Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Spotlight and a Giveaway! Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany

I have sooooo many books! I have a ton of print books and probably even more e-books. The Book Spotlight feature that I typically post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the books I have. There are a lot of different reasons that I might be letting some of my books go, the biggest one is that we recently moved and I discovered how many books I really do have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy them.

The book that I am featuring this week is one that I discovered I have both in print and on my Kindle. So... the paperback has gotta go. Someday I'll get it read.

Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

Outside the Lines

Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany
Print and e-book, 384 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Washington Square Press 

When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all.

Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths—not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found—Eden is forced to decide just how far she’ll go in the name of love.

About the author

Amy Hatvany was born in Seattle, WA in 1972, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University in 1994 with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist. In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on writing books. 

The literary gods took kindly to her aspirations and THE KIND OF LOVE THAT SAVES YOU was published in 2000 by Bantam Doubleday. THE LANGUAGE OF SISTERS was picked up by NAL in 2002. (Both titles published under "Yurk.")

Amy spends most of her time today with her second and final husband, Stephan. (Seriously, if this one doesn’t work out, she’s done.) She stays busy with her two children, Scarlett and Miles, and her “bonus child,” Anna. Their blended family also includes two four-legged hairy children, commonly known as Black Lab mutts, Kenda and Dolcé. When Amy’s not with friends or family, she is most likely reading, cooking or zoning out on certain reality television shows. Top Chef is a current favorite. She eagerly awaits auditions for the cast of “Top Author.” (“Quick Edit” instead of “Quick Fire” Challenge? C’mon, producers! That’s gripping television!)

Connect with Amy

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Friday, January 30, 2015

On Tour: The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

The Grown Ups

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek
Paperback and e-book, 304 pages
Expected publication: January 27, 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks

From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together

The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.

Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.

My thoughts about The Grown Ups ~~

The Grown Ups really is a story about a group of friends who the reader gets to watch grow up. We meet this group when they are in high school and follow them over the next fifteen years.The story is told in alternating voices and we are able to learn so much about the characters; how they feel, how they think about things, what decisions they make. I like reading stories like that where we get to experience all those different points of view.

There are some characters that I really came to care about. And then there were some, one in particular, Suzie, that I just wanted to trottle. She was pretty full of herself and led Sam on for years. Sam, the young man who was deeply in love with her, as deeply as a 15 year can be at that stage of their lives.
'But maybe the real reason was that it had always made her just a little bit angry that Sam was so pliable and that he cared about her feelings, when she had no idea what they were. In the end she hated how she had treated Sam. She hated the person she had become in Sam's eyes and there was no way to take any of it back.'
Overall, this is a wonderful story rich in characters and character growth. It was very interesting watching these young adults turn into grown ups. I found myself thinking about my life as a young adult and how I changed and adapted to fit into the adult world.
'Life was so much simpler when we had nothing to do but hang out by the pool and check out the cute boys.'
I have seen the following passage quoted on other blogs and reviews and it's one that I marked as well while reading the book. This sums up the book nicely and probably speaks to real life in general.
'They were here now, all of them. Relationships slightly rearranged, but still together. That was more than any of them would have imagined years before. They had watched their parents stumble and vowed never to do the same, only to fail one another in entirely different ways. They experienced love, but they also caused disappointment and sorrow. They felt fear, and they knew loss. They ran away, only to return.'
About the author

Robin Antalek

My second novel, The Grown Ups, will be published by William Morrow in January of 2015. It's the story of a group of friends over many years and what they mean to each other. It's about family, about love, about disappointment and heartache. It's about celebrating the small triumphs in life and hanging in there for those you love. It's about longing to be grown up - and then finding out what it really means to one.

The Summer We Fell Apart was published by Harper Collins in January of 2010. It was chosen as a Target Breakout Book.

Connect with Robin

Visit other stops on the tour!

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Release Day: Snake Eyes by Melissa Pearl

Snake Eyes
The Masks Series #3
By Melissa Pearl
January 30, 2015

Caitlyn Davis expects her sophomore year at UCLA to be perfect...until she walks into her dorm room to find Special Agent Zoey Kaplan of the FBI waiting for her. In that instant, she knows her idyllic year with new best friends, Nicole and Dale, along with her super hot boyfriend, Eric, is about to fall apart.

Having been forced to work with the FBI months earlier, Caity accidentally gave away her special ability to read people's emotions and know whether they were telling the truth. Now, Kaplan wants Caity to go undercover again for a secret operation that will bring her close to the sadistic Diego Mendez, a man believed to be involved in human trafficking.

