Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

This book is so cool.

It doesn't even title the prologue as a prologue. It just dives in, ignores some of the boring rules of literature and sets its own course.

Told by the same character, a meandering blend of her past and present woven in hypnotic fashion without jarring the reader from either timeline. Sometimes, the author doesn't even address the time jump, just leaves it to the reader to suss it out. Make no mistake, there is nothing clumsy or confusing about the story - past or present. There are striking similarities to the real life story of Charles Manson and his followers but it is different enough that you don't even have to know who Manson is.

My only complaint would be the few slower parts that left me yawning a bit more than I would care to, but that's easily forgiven by the well-paced storytelling and psychological dissection of each character - for those who are savvy enough to pick up on it.

I strongly recommend this book for those looking to depart from the usual, those wanting to curl up for a well-written story.

If you're looking for a real life copy of the book, try this link (you won't be charged any extra but I get a little bit of money to put back into this blog!!):

And, for ebook lovers, here's the link:

Next up: The Nix by Nathan Hill

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Instagram Challenge

Who loves Instagram?? Who doesn't get it? Who hasn't started Instagram yet but REALLY wants to find out how to make it work or them? Who's just looking for a little challenge to structure their Instagram posts for the next month?

If you answered yes (or even a solid maybe) to ANY of the above questions then join in my February 2017 Instagram Challenge. It's not overly full on love and hearts and pink (because I am not a fan of Valentine's Day - maybe you're feeling indignant about that but I stand by my decision to boycott the stupid "holiday" for the umpteenth time).

I've carefully crafted this challenge with a mix of one-word prompts that should get you thinking. I challenge you push the envelope and play around with what these words mean to you. Join in and make sure to use tag me (@booksbyviolet) and use the hashtag for the challenge (#BooksbyViChallenge).

Like what you see? Looking for more tips, reviews, and ways to connect via books? Sign up for my newsletter - I promise I won't spam you or pass around your email address because I hate that too!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Top 3 February 2017 New Releases

My most anticipated books list looks a little skimpy for February 2017 but there isn't a lot that appeals to me at this point. I felt excited about exactly three books (look for yourself at Reading Books Like a Boss), though, in all fairness there would have been a fourth if it weren't a sequel to a book I haven't read yet. So, here they are, my picks for February 2017:

The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

Release Date: February 7, 2017
My take: Missing kid, reminiscent of a past incident - sounds like a mystery-thriller right up my alley. I'm really looking forward to this one and hoping it delivers.

Always: A Novel by Sarah Jio

Release Date: February 7, 2017
My take: Main character reunited with lost love, finds him greatly altered and she wants to help, but wait, she's engaged to somebody else! Not usually my pick for a romance, but sounds like it could have some promise.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Release Date: February 7, 2017
My take: The mere mention of alternate universe and I'm generally all in. This is a what if story that turns on itself as the main character is thrust back into our world. At least, I hope that's how it all plays out based on the description. Color me excited.

Finally, as I noted, if this book weren't a sequel to an as yet unread (i.e. untested) book it might have made the list - The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine. It's apparently the second book in the Ravenspire Series. It did prompt me to add Ravenspire book 1, The Shadow Queen, to my TBR list.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review: Feversong by Karen Marie Moning

I feel like I started this series a lifetime ago. In reality, it wasn't, but in terms of where I was and where I am now, it makes perfect sense. To be honest, I loved the first few books. Then things went downhill a bit. Feversong left me with mixed feelings.

On one hand, I was happy to see Jada return to Dani but it was long and roundabout and rather depressing at points. There were other things I loved, of course, nods to pop culture icons, the evolution of Mac (though I'm still not certain I love her ending), and, obviously Barrons.

Now, I've read a lot about abusive and inappropriate relationships in these books but I'm not going to go into those issues because I think in some ways it was part of her point and the truly abusive relationship was between Mac and the Sinsar Dubh which is addressed thoroughly over the course of the books and actually one of the aspects I've appreciated over the course of this series. Abusive relationships are no joke and the emotional fall-out is often the worst part. I felt like Karen Marie Moning did a brilliant job of addressing this and appropriately added a note at the very end of Feversong that - wait, no spoilers. Read it and see for yourself. Maybe you agree, maybe you don't but this is MY take based on MY experience.

I strongly recommend all of KMM's books as she has long been a favorite of mine, but, maybe I'm outgrowing them because Feversong felt too long, too drawn out. I liked it but I didn't LOVE it. I'm glad the characters ended up well, for the most part, and there is an opening for more/spin-offs, but, I'm ready for the next book (incidentally, it's The Girls by Emma Cline).

