Tag Archives: Book Review

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

20 Jun

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

Back in the day—way back when—Goodreads didn’t exist, and I’m pretty sure (maybe not) Amazon didn’t even have a rating system for books. It was just Barnes & Noble and Borders, but mainly Barnes & Noble for me (R.I.P. Borders). I’m talking about the mid-90s. I used to buy all of my books from the store. (Okay. So my mom used to buy all my books from the store.) There was no Kindle, and there weren’t many book blogs out there, and if there were, they definitely weren’t like they are today. I actually remember sitting at my Komodo computer and scrolling the Internet, hoping to find somewhere to review books and I couldn’t find a website.

So, I reviewed books on Microsoft PowerPoint. (Something I just had a conversation about with author, Jonas Lee, so I must mention him in this article for sparking this idea in me. Thanks, Jonas!) It’s been over a decade since my PowerPoint presentation days. (A presentation that I used to show every weekend to my stuffed animals. What can I say? I moved around a lot. My toys were my friends.) I no longer have that presentation, but I can still see it scrolling through The Magic Tree House series and W.I.T.C.H.—stars flying in and flying out, wicked thick fonts twinkling on the screen before dissipating off. Sometimes, I would get a cartoon sound to line up with everything. It was 90’s perfection.

I loved it. I loved it so much. But years would pass before I ever began to post book reviews again. Why? Well…it’s a bit complicated, but it mainly came down to being an author. Beginning in 2007, I no longer felt like I could review books. I knew exactly how much work went on behind the scenes, after all, and it felt like a conflict of interest to say anything at all. If it was a positive review, someone could think I was just saying that to suck up to another author. If it was a negative review, someone could think I was just trying to tear someone else’s work down. Reviewing novels became a lose-lose situation in my mind, so I stepped away from them.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

But I missed reviewing books so much. And I’ve missed them for a long time. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking that I took the wrong approach all those years back when I stepped away from something I love to do—sharing books with whoever was interested.

I’m not a picky reader. I often love everything I read. I can definitely see value in everything I read, and my tastes range from cheesy romances to dark, dystopian sci-fi. I love poetry and memoirs and young adult and even the occasional blush-worthy read. I love everything. I really do. What I read mainly comes down to my mood, but I’ve always enjoyed recommending reads to fellow readers based on what they love the most.

So, I’ve returned. Over the past two months, I’ve been reviewing and updating novels I’m currently reading on Goodreads. You’ll probably never see a 1 or 2 or even a 3 star review from me, but please don’t get me wrong. I just rarely dislike novels, and if I do dislike novels, I am more likely to put it down than to finish it, and I don’t feel right reviewing something if I don’t finish it. On top of that, I’ve been focusing on who I would specifically recommend the read too, and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been connecting with readers more, and I love talking to everyone about how they feel about novels or what novels they have on their TBR list. I finally feel like a reader again. I’ve always been reading, of course, but reading is always better when you’re reading with friends. (And I’m so glad I’ve found reading friends that aren’t stuffed animals.) So, you can expect more reviews from me on Goodreads. Feel free to tell me about what you’re reading too! I would love to hear your recommendations. Just comment below—::wink::—and we’ll start reading together soon.

~SAT

P.S. Don’t forget! Three paperbacks will be given away on Goodreads this Tuesday, June 23 (a.k.a. my 24th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by giving away book gifts?) Click here to enter! Expect even more prizes soon.

Our most recent contest via Twitter just ended today! Congrats goes out to Kathy-Lynn Cross, the winner of the signed bookmark! Follow her @KathyLynnCross today.

winner

#WW I Avoided Certain Books. Here’s Why.

3 Jun

#WW I Avoided Certain Books. Here’s Why.

Right now, I’m basically reading all the novels I’ve avoided over the past year or so. Why did I avoid these reads? I can honestly just guess—since it’s difficult to remember—but I thought it’d make for an interesting topic.

The first novel I picked up was The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I already finished and reviewed it on Goodreads. Five fantastic alien stars. (No kidding.) I could barely put it down, and it kept me up way too late at night . . . which caused me to have some awesome (and wicked) alien dreams. That being said, I definitely reflected on why I avoided this phenomenal YA novel. My best friend and her husband recommended it to me first, and I often love their suggestions. In fact, I exchange nerd-dom news with them on a regular basis. So why did I immediately shut down The 5th Wave? It was everything I’ve ever enjoyed before: thrilling science-fiction with an underlining mystery in the midst of survival. And there’s a teddy bear. Who doesn’t love teddy bears?

