Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gossip by Beth Gutcheon and a Giveaway!

The critically acclaimed author of Good-bye and Amen, Leeway Cottage, and More Than You Know returns with a sharply perceptive and emotionally resonant novel about all the ways we talk about one another, the sometimes fine line between showing concern and doing damage, and the difficulty of knowing the true obligations of friendship.

Loviah “Lovie” French owns a small, high-end dress shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Renowned for her taste, charm, and discretion, Lovie is the one to whom certain women turn when they need “just the thing” for key life events: baptisms and balls, weddings and funerals. Among those who depend on Lovie’s sage advice are her two best friends since boarding school days: Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf. Despite the love they share for their mutual friend, there has always been a chilly gulf between Dinah and Avis, the result of a perceived slight from decades ago that has unimaginably tragic echoes many years later. 

An astute chronicler of all that makes us human, Beth Gutcheon delivers her most powerful and emotionally devastating novel to date. Gossip is a tale of intimacy and betrayal, trust and fidelity, friendship and motherhood that explores the way we use “information” — be it true, false, or imagined — to sustain, and occasionally destroy, one another. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads 

My thoughts on Gossip ~~ 

This story is told from the POV of Lovie, the not-so-rich girl that is befriended by both Dinah and Avis while in boarding school. Lovie goes on to be a successful dress shop owner and becomes the glue that keeps the three friends and their families together.

I love stories that follow women from a young age to their later years. Gossip is the story of the progression of these women's lives and how they grow and struggle in their friendships. The three women meet when they are very young and the story follows them and their intertwined families until the women are quite old.

The author does a great job on character development and I felt like I was one of the friends. I felt the same joys, the same frustrations and the same emotions that the characters felt as they are going through the good times and the bad times.

I have not read any books by Beth Gutcheon before this one, even though she has written quite a few. This story intrigued me and I jumped at the chance to review it. I will definitely be reading more of Ms. Gutcheon's work.

Author Bio 

Beth Gutcheon, author of Gossip, is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City.



I am offering my gently-read hardback copy of Gossip to one lucky person. This is US only since I have to mail the book myself.

Stay tuned for my 300+ follower giveaway ~ 
~ I am making it international!  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Fun: Book Sculpture Pours Out of Building

5000 books make up this sculpture pouring out of a building in Spain

Artist Alicia Martin's tornado of books shoot out a window like a burst of water from a giant hose. The Spain-based artist's sculptural installation at Casa de America, Madrid depicts a cavalcade of books streaming out of the side of a building. The whirlwind of literature defies gravity and draws attention with its grandeur size. There have been three site-specific installations, thus far, of the massive sculptural works in this series known as
 Biografias, translated as Biographies, that each feature approximately 5,000 books sprawled out around and atop one another.

Martin's giant book structures give life to the inanimate objects filled with knowledge. By constructing the curving towers with a rather free and disheveled exterior, while maintaining a sturdy core, the books' loose pages are free to blow and rustle in the wind, allowing the piece to be further animated. 

For more pictures and a short video showing the piece in motion ~ click here

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guest post: Abby Slovin and Her Voices

Last week I posted my thoughts on 
Letters in Cardboard Boxes.  

You can read them here ~ I loved it! 

Today I have Ms. Slovin here at 
The Book Bag. 


Abby, 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?

I hear voices. All the time. Sometimes, when I'm walking to work, I'll hear a funny or interesting little nugget in my own head ("We're all bound to the ground, my child", e.g) and realize its a great line for a character I'm writing. Other times, the voice is my own, but this "something" that I'm thinking turns out to be something I want one of my characters to think as well. The voices are always there and, hopefully, they always will be. Otherwise, I'll need to find a new hobby.

For me, perhaps the most ironic part about "hearing voices" is that most of the initial inspiration for my stories comes from the world around me, from a very "real" place, in other words. So, despite the foundation being very real, at some point the focus turns inward and the voices emerge from these characters and take on a fictional life of their own.

