Category Archives: General

Armchair BEA 2017 – What Do Readers Want?

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Day 2 of our participation of this year’s event has us talking about what readers want. As always we encourage visitors to share their thoughts in the comments below, murr! =^.^=

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What do Readers Want?

This is a question which generated a great many different answers among our team, but there were a few things that we all agreed on, and it is these that we’d like to share with you today.

1. Strong, intriguing plot.

When we select books to read, we look to see if the book has a plot that is going to resonate with us and keep us wanting to turn the pages. The stronger the intrigue created by the book’s back cover blurb, the more likely we’re going to pick it up. Nothing drives us crazy than a weak plot or a plot that doesn’t match the book’s description. We love it when we’re able to disappear into a novel and not resurface for hours, so the better the plot, the more likely we’re going to read and recommend the book to others.

2. An engaging cover.

True, it isn’t what is on the outside that matters, but what is inside which counts, but we’re going to be honest, if the cover of a book doesn’t look interesting, we’re most likely not going to investigate the contents further. Also, the cover should reflect the story and represent it in some way. Now there are times where you can find hidden gems behind horrendous covers, but the reality is, the better the cover the better the response you’ll get from readers.

3. Characters we can relate to.

This is something that is going to vary by reader, but we all agree that the more we’re able to relate to a character, the more likely we’re going to care about them and become invested in their story.

4. Strong, clear writing.

Nothing frustrates us faster than a book full of errors in writing. Whether those errors are grammatical, structural, punctuation errors, plot holes, whatever, the more we encounter in a book, the more likely we are to say something in our review and/or not finish the book.

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So what do you look for when selecting a book? What things guarantee that you’ll read and enjoy a title? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below, murr! =^.^=

 

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Armchair BEA 2017 – Introduction and Best Practices

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

We’re excited to be participating in this year’s Armchair BEA event. If you are unfamiliar with this event, please click on the link above to learn more. And before we proceed into our topic of discussion today, we’d would like to wish everyone who is attending Book Expo of America a wonderful time and wish that we were there with you all, murr! =^.^=

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Introductions:

Welcome newcomer’s to our blog! We, Sara, Dancer, Mimi, and Sammers are the felines of What the Cat Read. To learn more about who we are, we invite you to visit our Bio page, murr! To give you a brief summary, we’re four well-read felines sharing our love of the books we read and the authors we admire. Our blog came about when our original founders, Willow & Buggy, noticed that there was a severe lack of feline reviews in the world. In 2011 they sought to fill this gap and created this site for young kittens and cats to discover new titles and authors to enjoy. We cover a wide-range of genres and enjoy sharing our love of reading with others. Our hope is that you’ll enjoy your time here and discover something new to read every time you return, murr!

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Best Practices:

We’ve experienced a great many things over the years that our blog has been up. Some experiences have been positive while others have been educational and lead to restructuring and new opportunities for growth. While we are not experts in the field, we’d like to offer a few tips and tricks for newbie reviewers.

1. Blog because you enjoy it.

This is something we cannot stress enough. For most of you out there reviewing books is a hobby, it’s not a job. You don’t get paid to review, nor do you get any of the perks that come from having a job. If you aren’t enjoying working on your blog, if you don’t feel satisfaction for all the work you put into it, then perhaps it is time to consider setting your blog aside. When your blog becomes overwhelming and is no longer enjoyable, it might be time to take a break. There is no shame in setting it aside either temporarily or permanently. Blog because you enjoy it, not because you feel obligated to do so.

2. Don’t feel pressured to review new material.

Yes, it is great to be able to review a new book before the general public has a chance to read it, but you don’t have to review ARCs (advance reader copies) all the time. There’s no need to keep us with the Jones’s of the blogging world. Just because an older title has received tons of reviews, it doesn’t mean that you can’t review it on your site. Older titles deserve just as much love as new titles. Reviewing an older title allows you to both introduce new readers to something they might have never known about and allows for new discussion to occur among readers. Plus, by reviewing older titles there is no pressure to meet a new release deadline, you can review older titles as time permits. Review what you enjoy, and you’ll continue to have fun blogging (see point #1).

