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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...

December 29, 2012

More Story: Shadow Mage

Shadow Mage (Blacklight Chronicles #3) by John Forrester
Published: September 2012 by Amber Muse
Source: Author
Read: December 2012
Goodreads, Amazon, IndieBound

In the third book of the Blacklight Chronicles, John Forrester has shown a lot of growth as a writer and storyteller. I felt that the plot in Shadow Mage was more fleshed out. We get more of an understanding of the universe John has created.

My niece reviewed Shadow Mage in October and at that time she told me that if someone hadn't read the first two books, they would be totally lost. I have to agree with her. Very little time is given to bringing a reader "up to speed". I recommend reading the first two books again right before reading this one, especially if it's been a while.

 Talis, after having brought the black crystal to Naru, is an outcast from the Order of the Dawn. They allow his magical training to continue, but only with the most obscure (read very old) teachers. The rift between royal families grows deeper and some dark alliances have been made. Talis, Mara, and Nikulo have maintained a friendship (there might be more than friendship between Talis and Mara).

While always an action packed adventure, John Forrester slows the pace slightly in Shadow Mage in order to provide more of a back story and fill in some missing gaps in the reader's understanding of this universe - something I had been hoping for since Fire Mage (read my review). For this reason, I think I enjoyed Shadow Mage more than the other two. While it is still a dark tale, it wasn't quite as dark as Sun Mage (read my review) and there is more of a message about the power of friendship and love.

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

December 28, 2012

Friday Fun: Year in Review

It is the last Friday of 2012. Where did the year go? Time seems to be passing faster and faster with each year.

By December 31, I will have posted 435 times this year. I read 82 books, novellas, and short stories (27 more than my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal). I might finish 1 more book before December 31, but I will say I'm very proud of how much I've read this year. Of the 82 books read, I reviewed 72. Sixty-two authors appeared on Girl Who Reads this year.

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts of 2012:

Number 8:     Agents of the Reaper Tour
Number 6:     Ann Pearlman - How I Write

Guest Authors: (thank you for your contribution!)

Jean Pierre Alaux (appearing 12/31)

Books Reviewed in 2012:

Shadow Mage by John Forrester (appearing 12/29)

Odds 'n' Ends

I changed the look of my blog this year and while I miss the "journal" look some, I love the clean design and functionality of this one. 
I learned to make spiffy graphics! 

I almost shared a tip a week for Tips on Thursday. (I need ideas for 2013, so if you want to know something about blogging send me your questions!)

I'm now averaging 600 page views a day, which is awesome. I've also picked up a number of new followers on Twitter (I'm currently at about 1937) and a ton of new fans on Facebook (currently 1982 fans).

I started GWR Publicity and organized 3 blog tours (I have a third one starting January 7) plus several ongoing clients. 2013 is looking good on that front. I'm always looking for great bloggers to join me in supporting the authors. Join our Facebook group to get notified first about new authors, books, and events.

Overall 2012 was a good year and 2013 is looking bright. I'm looking forward to reading more great books and getting to meet awesome authors and of course, share my love of reading with all my followers. I would love to get to know you more in 2013, please consider leaving a few comments every now and then.

Happy New Year!

December 27, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Reflection

It is the end of the year; a time for people to reflect on the past year and begin preparing for the new year. Your blog should not be an overlooked component in your reflection. Now is a great time to see what worked well and what didn't go so well, what took a lot of time and what was easy to do, and look at changes or updates that need to be made.

What are your top viewed posts this year? For me, guest posts are always on top of the list. It is one of the reasons I started 3 weekly features for authors. My readers seem more interested in hearing from authors, than me. And I'm all about keeping my readers interested.

What kinds of post got few page views? For me, it's my reviews. But not all my reviews are poorly read. There is presentation differences in the least viewed and the most viewed reviews. Clearly, I need to work on how I present my reviews. Posting reviews can be a lot of pressure as it means I have to find time to read a book. Even only posting 2 reviews a week can be stressful. In the new year, I think I will only shoot for 1 review a week. If I can get more done (as I now have several books read, but not reviewed) great, but I'm not going to stress about it.

I tried posting multiple times a day for a couple of months. It was time consuming creating the content and finding time to post they content. While there was a bit more traffic to my blog with the multiple daily posts, not significantly enough to continue doing so as my time becomes more limited this winter (more freelance projects and Upward Cheerleading doesn't leave a lot of evening time for blogging).

I will be posting a "Year in Review" round up tomorrow. It's a great opportunity to take a closer look at the blog. Even if you don't do a round up post, I encourage you to spend a little time reviewing your past year of blogging.

Happy New Year!

PS. I'm looking for new topics for my Tips series in the new year. Let me know if there is something you would like me to cover.
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December 26, 2012

Bloggers Wanted: $50 Amazon Gift Card Give Away

Participate in the "Beat the Winter Time Blues $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway" sponsored by author Terri Morgan.

Giveaway: January 16 - February 6
One winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card from Terri Morgan. 

