National PTA’s Family Reading Challenge Blog Party

When I was sent an email about the National PTA Family Reading Challenge Party, I was super excited.  Reading has always been an important part of my life, and I attribute my love of reading as helping me through graduate school! Why? Because there were so many books I had to read and being a non-reader, I would probably still be trying to get through my first year!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about my favorite childhood author, Judy Blume: “Thank God for Judy Blume!”  It’s quite fitting that Judy Blume also just came out with a new book this month!  As I reflect back on Judy Blume, I’m also reminded of the love for reading I was able to experience with my own children.

While I was pregnant, my husband would read Dr. Seuss books to our little boy (in utero).  It was our family reading time, and it was special.  We were lucky.  Books didn’t have to compete with gaming systems, smart phones, and the internet.  So, when my sons were young, it was easy to pull them away from the tv and have reading time.  It was our nighttime ritual: baths, brush teeth, tuck into bed, read a story or two, then end with prayers.  As our sons grew older, they still loved being read to, so we moved up from Dr. Seuss to The Chronicles of Narnia.  Now, my sons have moved on to Dystopian fiction, still love comic books and superhero novels, and have found their niche in reading.

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My daughter reading to her toys.

Our daughter loves Story Time! She reads 2 Bible Devotionals and 1 book of her choice.  Usually, it is a tale about Fancy Nancy or Pinkalicious.  These are stories I did not grow up on, but I have certainly enjoyed getting to know them, through her eyes.  She loves reading and as she reads more, her reading improves, too. I have found that reading a physical book is much easier than reading an e-book for her.  She prefers the tangible experience of seeing the pictures, turning the pages, holding a large book, and has an endless supply of self-made book marks that she has made-with some being in the shape of a Peter Pan hat….hmmmm, maybe her brothers have influenced some of her reading, too! They both take turns reading with her, too, which not only helps them stop and take time to relax, but it also helps strengthen the relationship they have.

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My daughter modeling great reading time with her My Little Pony.

Reading is such an important part of our life, and I am so grateful for the libraries that have storytime during the summer, the crafts and activities they offer to incorporate reading, the books that come out with a kid movie (Frozen anyone?), and the many benefits reading has provided our family.  Below are some of those benefits:

1.  Time stops:  For a short time, nothing else matters.  No deadlines to think about, tv shows or gaming is not a priority, and phone calls aren’t answered.  It’s our family time, it’s sacred, it’s special, and it’s the one time we have in our day to push the pause button.  It’s about reading a story and finding out what happens at the end.  My daughter is still in early readers, but she loves them and we do, too!

2.  Family bonding: It’s so sweet seeing a bunch of adults crammed onto my daughter’s princess sleigh bed, listening to the story.  We get to talk about life issues, too: peer pressure, emotions, what happens in the story, and learning to apply what we read to how we choose to live- especially when reading a Bible Devotional.

3.  Improvement: As my daughter reads, her language skills have improved, her speech has greatly increased, and she is developing better confidence about herself.

So, those are a few benefits we have discovered when having Story Time with our daughter, my sons’ little sister.  However, I know there are many more benefits to reading as a family!  While my family and I each have our own reading tastes, it is nice that for a brief moment, we all are reading something together…no matter how short the time we have together.

I’d love to know how you incorporate reading into a family reading time, or ways you would like to!

Be sure and join the Blog Party to win some awesome prizes, too!

copyright 2015

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Blog Party

About

Thank you for your interest in our PTA Family Reading Challenge Blog Party! We hope you’ll join us and share your story to inspire others to read throughout the month of July. You might even win some great prizes!

When: June 25-30, 2015

What: We’ll be celebrating PTA’s Family Reading Challenge with a blog party. You can contribute by writing a blog post about your favorite memories and moments that came from your family reading time!

Why: Studies show that reading daily during summer break is the most important activity to prevent learning loss, especially for younger students. However, busy activity schedules can make it challenging to keep reading a priority, especially by the middle of the summer. In July, National PTA will empower families with tips and activities that encourage ongoing reading, while challenging them to share photos, videos and memories that demonstrate how and why reading together is a fun and treasured family activity.

Recommended Guidelines

  • Refer to Prize Criteria for challenge eligibility
  • Include a link in your blog post to PTAFamilyReadingChallenge.org
  • Publish your post June 25-30, 2015
  • Tag your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #FamiliesRead
  • Share, retweet and comment on other #FamiliesRead posts
  • Share the infographic or social media graphics in your blog post

Sample Blog Topics

Below are a few blog ideas and facts to help you get started.

