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August 4, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 4: Where I sat

This is where I sit when I blog, watch television, read books. It rained today so this is WHERE I SAT most the day (reading a book, of course).

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Confusing: Dark Side of the Moon

Dark Side of the Moon by Ahmad Taylor
ebook
Published January 2010 by Ahmad Taylor
Read July 2012
Goodreads, Amazon

When I was sent the pitch for this book, I was not going to accept it for review. While the premise was something I thought I would possibly enjoy, the pitch needed work. I learned early on that you can tell a lot about how the book will be from the pitch. Also, the manuscript was attached in the initial pitch email, which is a pet peeve of mine. However, Ahmad was to be a guest on The Indie Exchange Book Bloggers radio show, so I thought I should read it as prep work. You can listen to the show here.

I was confused for the first third of the book. No where in the pitch or the book summary does it mention that the writing style is stream of consciousness. I am not a fan of this writing style. I read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf in high school. I had to give an hour presentation and I knew this unique style would give me plenty to talk about. However, I knew it would not be a style I would voluntarily read again.

About halfway through I caught on to what was happening as you are pretty much told by another character. However, the sequence of Jeanie's training with her father didn't really seem to fit in to the stream of consciousness style as the main character is not seen in the scenes.

By 75% I had figured it out and felt let down by the ending. When I reviewed Revenge, I asked you if you liked to figure out the mystery before the characters do. I actually don't. I want the big Aha! moment with the characters. I love nothing more than see all the pieces and hints dropped throughout the story to come together and the answer revealed through the realization by the character. Like I said I was two-thirds through and knew the ending. Except I didn't expect the story to end with the character's realization. I thought there would be more resolution to the storyline. Again, both the summary and pitch failed to mention that this was book 1 in a series. I learned during the interview, which made the ending a bit more tolerable.

I thought the story idea was great, but was disappointed with the execution of the plot. While some of the flaws in the story that bugged me may have to do with what is really happening (I'm trying hard not to include spoilers in this review), I think they kept me from immersing myself in the story. As a scientist, I had a hard time believing that scientific protocol would be abandoned nor did the story set the universe up to make it believable. A bit more attention to editing in the later part of the book would have helped to. I was distracted by misuse of words. For example, when discussing the research to increase the shelf life of their food,

"Your father had been toying with the idea of improving the length of time rations remained viable for edification."

According to Dictionary.com, edification means "improvement, instruction, or enlightenment, especially when morally or spiritually uplifting." I can only come to the conclusion the wrong word was used.

My copy also had some formatting issues where the font would change mid-sentence or even mid-word that I found distracting. This may not be true for the Kindle version as my copy is not a mobi file.

Maybe the problems I saw in the story will be explained later in the series. However, my interest was not piqued enough nor a strong enough emotional connection to the characters was formed to have me seeking out the sequel.

Dark Side of the Moon has received some great praise on Goodreads. I think this is one of those books that appeals to a certain group of readers and I just happen not to be that set of readers.

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August 3, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 3: Coin

My international COIN collection: Jamaican dollars, Euros, Czech Koruna, and Hungarian Forint

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Friday Fun: August Release Round-up

Get these books hot off the press...

August 1
New edition from Renaissance Romance Publishing

August 1
Book 2 from Flying Squid

August 7
Book 3 from Piatkus Books

August 7
Book 1 from St. Martin's Press

August 15
New edition from Renaissance Romance Publishing

August 16
New edition from The Writer's Coffee Shop

August 16
Book 1

August 18
Book 2

August 21
Hardcover and ebook from Feiwel & Friends

August 21
Hardcover and ebook from Henry Holt and Co.

If you have a book coming out in September, you can have it included in the Release Round-up by submitting it here.
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August 2, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 2: One

Lunch today: combo meal ONE...


Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Tips on Thursday: Triberr

I have mentioned in past Tips that I'm part of a networking group at Triberr. I thought I would share what Triberr is and some ways to get the most out of it. Triberr is a gathering place for bloggers with the intent of expanding each bloggers' reach. It is a way to bring bloggers together to share each other's networks.

Each member of Triberr joins a Tribe of like-content bloggers. There are a number of tribes for book bloggers and authors. You can find some highly specialized tribes and you are not limited to being a member of only one tribe. If you do have a niche blog you may find it beneficial to belong to a specialized tribe and a general book blogger tribe for the most exposure. Tribe members commit to share each other's blog content with their networks. Note some tribes have rules about how many shares you must do each day/week/month while others do not. Each tribe sets their own guidelines so make sure you check them out before joining.

