Thursday, November 26, 2015

My #Thanksgiving Reading

by Donna Huber

We are only weeks away from the end of the year and I'm feeling the pressure to meet my Goodreads reading challenge goal. I made a goal of 72 books, but my reading slump this fall put me really behind. Thankfully I found some audio books to listen to at work and then yesterday I discovered a couple of short stories on my Nook. So I'm now only 1 book behind schedule which means I have 9 more books to read before the clock strikes midnight December 31st.

How are you doing on your reading challenge?

I currently have 3 books I'm reading: an audio book, an ebook, and a paperback.

In audio:
cover Longbourn

A brilliantly imagined, irresistible below-stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice: a story of the romance, intrigue and drama among the servants of the Bennet household, a triumphant tale of defying society's expectations, and an illuminating glimpse of working-class lives in Regency England.

The servants at Longbourn estate--only glancingly mentioned in Jane Austen's classic--take centre stage in Jo Baker's lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighboring Netherfield Hall, the carefully choreographed world downstairs at Longbourn threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, up-ended. From the stern but soft-hearted housekeeper to the starry-eyed kitchen maid, these new characters come vividly to life in this already beloved world. Jo Baker shows us what Jane Austen wouldn't in a captivating, wonderfully evocative, moving work of fiction.

Buy Longbourn at Amazon

In ebook:
cover Awakening

In Awakening, the first installment in the Dark Rituals series, a former healer turns to the Death Arts to seek revenge.

Seventeen-year-old Colina was born a healer. But after a horrific event forces her to leave her clan, she becomes desperate to learn the dark magic of the death dealers, mages who draw their power from the spirits of the dead. Colina was taught to fear and hate death dealers, but becoming one of them is the only way for her to get the revenge she seeks—and the only way for her to survive.

Colina asks a young death dealer named Luke to help her, but he’s reluctant to train her in the Death Arts. Little does she know convincing him to teach her will be the easiest part of her journey. To become a death dealer, Colina will need to undergo three dark rituals, each more terrifying than the last. At the same time, she’ll have to deal with her growing feelings for her mentor. Too bad the first ritual involves him strangling her to death.

As Colina undergoes the trials, she discovers an untapped darkness within herself. If she survives the horrific rituals and gains dark power, what will she become?

Catrina Burgess’ Dark Rituals series originally appeared on Wattpad with over three million reads. Awakening is the first book of four and was named Wattpad’s Best Suspense Story of 2014.

Buy Awakening at Amazon

In paperback:
cover Imperfect

They call it the Slump: a city of ruins where orphaned street kids struggle to survive.

But to fifteen-year-old Summer Greenwood, it’s home. Not a good home, but at least there she can find food and shelter for her sisters, Lily and Tory.

To the powerful Making Perfect corporation, however, the Slump is a gold mine, a source of unending test subjects. Once a month, squads of company officials invade the ruins to capture orphans for their facilities. What happens to the kids they take is unclear—none of them ever return.

Then Summer herself is taken.

Forced into a series of grueling experiments, she soon discovers that Making Perfect’s ultimate goal is far darker than anything she imagined. As she fights to get back to the Slump and her now-defenseless sisters, she begins to understand why once you enter Making Perfect, you never get out.

Buy Imperfect at Amazon

What you reading this long holiday weekend? (Even if you aren't celebrating Thanksgiving, let me know what you are reading!)

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Pull of YA Fiction

by Kathleen Barker

Believe it or not, some writers are attracted to the Young Adult genre because they think this category is easier to write...that a child's or teen's mind is less demanding, easier to satisfy and, therefore, less demanding for an author.  I'm not making this up.  It has been privately admitted to me by a few.

Gae Polisner is NOT one of those authors.

Writing YA faction demands a special understanding of the young mind.   All of us have experienced the struggles that the teen years bring, but maturity erases the details.  We remember the most terrible and joyful events, but much of the everyday angst and embarrassment fades as we learn to deal with life as an adult.

Polisner's The Pull of Gravity shows that the author has an exquisite understanding of young minds.  Her characters Nick and Jaycee handle problems with siblings who torment and parents who disappear with an astounding authenticity.  Nick rages over a father who checks out physically by becoming grossly obese before abandoning his family.  His best friend, Scoot, is dying of progeria, and his brother, Jeremy, shoots holes in Nick's small bubbles of hope with snarky retorts.  When Scoot entrusts a valuable book to Jaycee, a journey to maturity begins.  Nick and Jaycee set off on a trip to find the now-deceased Scoot's father, unaware that it is all part of a plan.  Polisner also skillfully weaves Steinbeck's classic Of Mice and Men into the story.

