Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Winners Post!

I still had a few giveaways left that I needed to get squared away. 


Thanks to everyone for your participation and I hope that we will still be in touch from time to time. I will eventually be back, in some capacity or another, LOL! Winners will be notified later today and publishers shortly. 


In the meantime, here are the last winners for awhile:


Pumped for Murder by Elaine Viets
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: Nancy B. 










All Sales Fatal by Laura Disilvero
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: mamabunny13










Written in Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt
Publisher: Balboa Press
Winner: lknott








Mrs. Jefferies Defends Her Own by Emily Brightwell
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: Ann








Murder on Sisters Row by Victoria Thompson
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: Carol M.








Just Say Yes by Phillipa Ashley
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Winner: Deb Soliz










Quilt or Innocence by Elizabeth Craig
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: Angela/griperang

All Good Things...

Hi everyone! It's been almost a month since my last post. There have been a lot of reasons for that, some health related, some emotional and a good deal just the cares of life. 


I have really enjoyed blogging and being able to express my feelings about books and authors and everything that makes the blog universe great. It has been a wonderful experience and one that I will never forget. I got the chance to talk to a lot of great people and offer some great giveaways. I will miss being with you on a regular basis, but as they say "All good things... must come to an end." 


I will continue to blog on occasion, as I still have several books from publishers that I want to eventually post reviews for, but it will be awhile before I will be doing that. After those books are done, I will still post about books I am reading here and there whether they be new books coming out or old favorites. 


I will be posting a winners post for the final giveaways on my side bar either later today or tomorrow. 


I want to thank everyone for your wonderful comments and your great insights into wonderful books and authors. It's been a great ride, but sometimes other things have to become more important and that's basically where I am. 


Best Wishes and remember.... 


"Books are uniquely portable Magic!"  


                                                 ~ Stephen King~


Grab a book bag of your own and fill it to the brim!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Quilt or Innocence

Quilt or Innocence (Southern Quilting Mystery Series - Book 1) by Elizabeth Craig

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0451237330
ISBN: 0451237331

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)


Elizabeth Craig on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Excerpt from Quilt or Innocence

Synopsis:

Retired folk art curator Beatrice Coleman knows everything there is to know about quilts, except how to make them. But with her recent move to Dappled Hills, North Carolina, she's learning all sorts of new things--including how to solve a murder.

As the newest member of the Village Quilters Guild, Beatrice has a lot of gossip to catch up on—especially with the Patchwork Cottage quilt shop about to close. It seems that Judith, the landlord everyone loves to hate, wants to raise the rent, despite being a quilter herself…

But when Judith is found dead, the harmless gossip becomes an intricate patchwork of mischievous motives. And it’s up to Beatrice’s expert eye to decipher the pattern and catch the killer, before her life gets sewn up for good.

Thoughts:

The first book in the Southern Quilting mystery series by Elizabeth Craig is a delightful romp in the country for a one-time city dweller. Quilt or Innocence is a cozy on a mission! Folk art curator, Beatrice is about to learn to quilt and solve murders at the same time, no less. With lots of Southern charm and plenty of suspects this murder mystery is a great new addition to the sub-genre that readers will love.


Both of my grandmothers were avid quilters. As a little girl I used to love to watch them cut the fabrics and sew the quilt-tops and finally do the actual quilting. They would often work on quilts together, one stitching on one corner of the quilt and the other on another corner. They chatted and talked about what was going on in the families, from who was having a new baby to who was getting married. It was an enjoyable time and one of my fondest memories of them. Elizabeth Craig's new book, Quilt or Innocence certainly made me nostalgic for that more simple time in my life.


Dappled Hills, North Carolina reminded me of Mayberry. It was quaint and crime free on the surface, but when you got to digging there was a lot going on in this little town. It might have been relatively tame before, but now there is murder afoot. I liked the town and it's people. Some of them were a bit out there, like Meadow, the police chiefs wife and some there were just plain mean like Judith. But all of them had very distinct personalities. Craig did a great job of giving each character their own story and way of looking at the world. I thought she did an amazing job of showing the stark differences between the women of Dappled Hills and Beatrice who comes to them from Atlanta.


