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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 25, 2013

Review: The Hitwoman and the Family Jewels

I'm always so thrilled when a new Hitwoman book comes out and The Hitwoman and the Family Jewels was no exception. The downside is that I read them too quickly. If you are going on vacation this weekend and need a light, quick read to keep you entertained, then you MUST get The Hitwoman and the Family Jewels by J. B. Lynn.

You don't have to read the previous 2.5 books (the .5 is a novella that is free at Amazon and iBookstore and only 99 cents at B&N). Lynn does a great job of bringing new readers up to speed, but really you are missing out on a ton of laughs if you don't get them. Since it is a long weekend, you could easily make it through the entire series. You can check out my reviews for the previous books,

Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman
Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman
The Hitwoman Gets Lucky

In The Hitwoman and the Family Jewels, Lynn ties up some lose ends left from the first book. As the title implies, the story focus on Maggie's family particularly her incarcerated father. Her dad has broken out of prison, and more than just the police are looking for him. The positive side - her murder mentor Patrick has a legitimate excuse to stay close by. With The Hitwoman Gets Lucky, Lynn steered the series more into the chick-lit arena and the Family Jewels continues along that path.

The bad thing about Patrick being constantly present - I think he's on to her new gift. And speaking of Maggie's gift, there's a new character. I foresee some great verbal sparing between God and this new character. Though his whining about no carnivores in the house troubled me since Dee Dee is a carnivore, but it is a minor point and really is more about the melodramatic theatrics that God is so good at.

I'm friends with JB so I say this in a completely loving manner - J.B. Lynn is EVIL.  To introduce the new character she almost mortally wounded my favorite character. But I have to say it's a testimony to Lynn's comedic writing skills that she can take serious scene and infuse it with humor. Though I was upset about what happened, it's the ending that made me realize the extent of the evilness. Just so you know, don't stop at the last page. Lynn found a little redemption a few clicks later.

I've rambled through this review, because all the words I would use like hilarious, funniest series I've ever read, a must read... I've said all before. Really all I have left to say is WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS BLOG?!  GET THE HITWOMAN AND THE FAMILY JEWELS NOW!

Buy the book at Amazon

Book info: ebook published April 2013
Source: author
Read: May 2013

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

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May 24, 2013

Excerpt from Lifeboat by AB Shepherd

Excerpt from science fiction/suspense novel Lifeboat by A.B. Shepherd


Five Years Earlier

Rural South Australia

I remembered the argument, but I didn’t remember the crash itself. I was told the b-double pulverized the driver’s side of our car, as Mick made a left turn onto the road that would take us home. The truck driver should have stopped. He hydroplaned out of control.

They said it was a miracle I wasn’t killed along with Mick and Michael.

A miracle. Right. What kind of miracle ripped out your heart, and left you breathing?

Their miracle left me with no heart, no life, and a limp that would never leave me. Folks said I was lucky to be alive. If I were lucky, I’d have died along with my husband and son.

The next thing I remembered after the crash, was waking up with pain in every cell of my body. I was in a hospital bed, with tubes sticking out of my arm, and a cast on my leg that went all the way up to my hip. My mum slept in a chair by my bedside. There was another bed in the room, but it was empty. I heard voices coming from the corridor.

“Mum,” I tried to say, but my throat was sore and dry. I couldn’t get the word out properly. I worked my mouth, trying to build up a little saliva, then swallowed to wet my throat. I tried again. “Mum,” I croaked. My mum startled awake at the sound of my voice.

“Cassie!” she cried. “Oh thank God you’re awake!” She gripped my hand, squeezing it hard as tears ran down her face.

“Mum, that hurts,” I gasped.

“Oh my love, I’m sorry. I’ve just been so worried,” she said, tears welling in her eyes as she loosened her grip without letting go.

“What happened? Where’s Mick? Where’s Michael?” I asked, desperate to know my husband and son were okay.

“I need to let them know you’re awake,” she exclaimed. Ignoring my questions she dashed from the room.

