Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year … Going Back in Time

happy_new_yearAs 2014 comes to a close today, I just want to wish each and every one of you a safe, joyous and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I have enjoyed spending this past year with you. Despite its ups and downs, tears and sorrows, there were many happy times too. Knowing all of you has made my life fuller and more entertaining. While I haven’t been a good blog buddy lately, I hope y’all know how very special you are to me. I am most grateful for your friendship and your support of Thoughts in Progress

As we close out the year, I thought it was a good time to talk about going back to beginnings. With that in mind I have three audio books I want to tell you about.
If you visit here from time to time, then you know I’m a huge fan of the In Death (Eve Dallas) series by author J.D. Robb. I especially enjoy the audio format with Susan Ericksen as narrator. However, I began listening to the series somewhere around two-thirds of the way in. Since each book can stand on its own, I wasn’t really lost starting so far into the series. But I have often wondered about the case that brought Lt. Eve Dallas and Roarke together.

Well, thanks to the delightful Kailyn and the great folks at Brilliance Audio, I had the opportunity to listen to the very first three installments of the series. It’s fun listening to the beginning of a series even if you’ve just recently listened to the 39th book in the set.

Here are my thoughts on the first three books in order.

Naked in Death cover - Thoughts in ProgressWhen the granddaughter of a politician is found murdered, Lt. Eve Dallas is determined to find her killer. The high ranking senator doesn’t want his granddaughter’s murder linked to a second and third murder even though all three of the young ladies were licensed paid companions.

As Eve sorts through the list of suspects, she continues to encounter the wealthy Irish businessman, Roarke. Eve finds herself drawn to the Irishman as she closes in on a killer and a tangled web of betrayal and greed.

Narrator Susan Ericksen does a wonderful job giving individual voices to the characters. Her mannerisms and accents will have you believing there’s more than one narrator. Her vocalizations enhances the story. 

Author J.D. Robb creates electrifying characters in Eve and Roarke. The secondary characters add depth to the story. Readers/listeners learn how Eve and Roarke met, as well as Eve’s first encounter with Charles Monroe.

The futuristic setting in NAKED IN DEATH will draw you in as Robb crafts the first installment in an intriguing series.

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb, In Death Book #1, Narrated by Susan Ericksen, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1469265421, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Run Time: 9 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Glory in Death cover - Thoughts in ProgressThe murder of two highly successful women has Lt. Eve Dallas ready to set a trap with herself as bait.

Susan Ericksen does a superb job as narrator giving distinct voices to all the characters. Her vocals of the emotions throughout the story adds depth.

Investigating the lives of the successful and glamorous women, Eve once again has to include Roarke in the list of suspects. While she has no doubt of his innocence, she must follow the rules. When the killer goes after the wrong bait, Eve has to use every resource she can to catch the killer and save a friend.

In this second installment in the series, author J.D. Robb expands Eve’s development with a friendship between her and Nadine First, a television reporter. In addition, Officer Delia Peabody is briefly introduced and Eve’s relationship with Roarke advances.

The setting, the characters and the conversational dialogue in GLORY IN DEATH makes for an intriguing story.

Glory in Death by J.D. Robb, In Death Book #2, Narrated by Susan Ericksen, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1455897810, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Run Time: 9 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Immortal in Death cover - Thoughts in ProgressAs Eve prepares to marry Roarke, her best friend Mavis Freestone introduces her to an up and coming fashion designer, Leonardo, to make her wedding gown. During the first meeting, Leonardo’s ex-girlfriend storms in attacking Eve and then Mavis before threatening to destroy Leonardo’s career. A short time later the ex is found murdered and Mavis is the prime suspect with no memory of what happened.

Susan Ericksen does an excellent job narrating as she brings the characters to life. Her vocals and mannerisms enhances the story bringing out the highs and lows of the characters’ emotions.

Eve is determined to clear her friend’s name even if she has to tread through the glitz and glamour world of high fashion.

Readers/listeners learn more about Officer Delia Peabody as she returns to assist Eve with the case and becomes her aide. In addition, the character of Trina plays a role in understanding the glitz and glamour, as well as Eve’s wedding.

Author J.D. Robb’s continues to evolve the characters and pull you in with amazing twists and turns in IMMORTAL IN DEATH.

Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb, In Death Book #3, Narrated by Susan Ericksen, Brilliance Audio, @2012, ISBN: 978-1455897889, Unabridged, 8 Discs, Run Time: 10 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

It was fun learning how the characters I enjoy came to be together. The author continues to evolve and develop these characters, while still retaining the spark and drive that made them so special to begin with. I eagerly look forward to not only new installments in the series, but also learning more about the stories I’ve missed. It is fun to start over again.

