Readers' Favorite

September 12, 2014

The Friday 56: When Smiles Fade

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice. The rules are simple go to page 56 (or 56% on your ereader) of any book and share a few lines. No spoilers!

My selection comes from When Smiles Fade by Paige Dearth.

When Smiles Fade

Emma raised her beer in the air. "Here's to people getting what they deserve!"

Brianna smiled brightly and they clanged beer cans and took a long swig.

Buy When Smiles Fade at Amazon

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

September 11, 2014

When you don't feel like writing

by Donna Huber

When you blog 5 days a week, even if you don't actually write all 5 posts, it is time consuming and some days you just don't want to write. So what do you do? There are a few options.

1. Don't post

Unless blogging is your job and you are required to post, you can always decide not to post. There are some downsides to missing a post. One, regular posting keeps traffic high. If you only post once or twice a week a missed post can mean a drop in visitors. You can combat this by promoting past posts more. Posts go live 5 days a week at Girl Who Reads, Monday through Friday. A missed post may not be a big deal, unless it was a Monday or Friday causing no posts for a 3 day period. Two, one missed post may lead to another missed post and before you know it you are no longer blogging. While you are always able to choose to stop blogging and then restarting at some later date, any momentum and following you have gained may be lost (particularly if it is a long absence).

2. Reblog

Take an older post, update it a bit and repost it. If you have a Wordpress blog and are on Triberr you might have people in your tribes that allow reblogging of their posts. This way you get new content without having to write it and the other blogger gets a little extra exposure. Do make sure that proper credit is provided on the post.

3. Promo or Meme post

There are bookish memes for each day of the week. It's Monday! What are you reading?, Teaser Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesday, Third Sentence Thursdays, Five Friday Favorites... You can see many more for each day of the week here: Book Blog Meme Directory. If a meme is still too much writing, then go for a promo post. It could be a book in your to be read pile or maybe a book you are looking forward to. It could also be a list. Check out Amazon and Goodreads for popular books by genre.

4. Write about what people should do when they don't feel like writing

Truth time! I didn't feel like writing a post for today. Since I haven't been signing up for tours as often due the hassle of dealing with some of them or the lack of decent content, I don't have as many guest bloggers. So that means to continue posting 5 days a week I have to come up with more content. Thankfully with an interviewer, a features writer, and a staff reviewer I do have several days this month covered. But that still leaves a lot of days for me. So as I sat down to write this post I thought about my options. Since Thursdays are tips days I was pretty much left with option 1, 2 and 4. I debated option 1, but I really hate not to post. I kind of did option 2 as I have written variations of this post before. It isn't completely option 2 as I did not go back and pull an older post but wrote this from scratch. But option 4 is a great option even if you don't normally do tips. Everyone deals with writers block and no time for blogging and seeing how you handle it can be valuable to other bloggers.

September 10, 2014

Summer Reading: The Mortal Instruments and American Ghoul

by Alison DeLuca

The Mortal Instruments
I know I’m late to the party, but I spent the summer reading City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass. Days spent poolside waiting for the kids to finish their waterslides can get tedious really quickly without an interesting series, and I thought I would give Cassandra Clare’s books a try to get me through July and August.

Remember this was after the movie, universally panned by critics and viewers, had come and gone in the theaters. Everyone assumed the series, like the His Dark Materials films, would die a natural death. I saw the reviews on the books sank to 2 and 3 stars after the movies, proving one media experience bleeds to the next.

However, when I began to read I was interested in the characters right away. I’m a big adventure genre gal, and these books are crammed with chase scenes, imprisonment, attacks by demons and vampires, and death-defying stunts. Plus, apparently the movie franchise has resurrected itself, and The City of Ashes is coming our way in a few years.

All of the adventure and action would be rather dull if the characters were boring. I liked Clary right away, and I adored her friendship with Simon. She’s redheaded, artistic, and deceptively quiet. The banter between the two is fantastic:

“Is this Clarissa Fray?" The voice on the other end of the phone sounded familiar, though not immediately identifiable.
Clary twirled the phone cord nervously around her finger. "Yeees?"
"Hi, I'm one of the knife-carrying hooligans you met last night in Pandemonium? I’m afraid I made a bad impression and was hoping you'd give me a chance to make it up to-"
"SIMON!" Clary held the phone away from her ear as he cracked up laughing. "That is so not funny!"
"Sure it is. You just don't see the humor."
"Jerk." Clary sighed, leaning up against the wall. 

I liked Jace as well, although he’s a tailored anti-hero to make readers’ hearts flutter with his good looks and tattoos. But the character was original enough to capture my interest and keep it throughout the first three books of the series, even though he is a walking gumball machine of arrogant sarcasm:

“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?'
Jace said, "Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself."
..."At least," she said, "you don't have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland."
"Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.” 

