Friday, January 30, 2015

Eyes Only by Fern Michaels


Eyes Only by Fern Michaels - Thoughts in ProgressThe ladies of Pinewood are once again righting wrongs and the guys are backing them up in author Fern Michaels’ latest Sisterhood Series installment, EYES ONLY.

Narrator Laural Merlington does her usual brilliant job of bringing all the characters to life. Her varying vocalizations makes it sound as if each character has their own separate narrator. Her inflections are spot on adding depth to the delightful story. 

This time around the entire team, with the exception of Charles, is on tap to help Annie and Myra with their latest mission. A ruthless, wealthy man – Angus Sypder – is determined to take control of his young, twin grandchildren even though they were legally adopted from his daughter. He will stop at nothing to have what he wants no matter the cost in money or lives.

As the plan begins to take form, the group is lead to believe an old adversary that escaped from them years earlier may be head security for Sypder. Once they arrive on Sypder’s exclusive island, the group also become convinced that Charles and Fergus are being held prisoner there.

The group works their magic to make the impossible, possible and to make sure Sypder’s reign of terror comes to an end. But not all their plans work as hoped.
Michaels has crafted a unique group of characters for this series. They are funny, feisty and loyal to those they care about. The story flows quickly and is easy to follow. The excitement builds as the mission plays out.  

EYES ONLY is the 24th installment in the Sisterhood series, but can be read/listeners to on its own. While new readers/listeners won’t be left in the dark, they won’t be able to completely appreciate the group’s actions without the background of the other missions. This is one series that should be read/listened to in order to get the best benefits.

Myra, Annie and the gang once again stand for justice and family. This is a fun and entertaining story.

Eyes Only by Fern Michaels, Sisterhood Series Book #24, Narrated by Laural Merlington, Brilliance Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1491536551, Unabridged, 7 Discs, Run Time: 8 Hours and 13 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 so much for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a great Friday and a wonderful weekend to come. What books are on tap for you to read or listen to this weekend?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Diners, Drive-Ins and Death {+ Giveaway}


Diners, Drive-Ins and Death - Thoughts in ProgressIt’s a pleasure to welcome author Christine Wenger here today to talk about her latest release, DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH, the third installment in her Comfort Food Mystery series.

During her stop Christine will be sharing rambling thoughts on being an author of a ‘Comfort Food’ series. In addition, I have a print copy of DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH to giveaway to celebrate the release thanks to Christine and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group. Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway.

Here’s a brief description of the new cozy.

      For Sandy Harbor’s tastiest comfort food, venture to the Silver Bullet Diner. But head next door to the new drive-in theater if you have an appetite for murder….
      Trixie Matkowski has a tall order to fill this fall. Aside from dishing out delicious fare at the Silver Bullet during peak fishing season, she’s helping her friend—Antoinette Chloe Brown, or ACB for short—open a drive-in movie theater in the vacant lot beside her diner. It’s just the thing to take ACB’s mind off Nick, her missing biker beau.
      But their plans are fried after Nick’s body is discovered during the groundbreaking for the drive-in. And when the police connect the murder weapon to ACB, she becomes the prime suspect in eighty-sixing Nick. With the fate of her innocent friend and her business on the line, Trixie must make the guilty party pay up before someone else gets stiffed…. 

Includes Delicious Home-Style Recipes!
 
Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Christine as she talks about her rambling thoughts. Welcome, Christine.

First, let me explain that wild title above. My series for Penguin/Obsidian Books are all cozy mysteries and each one has a comfort food theme. 

You might ask, “Hey, Chris, what is COMFORT FOOD? “Well, dear reader, it is what I’d like to think of is food or sweets that grandma used to make, or mom used to make, or dad always made, or Joe at the diner makes. It’s your favorite go-to food when you are feeling low and need some comfort. It’s the way mom makes that sweet potato casserole. It’s that meatloaf you grew up on. It’s grandma’s apple pie and now you have the recipe and make it every Thanksgiving for your kids. And hopefully, one of your kids will make it for their kids.

You might also ask, “Hey, Chris, what’s the setting for your comfort food series?” Well, dear reader, I picked the perfect setting for my series: a diner! My character, Trixie Matkowski’s Silver Bullet Diner, located in small town Sandy Harbor, New York, is on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Trixie Matkowski has the same first name as my favorite childhood sleuth, Trixie Belden. As a kid, you could always find me lying on my bed reading and re-reading Trixie’s adventures. I’d be done with one book, and have the next open so I wouldn’t miss a word. I’d like to think that Trixie Matkowski is a lot like me. We have a lot of things in common: love of food and desserts, love of Lake Ontario, small towns, little rental cottages, quirky friends and Polish heritage.

