Readers' Favorite

December 5, 2015

Featured Book: White Out by Amber Lea Easton #ASMSG

She's been erased. As a protected witness, Brandi Simms has given up everything that made her unique to start over in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Blending into the background isn't easy, but it's vital for survival. When her handsome yet incorrigible neighbor—former Olympic skier turned cowboy—decides her aloof attitude is a challenge rather than a deterrent, she knows the only right thing to do is resist.

The secrets she hides are deadly.

Ryan Landry isn't accustomed to rejection. Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, he's the local hero who came home to run a ranch and be near his family. The mysterious neighbor who seems content to hang out with dogs rather than humans haunts his fantasies and ignites that competitive drive that led him to the world stage.

He's not one to give up.

When her dangerous past catches up to Brandi, Ryan is determined to break through her secrets to find the truth no matter what the cost. Trapped in a whiteout blizzard with unseen threats lurking in the snow, will they get a chance to create a new beginning or will Brandi's past be the death of them?

Compelling! Romantic! Phenomenal! ~ JLC13

Red hot romance!!! ~ Kirstin

Snow me in with this hero! ~ Princess WinEmAll

Buy White Out at Amazon

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December 4, 2015

How Not to Turn a Book into a Movie

by Chris

Bag End, as used in the Lord of the Rings films.
Bag End, as used in the Lord of the Rings films. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies recently released as an extended edition, my eleven-year-old and I thought it would be a good time to return to Middle Earth. In advance of the extended edition’s release, we watched, over several nights, all of the Lord of the Rings films, followed by the first two Hobbit movies. As we did, it started to occur to me that we might as well be watching the rise and fall of someone who once might have been considered the greatest director of modern times.

It’s no secret that the Hobbit movies are vastly inferior to the Lord of the Rings films. But where George Lucas’ prequel trilogy went from awful to almost passable, Jackson’s just declined ever further as they went on. The Return of the King won eleven Academy Awards—a feat matched only twice in the history of film—including best picture, best director and best screenplay. The Battle of the Five Armies was nominated for one, perhaps out of sympathy: best sound editing.

I recently saw an interview with Jackson, where he gave, if not an excuse, at least some insight into what happened. You see, the Hobbit movies were originally to be directed by Guillermo del Toro, who eventually left the project due to studio delays, having yet to film a single shot. Ultimately, Jackson was brought back on board as director, taking over del Toro’s work—but with no time offered to reconsider the script or shots. Essentially, the studios had given Jackson two years to not only film, edit and produce a set of three movies, but to also rewrite the script and hire an almost entirely new cast. By contrast, The Lord of the Rings films had four—with Jackson having been planning it for decades before.

Watching this degradation of what could have been a masterpiece has left me with some observations of what works when converting a book to a film, and conversely, some things that don’t.

  1. Give the material the development time it deserves. Tolkien didn’t rush through The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings; in fact, The Lord of the Rings took almost twelve years to complete. The works represent a vivid imagination, but more importantly an incredible attention to detail. To this day, Tolkien sets the gold standard for world-building, and this was something Jackson instinctively understood with the first three films.
  2. Respect the books’ pacing, but don’t drag it out. The Lord of the Rings novels are notoriously slow-paced, and filled with details that some might argue are extraneous to the main plot. When The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001, it managed to follow this slow pace superbly. It’s nearly forty minutes before the journey even begins, and by the time most movies would be ending, Fellowship has only just reached its midpoint. Yet for all of this, the story never gets dull, primarily because there was so much material for Jackson to draw on. The Hobbit is a shorter and simpler story; it didn’t need three films.
  3. Removing and combining characters is fine; adding them is not. Perhaps the most egregious mistake Jackson made was in introducing characters that weren’t in the book—either by importing them from other works, or inventing them entirely. Whilst sadly The Hobbit is a somewhat female-less story, Tauriel’s inclusion in the movie was almost worse. As a female character she remains a token in an otherwise all-male cast, and shows a lack of respect to the original material in the thought that she could be on par, as it were, with Tolkien’s own characters. Worse still was Legolas—not only was he not in the original book, but he was utterly unnecessary as a character.
  4. CGI is not everything. Whilst The Lord of the Rings films make heavy use of CGI (The Return of the King has nearly 1,500 computer-generated shots), they also make heavy use of practical special effects, including make-up, prosthetics and miniatures. Where Jackson excelled was in the deft combination of both. And while Gollum remains clearly CG, he was nonetheless convincing. The pale orc? Unnecessary. What made the orcs so believable in the first movies was their immediacy, the genuine presence of an actor that actually looked like that. And while Smaug is undoubtedly a masterpiece of digital technology, the other characters are not.
  5. Sometimes, you don’t need to make the movie at all. This point could be a little contentious; I’m not necessarily suggesting that the Hobbit films would have been better off unmade. Still, for nearly twenty years Star Wars stood as a trilogy, and look what happened when Lucas decided to revisit it. As much as fans were clamoring for a Hobbit movie, it might have been better to leave them with the incredible legacy of the first three films, rather than foist something utterly underwhelming on them.

