Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Thanks And Reviews

414705main_image_1555_946-710As the year draws to a close, I reflect on all the wonderful people I’ve ‘meet’ these past 12 months thanks to blogging.

I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has dropped by Thoughts. Your continued support is appreciated more than mere words can express. I’m thankful as well to all the talented authors who have guest blogged sharing thoughts on writing, their books, and life in general. A thanks also goes out to all the publishers and those who work for them, the publicists and promoters, and the authors themselves who have graciously offered books for giveaways during the year and provided review copies for me to enjoy.

That brings me to a number of reviews I’d like to share today. As usual these are from very different genres. But hopefully you’ll find something that catches your attention among these reads.

WILD THING by Robin Kaye
Wild Thing CoverI know every time I pick up a book by author Robin Kaye I’m going to experience an entertaining and passionate love story.

WILD THING is a fine example of her work. The story sizzles with the pulse-pounding sexual tension. It also gives you laugh out loud moments like how the Kincaid children were named. It’s a story that moves along quickly, but is filled with lots of details.

Toni Russo is the manager of Action Models and loves living in New York. She dresses in goth but tends to blend into the background wherever she is. That is until she has to oversee a photo shoot in the rugged wilderness of Idaho.

To make matters worse, Toni has a fear of the wilderness. She was lost in the woods for 3 days when she was young.

Hunter Kincaid is the whitewater rafting guide that owns River Runners. It’s his responsibility to take Toni and the 10 models out into the wilderness for a week-long photo shoot. Thankfully he has the help of his 2 brothers, Fisher and Trapper, to guide this zany group.

Sparks fly when the city girl and the outdoorsman collide. Hunter is immediately drawn to Toni, while she battles her attraction to him.  Their path to each other is filled with twists, turns, humor, tender moments, and heart-pounding romance.

Kaye creates characters rich in personality. They are realistic with flaws and quirks, dreams, hopes, and fears. She ties the story in with her previous release, YOURS FOR THE TAKING, and leads the way to future stories about Hunter’s siblings.

WILD THING is a great book to relax and enjoy quite time with. Escape to the wilderness and immerse yourself in Hunter and Toni’s fun and passionate journey to love.

Author Robin Kaye’s website is

Wild Thing by Robin Kaye, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2011, ISBN: 978-1402257279, Paperback, 384 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book 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. 

by James F. Twyman

111361651I was intrigued by the title of this book, LOVE, GOD, AND THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING. I thought it might contain some wonderful French recipes.

There were recipes of a sort, but not for food. It was recipe-related advice for living. It also gave an alternative look at how and why we prepare food as we do.

This book is based on a true story of author James Twyman’s chance meeting with a French chef who helped change his life. Twyman tells of befriending Roger Dufau, owner of a bed and breakfast outside Toronto, and how it lead to transformations in his own life.

While Dufau creates delectable dishes, he also imparts thoughts on love, God and relationships. He explains how love and caring can be shared through food and the way it is prepared. Dufau noted that sometimes the best things are often the simplest.

This is an inspiring story that teaches one to look closer at what they really want in life. It shares thoughts on how letting go of certain things can sometimes make room for greater growth.

Twyman has written an easy conversational story that will pull you in until you can almost smell Dufau’s delicious cooking.

Author James Twyman’s website is

To read an excerpt of the book, click here. This book can be purchased at logo_hh_buy_sml logo_amz_buy_smllogo_bn_buy_smllogo_chp_buy_sml
Love, God, And the Art of French Cooking by James F. Twyman, Hay House, @2011, ISBN: 978-1401935238, Paperback, 169 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book 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.
RAINWATER by Sandra Brown

cvr9781442345027_9781442345027As much of the nation (and the world) faces economic hardships and drought, the audio release of author Sandra Brown’s RAINWATER is a reminder of earlier hard times.

The story is set in 1934 when drought and economic depression gripped the country. Ella Barron runs a boardinghouse in Gilead, Texas, and cares for her 10-year-old son, Solly, who has behavior problems.

Ella runs a strict house with focus and balance. She fears unrest when she takes in a new boarder, David Rainwater. A relative of the local doctor, David is dying.

Meanwhile, there is growing racial tension and social unrest in the town. Problems arise due to a government program designed to help farmers and local residents down on their luck. A group of hoodlums misuse the program to their own advantage.

During this time David shows interest in Solly and it leads them to discover he is autistic. The feelings between Ella and David are also changing. She finally allows herself to give in to his calming presence.

In the end a sacrifice is made that changes everyone’s life and leads to new beginnings. RAINWATER is a tender love story filled with great emotions. It captures a turbulent time and is filled with suspense with a bit of mystery. 

Victor Sleak does a terrific job narrating the story. His voice conveys the calming effect of David, while his mannerisms gives depth to Ella’s emotions. He brings the supporting characters to life, each in their own unique way.

