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October 3, 2014

Excerpt from Crane Mansions by Gert Loveday

Crane Mansions by Gert Loveday is FREE today and tomorrow (October 3rd & 4th) in the Amazon Kindle store

Crane Mansions
credit: Gert Loveday
Sam Short gets into shape

He realised he would have to slim down a bit. The thought of what Trish might say if she saw him in the altogether made him squirm. A diet. Everyone was on a diet these days. He picked up a copy of The Planet lying crumpled on the floor. There were pages of advertisements for diets. He closed his eyes and pointed at random to one page. Dr Nottle’s Cheese diet. He quickly scanned it. Easy: the main precept of the diet seemed to be to avoid fruit and vegetables of all kinds.. Stick to cheese and the body set up a different kind of fat-burning process. Mind you, you couldn’t have alcohol for two weeks either, but he could surely stay off the drink for two weeks. The ad said he could lose two stone in two weeks. Four stone would be ideal, but time was not on his side. Perhaps he should go running as well. He had never done it but he could try.

Sam ruled up a chart and stuck it on his mirror. He had to ‘monitor his progress’, another Trish teaching. That reminded him of another of her mottoes, ‘Believe it, achieve it’. That was something else about Trish, she didn’t let anything get in her way. She knew how to grab life by the balls. God, how he’d missed her. He’d let himself go without her, but now, ‘Believe it, achieve it’, he said to himself. He bought one dozen blocks of cheddar cheese. Dr Nottle advised the dieter to vary the cheese; one day Camembert, another Neufchatel, but Sam opted for economy and simplicity. He bought an extra carton of cigarettes to help cut down his appetite. He went for a fitting at the wig shop and he called into Boots to weigh himself, to buy tooth-whitening lotion and artificial suntan. And he started running. He went early in the morning to the Regius Gardens, which were small and heavily-treed. He shuffled once around the park. As he reached his starting point everything turned black and his breath made a terrible wheezing sound. His heart seemed to be galloping. Oh Hell, this was too much. Sam lit a cigarette to steady his nerves, then tottered back to his room. Too soon for the exercise, he thought, the diet was the main thing anyway. He found the cheese quite satisfying. He could eat as much as he liked, in fact Dr Nottle’s notes said to eat as much as possible. Sam consumed block after block. After several days he went back to Boots to check his weight. He had lost nine pounds. This was most encouraging, although he was noticing his breath was like that of a very dead lion left in its cage to rot. When he spoke to the conductor on the bus he flinched and turned his head away before replying. But what was a bit of bad breath for Trish? He also found he felt very alert. His soporific days of mooning over the past had gone. Now he was busy with paper and pencil, planning the best approach to access Millie Arbuthnott’s trust funds and where to salt them away. Believe it, achieve it.

At the end of two weeks he had lost one and a half stone and he was almost as brown as Tom Jones from the frequent application of the sun bronzing lotion. His teeth were not much different and he had to eat XXX peppermints all the time to dilute the dead meat smell of his breath. He would have to try to speak without opening his lips. Best of all, though, he had a curly, almost Afro wig, which was so firmly affixed to his head it would take a tornado to dislodge it. A new white suit, a bronze shantung jacket, a disk with his birth sign hanging on his bare chest (no chest hair, but there was only so much he could do), a few other odds and ends in the way of shirts and undies and he was on the way to Crane Mansions with the Arbuthnott Will in the lining of his faux lizard suitcase. He was feeling a little odd in the head with a kind of dull pressure behind his eyes and a strange galloping feeling in his heart that probably came from his diet.

About the book:
Crane Mansions: A novel about the redeeming power of cake
Crane Mansions is a novel for grown-up children, a darkly comic and magical world in which the wondering, fantasy and confusion of children come face to face with the schemes, delusions and machinations of adults.
Scheming Trish Vowles dumps her orphaned charge Millie Lord at Crane Mansions Regulatory School for the Indigent while she waits to cash in on Millie’s inheritance with the use of a forged will. In the harsh seven years that follow, Millie remembers nothing about her past, but is troubled by flashes of memory, strange dreams and odd lines of verse. Headmaster Dr Hubert Crane, who spends his days developing Texts and Axioms based on his observation of pigeons, becomes convinced Millie has visionary powers, and calls her to his study for sessions of Interpretation and afternoon teas of splendiferous cake.
Many schemes are afoot at Crane Mansions: schoolmaster Odell Vincent is working on a top-secret invention and the shifty Len Clemons and his friend Eustace Crane infiltrate the school to steal it; the senior boys have a pigeon-betting ring going; and the megalomaniac senior master Marcel Crane, who is embezzling Dr Crane's funds, is digging into Millie's past, convinced she smells of money. When Trish falls in love with Marcel they team up to take control of her fortune. All of these plots converge and collide: justice visits itself on the schemers, and the lovers of cake emerge wiser, saner and happier. It's the book Dickens would have written if he’d had enough hummingbird cake.

