Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Widows and the Grim Reaper, An Odd Combination

Maybe widows and the grim reaper aren’t such an odd combination after all, but in this case they are. I have two tantalizing audios to share with your today. Both are well worth listening to.

widows coverAuthor Jess McConkey’s stirring tale of several generations of a Iowa farm family will hold you spellbound.

Narrator Coleen Mario does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life. Her vocalization of the various emotions conveyed throughout the story gives depth to the writer’s words.

The story begins in 1890 with a mysterious murder and then moves to present day with the marriage of Kate and Joseph Krause. Kate leaves the city and an overbearing grandmother to live with her husband on the Krause family farm. The farm has been in Joseph’s family for more than 140 years. What Kate finds is Trudy, a domineering mother-in-law who doesn’t hide her distaste for Kate nor her belief the family is cursed.

The story weaves back and forth from the present to the first murder in 1890. As the events unfold, Kate struggles to understand the family’s long-held secrets and make a new beginning for her family. However, tragedy strikes in many forms and Kate is forced to re-evaluate everything she knows. Do the sins of the father fall to the sons?

McConkey does a good job of blending the past and the present into a smooth flowing story. The characters are realistic with a mix of likable and hated personalities. She touches on spousal abuse and the course it sometimes takes. The secondary characters add flavor and intrigue to the mix.

With an eye for detail, McConkey places you in the middle of the farm with its numerous sights, sounds and smells. She incorporates mystery, suspense, romance, family loyalty, friendship and bits of humor for a well-rounded story. She adds a few twists along the way so what you think you know may not be quite as it seems in the end.

THE WIDOWS OF BRAXTON COUNTY is a haunting tale of how far some families will go to preserve their legacy.

Author Jess McConkey is the pseudonym for Shirley Damsgaard and her website is

The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey, Performed by Coleen Mario, Harper Audio, @2013, ISBN: 978-0062295743, Unabridged, Digital Download, Listening Time: 9 Hours 5 Minutes (Also available in Paperback and Kindle format) 

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.

coverLaughing at the grim reaper seems a bit odd, but oh so right when that grim reaper is Charlotte Jean ‘Charley’ Davidson, who also pays the bills as a private investigator.

Bringing the character to life with her amusing mannerisms is narrator Lorelei King. Her vocalization gives each character their own indelible image. Her timing and emotions expressed as the various characters enhances the writer’s captivating story.

This time around Charley is operating on 13 days of no sleep - her choice. She’s living on coffee to keep from sleep because when she closes her eyes, he’s there. He is Reyes Farrow, part-human, part-son of Satan with a gorgeous body that Charley has bound for all eternity.

Charley takes on a case of a missing woman, believing the husband who wants to hire her really killed his wife. Meanwhile, somehow Reyes manages to escape from prison and carjacks Charley only to release her later. He wants her to find his adopted father, the man he’s in prison for killing. It seems he’s alive and Reyes was framed for the faked murder.

Charley pays a visit to her friend Rocket who knows who’s dead and who isn’t. He can’t help her with Reyes’ quest as the man has too many aliases, but the woman is alive with only a short time left. With the help of her receptionist and best friend, Cookie, Charley begins her search. Along the way she encounters a biker gang, a nun who knows who she is, finds herself tortured almost to death, and loses a friend.

Author Darynda Jones has a way of taking death and torture, mixing it with humor and mystery for a fascinating tale of suspense and laughter. She weaves in bits of humor in the right places to lighten the dark spaces of the story.

Her cast of characters are intriguing, zany and memorable. She has you believing in the unbelievable and wishing you were Charley’s neighbor. The dialogue is witty holding your attention from the first paragraph to until the end. Each chapter begins with an amusing saying such as “When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane” and “I chose the road less traveled. Now I’m lost.”

The story flows smoothly and at a steady pace with lots of action and a good amount of steamy romance. The story’s subplot of a missing woman is suspenseful and filled with turns to keep you guessing. The overall plot of Charley and Reyes sizzles with heat, fun and tension.

THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD could be read on its own, but I wouldn’t recommend it. To fully appreciate Charley and her friends, the series should be read in order. The overall story will be better understood and the charming ways Charley has evolved will entertain you.

If you’re looking for a story that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, listen to THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD the third installment in the Charley Davidson series. Who knew the grim reaper was a coffee addict with a sense of humor. 

Author Darynda Jones’ website is
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones, Charley Davidson Series, Performed by Lorelei King, Macmillan Audio, @2013, ASIN:B00730GOXBQ, Unabridged, Digital Download, Listening Time: 9 Hours 51 Minutes (Also available in Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle format) 

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 for stopping by today. Hope I’ve introduced you to a story or two that has captured your attention. Have you tried audio books yet?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Author Katie Lane: Flirting With Texas And A Giveaway

It’s a delight to welcome author Katie Lane back to Thoughts in Progress. It means she has a new book out in her Deep in the Heart of Texas series. This time it’s FLIRTING WITH TEXAS, a funny, light-hearted read that will whisk you away. It's released today!!