  • Capture your family’s favorite moments reading together. What are your favorite books to read together? Where are your favorite places and times to read together?
  • Share a positive memory about reading together as a family. What was your favorite book growing up, and have you shared it with your child? What was the experience like, to read that book together?
  • Write about the magic of reading together as a family and how it has brought you all closer together. What do you like about reading together? How does it feel when you read together? How does reading foster quality family time?

Some Useful Facts to Get You Started

  • 61% of low-income families in the U.S. have no age-appropriate books in their homes for children.
  • Good reading habits have a greater impact on a child’s reading skills than household income.
  • Nearly 40% of parents say their child does not spend enough time reading for fun.
  • 73% of children get ideas from their parents for books to read for fun.
  • Where parent engagement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average.

Source: http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/

– See more at: http://ptareadingchallenge.org/ideas/blog-party-toolkit/#sthash.njFZliz6.dpuf

Guest Post by Author, Kristy Woodson Harvey & International Book Giveaway-Dear Carolina

Blogger Note:
While I haven’t read this book yet, I am very excited to present to you, Kristy Woodson Harvey.  I was first introduced to her by fellow blogger at Traveling with T.  T and I have similar book tastes and when I read the synopsis, it made me even more eager to read it ( my review will be posted later).  Kristy has graciously offered 1 copy of her book to a reader!  Take some time to read her guest post and down below, you will find information on the book giveaway.
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Guest Post by Author, Kristy Woodson Harvey

Hi, Books in the ‘Burbs readers! I am so excited to share with you about my debut novel, DEAR CAROLINA. I was thrilled when Lisa invited to me to be with y’all today on her FABULOUS blog. (I can say ‘y’all’ here, right? Southern novel, Southern blog… It’s bound to happen, isn’t it?) It has been one of my favorites for a long time!

Another one of my long-time favorites is historical fiction, even though I write Southern women’s fiction. In fact, I read the first historical novel that really hooked me years before I had ever even thought of being a writer myself. It was Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. (I’m actually kind of horrified to realize that I was fifteen when I picked that up… Seems like yesterday!) I’d heard it was wonderful, but I was hesitant to start it because I already knew what happened. I might not remember all of the history behind some of the historicals that I read. But pretty much everyone knows that Anne Boleyn loses her pretty head. (Yikes!)

But, oh my gosh, despite knowing the outcome, I was HOOKED. I remember thinking what an interesting feeling it was to know what was going to happen in the book already but to still be totally captivated by it, to be so interested in it all the way until the end, to feel on the edge of my seat despite knowing the final outcome.

The more I read and the savvier of a reader I became during my teenage years, I started to realize that it wasn’t too hard to figure out how most of the books I read were going to end, at least if you picked up on the clues.

I’ve heard it said so many times that there are only seven real stories and that they are told over and over again in different ways. So, if you’re an avid reader, you probably have some idea of what might happen right from the get go.

When I sat down to write DEAR CAROLINA, I figured I was probably going to be telling some semblance of one of those seven stories. No matter how I framed the lives of Khaki and Graham and Jodi and baby Carolina, readers weren’t going to be fooled. So I decided to take a risk. I decided that, instead of making the readers of DEAR CAROLINA wonder whether Khaki and Graham adopt baby Carolina from Jodi, I would just tell them right off the bat.

Because, in reality, how else was that story going to end? Would I just leave that baby with an unfit mother? Probably not. And readers were going to realize that pretty quickly.

I figured it’s kind of like how people always love hearing about how couples met. They’re married. You already know the ending. But finding out how they got there is almost as fun as the end result!

I spent some nights awake after DEAR CAROLINA had gone to print wondering if I had done the right thing. Was giving away my major plot point in the first chapter too risky of a move? Despite the fact that there are other mysteries to be solved, would it take away the enjoyment of the book for the readers?

Fortunately, five weeks later, it seems that readers have really connected to DEAR CAROLINA, that they have found reasons to keep reading. The gamble paid off.

DEAR CAROLINA isn’t historical fiction, of course. But it’s a family’s history. It is its re-telling, the way that baby Carolina will know for the rest of her life where she came from, how she got where she is now, and all the people that loved her along the way.

