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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

February 13, 2015

Surviving Valentine’s Day: Pauline Parril’s Advice for Married Women

by Pauline Daley-Parril

The Perils of Pauline
Valentine’s Day hashtags are proliferating on Twitter. That means one thing: #valentinesdayiscoming. For single women, the 14th of February is tough enough when it’s #nodate and #aloneagain. But for married women, Valentine’s Day is a #minefield #forgetaboutit #norosesforyousister #fml.

For women in general, Valentine’s Day is like trying on a new bikini: single girls hope to find something nice that handles the girls effectively but all too often end up with lingering regrets and maybe a yeast infection from the previous person who tried the bathing suit.

All that married women can hope for is that the top half can still work the old black magic while the bottom half still fits the base.

Meanwhile, the average man is completely oblivious to the whole #chocolates #romance and #finedining thing. That’s because he hasn’t set foot in a shop since the day before Christmas when he did his annual shopping trip. Only women know that, just minutes after New Year’s Day is over, every store and mall in the country turns into a raging river of pink and red hearts with fur-trimmed bralettes on display in every window.

It’s not enough to avoid the flood of lacey crap at the mall. You better stay away from the drugstores too. Trouble is, you forgot to get your flu shot last fall, didn’t you? Now you need lozenges for the bug that is shredding up all the real estate in your throat. In you go, determined to make it past the heart-shaped candies and roses-made-of-chocolate aisle. You quickly skirt the section with the wide selection of ribbed condoms, cherry-flavored lubricants and estrogen massage cream. But, suddenly, you’re confronted by the greeting card aisle. Love is in the air. And it’s sucking all the oxygen from the store.

You pause to look at all the pretty, pretty cards. Maybe it’s a good idea to inject a little romance into your plodding relationship and get your man a special valentine? You pick up a card with a pink satin bow. It says: “You are my forever best friend.” But, last time you checked, your husband wasn’t a Golden Retriever. The card with the velvet trim says, without the tiniest trace of irony: “Every moment I spend with you is a dream.” Every last card is festooned with curvy fonts, cupids, roses, arrows and hearts. As if you weren’t feeling sick enough with the flu before.

The sad fact is there are no realistic cards for wives to give to husbands. Clearly, companies need to offer cards with more truthful messages, such as: My darling, you deserve the best of me. (Sorry I called you a moron yesterday. The stupid of you got the better of me.)

Or: You can be my Valentine, but only if you stop being a prick.

For newer brides, the card could read: Be mine. (Unless you cheat on me. In that case, I will cut you.)

Or: Let’s get married all over again! (Without your drunk cousins this time.)

Together forever. (Unless you screw it up.)

Middle-aged marrieds have even more options: Loving you is my mission. It’s right up there with gaining control of the remote someday.

You are still hot to me. Mostly. (I’m still sleeping in my socks tonight because your feet are freaking blocks of ice.)

You make me smile. (To be honest, sometimes I smirk. Sometimes, it’s an evil grin. And sometimes I laugh hysterically. You say tomato …)

For older marrieds, the card could say: I can’t believe I’m still putting up with your shit. But, wonder of wonders, I am!

Nothing can compare with you! Dude, you could win a snoring contest.

Together, we are stronger. Especially when we fart at the same time.

Never mind. Skip the card aisle. You have a bad head cold. It’s February for goodness’ sake. Your man doesn’t want a card anyway. He’d prefer a roughly hand-drawn coupon for an anytime, anywhere blowjob-on-demand.

Buy yourself some chocolate and don’t forget the cough syrup.

Buy The Perils of Pauline at Amazon

About the Author

Collette Yvonne graduated from York University in Toronto with an Honor’s BA in Creative Writing. Her short stories, including From the Cottage Porch and Wild Words 2010, appear in several anthologies. She's written numerous articles in national Canadian publications, plus over 150 pieces for various Ontario newspapers. Her short story, Snapshots for Henry, was made into a short film, directed by Teresa Hannigan, and received a 2007 Genie nomination for Best Live Action Short Drama.
The Perils of Pauline—  is her first novel.

The Perils of Pauline is also available:

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

February 12, 2015

Vote in the Indies Unlimited Excellence Awards

This week Girl Who Reads learned it was nominated for Best Book Review Site at the 2014 Indies Unlimited Excellence Awards. All of us at Girl Who Reads (Donna, Claire, Alison, and Heather) are honored and thrilled to have been nominated. 