The Pull of Gravity has already been incorporated into many classrooms as educators have realized its appeal to young readers.  I can't think of any other book that would shine more brightly in holiday gift wrap this season than this jewel of a story.  

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio

by Donna Huber

cover Warrent the 13th and the All Seeing Eye

Warren the 13th tiptoed across the roof of the Warren Hotel, causing the old slate tiles to clatter like bones. A crisp autumn wind snapped at his back, threatening to knock him off balance, but he kept going. A fall from the top of an eight-story building was the least of his worries. He had a chimney to repair.

The Review

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye is a middle grades fantasy adventure full of secrets, riddles, villains, good guys, and mysterious people.

I selected this book when I was a winner at Armchair BEA  I thought my nephew would like the book. What I didn't realize was how much I would like the book. I don't read too many illustrated novels, but this one was really well done. The images and word art enhanced the story. I wish I had a final version because my advance copy didn't contain all the illustrations.

It was a really smart story that kept me engaged and looking forward to what would happen next. The riddles had me a bit stumped and I enjoyed how the mystery unfolded.

I wonder what the next adventure will be.

Warren the 13th would make a great present for a middle grades child or for a family to read together.

Buy Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (224 pages)
published: November 2015 by Quirk Books
ISBN13: 9781594748035
genres: fantasy, mystery
target audience: middle grades
source: publisher
read: November 2015

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.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Byddi Lee: Irishisms in America #MondayBlogs

The difference in language and how it is used in two countries that both speak English is astonishing. We see it all the time between British English and American English: rubbish and trash, nappies and diapers, trousers and pants, biscuits and cookies. Perhaps that last example is a stretch. I’ve come to appreciate that cookies are softer, chewy versions of their crisp and crunchy British counterparts. On my first visit to the US, many years ago, I bought a cookie in a shopping mall. It was soft. In Ireland, soft means it’s stale. So I brought it back to the vendor who patiently explained that they were supposed to be like that. I wondered what kind of a country I had come to, where the tea was cold (iced tea) and the biscuits soggy!

It took a while for me to get used to the word “pants” as well. On our side of the pond, you wear your pants under your trousers. I still struggle to keep my face straight and be gracious when someone here tells me they like my pants! In Ireland, I’d just slap them for looking where they shouldn’t.

Irishisms are another tier of language differences again. It’s a combination of our cultural differences and the fact that we have our own language hovering in the wings, known as Gaeilge or Gaelic. The sentence structure of the Irish language often puts the verb at the beginning of the sentence, so you might hear an Irish person say something like, “Will you be wanting milk in your tea?”

Then there are words that we have pulled directly from Gaelic. For example, an Irish person would know exactly what a “munchy” is. The Irish words muintir na háite (pronounced like “moon-chore na hat-cha”) literally translates as local people. Munchy is used in the same way an American would use the word “hillbilly” and it’s considered a fairly derogatory term.

One of my favorite words from the Irish language is craic, pronounced like “crack.” One of the most versatile and user friendly words we Irish have, it can mean fun, as in, “Was the pub good craic last night?”  It can mean gossip. For example, “Any craic from the pub last night?” means, “What happened at the pub?” Particularly did anyone disgrace themselves? Always a favorite topic of discussion. If you had a tale of lots of bad things happening in the pub last night, that would be “bad craic.” Of course, you don’t need a pub to feature in the craic at all but it helps!

cover March to November
My writing group in California found it difficult to get to grips with the word “craic” thinking it was some kind of illicit recreational drug. But Americans may be more familiar with the term “dig it” which is derived from the Irish an dtuigeann tú? (pronounced like “An dig-in too”) and means, “Do you understand?” Then there’s bróg (brogue) the Irish for shoe and cailín (colleen) for girl, to mention but a few.

Writing a book based in Belfast and having it critiqued by Americans held challenges, apart from the foreign words. I had to write in American English and do things like drop the “u” from words such as honor, favor and neighbor. Great – I’m all about one less keystroke. But concepts were another matter.

It took me most of an evening to explain to my writing group what a “hot press” was.

“It’s the cupboard you keep your emersion heater in,” I explained.

“What’s an emersion heater?”

Oh boy! An emersion heater is a big copper tank with an electrical element that heats up water. Some of that heat escapes into the cupboard around it, providing an excellent place to dry clothes, especially in a rainy country like Ireland, where surprisingly few people use tumble dryers. You have to turn the emersion heater on twenty minutes or so before you have a bath or shower to let it warm the water. You turn it off as soon as you are finished so that you don’t waste electricity, which is very expensive in Ireland, hence the shortage of tumble dryers. When I was a kid, leaving the emersion heater on was a crime right up there with doing drugs or getting pregnant.