It isn’t Anne Boleyn and it certainly isn’t Philippa Gregory, but some messages are worth sharing right away. That you can never have too many people who love you just might be one of them!

Thank you again for having me, Lisa! I can’t wait to see who wins DEAR CAROLINA!

About the Author (Bio taken from blog):

Welcome! It’s so nice to meet you. I can’t wait to get to know you!

I’m Kristy, wife to the boy whose eye caught mine across the restaurant nearly a decade ago. I pronounced him my husband and haven’t looked back since – or doubted my intuition ever again! We have the most incredible two-year-old boy that is pure joy. (And, yeah, the occasional tantrum.)

I’m a Southerner through and through, a North Carolina girl who loves all four seasons – especially fall in Chapel Hill, where I went to college (Go Tarheels!) and summer in Beaufort, where we spend every free moment. (I’m sitting at my desk in Beaufort in this picture!)

I blog at Design Chic about how creating a beautiful home can be a catalyst for creating a beautiful life. And I’m blogging right here about absolutely everything else!

My first women’s fiction novel is forthcoming from Berkley (Penguin Random House) in Spring 2015. My dream of being a published author is finally coming true and I. Can’t. Believe. It. What’s your dream? (You know, that one you’re afraid to say out loud?) I just know it’s about to come true!

Book Information: 

Dear Carolina, A moving debut novel about two mothers—one biological and one adoptive—from a compelling new voice in Southern women’s fiction.
One baby girl.
Two strong Southern women.
And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.
Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…
Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made…
“Characters with rich, complicated lives…beautifully shows how a family comes to be.”—New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas
“Southern fiction at its best… Beautifully written.”—New York Times bestselling author Eileen Goudge
Connect with the Author:
Giveaway
Book Details:
Open internationally. One random winner will be selected to receive a copy of the book. Simply fill out the comment form. Extra entry opportunities will be provided.
Giveaway ends July 1, 2015
*Please note:  All information on the comment form is not visible to anyone but me (the blogger).  No information will be given to anyone else, except the name and address of the winner to the author, who is mailing the book directly to the winner.

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3 Book Giveaways!

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You read the title correctly!  Books in the Burbs is hosting 3 individual book giveaways, in the month of June.  They can easily be found on the sidebar, but to make it even easier, I have added the links below.

Throughout the summer, be on the lookout, as I host more giveaways.  I’ve always said that best part about book blogging is sharing.  This means, sharing some fantastic books with you!  The entry forms are rather simple and discreet, so what are you waiting for? Jump on in!

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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

Book Details:

A wisely-observed and beautifully-wrought debut novel, Pamela Moses’s THE APPETITES OF GIRLS (Berkley Trade Paperback; June 2, 2015; $16.00) traces the lives of four young women—college roommates—as they find strength to overcome struggles that have defined them since adolescence and eventually grow into the women they are meant to be. Told from each woman’s distinct vantage point, their interlocking stories revolve, subtly and compulsively, around food and the dangerous preoccupation with body image that so often shapes women’s perceptions and actions from an early age. This “terrific novel…exposes and illuminates the ways in which women use food as a proxy weapon in battles with others and themselves,” says Martha Moody, bestselling author of Best Friends. “And, most hauntingly, it shows how even young women with clear advantages…must struggle to recognize and accept their own intrinsic powers.”

An intimate baby shower for Ruth reunites the former roommates and provides the narrative springboard for each woman’s girlhood story and the memories that have shaped her since. Plump and self-doubting as a child, Ruth is raised by a mother who uses food as affection as well as control. Opal longs for attention from her nomadic single mother and determines to achieve it by imitating her mother’s use of feminine wiles with men. Francesca grows up in a Park Avenue penthouse with a mother obsessed with appearances; and Setsu, adopted as a toddler from an orphanage in Japan, shows a rare talent as a violinist but is too ready to sacrifice her gifts to please a jealous older brother.

When the four women are assigned as suitemates at Brown, they seem to come from different worlds. But from their friendship—which grows discordantly at times and tentatively at first—Ruth, Opal, Francesca, and Setsu find strength to triumph individually as well as together.

“An important book for our times—and for our friends, daughters, and ourselves” says Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Best of Us. As it delves into the complex relationship between woman and food, this impressive debut novel explores deeper issues about the challenges all women face as they navigate through life.

