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August 16, 2013

Excerpt: Frontline by Alexandra Richland


Alexandra Richland is back with a fun teaser for your Friday reading. Be sure to check out her post from Monday where she talked about the inspiration for Trenton Merrick, one of the main characters of her newly released novel, Frontline, and her worries for what the future holds for him in the remaining novels in the series.




The following teaser finds the main characters, Sara Peters and Trenton Merrick, further exploring their physical chemistry:

We ascend a marble staircase, hand in hand, Trenton leading the way. My steps become hesitant as I realize what’s next. The first part of the tour was relatively tame. I can only assume the top floor will be the opposite.

Trenton stops halfway up the stairs and glances over his shoulder. “Is something wrong?”

I remain on the step below him and pry my hand from his. “I already know what’s up there. I don’t need to see it.”

He lifts his eyebrows. “And what would that be?”

“Well, let’s see.” I tick off the list on my fingers. “You’ve shown me your dining hall, library, conservatory, playroom, ballroom, parlor, and weapons room––almost every type of room known to man––so I can say with confidence that this wing houses the bedrooms, more specifically, your bedroom.”

A smirk plays across Trenton’s lips. “Why does visiting my bedroom bother you? Are you afraid I’ll have a better chance seducing you there as opposed to other rooms in the house?”

I roll my eyes, despite that the notion of him seducing me in any capacity sounds all kinds of amazing. “No, I just don’t think your ego would be able to recover after I refuse you again.”

My heart leaps as he descends to my step, his eyes dark with desire and determination.

“Then you leave me no choice. I’ll just have to seduce you right here.”

I keep my chin up. “What makes you so sure I’d cave?”

Trenton brings his hand around the back of my neck and pulls my face closer, resting his warm lips against my ear. “Because your blush gives you away, Miss Peters.”

My hand flies out to steady myself, landing right in the middle of his chest. The corners of his mouth lift triumphantly. I close my eyes as he strokes the back of my neck and presses his lips to mine, softly and sensually, though his embrace feels purposeful.

Soon, he eases me backward and presses me against the wall. My breath hitches as he lifts my hands and pins them over my head.

“Damn it, I want you.” He lets go of my wrists and runs his fingers up my bare thighs to my butt, hiking up my dress. “You have one hot body, you know that?”

He pulls at the back of my thong and lets it go, snapping the strap against my skin.

I yelp and drop my arms to my sides.

He smirks. “Nice panties, too.”

“Make sure those hands don’t wander beneath those nice panties, got it?”

Trenton moves his hand back to my butt. “That’s your loss, Miss Peters.”

With a devious smile, I tug on the ends of his loose tie and bring him closer until our noses touch. “No, I’d say the loss is all yours, Mr. Merrick. Now please obey my rule and kiss me.”

A low growl reverberates in Trenton’s throat as his lips capture mine. They aren’t reunited for long. My head falls back against the wall with the commencement of his thrusts, and within moments, my legs are wrapped around his waist and my hands are buried in his hair.

The rhythm of our bodies is a divine blend of desperation and all-consuming passion, Trenton’s dedication to my pleasure dragging me into a sweet abyss of desire where I lose my bearings, willing to completely let go and trust him to take care of me at my most vulnerable.

“Tell me how I make you feel, Sara.” Trenton drifts his lips across my cheek, kneading my ass with his strong hands.

I struggle to reply through my panting. “What about how I make you feel?”

“This isn’t about me,” he says, dispensing hot kisses down my neck. “I will always put you first . . . always.”

I gasp from the sensation of his tongue venturing lower . . . teasing . . . swirling.

“I want to take you to my bed, Sara.”

Another hot kiss to my neck. Another brush of his tongue along my skin.

“Let me do this right, like you deserve.”

I smile and shake my head.  “Not going to happen. Not tonight.”

Trenton presses me firmer against the wall. “Then I’ll finish this right here.”

About the book:

When nurse Sara Peters treats celebrity billionaire Trenton Merrick for a mysterious injury to his forehead, she is blindsided by what follows: a passionate exchange in the examination room, followed by an invitation to Trenton's mansion the next night.
Trenton spins a web of deceit and seduction around Sara that both repels and attracts her. One part humanitarian, the other international financial mogul, his professional and public life are a curious contradiction. As Sara journeys deeper into her feelings for Trenton and begins unraveling the mystery behind his injury, she finds herself embroiled in a game of trust and betrayal, where the odds are stacked in Trenton's favor, and the outcome for the loser is too terrifying to conceive.


