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May 31, 2014

#ArmchairBEA Wrap-up

People in New York are catching flights and trains on their way home from the largest US book event - Book Expo of America. For the participants of Armchair BEA we will be getting back to our regularly posting schedules, but first a little wrap up of all that happened this week.

A Whole Lot of Posts

For some bloggers this was one of the first times they wrote a post every day for a week. That was the case when I did my first Armchair BEA and I was totally exhausted. By the second year, I was use to posting 5 days a week, but not actually writing articles every day. Even this year it was still a challenge as I have regular contributors, and I'm so thankful for them.

I hope that bloggers discovered other "topics" they can write on. I often hear from bloggers that they aren't sure what to write about besides doing reviews. Last year I even did a series of tips posts on creating other content. If you found discussing the various topics presented this week fun and would like to do more, I have a weekly discussion on Sundays (though the discussion lasts all week). I hope you will stop by tomorrow for "what makes a book a classic".

If you missed my thoughts on this week's topics:


Commenting

My goal during Armchair BEA is to visit 10 blogs and leave some kind of comment. I did well the first three days, but then on Giveaway Day I don't think I commented on 10 blogs (unless that was an entry). Yesterday I didn't get to any of the blogs. Just too tired. I will try to get by some of them today and tomorrow. Looking at the comments left on my blog I think a lot of others had the same issue.

But what this week did show me was that I was capable of visiting blogs and leaving comments. If I can do that when I'm also responsible for writing a full post each day, then I could do that when I'm on my normal posting schedule. I'm going to try really hard to visit at least a couple of blogs a week and leave comments. I know we all love comments so I hope others saw that leaving comments wasn't that difficult and will also try to comment on more blogs on a more regular basis.

Twitter Parties!

I have always enjoyed the Twitter parties, but this year I had more trouble connecting within the chat. I attended 3 parties. The best chat was the Wednesday morning chat. Though it still was very fast past, there were defined questions (Q1, Q2, etc) which helped organize the discussion - you knew what people were responding too. I chatted individually with a few people at last night's party so that was nice. I also won prizes at two of the parties.

If you haven't made it to a party yet, there is another one tonight at 7 pm US eastern time. 

As we usually finish up on Friday with all the Armchair BEA fun, I wonder if tonight's party will be less well attended. That isn't necessarily a bad thing as the chats really fly and are crazy with a multitude of people chatting. I've been using Twubs.com to follow the chat (it looks more like a chat room). But I do flip back to Hootsuite to check my mentions to ensure I don't miss anyone responding to me.

Giveaway Day

Arguably the most anticipated day of the week. It is always fun just to see what everyone is giving away. A number of blogs that I visited for that day were doing giveaways for the first time. Others used it to clean shelves or just share their favorite books with others.

My giveaway was a combination of cleaning the shelf and letting other authors promote their books. Because I know it is difficult to get around to the 111 blogs that hosted giveaways, my give away is open until Monday night. Besides the 2 paperbacks for US only (because of publisher restrictions), I'm also giving away 2 paperbacks internationally and then there are several ebooks that authors donated. There are 10 prizes so there will be 10 winners!

Not part of the Armchair BEA giveaway, but because I thought many of you would be interested there are still a few hours left in the Fierce Reads giveaway where I'm giving away signed copies (4 winners will get 1 book each). 

Instagram Challenges

I did the first two days of the Instagram Challenge. On Wednesday, I didn't really have anything to take a picture of since I'm reading mainly on my Nook and it was "current bookmark". I had good intentions of doing yesterday's - "what can I build" with books, but yeah, I was too tired. Today is "where I ArmchairBEA" and I might get around to it.



Getting Back to Normal

So that is pretty much my week. A lot going on and I, at least, tried everything that was offered. I don't feel too bad about what I missed or didn't get to. I'm learning there is only so much I can do each day.