I'll give you an example. In Letters In Cardboard Boxes, driving on the highway is, for Dotty and Parker, a long-standing tradition. They just love it, particularly on days when traffic is most unbearable. They people-watch, search for license plates, etc. It presents a good opportunity for Dotty to have Parker as a "captive audience" and ask her difficult questions that she can't run from. The concept of this tradition started from a very really place in my own life: I've spent A LOT of time trapped in traffic on the highway. I began to imagine the situation (fittingly enough, while stuck in traffic) as something Dotty, the free spirit of the novel, might find a way to truly enjoy. I heard her voice in my head, "Oh, what a nice family," she might say about the inhabitants of a passing minivan. "Oh boy, that man isn't wearing a shirt," she could say about someone else. And Parker would roll her eyes at such enthusiasm. To me, these moments feel as though they really have happened.

If a writer creates characters that feel real to him/her, the voices are always there. Because they become friends or family. And, can't we all relate to some moment in our lives when we do something and think of something our mom would say at that moment? Or our grandmother? Or best friend? The characters I create feel very real to me. They always have something to say. Like a chatty best friend or a nosy neighbor.

That's what makes me love writing more than pretty much anything in the world.

Fascinating - and thanks so much for sharing with us today! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WWW Wednesdays March 28

Check out my giveaway of Amber Eyes! 
The author is giving away a Kindle copy of her fabulous book

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 reading Gossip by Beth Gutcheon. And loving it!

Still working on The Big Rock Candy Mountain  
by Wallace Stegner.

What did you recently finish reading?

Just finished One True Thing by Anna Quindlen. 
Another great book club book ~ so much to talk about! 

What do you think you will read next?

Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews. 
I read Summer Rental and loved it 
so I am excited to read this one. 

What are you reading this week? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Winners ~~ Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop

Thanks to all that entered my hop.

This hop put me over 300 followers! 

Stay tuned for an international giveaway to celebrate!! 

Coming soon! 

And now .... the winners are ....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (15)

Don't forget to enter my Kindle giveaway of  
Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One) 
~ a young adult paranormal romance

Remember you don't have to have a Kindle to enjoy a Kindle book. You can get the free Kindle app or read on your computer. 

Read my thoughts and find the giveaway here!

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, purchased or downloaded. 

Links will take you to Goodreads for a synopsis. 

For Review
Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews. 
I read Summer Rental by MKA and loved it. 
I was so excited when I got the chance to review her new book! 

 I won Divergent by Veronica Roth and Matched by Ally Condie
from the Geolibrarian. Thanks so much!!
Julia's Child by Sarah Pinneo
Long Drive Home by Will Allison 

One True Thing by Anna Quindelin

So many books! So little time!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Whoo Hooo!!!! 300!!

The Book Bag just now hit 300 
GFC followers!!!!

Stay tuned for a giveaway!

It will be international ~ 

~ to celebrate all you lovelies!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Letters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin

Letters In Cardboard Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their letters once traversed the East River to help Parker escape the loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade later, Parker begins to rediscover the evidence of this letter writing tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly, letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different portrait of the woman who raised her.

Letters carries us through the universally-shared experience of loss and the process of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Through unusual and bold characters, the story moves through some of its heavier themes with honesty and humor. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads 

My thoughts on Letters in Cardboard Boxes ~~

Okay, so once again, the cover hooked me. And once again, I loved the story in the book! Pretty good system I've got here ~ great covers = great books!

Seriously though, I loved everything about Letters in Cardboard Boxes. Well, maybe not everything, there were a couple of things I didn't like, but more on that in a minute. I loved the relationship between Parker and her grandmother ~ what a neat relationship they had. And I loved the very mature and together teen, Tanya, who Parker thought she was doing a favor by mentoring, but who ends up becoming a great friend. And then there is Jerry, the neighbor who was very much a part of Parker's family's past and who is there for her now. And I loved how Parker and her grandmother thought a perfect way to spend an evening was to watch old movies all night and to finish off a whole pie. Gotta love it!

The letters that Parker and her grandmother wrote to each other started out as a way for them to stay in touch when Parker was young. The letters came from places they imagined, from all over the world. But those short notes also contained very wise life lessons, written from grandmother to granddaughter.

Parker's life has really never been easy and with her grandmother getting up in age, there are some tough decisions to make. But surrounded by her new friends, who quickly become like family, and her grandmother's letters, she learns to do the right things.

This is a great book and I highly recommend it, especially if you like a story with real, likable characters.