Book info
Available formats: ebook
Published: September 2014
ISBN13: 9780992312121
Genres: Dark comedy, fantasy

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Excerpt published by permission of the author.

October 2, 2014

Don't Neglect Facebook

by Donna Huber

I know we are all frustrated about how few of our fans are shown our Facebook Fan page posts. I also know that most bloggers don't have the money to boost a post so we have tried any and every trick to get more of our readers seeing our posts. I also know some have been debating if keeping up with a fan page is even worth it. Let me tell you a little about my unintentional experiment.

A month or so ago I failed to post anything to my fan page for a couple of weeks. I was busy during the day and tired in the evenings and as I didn't really think it matter to my numbers any how. I think I was wrong. Before this little experiment I was averaging 1200 or more page views a day according to Blogger stats. It was immediate but I saw a decline in page views and then one day I barely got 400 views. And I was suddenly all "WHAT?!?!"

There are other things that could explain the drop, but the only thing I was doing differently was not posting to Facebook. I have my Facebook fan page posts set so they are automatically tweeted and I thought maybe the drop was because I wasn't getting the extra tweet each day. Since this seemed like a great time to experiment, I tried just tweeting that day's post an extra time in the evenings (mimicking the timing of a Facebook post). It helped slightly, but my numbers were not good. It looks like the Facebook post was reaching an audience. I started posting each day on my page and within a couple of weeks I'm now back to my 1200+ page views a day.

While the audience reached may be small on Facebook, it does appear that they follow the link. I also try to post a non-linked post at least once during the week and once on the weekend. Sometimes it is a question and sometimes it's just an update on what I'm reading. I think this has helped engage my readers (they like, comment, or share) and this means that more people are indirectly seeing that post and the readers that interact are keeping my posts showing in their news feeds. Also every couple of weeks I will share a post to my personal profile from my page - something I think they will find interesting. This sharing always has the effect of greatly increasing that post's reach.

Before giving up your fan page all together take a closer look at your numbers and the effect it has on your blog. You, like me, may find it has a greater impact than you first thought. You don't have to put a great deal of time into it, but don't neglect Facebook all together in your publicity efforts.

October 1, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: October New Releases (pt 1)

With the weather getting cooler, it is perfect time to curl up inside with a good book. And some favorite authors have you covered with new books coming out this month.

Night Terror
Sequel to the Amazon Bestseller Night Chill.

Ten years after her abduction and near-sacrifice to the Source, Sarah Tremont struggles to be a normal teenager. As much as she’s tried to suppress the power inside of her, it’s grown dangerously strong and has drawn the attention of those who want to possess her power for themselves.

The nightmare that she thought was long over starts again as powerful forces descend upon Prescott City to seek her out. With help from her parents and Joseph Lonetree, Sarah must stand up to an evil much more powerful than the one she faced in the caves a decade earlier. But in the end, she discovers the greatest danger might come from the power living inside of her.

Available October 1
Buy Night Terror at Amazon

After years of protecting Dreamscape from the tyranny of the evil king, and fighting for their freedom, the rebellion’s last hope lies with the Golden Hero. When the enchantment brings Alexis Stone from the real world, both get more than they bargained for.

Alexis realizes too late that in this fantasy world, the consequences and enemies are real. When the stakes rise, surviving the dangerous game may be easier than facing her feelings. Can she help the rebellion’s cause, or will the difference between their worlds prove deadly?

And if she does succeed, who will rescue her?

Available October 1
Buy Dreamscape at Amazon

Val McDermid is one of the finest crime writers we have, whose novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide with their riveting narratives of characters who solve complex crimes and confront unimaginable evil. In the course of researching her bestselling novels McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real-world murders and the people who must solve them.

The dead talk—to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.

Along the way, McDermid discovers how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine one’s time of death; how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer; and how a team of young Argentine scientists led by a maverick American anthropologist were able to uncover the victims of a genocide. It’s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.

Available October 2
Buy Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime at Amazon

Immortal at the Edge of the World
“What I was currently doing with my time and money . . . didn’t really deserve anyone else’s attention. If I was feeling romantic about it, I’d call it a quest, but all I was really doing was trying to answer a question I’d been ignoring for a thousand years.”

In his very long life, Adam had encountered only one person who appeared to share his longevity: the mysterious red-haired woman. She appeared throughout history, usually from a distance, nearly always vanishing before he could speak to her.

In his last encounter, she actually did vanish—into thin air, right in front of him. The question was how did she do it? To answer, Adam will have to complete a quest he gave up on a thousand years earlier, for an object that may no longer exist.

If he can find it, he might be able to do what the red-haired woman did, and if he can do that, maybe he can find her again and ask her who she is . . . and why she seems to hate him.

“You are being watched. Move your loved ones to safety . . . trust nobody.”

But Adam isn’t the only one who wants the red-haired woman. There are other forces at work, and after a warning from one of the few men he trusts, Adam realizes how much danger everyone is in. To save his friends and finish his quest he may be forced to bankrupt himself, call in every favor he can, and ultimately trade the one thing he’d never been able to give up before: his life.

