Friday, July 25, 2014

Off the Shelf: Fatal Fortune {+ Giveaway}


Fatal FortuneIt’s always fun to take a book off the shelf and share it with you. Today’s book, FATAL FORTUNE by Victoria Laurie, is the 12th installment in her Psychic Eye Mystery series, and a delightful cozy murder mystery.

In celebration of this release (thanks to Victoria and the lovely Kayleigh at Penguin Group), I have a print copy of FATAL FORTUNE to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Here’s a brief description of FATAL FORTUNE:


In New York Times bestselling author Victoria Laurie’s newest Psychic Eye Mystery, Abby Cooper is trusting her intuition and heading to Sin City to bet on a friend’s innocence....
        When police show Abby surveillance video of her best friend and business partner, Candice Fusco, shooting a man in cold blood, she can’t believe her eyes. And when the cops tell her they think the victim has ties to the Mob —and perhaps Candice does too — she can’t believe her ears. Surely there is a logical explanation. But Candice is nowhere to be found.
        Abby decides the only way to find out the truth is to go to Vegas herself —which may be the biggest gamble of her life. Once in town she begins to uncover a rigged game of dirty double-dealing where the stakes are no less than life and death. And if she’s not careful, Abby can forget about ever leaving Las Vegas...alive.



This 304-page mystery (Obsidian Mysteries. Hardcover; July 1, 2014, $24.95.ISBN: 978-0451240613) can be read own its own.
Here is what others are saying about the Psychic Eye Mysteries:
        “A clever, fast-paced plot…and a cast of fun, engaging characters.” — New York Times bestselling author Margaret Coel
        “Well-drawn characters and a wickedly clever plot—you’ll love unraveling this mystery.” — New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Victoria is the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books. With two series in full swing, Victoria divides her time between The Psychic Eye Mysteries and The Ghost Hunter Mysteries. However, she is also branching out into YA with her debut novel, DEATH DATE, slated for release January 2015. (You can pre-order now.) 

As a professional psychic herself, Victoria knows all too well the tricky world of the paranormal in which her protagonists psychic Abby Cooper, and spiritual medium M. J. Holliday tackle murder, mayhem, and the occasional demon with plenty of plucky humor and determination. 


For more on Victoria and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Here’s a video of Victoria discussing her inspiration for her Psychic Eye Mystery series.


This is a charming and energetic series that blends mystery with paranormal in a way that will have you believing.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:


This giveaway is for one print copy of FATAL FORTUNE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Saturday, Aug. 2.

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 Victoria Laurie’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks for stopping by today, I truly appreciate it. I hope I’ve enticed you a bit to check out FATAL FORTUNE and discover a fun series to follow. Have you ever been to a psychic? If so, how did it turn out? If you haven’t been, would you want to?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Journey to Publishing: Pies & Peril {+ Giveaway}


Pies and Peril finalIt’s a pleasure to be participating in a virtual book tour for friend, fellow blogger and author Janel Gradowski as she stops by with her recent release, PIES & PERIL, the first installment in her Culinary Competition Mystery Series.

As part of Janel’s tour, she’ll be talking about the journey to publishing this book and including an excerpt. I’ll also share my thoughts on this delightful murder mystery. In addition, Janel is giving away a copy of PIES & PERIL to one lucky visitor. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Please join me in welcoming Janel as she tells us about her writing voyage.

The grain of sand that forms a pearl. A mountain out of a mole hill. A novel from a short story. My new book, PIES & PERIL, is a mystery novel, but it started out life as a short story. I’ve always loved to write short fiction. In fact, for several years I wrote flash fiction almost exclusively. 


Flash fiction is generally used to classify stories that have under 1,000 words. While I’m sure I have written enough short and flash stories to total the number of words in a novel, PIES & PERIL is the longest story I have ever written. It was like a seed that grew and grew until it was all grown up and now it’s bearing fruit.