Like Trixie Matkowski, I’ve always been a foodie and love to cook and bake. As for diners, I have my local favorites that have stood the test of time and various owners. A lot of the old diners, like the Silver Bullet, were fashioned after railroad dining cars. My grandfather used to work at Onondaga Pottery (which turned into Syracuse China and is now defunct) which made china for various diners, restaurants, and even railroad dining cars. I have several collectible railroad china pieces, and whenever I use it, I think of where it might have traveled and the dining cars in which it sat.

Friends who have read my books relish in sharing their favorite diners with me. Oh, the hardship! Great food and great company. So, while I should be writing, instead I am eating at various new and old diners.
But my favorite will always be diners like the Silver Bullet, a shiny aluminum establishment from the 1950’s or so, with a grand history and food that comforts. The smell of coffee permeates the air, and deserts take a ride on a lighted carousel. The waitresses are friendly and no one rushes you out.

Think of me sitting across from you in a booth with a worn Formica table and red vinyl seats that ergonomically form to my butt. I’ll be the one eating fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and buttered corn on the side.

“Of course, Nancy, I’d love desert. I’ll have a cup of thick black coffee with my apple pie. Definitely, a la mode. Vanilla ice cream, please!”

Christine, thanks for visiting with us today and sharing your ramblings. Comfort food and cozies definitely go together. 

Here’s a bit of background on Christine for those that aren’t familiar with her and her writing in her own words.

I have worked in the criminal justice field for more years than I care to remember! It seems like I was forever going to school while I was working full time, but in the end, I received a dual master's degree in Probation and Parole Studies and Sociology from Fordham University. Unfortunately, the knowledge gained from way too many years in night school, didn’t prepare me for what I love to do the most – writing romances and cozy mysteries.

A new venture for me (in 2013) was a series of “comfort food” cozy mysteries which I set in a small-town 1950’s diner, THE SILVER BULLET. 

The first book, DO OR DINER, from Penguin/Obsidian books released in August 2013. A second book, A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER, followed in 2014, and a third, DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH released this month. 

Of course I have to do research for my comfort food diner series. That takes me to diners all over the U.S. and Canada (and maybe Europe and Asia!) for meals. It’s a tough job, but I just have to do it!

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

Here are my thoughts on this fun mystery:

Author Christine Wenger has created fun and likable characters in this delightful cozy. The protagonist, Trixie Matkowski, is a dedicated and loyal friend who is strong and determined with flaws readers can relate to. The secondary characters are quirky and add depth to the story.

The small town setting quickly draws readers in and holds their attention with charm and heart. The story flows smoothly with twists and turns. The combination of humor, friendship and a touch of romance blends well with the suspense and mystery.

To add to the diner and drive-in experience, there are yummy recipes included. DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH is an entertaining mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.

Diners, Drive-Ins and Death by Christine Wenger, A Comfort Food Mystery Book #3, Obsidian, @2015, ISBN: 978-0451415103, Paperback, 304 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.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 6. 

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 Christine Wenger’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Do you remember drive-in theatres? If so, do you have a favorite movie that you watched at a drive-in? What was the best thing about drive-in theatres to you?

Thanks for stopping by today during Christine’s visit. I hope we’ve enticed you to check out DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH.

*This post contains affiliate links.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reagan’s Redemption {+ Awesome Giveaways}


02 Reagan's Redemption - EbookIt’s a pleasure to welcome author Cate Beauman back to Thoughts in Progress to talk about REAGAN’S REDEMPTION, the eighth installment in her bestselling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County.

REAGAN’S REDEMPTION is on sale now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and more! Buy it now!

