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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...

April 11, 2015

Book Club Read: The Brown House by Christy Sloat

The Discover Indies Book Club has chosen its May read: The Brown House by Christy Sloat. This young adult paranormal thriller has 96 five star reviews at Amazon. Will you join us in reading and discussing The Brown House?

The Discover Indies Book Club is a virtual book club that meets on Facebook: JOIN HERE.

We will discuss The Brown House May 18 - May 22.

About the Book

The Brown House

Some secrets should never be revealed... Brylee Branson begrudgingly made the excruciating move with her family from the warm sandy beaches of California to small town living in New Jersey. As if she wasn't miserable enough, they've moved into a creepy old house that everyone in the area claims is haunted. Brylee dismisses the idea of ghosts and hauntings, until she begins to see and hear things that can't be explained... Brylee has no choice but to seek the help of new friends to unlock the secrets of this place she now calls home. But some secrets should never be revealed. Can the teens find a way to release the spirits imprisoned within the walls? Or will the curse claim them, too? 


About the Author

Christy Sloat is a SoCal born girl who resides in New Jersey currently with her husband, two daughters and Sophie her Chihuahua. Christy has embraced the love of reading and writing since her youth and was inspired by her grandmother's loving support. Christy passes that love of reading, writing, and creativity to her daughters, family, and friends. When you do not find Christy within the pages of a book you can find her being mommy, wife, crafter, and dear friend. She loves adventurous journeys with her friends and can be known to get lost inside a bookstore. Be sure to venture into her Past Lives Series, The Visitor's Series, and watch for many more exciting things to come.

 Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Goodreads  *  website

Read a Sample

SIGNED paperbacks are available for order (US residents only). The book is $12 plus s&h. Contact Donna to order a paperback - donna (at) If you prefer ebooks or reside outside the US, The Brown House is available at Amazon (links to all Amazon stores)

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Thank you for supporting this blog. 

Donna, as an independent BookSurf representative, will also earn a small commission on any paperbacks ordered.

April 10, 2015

Review: Infected by Jessica Gomez

by Claire Rees


I scanned my surroundings, surveying the dilapidated, deserted city. The same broken cars, buildings, and roads that were once normal pieces of society flooded my vision. Roads and buildings overgrown by trees, weeds and any other vegetation that wanted to reclaim the land. I always thought it would take longer than a year to erase anything and everything the human race was once proud of.

The Review

Infected by Jessica Gomez is set in a dystopian world where the majority of the world’s population either died or became an "infected" during "the flash". A lot of the people who survived the flash were attacked and killed by the "infected" and other survivors. The infected turn into violent beings, attacking and killing anything they see.  Lillian, the main character, was one of the lucky few to have survived the flash and as she makes her way across the country she encounters some not so nice people determined to rule this new world anyway they see fit. She finally meets James who seemed to know that he would be meeting Lillian and her daughter Azami and that it would be safe to take them in. Together the three of them live in a tree for around a year and formulate a plan to travel to Oregon where James has heard there are tunnels you could live in with all natural resources. They meet up with some wonderful people once they arrive, but just when she starts to feel safe and happy again, a viscous attack threatens to ruin it all.

I enjoyed the story as it shows humanity at its best and its worst and shows that sometimes people do very bad things for the right reasons. The writing was very descriptive and you can close your eyes and imagine this broken world she now lives in. I was very interested to read how they used the tunnels to survive by using all natural resources to grow food, cook food, have baths etc.

I would recommend Infected to young adults as well as adults and anyone who enjoys dystopian stories will surely enjoy this story and not be able to put it down until the end.

Buy Infected at Amazon

Book info:
available format: ebook and print (348 pages)
published: March 2015
ISBN13: 978-1508788973
genres: science fiction, dystopian, post-apocalyptic
target audience: Adults
read: March 2015

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using the above link. Thank you for supporting this blog.

April 9, 2015

Dealing with Blogging Burnout

by Donna Huber

We can all experience burnout from anything that we do regularly. When we are feeling burned out on our jobs we take a vacation. However, as book bloggers we often find it difficult to take a vacation. Blogging is only part of the job, and reading is a huge part of what we do and what do you do when on vacation? Read. So here is are a few tips for dealing with burnout with out having to give up reading all together (or the blogging for that matter).

Take a vacation:

  1. Remember all those free ebooks you picked up on Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Take your vacation week and read them. Not a fan of ebooks? Then stop by the library and check out your favorite author. In other words, read books that you are have not accepted for review. Discover the joy of reading again.
  2. Line up guest bloggers for the week. This can add a bit of work in the planning, but if you are good friends with authors ask them to help you out. Give a deadline so that you will have everything you need in time to schedule the posts.
  3. Set up feature posts. Maybe think of a theme for the week and feature a book each day that fits that theme.
Take a breather:
  1. Take a break from reading and binge watch your favorite television series. 
  2. If you blog every day maybe try to cut back a day or two week for a while.
  3. Take on a contributor. I love being able to share the reviewing duties with my two reviewers and with the 5 features writers there are several days a month I don't have to do any more than format. This has been great for staving off burnout.