I’m not trying to say that the Hobbit films are awful; I actually rather enjoyed An Unexpected Journey. I thought it matched the pacing of the Lord of the Rings movies better. But The Desolation of Smaug was too concerned with fast-paced action shots, and The Battle of the Five Armies showed an over-reliance on special effects to try and drive the story. Ultimately, the movie are already made, and short of some major George Lucas-style tinkering, nothing can make them better than they are. They are, for better or worse, part of the Middle Earth film legacy. And we’ll have to enjoy them as they are, because we probably won’t ever get anything better.

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.

December 3, 2015

Review ~ LIFE: It Is What It Is by Lisa Sugarman

by Elisabeth Scherer

cover Life It Is What It Is

I will be the first to admit that I am not an avid newspaper reader. I had a subscription once or twice to the local paper for an attempt at being an extreme couponer and told myself I would read the paper since I was getting it but in reality the papers sat in the corner piling up like other papers in my life. I would be much more likely to grab the comics and crossword puzzles than to faithfully read a column every week, preferring instead to read my news online.

However I recently read Lisa Sugarman’s new book LIFE: It Is What It Is and it could very well change my mind.  She is a nationally syndicated opinion columnist who chose 50 of her favorite columns and compiled them into this book.

Sugarman gives snapshots of everyday life with sentences that anyone would could apply to their own lives. There are many things that I can relate to with Ms. Sugarman including being a mother, a love for running, and a woman who cares not only about her family and friends but also about the community she lives in.  It felt like my dearest friend was telling me some very amusing anecdotes over a cup of tea (okay a glass of wine or margarita).

Her book is an easy read for anyone looking for some inspiration in their lives. You can read a column in bursts as you have time or you can do like I did and binge read the entire book as quickly as you can turn the page.  She reminds us that life is far from perfect, plans don’t always work the way you want them to, but anyone can be happy if you just remember to look for the humor in your life.

I walked away from reading these columns with many quotes I put aside to read when I need a boost in life. Here are my top three Lisa Sugarman pearls of wisdom (well at least for today):

On Friendship
It’s those cyclical friendships, though, that have really been on my mind lately, you know, the ones that are like vintage clothes: they always seem to come back around and fit just right at different times. Maybe that’s because the vintage stuff is crafted differently, like our oldest friendships. / The old stuff is forged differently, so it’s got different durability. page 236 of 2244, 10%

On Parenting
What I can do is remind you that, as parents, we have the right and the obligation to intervene when our kids reach their breaking point. It’s up to us to put on the brakes and set limits and just say no to playing three sports in the fall or doing four extracurricular activities just because they don’t want to miss out. It’s our job. It’s our responsibility. And even though they’ll hate our guts for it on the outside, they love us for it on the inside. They’ll just never show it. - page 1574 of 2244, 70%

and finally because I am still riding high from my holiday week (maybe from too much chocolate pie):

On Thanksgiving
But most of all, Thanksgiving is a day designed to celebrate the essence of life. Which, in case you didn’t already know, is people. Because none of us walks through life alone. We all have partners along the way - people who steady us and keep us on course, people who pick us up when we fall, and people who lead us when we’re lost. And it’s these people who make the journey worth taking. - page 1978 of 2244, 88%

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced, light read filled with wonderful inspiration or to anyone wanting to laugh at life’s imperfections.

