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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

May 18, 2012

Friday Fun: Who's your favorite character?

I'm back with the Crazy for Books Book Blogger Hop. 

Who is your favorite book character?

I have loved many characters over the years, but when I saw this question one name popped into my head.  Maybe it's because I was never a Jane Austen fan so didn't really get the Mr. Darcy fangirls. However, my favorite book character is from a classic. It happens to be my all time favorite book - A Tale of Two Cities. This character probably really ruined romance and love for me. I'm going to blame him for my lack of a husband. So who is the character? Sydney Carton. He so loved Lucie, he died in the place of the man she loved. Yep, he set the bar high for all guys.

I would love to know who your favorite character is, please a comment.
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May 17, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Sound Bites

I'm going to make an assumption about most book bloggers. The majority of us do not have formal training in journalism or creating media content. A few months ago in a chat, a publisher mentioned a problem they encountered with blog reviews and I had to agree that I also ran into this problem when I worked as marketing director for a publisher. Today's tip is one I struggle with even though I know how important it is to include in my reviews - the sound bite.

A sound bite is a short excerpt of speech that can be used to encompass the tone or thought of the entire piece. Yes, typically it is an audio clip, but bloggers can apply it to their writing. We have all seen the back cover blurbs that tout the laurels of the book. They are usually short - "Author has outdone himself", "Amazing...a work of art", etc. Much like you think about keywords when writing your post, pay attention to make there is a phrase or sentence that can be used to sum up for review. Actually, it can play a part in your SEO.

You may notice in my blog titles I have a short phrase that usually sums up my thoughts on a book. I make sure to repeat it in my first paragraph and then usually somewhere towards the end. Search engines love that kind of thing. And publishers/publicists love the ready made quote they can share on their social media and press material.

I will caution you: Do NOT write your review with the thought of being quoted. It will sound forced. Remember to be honest. If you didn't think it was "amazing", "Pulitzer Prize winning writing", or any of those overused hyperbole type phrases, do NOT use them. Sound bites should sound effortless and natural to your writing style.

A great way to practice crafting your sound bites and create content for your social media is to write your review in 140 characters or less. This is also one of those SEO/ promoting tips the pros tout. You should have 5 alternative "titles" for your post that you use when promoting on twitter and facebook. My friend Coral of Alchemy of Scrawl is participating in a 140 character book review challenge. She got the idea from Indie film maker Kevin Smith. She wrote a blog post over at Book Bloggers' Collaborative with other useful info from Kevin Smith. Here is another post about writing 140 character book reviews.

If you perfect the sound bite you may find yourself being quoted in press releases or even on the back cover of your favorite author's next book.

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May 16, 2012

So Good: Jailbird

Jailbird by Heather Huffman
Published December 2011 by Booktrope Editions
Read April 2012

Oh, my! I absolutely loved Jailbird and Heather Huffman may be my new favorite author. I discovered her last summer when I was looking for free books for my then new Nook. I saw Throwaway on a book blog devoted to Nook deals and knew it was exactly the kind of book I'd enjoy. And enjoy it I did. You can see my review here. After reading it, I went looking for more of Heather's books. I was able to pick up Suddenly a Spy and Jailbird for free. A few weeks ago, I was contacted about hosting Heather as she promotes the upcoming sequel to Jailbird. I, of course, said yes. Heather will be here on Monday.

I have been wanting to read these two books since I picked them up, but with all the review copies I just couldn't find the time. Now I had a excellent excuse to read Jailbird. And one Saturday that is just what I did. I was having a lazy day in bed and my Nook was on the bedside table where I had charged it overnight. The plan was just to finish the last chapter of the ebook I was reading and get up. Yeah, well... I enjoyed being lazy and thought I'll just open the file and read the first chapter of Jailbird. A few hours later I finally had to get up to eat and I was a fair way into the book. I could have just read the entire book right then.

I had things to do and decided my reward for getting my to do list done would be to read more of Jailbird. As many of you know I don't read on my Nook typically when I'm at home, but I just couldn't stay away from the story. I did wind up finishing the whole book in one day. The story flows so easily that you don't realize you've blown through several chapters until something (a grumbling stomach in my case) draws your attention.

I love Heather's books because she deals with gritty topics, but her books always have a shining light in them. Jailbird starts right off with Kali running away from prison. You don't know why she's in prison, but within a few pages you are hoping she was wrongly accused or something because you will be rooting for her. You do find out she's in prison on a felony conviction. She killed a rich white guy and Kali happens to be from the Native American reservation.

Neena (Kali) finds herself in a small town where a Hispanic family helps her get a second chance. Life is looking good for her, but you know how the past has a way of catching up with you. I live in the south and know how the good ol' boy system works. I was biting my nails wondering if Charlie and Neena could fight against it and win.

Oh... Charlie. You know when I read The Egyptian (review here) and I said I had a crush? Well if Dominic was my crush, Charlie would be the one I fell in love with. He so loves Neena and he is so super sweet. Neena is a little jumpy and he is so understanding with her. Their courtship is what every romantic wants. I wish I could tell you what really made me fall in love with him, but I don't want to give away too much of the story.

You must get this book! For how much I loved Throwaway, I think I loved Jailbird more. The ebook is only 99 cents, which I think is an incredibly great deal for such a good story. I also want to mention I love the new cover. The ebook I got last summer has a different cover, the cover above is for the new edition that came out at the end of 2011. I think this new cover is much more eye-catching.

