Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!

I just wanted to take a few minutes of your time 
to wish all of you a Happy New Year!! 

My wish is that 2012 is good to you and yours!

And don't forget to check out the 

Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop

The winner has been notified and has 48 hours to respond. 

This has been so much fun 
and I can't believe how many new followers I have!!

Stay tuned for another amazing giveaway 
to show all of you how much I appreciate you!!

Welcome to the Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop! 

December 30th to January 3rd

Thanks to Inspired Kathy from I am a Reader, Not a Writer 
and Babs from Babs Book Bistro for co-hosting this hop.

 Here's what you can win from The Book Bag!

**I am giving the lucky winner a $15 Amazon Gift Card**

Happy New Year!!

The Magi by Kevin M. Turner

Thirteen-year-old Elijah Hawk has never heard of the Magi. He doesn't know about the secret power they have. He has never been to Savenridge, the Magi city hidden deep inside the northern forests. Most of all, Elijah is unaware of the dangers hunting him, in search for something he has. After one terrifying night, however, all of that changes!

On a quest to solve the murder of his parents, Elijah stumbles upon the land of the Magi. Learning their secrets and training with their power is the least of his problems. In order to find out why his parents were killed, Elijah learns that he must confront the dangers that are hunting him. What's more terrifying is learning that stumbling upon this new world of the Magi may not have been an accident after all.
~~synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts on The Magi ~~

This book is a very well written, fast paced book about a young boy who loses his family and then discovers a whole new world that he was supposed to be a part of. He eventually ends up in the world of the Magi and starts to learn about the powers that are available for him to master. Things seem to come rather easily for him, which makes me wonder if maybe he is a special Magi that is going to do great things once he completes his training.

Great line from The Magi ~~ "But that's just what you were told you were supposed to learn. I want you to tell me what you expect to learn. I don't think there's much you can expect to learn if you don't expect to learn anything, is there?"

The Magi learn to control the 4 elements; earth, water, wind and fire. And the Magi use their power for good against the Maliphist, who are basically evil. 

Another great line from The Magi ~~ "There is a hope that one day, we will live in a world where everyone looks for the good first, while keeping their power in check." 

(Take the Element Quiz to find out which element you would most likely study if you were a Magi. I found this quiz on the Magi blog and took it. It's kind of fun - I found out I would 'most likely study water'.)

Okay, so getting back to the book, this story swept me in with the action starting right from the beginning. I was enthralled all the way through to the end and I can't wait for the next in the series - yes, this is book 1 of The Magi Series. The author is working on book 2, The Sphere. Hope it is published soon!

Several times while reading The Magi, I was reminded of the Harry Potter tales and since that story is completed, it is kind of nice to know that there is another series that can take us to a world where good fights evil. So if you loved HP, you are going to want to check out this series. 

And don't ya just love this cover?
I know I do!

I was asked by the author to read and review his book. 
I received a free e-book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WWW Wednesdays December 28

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading 

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Spin by Catherine McKenzie.

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished The Magi by Kevin M. Turner, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and O Pioneers! by Willa Cather. My thoughts about O Pioneers! are here.

I haven't been able to write up my thoughts on most of these books. I have been busy getting ready for the holidays and traveling. I will get them posted soon. The links will take you to Goodreads if you want to find out more.  

What do you think you will be reading next?

Next, I want to read either The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin or Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi or 11/22/63 by Stephen King or maybe ........

It is so hard to decide when I can just read whatever I want. I guess I will just wait and see what appeals to me when I am done with my current read.

So many books ...... so little time!

Happy reading everyone!


Monday, December 19, 2011

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

One of America’s greatest women writers, Willa Cather established her talent and her reputation with this extraordinary novel—the first of her books set on the Nebraska frontier. A tale of the prairie land encountered by America’s Swedish, Czech, Bohemian, and French immigrants, as well as a story of how the land challenged them, changed them, and, in some cases, defeated them, Cather’s novel is a uniquely American epic.

Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father’s farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather’s great heroines—all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather’s books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: “The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us.”

Willa Cather, perhaps more than any other American writer, was able to re-create the real drama of the pioneers, capturing for later generations a time, a place, and a spirit that has become part of our national heritage.
~~synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts on O Pioneers! ~~

O Pioneers! was selected as the 'classic' read that my book group read this month. I loved the book; the writing and the characters. It is amazing to me that this book was written almost 100 years ago and and it is still a great read, you know what I mean? The language and writing seemed very modern and there was not that challenge to 'get used to' the dialogue or the vocabulary that she used. It flowed very well.That's a sign of a great classic!

