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L is for Literary Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

January 23, 2015

Review: Sublime Resistance by Charlene Zapta

by Claire Rees

Sublime Resistance
I was so excited to read Sublime Resistance by Charlene Zapta to find out what happened to Maggie that I ended up reading the whole book in just two days!

Maggie is now in college and missing Vince like mad but she has her new friend and roommate heather to help her. Then she meets the gorgeous Asher when he becomes her new study partner.  He is a tall, blonde and totally fit surfer.  They become very good friends and work well together and even though she senses Asher wants more from the friendship, Maggie is honest with him and says that her heart lies with another. Maggie is still super dedicated to school and tries to balance this with a social life, friends and visiting back home.  Then she receives a letter off her mother and it threatens everything she has worked so hard to achieve, but Maggie finds strength once again to stand up for herself.

This second book is just as good as book one, Sublime Wreckage (read my review); it is another highly emotional read that will have you feeling all of the happiness and sadness that the characters feel.

Once again the storyline and the characters are written so well that I felt connected to them and it made me feel more invested in the story. I am really looking forward to reading the third book from Vincent’s point of view. 

The ending was written beautifully and I felt that this was the perfect way to end for Maggie and Vince, the characters I have come to love.

I would recommend Sublime Resistance to anyone who enjoys coming of age stories, with romance but also to those who like stories of courage and strength and overcoming your fears.

Buy Sublime Resistance at Amazon

Book Info:
Available formats: ebook
Published: December 2014
Genres: romance, coming of age
Target Audience: New adult
Read: January 2014

Come to Donna's Birthday Book Party to hear about other great books Jan. 18 - 23.

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

January 22, 2015

Join a Book Club

by Donna Huber

I've recently passed the 4 year anniversary of blogging and I've been thinking about why I started blogging and all the changes and things I've learned along the way. My number one reason for starting Girl Who Reads was because I wanted to talk about books. That reason has never changed. However, there are times, certain books, that I want to do more talking and less reviewing.

Don't get me wrong, I still love reviewing and telling everyone what I think about a book. But I've come across a book or two recently that I want to do more than just review it. I want to talk about theories and plot points that would give away too much in a review. I long for the days of Harry Potter when everyone was discussing whether Dumbledore was really dead.

I'm sure other bloggers starting blogging for the same reason. (That and to get free books before they are published!) Book Clubs, whether in person or online, can be a great addition to your blog. I actually know a blogger who started with an online book club and then expanded to a blog. A blog and a book club can create a synergy that is able to get people even more excited about reading.

Are you unsure about organizing your own club? It can be an organizational nightmare. If you are not keen on creating your own book club, consider joining an already established book club. My local independent bookstore as well as the library hosts several book clubs. For in person clubs, definitely check with a local bookstore or library.

For the busy reader, an online book club may be a better option. They offer flexibility and you can go in your pajamas.

I've decided to start a book club. It will be online as most of my reading friends are online. Will you join me? 

As you know I'm an independent BookSurf consultant and we have a great offer for book clubs. The monthly discussion leader gets to earn the Hostess Rewards for that month. What is more fun than books and gifts?!

I was thinking we could read Chasing Invisible by Karen Pokras Toz since I know I have questions I want to talk about and I'm sure if you read it, you would have similar questions.

We can have the book club "meet" in a special Facebook Group, Goodreads Group, or a G+ hangout. Which place do you prefer?

Schedules are so difficult to coordinate these days with everyone busy and in different time zones (another reason I think an online book club would be better than an in person club). We could schedule the "meeting" to be a week long meeting. That way whenever you had a chance to pop into where ever we are hosting the meeting you could still talk about the book. For our first meeting, how about the last week of February - Feb. 22 - 28?

If you want to join the book club, in the comments leave your email address and which venue you prefer. 

BTW - if you are already part of a book club, but like the idea of earning rewards please get in touch with me about making it a BookSurf book club.

My Birthday Book Party is still going on. Stop by to hear about great books Jan. 18 - 23.

January 21, 2015

Reading and Your Health: 6 Long-Term Benefits

by Kristeen Cherney

Girl reading a book.
Girl reading a book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading is often associated as a school requirement. Unfortunately, a large portion of the U.S. population does not read books post-graduation. This means that many of us read less as we get older. While it’s a fact that some of us enjoy reading better than others, it is also a fact that reading benefits everyone at all levels. Aside from pleasure out of a good novel, reading has some surprising benefits to your brain and overall well-being. If you haven’t read a book in a while, now may be the time to add reading to an overall healthy routine.

