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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...

June 23, 2012

Cocktails with Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvan Reynard

Again, I have another great summer read for you. Gabriel's Inferno is a classic romance novel. While I was hesitant to read about a love affair between a professor and a graduate student, I was able to move past that and enjoy the story. I really like Sylvain's writing, though I wonder how many people actually use "mercurial" in every day (or even occasional) conversations. Thankfully it was only used a couple of times, but I did giggle each time.

There seemed to be something a bit old fashion about the wording which made it a little difficult for me to believe it was modern day. Even Gabriel's mannerism are old fashion. He is suppose to be in his mid-thirties. I went to a conservative college and even looked at an ultra-conservative university (women and men weren't even allowed to walk along the same sidewalk). Most universities have a policy against fraternization, some more stringent than others. Even going with a most stringent policy, I was still caught off guard by Gabriel's thought:

I don't know many 33 year old men who would have such a thought. I went on a field trip alone with a professor while in undergrad. The professor was old enough to be my father, but I don't think he thought about the fact he was taking a female student off campus alone in his car.

But I think this old-fashion style added to the fantasy of a romance novel. Every girl wants that debonair gentleman. And it played well with the art of seduction that was portrayed throughout the story. I'm not a huge romance fan, but I do enjoy the build up to a relationship. I love the courtship. Unfortunately too many romance author these days rush through that stage and have the characters hoping into bed by the second chapter. Thankfully, Sylvain went the route of more classical romance authors. That doesn't mean there isn't sex in the book. Every page is filled with intimacy and foreplay, but at a poetic level that modern romance authors often do not attain. It leaves the reader swooning.

Gabriel's Inferno would be a great read while you vacation this summer. And if you happen to need a bit of refreshment, there is even some drink recommendations. (I'm sort of stealing Cabin Goddess's idea of pairing a book with a recipe). I made a reference to what I think would be paired well with a summer read in my review on Tuesday and it came from reading Gabriel's Inferno: The Flirtini:

Photo by Donna
It's (1 oz) vodka, (2 oz) champagne, and (2 oz) pineapple juice, garnished with a cherry. However, there is a variation that was possibly seen on Sex and the City and maybe closer to the cocktail Julia orders: raspberry vodka, cranberry juice, and pineapple.

Now any drink that has a cherry in it ranks high in my book of good drinks, but this may very well become my cocktail of choice. It was more like drinking punch and if you aren't careful you could quickly drink this down. I suspect the one with cranberry juice would be a slow sipper (at least cranberry drinks tend to be for me)

I know many book clubs match libations with their read and this would be a good choice. Or perhaps, you are looking for something a bit different for girls' night out. Why not head to your favorite drink establishment and do a read-a-long? While sitting in Magnolia last night sipping my flirtini with friends, I thought it had the right atmosphere for a ladies' book club.

I know I'm late to the game on reading Gabriel's Inferno and since it is the second most popular keyword search to my blog, I am hoping to answer most of the search queries. I've provided a couple of quotes (though I learned my Nook did not save the ones I highlighted). has a good selection of quotes if you want more). There is sex in the book, but intercourse is not the focus of the plot. It is about seduction, courtship, foreplay. I will admit I skimmed over the one true sex scene (I don't care to read that kind of thing), but it wasn't full of moans, groans, and OMG. I will leave it to you to decide if the sex is good or not. For those searches for the audio version - it isn't available, but it is a possibility. Audio books take a bit more work and technical skills, so be patient with a newish, small publisher while they work through those issues.

If you are a romance novel fan, read Gabriel's Inferno. If you like romance in the true sense, read Gabriel's Inferno. If you are looking for escapism/fantasy, read Gabriel's Inferno. If you have read Gabriel's Inferno, make sure you pick up the sequel that is now available - Gabriel's Rapture (see my review). If you need more recommendations for what to read next: I've seen several recommendations for Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. I think you should try Sempre by J.M. Darhower (it's on my summer reading list). I read an early draft of Take the Cake by Sandra Wright, but really enjoyed it so maybe check it out, too. If you don't mind a little kink, Slave (see my review) and Need (see my review) by Sherri Hayes would be a good choice.