All of us in the group loved the book. There is a very strong female character, actually she is the main character, and the thought among us was that this was a very feminist book for it's time. Rather unusual.

I grew up about 30 miles from Red Cloud, which is where Willa Cather grew up. She uses Red Cloud as the model for the settings in a lot of her books. I am kind of ashamed to admit that I don't remember reading any of Cather's books before now. I can't imagine that we didn't have to read any of them in school, but for the life of me, I don't remember reading any. I really need to change that.

Probably one of her most well known books is My Antonia. This title is available as a free e-book. I downloaded it last night and will be reading it soon. Gotta love the classics!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Each week we spotlight the books we've received for review, swapped, won or purchased. 

For Review:   

Year of the Chick by Romi Moondi
Look for my review at the end of January


I Heart Vegas (I Heart #4) by Lindsey Kelk 
I won this from Chick Lit Central: The Blog!


I also won the e-book 
The Enchantment of Abigail Brown by Mark Waters 
from Word Spelunking

Okay ~~ this is not a book but it is book-related!
My husband bought me a Kindle Fire for Christmas!! 
He wasn't sure if I would like one or not. 

Are you kidding me??!!!!

Happy reading everyone! 

And Happy Holidays!! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chandra Hoffman, author of Chosen,

Today I have the author of Chosen, Chandra Hoffman, here at The Book Bag. I posted my thoughts on her wonderful book yesterday. Read them here.

I posed this question to her~~

"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, that idea has always intrigued me. 

When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, other people become writers. Does that happen to you? How do you come up with your stories? 

Great question, Susan. Thanks so much for having me and reviewing CHOSEN!


When I am in the thick of it, it’s difficult to describe what happens without sounding hokey, but it's like being a medium. The words come, the story flows, I hear the characters and my mouth actually moves along with their dialogue; I just try to keep up. On days when I can't go there, when I know I can’t mentally still be in a women's prison or describing the smell of flowers in Maui while picking my kid up from piano, I try to do something technical, like outlining or editing. 

As far as editing, I'm a big believer in beat sheets, and in getting a listener whose opinion you value, who is not your target audience, who also might have a short attention span, and reading them sections out loud. I find myself editing, rewriting, rephrasing as I read. I think it's because growing up, I was the middle of five kids and there was always some anxiety about not getting enough airtime, losing my audience.


My first novel, CHOSEN rattled around with me for several years. The story grew out of three defining experiences: the first was my time in Romania post-Revolution as an aide worker in the infamous Orphanage Number One.   It was overwhelming—I was given fifty infants my first day—but inspiring to see the human spirit surviving in spite of the bleakness. Romania led me to the second experience, a job in the United States as the director of the domestic adoption program for a private agency, the sole caseworker managing birth and adoptive parents. My goal was to create happy endings, everything I hadn’t been able to do in Bucharest. 

There is a social aspect to this novel: In everything I write, I strive to shine a light on the complexity of scenarios that we encounter regularly -- in the case of CHOSEN, I selected domestic adoption as the backdrop for the novel. When I took the agency position in Portland, I was surprised by how many agendas there are to what seems like a simple equation, how many sides of the adoption story. I chose unique voices for the multiple points of view, the grieving birthfather, one potential adoptive father, the jangled single mother, the green social worker, to underscore this fact. 

I wanted to share an inside perspective on domestic adoption with characters who were human, flawed, and sympathetic, because the truth is, adoption is the creation of a family in a unique way, but there is a darker side, both the business aspect, and the fact that at every birth, someone is going home empty-handed. All parenthood is a risk; adoption ups the ante. 

I also learned that when you take into account the business side of adoption, it was very difficult to meet the needs of everyone. I left the adoption world when I became a mother myself—my skin had become too thin.

This was the final defining point that shaped this novel: our first son's birth and an unexpected diagnosis, nearly losing him as an infant. (Hayden's Story) As a new mother to a child with huge medical hurdles, I pondered some of the deeper issues that form the backbone of CHOSEN: How does parenthood change you? How will the challenges you face shape you as a couple? What happens when your expectations of parenthood are so far from the reality? What makes a good parent? A good person? What happens when you get what you thought you wanted?
The story is fiction--characters and settings and scenarios are as though I took a handful of my life experiences, threw in a  well-marinated childhood paranoia about abduction, seasoned them with the salt of my vivid imagination, put them all in a bag and shook it up. From all of this, CHOSEN grew. 

