Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It’s That Time Again

Where does the time go? I can’t believe it’s been aist2_8611125-party-border-xl year since I wrote a similar post. You see, today is the third anniversary of Thoughts in Progress.

Three years ago on Oct. 31, 2009, I wrote my first post and began my adventure into blogdom. It has been a fun and wonderful journey. I have found great books to read, listen to and share with y’all.

And that’s the best part - I have gotten to know some amazing and delightful people through blogging. Mere words can’t express how grateful I am for the friendship and support each and everyone of you has shown me. Y’all continue to visit even though I’ve been limited in my ability to visit with you. I am eternally grateful. I am also thankful for those who follow this blog through all the different means.

While the blogging is a great way for me to express myself and my thoughts, I also want to make Thoughts in Progress a place you enjoy visiting time and time again. For that reason, I’m always open to suggestions for changes to the layout and the blog content. If there’s something you’d like to see or not see here, let me know in the comments. If youjackolantern07 prefer, drop me an e-mail and share your thoughts.

Looking at other blogs I’ve tried to include a number of things I hope are enjoyable and/or helpful. I’ve added a list to my sidebar of the wonderful publishers and their links who graciously provide materials for me to review. I’ve also added the various blog tour promoters I’m associated with and their links. If I’ve left someone out, please let me know as this is a work in progress.

I try to highlight the books of authors guest blogging during the month with the slideshow, as well as providing a calendar showing when the authors will visit. Since most of the blog tours are now featuring banners, I’ve though about also including a slideshow just highlighting the banners. Do you think the banners displayed on the sidebar with a link to the tour promoters would be better? Or no banners at all? Readers and authors tell me what you’d like to see.

Another question for you. Are buttons important? I know a lot of bloggers have buttons that are quickly associated with their blog. If buttons are important, what image would make the best button for Thoughts?

Before I forget, today is the last day to access Riffle from this link. I hope you will check it out and join me there.

Again I want to say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU for your support of Thoughts in Progress. It’s been a fun three years getting to know y’all and I look forward to the coming year to see what new adventures we can share together.

For those celebrating today - HAPPY HALLOWEEN. Hope everyone has a safe and fun time trick-or-treating and gets lots and lots of chocolate.

I also hope all our blogging buddies on the East Coast are safe and warm. Sending prayers and hugs to those involved in Superstorm Sandy.
I hope y’all will join me tomorrow to leave more about author Jennifer Chiaverini’s latest installment in her Elm Creek Quilt Series, THE GIVING QUILT. I leave you with a virtual hug, a glass of your favorite beverage, and a sincere THANK YOU!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Author Carolyn Hart: 86.4 Million and Counting

Being a cat lover, I can’t resist stories that highlight cats. With that in
mind author Carolyn Hart’s latest release was a definite ‘must read’ on my list. I’m delighted today to welcome Carolyn to Thoughts to talk about her new release, WHAT THE CAT SAW.
Carolyn was a child in Oklahoma during World War II. She drew on those memories to write her Agatha Award winning LETTER FROM HOME. Her early memories of huge black headlines in the newspapers led her to major in journalism and work briefly as a reporter before turning to fiction. 

An accomplished master of mystery, Carolyn is the author of the long-running Death on Demand novels. Her books have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. She is also the creator of the Henrie O series, featuring a retired reporter, and the Bailey Ruth series, starring an impetuous, redheaded ghost. 

This time around Carolyn has written about a new protagonist. I’ll let her explain.

86.4 million and counting - that is the number of Americans who are owned by cats. I am one of that happy legion. Why do we love - and obey - cats?

Cats are beautiful, intelligent, graceful, curious. They live in the moment as all good Zen followers should. They know the scents around them, their house, their people, and, if they are outdoor cats, the grass and dirt and woods and trees.

I have loved cats all my life and cannot imagine a home without them. Look into the limpid gaze of your cat. The cat watches you, knows your moods, know if you are happy or sad, knows if you are frightened or upset. You might try to pretend with a cat. You will always fail. You see, the cat knows.

This quality led me to write a novel where everything hinges on a cat’s observations.

After the death of her fiancé in Afghanistan, Nela Farley feels an eerie connection when she looks into the eyes of a cat. She convinces herself she is simply avoiding painful memories, but one night she looks into the eyes of a cat and learns more than it is safe for her to know.

coverWhen Nela first arrives at a garage apartment in a small town in Oklahoma, she is greeted by a grieving brown tabby. She looks in his eyes and is bewildered by his thoughts: She didn't see the rolling board on the step.. That night an intruder breaks in, leaving behind wanton destruction. Nela learns that the woman who lived in the apartment had died in a fall down the apartment stairs.

