Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: The Butternut Tree by Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick

by Donna Huber

The Butternut Tree
I'm never sure about memoirs. If not careful they can stray more into a biography which I often find to be a bit dry. But the good memoirs (or at least the ones I like) always have a deeply emotional element to them. I realized this when I read The Watchmaker's Daughter, and found it to be even more true while reading The Butternut Tree by Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick.

There was something very sweet, well maybe bittersweet would be a better description, about the tale. And Kostalnick painted a vivid picture with her words. It completely captured my attention. I'm thankful it was short enough to be read in an afternoon as I could not have put it down. Moreover, I don't think the child Maureen would have let me rest until I had completed her story.

The book's description on Goodreads ends with a quote from Eldon Thompson, author of The Divine Talisman. I think it sums up how I felt about The Butternut Tree well.

"By turns humorous and poignant, Maureen Kostalnick's The Butternut Tree is insightful, entertaining, and stands as a testament to the human spirit. A tragedy, but also a triumph, this nostalgic tale brims with love and seethes with vengeance, seemingly in equal measure, pulling no punches in its honest, heartbreaking exploration of the vast spectrum of human emotion."

I caught myself several times going "wow, this really happened", or similar sentiments, as I flipped the pages.

If you love memoirs or stories of human strength, then The Butternut Tree should be on your reading list. Though I don't read memoirs often, I found this one to be an especially nice treat. And in some ways it made a great summer read.

Buy The Butternut Tree at Amazon

Book Info
paperback, 266 pages
Published October 2012 by Bookstand Publishing
ISBN13: 9781618633170
Source: Publisher
Read: July 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Ty the Bull by Brenda Perlin, K.D. Emerson and Rex Baughman

by Claire Rees

Ty the Bull
The story is about Ty, who feels that he is alone after his parents get divorced.  Ty is invited to his best friend’s birthday party and is really looking forward to it until he starts to get bulled by a new boy.  It doesn’t just stop at the party though and he also starts to get bullied at school. His friends now become his old friends and they start to play with the new boy too. 

With his mother always at work and his father never available on the phone, Rex reaches his lowest point . He goes to the local skate park where he makes an usual and unlikely friend who gives him the advice and strength he needs to feel confident enough to stick up to these bullies. He visits this new friend a few times and each time his friend gives him some sound advice that really seems to help Ty and i found myself glad that he finally had someone to talk to.

Buy Ty the Bull at Amazon

Ty the Bull is amazing and so inspirational. Everybody gets bullied at some point during their lives although some are worse than others it just shows that you need to be strong and confident and not let them get to you. I loved this story and it made me chuckle when Ty turned himself around and started to stick up for himself more and answer the bullies back.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a ‘good vs bad’ story, or who has children. This will show your children that even though there are bullies out there you can take their power away by sticking up for yourself and being strong.

Book info
Published July 2014 by Blossoming Press
Source: Author
Read: July 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the above link. Don't have a Kindle? Get a FREE Kindle Reading App. An ebook was provided for the review.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meet Jane Carroll

Can you tell us about your books?
I’d love to Donna. Bertha-Size Your Life! is a funny, coming of age story for women who already have… a time or two. It’s all about empowering women to be themselves… once they discover who that is. But don’t get me wrong… it’s not a stuffy self-help book. No, far from it! Bertha is quite the character strutting around in her lime-green spandex, tube tops, and stilettos. She jumps on a soapbox at a moment’s notice and still finds time to maintain a perfect pedicure and fight with the cat.

Where the Joys Are: Bertha’s Guided Journal is all about finding more joy in your life. It is a series of vignettes and journaling prompts…but the best part to me is the Joy Meter… you get to pick the shoe that best describes your mood. WTJA was the most fun book to write… Bertha is in her wildest outfits and having a blast!

Becoming Bertha is in the editing process and is slated for a fall 2014 release. It continues the self-discovery of the first book and has a cool twist and the end.

The character Bertha is so lifelike that it’s easy to forget that she isn’t a real person. Do you hear that often?
Absolutely! I can’t tell you how often friends and readers ask me how Bertha is doing or what she would do in a particular situation. It’s like, “Hi, Jane, nice to see you. Now where’s Bertha… we need to talk!”

One of Bertha’s favorite sayings is “When life hands you an ostrich… make a boa!” Can you tell us about your boa collection?
Oh, I just had to add on a new closet to house all the boas I’ve collected over the years. What I’m learning, with Bertha’s help of course, is to not feel regret, failure, anger, guilt, or any of those emotions when things don’t turn out just exactly as I’d planned. I try to see the experience as helping me to become the person that I want to be.

Bertha Size Your Life
Bertha has some rather, how can I say this delicately, zany antics. Do they come from your life?
Unfortunately, some of them do…I have been known to put on my sandals and polish the toenails that were showing when I was in a hurry. And, yes… we rolled our hair on orange juice cans in the day. The actions of the cat… well… I couldn’t make them up… I’m not that creative. (Smile) But mostly the things that Bertha does are outrageous exaggerations of everyday life.

