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August 13, 2016

4 Different Suspense Novels, All Great Reads

by Susan Roberts


A good suspense or thriller novel has the reader rapidly turning pages to get to the outcome and trying hard not to read the last page to find out what happens.  I enjoy the thrillers that I think I have figured out before the end, only to find out that I was totally wrong.

Clean Break by Abby Vegas

cover of Clean Break
"I was normal once or close enough to pass for it. then I was not normal and then I sort of vanished.  For several years I was putting one foot in front of the other - existing, basically.  But I was doing it in grand style." (Lane on page 1)


Clean Break is great -- it kept me up way past my normal bedtime last night because I was so involved in the main character, I wanted to keep reading to see if there was a happy ending for her. (If you want to know the answer to that question, you need to read this book!).

At the beginning of the book, Lane comes across as a spoiled young person who doesn't know how to live life and stay out of debt. She's hit rock bottom - no money for an apartment and only a part time job. However, as we learn more about her background and see her rise above the bad things that have happened in her life, she became a very likable character. She goes to work as a personal assistant for a totally disorganized rich person and her family. I thought that some of her interactions with them were hilarious. And of course, there is a man - the Russian maintenance man at her basement apartment who is also an enforcer for the Russian mob. That sums up all of the main characters but the plot that the author has written is not what you'd expect - it's much much better!

Clean Break is a debut novel for Abby Vegas - can't wait to see what she writes next.

Buy Clean Break at Amazon
(a free book was provided by the author for this review)


cover of Guiding Fate
Guiding Fate by Tamra Lassiter

Guiding Fate is book 4 in romantic suspense series Role of Fate. I wasn't aware that it was part of a series and it can be read as a stand alone with no problems. I want to go back and read the rest of the series now that I have read this book.

Melanie is an ER nurse and single mother in a small town where everyone is aware of what's going on in the each other's lives. Her husband left her when she got pregnant but now he's back in town and wants to reconcile. She doesn't trust him or his motives. At the same time he comes back to town, she meets a new neighbor who is staying at his aunt's house next door while she is in a nursing home. Will is a Marine with PTSD who is very attracted to Melanie but knows that he is not mentally in a good place to start a relationship. The novel revolves around the two main wounded characters - Melanie who has been wounded in love and Will who has been wounded in war. Can they find love and heal their wounds? It's a fun read to find out the answer to this question

Buy Guiding Fate at Amazon


cover of Behind Closed Doors
Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris

"The perfect marriage or the perfect lie?"

Jack and Grace appear to be the perfect couple. They live in a beautiful home, they travel often and they have a room in their house for Grace's sister Millie to move into as soon as she turns 18. Millie has Down's syndrome and she and Grace are very close. Jack is a successful lawyer who defends women who have been abused by their husbands and he has never lost a case. Their friends are envious of their life together and the love they have for each other. It all sounds wonderful but behind the closed doors of their home is a totally different life than what the world sees.

Behind Closed Doors is a stunning psychological novel that is told from Grace's POV and alternates between the past and the present. The plot is full of tension and plenty of twists and turns. My advice - set aside a lot of time before you start this book because you won't want to put it down until the end.

Buy Behind Closed Doors at Amazon
(a free galley was provided by NetGalley for this review)


cover of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter

Althea is about to turn 30 and according to her father, all of the women in her family history have a mental breakdown and die when they turn 30. Even though she has just returned home from a year in rehab and a halfway house to deal with her pill addiction, she knows that she needs to solve the mystery before her 30th birthday in less than a month. Her family is no help and her decision-making skills are poor due to her addiction but she jumps right into trying to find answers.

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls is told in several time periods by two main characters - Althea and her great grandmother Jinn. Althea was a difficult character to like at the beginning of the novel but the more I read and the better I understood her internal battles, the more likable she became. My only complaint about this novel is the number of characters that needed to be kept up with. After I made a list of characters and their relationships it was much easier to read.

I definitely enjoyed the mystery and the pace of the novel. It's a great debut by an author that I look forward to reading in the future.

