Monday, April 30, 2012

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

A mother. A daughter. A shattering choice.

From Anna Quindlen, bestselling author of Black and Blue, comes a novel of life, love and everyday acts of mercy. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts on One True Thing ~~

The story starts with the daughter in jail, accused of killing her mom, who was dying of cancer. Wham! There you go, off and running and hit hard. This is the final sentence of the prologue ~ 'the truth is that I did not kill my mother. I only wished I had.' But the rest of the book keeps you wondering, did she? Or didn't she? And if she didn't, who did? Or did her mother just simply die of cancer?

Ellen puts her job and her love life on hold to go home to take care of her mother, who is dying from cancer. She really doesn't want to be there and isn't sure why her father or her two brothers are not pitching in to help. As her father puts it, as a way to explain why it is her responsibility, 'It seems to me another woman is what's wanted here.' So she does what is expected of her.

As with other books that I have read by Ms. Quindlen, this one takes a serious subject and turns it into a beautiful, thought provoking story. This book is a great selection for book clubs to read and discuss. There are such great characters in this story, that you will either love (the hospice worker - loved her!) or not like, hate is too strong of word here, I think (the father). And such controversy surrounding the events that take place in this home.

Here are a couple of lines that I think were just amazing. 

'When you mother's gone, you've lost your past. It's so much more than love. Even when there is no love, it's so much more than anything else in your life. I did love my mother, but I didn't know how much until she was gone."


'We made her simpler after she was dead. No, that's not true either. We'd made her simpler all her life, simpler than her real self. We'd made her what we needed her to be. We'd made her ours, our one true thing.'

I just love it when I figure out how the title fits into the story!

About the author 

Anna Quindlen is the author of three bestselling novels, Object Lessons, One True Thing and Black and Blue, and three non-fiction books, Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud and A Short Guide to a Happy Life. Her New York Times column 'Public and Private' won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. She is currently a columnist for Newsweek and lives with her husband and children in New York. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (19)

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. 


Lisa See also wrote Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which I loved! I already have Shanghi Girls on my shelf to read. Now I have the sequel!! I need to get these two books read. I am sure I am going to love them too.

From the library 

Eve (Eve, Quinn and Bonnie #1) by Iris Johansen 

I love the Eve Duncan series by Johansen. Eve is the first in a 'trilogy that will begin to answer questions that have haunted her legion of fans for over a decade' giving us some background information about the main characters, finally. 
by Don Van Ryn, Susie Van Ryn, Newell Cerak, Colleen Cerak, Whitney Cerak, Mark Tabbrom 

This book was selected as our May read for one of my book clubs. It's really different from what we normally read. I expect to have tears. 

So many books! So little time!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Awesome Giveaway: The Warble

I recently read The Warble and posted my thoughts. You can read my original post here. This book introduced to me a whole new world of books that I had missed out on, the MG (middle grades) genre.

I loved this book!!

And if this book is any indication of other great books written for the MG crowd, I have a lot more books to discover!

Victoria Simcox is offering The Book Bag's readers 
an amazing chance to win a copy of her book!!

She is giving 1 print book (US only) AND 3 e-books.

So that mean there will be 4 winners!!

And it also means it's INTERNATIONAL!!!  

Thank you so much, Victoria!! 

The Warble e-book is available on Amazon for only $2.99 which is a super great deal considering that fiction e-books for this age group usually run between $5.99 and $9.99. What a bargain for such a great read! 

If you don't see the Rafflecopter, click

Winner: Showers of Books Giveaway Hop

Sorry to be so late in getting the winner selected for the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop. Things are finally settling down here this month.

But what a fun, busy month I have had!

And so without further delay, the winner is ...... 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Fun!

Who else feels this way too? 

Happy Friday everyone! 

Have a great weekend!! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On Tour: Terri Long and In Leah's Wake

Today is The Book Bag's stop on the In Leah's Wake Blog Tour. 
Visit the rest of the stops here at CLP Blog Tours.  

First a little bit about the book and then stay tuned for Terri talking about the 'voices in her head'. I love that authors all seem to have voices.

Yea for the creative, crazy side of writers! 
Where would we all be without them!

***Newly Edited Book Club Edition (March 2012)*** 

The Tylers have a perfect life-beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine, more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years, just wants her sister's approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly together kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life...until Leah meets Todd, a high school dropout and former roadie for a rock band.