You may be wondering if all members are doing is sharing blog posts why you would need Triberr. Sure, you may have a few loyal followers who occasionally tweet your post or share a link on Facebook, but it is the ease and connections that make Triberr so great. While you may have to convince your readers to share your content, the members of the tribe are in the same boat as you and better than your average reader understand the importance of sharing a post with a larger audience (their network).

Triberr streamlines that process by making it simple to locate like-content bloggers and share content. It uses your sites RSS feed to pull the content from your blog into your tribe's stream.

The above picture is how your post appears in the tribe's stream. Members now have a number of options to share your content. They can click the approve button and it will be scheduled to go out on Twitter and/or Facebook. Under settings, members can specify how often these posts are sent. By clicking the Share button, members are given more options:

 They can set whether posts are sent to Twitter and/or Facebook. I do very little with Facebook, so do not have mine set to send automatically to Facebook. They can also stumble posts (see my StumbleUpon post about the benefits of this social bookmarking site). They can manually (and immediately) tweet the post, share it on LinkedIn and send it to Google+ all in an effort to reach their audience with your content. This much sharing is virtually impossible (from a time involvement standpoint alone) if each person had to go to each blog and click the social buttons. The link is active in Triberr so members can and do read your content via the site.

A precaution to using Triberr... Keep in mind high volumes of promotional posts to Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon can have adverse effects on your influence within your network. One way I avoid over-sharing is by scheduling all my tweets through Hootsuite. If you take a look at the first picture again,

see what I've circled in red? That is the message that will go out when you select the approve button. I just copy that message and then paste it into my Hootsuite schedule. Each day I go to the stream and select posts for the next day (I usually schedule midnight to midnight). This way if I have other events (client promotional tweets or personal promo tweets) I can see the full schedule and know how much and when everything is going out. Yes, this adds a tiny amount of extra work for me, but I feel that it is worth it to maintain my network influence.

For Triberr to work for you, you must be an active participant. Even with tribes that do not have sharing thresholds, most members have a "you share mine, I'll share yours" mentality. If you aren't actively sharing posts on your social media networks for other members of the tribe then it is likely that your content will not be shared either.

Also, make sure your content is the best it can be. A tweet, a like on Facebook, a LinkedIn update, a stumble - all reflect on the one who is sharing it. While it may not be a full endorsement, many do think it is a recommendation at the least. Good content shares = "this person knows/shares great things", follows him/her, network reach increased. Bad content shares = "this person knows nothing, I don't have time to sort through crap", stops following him/her, network reach decreased.



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August 1, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 1: Outside

It's a new month so there is a new Photo a Day Challenge list at Fat Mum Slim. Here is the view OUTSIDE my front door...


Michelle Birbeck: Divided by a Common Language (guest post)

Please welcome UK author Michelle Birbeck to Girl Who Reads. Michelle is 28 and has been reading and writing her whole life. Her earliest memory of books was when she was five and decided to try and teach her fish how to read by putting her Beatrix Potter books in the fish tank with them. Since then her love of books has grown, and now she is writing her own and looking forward to seeing them on her shelves, though they won’t be going anywhere near the fish tank. When she’s not writing, she’s out and about on her motorbike or sitting with her head in a book.

Divided by a Common Language
Writing anything for an English speaking audience, when English is your first language, at first seems like an easy task. After all, a door is a door, a chair a chair, and an end terrace is…

Well, that’s the thing.

Being born and raised in the United Kingdom and writing a book set here, it never occurred to me that my audience might not know what I was talking about. Between America and the UK we all speak the same language, right? Not quite.

You say elevator. I say lift (unless I’m trying to sound posh). You say chips. I say chips, too, but when I say it I mean fries.

Then I say end terrace, and everyone looks at me blankly. To me, an end terrace is exactly that. It’s an end terrace. So when I was writing my book, The Last Keeper, and wanted to explain the type of house my character lived in, I used this really simple, straight to the point line: A large end terrace was waiting for me in the heart of the city.

And then my editor sent it back to me with a nice big comment telling me she had absolutely no idea what I was on about.

I can’t tell you how long I sat staring at my computer completely dumbfounded that such a simple phrase had caused so much confusion. How is it possible that we speak the same language, but have no idea when it comes to simple descriptions such as this?

