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December 14, 2013

Popular YA Reads

Do you enjoy young adult literature? Check out these movers and shakers:

These Broken Stars
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 


Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

Buy The Broken Stars at Amazon

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Buy Racing Savannah at Amazon


PawnYOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING. 

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country. 

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter. 

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.


Buy Pawn at Amazon



Roomies
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.


National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

Buy Roomies at Amazon

Fireblood
To save a kingdom, Zara must choose between a prince who could be the answer and a rising rebellion that threatens to take control.

When Zara Dane is chosen to marry Prince Sebastian Hart, son of the man who ordered her father’s capture, Zara knows she must fight to save everything she loves from ruin. 

Being betrothed to the prince means a life trapped behind the towering stone walls of the Camelot-forged realm. Under the watchful eye of the prince's first knight, Sir Devlan Capra, changing her future becomes difficult. 

When an unlikely rebel reveals the truth about the deadly secrets that fuel King Hart’s twisted world, Zara’s path to rescue her father becomes clouded by deception. The Rebels clear her path by forcing Zara’s hand with an ultimatum: sway Prince Sebastian to join the Rebels, convincing him of his father’s evil nature, or they will take him out. 

But Zara is uncertain about a future under the Rebels’ command and where the prince’s heart truly lies. She must decide who to trust, what to believe, and what she’s truly fighting for before the king destroys all of Karm, including her heart.

Buy Fireblood at Amazon



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


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December 13, 2013

Book Recommendations from my Friends


A few weeks ago I gave you my list of favorite books I've read this year. Since then I've read two more books that I would add to best of my 2013 reading: The Time Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile by Bianca Turetsky and Nearly Departed by JB Lynn. I'll be giving my review of these two books in the coming weeks.

Even as a book blogger there are great books that I don't have the time to read or sometimes even know are out there. So I asked my friends to share their best of 2013 reads. I would love for you to share what favorite books you read this year in the comments.

Laura Howard, author of The Forgotten Ones, recommends,

A Different Blue
Blue Echohawk doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn't attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing.


This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don't know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can't love you back might be impossible.

Buy A Different Blue at Amazon

Mandy Roberts, my high school friend, recommends,

The Reason I Jump
You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

Buy The Reason I Jump at Amazon

Rachel Tsoumbakos, author of Unremembered Things and other books, recommends,

Intermix Nation
Intermix: to mix together, blend


North America, paragon of diversity, is gone. From its ashes, a new nation has arisen – Renatus – where the government segregates the surviving population into races, forbidding interracial marriage, mating, and love.

Eighteen-year-old Nazirah Nation is a pariah, an intermix, born of people from different races. When her parents are murdered in the name of justice, Nazirah grudgingly joins the growing rebellion fighting against the despotic government.

Overwhelmed with grief, consumed by guilt, Nazirah craves vengeance as a substitute for absolution. But on her journey to find the girl she once was, Nazirah must learn the hard way that nothing … no one … is purely black or white. Like her, every human is intermix, shades and hues of complex emotions. And those who can take everything away are also the ones who can give everything back.

Buy Intermix Nation at Amazon

A.B. Shepherd, author of Lifeboat and The Beacon, recommends,

Running
She will be hunted. She will be found. The Empire will never be the same.

In a world where Power is everything, Gwendolyn leads a quiet life in a country town. That life ends the day a Rogue attack triggers the dormant Power within her.

Her guardian has been kidnapped and her home is no longer the sanctuary it once was. Accompanied by a young man who is more than what he seems, hunted by Rogues and the Empire Ruling Council, Gwen must find herself before they do.

With Power she can't control and plagued by forgotten memories she does the only thing she can.

Run.

Buy Running at Amazon

Like me, she is a fan of The Gateway Chronicles by K. B. Hoyle: The Six, The Oracle, The White Thread, The Enchanted, and The Scroll.

Allegiant
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Buy Allegiant at Amazon



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


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December 12, 2013

Get Twitter Insights with Commun.it

Social media can be very time consuming and sometimes confusing. Every user wants an easy way to manage their accounts most effectively. I've recently been checking out Commun.it to help manage my Twitter account.

One of the big questions Twitter users have is who to unfollow. This question often comes up when they are approaching the 2,000 following mark (Twitter has some limits to help eliminate spammers and keep their site running smoothly. See their Following Best Practices for more info). I use both Manageflitter.com and Who.Unfollowed.Me. Manageflitter provides info about who's not following you back, inactive accounts, fake accounts, and users that are "eggs". Who Unfollowed Me lets me quickly see who has recently unfollowed me and if I'm following them I can decide whether to continue or not. However, no priority or information about their engagement is provided. Commun.it prioritizes those who do not follow you. It shows how many people are following them and if they have engaged with you (retweeted, mentioned, or replied).