Here’s a brief description of FLIRTING WITH TEXAS:

    On her own in the Big Apple, Jenna Jay Scroggs can handle herself when trouble arises. But when she tries to rescue a horse, the passionate do-gooder ends up on a runaway Central Park carriage ride with a hunky stranger. With his sexy drawl and well-worn Levis, Beauregard Cates is doing his darnedest to make Jenna homesick for the small western town she's spent years trying to forget. And it's working: She's dangerously close to falling head over boot heels for the rugged rodeo star with hair the color of moonshine.
    Beau came to the big city to escape his past and live life to the fullest. Yet the leggy blonde with eyes as blue as a western sky causes a real hitch in his giddy-up. So when the well-meaning folks of Bramble plot to bring Jenna home, Beau will need to convince her that she won't ever get Texas out of her blood - or one good-time, ever-lovin' cowboy out of her heart.

Thanks to Katie and the lovely Marissa at Grand Central Publishing, I have 2 copies of FLIRTING WITH TEXAS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for details.

Katie joins us now and has graciously answered some questions for me about her intriguing story and her writing.

Mason - Your story has the most amusing plot - henhouse (whorehouse) turned bed and breakfast. What inspired this unique storyline?  

One morning, I woke up with the song “A Lil’ Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place” from the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas rolling around in my head, and it got me to thinking—what if The Chicken Ranch never closed down? Thus, the henhouse was born and is the setting (along with Bramble, Texas) for TROUBLE IN TEXAS, FLIRTING WITH TEXAS, and the last two books in my Deep in the Heart of Texas series.

Mason - Now the book is finished, what surprised you the most as you wrote the story?  

Marcy Henderson. I already loved the hero and heroine, Beau and Jenna Jay, and knew they were going to be great fun to write, but I had no idea what a sensitive, wonderful character Marcy Henderson is until I started writing. (Like everyone else, I thought she was just the town slut.) The secondary love story between hercover and Pastor Robbins completely took me by surprise :o)

Mason - Have you always wanted to write or was there an event that lead you to writing?  

In fifth grade, my teacher Mrs. Hart asked us to write a short story using the POV of an inanimate object. I chose a big skirt that belonged to a skinny lady. When the lady went to wear it, the skirt fell off and showed her panties. Like flatulence, someone showing their panties is hilarious to elementary school kids. They roared with laughter, and I was hooked on writing.

Mason - Of all the authors (past and present) you enjoy reading, who would you like to co-author a book with and why?  

Hmm, that’s a very good question. There are so many I respect and would love to work with. I think J.K. Rowling. I would love to witness her process and get a glimpse of the mind that came up with Harry Potter.

Mason - As a published author, has your perspective of authors changed?  

Yes, I respect them so much more because I realize what it takes to get published and stay published.

Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?  

A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS is the sixth book in the Deep in the Heart of Texas series and will be out March 2014. I also have an eBook Christmas anthology with Emma Kane and Jennifer Ryan coming out this holiday season (2013), ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A COWBOY.

Thanks Thoughts in Progress for having me!

Katie, thank you for joining us. I like how the secondary characters sometimes surprise us and offer more of themselves than we imaged.

Now let me share a bit about Katie. She says her interest in romance was sparked in high school in the backseat of a '65 Mustang - okay, so maybe it wasn't romance as much as raging teenage hormones. Still, coupled with a wild imagination, those make-out sessions inspired many a steamy storyline along with a strong belief that true love does prevail. 

Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the owner of that Mustang and would love to hear from her readers. For more on Katie and her writing, visit her online at or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: I have 2 copies of FLIRTING WITH TEXAS to giveaway. To enter this giveaway, please send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Flirting With Texas.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. 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 to win one of two copies of FLIRTING WITH TEXAS is 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Aug. 8.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Do you enjoy romance stories that take you away to the ranches, horses and cowboys?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Author Christi Barth’s Newest: Love at High Tide

I’m delighted to welcome author Christi Barth back to Thoughts inLAHT cover Progress to share an excerpt from her newest release, LOVE AT HIGH TIDE.

First here’s a brief synopsis of LOVE AT HIGH TIDE:

    Darcy Trent is lucky Cooper Hudson is on hand to sweep her off her feet—literally—when she nearly drowns while swimming in the ocean. But life-saving aside, Mr. Perfect's timing stinks: Darcy's career is about to take her to the complete opposite side of the Atlantic. Still, a little summer loving with the tall, blond and sexy former cop is far too tempting to pass up.
    When his plans to enter the Secret Service went south thanks to a bum knee, Coop retreated to the family beach house to mull his future. Romance is the last thing on his mind, until he fishes a curvy brunette out of the sea. Now, spending time in Darcy's arms seems like the ideal distraction, even if it is just for a week.
    But with Darcy's departure date fast approaching and their careers on the line, can they realize in time that their beach fling might become the real thing?

Now to entice your reading taste buds even more, here’s an excerpt from this delightful summer read…..