The journey to publishing this book is also a tale of taking advantage of opportunities when you happen upon them. A year ago, I never planned on signing with a publisher. I wasn’t querying agents or publishers. I was just writing stories, self-publishing some of them, working to place others in magazines or websites.


I had a lot of fun writing the original short story for a contest. The story didn’t win any prizes, but I wasn’t terribly disappointed. Rejection is a part of being a writer, like it or not. So I choose to view rejections as office work. I record the date I received the rejection on my tracking spreadsheet and maybe research some other markets to submit the story to. I did all of those things, then got a surprise. The author that held the contest, Gemma Halliday, contacted me. She was starting a small publishing company and wanted to know if the short story was part of a book.


It wasn’t at the time, but I thought about it for a few days. The internal conversation went something like: “It could be a book. Definitely. Yes. Absolutely. I can write a full-length novel. Right?” After that little self-administered pep talk, mixed with a bit of apprehension, I got to work figuring out who was going to be murdered then wrote two more chapters. I submitted the sample chapters and jotted down some notes about the plot of the book, if by some chance I was actually offered a contract for the book. Another saying you may have heard before…life is stranger than fiction. Suddenly, I had a book contract and a novel to write to fulfill it. My writing life took an unexpected curve, but I couldn’t be happier.


One of my favorite things to tell me kids, when they get discouraged or are resistant to try something, is: You may not be able to do some things, but you can TRY to do everything.

Janel, thanks for joining us and sharing your excursion into publishing. Life does throw some unexpected and happy curves from time to time and this sounds likes one of those.

Now let me share a bit of background on Janel for those who aren’t familiar with her.


Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. 

Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. 

She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.

For more on Janel and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also learn more about this book and virtual tour HERE.

AN EXCERPT:


        Amy shifted her basket so that it was directly in front of her, both hands on the leather handles, in battle position. Ahead of her a knot of people clustered around the booth selling miniature pies and tarts. A couple teen girls, dressed in black nylon smocks that signified they were enrolled in the downtown beauty college, scowled as Amy wriggled through the throng. She should've picked the small gap between two older gentlemen to squeeze through. Coming between women and sugar fixes was always a bad idea. People had poured out of the downtown businesses to find a meal at one of the many prepared food stands or food trucks set up around the perimeter of the park. The farmer's market was one of her favorite parts of summer, but during peak hours the crowd was often so thick it felt like hand to hand combat as people jostled each other to select the perfect size of summer squash or the most beautiful wildflower bouquet. Being short didn't help, especially on hot days, since she was pretty much at the armpit level of most normal-sized people. It felt and smelled like she was a sardine being packed in a tin. Ugh.
         The crowd thinned a bit once she got past the pie-hungry mob. Ahead, the last booth she wanted to visit was surrounded by customers. Amy channeled her inner miniature basketball player and made a break for it. Her petite stature, for once, worked to her advantage as she darted around a couple women standing in the aisle having a conversation about removing stains from cloth diapers, and slipped into a crack in the human barricade. The vendor's offerings were a sight to behold, like Mother Nature and the Easter Bunny had gotten together and made tomato babies. The table was filled with baskets full of heirloom tomatoes in a range of colors from acid green to chocolate brown. Some were as large as softballs while others truly looked like eggs. Amy had been making salads with the lovely tomatoes for over a month, but she'd had an idea while making the casseroles for Kevin earlier in the day. Tomato pie.
        She chose a basket with a nice variety of medium-sized tomatoes and paid for them. Luckily she had brought a hard-sided wicker basket with her, to protect the delicate cargo from bony hips and giant zucchinis protruding from shopping bags like vegetal clubs. She tilted her head from side to side like a prize fighter before a match as she steeled herself for the last push through the mass of hungry humanity. There was only about 20 feet left in the vending area. Then she could break free and make a dash to her car. As she turned she caught a glimpse of Elliot Maxson's unmistakable helmet-like black hair.

PIES & PERIL is available at the following sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, and Print.