As Leah's parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Justine observes her sister's rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family-leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.

Can this family survive in Leah's wake? What happens when love just isn't enough? 

Honors that In Leah's Wake has received 
  • Reviewer-Nominated for Global eBook Award, 2012
  • Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence
  • 2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
  • Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place

Hi Terri - welcome to The Book Bag. I have a question that I like to ask authors. I am always fascinated by their responses. I am excited to hear what you have to say.

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?

Thank you so much for inviting me to write this post for your blog, Susan. It’s an honor to be here!

In Leah’s Wake began as exactly as you describe, with a voice in my head. In this case, it was the voice of an unidentified town gossip. She was merciless in her criticism of this family. I was curious about the family’s connection to the townspeople and the reasons for the harsh judgment. While her voice didn’t make it to the final draft, it gave me a way in and helped me understand what the story was about.

Many writers feel that sense you describe, of characters telling their own story, but that really hasn’t been my experience. I do follow the writing – I tend to write organically, from the heart, as opposed to my head. In early drafts, I do my best to ignore the internal critic and not get too bogged down worrying about where I’m going or what readers may think. I give myself the freedom to allow the story to go in unexpected directions. That can be frustrating, because it’s scary, wondering if the story will come together. You have to trust the process – and yourself. As Dory says in Finding Nemo, “just keep going.”

While my stories do begin with a voice in my head, that’s related, I think, to the way I experience the world. We all experience our world through our senses, of course. But most of us have a primary sense. I may be wrong – my evidence is largely anecdotal – but the majority of authors seem to be visual. Visual writers see their characters and setting and they write gorgeous descriptions. I’m auditory. On a train, I’m apt to hear conversation rather than noticing what people look like or what’s going on around me. Because I have trouble envisioning details, description is tough to write. It’s a skill I continue to work on.

My husband and I love to travel. When I visit a new place, I’m struck first by the sounds. I hear people talking, cars hammering down the street, bells ringing. I hear the wind, the trees, the birds. Hearing voices when I write – or before I begin writing - feels natural. I sometimes hear a narrative voice – as I did with In Leah’s Wake – sometimes dialogue. Either way, it’s the voice that intrigues me, draws me in.

Usually, the voices come at night, when I’m lying in bed. (Maybe I am crazy.) To put myself to sleep, I tell myself stories. I come up with a character and situation and just listen. When I’m writing, immersed in the story, the instant as I relax, I hear the narrator’s voice or the characters start talking. These voices lead me to the next scene. When this happens, when I’m this absorbed, I know the story is working.

Nowhere to Run, my novel-in-progress, started with place: an inn in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire. It took a while to get to know the characters. Once I did, they, too, began talking to me.

Author Bio

Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent CLP blog guest. A contributing writer for IndieReader, she’s written for news and feature articles for numerous publications, including IndieReader, the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah's Wake is her debut novelFor more information, please visit her website:

Connect with Terri

Twitter: @tglong 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WWW Wednesdays April 25

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?

Make it Stay by Joan Frank 

The Big Rock Candy Mountain  
by Wallace Stegner

Still working on this one ~ one chapter at a time. 

What did you recently finish reading?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Okay. So I finally did it ~ I read The Hunger Games. Am I the last person to read it? I now see what all the hype is about and I will be moving onto book number 2 as soon as possible. I can only imagine how awesome the movie must be!   

The Warble by Victoria Simcox

My thoughts are here ~ loved it!   
Little Bee by Chris Cleave 

I read this book about a year ago for one of my book clubs and then my other book club selected it for this month. I really liked it the first time I read it and recommend it to others every chance I get. But I just wasn't in the mood to read it again right now. I did find a website that posted great chapter summaries. I cheated a little bit and read the summaries instead of rereading the whole book. Does that make me a bad person? 

What do you think you will read next?

Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Winner: Followers/Birthday Giveaway!

The Book Bag went from just hitting 300 followers at the end of March to now having close to 600! 

I am stunned and AMAZED!!!!

I wish I could have more than one winner!

Oh wait ...... it's my blog ......

maybe I will!!!!!

How about, since I pretty much doubled ~ EEEEEK! ~ my followers in April, and since it's my birthday this month and that means I can do what ever I want, how about I pick not one but two (2) amazing winners!

So that means that .....

