20 years ago today….

Twenty years ago the world was introduced to a little boy with round glasses and a scar. I remember seeing him on the shelf for the first time, I thought it was such a cute and wonderful cover…fast forward a couple of years and the third book of the series was just out and with a little nudge from our corporate offices (Borders) to have someone read the books, saying the books were going to be HUGE, I volunteered.

I had a 6 hour flight to Alaska on a family trip. So I purchased my very first Harry Potter book. HP_20 years later_2The truth is I don’t like to read on planes, I’d much rather listen to my music or look out the window. But I thought a children’s book would be a quick read and something I wouldn’t have to pay much attention. I have never been so wrong. By the time we got off the plane in Anchorage I was looking up every Borders location in the area…calling each to find out if they had Harry Potter books 2 & 3….we drove 50 miles to a Waldenbooks in Wasilla, AK. I finished all three books by the time my vacation was over and went back to work. I had to wait 10 months for the fourth book.

There is something special I noticed, I like to call it BEFORE Harry Potter and AFTER Harry Potter, simple but significant. What many may not have first hand knowledge of is the way these books changed readers, to say that it created a new generation of readers is not giving the books enough credit. In my nearly 20 years with Borders nothing can compare to it. Readers didn’t just change, the world of reading changed. Not only were there readers of EVERY age, gender, and background there were fans who came back for more of OTHER books and other authors…they couldn’t get enough of READING. We couldn’t keep up with recommendations for other “like” Harry Potter books. We created bookmarks, endcap displays, and front of store displays.

So when I think about Harry and his impact…he fundamentally changed the world of readers, regardless if you’ve read the books. There will always be a time before the boy who lived and an after.

I am immensely grateful for the after….Happy 20th Harry! And thank you, JK Rowling.

❤ ❤ ❤

xo,

Christina2

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A Love Letter to the book Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher: The Book That Changed How I View Myself and Ultimately Changed How I Read.

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Mud Vein: The icky vein on the back of a shrimp which is not recommended to eat and is usually cleaned out before consuming. Or better yet, for the context of this article, a mud vein is where we store all of our icky stuff that we don’t want to acknowledge we have within us…the human mud vein where all of our shit collects, our flaws, and our disgusting imperfections. We all have a mud vein, we all have parts of ourselves we turn away from and wish we didn’t have.

The book Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher is far from anything icky or shitty nor is it your average fictional tale. It’s a love story. A love story of epic proportions. A story mud_vein_ebook-1-200x300about learning to love yourself completely, wrapped in the guise of a psychological thriller. At least that’s what it was for me. When you begin reading this fast paced mind-bender your only questions are “What IS happening?” and “Who did this to her?” but by the time the last page is consumed, you realize those weren’t the questions you should have been asking. Instead you walk away asking yourself; what darkness is inside of myself that I need to understand? What haven’t I accepted about myself? What are those flaws that I need to embrace as a part of myself in order to be completely me?

One of the best feelings is when a book stays with you and doesn’t let you go. It’s an authors’ true legacy, writing words that fundamentally change you from the inside out.  And not because you don’t have the answers but because you walk away with more questions about who you are and who you want to be.

Reading Mud Vein was the first time I ever realized just how much I was learning about life, learning about myself through works of fiction, of romance, mysteries, fantasy, and young adult; none of which would be shelved within the self-improvement section and much of which would be considered subpar as far as books and writing goes. ILikeMyScars_MudVeinFor self-improvement type of reading I tend to look to experts like Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, or even Steven Pressfield. And for pleasure reading I lean toward a romance or even a young adult fantasy adventure. But here I was reading this creepy psychological thriller weaving its message of self-acceptance through the pages filled with pink Zippos, and carousel horses. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the section headings like Shock and Denial, Pain and Guilt, and Anger and Bargaining; those would have been my first clues that this thriller was going to be anything but average. In reality though, I have come to believe we are drawn to the types of books, fiction or otherwise, that are going to teach us and change us. Sometimes it’s a simple lesson, recognizing an attribute that a character has is also something we have within ourselves, and sometimes the lessons are much deeper like self-love. I realized I was learning as much about myself, if not more, from fiction books than I was learning from self-improvement books.

There’s a line in the book about how there are strings connecting people who are meant for us.