In the case of the mysterious end terrace it’s fairly simple. Here in the UK we don’t have as much room as there is in America. So most of our houses are packed in tight; rows upon rows of them. We call them terraced houses. Each house is joined onto the next, with no space between them. The ones in the middle are called terraced houses, and the ones on either end are called end terraces. In America that’s not the case for the most part. There are sweeping amounts of land with plenty of room for lots of houses on their own plots of land. Yet to me, and thus to my English characters, referring to a house as an end terrace is a simple case of that’s what it is.

So with a clear divide between our languages over things so simple as food and housing, what can we, as writers, do about it?

The first and biggest thing is to be aware of who your audience is. If you’re based in the UK, writing a book set in the UK, being published by a UK publisher, then you might not have to worry so much about these things. It’s all right to refer to monkey’s blood sauce, lifts, car parks, and shops, if your audience is likely to just be based in the UK. The same goes for anyone based in the US. If your audience is primarily stateside, then using references such as condo, parking garage, and elementary school, is perfectly fine.

Problems arise when trying to cross the pond from either side, and being aware that your intention is to do so will be a big help.

Once you’re aware of your audience, you’ve won half the battle. The next thing is to make yourself aware of the differences. Read books set in your audience’s country and make note of how things are described. Look at the differences between how you refer to something and how they refer to it. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to write for your target audience in a way they’ll understand.

But what about crossing the pond on both sides? Writing for more than one audience can be as hard as writing for an audience you’re not familiar with, and knowing what they call their car parks may
not help.

The way I tackled this with The Last Keeper was to find different ways of describing things. Like the end terrace. Instead of adding a paragraph of description so my audience both in the UK and US could understand it, I changed the wording. End terrace became town house. Bedside cabinet became bedside table.

Both of those examples for my UK audience make sense either way. The alternates, however, make sense to both of my main audiences. It didn’t detract from the story to make those changes, and by doing so expanded who would be able to pick up my book and read it. Which is what we all want, at the end of the day; people to pick up our books and read them.

So if you’re planning on writing a novel to span the pond it pays to know your audience and to be aware of the differences. We might speak the same language, but we all speak it differently.

Learn more about Michelle:
http://michellebirbeck.co.uk/
@michellebirbeck

Fifteen hundred years ago, Serenity Cardea took the life of the only vampire she ever regretted killing—Henry, her sister’s husband. With her sister brutally murdered, Serenity had little choice but to grant Henry the only request he had: death. Centuries later, Serenity is no closer to discovering who betrayed them or instigated the massacre of her brothers and sisters.

The vampires want dominance—over their food, the other races . . . the world. To get it, they’ve systematically hunted down and slaughtered the only ones standing in their way. The Keepers.

As a Keeper, Serenity is tasked with protecting the delicate balance between the creatures of the world: Vampire, Witch, Were, and Human. Her kind exists to ensure that no single race sways the balance, dooming the world to destruction.

They're on the brink of extinction, with no sign of return. Now only two remain, and Serenity’s last brother is facing death, leaving her standing alone against a never-ending tide of vampires, all wanting one thing: power.

Then she meets Ray Synclair, a history professor in training with a passion for centuries past, and the harsh reality of her limited time comes crashing down on her. He is her weakness. His mortality is the countdown on Serenity’s life, and with each passing second, it comes closer to the end, for both of them.

She must uncover the secrets of her people’s past and find out who betrayed them—and who is still doing so—before it’s too late.

Serenity’s days are numbered, and Ray will be drawn into a world of myth and legend, where just being alive is enough to get him hunted down.

Because the only way to kill a Keeper is to kill their partner . . .From Goodreads.com
Find The Last Keeper at Goodreads and Amazon.
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July 31, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 31: Toothbrush

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

See all my photos on Pinterest

Good Mystery: Revenge

Revenge: A Travis Mays Novel by Mark Young
paperback, 361 pages
Published February 2011 by Mark Young
ISBN13: 9780983266310
Read July 2012
Goodreads, Amazon 


I continue to delve into the backlog that is my TBR pile. I received a free copy of Revenge for review last October. I was quite intrigued by the plot and though I knew if would be a while before I got to it, I didn't think it would be this long. I did loan the book to my mom and she loved it. She keeps mentioning it and wondering if there's any more in this series.


I enjoyed Revenge. It was a good mystery. Travis has retired from law enforcement when an informant (whom he happened to fall in love with) is killed in the midst of an operation to get him information on an organized crime ring. The guilt, and fallout of the botched investigation, led Travis to a professorship and remote cabin. It is while at this remote cabin that he is drawn into a missing persons case and must confront his past.


