Friday, March 27, 2015

The Denim Blue Sea by Joanne DeMaio


The Denim Blue Sea by Joanne DeMaioI’m delighted today to be participating in author Joanne DeMaio virtual book tour for her latest release, THE DENIM BLUE SEA.

Joanne, a fellow coffee lover, always brings such interesting characters to life in her stories. You can check out a brief synopsis of her latest book on Goodreads and I’m here to share my thoughts on it today.

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Author Joanne DeMaio has a unique writing style that flows rhythmically drawing the reader deeper into the story with the turn of each page. Her latest release, THE DENIM BLUE SEA, is a perfect example of her writing method.

Friends gather at seaside Stony Point of Long Island South for the wedding of denim designer Maris Carrington and architect Jason Barlow. As with most weddings, all does not go smoothly. Maris and Jason are faced with tough choices as they draw closer to their wedding day. Several members of the wedding party are also confronted with their own problems prior to the wedding.

The family and friends come together to help the couple realize their dream. The ups and downs along the way to the alter makes for an even sweeter ending. A long-lost journal enhances the story through adding character depth and insight.

The author’s vivid descriptions and eye for detail places the reader in the middle of the activities. Readers can almost feel the sand under their feet as the story unfolds. An intriguing romance blended with bits of humor, suspense, and inspiration makes this a well-balanced story.

The characters are well-developed, likable and realistic. The mix of different careers and personalities makes for an engaging group that readers can relate to.

THE DENIM BLUE SEA is a feel-good story that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The ride will entertain, inspire and cause you to smile a time or two as you quickly turn the pages to discover what happens.

The Denim Blue Sea by Joanne DeMaio, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, @2015, ISBN: 978-1505650747, Paperback, 370 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Here’s a bit of background on the author for those who aren’t familiar with her.

Joanne DeMaio is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. She enjoys writing about friendship, family, love and choices, while setting her stories in New England towns or by the sea. Her fifth novel, The Denim Blue Sea, was recently published. 

Currently at work on her next book, Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut. 

To learn more about the author, visit Joannedemaio.com. She also enjoys hearing from readers on her Facebook Page.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you find seaside communities relaxing and enjoyable? Do you think a wedding by the sea would be nice or would it be problem-riddled?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies Giveaway


Hobbit Poster

If you’re a fan of The Hobbit series, then you know the final installment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, is slated for release on Blu-Ray today.

Thanks to Warner Home Video and the great folks at PartnersHub, I have a Digital HD copy of this fascinating movie to giveaway. Read on to learn more.

Mouse over the Interactive map of Middle-Earth and take the quiz to find out what is your Middle-Earth weapon of choice!

About The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Digital:

        From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. 

        "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" brings to an epic conclusionthe adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. 

Beginning today (March 24) you can own the movie on Blue-ray at iTunes and Amazon.


• Watch the official trailer & click the box art to bring the film home today! 



GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one Digital HD copy of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. This giveaway has a short run and will end at 12 a.m. on Monday, March 30. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 48 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress: The Hobbit” in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Digital Download Coupon for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

FTC Full Disclosure –The assets included within this message were delivered to me to promote Warner Home Video. I am working with Warner Home Video and they will provide the giveaway item.

Thanks for stopping by today. Are you a fan of The Hobbits? If so, do you have a favorite character?

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Donkey’s Kite: A Horse Valley Adventure {+ Giveaway}


Donkey's Kite by Liana-Melissa AllenIt’s a pleasure to be participating in author Liane-Melissa Allen’s iRead Book Tours virtual tour for her children’s fictional book, DONKEY’S KITE: A HORSE VALLEY ADVENTURE.