Beatrice is a great heroine for a lot of reasons. Her career has centered around Folk Art for many years as a former curator of a folk art museum. But knowing "about" quilts is not the same as knowing how to make one. I loved the fact that Beatrice seems so out of her element in this small town. She has her daughter Piper there, but I doesn't seem to realize that it would be possible to make other friends here. I liked the fact that seemed surprised that she had anything in common with these women and that she wanted to help them. She is the perfect amateur sleuth. She understands patterns and ways of doing things, that help to figure out suspects and motives that other might never have thought of. I can't wait to read more about her in subsequent books in this series.


I think Elizabeth Craig is on to something with this one. It's a great start to a new cozy series. I enjoyed the characters and thought the mystery itself was clever and full of surprises. The secondary characters were certainly memorable and I really enjoyed Meadow's eccentric outlook on life. The police chief seems to have his heart in the right place when it comes to crime, now he just needs to get his head to follow. Beatrice is a great amateur sleuth with and I can't wait to see how she acclimates to the country. This is a great new series that cozy fans won't want to miss!

Quilt or Innocence is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!


Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer's Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.


As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles duties as Girl Scout leader, referees play dates, drives carpools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips.


GIVEAWAY DETAILS

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of  Quilt or Innocence  by Elizabeth Craig.

~You must be a GFC follow or an E-mail subscriber to participate.
~U.S. addresses only.
~Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST June 20th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on this post, not the form.
2.Please fill out the FORM.

Review: Just Say Yes

Just Say Yes by Phillipa Ashley

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Paperbacks, 368pp.
ISBN-13: 978-1402241437
ISBN: 1402241437

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks Landmark)


Phillipa Ashley on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Excerpt from Just Say Yes Courtesy Of Amazon's Inside Look Feature

Synopsis:

There's one question a girl should always say yes to...

But Lucy Gibson said no. On national TV. Now she's hated by nearly everyone.

Fleeing the spotlight's glare, Lucy holes up in a cottage in the country, where she just might find the right reasons to say yes after all...

From beloved novelist Philipa Ashley, Just Say Yes is a sharp and exuberant tale of the rocky road to love that'll leave you saying "Yes!"

Thoughts:

With Reality TV sharing a lot of the spot light these days, Phillipa Ashley's book, Just Say Yes is a timely and relevant novel.It's about a young woman who rejects a proposal on national television that spurs some much needed changes in her life. Ashley's character's are quirky and eccentric and most importantly flawed. Live and love can be a never ending roller-coaster and Ashley portrays it with all the humor and heartache that comes with it!


I will admit that I don't read too many British authors. Mostly that's because I am not exposed to that many of them in my normal reading habits. But Phillipa Ashley has become one of my favorites. Her books are delightfully English in every way. From the dialogue and setting to the quaint and often hilarious British humor that her characters are brimming with. Often in books, I think readers are looking for something out of their normal scope and for me this is just that kind of book. I don't read contemporary romance that often either, but again Phillipa Ashley is an author that fills that niche for me. Two birds with one stone, as they say.


Just Say Yes is a wonderfully written book that is easy and fun to read. It can be read in a couple of sittings and readers will be left feeling happy and end with a smile on their faces. Ashley uses a lot of wit and humor in her writing with her characters and with her situations. Not accepting a proposal on national television doesn't sound too funny, considering the fallout for heroine, Lucy Gibson. She becomes one of the most hated women in England due to her refusal to Nick. But Ashley makes this a very light romp to the seaside where Lucy gets her escape from the limelight but finds herself in one amusing situation after another. The banter between the characters is enjoyable and full of hilarity.


Lucy is a great character. She is by no means perfect. But her flaws make her all the more lovable. She reminds me in some ways of a modern Bridget Jones. She has a job she can't stand, ends up partying and drinking too much and then she ditches her fiance on TV. But once she decides to make positive changes in her life, she doesn't look back. She continues to grow throughout this book and readers will find her journey enchanting. At first it seems she's picked the wrong man again with Josh, who has a girlfriend. But things take a lot of twists and turns and throughout it all Lucy makes the kinds of changes she longs for and needs in her life. I loved the character development in this one. 