“There is a string that connects us that is not visible to the eye. Maybe every person has more than one soul they are connected to, and all over the world there are those invisible strings… Maybe the chances that you’ll find each and every one of your soul mates is slim. But sometimes you’re lucky enough to stumble across one. And you feel a tug. And it’s not so much a choice to love them through their flaws and through your differences, but rather you love them without even trying. You love their flaws.”
~Tarryn Fisher, Mud Vein 

Maybe books have that same type of string the one that pulls us toward them for the lesson they have to teach us. Mud Vein not only changed how I view myself, but in the end, changed the way I read. I no longer think of a book as purely entertainment. I look for the subtleties of what is being shown to me through the characters. I feel the words after I finish the last page. I am a little bit more me.

If you think fiction is only escapism, look again; look at those stories that changed you on a deeper level. Fiction can sometimes lead us to the truth of ourselves.

There is a teaser quote on the cover of the first edition of Mud Vein that reads “Only the truth can set her free.”

Yes, it did, Ms Fisher. I am truly free.

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Note: The book teasers were made by me with mad love for Mud Vein because I simply could not let go of the story, the characters, or the words and had to create something for myself after I finished.

Big LOVE for your Mud Vein….

xo

Christina2

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It Ends With Us

Naked truth? I don’t write reviews. Not because I don’t want to shout from the rooftops how good a book was, but because I know that everyone reads a book differently, feels a book differently and is changed by a book differently.
 
Some books though, keep holding onto you after you close the last page, some books won’t let you go when go to sleep and continue with work and life the next day. Some books require you to write something about them because you are suddenly page by page changing as a result of how the book creeps into your heart and enters your soul and stays there. Forever. You are no longer the same person who read those first words.
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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover is one of those books for me. It’s a book that defies category, so don’t look at the labels. I would even encourage you to go into it completely blind, without reading the blurb or back cover copy. Don’t read any reviews. Just open the book and read.
 
Read and be changed. Read and understand people a little bit more. Read and be a little less judgemental. Read and become more compassionate. Read and love people just a little bit more. Read and be forever changed.
 
I have been a life long reader and I have loved and enjoyed a multitude of books, talked about them, even encouraged so many others to read them. I’ve made a career out of my love of books. But there are very few books that have changed me from the inside out that rocked me to my core so completely. In fact, I can count those books on one hand and still have room to add It Ends With Us. It belongs there next to those books, a very special place on my “keeper shelf”. Someday I’ll meet Colleen again, purchase another copy just so she can sign it.
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Naked truth? I don’t write reviews, but I will for this book.
 
Allow Colleen take you on a journey, let her words sink in, let her change you. It’s worth every second you’ll spend drawn into the characters’ world of heartaches, dreams, tears, struggle, strength, faith, forgiveness, courage, hope, and love. ❤
 
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
 
 
❤ ❤ ❤
 
xo
Christina2
 
PS After I finished It Ends With Us I couldn’t sleep even though it was 3:34 in the morning…so I put on my iPod and found a song that for me fit perfectly…all of the emotions and where I felt most changed.
 
Footprints by Sia
 

Guilty Pleasure Reads…Prepare to Defend Yourself… Even If You Don’t Have To

I loved writing this post because should we really have to defend what we LOVE to read? We love books and no one should ever have to fend off critics for what they read!

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In last month’s blog I surprised myself by responding to a commenter by saying “I’ll admit…” I’ll admit? As if I perhaps shouldn’t?? Because what? Because of what someone might say or think? I unashamedly read romances, but yet I felt I had to qualify my response in order to make myself feel less guilty…

I’ll say it again; I’m a Twilight addict, a Twihard. As in I read and enjoy rereading the Twilight Saga. All of them. Even Breaking Dawn…

Why did I feel this way? I’ve always been able to freely admit I love to read romances. I used to have discussions with my first book store manager. He would ask me, “You’re so smart. Why do you read romances?” Yes, mentally rolling my eyes I’d explain to him so that he could better understand. Never once ashamed of what I read our discussions in later years became, “Okay, tell me again what the appeal of the pregnancy or children storylines are? How can it be romantic?”

But why was it that I felt, amongst romance readers, I had to take a defensive action when responding? Are there books out there that even ROMANCE READERS are ashamed of reading?

