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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...

January 5, 2013

A Fluffy Read: Phone Kitten by Marika Christian

Phone Kitten by Marika Christian
ebook, $2.99
Published: September 2010 by BooksBNimble
ISBN13: 9780982999769
Source: Author
Read: December 2012 

Every year as the Christmas holidays approach I get this overwhelming desire to read chick lit. I guess it is the romance around the holiday - all the jewelry commercials and winter weddings. (Oddly, around Valentine's Day I seem to be repulsed by the thought of reading romance novels). On the first day of my break from the day job I scanned my list of books and alighted on Phone Kitten by Marika Christian. A fellow blogger had favorably reviewed it recently so it was an easy choice to make.

Emily is a nobody, and worse, she is invisible. She has decided that she no longer wants to be invisible and attempts to fulfill her dream of being a journalist at the St. Petersburg Times. However, like many insecure people, she hasn't chosen her confidant wisely. The day ends in disaster, yet it puts Emily on a whole new path to self-discovery.

I think many people will relate to Emily. Even if you were never a member of the "chub club", most of us have felt unpopular, unnoticed, unliked, etc. at one point or another. With it being a new year, a time when many are implementing (attempting to at least) change, Emily's journey to "make something" of herself will resonate well with the reader.

I found Phone Kitten to be amusing and looked forward to getting back to the story each day. Like any good chick lit it was a quick read and perfect for the start of my holiday break.

It reminded me a bit of J. B. Lynn's Confession series, but not as funny and a bit heavier on the romance. Marika Christian found her own perfect combination of humor and romance, though. And while the story is focused on Emily, the secondary characters are fully developed. Plus the story isn't predictable as chick lit sometimes tends to be. I was undecided until the very end about whether the Latino hottie from history class was the real deal or setting her up.

Phone Kitten was a fun read and if you are looking for something light but still with some meat to it, then this is a book you should pick up. I will definitely be looking for future books from Marika Christian.

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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 received from the stated source in exchange for an honest review, no compensation was received.
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January 4, 2013

D. Kai Wilson-Viola: Revolution - not resolution (guest post)

I've been making resolutions for as long as I can remember, but I've never quite managed to stick to them. Come close - people that know me are always using sentences like 'I don't know how you do it' when referring to my work, but I'm about to let you in on a secret.

I am a perfectionist. I push myself far too hard and for the last three years, I've been punishing myself. For what, I'm not sure, but I always set up goals that are too difficult for a normal. Perhaps it's because I don't like being bored. Perhaps it's because I spent the last four years (to 2011) in a degree, which meant every minute was filled and then I had a crazy amount of time that I had to find slots for. All I know is that this year, I had to change. I don't want to spend another day hurrying up and waiting - putting myself through a wringer and basically making it difficult to get on with my work. So I decided…


In everything I do. Absolutely everything.

I'm not going to promise to read more. I'm not going to promise to review more - I can't fit that in right now - what I need to do first is overhaul everything else first.

Revolution in exercise - I'm going to stop signing up for a gym and I'm going to use the kit we have here - that is, a Kinect and some games. It's a start, until I get back to being fit enough to road run, which I love.

Revolution in writing - no more sitting on my work. It's as easy as that.

Revolution in blogging - more, more, more.

Revolution in marketing - oh, this one is going to be fun - and this one is the huge surprise. It involves two books, and a whole new perspective on something that I consider my speciality though.

Revolution in my home - I work FROM home, but the house looks like no one cares. With two teens and two adults, I'm not entirely surprised, so part of the exercise revolution is cleaning the house. I mean *really* cleaning.

Revolution in my perspective - I'm not very open about the struggles we've dealt with this year. Multiple miscarriages, my youngest going to a specialist school, bills, and problems with the house like you wouldn't believe, hospital stays….the works. And Last year, I dwelled. I was always behind. I was *always* making excuses. My books got bumped to not only 'back burner' but back yard, next door. My stuff came last because I wanted to make sure I was serving everyone I worked with, but a heck of a lot of that was volunteering. And I love helping out, but it's just not practical to do full time. Not without my own books, and my own writing and reading coming first. It's selfish, but that's the biggest revolution. Being nice doesn't mean being everywhere and doing everything.

You might wonder, 'what's a writer doing talking in such vague terms? Why's she talking about intensely personal stuff?'

You might wonder what exercise and my house being a bit dusty and the washing pile coming up over my ears is important to anyone other than me. But the thing is, writers are dancing around trying to balance everything. And for those of us with families and houses will know exactly what I'm talking about. Revolution is a bit difficult though when you're 34, trying for a baby (and failing - I blog about that, when I'm not bawling my eyes out). But I need to do this, because I'm going to destroy myself otherwise.