Thanks so much for spending some time here today. Saying goodbye to 2014, I hope to see y’all in 2015. Have you ever gone back and read the first installments in a series that you’d missed?

To those who are under the weather or have family (two-legged and/or four-legged) that are sick, my greatest wish is that good health is restored. Wishing each of you a joyous, safe, healthy, prosperous and HAPPY NEW YEAR my friends!!!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Visit With The Monster Squad and Christian Page

Monster Squad The Iron Golem cover - Thoughts in Progress You don’t have to have children to enjoy reading YA books so I’m delighted to welcome author Christian Page here today to talk about the first installment in his new kid’s book series.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Monsters. Mad Scientists. Danger.

        Dark forces are converging on the sleepy town of Autumn’s Hallow. Monsters in the woods, mad scientists on the loose and sinister minions lurk. Four young friends must band together to uncover a secret plot that threatens them, the town they live in and the people they love. It’s up to Blaine Davis, Daschle Gaunt, Shelley Merry and Drake Harker, heirs to fantastic powers to stop an evil that threatens to consume the world. Can the Monster Squad thwart the evil Victor von Frankenstein in time? Find out in Book 1 of an exciting new series!

I’ll let Christian explain further and he has a treat to share with you as well. Welcome, Chris.

Hi, my name is Christian Page and I am the author of a new kid’s book series called The Monster Squad. Book One is the Monster Squad: The Iron Golem and is now available on, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other popular sites and book stores from my publisher New Generation Publishing. I’m guest posting today to provide an overview on the book and an exclusive excerpt from the story! I hope you’ll enjoy it.

The Monster Squad follows a group of small-town friends who discover they are heirs to frightening and mysterious powers. There’s quiet and shy Blaine Davis who is the invisible woman reborn; the jock, Daschle Gaunt, who has the strength and speed of the wolf man; the mystery man, Drake Harker, who has the mind control powers of the vampire; and the brain, Shelley Merry, who is the heir to a terrible and fierce monster. 

The kids must learn to master their powers while grappling with a group of nasties led by the nefarious Victor von Frankenstein who threaten their town, families and themselves in a race against time. The book combines the action and adventure of a popcorn sci-fi movie, introduces readers to the rich cannon of sci-fi, gothic and horror movie characters with a new and fresh modern spin, and breaks up the action with a ton of fun pop culture references and one liners to make sure readers of all ages get a breather and not take the action too seriously.

We have a trailer posted on You Tube that gives a quick 60 second run thru of the high points of the story. You can check it out here.

You can also read a “look inside” preview on Amazon by clicking here.

Now for Thoughts in Progress readers, an exclusive excerpt from the story…

Kevin raced with Shelley thru the crowds. They ran from the field, to the front entrance, and into the grassy area surrounding the stadium. Long shadows from the football field lights crisscrossed the grassy knoll, extending to the nearby wall of trees. Few people were outside and most were up to no good or couples sneaking away for some privacy. Kevin tripped over two surprised seniors attempting a half-time smooch.

“High Schoolers…” he murmured, as he ran past the surprised girl and her irate boyfriend.


They skid to a stop at a long, low howl from the woods. Inside, they could see bobbing cell phones acting as impromptu flashlights. There were dozens of them running this way and that.

“Which way?” Shelley asked, breathing hard.

A Grimm student came flinging thru the underbrush landing hard on the grass. He fell in a broken heap, skipping across the lawn, landing in the bright glare of the stadium. 

Kevin looked closer. It wasn’t Heinz, Frederick, or Carlos but the kid looked like he could have been a relative; snow white hair, fair skin, and the same perfectly pressed clothes. Except this one looked broken. His head and legs were pitched at odd angles and he lay still on the ground. A swarm of tiny, odd-looking insects rose up around him glinting metallic in the light. 

Shelley gasped as the swarm congealed on the Grimm student and his body contorted. The strange bugs melted onto the boy, reshaping his broken limbs and injuries, while emitting a soft greenish light. The Grimm picked himself up from the ground and looked at Shelley and Kevin with a sneer as a gash on his forehead closed. A final metallic bug flew into his mouth and he bit down, licking his lips. He ran back into the underbrush toward where he had been thrown.

“That way!” Kevin said, pointing at where the mutant Grimm had run off to.

“After you…” Shelley said with a gulp.