This is Kiki, judging me for not reading The 5th Wave sooner.

This is Kiki, judging me for not reading The 5th Wave sooner.

I pondered my avoidance for a while for two reasons:

  1. I would hate to see this “avoidance” turn into a weird reading habit, which then causes me to miss out on some of my favorite reads of the year (like in this case.)
  2. I’m an author. I want to understand this from a psychology standpoint for my own novels. Was it the cover? Could this be avoided for readers looking at my books? Was it the back cover? Was it the main character’s name? Etc. And being an author made me HATE the possibility of being a judgmental reader, a.k.a. a book snob. That’s not me. So what’s going on?

I literally made a list of possibilities. (Literally. I love lists . . . and psychoanalyzing myself.) And I was brutally honest with myself.

At first, I thought it might have been because the protagonist’s name is Cassie, and my best friend’s name (yes, the one I mentioned above) is Cassie. Maybe it was too weird for me. (What author can avoid this?) But then I realized that couldn’t have been the case, because I read this entire 500-page novel in a few nights, and I never pictured my friend shooting a M16 at her enemies. They even have different hair colors. So . . . it wasn’t that. And it wasn’t the cover, because I actually kind of like how different the cover is, borderline thriller (which the novel is), mixed with an almost sepia-like glow in a forest. (Basically, if there were a pretty girl in a dress on the cover, it would not have made sense. At all.) My problem wasn’t the language or the violence either. I loved both. And the title didn’t confuse me, and the concept didn’t . . . wait. The concept.

So, the concept is where I saw myself stumble. (And you might want to read the synopsis just so you get what I’m talking about.) But the back of the book explains that this novel is about aliens taking over in a variety of “waves” (ex. The 1st Wave is an electromagnetic impulse, so we can’t use our technology.) Now, we’re waiting for The 5th Wave.

Why did this bother me? It sounds AWESOME.

Well, that’s what I had to figure out, and I did. Although it might be strange to some, I started with “why did I pick it up this time?” I thought starting in the NOW would help me figure out the THEN. And it did.

I recently watched Star-Crossed, a CW show about aliens that evidentially got canceled. (A fact I did not know while watching it on Netflix.) And even though Star-Crossed and The 5th Wave are VERY different, I was dying for another alien story. So then it occurred to me. When was the last time I actually READ an alien story?

This was difficult for me . . . which is strange because I read a lot . . . so I then realized I avoid alien books altogether . . . which was strange because I grew up around tons of alien books and intergalactic travel novels in my house because my mom was a trekky and overall book junkie.

And it hit me.

I’ve probably avoided alien novels since my mom died . . . back when I was eleven. Not entirely of course. But most of the time. Even though I love them, I think subconsciously aliens might have been “too close”—a topic that brought back too many memories. And while that sounds sad and all, (I get it. It was for me.) I think I overcame this psychological subconscious avoidance of alien books just by reading The 5th Wave. This novel solved a problem I never even knew I had.

Isn’t that amazing?

Books truly affect our lives in ways we can’t even begin to understand, and I like to believe that’s because reading falls along the lines of love. You can’t explain it, but it shapes you. And that’s why I’m picking up even more novels that I’ve avoided for one reason or another along the way.

Who knows? It could be the most impactful read of my life.

~SAT

On a fun side note, my recent vlog on my YouTube channel, Coffee & Cats, covered The 5th Wave, including the upcoming film adaptation, and a movie recommendation similar to it while you wait.

May’s Ketchup

30 May

May’s Ketchup

Can you believe it? Another month has flown by. And it’s still raining here in Missouri. Almost constantly. It’s actually rather unusual weather for us (to this degree), and I’m starting to wonder why I tend to begin these with a weather report. (I have no idea, but I enjoy it.) Alas, May has ended, and flowers have bloomed, and exciting stories have come and go. During my recent move (and by “recent”, I mean seven months ago), I wasn’t able to bring my bookshelf, so my the books I’ve read are stacking up . . . just like my excitement for the future! We are only two months away from the release date of Minutes Before Sunset, July 28, but I’ll get to that in the Ketchup!