Author Sandra Brown’s website is
Rainwater by Sandra Brown, Read by Victor Slezak, Simon & Schuster Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1442345027, Unabridged, 6 Discs, Listening Time: 7 Hours (Book Format @2010)

FTC Full Disclosure - 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.
Thanks again for your support and for stopping by today. Wishing everyone a safe, happy and joyous New Year! 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Author Terry Spear: Her Characters’ Library And A Giveaway

It’s always a pleasure for me to welcome awardSpear, Terry-winning, multi-talented author Terry Spear here when she tours blogdom with her latest release in the Heart of the Wolf series.

Terry’s current release is DREAMING OF THE WOLF, another intriguing installment in the series that I reviewed earlier. Thanks to Terry and Danielle at Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of DREAMING OF THE WOLF to giveaway to 2 lucky readers who comment on this post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Jan. 7. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Be sure to leave your e-mail address with your comment if it’s not included in your profile.

With the hectic holiday season, Terry has graciously answered some unusual questions about the main characters in DREAMING OF THE WOLF and their likes.

Mason - Would your main 2 characters have a library or a collection of books?

Terry - Alicia has a few books on self-defense techniques, places to hike, and identifying Colorado wildflowers. She also loves to read up on ways to influence people using the powers of persuasion and psychology, particularly in her bounty hunter work.
Jake has s30everal books on photography and enjoys learning more about taking pictures of the subject/object in unusual ways to make them really shine. He can’t wait to take lots of pictures of Alicia, as she’s the wildest flower he’s ever found in Colorado. And he loves to cook. So he’s got a few special recipe books around. He has a friend in Minnesota who just sent him a special treat, Minnesota’s state grain, an annual grass that grows wild in the lakes and rivers known as wild rice. They even grow it commercially in paddies—the only cultivated cereal grain native to North America. So he’s looking forward to fixing corn and wild rice soup with smoked sausage for his mate.

Mason - Tell us one thing about each of the 2 main characters that even their friends don't know.

Terry - First off, no one would have ever suspected Jake would fall head over heels in lust with a human. But it’s more than that. She’s on his mind 24-7 and he thinks he’s fallen in love. Alicia? Ha! No way is she EVER going to get hitched again. Two times were enough. No one would ever suspect she’d fall for another man, ever! 

Mason - How did these main 2 characters first come to you?

Terry - I always like to come up with different occupations. I’d seen some bounty hunter shows where the bounty hunters were women. And I watched a program where two women talked about their bounty hunting experience. So that started the idea of her occupation. As to the Mob…my mother’s grandfather was French and he had a half-sister who was married to another Frenchman in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who was bringing liquor illegally into Chicago from Canada and selling it during Prohibition. Al Capone had his brother taken hostage and threatened to kill him, if the Frenchman didn’t cease selling in the Mafia’s Chicago territory. So I was fascinated with the Mob, and thought to include that aspect in the story.

As to Jake, he was already in two stories, DESTINY OF THE WOLF, Book 2, brother to Darien, the pack leader, and WOLF FEVER, Book 6. So his character was already developed, but when a person is introduced to a new situation, they will often act differently than if they are in the same old rut with family and friends. In his case, he’s away from his hometown, away from the pack, away from a town that is run by a werewolf pack, and when he meets a damsel in distress, he’s taking care of her. He never goes on vacation, never stays with a human woman longer than for a quick exchange—so Alicia really does turn his world inside out from the very beginning.
Mason - Do you try to include some type of meaning or message (such as enjoy life) in your story or does it just develop on its own?

Terry - It always just grows on its own. For instance, when I was writing THE ANCIENT FAE, I was thinking about archeological digs and how some found such finds extraordinary to learn more about the ancient past, and how some would find it just old junk. But what if someone found your “stuff” buried under layers of earth in the far distant future? What would it mean to anyone? To you, some of what you have has a special meaning. How could it mean anything to someone in the future? Certainly not the same as it means to you.

I’ve watched a lot of archeological digs on television, and actually saw them digging woolly mammoth bones out of a site near me, so I find it all fascinating. One day while I was moving some special river stones that I had used in the garden that had been buried with mulch and blowing dirt, I thought about how someone, if I hadn’t moved the smooth stones, might have dug them up and thought a river might have existed here at one time. LOL So how much is transplanted and really not from the existing site?