Commun.it provides you with more insight than just who to unfollow. They also recommend who to follow. These are people who are highly engaged as well as have great influence within your network. Again, the list is prioritized by influence and engagement.

I get a ton of emails daily, particularly during a giveaway, about new followers. Do I want to follow all of them back? If they are only following me for a contest, probably not. Commun.it will give you a list of recent followers, showing how many followers they have as well as the number of times they have engaged with you. Another cool feature is the generated tweet about who are your top new followers. This tweet can provide an opportunity to engage with your followers, start a conversation. People like recognition.

Another feature I have found useful is the "consider to reply". Do you participate in busy twitter chats? I was the special guest for one and though I tried my best to reply to everyone, tweets were flying. The next day I checked my mentions, but because I am part of Triberr some days I get a bunch of mentions. I went to Commun.it and looked at the list and sure enough there was a tweet I missed that asked about the services I offered. Haven't tweeted with someone in a while - Commun.it will recommend who you should re-engage with.

There are a number of other features. Oh and it's free (there are some limits, and of course, a paid option). They all give you important insight into your use, followers, and following on Twitter.

As I mentioned a moment ago, people like recognition. Commun.it will generate a tweet about who are your top supporters, top engagers, and top influencers each week. It is another great to engage with your followers. When the tweet goes out on my account it is almost always retweeted, favorited, or replied to, which in turns increases my influence.

As the saying goes: work smarter, not harder. To that end, I recommend Commun.it. I check the site once every week or two.



Donna Huber
Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.








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December 11, 2013

Lynne Cantwell: It's Just Like Starting Over

I recently read a pearl of wisdom from someone in the writing business to the effect that an author shouldn’t invent just one fictional universe and keep writing books in it forever. I think what the person meant was that writing multiple books – or multiple series – in the same universe can lead to formulaic writing. Pretty soon, every book you write reads like every other book you’ve ever written, and eventually nobody can tell them apart. Besides the danger of boring your readers to the point that they drift away – or quit reading your books in disgust – your writing might begin to bore you, too.

The thing is, a well-crafted series in a well-crafted world can go on and on. I’m thinking in particular of Terry Pratchett’s 40 Discworld novels. Not only are they hilarious – which is hard enough to pull off, even in a stand-alone novel – but a reader isn’t likely to confuse Hogfather with Making Money or Wyrd Sisters. It’s because the plots are always unique, I think. And I also think it’s a good thing Sir Terry didn’t have someone tell him, when he was two or three books in, to broaden his range. Or, if he heard it, it’s a good thing he didn’t give up on this series to do it.

CrosswindI don’t pretend to be anywhere near as accomplished an author as Sir Terry. But earlier this year, I wrapped up a five-book urban fantasy series called The Pipe Woman Chronicles and, while casting about for a new project, decided to write another series in the same universe.  The difference, however, is that the Land, Sea, Sky books – of which my latest novel, Crosswind, is the first – is set ten years after the events in the earlier series. The shiny, new world created at the end of The Pipe Woman Chronicles has been ticking along for a little while, and now the dirty work of keeping it running has begun.

This series is set in a different city – Washington, D.C., where I live now, instead of Denver – and new characters carry the story. A few familiar faces have popped up, partly to provide some continuity. But by and large, this is a different crew. 

Buy Crosswind at Amazon and Smashwords

And the new series feels different – or at least, it does to me. Denver and Washington are so dissimilar that in moving the story to D.C., I almost felt like I was moving it to a different planet. People value different things here. Power is much more sought after. There’s more back-room dealing in these books – and we are able to see more of it, because I’m writing in third person this time.  The first-person narrator of The Pipe Woman Chronicles could only be in one place at a time, but having three main characters provides a wider-angle lens through which to view events, and I’m taking advantage of it.

If you’re an author who has finished writing several books in a series and is thinking about writing more in the same world, consider how you’re going to keep the story fresh. Tell about events from a different angle or set your story in a different location. Invent a new main character or two. Focus on a different time period, either before or after the events you’ve been writing about. Any tweaks like these will help to keep your story fresh – and that will help to keep your readers engaged.

At least, that’s my plan. And it seems to have worked okay for Sir Terry.

~About the Author~

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews.  In addition to writing fantasy, Lynne is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.  Lynne’s vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate.  She currently lives near Washington, DC.
 Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Blog  *  Goodreads



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


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December 10, 2013

Review: Gabriel's Redemption

Gabriel's Redemption
I waited a long time for Gabriel's Redemption by Sylvain Reynard. I don't think I've ever anticipated the release of a romance novel before, but I absolutely loved Gabriel's Inferno (read my review) and Gabriel's Rapture (read my review). Reynard's writing is beautiful.

