Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA: Ethics

Plagiarism is BAD.  There. We said it. It's a back-handed compliment. You liked our content enough to copy it verbatim but didn't respect us enough to let us know. If you are too lazy to do your own work, then maybe you just shouldn't be blogging or writing.

Girls Just Reading is conscientious about what we post.  We don't borrow images, with the exception of book covers, and we make sure we give credit where credit is due.  If anyone ever has questions about what you see on our site we encourage you to contact us so we can fix or clarify any perceived errors.  We have attempted to make our purpose and policies clear in our Disclosure page.

Have we been plagiarized? Yes, but we asked that the content be removed and it was. In the world of instant access this is bound to happen but we have found that most people in the blogging world are ethical.


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Armchair BEA: Non-Fiction

Alice:  As the resident non-fiction reader in the group, memoirs are a topic I am always glad to discuss.  I have always been drawn to memoirs. There is something about diving into a person’s life in their own words. I like how it doesn’t focus on their entire life but a single event that helped change them, that helped them grow. Truth is usually better than fiction. Memoirs take courage and an inner strength to share a part of you that you are usually too afraid to show. I am in awe of that strength. That is why I read them and why I will always recommend them. If you are looking for a place to start, here are three memoirs I highly recommend.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls It still amazes me she was able to recover from her childhood yet recovery is not quite the right way to describe it. Her childhood was a blessing to her, deeply rooted in family and love. Although challenging and difficult, it gave her the motivation and moxie to do something with her life, to make her own success.

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster This memoir is hands down the funniest I have ever read in my life. Jen Lancaster is a comedic genius and a natural storyteller. Three pages into any of her memoirs and you feel like you’re sitting on a couch together sharing a bottle of Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck and she’s your new best friend.  That openness is why she is a favorite on our blog.

Lost Edens: A True Story by Jamie Patterson This is a short memoir about the abandonment d betrayal of a husband written in his wife’s point of view. I loved her writing style, it was brutally and fearfully honest. It hurts to read because my heart aches for her. It’s simply wonderful. (Read my review here.)

All But My Life: A Memoir When I read non-fiction, it tends to be about the Holocaust.  I have a macabre relationship with it...  I cannot  seem to get passed how many wonderful souls were lost ...and I think it is important to find ways to remember them.  My absolute favorite is the novel, All But My Life: A Memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein which I read in high school but have since re-read as a group just before we started the blog.  This is a must read and I can't recommend it enough.

ColumbineOccasionally, I read biographies of people that interest me too.  For example, I think I've read everything out there about Katharine Hepburn...

Sometimes it just subject matter that attracts me, like  's Columbine (my review) which is a fascinating book that explores the events leading up to the tragedy and the aftermath.  It's a book I think everyone should read.

Stories I Only Tell My FriendsI really don't read a lot of non-fiction but if I do it has been memoirs. I loved it when Jenn had us read All But My Life, it moved me and it is one of those books I do recommend to people when they are looking for a first person view of the Holocaust. For me the most entertaining one I've read was by Rob Lowe, yes Rob Lowe. I can't recommend Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography enough. I think people will be surprised about how open and honest he is about his life.

Ever since the debacle with a memoir a few years ago, I think editors/publishers are more cautious or maybe we have redefined memoirs.  To me a memoir is one person's account of their personal history or journey. It might not fully factual but it's how they experience it. I don't read memoirs because I want facts, I read them to have an idea of someone's experience.


Continue reading the review...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA: Giveaway

It's everyone's favorite Armchair BEA day, Giveaway!

We have three prize packs available:

You may enter once between now and midnight EST on June 6th, 2013.  This giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only.  Winners will be drawn using no later than June 9th.

Entering is easy, just fill out the form below:

Please review our giveaway policy.


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Julie's Review: A Cold and Lonely Place

Summary: Freelance writer Troy Chance is snapping photos of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace when the ice-cutting machine machine falls silent. Encased in the ice is the shadowy outline of a body--a man she knows. One of her roommates falls under suspicion, and the media descends. Troy's assigned to write an in-depth feature on the dead man, who, it turns out, was the privileged son of a wealthy Connecticut family who had been playing at a blue collar life in this Adirondack village. And the deeper Troy digs into his life and mysterious death, the murkier things become. After the victim's sister comes to town and a string of disturbing incidents unfold, it's clear someone doesn't want the investigation to continue. Troy doesn't know who to trust, and what she ultimately finds out threatens to shatter the serenity of these mountain towns. She must decide which family secrets should be exposed, what truths should remain hidden, and how far her own loyalty can reach. A Cold and Lonely Place, the sequel to Learning to Swim, follows Troy on a powerful emotional journey as she discovers the damage left by long-hidden secrets, and catches a glimpse of what might have been.