Nela's flaky sister Chloe is always fun and often in need of a sisterly boost. Nela is a reporter looking for work. She agrees to take Chloe's place at her job so Chloe and her boyfriend can take advantage of a free trip to Tahiti. The Oklahoma landscape is strange to Nela and she finds even stranger the current of hostility at the workplace, a charitable foundation beset with troubles: Arson of an employee's car, destruction of Indian artifacts, vandalism in the courtyard, obscene material mailed on the foundation letterhead, and the late revelation of the theft of a quarter million dollar diamond necklace.

The police detective is a smart, tough woman who sees the stranger in town as an accomplice to her sister in a clever scheme to hide a theft. The local newspaper reporter Steve Flynn knows the cop well, respects her, but finds the new woman in town intriguing. Steve is struggling to recover from an unhappy divorce. Nela had hoped to leave sadness behind in California but finds that she is still burdened by grief. An LA girl she is stirred by Steve's loyalty and love for his hometown - and by Steve.

Nela plunges into an effort to clear her name and her sister's, but the net draws ever tighter and then the cat warns once again, ". . .danger . . ."

I hope readers, especially those who have not yet enjoyed the company of cats, will have a sense of the majesty of these insightful creatures and will understand that cats look and cats know.

Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us today. You are so right about cats and their abilities. They are amazing creatures and I love your creation of Jugs, he’s adorable.

Another note about Carolyn, she is one of the founders of the Sisters in Crime. For more on her and her writing, visit her website at

WHAT THE CAT SAW isn’t the only new release from Carolyn in the past two months. On September 11th, CRY IN THE NIGHT was released as part of the InterMix imprint. Another intriguing read from Carolyn.  

My Thoughts:

I found WHAT THE CAT SAW to be one of those books that holds your attention from beginning to end. It flows at a steady pace making it a quick read and one that draws you in so that you don’t realize how long you’ve been reading when you stop.

The characters are well-developed and very realistic. Problems of modern day - lay offs, green projects, vanishing newspapers, etc. - were incorporated into the story in such a way the reader feels the emotions the characters feel. The story is also filled with mystery, suspense, humor and a good dash of budding romance.

While the idea of hearing a cat’s thoughts might seem a bit paranormal, for any one who has ever been owned by a pet you’ve encountered those moments when you would almost swear you know what they’re thinking. The author captures these feelings in the moments between Nela and Jugs making them plausible. 

In the audio version of this intriguing story, narrator Kathleen Early brings the characters to live. Her animated vocalization gives each character their own unique voice, even Jugs. Her articulation causes the listener to feel the fear and suspense, as well as the flirtation and caring.

WHAT THE CAT SAW is a must read for not only cat lovers, but mystery lovers as well.

What The Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart, Berkley Prime Crime, @2012, ISBN: 978-0425252741, Hardcover, 304 Pages
What The Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart, Read by Kathleen Early, Penguin Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1101590133, Unabridged, Digital Downloadable, Listening Time: 9 Hours, 8 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - A digital downloadable audio and a copy of this title were sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copies did not influence my review.
Do you enjoy mysteries (or any type story) that involves cats or other pets? Have you ever felt like you could understand what your pet wanted? Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Monday, October 29, 2012

An Invitation And A Milestone

Gateway to Riffle
Ever had one of those days when there’s a lot going on and you’re not sure which way to turn first? Well, I kind of feel like that today. I have a couple of things to share with you so I’ll try to keep it brief.

First, I want to extend an invitation to each and everyone of y’all to join me at Riffle, a great new way to find out about books. I’ll give you a bit of background how I came to be involved with Riffle and then the link to join me. Let me stress now that the link will only be good for three days (Oct. 29, 30, and 31). More on that in a minute. 

Some time back I was contacted by Alexandra Israel about a new project that was about to take off through Facebook. Many of you may remember Alexandra when she was a publicist at Penguin Book Group. She is now associated with Odyl, a New York based start-up and Facebook Preferred Developer that has helped many authors and all the ‘big six’ publishers connect with massive amounts of readers on Facebook. In fact, their tech supports the pages of many #1 NYT bestselling authors. 

Alexandra invited me to be a part of Riffle as it got underway. I was delighted to give it a try. I’m always eager to participate in any activity that deals with sharing and finding new books to read.

To be truthful with you, I’m still learning how Riffle works. But so far, I’ve been having fun setting everything up and getting acquainted with others participating.

riffleHomeRiffle just went live this past week. It continues to be invite-only as Odyl builds new features. However, since I participated in the beta period I have been given an advance invite code for all of you to use. With this link you will automatically enter Riffle and be able to start following lists and recommendations of wonderful books.

This exclusive access period for you to join Riffle is for three days only - today, tomorrow and Wednesday (Oct. 29th through Oct. 31st). This was set to coincide with a Publishers Weekly article about Riffle that is due to run today (Monday, Oct. 29).

To gain access to Riffle, simply click on the following link:

Once there, set up your own account and begin enjoying Riffle. I hope y’all will join me and we can learn more about this intriguing new program together. Besides, who doesn’t want to learn about more books?

