Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dead Cold Brew {+ Giveaway}

Don’t you just love a good cup of coffee no matter what time of year it is? Speaking of coffee, you may remember last week (Wednesday, Jan. 11) author Cleo Coyle visited Thoughts in Progress to talk about the recently released sixteenth installment in her Coffeehouse Mystery series, DEAD COLD BREW, and hosted a great giveaway.

Well, today I’m sharing my thoughts on that tantalizing mystery and thanks to the lovely Roxanne and the wonderful folks at Penguin Random House, you have another chance to win a copy of this mysterious tale.

DEAD COLD BREW by Cleo Coyle
◊ Series: A Coffeehouse Mystery, Book 16
◊ Hardcover: 368 pages
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Publisher: Berkley (January 10, 2017)
◊ Language: English
◊ ISBN-10: 0425276112
◊ ISBN-13: 978-0425276112


 From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Dead to the Last Drop, comes a gripping new entry in the "highly satisfying"* Coffeehouse Mystery series. (*Publishers Weekly)


Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear...
          After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare's finger, Clare's eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.
          First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare's daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare's ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York's most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.

With recipes to die for, including how to make cold-brew coffee at home!

A coffeehouse setting takes on fact and fiction when author Cleo Coyle’s protagonist Clare Cosi uncovers old family secrets and brews up a delicious pot of coffee.

The characters in the coffeehouse mystery series are well-developed, likable, and realistic. The author gives the characters traits and faults readers can relate to. Returning fans of the series will see the characters continue to grow and evolve. New readers of the series can easily keep up with the background knowledge provided.

The New York backdrop for the story adds depth and draws the read in. With an eye for details, the author enhances the story with real morsels of history, lore, and landmarks.

Moving at a steady pace, the story offers suspense, mystery, murder, romance, humor, and the bonds of family and friends. While you may be able to glimpse a few directions, the story is going in, you’ll find there are still numerous surprises and twists in store before the end.

Blending a fascinating murder mystery with tidbits of coffee facts and instructions makes for a well-balanced adventure. You don’t have to be a coffee lover to appreciate this intriguing tale.

A bonus at the end will tempt your taste buds as the author shares several of the recipes mentioned throughout the story. COLD DEAD BREW is a captivating mystery that combines history with fiction as you’re drawn into a warm, friendly coffeehouse atmosphere with zany characters you wish were real people.

Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle, A Coffeehouse Mystery (Book #16), Berkley, @2017, ISBN: 978-0425276112, Hardcover, 368 Pages

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

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Penguin Random House, I have a print copy of DEAD COLD BREW by Cleo Coyle to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Friday, Jan. 27.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Do you enjoy visiting coffeehouses? What’s your favorite drink when you visit a coffeehouse?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bonding with a Character

Is there a fictional character you feel like you’ve bonded with over the year and wish you could meet in real life?

If you’re like me there’s probably more than one or two. There is one character, however, I have followed since my childhood days even though he wasn’t created for children. That character is protagonist Perry Mason, the criminal defense lawyer/sleuth created by author Erle Stanley Gardner.

My first memories of Perry Mason are from books my mother read and collected. Then the character came to life through a television series featuring Raymond Burr and later in movies. I was hooked from the first book forward and became a forever fan. If you visit here from time to time you may recall that is where the Mason in Mason Canyon comes from.

Recently the American Bar Association decided to republish Gardner’s most famous and enduring novels featuring Mason in trade paperback editions with new covers. The novels have also been released in audio format. Gardner (1889-1970) wrote nearly 150 novels that have sold 300 million copies worldwide, according to Amazon.

Amazon also noted that Gardner’s Perry Mason novels sold twenty thousand copies a day in the mid-1950s. There have been six motion pictures based on his work and the hugely popular Perry Mason television series starring Raymond Burr, which aired for nine years.

I have four of the titles from the Perry Mason series I’d like to highlight here today. Rather than doing a review on each, I’m just shinning a spotlight on them.


The Case of the Stuttering Bishop by Erle Stanley Gardner
◊ Series: Perry Mason Series, Book #9
◊ Narrator: Alexander Cendese
◊ Listening Length: 5 hours and 36 minutes
◊ Program Type: Audiobook
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Version: Unabridged
◊ Publisher: Brilliance Audio
◊ Release Date: December 6, 2016
◊ Language: English
ISBN-10: 1531827136
ISBN-13: 978-1531827137


Julia Branner insists her marriage was sabotaged by her millionaire father-in-law, who forced her to give up her baby girl for adoption. Now, years later, a young woman appears, claiming to be Julia’s long-lost daughter. But Julia insists the heir-apparent is a fake—and vows to keep the family fortune from falling into the wrong hands.
Abetted by a bishop with questionable credentials, Julia plans to expose the imposter. But things take a devilish turn when the curious cleric vanishes and Julia’s father-in-law is murdered. Charged with the killing, Julia turns to Perry Mason. But with overwhelming odds against him, Perry may not have a prayer.…


