Once upon a time, my reading choices were limited to my favourite authors but since the purchase of my Kindle, I’ve discovered new-to-me authors. While romantic comedy and women’s fiction are still my number one choice, my reading tastes have broadened and become more eclectic. And IMO, one of my favourite parts of the reading experience is discovering a new-to-me author and then reading their backlist. To a diehard reader, this is better than chocolate.
So I’d like to share some of the books I’ve recently read and loved. First off is Hollowland by Amanda Hocking.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Amanda Hocking, she was unable to sell her books to traditional publishers so began to self-publish in April 2010. Since then, she has sold over a million copies of her books. In March 2011, she signed a four book deal with St. Martin’s Press and has gone on to have a book optioned for film and another one made into a graphic novel.
Hollowland is the first book I’ve read by this author and I’ll definitely be reading more. While I’d always intended to try one of Amanda’s books – she is, after all, a superstar in the self-publishing world – my Kindle is already filled with books that I haven’t yet had a chance to read. But the other day, when I received the Free Kindle Books & Kindle News email, I saw Hollowland on it. I immediately downloaded the book on to my Kindle.
My reading MO starts out with admiring the cover, reading through the reviews, acknowledgments, then finally delving into the opening lines of the book. Monday night, I started reading Hollowland and wow, does the story start out with a bang. To whet your appetite, here’s the first sentence:
“This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”
I’m halfway through the book and hope to finish it tonight. It’s that good. It’s the story of a nineteen year old girl’s quest to find her eight year old brother in the wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world that is filled with an army of flesh-eating zombies. Fortunately, for those of us who don’t enjoy carnage, Amanda Hocking has kept the unpleasant descriptions of zombie gore to a minimum.
If you’ve always wanted to try a book by Amanda Hocking but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, I highly recommend starting with this one. Last time I checked – just a few minutes ago – it was still free on the Amazon site.
So what new-to-you authors have you tried lately? And what books are high on your list of favourites?
We live on a tiny acreage on the outskirts of a small town on the Canadian prairies. Behind our property is miles of grain fields interspersed with huge patches of dense bush and a creek which meanders through it all. So when we have visitors of the four legged variety, it should come as no surprise and yet….
The other night, unable to sleep in our too warm house, I decided to slip outside, sit on the deck, and star gaze. Out the back door I went, the squeak of the hinges magnified by the silence of the night. As I closed the door and turned toward the yard, an enormous shape caught my attention.
My heart pounded in my chest. My legs vibrated with fear. I stood there frozen and eyed the creature staring back at me. It was only a moose but still, if it charged, would I be able to get back into the house before it cornered me on the deck and ate me?
(Yes, I know, moose are vegetarians but I’m a writer, hence I have a very vivid and exaggerated imagination.)
Unmoving, I stared at the moose. Unmoving, it stared back at me. Out the corner of my eye, something moved in the dark and I noticed a second moose just a few feet away from the deck where I stood. Silence swelled around us, thick with tension, fraught with the unspoken question … who would bolt first?
I did, of course, because I’m not only a few hundred pounds less than they are, but I’m also a bigger fraidy cat. I summoned the courage to unstick my feet from the deck floor and hightailed it back into the house where I flitted from window to window, checking out our visitors with the binoculars, trying to see them with only a sliver of moonlight shining on their huge bodies.
But then a third moose joined the first two and now that the humanly threat had vanished, they proceeded to consume the leaves from my roses and fruit trees, until finally they bedded down in the yard for the night. The next morning, they’d left behind proof of their presence, little piles of dark pellet turds all over the green grass.
Thanks for the thoughtful gifts, Wild Things.
Will they be back? As I write this post, I’m watching for them, wondering not if, but when they’ll return. It’s not the first time a moose has wandered into the yard and so close to the house.
What wild creatures have you seen up close? What did you do and how did you react?
I fell in love with book covers in the 1980’s when Avon published the historical romances of Kathleen E Woodwiss, Shirley Busbee, Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Sutcliffe. Today, cover art still fascinates me, whether it’s showcased in hardcover, paperback, or e-book form. To see the beautiful cover art of the Women Unplugged authors, click here.
One of the most spellbinding covers I’ve recently seen is from the historical romance SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS by Lecia Cornwall. This intricate story involves a woman of breeding who stands to lose everything she holds dear, the incorrigible rogue who falls in love with her, and the masquerade ball where their secrets unfold. It’s a cover colored in hues of pinks and purples and blues and with one look, the reader knows this is going to be a romance reminiscent of the historical romances of old.
