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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...

December 26, 2015

Featured Book: Merry Wishes by Karen Pokras

A Whispered Wishes Novella:

An ugly divorce behind her, Carly Cater is looking forward to a truly Merry Christmas. With interest for her art from a high-powered fashion designer and a new romance with her handsome contractor, Jason Hardy, her life is finally heading in the right direction. That is, until her ex-husband suddenly returns to interfere, and mysterious texts draw Jason away. Is this another holiday disaster in the making, or will an offer to create a mural for the brain-injury patients at Greenbriar Manor bring her the Christmas joy she’d been seeking?

Not quite ready to say good-bye to Christmas? Then you should pick up this novella from Karen Pokras. It's only 99 cents and would be a great addition to that new Kindle you got.

Buy Merry Wishes 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.

December 24, 2015

Tips of 2015

by Donna Huber

A little present from me to you - all the tips posts of 2015 in one place. Whether you need content ideas or exploring a new social media platform in the new year, I hope you will find useful information that you may have missed or overlooked in the first time around. There's even a few tips for readers and authors.

Blogging Goals for 2015
Facebook Changes and Your Promotion
Expanding Beyond the Blog
Join a Book Club
Book Marketing 101
Why Use Calibre, The Easier Way to Organize eBooks
Getting "Content" on Triberr
This Sucks
Points to Consider When Writing a Review
Support Your Favorite Blog: Use Their Affiliate Links
Dealing with Blogging Burnout
Make Friends with Bloggers
So You Want to Start a Book Blog
My Blog Doesn't need to be Babysat
My 3 Triberr Pet Peeves
Earn Review Rewards with Reading Alley
Armchair BEA: Social Media
Read the Review Policy
Dear Author, I See You
The Digital Library is an Avid Reader's Best Friend
Picture it: Using Instagram for Blog Promotion
Set a Blog Schedule
Making Money Blogging: A Case Study
Tips for Blog Posts While Vacationing
Blogging with Kids
Want Free Books? Write Reviews
Let's Party! Hosting a Book Themed Party
Keep Your Sanity and Maintain a Quality Publication: Tips for Managing Multiple Contributors
Blogging in the Classroom
From Blog To Book
Writing a Blog Post Worth Reading
SEO Basics: Using Keywords
Anatomy of a Review
Experimenting with a Monthly Theme
Make Promotional Plans for the Holidays Now
How Do You Decide Which Book to Read Next
Getting Things Done
Finding Images for Your Posts
Are Blog Worth Tours Worth Doing?
NaNoWritMo Tips from Grammarly
Reading During the Holidays
Tips for Wrapping Up the Blogging Year

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 23, 2015

Christmas(?) Music

by Ross Kitson

When I was a lad, those many yuletides ago, there were a few things that I looked forward to beyond the standard Xmas trappings of presents, crackers, trifle, and turkey. On the TV there was usually a Bond film, Xmas specials, and a Disney special—which in the pre- VCR era was the only way to see those beloved scenes from the films. And there was Xmas Top of the Pops, a great showcase of the year’s top hits and the coveted Christmas Number One.

image source: www,

Genuinely, it was always a buzz in my adolescence to find out what held that annual honour—at least until the point of my teenage years when it became uncool to like ‘chart music.’ And through the Seventies and Eighties there were some iconic records at Xmas: Slade - "Merry Xmas Everyone"; Mud - "Lonely this Christmas"; Boney M - "Mary’s Boy Child"; Band Aid - "Do they Know It’s Christmas". Perhaps it floundered a little in the Nineties, when the Spice Girls managed three years running at the top spot, and Bob the Builder brought in the first Xmas of the new millennium. And even though they missed the number one spot, such great records as "Fairytale of New York", by the Pogues, "Thank God it’s Christmas" by Queen, and "Happy Xmas (War is Over)", by Jon and Yoko were great tunes that have stood the test of Xmas compilations ever since.

Yet for the last decade the number one slot at Xmas has been dominated by the singles released by the victor of the UK singing contest, the X-Factor. 7 out of the last 10 Xmas number ones have been X-Factor contestants. Don’t get me wrong—some songs were pretty OK: Alexandra Burke’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" was entertaining, and Matt Cardle didn’t totally slaughter Biffy Clyro’s "Many of Horror" (despite its re-naming)—but the blatant commercial exploitation is hardly in the Xmas spirit. Is it?

Image source:

Well those that lament the commercialisation of Xmas and the materialism that seems to get worse year on year might disagree. Maybe it’s a sign of our times that we are so enslaved to the media that the massive boost in attention to an artist that winning the X-Factor gives dominates our music purchase nationally, a throw away single with no more meaning at Xmas than to perhaps highlight how gullible folk are.

