Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Spotlight Giveaway! The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I have sooooo many books! I have a ton of print books and probably even more e-books. The Book Spotlight feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the books I have. There are a lot of different reasons that I might be letting some of my books go, the biggest one is that when we moved I discovered just how many books I really do have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy them.

The book I am featuring today is one that I read a while ago for one of my book groups. I loved it and we had a very good discussion. I have the auhtor's other book on my Kindle and I want to get it read sometime. One of you can win this one. So many books, so little time! 

And I am going on vacation so I am going to leave this giveaway open for a bit longer than usual and will pick a winner when I get back. Good luck! 

Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Paperback, 406 pages
Published October 9th, 2007 by Washington Square Press 

Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny.

Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long.

Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of gothic strangeness—featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves. 


About the author

“…a mistress of the craft of storytelling.”
The Guardian

Diane Setterfield is a British author. Her bestselling novel, The Thirteenth Tale (2006) was published in 38 countries worldwide and has sold more than three million copies. It was number one in the New York Times hardback fiction list for three weeks and is enjoyed as much for being ‘a love letter to reading’ as for its mystery and style. Her second novel is Bellman & Black (2013).

Born in Englefield, Berkshire in 1964, Diane spent most of her childhood in the nearby village of Theale. After schooldays at Theale Green, Diane studied French Literature at the University of Bristol. Her PhD was on autobiographical structures in André Gide’s early fiction. She taught English at the Institut Universitaire de Technologie and the Ecole nationale supérieure de Chimie, both in Mulhouse, France, and later lectured in French at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. She left academia in the late 1990s to pursue writing.

The Thirteenth Tale was acquired by Heyday Films and adapted for television by the award-winning playwright and scriptwriter, Christopher Hampton. Starring Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman, it was filmed in 2013 in North Yorkshire for BBC2.

Diane Setterfield’s 2013 novel, Bellman & Black which layers themes of time, memory and loss is published in the autumn of 2013 in UK, USA, Canada, Norway and Spain. Other countries are to follow in 2014.

Diane lives in Oxford, in the UK. When not writing she reads widely, and when not actually reading she is usually talking or thinking about reading. She is, she says, ‘a reader first, a writer second.’ 

Connect with Diane

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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Singularity Blog Tour Mini Post #4

Where does Creativity come from?
By Susan Kaye Quinn

Your mind? Conscious or Subconscious? Your Soul? (And is that a separate thing from your mind?) Are we just meat and electricity, random firings of neurons producing a seeming intelligence, like the million monkeys and a million typewriters eventually producing Shakespeare? Or is there a supernatural Muse that invades our bodies and creates art – in other words, are we just the conduit for something greater?

This is the “hard question of consciousness” – are we just the sum of our biology, our wet neural processes, or are we something more?

I love the idea that the coming of our Robot Overlords will force us to finally figure out what makes a person… a person. With consciousness and creativity and… a soul?

It’s the fundamental question that all those creative stories humankind has been fabricating for millenium have been trying to answer: what makes us human? In my Singularity series, I tackle this question head-on… including all the questions about mind, body, and soul that I think we’ll be struggling to answer in the very near future.

Shots of Awe is an amazing YouTube channel addressing all these questions

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Singularity Blog Tour Mini Post #3

The Robots Are Coming… For Your Job
by Susan Kaye Quinn

The future isn’t just about terrifying Artificial Intelligence. What about the ordinary bot that’s smart enough to diagnose medical problems? Or take your order at McDonald’s? Or write an article for an online newspaper? THESE ALREADY EXIST. And the future will have smarter and smarter machines.

Just like self-driving cars, the bots don’t have to be Einstein. They just have to be a little bit better than human.

In my Singularity series, I imagine a future where humans have the chance to upgrade themselves—they inject nanites in their brains, become super-intelligenct, and stay ahead of the robots that way. Is that the only future we’ll have left for us? And will that option even appear before the robots take most of our jobs?

