Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WWW Wednesdays February 29

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?

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schilman
My post for the book's blog tour will be March 7th. 

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently read these two books for their book tours. I just couldn't pass up the chance when asked to read and review them and I really enjoyed them both.

Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long
Write From the Heart by Heather Hummel

My thoughts on Chasing Rainbows posted February 28th
and I will be posting Write From the Heart tomorrow.

What do you think you will read next?

Next I will be reading The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner. My hubby is a huge fan of Stegner and insists that I read this book. He swears I will like it. So .... I am going to read it .... to make him happy. And I hope he's right.

Anyone else read this one? 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guest Post: Kathleen Long, author of Chasing Rainbows and Giveaway

Today, I have Kathleen Long here at The Book Bag. Yesterday I posted my thoughts about Ms. Long's wonderful book. Not only is the cover so beautiful, the story inside is awesome as well. 

Read my thoughts here and then run out and get the book! 

I posed these questions to Kathleen and asked her to comment ~~ 

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? 

Hi, Susan!

While I have friends who “hear” the voices of their characters, I “see” entire scenes. It’s a bit like having a movie projector in my brain. The dialogue for my characters comes along with that, but for me, my moments of inspiration arrive as fully-formed images, settings, clothing, facial expressions, body language and dialogue. More often than not, this happens while I’m in the shower. My family’s grown used to seeing me run—dripping wet and wrapped in a towel—for a piece of paper and a pen. Even my six-year-old barely looks up when this happens, mumbling only, “Mommy’s got another idea.”

My initial story premises come to me in the same way. They can be inspired by anything—a news article, a commercial, an overheard conversation, or real life. Sometimes my mind locks on an opening scene; sometimes it’s the closing paragraph of the book. I wrote my contemporary romance, CHERRY ON TOP, after being inspired by a beer commercial in which the dumped girlfriend had won the lottery. In my book, the heroine wins a mega-state jackpot hours after she’s left at the altar, then seizes the opportunity to reinvent her life.

For CHASING RAINBOWS, the major story events are close to my own life, and the story grew inside me for months. My father died suddenly and I realized how lost I’d been since the death of our daughter a few years before. There had been months in which I sat at our kitchen table and stared out the window. I barely worked. I stopped reading. I hadn’t yet started writing. My husband, bless him, gave me the space and time I needed to come back to life.

Bernadette Murphy and her story appeared in my mind’s eye with one simple question.

What if my husband hadn't hung in there? What if he’d left? CHASING RAINBOWS was born.

I wanted to tell the story of a woman who comes back to life—who pulls herself out of her stagnant existence and embraces the possibilities of everything yet to be. I surrounded Bernie with characters to enhance her journey—friends, family, neighbors. I gave each character unique quirks, shortcomings and redeeming personality traits.

For me, once the characterizations are solid and the story goals are set, the writing flows from being true to how those characters would react and respond to the various story situations. The magic comes on the days I can’t seem to write fast enough, when, even as I close my eyes at 2:00 in the morning, I see a new scene, picture a new story development, and hit the floor running for my notepad or computer downstairs.

So, for me, the stories don’t so much reveal themselves as voices in my head, but rather as fully-formed scenes in my mind. I’m not sure which would be more likely to get me medical attention, but I’m thankful for the gift of storytelling and writing! 

And, I’m thankful for the chance to stop by and share a bit about my process with you here at The Book Bag today.

Thank you, Susan!

Thank you, Kathleen, for the wonderful insight into your mind!

Check out the author interview over at ChickLitPlus

Visit the tour page for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. 

**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Chasing Rainbows before March 12 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

I received a copy of this book for my honest opinion. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Tour: Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long and Giveaway

Bernadette Murphy likes her life. Really, she does. What's wrong with carrying around an extra ten pounds from fertility treatments? Or having your dog kicked out of obedience school? Again? What's that saying about the devil you know? For Bernie, it's the devil she never expected that changes everything.

Her father's sudden death leaves a gaping void in her life and is one in a series of events that rock her world. Her husband leaves for another woman, and her best friend announces an unplanned pregnancy at the age of forty-one. Bernie's behavior goes from acting out to out-of-hand, and she finds herself in trouble at home, out of work and banned from the mall after a confrontation at the cosmetic counter.

When her mother discovers her father's book of cryptograms, Bernie realizes his encoded lessons in living might be exactly what she needs to survive. From dealing with her family's grief and bonding with her best friend's thirteen-year-old daughter, to dieting, dating and mindless almost-sex with the landscaper, Bernie discovers what her father always knew.

In life, you either choose to sing a rainbow, or you don't. For Bernie, the singing is about to begin. ~~synopsis from Amazon 

My thoughts about Chasing Rainbows ~~ 

First things first ~ love the cover! Ok ... that's done. 
Let's talk about the book ... loved the book!!

Ms. Long wrote a great story with wonderful characters that I immediately cared about. The situation that Bernie finds herself in; her child dying 5 years ago, the recent death of her father, her husband leaving her for another woman, is a situation that, God forbid, we could all possibly find ourselves in. So the story was very believable. And the characters are very real and likeable. 

