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N is for Nonfiction #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...

May 30, 2015

#ArmchairBEA: It's #giveaway day!

by Donna Huber

Today is everyone's favorite day at ArmchairBEA - Give Away Day! (scroll down for my book/movie picks)

I'm giving away 1 BookSurf item. The winner can choose a signed paperback or swag item. Here's the catalog for you to look through. (If you would like to place an order, you can email donna (at) May's deal is spend $35 and get a FREE signed paperback of you choice). Enter the giveaway below.

This giveaway is open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best & Worst Book-to-Movie Adaption

I thought Harry Potter was well done. Yes, some of my favorite parts in the books were removed or rearranged, but over all they held true to the spirit of Harry Potter. My favorite movie is probably the first one because it opened my eyes to the wonders of Harry Potter. My least favorite movies is probably Prisoner of Azkaban because it lost some of the emotional depth of the book.

Elephants to Water was great. I listened to the audio book before seeing the movie and sometimes I the voices of the characters in my head are so different than what I hear in the movie that I don't like it. However, I felt that it was spot on and though there were some changes in the movie I still loved it.

I also love the Anne of Green Gables movies (1985, 1987, 2000). I was so disheartened to hear that the actor who played Gilbert Blythe died a month ago. A few summers ago I finally read the entire Anne of Green Gables series and learned that the movies don't actually represent the books that well. But you know what? Megan Follows will always be my Anne.

The Hallmark version of The Secret Garden is great, though I have to admit I have not read the actual book.

I have mixed feelings on The Hunger Games movies. I've only seen The Hunger Games and Catching Fire and they were okay. I think I was over the series by the time the movies came out and that colored my view of the movies.

Now for some of the worst movies... The movies for the Twilight series were a laugh. Seriously I had to suppress laughter during New Moon every time Taylor Lautner took off his shirt. Plus who bleeds so much from a paper cut, but barely bleeds when her head hits a rock? Then there's part 2 of Breaking Dawn. I guess they thought Harry Potter could split book 7 into two movies why not do it the ours? (I'm kind of skeptical if Mockingjay needed to split into two movies). Eclipse is probably the best movie of the set, but then again I watched it in Prague and was happy with the respite from walking all day.

There have been plenty of more adaptions that I have disliked, but I am slow to say they were actually bad. My dislike typically stems from the movie not fitting my vision of the book. So as a movies on its own it may not really be that bad.

A photo posted by Donna (@girl_who_reads) on

May 29, 2015

#ArmchairBEA: Character Chatter

by Donna Huber

Favorite Characters

English: A photograph of an engraving in The W...
English: A photograph of an engraving in The Writings of Charles Dickens volume 20, A Tale of Two Cities, titled "The Accomplices". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Great characters can make me keep reading a so-so story. I re-read A Tale of Two Cities every year because I loved Sydney Carton, Charles Darney, and Lucie Manette. Sometimes I would just skip to where they arrive on the scene in the book.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I also love Twilight's Bella and Edward. I got involved in fan fiction because I liked the characters. By the end of my fan fiction reading days, I wondered if the stories I chose to read truly resembled Meyer's characters or it was more that Edward was a strong male with a bad boy vibe and Bella was kind of the every girl.

Layton Green's Dominic Grey might be the first character that I would put in the book boyfriend category (though Sydney and Charles might have been there too if I knew there was such a thing when I reading that book). Grey could kill a man 50 ways with just his pinkie, yet he has a checkered past that just begs for you to hug him (though that might make him uncomfortable).

Maggie Lee definitely is on my favorite characters of all time list. JB Lynn's Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman is hilarious, but also a huge sweetheart. She is backed up by a wonderful cast of secondary characters which makes Maggie even more lovable.

I'm sure there are several more that I could name, but I know you are wanting to get to other blogs so I will leave my list there. For me a great character is someone I can relate to. It may be something I see in myself or in people I know. Other times, it is because I know I would be friends with that person if they were real. It is all about well defined characters that are realistic.

Today's Instagram Challenge: Character Quote

A photo posted by Donna (@girl_who_reads) on

May 28, 2015

#ArmchairBEA: Social Media

by Donna Huber

For those visiting my blog for perhaps the first time (welcome fellow ArmchairBEA'ers!), on Thursday I provide a "tips" post. It usually is something I have learned or found useful. Sometimes it is more for bouncing idea off the community.

I thought it was perfect that today's ArmchairBEA topic is Social Media. I write a lot about social media and how to use to to support your blog. It can be a great tool for reaching a larger audience, but it also can be a huge time drain. In an effort to keep this post short (I know you are trying to visit a lot of blogs today) I'll give you some of my top tips regarding social media.