Looking to start, continue, or finish a KMM series? Amazon won't charge you any extra but it does help me out just a little if you want to click through and purchase via these links:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review: Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Not long ago, Emma Watson made the news for distributing copies of Maya Angelou's Mom & Me & Mom on the New York subway. I realized that I'd never read the book myself and sought to correct that. Now that I've finished it, I want to extend a hearty thank you to Emma Watson for putting this gem on my radar.

I loved this book. I read it cover to cover in less than a day. I shared quotes with family, friends, and even the internet. Honestly, I curse myself for not reading it sooner.

As a daughter, a mother, and a sister, I related to so many parts of this book, so many subtleties that only Maya Angelou could capture as she did. I laughed and cried and generally felt inspired to sing (not a good idea for me) and dance (it is a new year with new resolutions and that pesky baby weight I haven't managed to shed even though my kids are more than a decade old) and write.

Maya Angelou's works have held a special place in my heart. I haven't read one I haven't appreciated or taken something valuable from. And, isn't that the point?

Have I mentioned that I loved this book? Please, go out and pick up a copy, borrow it from your local library or pick it up at a resale shop or click on the cover image above and buy it from Amazon (don't worry, they don't tack on extra if you click through from my blog!) - it doesn't matter where you get it, just read it!

Next up: Feversong by Karen Marie Moning

Thursday, January 19, 2017

National Hot Tea Month

I often joke about how everything has a "day" or a "week" or a "month." Still, I can't help but appreciate some of them, like National Hot Tea Month.

But, you say, Violet, you are a coffee drinker. You have mentioned MANY times that your life revolves around coffee.

This is true, I'm generally a coffee gal but there is something comforting about a cup of hot tea on a rainy afternoon while I'm curled up in my cozy chair with a good book.

Plus, my Mom is a big tea drinker so I feel like I'm tipping my hat to her with this homage to hot tea. *Hi Mom!*

This is me with my Mom, the tea drinker...
And then there's the Mad Hatter, Victorian and Steampunk societies, and, I even worked at a tea store for a while.

In fact, tea is tied so closely to so many important aspects of my life that I often wonder why I turned toward coffee. Meh, something to ponder later. Basically, I know just enough about tea to be dangerous. I can tell you the various types and how they differ as well as the benefits of each. I can tell you which ones have the highest caffeine content, how to mimic a coffee flavor, and how to make one hell of an immune system and energy boosting drink that tastes divine. But, I will still pass over that delicious cup of tea for a pot of coffee like ninety-nine percent of the time.

My Mom is partial to Red Rose for a good mug of black tea (and they do have those cool little trinkets in their big boxes) but she has discovered the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory in Colorado and found a few amazing herbals that please her tastebuds so she's branching out. While I still prefer a good green tea (even some matcha if you know how to make it) or a jasmine oolong, I've learned to adapt to more affordable options like the ones below, via Amazon (Don't worry, they're not going to charge you extra if you click there through any of these links).

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Twitter Tips for New Writers

What can you say in 140 characters?

A lot. You can run a thoroughly brilliant campaign, build a support network, and even sell your books on Twitter.

Are you skeptical? Thinking of shutting down this post and heading over to Facebook? Just hang with me a little longer. Let's put aside your protests, your skepticism, and your doubts.

If you're like me, you can't devote hours of every day to your social media presence because, hey, you've got a day job/kids/writing/household chores that are all screaming for your attention - some louder than others. But that doesn't mean you can be effective on social media, including Twitter.

Make 140 work for you

Use link shorteners to make the most of your 140 characters. I use bitly and ow.ly because I can track the number of clicks I get for each link and I use Hootsuite (more on that in a later post!). Some others are: Google, tinyurl, and if you're adventurous, you can create your own with YOURLS.

Tag up

Hashtags should not be overdone but not using them is missing a huge opportunity to be seen by the right people. Some people seek out connections via hashtag searches. For instance, looking for a new read? Search #amreading and you'll find thousands of tweets about the books people are reading. Some other writer-friendly hashtags: #amwriting, #writerlife, #books, and #writing.

Connect, connect, connect

Link all of your social media together but it may be most important to link them all to Twitter. You can set your blog posts, Instagram posts, and more to feed into Twitter and amp up your presence. My Instagram feed is linked to my Twitter feed so it takes just a finger swipe to drop my newest Instapost into my Twitter feed.