One Two lucky followers will get up to $20
from The Book Depository,
(if they ship to where you live)

And now, without any more waiting .........

the 2 winners are .......
if you don't see the Rafflecopter, click Read more>>

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

This month has been so amazing!! I started it off by holding a celebration giveaway for all my wonderful followers. I was so excited when I hit 300 followers at the end of March and I wanted to show you all some love and appreciation.

OMG! I am now close to 600!!! 600 ~ can you believe that?? I am amazed.  

Also in this month, I had 2 giveaways for a couple of books that I had just read and wanted to share. And then I signed up to participate in 2 awesome and amazing hops.

I truly believe that the hops are what got people to my blog. I am so thankful for all of you that decided you liked what you saw and started following me. I sure hope I don't disappoint in the future.

I read all of your lovely comments and I will be going back to leave comments of my own. Thank you all for every one! I really appreciate them!

This month was crazy for me; two hops, 2 book giveaways and my follower giveaway. Plus my calendar was full of review books to get read ~ the most I have ever done in one month. Plus my 2 book club books to get read. Whew! What was I thinking? There are just so many good books out there that I want to read. It is so hard to say 'no'.

I will be posting the winner of my follower/birthday giveaway soon so watch for that. I wish I could give all of you something. I appreciate all of the lovely comments and birthday wishes.

This was my best birthday ever - I felt a lot of love!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Winner: No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop

The winner of The Book Bag's 

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop is......

Olivia M. 

Congrats Olivia!!
(sending you an email soon)

Olivia will get to pick out any book she wants, 
up to $15, from The Book Depository. 

I don't know about you all but I loved this 'No Strings Attached' hop. There is another one scheduled in July. I am pretty sure I am going to be participating in that one. It was fun for me to hop all over the place too! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (18)

Before I get to this week's IMM, 
I just want to shout out a big 

for all the birthday wishes! 
I am definitely feeling the love today!!

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. 

For Review

Paris in Love by Eloisa James

The Sun Zebra by Rolando Garcia

Angels, Chimps and Tater Mitts by Mike Ball
I was asked to review this book and the author sent me his first book (part 1) also! Sweet!! 


What I've Learned So Far by Mike Ball

From PaperbackSwap ~ love that site!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

Remedies by Kate Ledger

So many books! So little time!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Warble by Victoria Simcox

Twelve-year-old Kristina Kingsly feels like the most unpopular girl in her school. The kids all tease her, and she never seems to fit in. But when Kristina receives an unusual Christmas gift, she suddenly finds herself magically transported to the land of Bernovem, home of dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals and the evil Queen Sentiz.

In Bernovem, Kristina not only fits in, she's honored as "the chosen one," the only one who can release the land from Queen Sentiz's control. But it's not as simple as it seems. To save Bernovem, she must place the gift she was given, the famous "Magic Warble," in its final resting place. She must travel through the deep forest, climb a treacherous mountain, and risk capture by the queen's "zelbocks" before she reaches her destination.

Guided by her new fairy friends, Clover and Looper and by Prince Werrien, a teenage boy, and an assortment of other characters, Kristina sets off on a perilous journey that not only tests her strength but her heart. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

January 1, 2009 
9 and up
4 and up 

My thoughts on The Warble ~~ 

Okay - before I post my thoughts on this book, I want to share a little bit about myself. I have loved books and reading my entire life. I think I read every single book in my hometown Carnegie library while I was growing up. That love of reading has never gone away. What did change was the kind of books I read. As I grew up, my tastes in books changed. "I am an adult, therefore I shall read adult books." As an adult, I read mainly contemporary fiction, women's fiction, mystery, books along those lines.

A couple of years ago, I thought I would start writing up a little blip about the books I read, mainly as a way to keep track of them. As I did that, I discovered the great, big wonderful world of book bloggers. I discovered more and more and more. And it seemed like most of them we talking about all these fabulous YA books, a genre that I stopped reading a long time ago. Well, some of these books sounded really good to me. Remember I was the one that read 'everything' growing up. I decided I would give some of them a try ~ and I loved what I was reading.

Then I came across some blogs that were talking about MG books. What on earth kind of books are MG books? This wasn't a genre of books I was familiar with growing up, way back when. I actually Googled it because I really didn't know.

