Readers' Favorite

December 6, 2013

Interview with Bianca Turetsky

The Time-Travelling Fashionista
Bianca Turetsky is the author of historical fantasy series The Time-Traveling Fashionista. The third book, The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, just hit the shelves this week.

Buy TTF and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile at Amazon

In this middle grades series, Louise is your average 21st century 12 year girl who loves vintage clothing, except she time travels on the weekends. At The Traveling Fashionista Sale trying on the right dress means more than having the perfect outfit for the party, it's a gateway to times past. Slip into your favorite toga and join Louise in the dangerous era of Cleopatra, but first check out my interview with Bianca:

With the young adult market being flooded with dystopian and fantasy novels, why did you choose to write historical fiction?

It’s funny but I never thought of them as historical fiction novels until they were published and I started speaking with teachers and librarians who wanted to use them in their classrooms. That genre always seemed so dry and boring to me, if I had gone into it with that mindset I probably never would have started! I set out to write this particular story of what would happen if you could time travel through a magical vintage dress, and the genre and audience just seemed to organically follow from there.

My niece, who is 11 and read the first two books in the series (she's getting Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile for Christmas), really likes the illustrations, how was it decided to include the drawings - were they always part of your plan or something that was thought of later?

Oh good, I’m so happy to hear that! I always saw these as illustrated novels as they were so visual in my head when I was writing them. Through my publisher Little Brown I was paired with a fashion illustrator from Barcelona named Sandra Suy who was able to interpret my text into gorgeous full color sketches that were even better than I imagined. I’ve never even met her and I feel like we’re two halves of the same brain.

Were you like your main character Louise and interested in fashion at a young age? Do you have a favorite vintage piece today?

Like Louise I was very into vintage clothing and shopping at thrift stores, which was not typical in the suburban Connecticut  town I grew up in. I even wore a vintage dress to the prom! So over the years I’ve managed to amass quite a collection. (I still use my childhood closet as extra storage!)  My favorite piece changes all the time. Right now I’d say it’s a pair of brown leather vintage boots my friend Doris just gave me. They’ve already gotten quite a bit of use.

Which drew you more to the series - the fashion aspect or the historical events?

Initially it was definitely the fashion!  I was never a good history student in school, I feel like the way it was taught was all memorization and dates and wars and my brain just doesn’t absorb information like that. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed researching and learning about the history through writing these books. History contains all of the elements of a good novel- drama, strong characters, intrigue!

My niece wants to know how you choose the historical events you write about?

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I think I mostly chose them based on films that I love—James Cameron’s Titanic, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, and Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. They all inspired me to go out and learn more about that time period- and hopefully my books will do the same for other girls!

If you could travel to any time period, what period would it be and why?

There are so many, but I think first I’d love to go back to the roaring 20’s. I love the bobbed haircuts, shift dresses and t-strap heels. There is a scene at the beginning of the first book where Louise is imagining that she’s wearing a flapper dress and dancing in a speakeasy. That’s pretty much my fantasy.

What do you think makes a great story?

I think a great story comes from great characters.

You provide historical details that wouldn't just be found in a textbook, how long do you spend researching the events you feature? Any interesting tidbits you discovered, but couldn't fit into your novel?

I take the research aspect of the books very seriously. I want to make sure that the historic information is as accurate as possible for the storyline. For the Marie Antoinette book I traveled to Versailles, and to research Cleopatra I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum and met with an archaeologist who had been on digs in Egypt. I read a lot of biographies and history books. I tried to include as many tidbits as possible without feeling like it was a school lecture. But I think I still managed to get most of them in there!

I think writing middle grade literature would be difficult. Kids that age vary greatly on maturity and reading level. I thought you did a great job of making The Time-Traveling Fashionista accessible to a wide audience. Any tips for other authors on striking a balance?

Thanks! I think that’s part of the reason why it’s so difficult to be 12, or at least it was for me. It’s an age where some kids are super advanced, and some are still trying to hold on to being a kid. I was (maybe not surprisingly) always on the younger side of that spectrum. I feel like in terms of concepts and vocabulary, kids are more sophisticated than we give them credit for. I think in terms of riskier subject matter, there’s so much time to be an adult, why not stay in the fantasy world for as long as possible. And wanting to play dress-up and live a more fabulous life is a dream all ages can relate to!

What future adventures are in store for Louise? Are you planning a spin-off/campanion series featuring Stella?

Ooh, I hadn’t thought of that! That is a fabulous idea, you never know J

~About the Author~

Bianca Turetsky is the author of the stylish Time-Traveling Fashionista series, which has been translated into nine languages. After graduating from Tufts University, Bianca began working for artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel. She managed his studio for the past 11 years and was his assistant on the Academy Award-nominated film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. She lives in a cozy studio apartment in Brooklyn, New York, that houses her very extensive and much-loved vintage collection.

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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 above link. The views, opinions, and beliefs of contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. 

