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June 16, 2012

Worth the Wait: Hunger Games

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
audiobook, narrator Carolyn McCormick
Published October 2009 by Scholastic Audio
ISBN13: 2000003670451
Listened: May 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Powell's Books, Amazon

For those who follow me on Twitter (or watch my vlog) knows I was on a very long waiting list for the audiobook of Hunger Games. I didn't read the series when it came out a few years ago because I was still a bandwagon reader and none of my friends were reading it. Then when the craze hit earlier this year, I just had too many books in my pile. After watching the movie, I knew I had to read the book. However, I still didn't have space on my reading list. Audiobook was the only way I was going to get to it. And it was worth the wait.

Cover of "Catching Fire (The Second Book ...
Cover via Amazon
I love listening to books that are told in first person. It is easier to keep up with the story because it is limited and focused. I thought the movie followed the book pretty closely, making changes only to make the story to flow now that it was no longer told in first person. Of course there were details that the movie left out that enriched the story now that I listened to the whole book.

I cried in the same spot on the audiobook as I did in the movie. The scene with Cinna and Katniss right before the Game starts. I think Cinna may be my favorite character. I hope we get more of his background. I'm on the waiting list for Catching Fire, so please NO SPOILERS. He seems to be more affected by the Game than the other members of the team. It's like he sees it as the sadistic tool of the Capital that it is. I wonder if he isn't really from the capital.

Even if you've read the books, I suggest checking out the audio version. I think it always adds a little something to the story. Definitely if you are going on vacation/long car trip put Hunger Games on your playlist. For more audiobook recommendations check out my post: Audiobooks for Summer Road Trips

Your turn: Do you like to listen to the audiobook even if you have read the book or watched the movie? Do you have a preference in narration style (first person, third person, etc.)?
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June 15, 2012

Friday Fun: #BookTravels

For the rest of summer, I'm going to do a series of posts called Friday Fun. During ArmchairBEA several bloggers said they liked getting to know other bloggers with "personal" posts (not just posts about books). I also discovered some fun games that I hope to play on the blog so you'll not want to miss my Friday posts. There might even be some GIVEAWAYS!

Speaking of Giveaways, here are the winners from my HUGE ArmchairBEA giveaway last week.
Beth D., Bonnie Y., Carol O., Jo B., Julie N., Adee H., Ashley K., Lauren G., Laura T., Tamie B., SarahW., Angela D., Alyce R., Jessica L., Amber H., Laure Kay B., and Shae C. Congratulations!

sidewalk at Prague Zoo
It's summer and it's time for vacations. I have always wanted to go on a road trip (though I don't like to drive). I want to visit as many zoos as possible. I have visited 3 zoos - Atlanta, Houston, and Prague. But for a road trip, I think it would be cool to visit literary sights. You know, houses where authors grew up or places that were significant in my favorite books. I don't know if I will ever do a cross country road trip. Growing up my family vacations were normally day trips. That got me thinking about local literary sights. I found a list at Georgia Center for the Book: Southern Literary Trail. It includes 3 states, but I'm just focusing on Georgia.

Atlanta Literary Sights:
First off, we all know about Margaret Mitchell's home in Atlanta. It has been turned into a Gone with the Wind museum. I have driven past it, but never gone in.
English: Photograph of the Margaret Mitchell H...
English: Photograph of the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia, USA taken by Jin-Ping Han on January 30th 2006 using a Canon Inc. Powershot S400 digital camera Category:Images of Atlanta, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Also in Atlanta, The Wren's Nest was home to Uncle Remus storyteller Joel Chandler Harris. According to the Southern Literary Trail (SLT) site, he was second only to Mark Twain in popularity.
English: This is the front of the Wren's Nest ...
English: This is the front of the Wren's Nest House Museum, the historic home of Joel Chandler Harris, the journalist who penned the Uncle Remus tales. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clayton Literary Sights:
Going a bit north, we learn about Lillian Smith. I've never heard of her, but according to SLT she was quite controversial in the deep south in 1940s. She's a banned book author. Strange Fruit, published in 1944, was banned in Boston because it told of a bi-racial love affair.

Library in the Museum (SLT)


Columbus Literary Sights:
Moving to the western border of Georgia, we discover the home of Carson McCullers. I do know of her book The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, however, I'm not sure I've actually read it. Cool tidbits: Carson was a good friend of Tennessee Williams (they vacationed together). In Columbus, there is a statue of Dr. John Pemberton, originator of the Coca-Cola formula.