    “Thanks for the rescue. If you hadn’t grabbed me, I’d still be doing somersaults underwater. In my book, that qualifies you for hero status.”
    An unreadable emotion flickered across his eyes so fast she almost missed it. In a low mutter, he said, “Don’t call me a hero.” He hit the hard-packed sand at the edge of the water and stopped walking.
    Modest, heroic and gorgeous. And it didn’t take even a fraction of her eight years of training in cultural anthropology to figure out he was attracted to her. They’d long since hit land, and yet he made no move to put her down. Not that she was complaining. She’d happily continue to sit cradled in his arms. It gave her an up-close view of his chiseled cheekbones, sharp enough to etch glass. Her fingers brushed through the salt-spiked tips of his blond hair. No doubt about it: she’d found the man candy Trina had promised. One bite of him would be as sinful and addictive as a chocolate honey truffle.
    “Well, I can’t call you Mr. In-The-Right-Place-At-The-Right-Time.” When his lips curled up showing off his dimple, Darcy’s interest kicked up a notch.
    “Good point. I’m Cooper Hudson. Coop, to my friends.”
    “Darcy Trent.”
    “It’s been a long time since I met an ocean virgin.”
    “Oh, but only in the aquatic sense, I assure you.” What? Why wave her long-vanished virginity under his nose? Now he probably thought she had the morals of an alley cat. But hearing the hottest man she’d ever seen use the word virgin threw her for a loop. Not the standard nice-to-meet-you conversation, by a long shot.
    He flashed an easy smile. “Don’t worry. I hadn’t planned on delivering you as a virgin sacrifice to appease the volcano gods over at the mini-golf course.”
    Okay, now Darcy could add funny to the list of his overwhelming awesomeness. Maybe she really had blacked out and was hallucinating her ideal man while unconscious, underwater. What else could explain such perfection?
    “Darcy, what happened?” Trina’s yell preceded her appearance in front of them. After a quick yank upward to her scrap of a top, she rested her hand on Darcy’s leg. “Why’s he carrying you? Did you get stung in the foot by a jellyfish? ’Cause if you did, I’ll pee on it. That’ll take the sting away.”
    That certainly settled the whole am-I-hallucinating question. Never, ever would Darcy fantasize about her best friend peeing on her. The situation had to be real. And if Trina in all her adorable annoyingness was real, then her hot hero hunk had to be real, too.
    To her dismay, Cooper lowered her to the ground.
    “Your friend’s fine,” Cooper announced. “A wave almost rolled her, so she’s a little shaken up, but uninjured.”
    “You keep your distance,” Darcy warned with a hand raised to keep Trina at arm’s length. “Don’t even think about peeing on me. Not even if I get attacked by an entire school of jellyfish.”
    Trina wrinkled her nose. “Okay, but if the situation arises, just remember that I would be willing to make that sacrifice.”
    “Friendship is a beautiful thing.” Cooper’s sardonic tone belied the sincerity of his expression.

LOVE AT HIGH TIDE is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble


Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance.  

Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.
For more on Christi and her writing, check out the following sites: Website | Blog | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page |Facebook

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have you ever had visions of being sweep off your feet by a handsome stranger?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Salon: Visiting with Rhys Bowmen, Royalty and a Giveaway

Can you believe it’s already the last Sunday Salon of July and fall is just around the corner? 

Hard to image we’ll soon be cooped up inside as cold weather descends on us. But no matter the weather, it’s always a good time to read an intriguing mystery and do I have one for you today. It’s my pleasure to 9780425260029welcome New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen here today to talk about the latest release in her Royal Spyness Mystery series, HEIRS AND GRACES.

Thanks to Rhys and the lovely Kayleigh at Penguin, I have one copy of HEIRS AND GRACES to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the details. Now here’s a brief look at HEIRS AND GRACES:

    As thirty-fifth in line for the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch may not be the most sophisticated young woman, but she knows her table manners. It’s forks on the left, knives on the right—not in His Majesty’s back 
     Here I am thinking the education I received at my posh Swiss finishing school would never come in handy. And while it hasn’t landed me a job, or a husband, it has convinced Her Majesty the Queen and the Dowager Duchess to enlist my help. I have been entrusted with grooming Jack Altringham—the Duke’s newly discovered heir fresh from the Outback of Australia—for high society.
     The upside is I am to live in luxury at one of England’s most gorgeous stately homes. But upon arrival at Kingsdowne Place, my dearest Darcy has been sent to fetch Jack, leaving me stuck in a manor full of miscreants none of whom are too pleased with the discovery of my new ward.
     And no sooner has the lad been retrieved than the Duke announces he wants to choose his own heir. With the house in a hubbub over the news, Jack’s hunting knife somehow finds its way into the Duke’s back. Eyes fall, backs turn, and fingers point to the young heir. As if the rascal wasn’t enough of a handful, now he’s suspected of murder. Jack may be wild, but I’d bet the crown jewels it wasn’t he who killed the Duke 

Now here’s Rhys to talk about ‘Living with Her Royal Spyness.