3. Maintain a blogging schedule/calendar.

As you blog you’ll probably agree to take on virtual tour events and special event posts. Keeping a calendar with all your events listed will go a long way in helping you keep track of what posts you’ve signed up for and when you need to have them up by. It also allows you to plan out a posting schedule that works best for your personal schedule. Whether you post special weekly posts, maintain a 4 day post schedule, whatever, keeping a calendar will let you map out your blog a month in advance or more.

4. Keep your posts original.

Your blog is your own work, as such it should be unique and fit your personality, theme, layout, etc. It is a reflection of you and your views/opinions. It is very easy to fall into the habit of copying and pasting created HTML content in order to save time. The problem that comes in with this is there is no originality to the post, it loses that which is unique to your blog. Now, we’re not saying that you can’t use created HTML content on your site every now and then, but if you are relying solely on HTML generated post material because you’ve signed up for more posts than you can easily create on your own then it might be time to reconsider your scheduling/posting practice. Yes, blogging is a hobby, but by taking on the maintenance of a blog it means that you are agreeing to take on the work necessary to create posts that are tailored to your blog’s theme/layout. Don’t expect the tour hosts, publishers, and authors to do all of the work for you in creating your posts. It’s your blog, you do the work.

5. Don’t be afraid to post a negative review.

If you read a book and end up not enjoying it, do not be afraid to say so in your review. There is no shame in posting a review that is under three stars. Not every book is going to resonate with every reader, and having both positive and negative reviews on a book allows new readers to decide if the book is right for them. This doesn’t mean you go on a rant bashing the author and the book. If you don’t connect with a book, your review should explain what prevented you from connecting with it. In other words, your negative review should have constructive criticism in it for the author. Simply saying you “didn’t like it” doesn’t help anyone.

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So there you have it, a selection of our “best practices”. We hope that you enjoyed this post and we invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or share your own best practices that you’ve learned over the course of your blogging experience. =^.^=

Fair Play by Tracy A. Ward – Excerpt

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What the Cat Read is excited to be participating in Tracy A. Ward’s Release Week Celebration event hosted by Barclay Publicity. If you would like to see all of the blogs involved in the celebration, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Title: Fair Play

Author: Tracy A. Ward

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Release Date: March 28, 2016

Publisher: Self-published

Format: eBook

ISBN: 9780997282702

Synopsis:

Who knew love could bring a playwright so much drama?

Writing three plays for a nationally acclaimed theater in Phair, Texas, was never supposed to put Ashlyn Carter’s inheritance at risk or make or break her future. And it certainly wasn’t supposed to force her into constant contact with the very guy she’s avoided since her teenage crush-gone-bad days.

Noah Blake. He’s Ashlyn’s enemy, for good reason. As her older brother’s best friend, he seems hell-bent on interfering with nearly every aspect of her life. So how then does he also seem to be her muse?

When Ashlyn reluctantly agrees to act out scenes with Noah from the play she’s writing in order to trigger her creativity, the spark of passion she’d felt for him as a teenager flares up again. But there’s more at stake than just her future as a playwright or the inheritance she never cared about in the first place. Finding out the theater she loves is in danger of closing puts everything she thought she knew and felt about Phair…and Noah…to the test. Will there be a standing ovation for Ashlyn Carter, playwright, or will the curtain drop and fade to black? Only by facing their biggest fears together will Ashlyn and Noah learn to trust in themselves and each other.

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Excerpt:

Here’s the set-up. Lucas Marshall, owner of The Marshall Theater, has just given Ashlyn an ultimatum—work with Noah, her big brother’s best friend and Ashlyn’s sworn enemy, to overcome her writer’s block that’s appeared at a very inopportune time (threatening her inheritance, career, and the fate of the theater itself). Noah, too, has a stake in the game. The town of Phair was founded around The Marshall. If it fails, so too will his bar. Equally important, Noah has just discovered another threat—a theater critic set on revenge against Ashlyn for a past transgression. But if there’s one thing you can count on Noah Blake to do, it’s protect what he considers his, no matter the cost. In this scene, from Noah’s point of view, he appears at Ashlyn’s door, attempting to convince her that Lucas’s plan to overcome her writer’s block and save the theater is valid.

Excerpt from Fair Play:

The door opened. She stood, blinking at me. Then, without saying a word, she pulled ear buds from her ears and placed them, along with her iPod, on the table beside the door. Her arms dropped. “I don’t have time for this, Noah.”