Here’s a brief description:

      Doctor Reagan Rosner loves her fast-paced life of practicing medicine in New York City’s busiest trauma center. Kind and confident, she’s taking her profession by storm—until a young girl’s accidental death leaves her shaken to her core. With her life a mess and her future uncertain, Reagan accepts a position as Head Physician for The Appalachia Project, an outreach program working with some of America’s poorest citizens.
      Shane Harper, Ethan Cooke Security’s newest team member, has been assigned a three-month stint deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and he’s not too happy about it. Guarding a pill safe in the middle of nowhere is boring as hell, but when he gets a look at his new roommate, the gorgeous Doctor Rosner, things start looking up.
      Shane and Reagan encounter more than a few mishaps as they struggle to gain the trust of a reluctant community. They’re just starting to make headway when a man’s routine checkup exposes troubling secrets the town will do anything to keep hidden—even if that means murder.

Please join me in welcome Cate as she joins us to share the inspiration behind REAGAN’S REDEMPTION. Welcome, Cate.

I’ve wanted to tell Reagan and Shane’s story for quite a while now, but I kept putting it off, knowing where the weeks of research would take me. Reagan Rosner is a doctor, which is great for her but not so much for me as the writer. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac who is afflicted with White Coat Syndrome. Typically, I stay as far away from anything “medical” as possible, but for Reagan’s Redemption I had to dig deep and conquer a personal demon or two. There were many days where I cringed, watching how-to videos on IV insertions and blood draws and hyperventilated my way through more than one resuscitation tutorial, but I did it, making Reagan’s character all the more stronger for it. 

After the days of dreadful research, I really knuckled down and got to work. I had so much fun with this story. Reagan is kind and dedicated and Shane extremely funny. This couple complements each other well, which is perfect because they’ll face more than their fair share of trouble in Black Bear Gap, Kentucky.

I hope you enjoy Reagan and Shane as much as I enjoyed writing them!

~ Cate

Cate, thanks for joining us and sharing this look at how Reagan’s story came to be. I can agree with you about staying as far away from anything medical as possible. 

Now here’s an excerpt from REAGAN’S REDEMPTION:

      The front door opened and closed. “Shane?”
      “Down here.”
      Reagan hurried in, her eyes full of excitement. “How are things going?”
      “Good. Faith is clean, eating, and will hopefully be sleeping in the next couple of minutes.”
      “I can take a turn. I know I’ve been gone for awhile.”
      He shook his head. “We’re fine. Looks like you’ve had a run today.”
      She smiled. “Two patients—one ear infection and a strep throat.”
      “Good stuff.”
      She nodded, sitting on the edge of the mattress. “That’s not the best part. I was talking with Jodi, Josiah’s mother, about her gardens—trying to break the ice a little. She was telling me how she grows some of the best corn around but constantly has trouble with her beans. Apparently, Sue Anne’s family seems to have the opposite issue.” She swiped her hair behind her ear. “Anyway, while Jodi was talking, I got this idea. I was thinking we could organize an evening where families can get together here at the clinic and swap fruits and vegetables for a bigger variety of healthful foods—kind of like a farmer’s market. We can offer some simple snacks and drinks, and I’m hoping I might be able to throw in a few nutrition facts while we’re at it. There are so many kiddos with bad teeth. They’re drinking too much soda.”
      “Sounds like you’ve got a plan. Go get ‘em, tiger.” He liked seeing her like this—her eyes bright, her hands punctuating certain words as they spilled from her mouth, caught up in her own enthusiasm.
      “I will.” Her smile dimmed as she touched Faith’s toes peeking out from the blanket. “But I don’t know how many people will come.”
      “So you won’t have standing-room only on your first try.”
      She licked her lips. “They’re afraid.”
      He frowned. “Who?”
      “The people here. They’re frightened by either me or the clinic.”
      “Why do you say that?”
      She shrugged. “I don’t know. That was the sense I got when I spoke with Jenny’s mother and then again with Jodi.”
      He remembered Mrs. Hendley’s weird spewings about heeding warnings and staying away, but she also seemed like a bit of a whack job. “I don’t know, Doc. When I look at you ‘intimidating’ isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind.”
      “Maybe not to you, but they were certainly uneasy. Maybe I’m trying to make sense of an unusual situation, but I don’t think so. Both women kept looking toward the trees, like they were being watched or something.” She shuddered. “It gave me the willies.”
      “We’ll keep an eye on the situation, but things have been pretty low key so far.”
      She nodded. “I just really want this to work. I can help this town if they’ll let me.”

Did you enjoy the excerpt? You can read the first chapter on Cate’s website, www.catebeauman.com, or you can finish the whole book here!

The Unofficial Reagan’s Redemption Soundtrack

Here are a few of the songs that Cate had on “repeat” while she created Reagan and Shane’s story! You can listen to them on her website www.catebeauman.com.

