A novel of how family happens—whether you like it or not.
Elaine and Carson Forsyth have returned to the tree house—Elaine's childhood home, a cabin nestled high in the branches of two oaks beside a North Carolina lake—where forty-nine-year-old Carson has chosen to spend the waning days of his life. As Elaine prepares for a future without her beloved husband, their solace is interrupted. Carson's mother, Greta, has set loose a neighbor's herd of alpacas and landed herself in police custody. While Carson, remarkably, sees humor in the situation, Elaine can only question what her obligations are—and will be—to a woman who hasn't spoken to her in more than twenty years.
In the wake of Carson's death, Elaine and their grown son, Mick, are thrust into the maelstrom of Greta, the mother-in-law and grandmother who never accepted either of them. Just as they are trying to figure out their new roles in the family, Mick uncovers unexpected questions of his own. A long-ago teenage relationship with a local girl may have left him with more than just memories, and he must get to the bottom of Greta's surprising accusations that he's not Carson's son at all. ~~synopsis from Amazon
My thoughts about Safe Within ~~
Okay, first of all, how can you not just love this cover? It is so summery looking and it just makes me want to be there.
So, you start off the book knowing that Carson is sick and is dying. It's a given. That fact just puts the rest of the family into a tail spin. What are they going to do without their son, their dad, the love of their life? And can the three remaining family members get beyond their past in order to survive their future? There are a lot of secrets and bad feelings to get over.
Elaine and Carson go back to their hometown so Carson can die peacefully in Elaine's childhood home, which just happens to be the tree house that her parents built. How awesome would that be? After Carson's death, Elaine and Mick, their son, find themselves having to deal with secrets from the past. But when people from their past need help, can they forgive and be there for them?
One aspect of this story that I loved was the blue lights or 'weather blues' as 'granddaddy called them. They show up at important times in our family.' To me, I felt the lights represented the souls of people passing on or possibly those who had passed, helping other souls along on their journey. That thread added such a beautiful element to the story.
There are such great characters in this story, which is very well written and seemed spiritual and peaceful in parts. Even with all the drama between the characters, I had such good feelings reading Safe Within and I loved the way it ended. This is a story to enjoy and savor.
Jean Reynolds Page has written several other books but this one is the first one of her's that I have read. She is going to be an author I remember and I will be picking up her other works.
Wesley Pierce, a Virginia State Trooper, is in search of the perfect log cabin to settle down in. After losing his brother and doing his best to care for the family he left behind he decides, a year after Nathan’s death, that he’s finally ready to move forward.
Olivia Michaels, a realtor in search of her own dream home and a way out of her parents’ attic, takes on a client who can help get her that much closer to affording her freedom. Little does she know that it isn’t the perfect home that she finds but through Wesley Pierce she manages to find herself. And maybe, if she’s capable of taking the leap, she might even manage to find love.
This novel, not unlike its predecessor in the Rider series, The Wanderer, is not a story about life altering suspense and mystery or a love that seemed impossible from the very start. Instead, this story is of love in its purest form. In life it isn’t mystery and excitement that drive our hearts but trepidation and the moment in which we all decide to jump unguarded into the arms of another. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads
My thoughts on Shifting Gears ~~
I have to be honest and say that the first time I saw this book, I wasn't much interested. As you know, if you have been following The Book Bag for any amount of time, I am a sucker for a great cover. A guy on a motorcycle, even though he has a great looking body, just didn't grab me like some other covers have.
But then I kept seeing this book 'talked' about everywhere. I checked out the author's blog and she was appealing to bloggers for some help to get the word out about her book. Once I took a closer look at the story (and not just the cover) I liked what I saw and liked the idea of helping this author out.
I can now add Shawn to my list of authors that I am going to watch for future books. I loved this story! Wesley and Olivia are both great people who you, as the reader, want to get together and have a happy life. They are both just so nice that they don't want to sabotage what they think the other one has gong on in their life.