What about you, what do you do for fun?
I’m supposed to be having fun? Seriously, I love writing and for the most part it is FUN. I have always loved playing with words, twisting them around, putting them in unexpected places. I also love to read, ride my bike, and spend time with family and friends.

Buy Bertha-size Your Life at Amazon

Do you have a favorite review?
I love all my reviews because they give me insight into my readers and how they identify with Bertha. And, yes, there have been a few who didn’t identify with her at all… but it’s good to know that, too. I think the phrase that delighted me the most was in a recent review for Where the Joys Are… “I love this author. I would read her grocery list…” I’m just hopeful that while she is reading it… she’ll pay for them, too!

One last question. Will you continue to write about Bertha?
I’m pretty sure of it. I think she’s like one of those soap opera characters… that even if I killed her off… she’d come back from the dead in a couple of years! But I can’t see her going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, she’s considering starring in a cozy mystery next year. Who knows where Bertha will show up next?

About the Author

Alabamian Jane Carroll, Author of Bertha-Size Your Life and Where the Joys Are: Bertha’s Guided Journal, is a Life Coach, Registered Nurse, Reiki Master, Mother, Grandmother, and long-time student of life. She has seen the focus of her over 30 year nursing career change from illness to wellness to wholeness, a philosophy that permeates everything she does.
Jane gives a face, a wardrobe, and a flare to inspirational humor. Her writing weaves a rich tapestry of humor, inspiration, insight, southern roots, and friendship for readers in the empty nest period of life.
While she enjoys all aspects of her life, writing is her passion and she is currently working on Bertha’s latest adventures.
 website  *  Twitter  * Jane's Facebook  *  Bertha's Facebook

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the above links. Don't have a Kindle? Get a FREE Kindle Reading App. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guest are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bestselling Vampire Thriller: MOTH by @SeanPoindexter


Social worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to the otherworldly. But when he's called upon to investigate a missing child, he stumbles upon a deeper mystery.

Children are vanishing and no one remembers them, not even their parents. Suspicion turns to Neo-Nazi vampires and humans running a child slavery ring, but that is only the beginning. For help, he turns to friends, old and new, but even they might not be enough. When new enemies turn deadly, old enemies become allies, including the least likely ally of all: an enemy whose cruelty and evil was almost his end, and haunts him still.

Buy MOTH  at Amazon

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Image Use: Is it Fair Use?

by Donna Huber

I was going to discuss interviews today, but I ran across an article yesterday about using images properly on blogs. Most of it was information I have read elsewhere until I got to the section on Fair Use. It gave me pause. It has me second guessing my use of cover images and author photos.

I encourage all of you to read the article on HubPages: A Guide to Proper Image Use.

But I want to further tease out the use of cover images and author photos on our blogs. Does the use fall under the Fair Use clause of the copyright law?

According to the article, and probably most people's understanding of Fair Use, one component of whether the use is infringment or fair use is when used in the following manner,

"Only use copyrighted work to contribute something important and original to the world, typically in the form of art, criticism, reviews, education, or reporting."

For most book bloggers, we use cover images as part of our reviews and thus the use is an "allowed" use of copyrighted material. Interviews and guest posts or other articles could be considered "reporting" and, therefore, an author photo could be used. Just because the use is exempt it does not mean you do not attribute the work. I know I have been lax on attributing my covers and the author photos. Even when the author or publisher provides the material I should still be giving proper credit. For book covers it is the cover designer which could be tricky to determine, but typically it is included on the copyright page of the book. I know not all ARCs come with a completed copyright page and thus making it more difficult. I recommend making the best effort and include a link to where online you got the cover (for me, I get most of the covers from and when furnished by the author or publisher to make a note of that. (However, "best effort" won't necessary stand up in court.)

So far so good, right? Nothing that I haven't heard before. So what gave me pause? The next point in the article:

"Are not monetized (e.g. are not selling something, featuring ads, etc.)."

Do you run Adwords on your blog? What about the use of affiliate links? I use both and they do show up in my review posts. Though I do make a few dollars throughout the year, I don't think of Girl Who Reads as a commercial venture. The funds are rolled back into running the blog - giveaways, paying for the domain name, etc. And I'm sure at the end of year that I take a loss. Under IRS rules my blog would be considered a hobby and not a business (see Hobby Loss Rule). Also, I have wondered about getting non-profit status for the blog. Most literary magazine have non-profit status since they support the Arts. It requires a board of trustees and some legal documents, so I haven't pursued it (maybe in my retirement).

However, if it doesn't matter about being a commercial venture or profitable, but only that it is monetized, then I do not have the right under Fair Use to use book covers or author photos without the expressed permission of the author.