The soundtrack, of sorts, for Reagan’s Redemption:
· Devil Town by Tony Lucca
· So Easy by Phillip Phillips
· Not A Bad Thing by Justin Timberlake
· Science and Faith by The Script
· Daylight by Maroon Five
· Hazy by Rosi Golan ft. William Fitzimmons
· Get Out by Casey Abrams
· First Flight Home by Jake Miller
· Human by Jon McLaughlin
· Have A Little Faith In Me by Jewel
· Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
· Parachute by Train

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cate currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernard’s, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the bestselling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.

Here’s how Cate describes herself, “I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, five years later, I’m working on my ninth novel, Answers For Julie, which I plan to release during the summer of 2015. I’m remain so very grateful for the support and success that I have had. Thank you!” 

SIGN UP FOR CATE’S NEWSLETTER TO BE NOTIFIED OF NEW RELEASES AND MONTHLY GIVEAWAY OFFERS BY CLICKING HERE!

For more on Cate and her writing, visit her website and Amazon Author Page, as well as connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Cate is offering two awesome giveaways. The first giveaway is for a chance to win one of six eBook copies of REAGAN’S REDEMPTION on Kindle or Nook. The second giveaway pertains to a lovely Swarovski Crystal set featuring the ‘Glacier,’ ‘Tenderness’ and ‘Love Struck’ designs.

To enter either or both of the giveaways, just click on the Rafflecopter widgets below and follow the instructions. The widgets may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Cate’s visit. Do you shy away from all things medical when you can?

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush


Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush - Thoughts in ProgressWhen a book can blindside you from left field with a bombshell ending, then the author has crafted a great story pulling you in to feel the emotions and actions. Authors Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush do that with their latest release, WICKED WAYS.

To enhance the story even more, the audio version with narrator Susan Ericksen bringing the characters to life is especially intriguing. Ericksen’s vocals gives each character their own distinct voice from the young children to the senior adults. Her timing and interruption of the emotions adds depth to the already suspenseful story.

This story has some elements that could be categorized as supernatural, but the authors make the events seem plausible.

Elizabeth Gaines Ellis is living the suburban life – her husband is a successful attorney, she’s busy with her real estate job, and they have a beautiful daughter. But Elizabeth begins to worry there’s something wrong with her, that she may be connected to a series of horrible deaths.

When her cheating husband dies in a fiery car crash with his mistress, Elizabeth fears she’s to blame. She has wished them dead, like she did her spiteful boss and that bullying cop and they all died. Elizabeth has to keep a close rein on her anger are someone else could die.

Meanwhile, family members Elizabeth never knew about are trying to find her fearing her life is in danger. As the police become more convinced Elizabeth was involved in the death of her husband and his mistress, the closer Elizabeth becomes to being a victim herself.

This is a spine-tingling thriller that will keep you guess until the very end. The characters are varied in their like-ability and the story moves at a steady pace. 

WICKED WAYS is the sixth book in the Colony series (also known as the Wicked series) by these two authors, but can be read/listened to on its own. This was the first book I have listened to in the series and had no trouble keeping up with the plot and characters. This story is intriguing and suspenseful with its twists, turns and surprise ending. The story features a good blend of mystery, suspense, paranormal and a touch of romance.

Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Colony (Wicked) Series Book #6, Narrated by Susan Ericksen, Brilliance Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1441876966, Unabridged, 12 Discs, Run Time: 14 Hours and 24 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.

Happy Tuesday everyone and I hope those living in the Northeast are safe, secure and warm despite the predicted blizzard. Have you ever wished for something to happen and it did? If you could have a special gift, what would you want it to be?

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope I’ve peaked your interest in WICKED WAYS and this fascinating series.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - Thoughts in ProgressStarting off as what seems to be ramblings, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN grows to an obsession you can’t tear yourself away from until you have all the answers.

It’s been said, if you’re a Hitchcock fan you don’t want to miss this debut novel. I agree, but add that you should listen to the audio format to get a true Hitchcock experience.

The story is read by three narrators - Clare Curbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher. Each does the voice of one of the three main characters – Rachel, Megan (aka Jess) and Anna. I’m not sure which narrator does which character, but all three do a superb job in their delivery. Their varied pacing and inflection matches the tension and suspense of the story. They each bring out the depth of emotions in the main characters, as well as the secondary characters. Through their mannerisms, they bring the characters to life in vivid detail for the listener.

