Meet Clare Vengel, undercover Toronto cop

I am finally embracing my inner Oprah and giving everyone a FREE BOOK! You get a book! And you get a book! And you! And you! AND YOU!

Mind you, the book is on Wattpad… where all books are free. But it’s a really good free book so you should take me up on my offer.

Vengel_Dead_Politician_SocietyThe book is Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano and it’s part of her Clare Vengel Undercover series. She’s been releasing the book for free on Wattpad one section at a time. The rest of the Clare Vengel series is available on Spano’s site.

Clare Vengel is undercover cop extraordinaire. Well, that’s her dream anyways. Her supervisor considers her so green, he considers speaking to her “babysitting”. In Dead Politician Society, the left-wing Toronto mayor is murdered and a secret society at the University of Toronto is suspect number one. Clare lands her first undercover gig as a poli sci student.¬†Remember, left-wing mayor — so this is pre-Rob Ford.

Spano’s writing is fast and fun — switching between a number of eccentric characters all with their own motives to get rid of the mayor. Clare is reminiscent of Deb from Dexter. She’s a fast talker, self-doubting and occasionally sleeps around. She’s also on an uphill battle to prove herself as a skilled cop. If I have one criticism for Spano is that there should be waaay more about Clare than the rest of the characters.

I was a political science major at the University of Toronto once upon a time so the setting of the book was eerily familiar. I’ve literally taken courses in these buildings Spano describes. Pretty awesome to see the campus come alive in fiction.

So there, go ahead — take home your free copy ūüėČ

Vengel_UofT

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Last Year in Review

For all of you reading this today, I’d like to congratulate you for missing the apocalypse. Truly nothing can destroy us now — not the end of the world, not overeating on Christmas and certainly not the mall parking lots on Boxing Day.

Congratulations, you survived it all and maybe even squeezed in time with your family!

All joking aside, I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season. We were even lucky enough to have a White Christmas this year. I have a good feeling that 2013 is going to be an amazing year.

Here’s looking back to some of the most popular 2012 posts:

MATH_blackboardThe Fear of Math
I won’t lie, I was super proud when WordPress chose to Freshly Press my post, The Fear of Math. It seems I had hit a nerve because I received SO many comments from people who told me they’d rather have zombies eat their brains than have to do long division. Maybe not in those exact words but you get the gist.

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WILDTHINGS_movieWhere The Wild Things Are
Broken Penguins is first and foremost, a book blog. But it’s a very vain book blog that values pictures. And the death of Maurice Sendak reminded us that magic of illustration in creating something so memorable, it appeals across all ages. It’s even more relevant that it’s a lesson in growing up and growing old.

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WATTPADThe Wild, Wild World of Wattpad
On a frosty winter day, I visited Wattpad Headquarters to learn about their mega community of readers and writers. Since then, Wattpad has been all over the news from working with Margaret Atwood to expanding its team of developers. The idea is so simple: publish for free, read for free and comment all you like. The future of publishing is social and Wattpad makes that experience seamless.

oogycoverOogy: The dog everyone will love
Oogy is an incredible story about an incredible dog who has survived being a bait dog. Yes, it’s as horrific as it sounds but the story is more miraculous that you can imagine. Read it!

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MOVIES_hungergamesWhy you should read The Hunger Games
This was the year everyone learned about The Hunger Games. And as it became a major blockbuster in theatres, more people turned to the books to find out what happens next. I read all three books in a row and I have to tell you that the second book is amazing. Too bad the third book wasn’t.

You can find a full listing of 2012 reviews on the Book Review Index.

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The Wild, Wild World of Wattpad

You may have noticed that Broken Penguin entries have been a little sparse this week. That’s because I’ve been busy attending sessions for Social Media Week¬†Toronto! That, and because my bf and I had to hit up our favourite burger joint for Valentine’s Day. ‘Cause we classy like that.

In my Social Media Week adventures, I met the team at Wattpad. If you haven’t heard of Wattpad, you should check out their website and download their app. It’s free!

Wattpad lets authors share their stories with the 3 million Wattpad users who read, comment and share (not unlike us book bloggers!). It truly takes reading stories to a whole new interactive level. The co-founder of Wattpad says that 5,000 stories were shared in the last 12 hours. Unlike traditional publishers like Penguin, Wattpad is not about exclusivity. Anyone and everyone can post a story.

When I shared the concept on Twitter, I immediately received questions about how these authors make money. The answer is: it’s not about the money. Usually.

From what I understand, a select few Wattpad authors who are very marketing-savvy have managed to attract a following and secure book deals. But the majority of Wattpad authors just want to share their stories for fun.

The only real problem for me is that Wattpad has so many stories, it’s difficult to know what to read first. Every genre you can think of is available¬†at Wattpad. While some authors publish a whole book at once, some publish¬†chapter by chapter¬†to keep readers coming back.

And along with the countless great stories, there are many more not-so-great stories. It truly is the wild west of stories.¬†So how to filter out the bad cowboys? Wattpad says they’re looking for new ways to help people find the stories they want to read.

I hope to read some of these stories and tell you about them in the next few weeks. What do you think of Wattpad?

More than 13,000 results came up on Wattpad for romantic westerns.

Photo credits: oraclefox.blogspot.com, business.financialpost.com, features.cgsociety.org, homotrophy.com