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.


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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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,, 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

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


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!” 


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.


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?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.


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?

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Saving Gracie by Terry Lee

Saving Gracie by Terry Lee at Thoughts in ProgressToday I’m delighted to be reviewing the audio book by author Terry Lee Rosing, who visited Thoughts in Progress on Nov. 6, and is narrated by Michelle Babb, who stopped by on Nov. 7.


Author Terry Lee’s SAVING GRACIE runs the gamut of emotions. If you’re sentimental, you might want to keep a box of tissue handy for the tears of laughter and sorrow that are sure to come.

Narrator Michelle Babb does a wonderful job giving distinct voices to each of the characters. Her interpretation brings out the depth of the emotions of each character enhancing the story.

Gracie relies on her mother, Kathryn Broussard, for just about everything. You could say Kathryn is a helicopter mom even though Grace is grown with two children of her own. Theirs is a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, but it works just fine for them until Kathryn dies leaving Grace on her own

For the first time in her life, Grace has to make her own decisions about small and large issues. While she has a supportive husband, she begins to worry he’s having an affair. Grace also has her hands full with her two children and volunteering at the school.

Meanwhile, Kathryn is determined to find a way to help Gracie from the ‘other side’ no matter what it takes. Busy trying to continue her control of Grace’s life, Kathryn doesn’t realize what she’s overlooked in her own life.

SAVING GRACIE is a delightful story that deals with the struggles between mothers and daughters and their love/hate relationships. The characters are likable and realistic with flaws and concerns listeners can relate to. 

The story flows at a steady pace and holds your attention from beginning to end. The tension between the characters is lifelike and the descriptions of the ‘other side’ intriguing.

This is a story that will have you laughing as it tugs on your heart strings.

Saving Gracie by Terry Lee, Narrated by Michelle Babb, World Castle Publishing LLC, @2014, ASIN: BOOJFHKYDM, Unabridged, Audible Audio, Run Time: 7 Hours and 46 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio 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.

Do you enjoy stories that deal with the struggles between parent and child? Do you understand how a parent and child could have a love/hate relationship? What’s on your reading radar at the moment? Is it in audio, print or eBook format?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a wonderful Thursday and the weather is being kind to you. Today is our last day of nice weather for a few days as the forecast keeps mentioning the s words (sleet, snow) possible for this weekend. Hope to y’all back here tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Carly Phillips – Dare to Love Kindle Worlds Release

release day 
I found out yesterday (Tuesday, Jan. 20th) that New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips has licensed her DARE TO LOVE world to Amazon so that other authors can bring you stories that are extensions of her DARE TO LOVE world. 

You’ll see familiar faces, maybe even characters you met on Carly’s pages and wondered what happened to them. As the world is licensed to Amazon, the books are available on Amazon only. If you aren’t a Kindle user, no worries! You can still read the stories on the FREE Kindle APP that you can download on your computer, smart phone or tablet. 

Check out the following NINE books that were released Tuesday!
Hot Dare – Avery Flynn

        He shows some of his best moves off the field.
        Hell is a Miami Thunder fan cruise to the Bahamas—at least, that’s how Colt “45” Butler sees it. But with his job as the team’s starting linebacker in question, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to prove he’s a team player. Plus, the prospect of having his one-night Vegas fling, Angie Diaz, as his VIP liaison for the cruise just might make the whole ordeal tolerable. All he needs it to get her back in his bed for some Vegas-rules fun on the high seas.
        Cheap wine and expensive ice cream, that’s how anyone fool enough to get involved with a Thunder football player always drowns their sorrows after getting dumped. Angie Diaz isn’t about to become one of the many—no matter how close she got to the look-but-don’t-touch line with the hot linebacker. Mixing business and pleasure with Colt is one dare her heart can’t afford to take…but being with him day and night is making is a dare she can’t resist.

Dare Me – Kelly Jamieson

        Love hurts…even when you don’t believe in it…
        Interior designer Micki Arnott is anticipating her boyfriend’s marriage proposal with excitement. She and prominent businessman Garrett Caulfield have been seeing each other for over a year and they’re in love. Okay, maybe Garrett hasn’t actually said those three little words, but Micki knows he feels them. But instead of a diamond ring, Garrett hands her a contract...
        Garrett wants Micki to move in with him, to commit to him and only him, but he doesn’t believe in love and marriage. After watching his parents cheat and hurt each other all while proclaiming their love, that’s not what he wants his life to be. A contract seems like the perfect way to make sure he and Micki both understand the parameters of their relationship.
        When Micki throws Garrett’s contract in his face and tells him to never call her again, he’s shocked and confused. He’s not a quitter, but he’s not going to fight with Micki like his parents did. Micki knows she’s doing the right thing—she deserves to be loved and isn’t going to waste her life on a man who doesn’t even believe in love. Garrett blames his misery on too much scotch...but what if that pain isn't really the mother of all hangovers...what if it’

