Thursday, March 31, 2011

Share Your Thoughts With Me
Do you like things to stay the same or do you enjoy change every once in awhile or do you embrace constant changes as progress?

I've never been one to like a lot of change. I guess I go with the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

It seems to me that when I get use to the way something works, it gets improved and then I have to learn all over again. Two examples come to mind.

I use Firefox as my browser. I've always liked the way it works and I could find things easily on the tool bar. I downloaded the new and improved version this week and the tool bar is completely different. There's nothing wrong with the new version and in fact, once I get use to it, I'll probably like it better than the older version. But I'm having to learn where everything is again.

The other thing, I downloaded the newest version of Adobe and it's completely different. Guess I shouldn't have upgraded two programs at one time. 

I mention all of this to ask your opinion on something. I've been thinking about changing my blog layout and design. I want it to be easy to access and read. I don't want it to be too cluttered, but there's a lot of things I want to share with you. One of the biggest drawbacks I've found is I can't add tabs to this layout. I've added pages and the links to those are on the left sidebar.

I'm not an author or have a WIP so I don't have anything of my own to promote. I would, however, like for the blog to represent what I do here - share my book reviews, host authors so they can tell about their writing, and just ramble about everyday happenings from time to time.

What do you think? Does this layout and design work for you? Is the type large enough to read? What recommendations would you make? I'd love to hear your comments. I might not always get a chance to comment back, but I do read each and every comment and appreciate them all more than you know. So what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author Jill Shalvis Visits

It’s my pleasure to welcome bestselling author Jill Shalvis as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour.

Jill’s newest release, THE SWEETEST THING, debuts Friday, April 1. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: Two Men Are One Too Many . . .

Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor.

Thanks to Jill and Brianne at Grand Central Publishing, I have 3 copies of THE SWEETEST THING to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines.

And in other news, Jill is coming out with a cookbook which will be
available only as an eBook. The cookbook, HEATING UP THE KITCHEN, ties in to THE SWEETEST THING, whose heroine is a cook. The cookbook will be on sale April 15th for only 99 cents. Be sure to check out the HEATING UP THE KITCHEN widget in the sidebar. It includes Jill’s favorite recipes and Chapter 1 of her book.

As part of her book tour, Jill has answered some questions for me about her writing and her new book.

MASON - What drew you to write in this genre?

JILL - I’ve always read romance so it was a very natural fit for me to write in the genre.  Plus, I like a happy ever after.  J

MASON - How did you do research for this book?
JILL - I did a lot of cooking (and eating!!!) because my heroine is a chef.  In hindsight, I should have made my heroine a professional slacker.

MASON - If you could change places with any of your
characters for a day, who would it be and why?
JILL - Oh Tara for sure. Because I want Ford for myself.

MASON - What would you like readers to take away from your book? Is there a message or just plain, fun reading?
JILL - It’s just plain fun reading but if the reader comes away from THE SWEETEST THING believing in love, then so much the better.

MASON - What can readers look for next from you?
JILL - HEAD OVER HEELS comes out in late November.

Jill, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. Learning more background on a book is always interesting. I think I’d like your type of research.

Now for a bit of background on Jill. She is a USA Today bestselling author and lives in a small town in the Sierras also run by quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books are, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website at for a complete book list and for a daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountain adventures visit She can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at

The guidelines for the giveaways are as follows: To enter this giveaway, send an e-mail to me ( with the subject line, “Win THE SWEETEST THING.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, Grand Central advises winners that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy of the title in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along from Grand Central). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of 3 copies of THE SWEETEST THING (ISBN:9780446571623), a 384 page paperback, will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, April 8.

What are your thoughts on romance books? Do you like stories that have ‘happy ever after’ endings no matter what genre they are?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Author Mary Wine Talks About Character Building

Delightful author Mary Wine returns to Thoughts in Progress today as the special guest blogger as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour for the latest installment in her Highland series.

Mary’s latest release is HIGHLAND HEAT. Here’s a brief synopsis:  Ruined, Betrayed and Banished…
As brave as she is impulsive, Deirdre Chattan’s tendency to follow her heart and not her head has finally tarnished her reputation beyond repair. But when powerful Highland Laird Quinton Cameron finds her, he doesn’t care about her past—it’s her future he’s about to change.