The secondary characters from Lucy's best friend Fiona and her neighbor Charlie to her dog make a great impression on the reader. Fiona is an eccentric author who always has some quirky advice for Lucy, but she supports even when she doesn't like her choices. Charlie seems like a great friend. He is always there to pick up the pieces when Lucy falls apart with a smile and laugh that make her want to see what else life has in store. Hengist, the dog was a favorite of mine. Cavorting with Josh's Lab was one of Hengist's favorite activities and it got Lucy in all sorts of messes. 

This is a great book. It's light, it's funny and it's a great romance. You can't go wrong with those qualities in a good book. Give it a try, I think you'll like it.

Just Say Yes is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!


Phillipa Ashley studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University before working as a freelance copy-writer and journalist. She lives in an English village with her husband and daughter.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview and Giveaway: Phillipa Ashley



Please join me in welcoming Phillipa Ashley back to Debbie's Book Bag! Phillipa is here promoting her latest release, Just Say Yes. The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Phillipa's book, see details at the end of the post. 

DEB: Phillipa, this is not the first time you've been with us here at Debbie's Book Bag. Tell us what you've been up to.
PA: First let me say a huge thanks for inviting me back, Debbie! What have I been up to? Well, I’ve been busy launching the four romantic novels which have been published in the USA by Sourcebooks. I’ve also been writing and editing two longer romances which are being published in the UK and other parts of the world by Piatkus Entice (part of Hachette) from October 2012.
 

DEB: Tell us about your latest release, Just Say Yes. Is this a single title, a part of a series, etc.
PA: It’s a single title. On the surface it’s a romantic romp, hopefully it will make you laugh and the ending is one of the most romantic I’ve ever written. It’s also something of a comment on reality TV culture and the pressure people are under to get together for the wrong reasons.
 

DEB: You've written some really wonderful female characters in your career. What makes Lucy Gibson special? How does she stand out from the others?
PA: Thank you! One UK reviewer once commented that Lucy the kind of woman who doesn’t recognize her own inner beauty. I like that because she does grow from a caterpillar to butterfly by the end of the book, not physically but emotionally. She starts out in a job that doesn’t stretch her and not really knowing what she wants or needs from a relationship. She’s a little na├»ve but her eyes are opened as she learns to respect herself and take on new challenges – and that’s really when she starts to realize who her soul mate is.
 

DEB: What kind of research did you do for this novel? Were there specific aspects of the book that you needed more information for?
PA: I watched some reality TV which I don’t like much as you’ll see from the book! The premise of the novel came from an Internet story about an American guy who had proposed to his girlfriend during the commercials in an episode of Veronica Mars. She was filmed live as she gave her reaction. Happily, their story had a good ending but I thought: that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone… what if she’d said no?  
 

DEB: Do you have advice for new writers?
PA: Be persistent and aim to be the person who never gave up. You may get lots of rejections but you’ll learn so much along the way and one day your book will strike the perfect note with an editor.
 

DEB: What are you working on right now? Or what are your plans for the future as far as writing goes?
PA: My next book is called Miranda’s Mount and that’s out in October 2012 with Piatkus Entice in the UK and other countries. I am currently in the middle of writing a second book for Entice.
 

DEB: Do you have a favorite author or genre? What do you read when you have the opportunity?
PA: I like sexy and sweet romance. Some of my fave US authors are Rachel Gibson, Jill Shalvis and Bella Andre and I love UK authors like Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde.
 

DEB: Tell us one thing about you that readers may not know?
PA: I’ve got some stuff on my Kindle I don’t want anyone to know about…okay; it’s only 50 Shades but….
 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS


The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy of Just Say Yes by Phillipa Ashley.

~You must be a GFC follow or an E-mail subscriber to participate.
~U.S. addresses only.
~Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST June 18th .