Oh, and the one or two things I mentioned above that I didn't like ~ that would be Parker's parents! They were off galavanting all around the world leaving Parker to pretty much raise herself. How could they do that? Thank goodness for grandma!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WWW Wednesdays March 21

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 just started One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
for a book club read. 
I love everything else I have read by Ms. Quindlen and I'm hoping to get sucked into this one too.

Still working on The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner.

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently read The Murderer's Daughters 
by Randy Susan Meyers. 
Loved it ~ and it's another one I would recommend if you are looking for a book club read ~ so much to talk about! 

I also just finished Letters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin
I will be posting my thoughts tomorrow. 

What do you think you will read next?

Next up is Gossip by Beth Gutcheon.

What are you reading this week? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop

Thanks to I'm a Reader, Not a Writer 
for hosting this awesome hop! 
What a great way to start Spring and to share with all you wonderful people out there! 
March 20th is the first day of Spring, 
the perfect time to remedy an overflowing bookshelf.  
So.... it's Spring Cleaning Time 
and I have cleaned off some of my bookshelves!!

I found 10 books to give away!! And I am going to have 5 winners!! I am offering a wide variety of books so there should be something to appeal to everyone. The first name selected will get to pick from the 10 titles. The second person will get to pick from the remaining 9 titles, etc.

Here are some books that I think it's time for me to let go. 
This giveaway is going to have to be US only since I have to mail these books. Apologies to all my international followers. I'll do something for you soon, I promise! 

Be sure to check out all the other blogs that are participating!
There are over 130!! 

The book covers link to Goodreads.  
 Amaryllis in Blueberry ~ Paperback  
Been Here a Thousand Years ~ Paperback  
Bonobo Handshake ~ Paperback
Hotwire ~ Hardcover
Husband and Wife ~ Hardcover 
 Is My Cell Phone Bugged? ~ Hardcover
 The Map of Time ~ Hardcover
One Bird's Choice ~ Hardcover
 One Day at a Time ~ Paperback 
 Shatter Me ~ ARC

If you don't see the Rafflecopter, click

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winner of This Beautiful Life

 Thanks to all who entered my giveaway!

The winner is ......

# 10 ~ Katrina P.

The winner has been notified and confirmed 
and the book is on it's way! 

In My Mailbox (14)

Don't forget to enter my Kindle giveaway of  
Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One) 
~ a young adult paranormal romance

Remember you don't have to have a Kindle to enjoy a Kindle book. You can get the free Kindle app or read on your computer. 

Read my thoughts and find the giveaway here!

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, purchased or downloaded. 

Links will take you to Goodreads for a synopsis. 

For Review
The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall
When All That's Left of Me is Love by Linda Campanella

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry 
from Pawing Through Books
Thank you!! 

So many books! So little time!! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Guest post: Jolyn Palliata, Her Voices and a Giveaway!

Yesterday was my stop on the CLP Blog Tour for Amber Eyes by Joyln Palliata. Loved the book! And I am so glad it is a series - there is more wonderfulness to come! You can read the synopsis and my thoughts here.

Today I have Jolyn here @ The Book Bag talking about the 'voices in her head'. (Seems like most writers have them - must be a good sign, if you do, and you want to be a writer)

Joyln has a question for you ~ check it out below and leave her a comment, please. 

Jolyn is also giving a Kindle copy of Amber Eyes (!!!!!) to one of you lucky people reading of The Book Bag! Look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.  

Jolyn, 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! Thank you for having me! I have to say, I love your questions.

I’ll tackle the “voices in your head” one first…

Although it’s absolutely true, it’s not as creepy as it sounds. At least not for those of us that have learned to keep the voices to ourselves. The trick is to not have full-on conversations with your characters out loud. If you do that, you might as well say your goodbyes now, because the crazy train will haul you away. Actually, if that happened to someone, I’d surprisingly be okay with it. After all, having those “writers” (we’ll continue to humor the crazies) taken out of the picture might be what gave me the edge, and paved the way for me, myself and I. ;)

In all honesty (and at the risk of sounding certifiable), the characters do end up having their own story to tell. I always start off with one final destination in mind, but I remain flexible in that. As I write, my characters personalities start shining through, as well as how they would react to various situations. Eventually, I get to the point where my destination is no longer conceivable because my characters would never “go there”. That’s when they start talking and driving the story. It’s best to just let them lead at that point for a more natural flow, and in the end, I end up with a storyline I didn’t even see coming. And believe me when I say, my characters are brilliant brain surgeons in comparison to what I originally envisioned. (It’s a miracle they put up with me at all!)