“Thanks…” Kevin whispered, running into the woods after the boy, Shelley close on his heels.

Darkness closed on them fast as they entered the woods. The trees were tall and the underbrush was thick. Bright stadium light stabbed thru the branches and trunks but most of the woods were pitch black. Kevin pushed forward, following the trail the Grimm student had paved. He caught sight of him thru a gap in the trees jumping ten feet in the air over a thick bramble patch.

“Holy cow!” Kevin said. “That kid moves like Spiderman!”

“What are they? That Grimm kid is like some kind of monster,” Shelley said.
Kevin grabbed his cell phone and punched in some information. “Cyborgs,” he replied grimly, as he handed over his phone.

Shelley took it and looked at the screen. Kevin had launched his phone’s Gothic app and pulled up an entry from the Gothic Monsterpedia. A 3D picture of a scary half-man, half-machine revolved in the foreground with a table of attributes and brief description to its side.

“Machine augmented humans, usually controlled by a remote source. Very high strength and constitution. Low charisma. Proceed with caution. Best dealt with range weapons, ideally a high grade plasma cannon.”

“I forgot my photon torpedoes at home,” Shelley quipped, giving back his phone. “Any suggestions?”

“Do you know any friendly, time travelling Terminators?” 

From out of the gloom two Grimm students stalked forward. They were perfect reflections of each other. They walked through a bright shaft of stadium light, revealing their harsh jeers and robotic blue eyes.

“You will come with us, heir,” the first said to Shelley. The second moved forward to grab her by the shoulder.

Kevin pushed him. “Hey! Leave my friend alone!”

The second boy regarded Kevin with disdain. The Grimm grabbed him by the collar and hoisted him in the air.

“You are the one who evaded the Heinz unit,” he said, leering at Kevin who dangled from the ground, struggling against the boy’s grip. “You are no heir.” He flung Kevin to the side who landed in a nearby bush.

“Kevin!” Shelley shouted, shirking away from the Grimm students.

“You will come with us now, heir,” the first Grimm boy said, approaching Kevin and picking him up by the hair. “Or we will break your companion’s neck.”

Shelley raced forward and tried to tackle the Grimm kid holding Kevin. The second pushed her away. She fell in a heap on the ground near a large tree trunk. She looked up woozily.

“Get her,” the first said to his companion.

The second stepped forward. 


The trees shook.


The Grimm student scanned the nearby trees. The earth and lower limbs shook. 

“What is that?” the second Grimm asked.

From out of the bushes, a giant metal fist smashed into the Grimm student nearest Shelley and slammed him into in a tree, hitting it at fantastic speed. The student evaporated in a swirling puff of angry, buzzing, metal insects. The insects fell to the ground, dying with a soft green light.

The first Grimm dropped Kevin who looked up to see a giant metal man walk from under the shadows of a nearby fir tree. The Grimm student crouched into a fighting position as the giant robot raised to its full height, towering over him, its harsh emerald eyes glaring down. The Grimm cyborg sneered and launched himself at the robot.

The giant iron creature grabbed the student in midair with one hand and whipped him around, smashing him into a nearby tree. Like his companion, the Grimm exploded into a million tiny pieces. A cloud of glowing lime-hued metal buzzed angrily and then fell helplessly to the ground, turning to a dull grey dust.

Kevin scrambled to Shelley, staring at the giant robot in fright. The creature was huge, easily ten feet tall. Its body was smooth and metallic with large iron fists and feet which carved deep impressions in the soft forest earth. It had no features on its body or face except for two bright green slits that served as eyes. 

The creature turned its head and regarded Shelley and Kevin. The harsh green of its eyes softened and the slits angled down to a neutral expression. It turned its body and stood still before them.

“Holy cow!” Kevin muttered.

Shelley got up on her elbows and looked at the glistening steel robot. “What does your phone say about this one, Kevin?” she breathed.

Kevin shakily took his phone from his pocket. He gulped. “Robot,” he whispered, “infinite strength, unknown weaknesses, intentions unclear.”


Liked what you read? Then go to, Barnes & Noble, Good Reads or Kobo to find out more!

Thanks so much for taking a look at my story! I hope you take a few minutes more to explore it on one of the sites with reviewer and purchase information. I check these regularly and hope to see your feedback soon!

Thanks – Chris

Chris, thank you for visiting with us today and sharing this excerpt. You definitely make reading fun. I like the pop culture references.

Now here’s a bit of background on Chris.

Christian Page loves stories that combine fun, action and adventure. A father of two, he lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States with his wife, son, daughter, overly plump cat and under-behaved dog. 