All you need to do is to make an announcement about the FREE sign-up on your blog by grabbing the code under the graphic (you can post the whole message, if you want) and then on January 16 post the giveaway (html post will be provided). This is a great way to gain more followers on your Facebook page. There will not be a "host page", each blogger's Facebook page will be listed individually on the Rafflecopter.
 Sign up here:

Books Under the Tree

As a family of readers there were a number of books under our tree this year. Did you find any under your tree? Or did you get a gift card so you can buy your own?

For My Dad:

For My Niece:

For My Nephew:

Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.
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December 25, 2012

Christmas Short: Christmas Windows

Christmas Windows by Elysa Hendricks
Published: September 2012

Source: Smashwords
Read: December 2012
A short story about a little girl who is neglected at home and mourning the death of her grandmother, the only person who ever really cared about her.

It made me wonder why Christmas stories are always so sad. There is a happy ending of sorts. I felt Christmas Windows read more like an excerpt than a full short story. I think there could have been a little more back story added and the ending felt rushed.

As an introduction to Elysa Hendricks's writing, it was excellent. I look forward to reading the other book I picked up from here while it was free at Smashwords.

If you are looking for a little quick story about the magic of Christmas, then Christmas Windows fits the bill.

Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; 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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December 24, 2012

Meet the Author: Chris Strayln

As I worked my way down my last minute to-do list, I realized that I hadn’t yet started the Meet the Author post that I wanted to send yesterday. Typical of me I guess - forgetting about things until the last minute. That’s why I started making to-do lists in the first place, so I wouldn’t forget things! Of course, now I have to remember to look at the list….

Anyway, since I’ve done a ton of author interviews of late, I thought readers might be tired of the same old question/answer type of format, with all the same old questions. So I decided to do something different. Here are my top five, “Five Things” lists:

Five Things Everyone Should Know About Me (in no particular order)

* I am a woman. Many, many readers assume I am male. Go figure!

* I am a cat person. I like dogs, but dogs bite me. Always have. I must exude some weird “bite- me” scent!

* I live in Michigan, but hope to retire to Florida someday.

* I am NOT a morning person. Despite having a day job that requires me to be up at the crack of dawn, I do my best work in the afternoon and evening. I love to stay up late, and sleep in on the weekends.

* Coffee is my best friend. :)

Five Things Everyone Should Know About My Childhood (in no particular order)

* Grew up with two younger brothers in a neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. We played unsupervised and had the run of the neighborhood. When the streetlights came on, it was time to go home.

* I was the quiet kid in the back of the class that never said a word. I had a few close friends but I preferred books to people, and was never without a book in my hands.

* I grew up in a neighborhood full of boys, so I was a bit of a tomboy. While I owned Barbie’s, and loved to play with them inside, outside I was just one of the guys.

* I loved school, and got straight A’s. Well, I got straight A’s right up until Algebra came along!

* I hated Algebra. Still do.

Five Things I like to Do When I’m Not Writing
(in no particular order)

* Read. While I prefer to read suspense thrillers, I pretty much read anything I can get my hands on. Except romance and vampires. I hate vampires.

* Facebook.

* Play Bubble Safari on Facebook.

* Bicycle. Love to ride the bike trails! Last summer I pedaled over 1000 miles - 20 miles at a time. Wish I could bicycle year round, but with an average snowfall of 105 inches… yeah, that’s not happening.

* Daydream about retiring to Florida.

Five Things I’d Like to Accomplish in the Next Year
(in no particular order)

* Publish the sequel to This Time You Lose.

* Complete the P90X Exercise Program. Did it two years ago and lost a ton of weight while gaining strength and stamina. Then I quit. Huge mistake. Going to do it again and stick with it this time!

* Join Pinterest. I’ve heard about it, but never tried it. Figured I may as well see what it’s all about.

* Clean out my closets. Five closets and all are an absolute disaster. Bulging with everything from clothing to cleaning supplies to Christmas decorations, it’s all I can do to get the doors closed!

* Find room for a bookshelf - way too many books in my house. Wait a minute…maybe I can convert one of the cleaned out closets into a bookshelf. Make it my own mini library! Yes! Problem solved.

Five Things on Today’s To-Do List (in no particular order)

* Finish wrapping Christmas gifts. Done.

* Pick up stocking stuffers for the grandkids. Done.

* Make copies of latest short story for writer’s group next week. Done.

* Write Meet the Author post and submit it. (Almost done!)

* Write something just for fun. Actually, this post has been fun to write, so I guess I’ll mark this one off from my to-do list too! Done.

About the Author:

Chris Stralyn never intended to be a writer. Short-order cook, security guard, safety officer, childcare provider, and teacher were all titles she'd worn - but never writer. Then she entered an essay contest for "The Worst Vacation Ever" and won.

Writing became her new hobby, and soon she had several articles in print with local publications. This was followed by a short story, The Khaki Pants, which was published by RDR Publishing in an anthology that went on to sell over a million copies.

A suspense thriller was her next undertaking, and in 2008 This Time You Lose was named a finalist in the TNBW Strongest Start Novel Competition. Four months later it earned the distinction of being a TNBW Readers Choice Top Ten Novel, and has remained on the Top Ten list ever since.

