Readers' Favorite

February 20, 2016

More #YA Books to Add to Your Reading Pile

We featured several YA books this week but if you can't get enough here are 5 more. Which ones are going in your TBR pile? Have any suggestions for us?

The Forbidden Wish
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

Buy The Forbidden Wish at Amazon

Salt to the Sea
Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

Buy Salt to the Sea at Amazon

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

Buy Blackhearts at Amazon

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Buy Unhooked at Amazon

These Vicious Masks
Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

Buy These Vicious Masks at Amazon

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February 19, 2016

Write It, Share It

by Byddi Lee

So you’ve started writing – what do you do with it now?

Some folk might just want to write for themselves, squirreling their thoughts away in a daily journal that may never reach the retina of another human being. That is totally fine. However, in my case writing is all about sharing those thoughts, communicating my ideas and reflections to the rest of humanity. If I’m honest, for me there is a huge element of showmanship with the desire to entertain. I’ll bet that’s the case for most writers, even the introverts, perhaps especially the introverts. Writing is a controlled medium from which to proclaim, “Look at what’s in my head, my heart, my imagination!”

Some write because of the creative urge that crafts emotions into words that may be raw, gritty and hard-hitting, or soothing, beautiful and inspirational, and a tapestry of anything in between.
Perhaps you just want to write to let your light shine, or even try your hand at writing to make some money (extremely difficult I might add, but not impossible.) There a huge variety of writing forms and ways to present them.

You can write poetry - I’m not well versed in this (pun intended!) so that’s all I’ll say about that.

You can write fiction, the length of which varies. Flash fiction is typically a self-contained story told in a few hundred words. Short stories range in length from about 1000 words up to 30,000 words, at this stage your story becomes a novella. At 55,000 words a novella becomes a novel. Typically a first novel should be in the 100,000 word region, though longer is fine for fantasy and Sci-fi where world-building is required. The longer your novel, the more it costs to publish it so you should always bear that in mind.

You may choose to only write in only one length category or flirt with them all. Use as many words as it takes to tell your story. If you use the analogy of running, where Flash Fiction is the 100 meters sprint, then the novel is the marathon and a trilogy is Ironman!

I started with writing short stories and dabbling in the beginnings of a novel. When I got my first short story published and received payment for it, I threw everything into the novel. Now I’m on a trilogy, God help me!

Flash fiction has become very popular. Short doesn’t mean easy, requiring a skill all of its own. In San Jose, California there is a regular Flash Fiction Forum where you can submit work that if selected, you will read out to an audience. It’s a fun gathering, with about twelve readers and typically draws a big audience each time. It’s a great feeling to read your work aloud and get the “readers” immediate reaction - instant gratification that is often aloof for us writers. Besides the fun aspect, it helps build a writing community to ward off the aloneness writers can feel.

Bookshops and coffee shops often will have open-mic sessions where writers can read their work. Search online to find out if there are any near you. Why not consider starting your own?
If writing screenplays is your thing, consider joining an amateur theatre group.

Another way to wedge yourself into a writing scene is to join a class. In one of the first classes I joined, we took turns reading our work aloud and the class could comment on it. It’s nice to have feedback, especially in a group that is supportive. It’s not a good idea to write in a vacuum.

Flash fiction and short stories can also be sent into literary magazines. Many popular commercial magazines will also publish short stories too.

The novella and novel is the next steps up. Each requires some commitment. You need to pace yourself and be prepared to be patient.  Remember this is the marathon! It helps to join a writing group that will edit and critique your work a chunk at a time.

Of course, you don’t have to write fiction. There’s non-fiction too, magazine articles, features, column, blogs, and books. A lot of what I’ve already discussed applies to both fiction and non-fiction.

There are websites that will publish your short stories and articles online, but be aware that even if they don’t pay you, once your work is published online, it may not be eligible for submission to other publications or as a competition entry.

A great resource for writers is the annually published Writers Market, by Writers Digest. This “bible for writers” contains information about how you can sell your work to publications and publishers. There are sample query letters and a myriad of other resources. The deluxe edition includes a one year subscription to their online site.

A blog is a great way to showcase your writing too. I began my blog six years ago as a place to park the prose rattling around in my head that didn’t fit into my work in progress. Having the blog and a novel on the go at the same time provides a nice juxtaposition – whereas the novel requires discipline, the blog can be pleasure writing.

Sites that will host your blog include Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress. If you have your own website on a site like Wix, often the site host will have a blogging capability. There is a smorgasbord of ways for your blog to make money through ad links, promotions and sponsorship - once you get enough followers. A large following is a result of good content and regular posting. Having a theme for the blog allows you to join theme based blog-communities and build a platform there. It doesn’t have to be a writing blog - it can be about anything else you are passionate about. Because, of course, you’re passionate about writing - who isn’t?