But It’s Never Too Late for Redemption…
From the moment Quinton sets eyes on Deirdre Chattan, rational thought vanishes. For in her eyes he sees a fiery spirit that matches his own, and he’ll be damned if he’ll let such a wild Scottish rose wither under the weight of a nun’s habit…

With nothing to lose, Deirdre and Quinton band together to protect king and country. But what they accomplish alone is nothing compared to what they can build with their passion for each other…

Thanks to Mary and Danielle at Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of HIGHLAND HEAT to giveaway to 2 lucky visitors that comment on this post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, April 5. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Be sure to include your e-mail with your comment if it’s not included in your profile.

Mary has answered some questions for me concerning her writing and her current release.

Mason - In what order do your characters come to life - name, physical description, or personality?

Mary - I’d say its personality first. I feel them, hear them and then get a look at them. As strange as it sounds, I get a very deep feeling about my characters. If they are sad, I’m misty eyed, if they are longing for something…I’m crazy until I write it out. It’s their plight which reaches out to me. Maybe I’m a nurturer at heart because I have to write that book in order to take care of them.

Mason - Of the three elements mentioned in question 1, which is the easiest to develop and which is the hardest?

Mary - Well, I’m not sure any of them is hard because when
they form in my imagination, they are there. What takes the effort is moving them to the happy ending I want, a few of these Highlanders like to argue with me about that! I’m not just talking about the men either. Deirdre Chattan didn’t want to trust again. She dug her heels in and just refused to budge, now Quinton was doing a grand job of that himself and for a few chapters it felt like the pair were in a ‘last man standing’ competition. Of course, that just made it better when they both fell. Insert satisfied grin.

Mason - How would you encourage someone who has never read historical romance to give it a try?

Mary - I’ve always loved history. They way they lived, the things those folks endured which I wouldn’t want to suffer through. They did so with a grace which enthralls me. The human spirit can rise up and do amazing things. When I write a historical, I try to give you the story of that spirit, that sense of rising above the details and things which try to cage us in. Everyone of us is surrounded by necessities and things we have to get done…reading a historical is a wonderful way to get a grip on all those pressing concerns and boil it down into something you can tackle when the time comes.

Mason - What can readers look for next from you?

Mary - I’m taking myself to Victorian England and beyond for a Steam Punk Romance. Steam Punk is Victorian Science Fiction. I’m building a world of stern manners and technology while writing a wonderful romance. In August, MY FAIR HIGHLANDER will hit the readers hands too. Drop by my website for excerpts and details.

Mary, thanks so much for guest blogging today. It’s interesting learning how your characters come to life.

A bit of background on Mary. She is a multi-published author in romantic suspense, fantasy and western romance; now her interest in historical reenactment and costuming has inspired her to turn her pen to historical romance. She lives with her husband and sons in southern California, where the whole family enjoys participating in historical reenactments. For more information on Mary and her writing, visit her website at

What are your thoughts on historical romance? Do you enjoy books where the characters seem to come to life?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sharing More New Cozy Mysteries

When we talk of mysteries, there are so many types of mysteries that an entire book store could (and has) been devoted to just that one genre.

It may sound a little odd, but cozy mysteries are a fun read. Murder is never fun, but a cozy mystery gives a little light-hearted look at circumstances surrounding murders and suspense. With that in mind, I’d like to highlight several cozy mysteries that were released earlier this month. Hopefully there will be one or more that sparks an interest for you.

Party-planner and amateur sleuth Presley Parker returns in HOW TO SURVIVE A KILLER SÉANCE. Mixing fun and fund-raising seems the perfect job for Presley, which is why she started her Killer Parties event-planning business. But her previous parties pale in comparison to a spooky séance and a creepy crime...

Presley’s newest gig is a séance party at San Jose’s famous Winchester Mystery House. Her client, Jonathan Ellington, plans to use the event to unveil his new “4-D” holographic technology, which will bring former owner Sarah Winchester “back from the dead.”