I am looking forward to getting back to my normal schedule. I think May is the first month ever (or in a very long time) that there was a post everyday. That is 31 posts! 

I'm responsible for Two Cents Discussions on Sunday, but after I write tomorrow's post I may leave next week completely to my collaborators. I hope that if you discovered Girl Who Reads this week that you will come back to see what a "regular" week looks like. We have a great line up next week.

An interview from our new staff interviewer on Monday. Claire will have a review on Tuesday. Wednesday will be some of June's upcoming releases. On Thursday I provide tips useful to bloggers and authors. Friday I will have a review. 

Okay, so I won't get much of a break, but then again I don't know what I would do if I wasn't writing for the blog! 

This week my reading has also suffered so hopefully I will get back into my books. I have several set to expire on Netgalley soon.

Now Armchair BEA is over, what are you looking forward to? What is your "normal" blogging week?



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May 30, 2014

Day 5: Middle Grades and Young Adult Books #ArmchairBEA

I have always enjoyed young adult literature and I as my niece and nephew have gotten older I'm learning to enjoy middle grades stories as well. However, my niece and nephew prefer genres that I'm not too keen on.

The Scroll
My favorite cover from the series
My niece loves epic fantasy and I would tell you what she's reading,but she devours books so fast that I cannot keep up. We do have a few series we both enjoy. We are both avid fans of K. B. Hoyle's The Gateway Chronicles. Sadly, the last book in the series comes out this fall. Lucky for us, the publisher has moved the date up a month so we will be getting The Bone Whistle a bit earlier. My niece always worries that I will make her wait until Christmas to get her copy, but I'm not that mean. If you are a fan of Harry Potter and Narnia, then this contemporary fantasy series about a group of friends at camp who must save a parallel world will be an excellent choice for your next read. You have 5 books to catch up on before September.

We also both enjoy The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky. She has read all three of them. I've only read the most recent one about Cleopatra. It is a fun series, particularly if you like fashion.

Recently we have started to read Patti Larsen's Hayle Coven. She has only read Family Magic (the ebook's FREE), I think, because she doesn't really like ebooks. I've read the first 6 in the series (there are like 20 books in this series, and then a few spin off series). Ordinarily I don't care for stories about all the mythical fantasy creatures (ie faeries, werewolves, vampires, etc). But I don't mind it so much in this series. I felt the same way with Harry Potter. I didn't want to read that series in the beginning because I didn't like fantasy.

Then there is my nephew. We have even less in common when it comes to reading tastes. He's all into graphic novels and horror stories. He did enjoy the Huber Hill series that I bough for him. I only read the first book in the series. I'm going to get him Knightley and Sons (read my review) for his birthday this summer. I'm hoping that there will be more books about this Father/Son paranormal detective team.

Last year at Armchair BEA, I won a copy of Dead End in Norvelt and my nephew read it. It worked out well for him since it was part of this year's Battle of the Books (his team won his local school's tournament). Yesterday during the Twitter party I won a copy of Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. It looks like his kind of book.

A few young adult titles I have enjoyed this year:

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (read my review)
Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandall
The Ivory Tower (a short story) by Kristin Pulioff (read my review)

I hope you have had a great week. If you missed my giveaway post yesterday, there is still time to enter.

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May 29, 2014

Day 4: #ArmchairBEA Giveaway Day and Beyond the Borders

It's GIVEAWAY Day! I have TWO giveaways for you today. One is for US and Canada Only. I have a couple of ARCs that were sent unsolicited to me and I'm not going to read them. I thought what I better way to share the love than to give them away to an Armchair BEA blogger. The other giveaway is open internationally and offers a couple of paperbacks and several ebooks - a big THANK YOU to the authors who donated the ebooks. Be sure to scroll down to get to the second Rafflecopter and to check out my Beyond the Border books.

Also, if you are quick there is a bit of time left on the Fierce Reads giveaway where you could win 1 of 4 signed books (US only).

