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December 15, 2012

Christmas Book: A Christmas Home

A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid
hardcover, 240 pages
Published: October 2012 by Crown Publishing
ISBN13: 9780307951977
Source: Publisher
Read: November 2012
Goodreads, Amazon, IndieBound

A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid is the sequel to the popular Christmas book, A Dog Named Christmas. Haven't read that one yet? No worries, I haven't either. 

 A Christmas Home is a stand alone novel, though the characters are largely the same (possibly all the same). You still learn enough about the characters in this book to fully connect with them.

I should warn you this story is a bit sad. It starts off with a heartbreaking glimpse of a dog being abandoned due to foreclosure and economic hardship. We get to see Gracie is given a second life as a working dog - assisting a young woman. But the heartbreak doesn't end there. The shelter Todd works at is about face its own foreclosure. 

The story is predictable and you can see what is going to happen before the characters do. But for a book to get you ready for the holidays, it does the job. I read it over Thanksgiving (it's a quick read that you don't want to put down) and definitely felt the Christmas spirit. It was nice to remember there is more to the season than just presents and commercialization.

A free book was received from the source above in order to provide an honest review. Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.
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December 14, 2012

Friday Fun with Ann Holt


In my bedroom, tucked in a corner, is a small bookcase. It would not appear to be remarkable to the casual observer but it holds treasures. This is where the books I have loved best are kept. They are special to me in different ways and every book has a story to tell beside the one between its covers.

There are mysteries signed by Louise Penny and Margaret Maron. There are illustrated children’s books by Marguerite de Angeli from my childhood. My copy of Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” is there too next to a set of Grimm Fairy Tales. A book of poetry keeps company with Ellen Raskin’s ‘The Westing Game”. But the book I love the best at this time of the year is The Big Red Christmas Book.

The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories” edited by Edward Wagenknecht is a worn and watermarked red covered anthology and was published the year I was born, 1945. Would you be surprised to know that used copies are still available on Amazon for as little as 27 cents plus postage? I was.

The stories I love and read every year are “The Other Wise Man” by Henry van Dyke, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore, “The Birds’ Christmas Carol” by Kate Douglas Wiggin, and “Christmas at Orchard House” by Louisa May Alcott.

The Other Wise Man” written in 1896 has been said to be the perfect story for reading aloud with the family during the holiday season. Throughout his life Artaban, the fourth Magi, searches for the Christ child always kept from his quest by his own compassion for his fellow man. This book expresses the true meaning of Christmas for me. There are many editions including one re-written in language more accessible for 4 – 8 year olds.

Everyone knows and can probably recite lines from “A Visit from Saint Nicolas”, which you probably know as “The Night Before Christmas”, but did you know that the author wrote that poem for his children for a Christmas gift? He would be overwhelmed by the many beautifully illustrated editions there are to choose from today!

Another sentimental family story is “The Birds’ Christmas Carol” first published in 1887. It’s not about our feathered friends. It’s about Carol Bird, a much cherished child who is born on a Christmas morning. Although she is ill her whole short life, she brings joy to those around her. The beautiful lesson is the importance of helping the less fortunate.

And finally, “Christmas at Orchard House”, the first chapter of the beloved classic “Little Women”, published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Haven’t many of us dreamed of being Jo March, who loves to read and grows up to be a writer? I was so enchanted as a child that I eventually wrote my own version of the Christmas portion as a play. My teacher let me cast, rehearse, and put on the show for the entire school. I was in the production too. If you guessed I cast myself as Jo, you would be right!



Several years ago I directed a community theater production of “Little Women: The Musical”. We sold out every night. It was astonishing!


What we love in childhood often become our cherished memories as adults and can even determine life decisions we make. Take a minute to remember what YOU loved as a child. Share your memories and add new ones and Christmas will always be the most wonderful time of the year.

These stories from The Big Red Christmas Book are favorites from my childhood in the 1950s, but there are wonderful new stories every generation, every year.

If you respond to this post with YOUR favorite Christmas book or books, we could put together a lovely list to share in 2013.

About the Author:

Ann Holt is a random reader, preferring literate mysteries, the odd novel, and bestsellers in no particular order. She has indulged in blogging about the books she has read since 2007 at Book Keeping (http://bkkp.blogspot.com/). That was the year she retired as the Director of the Capital Library Cooperative, a Michigan state funded membership consortia of twenty-five public libraries. During her career she worked in every type of library from school to prison from academic to special.

