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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...

August 22, 2015

"thrilling until the last page" ~ The Joy of Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky

The Joy of Witchcraft - A humorous paranormal romance by USA Today bestselling author Mindy Klasky.

Sometimes a thunderstorm is just a thunderstorm. But not this time.

Jane Madison’s school for witches is in session, and the first order of business is an intricate Samhain ritual. Alas, in the midst of a sudden, unseasonable deluge, a classic Greek monster is released into the magic circle. Jane succeeds in vanquishing the beast, but only with the assistance of her sworn enemy, the Coven Mother of Washington DC.

Crisis averted, Jane would be perfectly happy to plan her wedding to her astral protector, David Montrose. But how can she look at seating charts when she’s under attack by more monsters, the Coven Mother, and the highest law in the witchy land, Hecate’s Court?

All these disasters can’t be coincidence. One of Jane’s students must be a traitor. But will Jane find the turncoat before she loses everything—and everyone—she holds dear?

It was light, quick and the perfect mental get-away for a vacation. ~ Jamie Lee

The storyline was strong with a shocking twist. ~ Diane Barber

Buy The Joy of Witchcraft at Amazon

Book 1 - Girl's Guide to Witchcraft is FREE

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 21, 2015

Review: The SEAL's Angel by Petie McCarty

by Claire Rees

cover The Seal's Angel
The Seal's Angel is the third book in Petie McCarty's Mystery Angel Romances, but the books are all stand alones. Mac is part of a military black ops unit. He had been told that his partner is dead and has been discovered to have been a traitor to their government. Mac argues against this unable to believe that the man he thought of as a brother for all these years would be a traitor.

Mac’s new assignment is to go undercover to his partners old home and see if he had sent his sister Cory anything to do with the mission.

The only thing is that Mac had not seen Cory for years. Ever since they fell in love and he ran away back to the military without even saying goodbye. Even though he feels he had a good reason for doing so he doesn't know if Cory will feel the same way.

When she realises who Mac really is, she is hurt.

Then when her life is threatened by the mission,  Mac finally admits to her how much he wants her. But nothing is ever easy for them and some Syrians get in the way. People get hurt, but finally the Syrians are caught and Mac has to decide whether to stay with Cory at the ranch or whether to return to the only proper life he has ever known, the military.

I read this book in one sitting, I was addicted to the ‘will they, won't they’ situation that Mac and Cory were in. The characters had such a life like feel to them that I often found myself huffing about the way they spoke to each other or the things that they didn't say to each other but wanted to.

I recommend The Seal's Angel to all who love a good story line with strong characters.

Buy The Seal's Angel at Amazon

Book info
available formats: ebook and print (224 pages)
published: April 2015 by Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN13: 978-1612525877
genres: romance
read: August 2015

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 20, 2015

Keep your sanity and maintain a quality publication: tips for managing multiple contributors

by Donna Huber

Whether you have regular contributors or accept the occasional guest post it is important to make your guidelines and expectations clear.

I have always accepted guest posts, but a little over a year and a half ago I added regular contributors to Girl Who Reads. It has been a great help to spread the work around a bit, especially when we went to 7 days a week publication. Along the way I have learned a few things that apply just as much to one time contributors as it does to regular contributors.

If you are struggling with managing multiple contributors to your publication, I hope you will find these tips useful.

What do you want the contributing writer to write about? 

You may have specific topics in mind or you may want to provide general ideas and let the writer decide the angle to take. I'm in the latter category.

Under submission guidelines I have listed broad topics, with suggested content ideas. But I always leave the specific topic to the writer. This is particularly true of one time contributors. Often they are submitting the article as part of a tour or other media blitz and I want them to reveal themselves to my readers. I think this is best done with allowing them to explore a topic that is of interest and relevance to them and their book.

With my regular feature writers, I still give them a lot of autonomy in deciding the topic of their article. However, if I see something in the news or observe a trend in publishing I will often suggest a topic to the writer. For example, there were a number of fairytale based novels coming out and I was curious about the trend and fascination. Since I was curious and I figured my readers would be to. Alison took the suggestion and wrote the article Happily Ever After.

Because my regular feature writers are having to come up with a topic each month, I regularly send out an email with general topic ideas. I usually do this if I see them writing on the same topic regularly. It clues me into that they may be struggling with ideas.

You will also want to consider the appropriateness for your readership. Girl Who Reads is an open site and reviews books for all ages, I request content be appropriate for the PG13 crowd. If your publication is focused on erotica or other adult, then you may allow more explicit content in your articles.

How long do you want the article to be? 