Truth or Dare – Allie K Adams

From the USA Today bestselling author of the Roadhouse series…
        He truthfully believes he’s better off alone. She challenges him to live up to the Dare family name.
        Adam Dare has never asked for anything from his biological father. Robert Dare lives in Florida with not one but two families. While the rest of his half brothers and sisters grew up surrounded by family and eating from a silver spoon, Adam was an only child in Montana, living off the land and struggling to survive. Now a respected vet with his own practice, he’s facing an insurmountable task, one where he needs all the help he can get.
        Discovering a pretty, yet troublesome stowaway in the bed of his truck only adds to the mounting chaos. Adam doesn’t have time to deal with her during branding season, yet can’t deny the overwhelming draw to her. A litter of Dares are on their way to the luxury ranch he’s working at, and he can’t afford any distractions—especially one with golden blonde hair and pretty cornflower blue eyes.
        Amber Bigsby has lived on her own since the day after graduating from high school. After a disastrous date takes a dangerous turn, she hides in a pile of hay in the back of a truck, only to awaken to find herself at a ranch in Montana, searching for the cowboy who saved her. When she spots Adam, she’s drawn to him to like a moth to a flame. Discovering he’s a Dare has her torn between running away and giving in to temptation. Maybe it’s time to play a little truth or dare…
        If she wins, he’s forced to face what it means to be a Dare. If he wins, the truth comes out. The two may not be exclusive. All bets are off when love is on the line, especially when playing…


This story can be enjoyed without prior knowledge of the “Dare to Love” world created by Carly Phillips. However, it’s best served with a healthy dose of the other Dare stories on sale now. 

I Dare You – Leslie Kelly

A Leslie Kelly story set in New York Times Bestselling Author Carly Phillips' "Dare To Love" Kindle World!

        Marcus "Big" Bigsby is retiring after a successful NFL career, ready for a quiet, simple life on a ranch in Oklahoma. But his plan to forget the past is rocked when he comes face-to-face with his high school dream girl, the one who got away...the one he never forgot.
        Blair Tremaine has heard Marcus is living in tiny little Caribou, but she's done her best to avoid him. She'd been crazy about him in high school, but they'd always seemed miles apart--her the bookish rich girl, him the football-playing farm boy.
        Now they're thrown together again, and this time nothing will stop them from finally getting what they've always wanted: each other!

Daring Masquerade – Alannah Lynne

        When a hired heartbreaker falls for her target, both their hearts are at risk…
        For the past five years, Becca Irving (aka Carmella Jones, aka Karma) has worked as a hired heartbreaker, seeking revenge and justice against men who thoughtlessly hurt the women who love them. She expects her next mark to be just as callous, but Jon isn’t her typical target. He’s a good man with a loving nature and dominant streak that crushes her walls and tempts her into believing love can be real and lasting.
        From the moment he lays eyes on the beguiling redhead, Jonathon Ridgeway is hooked. When a sensuous dance leads to an erotic weekend aboard his boat, he realizes he needs more than a brief affair with the complex and tantalizing woman.
        But neither Jon nor Becca are who—or what—they seem. Will he be able to forgive her past actions? Can she overlook his? Or will they both be left brokenhearted by the secrets of their past?

Daring Attraction – Melanie Shawn

        When it came to star athletes, it didn’t get any hotter than Cole Carson. The starting quarterback for the Miami Thunder had game both on and off the field. But when he met Julianna, he knew that he’d have to bring more than just the status quo to the stunning, single mom’s already-hectic life if he had a chance of winning her heart.
        Life had tackled Julianna Perez with some pretty harsh hits, but she’d take them and more if it meant providing her ten-year-old with a safe and stable environment. Living by her to-do lists and focusing on Anthony’s needs, the breathtakingly beautiful single mother never acknowledged her own until they were brought to the surface by a sexy football player.
        A commanding captain on the football field, Cole knew how to take the lead in every situation and he wanted to be the solution and more for his newfound love. But will he be able to navigate through the complexities and realities of being with a single mom, no matter how badly he wants to right her world? Will Julianna trust Cole enough to let him into the stable life she created and protected for Anthony and for herself?
        With love on the line, Cole and Julianna will both be forced out of their comfort zones in…Daring Attraction

Dare Me Once – Marquita Valentine

        All police detective, Bryce Sinclair, wants is two weeks away from it all, and his grandparents’ cottage on the Chesapeake Bay shore fits the bill. A fridge full of beer and blue crabs is all he needs. Though, the hot, little waitress at the pier would be a welcome addition. He’s not looking for forever, just a good time.
        Kayla White doesn’t have time for tourists who try to buy her personal time instead of her award winning crab cakes. She’s too busy trying to start over after the last man stole her heart…and cleaned out her bank account. But, when a sexy, smooth talking stranger catches her attention, will she dare take a chance on him?

The Billionaire’s Dare – Lauren Hawkeye

This is a new story from Carly’s DARE TO LOVE series via Kindle Worlds.

From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Lauren Hawkeye/ Lauren Jameson...

        What happens in New York...
        Evangeline Wyatt, the brand new “team behaviour manager” for Miami Thunder, doesn’t have time for a relationship. At least, that’s what she’s told herself since being burned by one of the Thunder’s biggest playboys. It’s the height of humiliation when she finds herself stuck accompanying said ex to a New York kink club to keep him out of the tabloids. But when she meets a sexy, slightly familiar looking stranger with whom chemistry instantly sparks, she finds herself letting go... only to be reminded why her rules were there in the first place.
        Nick Aitken is the star rookie of the New York Vikings, a team with a longstanding rivalry against Miami Thunder. At first he approaches the admittedly delectable woman only because she’s with one of his biggest opponents. But what ignites between them is more than he can resist...
        Evangeline is certain that they’re all wrong for one another. Nick’s not so sure. But he’ll do anything for a second taste...
        Anything. “Evangeline, I dare you...”

Daring the Player – Robin Covington

        Raised by a pro football legend, Miami Thunder wide receiver Rep Grissom has a career most would envy.  A toxic marriage with a party girl almost put him on the sidelines, but now he keeps his head down and makes the moves on the field that leave younger players in his dust. Now all he has to do is maintain the status quo and he’s guaranteed a lucrative new contract at an age when most guys are retiring.
        Lola Corbin is used to leaving all the big boys in her rearview mirror. The lead singer in the world’s biggest rock band she fills up arenas and closes down the clubs but with the group on the brink of breaking apart her future is uncertain. Years spent on the road has left her with nothing at home except platinum records on the walls, an empty fridge and a cold bed. For the first time, she’s looking for something and someone beyond the spotlight.
        When Lola’s first night in her condo ends with Rep breaking up a fight he realizes that temptation has moved in next door. Lola doesn’t usually go for the strong and serious type, but the more she sees of her neighbor, the more she wants. When a thank you dinner turns into dancing and a hot tryst in the back of the club their attraction cannot be denied. But when Lola-induced trouble results in a front-page-career-ending spectacle the player must decide if he’s going to be as daring with his heart as he is on the field.

Here are the buy links for these tantalizing releases:

Kelly Jamieson Dare Me

Avery Flynn Hot Dare

Allie K Adams Truth or Dare

Melanie Shawn Daring Attraction

Robin Covington Daring the Player

Alannah Lynne Daring Masquerade

Leslie Kelly I Dare You

Marquita Valentine Dare Me Once
Lauren Hawkeye The Billionaire's Dare COMING SOON!*

I hope I’ve enticed you to check out at least one (or all) of these alluring stories that were just released. Do you read eBooks on a Kindle or your computer? Do you prefer eBooks or print or a mixture of the two? Thanks so much for stopping by today.

DTL KW - General Large

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Do You Say?

Rose pods at Thoughts in ProgressDo you ever have times when you have a thousand-and-one (well maybe a dozen or so) things to say, but can’t seem to get anything out?

That’s kind of the way I feel. I can think of all sorts of things I want to share, say and ask, but when I get the opportunity my brain goes blank. So today’s post will be a jumble of things … you know a little of this, a little of that and making no sense whatsoever.

First, let me ask you something. See the photo above? Can anyone tell me what the pods are called and what (if anything) they are good for? The pods are growing on an old running rose bush. You would think that with all the books I have that I’d have one on roses, but I don’t.

With all the crazy weather we’ve been having I’m surprised to see new growth and leaves on the roses already. I have to stop and remind myself that it’s the time of year for things to start budding here in North Georgia.

Yellow Flowers Jan 19 2015 at Thoughts in ProgressAn example of this is these cute little yellow flowers that are already blooming and the buttercups that are beginning to poke their heads through the leaves. Buttercups always amaze me that they can even bloom with snow on them. Hopefully they won’t have to do that this year.

Buttercups on Jan 19 2015 at Thoughts in ProgressI’m sorry I haven’t been around blogdom a lot lately. We’re busy outside cutting trees during the day and at night I’m trying to play catch-up on things I need to do inside. Some of the trees we’ve cut were crowding out the garden area, some were dead and dangerous, and some were just cut for firewood. We still have a few more that need to be cut that are crowding out flowers. The cleaning up of the branches is the worst part to me. A few of the trees are full of small branches and those have to be piled up to be burned later.

As we cut the trees I find myself imaging all sorts of things that could be made out of the wood. I’ve got several large slices of an oak put aside that I want to make clocks out of. There’s another section of a tree I think would make a beautiful table. Have you ever tried your hand at woodwork? What items have you or would you make?

I have several intriguing books to share with you later this week. In addition, author Julie Hyzy will be visiting on Friday and will be offering a giveaway of her new release, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS.

A brief word about a report on the news this weekend. What are your thoughts on the measles outbreak at Disney World? Doesn’t it sound like something you’d read in a Michael Crichton novel? It’s a scary issue, but at the same time the mystery lover in me can’t help but think of all sorts of intriguing stories that could be developed from the situation. What do you think?

Well, I think I’ve run on far too long. I’ll close now by sharing a photo I took this weekend of a beautiful winter sky. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’re having a good day. What’s your week like? Is the winter a busy time for you? Does it seem like January is speeding by too quickly?
Winter Sky Jan 2015 at Thoughts in Progress

*This post contains an affiliate link.