Sunday, July 30, 2017

Different is Good


This is something I ponder from time to time. My book friends know my preference in reading: hearts, flowers, unicorns, and light & fluff with no angst. Pretty simple when you think about it. I don't tend to veer too far off the reading path. But, every once in awhile, I surprise myself.  What is better? It can be when the authors I adore do it for me. 



If you follow me on Goodreads, you'll see I'm happily immersed in a Kate Cantenbary binge.  I do this periodically, like normal people do with Netflix, yet I do with authors. As I'm reading book 3 of the Walsh Family series, Necessary Renovations, I'm hit at 83% that the author may not be heading down my normal expected path. After finishing, I thought: what stories took me unexpectedly where I ventured and loved it? 

Really, do you think I'm going to spoil it and let you know if Kate did surprise me in book 3? 
Nope, just read it.



I thought I'd share some books from authors whose body of work I enjoy tremendously but took a chance on something different - and loved all the more.  So, in order of reading, here is my --

Different is Good Recommendations





I read this during a period of time where I was recovering from surgery. I was finding it hard to concentrate on reading material. Whether it was tiredness, pain or just plain reading apathy that hit me, this book intrigued me into a non-stop experience. Without rehashing the blurb (click on the link for that), this book is a story within a story.  The muse - you choose who was the real muse to whom - created a story that unfolds in real time with the character's journey. In following Ms. Edwards, this isn't one of her more popular stories to be discussed. But for me, this dual story within a story was a interesting risk in storytelling that I throughly enjoyed. 


 
        


Really, I don't do dark. I don't do paranormal. I just don't when I look for a read. I've had a few trusted book friends recommend these sub-genres and have enjoyed. But I DO NOT seek them out. However, a book friend insisted - I'll say she shoved it down my throat and she'll laugh - that I read this paranormal offering. Now, ES Carter has within her Love By Numbers series veers into different types of tropes within contemporary romance. But these books, she took a left turn on a road circling to the right with a cliff on the other side. When readers ask me, I best describe it as: Emily Bronte and Ann Radcliffe met, smoked hash and wrote a book together. Or the best damn gothic, scary romance I've ever read. It was shocking, cringe-worthy, yet the most poetic version of murderous intent I've ever read. And with my limited library of dark reads, this will be in the foremost of my mind when someone asks because it is just that beautiful in all its gore. 




Melanie has a captivating ability to tell a story and tell it very, very well. Her stories are always complete and leave the reader satisfied with 'The End'. I guess I can best summarize her stories as dramatic art. Not that it is Lifetime Channel quality. No, I classify her body of work to compare to Out of Africa or Secret Life of Walter Mitty caliber movies. In January she released a very light-hearted, non-angsty story of falling in love at first kiss. It deviated from the road her novels normal  riveting journey. And you know, sometimes you need to watch the Hallmark channel instead of HBO to let real life take a break. When someone is looking for that 'easy' love story to read, this is one that I will recommend each time. It was a risk as an author to go in such a light hearted direction but it is a serious check in my win column. 


 


Just like the paranormal, I don't do the young adult/new adult stories. I think it's my age showing, but anyone under 25 just isn't my cup of tea. So what happens when an author I adore tells me she's not only writing a story about outsider and golden boy but set in high school, I take a deep breath, pull up my big girl panties and say, "I'll read one chapter". Damn if I wasn't hooked. And I truly wish I could take credit for this description - smart high school characters with real life stakes (PS thank you Brenda). Two interesting facts: It's not finished and it is currently available only through the Inklo app. Each episode is released on Tuesdays at 5pm EST, and we are only to number six as of this blog post date. I'm not sure where this story will take us. However, I have been shocked and awed as what I've read. (Check out my comments on each episode) And I am impatiently waiting for more. It is one of the most 'real' young adult stories I've read ← that is saying a lot from me. 





Although I've read authors who may wander slightly off the path, they seem to stay consistent with their brand of storytelling. These four authors did not allow me to choose different. They made the choice for me. In each one of these recommendation, it worked for me. Different wasn't only good it was great. I loved the journey and felt good about the direction I was taken.  Now, this doesn't mean that every change of pace works for me. Sometimes I'm in the mood for out of the ordinary. If you know and love something not quite in the normal standard for an author, throw out your suggestion to me on social media. You never know what may be my next 'different is good' will be. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sharing Joy: What is Old is New Again and I Get a Bit Mushy

I've been reflective in the past 24 hours more so than others. Although this subject has been on the tip of my tongue for days, I've been searching for the words for weeks now to express this feeling I have. I think I've found them. So I hope you aren't surprised by this mushy post as my normal sarcasm is put to the side for a bit.