You can visit the author to learn more about his stories and upcoming work at or follow him on Facebook (Chris Page) or Twitter

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. We’re getting close to the end of the year. Are you ready for 2015? Do you enjoy reading YA books? If so, what do you enjoy most about them?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Prodigious Savant and Steal This Book (or at least the plot)

Prodigious Savant coverHope everyone had a wonderful holiday break. Thanks so much for dropping by today as I have a ‘new-to-me’ author I’d like to introduce to you.

Author J.J. White has a most intriguing novel, PRODIGIOUS SAVANT. I’ll give you a brief description of the book and then J.J. has an interesting topic to share with us.

According to Dr. Darold A. Treffert of the University of Wisconsin, there are fewer than one hundred reported cases of prodigious savants in the world. Those few who possess the savant syndrome all have an island of brilliance that allows them to excel in some remarkable talent. Unfortunately, they all share various developmental disabilities.
        Burlington, Vermont, 1962. Seventeen-year-old Gavin Weaver survives a dreadful explosion, six hours of brain surgery, and thirty days in a coma, to awake possessing not just one savant talent, but several, including art, music, mathematics, and memory, and all without suffering any of the usual mental disabilities associated with head trauma.
        The odds are slim Gavin will survive both the internal and external conflicts that keep him from the one thing he wants most, the girl he’s loved since childhood.

Now join me in giving J.J. a warm welcome to Thoughts in Progress. Welcome, J.J.

Steal This Book…..(or at least the plot)

In 1970, Abby Hoffman, the radical champion of the counterculture zeitgeist, couldn’t get his book published until he changed the title of it to, Steal This Book. The clever ploy paid off, with over a quarter million books sold and God knows how many stolen. 

With the tsunami of traditionally published and self-published books flooding the market, it might be wise to steal Mr. Hoffman's title to get your book to stand out from the crowd. This is perfectly legal, since titles aren’t copyrighted, but it would be unethical all the same. Still, I imagine the sales of your book would improve if you changed the title to say, The Godfather or Gone With The Wind.

But if you don't want to steal a title, then the next best thing is to steal a plot. Still perfectly legal, as long as you don't plagiarize entire sections of the book. I recently had a friend accuse me of stealing the plot of Stephen King's book, The Dead Zone, and incorporating it into my psychological thriller, Prodigious Savant. I had never read The Dead Zone so I was surprised and disappointed when the description was nearly identical to mine, with a boy waking from a coma in possession of extraordinary powers. It's like they say, every book has already been written. 

There are many examples of authors stealing plots from other authors. The first time I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I thought to myself, where have I read this before? Then it occurred to me the plot was identical to Orson Scott Card's, Ender’s Game, except the milieu was in a medieval school instead of a spaceship. Rowling denies it, of course. Some other examples: Barbara Cartland’s, The Knave of Hearts, is nearly identical to Georgette Heyer’s, These Old Shades, and Dan Brown was accused of copying the plot of Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh’s, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, for his novel, The Da Vinci Code. Many novelists will admit to plot stealing and heartily endorse others to do the same. After all, West Side Story is nothing but Romeo and Juliet with music.
I'm working on a novel now where my protagonist endeavors to save a German girl in Berlin that he left to the mercy of the Soviets at the end of World War II. It's basically a rehash of the plot of Don Quixote.

So go ahead and steal other authors’ plots, steal the pace of their writing, steal their characters, and by all means, steal their settings. Do that and write any way you want, about anything you want, as long as you do it beautifully. And if you want to steal my book, you’ll have to do it electronically, since it's only available online. But if you do steal it, at least write a review.

JJ, thanks for joining us today and sharing this look at stealing involving stories. I can find bits and pieces of others books in various stories I read. It is interesting how some stories are reworked.

Now for a bit of background on J.J.

J.J. White has penned five novels and over two hundred short stories. He has had articles and stories published in several anthologies and magazines including, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review and The Grey Sparrow Journal. His story, The Nine Hole League, will soon be published in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Volume 14. He has won awards and honors from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Writers-Editors International, Maryland Writers Association, The Royal Palm Literary Awards, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Writer’s Digest. 

J.J. was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his short piece in The Grey Sparrow Journal. He enjoys writing, surfing, golf and tennis. He lives in Merritt Island, Florida with his understanding wife, editor, and typist, Pamela.