Buy Gabriel's Inferno at Amazon

Alright, I think I addressed all the search queries. I'm now off to enjoy my vacation with some great reads. What's on your summer reading list?

Kicking off my vacation with a little review research. Photo by Angel

Book Info: 
Published April 2011 by Omnific Publishing
ISBN13: 2940012336156
Read June 2012
Source: publisher

Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links. A free book was obtained from the source mentioned above in order to provide an honest and free review.

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June 22, 2012

Friday Fun: eBook Organization

Goodreads Avatar
Goodreads Avatar (Photo credit: minifig)
I mentioned back during eBook Week that I have trouble keeping my ebooks for review organized. I haven't improved much, but I'm going to try a new method so we'll see. Anyways, I have gone back over the past month or so of emails and found all the ebooks that were sent to me, but hadn't been transferred to my Nook. Since I often forget the ebook was sent to me 5 minutes after reading the email, I often do not include them in my Monday Mailbox Finds.

I'm going to feature the 11 titles I found in my inbox in this Friday Fun post. You might be wondering why I think that's fun. Well, one, I'm strange and finding organizing stuff to be fun. I get excited when I can find everything a place and put everything in its place. Now, I like organization, however, it doesn't get done often. Kind of like this monthly gathering of ebooks from my inbox. Two, when I worked my summer in college at the local library I enjoyed shelving returned books. I got to discover new books or see different covers of books I'd read. When I transfer the ebooks to my Nook, it is often the first time I've seen the book's cover - The Burning Star cover really caught my eye in this bunch. And third, I'm on vacation next week so while I might not be packing a suitcase, I am packing my Nook for the holiday.

Note to authors - Please put a colored cover image in your ebook. It makes this rather dull task of transferring files a bit more like opening a present.

So here are the books newly transferred to my Nook:

As you can see from this list, I can't accept any more new review requests until at least August or maybe September. I now have 15 ebooks I need to read (plus all my print copies) for review. 

I think if you click on the book cover, it will take you to the Goodreads page as all images came from If you wish to purchase one of these books, follow these links to your favorite bookstore:

Shop Indie Bookstores
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June 21, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Blog Tours

In my Armchair BEA edition of Tips on Thursday, I mentioned several ways bloggers can make a little money from blogging. However, I left out a method with rapidly growing popularity amongst authors, publishers, and bloggers - Blog Tours. When I worked for the publishing house, one of my main duties was organizing virtual tours. I can tell you from experience that tours can be an organizational nightmare. However, I learned a few tricks that helped keep my sanity through organizing and running 2 - 3 tours simultaneously.

For those who are not familiar with blog/virtual tours, think about traditional book tours that travel from city to city. Now, imagine instead of flying around the country, surfing the internet. Viola, a virtual tour. (I like to call them virtual tours instead of blog tours because appearances can be on other internet resources besides blogs - more on that in a minute).

Whether you are an author organizing your own tour or a blogger organizing it on behalf of the author, these tips will benefit you.

1 - 3 months in advance of the tour: Decide the type of tour. Will it be for an individual author with one book, an individual author with more than one book, or a themed tour with a group of authors?  Depending on the type, you will next decide the length of the tour and the dates it will run. If you are doing a group tour, think of a fun theme, i.e. Summer of Love Tour, Haunted Reads of Halloween, etc., and enlist authors to be part of the tour. You may need to be flexible on your dates with a group tour in order to accommodate authors' schedules.

Now that you have the who and when, the fun begins. Decide on giveaway items. I highly recommend that there be something offered at each individual stop, if the host desires. People like to win and it can be a big draw to the stop. If the item can be sent internationally, all the better (about 20 - 25% of my daily traffic is from outside the U.S.). While books are always great, there are other swag that can be offered - Be creative!

Some tour groups have the authors make a monetary donation for participating in the tour which then is used to buy a large giveaway item - i.e. Kindle Fire, or prizes for bloggers who participate.

You will want to make a graphic to go along with the tour. Bloggers and authors can post them on their sites to help advertise the upcoming event. You may want to make a few different size graphics so that bloggers can choose the size that fits best with their layout. Banners make the post recognizable as being part the tour. Landscape orientated banners are good for posts.