I hope each of my followers has taken the time to read my interview with Panda & Boodle. Not only was it fun to do, but it was inspired by a conversation with author. She wanted to genuinely know what this new BuzzFeed Community activity was about. Because let's face it: sometimes it's hard to define what is just a promotion campaign versus not. If you look out on the interweb, you'll see such promotions: Hottest Beach Reads - sponsored by Book Bub.  I am no way knocking these type of promotions. As the author I conversed with stated, it's HARD - very HARD to get your book noticed in a sea of never ending offerings. These have their place in a needed way.



There is also promotion from bloggers to get their blogs noticed. If all you publish is cover reveal, review tour, giveaway...and no other content, it's difficult to stay noticed in the sea of those readers just scrolling by. You've got to post relevant and interesting posts once in awhile to break up the monotony of book promo posting. See my list of blogs I follow - the reason I do is they all keep me engaged as a reader.  In order to 'mix it up' what you see from most blogs is a 'Must Read 2017' or 'Summer Reading List' to keep content fresh.  Again, these are book lists that are normally relevant in the now




Before I continue, I'd like you to look at our last list: Ghosts and Angels: Romances We Love That Will Have You Saying "Ditto". What I'd like you to pay careful observation to is the publication dates.  My book friends aren't limiting their recommendations to what is popular now. We give them a survey topic and they get to spend time like Ron to reminisce over their libraries on the books they want to share. 


Like the idea of the song, a book can inspire you to connect with an event or a person to remember fondly. But reminiscing over a book, its like returning to an old friendship when you think about the characters and their journey. When we are doing our surveys, this magic, this recall is what happens. And we all feel warm and delighted again. 

There is this feeling I get after we hit publish on a list. We love seeing readers react to our suggestions and sharing. I personally enjoy reading the comments and other readers suggestions. But this isn't what hits me in the feels.  It's when we see a delighted response from an author.  

Not in the 'Oh we've been noticed by the cool kid'. Nope, it's when an author says, "Thank you for mentioning my book 'X'. I'm stunned and smiling like mad right now." That author quote is from a book was published in 2013. There is no active promos. Nope, just a genuine '...recommend this book because...' from our book friends. And that reaction from the authors that they recognize we don't just love the right now, but we love and recommend a wonderful reading memory.  It's this reaction - happiness in recognizing a worthy story - gets me grinning. 


I think as book bloggers and fans we forget, and we often concentrate on the hot-right-now. Every day there are new readers that haven't seen or heard of these fantastic reads.  These new readers may find by going through a catalog, but maybe there is a bit of hesitation on their part to click because we aren't talking about it. I guess what I hope is that readers - both old and new to the genre - find some really enjoyable entertainment with our lists.  Our themes may run current with what is happening such as LoveIsLoveIsLove for Pride Month.  However, our content will stay authentic to the recommendations of our book friends. 




Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fangirl Activated: SASS Author Event Baltimore MD July 2017

TRIP OF A LIFETIME! 



Really you say.  Yes, really this is one author signing that I will not be able to duplicate ever again. You see it's not the authors, books, or signing events that made it so special. 

It was the bookfriends 
I may not be able to connect with in person again. 

Approximately a year ago, a very special Aussie friend, Jackie, said that she was planning a trip to the USA and would any of the admins in our reader group be attending the Baltimore event. 

Say What?!?!???

Although I had every intention to try to make the trip to Riveting Reads Australia in October 2017, my husband had other plans for our wedding anniversary. Yes, the one time love of my life came before books. Jot that down in your calendar.  With having the opportunity to not only spend time with Jackie but also Erin, I made sure NOTHING was going to spoil this trip in July 2017. 

Well, meeting two friend grew into many friends in attendance.  Those I have talked about on books with on social media. Those that I have met at other events. Those new friends I made at this event. As I have stated before, it's these irreplaceable friendships that I've been blessed to form that are the BEST of the memories for any author signing event. 


We laughed, we drank, we ate birthday cake (special decorated), and we talked books. 
It was an AMAZING three days I will not forget. 