However, the stunt backfires when a disembodied voice accuses Ellington of infidelity in front of his wife and business associates, and the techie who’s monitoring the holograph is found murdered. Suspicion falls on Ellington, but as Presley tries to get at the truth, she doesn’t need a Ouija board to tell her someone wants to scare her to death...

This is the third installment in the Party-Planning Mystery series, but is a stand alone book. Each chapter begins with a party-planning tip and there is a ‘how-to’ guide in the back giving instructions on how to host the perfect ‘killer séance party.’ In addition, readers get a sneak peak at the next installment in the series, HOW TO PARTY WITH A KILLER VAMPIRE.

Author Penny Warner’s website is

How to Survive a Killer Séance by Penny Warner, A Party-Planning Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451232793, Paperback, 320 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.

BEAGLEMANIA by Linda O. Johnston

Author Linda O. Johnston has given us the delightful Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter Mysteries, now she has created a new protagonist, Lauren Vancouver, and begins the new Pet Rescue Mysteries.

Lauren Vancouver is the head of HotRescues, a no-kill animal shelter north of Los Angeles, but it’s often human nature that puts her in the path of danger. Just like when she helps rescue four adorable beagle puppies that were dumped down a drainpipe at a nasty puppy mill. Lauren’s pretty sure she knows who is responsible. Efam Kiley, one of the mill’s employees, has a history of dog abuse—and a bone to pick with Lauren. And when he’s found dead at HotRescues after threatening her, Lauren becomes the prime suspect. She’ll have to sniff out the real killer to keep herself out of a cage.

Author Linda O. Johnston’s website is

Beaglemania by Linda O. Johnston, A Pet Rescue Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425240212, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.

SEALED WITH A KILL by Lucy Lawrence

Autumn in New England brings out the changing leaves, and the leaves bring out the tourists.  When the serenity of cozy Morse Point is disturbed by a grisly murder, the season will bring out the townspeople’s true colors.

When Brenna Miller gets stuck as the tour guide for a group of leaf peepers, she tries to make the best of it. They can collect leaves for Brenna’s decoupage class. This will be a great draw for the shop she runs with her boss and best friend, Tenley Morse. But it’s hard to stay enthusiastic after the trail leads them straight to a dead body.

Brenna has nothing to do with the investigation this time until she learns the victim was a business partner of Tenley’s father’s. Now it’s up to Brenna to ensure that Morse Point’s namesake family doesn’t take the fall before the crafty killer puts the finishing touches on the perfect crime.

This is the third and final installment in the Decoupage Mystery series. The book also features decoupage tips, techniques, and project ideas.

Lucy Lawrence is the pseudonym for Jenn McKinlay and her website is

Sealed With A Kill by Lucy Lawrence, A Decoupage Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425240250, Paperback, 240 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.


Ellie Engleman is a professional dog walker and is constantly getting tangled up in her clients’ lives one way or another.

When Ellie, New York City’s most enterprising dog walker, goes to see one of her clients perform in a show, the screams aren’t just for the fantastic dance numbers. It seems one of her favorite clients, Rob Chesney, makes his living as a famous drag queen. When Ellie gets free tickets to his latest show, she can’t resist the opportunity to drag along her tough-guy NYPD boyfriend, Sam, to watch Rob strut his stuff and embarrass her man.

A murder happens backstage and Rob is discovered kneeling over the dead body with the weapon in hand. Sam is ready to arrest him, but Ellie knows he’s innocent. She’s determine to get the truth out of the only witness, a dog named Bitsy. Taking Bitsy to a dog psychic might not be standard procedure, but it may stop a killer from biting again.

This is the fourth installment in the Dog Walker Mystery series. Readers also get a sneak peak at the next installment in the series, TILL DEATH DO US BARK.

Author Judi McCoy’s website is

Begging for Trouble by Judi McCoy, A Dog Walker Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451232786, Paperback, 336 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.


Who could be driven to kill by books and sweets? While school psychologist Skye Denison eagerly anticipates the grand opening of a new bookstore called Tales & Treats, many of Scumble River’s most outspoken citizens want to shut down the owners before they even open — and one is angry enough to commit murder.