1. Better Cognitive Skills

Cognitive skills are often a focus in children because their brains are still growing and developing. As you age, the brain slows down in cognition, especially if you don’t exercise it. Regular, long-term reading may improve cognitive skills. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • thinking skills
  • better attention
  • fine and gross motor skills
  • critical thinking
  • better decision-making

According to the New York Times, regular reading can create a “cognitive reserve” that can have long-lasting impacts on your brain health.

2. Improved Memory

Memory loss is another brain problem associated with age. Reading can also help protect the brain by improving overall memory skills. This effect is similar to muscle memory that occurs after regular workouts. While you might not necessarily memorize a particular book, reading requires a particular mindset in which you keep track of characters, setting, and plot. The benefits of this type of brain exercise can transfer into other activities.

3. Looking Beyond Your Imagination

Most reading materials require a large amount of visualization on your part. This is another kind of exercise that can improve your overall brain health. Aside from visualizing what a particular setting or character looks like in a story, imagination can also create a sense of empathy. Empathizing with other people and situations can decrease stress and boost your overall well-being.

4. Bibliotherapy

Mental health patients are often prescribed different types of therapy relevant to their condition. While not as widely known as other therapies, bibliotherapy is another option mental health professionals sometimes recommend for patients with anxiety or depression. The American Library Association explains that a reading program can help patients in three steps:

  • making a personal connection between reader and the author/character in book
  • an emotional release
  • reaching a rational solution to a problem

Keep in mind that bibliotherapy only works for mild or moderate cases of anxiety or depression. Regular reading can help symptoms, but should not replace other treatments prescribed by a doctor.

5. Relaxation

Exercise is an important component to your health. Just as important, however, is regular relaxation. Learning to unwind can significantly decrease stress and fatigue. In the long-term, relaxation may also decrease your risk for illnesses. There are many ways to relax, and reading can be one of them. Keep in mind that if you want to read to relax, choose materials that won’t contribute to stress.

6. Weight Management

While you might occasionally read on the treadmill, the fact is that the majority of reading happens while you’re sitting. Still, this activity can surprisingly lead to better weight management over a long period of time. The active engagement experience during reading leads to fewer episodes of overeating, which is common with more mindless activities such as watching television.

Make Reading a Part of Your Healthy Lifestyle

Basic reading skills are essential to our jobs as well as other activities. The problem is that many adults don’t do any reading outside of emails, texts, and social media. If you’re looking to add reading to your everyday routine, the key is to create the right atmosphere. Try to:

  • establish a separate reading area away from televisions
  • read at the same time every day
  • keep a variety of reading materials handy
  • read at the same time as other family members


Author Bio: Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer who also has a certificate in nutrition. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional. Kristeen holds a BA in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is currently pursuing an MA in English. When she's not writing or studying, she enjoys walking, kick-boxing, yoga, and traveling.

The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Come to Donna's Birthday Book Party to hear about other great books Jan. 18 - 23.

January 20, 2015

Review: The Marriage Match by Tracy March

by Donna Huber

The Marriage Match

The soles of Cynthia Sawyer's shoes squeaked on the damp flagstone walkway that meandered through Hawthorne Manor's formal gardens. Hazy rays of sun kissed the spring morning dew, glistening on the early-blooming flowers and foliage soon to blossom into a Southern Living-worthy wonderland. Perfect for tiny Maple Creek, Maryland's annual garden party - the most exciting event of the season, especially for the quirky retirees. Last year, crazy old Mrs. Osworth got lost in the winding boxwood maze and called 911 to get "one of those strong young fireman" to come rescue her. She'd said she felt faint, and claimed she'd need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation the moment they showed up.

The Review

Over the Christmas holidays I was introduced to Tracy March's series when I read The Practice Proposal (read my review). Like, The Practice Proposal, The Marriage Match is a light fluffy read that provides mindless entertainment. There is a book between these two that features Paige falling in love, but you don't have to read either The Practice Proposal or Tempted in the Tropics to enjoy The Marriage Match (I haven't read Paige's story).

Cynthia was a bit of a wild child, but as an adult she is trying to mend the relationship with her parents. She works for the matriarch of the Hawthorne family, owners of Hawthorne Resorts. "The Queen" as she has been dubbed by Cynthia, holds court from the gardens in Maple Creek while her grandson Trent runs the family business from the resorts in the Caribbean islands. The Queen wants great-grandchildren and a great ad campaign, Trent wants to find love and a wife, and Cynthia needs the $25,000 bonus to save her parents' house. What could be better than a Bachelor-like island love story? But the off-camera chemistry may be more than anyone was betting on.

I really identified with Cynthia, not the rebellious child rebuilding relationship part, but the single in a small town and wanting to do what best for her family part. She feels trapped by life, but at the same time she feels that she needs to be where she is.

Like The Practice Proposal, The Marriage Match is pretty predictable. But the journey was fun. I have visited both Bahamas and Jamaica so that added a nice aspect to the story since I knew several of the places.

