This Chicks Sunday Commentary: How I Love YA Trends (and tropes!)..Let me Count Thy Ways

Book Bloggers are an opinionated lot. When we find a trend in fiction that we love we talk about it to death until one day that love turns into dissatisfaction, the tide turns, and we start talking about how much we hate that trope. I guess that’s human nature but well, I hate it. Just because the newness has worn off doesn’t mean we should get rid of it. There are still many things to love!

THE LOVE TRIANGLE-

I’m not sure why this trope has become unpopular? There is nothing better than the exploration of a character seen through two people’s eyes. One of my favorite examples of this is….

This series is a favorite for so many people, yet it started out as a love triangle. Through Tamlin’s eyes we saw Feyre’s weaknesses and her fight to overcome them. Through Rhys’ eyes we saw her strength. Yes, Tamlin didn’t treat her very well, but without that plot point would we like Rhys as much as we do? Would we like them together? In fact, wouldn’t it be interesting if Tamlin overcame his ways and fought to recapture Feyre’s love? I’d almost like to see a return of the love triangle. It might bring a spark back into this now overwrought love story.

THE FAIRYTALE RE-TELLING

I’ll be the first to say that I am overwhelmed by the number of fairy-tale re-telling novels that were re-leased over the last couple of years. Some were not so good, but when one is written well, the fairy-tale re-telling is so much fun! I read quite a few last year but these two stood out because they were different.

The Wrath & The Dawn is a re-telling of Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights. The prince marries and kills his princess every night until he marries Scheherazade and she keeps him up all night telling a story with a cliff hanger that keeps him coming back. The Wrath and the Dawn’s Shazi marries the prince for revenge, but falls in love. It’s full of intrigue, romance, and Renee Ahdieh’s beautiful prose.

Hunted is a re-telling of probably the most re-told story, Beauty and the Beast. What makes Meagan Spooner’s rendition different is that she mixes Russian folklore into the main story of Beauty and the Beast. It is beautifully told and Yeva is a strong heroine. Interestingly enough, both Yeva and Shazi from the Wrath and the Dawn, survive by telling stories, so maybe there is a touch of Scheherazade in Yeva as well!

Not to speak ill of fairy-tale re-tellings, but I have read plenty that did NOT hit the mark. But as with all novels, they are subjective and I’ve read plenty of reviews for those books I didn’t really care for where those readers were overjoyed with the outcome. That’s the beauty of reading, isn’t it?

THE HISTORICAL RE-TELLING

My discovery of this trend is pretty new and so far I am loving it. Admittedly, I know enough about history to think, ‘hmmm, this sounds familiar’ and then look it up. Wikipedia has become my best friend! I have just read two YA novels back to back that followed this trope that were done really well. My reviews are scheduled to post soon, but here’s a brief note on both.

The Dead Queen’s Club is the story of King Henry the VIII and his six wives, in a high school contemporary setting. Henry is a charismatic young man, popular, and has a steady stream of girlfriends. Two of whom are dead. Cleves, our protagonist, is his best friend and also one of his exes, who is determined to figure out who was responsible for his girlfriends deaths. Her voice is snarky and there are plenty of past and present cultural and historical references. It was a roller coaster ride and I really enjoyed my emotion sickness.

Set in Elizabethan England our heroine is a Catholic whose father was killed for his faith. Wanting revenge, she joins a treasonous plot to kill the queen. Little does she know, that play (written by Shakespeare -‘Twelfth Night’) was a plot to capture the assasin’s. I loved the historical references, the treasonous plot, and of course, Shakespeare.

HEROINE WITH POWERS THAT SAVE THE WORLD

Admittedly, this trope is usually found in YA fantasy novels, although I’d love to see a contemporary heroine have super powers and save the world. That could be a great twist! Admittedly, I have a soft spot for fantasy novels, and LOVE to root for the underdog. So, while many of you hate to love our heroine’s that save the world, if done well I find myself believing and rooting for them almost EVERY time. I’m a softy, I know! Here are a couple that struck the right chord.

