Friday, August 1, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Virgin

Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: New Adult
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425278336
ISBN-13: 978-0425278338

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Radhika Sanghani on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, Virgin, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

For those who grew up on Judy Blume—and graduated to Lena Dunham—a “hilarious”* debut...

“Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, meet your wisecracking, vagina obsessed match. Sanghani's debut is a hilarious, irreverent look at smart-alecky, painfully self-concious, 21-year-old Ellie's relentless mission to rectify a disasterous first attempt at performing oral sex, get deflowered, find the perfect Brazilian wax, avoid her tradition-bound Greek mother's nagging, graduate summa cum laude, be a writer, and fit in...This story for millennials is a wonderful blend of modern agnst with old-fashioned sweetness.” -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Even Bridget Jones’s Diary could take a page from this novel."—*Joan Rivers


Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.

Yet.
This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?
It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.
The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?
Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?
I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.
Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.


Thoughts:

Radhika Sanghani's debut novel is an irreverent look at the struggles of a young woman in today's highly sexual world. The book discusses a lot of topics that are considered taboo by many, but are basically rites of passage for young women. Sanghani does a wonderful job at poking fun and making light of a subject that is often taken way too seriously. This one is written in a conversational manner. The way you would talk to your closest girlfriends and that truly makes all the difference. A very subjective, yet humorous tale.

What I liked

Let's face it today's world is all about sex and the protagonist of Sanghani's novel, Virgin is just that... a virgin at twenty-one. So much has been written about this topic over the years that I was expecting the same old tried and true story of a young girl and her first sexual experience. But, Shanghani took Ellie's predicament into a totally different direction than expected and honestly I have mixed feelings about it. 

I loved the fact that Sanghani made sex, funny. She uses a lot of irreverent humor and makes something that is often hard to talk about, seem the normal thing that it is. Everyone wants it, everyone needs it, so why do we as individuals have such a problem talking about it? Something I never understood. It should not be a taboo subject. I liked the way that Sanghani put it all out there and made light of it. It is funny, if you think about it. How young women obsess over it, when it becomes something that is as natural as breathing. 

I like the fact that Sanghani writes this book in a conversational manner. Like the talks you have with girlfriends about sex and not like a clinical manual. She puts all the facts out there, but in a way that makes you feel safe and good about the fact that other people probably think the same way you do. I thought it was extremely easy to identify with. We've all been there and it was nice to see that portrayed through Ellie.

What I didn't like

This is the part where my mixed feelings come in. Ellie is 21 years old and her friends have all been having sex for awhile. I suppose I am a bit old fashioned about some things and if this were my daughter instead of a character in a book, I would be a little scared about that fact that 21 is too old, not to have had sex. As a young woman, you are just starting to learn who you are and what you want out of life at that age. I don't think 21 is too old, at all. It just needs to be the right time for each individual. So that part bugged me a bit.

There is a time a place for 'naughty talk' and Ellie just didn't have the knack for when to use and when not to. That took a bit of getting used to for me. As a character it made Ellie seem very immature. I had a hard time getting over the fact that Ellie was 21, but she acted like she was about 14 for the most part. I was expecting a character that was more grounded and not so caught up in what others thought about her virginity. Though the subject matter is light, there is still a seriousness about having sex for the first time and that was a bit lost here.

Bottom Line:

I liked this book. I liked the humor, the tone of the writing, the fact that sex was considered normal and not taboo. I liked how the author was able to make it conversational. But I also found myself wanting a stronger lead character. Someone who understood that sex doesn't have to be on a timetable. It just needs to be right. Ellie's immaturity was somewhat off-putting at times. And her language seemed more for shock affect than anything else. 

Virgin will be available from your favorite bookstore, August 5th. It is available for pre-order now!

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




About the Author:

Radhika Sanghani is a journalist for The Daily Telegraph where she specialises in writing about women and women’s issues.  She has an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City University London, a BA in English Literature from University College London, and recently came second in GQ's Norman Mailer writing competition.  This is her debut novel.  She is currently working on a sequel which follows Ellie into ‘The Slut Years.’


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Virgin by Radhika Sanghani.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, August 15th.

1. Please leave a comment about your own first experiences with your sexuality. Don't worry we are all friends here and no one's preferences are anybody's business but their own...
2. Please fill out the FORM 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Winner's Post!

There were several giveaways going on during the time I was away from the blog due to issues with my health. 

I have chosen winners for all of these giveaways and plan to send the information to the publicists today or tomorrow. Since it has been two months I am not sure about whether they will honor the prizes for these giveaways. I am hopeful that they will, but I ask that you be patient with their time table on sending them and if they do not send them, be understanding. I apologize for your inconvenience in filling out the forms and that sort of thing if they do not send them, but I understand their point of view as well.