Dropping off some books at Tales & Treats, Skye trips over a toppled bookcase, which has crushed a woman beneath its weight. While police search for motives, Skye sees the messy aftermath of a half-baked plot to murder somebody else.

Skye is juggling her own busy life, but when all the clues lead to dead ends, she turns up the heat on her own investigation ... and stumbles upon the deadly secret that got this bookstore babe done in. And if Skye isn’t careful, the killer just might make her the sequel.

This is the 13th installment in the Scumble River Mystery series. Readers are also treated to a sneak peak at the next installment in the series, MURDER OF A CREPED SUZETTE.

Author Denise Swanson’s website is

Murder of a Bookstore Bade by Denise Swanson, A Scumble River Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451232809, Paperback, 272 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.

Hope there is something here that will spark an interest and have you reading. There are so many wonderful books available. Do you have a 'must have' list or a 'wish list' to keep track of all the new releases that you don't have yet?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Salon: Opal Fire And A Surprise

Another week has past as we once again gather for Sunday Salon and share our thoughts on books we’ve read.

The cozy mystery genre comprises such a vast array of subjects that all most everyone can find something they enjoy. Pull up a comfortable chair, relax and let’s talk books. You can reach for your favorite beverage as we talk, but when you read the book I’m spotlighting today you might want to leave it off, otherwise there could be liquid sprayed everywhere because this story has some laugh out loud moments.

Be sure to check at the end of the post as the author has offered a special surprise.

OPAL FIRE by Barbra Annino

A fire at her cousin’s bar changes Investigative Reporter Stacy Justice’s life in more ways than she could ever image.

The insurance company doesn’t want to pay and even suggests her cousin torched her own business. It will take all of Stacy’s investigative skills, along with a few family traits she’s not so sure of, to find out who really started the fire and why.

Stacy begins to dig into the cause of the blaze despite objections from the local police chief, who also happens to be her boyfriend. Soon she discovers a mummified body sealed in the bar’s basement wall.

The closer Stacy gets to finding answers, the more danger she encounters. From an exploding chicken to a car wreck to a mysterious stranger stalking her to an icy plunge in a lake, Stacy remains determined to solve the case and help her cousin.

Stacy’s personal life is also on a bumpy road when her ex-boyfriend and her current boyfriend join together to try and protect her. Her divorced grandparents go on a marriage retreat just when she needs her grandmother’s advice the most. Stacy is also torn between trying to be ‘normal’ or following in the footsteps of her grandmother and aunts and embrace herself as a witch.

OPAL FIRE is filled with suspense and intrigue, along with a host of quirky characters that will have you laughing out loud. Stacy Justice is a delightful protagonist that is both enchanting and loyal to her family and friends. She also has a Great Dane that will have you shaking your head in amazement at his antics.

Author Barbra Annino keeps you guessing ‘whodunit’ until the end. And just when you think all is calm, she throws in a new twist that will have Stacy racing to her grandmother for answers. You don’t have to be a fan of the paranormal to enjoy OPAL FIRE, just a lover of fascinating cozy mysteries.

Author Barbra Annino’s website is

Opal Fire by Barbra Annino, A Stacy Justice Gemstone Mystery, Vanilla Heart Publishing (has since changed publishers), @2010, ISBN: 9781935407904, Hardcover, 236 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - 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.

Now for the surprise….I can offer a book giveaway that is international. Author Barbra Annino has graciously offered 3 copies of OPAL FIRE to 3 lucky visitors who comment on today’s review. The winners will have a choice - if they live in the U.S. or Canada, they can select either a printed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy, uncorrected) of the book or a Kindle e-book and if the winner(s) live outside these areas, they will receive the e-book version. Be sure to include your e-mail address with your comment if it’s not included in your profile. The deadline to comment and be entered in the giveaway is 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, March 31.

What is your thoughts on bits of the paranormal and humor being included in a murder mystery? What was on your reading list this week?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Featuring More Cozy Mysteries

Sharing interesting books is part of the fun of hanging out in blogdom. You can find books in every genre for your reading pleasure.

Cozy mysteries is one of the many genres that I enjoy. You get a bit of the suspense of mysteries mixed with a little fun and humor to lighten the tone. Today I want to feature several cozy mysteries that were released just this month. Hopefully there will be one or more books that will catch your eye.