After studying acting at Carnegie Mellon University, Ann settled down and obtained degrees in Communications (University of Pittsburgh) and Information Science (University of Michigan).
Ann describes herself as an actress, director, reader, reviewer, genealogist, and time traveler.
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December 13, 2012

Tips on Thursday: FTC Disclosure

My mini-challenge during Bloggiesta a few months back was on policies and procedures. I briefly mention FTC disclosure and have been meaning to talk a bit more about it. If you've been blogging for any length of time, you have at least hear of FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

If you are not in the US, FTC stands for Federal Trade Commission and it governs, well, trade. More specifically, they are tasked with protecting consumers from shady business practices. 

Just because you are not in the US does not mean you can ignore the disclosure statement. If you "work" with US-based companies, your blog is hosted on US-based servers, or you promote to US-based audiences (through social media, etc.), you may also be subject to the disclosure.

English: Washington, D.C. headquarters of the ...
English: Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Federal Trade Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While FTC can fine both the company and the blogger for not disclosing their relationship, they are not out to get bloggers. They've made it as simple as government agency can to comply. I work with a lot of government agencies and I have to say this is probably the most straight forward policy I've ever seen.

To be in compliance all you need to do is add a simple statement at the end of all your endorsement posts that states something along the lines of " Per FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255: I received a free product in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own."

Not all blog posts have to have the disclaimer. If you purchased the product, checked it out of the library, or borrowed it from a friend, then you do not have to add the disclaimer. However, if you do a mix of reviews of purchased products and those received free from a company, I personally think it is a good idea to mention source so there is no question. The point of the disclosure is transparency.

Are you thinking that you purchase all the products you review or perhaps you don't review at all on your blog, but host authors and discuss book news and, therefore, not regulated by the FTC policy? Think again!

Are you an affiliate receiving a small fee in exchange for posting a link? Then you have to disclose that fact. More over, you have to disclose the affiliation when you post an affiliate link to Twitter and Facebook or other social media site. Say, what? Twitter only allows 140 characters! As of right now, it seems that adding a hashtag like #ads, #sponsored, #promo suffices.

A few things to keep in mind about the posting the disclaimer:
  • It must be on each post in which you review/endorse a product - a general disclaimer page will not satisfy the policy
  • It must be visible - it can be part of your footer as long as it easily seen by the reader (if they have to scroll past ads, other posts or widgets/gadgets/plugins then that does not satisfy the guidelines). 
  • It must be legible - you can add it to your "fine print" but do not make it so small it is hard to read.
I should remind you that I'm not a lawyer and policies change often. It is a good idea to keep yourself informed of the latest guidelines and if in doubt, consult a licensed lawyer about your particular situation. The purpose of this post is to be informative and not to give legal or business advice.
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December 12, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Linda Ulleseit

Advice given to new writers almost always includes reading; read what you want to write. When I was a child, my mother used to take my brother and I to the library every week. It got to the point that I couldn’t even carry the stack of books I needed to make it through the week and we began to visit the library more often. As an adult, I worked in a bookstore for two years. I think I was their best customer. After my sons were born, I listened to my friends complain about their children not going to bed on time and felt guilty. My children went to bed at 8:00, with a bedtime story, and never fought it. I was insistent on that, since 8:00 to 10:00 was my reading time. To this day, I read voraciously.

I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been reading. I still have simple stories written in elementary school, an eighth grade Civil War report done as a narrative from the point of view of a slave, and pieces from my high school creative writing class. When I finished school, I kept writing but never showed anything to others. Fast forward almost thirty years.

I had been teaching a number of years, showing countless students how to write stories with a beginning, middle, and an end; how to show not tell; how to correct their own grammar. I wondered if I could write a novel with a clear beginning, middle, and end. At this point I thought of myself as a mother, a wife, a teacher, but not a writer. Writing was a secret hobby.

The problem with writing for yourself, though, is perspective. I thought my early efforts were wonderful, but my opinion was biased. It was wonderful because I’d written it. Finally, I showed the first chapter of my almost-completed first novel to a teacher colleague. I don’t think she realizes, to this day, that she was the first person to read any of my work. My husband and sons hadn’t even read it yet! She validated me as a writer when she liked it and wanted to read more. That gave me confidence to join a writing group, take a writing workshop course at Stanford, and sign up for TheNextBigWriter.com, an online writing critique site. As my writing improved, so did my confidence, and I began to refer to myself as a writer.

My first novel received a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. My world of flying horses was not completely drawn. The background story was weak. Some of the logistics of the town were flawed. The characters and the flying horses, themselves, however, entranced readers of all ages. I realized I needed a prequel to set up the action in that novel. On a Wing and a Dare is the result of all the critical questions fired at my first novel, which languishes in Needs a Rewrite Land. On a Wing and a Dare came out in May of 2012. The sequel, In the Winds of Danger, (to be released in 2013) will bridge to that first novel, once it is heavily rewritten, tentatively titled Beyond the Wave of Despair.