MY THOUGHTS:


PIES & PERIL by Janel Gradowski
If you’re a fan of food fiction and/or cozy murder mysteries, you’re in for a treat when you pick up a copy of author Janel Gradowski’s newest release, PIES & PERIL.

Gradowski’s first installment in her new Culinary Competition Mystery series is filled with zany characters, delicious food tidbits, suspense, a dab of romance, and all-out fun tracking down a killer.

Amy Ridley is out to win the third crown in the local cookies, cakes and pies competition, having captured the first two jewels. However, the pie honor has gone to Mandy Jo, Amy’s former friend and co-worker, for the last five years. It’s a fierce competition between the two woman and little love loss as they prepare their best pies. Despite being foes, when Amy discovers Mandy Jo’s dead body at the competition, she’s determined to help find her killer. Little does Amy realize just how close she’s getting to the killer and how quickly she could become the next victim.

The author has created likable characters with realistic actions and traits readers can relate to. She’s combined humor and suspense for a well-balanced story that flows quickly and smoothly.

The small town setting pulls the story together and draws the reader in. The food elements add to the story, but don’t overwhelm the mystery and suspense aspects. The recipes at the end of the story are a nice bonus.

PIES & PERIL is a delightful start to an intriguing and fun new cozy murder mystery series that shows great promise.

Pies & Peril by Janel Gradowski, Culinary Competition Mysteries Book #1, Gemma Halliday Publishing, @2014, ISBN: 978-1500385835, Paperback, 198 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.


GIVEAWAY DETAILS:


This giveaway is for one copy of PIES & PERIL. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents (print or eBook), as well as international (eBook only) and will end Friday, Aug. 1. The eBook will probably be awarded through Smashwords.

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 Janel Gradowski’s 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. Have you ever enter or attended a pie baking competition? Would you like to be a judge at such a contest?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Science Fiction or Science in the Fiction?


Cover Ignore the PainIt’s always an honor when I get to introduce a ‘new-to-me’ author to y’all as it’s fun to learn about the writer and their books. Today I’d like to welcome author J.L. Greger to Thoughts in Progress. She’s going to talk about ‘Science in Fiction,’ as well as share a bit about her books. 

Welcome, J.L.

Do readers want science in their fiction?

In 2013, at least fifteen TV shows featured realistic portrayals of science, medicine or technology. Before I continue, I should define realistic. Real labs can’t provide analyses instantly as shown on TV, and most scientists don’t have perfect hair. Even so, the popularity of TV shows suggests viewers, and presumably readers, like bits of science in their fiction.

Fiction that focuses on realistic science is called “science in fiction,” not science fiction. Many of the writers of science in fiction, like me, were or are practicing physicians or scientists. In one sense, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Arthur Conan Doyle and Robin Cook were physicians.

What’s important in science in fiction?


Accuracy. In my third novel, my heroine Sara Almquist learns silver miners in Bolivia carry little food or water into the mines. In order to endure the pain caused by thirst, hunger, and heavy exertion at a high altitude (13,000 feet), they chew coca leaves. The active ingredients in coca leaves and its derivative cocaine are not analgesics that dull pain. They are stimulants and help users ignore pain. Accordingly I named the book IGNORE THE PAIN not Dull the Pain

In case you think the facts seem a bit dry, here’s a synopsis of the action. Sara Almquist couldn’t say no when invited to be the epidemiologist on a public health mission in Bolivia. Soon someone from her past is chasing her through the Witches’ Market of La Paz and on to the silver mines of Potosí. Unfortunately, she can’t trust her new colleagues, especially the charming Xave Zack, because they might be under the control of the coca industry. Worst still she’s not only put herself in danger but also her sister, Linda, back in New Mexico. 

Coming Flu Front CV 
Excitement. As a biologist, who regularly reads scientific journals, I am amazed how easily a few mutations can change a fairly benign flu virus into a virulent one. A variant of the common H1N1 flu virus killed three percent of the world’s population between 1918-20, and the wrong mutation to a flu virus today could kill millions if scientists weren’t prepared.