Chris Stralyn continues to put pen to paper in her endeavor to appease the Muse within. She lives in Michigan with her husband and family.
Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Book Trailer:
Book Sample:
Twitter: @chrisstralyn

The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of Girl Who Reads.

Christmas Eve Reading List


Have you been a host for GWR Publicity? I have a handy dandy blog badge you can grab. See it over there on the side bar? If it is too big for your side bar just change the number where it says width=

Want to be a host for GWR Publicity? I created a form where you can easily request a review, interview, guest post, etc.

There some great sales going on this week. I posted them all on the Sunday Sale Page so check it out.

Looking for a little reading romance? I reviewed Dating Mr. December on Saturday.

There are still feature slots available in January. Authors, sign up here!

I joined Picket Fences Blogs. If you like my blog, will you vote for me? Just click on the badge in the side bar. Thanks!

The Indie Exchange is hosting a "Read a Book by an Indie Author" challenge in January. Join the Facebook Group for more details.

While this post is entitled Christmas Eve Reading List, I typically watch Christmas movies all day, finishing with The Muppets Christmas Carol.


Marika Christian's Phone Kitten introduces an absolutely unique, first-time-ever kind of female sleuth-a totally lovable, intelligent, downright hilarious down-home girl who happens to earn her living as a phone sex worker.

Shy, slightly overweight Emily would die if she had to talk dirty face-to-face-especially to her hot cop boy friend. She sure didn't set out to do phone sex-she wanted to be a writer. But when her BFF framed her for plagiarism, she got in a tiny financial hole and saw this ad for "phone actresses" . . . Hey, it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. No pantyhose or pantsuits, no regular hours, you're your own boss, and lots of people to talk to. Guys, that is. But here's the odd thing-lots of them want to talk about more than Emily's imagined attributes; they start to think of her as the best friend they'll never have to meet. Next thing you know, one of her customers gets killed and Emily knows a lot more about it than she should. But she can't tell the nearest cop, who's also her own true love, because then he'll find out about her secret life. What's a phone kitten to do? Solve the murder herself, of course-because wouldn't it be a great story for the newspaper that wrongly fired her? It's her ticket back to her real life-if it doesn't get her killed.

Phone Kitten is your ticket to hours of giggles-so long as you're not looking for raunch. Because this is so not it. Somehow, first-time author Christian manages to handle a potentially smokin' subject with such sly wit, authentic detail, and clever writing that you'll wonder why this subject was ever considered taboo. From
Find Phone Kitten at Goodreads and Amazon

First love. A fall from social grace. Separately these things can be brutal. But together? Together they can make a girl forget who she really is and what makes her kick-ass.

In Prince Nameless, young adult author Patti Larsen takes us back to junior high, where her obsession over a boy and strong desire to fit in takes her far away from her true self and everything she loves.

As Patti recounts her true adolescent story she also interweaves in the fictional tale of a warrioress, who is also trying her best to capture the love of her Prince Nameless and ends up losing herself in the process.

With its perfect blend of fiction and non-fiction, Prince Nameless highlights Patti’s talents as a successful young adult author.

Partial proceeds go toward The Adventure Group. From
Find Prince Nameless at Goodreads and Amazon.


Gen Y has been picked apart by analysts, statistics, and trend reports, which often portray 20-somethings in negative, one-dimensional terms like "entitled" and "whiners". In this thought-provoking new book that aims to dispel these stereotypes, journalist Hannah Seligson chronicles the lives of seven individuals who embody this generation, exploring their challenges and ambitions in vivid detail and sketching a picture, through their eyes, of what life is actually like for young adults. Through these first-hand stories, readers will discover the transformational effect this enterprising, open-minded, innovative, and diverse generation is having on society. From
Find Mission: Adulthood at Goodreads, Amazon, and IndieBound.

Three generations of women. Four secrets. One stage. When matriarch Maeve Apple receives a letter in the mail that Princess & the Pauper is being remade, she believes she’s 25 again and ready to relive her stardom. Meanwhile, her daughter Bess is dealing with her mother’s dementia, her own divorce and planning her youngest daughter’s wedding - on the Luxe Weddings reality show. Bess’ eldest daughter, Kelly, has a secret of her own that could threaten her chance at love again. Curvy Gwen, the youngest, may be the star of Luxe Weddings, but she finds her heart belongs on the stage, attracted by the lights and her co-star, as they search for Maeve’s long-lost pauper and the biggest secret of all. Told in alternating points of view, Something New explores the bonds of family, love and making memories we'll never forget. From
 Find Something New at Goodreads, Amazon, and IndieBound.

What is on your reading list this week? Hoping for a certain book to be under the tree? I want to know what you are reading!

Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.

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December 23, 2012

Sunday Sale Page #5

Pick up free and discounted books this week.


Discounted for a limited time - 99 cents at Amazon

FREE December 27 & 28 at Amazon 

FREE December 27 & 28 at Amazon


Get 25% OFF at Createspace, use coupon code CQ3XXT28 (Good through Dec. 31)

Get 25% OFF at Createspace, use coupon code J5B45PUZ (Good through Dec. 31)