As part of the tour, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this charming book and tell you a bit about the author, as well as tell you about her first book. You have a chance to win one of ten sets of A Horse Valley Adventure books! In addition, one winner will also get a $30 Amazon gift card. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Here’s a brief description of DONKEY’S KITE:

        The three horses Jack, Max, Lax and their friend Donkey are back!
        In Horse Valley, it's a perfect day to go kite flying. Jack, Max, Lax, and Donkey decide to get creative by putting together their own homemade kites. However, Donkey's kite doesn't work. No matter how hard he tries to get it to fly, it just keeps tumbling to the ground. How will poor Donkey get his kite to fly? A friendly goose named Gusty is delighted to help him out.
        In this Horse Valley Adventure, Donkey learns not to give up when all seems hopeless. The friends all learn a lesson about helping others and true friendship.


Now for my thoughts on this fun book:

This is an enchanting story that teaches youngsters a valuable lesson without them realizing they are learning. Youngsters will delight in the characters’ adventure as it inspires them to do the right thing.

Author Liane-Melissa Allen also does an excellent job bringing the characters to life through her illustrations. The beautiful, vivid drawings capture the readers’ attention and hold them spellbound as the story unfolds. The colorful illustrations will bring a smile to the reader’s face.

The story teaches youngsters of all ages the importance of friendship and how working together can be a good thing. Readers learn about morals and understanding while the characters also have a good time. Geared toward youngsters ages 2 to 9, DONKEY’S KITE can be fun and entertaining for all ages. 

This entertaining story would make a wonderful addition to any child’s library and a perfect bedtime story.

Donkey’s Kite by Liane-Melissa Allen, A Horse Valley Adventure Book #2, Illustrated by Liane-Melissa Allen, CreateSpace, @2015, ISBN: 978-1505604610, Paperback, 44 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey-1Here’s a brief description of Liane-Melissa’s first book, The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey:

        A tale (based on the “Three Little Pigs”) about three little horse brothers who suddenly lose their house that is destroyed by a fire. The young horses are totally alone and thrust into the reality of having to depend on themselves and each other against a bully donkey, who wanders the forest wrecking homes and bullying the other animals.

        This warm-hearted tale promotes strong values and has a fun premise. Written and humorously illustrated in vivid color throughout by Liana-Melissa Allen, the story is a proven winner for reading aloud to children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Liana-Melissa Allen is a young author and illustrator of children's books and books for youth. She has written, illustrated and published six books. Her most recent one is the colorfully illustrated children's book "Donkey's Kite", the second book of "A Horse Valley Adventure" series. The first was "The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey". The lovable cartoon characters, Max, Lax, Jack and Donkey makes them a favorite of first and second grade students. She is now working on her third book of "A Horse Valley Adventure".

The magical world of fantasy has inspired Liana's imagination since as long as she can remember. Part of this was fueled by her dad reading aloud to her every day when she was younger. As a result, reading is her primary passion along with music. These two passions feed her imagination into stories and drawings, which she joyously sketches out into storyboards for a potential book. 


Liana-Melissa is also a dedicated classical/jazz pianist, and mostly enjoys older music, especially from the big band era and the 1940's, 50's and 60's. While playing the piano, her imagination often leads to a great amount of improvising. Frequently, Liana will improvise a theme for one of the stories she is writing. Capturing this improvised music became a priority, which ultimately resulted in theme music for "A Horse Valley Adventure". The "Horse Valley" theme will be used for a short animated video featuring her Horse Valley characters. 


Liana-Melissa loves to hear from her young readers. Please visit her website at
www.lmabooks.com for more information, and to contact her by email. Visit her on Facebook too.

Where to buy the books:
On Author's Website
Amazon
Barnes & Noble


Blog Tour Schedule:
 
You can read more about this delightful book and series at the following blogs participating in the author’s virtual book tour.