And that’s what happens when I write. I see snippets of some facts—like in the case of bounty hunters and one of the men saying that he doesn’t use brute force to apprehend, but psychology most of the time. Another had said they tried to have women go in to do the apprehensions when it involved a woman to avoid sexual harassment accusations. In one case, a bounty hunter said he’d had no trouble except when he ran into a meth lab. And then, it was volatile—guns and drugs and money. So research definitely makes a difference in what I write.
Of course some of it is planned, like the fact that I wanted to take Jake out of his comfortable surroundings and…turn his world upside down. Sometimes, that’s what we need. An earth-shattering change in our lives to make us realize that maybe we need to go in a different direction and find the ultimate happiness that way. Or sometimes, that we need to realize just how fortunate we already are when we see others who don’t have half of what we do and not take it for granted. Jake is annoyed with his family’s intrusion into his business with Alicia because she’s human, yet he feels for her because she no longer has any family. So he’s caught in between.

For Alicia, she’s so distraught about her mother’s death, the fact she’s had two failed marriages and she really has no one to turn to any longer, I wanted to show that she has a purpose in life and that she’s not alone. That she is loved and that she is important. Even with the people at the art gallery who are annoyed with her because she’s locked herself in the bathroom and it’s closing time and they want to go home, I wanted to show that when they believe she’s ill, their attitudes change completely.
It’s human nature to want to help in a case like that. That at that moment, they had a new purpose in life—but not just for the moment. Alicia had impacted on their lives in a more profound way. Just as she had on the police force in Breckenridge where her mother was murdered, and at the flower shop where she and her mother would visit.

But what if the art gallery staff really knew why she had locked herself in the bathroom???

Then THEY would have had a life-altering experience, and who knows what would have happened then.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Mason! I loved your thought-provoking questions. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Terry, thanks so much for guest blogging and answering these unusual questions. It’s nice to have a look at the characters outside the book so to speak. It’s also fun learning about the Mob connection. Happy Holidays to you as well.

Now a bit of background on Terry. She has written a dozen paranormal romance novels, with over 60,000 copies sold. She received Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year in 2008 for HEART OF THE WOLF

A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry is a librarian by day. She lives in Crawford, Texas. For more on Terry, her writing, and her many talents, check out her website at

Here’s a brief synopsis of DREAMING OF THE WOLF: A fierce hunter…
Alicia Greiston is a no-nonsense bounty hunter determined to bring a ring of mobsters to justice. Her dogged pursuit of the crime family has forced her to avoid relationships—any man would only become a target for retribution. Luckily, Jake Silver is more than a man, and his instincts are telling him to stop at nothing to protect her.

An animal passion…
However, the mob isn’t entirely human either, and soon Alicia must flee for her life. When Alicia and Jake’s passion begins to spill over into their dreams, Jake learns he will have to do more than defend her—he’ll have to show his mate the way of the wolf.

Do you enjoy learning background on the characters you read about? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Terry’s DREAMING OF THE WOLF

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Author C.J. West Giving Away A Kindle Fire A Month

cj 5-22It’s my pleasure to welcome author C.J. West here today to tell us about an exciting and fun contest he has planned for each month in 2012 involving his latest release, ADDICTED TO LOVE.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: How far would you go to preserve soul-consuming passion?
Wes Holiday sells his landscaping business and retreats to a quaint mountain town to heal after ending a ten year relationship with a woman he couldn’t bring himself to marry. In three weeks he is so captivated by a hair stylist that he deprives himself of food and sleep to be near her. When the local sheriff is murdered, Wes is recruited to keep the peace in the town his parents built, but he knows nothing about law enforcement and he’s struggling to understand how a woman he just met can dominate his every waking thought. Soon the idyllic town with a penchant for romance is rocked by a bizarre series of murders that defy explanation and it is up to Wes to stop a raging epidemic of violence before the entire town is destroyed. 

C.J. joins us now to tell about his intriguing contest.

Thank you, Mason for having me on your blog today. I’ve recently released my 6th novel, ADDICTED TO LOVE, and I’m excited to be promoting it this holiday season. 

My readers know that I love contests and that I really appreciate the way they spread the word about my work year after year. So, in 2012 I’m putting those things together in my biggest contest ever to thank my supporters.  

29I’m giving the majority of my marketing budget directly to my readership rather than paying for ads. Each month I’ll randomly draw a winner who will choose either a Kindle Fire or a gift certificate worth $200 to Amazon, B&N or an independent bookstore. 

To enter, simply help spread the word about my work by tweeting, sharing on Facebook, or sending an email. Anyone can enter by visiting the contest homepage here. Spreading the word is as easy as two clicks on the social media site of your choice or you can choose to get creative. 

For your readers who aren’t familiar with my work, I write creative suspense novels that each have a unique feel. I’ve written intense revenge stories, psychological and political intrigue and stories of spiritual redemption.

ADDICTED TO LOVE is about unrelenting passion, a connection with one special person that can’t be denied. Wes Holliday comes to Highland Falls and is struck by the way everyone in this remote town feels passion so strongly. Soon Wes is overcome by passion so intense that he can’t focus on his work. A bizarre series of murders strikes Highland Falls and it is up to Wes to save the town from a raging epidemic of violence.