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, YouTube videos, Members of the Week, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this May!

Big Moments:

DBDcoverThe cover for Death Before Daylight released—and I’m beyond excited that Death Before Daylight will finally get into the hands of readers this September. In the meantime, Minutes Before Sunset releases July 28, and it is up for pre-order. (The pre-order link was also my #1 clicked item, so thank you!) I’ve been receiving all sorts of inspirational and encouraging messages from you all regarding The Timely Death Trilogy and future novels. So much so, that I’m at a loss for words. But I will say that this summer and fall are sure to be fantastic! A book signing is already underway, and the content disclosure trees have already released. On top of that, you can still enter to win one of three paperbacks of Minutes Before Sunset via Goodreads.

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

My #1 clicked item was pre-ordering Minutes Before Sunset! Thank you!!!

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Authors, Be Yourself: It’s easy to get intimidated by what other authors are doing. See how they have more followers? They even have higher sales! You should copy them to get to where they are, right? Wrong. There’s no reason to fret, and there’s absolutely no reason you should change yourself. This article talks about what you should concentrate on—and that’s being yourself.

2. When Writing is Not All You Do: Written by John Tompkins, this article addresses a viral article that went out a few weeks ago about authors working full-time. John discusses the differences between full-time authors and authors who work full-time on top of working as an author.

3. The Thing About Author Interviews: Written by Jonas Lee, this article discusses the importance of overcoming your nerves and getting out in front of your audience so they can get to know you. (His interview channel is also open to interview you!)

Other Blog Posts:

Guest Post:

My Book Story on The Modest Verge: I was asked to discuss a novel that has affected my life, and I talk about A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.

#1 SEO Term: Wattpad

#1 SEO Term: Wattpad

YouTube Channel:

Book Girlfriends (5.19)

Ex Machina and Robots (5.15)

Book Boyfriends (5.13)

Love Triangles (5.05)

RUSBSAt the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. I also like to specially thank the Members of the Dark. Every week, I award one member a “Member of Week” badge, and out of those monthly members, one of them will win an eBook of their choosing as well as more prizes. If you would like to be a member or review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Dark Members of the Week: A Readers Review, Mel’s Shelves, In Between the Pages, Legends of Windemere (Also, a shout out goes to the winner of the bookmark for helping with the Death Before Daylight cover reveal, Crazy Beautiful)

Reviewers:

Minutes Before Sunset: The Schwartz Reviews, Crazy Beautiful

Seconds Before Sunrise: Crazy Beautiful, MacyStories

Features: Death Before Daylight featured on April’s Favorite Reads

Calculated on May 27 at 19,753 followers

Calculated on May 27 at 19,753 followers

#SATurday My Weekend Cover Reveal

25 Apr

#SATurday My Weekend Cover Reveal 

This is the first time EVER—I mean it—I’ve revealed my cover elsewhere a full 24-hours before I showed it right here on www.ShannonAThompson.com.

Why?

Well, there really is only one reason. I am listening to your suggestions. Most of you—through comments and likes and messages—have let me know that you want me to create more YouTube videos, and I have. In fact, I even bought a new camera, and I revamped the entire channel. I promise to spend more time on YouTube, and I am continuing to keep that promise by revealing Seconds Before Sunrise in my latest episode:

Also, I wanted all of the Members of the Dark to share it first. I treasure every one of my Dark members, and I plan on adding more and more prizes and opportunities along the way. In fact, I have an announcement about a monthly prize coming out May 1. So, here’s a shout out to every Dark member who helped reveal the cover of Seconds Before Sunrise (Also, this month’s Dark Members of the Week are bolded):

Legends of WindemereAnnette AbernathyJonas LeeA Reader’s ReviewSDAV ReadsChris PavesicLit World InterviewsRonovan WritesThe Modest VergeLive. Laugh. Read.Mel’s ShelvesPau’s CastlesTranquil DreamsEnnlee’s Reading CornerCassandra Lost in BooksRed Sands Reviews and RamblingsawkwardMEOWEndless ReadingBook GannetMaking My Mark, Jera’s Jamboree, Just Another Girl and Her Books, The Book Forums, Macy Avenue, and Dowie’s Place.

SBScoverSeconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy)

Two nightmares. One memory.