Later I had a discussion about guilty pleasure books with a friend of mine who reluctantly “admitted” that she also continues to read a series even though the last few titles have been a disappointment to her. Yet in the next breath she’s saying she can’t wait until the next one comes out… Oh yeah, another one bites the dust in honor of the guilty pleasure read! Though, I’m also addicted to that same series and I am, in fact, counting down the days for the next installment! Yet she was reluctant to tell me? What is it about these series that we’re willing to look past any disappointment and continue reading? Not just continue reading, but anxiously await the next book in the series?

So, what book or series do you consider your guilty pleasure? What books do you read over and over, yet might not want to completely admit to your obsession?   Cough, cough Twilight cough, cough

Guilty Pleasures Mash-Up Special:

Harry Potter – One part Butter Beer and a BIG (because the books ARE long) helping of Bertie Botts and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, because that’s where the obsession started.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood – Get out your leather pants, listen to rap music, while sipping some Goose (Grey Goose that is) and read Lover Awakened by JR Ward.

In Death series – Tofu dog, tube of Pepsi and any JD Robb ‘In Death’ book, because truly all you need is Rourke….

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Let’s see, the Harry Potter series has since seen Harry defeat He Who Must Not Be Named with the help from all his faithful friends. BUT there is a new Harry spin off about to start, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, due out in July.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood also has a spin off series, plus new full length novels from your favorite brothers: The Beast and Blood Kiss from the spinoff Black Dagger Legacy series.

The In Death series from JD Robb continues to thrill with her latest, Brotherhood in Death. And yes, I used to wear the “I dream of Rourke” t-shirt/night shirt. He’s still quite yummy to dream and drool over.

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I continue to be a faithful “guilty pleasure” reader of these authors/series and I’ve added a few more since then…Never Never series by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher, Kristen Ashley and pretty much everything she’s written, take your pick of her series, Aly Martinez‘s On the Ropes series (Fighting Shadows was PHENOMANAL!!). I’m obsessed with TM Frazier and I devour Cat Porter‘s Lock & Key series…no guilt with any of these authors…ever….

❤ ❤ ❤

xo

Share the Love!

These throw back posts can be fun, but it definitely also brings very a interesting prospective too! I went on to write a series of articles for RT Book Reviews about pulling back the curtain and revealing the real life behind the paranormal books we love so much. The series never saw the light of day because of scheduling conflicts and then the editorial director of RT left her position and I never pursued reviving them. Now that I’m blogging again I may contact RT to see if they’d be interested in me updating the articles. I had great interviews with Zak and crew from Ghost Adventures, Doreen Virtue, an angel expert who made appearances on Oprah and other talk shows, there were also mediums and astrologers that I interviewed as well.

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I recently stepped out of the romance genre to read Dark World, a non-fiction book from Zak Bagans, a man who set about documenting the afterlife – ghosts, spirits and other paranormal entities. I was completely gripped by the book. For those of you who are familiar with me through blogging or through the publishing industry know that when I say – this is the BEST book I have read in a long time – is a very bold statement for me to make (Yes, I have literally read thousands of books and this easily makes my top books of all time). I loved this book so much that I purposely wrote this blog in such a way that I could mention it in more than just a passing way. How could I not share the love?

Dark World

When I enjoy a book (especially THAT much) I want to share it with everyone! The question then becomes who would be interested in it? Everyone because it’s that good – just wasn’t going to cut it. It’s a great book but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. In fact, I’ll admit there were a few parts that scared me enough to say…okay, I’m NOT going to be able to read THAT part tonight!

So how to go about recommending a book from a genre someone doesn’t read? I thought back to my early days as a bookseller when I was recommending romances on a daily basis and the amount of genres within it – Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Series/Category Romances, etc. – came easily to me.