Our heroine Britta is a Channeler and has developing magical powers. Through this two book series (well, there is a third but it’s unrelated to these main characters) we see Britta go from fearful of being discovered a Channeler, to solving the mystery of what happened to her father, finding her best friend and crush and absolving him of the crime, to saving the king. She doesn’t save the world, but through her actions she brings Channelers out in to the open, ending their persecution in her country. Oh! I should mention that these two books also use the Love triangle trope. It’s kind of minor, but does add some tension into Britta and Cohen’s relationship that was probably needed. That sub-plot would’ve been as dull as dishwater otherwise!

There are any number of other YA novels that use this trope, and actually combines the Love Triangle and Heroine with Super Powers tropes to success. The other one that jumps out at me is the following…

Yes, the Red Queen. Every book blogger who has read this series has an opinion. BUT, this first novel was very well done. A political thriller that pits those with common “red” blood against the elite, those with “silver” blood. Our heroine, red blooded Mare (God, I hate that name!), has the powers of a silver blood. She becomes the face of an uprising, the fixation of an evil King, and the lover of a fallen hero. This series has it’s ups and downs, but as a whole, Victoria Aveyard writes a spirited political thriller with a heroine that always sacrifices herself for the greater good. I haven’t yet read the last novel because King’s Cage kind of pissed me off, but it is overall a good series. Oh and I love Maven. You gotta love an evil Prince/King.

There are so many other YA trends and tropes that we book bloggers just love to love and love to hate. It depends on our mood, how many we’ve read in a row, and as always if the character and plot draw us in. In my opinion we shouldn’t be too quick to write off a book just because the trope has been overdone. There are still some GREAT books out there that we don’t want to miss, right?

What’s your favorite or most hated YA Trend or Trope? Or are you like me and secretly like them all? Let me know in the comments!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Uppercase Box Reveal October ’18

It’s time for another Uppercase Box YA monthly subscription reveal! As I opened the bag this time it was nice and cushy and I was really curious as to what was creating that pillowy look and feel.

My first winter snow hat! In maroon and gold, reading Ex Libris. I’ll admit, I knew Libris meant book, but wasn’t sure the exact meaning of this Latin saying. Here’s what I found:

Ex LIbris

There’s almost always a couple of bookish stickers inside the bag, which I’ll admit, are not my favorite bookish gifts. I’m a little past the sticker age, but can pass them along to some friends with small children… This box was no exception.

Uppercase Oct 4

The next gifty item is actually a clue to this month’s book. A pair of swan earrings, one white, one black.  Hmmmm. Guess yet?

Uppercase Oct 3

NO? Me neither. So, let’s reveal this months book!

Uppercase Oct 5

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

I’ve read that this is a re-telling of Snow White and Rose Red, but I’m definitely getting a Swan Lake type vibe as well. This sounds kind of interesting!

Has anyone read this book? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

Uppercase Oct 6

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Blah, Blah, Blah, Blogging…

Last year I set a fast and furious pace for myself. I was posting 3 reviews a week, had my Sunday Commentary post and filled in with a few bookish discussions, tags, etc. I religiously posted every other day. I did see my follows rise, but my energy level fell. To keep up that review pace I had to read 4 books a week, write religiously every weekend, and give up a little bit of my life. That second book I wanted to write kept getting pushed back as I slogged through trying to keep up the pace.

burn out

I didn’t want to quit blogging because I really love it! I just wanted to love other things too.

I know there are other bloggers out there who feel the same way I did, so I wanted to share a few things I did to get my life and my blogging back on track.

BACK OFF!– No! Not you guys! Me!! I needed to back down from this frantic pace I had set for myself. I backed down to two reviews a week (Tue and Fri) and made one of them my Friday YA post because a little YA just makes me happy. 🙂 I’ll confess, I do occasionally have three reviews in a week, but it’s usually because I have an Arc I forgot to read and review and I’ll throw one into my schedule to meet that due date.

Goodreads Challenge

Do you all do these Goodreads challenges? Well, I had set myself the challenge of reading 212 books this year. Ummm, not even close. I lowered it to 200 and am still 7 books behind schedule, so I’m just throwing this year out the window. 200 is NOT going to happen and I don’t know what I was thinking!