Network to build your Community

More than that, use Twitter to make connections. Find other authors, writers, editors, and any other related professionals. It's not enough to like, share, and follow others on Twitter. You have to interact with others, answer polls and questions that are relevant to your goals. Remember to be genuine in your tweets and give as much as you get to establish yourself as a professional, reliable, knowledgable tweeter.

Like what you see? Hungry for more? Sign up for my newsletter and I promise I won't overwhelm your inbox:

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Book Review: Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn

My Mom taught me long ago that if I don't have anything nice to say I shouldn't say anything at all. To that end, this is all I have to say about Inherit the Bones:

1. I hate clowns. So, I appreciated the use of the word "coulrophobia" (the fear of clowns).

2. Chapter 2 was good with some fantastic descriptions.

3. Apparently a lot of other people liked it so maybe you will too. If so, here's a link:

Next up: Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Friday, January 13, 2017

Book Review: The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

As a creative woman, I am thrilled by the number of strong, intelligent, creative women openly discussing everything from equal pay to sex to body image and everything in between. Amy Schumer definitely delivered in The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.

Her candid discussions about family relationships (the good and the bad), sexuality and body image (also the good and the bad), and even the ugly truth of gun laws and the lack of reasonable legislation to protect the American people. She approached uncomfortable topics with a healthy humor and humanized issues that affect women of all ages.

Let me say that I did not put this book down until I finished it. Ladies, do yourselves a favor and treat yourself to a glass of wine (or a few glasses) of wine and enjoy!

Next up: Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn.

Interested in following what I'm reading? Looking for some ideas for your book club or some new reads just for you? Why not join my newsletter and get weekly book suggestions!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Price of Human Life

How much is your life worth?

Your child's? Your spouse's? Your girlfriend's, your sibling's, your neighbors?

Are you just a bit pissed off that I am asking you to put a price tag on a human being? You should be. We all should be. As human beings, no matter what walk of life we come from, we should be furious that humans, primarily women and children, are being treated as currency and forced into the most deplorable conditions. 

Human trafficking is a disease that has been allowed to run rampant across the planet yet it does not receive nearly enough attention. Today, on #HumanTraffickingAwarenessDay, I found a smattering of posts drawing attention to the disgusting practice of peddling humans - primarily from human rights groups. 

The statistics on human trafficking are staggering but more than that, they are disturbing. When I lived in Seattle (2010-2012) there was a surge in anti-trafficking groups including a number of billboards with hotline numbers posted larger than life. On the heels of the Liam Neeson film, Taken, and accompanied by a push by President Obama and Congress, the move to strike down human trafficking seemed to gain some traction. 

Though I was appalled by the practice, I found inspiration for a story. Spades (working title for the project), quickly evolved into the darkest piece I'd ever undertaken but it also had more to say, more gravity and substance than the Emerald Seer Series. Unlike my other works, Spades has taken years to research and structure so that I can be true to the victims of human trafficking and, hopefully, expand awareness of a truly deplorable practice that debases human life in the worst possible way. I'm still working away and as I sit here today considering the stories I've read, the sickening tidbits of traumatic tales I've stumbled upon, my drive to complete that story is renewed. I hope you'll feel the same and do something, anything, to help pick away at the human trafficking problem that claims new victims every day.

I'm a writer so my natural response is to write through my emotions. To that end, I'd like to shine a spotlight on human trafficking via the greatest tool at my disposal at this time.

What is Human Trafficking?

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is the "recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

In simpler terms, it involves forcing a human being into servitude. Think about that. Now, imagine having your own base rights truly stripped away until you have none at all. 

Signs of Human Trafficking

This isn't a comprehensive list by any means, for more, check out this resource via the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
  • Cannot move about freely, cannot come or go as s/he likes
  • Works in the sex trade under a "manager"
  • Entered job under false pretenses
  • Receives no compensation (or very little) for the work
  • Exhibits signs of anxiety, depression, paranoid or nervous tendencies, and/or is overly fearful
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Poor physical health, possibly malnourished, and may show signs of abuse or confinement
  • Has no control over personal information/identity/finances
  • Inconsistencies noted when the individual tells his/her story including inability to clarify address and background

What Can YOU Do?

If you or somebody you know is a victim, get help. Reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline - 1-888-373-7888. Somebody is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Top 5 Tools for Writers

As I noted before, I'm moving onward and upward to bridge that gap between readers and writers because, like those crazy Venn diagrams and logic puzzles from grade school, readers can be writers but not all readers are writers though all writers should be readers.