I’m always fascinated by the American fascination with royalty. Why did the colonies fight so hard to get rid of a king, only to spend the next two hundred years wishing they had one? Well, maybe the fantasy aura of royalty is better than the reality.

I can’t tell you exactly why I decided to write a book about the royal family. I have certainly enjoyed writing about a long-ago spunky female detective (Molly Murphy, who has now appeared in six books and is going strong). Historical mysteries have so many juicy motives that don’t exist any longer: I love another but I am not free. I am the true heir to the fortune. I will ruin you with the secret of your illegitimate child. In addition detectives in those days really had to work for their living. No DNA or other modern forensic methods to help them solve their crimes. Just good old fashioned sleuthing and use of the little grey cells.

In fact this series came into being because my editor had been urging me to write a big, dark standalone. I kept toying with serial killers, child molesters and terrorists and finally asked myself whether I wanted to spend six months in such company. The answer was a resounding NO. So a silly idea crept into my head. What if my sleuth was a sheltered, upper class British girl in the 1930s—what if she was a member of the royal family, not allowed to work, to go out unchaperoned, and destined to marry to some chinless, spineless, buck-toothed and utter awful European royal. Trying to solve a murder would indeed be a challenge, and fun. I would have a chance to poke fun at the British class system and chuckle to myself as I wrote.

And so HER ROYAL SPYNESS  was born. However, the moment I visualized Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, I found that this was royal family life turned upside down. She may be cousin to the king of England. She may be destined to make a good marriage, thus cementing ties with a potential enemy, but she is penniless. She is too far from the line of succession to get any public money. Her father gambled away the last of his fortune. Her brother is saddled with horrendous death duties and can barely keep the Scottish estate running. He certainly can’t afford to go on keeping Georgie after she has come out into society.

So in the first book, she bolts to London and tries living on her own. Not an easy task for one who has never done a thing for herself. How does one light a fire and where
does milk come from? So she does the only logical thing—she starts a house cleaning service. Little do the owners of the London mansions know that their furniture is being dusted by the 34th in line to the throne, and that their loo is being cleaned with the bath brush!

Then the queen asks her to act as her spy. It seems the Prince of Wales has met a most unsuitable American woman. Georgie takes all this in her stride, until she finds a body in her bathtub and someone is trying to kill her.

I have now written seven books in the series, and as it progressed I realized something: Georgie was becoming me. Things that happened to her had happened to me in my youth in London. I had had a disastrous attempt at modeling. I had endured a most uncomfortable tea with the present queen. I had a friend who had habitually crashed society weddings.

Then I realized why this character was so closely mirroring my own life: like Georgie I have straddled the British class system enough to make me an observer and outsider. Georgie’s father was a royal duke but her mother an actress, whose father lives in a semi-detached house with gnomes in the front garden. My family was respectably professional — my mother was a school principal and my father a research engineer. But my father was self made, self educated and claimed to be a cockney (although I doubt he could have heard the sound of Bow Bells from where he was born). At school and college I started mingling with the daughters of society. My friend’s brother dated Princess Anne. And then I married into an upper class family whose royal roots go back to Edward the Third and who had owned Sutton Place. Suddenly I was meeting cousins with ridiculous nicknames like Fig and Podge. I was visiting relatives who live in stately homes, and I became horribly aware of how important the class system is to British society, even today.

Remember when William and Kate almost broke up because her mother was deemed too lower class for using the word “toilet” instead of “lavatory. It was huge in Britain. Headlines screamed “toiletgate.” The British upper class is still remarkably cruel, horribly snobby and make sure that those below them never cross class barriers. One can never ascend to the upper class, even today. 

Giving Georgie one grandmother who was Queen Victoria’s daughter and one who sold fish in the East End has created the opportunity for my own wicked digs at the British class system, written by one who knows both sides, as Georgie does. When you read these book you’ll laugh, but as you laugh, remember it is all still happening today.

Oh, Rhys thanks so much for joining us and giving us this look at Georgie and how she came to be. With the new addition to the Royal Family, it will be interesting to see if any changes come about. You do have a most intriguing series here.

HEIRS AND GRACES (which debuts August 6th)  is the seventh book in the Royal Spyness Series. It has been billed as the perfect fix between seasons for Downton Abbey addicts and in deed the story centers around the heir to a dukedom, discovered in the Australian Outback. Think of Crocodile Dundee coming to Downton. 

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of 2 mystery series and winner of many awards including both Agatha and Anthony. Born and raised in Britain she now divides her time between California and Arizona.

For more on Rhys and her writing, visit her website at

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: To enter this giveaway, please send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Heirs and Graces.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. 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 to win a copy of HEIRS AND GRACES is 8 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Thanks so much for joining us today. Are you fascinated by the Royal Family or just a bit interested? Do you think Georgie would make a perfect new addition to the real Royal Family?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

DOUBLE MAYHEM by Sam Berretti

As several paths come together in an explosive beginning, you can’t help but be drawn into unable to look away. You have to know more -22 who are these people, what just happened and why.