Eric Shore is not a man who trusts easily. Having been burned multiple times, it’s hard for him to open up completely, but his love for Caity makes him want to try. Yet, her sudden withdrawal worries him, particularly when she chooses to spend time with her new roommate, Quella Mendez, over him. When Caity’s behavior begins to match that of her wild roommate, Eric wonders if their relationship is as strong as he believed.

As Caity struggles to maintain her relationship and do her job, she finds herself pulled further into a dangerous world that could take away everything she holds dear. Will Eric learn the truth in time to save her? Or will the man with the eyes of a snake destroy their perfect romance?

Purchase Snake Eyes

~*~About Melissa Pearl~*~

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan... not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. "Best. Year. Ever!!" She now lives in China with her husband and two sons.

She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has continued to produce a steady stream of books, ranging in genres from Fantasy to Contemporary Romance. She loves the variety and is excited about the books she has coming up in 2015.

"I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love."

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Countdown Deal for a Limited Time! One Day This Will All Make Sense by Katie Jansson Shahin, Voices, and an Excerpt

Countdown deal on Amazon Friday through Monday!
One Day This Will All Make Sense for £0.99 / $0.99

One Day This Will All Make Sense

One Day This Will All Make Sense by Katie Jansson Shahin
ebook, 318 pages
Publication date: December 4, 2014

In the three years since Emma, Human Resource professional by trade and writer at heart, moved to Los Angeles from Sweden it has been anything but smooth sailing. When she was offered a new job Emma thought she had finally found the security she’d been looking for since moving to the city of her dreams.

The bliss is short-lived as Emma struggles to adjust in her new role and environment. She fails to learn how to play by the unwritten rules and office politics of corporate America, leaving her defenseless against a new boss who soon makes it clear that he wants her gone. After having put her writing before her HR career for so long, Emma knows it was just a fluke when she was hired and is determined not to let it slip away. But she cracks under the pressure and is ultimately fired. Will she be able to dig herself out again? Or has she peaked at 27? More importantly, will she survive in the city that represents everything she has dreamt of becoming?


Welcome to The Book Bag today Katie! I have this question I like to ask authors. And I love each answer I get. Thanks for taking the time to tell is about your 'voices'.

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?​

You’re absolutely right. There are voices swirling in my head. Writers are a bit odd that way. We live in our head more than most because that’s where the fictional world and characters reside. This is incredibly important in trying to paint a vivid and believable picture. So yes, I did hear voices. But perhaps more curious was the fact that I sometimes confused reality with fiction.

Like many authors, my debut novel was heavily inspired by my own experiences. I moved to Los Angeles from Sweden in the summer of 2010 and “One Day This Will All Make Sense” depicts this journey. I am Emma and many of the scenes and events in my novel are real, but some are not. It’s a non-fiction character in a fictional world. And so many of the voices I heard, was me critiquing myself, wondering what in the world I was thinking, and wishing I had done things differently in a certain scene, only to remind myself—it never happened!


Not one day had passed since I had moved to LA two and half years earlier when I wasn’t grateful and aware of what city I was in. Not one morning had passed that I had driven to work, which was usually around six forty-five a.m., when my mind hadn’t gone completely quiet and at ease at the sight of Vine Street, coming off of the 101 South. I knew I was fortunate. Many young people in Sweden dreamed of moving to LA and tried so hard to find ways to stay once they made it here on a student visa. For the most part, people either got married or never found a way to stay. I, on the other hand, had gotten a green card through my dad since he’d become a naturalized citizen before I turned twenty-one. I continued down Vine Street and saw the W Hotel sign up in the sky, and a few blocks farther down I passed the bright red building that housed The Redbury hotel, with the world famous Capitol Records Building on my right side.

As I got on to the 101 North, driving ten miles an hour in Friday traffic, I wondered to myself what it was about LA that had me so wrapped around its finger. The first time I fell in love with California was when I watched The O.C. Shortly thereafter my dad moved here from Wisconsin, and I was able to go visit the place I had only seen on TV. Of course, the entire show was filmed in LA, but I didn’t know that back then. I then discovered the show Entourage, and that’s when real things started to happen inside me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. Was it the beautiful weather and the smell of freshly-cut grass all year round? Was it the wide streets you could barely cross in time before the streetlight turned red for the pedestrians again? Was it the buildings that on the outside looked like nothing more than a chunk of cement, but on the inside were beautifully decorated lounges? Was it the powerful rush I had gotten the first time I went ninety on the empty freeway at three a.m.? Or was it simply the fact that I knew I was in the same city where all the Hollywood movies came from?