FRUIT OF ALL EVIL by Paige Shelton

Becca Robbins sells her farm-made jams and preserves at the local farmers’ market to make a living. But when a local lovely decides to tie the knot at the same market, someone else decides to make a killing—

When Becca’s best friend and fellow market vendor, Linda, asks her to be maid of honor at her wedding, she can’t say no. Setting up a wedding with a farmers’ market theme should be easy for someone like Becca.

However, before the vows can be spoken Linda’s future mother-in-law is murdered. It’s up to Becca and her down-home know-how to shut the lid on a canny killer.

This is the second installment in the Farmers’ Market Mystery series. The book also includes several delicious recipes in the back.

Author Paige Shelton’s website is

Fruit of All Evil by Paige Shelton, A Farmers’ Market Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425240229, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.


Wanting a job she could do from home, first-time mom Kate Connolly decided to become a private investigator. She thought she’d found the perfect job - flexible hours, she can work with her newborn by her side, and being awake all hours of the night and day also works well for a PI.

Taking baby Laurie to have her first holiday photos made, mother and daughter are the victims of a hit-and-run, but escape unharmed. A witness identifies the car’s French diplomatic license plates, yet when Kate and her husband, Jim, try to get some answers, they get le cold shoulder.

While at the consulate they notice a pair of television reporters leaving the building. A few days later one of the reporters is found dead in Golden Gate Park. Kate is soon hired by the late reporter’s husband to get answers. Kate begins to search and finds there’s something going on at the French consulate that’s dirtier—and far deadlier—than any diaper.

This is the third installment in the Maternal Instincts Mystery series.

Author Diana Orgain’s website is

Formula For Murder by Diana Orgain, A Maternal Instincts Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425239889, Paperback, 288 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.

A DEADLY CLICHÉ by Ellery Adams

While walking her poodle, Olivia Limoges discovers a dead body buried in the sand. Could it be connected to the bizarre burglaries plaguing Oyster Bay, North Carolina?

There is a distinct MO to the thieves pattern. At every crime scene, the thieves set up odd tableaus: a stick of butter with a knife through it, dolls with silver spoons in their mouths, a deck of cards with a missing queen. Olivia realizes each setup represents a cliché.

Who better to decode the cliché clues than her Bayside Book Writers group, especially since their newest member is Police Chief Rawlings? As the investigation proceeds, Olivia is surprised to find herself falling for the widowed policeman. However, an even bigger surprise could be in store for Olivia - her father may be alive. He was last seen 30 years ago.

This is the second installment in the Books by the Bay Mystery series. The book also features an excerpt from the next Books by the Bay Mystery, THE LAST WORD, coming soon from Berkley Prime Crime.

Author Ellery Adams’ website is

A  Deadly Cliché by Ellery Adams, A Books by the Bay Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425240236, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.

by Donald Bain, Jessica Fletcher

Young Cyndi Gabriel from Cabot Cove shows promise as a country-and-western singer/songwriter, so Jessica Fletcher and a local citizens committee send her on a scholarship trip to Nashville, TN, where she can benefit from professional instruction.

Weeks after Cyndi arrives in Nashville, everyone is stunned when she’s charged with the murder of a brash music producer. At the request of Cyndi’s mother, Jessica heads to the country music capitol to find some answers. She soon learns the victim was no country gentleman with his list of ex-wives, cheated partners, swindled singers, and ruined lives. Now it’s up to Jessica to uncover the truth, or poor Cyndi will never get the chance for an encore.

This is the first time in paperback for NASHVILLE NOIR. The book also features a preview of the next original Murder, She Wrote Mystery, SKATING ON THIN ICE.

Author Donald Bain’s website is

Murder, She Wrote: Nashville Noir by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451232779, Paperback, 288 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.

A TOUCH OF GOLD by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Long before he became curator of the Duck Historical Museum, Max Caudle discovered its greatest treasure—a wooden chest full of gold he discovered washed up on shore. Tales of pirates and their booty have long been part of local folklore, but history is really made when someone fires a cannonball into the museum, destroying the building and killing Max, before looting the gold.