About the Author:

Pamela Moses grew up in New Jersey.  She attended Brown University and received a master’s in English from Georgetown.  After graduating, she moved to Manhattan to teach English at a girls’ school.  She now lives outside New York City with her husband and two children.  The Appetites of Girls is her first novel.

Connect with the Author:

Website

Facebook

 

Praise for The Appetites of Girls:

“Moses’s debut is perfectly timed for summer.”—Publisher’s Weekly

“I so enjoyed this intelligent novel. At times it seemed to double as a riveting sociological study as it delved into the complex relationship between women and food. An important book for our times—and for our friends, daughters, and ourselves.”—Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Best of us

“I think this is such an important novel for women to read. It is a vivid, multilayered portrayal of friendship and the earnest, often heartbreaking search for a true sense of self.  I enjoyed it immensely.”—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence

 In honor of Pamela Moses’ book, The Appetite of Girls, being released in paperback on June 2, 2015, the publisher has graciously offered a book giveaway.  

Book Giveaway Details:

One winner will be selected to win a copy of this book. Open to US readers.

The winner will receive an email and will have 48 hours to reply.  If no response is given, another winner will be selected.  The book will be mailed directly from the publisher, Penguin Random House.

Giveaway ends June 19, 2015.

 

TLC Book Review & Giveaway: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

Book Details:

Title: The Mapmaker’s Children
Author: Sarah McCoy
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical fiction
Synopsis:

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

My Review:

From the very first page, I was hooked. I read a little over 100 pages the first night and didn’t sleep until I finished it, on the second night. Yes, it’s that amazing!

The story alternates between past and present, shedding light on Sarah Brown (a young woman during the UGRR movement) and Eden ( a young woman married with some scars of her own).  Eventually, their stories intersect and show how much the past can shape the future, while also bringing closure and peace to the past.

Sarah is the daughter of abolitionist, John Brown, and uses her talent of artistry to help with the UGRR movement.  Eden finds a porcelain head with unusual drawings, a key, and a button that place that doll in the time frame of when Sarah was visiting the Hill family and helping them with those trying to flee the South.  Sarah is a strong woman, who is extremely courageous and intelligent.  She becomes even more vigilant to help the UGRR after her father is caught and hung for his “crimes”.  It was interesting to learn the ways people communicated back then and the code words they had to use to share news.  Time was a factor, too, so that messages had to be changed and revised often.  There were many times that I felt that I couldn’t read fast enough, as I was eager to know what was happening next in Sarah’s life and those of her loved ones.

Eden is a woman, who is married and feels she has reached the end of the road in her marriage.  After her last miscarriage, Eden’s husband gets her a dog, named CricKet.  Worried she won’t bond with the dog, Eden’s husband hires a little girl to take care of the dog.  Cleo is a young, vibrant, spunky, and super charming little girl.  She helps Eden adjust to the new town, helps with the baking of some CricKet BisKits, and teaches her some valuable lessons along the way.

This book is so much more than just another story about slavery and the crusade that the Brown and Hill family fought.  It’s about forgiveness, finding the silver lining, friendships, lost loves, and new beginnings.  Many have heard of John Brown, but not many know about his daughter, Sarah Brown, and the courage she had to continue his work.  John Brown’s death didn’t stop the family and others from pushing forward.  Sarah is strong, courageous, and goes against tradition and expectations for women of that time period.  Through her artistry, she is determined to finish her father’s work and be part of the fabric of change.

Sarah McCoy flawlessly brings these two very separate and individual women together, showing how the past helps the future and how history can help mend relationships, too.  Most importantly, this novel shows two brave women, who are not defined by their pain and struggles, rather, they use it as a catalyst to do something greater and bigger than even they imagine.  While Sarah works at saving her family and friends, Eden’s challenge is learning to trust people to join her inner circle of friends and family, too.

I loved the historical nuggets that Sarah McCoy includes in novel, along with some pictures.  I am so glad she chose to write their story, as these women certainly had a lot to share!  Sarah even shares the recipes to CricKet BisKits, which plays a big part in how everyone comes together and builds relationships with each other.  Those who love historical fiction will love this book! It also makes for a great book club pick because the discussions will be endless!  Overall, this is a book that I didn’t want to end! I know this is a book that will be discussed for many years to come and will be appreciated by those who love a great story about heroines, who were at one time forgotten.