Sometimes all we need is a little break to renew our passion for book blogging. However, if you find after a break that you quickly become burned out again or you feel no loss during your break, then it might be time to close this chapter in your reading journey, and there is nothing wrong with that.

April 8, 2015

The Meteoric Rise of the Superhero by @AlisonDeLuca

Cover of Age of Ultron #1 (March 2013).
Art by Bryan Hitch. Source: Wikipedia
Since Avengers: Age of Ultron arrives soon, masked crusaders with superpowers continue their seemingly endless upward trajectory. Of course we’re all looking forward to more Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, and Captain America. However, we’ve been promised a host of other characters on film, with Deadpool now in the works, Antman coming this summer, and more Guardians of the Galaxy coming in 2017.

DC isn’t holding back either. Their Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is promised for quick delivery. The film includes Wonder Woman, who has her own solo project coming up. We’ll see old faithfuls like Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, and Lex Luthor by Jesse Eisenberg, tapping the A List of talent for the film.

Rumor has it there’s an Incredibles 2 being developed. I’d be very surprised if Big Hero 6 doesn’t come back to the big screen in a few years. The X-Men are due to return in X-Men: Apocalypse. (Superheroes seem to like colons in their titles. Right, Captain America: Civil War?) In fact, if you go to CinemaBlend for the latest movie news, most of the upcoming titles on the side bar are about the Supers.

Why are superheroes so popular? The blog for ABC News states reading comics and revering caped crusaders used to have a backroom quality or “…an air of disrespectability.” According to the article, it all changed on September 11, 2001. Perhaps that fateful day made us realize villains are real and, even more horrifying, we were alone confronting the threat. After all, Superman himself arrived in 1938, during the escalation of World War II. Maybe our psyches demand something we can look up to or at least pretend to depend on, if only for 120 minutes in a theater.

Richard Reynolds looks at it another way, calling superheroes “A Modern Mythology.” The heroes of the comics go through death and rebirth. They stride across the decades in different forms - Black Widow was once a villain, and Thor has become a female.

Like Zeus, they change to fit the story. Batman was a campy TV icon in the 60’s, reborn as a Gothic Dark Knight in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s the same with Superman himself, who was relegated to Frosted Flakes commercials in the 50’s. All of this makes me wonder what new versions we’ll see in the future.

While we wait for more Avengers, my fellow readers can still get their Super fix from the bookstore:

1.  Watchmen by Alan Moore – If you haven’t read this graphic novel, listed as one of the top 100 most important novels, run to get a copy. Its multi-layered story with graphics mirroring and expanding the text is amazing. The section set on Mars made me gasp when the ‘camera’ panned out. Plus I have a little bit of a crush on Dr. Manhattan, so there’s that.

2.  Vicious by V.E. Schwab – A character-driven literary novel about heroes and villains starting with undergrad life and continuing into the adult world. It’s reviewed as “…a dynamic and original twist on what it means to be a hero and a villain.”

3.  Get In Trouble by Kelly Link – Link’s collection of New Weird stories takes the trope of heroes to a strange place. Writing about pocket universes and Egyptian pyramids, Link always delivers the unexpected and unforgettable.

4.  Don’t expect Jon Snow or King Joffrey to appear in this mosaic edited by G.R.R. Martin, part of the Wild Cards series. The stories in Wild Cards are set in a parallel universe, which was created during the Wild Cards virus in World War II. If you enjoy the first one you’re in luck – the series has many volumes to entertain you. There are no classic superhero rescues and triumphs – instead, the authors serve up more literary, thoughtful fare.

5.  Want a school for superheroes? Try Chance Fortune and the Outlaws. Joshua has always wanted to be a superhero. Too bad he doesn’t have any powers to offer. With a great deal of chutzpah and a lot of lies, he reinvents himself as Chance Fortune and enters Burlington Academy for the Superhuman. Recommended as a novel for adolescents and adults alike, this is the Harry Potter entry in the superhero universe.

6.  Soon I Will Be Invincible – I’ll let the opening paragraphs tell the story: "This morning on planet Earth, there are one thousand, six hundred, and eighty-six enhanced, gifted, or otherwise superpowered persons. Of these, one hundred and twenty-six are civilians leading normal lives. Thirty-eight are kept in research facilities funded by the Department of Defense, or foreign equivalents. Two hundred and twenty-six are aquatic, confined to the oceans. Twenty-nine are strictly localized--powerful trees and genii loci, the Great Sphinx, and the Pyramid of Giza. Twenty-five are microscopic (including the Infinitesimal Seven). Three are dogs; four are cats; one is a bird. Six are made of gas. One is a mobile electrical effect, more of a weather pattern than a person. Seventy-seven are alien visitors. Thirty-eight are missing. Forty-one are off-continuity, permanent emigres to Earth's alternate realities and branching timestreams.