Buy Frontline at Amazon and Smashwords

About the Author:

Alexandra Richland spends rotating twelve-hour shifts working as a registered nurse at a Toronto hospital, indulging in her love of science and medicine, and caring for patients with their own unique tales to tell. When she is not on duty, Alexandra escapes into her own imagination. Therein lies a fantasy world of thrilling adventure, gorgeous men, classic Hollywood glamour, exotic getaways, and a seductive dose of romance. Alexandra captures these stories in her popular novels, The Starlight Trilogy and Frontline, and her short story, Gilded Cage.

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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Excerpts are posted with permission of the author.
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August 15, 2013

Choosing a Blog Tour Company

Digital publishing has opened doors for more than just writers. People who enjoyed reading and talking about books have now become sought after book reviewers. And with the increase popularity of book blogs, a new opportunity has opened up for the entrepreneur: Blog Tour Operator. Every tour company has their own way of doing things and as it is a relatively new component of the PR industry, there are no true standards.

I firmly believe every author can orchestrate their own tour. However, there are times when it is more feasible to hire someone to do it for you. There are two main reasons for authors to turn to a company. One, the author either does not have a large network of bloggers or wants to reach out to different bloggers. Two, the author just doesn't have time to organize it.

If you are thinking of hiring a company, I have a few tips to help you find the one that's right for you.

Tip 1 - Check out their blog network

You want to make sure the tour company has a large enough network to be able to fill your tour. There’s nothing worse than paying for a 30 stop tour and only getting half the spaces filled. Except for having a tour full of bloggers that are not in your genre. If you are a middle grades fantasy author and all your tour hosts are adult romance bloggers, you are not reaching your target audience. It is okay to have a few bloggers outside of your genre (some of those romance bloggers are probably moms with kids), but you want to have a majority of the blogs reaching your target audience. Also, check the quality of the blogs. Ideally there will be a combination of big and small blogs. If the company only has new bloggers on their rosters, then you might not get the reach you were hoping for.

You can check out their network by skimming through the tour schedules of past tours they have organized.

Tip 2 - Who is responsible

Another reason for an author to go with a tour company is the time factor. Organizing a tour does take a few hours to put together. I can spend around 10 hours putting together a single tour. A successful tour is a joint effort between the tour operator and author. You should inquire up front about who will be responsible for the different aspects of the tour. Such things as who will send review copies to hosts, where will the tour schedule be posted. the contacting of winners, sending of interviews and guest posts, etc are responsibilities that should be discussed. If time is the reason you have chosen to use a tour company, then you want a company that is shouldering most of the responsibilities.

Tip 3 - What is required

What a tour company requires is probably the biggest difference among the various operators. Some companies will ask you to provide a certain number of excerpts, interviews, and  guest posts. They then let bloggers choose what they want from the selection offered. Other operators guarantee their hosts will have original content when they request an excerpt, interview, or guest post. Bloggers are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of duplicate content on their ranking and the offering of original or non-original content may determine the quality of blogs the operator is able to recruit.

Tips 4 - Communication

Communication between the operator and author is important but so is communication between the operator and the hosts. How does the operator keep everyone in the loop? If the tour company posts the schedule, do they update the schedule with direct links? What is the turn around time for guest posts and interviews - in other words do you get a few weeks to send in the guest posts/interviews or do you only have a couple of days? Also, how many other tours/events do they have going on at the same time? As people who are often new to the entrepreneurial scene it is very easy for a tour operator to overextend themselves and wind up being too busy to give your tour the attention it needs.

You will also need to communicate what your goals and expectations are. By being upfront about what you want, will increase the chances that you will get that outcome. It will also give the operator the opportunity to tell you what they are capable of providing and if they think they can meet your expectations.

Tip 5 - Recommendations

Ask your author and blogger friends for recommendations. Many bloggers will have badges on their blog for the tour companies they work with; take a little time to snoop around, particularly if you are interested in having that blog on your tour.. Also, look to see if the tour company has a testimonial page or any recommendations on LinkedIn. If you are coming up empty, don’t hesitate to ask for names of previous clients and contact them.