“Mum!” I called after her, but she was out of sight.

A middle-aged nurse in a uniform consisting of a green blouse, navy skirt and flat navy work shoes entered the room briskly.“Hullo love. Finally decided to wake up, have we?” she chirped. “Well, let’s have a look at you then.”

She drew a thermometer out of her pocket, and popped it in my mouth. She then bustled around the bed, pulling out a blood pressure cuff which she wrapped around my arm, pumping the nozzle until it squeezed tight. Tucking the end of her stethoscope under its edge, she grasped my wrist and looked at her watch.

I pulled the thermometer out of my mouth, and said, “Wait. I need to know what’s happened to my son, and my husband. Are they okay?”

She ignored my question until she’d gotten the reading she was looking for. Then she grasped the thermometer out of my hand, shook it, and popped it back in my mouth again.

“You need to leave this in until it beeps. I need to get your temperature.” She made some notes on a piece of paper. “As for the rest, all in good time love. All in good time. Are you in pain?”

I nodded. She made an adjustment to a machine attached to the tubes in my arm, and the bag of fluid hanging above it. She handed me a little bit of plastic with a button on it. “When you are hurting, you can push this button. It will release medication to ease your pain,” she said.

The thermometer beeped and she removed it, noting its reading. “The doctor will be in before long to examine you. In the meantime, we’ll let your family know they can come see you,” she sang as she exited the room.

My family. Mick and Michael. I waited anxiously, watching the tiny bit of corridor I could see from my bed. Waiting for Mick to walk through the door, and flash me the smile I loved.

My dad and my brothers entered the room.

“Cassiel!” my dad cried out.

He’s the only one who ever called me by my full name. As he stood next to the bed, his hands moved awkwardly looking for a place to light. It was as if he wanted to touch me, yet he was afraid he’d somehow hurt me, so he refrained.

Jack and Jake were oddly silent. These two boys - men now I guessed - were never quiet. They always jostled each other, or bickered, even as adults. Competing in that way common to twins. Their stillness frightened me more than anything else.

“What is it? What’s wrong? Where are Mick and Michael?” I asked. The boys wouldn’t meet my eyes. They looked everywhere, but at me. They shuffled their feet awkwardly.

“Dad?” I asked.

“Cassiel, my darling daughter, I don’t know how to say this. How to tell you this,” my dad started. His eyes watered, and his hands shook.

“Tell me what dad?” I started trembling. I knew it couldn’t be good or he wouldn’t be so upset. The boys focused their eyes on dad. They still wouldn’t look at me.

Tears streamed down my dad’s face. I’d never seen my dad cry before.

A sense of foreboding filled me. My chest tightened. I couldn’t breathe.

“Cassiel, do you remember what happened?” My dad asked, tears falling from his chin onto my hand.

“We were driving home from the Show. It was raining hard. Did we crash?” I frowned, trying to remember.

“Yes darling, you crashed,” he answered, his face wet. More tears hung from his chin. Others dripped onto his shirt, leaving damp splotches. I watched them in fascination.

“Michael and Mick didn’t make it darling. But we were very lucky. You did.” He said.

“What did you say?” I asked. I refocused my eyes to his. A rushing sound filled my ears. I couldn’t have heard him right.

“I said we are very lucky to have you with us Cassiel.”

“No. Before that.”

He drew a deep, shuddering, breath, before repeating, “Michael and Mick didn’t make it. They were killed in the crash.”

Even my brothers had tears raining down their fuzzy cheeks. My mum stood in the doorway to the corridor, also watching me with reddened, wet eyes.


My mum rushed to my bedside, and tried to gather the bit of me she could reach into her arms. “I’m so sorry darling,” she crooned. “I’m so, so sorry.” My face was buried in her shoulder, but I did not cry. Not then. Even as every member of my family cried.

It was too unreal. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want it to be true.

I did what the nurse had told me to do. The bit of plastic was still in my hand. I hurt so badly. The pain was unbearable.

I pushed the button. Soon the world faded away, as I succumbed to sleep with my face still buried in my mum’s shoulder.