For US/Canada Bloggers:


a Rafflecopter giveaway


International Giveaway (Everyone can enter!):


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Beyond the Borders

Since I know you are busy filling out all the giveaway forms, I'll keep this part short and just give you a list of some books that have taken me "beyond my borders" in either location or time.

A Life Apart by L. Y. Marlow (read my review) - This one took me to the past and brought me forward through time, giving me the chance to walk in someone else's shoes during some pivotal historical moments.

Mistaken Enemy by Dennis A. Nehamen (read my review) - It took me to the Middle East to look at the Isreali-Palestinian conflict with a fictional story.

Coiled Snake by Katie Robison (read my review) - The sequel to Downburst is a great look at Australian aboriginal tribes as well as other native cultures.

Knightley and Son by Rohan Gavin (read my review) - The streets of London is the perfect back drop for this middle grades paranormal detective story that features a father/son team.

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky (read my review) - A middle grades series that pairs vintage clothing with tales from history.

I'm currently reading an English translation of the French novel The Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier.

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May 28, 2014

#ArmchairBEA Day 3: Expanding the Blog and Novellas/Short Stories


Expanding Blogging Horizons

I've been expanding my "blog's horizons" for a few years. A few years ago I started to formally offering marketing and publicity services to authors. I have planned a number of tours and book blasts, as well as providing assistance in recruiting reviewers and helping set up an author's online presence. I offer consulting for those that just need a little direction. I have also content edited a few books and would like to do more of that. I love helping the author refine their stories and characters.

Last summer I published my first ebook - Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. It is a quick read for authors, bloggers, and publicists that are organizing tours. As I mentioned in my introduction post, the idea for the book came out of an Armchair BEA daily topic a couple of years ago. I'm hoping to get another book out this summer, but I have to find the time.

One of the comments on my intro post was how I went from 1 post a week to posting 7 days a week. And this is where I have really focused on blog expansion this year. I have always been open for guest posts and interviews, which was a huge help in increasing the number of post I have each week. But I was getting overwhelmed with the review requests and felt like I couldn't read fast enough. This had a negative impact as I just wasn't enjoying books as much. So I advertised for a reviewer.

Claire began back in March and has been wonderful. I had planned for her to do a couple of reviews a month, but she is such a quick reader that she sends me a couple of reviews a week. Taking on a reviewer was a great help and I'm still reviewing a book a week myself, but I don't feel so pressured now.

As I said, I've always accepted guest posts, but I never knew how many I would get in a month. One of the ladies from my blogging group had expressed an interest in doing a monthly column somewhere so I offered her a spot at Girl Who Reads. Alison started this month and will have a new article every month on the 2nd Wednesday.

Besides reviews, interviews is a big request. However, I think I'm lousy at asking questions. Plus it takes time to craft good questions. Starting in June, Heather joins Girl Who Reads as the staff interviewer. And just like Claire, she is exceeding my expectation of 1 interview a month. She has 3 lined up for June alone.

Having this extra help has reduced my workload. Now I can focus more on my Tips on Thursdays series and work on my next book. I know longer have to come up with 5 posts each week. And this month with the start of Two Cents Discussions on Sunday, there was been a new post every day.

Novellas and Short Stories

I'm not big on short stories, but I have read several this year (and last year). I've read a couple of collections that were good. But the ones that I really like are the novellas that are off shoots of series that I'm already reading.

I'm so glad that J. B. Lynn has started to write a some novellas as part of her Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman series. A new one just came out and it is HILARIOUS. If you haven't tried this series, The Mutt and the Matchmaker would be a great introduction. It has a minor character from the series so there isn't a lot of background you will need to catch up on. Seriously it will make an excellent afternoon read.
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May 27, 2014

Day 2: Author Interactions and More Than Just Words #ArmchairBEA


Author Interactions:

Since becoming a book blogger I've interacted with a bunch of authors. I even have a few "I knew you when" stories. While most of my interactions have continued to be online I have gotten to meet a few authors in real life.