Injured in the explosion, Dae finds her abilities have been amplified, overwhelming her with intense visions every time she touches an object. Now if ex-FBI agent—and burgeoning beau—Kevin Brickman can help Dae decipher her visions, she just might be able to stop the modern-day buccaneer from killing again.

This is the second installment in the Missing Pieces Mystery series.

The website for the husband and wife writing team of Jim and Joyce Lavene, is

A Touch of Gold by Joyce and Jim Lavene, A Missing Pieces Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425240243, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my thoughts on this book.

There’s a farmers’ market, a new mother and her struggles, a writers group, country music, and pirates’ loot. Such a vast array of adventures. Anything here snag your imagination? Have you read any of these already? If so, share your thoughts on them.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another review and a special surprise. Have a great Saturday and happy reading.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Love You More, A Novel by Lisa Gardner

Have you ever ridden the Scrambler at the fair?

The Scrambler is that crazy ride where up to 3 people are buckled into a seat, you’re slammed one way and then another all at a fast speed that has you gasping for breath.

That’s how I felt reading LOVE YOU MORE. This was the most exhausting book I’ve ever read….and I LOVED every minute of it. Talk about a whirlwind ride - WOW! From the first page until the last, you are constantly on the edge of your seat wondering what could possible happen next.

Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren is called in to work a homicide with her former lover, Massachusetts State Police Detective Bobby Dodge. The victim, Brian Darby, is a Merchant Marine and the killer is his wife, Tessa Leoni, a Massachusetts State Trooper. Brian has been shot 3 times in the chest with Trooper Leoni’s service weapon. It appears Tessa has been beaten so this would be a spousal abuse case ending in a death due to self-defense. Normally an open and shut case for the detectives, except Tessa’s six-year-old daughter is missing.

As D.D. and Bobby dig deeper into the case, they soon fear Tessa has also killed her daughter and disposed of her body. In addition, it seems Internal Affairs is investigating missing money from the troopers’ retirement fund and Tessa is a possible suspect. As the officers scramble to find the 6-year-old, they find more skeletons in the trooper’s past.

Meanwhile, D.D. is also having to deal with personal issues that could change the course of her life.

Author Lisa Gardner tells the story from both D.D.’s point of view, as well as Tessa’s. The chapters interchange from one woman’s thoughts and actions to the other. It gives the reader insight into both women’s feelings, as well as the circumstances surrounding each.

Without giving anything away, I will stress everything is not what it seems. This is the fifth book featuring Det. Warren, but it is a stand along book. The characters are riveting. I’d like to see Trooper Leoni return in another Det. Warren story, but under the circumstances not sure that could happen - or could it?

Be prepared to lose track of time once you pick up LOVE YOU MORE. You’ll be so engrossed in finding out who Trooper Leoni ‘loves more,’ you’ll have a hard time putting the book down until the very end.

Author Lisa Gardner’s website is

Love You More, A Novel by Lisa Gardner, Bantam, @2011, ISBN: 9780553807257, Hardcover, 368 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual blog tour and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cutting Corners Today

Do you ever cut corners and cheat just a bit on anything?

Well, I'm cheating today. I don't have a post to share with you so I'm offering the puzzle below for your entertainment. 

With winter still holding part of the country in its grip I thought a touch of spring would be a welcome sight. Enjoy and check back tomorrow, I'll have my review of LOVE YOU MORE by Lisa Gardner to share.

Click to Mix and Solve
Do you take time to relax a few minutes during the day, give your mind a chance to regroup?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reading Too Many Mysteries?

Is reading mysteries an influence on your daily life?

Am not asking if reading mysteries, especially murder mysteries, is driving you to commit unlawful acts of crime. What I’m asking is do you look at the world a little differently because of mysteries you read?

Let me give you an example. In my early 20s I would often to go a local state park late in the evening to relax, watch the ducks and unwind after a stressful day. There was a tree on the side of a hill overlooking a lake that was my favorite spot. It was the perfect place to sit and watch the moon come up over the lake. If I had to cover a fatality wreck, I would find myself going in the direction of the park afterwards. It was my comfort zone, of sorts.