With the book I am working on now, it really was a moment of creative inspiration. Last year, I was on book tour with my three little kids all tucked around me in a hotel in Santa Monica. We had been traveling for two weeks, and it had been months since I had done any creative writing. I had a few stories that I figured I would work on after I got home and the dust settled, but that night, something happened. We had left the windows open so we could hear the ocean and I dreamed an entire novel, a love story peppered with obstacles and tinged with grief and loss, set in the islands. I had to get through a day at Disneyland and hustling everyone on to a red-eye flight before I had four uninterrupted hours to write it all down, but I knew it was the next story. I can't wait to share it with readers.

Thanks Chandra - And I can't wait to read it!

**Everyone who leaves a comment on Chosen's tour page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Chosen  from November 26 - December 19  and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

Follow Chandra on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Tour: Chosen by Chandra Hoffman and a Giveaway

In Chosen, a young caseworker becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of adoptive and birth parents, with devastating results. 

It all begins with a fantasy: the caseworker in her "signing paperwork" charcoal suit standing alongside beaming parents cradling their adopted newborn, set against a fluorescent-lit delivery-room backdrop. It's this blissful picture that keeps Chloe Pinter, director of the Chosen Child's domestic-adoption program, happy while juggling the high demands of her boss and the incessant needs of both adoptive and biological parents.

But the very job that offers her refuge from her turbulent personal life and Portland's winter rains soon becomes a battleground involving three very different couples: the Novas, well-off college sweethearts who suffered fertility problems but are now expecting their own baby; the McAdoos, a wealthy husband and desperate wife for whom adoption is a last chance; and Jason and Penny, an impoverished couple who have nothing—except the baby everyone wants. When a child goes missing, dreams dissolve into nightmares, and everyone is forced to examine what he or she really wants and where it all went wrong. 

Told from alternating points of view, Chosen reveals the desperate nature of desire across social backgrounds and how far people will go to get the one thing they think will be the answer. ~~synopsis from Goodreads

Check out the bottom of this post to find out how you can enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card and then tune in tomorrow for thoughts from Chandra~~  

My thoughts about Chosen ~~ 

First of all, let me just say that I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Chosen. I am a cover-lover and doesn't the cover of this book just make your heart melt - a little one grasping onto mommy's finger? Gotta love it! The rest of the stops for this book's tour are listed on the tour page over at Chick Lit Plus.

Chosen is basically a story about 3 couples (really 4 couples if you count Chloe and her boyfriend) whose lives are intertwined because of babies. Chloe is an adoption caseworker who places babies into homes with couples that can't have their own baby. She thinks she is doing a good thing by 'making families' but she really doesn't understand that she is also tearing another family apart. She has a lot to learn. 

I really, really enjoyed reading Chosen. It is one of those books that I wanted to lose myself in and just come up for air when I was done with the whole thing. I could very easily have read this book cover to cover in one sitting but  my silly life got in the way. I truly did savor my time with this book. 

Ms. Hoffman does a great job of developing the characters and bringing out their personalities. Some of characters I really cared about and then others, not so much. A great author can do that with their writing! 

The storyline moves along very nicely and then, boom, things start to happen and you get sucked into the action. I found myself gasping at a few of the unexpected twists in the story. Just another reason that made it hard for me to put the book down.    

A note at the back of the book mentions that Ms. Hoffman is working on her second novel. I can guarantee that I will be watching for it and will put it at the top of my list to read. This was a very enjoyable ride! 

Great job, Chandra! 

Book trailer for Chosen

**Everyone who leaves a comment on Chosen's tour page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Chosen between November 26 - December 19 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

Follow Chandra on Facebook and Twitter


WWW Wednesdays December 14

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading 

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Magi by Kevin M. Turner (almost done with this one and loving it!) and O Pioneers! by Willa Cather for one of my book groups.

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished The Grief of Others by Leah Cohen, Recession Proof by Kimberly Lin and Chosen by Chandra Hoffman. Click the title links to read my thoughts on these books. 

What do you think you will be reading next?