Stepping through the threshold, I reached for her wrist and snapped on the cuffs, an abandoned favor from last week’s bachelorette party at the Double Shot.

Her blue eyes widened, then she forced a controlled facade. She raised our conjoined wrists. “So you’re into kink. But I don’t think that’s the way this is supposed to work. Obviously, you need pointers.” She scanned the small, spartan room, consisting of a loveseat, coffee table, and a fake ficus tree. “I might have a fifty-shades-of-something book you could borrow.”

With my cuffed hand, I reached behind me and closed the door, jerking Ashlyn’s body against mine in the process.

Mistake.

My cock instantly hardened. All I could think about was how she smelled, like moonlight and summer. How her white tank clung to her torso, contoured over bare breasts to the point where I swore I could just make out the vaguest tinge of rose-colored nipples. How she turned me on without even trying, like no one ever had.

As my cuffed hand found hers and I finagled her arm so that it bent comfortably behind her back, wispy strands of auburn hair, twisted into an awkward bun at the side of her neck, tickled my face. Her pulse beneath my fingertips jumped. I inhaled her sweet scent as my heart rate went into overdrive along with hers. A primitive ache with the need to fill her settled in my bones.

But a man did not touch his best friend’s little sister. Quinn had asked me years ago to look out for her, and as we’d pledged in our fraternity as freshman, a promise once made is never broken.

“The cuffs are to prove a point,” I said. In spite of the warning going off in my head, my lips grazed her temple when my opposite arm circled her waist.

Ashlyn rose on toes, bringing us hip-to-hip so my erection was closer to where God intended, like she was testing how well we’d fit. Her eyes darkened a shade and I could tell she knew exactly what she was doing. Having her against me like this was bending the rules. Bending, I reminded myself, wasn’t breaking. She also had that weird look—the one that told me she understood what I was thinking before I did.

It was also the look she got before she became the world’s biggest smartass.

“So,” she drawled out. “Not into kink. But it appears after all these years, I’ve been wrong about you. You’re not a eunuch, after all.”

“Not even close, sweetheart.” My free hand covered her ass. My fingertips found bare skin beneath the curve of her shorts, and despite her bravado, she twitched.

About time she figured out who was in charge.

About the Author:

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After the birth of her children, Tracy had an epiphany: banking just wasn’t her thing. So she quit her corporate job, let her nanny go and became a not-so-desperate housewife by day, Sexy Women’s Fiction author by night. Her characters are every-day women, following their dreams, searching for that elusive happily ever after.

Connect with Tracy A. Ward:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Amazon  |  Goodreads

***Giveaway***

Tracy is offering one (1) lucky Grand Prize Winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Fair Play, and five (5) Runner-up Winners a digital copy of Fair Play! To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b050ef29200/

I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Lori Wilde – Spotlight & Excerpt

What the Cat Read is thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for Lori Wilde’s newest novel in her Twilight, Texas series! If you are looking for a sweet romance to read this holiday season, I’ll Be Home for Christmas just may be the perfect book for you, murr!! My thanks to the wonderful folk at Avon Romance for letting me share this special excerpt with all of you today. =^.^=

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Publisher: Avon Books

Date Released: October 27, 2015

Series: Twilight, Texas #7

Nothing says Christmas like New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde and Twilight, TX, and now Lori returns to Twilight for a brand new heartwarming holiday tale. The matchmaking members of the Cookie Club are up to their old tricks again!

Christmas in Twilight, Texas, is all merriment and mistletoe. The Cookie Club is whipping up their most festive sweets, the townspeople are scrambling to get their holiday shopping done, and Joe-a hometown guy with a restless heart-is dreaming about the woman he wants to kiss most…

…And who happens to be staying at his sister’s place over the holidays, while Joe’s sister is away. But Joe isn’t quite sure he wants to be a living Christmas present to runaway law student Gabi Preston.