The irony of this? I don't have a book out under my own name. I do lots of work for other writers, but I've not even added 'promoting my debut novel' into the mix. Revolution - that happens this year too, and I bet my life will change.

And then I thought - why isn't everyone else doing revolutions rather than resolutions? Causing an uprising in their world, big or small? Because there's really nothing stopping you.

About the Author:

Kai really is 34 (though she often feels 15), trying for a baby, and hoping this year will be an improvement on 2012. When not pressing the big detonation button on everything in her life, she can be found blogging at, and starting two new blogs at (where she talks infertility and knitting baby stuff) and, where I go all geeky about language.

Her first book will be out soon, and is called Glass Block. That's a whole other (54 book) story in itself.
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.
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January 3, 2013

Tips on Thursday: Resolutions

Last week I talked about reflecting on what had done well on your blog and what didn't work. I hope you took sometime to look over your blog. This week I want to encourage you to write down some resolutions for your blog.

Those who have been blogging for a while know one of the biggest challenges is getting comments. We have all heard the tips to encourage discussion; I even wrote a tips post about commenting. But a thought occurred to me while reading My Blog Traffic Sucks (affiliate link) Monday. Who is reading your blog? I know most of my readers are bloggers, which led me to think about my own commenting habits. My resolution is to comment more this year.  To make it easier to stick with it I'm setting my goal at 5 comments a week. Will you also set this goal? (Click to tweet if you will commit to 5 comments a week) I believe if we each are proactive in commenting on each others blogs we will change the commenting climate in the blogosphere.

Another area I'm going to work on is my reviews. I hope by limiting myself to one review a week I can work on making it the best review possible. I think sometimes I'm rushed to get a review posted that I don't take the time to really think about what I am saying and it isn't always as good as it could be.

I also want to get more active on social media. The last few months I've really slacked off on interacting. There are so many sites now, but since I've reflected on what works for me I know which sites to concentrate on. If you are struggling with social media, here is how I rank the importance of each:

1. Twitter - this is a must have for bloggers. it is quick to broadcast new posts and mini-reviews. Also it's a great place to connect with experts so you can get the latest and greatest on blogging tools, authors, new books, and we vents.

2. Facebook - interact with your fans more with a fan page. I'm going to focus on having discussions there that might not relate to what I am posting on the blog. It is also a great place to find groups, like my GWR Publicity group.

3. Google+ - mostly use it to increase my post's ranking in search. I recently joined a PR group there but haven't done anything with it.

4. Pinterest - low priority as far as using it for my blog. If you are a graphic heavy blog it might work for you. I use it for blog tours I organize.

5. LinkedIn - low priority as well, except for my tips series and GWR Publicity networking.

I probably will do little with Pinterest and LinkedIn this year, instead I will use that time to focus a bit more on social bookmarking sites, such as StumbleUpon and Reddit.

What changes are you hoping to implement on your blog this year? I would love to hear your goals. Let me know if you will join me for the commenting challenge.

Happy new year!

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January 2, 2013

Ally Malinenko: What Got Left Behind (guest post)

Revising is not easy work. It’s long and arduous and necessary and also my least favorite part of writing. I like the burst of inspiration part, the oh-my-god-i-just-had-the-best-idea-this-is-going-to-be-so-much-fun part. The giddy with excitement creative part. You know - the childish part.

Revising is the grown up part of writing. It’s the eat-your-vegetables-brush-you-teeth-and-go-to-bed part. It’s the part where we have to cut out some of our favorite parts or favorite lines or favorite moments. But it’s necessary because the fun part is messy and no one wants to read a messy book. They want a fun exciting book yes, but clean and neat and tight. Not messy.

So we have to clean up. When I first started writing Lizzy Speare it was a much different book. And I’m here today, dear reader, to share with you what got left behind. Now, bear in mind this isn’t easy to do. Things were cut for a reason. So no laughing!

1. Lizzy’s name was Hamlet. I’m not kidding. I named a 12 year old girl Hamlet Shakes.

Oh wait…

2. Lizzy wasn’t 12. She was 8. I named an 8 year old girl Hamlet Shakes. How cruel.

3. Hamlet had a very mean mother who hated her and Rupert worked a very boring job in a paper factory and he did not make giant birthday cakes in the middle of the night. I think he was a touched depressed.

4. Jonathan has always been Lizzy’s muse but at one point in time he was a walking talking skeleton. I guess for a while there I thought that Shakespeare’s muse would be very connected to Yorick’s skull so I made him a skeleton. Either that or I thought Shakespeare’s muse would then move on to inspire Stephen King.  I’m not really sure what I was thinking. Picture Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas and you get the idea.

5. Jonathan as a skeleton would wear his skin like clothing and it would be all bumpy and ill-fitting and that would be funny. Though thinking about it now it seems more terrifying than anything else. Definitely more Stephen King than Shakespeare.