In the end it was too hard to weave the explanation into in the book, and my character just didn’t bother with the damp towels. Instead, I sent her straight for her tea.

“Why is she having tea?” one critiquer asked, when I’d submitted the rewrite.

“Because it’s tea-time,” I replied.

“But can’t you drink tea anytime?”

Indeed, especially in Ireland where they drink tea all day long, my characters were constantly putting on the kettle. However, there is a time slot in the day called, “Tea-time,” which is at dinner-time. If you’ve already had dinner at lunch-time then dinner-time becomes tea-time. Supper can also take place at dinner-time, but dinner can never take place at suppertime - too late for such a heavy meal. Breakfast is always breakfast, unless it’s brunch which can be lunch if you don’t eat breakfast food.

Even within Ireland, Irishisms vary. The word “deadly” in Belfast means something is very bad craic. In Dublin, one hundred miles south, if you described something as “deadly” it is the equivalent of saying it is awesome! In Ireland, dead does not necessarily mean bad. Seriously, you can enjoy a good wake. A wake is what happens between someone dying and getting buried - and wakes can be good craic, especially if it’s the wake of someone old, who enjoyed a good life. Wakes are a party to celebrate that life and are, for the older generation, a huge social scene.

The Irish are all about the social scene. We are a very gregarious nation. By the third time I’d used a bar as a backdrop to a scene (different bars each time) my critiquing group thought my characters were complete alcoholics. But thankfully my fellow writers in America enjoyed the craic, and even as they questioned the amount of tea and Guinness the characters drank, they could dig it.

Buy March to November at Amazon

About the author:
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 round 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.
She is currently writing her second novel, a science fiction story set in a future where the earth’s icecaps have melted and Armagh is the capital of Ireland.
Besides being a novelist, Byddi is also a Master Gardener. She writes a blog on life as an Irish gardener and traveler living in California called, “We didn’t come here for the grass.” She also gives talks and classes on gardening.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Featured Book: Uncommon Bodies

NEW RELEASE: UnCommon Bodies is a collection of stories curated by Pavarti K. Tyler that span across genres to explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible

UCB CoverSUMMARY: Step right up to the modern freakshow — We have mermaids, monsters, and more. You won't be disappointed, but you may not get out alive.

UnCommon Bodies presents a collection of 20 beautifully irreverent stories which blend the surreal and the mundane. Imagine a world where magic exists, where the physical form has the power to heal or repulse, where a deal with the devil means losing so much more than your soul.

INCLUDES STORIES BY: Philip Harris, Sessha Batto, Robb Grindstaff, Brent Meske, Sally Basmajian, Robert Pope, Keira Michelle Telford, Jordanne FullerMichael Harris Cohen, Deanne Charlton, P.K. Tyler ,Bey Deckard , Vasil Tuchkov, Laxmi Hariharan, Samantha Warren, Rebecca Poole, Daniel Arthur Smith, S.M. Johnson, Kim Wells, Christopher Godsoe, and Bob Williams

PRE-ORDER NOW for Release on 11/24. FREE on Kindle Unlimited. Get it at Amazon.

You can see the full summaries of all the stories on GoodReads.

To Celebrate, the authors are hosting a Facebook Party on 11/24 Join the Fun!

And there's more! What? Yep! The Authors are also giving away a Kindle! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Blog Tour: Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Playset

cover Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Playset
The book opens into three separate rooms and includes:

10 perforated dolls: Explore the White House with Hillary, mow the lawn with Bill, and draft executive orders with staff and senior advisors.

Republican adversaries: Stay tough but polite with Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, and other contrary characters.

Outfits, accessories, and expressions: Pick the perfect pantsuit and expression of your choice (from Scholarly to Dignified Disapproval) to match every occasion.

White House ghosts: Hang out with past residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, including George Washington. Nancy Reagan, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

If you have a kid like Alex P. Keaton,
then this paperdoll playset would be a great Christmas gift.

This post should not be considered a political endorsement of any campaign or political party. And in case I dated myself with the caption - Michael J. Fox played Alex P. Keaton, an ambitious republican teen in a staunchly democrat family, in the 1980s sitcom Family Ties.

Buy Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidential Playset at Amazon

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.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

#NaNoWriMo Tips from Grammarly

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic

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.


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