Smith-McCullers House, childhood home of Carson McCullers (SLT)

Milledgeville Literary Sights:
In middle Georgia, we find the homes of two famous authors: Flannery O'Conner and Alice Walker. O'Conner resided at Andalusia Farms with her mother. While Alice grew up nearby in Eatonton. Funny enough I've visited both towns, but never knew I was close to literary greatness.

Cline House, where O'Connor lived from 1939 to 1945 (SLT)

Moreland Literary Sights:
Just southwest of Atlanta in the little town of Moreland one can visit the home of Erskine Caldwell. Georgia writers apparently like to stir up trouble or perhaps it was just the time for rebellion. Caldwell's first published book was The Bastard (1929). He was arrested and put on trail in New York City for it.

From SLT

Moreland is also home to the late humor columnist Lewis Grizzard.

Pavilion named for Lewis Grizzard (SLT)

Savannah Literary Sights:
On this last stop of Georgia's literary journey we head to coast and again partake in a little of Flannery O'Conner's history. O'Conner spent her childhood in Savannah before she was diagnosed with Lupus and moved to Milledgeville.
From SLT

While all these sights are within a day's driving distance from me, I probably won't be visiting any of them. In fact, the only travels I will be taking this summer will be wherever my books take me. This weekend my book travels take me to St. Regis Monarch Beach (Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes).

English: Monarch Beach, Dana Point, California...
Monarch Beach, Dana Point, California Photo by D Ramey Logan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Your turn: What are some literary locales in your area? Is there a literary place you would like to visit? Also, play on Twitter with #BookTravels where you state the setting of the book you are currently reading.


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June 13, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Pinterest

English: Red Pinterest logo
English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the fastest growing social media sites is Pinterest. Since it is a visual social media tool, I thought I would share this infographic I found at visual.ly. It is interesting to see how it is outpacing Facebook and Twitter. I'm not a visual person (most sites I visit are heavy on text), but I recognize the importance of pictures and graphics to others (see my Tips post on using photos). If you are like me and struggling to make Pinterest work for you, I have some suggestions below.

Browse more data visualizations.
Source: http://www.t...est-tamba/


As you can see, Pinterest can play an important (and profitable) role in your marketing plan. However, you need to leverage it correctly. Anyone who has used Pinterest for a length of time probably already knows that home and food related items are the most popular. So that mean your book blog can't compete, right? No. You just have to work a little harder for those likes and repins.

While I haven't seen any studies about optimal time/day to pin items, my small experiment yielded more repins and likes when I pinned the item on a Saturday afternoon. It the pin was from a post about You Are What You Wear by Jennifer Baumgartner so I was able to pin it to a home related board.

I also don't have a lot of bibliophiles following my on Pinterest, so that may have something to do with the low repins/likes. So, if you are interested

Follow Me on Pinterest

I'll follow you back.

Remember to pin other people's stuff and not just your own. Someone may come to your board for a home thing, but then decide to see what else you like and viola they found your book board. I also think creatively naming your boards might help. I have two book related board - Author I Love and Books Worth Reading. But I've seen boards like Bibliophile Fun, which might allow for a variety of book related pins - like bookish apparel and accessories.

Also think about what non-book boards your posts might fit into. I have a Helpful Tips board where I pin info I find helpful such as my Tips posts. If you review a book that would appeal to fashion people, pin the review to a fashion board. Kriss at Cabin Goddess has a Review & Recipe feature, so she pins her posts to food related boards. I mentioned in my review of True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano that it was the book equivalent of comfort food and pictured a lovely bowl of mac 'n cheese. That post got pinned to my food board.

Trying to incorporate Pinterest into your blog might lead to a creative way of reviewing and promoting books and authors. It is definitely something worth playing around with and who knows you could create a unique blog post that will make you stand out from the crowd. Go forth and be CREATIVE!


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Loved it: Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson
ebook
Published June 2011 by HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780062060570
Read May 2012
Get it: Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

I absolutely loved this book. I received it as a Random Act of Kindness gift. If you are the one who sent it to me - THANK YOU. I so enjoyed Before I Go To Sleep. This is exactly the type of book I love to read.

Can you imagine waking up each morning thinking you are a child or young adult, but instead of seeing the purple painted walls or the velvety rabbit wrapped in your arms there is a middle-aged man sharing your bed? That is the life of Christine. A traumatic accident has left her with a rare form of amnesia. When she goes to sleep each night her brain erases the memories. 