Most recently, I covered Macmillan's Fierce Reads tour stop at Avid Bookshop. I got to meet Marie Rutkoski, Lindsay Smith, Katie Finns, and Anna Banks. You can read my full recap of the event and enter to win 1 of 4 signed copies (US only).

A few months ago, I helped organize a book signing with Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar. That was cool because we had known each other online for a couple of years, but this was the first time we met in person.

As you can see most of my real life author interactions are book signing related. However, this October I'm planning a Walt Disney World trip with JB Lynn, author of The Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman series. It is purely for fun. Neither of us have ever been to Disney World and we have since discovered our mutual dislike for roller coasters so it is sounding like a perfect match.

More Than Just Words:

When I was with the publishing house I attended an ebook submit. One of the presentations was on enhanced ebooks. It was a really cool presentation. They used a nonfiction historical text. They embedded news clips and other videos, including a never aired interview. It would add a little something extra to nonfiction titles, which could make them more appealing to the general public.

I have been reading Sex, Life, and Hannah. The interesting thing about this series is the lay out. It is like a magazine. It definitely added an energy to the story.

Earlier this year, Seventeen magazine released a book on dating. It is filled with glossy pictures of teen celebrities, quote boxes, and quizzes. It is the magazine in book form. When I got my copy I felt like it needed its own photo shoot. It's pretty slick.

I think if authors could get around the copyright issues (through a mutually beneficial deal) on music, we would see a lot of indie authors at least embedding a playlist for the reader to listen to while reading.

Except for a few exceptions, I'm pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to the books I read. While I can appreciate the extra bells and whistles, I prefer to let my imagination fill in the extraneous stuff. Otherwise, I'm likely to be distracted by all the shiny toys and miss out on why I'm reading.


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May 26, 2014

Day 1: #ArmchairBEA Introductions and Literature

Armchair BEA
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
It is a big week in the book world. Book Expo of America kicks off in New York City and for all the bloggers who, for whatever reason, couldn't travel to NYC, it is Armchair BEA. Girl Who Reads's normal posting schedule will be interrupted this week to bring you discussions on various topics. Below is the schedule of topics, and I will be discussing most of them.

Day 1: Introductions and Literature
Day 2: Author Interaction and More Than Just Words
Day 3: Expanding Blogging Horizons and Novellas/Short Stories
Day 4: GIVEAWAYS and Beyond the Border
Day 5: Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature

Even if you are not participating in Armchair BEA, I hope you will still join in with your comments. If you are visiting from Armchair BEA, feel free to leave links to your posts in the comments. 

Introduction:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm Donna, the master mind behind Girl Who Reads. I started it 3.5 years ago as an experiment. Now it has expanded to include a reviewer, feature writer, and starting in June an interviewer. I've also have gone from the goal of 1 post a week to posting 7 days a week. 

When I'm not reading and blogging, I work at the local university and do home DIY projects. I also spend a lot of time with my two dogs and two cats. 

This is my 4th time at Armchair BEA. Since last year I published a how-to ebook Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. The post that kind of kickstarted the book was from an Armchair BEA topic.

Describe your blog in one sentence. Provide your social media links.

Your site for book reviews and author news. 

Twitter: @Girl_Who_Reads
Facebook: Girl Who Reads
I run a blogging group on Facebook, if you want to join. Blog tour and other author promotion opportunities are listed as well as discussions about book blogging topics.
Pinterest: Girl Who Reads
Goodreads: Donna Huber

What genre do you read most? I love to read because ____________.

I read a lot of psychological thrillers. I'm loving everything by Chevy Stevens. I don't know why I'm so drawn to the dark and twisted side of human nature. However, I don't read horror. It is sometimes a fine line between a thriller and a horror, but I'm much more interested in how the characters are effected, the emotions, the psychological impact. With horror you can get those things, but there is usually a more graphic component to the violence. Maybe? The closest I've come to a horror novel is J.B. Lynn's The First Victim (read my review). 