Author Sam Berretti has crafted a suspenseful mystery in DOUBLE MAYHEM. The story is well-balanced with colorful characters, witty dialogue and action sprinkled with a touch of humor and a hint of romance.

It all begin when Doris Watson reluctantly goes on a blind date and ends up killing a syndicate hit man. From there Doris’ world is turned upside down and she no longer knows who to trust.

A military brat, Doris enjoys her simple life as a professional engineer creating amazing devices. She’s no trained assassin or spy, just an ordinary woman. She is suddenly embroiled in life-threatening circumstances when she’s asked to take a secret handoff from a Chinese agent who believes she’s someone else. To complicate matters more, she’s been entrusted to care for a mysterious psychic child.

Doris knew the blind date was a bad idea, she just didn’t know how bad.

This is a mesmerizing mystery filled with fast action and realistic characters. The emotions run the gamut from terror to heartwarming, from funny to heartbreaking. There are intriguing twists and turns to keep you guessing. Doris is a heroine you can’t help but like and pull for. She’s smart, strong and independent with just enough flaws to be endearing. 
DOUBLE MAYHEM is the first installment in a new Seekers Mystery series that is sure to have a great following. Berretti has created a new female heroine that mystery lovers will be keeping an eye out for.

Double Mayhem by Sam Berretti, Seekers Mystery Series Book One, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, @2012, ISBN: 978-1480291485, Paperback, 384 Pages (Also available in digital format)

FTC Full Disclosure - A digital copy of this book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend filled with lots of time to read.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café Sugary Sweet Giveaway

It is no wonder that the flirty and frothy food-themed novel, MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFÉ by Jenny Colgan is an international Cupcake Cafe Coversuccess. With relatable characters and scrumptious recipes at the start of each chapter, MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFÉ is pure delight to women’s fiction readers everywhere. This summer, Colgan brought her hilarious and heartfelt stories—with a dash of deliciousness—to the United States! 

To celebrate, Sourcebooks is giving away copies of this book ALL MONTH LONG! I’m delighted to be one of the bloggers able to offer you a copy of this charming book.

Each day this month, look for opportunities to win a print copy of MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFÉ with bloggers all over the book blogging community. Additionally, there will be a few guest blogs and interviews with Jenny sprinkled throughout—a great way to get to know a new author! 

Here’s a brief synopsis of MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFÉ:

                    July 2013
    Baking is in Issy Randall’s blood. Growing up above her grandfather’s bakery taught Issy that a delicious pastry could make any day better. So when she’s laid off from her desk job—by the man she thought was her boyfriend, no less—Issy knows now is the time to start her own little café.
    Armed with her grandfather’s tried and true recipes, as well as her own new dishes, Issy’s new dream job should be a piece-of-cake, right? But managing a café, delivering products on time and trying to have a new love life aren’t exactly going as Issy planned. And when her ex comes back into the picture, perhaps with his own motives, Issy’s search for the perfect pastry and a groundbreaking idea to save her café are much more than she bargained for… 

Jenny Colgan was a fussy eater as a child and didn’t even begin to learn to cook until she was 21, when her then boyfriend tried to teach her a few basics purely out of exasperation. While she is now able to make a variety of good, wholesome food for her family, she still can’t make scones. 

A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the bestselling author of more than eleven novels, including The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris (coming out in the US in early 2014). She is married with three children and lives in London and France. 

For more information on Jenny and her writing, please visit and follow her on Twitter, @JennyColgan. 

Follow along all month long for a chance to win a copy of this highly-anticipated and deliciously delightful new novel!

7/1    Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
7/2    Celtic Lady’s Reviews
7/3    Books-N-Kisses
7/3    Chick Lit Central Interview
7/4    A Bookworm's World
7/5    Delighted Reader
7/8    Beth Fish Reads
7/9    Booking Mama
7/9    The Bookish Dame Interview
7/10    The Book Binge
7/11    Simply Ali
7/12    Debbie's Book Bag
7/15    The Bookish Babe
7/16    The Reading Café
7/17    Book Hounds
7/17    Cocktails and Books Interview
7/18    Peeking Between the Pages
7/18    Fresh Fiction Guest blog
7/19    Jenny Loves to Read
7/19    Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
7/22    Anna's Book Blog
7/23    Ramblings from This Chick
7/24    Books and Quilts
7/24    A Bookish Affair
7/25    Broken TeePee
7/29    Books and Needlepoint
7/30    The Reading Reviewer
7/31    Reading Between the Wines

As an added bonus, there will also be a number of stops during the first part of August… 

8/1    Book of Secrets
8/2    Luxury Reading
8/5    Radiant Light
8/6    Ruby’s Reads
8/7    Caffeinated Book Review
8/8    The Romance Dish
8/9    My Book Addiction and More

To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Cupcake Café.” 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 to win a copy of MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFÉ is 8 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, Aug. 3. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Be sure to visit some or all of the other blogs for a chance to win this fun read. Have you ever dreamed of opening your own bakery or restaurant?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Author Mingmei Yip On Tour With Nine Fold Heaven

It’s my pleasure to be a part of author Mingmei Yip’s Promo 101 Promotional Services Virtual Book Tour for her release, NINE FOLD HEAVEN.