For more on J.J. and his writing, visit his website and blog and connect with him on Facebook, Prodigious Savant on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Thanks again for stopping by today. How is the weather in your area? Have you read a book that had a familiar plot to it?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Author Jane Green’s Saving Grace {+ Giveaway}

Saving Grace by Jane Green - Thoughts in ProgressWith the Christmas holidays underway I hope you and your families are having a wonderful time. Christmas is also a great time to get new books so I want to tell you about a book that releases this month I think you’ll like.

Author Jane Green’s 16th novel, SAVING GRACE, will be released by St. Martin’s on Dec. 30th. To celebrate this release (thanks to the lovely Meg at Tandem Literary), I have a copy of this intriguing book to giveaway. In addition, the author has a special pre-order promotion. But first, here’s a brief description of the book.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (December 30, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1250047335

        Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon.
        When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue. 
        To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity. With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.

Powerful and riveting, Jane's SAVING GRACE will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow Grace on her harrowing journey to rock bottom and back.      

Happy Food by Jane Green - Thoughts in ProgressIn the meantime, Jane is running a great pre-order promotion for SAVING GRACE, giving away a free copy of her brand new, full-color, e-cookbook, HAPPY FOOD to anyone who orders the new novel by Monday, Dec. 29. To find out more about this fascinating offer, click HERE.


Jane Green is the author of fifteen New York Times bestselling novels. Her sixteenth novel, Saving Grace, will be published in the US by St. Martin's Press on December 30, 2014. Originally from London, she now lives in Westport, CT, with her husband, children, and a menagerie of animals.

For more on Jane and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


This giveaway is for one print copy of SAVING GRACE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Saturday, Jan. 3. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress – Saving Grace’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope your week has been filled with fun, family, friends, food and especially happiness. I also hope I’ve tempted you to check out SAVING GRACE a bit more and add it to your reading list. Have you read any of author Jane Green’s prior books? Did you get all the books you were hoping for this Christmas?

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Note from Cleo {+ Awesome Giveaway}

Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle(*Note: The winner of this awesome giveaway is Laura Pond. Congratulations to Laura and thanks to everyone who commented.)

It is with great delight that I welcome award-winning author Cleo Coyle here today to talk about her latest Coffeehouse Mystery, ONCE UPON A GRIND, the 14th installment in her fascinating series.

To celebrate the release, Cleo is offering an awesome giveaway – an autographed copy of ONCE UPON A GRIND and a durable canvas Coffeehouse Mystery Tote Bag! Please see the end of the post for more details.

First here’s a brief description of this amazing story:

When coffeehouse manager turned amateur sleuth Clare Cosi roasts “magic” beans for a Fairy Tale Fall event, she brews up a vision that leads to a sleeping beauty in Central Park; a big, bad wolf of Wall Street; and an East Side enclave with storybook secrets…
        Fairy tale fever has descended on New York City. Broadway fans are flocking to Red Riding Hood: The Musical; museums are exhibiting art inspired by the Brothers Grimm; and Clare Cosi and her merry band of baristas give their coffee truck a “Jack and the Beanstalk” makeover for a Central Park festival. Clare’s coffee hunter ex-husband contributes a bag of African beans with alleged magical properties. His octogenarian mother entertains customers with readings of the grinds, but Clare remains skeptical—until she receives a vision that helps her find a young model’s body in the park’s woods.
        The police dismiss “sleeping beauty” as the victim of a drug overdose. Then Clare uncovers evidence that points to a list of suspects—from a New York Giant to quite a few wicked witches—and a cold case murder that reaches back to the Cold War. Now Clare is really in the woods with a dangerous predator on her heels and an investigation that leads from a secret Prince Charming Club right back to her own NYPD detective boyfriend. If she doesn’t solve this mystery, those magic beans predict an unhappy ending.
Now join me in giving a warm welcome to Cleo and she shares a note with us. Welcome, Cleo.

For over a decade, our wonderful readers have been meeting us at the Village Blend, where coffee and crime are always brewing. This latest entry in our Coffeehouse series is more than a murder mystery. It’s also a novel about the magic and power of story. That’s why we chose the most basic and beloved stories of our culture—fairy tales—to serve as our motif. 

Like any good fairy tale, Once Upon a Grind takes you through secret doors; plays with your sense of reality; introduces you to an array of colorful characters; and while the ending may be happy, not everyone survives.

Intertwined with the murder mystery is a very personal story for our amateur sleuth. Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi doesn’t want to admit it, but her life has become a grind. “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.” This is the epigraph that opens Once Upon a Grind, and it applies directly to Clare.
Coffeehouse-Mystery-Checklist-PDF-CoverShe wants to leave her story and start another, but she’s afraid of disappointing the people she loves. Is Clare able to change her story by the end of the book? No spoiler here. But if you’re a fan of our series, you won’t want to miss this entry.