About the author:

A.B. Shepherd grew up in Lansing, Michigan, but moved to Australia once her children had grown and empty nest syndrome set in.
She now lives in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia, with her husband and their imaginary friends.
A.B. loves living near the Southern Ocean and often finds it inspiring. She can usually be found seaside at Port MacDonnell, or lost in a fantasy world.
website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook

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Bounce into Summer Giveaway

Summer is coming and you just want to enjoy that great book I was telling you about, but the kids are driving you crazy. How about giving them something that will give them hours of entertainment and make them so tired you'll get all night to yourself, too. Enter to win below.

ARV $400
Hosted by:
A Lucky Ladybug
A Ladybug on the Go

This playhouse really has it all.  It is height is just low enough to be used indoors, but it has a full pool and water slide for those hot summer days.  The bounce area (6x6 feet) is a nice size for a few kids and there is a separate ball pit that holds two packs of play balls just right.

Perfect for the kids who want more then just a backyard pool, and it can be used inside when it rains or even all winter (it's just 6 feet high and will fit in most rooms or in the basement of any house).

Included with Little Sprout - All-In-One Bouncer, Slide & Pool is an over sized carry bag, patch kit for rips and tears, constant air blower w/ GFCI circut interuptor for safety, ground stakes, and of course a water hose hook up.

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"Make Our Own Network" solely organized this event and I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are 100% my own and may differ from your own or even those stated in this post. Girl Who Reads is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.
**If you are a company and would like to see your brand advertised in a M.O.O.N. event similar to this please contact

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May 23, 2013

Vacation and Your Blog

Summer officially kicks off in the US this weekend with Memorial Day Weekend. With it comes family reunions, beach vacations, lazy days by the pool, late nights watching fireflies. You may have great plans to make it through that stack of bestsellers while sipping a fruity drink with an umbrella, it is likely you are going to find yourself crunched for time when it comes to your blog. A little planning now will keep your blog floating happily along while you do the same. Here are a few tips...

Tip 1 - sign up for book blasts or sponsored giveaway. These quick posts usually come pre-formatted for easy cut/paste. They also have the extra benefit of helping you gain followers on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter. A quick search of "Bloggers Wanted" will turn up available giveaways. You can check under the Bloggers Wanted tab above for current events I'm organizing. Other companies that are looking for bloggers include Jitterbug PR, I am a Reader Not a Writer, The Finishing Fairies, Lady Reader's Book Stuff.

Tip 2 - Spread your posts out. If you typically post a review every day, you may want to put a few in reserve so you can have them weekly throughout the summer. I have a calendar with the days I'll post a review through out the summer. If I get ahead on my reading/reviewing then I can always move a review up, but I won't come up short at the end of summer.

Tip 3 - Reading Lists and recommendations. People have more time to read during the summer, but they don't want to spend it reading review after review just to find the next great book. Instead help your readers quickly locate a good read. It can be Top 10 Must Read Murder Mysteries or Audio Books for Road Trips. The key here is to group books you've already read. You can give a line or two about why it fits the category or why you recommend it. Remember to link back to your previous review.

Tip 4 - Participate in a meme. Are you going to the library more because the kids are out of school? Then you can link up with It's Monday! What are your reading? To show off all the library finds that week. Teaser Tuesday will let you share a couple of sentences from your current read, while Waiting on Wednesday will tell your readers about what you are looking forward to.

Tip 5 - Don't stress. If you miss a few days of posting or even a week, that's okay. If you know you are likely not going to post for 5 consecutive days, then put up a Gone Fishing sign to let your readers you are taking a much needed break, but will see them on the flip side.

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer full of great reading. What tips do you have for keeping up with blogging when so many warm weather activities are vying for your attention?

Summer of Love Giveaway

Summer is coming and Harlequin wants to give you the essentials.

But that's not all you can win!

Harlequin wants to hear your Summer of Love Mixtape.
Enter here for a chance at a trip to Las Vegas for you and 3 friends

For your chance of a Bella Andrea Beach Bag, enter below. US addresses ONLY.