I hope you’ll give ADDICTED TO LOVE a try and remember what it was like to fall deeply in love. 

C.J., thanks for sharing this amazing contest with us. ADDICTED TO LOVE sounds like a fun read and you’re sure to have people talking about it all year long.

Anyone already have a Kindle Fire? If so, tell us about it. If you were a winner in C.J.’s contest, would you select the Kindle Fire or a gift certificate? Sorry I’m still not around blogdom much these days, but thanks so much for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Author Steven James: Delving Into Evil And A Giveaway

editedforflirting2If you enjoy intriguing, fast-action thrillers, then join me in welcoming one of the masters at the game -- critically acclaimed author Steven James who stops by today to talk about his chilling release, THE BISHOP

Here’s a brief synopsis: FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers's cutting-edge investigative techniques and impeccable logic are about to be pushed to the limit. Killers are on a bloody murder spree throughout the Northeast, with each crime a model of deadly perfection. With nothing to link the crimes to each other, Agent Bowers faces his most difficult case yet- even as the killers hone their craft with every death. 

Thanks to Steven, Alexandra and the good folks at Penguin Group, I have 2 copies of THE BISHOP to offer as giveaways. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines. 

Steven joins us to talk about ‘Delving Into Evil and the Depths of Humanity.’

When some people approach writing a novel they start with a theme statement or a moral they’re trying to teach. I’ve never been a fan of that approach. It seems too agenda-driven and plus, since a story is only moved forward through escalating tension, if you start with the answer then you diminish the struggle. 

THE BISHOP PenguinSo, whenever I write a novel I start with a dilemma or a question. My thrillers revolve around an FBI agent named Patrick Bowers who doesn’t look for means, motive or opportunity, hates profiling, and has nothing to do with DNA. Instead, he uses twenty-first century technology to track some of the country’s most violent offenders.  

Issues of good and evil, justice and truth, naturally fit into this series, so with my three previous novels, THE PAWN, THE ROOK and THE KNIGHT, I explored the questions, “What makes me different from those who do the unthinkable?” “What would it take for me to step over the line and become like those I (or Patrick Bowers, really) hunt?” “What’s more important, protecting the innocent or telling the truth?”
In THE BISHOP I posed the most profound question so far—what makes humans different from animals? 
The question was not nearly as easy to answer as I thought it would be. Which made the writing all the more fun.
In this story, the most intricate and pulse-racing thriller I’ve ever written, Patrick is pushed to the limit when a young woman is found brutally murdered at a primate research facility in Washington DC. He faces not only the extraordinary challenge of finding her killers, but of discovering what lies at the heart of human nature itself. 

If you like gritty, intense, intelligent thrillers, I think you’ll love checking out THE BISHOP

Steven, thanks for guest blogging and sharing your thoughts on delving into evil. You tackle some interesting points here. It will be enjoyable discovering your take on what lies at the heart of human nature in THE BISHOP.

For a bit of discovering about Steven now. He has penned hundreds of articles and scripts as well as 30+ books spanning the genres of psychological thrillers, prayer collections, dramas, monologues, YA fantasy, inspirational nonfiction and craft books on creative storytelling. He has received wide critical acclaim for his work, including four Storytelling World Honor awards, two Publishers Weekly starred reviews, and 2009 and 2011 Christy Awards for best suspense. 

His thriller, THE BISHOP, was named both Suspense Magazine's and The Christian Manifesto's 2010 Book of the Year and won an RT Book Reviews and INSPY award in the categories of suspense/mystery. Library Journal listed his latest action thriller THE QUEEN as one of the best novels of 2011.  

Steven is a contributing editor to Writer's Digest, and has taught writing and storytelling principles on three continents. He earned a Master’s Degree in Storytelling from ETSU in 1997 and is an active member of International Thriller Writers, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and International Association of Crime Writers. 

Steven lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. When he's not writing or speaking, he's trail running, playing disc golf, or slipping away to catch an afternoon matinee. 

Now for the giveaway guidelines. The contest is open to U.S. residents only. Those wishing to enter, can send me an e-mail ( with ‘WIN THE BISHOP’ in the subject line. The body of the e-mail should include your name and complete mailing information. No post office box addresses can be accepted. The deadline to enter this contest is 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Jan. 5. Just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. 

Do you enjoy thrillers that are gritty and intense? Thanks so much for stopping by today. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Author Mary Corbett: National Guard 101

Mary_Corbett_lgEach day in the news we hear about the soldiers and their families, but unless your family is involved or you know someone who is, sometimes it’s hard to understand military life.

With that in mind I’d like to welcome Georgia author Mary Corbett here today to talk about her latest release, NATIONAL GUARD 101: A HANDBOOK FOR SPOUSES. The Guard, in fact, just celebrated it’s 375th birthday on December 13.