On the other hand, if you’ve never read our Coffeehouse Mysteries before, no worries. Once Upon a Grind can be read as a stand-alone novel. And if you enjoy it, you’ll have 13 more books you can read, as well. 

To download a free checklist of all 14 Coffeehouse Mystery titles, click here. 

To read the Prologue and First Chapter of ONCE UPON A GRIND, click here. 

To sample some of the book’s wicked good RECIPES, click here.


Thank you to Mason Canyon and her excellent Thoughts in Progress blog for hosting us today. 

May your holidays be bright and your New Year be caffeinated!
~ Alice and Marc, who write as Cleo Coyle

Leave a comment and you will be entered to win an autographed copy of ONCE UPON A GRIND and this durable canvas Coffeehouse Mystery Tote Bag!

Cleo, thanks so much for visiting with us today and sharing this look at Clare and her current adventure. The setting and subject matter of this story quickly pulls you in.

For those not familiar with Cleo (aka Alice and Marc), here’s a bit of background.

Cleo Coyle is the pen name for Alice Alfonsi, who writes with her husband, Marc Cerasini. This popular married writing team was born and raised in Pittsburgh, met in New York City, and married in Las Vegas. 

Together they've authored a number of bestselling books. As Cleo Coyle, they write The Coffeehouse Mysteries. As Alice Kimberly, they write The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.

For more on this writing duo, visit their website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Now for my thoughts on the book:

Fairy tales are a popular commodity right now and author Cleo Coyle knows how to blend the magical stories with murder, suspense, and coffee for a tantalizing outcome.

A weekend storybook festival in New York’s Central Park is the perfect setting for this cozy murder mystery. With visions of Prince Charming, various princesses, Jack and the Beanstalk (with magic coffee beans), and many other fairy tale characters, readers are quickly pulled into a fascinating world of greed, deception, and murder.

As the story speeds along, the twists and turns will keep you wondering who the real villain is. The characters are captivating, likable and realistic. The mix of fairy tales with magical coffee beans makes for a mesmerizing story.

You don’t have to be a coffee fan to enjoy this suspenseful mystery, but the tasty recipes included might tempt you to try a cup of Snow White Chocolate Mocha or ‘The Great Pumpkin’ Spice Latte. You can also try your hand at coffee tasseography (the art of reading coffee grinds).

The well-developed characters, the mystical setting and the suspense will have you quickly turning the pages of ONCE UPON A GRIND. A spellbinding mystery you won’t be able to put down.

Once Upon A Grind by Cleo Coyle, Coffeehouse Mystery Series Book #14, Berkley, @2014, ISBN: 978-0425270851, Hardcover, 416 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the author. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


This giveaway is for one autographed copy of ONCE UPON A GRIND and a Coffeehouse Mystery Tote Bag. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

Just leave a comment (be sure to include your email address, if it’s not in your profile) and you will be entered to win. If you wish not to enter the giveaway but want to comment, just say not entering in your comment.

Thanks for stopping by today. Christmas is almost here and ONCE UPON A GRIND would make a wonderful gift for the mystery lover on your list. I’ve said it before and have to say it again, without Cleo’s encouragement in 2009 this blog won’t exist. Thanks Cleo for that and for the continued installments in one of my most favorite series.

*SIDE NOTE: I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I may not be back online until Friday. I hope everyone has a wonderful time with their family and friends. Be safe and take care, my friends.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Blue Labyrinth by Preston & Child

Blue Labyrinth by Preston & Child - Thoughts in ProgressAuthors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child pull you in with two intriguing storylines featuring odd murders and propel you to a breathtaking finish as the two expeditions collide in their latest release, BLUE LABYRINTH.

Narrator Rene Auberjonois does an excellent job giving distinct voices to the varied and eccentric characters. His vocals enhances the rich dialogue as his mannerisms add depth to the emotional roller coaster the characters play out. His portrayal of Pendergast is spine-tingling. 

Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds one of his most merciless enemies dead on his doorstep. The mystery grows as a piece of raw turquoise stone is found lodged in the dead man’s stomach.
The stone leads Pendergast to a small abandoned mine and to a mysterious illness that has ties to his own ancestors’ ominous past. This new killer is bend on revenge that has roots in a long-buried Pendergast family secret. As Pendergast races to find the killer, the killer become more determined to destroy all that Pendergast holds dear.