Choosing the right tour company for you and your book can mean the difference between a success and a flop. You may have noticed I have not mentioned price when making your decision. While you may have limited funds, prices are not a good indicator of the quality of a tour. Pricing among tour companies is probably the least standard of any industry. I have seen tour prices that range from $35 to $1000. Before paying, be sure you know what you are getting.

Tours can be a lot of fun and a great boost to your marketing efforts, yet choosing the wrong tour company can lead to stress and disappointment. I hope the tips I have provided will help you in making the right decision.

As I stated in the beginning, I believe every author is capable of organizing their own tour. To help you out, though, I've put all my tour secrets into an ebook. Pick up a copy of Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour at AmazonSmashwords or Kobo.



Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above.
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August 14, 2013

Character Profile: Emma Williams (plus Giveaways)


Taylon profiles Emma Williams from Rita Webb's Playing Hooky.

Subject:  Emma S. Wiliams (I wonder what the S stands for)

Address:  Anchorage, Alaska, in a dorm apartment on the UAA campus

Age:  21

Hair:  <s>blonde</s>  pink with purple streaks

Eyes:  Blue 

Clothes:  Jeans and sweaters (size 4) and some odd undergarments (humans are strange creatures)

Favorite activities:  Unknown

Mating habits:  Unknown

Eating habits:  Discovered the remains of something called "pizza", refrigerated storage unit also contains several units of "ice-cream" including one labeled chocolate mocha chocolate-chunk (truly amazing food——I wish they had some of that in my world). The lower compartment contains several biolife habitats and tin cans marked Mtn Dew (tastes horrible and the fizz burned my nose)

“Taylon, what are you doing in my kitchen? It’s the middle of the night.” 

I pull my head out of the fridge, but my eyes have to adjust to the dim light before I can see the girl, standing in the doorway of the kitchen and rubbing her eyes. Emma, the human girl I’m studying. I’ve never met a human until she came to the circus a week ago. 

I’ve studied chimera and dwarves and faeries, but humans are … exotic. None of my people have ever documented anything about them before. I’m going to be the first.

“This is terrific. It’s better than ambrosia.” I hold up the ice cream container.

Buy Playing Hooky at Amazon

“That belongs to my roommate. She’ll kill me if she thinks I ate it, and you don’t need anything else to make you hyper.” She takes the items from me and puts them back in the fridge. “Seriously, what are you doing here? How am I going to explain an ELF in the kitchen if any of my roommates wake up?”

I open a cabinet and peer inside. Plates, cups, bowls——just like we have in our world. “Gruff sent me. He said to tell you that if you wanted to ride a unicorn as promised, you have to come visit us this weekend. The Ring Master will be away.” I open the coffee canister and sniff. Ugh. Awful. “Do you really eat this?”

“It’s coffee. We brew it with hot water and then drink it.” She takes the canister, puts it back in the cupboard, and firmly closes the door, standing in the way so I can’t open it again. “How did you get away from the circus? I thought you were all collared.”

“Oh please, the magic spells on the collar are so primitive I had it disabled after the first week. I can sneak out anytime I want. At least, at night when the Ring Master is sleeping.” There’s a door in the lower cupboard near the sink that won’t open——locked shut——and I can’t figure it out.

“Then why do you stay? You could be free.”

“I’m a rebel! Isn’t that what all the rebellious teenagers do? Join the circus?”

“A rebel without a clue,” she mumbles.

“What does this do?” Aha, a latch at the top releases the door. I flip open the door (it oddly falls down rather than opening to the side) and roll out a top drawer. More dishes inside. How odd. “Why do you keep dishes here and in the cupboard? Wouldn’t it be easier to keep it all in one place?”

She sighs. “It’s a dishwasher. We put the dirty dishes in and some soap, turn it on, and wah-la——clean dishes!”

“Cool.” I read in a magazine Jason gave me that humans say the word ‘cool’ to mean ‘really interesting’. Pulling out my notebook, I jot down the information about the dishwasher. “You humans invent the most awesome things. We get the gnomes to do the dishes for us. So what are your favorite activities?”

“Um, I’m studying to be a gymnastics coach. I like sports:  mountain-biking, climbing, kayaking, hiking, swimming. You know Jason, my best friend, right? He and I used to spend all summer—” She peers over the top of my notebook. “Mating habits? Taylon, what kind of information are you compiling about me?”