While I saw all the beauty that L.A had to offer, I wasn’t oblivious to all the things that other people usually saw as the downside of moving to LA: the constant sound of traffic and honking; the fuel-filled air and the fog; the enormous city where everything was separated by insane distances; the huge freeways; the above-ground electrical lines; the cracks in the pavement left by earthquakes. I saw all those things too. But my love for this city was an unconditional kind of love—I didn’t love LA despite its flaws. I loved it even more for them. We could be flawed together.

About the author

Katie’s love for writing is versatile. Before taking the big leap into novel writing she focused mostly on screen writing. In addition to that, she has a blog where she writes book reviews and articles on writing: An Authorista’s Blog.

Katie is originally from Sweden but moved to California four years ago and currently resides in the North Bay area just outside of San Francisco. When she’s not working on her writing, she is an HR and recruiting professional. Although her debut novel is not a biography, as you may have guessed One Day This Will All Make Sense is heavily inspired by her own experience moving from Sweden to Los Angeles and her life there.

Connect with Katie

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How Do You Know? (Seeking Happily Ever After, #1) by Meredith Schorr

How Do You Know? 

How Do You Know? by Meredith Schorr
Series: Seeking Happily Ever After, #1
Paperback and e-book, 300 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by Booktrope

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn't look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary "break" from her live-in boyfriend results in a "break-up," Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn't always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

Meredith Schorr, best-selling author of light women's fiction, digs deep in her newest novel and raises the age old issue of the 'proverbial clock' that haunts many women, in a way that is refreshing and sassy no matter your age or relationship status. 

My thoughts about How Do You Know? ~~


Okay, that's the first line of How Do You Know? Isn't that a great first line? How could you just NOT want to keep reading when it starts like that? It made me laugh.
'"I have no idea how I managed to lose my balance while wearing flats but I am fine." I brush the loose dirt off my dress and try not to care that I'm wearing a Spider Man bandage.'
And then she's wearing a Spider Man band-aid? I love this woman! I would so wear one too. I knew right away that this was going to be a character I was going to enjoy and a story that I would not want to put down.

Maggie is celebrating her 39th birthday. She has one year until she turns the big 4-0. And in her mind, she is supposed to have 'made it' by 40. She feels like she hasn't 'made it' and she starts to question everything in her life. She decides she needs to make some changes and those ideas back fire on her.
'Forty is like a train approaching me at warp speed while my shoelace is caught in the track.'
She spends the next 365 days trying to figure out who and what makes her happy.
'Am I a has-been? Am I past my prime?'
She has plenty of support and get lots of advice from her family and friends. Some give more advice than she wants or needs. But those were the characters I enjoyed the most - they really told Maggie what's what. Gotta love Aunt Helen!
'Some say peer pressure is the biggest motivator for people to do things they aren't sure they want to do. I say those people have never met my Aunt Helen.'
How Do You Know? was such a treat to read. I enjoyed every bit of this well written, funny, insightful story.

I have to be honest here. I am a tad past 40 (okay, maybe a bit more than a tad, if I'm completely honest) and I remember worrying about hitting that number. But you know what? It's just a number. And it doesn't really mean anything. And.... I don't act my age. Yikes, that would be bad!
'... my yourthful spirit has not deserted me with the cessation of my thirties, and there is not a damn thing wrong with that.'

And this is book #1 in the Seeking Happily Ever After Series. I have no idea what the rest of the series has in store for us. 

Meredith, if you stop by and read this, please leave a comment and give us some insight about what's next? I know I am going to want to read it! 

About the author

Meredith Schorr

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hard-working trademark paralegal and her still single (but looking) status.

Meredith is also the co-founder of BookBuzz, a live author/reader event held annually. She is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. How Do You Know? is her fourth novel.

Connect with Meredith 

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Reading World Wednesday January 28, 2015

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

What I'm currently reading

When We Fall by Emily Liebert
This is my selection for book club this month. I hope they like it.

Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn (audio book)

What I recently finish reading

Tortured Souls by Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Great story! I can't wait for the next in the series. My thoughts will be posted soon. 

How Do You Know? (Seeking Happily Ever After, #1) by Meredith Schorr
Another wonderful story. My thoughts will be posted soon. 

What I think I'll read next

One Day This Will All Make Sense by Karie Jansson Shahin

What's going on in your reading world this week?

Leave me a link or comment below and I'll check out your reading world. 