March 16 - Hello, my name is Alice - review / guest post
March 16 -
The Autistic Gamer - review
March 17 -
Book Dilettante - review
March 17 -
Being Tilly's Mummy - review / guest post / giveaway
March 18 -
Christy's Cozy Corners - review / guest post / giveaway
March 18 -
Rockin' Book Reviews - review of both books / giveaway
March 18 -
Breath of Life - review / author interview / giveaway
March 19 -
Working Mommy Journal - review of both books / giveaway
March 20 -
Pinky's Favorite Reads for Kids - book spotlight
March 23 -
My Devotional Thoughts - review / guest post / giveaway
March 23 -
Thoughts in Progress - review / giveaway
March 24 -
Bound 4 Escape - review of both books / giveaway
March 25 -
A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
March 26 -
Bluerose's Heart - review / author interview
March 26 -
Experiencing Parenthood - review of Book One
March 27 -
Green and Glassie - review / author interview / giveaway
March 27 -
Walking with Nora - review of both books / giveaway
March 27 -
Just One More Chapter - review of Book One
March 30 -
Just One More Chapter - review
March 31 -
The Cheshire Cat's Looking Glass - review / giveaway
April 1 -
View From the Birdhouse - review of both books / giveaway
April 1 -
Experiencing Parenthood - review 
April 1 -
Life With Katie - review of Book One
April 2 -
Girl With Camera - review of Book One
April 2 -
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! - review / giveaway
April 3 -
Girl with Camera - review
April 3 -
Library of Clean Reads - review of Book One
April 6 -
fuonlyknew - review / author interview / giveaway
April 7 -
Life With Katie - review of Book Two / giveaway
April 8 -
Deal Sharing Aunt - review of both books
April 9 -
Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
April 10 -
Jessica Cassidy - review of both books
April 10 -
One Frugal Girl - review  


GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Win one of ten sets of A Horse Valley Adventure books! One winner will also get a $30 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open internationally and ends April 17.
To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may be a bit slow in loading, please be patient.

Thanks for stopping by during Liana-Melissa’s tour. I hope I’ve enticed you to check out these charming children’s books. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win your copies. Tell us about a favorite book from your childhood.

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Flintstones & WWE Stone Age Smackdown Giveaway


DVD CoverIf you are of a certain age, you probably grew up watching the Flintstones cartoon laughing at the antics of Fred, Barney and the rest of the gang.

Well it seems Fred and the gang are still around and up to a new adventure involving the WWE. Thanks to Warner Home Video and the good folks at PartnersHub, I have a Blu=ray+DVD Comb Pack of The Flintstones &WWE Stone Age Smackdown to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

About The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown

When Fred loses his family's vacation money, he hatches one of his hair brained plans to get it back. It's a sports entertainment spectacle that involves throwing his best bud, Barney into the wrestling ring with the likes of John Cenastone (John Cena), Rey Mysteriopal (Rey Mysterio) and even The Undertaker, with Fred himself as event promoter! 

The crowds roar, the "clams" are pouring in from ticket sales and even Mr. McMagma (Vince McMahon) is taking notice of all the hoopla. Including all-star appearances from The Boulder Twins (Brie and Nikki Bella) Marble Henry (Mark Henry) and Daniel Bry-Rock (Daniel Bryan), it's time to get the whole family together for hard-hitting, side-splitting laughs from the most epic event in all of prehistory! #FlintstonesWWE

The Flintstones & WWE Stone Age Smackdown is available on Blu-ray Combo, DVD and Digital HD.


 

• Take the quiz to find out which Flintstones & WWE Stone Age Smackdown Star YOU are? 

• Download the fun activities - and do them together as a family while you watch the film at home. 

• Watch the official trailer & click the box art to bring the film home today! 

Take the quiz and leave a comment with your Stone Age Smackdown Star alter-ego! You can also find the Flintstones on Twitter with the hashtag #FlintstonesWWE for more fun and entertainment.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Flintstone poster 
This giveaway is for one Blu-ray+DVD Comb Pack of The Flintstones & WWE Stone Age Smackdown. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. This giveaway has a short run and will end at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 48 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress: The Flintstones” in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

FTC Full Disclosure –The assets included within this message were delivered to me to promote Warner Home Video. I am working with Warner Home Video and they will provide the giveaway item. Each household is only eligible to win One (1) The Flintstones and WWE: Stone Age Smackdown Blu-Ray Combo Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Did you watch The Flintstones when you were growing up? What was your favorite cartoon?