Buy Burying the Honeysuckle Girls at Amazon
(a free galley was provided by NetGalley for this review)


Susan Roberts, reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

Top image by Andrew E. Weber. Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 12, 2016

Re-reading Favorite Books: Harry Potter

by Donna Huber


Usually at some point in the summer, I feel the need to re-read a favorite series. I often feel guilty about this because my list of books for review is miles long. There are just so many books, but eventually, the draw gets too strong, and I succumb.

For a few summers, it was Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy. I thought about this summer, but I didn't feel the need. Last summer/fall, I re-read K.B. Hoyle's The Gateway Chronicles, and while I'm sure there are still gems to unearth I wasn't drawn to it either. I thought perhaps this summer I would not re-read anything.

As I started reading slower and slower my review copies, I felt the first nigglings that I must re-read a favorite. But what?

Then Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out and the feeling got stronger. Then I need an item that was only a few dollars in order to get free shipping and I succumbed. I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I never bought the series because I had plenty of friends with copies when the series was coming out. I did pick up a few of the others at charity sales for a dollar or two, but I didn't have book one.

It has been a while since I read the series and there were a number of things that I had forgotten. Like, Lord Voldemort had reigned terror on the magical world for 11 years. There were also things that took on new meaning now that I know how the whole series plays out.

In this re-reading, I also noticed the reading level more. I guess the first few times I was still absorbing the story, but between the many re-reads and the movies I almost know the book by heart. By Deathly Hallows it was questionable if the series was a children's book or not, but clearly, a children's story is what Rowling had in mind for book 1 when writing book 1. It is nice to see an author age the story and writing appropriately with the intended audience.

I wonder if that is why Dumbledore's light capturing invention went from Put-Outer in book 1 to Deluminator in book 7. Or perhaps in the intervening years, he patented it and thought of a better name.

I'm on to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This has always been my least favorite of the series. I wonder if this reading will finally endear it to me.

What books/series do you like to re-read?


Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 11, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action! Video Options for Bloggers

by Donna Huber

film


Have you tried to add video to your repretoire? A couple of years ago I tried to raise the presence of Girl Who Reads on YouTube by doing a weekly "What am I reading" video. They were decently received, but they were time consuming and no one seemed to miss them when I stopped.

I recently went to a Digital Storytelling conference and of course the main topic was video.

Video has seen increasing interest, and there are many more ways than YouTube to share video. How many of you have a SnapChat account? (that's one social media channel I haven't jumped on, but it is an option). You can post video to Instagram.

While book trailers have always been a bit of a hit or miss, there are some new options for those interested in doing more video.

Both Facebook and Twitter have LIVE video options. These options would be good for a Q&A or a book club type discussion. Have you tried Facebook Live or Periscope (Twitter's live video option)? A few of tips on being successful that I garnered from the talk by a Facebook executive

  1. Give advance noticed. Advertise your Live event much as you would any big promotional activity you do. Some business managers and such are setting regular days/times for these Live chats and usuing them kind of like open office hours.
  2. Videos should be at least 10 minutes long. This will allow for stragglers to join in as their friends and collegues make mention that they are attending the live event.
  3. Make a transcript of the event to post afterwards.
Another tip shared during the talk about videos on Facebook was that videos with closed captions get more engagement than those that are audio alone. I know I often rather read the captioning than listening to the video. Also, it makes your videos more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

video tipsDuring the talk about reaching Generation Z, it was commented that they are more interested in knowing the people behind the brand. They are looking for personal connections. When I did my weekly vlogs, many people commented on my accent. It was something people would never know if they were just reading my words on the screen.

You may be thinking that this is all well and good, but you don't have video equipment or the knowledge to pull off a slick production. Well, there is good news on that front as well.

The video capabilities of smartphones are always getting better and there are a few free video editing programs available. During the Facebook talk it was mentioned that people aren't put off by amatuer video. In some cases it provides a more personal touch.

If you have a steady hand and a decent smartphone, I encourage you to give video a try.

I recently videoed a bit of my Special Collections Libraries tour. These videos then were shared on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and this site. Click the link above to see the videos. They are definitely amateur, but it was fun and I think added a little something special to the post.