Are you thinking this sounds oddly like 50 First Dates? Yeah, I thought so, too, but it is much more sinister than the fun loving film starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. While reading, I got the same vibe I did when I read Sleeping with the Enemy by Nancy Price.
Cover of "50 First Dates (Widescreen Spec...
Cover via Amazon


Is there a reason Christine isn't remembering her life? Why does her husband not want to seek treatment or at least why hasn't anyone at least suggest she journal her days? 


Anyone who regularly reads psychological thrillers will not find too many surprises as it is conforms to the genre well. Yet, it is still an entertaining read. I found the ending a little maddening. I might have to search out fanfiction to see if anyone has done a continuation (that's how much I want to know how it all turns out).


If you are looking for an engaging story where you think you know what is going on but keeps you a bit off kilter the whole time, then I HIGHLY recommend Before I Go To Sleep




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June 12, 2012

Anita Hughes: My Writing Inspiration (guest post)

Today, I'm happy to welcome an author from "Down Under" to Girl Who Reads. Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia. At the age of eight, she won first prize in a nationwide writing contest sponsored by THE AUSTRALIAN, Australia's most prestigious newspaper. She graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing, and attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing Program. She lives at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, where she is at work on her next novel. For more information please go to www.anitahughesbooks.com

My Writing Inspiration
  
I write for one main reason. I love to read. Ever since I was six or seven, nothing has thrilled me more than a good book. I remember spending the whole summer when I was twelve, eating carrots and reading Agatha Christie novels. (I believed really sharp eye sight would add to my enjoyment of reading). In my teenage years I loved reading books that were slightly taboo – Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner, anything by Sydney Sheldon or Jackie Collins. In college I discovered great literature and swooned like a sorority girl on her first crush. I consumed Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, George Sand, Anais Ninn, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mary McCarthy. I couldn’t get enough.

In today’s world there are so many distractions. One pops on the Internet for a quick check of Facebook and ends up scrolling through countless interesting posts. Email, twitter, Youtube, the temptations are endless and the rewards fleeting but sweet. But reading! Getting lost in the newest Penny Vincenzi, Emily Giffin, Allison Winn Scotch is a pleasure that grows over a period of days. When the book is finished it leaves a lingering feeling of goodwill, like you’ve met new friends you won’t soon leave behind.

And writing I have discovered, is one step better than reading. When I write I completely immerse myself in the world I create. The characters become real, the locations (usually gorgeous and often exotic) are places I conjure up like a genie with a magic bottle. When I am in the midst of writing a novel, I carry the story around in my head. I can access it any time of day or night and immediately be wrapped up in the plot. It fills my thoughts when I’m walking the dog, sorting laundry, shopping at the grocery store – and it is much more entertaining than reading the tabloids at check-out.

Of course, my imaginary world is not perfect. Sometimes my characters refuse to do what I want them to. Sometimes I stare at the keyboard, willing them to guide me. On occasion writing can be so draining I am wrung out, without the energy to help with homework or clean up after dinner.

But I know I can step back, and attack the manuscript fresh in the morning. And I can always turn to my favorite authors – classic or modern – and lose myself in their stories. So maybe I have two loves – writing and reading. Together they make my life rich and I feel very fortunate to be able to be able to pursue them both.


Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes
Available June 19 from St. Martin's Press
Paperback (288 page) & ebook
Pre-order: IndieBound, Powell's Books, Amazon
Learn more: Goodreads



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June 11, 2012

Vlog #17: Updates


In case you missed it...

I appeared on Book Bloggers' Collaborative's radio show, which you can listen to the archive here. I come on at about the 40 minute mark, but there was a really great author on before me so just listen to the whole show.

If you want another chance to win a paperback copy of Karen Toz's Nate Rocks the World, you can enter the giveaway here. I've heard that the ebook is FREE today and you can get it here.

I did a new review on Saturday - Hellenic Immortal by Gene Doucette.

As mentioned in the video, Man of la Book recommended Click Millionaires by Scott Fox. If I win any gift cards from the giveaways I enter last week, I'm going to get the book.

AUTHORS: If you have a book coming out in July and would like it to be featured in my monthly new release feature (I'm still looking for a name for it. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment) sign up here.

I've been playing around a little with Twylah. You can see my page here.

Still Reading...



Coming up this week...

Tuesday - Guest Post with Anita Hughes, author of Monarch Beach.

Wednesday - Review of Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Tips on Thursday: Pinterest

Friday Fun

Saturday - Review of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (audio book)

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.
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