If you’re already a member of Riffle, please share your experience with us. What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? You know, the 20 questions you ask when you’re curious about something.

Meanwhile, the milestone mentioned in the header is a bit of history (so to speak) I never imaged I’d see. Today’s blog marks the 1,000 post I’ve published at Thoughts in Progress. Not really that major of an accomplishment for those who have been blogging a long time and/or blog every day. But for a non-tech person like me, I was surprised I reached it. Thank you all for making it possible.

Please join me tomorrow when author Carolyn Hart visits with her latest release, WHAT THE CAT SAW. Also, be sure to give Riffle a try and stop by to say hi there as well. Thanks so much for stopping by Thoughts today.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Salon: Introducing Author Paul Kasch

Photo Source: Fieryn
I don’t know about you, but time seems to have gone into overdrive lately. I barely turn around and the week is gone. Here we are observing another Sunday Salon.

Each week we participate in Sunday Salon to discuss books we’ve found and enjoyed. This week I’d like to introduce you to a ‘new-to-me’ author and share an excerpt from his latest release. Settle back, relax as I feature this interesting author and his intriguing book.

Paul Kasch writes Christian eBooks, most of them about applying Biblical concepts to modern-day living. He writes from an evangelical Christian viewpoint, incorporating the basic message of the gospel somewhere in most of his writings, since there is no point exploring Biblical applications or doctrinal issues if you are not saved. 

Paul believes that the Bible is the accurate, true, infallible Word of God in a literal sense - because, as he likes to say, if God is powerful enough to create the universe and all life, He is powerful enough to write a book. Christians will discover a hidden gem in this author.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Maybe I DO Want To Read This Book:
Take a wild but spiritually eye-opening ride through the pages of the Bible and learn the stories they don’t teach in Sunday school. In his latest work, Paul Kasch is not afraid to offer sound commentary on the R-rated and X-rated content found in the scriptures. After all, it is all part of God’s Word.

You will come away from this text spiritually charged, understanding that God did not always use perfect people to accomplish His will. That means he can even use the likes of you and me. A bit of warning, however: You might be absolutely blown away by the stories of some of the people whom the Christ genealogy came through.

Seasoned Bible students will have a great time and discover new insights into the heart of God, while new Bible students will likely be both shocked and delighted. 

BookCoverNow here’s a brief excerpt from the book:

When Samson was a young man, God caused him to have run-ins with the Philistines, mostly over a Philistine girl whom he took a liking to. The results were disastrous for the Philistines, as God’s spirit would come upon him and he would kill a bunch of them at the drop of a hat when he got upset. During one such episode, he killed a thousand Philistines using only the jawbone of a donkey for a weapon. Samson was made Judge of Israel and presided over them for twenty years.

He then fell in love with a woman named Delilah. The Philistines, understanding that there was no way to beat this guy in any kind of a fight, came to Delilah and offered her money to betray Samson and discover the secret of his strength. She agreed. When she and Samson were alone, she began questioning Samson about this secret, pulling the old female trick of if you won’t tell me then you don’t love me kind of thing.

Samson messed with her for a bit, telling her crazy things like if she used a certain kind of rope it would overpower him. Each time she would try what he said when he was sleeping, and then call in the Philistines - and each time they would all see that she had been fooled. Delilah played the hurt female and kept nagging at him, until one day she finally wore him down and he told her about the Nazarite vow and the hair. So, she shaved his hair off while he was sleeping and called in the Philistines again, and this time Samson’s strength was gone. The Philistines gouged out his eyes, bound him, and took him back home as a much-prized prisoner.

So what really happened here? Was it really Samson’s hair that gave him strength? Of course not! His strength came from God. Samson insisted on flirting around with trouble and tempted God one too many times. Breaking the Nazarite vow, which is essentially what he did by telling Delilah about it, knowing she had tested everything he told her in regards to the secret of his strength, was the last straw. Samson was a fool, and God finally had enough of his foolish behavior. To let the whims of his fleshly desires divulge him of his great blessing was inexcusable.

We can all learn a valuable lesson from this. Some of us are devout Christians who insist on flirting with some sin or another, some ungodly behavior. The more we flirt with it, the greater control it gains over us, and if we don’t wise up and stop, it could be our undoing.

For more on Paul and his writing, visit his website at

Have you discovered new authors this past week? Thanks so much for stopping by. Be sure to drop by tomorrow, I have an invitation for you. Have a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jaguars And Small Towns

One of the things I love about books is the fact they can take you places you’ve never been and introduce you to people and places beyond your wildest dreams.

I have two books today I’d like to share with you. They are completely different in their themes and genres, but both are incredible reads.

SAVAGE HUNGER by Terry Spear

9781402266928Having been a fan of author Terry Spear for some time now, I awaited her newest series (Heart of the Jaguar) with great expectations. True to her form, she did not disappoint me but reinforced how prolific a writer she is.

