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September 1, 2012

Learn about yourself: Attached

Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
paperback, 273 pages
Published January 2012 by Tarcher
ISBN13: 9781585429134
Read July - August 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

I won Attached through a Goodreads giveaway in February. I was reading Going Single (read my review) at the time and decided I needed to take a break before I read a relationship book. The length of time it took me to read it does not truly reflect how easy of a read the book is (I just had a few books take priority and had to put it aside a couple of times). 

For a psychology book written by academics, it is a truly accessible read and in a lot of ways enjoyable (it's a touchy subject for me so I did cry quite a bit). In the beginning, it reminded me of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you are looking for a book where you can learn about yourself and how to interact with people, I recommend you read Attached

It is not a book just for those looking for love. Actually, I felt the extended title was a bit misleading. The book focused much more on people who are in a relationship (the "keep" love part of the title is accurate). As one who is not in an intimate relationship, I'm not really even dating, I found parts of the book difficult to apply to my situation. 

The opening chapters were great in helping you identify your attachment style and for those wanting a more indepth analysis their is a link to  a large questionnaire. I might go back and take the suggested questionnaire, but just the descriptions and short survey in the opening was enough to identify my attachment style.

I recommend reading this book in large chunks and not as spaced out as I did. I became slightly depressed and a felt a bit hopeless towards the middle of the book. I had identified my style and could see the effects it was having in my life, but I did not have the tools to deal with it. The end chapters give you the tools and I did feel better when I finished the book.

If you feel like there is conflict in your relationship or just like to learn more about yourself, I recommend picking up a copy of Attached


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August 31, 2012

More Fun for Friday!

I received the following email from one of my favorite authors, J. B. Lynn, and she wants you to join in the celebration for the upcoming release of the second book in the Slightly Neurotic series.

***

As I gear up for the release of FURTHER CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN, I thought it might be fun to spill some Slightly Neurotic Confessions of our own.

I’m collecting things people are neurotic about and will be posting them all over social media starting next month. They can be about you, your characters, people you see on the street, or your favorite neurotic characters.

The format will be something like this:

Author JB Lynn, author of FURTHER CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN, won’t eat breakfast sausage unless she can drown it in pancake syrup first.  Do you think she’s slightly neurotic? www.jblynn.com

OR
Godzilla (character from CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN) is a picky eater. He refuses to eat anything other than live crickets. Is he slightly neurotic?

OR
Just saw a guy salting every forkful of his food. I think he might be slightly neurotic! (Courtesy of suspense writer JB Lynn www.jblynn.com)

OR
My favorite slightly neurotic character of all time is Melvin Udall (played by Jack Nicholson) in AS GOOD AS IT GETS. (Courtesy of JB Lynn author of THE FIRST VICTIM. Available from fine e-book  retailers everywhere www.jblynn.com)


Please send what YOU are slightly neurotic about to: morethanslightlyneurotic@gmail.com
Send as many as you'd like!
Don’t forget to include how you’d like to be identified (or if you don’t want to be identified) and an address people can click thru to find out more about you!

Thanks for your help! Hopefully we’ll both get to meet new people through this!

JB
PS – Please feel free to share this with anyone you think might want to play along!



Related Posts:

Friday Fun: Myths #FlashFiveFriday

#FlashFiveFriday is a weekly flash fiction / flash blogging prompt hosted by The Indie Exchange.

The rules are very simple if you’d like to take part:
1) Write for no longer than five minutes
2) No upper or lower word limits
3) You must write something new
4) You can prepare your post ahead of time but the 5 minute limit still applies
5) If you add your blog post to the weekly linky you must visit five other blogs that week too to show your support



Myths

I used to like mythology until 6th grade. You see I read above my grade level until I moved to Georgia and was told that wasn't allowed (except for those in the gifted program apparently). When I got to middle school my literature class was divided with about half the class suddenly being allowed to read on the 7th level and the other half on the 6th grade level. As far as I could tell it was solely based on the standardized test we took every 9 weeks. If you weren't automatically put in the 7th grade half you had to make a perfect score on the test. I missed getting "promoted" by 2 points on the first nine weeks. I spent the next 9 weeks listening to my friends in the "smart" half of the class talk about Greek mythology. I did make 100% on the next test and was promoted. So not only did I not ever get a section on Greek mythology, I also associate it with a bad memory.