Shifting Gears is a very well written book and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it for the time that I was in Olivia and Wesley's life. This is a book that was easy to read and hard to put down. And this is book #2 in The Rider Series. I decided that I kinda like a guy on a motorcycle so I am going to have to check out book #1, The Wanderer. Shawn has another series, the Volition series that I am going to have to check out too.Oh heck, I just need to read them all!
Today is my stop on the Dancing Naked in Dixie CLP Blog Tour. I have posted my thoughts, of course, but make sure to go all the way to the bottom of the post to enter a giveaway on the tour page AND my very own giveaway for a paperback copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie!
Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.
Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage? ~~ synopsis from Goodreads
My thoughts on Dancing Naked in Dixie ~~
I remember when Lauren's other book Stay Tuned was on tour. I could have just kicked myself for not being a part of that tour. It sounded so good and bloggers were raving about it. When I saw that her next novel was going on tour, I signed up right away. And I am so glad that I got the chance to read Dancing Naked!
I started this book on Saturday morning and read it in it's entirety by the end of the weekend. I have not found myself lost in a book like that for a long time. I loved it from the very first chapter!
Julia is a writer for a magazine who gets send to Alabama (what? where?) for her next job. And it's a 'get it right this time or you will be fired' kind of assignment. She heads to Eufaula, Alabama to get the story and then to head right back home. Easy? Of course it will be.
She does not take into account the slow pace of the South and the friendliness (or unfriendliness, in some cases) of the people in the town. The longer she stay, the more entrenched she becomes in the doings of the town and the people who live there.
I have never traveled to the South but Lauren has written such a great story about the charming life there, that I would love to experience it for myself. I love her writing, it flows so well that I just kept reading and reading.
I love that there are the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' and I found myself rooting for the good guys and hating the bad guys. I loved watching the romantic parts of the book develop (or come screeching to a halt) and I also loved the mystery and secrets that so many of the characters were involved with. And the book is so funny in parts too. I loved that it made me laugh out loud in places. For example this line ~~ 'As you can imagine, everyone's as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers.' What a visual ~ so funny!
Dancing Naked in Dixie (great title, isn't it?) is a fabulous, fun read that has a little bit of everything; romance, mystery, humor and secrets. It's got something for everyone. I highly recommend it for a good time in the South!
Lauren Clark is the author of Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie. She writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Herbig loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page at CLP Blog Tours will be entered in the Dancing Naked in Dixie giveaway! One winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card, and two (separate) winners will win a prize pack from Lauren herself that will contain some yummy Southern treats. One blogger participating and one commenter will be chosen at random for the prize pack. If you purchase your copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie before July 2 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**
You can also enter The Book Bag's giveaway below
for my gently read copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie.
Sorry, this has to be US only since I have to mail it myself.
On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed forever.
If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be worth it?
Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.
Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Explore the Possibilities... ~~synopsis from Goodreads
My thoughts on 11/22/63 ~~
Once again, SK has written a great book! I think I have pretty much read everything that he has written and he has written some great classics - Carrie, The Shining, It, The Green Mile to name a few. I do have to admit that some of his books are just a little bit too creepy for my tastes, like Pet Semetary. That was one I had a hard time reading. Maybe because it seemed too real, maybe our pets can come back from the dead? Creepy, creepy.
Anyway, I am thinking that 11/22/63 might be right up there at the top (of my list anyway) of one of his best books. It's not creepy, in that SK sort of creepy way. It is about our U.S. history and the possibility of time travel to change the past. And who is to say that that possibility is not possible?
The author incorporates a lot of other events in history as he sends his main character back to 1958 and the years leading up to Kennedy's assassination or should we say, his assassination attempt. If you like history, this book will appeal to you as Jake is involved in several major events from the past. And it was great to learn so much more about the time period surrounding the assassination and what the world was like during that era.