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”

Eric has weeks before his final battle when he’s in an accident. Forced to face his human side, he knows he can’t survive if he fights alone. But he doesn’t want to surrender, even if he becomes the sacrifice for war.

Jessica’s memory isn’t the only thing she’s lost. Her desire to find her parents is gone and so is her confidence. But when fate leaves nightmares behind, she decides to find the boy she sees in them, even if it risks her sanity.

RUSBSIf you want to be a Member of the Dark (or a #MemberoftheDark), please email me at shannonathompson.com. By helping and sharing and tweeting out The Timely Death Trilogy, you can win prizes—like spotlights and books and more! You also get a fancy little badge – and another fancy little badge if you become Dark Member of the Week. Now in purple and in green! Who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll even be able to fly out and get a coffee with you.

Until then, here’s to more coffee and cats and Dark members,

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: The Importance of Goosebumps

13 Apr

Intro:

Today’s guest blogger deserves a huge round of applause. Not only does he spread the love for reading via his blog, November Notebook, he also teaches English to middle school students. In addition, Grant Goodman is talking about a series of books that filled my childhood, and I’m sure you’re familiar with these novels as well…They haunted all of our nightmares. Thank you for Goosebumps, R.L. Stine.

The Importance of Goosebumps

Most of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books left me terrified.

I remember how Night of the Living Dummy made me afraid to get up in the middle of the night because I knew that Slappy would be sitting at the top of the steps, waiting for me. I’ll never forget that moment when I hit the end of Stay Out of the Basement and the big twist made my stomach feel like it was full of ice. These books left me scarred, because even though I knew they were fiction, they took root in my mind and always threatened to crawl off the page and into reality.

For some reason, though, I kept reading them.

goose

Many of you, I’m sure, have strong memories of reading Goosebumps. It was the Twilight Zone for kids: a place where something strange and terrifying lurked, where people couldn’t always trust each other to tell the truth, and where sometimes you realized that Camp Nightmoon…well, I won’t spoil it for you.

These books were some of my earliest significant forays into genre fiction. Before them, I had been reading Encyclopedia Brown, Cam Jansen, the Clue books. They were fun, of course, but they didn’t hold my attention once I had found ghosts and werewolves and evil ventriloquist dummies.

Even though the Goosebumps books were largely stand-alone stories, I knew that they were all gathered under a single brand, one that I could trust to deliver a memorable story. So, while I never became a full-fledged horror fan, I did step into another type of book series: fantasy.

I read The Lord of the Rings. I read every Dragonlance title I could find. Somewhere along the line, the first Wheel of Time book showed up on my bookshelf. That led me down the path to Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick Rothfuss.

The monster blood and the werewolves and the mummy, I’m sure, will never truly fade. They were a stepping stone for me, or maybe a catapult, that moved my imagination forward. And while the idea of a twist ending doesn’t resonate with me anymore, I’m glad to know that kids out there are still able to pick up Welcome to Dead House and start their own journeys through R.L. Stine’s many worlds.

Grant GoodmanBio:

Grant Goodman’s debut novel, Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in…Tiger Trouble! will be released on May 4, 2015. He is also the head writer for November Notebook, a YA Lit blog for teens, adults, ghosts, robots, unicorns, dragons, and aliens. He teaches middle school English in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW: How to Keep Blogging

11 Mar

#WW: How to Keep Blogging

In an ever-changing social media frenzy, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when starting out or even as you continue to grow your Internet visibility. One of the topics I constantly see discussed in the numerous forums I lurk in is blogging. Do authors have to blog? (No.) How many times should I blog a week? (As often as you want to.) But the main question I see is almost always the same. What should I blog about?

It might sound strange for me – an avid blogger – to tell others that they shouldn’t blog if they don’t want to, but I am a firm believer in writing what you want to write, and I use that philosophy toward social media as well. Hate Facebook? Stay off of it. Love Twitter? Tweet all day long. As a reader myself, I can tell when a writer isn’t enjoying their story or their posts or if something is lazily thrown together, and I am no exception. I guarantee someone can tell if I am bored or half-interested in what I am doing. There is a connective energy behind words, and that energy will get through to the reader, positive or not.