Top Channels:

There are a lot of social media channels you can use, with more popping up every day. I recommend 3 major channels to have at least a presence: Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Most of my traffic comes from Twitter and Facebook and it is easy to interact with fans. Interaction is important to building a loyal following. Ask questions, share your favorite quotes, post pictures. The key to successfully using social media is to share a variety of content and not the same thing all the time. Another important thing to remember is to actually interact. If someone comments on your status post, be sure to respond. It is all about being SOCIAL.

A note for those that want to keep their personal life and blogging life separate - create a page on Facebook for your blog. You will get analytics and other useful things for promoting your content.

I use Google+ because it does help raise your ranking in search. But other than that I don't do a lot with it.

Time Savers:

I know reading and writing reviews can take up a lot of time. But being active on social media is also important and can be a HUGE time suck. By automating a lot of your posting you save yourself time.

I use three tools for automating my content posting.

  1. Hootsuite - I can create posts when I have time and then schedule them to go out whenever. 
  2. Triberr - I'm part of several tribes and it provides me with content that will be of interest to my following.  And in turn my blog content is shared with other people's networks.
  3. Buffer - Again it is a source of content - mostly about marketing and creativity. It works well with my audience. There are a lot of articles, but also quotes. 

These time savers are great, but if you rely solely on them you will lose some of the socialness that is social media. You need to check in a a few times a week and talk with your followers otherwise your postings will just become noise.

Follow Me:

If you would like to follow me on social media, you can find me in the following places.


You can find me other places with the icons at the top of the left hand side bar. I highly recommend that on your blog you put links to your social media channels some where easy to find.

Today's Instagram Challenge: #SpinePoetry

A photo posted by Donna (@girl_who_reads) on

May 27, 2015

Buried Alive (@KathleenMBarker)

by Kathleen Barker

I've often wondered if the love of reading is a result of genetics or environment.  As the daughter of a woman who never read for pleasure and a man who made weekly treks to a public library, hauling home multiple books each trip, I landed squarely in the read-to-excess group. Still, I'm not sure it just happened out of the clear blue.  In addition to seeing Dad sitting on the couch, reading every night, I also attended schools with rigorous, year-round reading lists.  What began as an annoying academic requirement soon blossomed into a love affair.

My father knew the importance of good grades, so he gave me a quarter for every "A" I brought home on periodic report cards (yes, I am that old). Of course, twenty-five cents is unlikely to incentivize many students today, but researchers found long ago that avid readers develop superior skills that far surpass good spelling and larger vocabularies. Grammar, writing and speaking ability, general knowledge and I.Q. all expand with reading.

Curling up on my sofa with a book is such a deep pleasure that the seat cushion has developed Dad's telltale depression that my brother and I once snickered at.  Yet where my father's stack of library books was quite modest, I have a coffee table with multiple sloping piles, patiently waiting their turn.  My to-read Everest is out of control.  Magazines are relegated to in-flight reading to spare myself the agony of tossing unread print material into the trash.

Those of you who are yelling at this page, telling me to get a Kindle...yeah, I have one, and it only exacerbates the problem.  Towers of books can, at least, physically rebuke me by their visual presence.  Downloaded ebooks are imprisoned in a thin, black orphanage, emitting no sense of urgency.

For decades at my house, spring cleaning did not apply to books.  Until Hurricane Katrina.  Although my treasured books were not damaged, I decided to move from a four bedroom house with two large attics to a townhouse with no attic.  It became clear that I must learn to survive without my textbooks and anthologies from college at the very least.   Potential loading and unloading friends could be enticed with the promise of no 100-pound boxes of books to lift.

Seven garage sales followed over a two month period.   The ten-cent books flew off the table.

As I continue to downsize, it's become easier to part with things. I was actually doing quite well...very well indeed...until I started to write books as well as read them.

So, just let me know if you'd like a German 101 book from 1968.

#ArmchairBEA: The Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you been blogging? How did you get into blogging?

Hi! I'm Donna, the founder, owner, reviewer, writer, editor, and formatter of Girl Who Reads. I've been blogging for a little over 4 years and still love it. I started blogging when I was working with an indie publisher and discovered book bloggers. I really liked the community, but it was reading Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian and wanting to tell others that really spurred me to start this blog.

Why do you loving reading and blogging?

I love reading because I get to explore new places and meet new people that I might never know even if I traveled to the ends of the earth. It allows me to consider different view points and cultures. I learn knew things about myself and the world around me.

Blogging gives met the opportunity to discuss some of the ideas, cultures, and people that I encounter when reading. I also get to meet real people that understand my obsession with fiction.

What is one book everyone should read?

Anyone who is writing anything should read Eats, Shoots and Shoots by Lynne Truss. It is a fun read that will also remind you of some of the grammar rules that we all forget from time to time.

What book are you reading right now?

It is rare that I'm only reading one book. I'm currently in the middle of two.

On my Nook, I'm reading In the Blood of the Greeks by Mary D. Brooks.

In print, I'm reading Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind by David J. Linden. Yeah, I'm a bit of a science nerd.