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December 5, 2013

Make a Blogging Plan

The year is winding down and I know you are feeling the holiday stress of Christmas parties, gift buying, cookie baking, kids on holiday, family and friends visiting, and all of the regular life stuff . You might not be posting on your blog right now, having pushed it off the cook top entirely. However, now is a good time to do a little reviewing - of your blog.

Many bloggers will post a year end wrap up type of post. It's not just an attempt at creating easy content during the holidays. By going back through your year of blogging can reveal many things that will help you in the new year.

In my yearly wrap up post, I always highlight the top 10 most popular posts for the the year. By going through your stats you will see what worked and what didn't. In my first year, I quickly realized guest posts were more popular than my reviews (a trend that continues). But even more than that, I could see which days consistently garnered the most views.

I also include a list of books I reviewed. Though overall reviews don't do as well as guest posts, some reviews did better than others. By looking closer I could determine which genres and authors were of more interest to my readers.

This year, I will include a list of most popular tips. This year I've been more regular with my tips and had a wider range of topics. I know they often garner a number of comments so it will interesting to see which topics rise to the top.

Another thing I include in my year end post is all the writers who contributed to by blog during the year. It is a way to thank them, but it also gives me an opportunity to remember what authors have written about and what appealed to my readers.

After I put the post together, I put together my plan for the new year from what I've learned about my readership. If you are wanting to plan your blog for 2014, here's are 3 aspects to think about.

1. Start or end a feature. Do your top viewed posts have a common thread? For me, I saw that guest posts were most popular. Now I offer guest post features. This year, I will evaluate the three weekly features to see how well they are performing. Perhaps one isn't doing as well as the others. I will then consider discontinuing it.

2. Books to read and authors to feature. Did a review get great response? If so, I'll see if I can get the author to do a guest post. Authors who are popular on my blog, I will ask back or try to review a book or two of theirs if I haven't already.

3. Scheduling. Is a certain day consistently more popular? As I'm looking at year end numbers I don't know if the day is popular because more readers are coming to the blog that day or if due to continual shares throughout the week/month contributed to it being highly viewed. With the shareaholic share buttons, I can see how often the post was shared. It will help me to determine which days it's best to post on. Conversely, are there days that are regularly low performing? I may decide not to schedule posts that day, and instead, reserve them for overflow content.

By making a plan, even a rough plan, will make your blogging smoother and easier to contend with in the new year. Knowing what will get you the best results will make you more successful and less stressed.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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December 4, 2013

Penguin Acquires European Hit Thriller

Italian cover
Italian Cover (from
Penguin announced today they have acquired the rights to The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker. This literary thriller has knocked Fifty Shades of Grey and Dan Brown's Inferno out of the top spots on European bestseller lists; it's sold nearly a million copies in France alone. Though no price was disclosed, the deal is being heralded as Penguin's "biggest acquisition" to date.

The international best seller from 28 year old Swiss author Joël Dicker is being described as "a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, and an ingenious book within a book". The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair focuses on a 15 year old New Hampshire girl who went missing 30 years prior and an American author who wants to clear his mentor's name while finding material for his next best seller.

Causing quite the stir at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair has won 3 literary awards in France. Purchased by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo publisher at Frankfurt, rights to this European hit have been been sold in more than 32 countries. Following an intense bidding war executive editor John Siciliano came away the victor for the US publishing rights. Penguin plans a paperback original release in Summer 2014.

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AB Shepherd: My Inspiration for THE BEACON

I grew up in Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes. The water has always been a draw for me and I have always been fascinated by lighthouses, and the lore of the lighthouse keepers who used to keep them lit - often living in remote and isolated locations - sometimes alone, and sometimes with their wives and families. 

While I think the realities of such a life would be harsh and not my cup of tea at all - my preferred method of camping involves real beds, flush toilets and showers - the romantic fantasy of such a life has often filled my dreams, much like the idea of the windswept moors in Wuthering Heights. Beautiful in dreams and books - maybe a bit bleak in reality.

Buy The Beacon at Amazon

The Beacon
I became passionate about lighthouses and visited several when I lived in Michigan, some of which are now museums. I even went so far as to climb to the top of one and stepped out onto a little balcony at the summit where I clung to the tower due to my fear of heights while my children danced around the railing and I panicked they would fall. Luckily we all survived and the view was gorgeous. 
My love of lighthouses inspired the setting of my new novella, The Beacon. My many years of fantasies were never so chilling, however. 

An old lighthouse on an isolated island. What could be more exhilarating - and maybe a bit spooky - than that?

The Beacon is a psychological thriller/suspense novella and is available now on Amazon. I hope you will check it out.

Do you have a love of lighthouses too? 

~About the Author~

"Never stop dreaming or reading." - A.B. Shepherd
A.B. Shepherd grew up in Lansing, Michigan, but moved to Australia in 2009. She now lives in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia, with her husband and their imaginary friends. She can usually be found seaside at Port MacDonnell, or lost in a fantasy world.
Lifeboat is her debut novel. Her second book, is a novella titled The Beacon.   