A mission to the Amazon to take down a ruthless drug Lord turned out to be more than Army Officer Kathleen ‘Kat’ McKnight bargained for. When the mission goes terrible wrong, a mysterious man suddenly appears and saves her from certain death. Haunted by those memories, Kat returns to the rain forest a year later hoping to find the man. She never expected to discover the man is was hiding a life-changing secret. 
Connor Anderson and his sister were in the jungle on their yearly visit connecting with their shape shifting jaguar roots when he encountered the botched drug raid. Getting back to his life and needing to find his life mate, Connor can’t help but think of the tough Army officer he saved. When he comes face-to-face with her a year later, he wonders if they could truly be together.

Learning of his shape shifting secret and Kat’s dangerous past returning could have serious consequences for the pair.
Spear is meticulous in her research for her series and it shines in SAVAGE HUNGER. Not only are the characters well developed, but her detailed descriptions of the settings place the reader in the middle of the action.

Connor is an ideal hero with his good looks and sexy ways. Adding a few flaws makes him realistic. Kat is the perfect heroine to match Connor. She is tough and independent, but has a vulnerable side. Maya is a wonderful secondary character. She allows Connor and Kat to show different sides of themselves when she’s involved.

While this is a paranormal tale with shape shifting jaguars, Spear tells the story in such a way you come to believe in the ability while immersed in the characters’ lives. She makes the impossible seem real and natural while keeping you in suspense.

The story moves along at a steady pace packed with action and interesting twists. It’s also filled with steamy romance, family loyalty, determination, humor and an understanding of the interactions of man and nature. Once you pick up SAVAGE HUNGER, it will sink its claws into you and hold you captive till the end. A tantalizing start to a fascinating new series.

Author Terry Spear’s website is

Savage Hunger by Terry Spear, Heart of the Jaguar Series, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2012, ISBN: 978-1402266928, Paperback, 352 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.

9781402270369Author Macy Beckett has made a splash with her new debut novel dealing with unending love, family problems and finding what you want in life without knowing you were looking. 

Opening the pages of SULTRY WITH A TWIST, readers are transported to a small Texas town where everyone knows everyone and everything about them including how to offer second changes and a hand up when needed. It’s filled with Southern sass, sexy cowboys and steamy romance.

Mae-June July Augustine left Sultry Springs nine years ago with a broken heart and planned to never return. As her dream of opening an upscale martini bar in Austin is weeks away from becoming a reality, June receives terrible news. It seems she has an outstanding warrant in her hometown and must clear it up before the proper paperwork can be approved for the bar.

Not a problem. A quick visit to the judge and the matter will be resolved. Wrong. The judge offers June a month of community service work or longer jail time. Nothing to do but the community service which puts her under the supervision of sexy Luke Gallagher, her first love and ex-friend, and staying with her estranged grandmother, Pru.

As June works with Luke renovating houses, their attraction returns hotter than ever. Luke isn’t sure June will fit in with his plans and June has to decide if she misses the allure of Austin or enjoys the pleasures of Sultry Springs more. Which dream will come true, the one she’s had for years or the one she never imagined? 

Beckett has created fun characters with depth and secondary characters that add charm and laughter to the mix. The setting is realistic with a small town feel. The story moves at a steady pace and holds your attention. It’s filled with laugh-out-loud moments, sizzling romance and tug-on-your heartstring scenes.

SULTRY WITH A TWIST is a charming beginning to a delightful new series where second chances led to interesting developments.  

Author Macy Beckett’s website is

Sultry With A Twist by Macy Beckett, Sultry Springs Series, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2012, ISBN: 978-1402270369, 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 review.
Do you enjoy trying books outside your ‘comfort zone’ when it comes to genres? You’ll never know how much you’re missing until you give them a try. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Gemini Virus

It starts with a sneeze. It kills in four days. There is no cure.

If that doesn’t caught your attention, I don’t know what will. It’s the beginning of cold and flu season in most of the nation, so it’s the perfect time to read the chilling new disaster novel by Wil Mara, THE GEMINI VIRUS.

Wil is touring blogdom with his release of this engaging thriller and stops by today to graciously answer some questions about this writing. Thanks to Wil and the lovely Aisha at Tor and Forge Books, I have 2 hardcover copies of THE GEMINI VIRUS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for guidelines.

This engaging thriller follows a mysterious, wildly contagious virus that kills within four days and seems to have no cure. As the disease moves from a small community to globally, panic and chaos spreads as a pair of charismatic CDC researchers and their team search frantically for the cause of and cure before it’s too late.  

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE GEMINI VIRUS:
Bob Easton thinks he has a cold. Before he dies in agony, four days later, he infects dozens of people. Local health agencies become quickly overwhelmed by the sick and dying and beg the CDC for help. Dr. Michael Beck and Cara Porter, a member of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, race to identify the deadly bug. They can't cure it until they know what it is.