This is a psychological thriller dealing with the lives of three women and how they intertwine in a most unusual way. 

Rachel, a lonely alcoholic, takes the same commuter train twice a day. It stops at the same signal every day near the home she used to share with her ex-husband. Rather than looking at her old house where her ex, his new wife and new baby girl live, Rachel watches the young couple that lives a few houses down the lane. She sees them living the perfect life she should have had with her ex-husband. She calls them Jess and Jason. One day as Rachel looks for Jess and Jason, she sees another man with Jess and they are kissing. Furious, Rachel can’t believe Jess is destroying her perfect life. Soon afterwards, Rachel learns the woman has disappeared.

Obsessed to help the man she calls Jason, Rachel decides to tell the police about the man she saw kissing Jess. From the news she learns the couple’s real names are Scott and Megan Hipwell. Because of Rachel’s alcohol problem, the police don’t consider her credible. Mixed with the stories her ex-husband’s new wife, Anna, is spreading and her blackout periods, Rachel begins to wonder what really happened to Megan/Jess.

Meanwhile, Megan’s story begins to unfold and dark secrets are revealed. In addition, Anna is upset that Rachel continues to call her ex-husband and comes by their house from time to time. Rachel has entangled herself in the other women’s lives and danger lurks around every corner. What really happens when she blacks out from too much alcohol? 

Author Paula Hawkins has crafted fascinating characters that take you on a suspenseful adventure. The twists and turns will keep you in the dark until the bombshell ending. Just as you think you have it figured out, Hawkins throws you for a loop. Seemingly strangers become like domino-effects as the search for the missing woman progresses.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN has the flavor of a Hitchcock story, but so much more. I started off thinking I wouldn’t be able to listen to the entire story and ended up I couldn’t stop listening to it. Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say if you pass the same places everyday on your way to work, you may just look at them different after listening to this mesmerizing tale. Filled with mystery, suspense, intrigue, dark secrets, jealousy, and troubled souls, this is a story you won’t soon forget.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; Narrated by Clare Curbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher, Penguin Audio, @2015, ISBN: 978-1611763737, Unabridged, 9 Discs, Run Time: 11 Hours 

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.

Hope your Monday is going well and you’re not snowed (or iced) in with the blizzard hitting parts of the US. Are you a Hitchcock fan? What’s your favorite Hitchcock movie? Have you ever made a connection with someone you saw everyday on your way to work without ever really talking to them? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope I’ve enticed you check out THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, especially the audio version – it’s amazing.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, January 23, 2015

All the President’s Menus {+ Giveaway}


All the President's Menu - Thoughts in ProgressWith the President’s State of the Union address this week, it’s a perfect time to welcome author Julie Hyzy to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her current release, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS, the latest installment in her White House Chef Mystery series.

Julie is joining us today to share ten tidbits about the White House Chef Mystery series. I’ll share my thoughts on this fun book and thanks to Julie and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more giveaway details.

Now let’s give Julie a warm welcome as she share her Ten Tidbits. Welcome, Julie.

1. If you’re a regular reader of the White House Chef Mystery series, you already know that the First Family is required to cover all expenses for personal meals, but that fact still amazes me and I feel the need to include it here. State dinners and official events are covered by the White House budget, but the family must cover its own expenses when it comes to food. And, because there are extra steps and higher costs involved in procuring ingredients, those bills can be pretty high.

2. The White House doesn’t respond well to direct questions about the residence. Before I even began writing the first book, State of the Onion, I called the White House to ask some questions about staff hours, kitchen layout, colors on the floor and walls, etc. I was looking for details not usually found in books. This would have been in 2006, I think. They were uneasy, but asked me to fax them a list of questions. I did. Never heard back. I followed up. Still never heard back.

3. Later, in 2010 or so, I was able to give a couple of books to a friend who knew a friend who was related to a White House kitchen staff member. I’d hoped the staff member would either read the books, or pass them to someone else in the kitchen¾or … dreaming now… the First Lady¾who would enjoy them and say something positive in the media. Nope. The lesson here: The White House is a hard nut to crack. (Unless you’re racing past the Secret Service that is… <grin>)

4. Although Hollywood loves the idea of a White House Chef solving mysteries, the Powers That Be don’t love it enough.

5. Ollie has a mind of her own. I have often set her up to walk into a trap, or to do something sketchy, and she refuses. Not kidding. She puts her foot down and says “No.” It isn’t until I revise, change the circumstances, increase her motivation, or reset the stage that she complies.