“It’s only—”

Before I can stop her, she snatches the book away from me. “How did you get my clothes size? How do you know about my undergarments?”

My face burns and I try to grab my notebook back from her. “When examining a new species for the first time it is imperative to observe them in their native environment. As your undergarments were strewn all over your environment..."

"You went through my dirty clothes." 

"I might have ... b-b-but only for the sake of higher learning.”

“Emma, why are you shouting in the middle of the night?” A sleepy voice says from the hallway. Footsteps approach.

Emma scowls at me. “Now you’ve done it.” 

“Oh, you have company.” The girl studies me, her eyes traveling over my blue hair, plaited into three braids, my wizard robes, and my pointed ears. “What’s with the ears?”

“Sorry, Maggie. He dropped by for a visit, but he’s just leaving now.” Emma grabs my arm and drags me to the door.

“But wait. I have another question.”

“You can ask me anything this weekend. I have class in the morning, and I need my sleep.” She shuts the door, and I’m alone in the hallway.

I jot down, “Territorial, and definitely not nocturnal,” into my notebook as I walk toward the exit, nearly tripping on the stairs on my way out.

I can ask her any question. I’ll need to make a good list. Hmm, how do those strange undergarments work? I couldn’t figure out how to put one on, or why anyone would bother. What is gymnastics? Why is she best friends with a half-blood? How can I get more ice-cream?

About the Author:
Leaving the house to go to school, I had schoolbooks spilling out of one hand, the other holding my place in a Nancy Drew novel, and bunny slippers still on my feet. My mom was a wee bit upset.
I haven't changed much. Still always have a book (or two) in my hand or creating stories in my head, and although I don't have any bunny slippers, I love writing in my jammies and snuggly slipper socks.
When I grow up (maybe a hundred years from now), I'd like to be a superhero, but for now, saving the day, one page at a time, suits me just fine.
With my husband TJ (my own cuddly werewolf), I home-school our three girls, who keep us busy with art, science projects, books to read, dance classes, and walks about the park.
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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

August 13, 2013

Review: The Never List by Koethi Zan

I picked up The Never List by Koethi Zan when I was reviewing Audible.com. It was just the kind of dark and twisted story that I love. The narrator, Kristen Sieh, was perfect. I loved her ability to give characters different accents.

Two girls who have taken every precaution to stay safe, finally want to live a "normal" life and have at least a little fun. Despite their precautions and possibly even against the statistics, they are kidnapped and held captive for 3 years. For the reader, the three years are told in flashbacks. The main story is Sarah's pursuit of finding her best friend's body and providing the evidence needed to keep their captor in prison.

The Never List grabbed me from the get-go. While the story is dark and has some very twisted characters, it is not overly graphic. The few details about their years in captivity are told unemotionally by the main character. If you could handle Room by Emma Donoghue (my review), then you can handle The Never List. 

Because of the flow of story and the wonderful narration by Kristen Sieh, I couldn't stop listening to The Never List. I had to know what happened. But after I finished the story (at 1 AM) I started to really think about the plot. A lot of threads weren't tied up. The reader is left with questions. Perhaps there will be follow up books. The ending left the possibility - either to continue Sarah's pursuit of uncovering the truth, or with learning more about Jennifer's story. If there's no follow-up, then these loose threads could be more plot holes. Like the couple at the club - were they plants or was it really coincidental they were there? And why did the woman get to leave, when it appears he already had a captive?

I work in academia and I found some of the "competiton" not to be believable. We get too many courses in research ethics and cautions to bias in our research for me to believe that so many of the professors would ignore some basic rules as to the conduct of human subject research. (I know that there have been and continues to be some researcher who cut corners, but the extent it was in The Never List just seems too great).

If you can lose yourself in a story and not question too deeply the elements of the plot, then The Never List is an excellent story for those wanting to explore the darker side of human nature. I rank this book up there with Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (my review), Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson (my review), and The First Victim by J. B. Lynn (my review) for dark, twisted stories that sucks you right in.

Buy The Never List at Amazon


Published July 2013 by Penguin Audio
ISBN13: 9781611761917
Source: Audible.com
Listened: July 2013

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. A free credit from Audible.com was used to purchase this book.
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August 12, 2013

Alexandra Richland: I am worried about Trenton Merrick

I am worried about Trenton Merrick. 