I have nothing else on my 'have to read right away' list (whooo hoooo!) so the next month or so will be books that I have been wanting/dying to read.

So maybe ......

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 Or maybe

 Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Or maybe

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Or.... I don't know - the possibilities are endless! I love it!!

Happy reading everyone!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Each week we spotlight the books we've received for review, swapped, won or purchased.


  • The Fallen Star (Fallen Star Series Book 1) by Jessica Sorenson 
  • The Color of Heaven by Julianne MacLean
  • Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long

I bought all 3 of these e-books for 99¢ each for my Kindle. It is so hard to pass up those 99¢ book!

But the most exciting book I received this week was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I pre-ordered this book with another book that was also a pre-order. (free shipping that way) Amazon held 11/22/63 for a few weeks but finally went ahead and sent it. I am so excited to read it. 

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve.

Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration.
~~synopsis from Goodread

If you love Amish stories and you love Christmas stories, The Christmas Singing is the book for you! Here a little sneak peak. 

And you can read an excerpt from Chapter 1 here.  

You can also get 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title) when you use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on

The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

Give yourself an early Christmas present! 

On Tour: Recession Proof by Kimberly Lin

"Sometimes going after what you want is the hardest thing you will ever do... 

Meet Helen. Smart, successful and obliviously trapped. For the past six years, Helen has given her life and her heart to her cushy corporate finance job and to Mark without question. 

However as the Recession sweeps the Nation, she is one of many left unemployed and with the burning question of what does she really want in life. 

RECESSION PROOF is a debut novel for anyone that has settled in their career and relationship but has discovered that what really matters in life is living it... " ~~synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts on Recession Proof ~~

First of all, let me say that I am thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for Recession Proof. The rest of the stops are listed on the tour page over at Chick Lit Plus. 

This story is about Helen's struggle over what she knows she 'should' do and what she wants to do, to be happy. I imagine that a lot of us struggle with a similar dilemma every day. When Helen loses her job, she has the perfect opportunity to remake her life, as well as having a great friend who is there for her and the resources to be able to take the time to 'figure it out'.

I marked a couple of great lines in the book that I want to share. 

'My idea of a good time was always curling up with a book at a local coffee shop. What can I say? I committed to being a literary nerd.'

~~ Don't you just love that? And yes, I too am a literary nerd, or as some members of my family call some of the other members of my family - 'library nerds'. Personally, I don't see a darn thing wrong with that!!

'White is like a non-color. It's for people who don't know what they want.'

I think this is a very insightful comment. I'm not sure if it's true or not but it is very interesting to think about. I felt like white was maybe where Helen was at, at the beginning of the story.

But she does respond to this comment by saying 'I think it's the color of possibility or a clean slate.' That's a smart woman!

I really enjoyed reading Recession Proof. It is very well written and had great characters. Ms. Lin's writing made me feel like I knew Helen, Sophie, Mark, Nate. I became immersed in their lives and really came to care about how their lives turned out.

And I am wondering if this book just might be a little bit autobiographical. Ms. Lin started out in the financial world and then became a writer. Hmmm, maybe?  

Introducing "Recession Proof" from Kimberly Lin on Vimeo.
Kimberly Lin is a California native, graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Economics. After college, she moved to Los Angeles and worked as a financial writer and hedge fund analyst but always dreamed of becoming a women's fiction author. Utilizing her experiences, she writes stories that are witty, heartwarming and relatable to the modern woman. 

  I received a copy of Recession Proof for this 
 CLP Blog Tour in exchange for my honest opinion. 


Sunday, December 4, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Each week we spotlight the books we've received for review, swapped, or purchased.

I have seen In My Mailbox on other blogs before but this is my first time participating. I thought it looked like fun and I love seeing what other bloggers are receiving. 

For Review:  

It's been an awesome week!! 

Happy reading everyone! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

I am currently participating in this reading challenge for 2011. I set my goal at 62 books and I have already read 69 books this year. Whew!

I think I am going to try for the level, Out of Breath, which is 6 - 10 more than last year. Once I have my total for 2011, I will know what my goal will be for 2012.  

Here are the details for participating from The Book Vixen's blog if you want to sign up.


  • Runs January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012 (books read prior to 1/1/12 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  • The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2012 than you did in 2011. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you could track your progress on Goodreads or LibraryThing.
  • Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books
  • Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books
  • Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books 
  • I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

 Happy reading everyone!

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