Aha

I had an AHA! moment- I wanted to show my fellow bloggers some love and approached a couple that I had admired to ask if they would answer a few questions in a new series I had been mulling over in my mind. They said yes, my Blogger to Blogger series was born. I really enjoy getting to know all of the bloggers in our universe and seeing how diverse we are! It’s a fun little series that seems to be taking off and brings joy to my little blog!

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I walked my dog!- This seems like such a small thing, doesn’t it? But getting outside with my dog and my husband starts the day off right. I get to see the neighborhood, enjoy the weather, and get a goofy grin from my baby, Nash. Isn’t he adorable?

Nash pumpkin

Be social! I”m lucky because I live in one of the best cities in the US for concerts, Nashville TN! My husband, who is my best friend and willing participant, has agreed that we must DO THINGS! So I’ve put the book down and started trying to get out of the house and do non bookish things. This helps so much! When I have time to relax and I relish getting back to that book instead of forcing myself to pick it up.

Maroon 5 concert

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Salon@615 at the Nashville Library with Deborah Harkness talking about her newest novel in the Discovery of Witches series.

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The hubs and I at an NFL Titans game.

What did I learn???

Having fun in life means having fun reading and writing again, and yeah, don’t over schedule myself…. that is no fun at all!

Do any of you have the same kinds of problems? What did you do to get yourself back on track?

Thanks for reading! Until next Sunday…

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: My Secret Life…

When you are asked what you like to do when you’re not working, at school or wherever, how do you answer? I’m sure as a book blogger we should be big hand wavers when it comes to admitting that we love to read. However, when I do, I find it fascinating to see how people respond. Is it abnormal to like to read as much as I do? Gageing from some of the wide eyed looks I get sometimes I feel like that must be true.

When I look back on my life and it’s big events I do remember how I had to find time to read. When I met my husband we immediately clicked and spent every moment together. I remember having to explain to him that I had to read the last half hour of my day in bed before going to sleep. I HAD TO. Well, we are married now, and he gets it! For awhile, he would read beside me quietly- until notebooks came out and he spent the end of his day surfing Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I, however, still read and he loves me anyway!

Single

When you start a new job and go out for a glass of wine, lunch or whatever with your new co-workers, do you confess to the amount of time you actually spend reading? The conversation goes something like, “So, Deborah, what do you do when you aren’t at work?” I say, “well, my husband and I like to try out new restaurants, I love taking my dog Nash for walks, and umm, I read 4 hours every night.”  Confession time. I probably do read about 3-4 hours every night. I know! But don’t you do that too? I certainly DON’T admit that to my friends though. Is that bad? Somehow, I feel like if I admit to reading that much they’ll look down on me like I don’t have a life or something. Why is reading considered a bad thing?

Reading

OK, that picture above is pretty funny (and kind of gross) but as Book Bloggers we SHOULD be screaming to the world that we LOVE to read! We need to encourage others to read, that enjoying books is a wonderful thing. Sharing a great book and talking about it with your friend or family member is one of the best feelings ever. I would like to convey my love for a good book to a child and encourage them to read every night for a half hour before sleeping like my own mother did for me. It helps me shrug off a bad day, encourage fantastic dreams, and helps me sleep. That’s not a bad thing.

Benefits of reading

So Book Bloggers, share your love of books outside your blog. Take off your mask and reveal your true identity and shout it out to the world!

I, Deborah- The Reading Chick love to read! How about you? Join me!

Until next Sunday,

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: The Soul Ripping Romance Tag!

I have not done a tag in a really long while, but I thought this one sounded like fun! Thanks Anna from Dole Whip and Books for tagging me. Anna and I share a love for YA, Romance novels, and all things Disney! Anna, you probably didn’t realize this but I grew up in Southern California and used to have an annual pass to Disneyland. Now that I’m in Tennessee I miss Disneyland! Go check out Anna’s blog for some great reviews and a peak into her life.

Anna at Dolewhipandbooks.com.

Here are the Rules as created by Nel at Reactionary Tales.

  • Thanks the person who tagged you and create a pingback to the original author- Nel at Reactionary Tales.
  • Share at least 5 (you can do more!) romances that tugged at your heart strings. They can be from books, movies, TV shows, manga, anything! The can be examples of sad tears, angry tears, happy tears or a combination of all three.
  • Nominate 5 (or more) people to share their emotional trauma.

Soul ripping

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a great romance. It’s my go to genre when I’m feeling down and I have several that I’ve read over and over. Soul ripping might be a stretch, but these couples certainly tugged at my heart strings.

  1. Sal and Rey from Kulti by Mariana Zapatsavonne

I just re-read this novel for like the 4th time and will probably read it once a year for the rest of my life. Rey is Sal’s coach on a professional women’s soccer team. She’s had a crush on him since she was a kid and he was the best men’s pro soccer player of his time. She’s so excited that he is going to be her coach but reality is nothing like her dreams. He’s an ass. Mariana Zapata writes slow burn romances and she builds their relationship through every level; from antagonistic, to friendship, to love. When Rey admits how he feels for Sal her soul is rocked. She can’t believe that this man who she had idolized returns her feelings. My skin breaks out in goose bumps and my eyes tear up EVERY TIME. That is a well written romance. Period.

To purchase Kulti click this link! Kulti

2. Ross and Rachel from Friends

Ross and Rachel

Friends was THE show to watch in the ’90’s and Ross and Rachel were the “It” couple. I lived in LA at the time and all the girls had Rachel’s haircut and every boy next door wanted his own Rachel. There’s nothing like that moment when you realize that the thing you wanted most – to be loved- was right in front of you the whole time. Their first kiss was a tear-jerker!

To purchase an episode of Friends click this link! The One After Ross Says Rachel

3. Nevada and Rogan – Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

industria

Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team. They write both perspectives so well! I can just imagine Ilona writing a scene and turning to her husband Gordon and he makes a face saying ” a guy wouldn’t think that way at all!” and re-writing the scene. Their characters perspectives are spot on. Connor “Mad” Rogan and Nevada Baylor are in my top five favorite fictional couples. He knows he wants her from the start, but she isn’t willing to let him in easily and he knows he has a fight on his hands to win her over. That quote above? Shivers… this is a series well worth your time!

To purchase Burn for Me click this link! Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy)

4. Jack and Rose from the movie Titanic

The historical costumes, sweeping music, and Kate and Leo. All things that made this couple so easy to love. Regardless if there was room on that door for Jack or not, I loved this movie and this couple!

5.  Satine and Christian singing Come What May- Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge 3

Moulin Rouge

OK, yes I know Satine was a prostitute, however this movie was so romantic and the song Come What May was the song my husband and I danced to at our wedding. I LOVE this song. It still gives me the chills and is one of the most epic romantic songs. Of course the tragic ending does help that a bit, but it’s still a beautiful song with a lot of meaning in those words and I still picture my husband and I dancing at our wedding.

What did you think about my choices? would you pick any of the same Soul Ripping moments or couples? Let me know in the comments!

This post was a lot of fun! I would like to nominate a few bloggers. Feel free to join in the fun or not. If I didn’t nominate you and you’d like to do this tag, please join in! Tag me so I can see your answers!

Kelly @Another Book in the Wall

Holly @Dressed to Read

@Books and Love

Jill@Jill’s Book Blog

Donna@Heron There and Everywhere

Thanks!

Deb

An Interview with Faith Hunter author of the Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood Series


Hi Faith! Thank you so much for answering a few questions, I’m a big fan of your Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series and can’t wait to hear your answers to my questions.
 ME: I have a confession. I read the first Soulwood novel before picking up and reading the first Jane Yellowrock novel and now after reading Flame in the Dark, I am three books in on each series. Since Soulwood is a spinoff of the Jane Yellowrock series, I am given clues into some of the later Jane books, especially when it comes to Rick LaFleur. However, I don’t feel like I HAD to read the Jane Yellowrock series first, was that intentional?

Faith: Not really. I was about eight or nine books in to the Jane Yellowrock series when I began to consider a spin off. With a spinoff there is always a common backstory that overlaps, and that overlapping grows organically. What I didn’t expect to happen was the lingering coinciding that came from Rick LaFleur’s continued presence in both series. I’m trying to break away Rick’s presence in Jane’s series, without taking the easy path of just killing him off. Instead, I am replacing him with a different character who will have a major role in Jane’s life. It’s been a technically interesting experience to slowly cut Rick away from Jane’s series, while not leaving a hole in Jane’s life, and at the same time, not leaving a hole in Rick’s life either, so that Rick can take up permanent residence in the Soulwood series.
ME: Jane’s character seems to be more intense than Nell Ingram’s even though they both have struggled with dark incidents in their pasts. Do you have more of an affinity with Jane or Nell? Which character has been more fun to write?

Faith: I don’t like or dislike either Jane or Nell more than the other. Both are fabulous to work with for entirely different reasons. Jane is harder to write simply because there is so much backstory in her life. The Jane Yellowrock series is now 12 books long (this counts DARK QUEEN which I am wrapping up) and is projected to go through 14 books. (Yes that makes my head spin.) To keep Jane fresh, I’ve had to write in some major changes and obstacles to overcome, and her challenges are always more physically dangerous and physically difficult than Nell’s will ever be. 
That said, Nell has to overcome so many social and emotional problems that Jane never will, because Nell was raised in (and escaped from) a polygamous cult. Her place in the real world is uncertain, and because she is the only one of her kind, that she has ever met, Nell is stumbling along in the dark, finding her way. When put in context, with Nell as a law enforcement officer, there is a layer of internal conflict that Jane will never face.
Sooo… Like a good parent, I didn’t answer to say which of my children I prefer. (gives cheeky grin)

ME: In the first three books of the Soulwood series we have seen Nell’s character grow from church widder woman to independent townie, at least inside Nell’s own mind. Do you attribute this growth and independence to her discoveries about her nature or about herself as a woman? Which discovery is more important to her independence?

Faith: I attribute Nell’s changes to education. Nell has met new people and seen how they live, how they react to one another, how normal relationships are supposed to work, all in the course of a joining a law enforcement team and solving dangerous paranormal crimes and meeting a possible romantic interest! (Can I squee over Occam?!?) She has seen women in powerful jobs, where they are in charge of men, give orders, and follow through on projects. And she has discovered what it is like to be part of a team made up of equal partners, instead of always being the one on the bottom of the pack. All this is new and exciting and in total opposition to her previous experience in a polygamous cult. 
Her own nature is something that actually sets Nell apart and steals her independence. In each book, the balance of action and danger weigh against her personal situation and history and the ways in which Nell is being forced to grow simply by being part of society and part of a crime-solving team.
ME:  Occam and Nell’s relationship seems to finally be moving forward. I have been waiting forever for that first kiss, and boy, it was a good one! Nell as a nymph or brownie, seems to have a very fertile nature. She grows leaves and twigs that need grooming. Her relationship with Occam will obviously change how Nell sees herself, but will it also change her nature?

Faith: I don’t think any creature changes its nature. A cat is always a cat, a tree is always a tree. But what I do see changing is the isolation that is part of Nell, instinctual as much as nurtured into her by John Ingram, her deceased husband. I see Nell reaching out, making friends and family, and growing into an emotionally healthy woman while solving crimes, learning about the world and falling in love. Badges and romance! Nature and falling in love! And learning how not to be a victim.
ME: This world that you have created for both of your series is so expansive! How do you keep track of characters, species, relationships and plot points? Do you have a system you can share?

Faith: Yeah…. I kinda painted myself into a brick wall with that one! I have three people I depend on for help in keeping me straight. One wonderful person keeps a searchable character history for me (which I’ll be giving away soon). Another one is keeping a book-by-book plot outline (which might be updated into the Jane Yellowrock Companion soon, a free gift to fans). The other one is a timeline and continuity editor who works with me all through each book to keep me on the straight and narrow and to do an ongoing copy edit. It takes a village!
ME:  Can you give us a hint of what’s coming up next for Nell and the PsyLED team? 

Faith: More crime. More vampire tree. More romance. More of everything!
ME: Last question- will Rick and Jane have a reunion in the Soulwood series? ( you don’t have to answer this one if you don’t want to…)

Faith: No. Not planning on it. The two series will separate totally after FLAME IN THE DARK and DARK QUEEN. But oh my! What a separation!

Faith thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. You have really made me excited to read more of your novels!

Deborah

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: My Five Most Memorable Reads

I think we can all admit that we read to escape reality. Whether we want an hour’s break from our kids, a small break from poor health, or a story to help forget about our every day problems at work or home.  When we pick up that perfect book, you know, the one that immediately grips you, immersing you in another world and other peoples lives, you savor that world and don’t want that story to end. Now, I am no spring chicken and have read thousands of books in my lifetime. I’ll admit that most I don’t remember, but the books below are books that stuck with me no matter the age I read them. I’d like to share these books with you.

1) The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

I have read this book several times in my teen and young adult years and it is superb. However, this book makes my most memorable list because it was the book my mom chose to read to me when I was a toddler before going to bed. I’ll admit, as an adult I wonder what my mom was thinking because this book is kind of scary for a young kid! But, I can still hear her reading it to me and I hope I always will. This is also where my love of fantasy novels stems from.


Click this link to purchase this book! The Hobbit

2) Watchers -Dean Koontz

I read this novel when I was a teenager and a little more brave in my reading choices. Dean Koontz writes semi-scary fantasy/horror/mystery novels. Truly, each of his novels is in a different genre. Watchers is about a man who finds a golden retriever while taking a hike. This golden retriever is super intelligent and with his help a mystery is solved. I remember LOVING this dog! I don’t remember a lot of the plot but do remember how awesome this book was and how much I like it. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I think I need to re-read this one! Have you read this book? What did you think?

Click this link to purchase! Watchers

3) Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone- J.K. Rowling

When I read the first Harry Potter book I was completely blown away by the fact that this was a young adult book. It was my first young adult book read while being an actual adult who wasn’t young. The world building was amazing, the relationships real, and the problems, even if filled with magical adventures, rang true to life. I totally wanted to write after reading this book and kept reading the series as it came out.


Click the link to purchase! Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

4) Guilty Pleasures – Laurell K. Hamilton

This is the first novel in the Anita Blake series. My aunt lent them to my sister and I and I read books 1-5 while on a vacation touring plantations in Virginia and Maryland with my sister and mom. Talk about immersing yourself in a book! I can remember staying up until 2am to finish those novels. Vampires by night, plantations by day. It was hard to keep straight at time! LOL. However, I was addicted. Anita was one kick ass heroine and I still like that character, although the more recent books have become too much about how much sex she has and less about the bad guys she’s fighting. Those first books in the series are great though, and I’d really recommend them to anyone.


Click the link to purchase! Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Book 1)

5) A Promise of Fire -Amanda Bouchet (The Kingmaker series)

This is the most recent book I’ve read on the list. It is a totally original historical fantasy/romance novel. I took a greek mythology class in college and have remained fascinated with those gods and their progeny. This series is set in a world where those gods are real and our heroine is fighting against her fate, and finds true love while doing it. This book captured my attention and became my whole world while reading it. I reviewed it and the second book in the series Breath of Fire and gave them both five stars. They are original, have swashbuckling action, and swoonworthy characters. Read them, I promise they will not disappoint! I loved them so much I had the author sign the books and I have them in my library. No, you can’t borrow them!


Click this link to purchase! A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles)

There are so many books that have helped me escape the realities of life or that have created amazing memories for me. I haven’t even touched on Outlander by Diana Gabaldon or the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs! Oh, and my most recent discovery, Written in Red by Anne Bishop! See, I could go on and on, but for the sake of time, both yours and mine, I’ll hold it to five.

What are the books you’ve read that have helped you create a great memory or helped you escape from your life? I’d love to hear about them!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Marketing Your Blog

When I first started my blog my goal was simple. I’d read a book for pleasure and then write what I thought about the book. I didn’t know much about this book blogging world and really have learned by trial and error. I had few rules, but over time my goals have changed. As I’ve interacted with my fellow bloggers, publishers and PR machines, I’ve discovered that I actually love the relationships I’ve built and blogging has really added something to my life that I didn’t know was missing. An outlet for my creativity, certainly, that is still my main purpose. Reading books I love and talking about them. However, I’ve also discovered that I enjoy helping get the word out into my universe (which is admittedly not huge), but in my own way, promote reading and help some authors I enjoy attain success and hopefully make their living writing. This year, my goals changed slightly. I decided to apply myself more using my skills from my day job. So I am going to out myself on my blog today in the hopes that some of these tips may help some of you too! 