Now, by the way, there were authors I met.  I got to connect with authors I stalk interact with on social media and met new ones.  Here are some highlights:
  • J. Daniels: What a sweet person and I probably had her wondering about my sanity. If you've not read her Alabama Summer and Sweet Addiction series - you are missing out! 
  • Melanie Harlow and David Romanov: First, poor David. He was the target of a giveaway in our reader group. I gave him a first hand experience on fangirling. If you've not read their co-written story, Strong Enough, it's a 5 star debut in same-sex romance. 
  • Sam D. Hunt: I had the opportunity to spend Friday Evening Event at her hosted table and won lots of goodies playing dice. If you are into menage theme, her duet, Taken by Two/Torn by Two, is a #mustread. You'll want to check out an upcoming BuzzFeed list about that ;) 
  • Sawyer Bennett, Helena Hunting and Chelle Bliss: Each one of them are go-to with each new release. Always entertaining and great story telling. 




Next is the most prized physical possession I got at SASS.  If you've checked out our BuzzFeed list, LoveisLoveisLove, you will see that Tessa Bailey's debut for Wound Tight is mentioned.  I picked it up for my plane ride and WOW! what a brilliant tale. Completely relatable characters. Anywho...I digress. So one part of the Brain Trust was with me, and insisted on my special nickname be used.(and a story for another day.)


As far as author events, this was smoothly run, had more than just a signing to offer and I have it on the calendar for 2018. Maybe I will see you there! 




Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Brightest Star By B Cranford - READ IT NOW




Title: The Brightest Star
Author: B. Cranford
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 13, 2017



Blurb

The last thing Brighton Starling needed on one of the most humiliating days of her life was to run into her ex…

Naturally, she did. And two years after he walked away, leaving her hurt and broke, he somehow managed to look better than ever. Of course.

She didn’t want to see him, let alone speak to him, but apparently, he wasn’t going to give her a choice.

All Sebastian Figures wanted was to talk to the one that got away…

No, scratch that. The one he drove away with poor decisions and lies, big and small.

She might have been having a bad day, but she was still the bright, beautiful girl he’d been missing for far too long. His brightest star. Still the only girl he’d ever want. If only he could convince her of that.

Is it too late to say sorry?

Sebastian wants a chance to win back Brighton’s trust—and her future.

Brighton wants to be able to move on from the past, once and for all.

But neither of them want to say one final goodbye…






Purchase Links

99c for a limited time only!

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited





Review

What happens when the man who took a gamble with your heart shows up at your Panera? The imprint he left on your heart still bears the very sharp grooves caused by his abrupt departure. Do you forgive him? Or shove that Italian down his throat? That my reading buddies is what you get when you enter the world of Sebastian and Brighton in The Brightest Star. 

Second chance romance is my favorite trope, and from reading the synopsis I was 'all in'. Ms. Cranford keeps the reader engaged with all the necessary ingredients for a fabulous novel. It's clever combination of a little bit sad, sprinkled with outrage, just enough spice, a hefty serving of humor, and a ginormous portion of love. Often times with debut authors, I give them the widest berth to find their voice in storytelling. Never have I been so enchanted from the start and willing to devour a tale in an afternoon. 

The characters had me rooting for each one separately for different reasons. At times I hoped that Brighton would yell and scream at him for what he deserved after two years. Then Sebastian would seem genuinely sorry - I mean I KNEW he was so sorry and just wanted hug him. And tell Bright to give him a break. Until no - you encouraged her to stand firm - make him prove he is the right choice. And that my friends - all those emotions - B. Cranford can evoke from you as you read is why you want to consume this story, and ask for more. 

Which is where I ask B. Cranford for Declan and Jade's story. Because come ON there is a story there dying to be told. 

I am often shrewd with my reviews on debut books. There is place for improvement. This story I just can't find flaw. 
 🌟 It's beautiful. 
 🌟 It's brilliant. 
If you love contemporary romance as much as I do, you'll fly your fingers to click on this fabulous story. 
5 out of 5 stars 


Author Bio

B. Cranford is a proud Australian living in the USA, a lover of books, breadsticks and bed, and the mother of two children who are far too similar to their father for her liking. A lifelong reader, she dove into the romance genre on the recommendation of her best friend and hasn’t looked back since. After three years as a blogger, she decided it was high time she finally finished one of the 12,002 books she’d started writing, and the end result was The Brightest Star.