Are you a techno-optimist, believing that technology will always improve things overall? Or are you a techno-pessimist, believing that technology can be the unraveling of our way of life?

A look at our coming robot economy…

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On Tour: Out of Your Mind: Daisy's Choice by Diane Hernandez, a Guest Post, and a Giveaway!

out of our mind

Out of Your Mind: Daisy's Choice

Diane Hernandez will be on tour August 24-28. 
Out of Your Mind: Daisy's Choice 
will be a FREE DOWNLOAD during the tour!

Though happy and carefree by nature, Daisy Fields is in a fragile state looking for stability and friendship when she moves to Solvang, California, hoping to find a fresh start. Instead, she finds herself in the midst of an intoxicating physical attraction to her sexy new boss, the famous reclusive artist Garret Brinkley. Daisy tries hard to resist the magnetic pull she feels toward the mercurial artist because she knows his desires are purely sexual and he isn’t capable of a romantic loving relationship, but the explosive chemistry between them is too strong to ignore. Still, Daisy must resist, and luckily finds companionship from Garret’s dog. The German shepherd, rapidly becomes Daisy’s new best friend, offering love and comfort to the lonesome girl since Garret is incapable of either.

When another man enters Daisy’s life, she finally feels a romantic connection and hope for her future, only to discover Garret’s feelings go beyond physical need. It’s a tragic turn of events that forces Daisy to choose between the two men. However, her depression has darkened her spirit and joyful disposition to such lengths that she feels her choice isn’t which man to be with, but rather, if she should be at all.

Diane Hernandez’s latest novel gives readers a glimpse at true love, growing through a foundation of anxiety and despair.

Out of Your Mind: Daisy's Choice 
FREE download during tour!

CLP Blog Tours

Please visit CLP Blog Tours for all the tour stops!


Welcome to The Book Bag today, Daisy! I have heard other authors say that they 'hear voices in their head' and that is how they write their books: the characters are telling their stories. Not being a writer myself, that concept has always intrigued me.

I’ve never considered it a concept since I’ve just always heard the voices, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with my childhood and growing up in the seventies. I was diagnosed dyslexic. During that time doctors were able to diagnose the learning disability, but schools and teachers didn’t know what to do about it. Putting me and students like me in remedial reading classes was the humiliating and non-productive solution. My adolescents was the most difficult time because my peers and friends were reading Shakespeare and the American classics. The words on those pages were more difficult than ever, but I wanted to know the stories they were all discussing. The bits and pieces of what I could comprehend, mixed with the conversations about the required reading material had me imagining what the stories might be about. The characters talked amongst themselves in my head as I listened. 

My deep desire to see the words on the page like they were meant to be read, kept me picking up books. It was Judy Blume and the Jackie Collins paperbacks hidden in my mother’s nightstand that finally helped me see the words. Short sentences in simple English from books that I could read starting at the bottom of the page (because sometimes that helped) made all the difference in the world. 

Once I had children, and needed to help them fall in love with books, I did go back and read the classics, and I continue to revisit those books because they are wonderful stories. Not the stories I imagined them to be from my youth, those vivid stories are forever locked away in my mind.

When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, others end up becoming writers. Does this happen to you? How do you come up with your stories?

I know that you’re joking, but I’m glad you asked your question like that. I really want to do my part to help take away the stigma of mental illness so that people will seek the medical attention they need. Depression and other mental illnesses are diseases that need to be monitored by healthcare professionals. I tried to make that clear in the second book of this Out of Your Mind series. That said, I’ve been married for a long time and my husband knows the difference between when my isolation is depression and when it is me listening to the voices that help me get through the tough times. 

I feel my stories come to me because I’m old. I’ve met unique individuals, seen things, done things, and experienced things that make for good stories. You mix that with my innate ability to make up scenarios about people I see or meet, and bada bing, I got a manuscript.