Dennis and Andi Jensen and their children are terrified. Schools and offices close. Fresh food disappears from store shelves. Three of their children's friends die. Their neighbors are dying or running away, fleeing the unstoppable infection. Desperate, the Jensens join the exodus, making a nightmarish journey to their isolated mountain cabin along empty roads, through abandoned towns, past looted shopping malls.  

The superbug—and the panic—quickly spreads beyond America’s borders. On a packed plane, someone coughs—and at their destination, the pilots are told, “you can’t land here.” US military bases are quarantined. Yet the virus continues to spread. Some believe the plague is man-made. Others see it as a sign of the end times. In the lab, Cara Porter makes a potentially fatal mistake. In the mountains, Andi Jensen tells her husband that she doesn’t feel well.  

The world is running out of time.  

Now let’s find out what Wil has to say.

Mason - What is an average writing day like for you? Do you write longhand and on the computer, have a favorite place to write, a favorite time to write, listen to music or have to have quiet?
Wil - I like to write first thing in the morning, immediately after I get up. I find that sharp morning energy conducive to good creativity. I usually wake around 5:00 and get in about two and a9780765329332 half hours of solid work. Then I make breakfast for my daughters and get them off to school. (On weekends, I’ll simply take a break at this time.) A second writing session goes from 9:00 to noon, followed by a half hour for lunch. A third goes from 12:30 to 3:00. After that the girls are back from school, and I’m usually finished writing for the day. If necessary, I can do a fourth stretch in the evening, from 7:00 to 9:00. My goal is to produce five solid, publishable pages every day. 

As for writing longhand, no, I haven’t done that since the very earliest days of my career, back in the late ‘80s. Just about everything is done on computer. I find it much easier to keep up with my thoughts if I’m typing. When I travel, I always have either my laptop or my netbook with me. 

Per favorite places, I have a fully finished office in my basement, and that’s where the bulk of the work gets done. I don’t put music on, as I prefer it as quiet as possible. I just find it easier to ‘climb into’ the story and get into The Zone when there are no distractions.

Mason - Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Wil - I’ve always loved thrillers, and I’ve always loved the ‘super virus’ subgenre. That said, I wanted to do my own ‘virus novel’ for a long time. I’d been formulating a story for years, pulling in bits and pieces from the air, until I felt I had something complete. When my editor asked what was next after Wave, I presented the idea for The Gemini Virus, she liked it, and we moved forward.  

As for the characters—the epidemiological team came from my desire to have characters located at the heart of the crisis (i.e., directly responsible for dealing with it), the family of four came from the need for the story to have characters that most readers could connect with (and to give perspective of how the pandemic would play in an ordinary community), and the governmental and terrorist characters came from the desire to give the story a global dimension.
Mason - How did you go about doing research for this book? Was it a process you enjoyed or just found it necessary?

Wil - I loved the research process for this book. I’m a naturally curious person who always wants to learn new things, so that was one factor. The other was that I found a wonderful person named Dr. Marty Hewlett (studied at MIT and Harvard, worked with a Nobel Laureate, now a professor at UNM) who helped with the technical details. Marty is one of the finest people I’ve ever known and made the whole process a real joy. We have become very good friends since the research of Gemini, and I hope to find a way to work with him again.
Mason - What message, if any, would you like readers to take away from this book?

Wil - That although the story is fiction, there is nothing in it that can’t actually happen. The science is completely credible and the scenario is well within the realm of the possible. A super pandemic will visit this world sooner or later—absolutely guaranteed—so be on the lookout. Better that we game it out in this book and be prepared, right?
Mason - What would you say is the worst thing about writing and what is the best?

Wil - I don’t find anything particularly distasteful about the writing process; I love every aspect of it. If I had to come up with something, maybe the enforced isolation, as this is a very lonely profession. As for the best, hmm…. As I said, I enjoy just about all of it. Perhaps the satisfaction that goes with getting positive feedback from readers and knowing you’ve succeeded in your objective of both educating and entertaining them. It’s wonderful to have asked for their attention for a little while and see that they were happy to have given it.
Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?

Wil - The next book in the disaster-thriller series is called Fallout. I’m writing it right now, and it’s going to take a very modern and very fresh look at one of the most controversial forms of renewable energy.
Wil, thanks for joining us today and answering these questions. It’s fun to read disaster thrillers like yours, but at the same time it’s a bit terrifying to stop and think these events could really happen.

A little background on Wil. He is a steadily working professional writer with more than one hundred books to his credit, primarily in the school and library market. His previous disaster novel, WAVE, published by a regional press, won the New Jersey Notable Book Award. THE GEMINI VIRUS is the second book in the disaster series, with several more stories currently in development. 