Some readers have asked me a few questions about my health and I thought I would take the time to answer a few of them here. I have a very rare form of Type 1 Diabetes that can be very debilitating at times. I have spent time on and off in the hospital since I was young with complications ranging from severe low blood sugar to trauma with my kidneys which nearly took my life in 2013. I have been unable to drive for some time because I have diabetic unawareness, which means that I cannot tell when I am having a low because I am low most of the time and can pass out without even knowing I am having trouble which is dangerous to myself and others on the road. I also have issues with diabetic neuropathy, which involves the loss of feeling in my feet. I have damage to eye sight and a lot of other little things that all add up at times to force me to take a break. I have been involved in a clinical trial for a new medication for my disorder for the last ten years which has significantly reduced my symptoms and has allowed my heart to recover from the medicinal strain from previous medications, but it still a daily battle. 

Blogging has been a salvation for me in some ways. I have always been a person who worked hard and was able to provide for my family, I am a single mother of 2 teenage girls. When I became unable to work due to illness it was a bit devastating for me. I felt a bit useless and still do sometimes. But blogging has made that a lot easier. I feel like I am able not only to provide my readers with good quality reviews of books, but I also am doing a service for the authors in promoting their work and getting their names out there. I am privileged to have the opportunity to do that. A book that I am featuring in August by cozy mystery author Paige Shelton, has a quote from Debbie's Book Bag on the cover. How amazing is that? I'm over the moon about it! 

I want you to know that I appreciate all of you and your good wishes and I hope to be blogging for a long time to come. If I disappear from time to time with no warning, it's generally due to issues with my health and I will try to get someone to post for me if possible.

Now to the good stuff!

The winners are:


The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie
Winner: Debra Bechard






The Sweetheart Rules by Shirley Jump
Winner: Anita Yancey






A Shocking Delight by Jo Beverly
Winner: bn100






Wild Wolf by Jennifer Ashley
Winner: Texas Book Lover






Prince's Fire by Amy Raby
Winner: Anne Berger






Hope Ignites by Jaci Burton
Winner: Charlotte






Ghost Seer by Robin D. Owens
Winner: Ericka Larson Cooper






Drowning in Fire by Hannah Martine
Winner: Natasha Donohoo






Wildflower Wedding by Luann McLane
Winner: Laura Dogsman Roth






Surrender to Temptation by Lauren Jameson
Winner: Lisa Garrett





Unwound by Lorelei James
Winner: Lily B.






Teach me a Lesson by Jasmine Haynes
Winner: Michelle Fidler






Torn by Kim Karr
Winner: Carol Beyner






Wicked Games by Angela Knight
Winner: Ericka Larson Cooper






Dangerously Bound by Eden Bradley
Winner: Dawn Hanson






Mercy by Helen K. Dimon
Winner: Karen Gagnon






The Goodbye Witch by Heather Blake
Winner: Angela Butz






Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay
Winner: Carol M.






Murder in Merino by Sally Goldenbaum
Winner: Kimberly Wyatt






It Happened One Wedding by Julie James
Winner: Chelsea Brooks





The Pickled Piper by Mary Ellen Hughes
Winner: Rita Wray






Angora Alibi by Sally Goldenbaum
Winner: Sue Farrell






Dead, White and Blue by Carolyn Hart
Winner: Barbara Tobey






Last Licks by Claire Donally
Winner: Alicia Forage






A Tiger's Tale by Laura Morrigan
Winner: Martha Lawson






A Dollhouse to Die For by Cate Price
Winner: Angela Holland






Murder Gone A-Rye by Nancy J. Parra
Winner: Linda Kish






Board Stiff by Elaine Viets
Winner: Lisa Brown






A Beautiful Distraction by Kelsie Leverich
Winner: Jane





A Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle
Winner: Brooke Bumgardner






Breakable by Tamara Webber
Winner: Victoria Sloboda






Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland
Winner: Maxie






The Guild by Jean Johnson
Winner: Crystal GB






In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman
Winner: Julia Holden






When a Laird Takes a Lady by Rowan Keats
Winner: Leah Weller





Thanks everyone for participating. Winners will be notified later today and publishers today or tomorrow. We won't have another winner's post for awhile until I get the giveaway schedule back on track.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I will be back to blogging as of August 1st. I apologize for dropping off the face of the blogsphere so suddenly. As many of you know I have some health issues that get in the way of my blog from time to time and this time it was a bit sudden. 

Winners will be chosen for all the giveaways that were current on the blog when I was away. I will put up a winners post in the next few days and send out the names and addresses of the winners to the publishers shortly after that.

Thanks for your patience and the kind notes that I received while I was sick. I was not able to get back to everyone but your heart felt notes were certainly appreciated.

