Friday, May 27, 2016

Best Books of May

It's once again time to tell you about the best books I read this month. Here are my favorite May reads!

The first book I read this month is on my list of best book premises ever! Jen Malone is a fellow M!x author who also writes YA and comes up with some of the best plots. The cover of this new one will draw you in right away:

Imagine a tween version of The Hangover. Substitute a bachelor party for a sleepover, replace the crazy-wild bachelor stuff with things that could go wrong when a group of tweens is hypnotized, and you have The Sleepover. What I love about Jen Malone's books is that they remind me so much of an 80s movie. Think Adventures in Babysitting, where a group of young people end up on a quest, faced with one adventure after another. And best of all, Jen's voice is magnificent. When it comes to capturing the voice and mindset of a 12-year-old female girl, she's one of the best of all time. Even more amazing, she can jump to writing a young adult book and capture that age group perfectly as well. Once you start reading a Jen Malone book, you won't stop until you've read them all!

I've known the next author a long time and she's one of the sweetest people I've ever met. Phyllis Bourne is an award-nominated romance novelist and her latest book has a cover you'll fall in love with.

Between a Rock and a Hot Mess puts a hotheaded female construction company owner right in the middle of a love triangle. There's Hudson, her sexy archenemy who is everything she doesn't want in a man, and there's Ian, the suit-wearing most eligible bachelor. Phyllis always creates strong female characters and sexual tension that oozes off the page.

My next book is the third Elizabeth Seckman novel I've read and I've loved every one. This time she covers a family mystery, with a man in search of his long-lost sister.

Swept Away is a mystery-slash-romance that will hook you from page one. Two friends survive a bad storm...or do they? We switch to Tucker's story and learn one of the girls in the prologue may be the sister he's never met. He follows the clues to an island, where he meets a woman who closely resembles the girl in the picture...but is she? I've read quite a few mysteries and I have to say this is one of the most unpredictable I've ever read. You'll keep eagerly turning the pages until you reach the end!

You've probably seen Rebecca Green Gasper around my blog. We met during this year's A to Z Challenge and I already feel like we've known each other for years. This month, I waited eagerly for her new book, A Spy in Me, to launch.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I loved this book! Harley (named for a geeky comic book character, not a cool motorcycle) is a reporter for the college newspaper who has been demoted to fashion and stye. When girls begin fainting in her dorm, she knows something is behind the mysterious illnesses. Not only does Rebecca set up a perfect mystery, but she also manages to include a very important message to young girls in the process. I can't wait to read more in the series!

You never know what you'll get when you download a Medeia Sharif book. She writes across a range of genres. I was so excited for her latest because the premise is just so fascinating. Who can resist a possessed stepsister?

The Haunted Stepsister tells the story of a young girl possessed. But it's so much more than that. Early in the story, we learn of an incident that took place just before...and that incident is still hanging over the Moradi family. The possession part of the story is intense and suspenseful, but the underlying message about the complexities of blended families is the best part of the book, I think. You'll totally admire the journey these two stepsisters take.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Living in a Clickbait World

At one time, the media was fairly straightforward. "Real news" came from legit media outlets. Unsubstantiated rumors were presented in this format:

Then came the Internet. Today's news can come in a variety of ways. You might learn a celebrity died on Facebook or read about a major event on someone's blog. Some "news sites" combine news with personal essays, where writers comment on news events or tell their own personal stories.

My mom and I were discussing it and she pointed out something I hadn't realized. These personal essays, which are all the rage now, are very similar to the stories that used to be published in these magazines:

My mom and I both wrote for those magazines at various times. (Yes, she's a writer, too!) The best thing about writing for "confessions magazines" was that we wrote the stories anonymously, so we didn't have to worry about reputation destruction.

Not so with essays. I have to write about fairly innocent things anyway, due to being a children's author. But even if I didn't, I just couldn't bring myself to give out personal information for money.

In the age of the Internet, what you write can remain out there for-e-ver. With your name attached. When people Google you four years from now, what will they find?

Would you ever take money for a personal story about your life? What secrets are off limits?

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Mystery of the Taos Hum

Imagine if all day long, an annoying hum played in the background. You couldn't get away from it, whether you were at home, in your office, or out with friends. It's a hum that sounds like this:

For some residents of Taos, New Mexico, the hum is an everyday way of life. An estimated two percent of the population can hear the hum, yet when equipment is set up in the homes of Taos residents who claim to be plagued by it, nothing is detected.

There have been many explanations for the phenomenon over the years. Ambient noise is present in every city and some experts believe those who hear the oscillating noise in Taos simply have exceptional hearing.

Some say it's merely an auditory hallucination.

Image Credit: TriVo for Mic

The hum isn't isolated to Taos. In fact, there are areas around the world where a small percentage of the population report hearing a low hum. In each area, the sound has a name that matches the area: the Windsor Hum, the Auckland Hum, etc.

In fact, according to Mic magazine, reported incidents of "the Hum" are extremely widespread. Here is a portion of the World Hum Map, created by Glen MacPhearson:

In some areas, the Hum has led people to commit suicide and report great pain. Even in today's rarely-silent world, it seems there's no escaping the hum if you're one of the two percent who can hear it.

Have you ever heard a strange noise nobody else could hear?