Thursday, January 31, 2013

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister and a Giveaway!

At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate's recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate her new lease on life, she'll do the one thing that's always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventures.

Shimmering with warmth, wit, and insight, Joy for Beginners is a celebration of life: unexpected, lyrical, and deeply satisfying. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts about Joy for Beginners ~~

This is the first book written by Erica that I have read. But it won't be the last. What an excellent storyteller! I love reading stories about a group of women who have a bond and get through life by leaning on each other.

When Kate is diagnosed with cancer, her friends gather around her and get her through her ordeal. When they get together to celebrate her recovery, she decides she is going to do the one thing she is afraid of and challenges each of them to do something they are afraid of doing or facing. But she gets to pick what they each have to do.

Because of the time she spent with each of these women during her recovery, Kate really understands her friends and knows what each of them needs to find fulfillment and happiness in their lives. I really loved that each chapter focuses on one of the women and the reader gets to know them very well and becomes invested in their challenge, right along with them.

Here's a couple of great lines from Joy for Beginners ~~
'It's a bookstore. We specialize in stories.'
'Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up.'
And I love this ~~
'I think love is kind of like those waves out there. You ride one in to the beach, and it's the most amazing thing you've ever felt. But at some point the water goes back out; it has to. And maybe you're lucky -- maybe you're both too busy to do anything drastic. Maybe you're good as friends, so you stay. And then something happens -- maybe it's something as big as a baby, or as small as him unloading the dishwasher -- and the wave comes back in again. And it does that, over and over. I just think sometimes people forget to wait.'
Erica's newest book, The Lost Art of Mixing, just came out and I so want to read it now!

About the author

Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients (Putnam, 2009) which follows the lives of eight students and their teacher in a cooking class held in a restaurant kitchen. Her novel, Joy for Beginners (Putnam, June 2011) explores what happens to seven women who challenge one another to do one thing in the next year that is new or difficult or scary. The twist? - they don't get to choose their own challenges. Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, has called Joy for Beginners "moving, touching, wonderfully written; inspiring to read." Erica Bauermeister is also the co-author of two nonfiction books: 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide and Let's Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She lives in Seattle and loves to talk with book groups.

Connect with Erica

Website | Goodreads | Amazon

This is book 1 for my 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win
a paperback copy of this amazing book!

Be sure to check out the sidebar for my current giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WWW Wednesdays January 30, 2013

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?

Clicking on the book covers will take you to Goodreads
for more information about the books listed below.

What are you currently reading?

News from Heaven by Jennifer Haigh
This is a collection of stories about some of the characters from Jennifer's book Baker Towers, which I already read and loved! It's nice to revisit Bakerton. I will be posting my thoughts about both of these books in February for TLC Book Tours.

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
Still drivin' and listenin'. Almost done!

What did you recently finish reading?

The Life We Dream by JH Glaze
What a beautiful love story! My thoughts are here. You can enter my giveaway to win one of 2 Kindle e-book novellas from the author.

Home Front by Kristen Hannah
I have not read one of Kristin's books that I didn't absolutely love. My book group will be discussing this tomorrow so I am anxious to see what they think.

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
This is the first book I read for my TBR Pile Challenge. I will be posting my thoughts soon.

What do you think you will read next?

I really have no idea what I am going to read next.
Guess it's time to go stand in front of my bookshelves.

What's on your WWW this week?

Leave me a comment and
I'll stop by to check out your reads.

And be sure to check out the sidebar
for my current giveaways!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Life We Dream by J.H. Glaze and a Giveaway!

True Love Is Forever.

From critically acclaimed author J. H. Glaze comes a touching tale of lost love and rediscovery.

When Jack Bailey receives a call from an old friend, he discovers that the girl he has loved for most of his life is in hospice and only has a short time to live.

Through his memories, we come to understand the depth of his passion and why this love could never be forgotten.

Come with Jack as he travels to see her one last time in this bittersweet tale of undying love. You may soon begin to believe that anything is possible in The Life We Dream.