In COMING FLU, a new flu virus hits a small, walled community near the Rio Grande. A quarantine is declared because experimental vaccines and antivirals are ineffective against this flu mutation. Epidemiologist Sara Almquists pries into the lives or everyone in the community looking for way to slow the spread of the flu. She finds promising clues - maybe too many. 

Relevant science. Almost all Americans are interested in easy ways to lose weight. Scientist know fat animals (including humans) lose weight when their gut bacteria are altered, but scientists don’t know which of the 15,000 to 36,000 species of bacteria in the gut are important. I thought descriptions of this research (based on current ongoing studies) would be intriguing, maybe slightly funny, to readers.

cover Murder- A New Way to Lose WeightIn MURDER: A NEW WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT, a diet doctor is found dead after she charges her partner with recklessly endangering the lives of obese subjects in their clinical trials. Linda Almquist, the associate dean in the medical school, must protect the subjects in the clinical trial, while she searches for a sophisticated killer who knows a lot about drugs. 


Would you like to read a science in fiction novel?

BTW, Bug, my Japanese Chin dog and character in all three of my novels, says hello to Traveler, the resident cat at Thoughts in Progress.

J.L., thanks for joining us today and sharing this difference in science fiction and science in fiction. All three books sounds like they are quite intriguing ‘science in fiction’ stories. And, Traveler sends a hello back to Bug.

Now for a bit of background on J.L.

J.L. Greger is no longer a professor in the biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, instead she’s putting tidbits of science into her medical mystery/suspense novels. 

For more on J.L. and her writing, visit her website, check out her blog, JL Greger’s Bugs, and her Amazon link.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and visiting with J.L. Had you ever considered the difference in ‘science fiction’ and science in the fiction’ writing?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some Enchanted Éclair {+ Giveaway}


9780451467416_medium_Some_Enchanted_ÉclairAuthor Bailey Cates is on tour with her recent release, SOME ENCHANTED ÉCLAIR, and I’m delighted to welcome here back to Thoughts in Progress.

Bailey will talk about doing research for her book and in celebration of the release, is giving away one copy of SOME ENCHANTED ÉCLAIR to a lucky visitor. Please see the end of the post for more details.

Here’s a brief description of the book:

FLOUR POWER
      When Hollywood invades Savannah’s historic district to film a Revolutionary War movie, magical baker Katie Lightfoot, and her witches’ coven, the Spellbook Club, take a break from casting spells for casting calls. One of the witches snags a part as an extra, while Katie’s firefighter boyfriend, Declan, acts as on-set security. Katie and her aunt Lucy decide to stay out of the action, but after the movie’s “fixer” fires the caterer, the Honeybee Bakery comes to the rescue, working their magic to keep the hungry crew happy.
      But when someone fixes the fixer—permanently—and a spooky psychic predicts Katie will find the killer, the charming baker and her fellow conjurers step in to sift through the suspects…before someone else winds up on the cutting room floor….

Please join me in welcoming Bailey as she talks research.

SOME ENCHANTED ÉCLAIR is the fourth Katie Lightfoot adventure in Savannah, Georgia. She's still a relatively new witch, but in her first year since moving to the South from Akron, Ohio, she's learned a lot. Like her aunt Lucy, Katie is a hedgewitch, sometimes called a natural or green witch, whose talents lie in kitchen and garden magic. She and Lucy use their knowledge of herbs and spices to infuse the yummy pastries at the Honeybee Bakery with good intentions for love, prosperity, health, peace and more.

The other members of the spellbook club have been teaching Katie their own specialties, too: moon magic and tarot magic, flower and color magic, along with basic spell casting and divination. Katie has also learned that she's a catalyst, which adds a little kick to the others' spells, and Detective Franklin Taite also revealed to her in Bewitched, Bothered and Biscotti that she's something called a lightwitch. However, Taite seems to have disappeared, so she's still trying to find out just what a lightwitch is. In part it seems to mean that she finds more than her share of dead bodies -- specifically murder victims that have some kind of connection to the paranormal.