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Writing a Novel in 15 Minute Increments {+Giveaway}


The Bookseller by Cynthia SwansonI’m delighted to have author Cynthia Swanson joining us today to talk about writing her debut novel, THE BOOKSELLER, in 15-minute increments.

Thanks to Cynthia and the lovely Meg at Tandem Literary, I have a print copy of THE BOOKSELLER to give away. Please see the end of the post for more details.

An IndieNext Pick for March, THE BOOKSELLER ponders the tantalizing question, "what if." The story follows a woman in early-1960's Denver who must reconcile her reality with the alternate world of her dreams. 

Kitty Miller, a single woman in her late 30s, owns a bookshop with her best friend Frieda. Kitty begins to have nightly dreams of an alternative reality in which she's a married woman with children (and no more bookstore). Reminiscent of Sliding Doors (the 1998 movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow), The story explores the butterfly effect - how one small change of circumstance can set off a cascade of entirely different events. It's a fast, engaging read that is great for discussion and introspection.

For those who enjoy mid-century design, you'll love the 1960s clothes, music, architecture, and books that make up the backdrop of the story. 

Now, please join me in giving Cynthia a warm welcome to Thoughts. Cynthia, welcome and please tell us how you can really write a novel in 15-minute increments.

It’s the classic paradox: the more time we have, the less likely we are to use it wisely. 

When I wrote first draft of my novel The Bookseller, time was in very short supply. I had a freelance technical/marketing editing career and a house that was under construction. My twins were in kindergarten. My youngest child, at three, was up and at ‘em every morning before the birds started singing - precluding the possibility of rising early, making myself coffee, and serenely writing fiction while my kids slept. I know a lot of authors work that way, but it wasn’t an option for me.

So when did I write? Well. Writing had to happen in very small increments, whenever I could squeeze it in during the day. Sometimes that meant I got in only fifteen minutes of writing time per day. 

“That seems impossible,” people have said to me. “It takes me fifteen minutes just to settle into my work day. I’d never get anything done if I only had fifteen minutes.”

Ah. Yes. But that’s because their work days are eight hours long. Fifteen minutes is a small percentage of an eight-hour work day.

Fifteen minutes, however, was often 100% of my fiction-writing day.

So how did I do it? To begin with, I’m blessed with the ability to write very fast - when I set my mind to it. If I’m really cranking, if I’m focused, I can write 1,000 words - that’s about four double-spaced pages – in an hour. 

The first draft of The Bookseller was 50,000 words. (The final copy was double that.) Those first 50,000 words - when I do the math, it took me around 50 hours to write them. 

That’s not much more than a typical employee’s full-time work week.

“Sure,” one might say. “But how good could those words be, really?”

The answer is: not very. But that’s beside the point. I aspired to write 250 words in 15 minutes - 1,000 in an hour - and that meant one thing was key: no stopping. No going back and re-reading. No taking out my thesaurus to search for the perfect word. No getting online and doing research. All that came later, in successive drafts.

With time being so restricted, for that first draft I just got the basics down and kept going. 

When I got stuck, I’d make a note of the problem and move on. Sometimes I discontinued entire sections, or I’d have to expedite my way out of a sub-plot, because I had no idea how to resolve something. I didn’t allow myself to get hung up on that; I made a note, let it go, and forged ahead.

In subsequent versions, once that first draft was complete, these issues generally resolved themselves. Either that, or I found their part of the storyline wasn’t necessary in the first place, and I removed it completely.

Writing this way takes discipline and focus. Neither are my strong suits, but I find that when I’m in the groove, nothing makes me happier than my fingers flying on the keyboard, transmitting what’s in my head onto the printed page. 

That kept me going. Often for only fifteen minutes at a time - but nonetheless moving in the right direction.

Cynthia, thanks so much for visiting with us and sharing this look at your writing. Your 15-minute working periods just goes to prove, if you want to write you will find the time.