So what should you make a video of?

  • If you do an overview of your week, consider doing a video instead of a write up (or both if you don't include captions on the video).
  • A tour of your "library". Show off your bookshelves and reading piles.
  • Did you travel some where fun? Shoot a minute or two of video and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Attend a bookish event and film a few minutes to give your readers a feel for what it was like to be there.
  • Anything else that will share a bit of who you are with your readers.
Tips for making a good video:

  • Good lighting, though in front of windows isn't always the best option. The changing daylight can cast unwanted shadows.
  • Pick an interesting, but not overly busy, background (stay away from the paisley and striped wallpaper!). 
  • When possible, outline what you will say to keep yourself from rambling or forgetting what you wanted to say.
  • Walk slowly and do not turn quickly if doing a moving video.
  • Consider a tripod for stationary shots.
  • Do not zoom when you can walk closer. You lose resolution when you zoom. This is particularly important if using a smartphone.
I would love to know how you have used video in your book blogging. Have you used it for teasers or do you fully video blog? What tips do you have to share?

Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.


Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 10, 2016

Stranger Things vs. Suicide Squad: A Surprise Hit

by Alison DeLuca

retro girl relaxing with a book

Stranger Things has emerged as the surprise hit of the summer, a breath of fresh air after Suicide Squad’s disappointing reviews. Available on Netflix, the 8-part miniseries is a love-letter to the 1980’s.  

It begins with a terrifying accident at a secret installation. A psychokinetic girl called Eleven, victim of government experiments, escapes from the scene and is taken in by a group of young, nerdy boys. Meanwhile, the boys’ friend Will has disappeared.


Stranger Things icon

All of this makes for terrific television. I was drawn in right away by the exciting adventure and nonstop action. As a horror fan, I loved the concept of a monster who ‘lives in the walls’. Will Byers, the victim, also lives inside the walls – and in the lights.

This is great stuff, but Stranger Things wouldn’t succeed on action alone. The characters bring the series to life on a magical level I haven’t seen since the Harry Potter series.

Eleven, the child who is the subject of government experiments, is played to heart-breaking perfection by Millie Bobby Brown. With her boyish haircut and intelligence, Eleven confronts her past and shaky future with the help of Will’s friends, especially Mike Wheeler.

Mike and Eleven’s relationship is delicate, shaky at points, and completely fascinating. The target of school bullies, Mike and his friends become stronger as they work to help Eleven. However, there are plenty of bumps along the way.


Stranger Things characters

All of this echoes one of King’s best tropes – the power of friendship, especially among kids. The group of Will’s friends work together to help Eleven and find Will. At the same time they have to fight monsters, bullies, and deadbeat dads.

They aren’t the only brilliant characters. As Will’s mother, Winona Ryder vaults back into acting as a woman who is convinced her son is alive in the face of overwhelming evidence. Only the town’s police chief, Jim Hopper, is willing to help her – and he has overwhelming problems of his own. 

And in a lovely about-face, look for the development in Steve Harrington’s character from typical school jock to something more nuanced.

Watching the series is an exercise in ‘Spot the 80’s themes.” Find the references to these movies as you watch:

E.T
Firestarter
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Nightmare on Elm Street
Poltergeist
Pretty in Pink

Combined with acid-washed jeans, rotary wall phones, and paneled basements, ST will make you feel like you've gone back in time. 

From E.T., Stranger Things echoes Elliott's dungeons and dragons game and the desperate bike chase. The Duffer Brothers, creators of the miniseries, have also included the school bullies and hopeless romance from Pretty in Pink. Of course, the actors such as Ryder and Matthew Modine increase the retro cachet.

In fact, my advice is to watch the series twice – once for the references and again purely for the story. Stranger Things succeeds, in the end, for the same reason Suicide Squad fails. While Stranger Things makes an ensemble cast spring to life, Suicide Squad relies too much on action.


Suicide Squad icon

Only Margot Robbie, who looks like a living comic book character, is compelling in the movie. Other than her Harley Quinn, the dramatis personae of Squad disappear into the background – despite all the star power DC threw at that movie. Like a lot of comic fans, I was excited by the trailer and ultimately disappointed.