Here’s a brief description of Mary’s book: NATIONAL GUARD 101 is the only military lifestyle book written specifically for the National Guard audience. Corbett's unique book covers a broad range of topics, from practical knowledge about the history of the National Guard and understanding rank to softer subjects like social life in the Guard and family programs. Corbett also details the benefits and assistance resources available to Guard families and guides readers through the process of setting up a Personal Assistance League (PAL) to provide support during deployment. 

Written in a lively and informal style, NATIONAL GUARD 101: A HANDBOOK FOR SPOUSES demystifies the Guard's unique hybrid civilian-military lifestyle. It is a must-read book for every National Guard family member. 

Mary has answered some questions about her book, her writing and the National Guard.

How did you choose the title of your book?

Mary - The titles of both my books were the "working titles" I used in the original query letters and proposals. I am a big fan of calling things what they are versus trying to be too clever. Mission accomplished.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

Mary - Oh Lord--so many obstacles. The book is very niche. But the "niche" is a huge audience that is easy to target. Still, the publisher of my first book had to pass on it because it just didn't fit in with their strategic place in the market. My agent found a smaller publisher that specialized in military and history titles. Unfortunately, the project was orphaned when the editor left and never got back on track. I had to go through the process of ending that contract.

Nat Guard Cov (LR)By that time, my agent had retired and my new agent didn't know if she could sell the project to her usual non-fiction editors. I didn't find this out until months after submitting the manuscript. A few months later, a proponent of the project who worked for the National Guard Bureau approached me about publishing the book through their organization. Then she retired. Fortunately, the feedback was so positive and the product so close to being completed--I was motivated to press on. It had been two years since I queried publishers.

Most people are familiar with the four branches of the United States Armed Services: Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. Can you explain to our readers how the National Guard fits into our military?

Mary - Across all branches, military members belong either to the active component or the reserve component. The United States National Guard (USNG) and the United States Army Reserve (USAR) are reserve components of the U.S. Army. The National Guard serves a dual mission: providing each state with trained and equipped units to protect life and property, and providing the nation with units that are ready to defend the United States at home and abroad.

Each state has its own National Guard, under the control of the Governor (although the President of the United States can request the services of the Guard). Members of the Guard typically serve part-time, except when they are activated to full-time duty. The National Guard is the oldest component of the United States Armed Forces and celebrated its 375th birthday on December 13, 2011.

What prompted you to write NATIONAL GUARD 101: A HANDBOOK FOR SPOUSES?

Mary - I married my husband -- a long time member of the Minnesota National Guard -- in 2000. Although I had family members who had served in the military, I had zero experience with military protocol or culture. The only thing I knew about the National Guard, at that time, was "one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer." After moving to Georgia in 2001, followed by my husband’s deployment to Guantanamo in 2002, I realized that although I had never considered myself one, I was, indeed, a military wife. 

I spent a lot of time searching the internet looking for information to help me understand my role as a Guard spouse. I found that much of the information available was targeted toward active-duty spouses who lived on military bases with a completely different lifestyle. I felt there was definitely a need for a book for National Guard spouses. So I wrote it. NATIONAL GUARD 101 is the only book written specifically for the 162,000 Guard spouses.

Can you explain the differences between being a guardsman and being enlisted in one of the four active military branches?

Mary - Guardsmen typically serve the military on a part-time basis and maintain civilian employment. Members of the active component typically serve full-time, military careers. When a Guardsman is activated, they become full-time military personnel and are indistinguishable from their active duty counterparts. They receive the same pay and benefits as active duty soldiers. When they are deactivated, they return to part-time service. It’s also worth nothing that, on average, members of the National Guard are older than their active component counterparts.

How is being a guard spouse different from being an active component spouse?

Mary - From a family perspective, the lifestyle difference is night and day. National Guard members and their families live in civilian communities and may live far away from the armory where the soldier trains as well as military installations that provide services to active families. In other words, we don’t live on post. We don’t shop at the Post Exchange regularly. We don‘t have the built-in support structure of other military families close at hand. Often, we can be the only military family in our community. Our soldiers have full-time civilian careers that they must manage. It is challenging in a best-case scenario, but when our soldiers are deployed, our lives are affected in a way that is distinct to the citizen-soldier.

How common is deployment for National Guardsman?

Mary - Most National Guard families have experience with long-term, overseas deployments. In 2011, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. stated that "Every Guard brigade has deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and over 300,000 Guardsmen have deployed in this war." Since 9/11, virtually every unit of the National Guard -- a force the size of the entire active Army -- has served on active duty for one or more of the deployments at home or abroad. The last time that the entire National Guard had been mobilized was for World War II.

Do National Guard families face special challenges during deployments?