Phew, that was a mouthful.

To that end, I've comprised my list of must-have tools for writers in 2017. Pop on, use them, connect with readers and show them what you've got! I'll be exploring each one in more detail in the future but until then, sign up for my newsletter to score weekly nuggets of wisdom to help promote your writing across social media!


Please tell me you know what Facebook is. If not, start with Facebook by clicking on the link above. It's pretty easy from there. I would suggest separating out your author profile as a "page" that you operate so you may keep your privacy as intact as possible. Interact through your page, share author and reader friendly posts from similar pages (upworthy, wordporn, earthporn, and the like are all good places to start). Looking to expand your followers? Reach out to me here and join the fun. Add in some posts across other social media (see below) sending people to your Facebook page. I'll address more on Facebook for authors in a future post but if you have a burning question, ask me here or at booksbyviolet@gmail.com.

This is the Facebook "page header" I've been using to promote my Steampunk Trilogy and I made it myself!


A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Aye, it is so. Have some fun with color and composition on Instagram. You're a writer, right? You see the world in a unique way, share it with the world, showcase your personality and what makes you tick. What inspires you? Where do you write? What do you use to write? What are you reading? Just make it colorful and inspiring! I've got two accounts - one for my pen name (@booksbyviolet) and the other for my personal, freelancing, and crafting accounts (@tracebroyles). The app comes with a lot of filters and it is a primarily mobile-based app so keep that in mind.


Writing short is the name of the game on Twitter. Engage with others in 140 characters or less. Can you do it? I think you can. Use link shorteners like bitly to add links to your tweets without destroying your character count. Twitter allows you to make lists of people who share your interests and helps streamline campaigns. Again, I use the same "handles" that I use for instagram - @booksbyviolet and @tracebroyles.

Don't waste time, get started now because it takes time to build a following!


Yes, some argue it is a time-sucking vortex but Pinterest can also be an amazing marketing tool. You can pin your blog posts, books you like, inspirations, writing prompts, and more. Make boards and share with others who may offer you inspiration as well!


I'm throwing a lot at you and there is a lot more that I haven't even touched on when it comes to social media, especially ways authors can utilize the various platforms. Let me just say that using a service like Hootsuite allows you to streamline your social media and access all of your feeds in one place. It's user friendly, offers training courses (including social media certification), and offers many free options.

Speaking of throwing a lot at you, if you're looking for more ways to put social media to work for you, why not sign up for my newsletter and get weekly hints and tips along with other valuable information in one, easy email. You can sign up here:

Subscribe to my mailing list for a weekly newsletter with tips, tools, and other awesome nuggets of info!

* indicates required

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Book Review: The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

These days it's tough to find a compelling, not-so-angsty, plot-not-romance-driven YA or NA novel. How do I know this? It's a constant battle for my tween daughter who actively seeks out these types of books and is often disappointed.

Erika Johansen has managed to craft a brilliant world, not so different from our own but different enough to give readers cause to bend the rules of our reality. The Queen of the Tearling was a revelation that continued with the sequel, The Invasion of the Tearling, and concluded in The Fate of the Tearling.

It was easy to draw connections and find the same shortcomings in our society, especially the themes of human trafficking/slave trading, drugs, and politico-theological struggles. While the lessons are simple and age old, they are delivered in a palatable manner behind the main character, Kelsea whose growth is both believable and tempered.

Don't miss out on this series - it leaves Hunger Games, Divergent, and the like in the dust.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

5 Most Anticipated Books of January 2017

Have I mentioned that I love to read? I read almost everything though I do have my preferences. One thing I swore I'd add to the blog this year is my "most anticipated releases" for each month. I mean, if I'm going to reach my magic number 125 this year then I've got to start reading, right?

I keep up on some of the new releases via Reading Books Like a Boss because the list is pretty comprehensive and that makes me happy.

I've pared down their list for January to these five titles - here's hoping they pan out!

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti 

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

January 3rd - So it's a teen/YA book. I read them with my daughter and scope out any trouble spots before she gets to them. This one looks interesting, maybe not Stalking Jack the Ripper interesting, but perhaps intriguing and thought-provoking.

Containment: A Thriller by Hank Parker 

Containment: A Thriller
January 10th - I do so love thrillers and those awesome apocalyptic type stories that leave me mentally planning for the possibility that one of these books could morph into reality.