Joe thinks the sassy sweetheart he nicknames “Trouble” won’t inconvenience anything but his healthy sex drive. But when he discovers the reasons Gabi escaped from her life, he aches to give her everything she’s never had. As the magic of the season draws them together, the gift of love is the only one worth giving…

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Excerpt:

A big, handsome man in his early forties, wearing work boots, a green paint- stained John Deere cap, and a worn gray pea coat, stood beside her car. She glanced in the rearview mirror and spied a battered old green pickup truck pulled up behind her Camry. A pickup truck with a gun rack in the back window.
She hiccupped. “What do you need?”
He made a motion like turning a crank, asking her to put the window down.
Mmm, right. She wasn’t about to trust this guy. Without glancing away from his face, she stuck her hand inside her purse, felt around for her stun gun. “What is it?”
“You look lost,” he said in such a kind way that it made her feel guilty for assuming he was up to no good.
Gabi sized him up with a lingering glance. It was the most profound thing anyone had said to her in a long time and it stilled her hand inside her purse. “I don’t need any help, but thank you for stopping.”
Still, he didn’t leave. “Are you gonna make me keep yelling through closed glass?”
Reluctantly, she lowered the window an inch.
“I’ve scared you,” he said, backing up and holding his palms up at shoulder level. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I promise I’m not a serial killer.”
Isn’t that exactly what a serial killer would say?” She tightened her fingers around the stun gun, debated whether pulling it out for him to see would put her at an advantage or a disadvantage.
He chuckled. “My name’s Nate Deavers and I’m a former Navy SEAL. Does that make you feel any better?”
“Oh well, if you say you’re a Navy SEAL, then it’s got to be gospel.”
A wide smile hooked his mouth. “You’re from a big city.”
She notched up her chin and allowed herself to smile back. “That obvious?”
“Yep. I hope you weren’t trying to keep it a secret.”
“I have no secrets,” she said.
“Isn’t that exactly what someone with secrets would say?” he teased.
She liked his sense of humor. “My name is Gabi Preston. I’m a law student.” Former law student, but he didn’t need to know that. “Feel more in-formed now?”
He laughed again, a hearty, comforting laugh. “What is it you’re looking for?”
Another profound question. What was she looking for? Freedom. Self- reliance. Mistress of her own fate. Intangible, immeasurable goals.
“Katie Cheek’s house,” she said, settling on her immediate objective.
“You’re right on top of it,” he said, and pointed down the dirt road to her right, directly adjacent to the Christmas tree farm.
She turned in her seat and saw a round white structure that looked to be some kind of tent. Ka-tie’s house must be just beyond that.
“Thank you,” she said. “I apologize for my paranoia.”
Always better safe than sorry.” Nate saluted and ambled back to his pickup.
She sat in the car, waiting for him to drive away, then took a deep breath and sank back against the seat. “Chill out. This isn’t LA,” she mumbled, and turned down the dirt road, drove pass the tent thingy.
Her GPS announced, “You have reached your destination.”
Ignoring it, she motored over the hill and came to the edge of the lake. Puzzled, she turned around, and cruised slowly past the tent.
“You have reached your destination,” the robo voice said again.
Seriously? The tent was it? This was Katie’s place? No cute ivy twined cottage. No adorable lake house bungalow. Never in a million years would she have guessed that Katie lived in a tent. Why did Katie live in a tent?
Gabi stared, dejected, as it fully sank in that she’d be bunking in a tent. Hello chasm.
What had she’d gotten herself into?

Praise for Lori Wilde:

“Tempered with love, a caring community, a dash of suspense, and the romantic delight of a Twilight Christmas, this engaging story brims with strength and hope-definitely one to savor.”
— Library Journal on CHRISTMAS AT TWILIGHT

“Christmas at Twilight is a wonderful heartwarming story not to be missed. The characters are written with compassion as the love between the couple grows.”
— RT Book Reviews (4 Stars) on CHRISTMAS AT TWILIGHT

“Lori Wilde has created a rich and wonderful story about the charm of small town life combined with the power and passion of first love. Delicious!”
— Robyn Carr on A COWBOY CHRISTMAS

“A wonderful story… The ending will leave readers with the desire to make return visits to Jubilee, Texas.”
— RT Book Reviews, 4 stars, on LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

“A pair of engaging protagonists, a wealth of wacky townsfolk, and a mystery with a dangerous twist add up to a charmingly sexy tale that will leave fans smiling.”
— Library Journal on LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