Whether you are a sprinter or a long distance runner in the world of writing, there is a road you can follow, to get your words from your head, to the eyes (and ears) of eager readers.

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.

February 18, 2016

Fantasically written: Killer Kolada by Sybil Hodge

review by Elisa Hordon

Killer Kolada

Welcome back to Danger Cove! A sleepy little seaside town where murder seems an everyday occurrence.

Killer Colada is book 9 in the Danger Cove series and the second book in this series for Sibel Hodge.
Danger Cove is the brain child of author Elizabeth Ashby, she works alongside other authors such as Sibel Hodge, Jennifer Fischetto, Traci Andrighetti and more to bring Danger Cove to life.

Killer Colada brings us back to Hope Foster and the Smugglers Tavern. It's set a few months after Hope's boss Bob is murdered leaving Hope his heir and number one suspect in his murder which she is eventually exonerated from and Hope helped bring the killer to justice.

In Killer Colada, Hope finds yet another dead body when her dear friend Ruby takes her for what was meant to be a relaxing afternoon of crystal therapy. It turns out crystal therapy is not that relaxing when you find your healer dead at her kitchen table.

I just love the Danger Cove mysteries; they are all written fantastically. Killer Colada was no exception I loved Hope in the first book and she is even better in this one. It was great reading that Hope and Harvey's budding romance is in full bloom, even if his crazy ex coming to town stirs up Hopes insecurities it all works out in the end. Harvey is just crazy about Hope, but his work is demanding and he is worried about losing Hope because they never seem to have enough time to spend together. When Harvey's boss at the university sends his ex-girlfriend to help him with his work Harvey is beside himself that this could push Hope away forever especially when his ex- girlfriend seems to be going out of her way to pursue Harvey, but he makes it very clear he is not interested and when her scheming ways end up getting her hurt she leaves town for good. I loved it when Harvey stood up for himself and Hope. He showed how much he truly cares for Hope. I was getting frustrated with Harvey throughout this book as he seemed so distracted by his work I really wondered if he wanted to break up with Hope but, no, I think in the end Harvey was worried he would push Hope away because his work is so crazy busy.

Rosie and Vernon are back as well. They both help Hope out at the tavern and with solving the murder all the while ignoring their feelings for each other. I love Rosie and Vernon: the love/hate relationship they have works for them as does ignoring their feelings for each other. They really are just used to pushing each other away; it's normal for them. When Vernon has a health scare though Rosie doesn’t hesitate in moving the crusty old ex-FBI agent in with her to take care of him. Vernon is a great guy, his character is strong and he is extra protective of those he loves especially Rosie and Hope. Vernon goes about helping them in his quiet way, he watches, offers advice, does some research for them and protects them when he can and, yes, Vernon also gets frustrated that his girls get themselves into trouble so often.

Killer Colada is well written engaging mystery with strong characters who can see the funny side of life amidst the chaos surrounding them.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Killer Colada and I would recommend everyone to give the Danger Cove Mysteries a visit. They are all wonderful books that can be read as stand alone stories or as a series.

Buy Killer Colada at Amazon

book info:
available formats: ebook and paperback (194 pages)
published: January 2016 by Gemma Halliday Publishing
ISBN13: 978-1523321131
genres: cozy mystery

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February 17, 2016

Review: Fifty Percent Vampire by D.K. Janotta

review by Claire Rees

Fifty Percent Vampire

Living with your mother and stepfather can be difficult at the best of times, but it's even worse when they are full vampires and you are a half vampire. Add to that an evil, sadistic stepbrother and your life can be downright miserable. This is the life of seventeen year old Astrid Sonnschein, until she convinces her mother and stepfather, George, to let her stay with her mother's human sister and go to school in the human world.

Life in the human world is ten times better, despite the bullies and the boys that get too hands on.

Astrid soon finds a group of close friends and is attracted to the town's young police officer, Michael Hanson.

Life in the human world doesn't seem so bad after all until the other boys she has shown an interest in and even her enemy get murdered and the police see her as a possible suspect.

Half of the town agree, even with no evidence to back it up. But Officer Mike is not so easily convinced and seems to like Astrid as much as she likes him.

More threats come from the vampire world with the ultimatum, get turned or die, but Astrid is determined to stand up and fight for the human life she so dearly craves.

The story line was good and the characters, believable and likeable, well some of them, others were horrid and easy to hate.

The ending was a little surprising but good and I think that I would enjoy reading a book two.

I recommend Fifty Percent Vampire to young adults and adults alike who love coming of age, supernatural stories.

Buy Fifty Percent Vampire at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook (281 pages)
published: September 2015 by Blue Tom Publications
genres: paranormal romance
target audience: young adult
source: author

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: 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.

February 16, 2016

Pub Day! Deeply, Darkly, Beautifully by Megan Tayte

Darkly, Deeply, Beautiful

I began the day in my usual way: telling my sister that no, she was not permitted to kill our mother. My sister began the day in her usual way: turning a threat to murder into a blazing row.

About the Book:


The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

With her mother’s life hanging in the balance, Scarlett is devastated – and done with being in the dark. She wants answers, all of them.

But when was her pursuit of the truth ever straightforward?

Pulling a single thread impels a great unravelling. And each revelation will force Scarlett to rethink what she thought she knew about the Ceruleans, the Fallen, her family – herself.

All that came before was a mere prelude to this, the last journey. From London to Twycombe to Hollythwaite to Cerulea, Scarlett will be stalked by the ghosts of what has been, what may have been and what may come to pass. Until she reaches the place where it all began, and it all must end.

But in the final reckoning, none will survive unscathed. And some will not survive at all.

In this explosive conclusion to The Ceruleans series, all must be defined by their actions: sinner, saint… or something more beautiful entirely?

Buy Darkly, Deeply, Beautifully at Amazon

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February 15, 2016

RP Channing: Why YA? #MondayBlogs

The great thing about Young Adult is that it spans genres. There are no holds barred in Young Adult and one is free to “genre-bend” as some authors like to call it.

You can’t do that in PNR.

You can’t do that in Horror.

You definitely can’t do it in Contemporary Romance.

Sure, the main criterion for a YA novel is that the characters are “young.” What people tend to miss is that that’s precisely why YA has such wide appeal.

We were all young once (and, some, fortunately still so.) It’s hard to relate to a character way above our age, but everyone can relate to one that’s sixteen or seventeen.

What’s Harry Potter? Fantasy...and YA.

What’s The Fault in Our Stars? Romance, Coming of Age...and YA.

Twilight. Horror, Romance...and Young Adult.

How many of you have liked all three of the above books? I know I did.

Let’s talk about Horror. Like many people who are not fans of this genre, I get put off by the gore. (Actually, I am a fan of some horror...until it gets too gory.) And what about the people who are fans of old-style Romances, but don’t like the overly-detailed scenes found in much of today’s romance?

Well, YA is a happy medium. You can put anything and everything in YA, you can “genre-bend,” you can make the stories scary, sexy, magical, or sad...and you’ll still be writing to the same market.

I’m all for a scary story, but I hate having nightmares. I love romance, but get put off by all the detail once the bedroom door is closed.

In YA, you can put a bit of everything and still stay within comfortable boundaries.

But there’s more to it: Young adults. There’s a magic we all wish we still had in our antiquated years. A magic that teenagers still seem to possess - hope, the idea that anything can be done about it, excitement. Nobody likes a moping character, and sometimes older characters simply mope too much. YA characters have verve, spunk, sass.

It’s fun to write about characters like that because, ultimately, we all want to be a little spunky and a little sassy.

Writing is about putting dreams on paper, and hoping people are touched by those dreams. It’s about creating possibilities, opening doors. The books that take the world by storm these days are Young Adult books (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight.) When YA fans get behind a story, there’s no stopping it.

When someone says “I’m not into YA,” I think what they’re really saying is “I’m not into Fantasy” or “I’m not into Horror” or “I’m not into Romance.” But it’s impossible to not be into all of what YA has to offer in all its sub-genres.

YA is an open-field, with room for all kinds of stories.

I think people who “aren’t into YA” just haven’t found the right book.

Which is the same for people who just “aren’t that much into reading.” Neither was I, until I read The Hunger Games.

And wept.

Buy Thirst: Blood of my Blood at Amazon

About the Author
R P Channing started writing three years ago, but never published anything even after churning out over a million words of fiction. Thirst: Blood of my Blood is the first book he dared to publish. When asked why, he said, “Because it’s the first thing I wrote that my wife actually enjoyed reading.” When not hammering away (most literally) at his keyboard, he can be found buried in a book, reading anything from romance to horror to young adult to non-fiction to comedy.

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February 14, 2016

Spending Valentine's Day Alone? It Could be Your Grammar

If you are like me and playing the dating game, you may have come across a few potential matches that you just had to say no to because their grammar was atrocious. True story - one guy I met on a dating site didn't even seem to be "speaking" English. His only answer to that was he hated "TYYPUNG".

If you are wondering if you are being too picky on the grammar, check out this infograph from Grammarly.

Valentine's Day Grammar 2016 Infographic
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