Feversong by Karen Marie Moning

January 17th - I love Mac. I love Barrons. I need to know what happens and I cannot wait for this release. Mock me if you will but it is one of my girly, I mean, guilty pleasures and I make no apologies for it!

Frostblood by Elly Blake

January 17th - I'm gonna give this one a go. YA/NA books tend to be easy, entertaining reads for me and this looks like it might encompass more fantasy elements that my daughter and I appreciate.

4321 by Paul Auster

January 31st - this one looks a little different, sort of like a Sliding Doors-type story and I love that type of tale.

Runner-ups that I will most likely be reading as well: Indelible by Adelia SaundersKill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri, and Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Top 4 Moves for Kicking off 2017

Resolutions? Got 'em, prolly broke a few already. Scratch that, definitely broke two already. Oh well. I'll get back on those horses in time. I've been a busy little bee this past month so I'm cutting myself a little slack to preserve my mental health as much as possible for a writer-type - but this post isn't about any of that. It isn't about my move to a new house (YAY!) or the post-holiday slump I'm fighting. This post is about getting shit together and hopefully spurring a few of you down a new, positive path as well.

So if I've already broken two resolutions what FOUR AMAZING things am I sticking with and how can they help you?

1. Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

Maybe you're already doing this one. If you're not, sign your ass up right this second. The competitor in me relishes the tally of books I've read (when I remember to log them, oops!) and the ability to measure up my reading feats with friends. I set too lofty a goal last year, I see that now, but I had no idea that shit was going to hit the fan like it did. Still, learning from last year's shortcoming, I set a more reasonable goal of 125 books in 2017. This is TOTALLY DOABLE for me....especially with my cool new reading nook under the rad (yes, I use this word regularly) skylight in my new bedroom. 

Anyway, sign up, friend me and let's push each other to read more this year - AND, I cannot emphasize this enough, DON'T FORGET TO REVIEW WHAT YOU READ!!!

2. Speaking of Reviews...

Some of you may remember a little incident I like to call Authorgate where Amazon reviews were taken down because authors reviewing authors got a little out of control. It did, it really, truly did. For that reason, I have not reviewed books on Amazon for a while. This troubles me greatly and I hate urging people to review books on Amazon when I don't do it myself anymore. I simply don't want honest reviews stripped from authors because I happen to be an author as well. Honestly, I could write a whole freaking post about this debacle and the ethical arguments related to it but I just don't want to. So, I review books on Goodreads and I try to post them here or on my other blog as well.  I'm honest and occasionally unmerciful if I really didn't like something or other reviews are so grossly inflated/candy-coated that I can't take it. I urge you to do the same...review what you read to improve the quality of books and let authors know what you like (or don't) about what they are doing!

3. Think Big

A recurrent theme in the non-fiction books I've been reading seems to be "thinking big." I like this idea very much because it comes naturally to me. I've always thought big. I have grand ideas regularly. I'm not always so great at execution though. That's where things get hairy and a major area of focus for me this year. I have a list of BIG things I want to accomplish but instead of diving in or becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of what I'm attempting, I'm focusing on breaking things down into more manageable tasks. 

I bet some of you are like "duh, chick, what the hell took you so long to figure that out?" Yeah, well, I've got nothing to retort. I've always been an idea person, a freaking dreamer if you will. Still, I think maybe there's something to this "thinking big" concept and intend to suss that shit out this year. Need some inspiration to get there? Try this little gem:

4. Can a Pantser be a Planner too?

This is one of life's greatest questions - I think. I'm trying out this whole planning thing, as it applies to life moves and my blogs and all that jazz. NOT to my writing. I may give the plotting thing a shot later this year but one step at a time people, Rome wasn't built in a day and I've been a die hard pantser for more than thirty years. Give a gal a break!

Still, I have this handy dandy little desk blotter calendar for mapping out what's going down with the family so I can be proactive for busy times (like next weekend with three basketball games and two softball practices followed by the kids having a day off). This is a huge step for me and I'm prepared to give it a real shot. So far, it's working pretty well, but then it's only day 3 of the whole schpeel and this is my very first blog post....don't judge. I'm trying here.

Needless to say, as I push forward to my goal of juggling three blogs, my kids' activities, and my other work (*fingers crossed* the other work keeps coming), this handy little $3 calendar from Target  plus my discbound notebook (ARC by Staples RULES!) stocked with my own "Weekly Post Planner," I am ready to roll.

Isn't it pretty? Sure it's basic but who needs frills when you're planning?