The trilogy is set in medieval Wales, in a remote mountain town in the province of Gwynned, and features a herd of flying horses used in an annual Aerial Games, sort of an Olympics in the air. In the first one, the horses begin to die and a trio of teenagers must figure out how to save them. The sequel follows a groom whose past haunts him and a rider confronted with an unexpected future.

About the Author:

Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga, California. She currently lives in the Evergreen area of San Jose with her husband. They have two adult sons and two yellow Labrador puppies. She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family.

Linda is a teacher at James Franklin Smith Elementary School, where her students were some of the early reviewers of her books. She loves teaching writing and has published several anthologies of student work. Her favorite subject is writing, and her students get a lot of practice scribbling stories and essays. Someday Linda hopes to see books written by former students alongside hers in bookstores.

As a child, Linda always loved to write. She took her first creative writing course in seventh grade, accumulating a closet full of stories that she never showed anyone until 2007. At that time, she gave the first draft of a flying horse book to a teacher colleague to read.

ON A WING AND A DARE began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2009. It was revised with the help of reviewers on TheNextBigwWriter.com over the next two years. For NaNo 2011, Linda drafted the sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter: @lindaulleseit
Facebook: Flying Horse Books
Blog: http://ulleseit.wordpress.com
Website: http://flyinghorsebooks.wordpress.com
Amazon Author Central
Find me on Goodreads, Linked In, and Google Plus
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December 11, 2012

Featured Book - Chuck Norris: Longer and Harder by Ian Spector


The ultimate collection of 1,500 facts about the world’s toughest and most awesome man.

Finally, the wait is over. The most comprehensive collection of Chuck Norris facts from the New York Times bestselling series by Ian Spector is ready to blow your mind. Only the manliest of men will be able to handle this bind-up of The Truth About Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris vs. Mr. T, Chuck Norris Cannot Be Stopped, The Last Stand of Chuck Norris, and over one hundred new facts. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from these 1,500 facts about the man so powerful we quake when uttering his name: Chuck Norris. From Goodreads.com


paperback, 464 pages
Published: November 2012 by Gotham
ISBN13: 9781592407934
Source: Publisher
Goodreads, Amazon, IndieBound

I grew up in the era of Walker, Texas Ranger and all the Chuck Norris jokes. When Ian Spector's unauthorized parody showed up in my inbox, I couldn't pass it up. It is filled with short snippets of "facts" such as,

Tom Clancy has to pay royalties to Chuck Norris because The Sum of All Fears was originally the title of Chuck's autobiography.

and

Chuck Norris can turn back time simply by staring at the clock and flexing.

There are also several full page black and white graphics. Gotham was kind enough to send me an example to share with you.





If you have a dad like mine that is always quick with the corny joke and comment, then you might want to pick up a copy of Chuck Norris: Longer and Harder for Christmas. I'm now off to wrap my copy up to put under the tree for Dad (shh! don't tell him). Also, make sure you stop by on December 19 when Ian Spector will be here with a guest post.

Girl Who Reads received a free copy from the publisher. Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.
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December 10, 2012

Meet the Author: April Aasheim


I welcome April Aasheim to the blog today. She shares some Fun Facts about herself.

1. I have lived in Arizona, Nevada, California, Tennessee and Oregon.
2. I studied martial arts as a teenager under my dad David German. My dad was one of the original founders of mixed martial arts. Black Belt Magazine called him The Eclectic Heretic.
3. I don’t eat fish. I don’t know why I don’t eat fish. I had a book called Rainbow Fish when I was a kid and I think I made the connection between the protagonist of the story (a rainbow fish) and the fish sticks my mother served me for dinner. Have not eaten anything from or around the sea since then.
4. I started a coven when I was eleven years old with my Girl Scout troop. We made up our own spells. Not sure if they worked.
5. I am an avid video game player. Currently play Xbox 360, Wii, and PC games.
6. I spend about 4-5 hours day writing. This includes taking notes and doing research.
7. I only keep about ¼ of the material I write. If it’s really good but just doesn’t work I copy it into another folder so that I don’t feel like it’s wasted.
8. The first time I got a real critique from my writing group I cried. My ego wasn’t ready to be told that my writing ‘could be better’. Since then I’ve grown a thicker skin. I now know that everything I write isn’t brilliant or even good, but it makes those rare moments when I do write something wonderful that much sweeter.
9. I am currently writing a book about a group of sisters who just happen to be witches called The Witches of Dark Root. I am also writing a young adult book about a small town where mysterious things happen called There’s Something About Reed Hollow.
10. I love the strange, the mysterious, and the supernatural.