"Six hundred and seventy-eight use their powers to fight crime, while four hundred and forty-  one use their powers to commit them. Forty four are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals. Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or more--eighteen to be exact. Including me."

7.  I always like to include an Indie in the list. This month’s entry is Jim Bernheimer, who’s doing great things with his D-List Supervillain series. You can read the first one, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, here. Technically the main character is a villain, not a hero, but Calvin (aka Mechani-Cal) is pretty heroic as well. Bernheimer writes with verve and assurance about The Olympians, his super-group, and Calvin himself.

These should tide you over until we get more Captain America and Hawkeye in our lives. In the meantime, what are your favorite superheroes, and why?

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links. Thank you for supporting this blog.

April 7, 2015

Interview with Monica Ropal, author of When You Leave

by Donna Huber

When You Leave

I fought the tickle, my nose to the blackboard, stifling the urge to sneeze.
Old school detention was medieval. It would be a slow cruel death of boredom. Under my uniform skirt my knees bobbed. I glanced down to where my bag was flopped open on the floor next to me. I could see the inside pocket that held my phone. It would take me twenty seconds tops to text Mattie. He'd give me a thumb lashing for getting in bad with the Sister again, but any communication would help dash away the quiet in the empty room and calm the noise in my brain. page 1

Buy When You Leave at Amazon

The Interview:

Hi Monica! Thanks for stopping by to answer some questions. Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Thanks for hosting me! I am a married Minnesota mother of three. I've been writing for nearly nine years and WHEN YOU LEAVE (out April 7th) is my first published novel.  I enjoy reading, coffee dates, and I belong to two fandoms, one active and one dormant.

I loved your debut novel When You Leave. With the popularity of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Divergent, why did you decide to write a murder mystery rather than something in the sci-fi/fantasy genre?

I guess partly BECAUSE of the popularity of those genres. I wanted to do something different. And because it allowed me to pair what I love about the mystery genre (suspense and intrigue) with what I love about YA (emotional stakes and interpersonal conflict).

If it hadn’t been for the teenaged characters, I would have forgotten that When You Leave is a young adult novel. There was a sophistication to the writing that didn’t really feel YA. Did you struggle with writing a book for young adults without “talking down” to your audience?  

Thank you! Well, after all, young adults are people who happen to be teenaged. I think you never want to talk down to your audience. I think lessons I learned early on in my writing is that I have to be honest and serve these characters and the world they reflect. Im not writing as a mom, with lessons to teach, or morality to serve down. I am writing through their eyes from an honest place of reflection.

What was your inspiration for When You Leave?

It all started with Mattie and Cass. Two best friends that are on the precipice of something more. When I decide I wanted to write them into a mystery, I wanted that mystery to be a very personal one. I didn't want Cass to be a hard-boiled detective that we often see in adult mystery, I wanted to have it be an exploration also of the emotional fallout more true to the YA genre.

I really identified with Cass and the walls she put up around her (though for different reasons). Is there one character in the book that you most identify with?

I think there's def. some of me in Cass. There is part of me that has a tendency to emotionally distance myself from people. I hate saying goodbye. But there is probably part of me in a lot of characters. For instance, I am a very emotional person, and can sponge up the emotions of others, and so that is the me in Mattie.

Who were some of your favorite authors growing up? Do you think they had an impact on your writing style?

The two books that seriously came to mind were S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS and Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I'm not sure they effected my writing style per se, but they do reflect the mix of genres I like to play in.

So many books these days, particularly for young adults, are series. I felt like When You Leave was very much a stand-alone novel. Am I wrong and you have plans to revisit these characters?

I don't have immediate plans to do so. though as an author I think that maybe you can't help but think about your characters in a wider scope, how they existed before the story, and how they will exist after. But my editor and I had agreed that this book should be able to stand alone.

I know I’m looking forward to reading more from you. Can you tell us a little about any projects you have in the works?

I am very proprietary about my work when it's in it's rough form. But I can tell you that I am continuing to explore events that have emotion fallouts, though this time the catalyst will not be murder. And only YA for me ;)

Thanks again, Monica, for chatting with me. 

I hope you enjoyed the interview with Monica Ropal. I know there are a number of new novels hitting shelves today (I mentioned several of them in last week's new releases post), but When You Leave has been one of the best books I've read this year. If you enjoy emotional reads where the characters come off the page, then you will want to pick this book up.

The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using the above links. Thank you for supporting this blog.

