Readers' Favorite

August 1, 2014

Sneak Peek: Steampunk Carnival by Cassandra Leuthold

With a gentle lurch, the car rose into the air. Katya grabbed hold of the partitions between the seats, her knuckles bumping the hand of the guest on her left, who had also grabbed for it. Maddox did not reach for a stronghold. His mouth twisted in amusement, watching Katya seek security as everything that held her ascended ten, twenty, thirty feet.

The climb proved gradual and effortless. Once Katya began to relax, she realized how far she could see. The lamplights of the carnival looked beautiful and elegant below them. The slight flickering of the burning gas gleamed off the metal structures throughout the carnival. It lost itself in the velvet of patron jackets and glimmered off their silks. It flashed across buckles on top hats and shoes. It lit up gold and silver jewelry.

Katya could barely breathe. She almost forgot how nervous she had been moments before. The car reached the top of the tower and stopped there, offering its occupants a rare view at the world around them. Katya stared down at the carnival, trying to pick out the details of the band playing in the center of it all. The massive Beast behind it still intimidated, but from this height, Katya marveled in the majesty of its design.

The car shuddered and lowered itself, detaching from its part of the sky. The other occupants chattered to each other excitedly, but Katya could barely form thoughts in her head.

“What do you think?” Maddox asked her.

Katya recited the first thing that came to mind. “The ride lasts for three cycles.” She admonished herself for relying on the only words she knew about the carnival and gave in to sharing Maddox’s enthusiasm. “It’s thrilling.”

The car paused briefly at the bottom before lifting again. Each time it rose, Katya focused on a different part of the carnival. She looked across to the other side, where the Kaleidoscope competed against the game stalls and the Cannon for popularity. It really did shift like a kaleidoscope from this height, the colors of the booths smearing in her vision as they rotated. She looked past Maddox to the El and the food stall beyond it. Magdalene would be handing out cinnamon-sugar desserts and sausages on buns, but Katya was riding the carnival they had staked their lives on. She was riding the dream Brady had worked on years ago. She doubted even he had been able to enjoy it.

The car rested on the ground and stayed there. The operator made his rounds again, helping the patrons get unbuckled and return to their feet. He directed them to an exit gate in the fence. Katya and Maddox filed out with the others to the common grounds of the carnival.

“Where to next?” Maddox prompted.

Katya’s heart pounded with the possibilities. “The coaster.”

“The big one?”

“No, I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough for that.” Katya watched the Beast’s cars roar high above them. “The smaller one here.”

Katya linked her hand around Maddox’s arm, and they walked to the nearby El. Maddox repeated Katya’s lie to the ticket taker. “Mr. Warden wants us to make sure the coaster’s operating properly.”

The man hurried them past, offering a more courteous front to the waiting customers. “You’ll all have a turn, I assure you. Just a routine inspection.”

Another operator stood a few feet inside the fence, and he motioned for Katya and Maddox to stop where they were. They watched the coaster cars slide and weave their way along the track. A minute later, they slowed into loading position on the platform. The operator stepped over to help the guests out, and once they left the platform, his flexing fingers invited Katya and Maddox toward him. He buckled them into the front seat of the first car.

“Are you nervous now?” Maddox whispered into Katya’s ear.

Katya nodded, but she felt the rush of anticipation filling her chest. “It’s not too fast, is it?”

“You should know.”

“I don’t know. I can’t think of anything except how fun this is.”

The operator filled the remaining seats in the connected cars. With a signal to the ticket taker and the man Katya could not see who ran the switches, the cars jerked forward. This time, Katya and Maddox both reached for the metal grab bar in front of them. A mechanism in the track pulled the train of cars up the initial slope. The passengers behind Katya and Maddox murmured with apprehension and breathed audibly, awaiting the first of many drops.

The train rose steadily, taking its passengers up to a short plateau. Within seconds, the cars slid down, lifting Katya’s stomach into the top of her chest. She let out a shriek amidst the screams and shouts behind her. The train twisted to the left, curving to parallel the outer fence of the carnival. It rose a short distance and fell again, racing its passengers lower toward the ground. A second mechanism pulled the cars even higher than before.