However, for sidebars, you will want to create a square badge, like below, or a narrow portrait oriented graphic. These are used for publicizing the event in advance and some bloggers will leave them on their sidebars for a few weeks following the tour.

You can also link the banner/badge, so that when people click on it they are directed to a main tour page or to a site for the author/book. If you need help with the coding, this site explains it well. (If you want to visit the A World Apart tour, go here. Thank you Coral, Donna, and David for allowing me to use your graphics in this post.)

Now, you can start scheduling bloggers. This is also when the organizational nightmare can begin. USE A GOOGLE FORM to have bloggers sign up for dates, type of post, and any information you need (i.e. the format of the review copy). The information goes to a spreadsheet that then can be shared with the author/s. It will cut down on the emails you send back and forth with updated schedule/requests.

Throughout the sign up period: Remember to follow up and confirm with each blogger who signs up. Send review copies as soon as possible. You will also want to change the dates of the tour on the form to indicate which dates are still available. You can have multiple stops on any given day, but it is best to limit it to 2 stops per day. Also make arrangements for guest post topics and interviews.

In the week leading up to the tour: Send out a preliminary schedule to all bloggers participating to make sure everything is accurate, including the urls to the blogs themselves. If a blogger is given a schedule, they will likely include it with their stop post. This encourages their readers to visit the other blogs, thus, giving participating blogs extra exposure and readers may discover something that will make them purchase the book.

No later than 48 hours before the tour kicks off: You should send the finalized schedule, graphics, and buy & author links to all those participating in the tour (bloggers and authors). If it is a group tour you may want to send only graphics/links that are applicable for that blog's tour stop.

Once the tour starts: you will want to check each stop to get the direct link to the post. Update the main schedule page with the direct links to make it easier for latecomers to find the post on various blogs. Remember to share out each day's stop(s) on your social media.

After the tour ends: Contact the bloggers to thank them for their participation. Ensure giveaways are fulfilled. I like to encourage book winners to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. as a way to thank the author.

Odds 'n Ends of running a tour: As I said, I prefer to call these virtual tours. You can be creative with your stops and not limit yourself to just blogs. Twitter parties and chats are becoming increasingly popular. There is an app to create a chat room on Facebook if you rather do a live chat there. Also, you can include appearances on internet radio shows or Blog Talk Radio. I like the site Radio Guest List for finding radio shows across the country. I haven't tried SpreeCast, yet, but I can see some great virtual tour opportunities. These real-time appearances add another layer to the tour by allowing readers to interact live with the author. 

I recommend authors treat each stop as if it is an in-person appearance. You are wanting to connect with the readers. How would you connect with them if this was a city tour? How can you apply those methods to the virtual tour? Because you want to treat the stops as in-person appearances, don't be concerned with requiring bloggers to post a review as part of the tour. I usually gave the option to post the review on their tour stop date or to perhaps post it the week before to advertise the upcoming tour stop - this helps build pre-tour buzz (much like the posters that are put up in the stores to announce a city tour stop).

Make the tour FUN for bloggers and readers both. Be creative, look for unique opportunities or topics.

Pricing for tours: I've seen tour organizers charge from $40 to $1,000. Whether you are the organizer setting the price or an author looking at pricing, here are somethings to keep in mind. How many stops are GUARANTEED? Who is doing most of the work? What is the organizer's responsibility and what is the author's responsibility - recruit all the stops, act as liaison between host and author (including sending guest posts/interviews/bios/review copies to blogger), proofreading/editing guest posts/interviews, sending out giveaway items, creating graphics, promoting the event, etc.?

Just from the amount of information I've shared in this post (sorry it's so long), you can see a virtual tour is a lot of work. I don't think it is any less time consuming or labor intensive to organize a professional virtual tour than it is to organize a city tour - you just don't have to worry about being stuck over night in an airport.

I have more tips, tricks and thoughts to share about virtual tours. Please ASK any questions you may still have. If they can be briefly answered in the comments section, I will. Otherwise, I will schedule a follow up post. If you need more immediate or personal assistance, I can be reached by email for consultation.