April 6, 2015

Review: Eviction Notice by Robyn Wyrick

by Elisabeth Scherer

Eviction Notice
For my first review Donna passed along the opportunity to review Robyn Wyrick’s book Eviction Notice. I love sci-fi/fantasies so I jumped right on reading it.

The book in one sentence:

Eviction Notice is a story of crop circles, mistaken identity, alien invasion, alien abduction, with focus centered around the exchange of a Fairy between groups of aliens to create peace .


Teens play a senior prank by creating a crop circle in an Iowa cornfield which turns out to be a beacon for a space trader package delivery. The package, a vital part in a peace treaty, goes missing and it is a race to see if the package will be retrieved and delivered to the right people/aliens or will every life form on earth be jettisoned into space as collateral for broken contract.

My review:

The beginning of the book was a bit choppy and hard to read. The story was there but the sentences would stop short causing my brain to stumble. The simple sentence structure slowed my ability to immerse myself in the world, and the use of ironic description in the dialog didn't quite work the way the author may have expected it to. I had high hopes for the idea of the book and I’m so glad that I didn’t give up faith. This book is sort of like a snowball rolling down a mountainside picking up mass as it tumbles down the cliffside.

Alice, the main female character brings you along in her journey that starts with her having no hope, struggling to make a life ending decision and as the story progresses the reader will genuinely grow to love and cheer for her as she picks up the role of liaison for living things on Earth and fights to save billions of lives. That is quite a large character growth when she began not wanting to fight for her own life.

Carl and Scrap - two misfit alien crew members of the space trader’s ship, remind me of Abbott & Costello in a way. They bicker and bumble through their plotline. Carl plays the straight man of the comedy pair and Scrap plays the foil.

There is a scene in particular that comes to mind where Scrap is attempting to erase two of the teens’ alien abduction memories and Scrap shoots himself with an alien gun. It makes him hallucinate that there are flies buzzing around him while he is putting together the memory erasing device. At the same time he is spouting a soliloquy about the pecking order of his current job and his dreams of being “the big boss.” The best is that we witness the whole scene from the perspective of the trapped humans who show a wide range of emotions over the appearance and ability of Scrap to do his job while in the throes of whatever the gun has done to him.

This book is squarely based in Science Fiction/Fantasy with a recurring idea that below average people can make an impact on a large scale. First with the teens’ crop circle prank, then with the space traders’ trying to capture the Glen Fairy, and also with Alice as I previously mentioned.

I did feel like the characters could have been fleshed out more, Particularly with Aloon, Carl, & Scrap.  Where I think he was successful was in the two Galactic Council’s Inspectors Clayton and Tyler. These two characters and their interactions on Earth made me giggle aloud several times. Here is a sample of what made me laugh:

“Clayton could see he must have made a real blunder. While Alice panted and strained her brain, he reflected. This sometimes happened on new planets. He must have overlooked some local custom. With all the hurry to get the Zorgon Peace Treaty signed, the Council simply had not given Clayton adequate time to study the local customs. Maybe men in this culture cover their eyes when speaking to women. Or perhaps he needed to cover his head, or maybe his head and his eyes. That was probably it. He placed on hand on his head and the other over his eyes.” From page 61 of my e-book

Picture the image of Inspector Clayton with a hand on his head and one over his eyes standing next to Inspector Tyler who had four arms, white fur, and a huge mouth with razor sharp teeth. I’m giggling again as I type this.

He also got me intrigued and excited by the thought of a Chevy Malibu becoming a “space vehicle”. Here is an excerpt:

“The computer explained that the car was found to be defective when the ship attempted to correct its inefficiencies. That the repairing filaments had permeated every part of the Malibu and proceeded to make millions of corrections in functionality, performance, aerodynamics, propulsion, safety, and system intelligence.
The computer, which called itself Barni, a Barely Adequate Rudimentary Navigational Intelligence, explained that the car could be steered by the steering wheel, and speed up and slow down using the normal pedals, but it now had a basic anti-gravity drive - hence not falling to death - and micro-cellular insulation in the hull - hence the not freezing to death.” From pages 211-212 of my e-book.

Overall this book reminded me of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with quirky characters, aliens & human interactions, space travel, and the tongue in cheek humor. Alice and Arthur Dent could be distant relatives, Aloon Zigilbraxis and Zaphod Beeblebrox could be fellow space traders who drink together, and the invading Zorgons and the Galactic Councilwoman Fry much like the bureaucratic Vogons.

I would love to see a spin off adventure featuring Alice with Inspector Clayton and Tyler maybe in the Chevy Malibu exploring space or maybe even stories with the other characters as well. I hope you will pick this book up and enjoy it as much as I did.

Buy Eviction Notice at Amazon

Book info:
available format: ebook and print (325 pages)
published: September 2010 by Tantor Media
genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
target audience: Adults, older teens
source: Author
read: March 2015

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