Review: A Cold and Lonely Place is a slow, methodical mystery. I don't mean slow as in boring but as a well thought out plot. Ms. Henry has an very engaging way of pulling you in and keeping you engaged while unraveling the who, what and whys of Tobin's life.

Since I haven't read the first Troy Chance novel, I enjoyed getting to know her through this story. She has a very easy way about her. I liked how she tried not to let her loyalty get in her way of finding the facts in the story. As an outsider though, I did feel at times that she was perhaps getting too close to the victims girlfriend and his sister. I was very afraid that something was going to happen in the story to put those relationships at risk. Moreover, there were times that Troy was putting herself in danger.

I liked how throughout the novel Troy admits to having judged the victim based on limited information and through writing her articles about him discovered who he was. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters in the novel. The mystery drove the story but the characters definitely supported it and made me care about it. All of the characters were so well written that you felt that you knew them. I love books that can do that to me. I also loved how Ms. Henry painted the Adirondack areas. There were times when reading this book when I felt cold. I love atmospheric novels that can do that.

I will definitely be reading the first Troy Chance novel, Learning to Swim at some point. Plus I look forward to the next novel in the series.

 Final Take: 4/5


Continue reading the review...

Amrchair BEA: Jenn's Favorites

We don't read a lot of literary fiction around here. I in particular don't read a ton of serious fiction because, well, it's serious.

So, as the other instructions for today were be creative, I decided to share a few my favorite reads and show you how un-serious I am.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...

Jennifer's Favorites

Infinite Days
This Must Be the Place
The Liar's Lullaby
Ice Cold
The Icing on the Cupcake
The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Garden Spells
The Sugar Queen
Howl's Moving Castle
Fire and Hemlock
The Memory Collector
The School of Essential Ingredients
The Host
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Da Vinci Code
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Jennifer's favorite books »


Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blog Hop: A Hundred Summers

Beatriz Williams' new book A Hundred Summers is out on 5/30. While I haven't read it yet, I am anticipating loving it as much as Overseas.

To get you excited for the novel, a few of us are doing a blog hop with quotes from it. Below is my quote for the day:

 photo 52913_AHundredSummers1_zpse2f538fd.jpg

Please check out the other blog hoppers that are spreading the word about a great summer read!

5/28: Teresa's Reading Corner  
5/29: Julie
5/30: Anita Loves Books
5/31: Literate Housewife
6/1:  Linus' Blanket
6/2: The Redheaded Reader
6/3: Poof...Books
Thanks to Putnam books for the wonderful quote and graphic that accompanied it!


Continue reading the review...

Armchair BEA: Blogger Development

Girls Just Reading has been reviewing books and book topics for 6 years. We have an affiliate account with Powell's books, which doesn't quite cover our expenses, but that's ok.  We blog for the love of books.

Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots

Julie's thoughts on Blogger Development

Social Media is a wonderful thing, especially Twitter for us book lovers. It is a wondrous way to connect with your favorite authors, book bloggers, publishers, etc. It can also be harmful for us book lovers because your TBR piles will grow exponentially. :)

I'm lucky enough to have connected with a couple different communities via Twitter. The first one being SheReads. This is a compilation of book bloggers that focus on Women's Fiction. We received the featured book of the month and then link up our reviews via their website, plus then participate in a monthly chat on Twitter. It's a great way to get exposed to new blogs and to have people find you. It's also a great way to read different books and experience new to you writers.

Another thing that kind of happened by chance was HashTag Book Club on Twitter. A bunch of us book bloggers were discussing books we had on our shelves and we all had one book in particular, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson. It has evolved into a monthly read that we discuss between 2-4 times broken up into sections. It's been a great way to connect with book lovers and discuss different ways of thinking about the novel.

If you aren't on Twitter, beware it can become addictive but it is a blast and you will "meet" people of like minds. ~Julie


Continue reading the review...

Armchair BEA: Genre Fiction

Julie's Genres

Click to read of our
Historical Fiction Reviews
I read so many different genres but for this I'll pick Historical Fiction. I love reading about it because I feel like I get the narration along with experiencing something about that time period. Most of the time I end up learning something a long the way as well. I'm going to give you 3 recommendation in case this isn't your genre of choice or you are looking for a good one in it:

A Good American by Alex George
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (anything by her is a great bet)
Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck


Jenn's Genres
I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately, why I read what I read.  I don't enjoy most contemporary fiction.  There's way too much reality (illness, drama, death) for me and that's what I read to escape. Oddly my love of history keeps me from enjoying most historical fiction... I'm a stickler for the facts. 

I love crime and thrillers because I love a good puzzle (Meg Gardiner, Kathy Reichs, and Iris Johansen to name a few favorite authors in this genre).  But my first love will always be YA, especially paranormal and fantasy. And I'll talk more about it later in the week...

