Readers' Favorite

Featured Post

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...

September 19, 2015

"A book for book lovers" ~ The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.

For anyone with a love for words! ~ Farrah

Lovely work - worth reading again ~ Gillian Green

Funny, moving, uplifting ~ Cloggie Downunder

The Beginning....

How on earth could I have let them talk me into it?

The two generals of number 27 Rue Montagnard - Madame Bernard,
the owner, and Madame Roalette, the conceirge - had caught Monsiery in a pincer movement between their ground-floor flats.

"That Le P. has treated his wife shamelesly."

"Scandalously, Like a month treats a wedding veil."

"You can hardly blame some people when you look at their wives. Didges in Chanel. But men? Monsters, all of them."

"Ladies I don't quite know what..."

"Not your of course, Monsieur Perdu. You are cashmere compared with the normal yarn from which men are spun."

"Anyway, we're getting a new tenant. On the fourth floor. Yours, Monsieur."

"But Madame has nothing left. Absolutely nothing, only shattered illusion. She needs just about everything."

"And that's where you come in, Monsier. Give whatever you can. All donations welcome."

"Of course. Maybe a good book..."

"Actually, we were thinking of something more practical. A table, perhaps. You know, Madame has -"

"Nothing. I got that."

The bookseller could not imagine what might be more practical than a book, but he promised to give the new tenant a table. He still had one.

Buy The Little Paris Bookshop 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.

September 18, 2015

What's in your TBR pile?

by Donna Huber

If you have been reading Girl Who Reads for a while you know for the last year and a half I have been trying to make a dent in my print editions review pile. Some of those books have been in the pile since around the time I start blogging in 2011.

I keep them in neat stacks under the coffee table in the living room as a daily reminder that I need to read them and for the most part it has really helped. It keeps me from wandering to the bookcases in other rooms when I need something to read.

I wish I had taken a picture of the pile when I started to really make a concerted effort to read through the print copies. I didn't, but I can tell you it is probably about half the size it was. I have been careful in the past year and half in accepting more print copies for review which has helped with the reduction.

I wish I could say that by the end of the year I would be through all of those books, but it will probably be another year. Some of the books in the pile were unsolicited review copies (they were just sent to me because I agreed to to do a tour or something) and a few more are books that I won.

I feel good about getting through these review copies, albeit slowly. I wish there was a better way to organize the ebooks that I have on my Nook for review. Because I'm pretty sure if I never agreed to review another book I have enough to keep me reading for at least a couple of years.

What is in your to be read pile? How do you keep it from toppling over? (Or do you just let it?)

I would love to see pictures of your TBR pile. Use the hashtag #TBRpile and I also have a thread started on our Facebook page.

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.

September 17, 2015

SEO Basics: Using Keywords

by Donna Huber
English: The three biggest web search engines
English: The three biggest web search engines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often get confused and lost in all the technical mumble jumble when I'm reading about ways to improve my blog. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is one of those areas.

Sometimes I wonder is it really that difficult or are the techs writing the info just trying to make it sound that way.

So I'm going to try breaking down one area of SEO as it makes sense to me. While there may be more to it, using good keywords on your blog is important and a great place to start.

What are keywords?

Keywords are the words people are using when they do a search. There's info out there about long-tail keywords and finding the right ones to use in your niche. There are even tools that will help you find the right ones, but I think some basic common sense can go a long way.

Using keywords in your posts

One of the mistakes people made in the early days of SEO was keyword stuffing. It has become a "black hat" trick (means it is bad and the big search engines, i.e. Google, have really cracked down on it).

Keyword stuffing is when you take all the really popular search terms and use them together in a post or in the metadata (yeah, I'm not going to get too techie and talk about metadata today). You may have seen some keyword stuffing that spammers use - it doesn't always make a lot of sense.

Keywords should enhance your post and not detract from it. Like everything else, organic use of keywords is always better than artificially generating them.

The right way to use keywords

The first step is to write your post using whatever words you want to use. We already know that authentically created posts resonate most with readers. So write your post without thinking about keywords to keep your voice in it.

Once you have your post all written, think about 3 - 5, but no more than 10, words that people might use if they wanted to find the information contained within your post.

If it is a review post, then the title of the book, the name of the author, and the genre are likely candidates for keywords. But do not limit yourself to just that set.

Now that you have your keyword list, read back through your post and see were you might be able to naturally fit in the keywords on your list. Do you see a sentence where you used "this book" or "the author"? Replace them with the title and author's name. You don't need to use all the words on your list but use as many as truly fit the post.

You may think of something to add to your review that fits with a keyword and that's fine, but if it takes away from your review or sounds really random then it is not worth it.

Getting ideas for keywords

On Blogger, the platform I use, there is a section in the analytics where I can check traffic sources. Under this metrics I also see search keywords used by people coming to me blog. Wordpress probably has something similar, also you can find it in your Google Analytics.

These keywords are important to keep in mind because it means your blog "scored" high with those terms. In other words, when someone used those words to do a search your blog was in the top search results. I think this is what the SEO "gurus" mean by longtail keywords.

I've used these keyword search results and created entire posts out of them. That's another way to use keywords (and why I think there are a lot of tools out there). If you are doing something other than reviews on your site, then it can be a good way to get ideas for what will attract new readers to your site.

Be careful with keywords

Do not get so focused on keywords that you forget what the true focus of your site is - to tell readers about the great books we read. In the end it is really the writing style of the blogger that keeps readers coming back for more.

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.

September 16, 2015

Review: Black Diamond by Jennifer Loiske

by Claire Rees

cover Black Diamond
In Black Diamond by Jennifer Loiske, Shannon's mother dies early and she is sent to live with her estranged father she thinks that life cannot get any worse. But she was  wrong. There is something very wrong with the staff and the house. Something dark and sinister.

She is terrified to live in the house with only one friend, Simon who seems to be owned by her father and unable to help her even if he really wanted to and she feels defeated. She thinks about running away but then out in the woods she meets a boy who looks exactly like her. Her twin brother Ian that she never knew existed.

He explains that her father is becoming a demon and that she is a powerful witch. Their mother left Ian with their father but took Shannon with her and was supposed to be teaching her all about witchcraft but Shannon always thought that her mother was a normal boring mother and knew nothing about magic.

The problem is that they never know from one day to the next whether their father will still be human when they wake up or if he would have turned demon bent on destroying them. Combining her powers with Ian's they are a force to be reckoned with and maybe together they can save their father's soul.

Black Diamond was very good. The characters were written well, and although young they work well together. The story line was good and well thought out. My favorite part was having the spells written out at the end of the book.

I recommend this to all who love a good bit of good magic and dark magic with witches and demons, where good versus evil.

Buy Black Diamond at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (240 pages)
published: January 2013 by Rogue House
ISBN13: 9781291301458

genres: fantasy, fairy tale, 
target audience: young adult
read: September 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.

September 15, 2015

Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

by Donna Huber

cover The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
London, November 1883
The Home Office telegraphy department always smelled of tea. The source was one packet of Lipton's at the back of Nathaniel Steepleton's desk drawer. Before the widespread use of the electric telegraph, the office had been a broom cupboard. Thaniel had heard more than once that its failure to expand was a sign of the Home Secretary's continuing mistrust of naval inventions, be even if that wasn't the case, the departmental budget had never stretched to the replacement of the original carpet, which liked to keep the ghosts of old smells. Besides Thaniel's modern tea, there was cleaning salt and hessian, and sometimes varnish, though nobody had varnished anything there for years. Now, instead of brooms and brushes, there were twelve telegraphs lined up on a long desk. Three to an operator during the day, each wired to separate places within and without Whitehall, and labelled accordingly in the thin handwriting of a forgotten clerk.
The Review

As an adult I haven't been much a fan of Victorian England set novels, probably because everything I picked up was a romance. However, I'm kind of liking this steampunk genre. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley felt like a cross between Warehouse 13 and a Cold War era espionage novel.

I really enjoyed this novel and its intricate plot. If you are easily distracted while listening to audio books, then I recommend reading the novel yourself as you can quickly become lost with the story by missing a detail here and there. And there is a lot of detail, which made the story come to life. The narrator of the audio book did a great job so if audio books are your thing this one would be worth the listen.

It was definitely a fun novel with fantastical characters and a story line that keeps the reader a bit off kilter as to what is really going on. The writing was fantastic and I really like Pulley's style. The story does start off a bit slow and took a little while before I really got into it, but then when the story really picked up I kind of slapped my forehead for not paying better attention to the beginning.

If you like steampunk or historical fantasy, then you will want to check out The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

Buy The Watchmaker of Filigree Street at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook, audio, print (336 pages)
published: July 2015 by Bloomsbury USA
ISBN13: 978-1620408339
genres: steampunk, fantasy, historical
source: Audible publicist
listened to: August 2015

A free audio book from Audible was provided for this review. 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.

September 14, 2015

You don’t have to go home… #MondayBlogs

by Katrina Dierking

“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

How many of us have heard this line before? Perhaps as a young adult out on the town during a well-warned night of socializing, after hours of spilling it all to the bartender or the bar stool next to you. Or perhaps at the hairdressers after telling your stylist your latest saga. Either way, we’ve all been there. The lights go out, the smoke clears or the hair dryer is silenced. The music is but a distant memory of background noise and they are escorting you out the door. Keys in hand, they prepare to empty the place and you are the last to go.

“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here,” they say. But where do you go when home isn’t so cozy? Where do you go when the phone line is dead and you can’t ‘phone a friend’, when there’s no place to hang your hat and clicking your heels together gets you nowhere? Where do you go?

Mary was probably a beautiful young lady. But home never held an address for her. To be sure, her bags were always packed and ready for quick escape. Her face held many lines of regret and multiple potholes of mistakes. She was on her own. Independent – some might call it in present day. In her day, she was an outcast. The town’s people judged her as she crossed the street. The elders of the church whispered as she slipped through the allies. As the sun faded on each stormy day, where was she to go? Certainly she could muster a smile of pretense. One that said, “I have made it this far alone and I don’t need you or anyone else”. Still at the end of the day, she found no Ruby slippers to bring her peace.

So this day could not have been a surprise for her. Certainly she had it marked on the calendar as a possibility of happenings. The town’s people had finally caught her red handed doing what she did best – prostituting. Multiple men – married men. They might as well have placed a big red  'A' on her chest – they intended to. As they drug her through the streets to give her what she long deserved, they called Jesus to witness. Mary had no family to back her. No one to call on in her time of need. There was no public defender or 2:00 a.m. friend she could count on. In fact, she could count on one hand all her closest friends and still have a hand full on nothing.

There she lay on the ground face down in the dirt. Certainly where she belonged in their eyes. Each one took a stone in hand prepared to give the sentence to the fullest extent of the law. There was silence as Jesus bent down to draw in the sand. What was He doing playing in the dirt at a time such as this? “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” He said to the “jury” of the town. Silence remained.

As Mary crawled, broken and bruised, to the feet of Jesus, He held out a hand to help her stand. Surely, this was the first moment anyone had offered a hand up. With eyes of regret she faced her judge. “Look around you. Where are your accusers?” He asked the battered soul. As the two stood alone in a place that once held a court room, He said, “go and sin no more.”

~ ~ ~ 

Are we so busy being righteous that we forget to be compassionate? Have we forgotten how to love? Certainly we must call sin what it is – wrong. But in doing so, we must also remember, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

In my upcoming novel, Hopeless Tap Water, the most “righteous” members of a small dying church turn on each other as their darkest secrets are revealed. It takes “the least of these” to remind them of God's grace and mercy” but will it be too late?

Check out for updates on my new novel.

photo credit: day 044. via photopin (license)
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.