Come along with an ex-spy as she returns to Shanghai where she’s a wanted woman – but she has to search for her baby and her lost lover. Is her baby really alive? Will she be able to find her lover? Can she elude the police long enough to find them? Learn much more about NINE FOLD HEAVEN and Mingmei Yip at and get your copy of this exciting and exotic novel on Amazon

NINE FOLD HEAVEN is part of a series about Camilla the songbird and female spy – you can also read Skeleton Women, the first book about Camilla here.

Here’s a bit more about NINE FOLD HEAVEN:
    An ex spy and nightclub singer who undertakes an emotional and dangerous journey to reunite with her lost lover and the baby she was told was stillborn, and to discover the secret of her parents’ murder.  

Mingmei joins us now to talk about Chinese female spies.

When I decided to write about a spy in 1930’s Shanghai, I read as many books as I could on the subject. Shanghai had a lot of gangsters so there is plenty of material. What I discovered during my research is that spies usually end unhappily. Most spies, no matter how cautious smart, scheming, or ruthless, in the end could not beat fate. Because the world they lived in had too much uncertainty and evil.

All a spy is allowed to possess is the “four nothings,” no friends, no identity, no emotion, no scruples. In China, there were many woman spies who would use their beauty, talent, and scheme to eliminate their target. This is called the beauty strategy, or honey trap.  

Simple in principle and timeless in effectiveness, it involved sending beautiful women to eliminate anyone from lord to emperor. Twenty-five hundred years ago, during the China’s chaotic era known as the Warring States, King Nine Fold Heaven - Cover ArtGoujian of Yue used it to defeat King Fuchai of the State of Wu. 

King Wu won the first battle and so King Yue sent him ten carts of priceless treasures as tribute. But cleverly he also included eight of the most beautiful women in his state as peace offerings. As intended, King Wu and his ministers had become so immersed in dalliance that they neglected state affairs. Tipped off by his spies, King Yue sent his army and easily defeated King Wu. Though Wu offered Yue his country and all its treasures, the victor was merciless.

Yue was ordered to commit suicide in front of the very women who had brought about his ruin. 

Even the most cunning man becomes a fool for a beautiful woman. Friends’ warnings fall on deaf ears. They blind themselves to the schemes behind the pretty face and the poisons in the beloved heart. When clothes come off, thinking stops.

However, there are also spies who failed at their last step to succeed because at the last minute, they could not pull the trigger. We imagine this is especially true for women. They may fall in love with their target and find themselves unable to kill. 

This is what happens in Eileen Chang’s novel, Caution, Lust. When the female protagonist finally lure her victim to the place planned for his assassination, she didn’t have the heart to kill him and told him to run. 

A Chinese saying, “It’s difficult for a hero to resist a beautiful woman’s love.” Thus the ever popular honey trap. But this also applies when a women meets a handsome, caring man.  

Mingmei, thanks for joining us today and giving us a look at Chinese female spies. The ‘four nothings’ is a bit sad.

Now let me tell you a bit about Mingmei. She has been writing and publishing since she was fourteen years old and now she has twelve books to her credit. Her five novels are published by Kensington Books and her two children’s books are published by Tuttle Publishing.

Mingmei is also a renowned qin (ancient string instrument) musician, calligrapher and painter. In Hong Kong, she was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US.

For more on Mingmei and her many talents, visit her at:
Here’s a book trailer for NINE FOLD HEAVEN for your enjoyment.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Did you know about Chinese female spies before today?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Café is just that -- irresistible.

The story pulls you in and you don’t want to leave. Narrator Erin Bennett does an excellent job bringing the characters to life. Her9781619694217 cadence and mannerisms add to this delightful tale. Her vocalization enhances the author’s words and her expressions of the emotions adds to the characters’ depth.

The story begins on a sad note with the death of Ellen Branford’s beloved grandmother. Just before she died, she asked Ellen to deliver a letter to a man in Beacon, Maine, sending her apologies for leaving him in their youth. Feeling she has to fulfill her grandmother’s request, Ellen leaves Manhattan for a quick one-day trip to Maine.

Arriving in Beacon, Ellen finds the town the complete opposite of Manhattan. It’s a simple, quite town. A lawyer by profession, Ellen also enjoys photography and can’t resist taking a photo from a dock near where she’s staying. Ellen’s life turns upside down when she falls through the dock and almost drowns. 

She is saved by a local carpenter, Roy, that is nothing like her lawyer, politically-driven fiancé, Hayden. The near-drowning incident makes her a bit of a celebrity in the town. As she searches for her grandmother’s former lover, Ellen begins to discover things about her family and herself, she never knew. Her one-day trip turns into several and when Hayden and her mother arrive in town, things really begin to unravel. 

Author Mary Simses has crafted a delightful and charming debut novel. Her vivid descriptions places you among the people of Beacon and you can practically feel the breeze off the ocean. The twists and turns along the way hold your attention. The characters are realistic, likable and well-developed. Simses incorporates the right touches of humor, romance, mystery and nostalgia for an enchanting story you hope will never end. 

