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August 19, 2017

Solid Start to the Series: Project Pandora by Aden Polydoros

by MK French



Tyler has evidence of being in fights, but his memory is spotty and he doesn't know why he can't throw away the strange burner phone tucked away in his book bag. The girl he crushes on in school also has one, and there's a creepy young man dressed in black that seems to have followed them that seems familiar, yet not.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Project Pandora
August 2017; Entangled Teen; 978-1633756854
ebook, print (384 pages); sci-fi, thriller
Project Pandora is a YA novel and the start of a series, which thematically feels like a bridge toward a dystopia from our present. Elements in the novel can recall other works, such as the artificial uteri that gestate the fetuses stolen from IVF clinic which are likely meant to reflect the society in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. There are also references to systematic beatings, misuse of psychotropic medication and sensory deprivation, which brings out the worst fears people have about psychiatrists and eugenics.

The book is written as a number of "case files" and transcripts of interviews that had made up Project Pandora. Though I knew that Tyler is supposed to be the main character, I was drawn more to Hades and Elizabeth's story, as it seemed to have more emotional substance than Tyler and Shannon's half.

The tie from the Project's code names to the characters in their "real" lives takes a while, but once the connection is made, the earlier chapters make far more sense. This is part of the problem with having unreliable narrators with memory gaps.

There are a lot of action sequences, which gives this a more cinematic feel. It's a solid start to the series, and one that teens will definitely be able to relate to.

Buy Project Pandora at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever. 

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August 18, 2017

Managing a Blogging Team

by Donna Huber


Keeping up with a daily publication is a lot of work. Thankfully having a team that shoulders at least some of the work helps lessen the stress. I have a great team of writers at Girl Who Reads and I have learned a lot over the last couple of years of managing a team.

Recruit Great Team Members

If you are thinking of expanding your blog to include multiple writers, then you need to recruit great team members. To be successful. it really comes down to the people you surround yourself with.

So what should you look for in a team member?


  1. A commitment - for my reviewers I ask for 2 reviews a month, they have always exceeded that number. By setting this expectation I can judge how committed a reviewer will be. You will be counting on this person to submit regular content so you want someone committed to providing that content.
  2. A passion for books - You want someone who shows excitement about discovering new authors.
  3. Some basic writing skills - I always ask for a writing example, but I'm not looking for a masterpiece. Some of it is for me determine how much editing will need to be done on a review. Having a team is suppose to help me manage the work so I don't want to create more work for myself. But what I'm really looking for in a writing sample is if they can state their opinion and support it. I've seen "reviews" that are nothing more than a restatement of the plot. That's not what I want.

Where to find team members?

When I'm looking for a new team member I usually post an announcement on social media. Recruiting from your own readership is a great place to find team members. They are already familiar with your style. For my features writers, I usually turn to my author friends and offer them a spot or ask if they have anyone authors that might be interested.

Give Guidance, Set Expectations

Once you have recruited your team members you need to give guidance on what you want and that starts with setting expectations. I've already mentioned the 2 reviews per month. I also set deadlines for submission. Since I do most of my blogging on the weekend I like for contributors to send in their articles by Friday.

I also created a style guide that provides information on structure and tone for articles. It also has information on how to write titles, the size of images, the use of headers and lists, etc.

Speaking of images, you need to make sure your contributors understand the proper use of images found on the web. Some of my contributors find their own images and others leave it up to me.

The thing to remember when bringing on team members is all the stuff you didn't know when you started blogging and then share what you have learned with them.

Your team members will only be as strong as you make them. You are the leader and you need to give the tools to succeed.

Express Your Appreciation

Most book bloggers aren't making enough money to pay contributors, so expressing your appreciation is important.

If you are making any money then you should consider expressing your appreciation monetarily. I do end-of-year gift cards from my affiliate earning.

Another way to show appreciation is to take an interest in their lives and what they have going on. Life gets busy for all of us. When my contributors are feeling stressed by life, battling an illness, or have a family emergency, I'm quick to tell them not to worry about the blogging stuff.

No one likes to feel like they are being taken for granted so be sure you aren't taking your team for granted (and make sure they know you don't).


Have Fun!

Blogging should always be about having fun. So don't stress yourself out. Adding team members will add a bit to your workload in terms of coordination and scheduling. It will take a little while to find what works best for you so start small with only adding one team member and give it a few months to find your groove.


Donna Huber 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.


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August 17, 2017

Review ~ Ekata: Fall of Darkness by Dominique Law

by MK French

Asher grew up on Ekata, a utopian world of peace and spiritual purity. He always had visions of death and destruction, which is unheard of in his world, and he was ostracized for it. He learned of the prophecy regarding Ekata and Earth, and had to find Alexis, who grew up in New Zealand feeling as though she didn't belong. Together they had to learn how to hone their psychic gifts and save both worlds.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Ekata
September 2017; Bad Poodle; 9780473374952
ebook; fantasy
I found it really difficult to get attached to the main characters of the story. I had no real drive to complete the book, as a matter of fact, and didn't really have a lot of concern about the fate of the worlds. In fact, the character I liked best was Daiviat, who was sent off about a third of the way through the book.

It's not that the characters are poorly described; we're in their heads and see all of the conflicts that they have. There's little depth to the characters, and I just didn't find them very compelling.

The "teens with special gifts that have to save the world" trope doesn't feel redone in a new way here. It is listed as the first book in the Ekata trilogy, but I'm honestly not very interested in reading more about these characters or the world they live in.

Buy Ekata: Fall of Darkness at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever. 

Get even more book news in your inbox, sign up today! 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 16, 2017

Two #Books about Women in Transition

Reviews by Susan Roberts


If you read my reviews, you know that I'm drawn to books about women who are making transitions in their lives. Today I have reviews of two books on this subject - one about a young woman who has to completely change her life when she loses the job that she loved and the second about an older woman who decides that she can no longer stay married and takes drastic steps to change her life.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Best Friend for Hire by Mary Carlomagno 

Best Friend for Hire
June 2017; Post Hill Press; 978-1682612606
ebook, print (256 pages); satire
This is a fun light read and a perfect book to read at the beach or pool. It's lighthearted and very funny in parts and is a feel -good book with a wonderful and well written main character.

As the novel begins, Jessie is mentally preparing herself for the promotion that she knows is coming. After 10 years of hard work at a major publishing company in NYC, she feels that she has earned this promotion. Imagine how surprised she is when she is called to her boss's office and given a pink slip. After the initial shock wears off, she knows that she needs to find work and decides to set up her own company and be a best friend for hire - help people arrange their closets, go shopping with them and do all of the things that a best friend would do. Believe me, Jessie gets herself into some very funny situations in her quest to be a best friend to several of the people who hire her. But despite the setbacks and the worry of her large NJ Italian family, she keeps trying. Her biggest job as a best friend for hire is when she promises someone that she can get THE BOSS (and in NJ that would be Bruce Springsteen) to attend a fund raiser.

This is a fun well-written book that will have you rooting for Jessie while you are laughing at some of the predicaments that she gets herself into.

I received an advance copy of this book from the Great Thought's Ninja Review Team. All opinions are my own

Buy Best Friend for Hire at Amazon

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

The Little French Bistro
June 2017; Crown; 978-0451495587
ebook, audio, print (320 pages); women's fiction
Marianne has decided that her life is useless and she can't stay married to her husband another day. So while she and her husband are visiting Paris, she decided to drown herself in the Seine. Unfortunately (to her), she is saved and ends up in the hospital where her husband leaves her to figure out how to get home when while he returns to their home in Germany. She leaves the hospital without permission and finds a small town on the coast of France where she plans to kill herself. Life has a way of disrupting plans like this and just maybe the quirky cast of characters that she meets will make her change her mind...or maybe not.

This book started out with a great premise. Marianne's husband was so insufferable and unlikable and you could almost understand her plans to leave him - though suicide is a bit over the top. I thought that there were way too many characters in the small town that she escaped to and had a problem keeping them all figured out. Despite that, I loved the beginning and the end of this book and think that it's well worth reading just to see the changes in Marianne.

Thanks to First to Read for a copy of this book to read and review.

Buy The Little French Bistro at Amazon


Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends.  She 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.


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August 15, 2017

Interview with H.G. McKinnis, Author of A Justified Bitch

Today, we welcome H.G. McKinnis, author of A Justified Bitch

You live in Las Vegas, and that’s also where your book is set. Why do you think this city provides such a rich backdrop for storytelling.