In SOME ENCHANTED ÉCLAIR, Katie and Lucy are staying clear of the historical movie being filmed on Reynolds Square -- at least until the production coordinator asks them to feed the cast and crew. Sure enough, the first time Katie ventures onto the set there's a fatal stabbing. The more she looks into the circumstances surrounding the victim, the more it becomes evident that some kind of dark magic is involved.

At first she thinks the paranormal connection might involve the psychic who travels with the lead actress. Ursula Banford can contact spirits who have passed to the other side, and in the course of Katie's investigation she passes on messages from some surprising sources. But can they be trusted? Since moving to Savannah, Katie has come to believe in things she never dreamed could be real, but she's not naive enough to simply take someone at their word when they say they can talk to dead people. Whether or not Ursula is the genuine article, there are plenty of other suspects for Katie and the spellbook club to ferret out.

Researching SOME ENCHANTED ÉCLAIR was, quite frankly, a blast. Along with the research I usually do for this series regarding Savannah, other settings, food, weather, and gardening in the South, I took the chance to read up on the Revolutionary War and consulted with an independent filmmaker. Plus, for the first time in my life, I went to not one, but two psychics.
 
I love my job.

Another aspect of writing the Magical Bakery Mysteries is ... the baking, of course! In other books I've researched some classic Southern recipes (like Coca Cola Cake) and come up with my own version to offer in the back of the books. 

For ÉCLAIR, I learned how to make choux pastry, and boy am I glad I did because it's not only delicious but incredibly versatile. Éclairs can be both savory and sweet, and the pastry can be used for cream puffs and even fried into something like a donut. However, it can be a bit tricky (unlike Katie, I failed the first time I tried it), so rather than try to tell readers how to make choux, I fell back on some of my everyday favorites -- which just happen to be on the Honeybee menu. One is a gluten-free peanut butter cookie recipe that I've made for years -- fast, easy, and great for sudden cravings. The other is a carrot and apple cake recipe I've honed to my personal idea of perfection. I do so hope others love it as much as I do.

Next up is the fifth Magical Bakery Mystery. It's currently untitled, but I can tell you it involves pie, voodoo ... and a sprinkling of romance!

Bailey, thanks for joining us and giving us a look at your research. I think I’d like the baking research aspect the best.

Now let me tell you a bit of background about Bailey.


New York Times bestselling author Bailey Cates believes magic is all around us if we only look for it. She studied philosophy, English and history and has held a variety of positions ranging from driver's license examiner to soap maker. She traveled the world as a localization program manager for Microsoft, but now sticks close to home where she writes two mystery series, tends to a dozen garden beds, bakes up a storm and plays the occasional round of golf.

Having apprenticed with a master herbalist for a year, she's prone to concocting teas and tinctures for family and friends from the stash of herbs stored in the corner cabinet in her office. She owns a working spinning wheel and is on a first name basis with several alpacas and two sheep with questionable dispositions.

The author of the Magical Bakery Mysteries, she also writes the Home Crafting Mysteries as Cricket McRae.

For more on Bailey (aka Cricket), visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:


This giveaway is for one print copy of SOME ENCHANTED ÉCLAIR. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Wednesday, July 30. 

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 Bailey Cate’s 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 and visiting with Bailey. Do you think you’d enjoy doing research on baking and/or research on historic sites?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 21, 2014

Elective Procedures: Deadly Elements {+ Giveaway}


Elective Procedures coverIt’s a treat to once again be participating in one of author Merry Jones’s Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. Merry joins us today to celebrate the recent release of ELECTIVE PROCEDURES, the second installment in her Elle Harrison Thriller series.

Merry will be talking about combining fortune telling and cosmetic surgery as key elements in her story and I’ll share my thoughts on her latest release. In addition, thanks to Merry and the lovely folks at Partners in Crime, I have a print copy of ELECTIVE PROCEDURES to give away. Please see the end of the post for more details.