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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 above link. The views, opinions, and beliefs of contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. 

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December 3, 2013

Review: The Beacon by AB Shepherd

The Beacon
The Beacon by A.B. Shepherd is a disconcerting novella. A.B. once again demonstrated her writing prowess in keeping the reader guessing and this time past the very end.

A young woman crashes on the shores of a deserted island, but is it really deserted? The woman is disoriented, but is it a result of injury or is there more to this island?

Much like the young woman, the story left me disoriented. In some ways, I felt as the reader is dropped into the middle of a story and only given a glimpse of what is happening.  If you enjoy your stories to be wrapped into neat little packages, then The Beacon is not your kind of story. However, if you don't mind stretching your mind and being left with drawing your own conclusions, then The Beacon is a story not to be missed.

There was a familiarity I felt while reading this story. But I couldn't put my finger on it. That is until today when I read Kriss's review at Cabin Goddess. She mentioned that The Beacon is an allegory (I'm not good at remembering the literary terms as I haven't had a lit class in quite some time). And that's when it hit me. It reminded me of reading Edgar Allen Poe. I remember when I read The Tell-Tale Heart and the unsettling feeling I got of wondering was it really the heart he was hearing. It was that same unsettling feeling I felt while reading The Beacon.

Buy The Beacon at Amazon

Book Info:
ebook & paperback (65 pages), published December 2013
Source: author
Read: November 2013


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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 above link.  A free e-galley was provided by the source.

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December 2, 2013

Who is Sylvain Reynard?

The third and final book in the Gabriel series by Sylvain Reynard releases tomorrow (December 3). Both Gabriel's Inferno and Gabriel's Rapture have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List. However, SR has accomplished a feat not many authors have been able to in this age of digital information. E. L. James couldn't do it, nor could J.K. Rowling. What is this great accomplishment? SR has been able to maintain a modicum of privacy. Pen names are not uncommon, but it is rare that the true identity of the author is not revealed.

Last year, I spoke with a reporter at MACLEAN'S, a Canadian publication, about whom Sylvain Reynard is. At that time,  fans were still speculating whether the author was male or female. (The bio in Gabriel's Inferno contained no pronouns). Is the mystery part of the charm? In this day and age when everyone must know everything about anyone rich and famous, can Sylvain Reynard remain anonymous?

As I told the reporter, I'm not one who enjoys Hollywood gossip, and I applaud SR's ability to maintain his anonymity. However, popularity does come at a price, and information of whom Sylvain Reynard is has leaked into the media. As it is Meet the Author Monday, I thought I would share the tidbits that can be found.

Sylvian Reynard is the second known identity this author has assumed. SR first appeared in the writing world as Sebastien Robichaud, a member of the Twilight fanfiction community. Most writers there use a pen name. A majority of fanfiction writers are female. Furthermore, a majority of romance authors are female. So there was speculation that the author was truly female, but using a male pseudonym to further cloak the true identity. To help end the confusion of whether we should refer to SR as a he or she, SR self-identified as a male. He also claims to be Canadian. Dig any further into personal information and the interviewer is most likely to receive a "No comment".

Yet, there is more to know about the public figure, and from that we may know who the author truly is. 

Buy Gabriel's Redemption at Amazon

SR is a charitable soul. He often highlights charities through his social media. According to a May 27 blog post, he is partnering with Heather Huffman, author of Throwaway and who is a strong proponent of anti-slavery/human trafficking, to write a romantic comedy as a charity fundraiser. The fan group Argyle Empire has a listing of the many charities SR supports.

SR is an inspiration to many. Through his endeavors to raise awareness of the needs of a hurting world, he has inspired others to get involved in their community. One organization that I've seen SR mention on a number of occasions is Covenant House. One fan shared with Argyle Empire her experience with volunteering at their local Covenant House.

He has also sparked a level of interest in literature and culture among his fans that is probably not typical of most romance novels. You can find information on the art, music, and literature mentioned in the series on SR's website.

SR is a nice guy. Perhaps it is because of his humble beginnings as a writer and the need to connect with people in order to convert them into fans. However, if he were not truly a caring person then it would be difficult to keep up the appearance. I have seen (and been the recipient) him personally tweet fans. He is always willing to help when he can.

Live Chat with SR!SR has a new project underway. Last week it was announced SR has a new series up his sleeve. Though no release date was provided, there is a brief description. The mention of priceless Botticelli illustrations at the Uffizi Gallery in the cover copy, and confirmation by SR, fans are assured that they will not be saying goodbye to the Professor when they turn the last page of Gabriel's Redemption.

Do we really need to know more about SR? I'm perfectly fine with never knowing the true identity of this talented author as long as he continues to supply me with entertaining and enlightening tales of faith, love, and hope. (But I do wonder if he is a Clark Kent among his close friends and family.)

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

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