And of course Clare serves up angst and tension, enough to keep me reading all summer by the pool as I waited for the kids to reappear. I did say I read the first three books. Apparently there are three more, although I’m not sure I want to continue. For one thing, the third book wrapped it all up rather nicely, and I don’t want to buy into publishers’ beating a dead horse. Besides, the author has also published The Infernal Devices, a prequel steampunk series I want to dig into. More on them in the coming months.

I also mentioned there is a lot of adventure in the books. In fact there might be a little too much. Simon can’t go and get a cup of coffee without a demon or vamp attack, and at times I wanted to physically push Clary or Jace to their destinations without their being sidetracked by yet another rescue or ambush. All of this delays character development, and so the series is stagnant in that respect. However, I didn’t come to the Mortal Instruments for great lit but summer entertainment, and that’s what I got.

American Ghoul
If you would like a book that’s a bit more original but still offers paranormal adventure, try Walt Morton’s American Ghoul. It’s the story of Howard Pickman, the son of two ghouls who are burnt to death in their home. He escapes and flees to his grandmother’s house in New Jersey. By the way, Granny’s also a ghoul and, like Howard, she needs human flesh to survive.

Yes, this is horrific stuff, and Morton doesn’t shy away from the bloody details. He doesn’t revel in them either, and the digging up and consumption of dead bodies is told with practical, deadpan wit. I never expected to laugh over exhumation, but Morton made it funny.

The book is also a wonderful journey though another horrific landscape: that of negotiating senior high school. It’s set in the 70’s at the dawn of punk rock, and Morton offers wonderful details. I felt as though I were in the Pinebury high school with him, going to photography class and trying to find a lunchroom seat on the first day.

American Ghoul was just as addictive as Mortal Instruments, and Howard was a much more human protagonist. Even though he’s a ghoul, he’s far more relatable than arrogant, beautiful Jace.

As a final note, word on the street is Mortal Instruments started out as fan fiction. I’ve become fascinated with this genre, next month I’ll write a column about fan fics, the authors and motivation – both good and bad.

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

September 9, 2014

Review: Must Love Pets Box Set

by Donna Huber

Must Love Pets
Over the July 4th weekend I went on a road trip where I wasn't the driver so I figured Must Love Pets box set would make a good choice and I was right. (Yes, I know I'm extremely behind on getting this review done.) In this compilation of 7 stories has a little bit of everything. The stories range in length from short story to novella to novel. And for those that are like me that are hesitant to read animal stories - I don't care if there is a happy ending, I don't like sad animal stories - there was only one that bordered on being too sad.

Overall I enjoyed all the stories and really liked being exposed to authors that I might not have picked up otherwise. I reviewed the series because one of my favorite authors has a book in the set - The Mutt and the Matchmaker. However, I think I found a new favorite author (don't worry JB I have plenty of room on my Nook to have many favorite authors).

Not sure you want all the stories in this box set? You can buy them individually, but at 99 cents it would be cheaper to buy the box set. Plus I think you will be more than entertained by the selections.

Buy Must Love Pets at Amazon

The set starts off with The Girl with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir. What a great opener! Max is more than just a cat; he's very much a full character with a voice of his own. The reader's are privy to his inner thoughts. And those thoughts are pretty funny. The human characters are pretty funny too. Melody, Max's caretaker, is a widow. Her cop husband was murdered and though she is "looking" for love again, Max is less than thrilled with the one night stand losers she's been bringing home. (Max was actually her husband's cat.) So he decides to take matters into his own hands... erm, paws. He braves the big bad world beyond his fenced yard to find a man worthy of Melody. He ends up at a homeless shelter. Hilarity ensues and there's a bit of mystery and some danger.

I loved Weir's writing and if I had to pick a favorite from the box set I do believe The Girl with the Cat Tattoo would be it. I'm eager to read more from Weir and do hope that it wasn't just novelty of a first time that had me loving it (I'm sure that isn't the case). If you are looking for a relaxing afternoon with a great story, I highly recommend this short story.

Buy The Girl with the Cat Tattoo at Amazon

Groomed for Murder
Groomed for Murder by Zoe Dawson was another great read. It had a great plot. Brooke is the owner of a high class doggie salon and one of her more high maintenance clients is not happy with the cut her spoiled rotten (and not in a good way) dog got. Will Brooke lose everything? Enter hot shot lawyer and Brooke's life just got more complicated.

I feel things may have been a bit rushed for this story. The fast pace relationship gave me anxiety. I was so afraid Brooke was going to end up hurt. I'm not sure what evoked such emotion (I had to tell myself constantly she is just a character). Maybe I identified with Brooke. Or perhaps I have some hangs up still about the law student I dated, who was too slick with words for my take it at face value naivety.