Your turn: Do any childhood experiences shape your adult reading habits?

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August 30, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Niches


When I look around at "how to blog" sites they all say to be a success find a niche. But how specialized or focused does your content need to be? Is blogging about books (as opposed to fashion or politics) focused enough? Do I need to narrow my blog to a single genre? I know some very successful romance blogs. Is it because they are focused on one genre or is it just the popularity of romance novels?

Obviously, I have not narrowed by blog to a single genre. I could never just read one genre all the time. I need variety and I think my readers appreciate it. I consider my blog to be moderately successful. I have a nice following and my readership is regularly increasing. However, I'm always looking for ways to take my blog to the next level. So I've been considering content.

I feel like I'm at a crossroads - do I become more specialized or more generalized? I've always lean towards being a generalist (which would explain some of the friction during my graduate studies where the point is to become more specialized). I participated in the Photo a Day Challenge (though I have slacked off this week) to test two things. One, would posting more than once a day increase page views? Two, would content that wasn't strictly books affect my readership?

To answer the first question - Definitely. On average I see 100 more page views daily since I started twice a day postings. Each individual post is getting fewer page views than before, but still doing well. It seems more people are coming to the front page and then scrolling through the posts for the day instead of clicking on individual post titles.(Length of time spent on my blog per visitor has increased as well.)

As for question two? I'm not sure. I know several bloggers that have diversified content. I've mentioned several times how Kriss of Cabin Goddess combines recipes with her reviews. Donna and Dave of Tweedle Dee anad Tweedle Dave review movies and video games in addition to book reviews. Both blogs are successful and have great readership. If book blogs are considered more as media sites then the diversification isn't harmful - magazines and news sites cover more than one thing (usually there is a theme to tie all topics together).

For authors, I have encouraged diversity on their blogs - adding little things that let their readers get to know them. But I'm not sure if that is sound advice for book bloggers that are mostly review or news sites. As I do not see myself as a writer, my tips posts are a stretch for me, I feel awkward writing about "stuff". A personal blog never lasted long for me. Many bloggers from a group I belong to have participated in a flash blogging event. They had a topic each day and were to write a short post on that theme. The blog hosting it is an author's site, but I know a number of the participants are book reviewer/bloggers. It really got me thinking about how focused content should be on book blogs.

I don't have a conclusive opinion. Since I'm here for my readers, I want to hear what you think. Should my blog focus exclusively on books and author related topics? Or do you want to hear my ramblings on other topics?

Bloggers - what do you think? Do you diversify or keep with a main theme? Have you seen any changes in your readership?

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August 29, 2012

Zoe Brooks: Playing with Status (guest post)

For Writer Wednesday, I would like to introduce you to British writer and poet, Zoe Brooks. She recently released her second novel, Mother of Wolves, which is will share with you today.


Playing with Status
 
I have recently contributed a post over on Indie Exchange about the importance of status in storytelling. In summary human beings are social beings and as such we are fascinated by social standing (status). The reader naturally sides with the underdog and is held when there is a shift in status. Many conversations and all arguments play on status. So I thought for this post I would show how I used it in one part of my novel Mother of Wolves. I had tremendous fun writing this section, which is a pivotal point in the book.

Throughout the first part of the book the central character, Lupa, has been the underdog in her pursuit of revenge against her husband’s murderers, but now she is a powerful queen of the gypsies. There’s still one  man left whom she has sworn to kill, but their relative status has changed. Now Jo, her target, is the underdog and so the reader is more likely to sympathize with him rather than side with Lupa, which is good because I wanted to explore whether revenge was always right and what it might do to my heroine.