Now for your question of how I come up with my stories…

They’re usually born from an errant thought: What’s the deepest connection you could possible forge with someone? (Amber Eyes), What would it be like to have an out of body experience? (Shaolin—not yet published), What’s the most turbulent emotional roller coaster ride that I can create for a reader? (Impending Reprisals—expected publication March 2012), What would a story from Fate’s point-of-view be like? (Twisted—expected publication Fall 2012) and What would it be like if the person you’re with could actually feel your emotions and know what you’re thinking? (Connected). I even wrote one book after listening to a song in my car, and then thinking, ‘Why would a guy be with one woman (a toxic one at that) when he’s really in love with another, and wants to be with her instead?’ (A Modern Love Story).

When these thoughts pop into my head, they ruthlessly take root, festering and growing until I can think of nothing else and am forced to write them. (This is where my characters are holding me at gunpoint, threatening to blow holes in my sanity if I don’t start listening to them.) Er…but really, I’m not crazy. :D

I’d like to ask your readers this:

Have any of you had a thought pop into your head, and you thought ‘Hey…that’s a great idea!’? Or how about for all you writers out there—do your characters talk to you, too? I’d love to hear your thoughts, or rather, the voices in your head.

~ Author Bio ~

Jolyn’s writing career began in 2009 when she looked across the sea of cubicles at work, and thought, “I was meant for something more than this.” That thought was immediately followed by, “I wonder if I can write a novel.” Four novels and one novella later, that question has been answered. She started with Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One), a young adult paranormal romance. They always say, with the first book, you write about what you know. And she certainly did! Drawing off her teenage years in Oshkosh, WI, Jolyn incorporated her high school and favorite haunts. She even pulled out her favorite music from back then to help recapture the teenager within.

Jolyn has absolutely no qualifications whatsoever to be a writer, other than a knack and a passion. The knack she worked hard for through betas, critique partners, writer sites, editors, etc, but the passion she’s had since she was in middle school.

Being married, and mother to one very precocious six-year-old, doesn’t leave her with a whole heckofalot of time to write – not to mention working full-time – but that is where lack of sleep comes in very handy. Jolyn has a gift of functioning on minimal sleep when totally absorbed by a writing project…although she crashes like dead weight when it’s fully completed/edited (usually 2-3 months later).

Her current listing of published books includes ~~

· Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One) – young adult paranormal romance

· Connected (Twists of Fate #1) – paranormal romance

· A Modern Love Story – contemporary / romantic suspense

Random information and quirks about Jolyn (because everyone has them):

· She likes to listen to loud music. Period. But especially when she has a headache (helps to drown it out).

· When she's overtired, she gets slaphappy. (Heaven help those around her.)

· She titles a book before she writes it, because she's anal enough to where that would bother her.

· She can't walk into a Barnes and Noble without buying a book. Even if she has a pile of unread books at home (which she does), it just doesn't feel right to leave empty-handed.

Links to Jolyn’s world ~~

If you don't see the Rafflecopter, click

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On Tour: Amber Eyes by Jolyn Palliata and Giveaway!

~ Eyes are the window to the soul, in a time when souls are ancient. ~

After an accident, one she shouldn’t have walked away from, Lexi’s life finally begins. She meets Dez, a new student with the most beautiful eyes she’s ever seen. And since gazing into them, Lexi has had vivid waking dreams that pull her back through time, and into the warm embrace of a mysterious stranger—a stranger who becomes all too familiar. When offering an explanation for her detailed visions, Dez changes her world forever with two simple words: Soul mates.

For the first time in her life, Lexi feels safe and complete. But lingering in the shadows is the embodiment of evil, coveting the light within her. He’s a threat to Lexi’s very existence, and to a love that has transcended time. ~~synopsis from Goodreads 

My thoughts on Amber Eyes ~~

Once again, I have to admit, I was first drawn to this book by the awesome cover. Somebody out there in the book world knows what they are doing when they design covers.