This story is a departure from the Horror/Thriller genres for J.H. Glaze and explores the author's views on the enduring aspects of true love. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts about The Life We Dream ~~

Umm ~ another beautiful cover, don'cha think? I love it! And I absolutely love this story (more about that later). Anyway, I saw a posting on Facebook that JH Glaze would give 2 Kindle copies of his novella for a blog giveaway, the blogger just had to contact him and ask. Well..... I love holding giveaways for you all so..... I jumped right on that offer. And then I thought.... I better read it first because I didn't want to hold a giveaway for a story that I didn't know anything about ~ I'm just that way.

So I bought it (loved what I read about it and it's just 99 cents on Amazon right now!) and took my Kindle to work to read it during lunch. Ah man, I almost got the whole thing read during my lunch hour, but not quite. So I finished it up right when I got home from work. Dinner had to wait, sorry folks!

Well, like I said, I loved this wonderful, beautiful love story. Here are some lines I marked ~~
'We should never be afraid to try new things, or we will miss out on a lot of life.'
'Sooner or later, we all have to face our demons. Question is, will you know yours when they come for you?'
And oh, gosh, there are more wonderful lines, but if I give you any more, I might spoil the story for you, so that's enough. You just need to read it!

About the author

JH Glaze hails from Atlanta Georgia and draws from all genres to weave together stories that will at once entertain you. His writing style draws you into the story to the extent that you feel that you are living the action as it unfolds.

His first full length novel, The Spirit Box is the beginning of a series that will take you inside the mind of John Hazard, a former Marine, a detective, and a real man who is persistent, but never perfect.

His second novel, NorthWest takes John Hazar to the Pacific NorthWest for an exercise in survival. It's an over the top adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat for more than the last 100 pages.

Connect with J.H.


Right now it's only $.99 @ Amazon

The Giveaway!

Enter the Rafflecopter below to win one of two Kindle e-books of The Life We Dream.

A big thank you to JH Glaze for making this giveaway possible!

And check out the sidebar for my other giveaways. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vision by Galen Snowden & Cathy Newcomb ~ Guest Posts

Madi sees demons, the very embodiment of the vices that stalk humanity. Gift or curse, it has never done anything good for her—only shown her how ugly the world truly is.

Her visions might have helped the night of Cassi’s accident—maybe she could have seen something, stopped it. But she ran—like always.

Now, with Cassi clinging to life, Madi struggles to keep herself and Vision Records from falling apart. The demons, however, have plans of their own. ~~ synopsis form Goodreads

My thoughts about Vision ~~

I read this book last month and loved it! You can read my thought here. And this wonderful e-book is on sale right now for $.99 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You are going to want to go get it!

Today I have both of the authors of this fabulous book here to answer a few questions for me. I posed two questions to these two authors and they each took one and responded. I guess that is how a team works.

As I was reading Vision, and especially after I was done and was thinking about the story, I wondered how it was possible for two writers to write a book like this together. I can't even imagine what goes into writing a book, let alone with some one else, someone who might have different thoughts and ideas about where the story should go. Cathy and Galen did a wonderful job of working together and as I was reading Vision, I didn't feel like I was hearing two voices.

Here is what Cathy had to say about that.
We are often asked how we were able to write a book with two authors. Well, we started with Galen’s idea. We then broke it down into outline of the basic story. Then we went further and outlined each chapter. We divided up the proposed scenes and set to writing. After we had each individually written our assigned scene, we would trade it with the other person for editing. All of our editing was done in Microsoft Word with the track changes option enabled. This allowed us to discuss proposed changes and then act accordingly.

Most often we came to an agreeable compromise when faced with opposing ideas. Only once did an opposition cause us to wonder about actually completing the project. Time, conversations, some prayers and a thorough evaluation of the story and characters brought about a resolution.
Once the scenes were finalized, they were merged with other scenes with appropriate transition sentences to blend them together. This process happened throughout the book. Outline, write, edit, merge, outline, write, edit, merge and so on until the book was finished. Then the most important part of writing a good book took place; we edited some more.