So what to do?

I could possibly take a picture of my own copy of the book, but I often read ebooks and electronic galleys so nothing to take a picture of it.

Ask permission to use the images. For the author photos I use, they are almost always sent by the author so I assume permission. On the odd chance that a photo wasn't provided or I'm writing some other article, then I should either exclude it or seek permission. Now book covers might be a bit trickier. I'm thinking of putting a stipulation in my review policy to the effect that the request for a review gives permission to use the book cover in said review and for advertising said review.

But what about books I got from the library or I purchased myself and then reviewed? Or galleys from Netgalley - the publishers don't read my review policy. As an affiliate, Amazon has coding I can use that includes the cover. Is that allowed under Fair Use as the link will contain my affiliate code?

I dare say that most authors and publishers have no problem with using the cover image in a review or other blog post. But we also know that sometimes authors behave badly when a review is negative or one they considered not glowing enough. Then what?

Reviews are subjective and while you may think you gave it a positive review an author may not see it that way. The fourth point the article gives for allowance under Fair Use,

"Do not use copyrighted work in a manner that would compromise the copyright holder's ability to earn from it."

A negative review could be argued that it does compromise the copyright holder's ability to earn. But what about the okay reviews? You know the ones where you liked the book, but it wasn't stellar or particularly a standout. Could you get in hot water? Perhaps. I'm not a lawyer and I'm not sure what precedent exists on the question. However, there have been a few cases of suits over negative reviews of businesses and I could see where an author could think this was opportunity to remove a negative review.

I know many authors read my weekly tips posts and I would love to hear your opinion on bloggers using book covers and author photos on their posts. Do you consider it an infringement on your copyright for bloggers to use cover images in their reviews? What about other posts - like release announcements, interviews, guest posts, general news?

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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Exposing the Psalms by Peter Nevland

by Donna Huber

Exposing the Psalms
When I find myself neglecting my daily Bible study, I often turn to the Psalms. When I was on Netgalley I noticed this book, Exposing the Psalms, and thought it might make an interesting read. Peter Nevland took a more creative approach than most of the commentaries that I typically read. It was a refreshing change and Nevland's insight gave much to think about.

I do recommend using Exposing the Psalms as a daily devotional as opposed as a recreational read. I found that there was much to ruminate on with each chapter, which features one Psalm, and when I tried to read more than a chapter in a sitting that I had too much to think on and missed out on the deeper thoughts Nevland provoked.

Buy Exposing the Psalms at Amazon

When I read books like this, I always want to know if it can be translated into a group Bible study. I used the material twice in my Sunday morning Bible study. I think it would have been better if the other members were also reading the book. Also Nevland makes reference to other Biblical passages without providing the reference so that made it difficult in preparing for the discussion. I found that I needed to more research while preparing the lesson. But the class enjoyed the topic and we did learn a knew tidbit about the Psalms.

In most commentaries, the Greek is well explained for New Testament passages, but I don't find as much detail is given for Hebrew in the Old Testament. I really liked that Nevland explored language and usage. And the tidbit we learned - in Hebrew there are 7 words that translate to the English word praise. I think the explanations of Hebrew words and poetry conventions added a depth to the Psalms that I had previously missed when study them.

Perhaps the only thing that really detracted from the book was the format. I think I would have much preferred it to be in paperback as I read it as an ebook. I'm glad to see that it is now also available in paperback.

If you are looking for something to accompany your daily personal Bible study without it being too scholarly or feel like textbook, then Exposing the Psalms by Peter Nevland is for you. But don't think just because I said it wasn't "too scholarly" that it is a fluff read. No, you will definitely be challenged and your understanding of the Psalms will be enhanced.

Book info:
Published March 2014 by Authentic Media
ISBN13: 9781860249037
Source: Netgalley
Read: April - July 2014

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Dead Hunger by Eric A. Shelman

by Claire Rees

Dead Hunger
My favourite genre is apocalyptic horror and more specifically Zombies. I bought Dead Hunger by Eric A. Shelman as it was part of my Zombie book club’s book of the month and I have to say that it quickly become my favourite zombie series.

The story follows Flex Sheridan as he fights for survival in this new and unforgiving zombie apocalypse. Along the way he loses friends and family but also picks up with some good people who become as good as family very quickly and they become a close knit group. We meet the intelligent Hemp whose job included human genetics before the end of the world as they knew it, and then Flex’s long lost love, Gem, who fought her way through hell to find Flex. They meet others along the way and start to plan for the way forward together.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves zombie/apocalypse stories but also to those who love a good adventure. With plenty of gory bits and zombies that get a little too close for comfort Dead Hunger will keep you turning page after page and you will quickly become addicted.

Buy Dead Hunger at Amazon
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Book info
Published October 2011 by Dolphin Moon Publishing
ISBN13: 9780966940046
Source: Purchased
Read: July 2014

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


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