This series would make a great beach read or books for curling up in front of the fire. You can get another little tease here.

Buy The Marriage Match at Amazon

Book info:
Available formats: ebook
Published: January 2014 by Entangled: Bliss
Genres: romance
Target audience: adult
Source: Netgalley
Read: January 2014

Come to my Birthday Book Party to hear about other great books Jan. 18 - 23.

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 egalley was provided for this review.

January 19, 2015

Interview with @JonMessenger

by Heather Kirchhoff

Jon Messenger
What made you decide to start writing? Was this something you always thought you’d do?

I've always loved telling stories but I didn't really think of writing until college. I started writing a novel toward the end of college and, in the words of my mother, it was ridiculously bad! I didn't bother writing again for another five years until I was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq with the Army. We were sitting around discussing story ideas and I had a great friend, Josh Hickman, who convinced me to give it another go. During that deployment, I wrote the entire Brink of Distinction trilogy.

How do you come up with your characters or story ideas? 

Story ideas for me come from an assortment of places. Some are inspired by stories I read. Some by mythology. Some are genuinely a mystery to me, too, as though I just wake up one morning with a great idea. Most characters, however, are inspired at least in part by the people i know. I have a lot of sarcastic friends, which is why I write so many smarmy characters.

How do you get inspired to write?

I got inspired by my friends (see question 1), but after getting a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing, I finally realized that people might actually want to read my books. Writers can say all they want that we don't care about criticism, but positive feedback is a great motivator.

What do you do while having writers block?

I try to write about 1000 words a day but I do run into writer's block on occasion. Usually, I'll leave the story alone for a couple days. If an idea still won't come, I have a couple friends that make really good sounding boards. I've also recently formed a street team that's been invaluable in working through ideas.

What kind of stories do you write?

Wolves of the Northern Rift
I write what strikes me and excited me at the time. I don't settle into a single genre. My first trilogy was scifi. Then I worked on a NA series (World Aflame), which is still ongoing. I just started a steampunk series that I'm incredibly excited about.

Who are your favorite authors?

I'm a scifi junky. My earliest "favorite" book was Brave New World by Aldus Huxley. I also love Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Walter John Williams, and far too many other scifi authors to count. Recently, however, I've delved into the indie market. I've met some great authors there, including Michael Loring, Shannon Dearing, Magen McMinimy, and Rene Folsom, to name a few.

How long have you been writing? 

I tried my hand at writing first back in 2000, but I started seriously writing in 2007.

What are your stories about? 

The Brink of Distinction trilogy (scifi) is a story about humanity's fight against an alien coalition, except that the aliens are the protagonists. It examines how far the characters will go to defeat a seemingly unstoppable invading force. I've also been working on the World Aflame series (NA), which follows Xander Sirocco, a slacker college student without ambition who discovers he's the newest Wind Warrior, a caste of elemental wielders who help shape human development. Unfortunately, the Wind Caste's time on Earth is coming to a close and the Fire Caste is eager for its turn, even if it means the destruction of human kind. Finally, I just started the Magic and Machinery series (steampunk). In the M&M world, a giant fissure, called the Rift, nearly tore the southern continent in two. From the Rift, magic infected the lands. In the northern kingdom, the king closed the borders to keep the magical creatures at bay and formed the Royal Inquisitors, brilliant investigators who explore any report of magic in the land. Inquisitor Simon Whitlock and his apothecary companion, Luthor Strong, are sent to Haversham to investigate reports of werewolves, though they go with skepticism.

What are you currently working on? 

I recently finished WOLVES OF THE NORTHERN RIFT, book 1 in the Magic and Machinery series. Though I promised to work on book 4 in the World Aflame series, I was far too inspired by my steampunk series. So I'm working on book 2, NIGHT TRIBE OF WHITTEN HALL, which sends Simon and Luthor to investigate a mining outpost who has refused to send any more gold to the capital, though there reasons are far darker than just mutiny against the crown.

What do you do when not writing?

When not writing, I have a day job. I'm a US Army officer, doing hospital administration. I'm also married and have a 3-year-old son who demands all my free time.

Buy Wolves of the Northern Rift at Amazon

About the Author:

Jon Messenger (Born 1979 in London, England) serves as an United States Army Major in the Medical Service Corps. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 2002, writing Science Fiction has remained his passion, a passion that has continued through multiple combat and humanitarian deployments. Jon wrote the "Brink of Distinction" trilogy, of which "Burden of Sisyphus" is the first book, while serving a 16-month deployment in Baghdad, Iraq.
website  *  Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Goodreads

Your invited to Donna's Birthday Book Party to hear about other great books Jan. 18 - 23.

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 expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.