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May 22, 2013

Giveaway: The Pipe Woman Chronicles Now Complete

You may remember when Fissure's video trailer was featured.Now you can get the entire series. Enter to win below.

Release Day Blitz for the 5th and Final Book in The Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell

Naomi Witherspoon lives in interesting times. At the winter solstice, she was Seized by a Native American goddess to mediate a power-sharing agreement between all the pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. Then, as her relationship with her new boyfriend Fissured, she Tapped a wellspring of strength – her Native American heritage.

Now, Gravid and due any day, she must conduct the mediation of her life. Will she succeed? Or will it all go up in smoke?

The answers to those questions, and more, can be found in Annealed, the final installment in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, an urban fantasy series by Lynne Cantwell.

It began at the winter solstice

And it ends


PWC5 - Annealed
It’s zero hour…
Naomi has just two weeks to find a new home for Joseph's grandfather. The old Ute shaman is fighting for his life against a mysterious injection of toxin he received at the hands of the Norse Trickster god Loki. If Naomi is to defeat Loki once and for all, she must learn what it is he seeks under the old man's wickiup.
She has just one week before she must mediate between the Earth's pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. If her efforts fail, all of humankind will suffer the consequences.
And her baby is due any day.
In this, the fifth and final book of the Pipe Woman Chronicles, Naomi is in a race against the clock to balance the demands of her body, her family, and her friends – and she must do it while the whole world is watching.
A taste of chapter 10: Jehovah sighed. "White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman, I concede that much of what You have said here is true. Humanity wrestles still with its baser impulses, even as it reaches for the pinnacle of its potential. Math, the sciences, engineering. I never thought they would figure out fractal theory." He chuckled. "I love My children dearly. Soon they will reach the stars. They are ever a surprise and a delight to Me." Lynne Cantwell's take on the excerpt: "Naomi has finally reached the Big Mediation -- the one between the Christian God and all the pagan gods and goddesses that the whole series has been driving toward. In this scene, White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman has just outlined all the ways humanity has trashed God's Creation: ruining the environment, using Scripture as an excuse to treat other human races like animals, and so on. God acknowledges all of that. But it's also clear that He takes great delight in what He has created -- and He has a sense of humor, too."

About the Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne CantwellLynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, "I could do that." The result was Susie and the Talking Doll, a picture book, illustrated by the author, about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master's degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master's degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy. In addition, she is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited and writes a monthly post for The Indie Exchange.

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AK Taylor: Writing Polar Opposites - YA Fantasy to Nonfiction

If you were able to join me for Meet the Author Monday last month, you would know I have been writing YA fantasy for a long time. So long it almost seems like second nature. Of course, I was introduced to nonfiction writing in school in the form of book reports, literary analysis papers (bleck!), and last but not least, lab reports. I also did this sort of thing and some other forms of nonfiction writing in college.

If anyone knows anything about writing a nonfiction book, it’s not really the same thing as writing an academic report of any kind, but yet it depends on what the subject is and how it is presented.

About the whole first year or two of being a published author, I was totally on my own. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about marketing who gave me any real advice. No one I knew had the first clue about publishing let alone marketing. I knew nothing of platforms or that I should have had one already. Nada. I felt like I had been dumped in a proverbial wilderness with nothing but the clothes on my back. No survival kit. No survival guide. No advice. I didn’t even have a lighter or a pocketknife. So I set off in search of people and information.

Where am I going with this? These are real thoughts that went through my head. I have spent so much of my life in the woods and reading and learning about living off the land and about survival skills that these thoughts seemed natural and almost imminent. That is really how I viewed my situation. If I didn’t find help soon, my author career and my books are gonna die. Basically the same thing if you don’t get out of the wilderness and find help, food, shelter, or water, you will die.

So then I begin the quest for connection and knowledge. After “bushwhacking” on the internet and finding groups and people here and there, I began to learn a lot in a short amount of time and kept learning. I began to make friends and connections. I got involved in the community. I had to actually find the community before I could become involved in it. 