So now here are my thoughts, finally ~~

I entered a giveaway on one of those MG blogs that was giving away a copy of The Warble. It sounded kind of interesting and yes, the cover got to me. I entered the giveaway and won it! The author then asked if I would post a review after I read it. Like I said, the story sounded interesting to me but would I be satisfied, as a reader, reading a book for ages 9 and up?

I am now done with the book and let me tell you, this story is amazing! It is very well written with great characters and a fabulous story line. I was really drawn into the story and I didn't want to stop reading. There was plenty of action and entertainment. I thoroughly enjoyed my first peek into the MG genre and I know young people are going to love it too.

This book has opened up a whole new genre-world to me. First I discovered the great books being written for YA. And now I have ventured into the wonderful world of MG books and authors. Awesome!!

Like my favorite saying goes ~~ So Many Books, So Little Time ~~ that's for sure! And now I have even more to get read!

The second book in this series is The Shard which was published in October 2011. I am going to have to get a hold of that one soon to find out what happens to Kristina and her friends. Thank you, Victoria Simcox for writing such a great story! 

About the author 

Victoria Simcox was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, to an Austrian immigrant mother, and a Dutch immigrant father. She now resides in Western Washington with her husband and 3 children. Her other family members are, a Chihuahua, named Pipsy and 2 cats, named Frodo and Fritz. For the past 12 years, she has home-schooled her children. Besides being an author, Victoria is also an elementary school art teacher. Victoria enjoys writing, reading, painting watercolors, hiking, good movies, and hanging out with her family and friends.

Winner of Banana Split (and more giveaways)

The winner of Banana Split is ......................

Entry #41Helen B

Congrats Helen! 

An email is on it's way to you.
Didn't win? Never fear! 

I have three, yes that's 3, other giveaways going on right now. 

Check them out!! 

But you better hurry - they are ending soon! 

Good luck!

This one is to celebrate reaching 300 followers. That was less than a month ago ~ and now I have over 400 followers. 
You guys are amazing!!
This one ends on my birthday ~ April 22nd

The No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop also ends on April 22. 
This one is so much fun ~ and so easy ~ really, no strings. 

 The Showers of Books Giveaway Hop has almost over 180 blogs giving away book related stuff. This one ends April 25.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop

They say April Showers Bring May Flowers!

This April will find you showered in books during the 

"Showers of Books" Giveaway Hop!

Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & One A Day Y.A.

There are going to be somewhere between 175 and 200 blogs taking part in this hop! That's a lot of chances to win some fabulous stuff!!

And then I can't believe I signed up for 2 hops in April. 
I also have the No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop going on right now. It ends April 22.

I guess I was feeling very generous since April is my birthday month. 

My 300 followers/Birthday giveaway also ends on April 22 ~ my birthday!! I now have over 400 hundred followers ~ WOW! I think I see another giveaway in the near future. How about when I hit 500? Un-believable!!!!

Be sure to stop by all the rest of the blogs 
that are participating in this hop. 
They are listed after the Rafflecopter. 

If you don't see the Rafflecopter, click

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fat Is the New 30: The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Coping with (the Crappy Parts Of) Life by Jill Conner Browne

The Sweet Potato Queens® are back and bawdier than ever in Southern belle extraordinaire Jill Conner Browne’s ninth edition of the hysterical series. 

Having experienced pretty much ALL of the crappy parts of life, Browne feels it is her duty to render whatever assistance she can to her fellow sufferers — and she does so in her own inimitable fashion.

Her father taught her there are very few situations in life that we really and truly cannot change, and it is up to us to figure out how to either make fun OUT of them — or make fun OF them. And fortunately for the rest of us, Browne is well equipped for both. 

Including the exploits of the Queen contingent and her family, she delivers applicable tidbits like:

* Thinking or talking about watermelon can save any negative situation.

* If you get drunk in Scotland, you can’t have your cow with you.

* When sanity and reason fail, you can always cheerfully resort to ridicule.

* Denial means that every situation is perfectly perfect.

More fun than a Cracker Barrel full of monkeys, Fat Is the New 30 will change your life — or at least give you ideas for making fun of your ownself. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts on Fat is the New 30 ~~ 

O-M-G!! This book is hilarious!! I was so excited to be asked to read this book of essays written by the Sweet Potato Queen! The Sweet Potato Queens are sort of a Southern cult group. No, not really a cult, more like The Red Hat Society group gone wild, if that's possible to imagine.