The Case of the Dangerous Dowager by Erle Stanley Gardner
◊ Series: Perry Mason Series, Book #10
◊ Narrator: Alexander Cendese
◊ Listening Length: 6 hours and 4 minutes
◊ Program Type: Audiobook
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Version: Unabridged
◊ Publisher: Brilliance Audio
◊ Release Date: December 6, 2016
◊ Language: English
ISBN-10: 1531827179
ISBN-13: 978-1531827175


When Matilda Benson solicits the help of Perry Mason, her request seems simple enough: cruise to a gambling ship moored just beyond the twelve-mile limit and buy back the IOUs signed by Miss Benson's niece.
But after Mason reaches the floating casino, he discovers problems aplenty—most notably the ship's owner with a bullet hole through his head. Strangely enough, Matilda and her niece are also on board that night…when someone tosses a gun over the railing. Does Perry Mason's client have something to hide?


The Case of the Lame Canary by Erle Stanley Gardner
◊ Series: Perry Mason Series, Book #11
◊ Narrator: Alexander Cendese
◊ Listening Length: 5 hours and 24 minutes
◊ Program Type: Audiobook
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Version: Unabridged
◊ Publisher: Brilliance Audio
◊ Release Date: December 6, 2016
◊ Language: English
ISBN-10: 1531827217
ISBN-13: 978-1531827212


Do birds of a feather plot murder together?
The extraordinary Perry Mason never handles straightforward divorce cases, but this one is an especially strange bird. Rita Swaine is dating her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Her sister, Rosalind, is married to shady insurance adjuster Walter Prescott, who’s got dollar signs in his eyes and ice water in his veins. When Rita’s beau gallantly steps in to warn Rosalind about her heinous husband’s designs, Prescott hatches a plan to prey on them all…by suing for big profit.
For Mason, this case should be a lark. But when a murdered man is found in the Prescott home—and a nosy neighbor sings an incriminating song about illicit love and a hidden gun—legal eagle Mason suddenly finds himself defending a sitting duck.


The Case of the Substitute Face by Erle Stanley Gardner
◊ Series: Perry Mason Series, Book #12
◊ Narrator: Alexander Cendese
◊ Listening Length: 6 hours and 50 minutes
◊ Program Type: Audiobook
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Version: Unabridged
◊ Publisher: Brilliance Audio
◊ Release Date: December 27, 2016
◊ Language: English
ISBN-10: 153182725X
ISBN-13: 978-1531827250


While enjoying a leisurely ocean cruise in the company of secretary Della Street, Perry Mason is approached by passenger who is worried about the wellbeing of her husband. Not long afterward, her husband is seen jumping off the ship, an apparent suicide—but when the body is recovered, it turns out that he was shot.
Accused of murder, the wife puts her fate in the hands of Perry, who in the course of piecing things together unearths the fact that the husband had once accepted a huge bribe while serving on a jury. The case takes many shocking twists and turns before revealing its surprising conclusion.

FTC Full Disclosure – Copies of these audio books were sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copies did not influence my feature of them. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

These novels represent an era in our history that can be understood through the characters’ actions and dialogue. The way the characters interact also relates to the time period. Listening to these audios takes listeners back to the 1950s and an era when life was a little slower pace and less tech controlled.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope I’ve enticed to you give these audios a try. If not, perhaps a print or digital copy might be more to your liking. Is there a fictional character you’d love to meet?

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Rule Maker Released {+ Giveaway}

All her rules are about to change…

The Rule Breakers #2
Jennifer Blackwood
Releasing January 16th, 2017
Entangled Embrace

Ten Steps to Surviving a New Job:

1. Don’t sleep with the client. It’ll get you fired. (Sounds easy enough.)

2. Don’t blink when new client turns out to be former one-night stand.

3. Don’t call same client a jerk for never texting you back.

4. Don’t believe client when he says he really, really wanted to call.

5. Remember, the client is always right—so you can’t junk punch him when he demands new design after new design.

6. Ignore accelerated heartbeat every time sexy client walks into room.

7. Definitely ignore client’s large hands. They just mean he wears big gloves.

8. Don’t let client’s charm wear you down. Be strong.

9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the client. You’ll lose more than your job—maybe even your heart.