Your turn: Do you enjoy books that touch on gritty subjects? Or do you prefer lighter reads?

Please remember to stop by on Monday for a guest post from Heather about her new project Devil in Disguise.
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May 15, 2012

Gripping Story: A Million Suns

A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
hardcover, 386 pages
Published January 2012 by Razorbill
ISBN13: 9781595143983
Read April 2012

I'm working on my backlog of reviews. I've debated just posting them all, but then I'm afraid I won't have new content when I go on vacation this summer. The paperback edition of A Million Suns will be out in November. I tried to win a copy when the hardcover was released in January. I did win a paperback copy of Across the Universe during the release day activities, so maybe I'll be lucky again when the third book is released. I listened to the audio version of Across the Universe last summer and you can see my review here.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to read A Million Suns without purchasing a copy. After my unsuccessful attempts at getting a review copy or winning a copy, I checked with my library. My librarian said that there wasn't much interest in the first title so they had no plans of purchasing the second. I was bummed. I still held out hope for the audio book to come to the digital library, but those were dashed when Penguin announced they were pulling out of the Overdrive system (Razorbill is a Penguin imprint). Finally in March, I decided I would put a hold on it and when it left the new books shelf at a library somewhere in Georgia I would get it then. Lo and behold, if a library in my system didn't get a copy.

I devoured A Million Suns. I knew I only had 2 weeks to read it, but the story was so gripping that I read it in a weekend. While I had trouble getting into the story, the ending was well worth the struggle. I cannot wait until the next one comes out. If anyone out there has connections to Razorbill and can help me get on their list for review copies I would love you forever!

I think I preferred the story as an audio book. I think the problem I had with getting into the story wouldn't have been had I listened to it. I kept trying to capture the narrators' voices from Across the Universe and when I finally stopped I really got into the story.

I love the characters of Amy and Elder (or is it Eldest?). I'm not sure I'm rooting for them to be a couple though.  And I'm glad that the romance takes a backseat somewhat to the adventure. There are so many what ifs and I'm not sure what I would do in their place. Beth does a great job of getting the reader to see both sides to the issue. For example, I know that it is wrong to drug people into submission, but given the details of the situation I have to wonder if it wasn't better.

If you haven't started this series, I highly recommend it. I'm greatly disappointed that it isn't in greater demand among the teenagers in my community. As an adult I found it quite entertaining - put it on your summer reading list!
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May 14, 2012

A Short Reading List

Due to spending Sunday with my mother, I did not record a video for you. Here is what I've finished and still working on this week. Click icon above to see what other bloggers are reading this week.


13 Gifts by Wendy Mass
When Tara, a self-proclaimed shrinking violet, steals the school mascot, a goat, in order to make some friends with the popular crowd and gets caught, she gets herself in a heap of trouble. In addition, her parents decide that instead of taking her on their summer trip to Madagascar to study the courtship rituals of the Bamboo Lemur, she must go stay with her aunt, uncle, and bratty cousin Emily St. Claire in Willow Falls. Alyssa thinks it's a good time to start over; she'll be turning 13 after all, so she might as well make the best of it and perhaps even attempt to break out of her shell (in a non-criminal manner). What Tara doesn't know is that this charmed town has something big in store for her on her 13th birthday. From
 Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson
S. J. Watson makes his powerful debut with this compelling, fast-paced psychological thriller, reminiscent of Shutter Island and Memento, in which an amnesiac who, following a mysterious accident, cannot remember her past or form new memories, desperately tries to uncover the truth about who she is and who she can trust. From


 Hellenic Immortal by Gene Doucette
“Very occasionally, I will pop up in the historical record. Most of the time I’m not at all easy to spot, because most of the time I’m just a guy who does a thing and then disappears again into the background behind someone-or-other who’s busy doing something much more important. But there are a couple of rare occasions when I get a starring role.”

--Adam the Immortal

An oracle has predicted the sojourner’s end, which is a problem for Adam insofar as he has never encountered an oracular prediction that didn’t come true . . . and he is the sojourner. To survive, he’s going to have to figure out what a beautiful ex-government analyst, an eco-terrorist, a rogue FBI agent, and the world’s oldest religious cult all want with him, and fast.

And all he wanted when he came to Vegas was to forget about a girl. And maybe have a drink or two.

“I am probably not the best source when it comes to who invented what. For a long time I thought I invented the wheel.”

--Adam the Immortal

The second book in the Immortal series, Hellenic Immortal follows the continuing adventures of Adam, a sixty-thousand-year-old man with a wry sense of humor, a flair for storytelling, and a knack for staying alive. Hellenic Immortal is a clever blend of history, mythology, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, mystery and romance. A little something, in other words, for every reader. From
 Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker
After the worst Christmas Eve of his life, DEA Agent T.A. Reddick leaves Miami for the magical city of Charleston, South Carolina, hoping a return to his roots will heal a broken heart and the guilt of killing a friend. The sleepy and sultry town of Charleston is filled with echoes of the Old South: genteel playboys, society debutantes, and quiet cobblestone streets. But as Reddick will soon discover, there's danger lurking under her charming veneer. When a movie star's death shines a national spotlight on Charleston's underground cocaine trade, he must go undercover to find the main supplier and shut him down. As a hurricane bears down on the port city and the DEA gets ready to spring its trap, Reddick must contend with more than he ever could have imagined.

Brash and bold, TA Reddick is a hero you won’t soon forget. Lowcountry Punch is an action-packed novel that will have you on your knees begging for more. From
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