Bernie has a little break-down (wouldn't we all?) and lashes out at her best friend, fights with her neighbors, has issues with the way her brother is grieving the loss of their father. These people do not desert her and are there for her when she needs them.

I loved how her father left her a book of cryptograms to decipher (something I cannot do!) and how those sayings were there to guide her through her troubles. It was like her father was watching over her and helping her. Many of them, once they were deciphered, are ones that all of us could learn from.

This story stirred several emotions in me. Parts made me laugh, parts made me cry and parts made me reflect on my own life. I loved her dog, Poindexter (love the name!), who didn't just do what normal dogs do and chase after cars. No, he chased airplanes, what? And Bernie getting banned from the mall, hilarious. Her niece and her pea binges, funny but peas? Yuch! Going through the process of losing her little girl, so sad. Life lessons from her father, amazing. 

The one saying from her father that Bernie kept thinking about was the statement 'In life, you either choose to sing a rainbow or you don't.' We should never stop chasing our rainbows, whatever they are ~ a happy life, our dreams or even airplanes.

This is a fabulous book that I am sure I will read again. It is a world I want to go back to so that I can spend time with all the people in Bernie's world. Along with the cryptograms, Ms Long has also written some great lines in this story. I pulled out a few that I really enjoyed and you can read them here. You will find many other 'words of wisdom' when you venture into Chasing Rainbows. Happy reading! 

Author Bio:
A long time ago, in an elementary school far, far away, a very young Kathleen scribbled a story idea in her journal. Then she wrote another, and another. She added several poems, the lyrics to a song or two, a love letter to David Cassidy, and so on and so on. While her early writings never saw the light of day, many of her later works did. And while she did not marry David Cassidy, Kathleen did marry her own Prince Charming. Together, they are raising one drama queen and one obedience-challenged border collie mix in a kingdom divided between suburban Philadelphia and the Jersey shore.

Kathleen is the RITA® nominated, RIO Award and two-time Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence winning author of fourteen novels of contemporary romance, romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Her additional honors include National Readers Choice, Holt Medallion, and Booksellers Best award nominations.

She divides her time between plotting her next book, bribing her little one to pick up her toys, and begging the dog to heel. Life is good. Very, very good.

Connect with Kathleen!


Buy the Book!
Barnes & Noble

Visit the tour page for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. 

**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Chasing Rainbows before March 12 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

I received a copy of this book for my honest opinion. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (11)

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

I didn't get very many books in my mailbox this week which is okay. I have a lot of books in my TBR pile that I need to read and this will give me a chance to work on making that pile smaller.  

I am not going to list all of the free or very cheap e-books that I downloaded onto my Kindle, there are way too many. 

Hello, my name is Susan and I am a book-aholic.

For Review 

Banana Split by Josi S. Kilpack
Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
I have been wanting to read this one for awhile so I finally just got a copy so I can put it in my TBR pile. 

So many books! So little time!! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Great lines from .........

......... Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long

"No matter how hard we women tried to become anything but, when all said and done, we were our mothers. In most cases, this is a good thing"

"Anyone who wore purple toenails couldn't be all bad." 

"Sometimes you had to wait a little while for the good times to kick in. But when they did, you realized every moment and experience that came before was necessary ... necessary to bring you here."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WWW Wednesdays February 22

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 Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long.
Loving it and isn't the cover beautiful?  

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished reading The Bungalow by Sarah Jio. 
Loved it! Ms. Jio did it again - such beautiful books! 

I also read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I thought I had read this one before ~ Goodreads said I did ~ but I didn't remember it at all, so I am thinking I didn't. 
And I actually liked it. What a nice surprise!

What do you think you will read next?

Next, I am going to be reading Write From the Heart by Heather Hummel.
I read her other book Whispers From the Heart for it's blog tour and am super excited to read this second one in the series.

Happy reading everyone!!

Monday, February 20, 2012


The winner from my giveaway who is winning 

a canvas Pyxis tote, 
a signed Pyxis bookmark 
and a signed Pyxis magnet




You will be getting an email soon. 

The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting.

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years. ~~ synopsis from Amazon

My thoughts on The Bungalow ~~

Once again, Sarah Jio has written another beautiful story. I absolutely fell in love with her first novel, The Violet of March. I now have a second love. 

The Bungalow takes place during World War II and is the story of a nurse and a soldier who meet on Bora-Bora where they are both stationed. She is engaged back home but falls in love with Westry. Their encounter is such a romantic, sad love story.

I was totally drawn into their world by Ms. Jio's excellent writing, I hesitate to use the word 'beautiful' again but that is exactly how I would describe her writing. It is just beautiful! The words flow off the page and into my head, making me feel like I am in the story and I never want to leave.

Here a a couple of lines from the book that I love ~~ 

'I'm just saying that this place has a way of revealing the truth about people, uncovering the layers we carry and exposing our real selves.' 

'I nestled closer to him, wrapping my arm around his just as two wine-colored leaves fell from a nearby tree branch, dancing in the autumn breeze on separate paths before falling softly to the ground, where they settled on the damp earth, side by side'. ~~ Isn't that just beautiful?  

Ms. Jio's next novel, Blackberry Winter, comes out in September. 
I can hardly wait! 