For more information on Wil and his writing, visit his website at

Now the giveaway guidelines. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win THE GEMINI VIRUS.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of 2 copies of THE GEMINI VIRUS, a 352-page hardcover, will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about THE GEMINI VIRUS:
“A subplot involving terrorism helps build suspense, but the virus itself and the deadly possibility that it could appear in the real world is quite enough to keep you turning pages to see who will live, who will die, and how the invader will be vanquished.”

Do you enjoy disaster thrillers? Do you not read them because they make you think ‘it could happen’ too much? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kitchen 101 by Holly Clegg

402193236776There’s just something about cooler weather that makes one’s thoughts turn to comfort food and fun times shared in the kitchen.

While some are experts in the kitchen, others of us are a bit intimidated. We want to re-create the warmth and love we felt in our mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens, but aren’t quite sure how to do that. Author Holly Clegg’s trim&TERRIFIC Kitchen 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence can help.

This delightful cookbook offers simple and healthy recipes for the novice or expert cook. It also features basic tools and tips every cook needs to know to manage a working kitchen with confidence.

There are more than 150 delicious recipes and most are accompanied by a beautiful color photograph of the end results. In addition each recipes includes diabetic and nutritional information. The author also notes if the recipe freezes well, can be made in a crock pot and you can tell at a glance if the dish is vegetarian.

Kitchen 101 is loaded with tips concerning short-cuts and options on preparing various dishes. There is a reference chapter that helps with cooking fundamentals like what to stock in your food pantry and the proper way to set a table.

Geared toward making life easier in the kitchen, the author included a chapter on using rotisserie chicken called ‘Rapid Rotisserie Chicken Recipes.’ These recipes are quick and simple such as ‘Chicken Lasagna’ and ‘Chicken Tortilla Soup.’ Other chapters include: Cooking Basics, Start Simple, Ready-Made Menus, Building On Basics, Fit It Fast, Crock Pot Convenience, and Sweet Temptations.

This insightful cookbook will fast become a favorite in your collection. What would be more fun that hosting a get-together with friends and learning the recipes together?   

Author Holly Clegg’s website is

Holly Clegg’s trim&TERRIFIC Kitchen 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence, trim&TERRIFIC Cookbook Series, The Cookbook Marketplace, @2012, ISBN: 978-0981564029, Paperback, 192 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.
Do you enjoy cookbooks that have quick and simple recipes or do you enjoy more complex recipes when using a cookbook? Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Author M. Thomas Long On Tour

I’m delighted to feature author M. Thomas Long today as he tours blogdom with his Pump Up Your Book Virtual Publicity Tour for his latest release, BLUE MONDAY

Long tackles the question, ‘What would you do if you were opposed to lottery tickets but purchase a ticket by accident?’ He’s created an intriguing twist on the answer.

Here’s a brief description of BLUE MONDAY:
Matt McAllister is the pastor of the fifth largest church in his state. He was a very public opponent of the lottery. When he accidentally purchases a ticket, he is stunned but his children are elated. 

His plan: throw the ticket away, protect his position as a minister and avoid wrestling with the very real temptation to take the money and run...even if the odds are millions to one. His children's plan: rescue the ticket from the trash, wait for the drawing and start deciding on cars, vacation homes, and travel destinations. 
Long before the drawing takes place, Matt struggles to deal with the responsibilities and challenges of being a pastor, a father, and a husband as he deals with a long list of people and circumstances ranging from eclectic and funny, to frustrating and sad. 

Matt begins each day determined to put the situation with the ticket behind him. The harder he works to deal with it, the bigger it gets.BlueMondayCoverWebsite1 Every effort to avoid the potential damage the situation could cause makes it spin out of control even faster as new circumstances unfold.

Then the drawing takes place. 

Suddenly, there's at least 186 million reasons, some hilarious, some tragic, that Matt's life, family, friends, and church will never be the same.

Oh my, can you image what happens next?

Long has been a writer, speaker, and trainer for over 20 years. He and his wife of 32 years live just outside Nashville, TN. He has one daughter, and as of last spring, a son-in-law.

BLUE MONDAY marks Long’s entry into the world of fiction writing, something he will tell you has been on his life list for many years, but he just never took the time to make it happen. During a near fatal incident, one of the main regrets he felt was that he never wrote the books that were inside him wanting to be written.

In BLUE MONDAY, his first fiction novel, Long draws from a rich and varied background that includes designing and performing as a concert stage lighting designer with Grammy award winning artists, working alongside many pastors and celebrities, and traveling the country working as a Microsoft technical trainer.

Long’s hobbies include reading, golf, motorcycles, drawing, running, guitar (ok, a little guitar), songwriting with his daughter, and traveling with his wife. For more on Long and his writing, visit his website at

Do you ever play the lottery or do you just daydream about ‘what if’? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Remember, share a book with a friend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chris Bronson Returns In Echo Of The Reich

It’s always enjoyable when an author creates a character you want to visit with time and time again. New York Times bestselling author James Becker has created such a character in his protagonist Chris Bronson.