The winner is decided partially by POPULAR VOTE. If you are a fan of Girl Who Reads, would you consider voting for us? While you are there you can also vote for Best Resource Site and Best Promotion Site. 

Thank you to Charles Ray for nominating Girl Who Reads and thank you to all who have voted for us!

February 11, 2015

Streaming on Netflix by @AlisonDeLuca

Silver Linings Playbook
The beginning of the month brings chores, bills – and a rotating selection of Netflix movies. There are a few I queued up, including The Interview, Silver Linings Playbook, and Snowpiercer.

Let’s start with the last one. I actually rented Snowpiercer because, hey, Chris Evans, and it blew up on Tumblr over the summer. If I had gone in with the mindset that it was a political allegory with heavy social commentary I probably would have enjoyed it more. Instead I expected a well-written sci-fi/fantasy, and Snow was far too heavy for that. Tilda Swinton is one of my favorite actresses, and she was incredible in her demeaning part, the Maggie Thatcher representative who gets her ill-fitting false teeth taken away and is forced to wear a shoe on her head. 

Does Tilda’s character deserve it? Well, yes. Still, Snowpiercer didn’t capture my imagination the way I thought it would, although now I’ve read some articles about the film I see some redeeming qualities. If you don’t mind studying a bit to understand the theme of the movie, give Snowpiercer a try.

Next up was The Interview. Famous for causing a North Korean meltdown with resulting embarrassment for Sony and the company’s CEO, this movie had perhaps the greatest accidental publicity campaign ever. And, like most accidents, its star status was finished in days. Still, I thought I’d have a look at it to see what ‘all the fuss was about.'

The result is, as I expected, Not Really Worth It At All. If Kim Jung Un had ignored the film and gone on about his business, the movie would have died a natural death. Those of you who like James Franco (which I do) you will enjoy his over-the-top interviewer portrayal. You may get annoyed, as I did, by the continued Hollywood portrayal of Asian women as slinky beauties just dying to sleep with Americans. I’m talking to you, Sony - Diana Bang deserves a much more subtle role than the pretty Korean who falls for the dude from the US.

However, I really enjoyed Randall Park as Kim Jung Un. It takes a damn clever actor to make the dictator at all sympathetic, which the script calls for in the beginning. Randall delivers nicely, and I’m going to check him out in the upcoming Off the Boat series to get more of his acting.

Both of these pale in comparison to the luminous Silver Linings Playbook and, yes, its still free on Netflix if you have a streaming account. I found myself sucked into the story with its unreliable MC – Pat - and the unreliable woman he meets, Tiffany. Jennifer Lawrence plays her to perfection, all determination with an undercurrent of fragility. I haven’t always been a JLaw fan, but she won me over with this performance. 

As for Robert DeNiro as the seemingly put-upon dad who’s just as (or even more) out of it than his son, I was blown away. Let’s not forget Jacki Weaver offering Crabby Snacks and Homemades, I loved her worried, hopeful face. And Chris Tucker offers incredible, sexy madness.

Now for my Netflix marathoners - don’t forget the next season of House of Cards coming up at the end of the month. Queue your iced coffee, Junior mints, and popcorn (or baked kale snacks for those of you trying to be healthy.) I have a few shows in my list to be marathoned – like Bomb Girls – so maybe we can have a Netflix weekend together and fangirl over The 100 and Scandal

Until then, watch The Interview with a few beverages and some silly friends, save Snowpiercer for when you’re in a really good mood, and stream Playbook anytime. That movie is, according to one of my friends, the kind to suck you in no matter how many times you watch it.

About the author
Alison is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. 
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February 10, 2015

Review: The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta

by Donna Huber

The Winter Boy
I just finished up a powerful novel. For me, The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta started off as an interesting study in a different culture and society structure, but it turned into an intriguing exploration of human nature. It was definitely not a fluffy read, but it definitely is a book everyone should read.

The Alleshine society is one of Peace. All they do is for Peace. In the Before Times people were prosperous but greed, pride, and violence ushered in the Great Chaos. Much was lost, many lives meaninglessly snuffed out. Generation after generation death and destruction continued until no one knew why they battled except for the sake of the fight. But one woman had a hope that things could be changed. She traveled and met many peoples, planting seeds of this hope until one day she was sought out to by a man to teach him how to succeed in peace. So started the Alleshi, a group of widowed women who chose boys each season to train through intimacy to be Allemen. 