Author Links

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Confessions of a former ARC Team Reviewer

Let me get this out there first: I rather sighed a huge breath of relief when I figured out my time was up for a large review team

I meet a lot of bookish type people. Yeah, yeah I know - that was rather the point of this blog.  

*eyeroll* << you saw that coming

However, one of the topics of what I call 'social media newbies' ask me is how to get on ARC review teams, beta read, etc. Well, to be honest...they find me. I don't go seeking this out. (More on this subject later).  To continue with this thread of honesty, I have rules to abide by if I do join an ARC team.

Wait? There are rules?  No, these are my personal rules that I feel that readers should abide by when agreeing to the commitment. Emphasizing the commitment. 

Rules According to Yours Truly:

  1. You read ARCs first: That means whatever you have on your TBR or in the middle of gets dropped like a hot potato. You said you'd read it - now do it. 

  2. You complete your review on Goodreads/Blog/Reader Group ASAP: Now, eRetailers do not always allow you to post right away. Authors depend on early feedback for exposure. Do your due diligence by reviewing where able promptly.

  3. Write a positive but honest review: Okay this is tricky. Not every story is for every reader. However there is ways to draft a review without crucifying the author. If you can't give more than 3 stars, contact the author with constructive comments privately. 

  4. Buy the book: Yes, you buy the book or gift the book. You were gifted the early review privilege. The authors have to eat. You love it and I'm guessing you would have purchased it so keep them writing. 

  5. Complete your review forms for the authors promptly: Do not be a douche and have them track you down. 

  6. Post your reviews to all social media outlets:

    • Amazon
    • Nook
    • Kobo
    • iBooks
    • Google Play
    • Reference your Goodreads review on:
      • Pinterest
      • Google +
      • Tumblr
      • Facebook
      • Twitter
      • Instagram
      • Reddit
      • StumbleUpon
      • Email

See number 5? Yes, every review - every time. I may copy and paste my original, but its part of the privilege to early reading. You may not be technology savvy or want to have your Aunt Mae knowing your social media interactions.  Do what you can and where - but let the author know you do have limitations on commitment.  

And to be honest, for a multiple author review team, well...




It is a lot of scheduling and organizational skills to keep up where, when and how.  So, why yes, I did duplicates, but overkill is better than not at all. Not everyone follows similar rules and for that ugly truth I'm sad.  Some people have less than genuine reasons for wanting to be a part of review teams or receive ARCs.  They give those of us a bad name, but it is what it is. My final thought: Don't be a douche if you can't commit to the time to read and review. 



Okay that's a bit creepy meme. But seriously the look on my face when an author approaches me to provide an ARC review.  

Yes, you read it. I have them approach me

This isn't a popularity contest. And you saw the rules. The rules that I need to commit to in order to give back to the author. That's why I don't enter every contest for every ARC or even sign up for review teams. The task is a time commitment and I want to give 100 percent. There are lots of individuals who are committed to the process as I am (and gladly call friends).  If I can't give 100 percent, then I don't want to take up a spot that someone is deserving. 

Now my time is over, now what? 


I have time to read what I want.  Did you see rule 1? Yes, the responsibility of putting the ARC review team first meant I had to swap out the time for my personal purchases. Don't get me wrong  - the opportunity to do this for the last year was interesting. I got to read some books I might not otherwise have chosen on my own. Now I can spend my time on those books I want to purchase myself.  Kinda sounds a bit selfish. But in keeping it real, when you join a review team, you lose some of that right to choose.  And I'm giddy that I have my personal time back to dedicate to those I want to rather than need to. 

There you have it. Do you have more questions? Hit me up in the comments.  



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Brightest Star: Tales of a Debut Blog Tour & Review

Now you THINK this is a story about a debut author. Nope, sorry. All about me. Okay fine. A little bit about the author too. You'll come back in about a week. I will have my very FIRST blog tour and review. Yes sir - B. Cranford has got me to do what I swore I wasn't going to do.   

 Blog Tour 

See, remember I didn't want to feel like I had sold out to 'The Man'. I didn't want to be 'just another blog' about romance books. I was going to be different. I was going to offer something that no one else did. We were going to talk about reading and books and not feel like I was shoving my favorite authors down your throat.  

Oh how the pompous have fallen.  


 So what happened you ask? Well, this book happened...