I have recommended this book to anyone and everyone who will listen to me. I think everyone should read it! And not just because King is one of my all-time favorite authors. It's because this is such a great book!
A Lighter Shade of Gray by Devon Pearse is on tour with the TLC Book Tours. What a amazing book! I have posted my thoughts below.
I also have Devon here where she is going to answer my question about whether she hears 'voices' or not.
And then, I am also so excited that TLC Book Tours is offering a copy of A Lighter Shade of Gray for one lucky Book Bag follower from the US/Canada.
What does it feel like to stare into the face of madness? Or to anticipate your own? Would you drive away your only love? Could you pretend it didn't matter? How far would you go to protect a friend, or to avenge a death?
Ten years ago, Devon gave up the love of her life, fearing she would one day fall victim to the mental illness that has slowly ravaged the mind of her mother, who is now being cared for in a private facility. Just when it seems Devon might have a chance to make up for past mistakes, her best friend Cass becomes a suspect in the murder of her sister's drug-dealing boyfriend.
Devon knows Cass is lying about the details of her involvement and the lead detective on the case, convinced that Cass is guilty, is relentless in his pursuit of justice.
When her mother's young, emotionally disturbed roommate insinuates she knows something about the night of the murder, as well as details from Devon's own life that no one else is privy to, Devon becomes desperate to uncover the truth before Detective Lake does. As the investigation continues, Devon is led down a path she never expected and forced to face her greatest fears of life and love.
Tangled in a web of lies, regrets and questions, can she find a way to let go of the past and start again? And, once the mystery is solved, can she live with the secrets she's uncovered?
Join author Devon Pearse in this semi-autobiographical journey through the most heartbreakingly beautiful and deceptively mysterious events of her own life and the lives of those closest to her. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads
My thoughts on A Lighter Shade of Gray ~~
Wow! Did you read that synopsis up there? This book has a lot going on. Let's see, there's a failed romance, a mother's mental illness and the fear that it could happen to the daughter, another mental patient that seems to be taking the daughter's place in the mother's mind, a best friend suspected of murder, and a detective who just won't give up until he has all the answers.
And these are just the main characters and story lines. Sound confusing? It's really not. The author does a fantastic job of weaving the stories and subplots together and creates a very intriguing story.
At the center of the whole book is Devon, (semi-autobiographical, it seems) a very likable, caring person who has a great best friend, Cass. When Cass runs into some trouble, Devon is there for her, but at what cost? Devon sets out to do what she can to prove that Cass is innocent, even if there is some doubt that she really is.
And Devon is also worried about her mother and the mental illness that has taken her away from the family. She misses her mom greatly and is terrified that the same thing is going to happen to her, so much so that she pushes the love of her life away. Will they ever be reunited?
I loved the parts of the book when Devon and her mother communicated using colors. As her mom's mind was slipping, she and Devon could connect with each other by talking about the colors.
'Gray was the only color you had to watch out for. Gray was lonely emptiness. Gray could make her cry.'
'I know, my sweetheart. But it won't always be, at least not for you. It might take a long time, but it will gradually get lighter, You'll fight your way through all the gray until you find the blue again. And then it will be so beautiful, like the dawn breaking after a storm. Just know that wherever I am, I love you my Lillibet. I'll always love you, even in the gray.'
... 'I'll always love you, even in the gray.' Isn't that an awesome line? There is so much about this book that's great! Reading it was a beautiful way to spend my weekend. I understand that Devon is currently working on her second novel, The Untrodden Ways, due to be published in 2012. I will be watching for that one to come out.
And now my question for Devon ~~ 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.
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?
In answer to your fantastic question, luckily I don't always hear voices in my head, and if I ever do, I'll probably seek the advice of a trusted friend, or possibly professional, before I succumb to their whims! I do, however, hear my characters speak very clearly as I'm writing, and I hope they never stop talking to me. It's what makes it possible to write dialogue, and I don't know how a writer can do that convincingly if their characters don't talk to them. I do agree with the statement that the characters are telling their stories - case in point, I remember being very surprised when I found out one of my characters (one in an upcoming book) revealed she was expecting a child. I'd honestly had no idea! Yes, the characters speak, and their words flow through the writer onto the page.