You have to understand that this park is located in a rural country area, not in a city. Still, I never worried about going to the park at all hours. Granted, the park superintendent and his wife were my friends and they lived less than a half mile from my favorite tree.

Now, fast forward x-number of years and I live within a quarter mile of another park with three beautiful lakes. I have never been to the park alone, much less after dark. I can see one of the lakes from the end of my driveway.

This past weekend when the moon was so large I thought about walking to the lake to make some photos as the moon came up over the water. But, I didn’t go. Guess why?

I got to thinking about all the murder mysteries I’ve read and all the different things that could happen. I came up with at least five different plots in an hour’s time and once darkness fell, well my imagination really went into overdrive.

I decided it had to be reading all the mysteries and all the talk of plots that made me stop and think about running around in the country at night by myself. It couldn’t possible be that I’m older now and finally realize the risks involve. I think I’m also realizing why my mother’s hair turned gray as early as it did - she read too many mysteries.

Does reading mysteries have an impact on your daily life?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Has Sprung, Or Has It?

Does spring make you feel giddy or lazy and relaxed?

The temperatures here in Georgia have finally reached the upper 70s. Yesterday, in fact, the temperature even reached 80 degrees and despite the fact the sky was overcast for most of the day - it was a wonderful day. It feels like spring is in the air and the calendar says it's spring. However, cold weather may not be over yet.

Every year when warm weather begins, I can't wait to start planting flowers and herbs. Then we have another freeze and I lose what I've planted. We've even had snow on April 1 (no joke). This year I'm trying to remind myself that I need to wait until at least mid April before I start buying up herb plants. I can begin to get my flower beds ready and decide where I what to put my herbs this year. We're also working to get the vegetable garden ready to start planting.

Are you feeling the pull of spring? Can you plants flowers already or do you need to wait too?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Author Linn B. Halton Visits

It is my pleasure to welcome author Linn B. Halton to Thoughts in Progress today as the special guest blogger to talk about her writing and her latest release.

Linn’s debut novel is TOUCHED BY THE LIGHT. It’s amazing how blogdom makes it possible to develop new friendships even though you're thousands of miles apart. Linn is one of those wonderful new friends I’ve meet from the UK and she’s here to talk about writing.

A big ‘thank you’ to Mason for allowing me to drop by, I always smile when a new ‘Thoughts In Progress’ Email arrives and I’m so delighted to be a guest here today.            

I live in Nailsworth in Gloucestershire, which is in a lovely part of the UK referred to as The Cotswolds. Well known for gentle hillsides (Wolds) and sleepy English villages. Many of the buildings favour the distinctive creamy Cotswold stone and the countryside is full of fields edged with dry stone walling. It’s a beautiful and serene place to live, although we do a lot of traveling because our family is split between Bristol (an hour’s drive), North Wales and California.

Our black and white cat, Tiggs, rules the house but he’s happy to share it with my lovely husband and myself. Tiggs is also very good company for me when I’m writing and likes to sit under my desk as I happily clatter away on the keyboard.

I gave up work just over two years ago to write; before that I spent twenty years in Finance, several years renovating three old cottages with my husband and three years designing interiors for Show Homes and new build houses. We are currently living in our 13th home and have renovated many different styles of property over the years; it was this ‘hobby’ that led to my second career. I am now fully involved in my third and final career, and there just never seems to be enough hours in the day.

A visit to my website will reveal the fact that I write about real-life romance, about relationships and the ‘baggage’ we all carry around with us. All my work includes either a psychic or astrological theme, with the exception of one novel due out soon on Kindle, entitled ‘BEING A SCEPTIC IS OH SO EASY.’ That is in effect a ‘journal’ of many of my personal psychic experiences, some of which will feature in books due out in 2011/2012.   

It was the death of my father in 2004 that triggered my move from the world of Finance into Interior Design, and in early
2009 the death of my mother that prompted me to write full-time. By then they had both proven to me beyond all shadow of a doubt that life after death really does exist and my mother continues to be a driving force now she is ‘on the other side.’ So much so, that within six months of her death I had written my debut novel ‘TOUCHED BY THE LIGHT,’ which was published on 24 February 2011. 