The Winter Boy focuses on Rishana during her first Season and her First Boy. The training, both for an Allesha and an Alleman, is to find their essential, true, self.  But in seeking the truth within her First Boy, Rishana discovers truths about herself and all she thought she knew. There are undercurrents and tensions building that threaten the Peace. And Rishana's Winter Boy may be the key to everything.

At first, I was confused about what the story line truly was about, but was drawn in by this culture which felt like an ancient society in Asia. But then I realized it wasn't really about Rishana and Ryl, but more about the questions being asked. How can peace be kept when your enemy only wishes to kill? That is what the Alleshine is struggling with, but Rishana struggles with free will and fate (or is it manipulation?). As a Christian, I've often had discussions between free will and predestination. And so many people wonder if they are just chess pieces. I really liked the conversation Rishana had with her mentor Dara:

"A boy to be chiseled is harder work," Rishana continued int he same cool appraising tone. "But the result is a stone-core strength, a man of unusual power."
"A man not unlike the woman you are."
Rishana was surprised to hear it, but still didn't turn toward Dara. Instead, she allowed her eyes to glaze over, hearing the meaning under the rhythm of their words, finding the truth that had been there all along.
Dara leaned back against the tree.
"The other kind of boy would shape under my hands with little resistance," Rishana continued, "and with a great deal of joy and pleasure. Yet you have known that I would choose stress and conflict."
"Becuase it is what will give you the greater joy and pleasure in the end.:
"No, because you knew the kind of woman you had shaped,"
"The kind of woman you've always been."
"You assume much."
"And now, I am the same as you."
"How will I know that I'm making the right choices for my boys?"
"You will know or you will ocme to those of us who know. It is in your blood, as well as in your training."
"So I will take this boy who you have chosen,"
"Only if you wish it. Your wil has always been your own to command."
"A free will shaped by you."
"No, One unearthed by us, Rishana. It is your essential self that will be doing the choosing. We only helped you understand the shape of that self."
"Yet, before I make my choice, you already know what it will be."
"Because you know me even more intimately than I have known myself."
"Because I recognized you as my successor before anyone else. And I had been waiting long for you."
"Perhaps too long, Dara. Perhaps you have seen in me what you needed and wanted to see,"
"No. I saw in you what you needed and wanted to be."
"I understand, but a part of me is still angry with you,"
"What am I to do with that anger?"
"Accept it and use it. Without it, you would not have the free will we cherish and need, It is the inner conflict that will prepare you for the many conflicts ahead."
"So it is already decided."
"And it is my decision.:

There were many conversations covering difficult issues. It was interesting how my questions lined up with Rishana's and was grateful when she voiced the very question I was struggling with. Like what right do we have to interfere with other cultures, to judge them? Part of the job of Allemen was to seek peace negotiations with peoples beyond their borders. To achieve this goal they would, at times, go to extremes, like relocate a people to new land. 

As I hope you can see there is so much more under the surface of The Winter Boy than just Rishana and Ryl's Season. It is multilayered, with stories within the story to convey lessons and information. To root out doubts and uncertainities. To make one think about their own thoughts and actions. 

Usually when I read literary fiction I prefer it to be a stand alone novel. But the truths and answers that Rishana, Ryl, and the Alleshine people seek cannot be answered in one book and I was glad to see at the end that there is mention of a sequel.

If you are wanting to sink your teeth into a book, The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta has enough meat to make a very satisfying read.

Buy The Winter Boy at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (496 pages)
Published: November 2014 by Pixel Hall Press
ISBN13: 9780988387195
Genres: Literary fiction, fantasy
Audience: adult
Source: publisher
Read: February 2015

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

February 9, 2015

Valentine's Day Deal for Book Lovers

I wanted to let you know that BookSurf is running a Flash Sale this week for book lovers. Choose any New Adult Romance title in the catalog and the wine goblet for $15 (plus shipping & handling). Hurry though the deal ends on Valentine's Day.

The catalog is here:!below-decks/clzd Please remember to use REP #0015 at check out.

2B or Not 2B
London Reed is on the hunt for a place to live before the start of her second year in college. Either she is successful and can enjoy her student life without the pressure of her parents breathing down her neck, or she goes back home and clashes with her parents. Because London doesn’t have a filter. She basically tells it as she sees it. So when she meets the hunky and scarred guy who lives in apartment 2B, the last apartment on her exhausting list, she’s sure to bring some crazy in his life. But he’s determined to not take a girl for a roommate.

London doesn’t give up that easily and makes a deal with him. If she makes it for two months, she’s in for the whole year. If not, then she leaves to never contact him again. Easy, right? Not so much.

