But when all hell breaks loose, Ryker may be the only one to save her. If his past doesn't catch up to them first...

Full of twists and turns you won't see coming, DEADLY SILENCE is New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti at her suspenseful best...

A Blood Brothers Novel

Buy Deadly Silence at Amazon

cover My Brown-Eyed Earl

William Ryder, Earl of Castleton, is at the end of his noble rope. Not only has he broken ties with his longtime mistress, his mother has publicly announced her wish for him to marry a suitable young lady―if only to help him raise the twins left in his care. Hiring a governess should solve some of Will’s problems…but when he meets the candidate in question, he finds himself in an entirely new predicament.


Miss Margaret Lacey is brainy, beautiful, and, once upon a time, Will’s betrothed. But she bowed out of the engagement―and, since then, has never been the same. A tragic accident robbed her of everything, and now, at age twenty-three, her marital prospects are slim to none. Penniless but not without pride, Meg convinces the vexingly handsome Will to hire her for the job. What neither of them could have expected from this arrangement, however, is an attraction that burns stronger than ever. Are these two lost souls finally ready to be schooled in the art of love?

Buy My Brown-Eyed Earl at Amazon

cover Four Letter Word
Fate. Hate. Love. Lies.

Which four letter word will change their lives forever?

Sydney Paige was never so mortified to hear the words "wrong number" in her life. She meant to tell off the guy who broke her best friend's heart but unleashed her anger on a perfect stranger instead. And now her world is turned upside down by the captivating man who wants to keep her on the line.

Brian Savage is living a life he's quickly come to hate-until Sydney's wild rant has him hooked and hungry for more. Soon the sexy woman on the phone becomes the lover in his bed. But Brian has secrets, and the closer he lets Syd get, the harder it is to shield her from the devastating mistakes of his past . . .

Buy Four Letter Word at Amazon

cover The Bachelor Auction
Cinderella never had to deal with this crap.

Jane isn't entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn't she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes---or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire---maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn't anyone's dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk---even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it's karmic retribution that he's tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can't have. But while they can't have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy . . .

Buy The Bachelor Auction at Amazon

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October 19, 2016

Review: Millicent Marie Just My Opinion by Karen Pokras Toz

by Donna Huber

October 2016; Grand Daisy Press;
978-0996284356; paperback, & ebook 182 pg;
free ebook provided by the author
Millicent Marie is back! Karen Pokras Toz has brought back her middle school, digital diary keeping, advice giving title character in Millicent Marie: Just My Opinion.

Just My Opinion picks up shortly after the end of Millicent Marie Is Not My Name, but can be read as a stand alone. There are a few references to the past BIG event of the first book, but it really has no bearing on the plot of this new book.

Millie has been asked to serve as an advice columnist for her elementary school's paper. She's excited about the upcoming school play and her first sleepover birthday party. For the most part the kids seemed to have learned their lesson after what happened in the first book, except for maybe Doogle, Millie's kid brother. But then snooping is just par of the course for younger siblings. Everything is looking great for the end of her 6th grade year. That is until the odd firing of everyone's favorite principle. Enters new principle Dr. Feather Foster and everyone's worst nightmare. She would give Delores Umbridge a run for her money (I happened to be reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheniox at the same time).

Millie and her friends uncover a sinister plan and concoct a plan of their own to get rid of Dr. Feather Foster. What could go wrong when a bunch of 6th graders, a 4th grader, and a genius kindergarten team up?

Karen Pokras Toz has once again crafted an excellent story that teaches valuable life lessons in a fun and relatable manner.

Buy Millicent Marie: Just My Opinion at Amazon

Donna Huber 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

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

October 18, 2016

Review: Tokens and Omens by Jeri Baird

by MK French
July 2016; Jolly Fish Press; 9781631630828
(paperback, 284 pages); science fiction;
provided by publisher for review

In Puck's Gulch, sixteen-year-olds undergo a Quest. Magical tokens are given to them when they perform good deeds, and omens appear near them when they do bad ones. During the five-day Quest, the tokens they earn can be used to defeat the omens. At the end of the Quest, they will discover where their futures lay, and what trade they will be apprenticed to. Generally, each teen must go into the forest for their Quest and battle their omens on their own. Sometimes a teen might get a gift ahead of the Quest, and each one has a patron animal that they can call upon to aid them if the Quest is too dangerous. Zander, the son of the furrier, receives a gift, as does Alexa, the daughter of the baker. There are thirteen teens to undergo the Quest this year, as well as secrets within the village. Fate cannot be cheated and will punish those who try.

This was an interesting take on the trope of teens undergoing physical and mental trials. The characters were generally likable, even the ones that clearly were painted as the antagonist of the story. There is a sharp difference in the classes of workers within the village, and the teens' responses to this were very believable. In a world of fortune tellers, magic potions, a living embodiment of Fate and the ghost of the village's founder whispering to Zander, it very easily could have strayed too far into the fantastic that it would be hard to connect with. Even with these elements presented as part of the world the characters live in, the focus of the story was on the teenagers and the relationships they had with each other and with the adults in the village. Feelings changed over time, they made mistakes, they could be petty or jealous. At the same time, they were also capable of great acts of kindness, and as a reader, I was able to understand their conflicts and how they grew. I felt the same outrage that they did for rules being broken or for the inequalities in the village to continually come down on Zander; he's easily the most sympathetic character from the outset. Alexa had to grow on me, which she did as she learned from her mistakes.

The ending of the story was very hopeful and still fit in with the rest of the story, and kept with the theme of choices defining the individual. While it's clearly the first book in a series, this can stand alone as a single book. It's a very engaging and enjoyable read.

Buy Tokens and Omens at Amazon

MK French, reviewer. Born and raised in New York City, M.K. started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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