Stranger Things came along with very little fanfare and saved the summer of 2016. If you enjoyed the miniseries and are looking for more, I highly suggest classics such as The Goonies and Lost Boys. Don’t forget to feed your Kindle with similar books like The Outsiders, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, Salem’s Lot, and Desperation.



Buy Devil's Rock at Amazon

Ready Player One is a great choice for those who simply must have more of the 80’s. This book references everything from the decade: games above all, but also TV, movies, and music. It’s a great story as well and makes a great beach read.


So when you are away from your Netflix account, treat yourself to a few novels to extend the summer. When you're home with time on your hands, check out these other Netflix recommendations. And let me know what you thought of Stranger Things – as well as Suicide Squad – in the comments section.



Buy Ready Player One at Amazon

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 9, 2016

Review: New Corpse in Town by Lucy Quinn

by Elisa Hordon


cover of New Corpse in Town

"Well..." Cookie James sighed quietly to herself, leaning against the doorframe of the Secret Seal Inn. "I could certainly get used to this view."
But despite the fact that the inn was situated on one of the highest points of Secret Seal Isle, affording her a perfect angle on the rest of the small twon spread out before her, all the way to the scenic coastline and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, that wasn't what had captured her attention.




I love a good cozy mystery with great laugh out loud moments. I got that and more from New Corpse in Town by Lucy Quinn.

Lucy Quinn is a new pen name collaboration from authors Deanna Chase and Violet Vaughn, I just loved their new collaboration.

Cookie James is an ex-FBI agent living with her Mother Rain Forest on the secluded Secret Seal Isle. Cookie and Rain are running a local inn and trying to lay low since Cookie retired from the FBI after a case she was working on got bungled and she is now wanted dead. Cookie's new life is looking up until Cookie's mom Rain tangles with a dead body while skinny dipping, and yes, I did say Skinny Dipping, in the ocean and a very dead body tries to drown Rain...lol. Cookie just knew things were going to go south pretty quickly.

So much for laying low! Cookie now has a dead body that the local police really don't care about, a killer on the loose and her hippy-dippy mom running wild. How much can a girl take?

Ok, so there's Cookie's love life steaming up with Dylan, the local handyman. Oh and then Cookie calls her ex-FBI partner in to see if he can help her solve the murder seeing as the local police really can't be bothered and when Hunter arrives Cookie finds herself the centre of attention for both Hunter and Dylan. And, omg, the testosterone is flying everywhere.....lol.

So now can Cookie keep her mom under control, find a murderer and stop Dylan and Hunter from killing each other? This was a non-stop thrillingly funny read right from the first page.

The first in what I hope will be many more funny collaborations from Deanna Chase and Violet Vaughn. This one was a 5 star winner for me.

Buy New Corpse in Town at Amazon

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives on the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia were she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and home schooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

Book info:
available formats: ebook (166 pages)
published: July 2016 by Seaside Story Productions
genres: cozy mystery





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August 8, 2016

4 Books to Read Before Summer Ends #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts


Ahh...the long lovely days of summer when you can sit and relax at the beach or the pool and read a good book.  Here are some of my favorite beach reads so far this summer.



cover of All Summer Long
All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank

Olivia is an interior designer in New York City. As a long time resident, this is the life that she knows and loves. When she married her husband Nicholas, a professor and historian, she promised that when he retired, they would relocate to Sullivan's Island near Charleston SC. That time has come and Olivia needs to make the move but the problem is that she has severe cash flow problems due to a down turn in her work and she hasn't shared that information with her husband. Add in some very rich and very crass people that they go on a yacht trip and you have an interesting look into the life of the rich and famous - and that life didn't look too great! The book is about the move and whether Olivia can make the transition and still keep her business and her husband happy.