When a guy and a girl live under the same roof, it’s bound to complicate things. Between banters, heady games of seduction, innuendos and insecurities revealed, the life in apartment 2B isn’t simple, and a few slips in their relationship doesn’t help the matter.


V card
Jennifer Nolan has been unlucky when it comes to love; even more unfortunate when it comes to sex. In fact, the twenty year-old college junior is about to enter her senior year still carrying her v-card. All she wants is to be with that special someone without it resulting in a trip to the emergency room, runaway office supplies, or being scarred for life by someone's weird fetishes. With several botched attempts under her belt, she begins to fear she'll end up a lonely spinster or a crazy cat lady.

With only 60 days until her 21st birthday, Jennifer is determined to lose her virginity once and for all. Little does she know that her mission will lead her down a path toward love. She never expects that her mission will lead her to a discovery of what true womanhood is, and where true and lasting love begins.


Korinne Anders had it all. She had the perfect job, the perfect house, and the perfect husband. When tragedy strikes, her world takes a devastating turn. Six months After losing her husband to a car accident, Korinne vows it to herself never to love again. If she doesn’t allow another man in her heart, then there’s no reason for her to feel the pain of loss. This plan seems to work, but is put to the test when Korinne’s best friend can’t stand to see her suffering any longer.

Korinne’s long-time friend, Jenna Perry, has an idea and it involves helping her friend find the spark of life in her soul no matter what it takes. Korinne didn’t know that Jenna’s plan meant bringing back a past love, a second chance with the man that Korinne had to leave in college, but always kept a place for in her heart.

When Galen Matthews learns of Korinne’s loss and that she’s finally moved back home, he wants nothing more than to be there for her. The love he felt for Korinne years ago has never left him, and now he’s given a second chance to not only mend her heart of her loss, but to also continue the love they shared in the past. Will his love and determination make her strong enough to give fate a second chance, or will her fear of losing another love make her run away?

What will Korinne do when she’s faced with a love so powerful that no matter what she does there’s nowhere to run from it?


Love, Lies, and Deception
What do you do when the one person you thought you knew turns out to be the one you knew the least?

Twenty-three year old Marissa Chase, and soon to be college graduate, has everything going for her: wonderful friends, a lucrative degree, and a chance to explore the world. What made it even better – or so she thought – was when her path crossed with the alluring Alec Holden. Unable to stay away from him, Marissa experiences a love like no other, and falls into his world of passion and intrigue. However, things begin to shift when this path takes a deadly turn.

Her trust is put to the test when hidden dangers unfold before her, revealing secrets that have been buried for years. Secrets that were meant to stay hidden. Murder, lies, and betrayal … will Marissa figure it all out in time and escape with her life intact, or will she be too late and fall into the trap of deception?


Carved in Cherry
One thing set Lydia Shaw and her store apart from the other antique shops in town…

Lydia’s collection was plagued by curses, and it was her duty to break them.

Rachel, Angie, and Jo knew nothing about their aunt’s secret life. In fact, they didn’t even know she owned an antique shop, until they inherited it. Unfortunately for them, Lydia passed down more than just her store. The sisters are the proud new owners of countless deadly curses, buried under centuries of dust.

Lydia also left behind her apprentice, Peter. He does everything he can to protect the girls, as they explore their new store, unaware of the dangers it hides. In spite of his efforts, Rachel finds herself obsessed with opening a strange trunk, Angie has vivid dreams, haunted by a man who claims he needs her help, and Jo’s imagination starts to run wild.

When one of them falls victim to a curse, it’s up to Peter and her sisters to save her. But, if Peter can’t teach them to wield a magic, that he barely understands himself, she’ll be the first one to die.


Patch Up
Skye followed her long time boyfriend to Seattle for their first year of college, but he dumped her after only a week. The relationship brought only pain and destruction in Skye's life, and yet, she can't bring herself to open up and live her life.
She hates to be touched, hiding under her oversized shirts and behind her wild frizzy hair. Even her bubbly roommate can't reach her. And yet ...

The tall, handsome, and tattooed TA in her psychology class changes everything when he literally collides with her and confronts her. For the first time in a long time, she wants to try and open up to this guy whose dark, intense eyes can't hide his own pain.

However, just when she's starting to live again, her ex-boyfriend comes back, breaking her time and time again, making it all the more complicated. She wants to fight for herself and for this building thing with the TA, even when he pushes her away, but can two broken people patch each other up?

Donna is an Independent BookSurf Consultant. A small commission is earned when purchases are made.