6. Cleo would never leave the Muse Bar. In the final edition of Lizzy Cleo is a big character, Jonathan’s best friend and loyal satyr. But the first time around when Lizzy was Hamlet and Jonathan was a giant skeleton, Cleo was only in that one scene in the beginning. He was just a momentary thing. Like the Symphonias. The reason that it was Cleo out of all the other characters there that I pulled into a bigger role is because satyrs get a bad rap. They are tricksters and playful and they don’t take anything serious or believe in anything outside of when they’re going to get their next bottle of wine. I wanted Cleo to be more than that.

7. There was no Dexter, no Gossamer Willowfly and no Charities.

8. There was no such thing as Bending Time, which if you’ve read the book, means you never met one of the biggest characters in the whole thing. Spoilers!

9. I can’t go into too much detail here (more spoilers!) but let’s just say for a while Rupert’s ending was much different….much darker….much more nasty. *Shiver*

10. And finally, the biggest change, there was no Sammy. Lizzy was all alone in this world. Now I can’t imagine not having Sammy in there. Who would she talk to? Who would she trust? Who would she fight for? To me, Sammy and Lizzy are peanut butter and jelly. They work okay alone but they’re so much better together.

So there you go. All my nasty little locked in the attic secrets of what this book was before it was Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. And hey, what did I say about no laughing?

About the Author:
Ally Malinenko, a self-proclaimed Bardolator, took her first pilgrimage to Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2009 and hasn’t been the same since. Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is her first children's book. Her poetry book, The Wanting Bone, was published by Six Gallery Press. She blogs at Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

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

January 1, 2013

Featured Book: Only a Glow by Nichelle Rae

What if the world was ending? What if only you had the power to save it? And what if your power wasn’t in your control? Welcome to Azrel’s dilemma.

Only A Glow is the first book in an epic new fantasy series, The White Warrior. Join Azrel, her brother Rabryn, and her best friend Ortheldo as they journey across their land to try to save the world from another age of the Shadow Gods rule.

Along the way they try to find out what’s wrong with Azrel’s magic, because her magic is the only power that will cause the Shadow Gods to stumble and fail.
ISBN13: 9780988336001
Published: October 2012

Praise for Only a Glow:

This book was awesome! As an avid fantasy reader, a book really has to suck me in within the first few chapters and this book hooked me within a few paragraphs. The main character Azrel is relatable, believable and likeable. My only complaint is that it ended!! I can't wait for the next book in the series! ~ Talisha G. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Ok. I've read alot of famous series like Harry Potter; Fablehaven; The Inheritance Cycle;and The Heir Series plus many more. All great reads. But Only a Glow has to be the best novel I've ever read. I could picture the characters in my mind easily and couldn't put the book down. I can't wait for book #2 of this series dubbed The White Warrior. If you have not done so already, I suggest clearing a whole weekend and start reading first thing in the morning, I did not and went on a 2 day bender just to finish. ~John B. (Waverly, New York)

About the Author:

Nichelle Rae, fantasy’s newest author, was born and raised in Massachusetts. Her love for writing began when she was 14 years old and she wrote short stories about meeting her favorite music group Hanson. She received so much praise and complements on her writing ability that it quickly became a passion of hers.
Throughout the years she has gotten much praise from peers, professors, and professional author’s she’s had a chance to work with about her writing and ability to put emotions into text.

The White Warrior Series is her debut fantasy series she’s publishing as an independent author which will consist of seven books total. Nichelle already has begun three more fantasy series that she hopes to publish in the future after The White Warrior Series.
Website, Interview, Goodreads, Trailer

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Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links. Featured Books is a free announcement feature and all information is provided by the author unless otherwise noted.

December 31, 2012

Meet the Authors: Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

“To start to New Year off well, you need to finish the previous one well.”

The holidays are an interesting time for novelists, Santa Claus being the most clearly identified fictional character in the world. Will our own heroes, Benjamin Cooker and his assistant Virgile, be there for our New Year eve’s party? It is hard to imagine our lives without these characters we gave birth to ten years ago. They have, in fact, caught up with us. The twenty-first book in the adventures of our famous winemaker is currently in the making, aging like a fine wine before the book launch next spring in France. What I can say for now is that they will be investigating in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a famous wine region not far from Avignon.

This will be my first holiday season in the château that I bought last summer in the heart of the Lot Valley in southwestern France. It dates from the twelfth century, overlooks the vineyards of Cahors and belonged to the city’s bishop during the Middle Ages. We will have fires in the large fireplaces, with crackling logs of oak, a tree that is very abundant in the Quercy region. But above all, our New Year’s celebration will be an opportunity to drink some fine bottles of wine.