A reader asked me when Daisy’s Choice was released, “Why is Garret a metal fabrication artist?” I posted a picture on Facebook of a ranch near my home. The owner has these rustic metal animal sculptures in the front of his property and a big red barn in the back. I drive by all the time and the story of the owner of that property just started writing itself. First I imagined him a big mountain of a man, then I assumed he was bald and looked like Vin Diesel so that he could wipe his sweaty forehead with a bandana, and then because he worked outside in the Arizona heat, I imagined his skin was golden brown, making his eyes glow. Because the house is set so far back from the road, and his sculptures are only of animals, I imagined he was some type of recluse who didn’t like people. The day I took the picture of his property, I was scared to death to ask permission. But of course he, was nothing like Garret, and my writer’s imagination couldn’t have been more off base.

Then, I met this young woman, who was annoying the hell out of me because she was being far too nice to the stupid service advisor who kept coming out and telling us our cars were going to take longer than anticipated to repair, I glared, asking her why she wasn’t more upset. When she told me she hadn’t been out of her house in over a month because she had two small children and was caring for her mother with early onset Alzheimer’s, and that a day in an auto dealership, waiting for a recall repair on her car was like a spa vacation, I knew I had the heroin for my metal fabrication artist. I didn’t ask the woman a lot of questions because once she started talking she didn’t stop. She sat their comfortably on the couch in that waiting room as I listened. Her story was heartbreaking, but it made me realize how much mental deterioration disease and mental health disease had in common. Both ailments affected the people around them as much as they affected the patients. I know it’s hard to believe a romance novel could come out of those two characters, but I heard them telling me their story, so I just kept writing it down. I’ve written over a dozen stories just by people watching. Making up stories about strangers’ lives is the best therapy I could ever ask for. 

Thank you Susan for inviting me to spend some time on your blog. I really enjoyed myself. I hope your readers enjoy Out of Your Mind, Daisy’s Choice and consider continuing the series. Out of Your Mind, Garret’s Choice will be release this week (August 24th) exclusively on Amazon for Kindle.

Thank you, Daisy! What wonderful insight from you today. Best of luck with your series! 

diane hernandez

About the author

Diane Hernandez was always aware of the voices in her head. But, it wasn't until her nest emptied, and the harried frenzy of being a wife, mother and chef was replaced with a quiet calm, did she listen to them. Once she realized those voices were telling her tales of love, desire and sometimes pain, she started writing them down. Those manuscripts have been turned into provocative novels she has decided to release for your enjoyment.

When Diane is not busy taking dictation from her subconscious, she works as a culinary arts instructor at an Arizona community college. She enjoys creating new recipes, reading women's literature, gardening, watching Project Runway, and shopping online for shoes. TALL GIRLS NEED SIZE 12--just sayin'.

Connect with Diane

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Daisy's Choice FREE ON TOUR

Garret's Control to be released August 24th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Singularity Blog Tour Mini Post #2

Not Your Mother’s Artificial Intelligence – AI IN THE MOVIES
By Susan Kaye Quinn

Terminator came out in 1984 – long before most of the tech that’s changed the world (the web, the iphone, the fact that I can stream all the movies I want from Amazon OMG). Today we have AI in our browsers and games, and scientists are actively building software and hardware that learns… just like humans. We’re long overdue for a re-imagining of how artificial intelligence will impact our world. Hollywood has started the job (TRANSCENDENCE, LUCY, AUTOMATA, CHAPPIE, EX MACHINA), but these are stumbling starts… I believe we’re just starting to tell the stories of AI in the future.

I can’t wait to see where Hollywood imagines our future to be… but science fiction writers are already busy trying to take a peek at that future. My Singularity series is one possible future – one where most of humanity has ascended into immortal human-machine hybrids, leaving the legacy humans behind, preserved like the rainforest. Is this our future? And even if it is… what are the steps that will happen in between?

What recent AI movies/novels/games have you seen that are RE-IMAGINING the AI of the future?

Donato Giancola - (Robot) Sorrow

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Release Day! A Measure of Happiness by Lorrie Thomson and a Giveaway!

Happy Release Day!