“[T]heir personal development forms the heart and soul of the novel, a delicately revealing in-depth character study. Wilde’s clever combination of humor, sorrow and love brings a deeply appealing sense of realism.”
— Publishers Weekly on ALL OF ME

About the Author:

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New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Lori Wilde has sold seventy-eight works of fiction to four major New York Publishing houses. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and a certificate in forensic nursing from Kaplan University. She is a member of the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

Her first NYT bestseller, the third book in her Twilight, Texas series, The First Love Cookie Club has been optioned for a television movie. The town of Granbury, Texas, upon which her fictional town of Twilight, Texas is loosely based, honors Lori with an annual Twilight, Texas weekend each Christmas. http://www.twilighttexas.com

A popular writing instructor, Lori is a two time RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She’s won the Colorado Award of Excellence, the Wisconsin Write Touch Award, The Golden Quill, the Lories, and The More than Magic. Her books have been translated into 27 languages and excerpted in Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Complete Woman, and Quick and Simple magazines. She lives in Texas with her husband, Bill, and her two New American Shepherds.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

To enter for your chance to win a $50 Gift Card to an eBook Retailer of your choice and a copy of I’ll Be Home for Christmas, please click on the Rafflecopter Link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/97a55ed468/

Read-along: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder Week #3 Thoughts

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Read-along Week #3 Thoughts on Chapters 18-25

First initial thought: Don’t care what I’ve learned about Margg, I still don’t like her. Valek is currently an ass in my mind based on his actions. Rand, damn it! Loving Ari and Janco, as well as Maren (want more of her). Interesting vision that Yelena had. Yeah, I can see what people enjoyed this novel. Looking forward to seeing how it all ends!

Story thoughts: Well hells, this book managed to piss me off. Damn it, Rand! I mean seriously, why? WHY? I knew that Snyder was going to do something with him because she was obviously leading him up to this, but still! Why not Margg? I was anticipating Margg actually. And no matter what I’ve learned about her, I still don’t like her. And I’m not exactly thrilled with Valek, either. His behavior in this section, while I understand some might call it justifiable, did not sit well with me at all. Regardless of Yelena’s past, she’s more than proven herself trustworthy, so I don’t understand why he couldn’t give her the benefit of the doubt instead of instantly jumping to the conclusion that she was a betrayer. Ari, Janco, and Maren are great! Love their fighting scenes together and I hope I see more of them in the series. Snyder is definitely doing a great job in building her characters. They are all complex and I love that I am able to become emotionally invested in them, even when that investment proves to be heartbreaking, or leads me to want to claw them across the face.

The vision that Yelena has is extremely interesting, though it brings up a few questions. Yup, I’ve got more questions. And I’ll be honest, I read ahead (actually finished the book) and I’m still a bit confused on what is going on, so those questions remain. I may need to talk with some of the other readers to ask them for clarification, or I can as Snyder herself or wait for when I read the other books to discover what is going on there. It isn’t so much that I don’t understand the vision, it’s that I don’t understand the wording used with it.

Not sure I would want to live in a country without coffee. I need my caffeine. Though I suppose if I grew up in a place where I was never exposed to the drink, I probably wouldn’t miss it. And I’m now curious to try Criollo. Is this like some sort of chocolate? I don’t want the down side to this substance, but I do want to try just a small bit. I find it interesting how some people think it is the most amazing thing in the world, but others not so much. Actually, thinking about that scene now that I’ve finished the book, I now know why Valek didn’t think much of the stuff. Right, yeah, that should have been pretty obvious. Sigh.

This really is an engaging read, and like I said, I’ve been enjoying it so much, I had to finish it. But just because I am done with it doesn’t mean you’ll be getting my thoughts on the ending. You’ll have to wait until next week for that post. I will say that I’m glad  Rockstar Book Tours hosted this read-along event because I probably wouldn’t have gotten to this book nearly as quickly given my TBR pile. Can’t wait to start the second book in the series soon! And you can expect my final week’s worth of thoughts, along with my review, next week. =^.^=

Favorite Quote: There was only one moment that stood out for me in this section. I hope you enjoy it.

“When you warned me that you would test me from time to time, I thought you meant spiking my food. But it seems there is more than one way to poison a person’s heart, and it doesn’t even require a meal.”

“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo,” Valek said, his voice gruff. – Page 241