Mary - Because we don’t live on post, it’s likely that our local communities lack familiarity with military experiences, which makes it hard when our soldiers are deployed for long periods of time. While the military provides consistent resources to connect families to military resources during deployments -- Family Readiness Groups and Family Assistance Centers -- it’s really up to us to figure out how to get the support we need to cover down while our soldier is gone. Fortunately, friends, neighbors, and community members are ready and willing to help Guard families.

What is the biggest obstacle a Guard spouse faces during deployment?

Mary - Sometimes, WE are our own biggest obstacle. A lot of Guard spouses aren’t used to asking for help and don’t like to do it. My book tells the reader how to find the right person to "do the asking" for them. The end goal is a Personal Assistance League (PAL) made up of friends, family, and community members who are ready, willing, and eager to help throughout the duration of a deployment. A PAL is a robust and official support system with members who are doing small things occasionally. All of this piecemeal assistance adds up to consistent, steadfast assistance.

What is your favorite part about being a National Guard spouse?
Mary - I like that I can live in a regular civilian community but also be a part of our great military. I also love attending social events such as annual holiday parties, family day events, and formal banquets and dining outs.
Mary, thanks so much for sharing this information about the National Guard with us. We do hear a lot about the other branches of service, but not as much about the Guard.

Here’s a bit of background about Mary. She is a professional writer and National Guard wife. She has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News Channel, local television affiliates, and nationally syndicated radio. 

Her first book, THE LIST: 7 WAYS TO TELL IF HE’S GOING TO MARRY YOU IN 30 DAYS OR LESS was published in 2005. Mary lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, with her husband Major Jon Roscoe, ARNG, and their children Holly and William. For more on Mary and her writing, visit her website

Are you familiar with the National Guard? Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Audios Offer Suspense, Intrigue

Christmas has come and gone for another year. I hope everyone had a chance to relax with family and friends. I also hope Santa brought lots and lots of wonderful books to read.

I’ve been busy listening to audio books while preparing for the holidays. Today I’d like to share my take on several with you.

THE UNDERTAKER’S WIDOW by Phillip Margolin

By the end of THE UNDERTAKER’S WIDOW I was laughing and shaking my head. It wasn’t because it’s humorous murder mystery, but because author Phillip Margolin had me changing my pick of the real villain till I was almost dizzy.

This is a wonderful story that keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense and intrigue. There are more twists and turns in the story than in a maze. Just when you’re sure who’s responsible for everything, another shoe drops and you have a new suspect just as plausible.

Eric Dawe does a fantastic job narrating the story. His vocal tones and mannerisms bring the characters to life. The changes in his vocals for the numerous characters will have you believing they are truly individuals. His soothing voice draws you in and holds you spellbound for an action-packed adventure.

Ellen Crease is in a race for the U.S. Senate when an intruder breaks into her home and kills her husband, Lamar Hoyt Sr., a wealthy mortuary owner. Crease, a former cop, kills the intruder and becomes a widow, victim and hero in a matter of minutes.
Questions arise as to what the intruder was really doing at the house. Was he a burglar or a hired killer sent there to kill Crease, her husband, or both.

As the investigation continues Crease is charged in her husband’s death. The case goes before idealistic Judge Richard Quinn, new to the homicide rotation for judges. Quinn, honest to a fault, is facing problems of his own having witnessed a woman’s murder while at a conference.

The twists and turns of the case get more complicated and intriguing with each new development. Things are never quite really as they seem. 

There is murder, blackmail, political enemies, extra-marital mishaps, and family bickering. A legal thriller along the lines of Grisham and Turow.

Author Phillip Margolin’s website is

The Undertaker’s Widow by Phillip Margolin, Read by Eric Dawe, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1455809974, Unabridged, 7 Discs, Listening Time: 8 Hours 38 Minutes (book format @1998)

FTC Full Disclosure - 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 ART OF KEEPING SECRETS by Patti Callahan Henry

Death can turn your world upside down. But what happens when all you thought you knew may turn out not to be true at all?

Life for Annabelle Murphy changed 2 years earlier when her husband’s private plane crashed in a remote area of Colorado. Knox was bound for his annual hunting trip. 

She and their 2 children were slowly putting the pieces of their lives together in South Carolina when the sheriff dropped by with news about the crash. The wreckage had finally been found. However, Knox wasn’t alone on the plane. A woman’s body was also found in the crash.

Filled with questions and doubts, Annabelle sets out to find out the truth about her husband, the life they had together, and the woman on the plane. Her quest takes her to North Carolina where she meets a young woman who had lived in her town 10 years earlier. But now the young woman’s name is different, the people there believe she’s from Colorado and her mother died 2 years ago.

As Annabelle shifts through the information she finds more and more secrets. Meanwhile, Sofie Milstead (formerly Parker) is determined to keep all the secrets in place. Her mother warned her all her life not to reveal the secrets. Sofie knows why her mother was in the plane with Knox, but she can’t tell…no one must never know.