First here’s a brief synopsis of the new thriller:


       Elle Harrison has taken a leave of absence to mourn the death of her husband Charlie.
Her friend Becky takes her out to dinner to cheer her up and, on impulse, drags her into a fortune teller's shop. The fortune teller predicts that Elle will travel and meet a new man. She also says that Elle is surrounded by a dark aura that draws the dead to her.
        Elle dismissed the predictions as hogwash. But then her friend Jen takes her, Becky and another friend, Susan, to Mexico where she is getting lost cost cosmetic surgery. Elle is attracted to and asked out by Jen's surgeon, Alain DuBois. And Elle finds a woman hanging onto the balcony next to hers by her fingertips. Elle tries to save her and fails, almost dying in the process.
        All of the fortune teller's predictions have come true. And, as the week progresses, more of Alain DuBois' patients are gruesomely killed, Jen is attacked, Elle is nearly murdered, and the spirit of her dead husband Charlie keeps appearing to her.
        Who is trying to kill Dr. DuBois' patients--And why? Who is trying to murder Elle? Why does she keep seeing Charlie--Is she nuts? Or is his spirit really trying to protect her?
        ELECTIVE PROCEDURES makes a week in Mexico into a chilling page turner, full of twists and unexpected developments, as well as a face lift or two.

Please join me in welcoming Merry back to Thoughts in Progress.

Merry, how did you come to combine fortune telling and cosmetic surgery to play key elements in your mystery and what was it like doing research for this story?

Protagonist Elle Harrison walks the line when it comes to reality. She floats into her thoughts when stressed. Sometimes she thinks she’s talking to her dead husband. As a character, Elle deals not just with standard suspense elements (murder and other crimes), but also with the supernatural—or its possibility.

In ELECTIVE PROCEDURES, Elle continues to deal with both. She bumps up against murders and crimes. She tries (but fails) to save a woman from falling off a balcony. She finds another woman stabbed to death. She is attacked. Her friend is almost killed. 

Danger and violence, though, are not all that Elle has to contend with. There’s an added layer here: Because a fortune teller has foreshadowed peril, warning Elle of imminent danger and saying that she is surrounded by death, the murders resonate, echoing her predictions. And because Elle has dismissed the fortune teller as a scammer and a fraud, Elle’s own doubts about what is vs. isn’t “real” increase as the predictions continue to come true. 

The fortune teller creates a new layer of suspense and uncertainty. The questions Elle faces aren’t just “Who are the killers” and “How can I escape?” They’re also, “Do I really attract the dead?” and, “Is my aura actually stained with blood?” The fortune teller is a vehicle of the supernatural, allowing ELECTIVE PROCEDURES to raise more gooseflesh than a standard “whodunit.”

With each of my books, I set out to learn something new and hope others will learn something by reading them. ELECTIVE PROCEDURES presents information about cosmetic surgery and body dysmorphic disorder, a not uncommon condition in which physical self images are distorted. 

In our culture, self-esteem is often closely linked to physical appearance. And every year, in order to improve their physical appearances, hundreds if not thousands of Americans travel abroad for inexpensive cosmetic surgery, which is not covered by most insurance policies. I pictured a foreign clinic providing cosmetic surgery to people unsatisfied with their looks. It seemed to beg—no, to scream, “Let me be a setting for a suspense novel!”

I conducted online research about the cost and availability of common procedures. I also read up on the processes of face lifts, breast augmentations/reductions, nose jobs (rhinoplasties), and tummy tucks. I learned about the recovery process for each, looked at photos detailing the surgeries, realized there are good reasons I never went to medical school, and spoke to people who’d had these procedures done, asking about their experiences. I also researched surgery “addicts,” and the various reasons some patients are never satisfied with their appearances, even after “successful” plastic surgery. 