Mark Young weaves a complicated web of connections. Though I wasn't entirely convinced of the catalyst that sent the dominoes tumbling, it was an interesting plot. Full of twist and red herrings, I was suspicious of almost all the characters. Sprinkled throughout the tale are subtle clues that allow the reader to eliminate suspects one by one. The story isn't over complex or steeped in subterfuge to the point that the reader cannot figure out the mystery. If you like to solve the crime before the characters, then you'll enjoy Revenge. I figured out the last of the mystery about 20 pages from the end when the characters are fully aware of who dunnit. 


There is a slight romance between Travis and Jessie. I didn't really feel a good connection between the two. I would expect them not to be together in future books. I really liked Frank and I hope any future books in this series will reprise this character.


If you are looking for a mystery that is complex to keep you on your toes, but simple enough to figure out, then pick up Revenge. Now I'm off to see what else is available from Mark Young as my mom has a birthday next week.


Your turn: Do you like to be able to solve the mystery or do you like to be kept guessing to the very end when the solution is revealed to the characters?
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July 30, 2012

Photo a Day Challenge Day 30: Calm

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Reading Update: New Books this Week!


News:

I joined Coral of Alchemy of Scrawl for the weekly Indie Exchange's Book Bloggers radio show Friday night. Our special author guest was Ahmad Taylor. We also chatted about a bunch of end of summer events (ie tons of giveaways). Listen to the archive here.

This week's Indie Exchange giveaway is The Day of First Sun by Sheryl Stienes. Enter here.

Have an August release? Get included in my Release Round-up by listing it here.

Finished:

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. From Goodreads.com
See my review. Find Catching Fire at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon



When a trained killer threatens ex-cop Travis Mays-and those Travis loves-he finds a skilled adversary and an unexpected fight.

After a high stakes gamble ends in personal tragedy, Travis walks away from years of training and a highly successful law enforcement career. Determined never to look back, he starts a new life and a new career, teaching criminology at the university and building a cabin in the idyllic Idaho Mountains. He hires a beautiful river guide, Jessie White Eagle from the Nez Perce tribe, to guide him safely down the Lochsa. The turbulence of the whitewater, however, is just the beginning of his troubles. Travis finds himself in the crosshairs of a killer-calling himself Creasy-bent on revenge.

This fast-paced thriller takes readers on a wild ride down Idaho's whitewater rivers, along the historic Lolo Trails once tread by the Nez Perce nation, and onto the city streets of California. Tighten your helmet. This ride never stops until the last shot is fired and the final body falls. From Goodreads.com
Find Revenge at Goodreads, Amazon

Government agent Derrick Thomas awakes from a disturbing dream to find a message from his father asking for help. As he sets out to lend his assistance he quickly discovers that not only can he not find his father, but that a clandestine government agency is out to derail his search before it can begin. After the murders of two of his father’s colleagues and the further disappearances of his mother and sister, Derrick is thrust into a fight for his own life and the struggle to uncover details of a secret government experiment which his family may be part of. Will he be able to save them and uncover the truth before he becomes the next victim of a government bent on keeping him silent? From Goodreads.com
 Find Dark Side of the Moon at Goodreads, Amazon.

Listening:

Jude the Obscure is the last of Thomas Hardy’s novels, begun as a magazine serial and first published in book form in 1895. Its hero Jude Fawley is a lower-class young man who dreams of becoming a scholar. The two other main characters are his earthy wife, Arabella, and his intellectual cousin, Sue. Themes include class, scholarship, religion, marriage, and the modernization of thought and society. (Summary from Wikipedia.)

This edition is a free, downloadable audiobook from LibriVox. The source text is available from Project Gutenberg.


Find Jude the Obscure at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

Reading:

Reporter Rachel Cooper is America’s Sweetheart – but that won’t help her when human traffickers kidnap her sister. Can an old flame help her protect the ones she loves? Does she even want him to? From Goodreads.com
 Find Devil in Disguise at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon







We rely on science to tell us everything from what to eat to when and how long to exercise, but what about relationships? Is there a scientific explanation for why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle? According to psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, the answer is a resounding "yes."
In Attached, Levine and Heller reveal how an understanding of adult attachment-the most advanced relationship science in existence today-can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment posits that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:


Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner's ability to love them back Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness. Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving. In this book Levine and Heller guide readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mate) follow, offering a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections with the people they love. From Goodreads.com
 Find Attached at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

This Week:

Tuesday: Review of Revenge by Mark Young
Wednesday: Guest post with Michelle Birbeck
Tips on Thursday: Triberr
Friday Fun: August Releases
Saturday: Review of Dark Side of the Moon by Ahmad Taylor

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