The twists and turns in this story will keep you on the edge of your seat as the highs and lows leave you breathless. The suspense is maddening and the murders diabolical. 

The characters are well-developed, most are likable while the rest are despicably villainous. The secondary characters play are larger role in this story and thrive. The setting changes, but the authors’ detailed descriptions places the reader/listener in the middle of the adventure.

While BLUE LABYRINTH is the 14th installment in the Special Agent Pendergast series, it can be read/listened to on its own. There are references to prior excursions in Pendergast’s life, but not to the point that new readers/listeners are lost.

This is an adrenaline drive, fast-pace thriller that will be hard to put down once you begin.

Blue Labyrinth by Preston & Child, Special Agent Pendergast Series Book #14, Narrated by Rene Auberjonois, Hachette Audio, @2014, ISBN: 978-1478982845, Unabridged, 12 Discs, Run Time: 14 Hours and 10 Minutes 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday and have all your Christmas shopping finished. Do you enjoy thrillers that have you holding your breath waiting for the next move?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sugar-Free Mom On Tour

Sugar Free MomI’m delighted to be participating in author Brenda Bennett and Cedar Fort Publishing’s virtual blog tour for Brenda’s latest release, SUGAR-FREE MOM: NATURALLY SWEET AND SUGAR-FREE RECIPES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.

With the holidays comes parties and family gatherings with loads of food and lots of sweet treats. It’s always difficult to find ways to prepare healthy food that your family will enjoy.

Author and food blogger Brenda Bennett has created helpful tips and delicious recipes in SUGAR-FREE MOM: NATURALLY SWEET AND SUGAR-FREE RECIPES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY that will help when trying to lead a healthier lifestyle.

I found this book very informative and straight forward in that the author stresses this isn’t a diet book of low-calorie or even low-fat recipes. The mission of the cookbook, she explains, is cooking and baking without processed sugars. She incorporates natural sweeteners such as honey and coconut sugar in her recipes. She goes on to explain how her obsession/addiction to sugar created a roller coaster ride for her life for many years before she changed the way she approached cooking.

There are sections on what items the author has in her pantry, her kitchen essentials, sugar-free alternatives and avoiding refined flour products. All the recipes in SUGAR-FREE MOM include a nutritional information section that is calculated per serving. In addition, beautiful color photographs accompany the recipes depicting the delicious results.

The book is divided into the following categories: breakfast; light bites, salads, sides and more; main dishes; condiments; beverages; and sweet treats. Some of the yummy recipes include: Baked French Toast Sticks, Mock Tater Tots, Turkey Taco Stuffed Peppers, Quick Ketchup, Mocha Protein Coffee Frappe, and Chocolate Macaroons. 

This cookbook will give you delicious recipes to prepare for your family and friends, while also helping you make healthier choices for your lifestyle. Removing process sugar from one’s diet can’t be done overnight, but SUGAR-FREE MOM provides techniques and tips for making the transition easier with tasty results.

Sugar-Free Mom: Naturally Sweet and Sugar-Free Recipes for the Whole Family by Brenda Bennett, Front Table Books, @2014, ISBN: 978-1462114498, Paperback, 224 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


Brenda Bennett’s passion for cooking began at the age of 5 kneeling on a chair by her grandmother’s side helping roll homemade gnocchi’s on a flour covered butcher block table. Her love affair with cooking was a mere hobby while teaching as a special educator and earning a Master’s Degree in Education. After the birth of her second child, she had to give up sugar.  

With sear determination and a deep desire to still enjoy chocolate, her love affair with food embarked on a new journey learning to develop recipes free of refined sugars and flours. After discovering peanut, tree nut and soy allergies in 2 of her 3 children making homemade healthier versions of the treats they loved became a necessity. She transitioned to the position of homeschooling mom of 3, recipe developer, food writer, photographer and blogger. She focuses on wholesome delicious food free of processed flours and sugars to feed her family and share with friends and fans on

Brenda lives in RI with her husband, 3 children and their dog, Ruby. When she isn’t cooking, blogging or writing she can be found at spin class, camping, volunteering in cub scouts, or in the position of transportation engineer shuttling her children to karate, dance, boy scouts, soccer or softball.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a great Friday. If you’re looking to cut down on sugar in your recipes, be sure to check out SUGAR-FREE MOM. It’s a very informative cookbook. Do you use natural sugar in your cooking?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Sugar Free Mom blog tour banner - Thoughts in Progress

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Olivia Dunst Shares Her Opinion {+ Giveaway}

9780425268254 Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene - Thoughts in ProgressOne of the protagonist from SPELL BOOKED (by authors Joyce and Jim Lavene) visits today with a little insight into her current circumstance.