P.S. As a fan of the tv show,” Shark Tank”, I laughed when I read Cleo’s suggestion!  You will just have to read the book to know what I’m talking about.

supreme cupcake rating 6    *This book was provided by TLC Book Tours for review consideration.

SARAH McCOY is the  New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Ricoand The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.

Sarah McCoy’s Book Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, April 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, April 22nd: My Book Retreat

Thursday, April 23rd: BookNAround

Monday, April 27th: Man of La Book

Tuesday, April 28th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 29th: Always With a Book

Thursday, April 30th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, May 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Tuesday, May 5th: Books on the Table

Wednesday, May 6th: West Metro Mommy

Thursday, May 7th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 8th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, May 13th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, May 14th: FictionZeal

Friday, May 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, May 18th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, May 19th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, May 25th: Diary of an Eccentric

Tuesday, May 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 27th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, May 28th: Reading Reality

Friday, May 29th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, June 1st: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, June 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 4th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, June 9th: The Book Bag

Wednesday, June 10th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, June 11th: Literary Feline

Friday, June 12th: Broken Teepee

Monday, June 15th: Staircase Wit

Tuesday, June 16th: Kahakai Kitchen

TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

TBD: Readers’ Oasis

Giveaway

Fill out the entry form.

One winner will receive a copy of the book.  It’s open to US and Canada.

Giveaway ends June 12, 2015.

Guest Post & Giveaway from Author, Kathryn Craft!

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Kathryn Craft is the author of The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania literary scene, she loves any event that brings together readers, books, food and drink, and mentors other writers through workshops and writing retreats. A former dance critic, she has a bachelor’s in biology education and a master’s in health and physical education from Miami University in Ohio. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and spends her summers lakeside in northern New York State.

The Social World of Writing

by Kathryn Craft

Most think of writing as a lone pursuit. It is true that you must put in plenty of long hours on your own, dreaming up and shaping a story. The introvert within me adores this opportunity for deep focus. But beneath the same skin lives an extrovert who has found a way to lead a writing life that is remarkably social.

Let me count the ways.

  1. Writing organizations. Fifteen years ago, after drafting my first novel, I walked into my first writers’ group meeting to steep in the group’s storytelling mojo. Storytelling was a weakness in their programming, though. To align group goals with my own I accepted leadership positions, rolled up my sleeves, and initiated programs that brought me the high-quality mentors I sought—all while helping others. In time, my storytelling weakness became a strength and passion, which led me to start a developmental editing business in 2006.
  2. Informal groups. When lectures and workshops failed to sate my hunger to connect with other writers, I founded a program that encouraged local writers to compare dreams, cheer successes, analyze failures, and share resources. I liked the idea so much that when a similar program formed in a different community, that as a bonus offered no-holds-barred access to published authors, I attended that as well. And you know what? Those authors seemed a lot like me. Because they’d hung in there longer, they had valuable advice to share.
  3. Writing conferences. Writers who attend conferences have worked hard to figure out what their writing has to offer and are eager to talk about it to agents, editors—and other conferees. This aura of dedication, vulnerability, and nervous sharing can forge fast friendships as conferees cheer one another on. I love the vibe so much that for twelve years, in addition to sampling a handful of conferences across my state and country, I chaired two conferences and served on two different conference boards.
  4. Online writing groups. Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo Groups, group blogs, member-supported organizations—I belong to so many. But it is the groups committed to meeting in person that net the strongest relationships. Once frozen in airbrushed profile pics, faces animate and inspire with human imperfection; thoughts set in type morph and grow within dynamic discussions.
  5. My local independent bookstore. I go to any events I can to meet new authors. Period. I want to support the industry that I hope will support me.
  6. My neighborhood. After moving a few years ago, I attended my first social event—a baby shower at which I and a few other middle-aged women migrated toward the sushi tower—and walked away having started what became a supportive kaffeeklatsch of writers in my new community that saw me through many revisions of the memoir material that would become The Far End of Happy. A month later, a conversation at the gym resulted in an invitation to join the neighborhood book club as well, whose members have heartily supported (and discussed and debated) my first two novels.
  7. My grocery store. For several years I’ve met every Wednesday in the café of a local Wegman’s with a group of other women. We witness efforts as we tap on our computers all morning, and then solve problems and share tips over lunch. You can’t argue with the results: in the three years we’ve been together, four of us have gotten agents, six have published, and another got her MFA.
  8. My living room. If it weren’t for my winter Craftwriting workshops in PA and the summer writing retreats I host in NY, I would never force myself to devise writing prompts or write pieces based on them. The activity stretches me to think about craft anew and the array of creative results prompted never fails to impress: in this great wide world of writing, there is room for us all.
  9. My head. All of these interactions define my world. More than a “platform” or “network,” these are friendships that lift me up when I’m struggling, cheer me on when I taste success, advise me when I’m clueless, and spread the word when I have a new release. That’s invaluable. But my social writing world nurtures my relationships with the characters in my head who are crucial to the work of producing a novel.