If this book sounds like something you’d like to read there is some further good news for you. We are offering a giveaway (US addresses only) for the book right here on the blog.

Leave a comment below with a way to contact you for your chance to win a copy of LIFE: It Is What It Is by Lisa Sugarman. A winner will be chosen on Friday, December 11, using

Buy LIFE: It Is What It Is at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (204 pages)
published: February 2014
genres: self-help, advice, humor
source: author
read: September 2015

For more from Lisa Sugarman:

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 using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

December 2, 2015

Review: The Beast and Me By D. S. Wrights

by Claire Rees

cover The Beast and Me

The Beast and Me by D. S. Wrights is written as a diary. The diary of Meghan who has been abducted from her university.

With no friends and not particularly close to her parents she doesn't think that anyone will even notice that she is missing. In the early days her captors have been good to her and have given her a diary and pen, her room has a bed with separate shower and a bathroom.

Writing in the diary seems to stop her from losing her mind.

Then one day they come to get her, they blindfold her and take her to a room, chaining her to the walls and leave her alone with what she thinks is an animal. Who smells her and touches her, the hands feel like a humans so she feels perhaps she is wrong until those hands turn into glass and slice through her skin.

She recovers in hospital and is told by the scientist that she was chosen for the experiment and if she doesn't listen to what they tell her to do then she is of no use to them and will be taken care of.

So she goes along with everything they ask. Uncovering what this beast is a little more every time she sees him and actually getting feelings for him.

I became addicted to this book quickly and needed to see exactly what was going to happen to Meghan and the beast they call ‘Ten’.

It made me wonder is she will ever escape the facility where she is being held captive or if they will get rid of her once she has completed whatever it is they want her to do.

I would recommend The Beast and Me to everyone who likes mystery and a thriller filled with hope and love.

But The Beast and Me at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (344 pages)
published: March 2015 by DarkSigyn Publishing
ISBN13: 9781499527599
genres: horror, science ficition
read: October 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.

December 1, 2015

New Releases: December 2015

The end of the year is quickly approaching. Pick up the last new releases of 2015

cover The Best Goodbye
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines comes the next sizzling novel in the Rosemary Beach series, featuring well-known playboy and Blaire’s half brother, Captain.

The look on Rose’s face had screamed that she was hiding something. Hell, she’d practically run away from me. There was something to that. I knew there was...

After ten years in the employ of a mysterious crime boss, River “Captain” Kipling is ready to leave his sordid past—and his cover occupation as an upscale restaurateur—behind him. The only thing standing in the way of his “retirement” is his commitment to launch a new restaurant in the resort town of Rosemary Beach. With his sister, Blaire, nearby, Captain can delay his dream of running a humble bar on the waterfront, but the unwanted attentions of his head server, Elle, have him itching to get out.

Until he notices Rose Henderson, the new server at the restaurant. All he knows about the pretty redhead with the cute glasses is that she’s a hardworking single mom from Oklahoma. But there’s something overly familiar about her laugh...something strange about the way she looks at Captain...

Available December 1
Buy The Best Goodbye at Amazon

cover Splinter the Silence
Splinter the Silence is a novel centered on the mysterious deaths of several women who were the victims of vicious cyberbullying.

Is it violence if it’s virtual? The outspoken women targeted by the increasingly cruel internet trolls and bullies would probably say so. For some of them, the torrents of bile and vicious threats prove too much. They begin to silence themselves in a series of high-profile suicides.

Or do they? Tony Hill isn’t convinced. But he’s the only one. Former cop Carol Jordan is too busy messing up her life to care. Until she gets an unexpected second chance. Now it’s game on, and the stakes have never been higher.

Available December 1
Buy Splinter the Silence at Amazon

cover Commander in Chief
When Russian President Valeri Volodin’s ambitions are foiled in Dagestan, he faces a difficult choice. The oligarchs who support him expect a constant flow of graft, but with energy prices cratering, the Russian economy sputters to a virtual halt. Unable to grow the Russian market at home, his hold on power relies on expansion abroad—a plan that has been thwarted by the United States in the past.
But this time Volodin has determined that an indirect approach is the best. A floating natural gas facility in Lithuania is blown up. A Venezuelan prosecutor is assassinated. A devastating attack on a Russian troop train kills dozens. A chaotic world is the best camouflage for a series of seemingly unrelated attacks.