In 2009 the X-Factor winner Joe McElderry’s debut single, "The Climb" (a Miley Cyrus cover) was beaten to the Xmas number one slot in the UK by Rage Against the Machine’s "Killing in the Name". This was the culmination of a Facebook campaign to prevent the X-Factor securing the number one slot for the fifth year running, and ironically was dubbed as ‘stupid and cynical’ by high-trousered music mogul Simon Cowell. The first ever exclusively download only single to reach number one at Xmas, it hardly illustrates the Xmas spirit, but is perhaps a sobering indicator of the power of social media and a lesson that maybe the population aren’t as slavish as the media think.

Image source:

So this year, as I write this the week before the big day, the race for the UK Xmas spot is rather varied. According to the bookmakers it’s between the Xfactor winner, Louisa Johnson—and three others: Justin Bieber, NHS choir, and the Stormyz. NHS choir’s song is in support of NHS staff (of which I’m one) in face of impending contractual negotiations and comments made by the Health Secretary—and is a mash-up of Coldplay and Simon and Garfunkel. The Bieber is looking strong, and although every iota of my being screams ‘Nooooo,’ it would be a welcome reprieve from the X-Factor domination of Xmas. Stormyz is a UK Grime rap artist (apparently a sub-genre of garage hip-hop, rather than them not washing as they rap) whose single ‘Shut up’ is a re-release following his award winning at the Mobo’s.

Finally it warmed my heart to see the rather unseasonal Star Wars theme racing up the charts as an outside contender. A cultural event only slightly less lucrative than Xmas, it could sneak to the top if Bieber fans run low on pocket money, and Jedi mind tricks win through….

Image source:

For those across the pond, as of writing, Adele sits tidily at number one with ‘Hello,’ with young Mr Bieber apologising at number two with ‘Sorry.’ Perhaps not carrying the same kudos as over here, yet I hope Adele hangs onto to that top spot.

So perhaps this year I’ll lock the kids in a separate room, and settle down to the Top of the Pops special and hope for some Xmas tunes sneaking through the irrelevance, perhaps a troupe of Stormtroopers dancing to John William’s epic theme tune, or at least Coldplay, James Bay and Hozier performing their tunes whilst balloons are bounced off their heads.

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 22, 2015

Review: Imperfect by Claire Fraise

by Donna Huber

cover Imperfect

Earth is a mess.
A genuine, freaking mess.
I'm not talking about the kind of mess you get after not cleaning your room for three month. That kind of mess is easily fixed by a long, painstaking cleanup while jamming out to the radio as you throw all your belongings into a massive heap in the hallway.
No. This kind of mess is the result of humans living on the earth for thousands upon thousands of years, changing and molding our society and planet itself as if they were Play-Doh. It;s the kind of mess that can be blamed solely on human nature and pure idiocy.
Honestly, I don't know how people managed to do it.

The Review

If I hadn't already done my favorite reads list for 2015 Imperfect by Claire Fraise would definitely be on the list. I absolutely LOVED this book. And had I not been told it was written by a 16 year old, I would never had know it.

You can tell that Fraise is influenced by Veronica Roth's Divergent series and Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games series. However, Fraise has added her own unique voice to the dystopian novel that it does not feel like a copy cat.

I loved that her characters, though have taken on more adult roles (i.e. providing for their siblings), acted like teenagers. I especially liked that the way Summer's attraction to guys is there but it isn't an instant love interest. It felt more natural for teens their age. And her characters have normal names.

The beginning may have been a little slow as we are introduced to a world sort of like ours, but where the US has been divided up and are ran by corporations. Each corporations has their main production of a resource (kind of like how each district in Hunger Games was responsible for a certain resource). The sector that Summer lives in is ran by Making Perfect and its specialty is genetic engineering. Because each sector relies on the products of the other corporations, there is a mutual harmony of sorts between them. But what if one corporation wanted more power and what if that corporation had the means of creating a super race of humans?

However, once the ground rules of this new world order are laid out for the reader the story kicks into high gear and you won't want to put the book down. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Can you count on your allies or have they been compromised? Who can be trusted?

There were a couple of inconsistencies in the details that bugged but really my only real complaint is that I didn't have a sequel to immediately pick up.

If you are into young adult dystopian science fiction, then this is a book you won't want to miss.