The delicious looking cover of THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY BAKESHOP & CAFÉ may be what pulls you in, but it’s the story and characters that will warm your heart and capture your imagination.

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Café by Mary Simses, Performed by Erin Bennett, Hachette Audio, @2013, ASIN: B00DTE1CRE, Unabridged, Digital Download, Listening Time: 10 Hours 15 Minutes

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 for stopping by today. Do you have a favorite book that was hard for you to put down?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tilda Pinkerton’s Magical Hats On Tour

It’s my pleasure to be a part of author Angela Shelton’s Premier Virtual Author Book Tour for her latest children’s book, TILDA PINKERTON’S MAGICAL HATS BY THE RED TRACTOR MAILBOX.

As part of the tour I’m sharing my thoughts on the book, a bit of background on the author and including links to the various other blogs the author will be (or has) visited during her tour. In addition, thanks to the author and Teddy at Premier, I have one copy of TILDA PINKERTON’S MAGICAL HATS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details. Here we go.

I’m always impressed when an author can not only entertain a23 youngster with a story, but have them learning - and enjoying it.

Author Angela Shelton has created just such a story with TILDA PINKERTON’S MAGICAL HATS. This enchanting tale will not only have youngsters laughing, but also learning new vocabulary words. In addition, they will learn about family, helping others, and hope.

Eleven-year-old Madison Mae and her younger brother, Albert, are spending their carefree summer on their grandparents’ farm. However, they have learned their grandfather may lose the family farm.

Suddenly one day a mysterious Magical Hat Shop appears by their grandfather’s red tractor mailbox. They meet Tilda Pinkerton, owner of the shop, who presents them each with an amazing one-of-a-kind hat. When wearing the hats, the youngsters begin to create and have new ideas they never dreamed of before. With the farm being threatened, the youngsters learn they can accomplish more than they ever imagined with a little help from Tilda Pinkerton.

To enhance this charming tale, the book is beautifully illustrated by James Murry. The illustrations are whimsical and reveal bits of the story. But the illustrations also serve another purpose. They are left as color book drawings allowing the reader to give each illustration their own color preferences and have a hand in the book.

The story flows smoothly and quickly. It’s easy to follow along. Shelton’s has also included a 344 word glossary in the back of the book. She encourages youngsters to learn the meaning of the new words they discovered throughout the book.

The book is geared for youngsters ages K1-4, but is a delight for readers of all ages. TILDA PINKERTON’S MAGICAL HATS is a must add to any youngster’s library. It’s a fun tale to inspire, entertain and educate. What will Tilda Pinkerton do next?

Tilda Pinkerton‘s Magical Hats by the Red Tractor Mailbox by Angela Shelton, The Magic Hat Shop Book One, Illustrated by James Murry, Quiet Owl Books, @2013, ISBN: 978-0985944384, Hardcover, 196 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me as part of the author’s virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angela Shelton is an author, actor, blogger and public speaker. She has
been writing since she was eight years old. Her first novel was adapted into the movie Tumbleweeds. Angela won a regional Emmy award for her portrayal of Safe Side Superchick in The Safe Side video series created by Baby Einstein’s Julie Clark and America’s Most Wanted’s John Walsh.

After living in Los Angeles for over a decade, Angela left the big city for a one-light country town to marry her first love and fulfill her dream of writing books in a barn house.
Find out how Angela has incorporated the character of Tilda Pinkerton into an entire line of book projects, each geared towards a different age group at

For more on Angela and her writing, visit her website or find her on the following social medias: Twitter, Facebook, and Tilda Pinkerton on Twitter.

TILDA PINKERTON’S MAGICAL HATS is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can follow Angela’s tour on the following blogs to learn more about Tilda Pinkerton and for more chances to win a copy of the book:

So Many Precious Book July 2 Review & Giveaway
Books, Books & More Books  July 3 Review
Books, Books & More Books  July 5 Guest Post
Haunting of Orchid Forsythia July 8 Review
Sweeps4Bloggers July 9 Review & Giveaway
Sincerely Stacie July 10 Review
Library of Clean Reads July 11 Review
Cozy Little Book Journal & The Bookish Elf July 15 Review
Cozy Little Book Journal & The Bookish Elf July 16 G & Guest Post
Carole Rae’s Ramblings July 17 Review
Reading Novels Online  July 18 Review
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell July 19 Review
Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms July 19 Review
Saving for 6 July 22 Review
Saving for 6 July 23 Guest Post
Joy Story July 25 Review
Haunting of Orchid Forsythia July 26 Interview
From L.A. to LA July 29 Review
Heck of a Bunch July 30 Review & Giveaway
Second Bookshelf July 31 Interview
Pragmatic Mom Aug 5 Review
Sweet Southern Home Aug 6 Review
VW Stitcher Aug 7 Review
Musing with Crayolakym Aug 8 Review   
DWED Blog Aug 9 Review & Interview
City Book Review Aug 12 Review
Giveaways & Glitter Aug 13 Review   

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Now for the giveaway details. I have one copy of TILDA PINKERTON’S MAGICAL HATS to giveaway. Residents living in the U.S. have a choice of receiving either a print copy or eBook copy. Those entering the contest living outside the U.S. have a chance to win an eBook copy.