I am an Advertising Sales Executive! Ok, it’s not like I’m a superhero or anything, sorry! However, being in the advertising business, my job is to help small or large businesses deliver a message to their customers, bring people through their doors, and to buy whatever it is they are selling.  Thats remarkably similar to what we book bloggers are trying to do for our favorite authors, right? I decided to apply those marketing skills to my own blog, grow my followers, while at the same time, getting the word out and help authors sell some books! These five things helped me jump start my own blog and I wanted to share them with you all.

  Clean Look– This one seems like it should be so easy! Nobody likes to view a cluttered blog. Keep the colors simple and please make sure we can read your blog against whatever background color you pick. No white on light pink backgrounds please!  If I go to a website and can’t read the posts I hit unfollow. Put a menu at the top and make sure your followers can easily find reviews, Tags, etc. If they can’t find things easily your readers either won’t click follow, which is what your goal is, right? Or worse, they will hit unfollow! 

  Consistency– every blogger has their own goal for their blog. The key is to pick your subject and be consistent with your message. You are a book blogger and if you’re trying to market yourself as a reviewer then make sure you post reviews. If you start talking about gardening, cooking, or makeup you will lose followers. Be consistent in your message! You don’t have to stick to reviews, Book Tags, Stacking Your Shelves, TBT are all ok because you are sticking with your book theme. Stick with that theme to deliver a consistent message and gain followers. 

   Social Media– This has been a HUGE part of my own blog gaining traction. I will not lie, it takes work! WordPress will automatically send your posts to Facebook, Twitter, and a few more. Take advantage of that! Create a Facebook Page for your blog. Tweet out your posts, use Pinterest, Instagram, Google+. They all help deliver eyeballs to your posts. I love looking at the referrals section of my blog to see what post gains traction on what site. Of course, this is what I do for a living and seeing what works interests me. Recently I have noticed that Google+ has become particularly active with my Sunday Commentaries! Find where your traffic is coming from and cater to them. I wrote a review for the author Meghan March and when I posted it on Instagram I wrote one sentence about bringing a gun on your vacation, it was a romantic suspense novel and I hadn’t any idea that Google would rate that post high because of the word gun. I noticed a TON of views from Google. Ok, maybe not the best example because I’m sure some people didn’t know they were clicking on a book review, but the point is to be clever!  It works!

   Branding yourself– Remember while doing both of the above keep your message and the look of your blog consistent from Social site to Social site. You want your followers to recognize your blog name and the look of your blog. When a reader see’s the name The Reading Chick they know what they will get. Reviews, Tags and Comentaries! All delivered with my charm and personality, of course! Lol. When they see The Reading Chick from site to site and the message and look are consistent, it becomes branding. Everyone knows who McDonalds is, right? Golden Arches, red and yellow colors, Ronald McDonald, and burgers and fries. They are the master at consistency and  their dominance shows that consistency works regardless if your burgers are sub par.

   Organized topics/regularly scheduled– This year I introduced my Sunday Commentary, which I use to sound off, but to also post some fun tags. However, my blog is about book reviews, so I make sure I deliver on that promise and I post three reviews a week. This still gives me a few days to do other fun book related posts if the mood hits. Some bloggers post weekly Waiting on Wednesday or Throw back Thursday blog posts. These are great examples of regularly scheduled posts. We know what they are, they happen the same day every week and we come to expect them. In fact, I look for some of them! Branding, consistency and regularly scheduled all at work!

All of you know that reaching out to your fellow bloggers on WordPress, commenting, liking and developing relationships also helps you gain followers so don’t stop! It takes some time, but if you put in the effort you will see the results- and make some great friends while your at it!

I hope you all found this post interesting and helpful! I’d love to hear how you think you’ve gained the most followers. Please give your tips in the comments below!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

   

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: How do I pick my next book??? #Sundayblogshare

I am definitely having one of those weeks. You know, the one where I’m playing catch up with my ARC commitments, my library books are expiring, I’ve gotten a few (ok 7!) Kindle Unlimited books that are taking up valuable real estate on my kindle, AND I just took a short road trip and saw a ton of Harley riding men and women that had me jonesing to re-read one of my favorite books (Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley).  Big run on sentence so sorry about that, but whew!  How, oh how do I pick out my next book???