And then I also have to admit that I loved this book! I have stated before that I am rather new to this whole YA/Paranormal book world ~ and I am lovin' it, BTW! Well, Amber Eyes took me into a world that I have not visited yet - the world of entwined souls. Jolyn did a wonderful job of explaining the way this world works and what can happen/should happen to entwined souls. It's very interesting to think about that topic, hmmm, soul mates through the ages. 

I got very wrapped up in Lexi's world and her confusion to get it all figured out. The reader is introduced to other characters in Lexi's life - more entwined souls? This is a series, so it could happen.We do get a little glimpse of what is to come in Book 2 and I can hardly wait to read it.

Love this part ~~ 'Souls are forever; they travel from life to life, over and over again. The soul encompasses the core of a person. It's like a vessel encapsulating a person's identity - who they truly are. In each life, a soul can be altered by passions and fears. When that happens they imprint on the soul, and will always be a part of it. These are then carried from life to life as well.'

Loved this book and look forward to more!!

Come back tomorrow when Jolyn talks about the 'voices in her head'! 

Also, Jolyn is giving away a Kindle copy of Amber Eyes
right here, to one lucky person! 
How awesome is that??!!

 Check out the Rafflecopter below.

 Visit the other stops on the Amber Eyes tour 
@ CLP Blog Tours

 Jolyn Palliata

If you don't see the Rafflecopter, click on Read More

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Tour: Being Lara by Lola Jaye

What other explanation could there be? With her dark complexion and kinky hair, so unlike her fair-skinned parents, Lara knew she was different. At eight she finally learned the word "adopted." Twenty-two years later, a stranger arrives as she blows out the candles on her thirtieth birthday cake—a woman in a blue-and-black head tie who also claims the title "Lara’s mother."

Lara, always in control, now finds her life slipping free of the stranglehold she's had on it. Unexpected, dangerously unfamiliar emotions are turning Lara's life upside down, pulling her between Nigeria and London, forcing her to confront the truth about her past. But if she's brave enough to embrace the lives of her two mothers, she may discover once and for all what it truly means to be Lara. ~~synopsis from Amazon

My thoughts on Being Lola ~~

This is an excellent story that delves into the life of an adopted girl/woman. Lara always wanted to meet her birth mother and figure out who Lara is but when the mother shows up, unannounced, at her 30th birthday party, Lara isn't really so sure that she wants this stranger to be a part of her life.

Having a mother that gave her up when she was very young, for whatever reason, causes Lara to have a lot of personal issues, such as always wanting to be in control and feeling like having a loving relationship will never happen to her because people that love you eventually go away.

Being Lara is an interesting look at the emotions, thoughts and growth of an adopted person.

I loved this part of the book ~~  
'Relationships came stamped with a sell-by date that could be weeks, months, or years - but none held a 'forever' guarantee. Abandonment was only a heartbeat away, and Lara had decided a long time ago that it was best to preempt it.'

I loved this line too ~~  
"Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude. What I meant was, I'm going to need lots of research to get this right." "I know about Googles." Googles, hehehe.

This was a great read and I am so glad to be part of it's tour!

For the rest of the stops on the tour, visit TLC Book Tours

Lola Jaye was born and raised in London, England, where she still makes her home; she has also lived briefly in Nigeria. By the Time You Read This—Lola’s first U.S. novel—was published by HarperCollins in 2009. Her inspirational essay “Reaching for the Stars: How You Can Make Your Dreams Come True,” in which she charted her journey from foster child to author, was released in 2009 as part of the U.K.’s wildly popular Quick Reads program.

WWW Wednesdays March 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 still plugging away on this one ~ The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner. Don't get me wrong, I really like it but it is a long book and I am reading it in between the books that I 'have' to get read. 
I am also reading The Murderer's Daughters 
by Randy Susan Meyers. 
I already read this one and loved it. I am rereading it for my book group discussion this month. I don't mind reading it again. 

What did you recently finish reading?

by Joylyn Palliata
My thoughts on the book will be posted tomorrow, March 15 
with an author guest post on March 16.

Come back and check out my stop on the tour ~ the author is giving one lucky reader of The Book Bag their very own Kindle copy of Amber Eyes!

What do you think you will read next?

Next up is Letters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin
I love this cover and I am so excited to read it.

Happy reading everyone!!

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