One of the two principal characters in the romantic thriller, Frontline, Trenton remains a mystery even to me, the book’s author. I created him to be a quiet, enigmatic, brooding man on the surface. It’s those traits that first intrigue Sara Peters, the book’s other principal character, and inspire her initial curiosity towards him.  

As the story progresses and different situations expose different sides of his personality to us (“us” includes me—remember, I’m on this journey with all of you!), whether the situation is romantic, sexual, suspenseful, or even deathdefying, Trenton remains stoic in the face of it all. He even refuses painkillers when injured. 

I am a registered nurse by profession. I see how people respond to news of their progress: joy when the news is good, determination when things are on the fence and more tests are required. I’m lucky enough to see patients who have no hope on arrival at my hospital rally to make a full recovery. They carry a new perspective on life out the door with them when they leave. That experience is worrisome, but in the end, it’s joyful.

I’m also unlucky enough to see hope vanish in a patient’s eyes when the news isn’t good, when further tests or treatments ask not only too much of their bodies but too much of their hearts and minds. They leave with a different kind of perspective, if they get out of my hospital at all. Some of them don’t. But that experience is only worrisome for the patient at first. In the days that follow, as family members filter through to say their goodbyes, I’ve seen their worries and fears wash away beneath the first trickle of relief, by the hope that they’re going some place even better than this one. The human spirit thrives in these moments and the experience is life affirming.   

Buy Frontline at Amazon

When Trenton appeared in the opening chapter of Frontline, he immediately reminded me of a patient I helped treat who was admitted with a wound similar to his. This patient wouldn’t tell me anything about how it transpired. None of the members of my team, from rookies to senior staff with decades of experience, felt that he was telling us the truth.

There is protocol to follow at hospitals. If a child or teenager is admitted with a wound a nurse deems “suspicious”, we call the police or social services. But this was a fully-grown man—well-dressed, shined shoes, coiffed hair—who wouldn’t say a thing about how he managed to come about his injury beyond that it had been nothing more than an accident. He answered with quick, one-word replies, never made eye contact, and asked three times how much longer our treatment would take. I couldn’t help but wonder what his hurry was. What drove him to want to leave the hospital so quickly after receiving such a malicious injury? He seemed driven by something very powerful.

As the automatic doors of the emergency ward slid open and he walked back out into a hot summer night in the city, where danger might have been waiting for him just across the street, he didn’t show any signs of fear. If he left my hospital with any kind of a different perspective, I don’t know what it was. 

I’ve received messages from people asking me to write a chapter from Trenton Merrick’s point of view—to get inside his head and show them around. Dust, a short story that chronicles Trenton’s humanitarian trip to Haiti immediately following the devastating earthquake, appears in the appendix at the end of Frontline, and was my attempt to do just that. But despite the insights it offers, it doesn’t bring any of us closer to the mystery behind this man.  

Trenton is bold, brave, and defiant. He’s also stubborn and occasionally even stupid, according to Sara. But no matter how many words I try to use to describe him, Trenton can’t be summed up so easily. Like the man who strode out of the emergency ward that night, freshly bandaged, ready to meet whatever, or whoever, life threw at him next, a shroud of mystery surrounds Trenton that I can’t see through. Frontline is my attempt to try. 

What is Trenton’s focus, his quest, his ambition? And what, like the man that left my hospital that night, waits for Trenton in the darkness? That mystery intrigues me and inspires me. I look forward to exploring his character more in the rest of the Frontline series, and I’d like to invite you to come along on the journey.

About the Author:
Alexandra Richland spends rotating twelve-hour shifts working as a registered nurse at a Toronto hospital, indulging in her love of science and medicine, and caring for patients with their own unique tales to tell. When she is not on duty, Alexandra escapes into her own imagination. Therein lies a fantasy world of thrilling adventure, gorgeous men, classic Hollywood glamour, exotic getaways, and a seductive dose of romance. Alexandra captures these stories in her popular novels, The Starlight Trilogy and Frontline, and her short story, Gilded Cage. Say hello to her on Facebook and on Twitter.
Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.
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August 11, 2013

Sunday Sale Page 8/11

Who needs a good book at a great price? Check out what I found for you today.



Paranormal YA
99 cents at Amazon and B&N


Romance
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Cozy Mystery
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Women's Fiction
FREE at Amazon


Espionage thriller
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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above. Prices were accurate at time of posting. Please verify price before purchases as prices may change without notice.

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