Jo accepts the justice of the situation (i.e. accepts Lupa’s status) and as a result the reader sympathizes with him even more and wants Lupa to show mercy. But that causes a problem. Apart from from Lupa’s inner  conflict over whether to kill Jo or not, the scene would have no tension if Jo is passive. This problem is resolved by using other characters. First Lupa falls out with her councillors over whether to kill Jo. Then Jo’s fiancĂ©e, Bessie, arrives and Lupa meets her equal: the stage is set for a struggle.

My story-editor mentor came from the film industry and my son is a scriptwriter, so I tend to see the scenes in the book as if they are in a film. Or rather I see them and act them out. There are a series of conversations between Bessie and Lupa and I enjoyed playing with how the status shifts between the two characters, using verbal and non-verbal signs. It starts with Lupa in a position of power, she is seated while Bessie must stand. At first Bessie has her head bowed and Lupa cannot see why Bessie had had such a hold over Jo. But then Bessie looks Lupa in the eye and it’s as if two swords have clashed at the beginning of a duel. The verbal games include the use of familiarity, as when Bessie addresses as Lupa by her name rather than by her title, while Lupa uses formal language to reinforce her position as queen. I would like to claim that I planned it all, but the way we vie for status in nearly every human interaction is so subtle and so subconscious, that just
by acting the scene out I introduced some elements of competition without thinking about it and then found them when I looked back on what I had written.

At this point I will exercise my high status as the book’s writer and not tell you what happens next and who wins (withholding information is a classic status trick), because of course I want you to read my book.

Through the marshes and rich farmland of the great river, Lupa hunts and is hunted by her husband’s murderers. On the estuary islands her sons and their protector are just one step ahead of the killers. Everyone underestimates Lupa, if they consider her at all. They are making a mistake. The odds may be against her, but Lupa is the daughter of a fox and the mother of wolves.

This fantasy adventure is a revenge story with a twist, an alternative history of the gypsies and a profile of the rise of a woman leader all in one book.
Find Mother of Wolves at Goodreads and Amazon



About the author:
Zoe Brooks is a British writer and poet, who spends half her life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where she writes all her novels and poetry. Zoe aims to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader's skin.

Zoe was a successful published poet in her teens and twenties, (featuring in the Grandchildren of Albion anthology). In May 2012 she published her long poem for voices Fool's Paradise as an ebook on Amazon. Girl In The Glass - the first novel in a trilogy about the woman and healer Anya was published on Amazon in March 2012. Mother of Wolves is her second novel.

She has a liking for books in which reality and fantasy meet. Her favourite books include Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Marquez), Good Omens (Pratchett and Gaiman), Jane Eyre, Bull From The Sea (Renault), and Woman Who Waited (Makine).

Connect with Zoe:
Blog: http://zoebrooks.blogspot.com
Twitter http://twitter.com/ZoeBrooks2
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZoeBrooksAuthor
Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0034P3TDS
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5772880

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August 28, 2012

The End? Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
audiobook, Narrator Carolyn McCormick
Published August 2010 by Scholastic Audio
ISBN13: 9780545101424
Listened: August 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

If you haven't read Mockingjay and do not want to run the risk of spoilers, you probably shouldn't read this review. I will try not to be too spoilorish, but I don't think I can adequately communicate my views without revealing some of the plot.

Several people told me they were disappointed with Mockingjay and I tried really hard not to let that influence me while listening to it. But I do have to say on some level I, too, am disappointed. I don't feel like I got the resolution that I had hoped for. I was left with too many questions at the end and feeling like there should be another book to come.

I did enjoy the story, but felt that it was more about a young woman's decent into insanity rather than the fight to make things better. Maybe I read too much into the story or hoped too much that the series would leave the reader impowered to seek change in their own life or fight the injustice and oppression they see. I greatly believe that our generation no longer is capable of a revolution (either in American Revolution sense or Civil Rights Movement sense). So maybe I was hoping that this series would spark something in the next generation.

While not going in the direction I wanted/expected, I still gave Mockingjay high marks. Katniss's reaction and resulting break with sanity was totally understandable and probably more realistic than how some stories would make it out to be.  I think Katniss could have still had this realistic reaction to being forced into a lead role of a very violent war, but left the reader with a sense of empowerment. There is a reason why a person starts as a private. It is not expected that a 17/18 year old will have the ability to be a general, but in essence that is what Katniss is called to. 