Only one man recognizes an ominous pattern in the reports of terror from around the globe. U.S. President Jack Ryan sees a guiding hand in the worldwide chaos, but before he can act he needs proof.

While his intelligence agencies race to uncover the truth behind the attacks, the President struggles to unite a fractious and distrustful coalition of Western nations against the schemes of the Russian dictator.

With five thousand Russian troops poised to invade a NATO nation, can Jack Ryan move swiftly enough to stop Volodin’s grand plan of global conflict and conquest? Or will he succeed in changing the balance of world power forever?

Available December 1
Buy Commander in Chief at Amazon

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

Available December 8
Buy The Trouble with Destiny at Amazon

THE MUST-READ THRILLER OF THE YEAR: Featuring the most exhilarating heroine in memory and a sophisticated, endlessly ingenious, brilliantly paced narrative through dark territory and deep mystery, this is a new milestone in literary suspense and a major new breakout book from the long acclaimed master.

At twenty-two, Bibi Blair’s doctors tell her that she’s dying. Two days later, she’s impossibly cured. Fierce, funny, dauntless, she becomes obsessed with the idea that she was spared because she is meant to save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell. This proves to be a dangerous idea. Searching for Ashley Bell, ricocheting through a southern California landscape that proves strange and malevolent in the extreme, Bibi is plunged into a world of crime and conspiracy, following a trail of mysteries that become more sinister and tangled with every twisting turn.

Unprecedented in scope, infinite in heart, Ashley Bell is a magnificent achievement that will capture lovers of dark psychological suspense, literary thrillers, and modern classics of mystery and adventure. Beautifully written, at once lyrical and as fast as a bullet, here is the most irresistible novel of the decade.

Available December 8
Buy Ashley Bell at Amazon

Alexis Bass’s heartbreakingly beautiful second novel is a tale of love, loss, and learning to forgive, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and of Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything.

A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart's brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he's coming home from prison.

Amanda's been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother's recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he's a monster. Still, she loves him. It's her dark secret, until she starts getting close to Henry again--whose sister is paralyzed from the accident.

A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she'll let his choice destroy hers.

Available December 29
Buy What's Broken Between Us at Amazon

When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven't spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what's more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she's drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she's forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

Available December 29
Buy First Touch 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.

November 30, 2015

Interview with Jessie Rosen, author of DEAD RINGER #MondayBlogs

How did this story come to you?

The core idea for Dead Ringer was something my literary manager and I started discussing a long time ago. We were both obsessed with the massive twist in Gone Girl and wanted to play with the idea of that occurring inside a YA world. After a lot of brainstorming, the story developed. But, for the record, I said, “No way—this is too crazy!” for at least a few months before believing I could pull it off.

Is DEAD RINGER based on a true story?

The novel is based on true towns, some true people, a lot of researched facts (like hacking, police investigation, and even some scientific stuff), but the main concept is purely fiction. That said, I would love to know if something like the Dead Ringer reveal has actually happened in real life! Once you’ve finished reading, please let me know what you know.

Want to know more? Read a guest blog post here about the bits that are fiction vs. reality and here for which real-life boys inspired my main character, Charlie Sanders!

Did you do anything to prepare for writing sessions? Have any sort of pre-writing ritual?

cover Dead Ringer
I have endless pre-writing rituals. First I outline like mad using notecards, Excel sheets, and a lot of Post-its on my fridge! That’s all done before I start drafting. Then when I’m actually writing every morning (another ritual), I spend about 30 minutes each night prepping what I’m going to tackle the next day. I made a bulleted list of how the next scene will unfold so I’ve already done the hard thinking before I hit that terrifying blank white page the next day!

Some authors write in coffee shops, others in their beds… What surrounds you when you write?