About the Author:

April Aasheim spent her childhood traveling around the Southwestern portion of the United States with her gypsy mother and her 'get rich quick' stepfather. During those formative years she spent time traveling with the carnival, living in an abandoned miner's shack, and learning to read Tarot Cards.

After spending her early adult years in California, Tennessee, and Arizona, April finally settled down in Portland, Oregon where she has lived for the last decade.

April is a mother, a wife, and a reluctant homemaker. She has written several short stories, maintains an active blog, and is writing her second novel: The Witches of Dark Root, to be released in early 2013. Her current novel: The Universe is a Very Big Place is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
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Reading & News & Give Aways



News:

I enlisted the help of some Ninja Pirate Secret Agents (authors and bloggers who support Indies) to come up with a Top 10 Indie List at The Indie Exchange.

I'm now accepting Feature requests for 2013. I even made a handy sign up form that you can find right here: http://bit.ly/Featuresignup For descriptions of my features, check under the Review Policy tab.

I have a few GWR Publicity clients who are looking for reviews and blog appearances. Learn about Jeff Gunhus's middle grades fantasy book Jack Templar Monster Hunter  and Terri Morgan's fictional memoir (new adult) Playing the Genetic Lottery. You can also keep up with all GWR Publicity events and authors in our Facebook Group.

If you missed it, I reviewed Beneath the Dune on Saturday.

Giveaways:

A signed paperback (open internationally) - LAST DAY
$25 Amazon Gift Card and Swag
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Finished:


Caitlin Kane knows more about the impact of schizophrenia than most people could imagine. Both her parents were afflicted with the devastating mental illness, a disease that tends to run in families, and Caitlin and her brother grew up trying to navigate the chaos of living with two schizophrenics. Her tumultuous childhood left Caitlin determined to forge a peaceful and serene life for herself. Now 32, she is living her dream. Married to her best friend, she and her husband are raising two bright young children in the suburbs of Seattle. While her unusual upbringing has left Caitlin with emotional scars, she enjoys the love and support of her extended family and her challenging career as a pediatric nurse. But no matter how hard she tries, she can't shake the obsessive fear that the family illness will strike again, robbing her of her mind or stealing away the sanity of one or both of her children. From Goodreads.com
Find Playing the Genetic Lottery at Goodreads, Amazon, and IndieBound.

Talis glimpses an alien world where Rikar, his old friend and traitor, is being tortured. He is tempted down a dark path leading to the forbidden knowledge of Shadow Magic, the magic he needs to keep from going insane.

The feud between the royal houses of Naru has Talis and Mara caught in the middle, and once again threatens their friendship. And the magical Order of the Dawn distances themselves from Talis, pushing him aside to study the discarded magical art of runes. With civil war looming, Jiserian sorcerers again invade the city of Naru, and Talis must rise to help protect their city.

A mysterious sorcerer from the Tarasen Islands arrives, with eyes on the black crystal, aiming to create a World Portal to the planet where Aurellia and his Elders have escaped. Talis finds his heart wrenched between saving his city and saving the one closest to his heart. Even after being trapped on an alien world, with no way back home, Talis realizes that his friendship with Mara and Nikulo is the key to their fate and survival. From Goodreads.com
Find Shadow Mage at Goodreads, Amazon, and IndieBound.


A short holiday story. A lonely, neglected little girl finds a home for the Holidays.
Find Christmas Windows at Amazon.







Reading:


Gen Y has been picked apart by analysts, statistics, and trend reports, which often portray 20-somethings in negative, one-dimensional terms like "entitled" and "whiners". In this thought-provoking new book that aims to dispel these stereotypes, journalist Hannah Seligson chronicles the lives of seven individuals who embody this generation, exploring their challenges and ambitions in vivid detail and sketching a picture, through their eyes, of what life is actually like for young adults. Through these first-hand stories, readers will discover the transformational effect this enterprising, open-minded, innovative, and diverse generation is having on society. From Goodreads.com
Find Mission: Adulthood at Goodreads, Amazon, and IndieBound.



I'm also reading a client's book, which I'll be telling you more about in January.

I would love to hear what you are finishing the year reading. Leave a comment, please!


Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.
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December 9, 2012

More Chick Lit for the Holidays

You may remember back in the spring I reviewed a chick lit novel that was just like comfort food. Don't remember? Maybe you're new to the blog and haven't read that far back. Well, click over to this post for my full review of True Love Way by Nancy Scrofano. You can also read a guest post Nancy did on my blog in April.


Get True Love Way at Amazon.
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