Here’s a bit of background on Cynthia (in her own words) for those who aren’t familiar with her.

My name is Cynthia Swanson...and I'm a writer and designer.

I started out in college (a long time ago) majoring in Architecture, because I have always loved design, and I thought I needed to pursue a "practical" career. But after 2 years, I went back to my first love - writing - and changed my major to English. I was a freelance technical/marketing writer for many years.

All the while, I aspired to a creative writing career. Now that I have a debut novel coming out, I concentrate on writing fiction and personal essay.

Still, the design world continues to draw me in. I especially love mid-century design, and I'm constantly thinking of ways to enhance and improve our mid-century home. I'm also thrilled to discuss home design projects with others.

For more on Cynthia and her writing, visit her website.

Praise for THE BOOKSELLER:

        "This is a stunner of a debut novel, astonishingly tight and fast paced. The 1960s tone is elegant and even, and Kitty/Katharyn's journey is intriguing...This will especially resonate with fans of the movie Sliding Doors and the authors Anna Quindlen and Anita Shreve." (Library Journal, starred review)
        "Dexterously traversing past and present, fact and fiction, Swanson's clever first novel ingeniously explores the inventive ways the human spirit copes with trauma." (Booklist)
        "What if? These words tantalize and haunt us. In The Bookseller, writing with a sharp-tinged empathic pen, Cynthia Swanson takes us on a startling journey where a woman is thrust into the alternative world that might have been, had she made different choices." (Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage)
        "Cynthia Swanson's The Bookseller is both a delightful and haunting exploration of identity, love and loss. With great style and compassion, the author asks the age-old question: 'What if my life were different?' The answers in this affecting debut novel are truly surprising." (Joanna Hershon, author of A Dual Inheritance)
        "I inhaled The Bookseller. I loved both of Kitty's worlds, and refused to put the book down until I saw how the tension between the two worlds resolved. A deeply satisfying read." (Ann Napolitano, author of A Good Hard Look)

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of THE BOOKSELLER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Sunday, March 29. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Cynthia Swanson’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Cynthia’s visit. Do you write in increments or do you have to dedicate a time slot just to write?

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb


Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb - Thoughts in ProgressWhen a series reaches its 40th installment, you have to wonder if the spark is still going to be there.

Author J.D. Robb demonstrates that the 40th book can still keep you on the edge of your seat while it keeps you guessing about the villain. OBSESSION IN DEATH is Robb’s latest (and 40th) installment in her In Death series featuring Lt. Eve Dallas.

Narrator Susan Ericksen continues to do a superb job bringing the various characters to life. Her inflection and pace gives each character their own unique voice. Her mannerisms heightens the emotions of the story adding depth to an already suspenseful thriller.

When Lt. Eve Dallas of the NYPSD finds out she has an obsessed fan who is willing to kill for her, she is determined to put a stop to it. With each killing, the murderer leaves Eve a message from her ‘true and loyal friend’ stating they are helping Eve fight justice when the system lets her down.

Eve has to play a delicate and psychological dance with the killer because she knows in the end, the killer will turn on her as she’s not grateful for her ‘true and loyal friend’s’ gifts.

Robb once again blends the hard-boiled cop of the lieutenant with the slowly softening side of Eve. Combining with the usual mix of characters, Robb adds humor, friendship and romance for a well-balanced story.

OBSESSION IN DEATH is suspenseful and moves at a steady pace keeping your attention focused on trying to figure out the killer. With twists and turns, the ending comes with a surprising conclusion. This long-running series continues to surprise and entertain.

Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb, In Death Book #40, Narrated by Susan Ericksen, Brilliance Audio, @2015, ISBN: 978-1480593053, Unabridged, 11 Discs, Run Time: 13 Hours and 27 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope I’ve enticed you to check out this fascinating series. How’s the weather in your area of the world? What book are you reading or looking forward to reading this week?

*This post contains affiliate links.