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on this post, not the form.
2.Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: The Book of Summers

The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall

Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 368pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0778314110
ISBN: 0778314111

(Received for an honest review from Mira Books)


Emylia Hall on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Excerpt from The Book of Summers Courtesy Of Amazon's Inside Look Feature

Synopsis:

For nine-year-old Beth Lowe, it should have been a magical summer—sun-kissed days lounging in rickety deck chairs, nights gathered around the fire. But what begins as an innocent vacation to Hungary ends with the devastating separation of her parents. Beth and her father return home alone, leaving her mother, Marika, behind. 

Over the next seven summers, Beth walks a tightrope between worlds, fleeing her quiet home and distant father to bask in the intoxicating Hungarian countryside with Marika. It is during these enthralling summers that Beth comes to life and learns to love. But at sixteen, she uncovers a life-shattering secret, bringing her sacred summers with Marika abruptly to an end.

Now, years later, Beth receives a package containing a scrapbook, a haunting record of a time long forgotten. Suddenly, she is swept back to the world she left behind, forced to confront the betrayal that destroyed her—and to search her heart for forgiveness.

Thoughts:

Emylia Hall's debut novel, The Book of Summers is a book that readers will not soon forget. It is a coming-of-age story about a young girl living in quietude in England with her father through the year and spending amazing summers with her wild Hungarian mother. Hall's debut is a poignant story about growing up and the secrets that sometimes destroy families. The characters are well drawn and Hall's descriptions of Hungry make it almost seem like a magical land. An extraordinary debut novel by a gifted writer!


This is probably not a book I would have picked up in my local book store or the library. I tend to stay away from contemporary fiction unless it has a paranormal bent and this one certainly did not. That's why I am particularly glad that I chose to accept the invitation to review it. Otherwise I would have missed out on a remarkable book. 

Emlylia Hall's debut is a vibrant story that will stick with the reader even after the last page is turned. Hall's experiences summering in rural Hungry were obviously her inspiration of this novel and it shows just how much she must have loved her time there. Her descriptions of the scenery and the laid back atmosphere are so well written that readers will be longing to experience it for themselves. Hungry is a not a place that I would have considered for a vacation. I never thought of it as a beautiful place, but Hall certainly makes a strong case for this enchanting country. Her descriptions do get a bit long in places and drawn out, but that doesn't hinder the overall reading of the book. It was magical!


Beth is a young woman living in London who spent her childhood in a divided home. On a vacation to Hungry after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Marika, Beth's mother decides that she will not return with Beth and her father to England, thus abandoning them. Beth spends most of her year with her father who enjoys quiet and solitude. Nothing exciting ever happens and she longs for the summers she spends in Hungry with her mother. Every important moment in her life seems to happen during those magical summers including her first love with a Hungarian boy named Tomas. Unfortunately, when Beth decides she wants to remain in Hungry instead of returning to her father in England she learns that parents sometimes make decisions that change the course of their children's lives forever.


Fifteen years later Beth is a somewhat bitter young woman, estranged from her mother and rarely seeing her father. When her father brings her a scrapbook sent by her recently deceased mother, Beth is forced to face her past and find forgiveness somewhere in her heart. I loved the whole idea of the scrapbook and how it allowed the story to hop back and forth through time. Readers are seeing Beth today and they also get to see her as a young girl through her memories. This literary technique was used very well by Hall and gives the reader a chance to see how Beth became the way she is now. 


Hall contrasts the life Beth lives with her father in England against the more relaxed and enchanting life she lives when she is with her mother in Hungry. When I first started reading I remember thinking that these two were so completely different people, it must have been the law of opposites that brought them together. I loved the way Hall shows how each part of Beth's life shapes her and makes her into the young woman she becomes. I was really interested in what her mother could have revealed to her that would have made her want nothing else to do with her and how that surrounded the fact that she wanted to stay with her mother. Hall keeps the reader guessing until late in the book and the conclusion of that mystery was extremely satisfying. 


This is a really amazing book that many readers who enjoy books about women and families will love. The family dynamics in this one are very enjoyable to read about. I loved the look into a young girls adolescent dreams as well. Her first love and how her relationship with her parents evolved. I don't think I would necessarily consider this one a chick-lit novel, because it is more than that. It is very evocative and readers will quickly become emotionally invested in the story. This is one debut, you don't want to miss!

The Book of Summers is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!