If you would like more help planning your blog tour, I encourage you to pick up my book. I've expanded upon the above outline and includes tips on creating great guest posts, creating your own tour graphics, and more.
Buy Secrets to a successful Blog Tour at Amazon and Smashwords

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above.                                                                                                                                                                         
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June 20, 2012

Ann Pearlman: How I Write (guest post)

Hi! Today, I have National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize nominee Ann Pearlman guest posting. Author of several non-fiction and fiction books, her newest novel A Gift for My Sister was published in May by Atria/Emil Bestler Books. When not writing, Ann continues to be creative by making art - paintings, sculptures, and jewelry. She also enjoys being creative in the kitchen by inventing recipes. Please give a warm welcome to Ann Pearlman.

How I Write

I’m often asked how I write, how I am sufficiently disciplined to actually get books completed, so I thought I’d share some of my tricks and routines.

First, I’ve been writing since eighth grade, jonesing for the feeling I received completing an assignment. We were asked to write a thank you note for a painting our school received. The painting was of two girls sitting on a beach, behind them was the sea, stretching to the horizon. As I wrote about the sea I was transported into a sensation of taking dictation from the universe. Re-experiencing that sensation propels my writing. I write because I love it; I write because I want that feeling again. Weeks later, when I’m editing, I cannot tell which prose was awe-inspired and which was written prosaically.

For years, I didn’t have the luxury of writer’s block, stealing time to scribble notes in between my job, and running my kids around various activities after school. Each moment stolen to write was precious.

Then I discovered the glory of automatic writing: Get up early, before anyone else is up, and immediately write, do not edit yourself, just inscribe the words that come to you. The only things between dreams and writing were brushing my teeth and coffee. My language was richer so I habituated myself to write first thing in the morning. Slowly, I rescheduled my life around my writing, instead of pushing it between the edges of my other requirements of life. My kids growing up made that easier.

So I wake with the sun. I write at least five days a week. At least four hours a day. I don’t let myself be interrupted until I’ve done several hours. And then I’ll eat breakfast, answer calls, emails, twitters, etc.

Other tricks: I have words that I have forgotten, igonored in a bowl. I notice them once again in something I’ve read, write them down, and put them in a bowl. Occasionally, I pick one out to flutter (see, that was one…) into my prose.

If I get stuck, I drum. Yes, I play a Djembe hand drum and the repetitive rhythm seems to encourage ideas. So does jumping up and down on a trampoline.

I work out. This is important. After years on the computer, if I didn’t work out, do yoga, and use an ergonomically correct keyboard, I suspect I’d be crippled by carpal tunnel syndrome.

Music provides an added layer of texture to my setting. Writing Inside the Crips, I listened to the hip hop and gangsta rap ( Snoop Dog, Ice T, N.W.A. ) that set the rhythm and the texture of Colton’s life. Writing a scene that takes place in Detroit in the 70’s, I listen to the music of that time. (The Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin, Martha Reeves, ) Sometimes when I’m writing, sometimes when I’m driving or working out my ipod surrounds me with sounds that ebb the time and place into my soul. I ended up so entranced by the rhythm and rhymes of rap that Tara in A Gift for My Sister became a rap artist.

Writing is as much a part of me as breathing. Writing, even if it’s in my journal, imparts meaning to each day.

Find Ann on the web:


June 19, 2012

Good Summer Read: Monarch Beach

Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes
ARC from
Published June 2012 by St. Martin's Press
ISBN13: 9780312643041
Read June 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

If you are looking for a quick vacation read, then look no further than Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes. It's available today: Everyone say HAPPY PUB DAY, Anita! (tweet this).  I read this book in about 3 or 4 days and the whole time wished I was sipping a Flirtini on the deck of a cruise ship (Cruises are my preferred vacation). 

I loved Anita's writing style. It just flowed so easily. As I've mentioned before I am no fashionista and so found the heavily label dropping of clothing designers a bit funny. However, they did play a part in developing the character of Amanda and setting of the story. 