Photo from Brains on Fire

Photo from Brains on Fire

Now that I have said that, I can admit that I’ve had my moments where I didn’t want to blog. For those of you who are new to my website, I’ve been blogging on here since September of 2012. During my first two years, a post went up every other day – all of which were focused on reading and writing – but this year I changed my posts to Mondays (guest posts about reading and writing), Wednesdays (my views on reading and writing), and Saturdays (just posts about my thoughts on life).

I’ve allowed myself to morph my website as I grow and change just so I didn’t lose that energy or love. Knowing when to change your focus and energy is going to help you keep your momentum up while also maintaining your exciting and relatable voice. It’s always okay to try something new. In fact, I encourage it.

I have many things I encourage when it comes to blogging – one of which relies on planning ahead, writing posts in advance, and scheduling posts before necessary. That way, if you need to step away for a few days due to any reason, you can without disappearing completely and/or getting discouraged. In fact, I generally schedule posts about two weeks in advance. This helps me manage my life outside of blogging. I could write my entire week of blog posts in one day, which allows me to spend the rest of my week working on other things.

But what do I write about?

Well…I write about what matters to me, and I encourage all bloggers to sit back and consider what matters to them. Do you love Pinterest? Talk about how images and articles on there have shaped a character. Do you struggle with certain grammatical phrases? Discuss how someone can overcome their writing faults. Did you just read a wonderful novel? Share your thoughts on the story as well as how it can reflect everyday life. One topic I think helps beginning bloggers is to write a reaction piece to another blog post that inspired them and link back to that post. It helps connect you with other bloggers and readers while moving a discussion forward.

Topics are everywhere. Pay attention to what you discuss with your friends and family. Jot a note down, and write about it on your blog later. In fact, most of my Saturday posts come from discussions I recently had with a friend.

Blogging doesn’t have to be complicated or deep. It just has to reflect you. It doesn’t have to feel like marketing or work. It can be fun and uplifting. Just let the words guide you toward discussions you care about, and more discussions will follow.

~SAT

editingThis spring, I want everyone to take more time to smell the roses…or just stare at them. In other words, I am taking more clients for my Services. $1 per 1,000 words for editing, first chapter sample is for free, and I can increase book reviews and interviews. I also manage social media pages and so many other delightful areas that take up precious writing time. Here are some reviews.

Feel free to ask me anything at shannonathompson@aol.com. 

February’s Ketchup

28 Feb

February’s Ketchup

Wow! If you’ve been with me just these past two months, you already know how much of a whiplash session I’ve lived through recently. Thankfully, February brought great news, and I am expressing my gratitude to you all once again – for helping me so much through so much by continuing to support me. This is the summary post of the past month.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog post, my top referrer, SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this February!

Big Moments:

After you showed a tremendous amount of support and love, I signed The Timely Death Trilogy with Clean Teen Publishing. I truly could not have done it without all of your support and love, so please know that you all have all of my support and love, too. I look forward to sharing the new covers with everyone as well as the brand-new interior! I’ll give you hint. They’re both beautiful. :]

My first piece of nonfiction, Nowhere, was published in the literary magazine, Fine Lines! It was a personal essay about growing up on the road. I even added a Nonfiction page to this website.

In other news, I moved to Missouri, and I continue to be a full-time editor, social media marketer, and book review helper through my Services page. I even received a wonderful review from a writer I am positive will get published soon! I am eternally grateful for all of the authors I’ve been working with recently.

Thank you so much!

#1 clicked item from blog post "I Am Not Special"

#1 clicked item from blog post “I Am Not Special”

Top Three Blog Posts:

  1. 1SEOI Have a New Publisher: This is still so surreal, and I will always (and forever) remember the outpouring support everyone showed. Thank you for continuing to be my friend as I continue this writing journey into the future!
  2. The Greatest Conversations All Authors Have: At least, it’s the greatest conversation I have.
  3. The Importance of Setting in a Novel: Written by Tara Mayoros, this well-traveled author speaks about a vital aspect of writing.

Other Blog Posts:

Guest Post: I also had the wonderful opportunity to appear as a guest writer on The Legends of Windermere. I wrote Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream.

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you would like to review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

Seconds Before Sunrise: SDAV Reads

Death Before Daylight: Live. Laugh. Read.Trials of a wanna-be-published writer

Interviews: Reading, reading, READING

Calculated on February 25 at 19,364 followers

Calculated on February 25 at 19,364 followers

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