In a way, it's like watching a movie in your mind. The characters are there, you can see them clearly, and they're going about their daily activities. Those activities, of course, only exist because of how you've imagined them in the first place, but once imagined, they do take on a life of their own. Then all you have to do is know the outline of the story, sit back and write down what you see. The characters, if they've been properly formed in the mind of their creator, will do the rest.
What ends up being very exciting are the times when something a character says or does ties up one or more loose ends I've been struggling with and it just brings the whole story together. I suppose one could say it's all in my subconscious, perhaps I work these things out while I'm dreaming. Could be. Either way, I'm happy for the help!
I do tend to come up with my basic storylines first, but they don't always include all of the characters from the start, usually just one or two. Sometimes I don't feel I necessarily create characters, it's more like they're all there just waiting to come forward and speak. Sometimes they're patient, sometimes they're not. But I think I'd be very lonely without them. My stories generally come from my personal experiences - those I've had and sometimes those I'd like to have. I may get inspired by a turn of phrase from another writer, a bend in the road, a dream, an idea I've had since childhood. Writers see possibilities in everything, I think. Then we (I know I'm not alone in this) sit down and ask ourselves, while holding our concept-of-the-moment firmly in our minds, the simple question, "What if...?" and we go from there.
Thank you, Devon. Your comments are very interesting.
I can't wait to read what you write next!
Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win A Lighter Shade of Gray
Today, I am very excited to have Monica Marlowe here at The Book Bag! I read her newest book Finding Felicity and loved it! My thoughts are here. And now, Monica will be giving us her answer to my favorite question to ask authors ~ Do you have voices in your head who help you write their story?
Monica, welcome to The Book Bag! ~ 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.
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?
Voices … they’re everywhere … right? No. Not really. At least not for this author!
When I started writing Finding Felicity, I had been inspired by a friend of mine who was meeting with the CEO of a famous lingerie company. I was fascinated by the idea of such a person. What would she be like? What was her story? Who was she? And who would she become?
As I started answering these questions, I didn’t exactly hear voices. What I did listen to were the ideas that literally just came to mind as I was writing. It wasn’t that I was actually listening to voices, it was more like the story was coming through me, as if I was channeling it. Oh dear, that sounds even worse than hearing voices, doesn’t it?!
Yet, it is the truth. Without spoiling the story for those of you who haven’t yet read Finding Felicity, there were definitely things that Madeline O’Connor did that surprised me. I’d be sitting at my computer writing and suddenly something would just … happen … and there we were. I would sit back, astonished, and ask myself, “Now what?”
Simply asking questions led to the next development in the plot. Where did Madeline’s sister live? What happened to keep them apart? What happens when Madeline travels to Italy? What happens when she returns to New York? Who is she when she returns to New York? On a smaller scale, at a scene in a restaurant, I would ask, “Who shows up?”
Asking the right questions while writing seems to invite the right answers. It requires that the author be comfortable not really knowing what happens next. It’s less about creating a story and more about letting the story tell itself.
Michaelangelo said “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and in action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
Writing can be like that, too. Every character has a story to tell … an author just has to reveal it.
Monica Marlowe was born in Toronto and later moved to Los Angeles. While
in LA, Monica studied the craft of novel writing and participated in
the Noel Hynd Workshop. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Spiritual
Psychology. Now, Monica makes her home in North Carolina and divides her
time between the East and West Coasts. Monica is currently writing a
memoir, The Gift Horse, about acquiring her first horse and
finding herself on a most unexpected path. Monica writes stories about
heroes and heroines who follow their heart, wherever the path may lead,
knowing that the heart has reasons of its own.
**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Finding Felicity before June 18 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**