Buy Imperfect at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (344 pages)
published: July 2015 by
ISBN13: 9781511660747
genres: dystopian, science fiction
target audience: young adult
source: publicist
read: November/December 2015

A free book 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 21, 2015

Elisabeth's 6 Best Books of 2015 #MondayBlogs

by Elisabeth Scherer

Here are my top 6 books of 2015. I am looking forward to trying to dwindle/build my to be read pile for 2016 and the couple gems I am already excited to share with you all.

cover Alive
Alive (The Generations Trilogy Book #1) by Scott Sigler

A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin. She has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Fighting her way free brings little relief--she discovers only a room lined with caskets and a handful of equally mystified survivors. Beyond their room lies a corridor filled with bones and dust, but no people . . . and no answers.

She knows only one thing about herself--her name, M. Savage, which was engraved on the foot of her coffin--yet she finds herself in charge. She is not the biggest among them, or the boldest, but for some reason the others trust her. Now, if they're to have any chance, she must get them to trust one another.

Whatever the truth is, she is determined to find it and confront it. If she has to lead, she will make sure they survive. Maybe there's a way out, a rational explanation, and a fighting chance against the dangers to come. Or maybe a reality they cannot comprehend lies just beyond the next turn.

Read my review
Buy Alive at Amazon

cover Darkhaven
Darkhaven (The Darkhaven Novels Book #1) by A.F.E. Smith

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven.

Yet her half-brother Myrren hasn't inherited the family's ability to shapeshift, so their father, Florentyn, forces Ayla to take over as heir to the throne.

When Ayla is accused of Florentyn's brutal murder only Myrren believes her innocent and aids her escape. A fugitive from her own guard, Ayla must now fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

But does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Read my review
Buy Darkhaven at Amazon

cover Breeder
Breeder (The Breeder Cycle, Book #1) by K.B. Hoyle

**WINNER of the 2015 Literary Classics Silver Book Award for YA Science Fiction and recipient of the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.**

Everything about Seventeen’s life is perfect, from her genetics, to her home in Sanctuary, to her status as a Breeder in the Unified World Order. But all that changes when she meets a rogue Enforcer named Pax, who infiltrates Sanctuary and targets her for extraction from the Controlled Repopulation Program. Pax seems to know a little too much about her, and he plants dangerous doubts in her mind that accuse Sanctuary of hiding a dark secret, and that cause Seventeen to question everything she’s ever known.

When Seventeen’s life is threatened, she has little choice but to run away from Sanctuary with Pax. But for Breeders, contact with men is forbidden by law, and even the simple act of taking Pax’s hand is treason.

Mired in confusion, Seventeen travels with Pax to the outside world and takes the name Pria, the identity of her childhood. But she is far from certain she’s made the right decision when they discover an entire community of people who should no longer exist.
Seventeen, now Pria, is thrust into a position as a key player in a dangerous bid to bring down the Unified World Order. Meanwhile, Pax’s attachment to her and her growing attraction to him contribute to the ever-growing mysteries in her life.

Pria’s journey from a sheltered, na├»ve Breeder to a rebel agent requires not only external transformation but self-discovery. As her world crumbles, Pria must decide who she is and what she really believes.

But the truth comes at a cost, and uncovering it will require a greater treason than she could ever have imagined.

Read Donna's review
Buy Breeder  at Amazon

cover The Mime Order
The Mime Order (The Bone Season, Book #2)  by Samantha Shannon

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London . . .

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Buy The Mime Order at Amazon

cover Howling's Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Castle Book 1) by Diana Wynne Jones 

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Buy Howl's Moving Castle at Amazon

cover As You Wish
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes & Joe Layden

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

Buy As You Wish 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.

December 20, 2015

Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

by Donna Huber

cover A Christmas Carol
A Christmas classic that everyone should read.

This month it seems that I'm all about discovering forgotten novels. I don't know how long Dickens's A Christmas Carol has been on my shelf, but I had never read it. I think that is due to my mom making me watch George C. Scott's A Christmas Carol and it frightened me as a child. (The scene with Christmas Present and the children Want and Need always freaked me out.)

But then along came The Muppets version came out and then the story wasn't so scary any more. Well Christmas Yet to Come is still pretty creepy.

Anyways. I've been trying to read books that I've not but should have. This time of year I've also have been looking for short reads. For a Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol isn't very long and the language is pretty easy as well. There were only a couple of phrases that were a little odd. If fear of difficult language has kept you from this classic don't let that stop you any longer.

This maybe skip the movie and find out why this novel has become a time honored tradition of the season.

Buy A Christmas Carol at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (124 pages)
published: January 1980 (originally 1843) by Watermill Press
ISBN13: 9780893753566
genre: classic, Christmas
source: purchased
read: December 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.