Emylia Hall was born in 1978 and grew up in the Devon countryside, the daughter of an English artist and a Hungarian quilt-maker. After studying at York University and in Lausanne, Switzerland, Emylia spent five years working in a London ad agency, before moving to the French Alps. It was there that she began to write. Emylia now lives in Bristol with her husband, also an author. Chosen by ELLE as one of the most anticipated debut novelists for 2012, Emylia was also one of three writers to appear in the Red Pages Hot 100. THE BOOK OF SUMMERS is her first novel, and is inspired by evocative memories of childhood holidays spent in rural Hungary.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

May - June Mini Challenge

It's time again for another Mini Challenge. This challenge is open to those who signed up to be a part of the 2012 Cozy Mystery Challenge here on Debbie's Book Bag!

What do you think of when you think about summer? Fun in the sun, beaches, ice cream, sunglasses, boating... there are many things that just say summer! This months challenge is pretty simple find a cozy mystery that something that's related to summer in the title. It can be a loose interpretation, but I will be checking to see if I think all titles are appropriate. Here are a few titles to get you started:

Fire Cracker by Shirley Kennett
Hot Property by Bente Gallagher
The Red, White and Blue by Jeanne M. Dams
Dog Days by Carol Cox
Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardner by M.C. Beaton

Enjoy your reading! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Winners!

It's time again for another winners post! We've had several giveaways ending in the last couple of weeks on Debbie's Book Bag and I've now chosen the winners! All books will be sent out directly from the publisher. Winners will be notified later today and publishers on Monday. 

If you've won the same book somewhere else, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can choose a new winner. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for your book to arrive before contacting me. I will do everything I can for you, but cannot make any guarantees. Thanks for your participation!


A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: Ann





Spiders Web by Earlene Fowler
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: AnnaZed





The Courtesan's Lover by Gabrielle Kimm
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Winners: mamabunny13 & Idris




The Big Kitty by Claire Donally
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: Karen B.





The Girls Guide to (Man) Hunting by Jessica Clare
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Winner: Kara D.

Deborah Harkness Facebook Contest

Many of you read the highly acclaimed first book in the All Souls trilogy, A Discovery of Witches by Deboarh Harkness. It was easily one of my favorite books of the year when it debuted and like many of you, I have been waiting with baited breath for the second novel in the series, Shadow of Night which is scheduled for release in July. 

In lieu of all the interest in this book and its author I would like to make mention of a contest that Deborah Harkness is hosting on her facebook page. Leading up to the book’s publication.  Every Friday from June 1st to July 6th, four winners will be selected to receive an advance copy of SHADOW OF NIGHT signed by Deborah and sample bottles of two perfumes specially selected to represent the scents of Matthew and Diana. 

To enter, click on this link to go to the contest page and good luck! 

I will be reviewing Shadow of Night and look forward to seeing what you all think of it as well. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review: The Ride of Her Life

The Ride of Her Life (Lake Manawa Summers - Book 3) by Lorna Seilstad

Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Genre: Christian Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 381pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0800734473
ISBN: 0800734475

(Received for an honest review from Revell)


Lorna Seilstad on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Books In The Series: Making Waves (2010), A Great Catch (2011), The Ride of Her Life (2012)

Coverart: Click on the image for a clearer, larger picture of the books in this series.


Excerpt from The Ride of Her Life Courtesy Of Amazon's Inside Look Feature

Synopsis:

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa.

Thoughts:

The Ride of Her Life is the conclusion of Lorna Seilstad's Lake Manawa Summers series. It is the third book in the series and continues to entertain readers who are looking for great Christian fiction with a historical setting. Set in 1906 this book takes up the story of Lilly Hart, a widow determined to provide for herself and her young son despite the interference of her in-laws. Seilstad strikes a good balance between Christian principals and the realism of life. Her characters are three dimensional with personality and feelings, that readers will see on each page. A great conclusion to a rewarding series. 


Lorna Seilstad returns with another great story, set at Lake Manawa. The previous books in the series also take place at this wonderful locale and readers will enjoy returning to this turn of the century time period in book three. Readers were first introduced to Lilly Hart in book one and now she has her own story to tell. One of the things I particularly like about this series is that the heroes and heroines from all three books appear in the other books. They can each be read as a stand alone, but there is definitely enough connection that readers know the books are related. Personally, I think that books in a series need that connectivity to be considered a real series. 