I love to read because I can explore the world from the comfort of my couch. I sure don't want to get up close and personal in real life with the shadier side of human nature, but a book allows to get delve into the dark corners. Reading can put me into someone else's shoes, see someone else's view on a subject in ways that is often impossible in the real world.

What was your favorite book read last year? What's your favorite book read so far this year?

I strongly dislike answering "favorite book" questions. My favorite book at the moment is a little easier, but even that changes depending on my mood.  So I'll start with the second question. So far this year, Lexicon by Max Barry (read my review). 

Last year, hmmm... That's a bit more difficult. I'm loving The Gateway Chronicles by K. B. Hoyle. The sixth book came out last year, The Enchanted (read my review) and I believe it is my favorite book of the series. I know it is my niece's favorite.

Spread the love my naming some of your favorite blogs/bloggers.

Two, three years ago I joined up with an awesome group of bloggers. We all have our own take on book blogger, some are authors, but we are always there for one another. 

Karen - check out her author blog, also there's a link to the blog one of her characters writes.
Alison - she writes a monthly column here, but also has her own blog at Fresh Pot of Tea
Kriss at Cabin Goddess
A. B. Shepherd - check out her author blog for lots of book goodies

I know I'm missing a few people from the group and I greatly apologize for those I over looked.


Literature

When I hear the word "literature" I automatically think about the reading lists I had in high school. Yet, there is so much more to literature than just the classics. This year particularly I've read a number of books in literary fiction. They are likely to become classics it will be years from now and it does not diminish their impact on the written word, story telling, etc. 

Broadly, literature is any written word. It would include poetry all the way to the guiltiest of pleasure reads. And I love it. Indie publishing has further broaden the scope of literature. Lines between genres is being blurred and in some cases completely obliterated. 

I don't understand people who say they don't like to read. There is something for everyone out there. Finding it might take some work, but today there is more available than ever before. The bookworm in me both cheers and cringes (now I will NEVER get through my TBR pile).

I'm excited about this week where people from every corner of the world is celebrating the written word in all its forms.


Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the links above.
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May 25, 2014

Two Cents Discussion: Which Book Format Do You Prefer


Last week's dystopian discussion was great. Did you miss it? You can still add your two cents to the post. With Book Expo of America and the at-home version Armchair BEA starting on Monday, I thought I would do an "easy" topic. By the way, I will be participating in the daily topics at Armchair BEA so there will be a LOT of book related discussions going on and I do hope you will check out my posts throughout the week.

Which Book Format Do You Prefer?

I don't really get all the ebook versus print arguments, and where does audio books fit? (were there audio book versus print years ago when audio books were first made available?)

I love books no matter the format. However, there are times that a format is preferred over another. Like, when driving in the car, washing dishes, lounging in the tub. Then audio books are definitely the preferred format. My hands are free but I'm still entertained. Also, there could be some books that are better in audio. I loved Room by Emma Donoghue and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen on audio. I'm not sure if I would have been as engaged in the story if it hadn't been in audio. On the flip side, I couldn't get into The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I think I would have been better off reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

I have stacks of paperbacks and hardcovers. Books that I love to re-read, I prefer to have in print. I like to be able to flip to favorite passages when I don't have time to read the whole thing. Harry Potter is a must in print as is K. B. Hoyle's The Gateway Chronicles. Books with cool covers are also better in print.

For ease of access, ebooks are the absolute best. I was resistant to buy an eReader, but I have LOVED it. I love always having a book with me. It makes reading a book at lunch so much easier. I do get frustrated when I want to flip back to something to double check what I had read. That is easier for me in print. But the benefit of being able to increase font size has kept me reading much later into the night (well, maybe that isn't such a good thing.)

So how about you? Do you have a preference or like me think all formats have their merits? Throw in your two cents.





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