My hope is that ELECTIVE PROCEDURES will raise questions about our emphasis on physical appearance and its repercussions. Most of all, though, hope readers are grabbed by Elle’s harrowing tale of obsession, betrayal, murder and revenge.
 
Merry, thanks for joining us and sharing this insight into your book. You’ve definitely given us something to think about when it comes to cosmetic surgery and its effect on people.

Now a little background on Merry.


Merry Jones has written the Elle Harrison suspense novels (THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, ELECTIVE PROCEDURES), the Harper Jennings thrillers (SUMMER SESSION, BEHIND THE WALLS, WINTER BREAK, OUTSIDE EDEN, and this fall, IN THE WOODS), and the Zoe Hays mysteries (THE NANNY MURDERS, THE RIVER KILLINGS, DEADLY NEIGHBORS, THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS). She has also written humor (including I LOVE HIM, BUT...) and non-fiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories). 

Merry taught college creative writing for fifteen years. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and appeared in many magazines, including GLAMOUR. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Authors Guild, International Thriller Writers, and The Philadelphia Liars Club. 

The mother of two grown daughters, she lives outside Philadelphia with her husband.

For more on Merry and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Now my thoughts ……….

ELECTIVE PROCEDURES by Merry Jones

Cosmetic surgery leads to deadly consequences in author Merry Jones’s latest thriller, ELECTIVE PROCEDURES.

Elle Harrison is still feeling a loss after the death of her cheating soon-to-be ex-husband, Charlie. Not quite sure why she’s still mourning, Elle is trying to get her life back on track.

When her friend Jen decides to have cosmetic surgery done in Mexico, she takes Elle and two of their other friends, Becky and Susan, along. Their first night in the plush hotel, Elle sees a woman in the next suite dangling from her balcony. She tries to help, but the woman falls to her death.

As Elle searches for answers, she see glimpses of her dead husband around the area. A fortune teller had told her she had an aura that dead spirits were drawn to.
As the story unfolds, Jen’s surgeon takes an interest in Elle, who discovers another surgery patient dead. Getting closer to the truth surrounding the deaths, Elle finds her own life in danger.

The author has blended humor and suspense into an intriguing read that flows quickly. The characters are well-developed and the author gives them traits/habits readers can relate to.

With an eye for detail, Jones draws readers into the story with rich descriptions of the beach setting. The twists and surprises along the way captivate the reader’s attention.

ELECTIVE PROCEDURES is the second installment in the Elle Harrison Thriller series, but can be read on its own. In this thriller mystery, with a touch of chick lit, Jones has blended all the elements together for a tantalizing story.

Elective Procedures by Merry Jones, Elle Harrison Thriller Book #2, Oceanview Publishing, @2014, ISBN: 978-1608091164, Paperback, 288 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.

To read more about Merry and her latest work, drop by the following blogs participating in her tour.

6/29 ~ Interview @ Suspense Magazine Blog Talk Radio 10 am PST/1 pm EST
7/01 ~ Interview & Review @ Words by Webb
7/03 ~ Interview @ Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
7/07 ~ Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
7/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
7/09 ~ Interview & Showcase @ CMash Reads
7/10 ~ Showcase @ Ryder Islingtons Blog
7/14 ~ Review @ Bless Their Hearts Mom
7/15 ~ Review @ Celtic Lady Reviews
7/16 Showcase @ The Opinionated Me
7/17 ~ Showcase @ A Blue Million Books
7/18 ~ Review @ Marys Cup of Tea
7/22 ~ Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy
7/24 ~ Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
7/25 ~ Showcase @ Books Books and More Books
7/28 ~ Showcase, Review, & Giveaway @ The Wormhole Book Blog
7/29 ~ Review @ Wall-to-Wall Books
7/30 ~ Review @ Deco My Heart


GIVEAWAY DETAILS:


This giveaway is for one print copy of ELECTIVE PROCEDURES. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Tuesday, July 29. 

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 Merry Jones’s 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 dropping by today during Merry’s visit. What are your thoughts on cosmetic surgery? Have you had any done or would you every have any done?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cowboys, Nurses, Interior Designers, Tennis Pros, Oh My!