Normally, I have a system. 

  • Check NetGalley and emails for my ARC commitments. Right now I have an ARC a week that I need to read, then two for 7/4 releases. Luckily I’m a fast reader. But knowing I have three days to read and write the review, i have a slight reprieve so on to the next step.
  • When does my next book expire on Overdrive? If it’s soon, I may need to read it. Does everyone know about The Overdrive app? If not, You Are Missing Out!  It was my best discovery ever! You can check out ebooks from your library through this app. Instantly! Also, I can recommend to my library, through the app, to purchase certain books. If they purchase it, and 80% of the time they do, they’ll put me in line for it, or if no one else is in line I’ll get an automatic checkout. You can check out 10 books at a time, have 20 on hold, and this includes pre-release books, and you can keep a wishlist of all the books you still want to read. A library TBR. Like I need another one, right? So, of course as I’m reading your reviews and finding all sorts of books that sound great because YOU liked them, I put them on my wishlist so I can look at them again later and then possibly read.

Overdrive App!!

  • Next I peruse my bookshelves and look at the physical specimens that I brought home from the RT Convention. My sister and I combined our shelves and they are filled with over 200 books. Some of which are actually ARCs themselves. Yikes! There are some great books on these shelves!
  • Then I look at my kindle. Yep, it’s filled with purchases, free copies, and more RT Convention giveaways. I think my last count was around 180. Oh, and don’t forget about those Kindle Unlimited books. They don’t expire, but I put a small amount of pressure on myself to actually read what I’ve purchased. More great books to read, but when?!

  • Then, like I said above, I’m craving that re-read of Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley. I’ve only read the dang thing like 5 or 6 times? Why is it so appealing? Well, hot alpha guy and very pretty, not biker babe looking lady hook up, fall in love and fight danger. What’s not to love?  I sincerely love reading Tack and Tyra’s story. She’s a hoot! And takes no shit, which seriously, with a biker guy, that takes some cojones! (Balls for those non Spanish speaking ladies in the crowd…) 

  • Last, I look at my Hardback copy of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray. It’s Donna (heronthereeverywhere), Sarah (Travels with Choppy) and my Blog Book Club pick for the month. It looks good, right? I still have until 6/15. I’m a fast reader, right?


I’ve gone through these steps multiple times. Which book is next?!! Eeeny Meeny Miney Moe!

I’d love to hear about your strategy for picking out your next book! What catches your eye? Is it the deadline? Cover? Favorite author? 

Until next week!

Deb

This Chick is off to the #RT17 Convention in Atlanta! #Sundayblogshare


I can’t believe a year has passed since the RT Convention in Vegas last year! Wow, the time has flown! Today, my bags are packed and I’m heading off to Atlanta, to join Readers, Writers and Bloggers meet, mingle, learn and have fun with some of my favorite authors. This year I’ve signed up as a writer and am participating in a Writers Workshop on Monday and Tuesday, where hopefully I will be given some great advice on how to fine tune my novel, meet an agent and get published.

My sister and a few friends are driving in on Tuesday night and we’ll get the fan girl party started! Last year, I met so many wonderful people! Authors, readers, bloggers, everyone was just so nice! I Geeked out over meeting Kristen Ashley, Laura Kaye and Jill Shalvis, but also took home an amazing number of books and became fans of a whole new set of authors. Yes, I still plan on freaking when I see Kristen Ashley again, but this year, I can spread the love out a little more. LOL.

I will be updating you all from the convention with pictures and book counts. I hope to bring home some swag so I can do some giveaways  so I can share a little of the RT magic with you all!

Here are some pictures from last year’s convention, so you’ll know what fun I have in front of me!

 

Viva La Historical Social Event
Tons of larger than life posters everywhere!
Kristen Ashley!! (On right)
Laura Kaye (on left)
Jill Shalvis! (On right)
Swag, swag and more swag! This was one days!
And then there are cover models…..

Catch up with you from Atlanta!

Deb