In one graceful motion, the cars slipped down the next slope of track, curving away from the back of the grounds. They dipped down beside the side stage, where Katya could not tell what contest was taking place. The cars sped along, turning left only to bend back to the right. The track led them down beneath the iron structure and returned them safely to the platform.

Katya barely had time to catch her breath before the ride operator unbuckled her belt. She walked with Maddox to the exit gate, where a small wooden sign bore the words Thank You in painted, curling letters.

About the Author

Cassandra Leuthold always writes about love and friendship under pressure.  This is her first time setting such adventures within a 19th-century carnival.  Join Cassandra in counting down to the release of Steampunk Carnival later this summer by clicking the links below.
Facebook  *  Blog  *  Goodreads  *  Amazon

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

July 31, 2014

5 Book Blogging Topics That Aren't Reviews

by Donna Huber

I'm wrapping up my de-stressing your blogging with 5 topics you can write on either to expand the focus of your blog or when you don't have a review to post.

1. Genres. There is a lot you can write about on this topic. For the last two years at Armchair BEA we have had daily genres for discussion topics and each blogger had a unique view and method of handling the topic. You can take about changes taking place in the genre or books that are great examples of the genre. You could plan your week or month around that genre. Right now, new adult and how it just seems to be a way to make young adult more erotic is a hot topic and sure to do well in search.

2. Publishing news. There is always plenty going on in the publishing world for you to write multiple posts. Right now weighing in on the Amazon vs Hachette controversy or Amazon's new service Kindle Unlimited would have your blog showing up in search. There is also plenty of indie news to share. Following Publisher's Weekly and Dear Author will help keep you in the know and allow you to put your own spin on the news of the day.

3. Adaptations. This is a particularly good topic for bloggers who want to expand their blog's focus but not get too far outside the book blog niche. You can discuss latest movie news and many books are being made into movies, particularly those that are for young adult. You could also discuss fanfiction and other fandoms (forums or other online sites), though that may lend itself more to the next topic.

4. Pop culture. How is today's society changing plot lines and genres. And conversely the impact books have on life. I'm thinking about the Slendarman headlines and Fifty Shades.

5. Author focus. While this may be a bit more gossip column than you want to go, but there are classy ways you can approach this topic. Do more indepth interviews - go beyond the "what inspired you to write" questions and delve into the meat of who the author is and what they write. Or you can scour the internet to piece together a "Who is" piece like I did for my post on Sylvain Reynard. This topic could also focus on a book series and you can post bookish news - movie deals, who's narrating the audio book, where the author is appearing, any news about the next installment, etc.

While these topics will require a bit more work, they can pay off well in the notice your blog will get. The variety may also add a bit of fun to your blogging which will lessen the stress and the burnout that stress leads to. I hope you found this series helpful. I'm always open to suggestions for future tips posts, so if you have a topic in mind just drop me a line in the comments.

July 30, 2014

Review: That Night by @ChevyStevens

by Donna Huber

That Night
I fell in love with Chevy Stevens's writing when I read Still Missing. The realism of her plots captures the shock due to such headlines, yet is not so over the top to be for shock value alone. All of her stories have simply enthralled me, and That Night was no exception. Actually, I stayed up until 1 am because I had to finish it. I just couldn't stop with "just 1 more chapter".

When I started That Night I thought perhaps Stevens was throwing a curve ball my telling the story from the criminal's point of view instead of the victim as the previous novels. Given that she added the twist of telling Always Watching from the shrink's point of view, I wouldn't put it past her. However that wasn't the case, the twist may have been the absence of Dr. Lavioe who has been present in the last three books.

Toni was 18 when she and her boyfriend were sentenced to serve 15 years for the murder of her sister. For the 15 years she has maintained she is innocent. Sure she played by the rules and expressed remorse so she could earn her freedom with the parole board. Indeed she has all but given hope of ever clearing her name. On the contrary, her boyfriend Ryan has grown more fervent in wanting to prove their innocence.