It’s always a pleasure to welcome you here and share my thoughts on the latest books I’ve read. Today is no exception as I have two delightful, romance-flavored, feel-good stories to tell you about.

HOW TO MARRY A COWBOY by Carolyn Brown

How to Marry a Cowboy coverAuthor Carolyn Brown creates characters so charming and likable you wish they were real friends and neighbors.

In the latest and last installment in her Cowboys and Brides series, Brown brings the circle to a close by giving the last of the four cowboys his special story. HOW TO MARRY A COWBOY focuses on Mason Harper, his two wholly-terror twin girls, and their wish for a mama.

When the girls, Gabby and Lily, find Annie Rose Boudreaux asleep on their front porch swing, they think their father has given them a mama for their ninth birthday. Well, she was wearing a tattered wedding gown and they had been wishing and asking really hard.

Annie Rose is desperate to stay under the radar as her life could depend on it. When she gets the chance to care for the two adorable little girls, she can’t resist. A former nurse, Annie Rose can handle whatever the twins come up with. As she begins to settle into the role of ‘Mama Nanny,’ the sparks between her and Mason heat up, but her past could blow everything apart.

Mason hasn’t had a serious relationship or even deep feelings for anyone since his wife died eight years ago. As he begins to have feelings for Annie Rose, he also has a load of guilty to deal with. His daughters have to come first, no matter the cost.
The story is a fun mix of romance, humor, a touch of suspense, loyalty, family and friendship. It flows smoothly and at a steady pace. The small town setting creates an atmosphere of fun and family.

Brown once again delivers sexy cowboys and feisty cowgirls in a hot and steamy read you won’t be able to put down. The antics of the twins, blended with the sizzling attraction between Mason and Annie Rose, makes for an excellent feel-good read that will have you smiling when you’re not laughing out loud.

HOW TO MARRY A COWBOY is the fourth installment in the Cowboys and Brides series, but can be read on its own. References to other couples from the series won’t leave new readers in the dark, but it might just entice them to read the entire collection.

How to Marry a Cowboy by Carolyn Brown, Cowboys and Brides Book #4, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2014, ISBN: 978-1402280559, Paperback, 352 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.

FIND MY WAY HOME by Michele Summers
 
Find My Way Home coverPeople are not always as they seem as the main characters in author Michele Summers’s latest release, FIND MY WAY HOME, discover.

In this first installment in the author’s Harmony Homecomings series, interior designer Bertie Anderson loves her hometown of Harmony, NC, but can’t wait to move to Atlanta and start her dream job for a major design company. Finishing her last job in Harmony, Bertie learns the old Victorian house she loves has been bought.

When Bertie is given the challenge of renovating the old Victorian in three months to receive a huge fee plus bonus, she can’t resist. The bonus will not only keep her out financially, but she can also help one of her only beloved charities.

Retired tennis pro Keith Morgan has moved to Harmony to save his relationship with his daughter. Leaving the bright lights, fast living and hot women in Miami was the right thing to do. Keith’s had enough drama from his late wife.

When Bertie and Keith are thrown together due to the renovation project, sparks and tempers begin to fly. Despite their strong attraction to each other, the pair is determined to go their separate ways. But their family and the residents of Harmony have something to say about that.

FIND MY WAY HOME is a hilarious, feel-good story that will tug on your heart strings, while leaving in you stitches from laughing. The author has created warm and likable characters. The small-town setting pulls you in for a family atmosphere. 

The story moves at a quick pace and has a number of twists along the way. The romance sizzles as the story unfolds. Harmony has a lot to offer and this delightful read is just the beginning.

Find My Way Home by Michele Summers, Harmony Homecomings Book #1, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2014, ISBN: 978-1402293559, Paperback, 352 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.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope I’ve enticed you to check out these charming stories. What’s on your reading list today?

*This post contains affiliate links.