Instead of me telling you to run and get this amazing book… (And yes, you really should!) Hello Book Matchmaker! This is what I do! So if this post has gotten you in the mood for a really good ghost story, and a real ghost story just isn’t your style, with Halloween just around the corner, here are some highly recommended ghostly romantic reads:

Jayne Castle’s Ghost Hunter series; After Dark, After Glow, Ghost Hunter, Silver Master, Dark Light, Obsidian Prey, Midnight Crystal, Canyons of Night

The Ghost by Danielle Steel

Ghost Moon by Karen Robards

Heather Graham Pozzessere’s Bone Island Trilogy; Ghost Night, Ghost Moon, Ghost Shadow

Ghost Moon by Rebecca York

Linnea Sinclair’s Gabriel’s Ghost

If you’re also willing take a walk on the wild side…Zak Bagans’ book Dark World is waiting for you! Oh, but you may want to keep the light on when you get to the scary parts…Or better yet, take the day off and read it during the light of day… I promise you won’t be disappointed!!

So how do you recommend books from a genre someone doesn’t read?   What are your go-to books (or authors) to recommend? What books have you slipped into a conversation for the sheer love of it?

Book Matchmaker

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I’m still a fan of Ghost Adventures, but I haven’t read Zak’s second book, I Am Haunted: Living Life Through the Dead, one thing hasn’t changed though, I still devour paranormal fiction! Some of my reigning favorites are Dinah McCall’s The Prophecy Series, The Psy-Changling series by Nalini Singh (and I have ALL of the Guild Hunter novels, but haven’t yet dived in!) and one of my most recent favorites and deserves its own blog post was an indie release by BN Toler, Where One Goes, such an epic read! It released last year and was in my top five reads of the entire year!

What are your favorite paranormal reads? Who tops your list for ghost go-tos? What authors are in a completely different category of writing paranormal?

❤ ❤ ❤

xo

The Book Matchmaker

This is my first blog ever which appeared on Borders True Romance…so long ago!

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Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match

I’ve been a bookseller, a marketing guru, a publicist, an editor, a writer and more importantly always a reader. No matter what kind of hat I’ve worn in the publishing industry there has been a constant common thread. Putting the right book into the right hands – I found it a challenge to get the match just right. My reward always came in the form of the reader returning and saying – What’s next?? What else should I read? Or while I was working marketing books on a larger scale, it became finding the right medium in which to reach the reader.

Recently I read an article in which Katie Freeman, a senior publicist for Pantheon and Schocken Books, said “the book must be the right fit to create a love affair . . . there’s little I adore more than playing book matchmaker.” I couldn’t agree more! A title I’ll gladly don!

A matchmaker to create love affairs, love of books and love of authors – and get those matches just right! When I was a bookseller, my goal was, yes to sell more books. However, what would be the point of suggesting a title or an author that didn’t fit the reader? The reader would never trust me to recommend anything else for them.

And while “If you like . . . try” works for some, I did those calculations mentally and then would present the reader with a different explanation. The music industry came up with a word for what I was doing – mashup. I would take other authors, TV or movies to help give the reader a better picture of what or who the book/author would be like.   This also worked really well for those non-readers who were trying to find the perfect gift for their special reader – only didn’t know what they read!! Ah, she liked 27 Dresses? Try Kristan Higgins or Susan Mallery.

Here are some of my favorite mashups:

Lara Adrian – Take equal parts Christine Feehan and JR Ward

Stephanie Sloane – Julia Quinn with a little Sabrina Jeffries like a cherry on top!

Thea Harrison – The romanticism of a Shana Abe with the flair of Anne McCaffery storytelling.

Catherine Mann is a mix of Suzanne Brockmann and Cindy Gerard with just a touch of Debbie Macomber.

Kate Pearce – Think old school Robin Schone or Lora Leigh if she wrote an historical.

And just for, fun my favorite mystery author Donald Harstad – Dragnet meets Fargo, you can’t go wrong!

So what about you? How do you see Maya Banks or Virginia Kantra? How would you mashup your favorite author? Or do you see things differently in the mashups I created? Feel free to suggest your own mashup! Can’t find another author or title like your favorite? I’ll try my best to match you up with a perfect for you book!

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This type of post is so much fun for me to write. I love going beyond the ‘if you like…try…’ For me, there’s a little more to book matchmaking than an algorithm. There’s the emotion, there’s the style and words of an author, just because an author writes contemporary doesn’t mean that every contemporary fan out there will love it. Book Matchmaking at it’s best finds just the right book for the right reader, because then they will come back to you for more.

So tell me, what are your favorite matches?

xo