Speaking of which, I think I hear them calling now…

Connect with Kathryn Craft:

Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/KathrynCraftAuthor?fref=ts

Twitter:        @kcraftwriter

Website:      http://www.kathryncraft.com

Goodreads:          https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6986139.Kathryn_Craft

book cover for kathryn craft

Click on book cover for synopsis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhh5cxMCTVY

Book Giveaway Details:

One winner will be selected to win a copy of this fantastic book!

Including your email address, what did you like most from Kathryn’s post?

US entries only, please.

I look forward to reading your comments!!

Giveaway ends: June 25, 2015.

**A Special thanks to Suzy Missirlian for connecting me with Kathryn Craft.  Suzy and I share a lot of similar book interests, so I truly value the quality of authors and books she shares with me and others on social media.  I’m excited for Kathryn Craft and the success of her novel, which I know will be  a fantastic read this summer!!

For PR inquriries, please contact Suzy @Suzy4PR!

 

 

 

Short Stack Reviews & Book Giveaway!

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

While I haven’t been blogging a much, I have been reading.  Although, not as fast as I would like, I’m still a bibliophile and love to share good reads with you! Don’t forget to click on each book title to read the synopsis and add them to your TBR list!

My Review:

The storyline has a great premise: sisters on different paths come back together for one summer that will surely change their life courses.  The story moves rather quickly in the beginning, so that it was hard to feel a connection or compassion for Paul, who wants a divorce from Iris.  However, the story really focuses on unfinished business with sisters, family, and lost loves.  It’s a simple read, a little predictable, but a good storyline that will keep you engaged.

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My Review:

This is a book that had been on my TBR list since its release.   When I saw it at the library on audio, I immediately checked it out and downloaded it to my iPhone so that I could listen to on a road trip.  Well, that didn’t turn out well.  You can read why here

I’m really glad that I decided to buy the book and read it on my reader.  First, the audio did skip, so I wasn’t listening to the story in the order of the chapters.  Secondly, there is too much information and the characters are complex that it would have been difficult for me to listen and understand their role within the story.  Thirdly, there were many times I would reread a quote or a page, and that would have been too difficult and not realistic to do with an audio.

This story is magical, complex and has stories within a story, that it is beyond words to actually describe.  The descriptive writings to explain an outfit or a scene were so amazing that I wish this book had been written with colorful illustrations! This novel could have easily been made into a trilogy because there were so many stories within it.  It is a novel that stayed with me for a long time and definitely makes me appreciate the life of a traveling artist much more!

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swirlMy Review:

This is a sequel to Firefly Lane, which I read in January.  You can read my review here.  I really loved the first book and like anyone who loves a great story, I jumped on the chance to read the sequel.  This novel, Fly Away, is really for those readers who want to know about “TullyandKate”.   While the novel did share about what happens to Kate’s family, it really is about Tully and her inability to forgive herself and move on from Kate’s death.  This novel reminded me a little of A Christmas Carol, with Kate being the ghost.  Overall, it was a good book that explores friendships, forgiveness, and second chances.

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*With the exception of The Night Circus, the other books were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Time for a Giveaway!

If you managed to read my mini-reviews, then I think you deserve a free book!

Giveaway

Win a copy of:

The Girl with a Clock Heart by Peter Swanson!

This is going to be an easy giveaway. Simply enter your email in the comments below and let me know if you read any of the books I’ve reviewed. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Giveaway is open until May 28, 2015. 

Open internationally!!

Yes, I’m going to mail these books across the oceans, if you are randomly selected! I know I have quite a few followers outside the US and Canada, so I want to include them, too!