6. Speaking of Ollie’s strong-mindedness, whenever I’m uncomfortable or awkward (usually social situations where I know no one) I pretend I’m Ollie. Asking myself “What Would Ollie Do?” helps me banish my nervousness.

7. My friends tell me they see me in Ollie’s role when they’re reading the books. I see America Ferrera. 

8. I’ve had a couple of different “ghost chefs” assist me by coming up with the fabulous recipes for the books. My favorites include the stuffed cherry tomatoes, the bacon-wrapped green beans, the brownie bites, the cucumber slices with pine nuts (I substitute goat cheese for feta), and the hummus.

9. There are a couple of “oops” moments in the stories. A misnamed monument, a mis-identified landmark, a cell phone that mysteriously reappeared—and more. I appreciate readers letting me know when they spot these mistakes, and I generally thank the first to let me know by sending him or her a signed copy of a book from my other series. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do so for every sharp-eyed reader, but please know that I’m delighted that you care enough to point these things out.

10. I would LOVE a personal tour of the White House. They don’t have to feed me (though I wouldn’t turn down a dinner invitation), just let me roam a little. Secret Service can accompany me if that makes them feel better. All I want is to explore every inch of the building, from the bottom-est basement to the snipers on the roof. And take pictures¾lots of pictures¾to refer to as I write the next book. Can you imagine how much fun that would be?

Julie, thanks for joining us today and sharing these tidbits. Now that you mention it, America Ferrera would make a good Ollie.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Julie, let me share a bit of background on her.

Julie Hyzy is a New York Times Bestselling author with two award-winning series: White House Chef Mysteries and Manor House Mysteries. Her first experience with food included flipping burgers and chopping onions at a neighborhood hot dog stand. She traded that experience for a job as a singing waitress at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour—but gave that up when she started college (and because she couldn't carry a tune). 

Over the years, she's acted in community theater productions, appeared in television commercials, and crashed a previously all-male fraternity to become one of the first female brothers in Loyola University's Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi. Julie had dreams of becoming a writer, but family, friends, and frat brothers convinced her otherwise. Having held positions as junior officer at a downtown bank, office manager at an architectural firm, and financial advisor at a prestigious wealth management company, she realizes that the business degree was probably a good choice—but fiction is truly her passion. Now, with some well-earned life experience behind her, she's delighted to finally be able to make writing a priority in her life.

For more on Julie and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s a brief synopsis of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS:

It’s an old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. But when a tour of the White House kitchen by a group of foreign chefs ends in murder, it’s Olivia Paras who finds herself in the soup…
Due to a government sequester, entertaining at the White House has been severely curtailed. So executive chef Olivia Paras is delighted to hear that plans are still on to welcome a presidential candidate from the country of Saardisca—the first woman to run for office—and four of that nation’s top chefs.
But while leading the chefs on a kitchen tour, pastry chef Marcel passes out suddenly—and later claims he was drugged. When one of the visiting chefs collapses and dies, it’s clear someone has infiltrated the White House with ill intent. Could it be an anti-Saardiscan zealot? Is the candidate a target? Are the foreign chefs keeping more than their recipes a secret? Once again, Olivia must make sleuthing the special of the day…

My Thoughts ……….

Author Julie Hyzy continues to evolve the characters in this tantalizing series bringing a fresh fascination while keeping the traits and flavor of the individuals we’ve come to love. The characters are likable and realistic.

The story flows quickly with action and suspense as the author combines all the facets into a well-blended tale. Her rich descriptions places the reader in the middle of the setting. The mix of conspiracy and intrigue topped with suspense holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end.

To enhance the story, Hyzy shares mouth-watering recipes for a complete Presidential menu.

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS is full of intrigue, thrills, witty dialogue and amusing characters.

All The President’s Menus by Julie Hyzy, A White House Chef Mystery Book #8, Berkley Prime Crime, @2015, ISBN: 978-0425262399, Paperback, 304 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.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31. 

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 Julie Hyzy’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks for stopping by today during Julie’s visit. Have you ever been on a White House Tour? What room would you most like to see in the White House?

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a Rafflecopter giveaway