We will have Champagne, of course, and not just any Champagne. It will be Deutz. For the red wine, when the clock strikes twelve, I will pour some Angélus, a Saint Emilion grand cru from my friend Hubert de Bouärd (keep your eyes out for an upcoming English translation of one of the series, whose mystery focuses on Angélus). Between the two, I will honor my own region with a Réserve Caillau from the Château de Gaudou, where Fabrice Durou has all of Virgile’s genius and every year makes a remarkable Cahors wine.

After this feast, we will relax with a Cuban cigar (most likely a D4 from Partagas) and Armagnac from the Château du Prada that my long-time friend Philippe de Bouglon has so attentively bottled. To start to New Year off well, you need to finish the previous one well. Noël and I clearly share the Cooker Attitude. It’s a reason for living, or better yet, a reason for being. As Winston Churchill said, “I am easily satisfied with the very best.”
~ Jean-Pierre Alaux

Note from Noël: For me, the New Year’s celebration will not have the usual flavor and meaning. Sometimes there are events in a writer’s life that take him away from his imagination, from the world and the characters he has built. Exceptionally, there will be no wine on our holiday table. I will refrain, in solidarity with my wife, who is expecting a child for spring. This is a small sacrifice considering the happiness that awaits us.

For New Year’s Eve, I will be with my family and we will pray for the parents who have lost their children, for the courage of the teachers who gave their lives, for a country wounded by such brutality. That God protect the children of this world.

About the Authors:


Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen are two French authors who wrote Treachery in Bordeaux together (, which was recently published in English by Le French Book ( This book launched the Winemaker Detective series, which now has 20 titles in French. They are Epicures. Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and the grandson of a winemaker. Noël Balen lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music.

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

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New Year's Eve 2012: What I'm Reading


It's the last day of 2012! Did you reach your reading goal this year? My goal was 55 books. I reached it back in September and finished the year with 82 books read, plus a couple of manuscripts for work. You can read my End of the Year Wrap Up post to see the Top 10 Most Viewed Posts, authors who visited the blog, and all the books I read.

Blog hops are a great way to drive traffic to your blog and discover new blogs. Terri Giuliano Long and a few other authors are hosting Classic Reads Blog Hop Jan. 3 - 7. Sign up and discuss what makes a book a classic. There are PRIZES!

While I have a few more romance/chicklit books to review, I gave you a break and shared my review of young adult fantasy adventure Shadow Mage by John Forrester.

Speaking of my reading habits this past month, I think with the holiday coming to an end I've satisfied that itch. Take a look at what I finished up and will start reading in the new year:


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.

Wrongly convicted of killing her philandering husband, Mazie Maguire is three years into her life sentence when fate intervenes—in the form of a tornado. Just like that, she’s on the other side of the fence, running through swamps and cornfields, big box stores and suburban subdivisions. Hoping to find out who really murdered her husband, Mazie must stay a few steps ahead of both the law and her mother-in-law, who would like nothing better than to personally administer Mazie the death penalty via lethal snickerdoodle. With the Feds in hot pursuit and the national media hyping her story, Mazie stumbles upon a vast political conspiracy and a man who might just be worth a conjugal visit—if she survives. From
Find The Escape Diaries: Life and Love on the Lam at Goodreads and Amazon.


What would you do if you could see into the future?

As a child, he dreamed of being a superhero. Most people never get to realize their childhood dreams, but Corrigan Bain has come close. He is a fixer. His job is to prevent accidents—to see the future and “fix” things before people get hurt. But the ability to see into the future, however limited, isn’t always so simple. Sometimes not everyone can be saved.

“Don’t let them know you can see them.”

Graduate students from a local university are dying, and former lover and FBI agent Maggie Trent is the only person who believes their deaths aren’t as accidental as they appear. But the truth can only be found in something from Corrigan Bain’s past, and he’s not interested in sharing that past, not even with Maggie.

To stop the deaths, Corrigan will have to face up to some old horrors, confront the possibility that he may be going mad, and find a way to stop a killer no one can see.

Corrigan Bain is going insane . . . or is he?

Because there’s something in the future that doesn’t want to be seen. It isn’t human. It’s got a taste for mayhem. And it is very, very angry. From
Fixer is not available until March 2013, but learn more about it at Goodreads.

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.

Are you trying to cram a few more books in before the ball drops at midnight? Perhaps you are planning you 2013 reads. Either way, let me know what is keeping you entertained.

Happy New Year!

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December 30, 2012

Now Showing: Mocked by Destiny

Find Mocked by Destiny by Michele Richard at Goodreads, Amazon, and IndieBound.

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Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links. Book Trailers are a free feature. All videos are provided by the author who has granted Girl Who Reads permission to feature them on this blog.

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