I tend to write in coffee shops, and almost all of Dead Ringer was written in a gorgeous little spot in Los Angeles called Zinque. I need to leave my house so I’m not distracted by my puppy…or all the things I want to clean. But anywhere I write needs to be light, bright, and cozy. Zinque has a “garden room” with floor-to-ceiling windows that let the sunshine in and really plush couches so I feel like I’m in the living room of my ideal house.

What drew you to write YA? Why not an adult mystery thriller?

Two things drew me to writing a YA thriller. First, I felt like the YA world was missing mystery thrillers like a Gone Girl or Girl On A Train. But mostly I wanted to challenge myself to write in a high school tone and voice. I’ve worked in an adult voice for my entire career, so this felt like a great opportunity to branch out.

Was the transition from blogger to author natural for you?

No! It took so much hard work (and convincing on the part of my managers and husband) to tackle this project. I was sure that I couldn’t do it: the length, the tone, the heavy plotting. I read a lot of YA and adult novels before launching into Dead Ringer, and I read even more books on the craft of writing a novel or sticking to any long writing project. To that end I highly recommend Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird and Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Which character in DEAD RINGER was the most difficult to write? The most fun?

The most difficult was definitely Laura. One part of that is because I wanted her to be strong but still sweet, and the second part is because of all the events that unfold around her (sorry, not telling). The most fun was definitely Sasha. She is the curious, obsessive side of myself that felt easy to tap into as I wrote.

To be clear, I am not a genius hacker.

What are your three favorite or most memorable books?

I think favorite and most memorable are the same for me. They are:

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. My favorite book as a child and one I still reread today. It’s such a fun journey with such clear characters. I love it more every time.

The Secret History by Donna Tart. A master class in mystery. I thought about this book a lot when writing Dead Ringer because I wanted to match the incredible suspense it achieves.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. To me, it’s the most epic love story of all time, perfectly told. I read it overnight in eight hours straight in high school. I always think of Elisabeth and Darcy when I’m crafting lovebirds. I love their yin/yang dynamic.

Everyone’s wondering: Will DEAD RINGER have a sequel?

Here’s hoping! I originally conceived the story as a trilogy, so the plan for books two and three are already laid out! Will enough people love book one to make two and three come true?? That’s where you readers come in ;) Fingers crossed.

- Jessie Rosen

Buy Dead Ringer at Amazon

Read DEAD RINGER today and find out just why it needs that sequel! Available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or direct from the Full Fathom Five Digital store (direct purchases give Jessie more royalties!).

About the Author: 
Jessie Rosen is a writer, producer, and performer. She grew up in New Jersey, attended Boston College in Massachusetts, and began her writing career in New York. Her live storytelling series Sunday Night Sex Talkhas received national attention. She was named one of “The 25 Best Bloggers, 2013 Edition” by TIME magazine for her blog 20-Nothings, which was also named in “The 100 Best Websites for Women” and “The Top 10 Best Websites for Millennial Women” in 2013 by Forbes.
Rosen is the oldest of four girls, which gives her a special window into the minds of teenagers. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she’s working on film and television projects, as well as her next novel.
Visit her website.

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 any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

November 29, 2015

Review: A Woof in Sheep's Clothing

by Donna Huber

cover A Woof Sheep's Clothing
This time of year I'm always looking for short fun reads to combat the busyness of the holidays. I always guaranteed an entertaining read when I pick up one of JB Lynn's books. A Woof in Sheep's Clothing is one of the novellas in The Matchmaker series. If you haven't read any of the books in this series, it features various characters from Lynn's hilarious Hitwoman series.

A Woof in Sheep's Clothing features a favorite cop from the Hitwoman series: Brian Griswald. It takes place around the time of A Hitwoman's Downward Dog. 

Brian is investigating a murder and meets dog trainer Stephanie. Stephanie is hesitant, but we know how charming a Griswald can be. Can Brian solve the mystery and get the girl?

A Woof in Sheep's Clothing is the perfect story to escape the madness that is the holiday season. I read the book in about an hour. So do yourself a favor, and escape into a fun read with a short break. And at 99 cents it won't break the holiday budget.

Buy A Woof in Sheep's Clothing at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook
published: June 2015
genres: cozy mystery
source: purchased
read: November 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.