I found Groomed for Murder to be a bit more steamier than I like my chick-lit. I really liked the characters, but didn't love them enough to want to be between the sheets with them. There were also laughs and tears. If you are looking to run the emotional gamut with your next read, then pick up Zoe Dawson's Groomed for Murder.

Buy Groomed for Murder at Amazon

It's a Dog's Life
For those that like a bit of the supernatural with their romance, you will happy with It's a Dog's Life by Dale Mayer. I personally found it to be a bit of a let down after the first two stories. It is a novella, but there was too much abruptness to the characters and plot. I felt more like I dropped in the middle and was playing catch-up on getting to know the characters. I kind of wondered if it was part of series and for regular readers they already knew the characters. But there was also something about the character interactions that rubbed me funny. 

Ninna is desperate for work and though doesn't seem to really want to work with animals gets a job at the local clinic. Perks include it's within walking distance of her house (save on gas!) and a hot vet. Downside - there's a basset hound that doesn't want to leave her alone. A while the heroine of my favorite funny series embraces her ability to talk with animals, Ninna isn't too keen on the idea.  

There were some great moments in the story. I would have liked to have seen some more character development. The ending though was very cute.

Buy It's a Dog's Life at Amazon

Christmas at Angel Lake
I LOVE reading chick-lit at Christmas time. I'm not sure why (as I detest reading it in February), but I always gravitate towards it. Why did I mention Christmas? Because the next story is Christmas at Angel Lake by Edie Ramer. It read like a Lifetime Movie (I don't think it has made into a movie, though the last time I said that the book I was reading felt like a Lifetime movie, it had been turned into a Lifetime movie that I had watched the year before).

I must warn you. You know how I said that often I find stories about animals being too sad even with a happy ending. Well this story bordered on being too sad. I just can't stand for animals to be sad or hurt. Thankfully it was a plot thread the story only diverted to every now and then so I got breaks from it, but still I didn't know if I could make it through.

Maddie is a squatter. She didn't mean to be a squatter, but she needed a reprieve from her life. She was pregnant and after her boyfriend/father of child walked out on her she packed up the few possessions he left her with and headed to her sister's home. It's winter in the north. She swerves to miss a kitten in the road and slides into a ditch. Friendly neighbors come to her rescue and assume since she's in the drive she is renting the empty house. She doesn't dissuade them of the notion. It's only for a little while, until she can figure out her next move. Five years later the owner comes home looking for his own bit of solitude and thinking to find Maddie, her son and cat. He's a dog person!

Christmas at Angel Lake is a bit dramatic and not all lovey dovey, which I actually prefer. And though I read it in July, it would make a great book to curl up with this winter. I did notice on it's Goodreads' page that it is book two in the Rescued Hearts series, but I think it is a themed series rather than a sequel. So don't worry about that.

There were some rough patches where the writing could have been more polished, but overall an enjoyable read.

Buy Christmas at Angel Lake at Amazon

The Mutt and the Matchmaker
Finally the book that made me read the whole box set - The Mutt and the Matchmaker by JB Lynn. Confession, I read this short story prior to the box set coming out, but it is because it was so great that I was willing to take a chance on the others.

For fans of Lynn's Hitwoman series, you will recognize Armani (Maggie's scrabble tile reading psychic friend) and there is a brief appearance by Maggie's marshmellow of a dog DeeDee (she's a fierce looking Doberman with a gooey center of a much smaller dog). But otherwise, you can read this as a complete stand alone. But beware once you get a taste of Lynn's writing you will want to pick up the Hitwoman series.

Armani has drawn the tiles and knows her mission. Now to get the targets of said mission together. Enter the need to borrow DeeDee. At the dog park Armani sets her sights on Tom, a PI who is helping a neighbor. Her mission set him up with one Jane Bly, dog walker. Tom has his eyes on Jane, but maybe not in the way Armani had envisioned.

Seriously if you need an afternoon full a laughter, pick up The Mutt and the Matchmaker. Lynn has a way of turning ordinary life into hilarity.

Buy The Mutt and the Matchmaker at Amazon

The Man, The Dog, His Owner, & Her Lover
Another one for the supernatural/paranormal crowd - The Man, The Dog, His Owner, & Her Lover by Candace Carrabus. I wasn't too thrilled with the plot. It just seemed too contrived or something. Definitely rushed. Too much happened for a weekend (most of the action occurs within a weekend, but the story does span a bit more time) and perhaps too much for a novella.