I one time had an author write a "guest post" that was 1 paragraph. While I often had authors ask about word count, I didn't feel I needed to state an actual word count in my guidelines. I learned my lesson. I did some research on what were optimal lengths for online news reading and discovered that 500 to 1,000 words were a good general guideline. Do I count the words when an article is submitted? No, but since I set the guideline I haven't any super long or way short articles. The exception is if the article is graphics heavy, such as a "how-to" article where pictures give more instruction than just text.

By setting guidelines for the content you accept, you will give writers a better sense of what your publication's focus is as well as having a standard by which to judge quality. Having stated guidelines, makes it easier to reject an article as you have an unbiased reason to not publish.

When do you want articles submitted? 

Right now I have set a submission guideline as the Friday before the article is scheduled to publish. I do most of my blogging on the weekend and this deadline allows for me to have all of the upcoming week's contributed content available.

However, I've thought about revising this deadline. For contributors whose pieces publish on Monday, it does not provide much time for editing. If I see the article for the first time Saturday morning and it needs major revisions it is unlikely that it will get done by Sunday evening.

As this really impacts quality of the pieces published, it is important to allow adequate time to the task of editing. Right now, all I'm really able to do is a proofread, but as I want to take Girl Who Reads to the next stage of online publishing I really need to consider more editoral involvement. And that means I will need to set earlier deadlines.

I have written about the need for an editorial calendar. Setting up the calendar is much easier if you know what content you are publishing that month. I know that my feature writers will provide their articles, and I typically know which books I'm reviewing that month. The problem for me is knowing what my staff reviewers are going to review that month.

I'm working on that problem now. For July and August, I sent them the dates that I did not have content already planned for. July worked well, August not so much.

I'm contemplating another method - a revolving deadline, but no set publish date. In this case, reviews could be submitted throughout the month, but they may not publish until the next month. This method would allow me to set the editorial calendar in advance based on the content I had already. A variation on this method would be to set a deadline for submission as the 20th of each month for inclusion in the next month publication schedule.

When will the article publish? 

Tied to the deadline for submission is when will you publish the article. Presently, my regular feature writers are assigned a specific day of the month that their article appears (1st Friday of the month, 2nd Wednesday, etc.). For the most part, they are good about meeting their deadline.

The problem more lies with one time contributors. There have been instances where an author or publicist has schedule a date for an article to run and then "forget". Unfortunately, I believe this is largely due to the unprofessionalism that is rampant among self and indie published authors. To combat this problem, I have been more reluctant to set a date for publication until I have received the article.

Again, this problem may be solved by setting a submission date the month prior for inclusion in the next month's publication schedule. It would require writers to be more organized, but it isn't anything that major news publications don't require.

It should be noted that I like to set the editorial calendar on a monthly basis. However, if your publication does a weekly calendar or annual calendar, then you will need to adjust your schedule accordingly, i.e. for weekly editorial calendar planning you may want to set the deadline as 2 weeks ahead. That will give you a week to review the submission and a week for any revisions that are required.

Communicate regularly with contributors

It is particularly important to touch base often with any regular contributors you have. Open communication between parties will alleviate the stress that can come from managing multiple contributors as well as acknowledge the hard work the contributors do. 

Sometimes I do mass emails, but these are usually reserved for communicating topic suggestions or tips for writing better articles. As a means of encouragement, I will often share stats and announcements of awards/recognition.

I also email them individually to provide feedback on their articles or to get their thoughts on a change I'm thinking of making. 

I want my regular contributors to feel like they are part of the team. So sometimes I just write to see how they are doing. 

Does your publication manage multiple contributors? What do you do keep your sanity and maintain a quality publication?

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 19, 2015

Deborah Harkness reads from The Book of Life

Living in a small town we don't often get the really big names of publishing for book signings. Are you  like me and wonder what it would be like to attend a book event with one of your favorite authors? Thankfully there is YouTube and I'm thankful to book stores and venues video these tour stops. Today, I have a video of Deborah Harkness's The Book of Life tour stop at Politics and Prose. I hope you enjoy!

If you haven't read All Souls Trilogy, you should remedy that today. Buy the trilogy at Amazon.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 18, 2015

Review: At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

by Donna Huber

cover At the Water's Edge
Drumnadrochit, February 28, 1942
Agnes Mairi Grant,
Duaghter of Angus and Mairi Grant
January 14th, 1942
Cpt. Angus Duncan Grant,
Beloved Husband of Mairi
April 2nd, 1909 - January 1942
The headstone was modest and hewn of black granite, granite being on of the few things never in short supply in Glenurquhart, even during the present difficulty.
Mairi visited the tiny swell of earth that covered her daughter's coffin every day, watching as it flattened. Archie the Stonecutter had said it might be months before they could put up the stone with the frost so hard upon them, but the coffin was so small the leveling was accomplished in just a few weeks.
No sooner was the stone up than Mairi got the telegram about Angus and had Archie take it away again. Archie had wanted to wait until the date of death was verified, but Mairi needed it done then, to have a place to mourn them both at once, and Archie could not say no. He chiseled Angus's name beneath his daughter's and left some room to add the day of the month when they learned it. An addition for an absence, because Angus - unlike the wee bairn - was not beneath it and almost certainly never would be.
The Review

I kept being drawn to the cover of At the Water's Edge every time I went to the digital library, yet the book was never available. Finally I decided I would put a hold on it since it didn't look like it was going to become available any time soon and I wouldn't ever get to listen to it if I didn't. I loved the audio book for Water for Elephants (read my review) and hoped that this would be another wonderfully told story.

I will admit that it took me a bit to get into this story. I couldn't even remember how it started. But eventually I was drawn into the world of privilege and want. As I learned more about Maddie the more engrossed in the story I became. Ellis, and Hank to lesser extent, were excellent creatures of scorn. I say to a lesser extent for Hank because I'm think he was taken in by Ellis's "charm" and overlooked things. Maybe it was partly because of breeding. Hank and Ellis are from the upper American crust.

Maddie was quite naive, though I can see how someone as lonely and ignored would be blinded by the attention of wealthier, more socially adept peers. But really what self-respecting woman would marry a man because of a coin toss? I know times were different and woman were not able to be as independent as they are now.

Unfortunately when Maddie took off the blinders she found herself in a perilous situation - in a foreign land with a ruthless husband that threatened to shut her up in an asylum for treatment of her nervous condition. But would he want her cured? Wouldn't that mean an end to her pills that he so eagerly devours? If only it served a higher purpose, for Ellis was only concerned with what would serve him. If it meant he could return to the family fold a redeemed man.

I loved the mix of characters at the Scottish inn that Ellis and Hank practically abandon Maddie at. I love a good World War II story and though the war ravishes on the Scottish Highlands are quite removed from it all - aside from the rationing of food and fuel and, of course, the arrival of the occasional telegram heralding bad news.

Justine Eyre does a wonderful job as narrator for the audio book, but I think I would have connected with the story faster if I had been reading it myself. Unlike Water for Elephants, which lent itself to the oral tradition of storytelling, At the Water's Edge is a more intricate story where what is not said is just as important as what is said. The depth of the story can only be revealed by the re-reading of passages, which is not easily done when listening to the audio book.

If you are a Downton Abbey fan, it may tide you over until the start of the new season. When Hank and Ellis are around, there is also bit of a Great Gatsby feel to the story.

Anyone who loves eloquently woven stories will no doubt enjoy At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Buy At the Water's Edge at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook, audio, print (368 pages)
published: March 2015 by Random House Audio
ISBN13: 9781101889374
genre: historical fiction 
source: digital library
listened to: August 2015

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 17, 2015

What's popular in #YA?

The kids are back in school and soon book reports and reading logs will be coming due. Get your kids into reading by suggesting these popular young adult titles (you might even win some cool parent points!).

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

Buy The Rest of Us Just Live Here at Amazon

cover Legacy of Kings
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancĂ©e, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Buy Legacy of Kings at Amazon

cover The Creeping
Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.

Now Stella is seventeen, and she's over it. She's the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it's her small town's ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She's got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.

Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.

And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.

Buy The Creeping at Amazon

cover What You Left Behind
It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

Buy What You Left Behind at Amazon

cover The Accident Season
It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

Buy The Accident Season at Amazon

Covers and descriptions are from Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

August 16, 2015

The White Thread Read Along and Giveaway: Chapters 13 - 18 @KBHoyle_author

by Donna Huber

cover The White Thread by K. B. Hoyle
We continue our discussion of The White Thread (The Gateway Chronicles #3) by K. B. Hoyle. We ended last week on a sad note with a death of an important secondary character.  And Darcy's secret is almost revealed.

I think it important that we see Darcy being able to make the healing remedy, even if she had to consult a book to be sure. I think in a small way it shows how she is becoming part of Alitheia. And all the secret keeping she has been trying to keep has been in vain Rubidius already knows. I don't know how she didn't think he knew. I made comment of it in our discussion of The Six. Any nurse or healer worth anything would have wondered why that hand was colder when they were caring for her after they rescued her. But then again, don't we all like to think that no one knows of our shame, our sin?

Chapter 13 was quite the busy chapter. There's a riot of some sort going on outside the castle. You would think they would all be mourning their losses and regrouping after the battle that had ensued earlier in the day. A battle that was ultimately won. But it gives us and the six a glimpse of the unrest and discord among the citizens of Alitheia. It also pushes Darcy and Tellius together once more as she races to his side in effort to discover what is going on.

And to add to the already busy chapter there's an assassin in Tellius's room!

Tellius gets "in trouble" for using the secret passage in his room, but I don't really understand why. Why couldn't he use it? I can understand the nark being upset that the door wasn't locked, but to forbid him to use it seems a little excessive. Sure that meant he was leaving his room when the guards that he was in his room, but the assassin didn't get in because Tellius was using it to go to the Hall of Tapestries.

It's a good thing narks don't gossip (at least I would assume they don't - it doesn't seem like it would be part of their character) because even in Darcy's world it would be suspect why she was alone with Tellius in his room and having snuck into his room.

Chapter 14 was a chapter of revelation, whether Darcy and the others knew it or not. Clues that would give them answers to some of the big questions they have - a way to rescue Yahto Veli, where to look for the Oracle's lair, and the location of another gateway. Did you see the answers?

There journey to rescue Yahto Veli begins after Darcy helps Lewis figure out that he has already written what they needed to know and with the help of her air magic where to start looking for the Oracle.

Colin (is it really Colin) knows they are leaving as he appears as an apparition once again to Darcy. In The Oracle he appeared to her in the caves but no one else saw him. It seems that once again no one else sees him. Is it because of her curse?

Amelia poses a good question at the end of chapter 15,
I don't get the the connection between the two, though," Amelia said, "What do Colin and the crows have to do with each other? An why would Tselloch even care that we are going to rescue Yahto Veli?
Just because they are on an adventure, they don't get out of lessons with Rubidius. At least not at the beginning of the journey.

It is interesting how often Tellius and Darcy wind up alone. But it is difficult for her to get time alone with Perry.

Oh we are introduced to another mythical creature - zephyra. Interesting side note - if you look up zephyra in the dictionary it has two definitions.
1. literary - a soft gentle breeze.
2. historical - a fine cotton gingham

I just find it interesting that a word has two so completely different meanings. It's a word nerd thing.

Hoyle seems to have a knack for ending chapters with a pivotal  moment. Chapter 16 ends with Perry declaring Darcy his girlfriend in a fit of jealousy. Can we say awkward moment coming up next?

While a typical teen scene as they try to explain away "girlfriend" it still provides some levity in what has become quite a downer in plot. Another time honored passage of teen life is deciding who is more important - a teen love interest or your best friend? Did Amelia really believe she could get through to Perry about what his relationship with Darcy would do to Sam?  I always kind of liked Perry, he seemed like a nice guy that would be a good friend. But in The White Thread we see a different side of him. He seems more self-centered. In the beginning of the book when Darcy is chatting with him on the internet we start to see it as he goes on and on about his sports and his life without even realizing Darcy isn't really listening.

They are still pondering the white thread... Why didn't they put the white thread back when the tapestries where being restored? At first I thought they were woven tapestries and it could be very difficult to do, but somewhere there was mention tiny holes more like the thread was sewn into the tapestry like embroidery.

The zephyra doesn't want them to continue to the archipelago. She seemed to have been helpful up til now. Why the change of heart do you think? Does it have to do with the old sailor tales of a "Bermuda triangle? Or is there another reason she wants them to go off course?

We end this week's discussion by going ashore Theanisi. Sam gets to go on a mini adventure on her "own". She is often left behind or only gets to go when the whole group goes. But it makes since with her talent that she should be part of scouting parties. I always thought it was wrong that she stayed behind when they traveled in The Oracle. I mean, really if she is the companion shouldn't she always be along?

But back to Theanisi. I often forget just how long Alitheia has been under Tselloch's influence if not control until something like them meeting the people of Theanisi and learning that they are descendants of Alitheia refugees.

Are you getting the no feeling about this place?

What do think about this "side trip"? What do you think its importance was to the characters? to the story?  Why do you think Hoyle decided to include it?

I think it was to show that there are other evils in the world outside of the evil that is Tselloch. They are there to return balance to to the world and rid Alitheia of Tselloch, but there will still be evil present. I'm sure there are people there, maybe even Tellius and the six, who think once Tselloch is gone that Alitheia will be paradise. I think part of me thought so. Isn't that how fairytales go? You banish the evil witch and everything is idyllic?

While The Gateway Chronicles is fantasy and has a prince, it is not a fairytale. What do you think? Am I just rambling?

Join me next week to see if Darcy and the gang escapes with all their throats intact. And remember to enter the giveaway:

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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.