Seilstad has a way of writing her characters that will attract the reader. And this book is not an exception. Lilly is a resourceful young woman who knows the value of hard work. Lilly has a young son to provide for and wealthy in-laws who would prefer a more refined approach to his upbringing including boarding school. It's been three years since her husbands death and Lilly wants some freedom. She wants to live her life and raise her son as she sees fit. I liked her resolve and her need of independence. I also liked the fact that though Nick would be a great addition to Lilly and Levi's life, he would not be a replacement for Ben. I think readers will identify with Lilly and feel passionately about her finding love again. 


Nick is such a great character. I loved the fact that Seilstad gave him a challenging career and personality. I certainly would never have thought of a roller-coaster designer as a hero in a Christian fiction book. That gave it a sense of novelty that was appealing. Nick is also very determined and he doesn't give up easily. Perseverance in this case it what it takes to make Lilly forget her fears and learn to trust again. Nick was willing to stand up for Lilly and her son and that made all the difference in my opinion. Readers will love Nick's attitude and the way he cares for those he loves.


Levi is of course the star of the show in my opinion. Lilly's six year old son is a typical boy. He loves bugs and creepy crawlies and finds himself in some comical situations. Seilstad gave a Levi a zest for life that is contagious as you read about him. He sees the world from a simple and innocent perspective that will tug at the readers heart strings. I thought he really made this book.


This is the conclusion of the Lake Manawa Summers series and I think Seilstad did a great job of wrapping it up. She was able to bring out her theme of trust for this novel well. She doesn't beat the reader over the head, but allows her Christian message to seep into the fabric of the book. It is clearly Christian fiction, but it's also something more... it's just a good romance. The relationship between Lilly and Nick is sweet and tender and realistic for the time period. The interfering in-laws was a good catalyst for the story and helped to move it along. I liked a lot of things about this book including the sense of laid back summer holidays and fun things like rides and water sports. It gave this book and the series a lazy summer day kind of feel that was just what I wanted. You've gotta read this one! It's a goody!

The Ride of Her Life is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!


A history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves and draws her setting from her home state of Iowa. A former high school English and Journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: The Watchers

The Watchers by Jon Steele

Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Thriller
Pages: Hardcover, 592pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0399158742
ISBN: 039915874X

(Received for an honest review from Blue Rider Press)



Jon Steele on the WEB: Webpage, Twitter, Facebook

Books In The Series: The Watchers (2012), Angel City (coming 2012)
  
Excerpt from The Watchers

Synopsis:

Beneath Lausanne Cathedral, in Switzerland, there is a secret buried before time began, something unknown to angels and men, until now...

Marc Rochat watches over the city at night from the belfry of the cathedral. He lives in a world of shadows and "beforetimes" and imaginary beings.


Katherine Taylor, call girl and daydreamer, is about to discover that her real-life fairy tale is too good to be true.


Jay Harper, private detective, wakes up in a crummy hotel room with no memory. When the telephone rings and he's offered a job, he knows he has no choice but to accept.

Three lives, one purpose: save what's left of paradise before all hell breaks loose.

Thoughts:

Three unlikely heroes, an ancient book, and a long buried secret are brought to light in Jon Steele's first book, The Watchers. The Watchers is a book that oozes atmosphere and historic reference while engaging the reader and captivating their interest. Steele's use of setting and mood is excellent and his plot is multi-layered and complex. At over 500 pages it isn't a book for the faint of heart, but readers who expect the unexpected in their favorite novels will love it!

A lot of things generally work together to create a well written book. Each genre has its own set of rules and expectations. Authors look at many kinds of factors when deciding on settings and characteristics of the people in their books. Once in awhile the stars aline and an author strikes a perfect balance between what the readers want and the story he or she was meant to write. Those books are the ones that stick with you after you read them. Those are the books that mean something to you. It might be because of a specific character or because of a certain scene. Regardless those books make a lasting impression. The Watchers is just such a book.