Available October 2
Buy Immortal at the Edge of the World at Amazon

The Body Electric
The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

Available October 6
Buy The Body Electric at Amazon

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Available October 7
Buy The Blood of Olympus at Amazon

Perfect Girl
Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the "W" in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humor and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man's world.

Available October 14
Buy Perfect Girl at Amazon

Winter Street
Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

Available October 14
Buy Winter Street at Amazon

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links. Covers and descriptions courtesy of

September 30, 2014

Review: Anabel Unraveled by Amanda Romine Lynch

by Claire Rees

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. Rules: Share the opening paragraph for a book you are reading or thinking of reading.

Anabel Unraveled

First Chapter, First Paragraph
My name is Anabel Martin, and I am an orphan.
I can't say that. I shook my head and sighed, pivoting slowly in front of the mirror, taking in my hair, my legs, my dress. My blue eyes looked sullen in the mirror, and I wondered if nineteen was too old to be considered an orphan. Does it count if you've never known your mother, and your father was emotionally unavailable for your whole life?

The Review

Anabel Unraveled by Amanda Romine Lynch is written from the viewpoint of two of the characters, Jared and Anabel, but really focuses on one – Anabel.

Anabel has grown up on a top secret government island all her life with little interaction with people her own age. Her father Jonathon is very over possessive and although it seems he does love Anabel, he rarely shows it.

This all changes when the president of the United States, also Annabel’s half brother, sends a lawyer called Jared over to check on things on the island. Anabel finally sees her chance of an escape and plans to make the lawyer tell her brother that the best thing for Anabel would be to leave the island. She does get her wish but only after her father is murdered and the whole thing becomes a problem for national security and a huge mystery. Anabel is taken to live with her brother Sam, and now has to sit through hearings to try to discover who killed her father and if her life is in danger. With her blatant honesty and sharp tongue not everybody likes Anabel but she also has a much softer and sweeter side that we do get to see and love.

The story was very addictive and Lynch adds in twists and turns that keeps you wanting to read more and know more about Anabel and this new life she is forced to lead. The main character Anabel is an incredibly strong woman and even though there are many events in her life that have taken her through hell and back she still manages to come out the other side of it stronger.

It was interesting to read the memories of what led them to where the characters are at present and both Jared and Anabel have to relive some awful things that have happened to them on the island and since leaving it, that can either make them or break them. Anabel Unraveled is an emotional rollercoaster and at times I felt so angry at more than one character and at other times I could have cried with them. They were so well written and thought out that it makes you want to know more about them. This book was very hard to put down.

If you enjoy murder and mystery with all of life’s hard choices, decisions and experiences with some love and romance thrown in then this is definitely a book you need to add to your ‘to be read’ pile.

Buy Anabel Unraveled at Amazon

Book info:
Available formats: ebook & paperback (384 pages)
Published: December 2012 by eLectio Publishing
ISBN13: 9781611874891
Genres: chick-lit, mystery, new adult
Source: author
Read: September 2014

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 ebook was provided for this review.

September 29, 2014

Review: The Bleiberg Project by David S. Khara

by Donna Huber

The Bleiberg Project
In an effort to expand my reading horizons I have been trying out translated fiction. So far it is has been kind of hit and miss. I recently read the French thriller The Bleiberg Project by David S. Khara and I can tell you it was a hit.

Maybe it was an easier transition as the main character is an American and partially set in the States before jetting around Europe. Or perhaps it is because it flashed back to a time that I often read it about - World War II Nazi Germany. Or maybe it is because it had the same flavor as a Tom Clancy Jack Ryan novel. Maybe it was all those things, but whatever it was I really enjoyed it.

Jay Novacek is the golden boy of the financial world, but he's on a path of self-destruction. People who have a life altering experience while the under the influence of alcohol either forsake all alcohol or drown their guilt. Jay was in the latter group. The notification of his long absent father's death sets Jay on a new course, one that may lead to his ultimate death. As death looms near, Jay realizes that may not be what he really wants.

What about the WWII Nazi Germany part? Readers are ushered into the past and a web of conspiracy that began before Hitler rose to power, perhaps what actually put Hitler into power. The conspiracy is much larger than the Third Reich and survived long past its fall.

The Bleiberg Project is a great suspense novel and if I hadn't known it was translated, I would have assumed it was an American or perhaps British author. There was a section that felt off, like the author may not have done enough research on how the CIA works or how a former Air Force officer may write. The tone of words left by Jay's Dad felt elementary. Other than that, the writing was great, the pace was just right for a suspense novel.

If you are a fan of Tom Clancy, then you will want to check out The Bleiberg Project by David S. Khara.

Buy The Bleiberg Project at Amazon

Book Info
Available formats: ebook, audio & print (280 pages)
Published: July 2014 by Le French Book (first published October 2010)
ISBN13: 9781939474063
Genres: Translated fiction, suspense
Source: Netgalley
Read: September 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. A free e-galley was provided for this review.