For starters, Las Vegas is a 24-hour town. Where else can you golf or go bowling at two in the morning and follow it up with a meal at a nice restaurant before sunrise?  Another amazing feature is that, as a resident, I don’t really have to travel. The whole world comes here – not only to gamble and drop inhibitions, but to conduct business, get married, and go to school. For a relatively young city, Las Vegas has a rich, fascinating history. Who would have thought that a tiny Mormon fort surrounded by desert would grow into a metropolis of two million in just over a century? Add in mobsters, showgirls, and nuclear physicists testing bombs, and you get a history that’s any novelist’s dream. I’ll never run out of stories.


Amazon affiliate links are used on this site.



A Justified Bitch
August 2017; Imbrifex; 978-0997236958
ebook, audio, print (311 pages); thriller
Without giving too much away, what would you say is the main conflict in A Justified Bitch?

Helen’s overabundance of cats and ever-increasing hoard have reached critical levels, but her family—out of town and busy with their lives—are unaware of the growing complexities of her situation. When Helen is entangled in a murder investigation, the family can no longer look the other way. As they struggle to rescue Helen, they must reexamine their own relationships and identities.


Most books that really connect with readers speak to some universal truths. What universal truths are illustrated or discussed in your book?

Siblings are a pain in the ass!

Seriously, familial relationships are complex and demanding. They also shape our identities.


Can you tell readers how your personal background and experience informed your writing for A Justified Bitch?

I’ve lived in Las Vegas all my life and have answered the siren call of swap meets and thrift stores since I was a teenager. Because Las Vegas has a diverse and transient population, treasure hunting at bargain venues is always extra-rewarding.

Losing my husband has given me insight into the mental gymnastics needed to keep the pain at bay. I’m no Helen, but I have no trouble understanding how hoarding helped her cope with her loss.


Why did you choose to write about a hoarder?

I’ve met a number of hoarders in my life. I noticed early on that they all had interesting and complex back stories. Many people are unaware of the hoarders in their own lives. Ashamed, hoarders hide their condition to avoid embarrassment.


Is it possible to have a normal life in Las Vegas?

You’re asking a fish to describe water! I’ve lived here most of my life. I feel comfortable, productive, and… normal. And so do all the other nude dressers I’ve worked with!


In A Justified Bitch, we notice the characters going through financial hardship and the toll it takes on them. In your opinion, how does the economy affect the lives of everyday people?

An entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to work hard are hallmarks of many Las Vegans. The glamor of the city is a show we put on for tourists, and it takes legions of committed and diligent people to produce the experience visitors expect. When the economy sours and jobs dry up, we all have a choice: double down or leave town. It makes me proud that the prevailing attitude among true Las Vegans is: work harder.

Buy A Justified Bitch at Amazon

About the Author:

A life-long resident of Las Vegas and alumna of the University of Nevada, H.G. McKinnis knows her city as only a local can. By night she fluffs feathers and attaches rhinestones to the exotic wardrobes of the most glamorous venues on the strip, by day McKinnis writes about the often hardscrabble lives of her fellow desert denizens and the unlikely city they inhabit. A Justified Bitch, a twisted tale of insanity, murder, and redemption, is her first novel.

Learn more about H.G. McKinnis at AJustifiedBitch.com, on Twitter, Facebook and at Imbrifex Books.


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August 14, 2017

Review: The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle

by MK French



Miss Aphrodite (Di) Lane had been fascinated by psychic phenomena but disillusioned by the apparent trickery of her friend Miss Fox. This led her back to London, where she became the assistant and partner of Mr. Jasper Jesperson, a consulting detective. They were hired on to follow a somnambulist after a number of smaller cases local to their office. The case was soon tied to that of missing mediums in the city, and then it grew even more personal when Miss Lane herself was abducted.

August 13, 2017

Harold Boardman: The Inspiration for A Pawn of Destiny

Julius Caesar, accepting the surrender of Verc...
Julius Caesar, accepting the surrender of Vercingetorix, was the final Dictator of the Roman Republic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Political and economic history has always been of interest to me and to a certain extent, has helped with my understanding of my research into my family history. A timeline that stretches a mere 250 years. Our written past appears to be a long list of events detailing the lives and discoveries of Kings or Emperors, on a quest for more land, or merchants in search of undiscovered sources of wealth in far off, exotic lands. Surviving historical accounts name only the headline makers, those whose exploits match the design of the ruling class. Dismissed, with little or no regard, are the ordinary lives of all with whom they came into contact.

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