My book group read Jill Conner Browne's first book, The Sweet Potato Queen's Book of Love a few years ago. One of the women in our group belongs to a chapter of the Queens. At that meeting, our group acquired a tiara that was passed around each month and had to be worn by the host all evening. And just so you know, this group meets in public places; cafes, restaurants - you get the idea. (psst - luckily the tiara broke before it got to me, darn!) Not that there is anything wrong with tiaras, mind you, it's just not me, know what I mean? 

Anyway, that book was so funny and the author has the greatest sense of humor. I love her Southern way of looking at things and the way she rationalizes their behavior, good and bad. I figured a book of her essays on a variety of topics would be a hoot! And I was so right! 

The entire time I was reading this book, I was either: a) laughing out loud - which kind of freaked out my hubby or b) sitting on the couch with a big grin on my face - which he probably thought was even creepier. So needless to say, I think this book was so worth reading and it was so much fun! 

As the back of the book states, this is the 'ninth edition of the hysterical series'. I have now read 2 of Ms. Browne's books, the first one and her latest one. I am definitely going to have to go back and read the ones I've missed. Such a good time!

Who knows, maybe someday I will make it down to Mississippi for the Queens' Zippity Doo Dah Parade.  

WWW Wednesdays April 18

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?

The Warble by Victoria Simcox

Still working on The Big Rock Candy Mountain  
by Wallace Stegner

What did you recently finish reading?

Fat is the New 30 by Jill Conner Browne
Hilarious! My thoughts will be posted later today

Banana Split by Josi S. Kilpack
My thoughts are here

All the Difference by Kaira Rouda
My thoughts are here

What do you think you will read next?

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
I am reading this one again for my book group

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Winner - When All That's Left of Me is Love

The Winner of All That's Left of Me is Love is..........

#12 - Cathy C. ~~  Follow the Book Bag

Congrats Cathy!! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop

Thanks to Kathy over at I am a Reader, Not a Writer 
for hosting this No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop.

There are over 80 blogs participating in this hop and that's what it's all about ~~ no strings. All we need is your name and way to contact you if you win.

It couldn't be any easier!

The winner @ The Book Bag will get any book, up to $15, from The Book Depository (if they ship to you)
~~ so this one's international!!

This hop will end on April 22nd - which also happens to be my BIRTHDAY!! You should also check out my 300 Followers and Birthday Giveaway!

 If you don't see the rafflecopter, click
and be sure to check out all the other stops on the hop. 
They are listed below.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway: Kaira Rouda

I am so happy to have Kaira Rouda, author of All the Difference here at The Book Bag today. She also wrote Here, Home, Hope, which I previously read and loved so when I saw that her newest book was going to be part of the CLP Blog Tours, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it! 

My thoughts on All the Difference were posted yesterday
 and can be found here.

Kaira, I have a question that I like to ask authors ~ so here goes!

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?

Love this question, Susan!

It does sound really strange when an author talks about the characters taking over and running wild through the manuscript, taking plot twists the author never imagined. How can that be?

How odd that it happens to me.

I wasn’t in school as a novelist. I was an English lit major. I read other people’s famous works, savored them, treasured them – but didn’t have a lot of courses on craft or process. Well, in college, none at all.

As a newspaper reporter and columnist and as a magazine editor, I learned and practiced structure and refinement, ledes and non-thudding endings.

But in nonfiction, the writer is firmly in charge. It begins and ends with you, your notes, your interviews, your research.

Once I began immersing myself in the world of novel writing, I was shocked. It’s true – and weird – and exciting – and well, weird. These characters who are only alive because of you begin to take over. They each have a point of view, a distinct diction, a wonderful will to live. I can’t explain it, but yes, it happens to me every novel. And I love it.

My stories happen in my mind long before they arrive at the keyboard as characters, literally. So far – imagine a woman knocking on the closest table – it hasn’t been a problem coming up with stories. It has only been a problem coming up with time to tell them.

Thank you for asking me here and including All the Difference on your blog.

**Everyone who leaves a comment on the CLP tour page will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of All the Difference before April 23 and send your receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, you will get five bonus entries!**

Author Bio:

Kaira Rouda is an award-winning entrepreneur and author. She lives in Southern California with her husband and four kids and is at work on her next novel. She’s a social media addict and would love to connect with you on:

And on her website:

To purchase All the Difference
please visit your favorite online bookseller:
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