The journey to find the answers is intriguing, funny, and at times will tug on your heart strings. Author Patti Callahan Henry gives an insight into the fact we never really know everything about the ones we love. She also does a wonderful job showing things are never what they appear to be.

The story is told from the view point of Annabelle and Sofie. The narration by Janet Metzger and Shannon McManus brings the characters to life and gives them much depth. Their mannerisms will have you feeling the pain both women encounter. Their interruption of the supporting characters makes the listener feel they are among these fun-loving and supportive friends.

Don’t expect quick answers to all your questions and the answers you think you know may not be true. They story travels back to tell of Annabelle and Knox’s beginning, but in the end it all ties together nicely and is worth the extra time.

Author Patti Callahan Henry’s website is

The Art of Keeping Secrets by Patti Callahan Henry, Read by Janet Metzger and Shannon McManus, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1441862167, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time: 9 Hours 28 Minutes (book format @2008) 

FTC Full Disclosure - 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.
HOTEL VENDOME by Danielle Steel
Not having children may have put me at a disadvantage when listening to Danielle Steel’s HOTEL VENDOME.

I realize the love and bond between parent and child can be tremendously strong. However, this storyline seems to take it to the extremes and then some. It carried into the child’s late teens and early 20s making it appear even more unrealistic.

Had it not been for the wonderful narration by Fred Stella, I probably wouldn’t have finished the story. His interruption of the characters was intriguing. He provided emotions that gave more insight into the characters.

The plot for HOTEL VENDOME is interesting. It follows the life of Swiss-born Hugues Martin as he takes a rundown hotel in Manhattan and turns it into a five-star luxury accommodations. While he is transforming the hotel, his wife leaves him for a notorious bad-boy rock star who had been a guest at the hotel. She also leaves their 4-year-old daughter, Heloise, for Martin to raise. 

Heloise grows up in the hotel surrounded by adoring employees, following her father and deciding she wants to run the hotel with him some day. She rarely sees her  mother, who has 2 more children. Over the years Martin is discreet in the women he sees, never exposing Heloise to them or the fact that he is dating.

Heloise goes off to hotel school in Switzerland and her father is busy having several suites redecorated. During this time Martin falls in love with the decorator. From here the story covers a couple of weddings, several medical crisis and finally a bonding of family members.

What seemed unreal to me was the way Heloise was pampered and catered to when it came to her father’s love life. In addition, there was a large portion of the story that was repeated over and over again unnecessarily. This 9 and a half hour audio should have lasted no more than 5 hours. I’ve been a Danielle Steel fan for many years, but HOTEL VENDOME didn’t have her usual style and spark to hold the reader’s attention.

Author Danielle Steel’s website is

Hotel Vendome by Danielle Steel, Read by Fred Stella, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1423388326, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Listening Time: 9 Hours 28 Minutes 

**I shared negative thoughts on a book for the first time here. These are my thoughts only and it’s not my intent to keep you from giving this book a try.**

FTC Full Disclosure - 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.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. What new books did you find under your tree this Christmas?

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I can’t believe Christmas Eve is here already. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the 4th of July. Where, oh where has the time gone?

I’d like to wish everyone a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a joyous and HAPPY NEW YEAR. For those who aren’t celebrating the holidays, I’d like to wish you joyous days and much happiness.

In case I don’t get the opportunity to stop by your blog this weekend to wish you HAPPY HOLIDAYS, please know that is my wish for everyone. I am so thankful for each and everyone of you. I look forward to the coming year and the interaction and friendship we share.

This year Christmas will be completely different for us with my mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s being more active. Last year she was able to enjoy bits of Christmas (a favorite holiday for her). She understood that it was Christmas and enjoyed the lights. This year she has no understanding of the holiday and can’t seem to comprehend the lights. However, we are most thankful that she and my father-in-law are at least still with us.

For those who have sick love ones, we wish speedy recovery. For those who have lost a loved one (human and/or animal), we wish for loving memories to help heal. Above all, we wish peace and love to everyone. May God Bless.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two New Cozy Murder Mystery Series And A Giveaway

When you’re looking for a cozy murder mystery, you’ll find the folks at Berkley Prime Crime/Obsidian have a good selection to pick from with numerous new titles released each month.

This month there are 2 new mystery series I’d like to share my thoughts on. In addition, I’m highlight a few new installments in existing cozy mystery series. Thanks to Kayleigh and the great folks at Berkley, I have 1 copy of ENDANGERED and 1 copy of DOUBLE BOOKED FOR DEATH to giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Dec. 31. Be sure to mention which book you’d like to win and include your e-mail address if it’s not in your profile.

ENDANGERED by Pamela Beason

ENDANGEREDWhat would you do if in helping someone you actually contributed to a devastating event for a family instead?