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Twin Piques by Tracie Banister

Twin Piques

Twin Piques by Tracie Banister
Kindle Edition, 383 pages
Published January 3rd 2015

Forensic accountant Sloane Tobin and kooky pet psychic Willa may have the same face, but that’s the only thing these identical twins have in common.

How she can read the hearts and minds of animals has always been a mystery to Willa, and her rotten luck with men is equally baffling. Although she’s been looking for “The One” for what feels like forever (A teenage marriage to a French mime and dating a guy named Spider seemed like good ideas at the time!), optimistic Willa refuses to give up on love. When she meets Brody, the handsome rose expert hired to save her grandmother’s garden, she’s instantly smitten, but why does he keep sending her mixed signals? Does he return her feelings, or is their attraction all in her fanciful head?

Unlike her twin, Sloane has zero interest in romance. Her passion is her job, where she uses her gift for numbers to take down slimy embezzlers and asset-hiding spouses. When she’s assigned two high profile cases, Sloane feels confident the promotion she’s been angling for is within her grasp. But will her plan to climb the corporate ladder be thwarted by difficult clients, her co-worker-with-benefits, or – most surprisingly of all – her own sister? And how’s she supposed to stay focused on the drama at work when her childhood friend, Gav, moves in next door and the spark between them becomes impossible to ignore?

To get what they both want, can Willa and Sloane band together and rely on each other’s strengths? Or will their differences drive them apart once and for all?

My thoughts about Twin Piques ~~

Don't you just love this cover? What a perfect cover for a chick-lit novel. It is so darling!

Twin Piques was such a fun story to read. The twin sisters, Willa and Sloane, are a different as night and day but they were wonderful to get to know. I would love to be their friend, there would never be a dull moment with those two.
'"So, the two of you are identical in appearance, but not in your approaches to life?" "Bingo," I confirm him deduction with a smile. "I'm the free-spirited twin. I don't plan things like my sister does. I just follow my heart."'
Willa is truly a romantic at heart and she has the ability to communicate with animals. She can actually hear their thoughts and they can read hers. What a hoot that would be! And when she gets nervous, she just starts talking and talking, rambling on about anything and everything. I love how her mind works, it just made me laugh when she'd get going on something. And she just wants to find that one guy who will be her true love.
'Pulling my phone out of my purse, I text Gav, "Will be late for lunch. helping super stressed dog mom find Lab who knocked up her poodle. Know any police sketch artists?"'
Sloane is the serious, professional one who takes her job very seriously and doesn't have time for love, just a quick lunch time redezvous every once in awhile. She doesn't trust men and is not looking for her one true love. Heck, she doesn't even believe in true love. She has some serious men issues, believe me.
'Men can always be counted on to let you down is a leasson I learned a long time ago.'
'Charming and adorable, two words that would never be used to describe me. Hard to believe Willa and I share the same DNA sometimes.'
I loved these two women and I found myself thinking about them when I wasn't reading the story. I couldn't wait to get back to their world.
'Go after what you want, using your wits, charm, and the element of surprise, and don't let anything stand in your way.'
And there is a reference to cherry pie too, in tribute to that show from the past, Twin Peaks. Remember that show? That was fun! Great job, Tracie! I loved Twin Piques!

About the author

Tracie Banister

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)

Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a "real" job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. Twin Piques is her third Chick Lit release. The pet psychic character in this novel was inspired by Tracie’s rascally rescue dogs. She’d love to know what goes on in their heads!

Connect with Tracie

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Spotlight and a Giveaway! The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

I have sooooo many books! I have a ton of print books and probably even more e-books. The Book Spotlight feature that I typically post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the books I have. There are a lot of different reasons that I might be letting some of my books go, the biggest one is that we recently moved and I discovered how many books I really do have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy them.

The book that I am featuring this week is one that is on my TBR list. When we moved, I discovered that I had this on my Kindle so I am letting my paperback copy go. I really need to read this series!

Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!

The Hangman's Daughter

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch
Series: A Hangman's Daughter #1
Paperback, and e-book, 448 pages
Published December 7th 2010 by AmazonCrossing

Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play.

So begins The Hangman's Daughter -- the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch -- a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

Book Trailer

About the author

Oliver Pötzsch

Oliver Pötzsch is a German writer and filmmaker. After high school he attended the German School of Journalism in Munich from 1992 to 1997. He then worked for Radio Bavaria. In addition to his professional activities in radio and television, Pötzsch researched his family history. He is a descendant of the Kuisle, from the 16th to the 19th Century a famous dynasty of executioners in Schongau.

Connect with Oliver

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