One of my very first friends was also a publishing professional. I would tell him about how I learned this thing or that thing, or I came up with this or that. I was a sponge for knowledge my whole life, and I tried to find free or cheap ways to market my book (I just had one at the time). I had almost become like Macgyver out of necessity, not by choice. This same friend told me I need to write a book about this stuff.

A nonfiction book? Me? Ummm… I was totally clueless how to it per se, but I just did it. I tried to find a creative and fun way to integrate this knowledge of book marketing (one of the most boring subjects on the planet) and make it effective. I can’t do it around business; that’s already been done and a bit bor-ring. Though, I do discuss some business concepts but that’s not the cornerstone metaphor I used.

With the list draft I had made months ago and trying to think of a metaphor to engage the reader that seemed one-of-a-kind, the thought hit me. I recalled back when I was “lost in the wilderness” of book marketing. That’s something you don’t see every day. So, then I wrote the book in this manner: like a wilderness survival guide you would take with you on expedition and the content was based on that aspect. The sites and tools listed acted like a “survival kit” of sorts just like a pocket knife, iodine tabs, fire starter kit, twine, and a lighter. The look and feel of the book just screams wilderness survival skills for authors.

I sent it to my friend for feedback. I trust this friend for something like this since he also puts it to me straight and doesn’t beat around the bush or candy coat anything. He loved it. He also helped me come up with the title and subtitle. The title and subtitle I had for the book kind of sucked in my own opinion, but I needed a hand with it and someone else’s feedback. It’s great to have friends like that. Hence, The Newbie Author’s Survival Guide was born. First stop the editor. He made sure all the text had the right headers and that sort of thing—stuff I had no iota about. That’s why we need editors! Then it was off for cover design and publishing. My designer hit it out of the park with the design. My favorite part about the cover is the “book marketing survival” symbol. If there was ever such a symbol, that’s what it would look like.

So, I successfully was able to write a nonfiction book—something without characters, a fantasy world (well, I guess a book marketing wilderness is kind of a fantasy world), and a plot on top of being something written for grownups (something else to get used to). 

It was a fun adventure for me, the writer, and I didn’t write an action adventure or a thriller. To let everyone in on a little secret I am going to be writing another nonfiction book. Imagine that. This book won’t be as fun (probably not fun at all) as the Survival Guide, but I hope it to be enlightening, and by talking with folks, it seems it could fill a void.

Buy the book at Amazon.

About the Author:

A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 16. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband.
Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads  *  website  *  Google+


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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Giveaway is sponsored by the author.

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Molly D. Campbell: The Soul Selects Her Own Society

The following article was originally published at Orangeberry Book Tours on April 28, 2013. Reprinted with permission.

I am reading a book about Emily Dickinson.  I love her poems, but I am more fascinated with her life.  She became a recluse in her family mansion in early adulthood.  She loved to bake; evidently she walked about the house covered in flour.  She wrote beautiful and pithy poetry that speaks to all of us.

I have often thought that it would be very romantic to become a recluse myself.  Of course, in order to be a happy recluse, you must have a beautiful place to hide in.  I think I have finally achieved that.  My house is now, after we have lived here for twenty years, nicely decorated, and every room is beautiful. It also seems to me that there is an irony involved.  Recluses need nice surroundings, but the recluses I am familiar with were INDIFFERENT to those surroundings most of the time.

This is because a recluse must have a life’s work.  Otherwise, staying home twenty four seven would get very boring.  So I would need a beautiful room to work in.  I would require a desk placed in front of a window, so that I could watch the world go by and ruminate about the neighbors, the surroundings, and the outside world.  There would have to be inspiring art on the walls. Granted, as a successful recluse I would become inured to all the beauty of my study, but rules are rules!