I wonder if the disappointment I feel (and others) is because the story didn't turn out the way we thought it should. Readers of stories like what The Hunger Games and Catching Fire seemed to be want a positive outcome. We want to know that the sacrifices beloved characters made were worth it. But in the end we don't know if it was. What Katniss set out to do in The Hunger Games, she failed to do in Mockingjay. And because it is a first person narrative, we don't know much about what happens to everyone else as our narrator becomes focused on herself. It will be interesting to see if the movie will be able to satisfy our need to know what happened.

Or perhaps, if we can change our perspective on what we think the point of the story was we wouldn't be as disappointed. A friend suggested that the point Suzanne Collins was trying to make was how senseless and futile the fight is or that we really have no control in how the world runs. If that is the case then it will be a huge pill for readers to swallow given we are taught that fighting the good fight is always the right thing to do.

I think I need to re-read the series and it just so happened to have bought the series last week.  I've already watched the movie twice since it arrived in the mail on Saturday. So even though I'm still undecided on Mockingjay, I enjoyed the series as a whole.

Your turn: What do you think the point of the series was? How did you feel when you finished Mockingjay
Update: There is a great discussion going on at Reddit if you want to check it out http://redd.it/yyp6w 
 
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August 27, 2012

Labor Day Blog Fest & Book Fair

 

According to Prevent Blindness America, 4.4 million Americans who are 40 years old or older have diabetic retinopthay.  Meylinda Fleury almost became part of that statistic. To honor her close call with eyesight lost due to diabaties, Wayman Publishing is hosting a Blog Fest and Book Fair Giveaway. All entrants will have unlimited access to Wayman Publishing's Top 10 Books during Labor Day week (Sept. 2 - 4).

Also, Mommy Blog Designs, is contributing one of her premade designs with full package (valued at $269) for FREE to one lucky winner.

That's not all. Someone will also win $200 in paypal cash.

Please help us spread the word by tweeting about the event. 

Thank you Wayman Publishing for supporting this event and to the organizers: voiceBoks, Linkie's Contest Linkies, Mommy Blog Designs, and Terri's Little Haven

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When Sick, Audiobooks a Must



News:

I got a new look this weekend! What do you think? There is still some work to be done and a lot of room for growth. I'm excited.


Coral and I chatted with Katie Robison, author of Downburst, Friday night. If you missed it, you can listen to the show here. You can also subscribe to the show through iTunes.

The last of the summer giveaways at The Indie Exchange is going on right now. You can win a set of Pavarti K Tyler's books and an Amazon Gift Card. Enter here.

The Labor Day Blog Fest & Book Fair starts this week. You can get some great books from Wayman Publishing.

 

Mailbox Find:

I enjoyed the series so much and had a couple of gift cards so I bought this for myself and it arrived Saturday.



Finished:
I was sick this week and audio books were a lifesaver.


In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come. From Goodreads.com
Read my review. Find The Mine at Goodreads and Amazon.



Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school . . . again. No matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he's not even sure he believes himself.

Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.

Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he's coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he's angered a few of them: Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. On a daring road trip from their summer camp in New York to the gates of the Underworld in Los Angeles, Percy and his friends–one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena–will face a host of enemies determined to stop them. To succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of failure and betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves. From Goodreads.com
Read my review. Find The Lightning Thief at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon.


Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains--except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost. From Goodreads.com
Read my review. Find Mockingjay at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon.





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, and Amazon.

Reading:

16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves. From Goodreads.com
Find Untraceable at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon.


Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.

On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.

And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children. From Goodreads.com
Find Broken Harbor at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.


Listening:

Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get . . . well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy's friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.In this fresh, funny, and hugely anticipated follow up to The Lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their beloved camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family -- one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke. From Goodreads.com
Find The Sea of Monsters at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon. 

This Week:

Tuesday: Review of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Wednesday: Guest post by Zoe Brooks
Tips on Thursday: Niches
Friday Fun: September Releases
Saturday: Review of Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller


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