Well... I'm back! Let's see what happens...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review and Giveaway: When a Laird Takes a Lady

When a Laird Takes a Lady (Claimed by the Highlander - Book 2) by Rowan Keats

Publication Date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Eclipse
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 0451416082
ISBN-13: 978-0451416087

(Received for an honest review from Signet Eclipse)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Rowan Keats on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Claimed by the Highlander

1. Taming a Wild Scot
2. When a Laird Takes a Lady

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, When a Laird Takes a Lady, courtesy of the author's website (Half way down the page click on 'read and excerpt').

Synopsis:

In the Highlands of Scotland, honor and loyalty are worth more than life itself. But when a haunted woman meets a wronged warrior, love will prove more powerful than anything they have ever known.

Isabail Grant has had to be strong all her life. Over the years, she has lost everyone close to her, and now she’s seeking justice for her brother’s murder. But en route to Edinburgh to petition the king, she is kidnapped by a fierce warrior—and is shocked to find herself irresistibly drawn to her captor.

Aiden MacCurran is an outlaw. The laird of a small clan, he’s been falsely accused of killing the king’s courier and stealing the Crown’s property—and the key to clearing his name and redeeming his clan lies in Isabail’s memories. But Aiden and Isabail must first weather deceit and treachery before they can find the truth and claim the love that’s growing between them....


Thoughts:

When a Laird Takes a Lady is the second book in the Claimed by a Highlander series written by Rowan Keats. This is a novel based on the ideas of honor, loyalty and trust, which are themes common in Scottish romance novels. Keats writes the highland people with respect to their way of life and understanding of the essential values that governed them. Romance readers and Scottish enthusiasts alike will find this book irresistible. Keats has a way with dialogue and originality that keeps her books realistic and true to the highland spirit.

What I liked:

I am of Scottish descent as many of you who read my blog often, know. I have read many books about the Highlands and the people who live there. I have stories of my own from my grandfather as well, that influence how I review any book set in Scotland. I have some pretty high standards when it comes to Scottish romance and not too many authors live up to them. Rowan Keats has got my interest peaked with this series. It is of course set in the highlands and Keats has done her homework as far as customs of the day, traditional dress and that sort of thing, but she has also written books that speak to the spirit of the highlander. Her characters embody the virtues and the flaws of the highland people, which is so much harder to capture than whether highlanders used the word know or kin.

In When a Laird Takes a Lady you have a typical Scottish romance theme, laird kidnaps a lady and falls in love, but it's so much more than that. I get tired of reading the same old stereo-typical Scottish characters and Keats gives readers something new fresh and new in Isabail Grant. Most highland ladies are written as with more heart than intelligence and most of them have been married off to men who are twice their age for clan conquest and not love. Isabail is neither of those things. She is a smart, stubborn woman with a lot of resilience and a heart of iron. She loved her husband and still mourns his death. I liked her instantly. She stood toe to toe with her abductor and came up with a pretty good plan of escape. Luckily, that wasn't in the cards!

Aiden was a warrior through and through. He had a small clan that he was trying to restore to it's former glory. He fought hard to prove that he was innocent of Isabail's brother's murder and needed her cooperation. When she finally realized that he was an honorable man and that he was not going to do her any harm, her attitudes toward him started to change. I liked his strength and his determination, his raw power and charisma. He didn't threaten her safety but he certainly laid to waste the guard she had on her heart. I liked them as a couple, because it was almost as if they were made for each other. They had their struggles and the mystery surrounding Isabail's brothers murder tried the patience of them both, but Keats eventually works it all out in the end much to the satisfaction of the reader.

What I didn't like:

This book relied heavily on the ideas of honor and trust, yet Isabail was willing to become Aiden's lover before she became completely convinced of his innocence. I found that detail a little hard to swallow because we weren't talking about something little, this was the murder of her brother. I'm pretty sure he would have had to prove to her without a doubt that he did not do it, before she would even remotely consider the idea of being with him.

Bottom Line:

For the most part I think Keats writes a Scottish romance with more originality than most. I think she understands the highland heart and what it needs better than some authors, but there were still a couple of things lacking with this novel. That's not to say that I don't recommend it. I definitely do, especially to Scottish romance fans. Like I said... I'm a bit picky!

When a Laird Takes a Lady is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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



About the Author:

Rowan Keats, author of Taming a Wild Scot, graduated from the University of Ottawa with an Honours degree in Business. She worked as a banker, stock broker, and marketing director before returning to her true calling: writing. Born to a French-Canadian father and a Scottish-Danish mother, she has centuries of rich history to draw from when penning her romantic tales of days gone by.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of When a Laird Takes a Lady by Rowan Keats.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, June 3rd.