Becker brings Bronson back again in his latest thriller, ECHO OF THE REICH. In this, the fifth installment of the Chris Bronson series, the author takes readers on a rip-roaring ride in a modern-day London that is overshadowed by the remnants of Nazi Germany.

Becker has the background to draw on for his novels. He spent over twenty years in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. Throughout his career he has been involved in covert operations in many of the world's hotspots, including Yemen, Russia and Northern Ireland. 

Here’s a brief description of ECHO OF THE REICH:

Since 1945, no definite information has been recovered about the weapon in question. Nobody had any real idea of its function or its purpose. Until now.

Berlin, World War II In a secret Nazi underground laboratory near the Czech border, scientists are working on a secret weapon with the power to change the tide of war and make Hitler’s dream of wiping out “inferior” races a reality. The project is almost complete when they are forced to flee west with the Russians knocking at their door. The laboratory is blown up and the project abandoned, unknown to the world.

894167359_9780451238290_large_Echo_of_the_ReichLondon, 2012
Chris Bronson is seconded to the Metropolitan Police during the Olympic Games, for an under cover investigation. Bronson is ordered to infiltrate a group of anarchists who have been sabotaging Olympic sites in attempts to disrupt the Games, but when his cover is blown, the police call off the investigation. 

Bronson, suspicious, stumbles upon a startling conspiracy to finish Hitler’s evil game. In a heart-pounding race against time, Bronson must put a stop to a fatal plan to settle scores before it’s too late. 

ECHO OF THE REICH is a fast-paced and exciting history-mystery thriller that will appeal to readers of authors such as Raymond Khoury and Paul Christopher.

Becker also writes action-adventure novels under the name James Barrington and military history under the name Peter Smith in the UK. For more on Becker and his writing, visit his website at

Do you enjoy books that blend the past and the present together for mystery and intrigue? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Terminal Ambition by Kate McGuinness

TerminalAmbition_160High-priced lawyers, mysteries, greed, and good-ole-boy mentality makes for an intriguing read in author Kate McGuinness’ debut novel, TERMINAL AMBITION.

The story begins with dramatic deaths on a mountain top and continues at full speed as the author sweeps you into a world of discrimination, sexual harassment and much more all inside the walls of a powerful law firm.

Maggie Mahoney is a partner at the prestigious law firm of Sweeny, Owens and Boyle, and the trophy wife of its managing lawyer, Bryce Chandler. Life is moving along at a steady pace when a ski trip turns Maggie’s personal and business life upside down.

When Bryce is killed in an avalanche, Maggie quickly finds herself an outsider at the law firm. Firm Chairman Andy Anderson, obsessed with becoming the next Attorney General, selects a reputed sexist to fill Bryce’s position. Suspecting there’s more to the promotion, Maggie begins to dig deeper.
Finding proof of misconduct and seeking justice for the women working at the firm, Maggie is determined to make things right. The effort could cost Maggie everything.

This is a thrilling legal action that will hold you spellbound. Author Kate McGuinness brings to light discrimination and harassment issues that unfortunately still plaque many workplaces today. Once you begin TERMINAL AMBITION, you won’t be able to stop until you know if justice is served.

This is the first installment in the Maggie Mahoney series and includes a sneak preview of the next installment, EROTIC CAPITAL, coming soon.

Author Kate McGuinness’ website is

Terminal Ambition by Kate McGuinness, A Maggie Mahoney Novel, Two XX Press, @2012, ISBN: 978-0984990177, Paperback, 308 Pages

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

Click HERE to find out how to enter for a chance to win!

Do you enjoy legal thrillers? Thanks so much for stopping by.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Salon: A Farmer’s Daughter by Dawn Stoltzfus

Photo By Hotblack
Days are getting shorter, there’s a nip in the air and another week has slipped away. It’s time once again for Sunday Salon. Time to relax, enjoy a good book (or two), visit with friends, and of course, partake of your favorite stemming beverage as you settle down to unwind.

Cool weather always makes me think of comfort food. With that in mind I have a wonderful new cookbook to share that is filled with not only delectable dishes, but inspiring tidbits too.

As we mature, our likes and dislikes change somewhat. I find myself reading more cookbooks so I’m always on the lookout for new and unique ones.

coverA FARMER’S DAUGHTER: RECIPES FROM A MENNONITE KITCHEN by Dawn Stoltzfus caught my eye for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it contains delicious and wholesome recipes that are easy to prepare. More on those in a minute.

The background of the author was interesting. Stoltzfus was raised on a Mennonite dairy farm. Her family enjoyed fresh home-grown ingredients for the dishes her mother prepared. Stoltzfus went on to start her own deli and catering service using recipes she learned growing up.