On the other side of the spectrum is FLEE by Ann Voss Peterson and J A Konrath. This is a high-octane spy thriller featuring an elite spy whose cover is blown. She has twenty-four hours to thwart a kidnapping, stop a psychopath, uncover the mystery of her past, and save the world from nuclear annihilation … all while dodging 10,000 bullets. This cover, with its heroine dancing across rooftops and a multitude of assassins within firing range, is as fast and furious as the story itself.
For inspiration, I have a tear-out advertisement featuring WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips tacked on the wall in front of my desk. When a Hollywood actress is dumped by her movie star husband, what does she do but get caught up in a calamitous elopement with her detestable former co-star who is the dreamboat-from-hell. Before she knows it, she has a fake marriage, fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life. This cover, with its heroine (sans hero) in a beautiful white wedding dress, speaks of a woman’s journey to find happiness.
Since fun, humorous fiction is one of my favorite genres, I must include SPLITSVILLE.COM by Tonya Kappes. The heroine launches an online break up service where she works under an alias. When two of her clients end up dead, putting the future of her business venture on the line, she’s the first one on the trail of the killer. When I look at this cover, there’s no doubt in my mind I’m going to spend a lot of time smiling and laughing.
And from the young adult market is STATIC by Tawny Stokes. When a seventeen-year-old band groupie meets the lead singer of her favorite band, her dream turns into a nightmare. She’s changing, turning into something not quite human. With the help of the band’s roadie, she goes after the members of the band to destroy them. On this cover, the teenage girl in the funky clothes holding a guitar looks kickass and tough enough to take on any teenage boy who dares to threaten her.
So what book covers do you love the most? And what do the covers say to you about the story inside?
Posted in Blog Posts
Tags: Ann Voss Peterson, authors, book covers, books, fiction, Flee, J. A. Konrath, Lecia Cornwall, reading, Secrets of a Proper Countess, Sheila Seabrook, Splitsville.com, Static, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Tawny Stokes, Tonya Kappes, What I Did For Love, women unplugged, writer, writing
I inherited my nose from my dad. I also inherited his calves, his easy going personality and his love of reading. He died in 2009 but my all time favourite picture of him shows him sitting on the beach in a lawn chair, a book in his hands with the sun shining down on his head.
The first book I remember holding was a beautiful hardcover copy of Cinderella, filled with strange words I couldn’t read and beautiful pictures I adored. Once I learned to read, I worked my way through Dick and Jane, on to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and in between, the back of every cereal box my mom ever bought.
When I ran out of reading material, I would sneak into my dad’s book stash, which he wisely kept in the garage, and read his Harlequin romances. He also had some racier novels there, stories with – gasp! – sex, and if my mom knew I was reading those books – heck, if she knew my dad was reading those books – she would have banned them from our reading material.
These days I’m allowed to read whatever I want and I want to read a lot. In fact, I want to read more than I have time for. Favourite authors include Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Barbara Samuel (O’Neal), Ann Voss Peterson, Linda Style, Susan Vaughan, Virginia Kelly, Joshilyn Jackson, and Lisa Lutz, just to name a few. And with the arrival of the e-reader, not only is my to-be-read pile contained within one small device instead of all over the office floor, but I’ve discovered indie authors like our own Women Unplugged bloggers Dianne Venetta and Christy Hayes. If you haven’t read their books yet, run to your nearest e-reader and download them now. I’ll wait ….
Shortly before my dad died, he gave me the book Volcano by Richard Doyle. When he told me I had to read this book, there was a tone in his voice that I recognized so well. It was awe and wonder for a can’t-put-it-down story, emotions I too experience whenever I fall in love with a story or an author’s voice. Although I have yet to read the book – I’ve become more of a love-to-laugh-out-loud reader – Volcano will forever remain on my keeper shelf because it was the last time my dad shared his love of reading with me.
This is how I will always remember my dad, with a book in his hands and another waiting to be read. This is, hopefully, how my children will remember me, too.
So who did you inherit your reading gene from? Who are some of your favourite authors and books? And if you had to choose, would you rather spend your hard earned money on books or food and clothes?
Posted in Blog Posts
Tags: Ann Voss Peterson, authors, Barbara O’Neal, Barbara Samuel, books, Christy Hayes, Dianne Venetta, family, indie authors, Jennifer Crusie, Joshilyn Jackson, Linda Style, Lisa Lutz, reading, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Vaughan, TAGS: Sheila Seabrook, Virginia Kelly, women unplugged, writing