This brings me to the life’s work.  Problematic, because I can’t think of a subject large enough to consume me every day.  Recluses are devoted single-mindedly to a life passion.  My only real passion is pets.  Could I spend every day in my workroom thinking about cats, writing about dogs, or researching animal diseases? Could I become a crusader for animal rights right there in my little room?  Not likely.  In the midst of a treatise on dog fighting, I would need a snack.  While researching Von Willenbrand’s Syndrome, I would look out the window and realize the bird feeder was empty.  Are recluses allowed out in the yard with sunflower seed?

Successful recluses have doting families who do their shopping, invite guests over in order to freshen the outlook of the shut-in, and accomplish all the tasks that the recluse simply can’t do, by virtue of the fact of being a recluse.  I don’t have that kind of family.  My husband is always gone.  He is the opposite of reclusive.  My kids aren’t around, either.  I don’t have any loyal retainers to do my bidding.  I think servants are a prerequisite for recluses.  HERMITS, on the other hand, live completely alone, don’t want any family ties, and shun the concept of servitude for anyone.  By that definition, being a hermit is totally out, as far as I am concerned.

Back to the reclusive life.  I think a successful recluse must also have a highly developed sense of the  small. Spending all day at home, every day, would require an appreciation of life’s little details.  For instance, I am sure that Emily Dickinson reveled in the dust motes in the air around her, watching as they swirled and caught the sun.  She probably counted the pleats in her peplum.  I feel confident that looking out the window at the garden was tantamount to meditation for her.  I am not good at this.  I have no idea how many buttons are on my favorite cardigan.  I have noticed that there is dust on tops of all the picture frames, but that is about it.

Recluses often carry on long conversations with friends by exchanging letters.  Emily Dickinson maintained lifelong relationships with a number of people, some of whom published her letters to them.  Thus, she was able to make her friends somewhat famous, just because they knew her.  Today’s recluse would have access to Facebook and Twitter.  I can just imagine what dandy tweets Emily could churn out.

I did actually try out the reclusive lifestyle last winter, when I had a skin cancer on my face that required surgery of Frankensteinian proportions.  I was on a recliner in my TV room for two weeks.  It was hell.  Without Netflix, a cell phone, and Facebook as lifelines, I would have descended into sheer madness.  It is because of this experience that I have such admiration for Emily and her ilk.

If Emily were around today, would she restyle her life?  Would she at least talk with her friends using Skype?  Would she still bake gingerbread from scratch, or would she use a mix?  Would she have a cell phone and carry on conversations with fellow intellectuals from the safety of her room?  Is it possible to be a productive recluse in today’s world without the use of technology?  I couldn’t do it.  My hat is off to Emily.

“The Soul selects her own Society—

Then–shuts the Door—

To her divine Majority

Present no more

Unmoved—she notes the Chariots—pausing

At her low Gate—

Unmoved–an Emperor be kneeling

Upon her Mat

I’ve known her—from an ample Nation—

Choose one—

Then—close the Valves of her attention—

Like Stone—“

About the Author:

Molly is a 2 time Erma Bombeck award winning writer. She hosts her own humor blog in addition to writing for the popular Moms' website, "Moms Who Need Wine."
Molly has two grown daughters, who pay their own bills. She is proud of them. Molly is also married to an accordion player. This isn't such a wonderful thing.
Molly loves cake, reading, exfoliating, sleeping late, and going out to dinner, but not necessarily in that order. 
Facebook  *  Twitter  *  website

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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases at made at Amazon through the above link. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

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May 21, 2013

Shadow of Night Giveaway

The PAPERBACK is coming...

May 28
Get it at Amazon

I love this series and very happy to be able to offer one of my readers a paperback copy of Shadow of Night and collector buttons:

Enjoy the interview with Deborah Harkness and enter to win at the end.

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list with publications following in 37 countries.  What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for A Discovery of Witches? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in Diana’s world.

Q:  Last summer, Warner Brothers acquired screen rights to the trilogy, and David Auburn, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer of Proof, has been tapped to pen the screenplay. Are you looking forward to your novels being portrayed on the big screen?  What are your favorite casting ideas that you’ve heard from friends and readers?