Click to read some of
our Food-lit Reviews
However, my other love is food-lit.  Everyone inevitably asks me what food-lit is, and as I'm pretty sure I made up the term, it's no wonder why.  I love food centric books, probably because I love to cook.  I think cooking is pretty magical in and of itself, depending on who's in the kitchen, so books that incorporate it are pretty high on my list.  The epitome of food-lit is Sarah Addison Allen.  Her books are the standard to which I hold all food lit, so if you're looking for a place to start, check out her work...  and if you're really interested, I love to give recommendations...

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
The Girl Who Chased the Moonby Sarah Addison Allen
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry
The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

That should keep you hungry!

Alice's Genres
Click to read some of
our Romance Reviews
I think I am the absolute opposite of Jenn when it comes to why I read.  I love contemporary fiction.  I love the reality of it.  I read with my heart, I am an emotional person and I love books that evoke my emotions.  I like that ache in my heart, those tears in my eyes, the sadness and joy I feel when I read about someone who conquerors cancer or loses a loved one.  I also love Chick-Lit as long as the Chick in question isn't a twenty-something year old fresh out of a relationship determined to make it on her own only to realize that cute, sexy neighbor is her true love after all.  I prefer my Chick-Lit about a thirty-something year old divorcee with kids who is starting a new adventure.  

My other favorite genre is memoirs, which I will tell you about late this week.

My favorite genre's have evolved as well.  When I was younger and still believed in true love, I loved a good romance novel.  I was a faithful reader of Johanna Linsdey, Jude Deveraux, Amanda Quick, and LaVyrle Spencer.  I loved reading about how two seemingly mismatched people, always at odds found a way to love each other in spite of their difference. I believed that's what love was, stronger than any other thing there is but so worth fight for.  Now I'm a bit more cynical and realize that all those romance novels probably gave me a grossly inaccurate view of love.  I still believe love conquers all, however it's a lot less dramatic as it is in romance novels.  The major drawback of my cynicism is that I no longer read romance novels like I used to.  


Continue reading the review...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA: Introductions and Classics

Design credit: Emily of Emily's Reading Room

Welcome to Girls Just Reading! This is out third year doing Armchair BEA and we're thrilled to participate. It's a way for us to feel part of the action long distance and meet other bloggers. We are a collaborative blog that's fast approaching our 6th anniversary in the book blogging sphere. We currently have three active contributors, Alice, Jenn, and Julie who will all tell you a bit about themselves...

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Why did you get into blogging?
My name is Alice and I am a Portuguese American who makes my home in beautiful New Jersey. (Jersey Strong!) I have lived in Jersey since my parents immigrated here from Portugal when I was two years old. I love my Portuguese heritage. We are commonly known as being very loud, very funny, and the most important thing is not money or fame, it’s family. I have a pretty large extended family, many of which live within 20 miles of my house. It’s a pretty special thing actually. My cousins were my first friends and are still my best friends.

I have been part of Girls Just Reading for about three years. I met Julie, Jenn and Lisa many, many years ago when we were all part of a message board where we discussed our love for the TV show Alias. (Just about the best show ever.) Alias discussions, let to personal discussions, led to a knowledge of a mutual love of reading, led to a GJR book club started by Lisa. When the board disbanded, Julie, Jenn and Lisa formed what is now the Girls Just Reading book blog. Although I wasn’t originally part of the blog, I did maintain a long distance friendship with my girl Jules (aka Julie). Jules is one of my closest friends and although we communicate mainly through email and text, she has been there for me a million times over.

One of my favorite topics with Jules was books. We would recommend novels to each other, discussing ones we both read. We both had a love of Jen Lancaster and Jennifer Weiner. We loved our Chick-Lit and Women’s Fiction. She convinced me to try some Thrillers and introduced me to Jodi Piccoult. Our friendship strengthened over our love of books. And I believe that is what led to Julie suggesting to Jenn and Lisa that I be added as the fourth member of Girls Just Reading. I am still honored by this.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
I have loved reading since high school where I was madly in love and addicted to romance novels, especially historical romance. Vows by LaVyrle Spencer is still one of my all-time favorite books. I fell in love with Tom Jeffcoat at the same time Emily Walcott did. Although I read off and on, my major book and reading addiction didn’t start until I landed a dream job in New York City where I would spend two hours a day on public transportation. It was prime reading time.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
Of all the characters I have met over my lifetime, I would love to have dinner with Tom and Emily Jeffcoat. I curious to know what life brought their way and if their love prevailed through good and bad times. Did Emily become a vet? Where they able to reconcile a friendship with Charles? How are Fanny, Edwin, and Frankie? Do they have any kids? Was their life together everything they hoped for? I would come full circle with two characters I watched fall in love, two characters who helped me fall in love with reading.


Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you?  
Hi! If you've visited our blog before, you may know that I am not only a book junkie but a TV addict as well. I live in Buffalo, NY and hate snow, but love hockey - especially the Sabres. I am a wife to one patient, understanding husband and mother to one princess-doctor-swordfighter kidlet and a rescued dog. Really, I'm just a basic Jenn-of-all-trades-master-of-none.

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read? 
I'd have to say any of our group reviews. I love when we girls read a book and express differing points of view.

What are you currently reading?
So many books so little time. In the past few years I've found that I have been slowly getting away from YA, which is my first love. While I've been busy reading other things I've missed a lot of fantastic YA lit. So now I'm trying to catch up. Don't get me wrong, I still love my crime novels and food-lit, but I feel the need to return to my roots.

This also leads into today's discussion of Classics. I used to try to read one a year, but back while I was pregnant I started having trouble concentrating and had to give it up. It is something I would like to get back to actually...

The thing I love about the Classics is everything in literature draws from what came before it; they give you perspective on everything else you read.   I'd have to say my favorite Classic would have to be Dracula. It has everything, romance, thrills, and a whole lot of Vampire!

At this very moment though? I'm feeding my TV as well as my book addiction by reading Psych's Guide to Crime Fighting for the Totally Unqualified.  

If you could eat dinner with any author, who would it be and why?  Meg Gardiner!  Hands down. She is one of the most creative authors I've ever read and her wit and wry sense of humor would fit right in at our dinner table, as would her appreciation of the macabre.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you?
Who Am I? Wow that's an exetential question. LOL all kidding aside. I'm a mom and wife who works and finds what little free time I have to read. I really do try to fit in whenever. The bathroom is my friend. LOL
I'm also trying to pass on my passion for reading to my kids. It seems to be rubbing off even if a little bit.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?
I'm currently reading Sara J. Henry's A Cold and Lonely Place. Asking me about my favorite books is like asking about my favorite child. :) So I will name a few I've truly loved so far this year:  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini; Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck and Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman.

What is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
I'm with Jenn on this one, I think our Group Reviews are pretty awesome. We each have different reading tastes so when it comes to reading the same book we all have variety of thoughts.

So Classics:
Truth be told, I don't really read the classics. Sure I did in high school but I'm not even sure what defines the term "classic" in literature anymore. I mean isn't there something also called "new classics". I've tried reading Pride and Prejudice a lot but I cannot make it through it. I rather turn on one of the movies than try to read through it. I will say last year we did a group read of To Kill a Mockingbird and reading it through the eyes of an adult/parent is so different than reading it as a child. You come to align yourself more with Atticus since you've seen more of the world and want to shield your kids before they need to know certain things.

Am I opposed to reading the classics? No, but it better catch me in the first 50 pages or I'll put it down. I will encourage my children to read them though and perhaps when they have to for school, I will read along with them.

Continue reading the review...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Jenn's Review: Uncommon Criminals

 Blurb:  Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. 

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules...

Review:  Oh, how I missed Kat and Hale!  I was actually saving this one because there weren't anymore out yet, but ever since Perfect Scoundrels hit the shelves last month, I've been itching to continue the series.

Uncommon Criminals picks up quite some time after Heist Society.  For Kat's age she is highly accomplished and a brilliant strategist, but she has come to realize that she doesn't like being responsible for the safety of others on big jobs.  Kat has been traveling around and dong jobs on her own and she returns to an unhappy Hale.  She may be a worldly, clever thief, but when it comes to boys Kat's a bit clueless.  

I love a good con and Ally Carter gives us several.  As with most good cons, when everything seems to be going wrong, you know there has to be more to the plan, but it doesn't make it any less enjoyable to read.  I love that Kat can take care of herself, but I also love that she learns to rely on her friends and family.  

Ms. Carter brings back the whole cast of characters from the Henley job and we even get to meet a few new ones. It felt like visiting with old friends and I can't wait to do it again. I may even re-read both before starting Perfect Scoundrels. I adore Ally Carter's writing and love both this series and the Gallagher Girls.   She's one of those authors whose releases I look forward to immensely. 

Final Take:  5/5


Continue reading the review...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Children's Corner: Watch Me Throw the Ball!

Review: Yes, we are big Mo Willems fans here on the blog and his newest Elephant and Piggie book, Watch Me Throw the Ball!, is a home run!

It's also special to me because my big 5 year old read the whole book on his own a couple weeks ago to us and then the next day read it to his class. It's a long book, but with a few words on each page, it's easy for him to read.

Since my 5 year old is highly competitive, I love the message in this book...just have fun. Piggie is adorable in his response to Gerald when he learns his ball really didn't go around the world. Sure it's great to excel at something but it's even better to have fun even if the outcome isn't what you thought.

This is a definite keeper of a book and well when he outgrows it, into the saved books for his kids.


Continue reading the review...

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