Anticipation is an interesting thing. It can make you excited and feel satisfaction when you finally get whatever you are anticipating. But wait too long and it can lead to disappointment. I read Gabriel's Rapture In July of 2012, so I've waited 16 months for Gabriel's Redemption. I wonder if in the interim I've "romanticized" the series - that I set my expectations too high. Reynard hadn't planned to write a third book in the series and I kind of wonder if fairytale writers were on to something when they had the couple ride off into the sunset with just a "they lived happily ever after". Or perhaps, as this is the first book in the series that was written completely under the watchful eye of a Penguin/Berkley editor (the first two were first published by Omnific).

Whatever the reason, I wasn't as pleased with Gabriel's Redemption. Which pains me greatly to say. As part of the whole series, I enjoyed getting to see how the relationship between Julia and Gabriel progressed after marriage and seeing everyone pretty much getting their happily ever after.

But on it's own, I was disappointed. Some of the conflict felt forced and Gabriel's reactions had me rolling my eyes (this is where I might have "romanticized" the books) - I thought he had grown more. At the same time I enjoyed getting more of Gabriel's backstory.

In my previous reviews, I've mentioned the narrator. He is like another character in the story, yet unobtrusive. It didn't seem to have the same charm in this book. The wit I've come to associate with the narrator wasn't there. (This may be a result of the new editing team). There were also a few inconsistencies in the story. I did read an eARC and I usually assume that inconsistencies and typos are caught before the final release. However, we got the e-galley only a couple of weeks before the release so I'm not sure if they would be corrected in the final copy. The one that bugged me the most was that Gabriel kept referring to Julia's brother as his nephew, when in fact it would be his brother-in-law.

So for me the series didn't end as strongly as I think it started, but as a complement to the other two books it is a must read. I really wish I could gush about Gabriel's Redemption because I LOVE the series. It is a beautiful love story and if you haven't started it, then I still highly recommend reading it. And while it makes they erotica lists, it is so much more than just about the sex. Yes, the scenes get pretty steamy, but I wouldn't classify it as erotica. I look forward to trying Reynard's new series.

Buy Gabriel's Redemption at Amazon

Book Info:
eBook & paperback (496 pages)
Published December 2013 by Berkley Trade
ISBN13:  9780425266519
Source: Netgalley
Read: November 2013



Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link.  A free e-galley was provided by the source.


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December 9, 2013

Meet Sherrill Willis

Sherrill Willis
Where did you grow up/live now?
I grew up in Sacramento, CA, but always wanted to live in Wisconsin, which is where I live now with my two boys

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I dreamed of becoming a mother and a writer. I'm living my dream, and very grateful to my readers who make it possible.

How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?
What a great question! I'm often inspired by things that happen either to me or around me. My sister and I talk every morning, and some of those conversations have inspired some of the funniest scenes I've written. But definitely the characters themselves speak to me. I have often wondered if I had lived 200 years ago if I would have been locked away due to all the voices in my head, haha.

What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
I'm thrilled that I'm releasing my third book on Friday (12/13/13)! The hardest part of getting it done would have been due to my chronic migraines, that's why it takes me so bloody long to finish a book now. I'm very grateful I have the great support group I do, who always is there to lend an ear, a hand, a shoulder or whatever else I need. I'm extremely lucky.

On a Friday night, what are you most likely to be doing?
I love to write late at night when it's nice a quiet and the dark outside blocks my usual - Oh look, a rabbit! I get distracted quite easily I'm afraid.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Some of my favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon, Anne Rice, Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis (who is HYSTERICAL), Glenn Scrimshaw (also Hilarious), KD Emerson, Dean Koontz, Lee Childs. Oh - how many do you want? I love everything from popular fiction to romance to vampires (not Twilight, sorry) to well, anything that is well written. I'm in love with the written word!

Buy Stay a While in Ruby Lake at Amazon

Do you have a bucket list? What are some of things on it?
Ah, my bucket list...it's long, so I'll only list a few: I want to stand in the shadow of the Roman Coliseum, see a loch in Scotland, drink hot chocolate while looking at the Eiffel Tower, watch fireworks over the Boston Harbor and charter a plane. There's a few things that are on my mile-long bucket list.

What's the best writing advice you have ever received?
The best writing advice I ever got was a quote from Stephen King: Amateurs wait to be "inspired" - the rest of just write everyday. So I write everyday. I used to be in the other camp.


~About the Author~

I am the Author of Ruby Lake, A Wedding in Ruby Lake and Stay a While in Ruby Lake. I started reading when I was 3 and my parents encouraged me to start writing soon after. I wrote my first poem at age 5 (about a tree I believe) and this has been my passion for my entire life. Writing is what keeps me sane, and hopefully, connects me to others. I've always felt we are all connected, whether through experiences, blood or community. With my writing, my ultimate hope is to transcend barriers and reach out to those I might otherwise never meet.
Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads




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


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