We went back to the first page and read the book out loud line by line. I read a passage and then we discussed what needed to be changed. Since we live a half a continent away from each other, this endeavor was done over the phone and again with track changes. We looked at spelling, content, tone, low and characterization. It was an immense amount of work and it took a long time to get through it. This work was done in the evening after each of us had come home from our regular jobs. However, it was this step that blended all of our scenes into a cohesive novel; one in which you can’t tell which scenes were written by which author. We both had a hand in writing every line in the book. Sometimes even we forget which scenes we originally wrote.

Our advice to new authors? Start writing. Perhaps this is the year you start or finish writing that novel of yours. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Start your journey today.
Cathy Newcomb
The next question I asked was the one I like to ask authors about hearing voices when they write.

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?

Here is what Galen had to say.
Even though the book is about hearing voices, I never directly heard any. The novel is partly about my struggles to sort out the warring thoughts in my mind, but we still had to figure out how to write it. I felt like writing it was something God wanted me to do, and we certainly were inspired at times, but writing is still hard work.
As far as the characters go, I never heard them speaking to me—not literally at least. To answer your question, you do have to let characters be true to themselves. Once you have a clear idea of who the characters are, you’ll find they won’t “do” some things you want them to. When you’re plotting a novel, you’re thinking in terms of actions and events, but the characters will have ideas of their own. You have the choice then of making the character do something that doesn’t feel right, or going with what feels right for the character and accepting you’re going to have to change the story to fit that.
We pretty much got the character of Gabe, the fast talking hustler, right in the first draft. He was easy for both Cathy and I to write correct. Madi took some more work to get her voice and character consistent. Eventually, Cathy and I knew much more about the characters than actually went into the book, but we needed that background to write them correctly.
Galen Snowden
Connect with the authors

Purchase Vision

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sara's Promise by Deanna Lynn Sletten

Do you believe in soul mates?

William Grafton had the perfect life with his lovely wife, Sara, and two wonderful children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara died suddenly, leaving him alone to raise his children and wonder how he would ever get through life without his soul mate. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of his late wife, yet he finds he is drawn to her. But after a few strange occurrences, he begins to wonder–are these just coincidences or has his Sara come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman?

Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn't know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence or by Sara keeping her promise? ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts about Sara's Promise ~~

Once again, I am blown away by another beautiful cover! And that question ~ Do you believe in soul mates? ~ I love to think that it is possible to have a soul mate. There has to be some reason that certain people 'find' each other.
'I just know,' Sara said. 'Even if something happened to me, I'd still find a way to be here for you and the kids. That's how strong our bond is.'
Sara's Promise is such a lovely story about everlasting love, with a little bit of magic from up above, trying to make things right. I loved the references to the colorful, beautiful lights that seemed to me to represent the peaceful journey one takes when passing from one world to the next.

Annie doesn't want to fall in love ~
She saw what love had done to her father, how it had destroyed his life, and she knew she never wanted to love anyone that deeply. It was too painful to lose the one you loved.
~ but when she meets William, there is something there, some kind of attraction that she doesn't understand. And William is not looking for a replacement for his soul mate, Sara, but he feels drawn to Annie. But can he let Sara go and find happiness and love again?

Sara's Promise is a wonderful story that I just got lost in. Deanna writes such warm, beautiful words that makes one just keep reading and reading. I did not want to put the book down, I did not want to leave Sara's world.

I read and reviewed another one of Deanna's books, Memories, in October. Memories is another beautiful story. To read my thoughts and find out more about the book, check out this post.

And admit it, don't you think this cover is amazing too?

I just checked and both Sara's Promise and Memories
e-books are available right now from Amazon for only $3.99!

What a great deal for these beautiful stories!

About the author

Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women's fiction novels that go beyond the basic romance novel. Her stories dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. Deanna has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Deanna started her writing career in the early 1990s writing articles for parenting publications and local newspapers. Over time she transitioned to writing for blogs and websites and was a contributing writer for the women's website, She Knows. In November 2011, she changed course and put all her energy into novel writing and hasn't looked back since.

Deanna is married and and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepard or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

Connect with Deanna

Buy the book!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WWW Wednesdays January 23, 2013

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?

Clicking on the book covers will take you to Goodreads
for more information about the books listed below.

What are you currently reading?

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
This is the first book I am reading for my TBR Pile Challenge. It felt so great to get it down off the shelf and start reading it. It has been sitting there way too long. 