10. If all else fails, see rule number one again.

Here's an excerpt from THE RULE MAKER for your reading pleasure.
He scrubbed his palms over his face and rested his elbows on his knees. “This was not how I saw this night going.”
          “Big Valentine’s Day plans?”
          He lowered his hands and looked at me like I’d just claimed I single-handedly caused the storm raging outside. “I didn’t even know that was today. Does this mean we’re each other’s valentines by default?”
          I scoffed. “Not a chance.”
          He chuckled. “Always so blunt. I like that about you.” He quickly cleared his throat as if he hadn’t meant to say that. “Well, non-valentine, looks like we’re going to be stuck here a while. Have anything in mind?” he said.
          I decided against packing on another insult. He was being nice, and this sure as heck beat staring at the wall the rest of the night. “My form of entertainment is at 6 percent battery, so I’m open to suggestions.”
          “Mine is fully charged. Want to watch something?”
          “Sure.” What else did I have to do? Before I knew it, I was sitting on the bed next to him, leaning against the ornately carved headboard. Snow gusting against the window was the only sound in the room as he searched for a show for us to watch.
          So quiet.
          Way too quiet.
          I fidgeted with my necklace, moving the small diamond back and forth on the chain. The last time I was in bed with Ryder… I didn’t even want to finish that thought, because it’d do nothing but make this situation worse. I chanced a peek in his direction.
          He chewed the inside of his cheek, swiping through our options. “This is awkward, huh?” he said.
          “We’ve achieved Urkel status.”
          He chuckled and scrolled through the show queue. “Would you rather watch Law and Order: SVU or Criminal Minds?”
          “That is quite possibly the worst Would You Rather question ever asked.”
          His eyes cut to mine. “I didn’t know I was playing a game.”
          “You’ve never played it?”
          He shook his head.
          Lainey and I played this game all the time in college, and when we’d take road trips together. She always came up with the grossest ones. “It’s simple. All you have to do is ask the person which horrible thing they’d rather do. The harder the question, the better. Like would you rather lay in a pit of snakes, or eat questionably dead roadkill?” I pointed to his phone. “Oh, John Tucker Must Die. I like that one.
          “Negative, ghost rider.” He scrolled past my suggestion. “And what the hell does questionably dead mean? Is it still twitching, or are we talking suspicious cause of death?”
          I shrugged. “The interpretation’s up to you.”
          “You’re absolutely no help.” He swiped his thumb across his beard and contemplated. “I guess I’d go with the snakes.”
          “Okay, now it’s your turn,” I said.
          “Do I really have to play? I thought we were picking a show.”
          I shot him a look.
          “Fine. Would you rather have me or Chewbacca as your valentine?”
          “Too easy. The spider.”
          He put his hand to his heart. “You wound me.”
          “Stop being such a baby.” I swatted at his chest and immediately pulled my hand back. Nope. Would not go there. “Okay, would you rather not be able to see or talk for a month?”
          He answered instantly. “See.”
          “Right. You’d probably go nuts if you couldn’t open that big mouth of yours.”
          His lips twitched. “You’re one to talk.”
          “Excuse me?” Okay, I did have a tough time keeping my thoughts on lockdown outside the office, but that was my own cross to bear.
          “Don’t even try to play it off like you’re innocent.”
          I’d dated a lot of losers in the past, most who hadn’t even bothered to get to know me, but even after only hanging out a few times, Ryder had me pegged. He was perceptive. I saw the look in his eyes whenever I dealt with Jason. His attention focused solely on me was unnerving. “Jerk,” I sputtered.
          “Now I know you’re holding back. You can do way better than that.” He scrolled through his phone again. “How about Die Hard?”
          “Are all your show selections about death? I’m starting to worry I made a mistake coming over here.” My lips pulled into a smile and I quickly extinguished it. God, I wanted to hate him.
          “Fine.” He continued looking at the Netflix queue. “Would you rather eat sushi from a taco stand, or lick an airplane armrest?”
          “Good one. Sushi.” I pointed to his screen. “How about 10 Things I Hate About You?”
          He shook his head and chuckled. “Are all of your suggestions going to not-so-subtly tell me you hate me?”
          I smiled sweetly. “Maybe.”
          “Just think, most people would find this to be a romantic escape. Two people, stuck in the mountains on Valentine’s Day,” he said.
          “We’re Hallmark movie material, all right,” I deadpanned.
          “Okay, fine. How about The Walking Dead?”
          “Your show picking powers have been officially revoked.” I grabbed the phone from his hand.
          “Hey!” He grabbed for the phone, and I held it out of reach. “You’re going to regret that.” Within seconds he was on top of me, playfully pinning me to the bed, his strong hands circling my wrists. Air evaporated from my lungs as our gazes connected.
          I was immediately transported back to that night.
          Tell me what you want, Zoey. Tell me what you need from me.
          I swallowed hard. That was months ago, and those words still haunted me from time to time. Because he did exactly that, gave me what I wanted and needed. Repeatedly.

You have read THE RULE BOOK, right?

Jennifer Blackwood is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When not chasing after her toddler, you can find her binging on episodes of Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and locking herself in her office to write.

a Rafflecopter giveaway