A. I was thrilled when Warner Brothers wanted to translate the All Souls trilogy from book to screen. At first I was reluctant about the whole idea of a movie, and it actually took me nearly two years to agree to let someone try. The team at Warner Brothers impressed me with their seriousness about the project and their commitment to the characters and story I was trying to tell. Their decision to go with David Auburn confirmed that my faith in them was not misplaced. As for the casting, I deliberately don’t say anything about that! I would hate for any actor or actress to be cast in one of these roles and feel that they didn’t have my total support. I will say, however, that many of my readers’ ideas involve actors who have already played a vampire and I would be very surprised if one of them were asked to be Matthew!

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT opens on a scene in 1590s Elizabethan England featuring the famous School of Night, a group of historical figures believed to be friends, including Sir Walter Raleigh and playwright Christopher Marlowe.  Why did you choose to feature these individuals, and can we expect Diana and Matthew to meet other famous figures from the past?  

A. I wrote my master’s thesis on the imagery surrounding Elizabeth I during the last two decades of her reign. One of my main sources was the poem The Shadow of Night by George Chapman—a member of this circle of fascinating men—and that work is dedicated to a mysterious poet named Matthew Roydon about whom we know very little. When I was first thinking about how vampires moved in the world (and this was way back in the autumn of 2008 when I was just beginning A Discovery of Witches) I remembered Roydon and thought “that is the kind of identity a vampire would have, surrounded by interesting people but not the center of the action.” From that moment on I knew the second part of Diana and Matthew’s story would take place among the School of Night. And from a character standpoint, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, and the other men associated with the group are irresistible. They were such significant, colorful presences in Elizabethan England.

Q: In SHADOW OF NIGHT, we learn more about the alchemical bonds between Diana and Matthew.   In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research.  What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading SHADOW OF NIGHT

A. Whereas A Discovery of Witches focused on the literature and symbolism of alchemy, in Shadow of Night I’m able to explore some of the hands-on aspects of this ancient tradition. There is still plenty of symbolism for Diana to think about, but in this volume we go from abstractions and ideals to real transformation and change—which was always my intention with the series. Just as we get to know more about how Elizabethan men and women undertook alchemical experiments, we also get to see Matthew and Diana’s relationship undergo the metamorphosis from new love to something more.

Q: SHADOW OF NIGHT spans the globe, with London, France, and Prague as some of the locales. Did you travel to these destinations for your research?  

A. I did. My historical research has been based in London for some time now, so I’ve spent long stretches of time living in the City of London—the oldest part of the metropolis—but I had never been to the Auvergne or Prague. I visited both places while writing the book, and in both cases it was a bit like traveling in time to walk village lanes, old pilgrim roads, and twisting city streets while imagining Diana and Matthew at my side.

Q: Did you have an idea or an outline for SHADOW OF NIGHT when you were writing A Discovery of Witches?  Did the direction change once you sat down to write it?

A. I didn’t outline either book in the traditional sense. In both cases I knew what some of the high points were and how the plot moved towards the conclusion, but there were some significant changes during the revision process. This was especially true for SHADOW OF NIGHT, although most of those changes involved moving specific pieces of the plot forward or back to improve the momentum and flow.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, whose secrets Diana and Matthew are still trying to uncover in SHADOW OF NIGHT. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation.  What was the story behind your discovery?  And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world? 

A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

Q: Unlike Twilight’s Bella and Edward—hormonal teenagers who meet in the halls of a high school—your leading characters Matthew and Diana are established academics who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.  This is a world where vampires and witches drink wine together, practice yoga and discuss philosophy.   Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.

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May 20, 2013

Meet Alexandria Rhodes

My name is Alexandria Rhodes and I am a first time author. I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Whether it was “plays” or songs, I’ve always felt the need to write. When I was ten years old, my mom took my brother and me to a few garage sales. Some little girls used this opportunity to look for clothes, baby dolls and maybe some makeup, but I was looking for something specific: a typewriter. I used my allowance I had been saving up and when I brought it home, I started writing. I would spend hours in my room writing out what I thought was going to be a great book. Needless to say, I had no idea what it took to become published or that my writing, then, had probably sucked. I used that typewriter to compose twenty odd pages of my book. I still have those pages but I am nervous to read them!