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
Still drivin' and listenin'.

What did you recently finish reading?

I loved this long weekend! It was very cold here and it was wonderful to just sit inside under a blanket and get lost in a few good books! Reviews on all of these will be posted soon ~ they were all wonderful!

Fractured by Susan Oloier
Loved it ~ so emotional! 

Sara's Promise by Deanna Lynn Sletten
Such a beautiful story! 

Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh
Wonderful saga that starts in the 40's and follows a family thru the years.

What do you think you will read next?

Home Front by Kristen Hannah
My book club won copies of this book (!!) and we are reading it this month. I love Kristen's books, they kind of remind me of Jody Picoult's. 

What's on your WWW this week?

Leave me a comment and
I'll stop by to check out your reads.

And be sure to check out the sidebar 
for my current giveaways! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winners @ The Book Bag!!

I have some winners to announce!

I have 2 winners for The Goddaughter giveaway!

The winner in the US who wins a print copy is .... 
Maria Smith 
and the international winner who wins a e-book copy is ....
Dentro De Un Libro

Congratulations to both of you!!

Watch for an email from me.


And then ... I had a record number of entries for the 
No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop! 
By the time it closed, I had 673 entries! 

Whoo hoo!! 

That is so awesome! This is my fav hop!
I wish everyone could be a winner. 

The lucky person, 
who gets to pick a book 
from TBD is .......

.... Cordelia Fitzgerald

Congrats Codrelia!

Watch for an email from me. 

Be sure to check out the sidebar for my other giveaways.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge ~ # 2

Okay, so a few days ago I posted about a TBR pile challenge I found that I was going to do. I got all psyched up for it, picked out the 12+ books I was going to use for that challenge and organized my shelf so those books are staring me in the face! I was ready to go!! Then I discovered I missed the sign-up by 8 days. *sad-face* I decided 'oh well', I'm going to do it anyway!

Well, a very nice fellow blogger (thank you Sarah Elizabeth) let me know about a different TBR pile challenge that was going on and you can sign up anytime! Yippee!! I am so there!

So that's what this post is about. I am signing up for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Evie (and others) over at Bookish.

Here are the rules ~~

Welcome to 2013 TBR PILE Reading Challenge!!!


We all have those books. We buy them, win them, they're gifted to us.. Then we put them up on a bookshelf and there they stay, collecting dust, waiting for the time when we'll finally decide to pick them up..

Join us on a quest to dust off your TBR Pile and read all the books you've been telling yourself you'll read next time you'll get a chance.. This is your chance! And we've got PRIZES!!! :D

Challenge Guidelines:
  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013.
  • Anyone can enter! You don't have to be a blogger, as long as you review the book you've read! (On your blog, Amazon or Goodreads/Shelfari!)
  • Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2012 and earlier! NO 2013 ARCs and 2013 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  • When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2013 TBR PILE Reading Challenge. (If you don't have a blog, post about it on Facebook or Tweet!)
  • You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  • Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  • On the 20th of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. The giveaway will be open until the next wrap up post goes up! (i.e. the entire month)
  • If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;)
  • December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - a box of books.
  • You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!
Levels: (how many books you're planning to read for this challenge in 2013)
  • 1-10 - A Firm Handshake
  • 11-20 - A Friendly Hug
  • 21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
  • 31-40 - Love At First Sight
  • 41-50 - Married With Children
Sound like fun? I think so! I think I am going to go for A Friendly Hug level, which means I will try to read 11-20 books on my TBR pile. I think I can do it! I am just going to have to really think about pulling a book off of my shelves instead of picking up a new one. I do have them sitting right there in front of me now so that should help.

Here is the list I selected before. I am going to pretty much stay with this list and see how I do.
Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
Matched by Ally Condie
Optical Delusions in Deadwood by Ann Charles
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Touch by Alexi Zentner
The Unbecoming of Maya Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

And..... here we go! Let's dig into that pile!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 TBR Challenge hosted by Roofbeam Reader

As I was looking at my bookshelves in various locations around my house, I kept thinking about the TBR Pile Challenges that I had seen in the past. I have never participated before but I am thinking it's about time! I need some motivation to get some of these older books read, ones that I was dying to read when I got them but are now just sitting on the shelf, staring back at me.