I toot the horn of all my favorite authors far and wide all over social media. Except here. What was it about THIS story that changed my mind?  Well, here is my review on Goodreads, eRetailers and back here on July 13th.  

Review 

What happens when the man who took a gamble with your heart shows up at your Panera? The imprint he left on your heart still bears the very sharp grooves caused by his abrupt departure. Do you forgive him? Or shove that Italian down his throat?  

That my reading buddies is what you get when you enter the world of Sebastian and Brighton in The Brightest Star. Second chance romance is my favorite trope, and from reading the synopsis I was 'all in'. Ms. Cranford keeps the reader engaged with all the necessary ingredients for a fabulous novel. It's clever combination of a little bit sad, sprinkled with outrage, just enough spice, a hefty serving of humor, and a ginormous portion of love. Often times with debut authors, I give them the widest berth to find their voice in storytelling. Never have I been so enchanted from the start and willing to devour a tale in an afternoon.  

The characters had me rooting for each one separately for different reasons. At times I hoped that Brighton would yell and scream at him for what he deserved after two years. Then Sebastian would seem genuinely sorry - I mean I KNEW he was so sorry and just wanted hug him. And tell Bright to give him a break. Until no - you encouraged her to stand firm - make him prove he is the right choice. 
And that my friends - all those emotions - B. Cranford can evoke from you as you read is why you want to consume this story, and ask for more.  

 Which is where I ask B. Cranford for Declan and Jade's story. Because come ON there is a story there dying to be told.  

 I am often shrewd with my reviews on debut books. There is place for improvement. This story I just can't find flaw.  

🌟 It's beautiful.
🌟 It's brilliant.

If you love contemporary romance as much as I do, you'll fly your fingers to click on this fabulous story. 5 out of 5 stars 




Yep, that's my review for Goodreads, Amazon...you know out there.

It's not a bad review. And I will use it over again in a few weeks right here. Awesome as you get the privilege of listening to me twice. So how about the review that I won't be publishing. 

Say WHAT? you say. I'm holding out. Wait up, I'll give it to you. 

The Secret Review Files

As I have disclosed, I have the pleasure of beta reading for a few authors. I am highly picky for whom I read. I mean to share this level of awesome - well - we don't want to flood the world with it. Besides getting me aka speaks fluent sarcasm, the author has to be open-minded and willing to engage in reasonable discussion about their story and characters from my feedback.  I do respect that all stories are a vision that each author shares with the world. What I mean by reasonable discussion is that the author is willing to engage what I feel as a reader. Also doesn't get their panties in a twist when I send grimace emojis for a scene aka I AM NOT FEELING THIS.  I mean, I get it. It's horrible to have someone tell you that your baby is ugly. But if the author is willing to work with me then yeah sure. 

So long story even longer, B Cranford asked if I'd early read.

Okay. Sure...

I've worked with her on other projects and they turned out fine. Yeah, I'd give it a go. 

I Was Fucking Floored. 


Go back to the part about reasonable discussion.  This story was brilliant. Shit! Here's my speech to all the authors I read for - you bring your A game and I want your A+ game. What the ever-loving fuck was I going to say to make this even better? 

Hell if I knew. Guess I'm re-reading it.

If this was her best version, I need to be super picky. Really dig into the characters. What drives them? Did I understand them completely? Were there parts I needed clarity on? Could I feel what they felt? I mean my second read through and I'm determined to be ruthless.  

Yeah like a damn kitten. 

But, yes, I did find things to challenge her as a storyteller to bring out the very best in her characters. I mean she brought her A+ game and I asked her for her A+++ game. And this my fellow beloved bookworms is my real review. When I say this story is brilliant, I mean it. It's everything I want and need in contemporary romance. It's not a gut-wrenching, tear-inducing, throw my kindle that some seem to favor. What The Brightest Star is - entertaining, engaging, beautifully told with humor and love. That's fills all the checkboxes for my definition of what a true representation in the category of contemporary romance.  And most importantly: my required HEA. 

So that's the real review. And you might think I'm writing this because of the acknowledgement. (Yes, I realize you haven't read that yet but when you do...) Nope, I'm not worried. This book will find the readership and people will be talking about how awesome it made them feel. 

Plus - on a continuing selfish note - I'd really like to learn more about the mystery that is Declan and Jade. 

In closing, come back on July 13th, I will have the 'official' blog tour with all the necessary links and such.  Just remember... I warned you...You are going to love it. 

x