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin

This story of passionate love between a Canadian and her Cambodian lover evokes their tumultuous relationship in a world of colliding values. Set against the backdrop of horrific loss, these two self-exiled lovers struggle to recreate themselves in a world that rejects their hopes.

Spare, unrelenting, and moving, The Disappeared is an unforgettable consideration of love, language, justice, and memory set against the backdrop of the killing fields of Pol Pot. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts on The Disappeared ~~

This book was selected as our February read for one of my book groups. We had a good discussion but I have to say that this book was, at times, quite depressing. The horrors that were inflicted on people in Cambodia at that time are just awful to read about. This book did open my eyes to what was going on then. It is also a love story about a Canadian woman and a Cambodian man and the lengths they were willing to go to in order to stay together.

The book is not very long, just 228 pages but I found myself putting it down and giving it a rest when became too sad to read further. The author writes in an unusual voice which was a bit challenging to read at first. The voice is that of the woman telling the story to her lover, as if he was not part of the story. A bit odd.

This part of the book really spoke to me ~~ 'Why do some people live a comfortable life and others live one that is horror-filled? What part of ourselves do we shave off so we can keep on eating while others starve? If women, children, and old people were being murdered a hundred miles from here, would we not run to help? Why do we stop this decision of the heart when the distance is three thousand miles instead of a hundred?''

Overall, The Disappeared was a good book that I am glad I read. I was also glad that we were able to discuss the book to better understand the events that happened in Cambodia.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WWW Wednesdays February 15

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 devouring/reading The Bungalow by Sarah Jio. 

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED her first book, The Violets of March and have had this one on my bookshelf for awhile. I have been holding off reading it because I want to get lost in it ~ but I don't want to read it too fast 'cause I don't want it to be over. 

Does that make any sense? 

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished reading The Disappeared by Kim Echlin.

This is our February book group selection. 
Interesting book - it should be a great discussion. 

What do you think you will read next?

I will be reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Our book group is discussing this one in February. I read this one before and gave it only 2 stars on Goodreads. I hope I like it better this time. 

Happy reading everyone!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

On Tour: What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas

As a teenager, Hannah Benson ran away from home in order to save herself. Now, twenty years later, the past comes calling and delivers life-changing news: her mother and sister have passed away, leaving Hannah the guardian of her fifteen-year-old niece.
Returning home to bitter memories and devastating secrets, Hannah must overcome her painful past to pave a future with her niece, the last best chance at a family for both of them. She begins to create a new, happier life with her niece and rekindles a relationship with Grady Steadman, one of the few people she's ever called a friend.
But she can't forget what she cannot forgive, or lay to rest those ghosts that will not die. Will love and trust--and the truth--give her the strength to stand her ground and fight for what she deserves? ~~synopsis from Goodreads 

My thoughts on What Happened to Hannah ~~

Today is my stop on the TLC Book Tour for What Happened to Hannah. Ms. McComas has written a great story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Hannah and her family, dysfunctional as it was. I can't even imagine what it would be like to not be a part of one's family for 20 years.

Hannah has made a life for herself that does not included the family she grew up with. She was forced to leave her family when she was a teenager and she is suddenly drawn back to that world when there is no one else left to care for the niece that she had never met. But can she go back to the place that is full of secrets and get out of there with her niece before the secrets get out?

I loved this story and loved the relationship that Hannah had with her niece ~ what a mature teenager she is. I really liked all of the characters in the book, the author did a great job of developing them and they became a group that I would have liked to have been a part of.

I so wanted to Hannah to find her happiness and to be able to put the past behind her. In order to do that, she must learn to trust those around her but how does one trust after so many years of keeping 'the secret'? This is an incredible story of trust, redemption and love. I loved being a part of this community and was just a little bit sad when it was over and I had to say good-bye to Hannah and her family and friends.

I have a habit of marking lines while I am reading that speak to me. Here is one from What Happened to Hannah ~~

'Mother-hugs were a precious thing that couldn't be bottled or boxed or given away by anyone with a cold heart'. ~ Love it! 

Mary Kay McComas

For more information about this book tour 
and to visit the other stops, 
check out the tour page

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours for my honest opinion.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In My Mailbox (10)

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

For Review 
This Beautiful Life
by Helen Schulman 
for TLC Book Tours

A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind
By Karen Linamen

by Cindy Woodsmall

by Markus Zusak
from the Library 

So many books! So little time!! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Winners of My 200 Followers Giveaway and Another Giveaway!

The winners of my 200 Followers Giveaway 
have be chosen, emailed and confirmed.

Their books will be on their way soon. 


results powered by
Entry #123Priya D.
Entry #145StephTheBookworm
Entry #131Mandy

Priya chose Cinder by Marissa Meyer

StephTheBookworm chose Year of the Chick by Romi Moondi

Mandy chose Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Congratulations to the winners! 

This was so much fun and it was awesome to find out where everyone is from. I didn't realize I had such an international following!  

Thanks everyone for participating!! 

Be sure to check out my current giveaway as part of the 
Ariel-Arson-Pyxis Tour and enter the tour giveaway for a Kindle!! 

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