TOUCHED BY THE LIGHT’ unfolds as seen through the eyes of Mya and also five other characters: -
Laurel - a young woman born with psychic ability, a fact she attempts to keep hidden.
Dan – Laurel’s boyfriend.
Lennie - Laurel’s best friend.
Sadie - Mya’s sister.             
Grace – a medium working on a TV programme Dan is involved with, which televises live sessions trying to make contact with spirits.
At the beginning Mya is confused and disorientated. Having recently celebrated her 25th birthday, she never considered she might die at a young age and she doesn’t know what to expect after ‘the bright light’ appears. Suddenly she finds that she can connect with Laurel, a young woman of about the same age whom she doesn’t know. Laurel can talk to and sometimes see the spirits of people who have passed.  

Mya feels the reason she is involved with Laurel’s life is because she is supposed to save Laurel and Dan’s relationship. Dan is under a lot of pressure and is stressed out; the company he works for are struggling and they haven’t been able to pay anyone for quite a while. Dan is nearly broke, but he hasn’t told Laurel any of his problems because they are trying to have a baby; he feels that he’s failed her. Laurel is so busy organising their lives and worrying about not getting pregnant that she hasn’t noticed how withdrawn Dan has become. Mya is frustrated because she can see it all so clearly. If only they could both stand back and look at what is happening to them; talk about what they are feeling, there is a real chance they could get through this rough patch.

Suddenly Mya loses contact with Laurel after the couple split up, but she is surprised to find she is then able to ‘watch’ Dan. She can’t talk to him and he can’t see her, but it is clear to her that he is falling apart. She tries to let him know when she’s with him by moving things, but they usually end up getting smashed!

He starts talking to her, at first a little annoyed at the disruption. However, as time goes on he senses that she doesn’t mean to upset him and he ends up using her as a confidante. He finds talking to a spirit strangely comforting, partly because he knows she won’t repeat anything he tells her! He feels she is a friendly spirit and assumes it is something to do with the show he’s working on. He affectionately calls her ‘Cupcake’ and is worried about her, so he asks Grace to see if she can help.

When Grace tries to connect with her, she is puzzled that this spirit doesn’t seem interested in passing a message onto Dan. Grace knows this is an unusual situation and takes Dan to meet a friend who is involved in psychic research. Lawrence is very informative and he talks about near-death and out of body experiences, auras, déjà vu, telekinesis etc. They also talk about mental telepathy. Afterwards Dan begins to think that Cupcake is the result of Lennie’s subconscious thoughts, willing her best friends Laurel and Dan back together. He wonders if Lennie needs them to succeed to prove to herself that relationships really can work. She herself seems unwilling to commit to a relationship and he suspects she is searching for that special someone to love. But Lennie has trust issues of which Dan and Laura are unaware, the ‘baggage’ she carries with her from an experience she had many years ago.

As the story continues to unravel there are unexpected twists that trigger much deeper feelings, as two soul mates destined for each other, can finally come together. 
It’s a ‘feel-good’ story about psychic connections between people on different levels of existence and how the two worlds can become curiously entwined. Mya tries desperately to keep Laurel and Dan together, although she has no idea who they are or why she finds herself involved in their lives. Her efforts are often hilarious and misguided. It’s all about life and love, the things that hold us back; the mistakes we make and the things we don’t say but should. But when fate is involved anything can happen, although there are no guarantees that even soul mates can find their way through. The journey they take is filled with all of the emotions life has to offer and an insight into Mya’s new reality beyond the ‘light’.

Touched by The Light’ is available from:-

Please feel free to talk to me via:-
Twitter:  @LinnBHalton
Facebook:   Author Linn B Halton

I welcome interaction with readers and my website features information on forthcoming novels, various articles and my ‘Shabby Ain’t Chic’ blog, giving hints and tips for the home.

It’s been a great pleasure ‘talking’ to you all, thanks so much for ‘listening’
Best regards, Linn

Linn, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. TOUCHED BY THE LIGHT sounds quite intriguing. It would be good if we all could (or would) sometimes take a step back and look at our situations through different eyes.

What are your thoughts on driving forces? Have you ever felt the presence or guidance of someone who wasn’t physically there with you?