1. Please leave a comment another Scottish historical romance series you like.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review and Giveaway: In Want of a Wife

In Want of a Wife (Bitter Springs - Book 4) by Jo Goodman

Publication Date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-100425264173
ISBN-13: 978-0425264171

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Sensation)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Jo Goodman on the WEB: websitefacebook, goodreads

Books in the Series:

The Last Renegade
True to the Law
"Nat Church and the Runaway Bride" from Boots Under Her Bed (short story)
In Want of a Wife

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.





Excerpt from, In Want of a Wife, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

SHE HAS NOWHERE LEFT TO TURN

Jane Middlebourne needs a way out. In 1891, life in New York is unforgiving for a young woman with no prospects, especially when her family wants nothing to do with her. So when Jane discovers an ad for a mail-order bride needed in Bitter Springs, Wyoming, she responds with a hopeful heart. 


HE HAS EVERYTHING TO LOSE


Rancher Morgan Longstreet is in want of a wife who will be his partner at Morning Star, someone who will work beside him and stand by him. His first impression of the fair and fragile Jane is that she is notthat woman. But when she sets out to prove him wrong, the secrets he cannot share put into jeopardy every happiness they hope to find….


Thoughts:

Author Jo Goodman brings readers another story from Bitter Springs with her latest book, In Want of a Wife. Goodman is able to take a Western theme and turn it into just about anything she wants. With this book, she takes a reoccurring theme in Western romance, the mail order bride and adds to it child exploitation, to create a story that is multi-layered while still being romantic. Readers who are looking for a good cowboy romance, this book is that and a lot more. Jane is a sassy East Coast girl and Morgan is a Wyoming cowboy looking for a wife. It's an explosive combination. 

What I liked:

With any Jo Goodman book, especially her western historicals, readers know they will get good quality writing and engaging characters. I think I like Goodman's westerns best because she is able to capture not only the customs and traditions of the times, but also the heart of people who lived them. She gets into character so well and readers are drawn right along with her. Her character's speech patterns and mannerisms are authentic and that adds so much to the overall feel of the book. In Western writing of any kind atmosphere is key and Goodman has got it down to a science.

I always appreciate an author that takes the time to get a little more in depth when it comes to romance than just boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after. Goodman's books don't tend to be that straightforward. With any good book, there is conflict and with In Want of a Wife, the conflict is two-fold. When Jane and Morgan meet for the first time, she is coming to him as a mail-order-bride, but she isn't exactly what he was expecting. Morgan has some demons of his own to face in this book and that struggle it what made this one so interesting. Between both those issues, Goodman has conflict galore, and for whatever reason it works with this book. I liked all the secrets and the situations that brought these two characters closer and made their relationship grow.

Child molestation and exploitation isn't often something you find in western romance. It is a theme that Goodman has used in several of her other books as well. In this book I think it was handled with respect for it's devastation and in way that showed recovery is possible. I think that needs to be central when writing about this subject. Yes, it is a horrible thing, but those who have suffered it's consequences can move forward and find love and happiness and Goodman portrayed that well. 

What I didn't like:

The romance between Jane and Morgan is slow building and romantic but there were times when I felt they were pushing the boundaries of where they were in the relationship. Moving a little too quickly and sometimes not quick enough. The pacing was a just a little off, but it wasn't a big issue. It was still a very well written love story.

Bottom Line:

Goodman's western romances may not be for the readers who want their HEA's all tied with a bow. I liked the complexity of Jane and Morgan's relationship and how their pasts did not keep them from having a wonderful future together. I want my character's to earn their HEA and Goodman sees to it that they do.

In Want of a Wife is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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



About the Author:


Jo Goodman is the USA Today bestselling author of True to the Law, The Last Renegade, and Kissing Comfort,.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, June 3rd.

1. Please leave a comment about why you think the mail-order bride story line is so popular in Western romance novels.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Winner's Post!!!

Hello everyone! This is a short winner's post for giveaways ending between 4/16 and 4/30. 

I want to thank everyone for your participation! 

As a reminder please make sure you enter the giveaway by the date given on the post. That's what I go by.

Winner's will be notified later today and publishers either this week or next due to BEA (Book Expo of America) going on in New York. Many publicists will be out of the office and attending the festivities.

The next winners post will be on 5/30 or shortly after. 

Enjoy!

A Second Helping of Murder by Christine Wenger
Winner: Carol Wong





Murder at Westminster Abbey by Amanda Carmack
Winner: Brooke Bumgardner





A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon
Winner: Alicia Farage






Midnight Pursuits by Elle Kennedy
Winner: Anne Berger






The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas
Winner: Virginia Winfield






Betting the Rainbow by Jodi Thomas
Winner: Rita Wray