SPELL BOOKED is the first installment in the Retired Witches Mystery series by the Lavenes. Olivia Dunst is one of three witches featured in this brand new supernatural series. To celebrate the release of this new book, thanks to the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

First, here’s a brief synopsis ….

Once upon a time in Wilmington, North Carolina, three witches ran a curio shop named Smuggler’s Arcane. But as the years passed, their magical powers started to fade—leaving them no choice but to conjure up a retirement package…
        Before they could blink their eyes or twitch their noses, Molly, Elsie, and Olivia somehow became eligible for AARP. But they can’t fly off to Boca Raton just yet. First they must give up their magic, recruit and train three new witches, and pass on their cherished spellbook.
        They’ve barely begun to consider potential practitioners when Olivia winds up dead and their spellbook is stolen. To honor their friend and reclaim their spells, Molly and Elsie are about to go wand-to-wand with a dangerous young witch more powerful than the trio was in their prime. And this time they’re going to need more than magic up their sleeves…
Now please join me in welcoming Olivia as she shares her opinion with us. Welcome, Olivia.

I know the world can’t always be the way you want it to be, but come on! It doesn’t seem fair that I should be the one to die early out of the three of us. I wouldn’t wish anything on my friends, Molly or Elsie—although Elsie IS the oldest! I really wouldn’t want them to die alone in a dark alley as I did.

But I had just discovered my daughter. After all these years, there she was at the New Hanover Public Library. She’s a strong witch too, though she doesn’t know a thing about it. It’s not going to be easy training her, not like the way the three of us were trained by our mothers and grandmothers. But I had to make that decision for her sake. Her father would have taken her away in a heartbeat and I would never have seen her again. Not to mention that he probably would have taught her to be evil.

Yes, he was an evil, possibly immortal witch, but he was so handsome and had such an air about him. We had a wonderful time together. I came down from my pink love haze quickly when I found out I was pregnant. It was one thing for me to have a short dalliance with him and another to give him our daughter. Naturally some sacrifices had to be made. I must say that I think I choose to give up the worst part of her life, completely missing the poopy diapers and awkward teenage years.

Now she’s a beautiful young witch—and I’m dead. How is that fair? I was supposed to be there to teach her and watch her grow wise, and possibly more fashionable, each day. We should have been able to travel the world together. Now I’m a moldy old ghost who can’t even change my dress. 

Oh there are some advantages. I could eat whatever I want and never gain weight. I wouldn’t have to worry about having Elsie’s matronly figure. But I can’t eat at all! I have a chip on my nail polish that I’m going to have to live with for the next hundred years. That’s the lifespan for a ghost.

Maybe it’s not all bad. I can’t do magic anymore but I’ve known a few ghosts who had some amazing powers. There was this wonderful ghost of a handsome Revolutionary War captain on Fifth Street at the bed and breakfast. He had some smooth moves! I hated when they tore that place down.

I have to reinvent myself. I have to learn how to be a ghost. Not a puny, pathetic ghost like those young girls looking for a ride home in every town. I want to be a strong ghost. A dashing, sexy ghost. It’s time that I took charge of my afterlife.

As soon as I figure out how to get through this door!

“Elsie? Molly?”

Olivia, thanks for sharing your dilemma with us. It’s a shame you had to die, but I’m sure you’ll make everything work just the same. Smile


Joyce and Jim Lavene have written more than forty novels together. They also write short stories, non-fiction articles and teach writing workshops. They also use the pseudonym J.J. Cook. Their hobbies include gardening — they are certified Master Gardeners — and photography.

For more on the Lavenes and their writing, visit their website.

Now for my thoughts on SPELL BOOKED ….

This is an enchanting story with protagonists of a certain age many readers can relate to. The secondary characters add depth to the story. Overall the characters are likable and well-developed.

The story flows at a steady pace holding your attention as twists keep you guessing. The setting draws you in as the magical becomes believable.

Authors Joyce and Jim Lavene have crafted a fascinating new series that will have readers wishing for more. The story is magical and the characters are mesmerizing.

Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene, Retired Witches Mystery series Book #1, Berkley Prime Crime, @2014, ISBN: 978-0425268254, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


This giveaway is for one print copy of SPELL BOOKED. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 28. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Spell Booked Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by today. What do you think of Olivia’s situation? Do you think a ghost can be of help to the witches?

*This post contains affiliate links.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway