Friday, July 31, 2015

Fan Girl Activated: Keith Milano Memorial Fund Author Event May 2015

Keith Milano May 2015 Fundraiser
Yes, this was an exciting day!  I got all my Last Call series books signed to me by the awesome, Sawyer Bennett.

How did I procure these lovely bound words on paper?  I participated in a fundraiser for the Keith Milano Memorial Fund at AFSP May 19-22 2015.  This was the 1st Mental Health Awareness Author Event on Facebook.  The event's funds were raised from pledges of one-click purchases, online auctions and author challenges.  As of July 7th, $34,000 had been raised for the memorial fund.  My real job entails me working with our partners who treat mental illness and substance abuse.  Because the company I work for has its own partnerships through Everyday Matters, I participate with #EDM and whenever I can to further the education of mental health treatments.  

The event was a blast!  There were too many authors to list here, but many of my favorites and a few new ones too!  Besides the fundraising done by purchasing certain written works, there was an online auction.  Two listings caught my eye as I would love to sit on my bookshelves.  I set my high end budget and went to bidding war.  One of the auction items was my choice between Signed Copies of either Off Series or Last Call Series.  I am a competitive sort of person, and no one was going to outbid me.  Obviously look at the picture of me hugging my bid win.  

I won the auction (was there a doubt?) but now had to choose.  I loved the Off Series as a set of stories because they were widely diverse characters.  But really, look at the covers of the Last Call series. I mean, I'll be looking at them - not actually reading them.  Horrors of the cracked spine!

Unfortunately, my new books arrived while I was working in LA.  My husband was kind enough to send me pictures until I could actually hold them.  Sawyer Bennett wrote some lovely sentiments inside.  She knows I'm madly in love with her characters and stories.  The insides mean more than the outsides.  Here's one that I'll share:

I truly do look forward to next year's event.  Like I stated earlier, I got the opportunity to learn a bit about some other authors, find some awesome reads and all benefiting mental health awareness - which is extremely important to me.  If you'd like to participate in next event, head on over to this website to be informed:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How I went public and you should too.

Last post, I wrote about the type of reviews I like to read, and my rules I follow when I compose them.   Before I go much further, I now endeavor to write a review for every book I read, and post it to any forum where the book is located (always on Goodreads).  The picture below spells out why you should.  I figured it was time to give a little background on why I've started writing public reviews - again.

I had a blog once upon a time.  It was much larger and covered more topics I am interested in.  It was difficult to write a complete review.  I had other topic pages to cover so one-two short sentences was the norm on my book reviews.  This also applied to Goodreads at the time. It's a review but not very helpful if you think about it.  I didn't consider my blog 'public' as I didn't advertise, not on any search engines - you had to know me to find me.  I took down the blog as it became too much to manage across too many topics and moderate comments.  Vacation from blogging ensued.

Fast forward to this year.  I was introduced to Sawyer Bennett's books (Amazon Author Page) by my Recommended to You. At the end of the Confession of a Legation God, there was a link to her web page.  At the web page was an invitation to join her Street Team.  I didn't know what a Street Team was as this concept came about after I stopped blogging.  I learned what I needed to do and dove right in.  I loved her writing and talked it up to all my friends. So this was easy for me to transition my actions to other platforms.  Shortly after, a member of the Street Team recommended we assist our fellow readers by commenting and liking reviews when appropriate.  Well, it never occurred to me to:

1) Like another review if I felt is helped others with honest summary of the books qualities
2) To write a review in the first place for the general public to read

Hummmm....Okay, I can do this. Next Sawyer Bennett book I read is With A Twist. Once I finished,  I posted to Amazon. And there you go.  My "Go public with my Reviews" cherry was popped.  Now, I put my opinion out there for praise and criticism.  I realize not everyone will like what I say and that's okay. One person might appreciate my views to give the story a try.  That's what makes taking the time to saw a few words nice or constructive for the authors is worth it.

Previous post was tips to write a review.  This post is all about being brave to put yourself out their for your own brand of scrutiny.

  • Are you brave enough? Ready to pop your public cherry? Or
  • Do you review already? Do you feel effective in your message to others?  

Please comment below to join the conversation.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to write a review? Don't I just say I liked it?

Reviews.  I have many, many feelings about reviews.  Schmexy Girls posted an interesting question on their Facebook page recently:

"Do you feel only bad reviews are honest? Do you think the negative reviews hold more weight than positive? Why?"

Honestly, I like all reviews, positive and negative.  As long as they are well-written, to the point reviews. Reviews need to cover all the essential points.  Now, you'll scoff as this is probably going to be a hugely verbose post, but my blog my post rules.  Let's cover my biggest pet peeve first before I get into the type of reviews I'll read.  Pet Peeve: 


Got that part off my chest.  I absolutely hate reviews that go over the entire story in nine long paragraphs.  Okay, that's great you want to cover the part of review writing for fiction point 1: What was the story about?  Bully for you. But, I'd really like to read the book for myself.  So, thanks for all the spoilers and how we got to the HEA.  However, now you just took the $ .99-$9.99 I was going to give the author.  

What type of reviews do I like? The ones that follow the basic questions for both fiction and nonfiction:

  • What: did the book accomplish (non-fiction) or story about (fiction)?
  • Was the book well defined? Ideas clear and flowed? 
  • Could you relate to the material? Did you learn/grow from it? 
  • Did you like or dislike the book? Why?
  • Favorite part? Any unfavorite part? 
  • Recommended it? If yes, to whom? 
And please cover this in 3-4 concisely written paragraphs.  I am a busy person. I want to get lost in the book, not your review.  

Now, there are those of you who will argue. You like the lengthy ones that give you an indepth summary.  Not arguing your personal preference.  Just like movie reviewers, not all book reviewers will hit the right chord with the audience.  And of course, the short ones "I liked it" aren't exactly helpful.  Tell me why you liked it - two or three sentences.  That at least gives me a clue you read it and really enjoyed the story if you are willing to put forth the effort.  Oops, I guess I should put up or shut up then. 

In January this year, I was encouraged to start publicly sharing my reviews on books.  Money where my mouth is. I have 'Rules' for reviews I read and now I have to write one?   It was much harder than I thought.  I am a very wordy person.  I set out to learn how to write a review.  I found an awesome article that I use to help me  - Writing World: How to write a book review.  This is the best advice in the article on repeat, " Note: You don't have to answer every question - they're suggestions!"  Amen!  My first reviews are not great, but with each one I write, I am learning my voice. 

Next piece of advice to write reviews that 'JQ Public/Average Joe Reader' will read. To accomplish this task, find a reviewer you like, and start following them on Goodreads or wherever you can find them.  Read all their reviews.  Not necessarily buy what they buy, but mostly likely a review will be in the genre you enjoy.  I equate book reviewers to movie reviewers.  Align yourself with similar tastes and they will most likely 80% of the time be a good suggestion.  Now, analyze their review.  What appeals to you in how they write? What is the flow and style that appeals to you?  If they are funny and you are not, don't try comedy.  It's not for the timid. However, learning to be cheeky is a good goal.  

So, I've given you all my thoughts on reviews - go start writing ones.  The authors appreciate your positive ones.  The really good ones will love your negative parts.  Makes them think about the audience.  And maybe your reading doppleganger is out there and be so happy to find a new book that you suggest.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Where is your Sunday reading spot?

Sundays are often dedicated as a day of relaxing.  Or at least I try.  Not plan anything, go with the flow of the day.  And accomplish some reading.  Since reading is my form of escape from life's responsibilities, it's what I want to do if someone asks. I may do other things: meditate, go for a walk, see a movie, BBQ with friends, etc.  However, I really like to carve out a few hours to my favorite pastime.

LA is my part-time city.  I live in Downtown and love it. Some Angelenos turn up their noses when I mention where I live.  Downtown LA is gritty and a tad bit dangerous.  DTLA can be romantic, hip and fun.  All the qualities I like in my book boyfriends.  DTLA is a place where you can watch a Maserati pull up to a valet stand to head up to the rooftop bar where just in the alley lies a homeless, barefoot man catching a few winks.  DTLA is slick and shiny yet hard and rough at the same time.  LA is blessed with fantastic year-around weather. There isn't many Sundays that I cannot go enjoy the outdoors.  I've found my perfect spot.

There are many iconic locations, but you can find some real gems in little pockets of the City.  I've found one in Grand Hope Park.  It's small with shade and sun.  Plenty of seating for reading or people watching. I can be just enough off the beaten path to hear the drone of cars racing to unknown destinations, but close enough to get my vice before plopping on the bench.  Here was this mornings adventure out with coffee (a must), croissant and book.  Below is a view of what was before me to enjoy between pages.  So where is your 'other' reading spot?  Where do you go to read when you want out of the four walls?  Comment below to share your favorites.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Reid-Alongs: Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid July 2015

Upcoming read-along I am participating in for July 13-20.  Please see the link below for the Facebook event and join!

Invite link to Reid-Along Beauty and the Mustache

Need a copy of the book, here: Amazon booksellerNook seller or iBooks (can't figure out how to link that yet)
Also available on Audible: Audible store

If you'd like to learn about the author, this is a link to her author page on Goodreads: About Penny Reid

Here is some summary information if you aren't feeling to need to click around but mildly interested in what I am up to:

About Penny Reid from Goodreads:
Penny Reid is a part time author of romantic fiction. When she's not immersed in penning smart romances she works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She's also a full time mom to two diminutive adults (boy-8 and girl-5), wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.
About Beauty and the Mustache:

There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit. 
Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, reclusive mountain man, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FanGirl Activated July 8, 2015

A Night of Corruption {giggle}

I had the opportunity to attend an author event in Hollywood, CA.  I got to meet and selfie with a few authors I've read.  And met a few I haven't read- Yet.   The best part of the author event was meeting the other fans.

They love reading a books as much as I do. I have never gone 'alone' as I always make friends with perfect strangers.  The husband and wife as we stood in line to get in - compared number of books read (I won).  The mother and 14 yo daughter going to their first time author event - I shared upcoming events I heard of with teen day that maybe in her daughter's fan girl list.   All in all, it was a wonderful evening.  I got swag, spent more money on gifts and basked the warm energy of other book fans.  While standing in line for Pepper Winters, I met a member of JA Huss' street team.  A fellow speed reader.  She reads at the same speed of light as I do. We talked about the authors we love, the type within the romance genre (she likes it dark), and recommended books to one another.  That was the best part.  Hearing how someone is so enthusiastic they want to share.

Here comes the pictures - be prepared as:

K. Bromberg was my first stop.  I read her very first book when it was first published and every other one since then: 

Here is Raine Miller and David Gandy (okay a cutout) :

A selfie with CD Reiss:
K.I. Lynn looked so pretty:

A wine glass that will never get washed along with a book bag to never be used: 

Please comment about author events and signings you have attended and what makes them special to you. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Recommended for You - Well, me really

If you have visited my Goodreads profile and perused the types of books I've read over the years, my tastes have changed.  However, you'll notice a certain gradual change around 2010.  That's when I got my first iPad.  Now, I had a iMac because Windows Vista came out. I had a hate/hate relationship with the OS, turned my back and never went back.  Along with the purchase of my shiny new iPad came a free book from iBooks.  The world of electronic books was then opened to me.  Other than reading digital library copies for my second time at college, this was completely new to me. I loved the fact I didn't have to carry around a paperback.  It was love at first swipe.

From there I learned the world of Nook books and then Amazon.  Amazon became a treasure trove. I found FREE books.  For a book devourer, this was a buffet of reading I could gorge myself on.  Since I had a son in high school along with a new job that had me fronting travel expenses, I was frugal.  I scoured the free books.  Somewhere along the way came my first Harlequin Blaze - it was a Lesley Kelly book.  After that, I learned that Harlequin Blaze did a monthly one-click that fit into my budget.   I became a hot romance addict. Yet, each time I logged into my Amazon account, it waved at me "We have recommendations for you".  I scoffed. I can find my own very much thank you.

Until one day, I ran out of things to read. I tried a few novellas that I consider erotica. (BTW that's a topic for another day- erotica. Yes, I'll be dating myself.)  These novellas did not have much of a story and I wanted something longer than the 1.5 hours it took to read.  So, I clicked on "Recommended for You" in Kindle Store.  WHOA BABY! It's the mother load!

Based on my purchases, Amazon suggested other books.  And she's off folks.  That's how I met my two favorite romance authors.  Had it not been for Amazon suggests, I wouldn't be a fan girl that stalks them (luckily they know I am harmless).  However, sometimes it does go astray. I've had a few books recommended to me that I didn't flove.  Or books that were recommended, I turned down because of the summary, but then read on a recommendation of a friend.

Now, I have lots of book friends and participate in several book groups.  I do take these books under primary consideration.  Draw me into a charity event and even more books get added to my TBR.  Yet, I still use Recommended for You both Amazon and Goodreads, I might miss my next fan girl author.  I highly suggest you check out yours and scan the pages. You never know what next great read is out there for you to find.

Please comment about how you find your reads, such as what are your best resources and why.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Stars, glitter and rating stuff: I really need my own

First question my friend, L, asked me about was my star rating on Goodreads.  She noticed I used one star on one author she thought I liked.  I said - it was what fit for my personal rating system.

See, Goodreads, Nook, Amazon, and GoogleBooks all have stars.  Unfortunately, the stars mean different things on different sites.  And because I have a touch of OCD with these things, I feel that all my stars must match across the sites.  Which one is my gold standard? Goodreads.  Not only does it closely match what I believe to be representative to my grading standard, but I am not limited by the other sites if the book does not exist there.  This is what Goodreads stars mean to me:

One Star: 
GR = did not like it
Karen = I read it, not great or really bad. I won't read it ever again.
Two Stars:
GR = it was ok      
Karen = it was okay. I won't read again, unless super bored.
Three Stars:
GR = liked it          
Karen = liked it. I might read again or will finish the series/serial.
Four Stars:
GR = really liked it
Karen = really liked it.Will finish series/serial. Re-read high.
Five Stars:
GR = loved it        
Karen = loved it. Will re-read in future especially if series/serial.

Notice that I don't have a DNF rating?  That's because I never 'do not finish'.  I have finished every book I've read. Do not doubt me. I can hear your thoughts across cyber space. I give every author a chance to redeem themselves until "The End".  Also, refer to my first post on this blog.

I AM A FAST READER. I can do a 300 page book in 4 hours.  Now, give me a poor written, bad spelling, editing non-existant book, I'll do a skim read.  In the 7th grade, I was already a fast reader.  I read all of Agatha Christie with my Mom and she'd quiz me. She is the proof I read and comprehended. (Also L can vouch) Back to 7th grade, I get the chance of an elective.  What do I choose for the reading class: Speed Reading. Oh yeah, easy A for me.  But, I did learn how to speed read better, more efficiently. There you have it; a speed reading demon.  So, back to the former paragraph - Yes, I finish every book.

I do try within the review to do the portion of a star part. Some books I LOVED - they get 5 stars. Some I loved, but not as much as I LOVED so they get a quarter/half/three quarters of a star.  The star designation on the sites suck because I can't do that.  I guess you'll need to trudge through my reviews then.

Please comment on your rating system.  How did you come up with it? 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What is the real count of all the books I've read?

Is this a test on accuracy? I sure hope not. I can probably ballpark it and will attempt on my new task of updating my Goodreads shelves. I joined Goodreads in 2009 at the encouragement of my friend, A. At this point, I had a job where I travelled a lot and she felt this was a good way for us to keep in touch with what we are reading.  Fast forward to 2011...

I am now on a project in Los Angeles, CA. The company has brought in consultants from all over.  I team up with one, and we become fast friends.  We enjoy many of the same things even our choice of books.  I read WAY quicker than she does; often finishing and moving on.  Since day one, she has encouraged me to blog or at minimum keep a log of everything I've read.  So, L, this is all because of you.

Once I decided to put my reading musing to the virtual world, I also decided to update Goodreads. Before the 'Goodreads update project' began, I had only 84 books on my shelves.  I learned (and now love) that I can import my Amazon ebook purchases. HOLY HELL! I now have 1138 books on my shelves.  This does not count all the paper versions I have read.  As of "you may now use your personal electronic device in the airplane mode", I have not purchased a paper book until this year.  I still have all my past paper versions to load to shelves.  Now to answer your burning question: "What is your 'Goodreads update project'?

I am going through the shelves marking every book with date read (approximation of course), properly assigning the shelf, and rating with stars.  Will I add reviews i.e. back dating? Most likely no. Unless it makes sense to.  For example, I just reviewed Grey. I couldn't exactly write a coherent review unless you know how I felt about FSOG.  In that case, I did.  Unless the review cannot stand alone, then I am only going forward with publishing reviews to my shelves.

If you want to know how many books I have read, the titles/categories, and what I think, go visit me over at Goodreads:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why another blog about books? It's not about books - well, sorta.

Why a blog when there are so many out there? Why a blog when there are so many out there about women's fiction/romance/erotica?  Isn't there competition? Won't I get lost in the blog wars?

Why yes there is and probably will get lost amongst the big boys.  But that's not what this blog is about.


I have several accounts - Goodreads, Google Play, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Audible and most recently, NetGalley.  These are where my reviews are kept.  I don't need to a blog to tell you about how I felt about a book, how many stars, or do I recommend you go buy it.  Go to any one of those venues and look me up: Karen Hulseman.  I don't hide behind a pen name concerned about what others see I like to read and review.  Read my review of books that I have read (1138 as of today on my Kindle app) if they are there. (I'll touch more on that in another post.)

What this blog is about is all the other stuff I feel about books, reading and anything in the literary world.  What do I think about audiobooks? Are they worth the time? Who are my favorite authors and why?  What do I feel about book loaning? What charities are supported by my favorite authors? and of course, Who will they cast as "xxx" in the upcoming movie?

I am not paid for this blog.  Not owned by the big man so not a corporate whore who has to pimp the next big EL James.  Nope, just a lover of books who wants to share my random musing about anything literary that touches me.  So, July 1st sounded like a good as day as any to start.  Here is to my start.

PS: Beware trolls.  I play fair.  If you dare to comment, play fair or off you go.