Take a picture of your bookshelf and share it with us! :)

I built this bookcase last year so I love showing it off.

Today's other topic is Library Love.

I do love libraries. I thought when I went to college that I get a student job in the library. During orientation, the librarian said if we had library experience then we were more likely to get a job there. So I went home that summer and started volunteering at the local library. I did lunch time relief so that there would always be two people in the library. While I didn't get a job in the library at college, I continued to volunteer at my local library when I was home on breaks.

A couple of years ago, the library in the town I now live in got a new librarian so I stopped by to meet her. Lo and behold it was the librarian who "hired" me to be a volunteer.

May 26, 2015

Review: The Shadow Cartel by Layton Green

by Donna Huber

The Shadow Cartel

NOVEMBER 18, 1978
The man known as John Wolverton cocked his head at the sound, a faint thwap that echoed through the vines and trees. He reasoned the shot had come from a poacher's rifle.

The Review

I absolutely LOVE Layton Green's stories. The Shadow Cartel is the third Dominic Grey book I've read (there are 4 in the series, but I haven't read the first book). Each book stands alone with just mentions of previous "adventures".

Though this story starts in 1978 it is just a flashback. It is a flashback to the Jonestown massacre and plays an integral part to the bad guys in this story.

Dominic Grey is called to Miami by his true love Nya (we meet her in book 1 - The Summoner) who has come to claim the body of her cousin. She wants the people responsible found and Grey is the man to do it. Grey is pulled into the darkest corners of the narcotics cartels along with DEA agent Fred Hernandez and CIA operative Lana Valenciano. Grey's esoteric professor of religion boss is aiding the investigation from the safety of a Switzerland asylum. Though with these bad guys around no where is safe.

I love the cult aspects that Green's novels bring into to the ordinary crime story. It is this psychological element that truly makes these thrillers so awesome. Oh and Dominic Grey is a total hotty with a very troubled soul. You will want to take him home and "fix" him, particularly by the end of The Shadow Cartel.

Green's writing is concise yet eloquent. He brings his characters off the page and into the hearts of readers. There is a danger when reading one of Green's novels. You don't want to put it down and that "one more chapter" turns into up half the night reading. I tried to prepare myself for that by spending the afternoon reading and, well, I only stayed up a couple of hours past my bed time.

If you like thrillers full of twists and turns and you aren't sure if this is the end of the line for the main character, then you MUST read the Dominic Grey series and like I said at the beginning they stand alone so you can start with The Shadow Cartel.

Buy The Shadow Cartel at Amazon

Book info
available formats: ebook, audio, and print (417 pages)
published: May 2015 by Thomas & Mercer
ISBN13: 9781477827819
genres: thriller, crime
read: May 2015

A free egalley 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.

May 25, 2015

Review: How Maxwell Grover Stole My House by C.E. Vance

by Claire Rees

How Maxwell Grover Stole My House
How Maxwell Grover Stole my House by C. E. Vance starts with Zeke being bullied each and every day at school. He doesn't mind the way he sees it, there are bullies and there are the victims and he just happens to be the victim. He loves his life in the city. Until one day his parents can no longer take him being beat up and they move him from the wonderful city into the boring countryside where there is nothing to do. That is until he meets a girl from his street called Winks. They immediately hit it off and soon become the best of friends.

Zeke’s next door neighbor is a horrible man called Maxwell Grover. He is nasty and horrid to all he meets. So Zeke and Winks decide to play some pranks on the man to try to run him out of town. Whilst doing this they discover why Maxwell wants Zeke’s house so badly for himself. There is supposed to be a magical stone that allows you to control animals and it is supposedly in Zeke's house. Now the race is on to see who can find it first, Zeke and Winks or Maxwell Grover.

I read this to my seven year old daughter and she loved it! It is a delightful story of childhood fun and pranks that my little girl found hilarious. She loved the two main characters and instantly hated Maxwell Grover for being so unkind. We were both shocked at the ending but it fitted well with the story and was quite funny. My little girl and I are looking forward to reading more adventures with Zeke and Winks.  If you have a child who loves getting up to mischief then they will love this.

Buy How Maxwell Grover Stole my House at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (152 pages)
published: March 2015
ISBN13: 978-1508572619
genres: fantasy, adventure
target audience: children
source: contest winner
read: May 2015

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

May 24, 2015

New Catalog Has Arrived!

Looking for signed paperbacks from some of the most popular indie authors? Perhaps you would like some fun reading accessories to show off your book love? You can get it all here in the Spring/Summer catalog.

There's still a few days to take advantage of May's deal by placing a $35 order and getting a FREE signed paperback of your choice! Plus if it is your first BookSurf order, I'll pay the shipping! Contact me at donna (at) to place your order.

Donna is a BookSurf Independent Consultant. If you want to learn how you can be a BookSurf Independent Consultant or are an author wishing to be featured in an upcoming catalog, please email donna (at)