When I got to college, I knew I wanted to major in something that I could put my abilities and passions to good use. I love social media and even put together a fundraiser in 2011 which raised $70,000 for the Tsunami victims. I found myself writing a lot and was lucky enough to get an internship where I wrote for my school’s homepage. During my time in college, the writing bug bit pretty hard. I ended up putting a few ideas together and while on vacation in 2011, the idea of my debut novel, More Than You Know, was born. Walking on Tybee Island beach in Savannah was inspiring to me and I found myself picturing my characters where I was standing.

Spending the next two years writing and editing, my book was evolving from a dream to a reality. I could do this! When I was finished, I set out to get published. I was sure that my novel was the next big thing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting very far in the query process. Most agents didn’t see how my plot was possible. Which was okay, they didn’t get it like I needed them to. So I did what I had to do which is self-publish. It has been an amazing journey and I have met some wonderfully helpful people along the way. For my first time publishing a book, selfpublishing was the answer. It allowed me to be in control and put my feet in the water to feel things out.

With a steady four star rating, More Than You Know has spoken to many what I was setting out to say. I have gained the confidence to call myself a writer and put my work out there. With my never ending writing journals and my iphone always ready to jot down sentences, I will continue living my dream: writing a book that will mean something to my readers. It’s a beautiful thing.

About the Author:
Alexandria Rhodes is a first time novelist from the good old state of Ohio. She is a recent college graduate with a degree in English and Creative Writing. Alexandria has always known she needed to write and has been doing so ever since she bought a typewriter at a garage sale when she was nine. With hundreds of pages of plot ideas, scripts and character descriptions, it is no surprise that she finally came around to writing a book.
Alexandria enjoys reading, writing, reviewing, spending time with family, tweeting (a little too much) and traveling, especially to Savannah, GA and New York City.
Her writing is heavily influenced by her surroundings and the people in her life. She hopes that her stories will touch the hearts of her readers.

Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads  *  Website

About the book:

After surviving a devastating car accident that took her father's life, Bryn Woods feels like she has nothing left in her hometown of Savannah, GA. Along with losing her father, her boyfriend, Tyler, unexpectedly leaves town the same time of the accident. Feeling alone, broken and confused, Bryn leaves Savannah for college in New York City to escape her heartbreak.

Four years later, Bryn returns to Savannah to live in her childhood home. Slowly, she begins to let the people of her past back into her life. She lets the protective walls she's built to protect herself crash down around her. As she begins to find love again with Tyler, secrets start to unravel themselves about his past. Tyler has secrets of his own. Secrets connected to the death of Bryn's father. Secrets Tyler didn't even know he kept.

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Pub Day: Crimson Key Giveaway

This book was awesome, scary and definitely gave me the hebie gebies!

I read this in one night, unable to put it down and hanging on every word to see what happened next.
~ Dawn Gray, author of Fire Storm

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The truth can be deadly.

Brylee Branson’s best friend and boyfriend have fallen victim to a horrible curse that haunts her home. With the witches who cast it dead she has no choice but to rely on the ghosts inside the Brown house to help her find a cure. But time is not on her side, because Lynley's illness is spreading rapidly. 

Confused and scared, seventeen-year-old Brylee must confront a new ghost in the house she has never spoken to before. This spirit is not a Brown relative and makes no promises to help them … unless she can re-unite her with a loved one.

The fate of those she loves now rests on her. Can Brylee put the pieces of this puzzle together in time to save them? Or will the Brown house claim another victim?

The Visitor’s Series continues to scare and entice its readers with this gripping second book.

Tuesday, May 21 at 8 pm eastern

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A GWR Publicity promotional event paid for by Anchor Group Publishing. The giveaway is sponsored by the author. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the link above.
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