A Measure of Happiness

A Measure of Happiness by Lorrie Thomson
Paperback and e-book, 320 pages
Published: August 25th 2015 by Kensington

Katherine Lamontagne isn't Celeste Barnes's mother, but ever since Celeste graduated high school and her parents abandoned Hidden Harbor, Maine, she's acted the part. At twenty-two, Celeste worked at Katherine’s bakery, and hoped to buy the business once Katherine took early retirement. But when Katherine reconsidered that decision, Celeste fled to culinary school in New York—only to return two months later, a shadow of the girl who’d stormed out the door.

Katherine knows the signs of secret heartbreak. Years ago, she gave up her baby son for adoption—a regret she’s never shared with either her ex-husband or Celeste. She longs for Celeste to confide in her now. But it will be a stranger in town—an engaging young wanderer named Zach Fitzgerald—who spurs them toward healing. As both women are drawn into Zach’s questioning heart, they also rediscover their own appetites for truth and for love—and gain the courage to face the past without being imprisoned by it.

Uplifting, emotionally rich, and deeply satisfying, A Measure of Happiness illuminates the nature of friendship, motherhood, hope—and the gifts of second chances.

My thoughts about A Measure of Happiness ~~ 

Once again, I was drawn to this book first by the cover. Isn't it beautiful? And then the synopsis grabbed my attention. I love stories like this, women who come to lean on each other to get through their tough times. 

And these two women have had it rough. Katherine's father was abusive and her mother wasn't strong enough to stand up to him. And then she finds herself pregnant. Celeste's parents take off right after her graduation and she is pretty much left on her own. Katherine and Celeste find each other and form a friendship of sorts, not really like mother and daughter, but close enough. 

Celeste leaves to go to culinary school but something happens to her while she's away and she runs back to the only place she can call home. Katherine wants to help, but Celeste won't open up to her. 
'Even when her chest convulsed, she squeezed her eyes shut and told herself to get over herself. She told herself to deal with it. Because she acted like a sex-crazed slut. Because she'd remembered who she was.'
Katherine has a secret of her own, something she hasn't ever shared with Celeste or even with her ex-husband. In fact, this secret is what is tearing them apart. 
'For twenty-seven years, Katherine had been focused in her father's word, the supposed harbinger of doom. You're going to be sorry. What if the past twenty-seven years, she'd focused on the wrong thing?'
Can the stranger who comes to town get the two women to open up and be honest with themselves and those around them? And is he keeping secrets of his own? 

I love all of the great characters who make up this small part of the Hidden Harbor community. They are all a bit flawed, but then who isn't? It's learning to get past those flaws and accept themselves and each other for what they are that will bring them true happiness. 

A Measure of Happiness is a wonderful story about relationships, love, acceptance, honesty, and forgiveness. This is exactly the kind of story that I love to get lost in. I wouldn't mind taking a trip back to Hidden Harbor someday to revisit everyone and to see how they all are doing.

What do you think, Lorrie? A sequel?

About the author

I grew up as an only child in the city of Boston and dreamed of living with a big family in an antique white New Englander, on a quiet street with neighbors who stopped for chats at the stonewall. I also dreamed of writing novels for a living. Let’s just say, if I’d known the power of visualization, I would’ve thrown in a mountain view. I’m working on it.

When my youngest child was three, I decided to pursue the writing dream for real, and got down to the hard work of putting words to paper. Three novels, and a mere ten years later, I got “the call” from my wonderful agent, telling me we had an offer for my debut novel and making my author dream come true.

I now live in New Hampshire with my husband and our three children. When I’m not reading, writing, or hunting for collectibles, they let me tag along for camping adventures, day-long paddles, and hikes up 4,000-footers, so I can get a taste of that coveted mountain view.

Connect with Lorrie

Lorrie has graciously offered one copy of A Measure of Happiness for one lucky commenter so I am going to run this giveaway a little bit differently from my other giveaways. I want to get some conversation going between you all and Lorrie. Leave a meaningful comment or a question for Lorrie and she'll stop by periodically to respond. I can't wait to see what everyone has to say!  

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