Amanda had dreams of becoming a fashion designer until she was swept off her feet by a French chef who knew his way around a woman. Whether it was a culture difference or just his excuse, Andre saw nothing wrong with continuing his acquaintance with the various female staff at his restaurant. Fortunately for Amanda, she's the heiress and member of San Francisco high society. I'm sure every woman who has had to face a cheating husband and divorce wish the could whisk away to St. Regis Monarch Beach, where they are waited on hand and foot by a personal butler, daily 6pm cocktail hour, a party every evening, and a Kid's Club that entertains the children all day. 

photo credit: Bart Benjamin via photo pin cc
Amanda spends the summer getting fit, tan, and discovering what she wants in life. I have to admit I had a bit of trouble with the story itself. I didn't feel there was enough conflict with Andre and the divorce. I get that divorce may not be as messy or difficult when you have buckets of money, but since Andre doesn't want the divorce I figured there would still be more conflict about custody. I also did not feel there was really much internal conflict for Amanda either. 

Aside from wishing there was a bit more conflict in the plot, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next story from Anita Hughes (there's a sneak peek at the end of Monarch Beach). If you are a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous fan, on vacation, and like great writing, then pack a copy of Monarch Beach in your beach bag.

Your Turn: What/Who are some of your favorite vacation books/authors?
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June 18, 2012

Vlog #18: Good News & Sad News

I have GOOD news and SAD news. I'll start with the sad news- I will not be accepting any new review requests for the rest of summer. My backlog has grown too large and I want to get through them. I hope to be open to new requests by mid-August, beginning of September at the lastest. ONLY exception will be made if I'm reading your series and you have a new book.

The GOOD news - I'm staring back with the monthly newsletter. I was using Google Friends Connect, but they discontinued the newsletter feature last spring. I've been looking for a new layout and email service. I've found both and even looking at offering printed versions at local libraries and bookstores. You can sign up for the newsletter here: Subscribe to our newsletter

If you missed it:

I reviewed Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on Saturday.

I blogged at Book Bloggers' Collaborative - I Feel Cheated.

I announced the HUGE Giveaway winners in my Friday Fun post.

If you want another chance to win A World Apart by David M. Brown, Book Bloggers' Collaborative is hosting a fun launch party. Just go here.



The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane
The man she loved is gone forever. The child she lives for could be next. Each day is a struggle for Amanda Gleason's newborn son as he battles a rare immune deficiency. Justin's best chance for a cure lies with his father, who was brutally murdered before Amanda even realized she carried his child. Or was he? One emailed photo changes everything, planting a seed of doubt that Amanda latches on to for dear life: a recent photo of a man who looks exactly like Paul. Could Justin's father be alive? The mother in her is desperate to find out. But tracking down a ghost when every second counts is not for amateurs. Forensic Instincts is the one team up for the challenge. A behaviorist. A former navy SEAL. A techno-wizard. An intuitive. A retired FBI agent. A human-scent-evidence dog. Together, they achieve the impossible, pushing ethical and legal boundaries whenever the ends justify the means. The manhunt is on for the elusive father. Yet the further FI digs into his past, the more questions are raised about whether the man Amanda fell in love with ever really existed at all. Dark secrets. Carefully crafted lies. From the Congressional halls of Washington, D.C., to exclusive Hamptons manors, there are ruthless people who would stop at nothing to make Forensic Instincts forget about the man  Amanda desperately needs to find.  Little do they realize that once Forensic Instincts takes the case, nothing will stop them from uncovering the shocking truth that transcends The Line Between Here and Gone. From

Downburst by Katie Robison
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon
Kit’s only goal is to stay alive. Right now, that means dodging brutal gangs while peddling fake I.D.s on the back streets of Winnipeg. But things get complicated when Kit sells a license to a girl named Aura—a girl who could almost be her twin. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kit is plunged into an underground society with heart-stopping surprises at every turn. To protect herself, she’s forced to assume Aura’s identity. But storm clouds are gathering on the horizon, and when Kit learns the truth about Aura, she knows she has to get out before the storm breaks. There’s only one problem: escape isn’t an option.

Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot harder. From
This Week:

Tuesday - Review of Monarch Beach by Anita Hughes
Wednesday - Guest post with Ann Pearlman, author of A Gift for My Sister
Thursday - Tips on running a Blog Tour
Friday Fun
Saturday - Review of Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard  

Featured Blog:

Check out The Indie Exchange for the best in Independent Publishing.

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