When I say it's not for the faint of heart I mean a combination of things. It's a little on the long side, for readers who are used to 300 pages or less and many won't tackle it because of that. Don't let that stop you! This is a book that starts out a little slow, but the build-up is amazing. Steele doesn't just tell the reader what's happening or how a person is, he shows readers through the actions of the character, which make take a little longer, but gives a great pay off. It makes the characters seem more real and more authentic. There is a little violence here and there in this book, but I think that kind of tension is necessary and has many benefits. It gives the plot a sense of urgency that propels it toward the climax of the story.

I loved the characters in this book for several reasons. The were unexpected and different from what a might expect for the heroes and heroines. Marc is innocent and looks at the world in a totally different way than most heroes. He isn't looking for gratification or power or even prestige. He only wants to protect a sacred and quiet place, to continue the legacy of solitude the cathedral personifies. He may be a little slow about some things, but readers will quickly figure out just how wise he is.

Katherine is a call girl. Certain not typical heroine materiel. She finds herself in the middle of something she never saw coming. Her career as a high priced escort comes at a much higher cost than she is expecting. I liked her sass and her devil may care attitude, but also the vulnerability that lies beneath that facade of strength. 

Jay isn't hero materiel either. He doesn't know who he is, but he obviously is a hard drinker and has aspirations of grandeur.  His no nonsense attitude was perfect for a PI on a mission to find out whether Olympic athletes are part of a doping scandal. He has amnesia and he doesn't really seem to know where to go from here. But he stumbles across a book that changes everything. This hodge podge cast would not have any reason to interact, yet the come together in such a way that is explosive in this book. I loved the way Steele drew them toward the cathedral for different reasons and let that be the center piece of the book.

To say the setting of Lusiane Switzerland was good is an understatement. It is obvious that Steele is very familiar with the town and it's customs and people. His descriptions are breath taking in some areas and leave little out. I loved the haunted kind of eerie feeling he evokes throughout this book, by using a holy relic and the supernatural to bring about where he wanted this book to go. I loved it... and if you give it a chance, I know you will too. It's long and it's riveting... the perfect combination!

The Watchers is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



Jon Steele worked as an award-winning cameraman for twenty-two years, traveling and working through more than seventy countries across six continents for Independent Television News of London.  While based in Moscow and Jerusalem, Steele wrote War Junkie, a gut-wrenching memoir covering a year in the life of a news cameraman.  The book was published in 2002 and is today recognized as a cult classic of war reportage.  In 2003, in Baghdad on the eve of the Iraq War, Steele became disillusioned with television news, put his camera on the ground and quit.

THE WATCHERS is Steele’s first novel. He now lives in Switzerland.

Preview: Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre: Romantic Fiction
Pages: Hardcover, Paperback, 368pp.
ISBN-13:978-0525952862
ISBN: 0525952861




Pre-Order: Amazon(Hardcover), Barnes & Noble(Hardcover), Book Depository(Hardcover,Paperback), Indiebound(hardcover)

Julie Garwood on the WEB: Webpage, Twitter, Facebook

Synopsis:

With more than 36 million copies of her book in print, Julie Garwood's reputation a a masterful storyteller is founded in her ability to deliver stories with fascinating characters, powerful emotions, and surprising suspenseful plot twists. readers claim that it's the humor and wit, as well as the poignancy of her novels that keep them laughing, crying and thoroughly entertained...

Now in SWEET TALK (Dutton; August 7, 2012), Garwood introduces us to Attorney and IRS agent Olivia Mackenzie, a tough, empathetic woman who fights for the underdog despite the personal cost. When she meets FBI Agent Grayson Kinkaid, sparks fly and the chase begins. With a plot that is fresh and current as it is compelling, it is easy to see why Julie is considered a master of her craft. SWEET TALK is as captivating as they come proving once again that "Garwood has become a trusted brand name in romantic fiction." (People Magazine)

Sweet Talk is available for PRE-ORDER NOW from your favorite bookseller.

Julie Garwood is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Sizzle, Fire and Ice, Shadow Music, Shadow Dance, and Slow Burn. She lives near Kansas City.