The purpose of this challenge is to read 12 books that have been sitting on the shelf for over a year. So all books that qualify must be have been published before 2012. The books have to be selected before the challenge starts - 12 books plus 2 alternatives, just in case.

This challenge is organized by Roof Beam Reader. Click here to read more about it and to sign up yourself!

My 2013 TBR Pile Challenge List ~~
  • Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
  • Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler
  • Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
  • Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
  • Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
  • Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
  • Matched by Ally Condie
  • Optical Delusions in Deadwood by Ann Charles
  • Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  • The Unbecoming of Maya Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
And my 2 alternate titles are ~~
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • Touch by Alexi Zentner
I will post an update to this list once a month so we can see how I am doing ~ it will make me accountable. *yikes!* I will also link my reviews on this page as I get the books read.

Wish me luck!

Whoops! I see now that I have missed the deadline for signing up for this challenge but since I made the mental decision to commit to this, I am just going to go ahead and follow thru with it anyway, on my own.

I need to get these books read!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and a Giveaway!

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason.

And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive. ~~ synopsis form Goodreads

My thoughts about Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ~~

Once again, I was grabbed by an awesome cover. And then there's the fact that I am a huge Stephen King fan so a creepy sounding book was right up my alley. I knew I just HAD to read this one. I am not sure why I let it sit on my shelf for so long after I got it. I think I was waiting until I could savor the story.

And that time finally came.

I loved everything about this story. It has family stuff, monsters, storytelling, spookiness, time travel, and lots of action. And then there are the awesome pictures of the peculiar children to go along with the story.

This book is unlike anything I have read recently and I was totally immersed in the story. I loved it!

And ... I just discovered that Miss Peregrine's #2 is expected to be published June 2013!! I can't wait!


About the author

I grew up in Florida, went to Kenyon College in Ohio, then film school at USC in LA, where I still live. I write books and screenplays, blog daily for, and make short films.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is my first novel. I'm really excited about it -- it was challenging and rewarding and I hope people like it. If you read that and like the found photographs in it, you might be interested in a book comprised entirely of found photographs that I have coming out January 2012 from HarperCollins. It's called Talking Pictures. You can find sneak peeks by doing a search for "mental floss talking pictures" (I included a number of images in blogs there) and I made a kinda-sorta book trailer for it, which is on my youtube page:

Connect with Ransom

Enter the Rafflecopter below to win my hardcover copy of this amazing book! And then be sure to check the sidebar for my other giveaways. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winner @ The Book Bag

I have another winner to announce!

The winner The Shape of Mercy is .....

Dione Tomlinson Sage

Congratulations Dione!! 

Watch for an email from me. 

Check out the sidebar for my other giveaways.

WWW Wednesdays January 16, 2013

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?

Clicking on the book covers will take you to Goodreads
for more information about the books listed below.

What are you currently reading?

Sara's Promise by Deanna Lynn Sletten
Such a beautiful story! 

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
Still drivin' and listenin'.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Darling Girls by Emma Burstall 
I read this for CLP Blog Tours and my thoughts are here.
Check out the tour page for a giveaway! 

What do you think you will read next? 

Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh
I will be reading her newest book, News from Heaven in February for TLC Book Tours so I want to get this one read first. They both are set in Bakerton.

What's on your WWW this week?

Leave me a comment and
I'll stop by to check out your reads.

And be sure to check out the sidebar 
for my current giveaways! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

No String Attached Giveaway Hop!!

It's time once again for one of my favorite hops. 
I love this one cause it's so easy! 

This is a hop for all the people who hate jumping through hoops to enter giveaways. 

This is a no strings attached, no requirements to enter hop.

A huge 

goes out to Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer 
for hosting and coordinating this hop. 

And now that you are done here ~ hop on over to the other 80+ blogs that are a part of this fun, easy hop! 

And be sure to check out the sidebar for my other giveaways! 

On Tour and Voices plus a Giveaway: The Darling Girls by Emma Burstall

Three women in love with the same man meet for the first time at his funeral. Can they separate the truth from the lies – and learn to trust again?