That’s the situation Summer ‘Sam’ Westin finds herself in. Sam is a wildlife biologist and writer. On her way to photograph cougars in the Heritage National Monument, Sam encounters a young boy. Hearing a woman call for the child, Sam heads to the camp sites with the youngsters in tow. Before reaching it, she sees a man who is also calling the child’s name. She points the boy in the direction of the man and takes off to find her cougars. Only later does Sam discover the young boy has disappeared.

A media frenzy erupts and speculation has it the boy has been killed by the cougars Sam helped rehabilitate. Knowing this can’t be true, Sam sets off to find the boy and save the cougars. She’s joined by FBI Special Agent Starchaser ‘Chase’ Perez.

Time is growing short as they go up into the high country to search the canyons and mesas. Will they find answers in time to save the boy and Sam’s beloved cougars? What about the growing attractions between the two?

ENDANGERED is an adrenaline-driven story from beginning to end. The action is fast-pace with keep you on the edge of your seat suspense.

Author Pamela Beason has created a feisty, driven protagonist in Sam that readers will adore. Sam loves the outdoors and can hold her own. In addition, the author creates a photograph with her words placing the reader in the beautiful landscape Sam explores. She gives vivid and breath-taking details of the canyons and mesas.

This is the first installment in the Summer Westin Mystery series and I look forward to Sam’s next adventure, BEAR BAIT. There’s a sneak peak included in this book.

Author Pamela Beason’s website is
Endangered by Pamela Beason, A Summer Westin Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425244982, Paperback, 320 Pages

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


9780425244975Inheriting a Brooklyn bookstore from her Great-Aunt Dee put Texan Darla Pettistone on a new and adventurous path.
Darla’s first encounter was meeting and adjusting to Hamlet. The large black cat came with the inheritance and serves as the store mascot. He has a unique personality and deals with the customers in unusual ways.

Darla’s thrilled to host a book signing for a hot bestselling author. But when the author dies during the signing, Darla worries even though it’s ruled an accident.

Hamlet sneaks his nose in and uncovers clues that suggest the accident was no accident. It’s up to Darla and Hamlet to find the killer before more lives are lost including their own.

Author Ali Brandon has created lovable and quirky characters you’ll want to return to time and time again. Darla is a fun protagonist with realistic charm. Hamlet is adorable and a delight, especially if you’re a cat lover.

DOUBLE BOOKED FOR DEATH pulls you in from the first page and holds you captivated till the end. It’s a fast-pace, fun read with suspense and intrigue. It will have you wishing you could physically stop by Pettistone Fine Books and visit with Darla and Hamlet.

Looking forward to the second installment in this new series.

Author Ali Brandon’s website is

Double Booked For Death by Ali Brandon, A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0425244975, 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 review.
THE LAST WORD by Ellery Adams

9780425245002Olivia Limoges and the Bayside Book Writers are excited about Oyster Bay’s newest resident: bestselling novelist Nick Plumley, who’s come to work on his next book. 

But when Olivia stops by Plumley’s rental she finds that he’s been strangled to death. Her instincts tell her that something from the past came back to haunt him, but she never expects that the investigation could spell doom for one of her dearest friends... 

This is the third installment in the Books by the Bay Mystery series, but is a stand alone read. The other books in the series include: A KILLER PLOT and A DEADLY CLICHÉ.

Author Ellery Adams’ website is

The Last Word by Ellery Adams, A Books by the Bay Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425245002 , Paperback, 320 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

9780451235312Lady Arianna’s gift of a rare volume of botanical engravings to her husband, the Earl of Saybrook, has something even more rare hidden inside—sensitive government documents which would mark one they hold dear as a traitor of King and country. 

To unmask the villain, they must root out a cunning conspiracy—armed only with their wits and expertise in chocolate... 

This is the second installment in the Lady Arianna Regency Mystery, but is a stand alone read. The first book in the series is SWEET REVENGE.

Author Andrea Penrose’s website is

The Cocoa Conspiracy by Andrea Penrose, A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451235312 , Paperback, 336 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
DEAD BOLT by Juliet Blackwell

9780451235305Turner Construction’s latest restoration project is a historic Queen Anne Victorian in San Francisco. This time general contractor Mel Turner has to work around the owners who insist on sticking around—along with some ghosts that insist in their own way that the work stops... 

The ghosts aren’t the only ones standing in the way of the renovations. A crotchety neighbor, Emile Blunt, secretly wants this house, and could be behind some of the disturbances. But when Emile is found dead, it’s Mel who appears guilty. Now she must restore the building—and her reputation—before it’s too late. 

This is the second installment in the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series, but is a stand alone read. The first installment in the series is IF WALLS COULD TALK.

Author Juliet Blackwell’s website is

Dead Bolt by Juliet Blackwell, A Haunted Home Renovation Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451235305 , Paperback, 336 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope everyone is having a safe and Happy Holidays.