I am a long time fan of Dorothea Benton Frank and have read all of her books. She writes lovingly of the South Carolina low country and you feel that you are sitting on the beach when you read her descriptions. The only thing that I didn't like about her new book All Summer Long is that more of it took place in NYC and on a yacht than in SC so there was little time to spend in SC. As a long time reader, I would have preferred more time in SC and lots less in NYC. Despite that, I enjoyed this book and thank the author for my first glimpse of the beach (though a short glimpse) this reading season.

Buy All Summer Long at Amazon
A free book was provided by LibraryThing for this review


cover of Flight Patterns
Flight Patterns by Karen White

“That we need to ask for forgiveness even when we believe we’ve done nothing wrong.” She paused, as if wondering whether she should continue. “And to forgive ourselves. That’s usually the hardest kind of forgiveness.”
Karen White, Flight Patterns

I have read all of Karen White's books and each time I read a new one, it becomes my favorite of all but Flight Patterns may just remain my favorite. I absolutely loved this book from page 1 until the end.

Georgia moved to New Orleans from her family home in the Florida panhandle ten years ago. A client at the auction house where she works needed information about a set of Limoges china that his grandmother had left him. When Georgia realized that she had seen a piece of China in the same pattern at her home, she was forced to go home and confront the reasons that she had vowed that she would never return. At home, she had to deal with her estranged sister, niece, grandfather and her mother who hadn't spoken in 10 years.

The characters are very well written and the plot has enough mystery to keep you rapidly turning the pages. Not only is it a good story but I also learned a lot about Limoges china and enjoyed all of the information about bee keeping. My husband has several bee hives so that made it even more interesting and I learned some facts that I wasn't aware of.

This is a fantastic book about family and love and most importantly about forgiving those that we love.

Buy Flight Patterns at Amazon


cover of The Bookshop on the Corner
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

You can always depend on Jenny Colgan to write a book that's fun to read and very interesting. This is a book about books, so you just know that you're going to like it. Nina is a librarian who loses her job in Birmingham due to modernization. After trying to decide what she wants to do next, she realizes that her main love is books so she decides to open a book store. Realizing that she can't really pay for a building, she comes up with a plan to buy a big van and own a bookstore on wheels. The only van that she can find that fits her needs is in the highlands of Scotland. After buying the van and not being able to get permits in her home town, she decides to stay in Scotland. While there, she meets a variety of fun characters and several potential boyfriends.

I thought that this was a fun book to read -- I loved the main character and enjoyed all the problems that she had to solve to get books to the people who wanted to read. This would be a great book for the beach - I highly recommend it.

Buy The Bookshop on the Corner at Amazon


cover of Family Tree
Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

Annie Rush is the producer of a very successful cooking show starring her husband. They are in love and deliriously happy. When she rushes to the set, to tell him that she's just found out she's pregnant, she finds out that their happy marriage was a sham. An accident on the set, puts her in a coma for over a year. When she wakes up, she has no idea of where she is or how she got back to Vermont. She doesn't remember her husband or her successful cooking show. As she begins to recover, she finds her life completely changed. Will the town she grew up in, her family and her high school boyfriend be able to help her heal? Or will she want to return to the life that she knew in California?

I have always enjoyed Susan Wiggs books and I thought that this was one of her best. This was a wonderful romance and a fantastic story of recovery from the physical and mental blows that life can deal. . I highly recommend this novel - it was a great story with real characters that the reader can really identify with. I really liked Annie but she was surrounded by some great secondary characters that made the book even better. If you're enjoyed Susan Wiggs in the past, you definitely need to read this book. If you haven't read her books, now is the time to start and this is the book to start with.

Buy Family Tree at Amazon

Susan Roberts, reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 7, 2016

Featured Book: Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan

cover of Thief's Magic
FORGET WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THE NATURE OF MAGIC. 

In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen's world faces.

Elsewhere, in an land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer's daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it -- should she dare to risk the Angels' wrath.

But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands... and not even the people they trust.

AN EPIC NEW FANTASY ADVENTURE BEGINS.



A wonderful surpirse! I really, really, really liked this book! ~ Fictional Fox

Excellent read! I enjoyed the story. ~ Katherine

epic fantasy at its best ~ J. Sasse

Start Reading:



Buy Thief's Magic at Amazon




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