When world famous music conductor Leo Bruck dies suddenly, he leaves behind three grieving women and a mass of unanswered questions.

Did the man who juggled these simultaneous relationships while thrilling audiences around the globe, direct The Darling Girls like an orchestra?

Victoria, his partner of twenty years and mother of two of his children, regards herself as his rightful widow and keeper of his legacy. However, a series of shocking discoveries – revolving around Leo’s boyhood flight on the Kindertransport from Nazi-occupied Austria - forces her to re-examine the man she thought she knew and query the very foundation of their relationship.

Maddy, mother of Leo’s daughter Phoebe, has a high-powered job and seems independent and sorted. But events take a sinister turn when Maddy becomes involved with Victoria’s troubled teenage son, and her safe world starts to go awry.

Finally there’s Cat who, at just 24, is Leo’s youngest lover. Coping with a sick mother and battling demons from her childhood, she is finding it increasingly hard to hold it together. Will grief, anger and bitterness blind her to the possibility of ever finding happiness, career fulfilment - and even, perhaps, new love?

The Darling Girls is a moving story of love, loss, and the prevailing power of female friendship. Can these three very different women, whose lives become inextricably bound, break free from the masterful control Leo exerts - even from the grave - once and for all? ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts about The Darling Girls ~~

Okay, I have to say this and then I can move on ~ this cover is amazing and is what first caught my attention. There is just so much on that cover that I needed to know about. And then secondly, it is about 3 women and how they figure it all out, whatever 'it' is. I love that kind of story-line.

Victoria, Maddy and Cat all come together at Leo's funeral. They each think they are the love of his life - his 'darling girl'. As the story progresses, we come to learn Leo's true story and about his past. Things are not good; he was not a good person. The women each have to figure out how to carry on with their lives, knowing what they now know. And if it's possible to find happiness again.

I love stories about groups of women, friends or foe, who for whatever reason are thrown together and either learn to lean on each other or learn how to move on without that friendship. Emma does an excellent job of developing her characters to make the reader feel like we really know each of these women and have a stake in the outcome of their decisions and their lives.

I truly loved being in this story with Victoria, Maddy and Cat, going through the ups and downs with them. Just when you think another bad thing cannot happen, guess what! How will they ever get through it all? This book is very well written and easy to just get absorbed into. I didn't want to stop reading and being a part of their lives.

Great job, Emma! I want to read more of your work.

And now, Emma, I want to say how happy I am that you are here at The Book Bag today ~

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?

The Voices In My Head

Do you hear voices in your head? I do. I haven’t gone mad, at least I don’t think so…

The fact is, when I’m immersed in writing my characters ‘talk’ to me. I can hear how they speak, their accent and tone, the way they laugh, whether they curse and swear or pronounce their words very properly. I've heard other writers say the same thing so I know I’m not alone.

My eldest child’s an actress and I've come to the conclusion that novel writing and acting are not so dissimilar. Just as actors throw themselves into a role and become that person for the duration of the performance, so novelists become their characters while they’re working.

It’s a weird job and no wonder my family never knows quite what mood I’m going to be in when I finish writing! If something bad’s been happening to a character, it can take me a little while to get out of the negative zone and be me again. Whereas if my character’s happy, I’ll finish work for the day in buoyant mood.

My first three novels focus on the lives of different groups of women who interact at various points. When I’m writing a scene where they’re all together, I find myself flitting into the minds of one character after another like an invisible guest, seeing each of them in turn through different eyes. I get to know them so well I feel quite bereft at the end of the book, like saying goodbye to a dear friend.

The process of hearing and ‘becoming’ a character doesn't happen immediately however. It takes time. Usually when planning a novel I’ll start with the plot, the seed of an idea that plants itself in my mind and starts to grow. Only when I've fleshed out the plot and decided on a beginning, middle and end, will I begin the process of working out who my characters really are.