Stephanie lost her job, adopted a dog, she falls in love with her gardener/handyman, she's mugged and almost killed, the house catches fire, she almost dies.

I think if the story had slowed down a bit, the action spread out, then I would have liked it more. It had great potential. And as most of you are aware supernatural/paranormal stories aren't my favorite anyways. So much of it was probably just being the wrong reader for the story.

Buy The Man, The Dog, His Owner, & Her Lover at Amazon

The story that probably stayed with me long after I turned the last page was Walk in Beauty by Barbara Samuel. I didn't read the entire box set over the July 4th weekend, but I did finished it up before the end of July. I was on vacation and while painting my room I found myself wondering about not only the main characters but the weavers and the community. It takes a great writer to bring as much emotional connection to a secondary character group as to the main characters.

I really enjoyed that the story featured Native Americans. I don't think there are enough books that the main focus is Native Americans. Perhaps I just haven't ran across them.

Luke is Navajo and has rebuilt his life. Jessie is the one who got away. Unknown to Luke, she got away with his daughter. The community of weavers are coming together to ask for better commissions. It's a major project, requiring delicate negotiations. There are some who are not happy about the project and will go to great lengths to derail it. Through a friend both Jessie and Luke are brought into the project. Can the love be rekindled?

Let me tell you, I want a Luke. Not only is he good looking (he does construction for a living so you know he's toned), but he is so sweet too. Sure he has made mistakes, mistakes he regrets. He doesn't live in the past, except where music is concerned.

I wonder if there is a sequel planned. I want to see Jessie and Luke's future. But I'm just as drawn to knowing how things worked out for the weavers. Did they open their galleries? Some characters just have more story to tell and to me Samuel's characters have much more to tell.

Buy Walk in Beauty at Amazon

Must Love Pets info
Published June 2014
Source: Author
Read: July 2014

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

September 8, 2014

Welcome to Paradise by London Saint James (@LSJRomance)

London Saint James is a prolific writer of 20 erotic romance short stories, novella, and novels. Her newest short story, Welcome to Paradise, is the start of a new western erotica series.

London Saint James wrote her first short story in the second grade. Her teacher informed her parents London had a big imagination, but having a big imagination wasn’t necessarily a good thing as far as he was concerned. Without watering that seed of imagination, London placed her vivid characters, her childhood stories, along with her imagination on the shelf, where they would wither for a while. At the urging of her eighth grade English teacher, London pulled her imagination off that shelf, and wrote her second short story. To no surprise, it was a love story inspired by a song. Then as life does, it moves on, so yet again London placed her imagination on the shelf to wither for a while. She needed to do the “sensible thing.”

The sensible thing earned London a degree in Psychology, but while in college she traversed into writing once more, and was encouraged by a couple of professors to pursue that endeavor. She took on the world of written word, and has never looked back.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
The actual writing aspect. When a story just flows and the characters have a lot to say, that’s the best!

What are you currently working on?
Oh gosh. I have some many different writing projects I think I’ve lost count. *Smiles* Currently I’m in the editing stage of Spanked by the Bad Boy, which will be releasing from Decadent Publishing soon, and it is the first book in a standalone series of books called Bad Boy Fever. As the title suggest, there will be a little bit of spanking fun in this contemporary erotic romance. *Winks* From there, it’s up in the air as to which WIP I’ll be finishing next, but I’m leaning toward a paranormal piece with a sexy wolf shifter and a human woman who brings trouble to his door. The working title for it is called, The Quarter. Or perhaps a BDSM piece called Exposure. Who knows what will tickle my muses fancy to complete first.

How do you get inspired to write?
For me, inspiration comes from many things. Music, poetry, art, quotes, sometimes dreams, or at other times something just sort of pops into my head at crazy times like while folding towels or doing the dishes.

Got a question for London? You can ask her on her Goodreads's page.

About Welcome to Paradise

Welcome to Paradise
Just three days before her thirtieth birthday, Acquisition Editor for Starling Press, Sutton Callaway, has buried the last of her family in the cemetery on the plot of land she inherited.

After turning down the powerful and wealthy owner of Triple Bar-S Ranch to sell her inheritance and walk away from the obligations of running one of the biggest cattle ranches in West Texas, Sutton puts her Dallas condo on the market, resigns her position from SP, packs the contents of her life into boxes, and heads for the one place filled with bittersweet memories—Paradise Ranch.

Will Sutton be able to handle the pressures of being the newly appointed cattle baroness, the rough and tumble men under her employ, and the temptation of a sexy mystery man? Or will her grandmother’s matriarchal boots be too big for her to fill?

Buy Welcome to Paradise at Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Above information comes from and used for informational purposes only. This post is part of the Roane Publishing promotional tour.  No compensation was received for this post.