One winner will be randomly chosen and I will contact that winner via email.  The winner will have 48 hours to reply, if not, another winner will be selected.  I don’t announce winners because it takes too much time and energy on my part, however the winner knows and is more than welcome to post their winnings on social media :D

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Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

My Review:

The cover is creepy, isn’t it? I can’t help but think it’s Zoe’s patient, Sophie, lurking in the shadows!!  Zoe is a psychiatrist working on her residency, and is assigned a patient: Sophie, who has been a lifelong patient in psychiatrist hospitals.  As a new transfer, Zoe works at establishing a relationship with her so that she can help Sophie work on her issues (which are a lot!).

It’s a great novel that has a bad romance, murder mystery, and family secrets.  Zoe has an ill-fated love relationship, dealing with the impact her mom’s dementia has on their relationship, flashbacks from a traumatic event, addressing her medical condition (ADHD), and trying to figure out who her biological mom is.  This book has a lot of secrets, which the reader will eventually understand how they all come together and how Zoe handles the news.  Psychology enthusiasts will enjoy the nod to Freud that is sprinkled throughout the novel.    It also showed the vulnerable side to Zoe and how she is just as human as the patients she sees.

Readers will enjoy the fast paced novel and will freak with the “out of nowhere” nail file scene.  Hold on to your seats as Sandra Block takes you into the world of Dr. Zoe Goldman, who has enough baggage and secrets to keep you entertained…add into the mix a mental patient, and you have a whole lot of crazy to keep you fixated to this novel, until the very end!

 

*A copy of the novel was provided by the publisher and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation were given.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Not a Goodbye-I’ll See You Later: Stepping Back from Book Tours

cropped-treasure-of-books.jpgWhen I first started blogging 5 years ago, I was simply excited to share great books with other readers.  It slowly evolved, then quickly became a place for me to promote great authors and their works through virtual book tours.  I love virtual book tours.  It’s like gathering some of your friends and showing up to a book signing, then chatting about it for weeks on end!  The difference: it’s done online.

Then, I found out about tour hosts!!  They are the best because they know which books are coming out and you get a list to choose from and dates you want to review/spotlight/giveaway that particular book.  I love it!! However, life doesn’t always work out where it’s easy to simply sign up, read a book, and post it.

I haven’t signed up for many tours this year because it is time to take step away from the pressures of virtual book touring.  I still plan on reading books and reviewing them, offering giveaways, and chatting with fellow bloggers and authors on social media.  However, I am not going to be participating in virtual book tours.  It’s a lot of work cross promoting books on retail and non-retail sites, hopping on other blog sites to comment and read their reviews, and sharing on social media.

The tours I am participating with don’t necessarily have a “deadline” for me, and I can read and review the book at my leisure.  While I love talking books with others, it does take a lot of energy for me to share and do so much behind the scenes for a novel.  I love it…don’t get me wrong. I’m like my fellow bloggers: a bibliophile!  We love books, love talking books, love sharing them, loving giving them away to readers, and love chatting with authors and publishers about how awesome that book is!!

I just need a slower pace blogging schedule, where I can post when I can and share without feeling the constraints of being on a scheduled book tour.  This will also give me a chance to read books that have been sitting on my bookshelf or my reader!!  Because I am like you…I want to snuggle with a great book and read it without hurry or pressure.

So, you will be seeing less of me on book tours, but will still see me!  For example, She Reads.  We can read a book per season (any book or all of them), and post at our leisure (in that time period)!  I love the flexibility and it gives me a chance to still interact with my fellow bloggers about great books!

I still plan on posting my reviews of books and offer book giveaways.  This simply pertains to scheduled book tours.  I still have a few I’m scheduled on and I am being selective about the ones I do promote.  I just won’t be on every tour I would love to participate in.

I do hope to venture back into more scheduled book tours because there is this excitement and sense of unity that bloggers get when on a virtual book tour!  However, I need to take a step back and hope you understand.

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I’m Guest Blogging Over at Mom’s Small Victories!

When I first started blogging, my intention was to keep it solely about books. However, over the course of time, I have met many wonderful bloggers that talk about other topics that are beyond books.  While I still want to keep this blog centered on books and book reviews, I wanted to share with you a guest post that I wrote regarding toxic people and it’s impact on health.toxic people

Please go by and visit, Mom’s Small Victories, to read it.  I look forward to reading your comments on what you’ve done to eliminate toxic relationships from your life.  Because let’s face it, you don’t have to be diagnosed with an illness to determine and eliminate toxic relationships from your life.

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