They are both paroled at the same time and have resettled in their home town, however as convicted felons they can have no contact with one another. Toni returns to rebuild her life and perhaps re-establish some kind of relationship with her parents. Ryan, though, returns for one purpose. He knows the only way for them to be together and truly have a life, their names must be cleared.

Buy That Night at Amazon

Stevens weaves the readers to the answer of what really happened THAT NIGHT through present day clues and character building flashbacks. I almost had to wonder if she hadn't stepped over the well-crafted realism she displayed in her earlier books into a type of fantasy. Surely "mean girls" as mean as the ones Toni had for classmates couldn't exist in real life. Would they really go so far to torment? But then the headlines of my internet news were alive with tales of the 12 year old being stabbed to please Slenderman and realized Stevens plot is totally plausible.

I thoroughly enjoyed That Night though it is not necessarily my favorite of Chevy Stevens's work. That is probably because there wasn't as much of a psychological element in this book as the previous ones. But it still was a thrilling tale.

Book info
Published June 2014 by St. Martin's Press
ISBN13: 9781250034601
Source: Netgalley
Read: June 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is paid by Amazon when purchases are made through the above links. A free egalley was provided for the review.

July 29, 2014

Review: Benton (Benton #1) by @JolieduPre

by Claire Rees

WOW. I started Benton by Jolie du Pre and was hooked from the first few pages. 

We meet Jennifer Benton. The only person left alive in her household after zombies take over the world. She is pretty level headed and has planned for this apocalypse since she first heard the reports of zombie people attacking others. However she realises that soon she will run out of food and water and knows she will have to move on soon. With her back pack full and all she needs in the boot of her car. 

She leaves her home for the last time and starts a journey to a camp she has heard about where other survivors are.  But the journey does not go as planned and she ends up losing her car and some of her belongings. 

Buy Benton at Amazon

She meets up with a new group of people holed up in a garage and they take her in. The survivors in the garage are also looking to move on soon after one last supply run and are making their way to Texas to a ranch owned by one of the group members.

They ask Jennifer to go with them and she agrees, and so her journey starts again, only this time she has friends.

I loved this book and cannot wait to read number two. The author’s writing style is descriptive and very entertaining. The characters are a varied group and just the sort of different personalities you may expect.  I think that if you like zombies or post apocalyptic books then you would love this book.                         

Also keep a look out for book two that is being released in a few weeks!!!!

Book Info
ebook & paperback
Published May 2014 by Precious Monsters Press
ISBN13: 9780615986036
Read: July 2014

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

July 28, 2014

Ten Things To Know About @JB_Lynn_author

After reading about so many of JB Lynn's books on Girl Who Reads, I thought readers might like to know more about the author herself. Here are 10 fun facts:

1. JB is fine with you calling her Jen.

2. It’s a cliché, but she thinks coffee really is the fuel of writers.

3. JB writes on a Mac. Or in spiral notebooks using pens with purple ink. Or she gets a little high on the fumes from the markers she uses on her giant whiteboard. Or she’s been known to cover tables (or even walls) with Post-it notes.

4. She’s completed three half marathons and is training for her fourth despite the fact she’s so slow, that she’s routinely passed by runners decades older than her and those with physical impairments.

5. Given the choice between cheese and chocolate she’ll always choose cheese.

6. While she’s an animal lover, who’s been known to talk to her pets, she doesn’t really think that animals talk back like they do in the CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN series. Or does she?

7. JB has no artistic ability whatsoever and is pettily jealous of all those that can draw, paint, knit, sculpt, etc.

8. She can (and does!) listen to the same song on an endless loop all day.

9. She spends an inordinate amount of time daydreaming. (That’s a job requirement, isn’t it?)

10. She hasn’t killed anyone. Yet.

JB Lynn is the author of the hilarious Hitwoman series that includes,
Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman (buy at Amazon)
Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman Gets Lucky (FREE at Amazon)
The Hitwoman and the Family Jewels (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman and the Neurotic Witness (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman Hunts and Ghost (buy at Amazon)
The Hitwoman and the 7 Cops (buy at Amazon)

She has also started a spin-off series that begins with the novella The Mutt and the Matchmaker (buy at Amazon).

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