To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win Tilda Pinkerton.” Your message should include your name and mailing address, if you are a U.S. resident and wish to receive the print copy or include the email address you’d like the eBook copy sent to. All other entries should include the email address you would like the eBook copy sent to. 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 to win a copy of TILDA PINKERTON’S MAGICAL HATS is 8 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, July 31.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Are you always on the lookout for intriguing books to share with your children or the children of family and friends?

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Author Sam Berretti: How Doris Came To Be

I’m delighted today to welcome a ‘new-to-me’ author that originally hails from my second favorite state, Texas. Author Sam Berretti joins us to talk about the protagonist in his debut fiction release, DOUBLE MAYHEM, the first of a planned Seekers Mystery Series.

Before we learn how the protagonist came to be, let’s find out who she is in this brief synopsis of DOUBLE MAYHEM:

    They say for every person in the world there is a twin. For Doris Watson, that simple wisdom becomes a nightmare reality that threatens her and the ones she’s come to love. An ex-military engineer who leads a quiet life as an appliance designer, she is recruited to perform one uncomplicated task: take a handoff of secret plans from a Chinese agent who believes she is someone else.
    She accepts the assignment and the only person she can blame is herself. When the federal agent came calling she opened the door and invited him in. She said yes. Her lonely existence is shattered as headstrong men cross her path. Dangerous men with dangerous needs.  

  Suddenly embroiled in mob killings, espionage, and police investigations, she has become a billion-dollar target of sadistic crooks, the FBI, the NSA, and her psychotic look-alike. It is up to her to protect herself and the mysterious psychic child who has been thrust into her life.
    No one is who they appear to be. No one is telling the truth, because the truth can make you dead. Forced to use all her training and wits, she must find a way to survive. Forced to uncover the secrets of her childhood, she must face a new reality. Some days you just shouldn’t answer the door. 

Sam joins us now to talk about how Doris came to be:

I wanted a lead character that would be unique to the mystery thriller genre. A great majority of them are alpha males, so I decided to cast this one as a woman. 

That also allowed me to delve more into the romantic side of the story and add another dimension as well as making it appealing to people who love reading romance novels.
Mystery thriller romance definitely appealed to me. Having decided that, I knew the kind of person I wanted her to be. 

Doris Watson is a real person. Even her name suggests someone who is wrapped in22 the shroud of normality. And that is how we are introduced to her. She is a single woman with a cat and a nine-to-five job. But for her to fulfill her destiny inside this explosive story, I had to provide her with a believable resume. 

She is ex-military, but not the kind usually cast in spy dramas. Her military training like thousands of other women was standard. She was not part of any elite group, but she can shoot a gun, throw a punch and hold herself together in an emergency. Doris’s stint in the marines helped pay for her college degree, and she now designs high end microwave ovens. 

Doris is a modern woman, intelligent, creative and ingenious by nature. Loving and compassionate, she is also a skeptical suburbanite with a wry sense of humor. As it turns out, these traits become survival skills. 

I enjoy creating layers to my plots and characters that make the reading more enjoyable. Doris comes packaged with hidden histories and back stories that are revealed throughout the book. Life for Doris, like any real person, is full of closets, dusty memories, skeletons and trauma. 

And like any normal person I wanted her to have flaws and demons, things that would affect her and send her life sideways at times. For example, Doris is a woman with a bit of an anger management problem. But then again, that can be a plus during times of danger and confrontation. Doris is not a trained assassin or a super spy. She is someone more dangerous and unpredictable, a smart woman pushed into a corner. 

Sam, thanks for joining us and sharing how Doris came to be. I, like most readers, do enjoy protagonist that are realistic and have traits similar to people you know.

Now a bit of background on Sam. As I mentioned earlier, he originally hails from Texas. He was born and raised in the High Plains city of Lubbock, Texas. After finishing college at Texas Tech University, he moved to Florida to attend graduate school at the University of Florida and holds two Masters Degrees. 

Sam is an avid naturalist, photographer and artist, as well as a writer. Although writing started at an early age and took many forms, his first published book is DOUBLE MAYHEM. Married with two grown children, Sam presently lives in Florida.

Sam is busy working on new stories. Additional books are being planned and written not only in the Seekers Mystery Series, but a new Kavanaugh’s Law Mystery Series about an assistant state’s attorney in Florida. 

For more on Sam and his writing, check out his website and find him on Facebook and Twitter

DOUBLE MAYHEM is available in print and as an e-book from: Amazon, Barns&Noble, and Smashwords 

Available in e-book from:
iTunes and Diesel

Thanks for dropping by today. Do you believe everyone has a twin? Have you ever meet your look-alike?