I’ll generally start with someone I vaguely know or have come across. This person will be the ‘coat hanger’, nothing more. Next I’ll begin to formulate who this person is in my book – what they look like, their hair colour, eyes, facial characteristics, whether they have straight teeth or crooked ones, their body shape, the kinds of clothes they like to wear. Their hobbies, loves and hates, their houses. Whether they’re neat and tidy or chaotic, reserved or very forthcoming. Also their background – parents, siblings, influences, schooling and so on.

By now I’ll be forming a mental image. I need to be really interested in this person. You know how in real life there are certain people you feel drawn to, and others who might be perfectly pleasant but who just don’t particularly rouse your curiosity for whatever reason? Well the same is true of characters in a book. To write about them, you need to be grabbed by them and want to understand what makes them tick.

That’s not to say that they’re all good people. Each of my main protagonists has major faults, light and shade, but the crucial fact is that I have to mind what happens to them, really to care whether they find redemption or not, because if I don’t, sure as hell my readers won’t either.

I’ll start to write with this clear idea of my protagonist in mind but the exciting bit is when he or she begins to take over. I’ll reach a scene, usually a few chapters into a book, when I've got into my stride and am starting to enjoy myself.

Then something will happen and a character will speak to me as if to say – that’s not what I’d do. Or – I just wouldn't wear that kind of outfit. At this point I might have to alter my plot or at the very least have my protagonist wear something else!

After the first draft, I’ll go back and re-read. I usually find myself adding far more depth to my characters on the first re-write because by then I know, for example, that of course someone is vegetarian (though it hadn't occurred to me before), or is embarrassed about her big boobs. Or hates the colour yellow.

I’ll continue the process in the second re-write and that’s when I’ll have reached a point where I feel I know my characters inside out.

This might sound strange but each of my characters is very dear to me. Victoria with her sweet tooth in The Darling Girls, Evie with her gap-toothed smile and Nic battling her demons in Never Close Your Eyes, Percy with her online habit and roving eye in Gym and Slimline.

Talking about them makes me want to get right back to writing my next book so I’ll go and do just that. Happy reading and writing!

About the author

Emma has written extensively for national newspapers and women’s magazines including the Guardian, Independent on Sunday, Red, Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home and Woman.

She read English at Cambridge University and began her career as a cub reporter on the Western Morning News in Plymouth, later becoming features editor of Woman and Family Circle.

She gets by in French and Spanish and works out – occasionally – at her local gym. After walking her youngest to school, you might also spot her jogging in Richmond Park with some friends. Slowly.

Emma lives in South West London with her husband, the political commentator Kevin Maguire, and their three children, aged 25, 20 and 10.

She’s currently working on her fourth novel.

Connect with Emma

Check out the other stops on the tour HERE.

**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page (click here) will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of The Darling Girls before January 28 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**

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Cover Reveal: The Dragon Empire by Heather McCorkle

Cover designed by CP Design

The Dragon Empire by Heather McCorkle
February 2013 / Compass Press

On Yacrana, dragons stand at the top of the evolutionary ladder instead of humans. Such an advanced species is not without its issues though.

There's trouble in the Dragon Empire, the kind that could start a war between dragons and the races of people. Hidden factions of dragons believe they should rule the lesser races, not simply stand aside and allow them to develop as they will. Having lived so long in peace, the Emperors turn a blind eye, many oblivious that such attitudes even exist.

Despite being only an architect class, emerald dragon, Grendar is willing to risk banishment and death to stop that which his rulers refuse to see. The hope of peace lies not within the scaled breast of a dragon however, but within the hands of a group of people. But if the hidden factions have their way, these people won’t live to fulfill such a destiny. With a reluctant seer at his side, Grendar must leave his precious Empire for the outside world to save those that will one day save his kind. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

About the author

I am an author of fantasy, in all its many sub-genres. Living green, saving endangered species, helping other writers, and supporting fabulous authors are a few of my passions. I am also a volunteer for the IS Foundation which works to make the world a greener place. When I'm not volunteering, writing, or surfing my social networking sites, I can be found on the slopes, the hiking trails, or on horseback. As a native Oregonian, I enjoy the outdoors almost as much as the worlds I create on the pages. 

No need to travel to the Great Northwest though, you can find me on my blog, and Monday night's on Twitter where I co-moderate the #WritersRoad chat.

Connect with Heather 

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