Nestled among the more than 200 recipes are charming stories from the author’s Mennonite upbringing. She also includes tips and tricks for making meal planning easier, along with ideas that will add flair when serving. Almost every recipe comes with a bit of history how the dish came into her family or how the dish can or did relate to an inspiring experience.

The recipes are divided into chapters including: Appetizers, Dips, and Beverages; Breakfast and Breads; Spring Salads and Dressings; Summer Sandwiches and Winter Soups; Garden Fresh Veggies, Comfort Food, and Sides; Main Entrees; Desserts; Cookies, Cakes, and Bars; and Simple Do-It-Yourself Recipes. 

Among one of the simple dishes I discovered a unique way to make the ever popular comfort food, Mac and Cheese. While my version usually comes from a box, I decided to be a bit different and give Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese a try. 

It’s a yummy change from the box and is a new favorite at our house. It’s quick and easy to prepare. But if you’re pressed for time after a long day at work, there’s also a version that can be prepared in a slow cooker so it’s waiting on you when you get home. 

Here’s the oven version I tried:
3 Tbsp. salted butter
2 ½ cups macaroni, uncooked
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½-¾ cup American cheese, diced
1 cup Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg, slightly beaten
4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Melt butter and pour over macaroni in baking dish, tossing to coat. Add salt, pepper, cheese, and egg. Stir in milk. Bake uncovered for 90 minutes. Do not stir while baking. This comes out of the oven golden brown and creamy. Serves 4-5.

I used ¾ cup American cheese and cheddar instead of Monterey Jack. It was delicious with a crispy brown topping. The slow cooker version is a bit different and takes about 4 hours to cook. However, it would be a welcome sight waiting for you to enjoy after a long day at work or shopping.

In her introduction, Stoltzfus talks about how she came to realize food has a way of bringing people together. That caused me to reflect on how food is a staple part of our lives, especially in the South. Aside from the fact we need food to live, we also use food to celebrate happy occasions, share food when a loved one is sick or passes away, enjoy a friend’s company or renew a friendship over food, and begin new relationships while sharing a meal (some even end relationships this way).

A FARMER’S DAUGHTER: RECIPES FROM A MENNONITE KITCHEN is a charming and useful cookbook that will become a favorite among your collection. It will also make a delightful gift to novice and expert cooks alike. This cookbook contains no photographs to tempt you with, but the content more than makes up for the lack of artwork.  

Author Dawn Stoltzfus’ website is

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 
A Farmer’s Daughter: Recipes From A Mennonite Kitchen by Dawn Stoltzfus, Revell, @2012, ISBN: 978-0800720919, Paperback, 224 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.
Do you enjoy cookbooks that share more than just recipes? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rearview Mirror: A Memoir by Alana Stewart

Normally I’m not one to read celebrity memoirs. Most come off as fluff pieces written by a PR person. REARVIEW MIRROR by Alana Stewart does not fall into that group.

Stewart has written a detailed look at her life without whitewashing theCover bad parts. And there are bad parts. While she has seemingly lived a charmed life, she’s also had her share of troubles and heartache.

The book begins with the harrowing experience that lead Stewart to leave Texas for New York where she eventually into modeling - she was raped in her own apartment by a stranger and left for dead. The authorities seemed to think she had known the person and let them in. The rapist was never caught.

Stewart talks candidly about her childhood growing up without indoor plumbing, her mother’s drug addiction and later death, and the highs and lows of modeling. She also discusses how she came to marry and divorce actor George Hamilton and rock star Rod Stewart. She and Hamilton have remained close friends, while she and Stewart have had a rockier road to friendship after their divorce.

Her three children and their struggles are a large part of the story. She shares their highs and lows and how she dealt with them mostly as a single mother (even when she was married). She also talks briefly about her friendship with actress Farrah Fawcett and how her battle with cancer (and death) has inspired her.

While she has not divulged every secret in her life or her family’s, she has been open enough that readers can feel her pain despite having seen only glitz and glamour before. Her story is inspiring and goes to show that while life may look rosy to the world, inside there are thorns.

REARVIEW MIRROR is a compelling story that pulls readers in. The story flows smoothly at a steady pace making it hard to put down once you begin. It is filled with laughter and tears, sorrow and hope, glamour and solid foundations. In addition, Stewart has included a number of photographs from her youth, modeling career, her two marriages and her life in general.

This story may tell secrets, but it’s not a Hollywood tell-all book. It’s a story of one woman’s life from a small Texas town beginning to a life among the rich and famous, her love of her children, her growth as a person, and her desire to give back to others. 

Author Alana Stewart’s website is

Rearview Mirror: A Memoir by Alana Stewart, Vanguard Press, @2012, ISBN: 978-159315074, Hardcover, 288 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.
Do you often see only the glitz and glamour of a celebrity’s life and forget they can have problems too? Thanks so much for stopping by today.