Book Spotlight – THE HEART TO KILL

by Dorothy M. Place

Synopsis

Sarah, a student at Northwestern University Law School, returns to her apartment after a trying day to find two telephone messages. The first informs her that she has not been chosen for a coveted summer internship, a position for which her father had arranged an interview. The second is from her mother, with the news that Sarah’s best friend in high school, JoBeth Ruland has murdered her own son and daughter. To mislead her father about her failure to be chosen as a recipient of the internship, Sarah decides to secure a position on JoBeth’s defense team. Against her father’s vehement protest, she leaves Evanston, Illinois at the end of the term and returns to Eight Mile Junction, South Carolina, a small town in the Appalachian foothills, determined to convince him that the experience will contribute to her future.

To make the best of the situation, Sarah sets out to become a vital member of the defense team and to regain favor with her father. But she is not well-prepared for the shock of leaving her sheltered academic life and working in a community rife with chauvinism, malice, and betrayal. Her struggle is met with the benevolent amusement of the senior law partner, John-Two who, despite her objection, insists on calling her “Little Lady.” The criminal trial expert on the team, Al, a tense, disciplined young attorney, resents the intrusion of what he believes to be a know-nothing law student, and treats Sarah as if she is incompetent. The folks of Eight Mile Junction close ranks in the face of Sarah’s inquiries, hiding the town’s complicity in JoBeth’s degradation from the eyes of “outsiders” by finding her guilty before the trial begins. And finally, her father, on whose judgment Sarah has relied her entire life, rejects her efforts to placate his ill-humored response to her decision that summer.

In the end, Sarah discovers the underlying issues that precipitated her friend’s murderous act. Through interviews with JoBeth, her mother, her former lover, and her work associates, her ex-husband’s mistress as well as the testimony given during the trial, the horrifying events that shaped JoBeth’s life are revealed, helping Sarah understand how a person can be driven to extremes that defy ordinary reasoning. Sarah and her friend, it is the betrayal by those they love and believe in that changes their lives forever. Ultimately, it means disgrace and imprisonment for JoBeth. But for Sarah, who decides against returning to law school, it is the beginning of a life in which she, not her father, manages her future.

Meet the Author

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dorothy M. Place now lives and writes in Davis, California. A principle investigator of a research group at Sacramento State College, she began creative writing, first as a hobby then as a second career, ten years ago. Since 2005, ten of her short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, two of which were selected for prizes. At present, she is putting together her first collection of short stories, Living on the Edge, and working on her second novel, The Search for Yetta

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From the Author

THE HEART TO KILL is a novel about love, murder, and small-town politics. Sarah, a second-year law student, returns home to serve on the team defending her high school girlfriend who has murdered her two children. The story is an immersive dive into the human psyche, peeling back layers of deceit and shame until the unvarnished and terrifying truth is revealed. Titan Book Awards gave this novel a gold, the San Francisco Book Review gave it five stars, and Train of Thoughts book reviews named Sarah one of the five best heroines of 2016. To read about the book, learn how it came to be written, and to take a virtual tour of Eight Mile Junction, the town in which the story takes place, please visit the author’s website www.dorothymplace.com. To order the book from Texas A&M Press and take advantage of the 30% discount they are offering, click on this link: www.tamupress.com/Basket/ShoppingCart.aspx.  The discount code is 3B.

 

The Twelfth Child

By Bette Lee Crosby

 

Book Synopsis

An uplifting tale of trust, love, and friendship from a USA Today Bestselling Author of Women’s Fiction…

Papa wasn’t someone who’d flat out kill a person, but he sure knew how to destroy a woman from the inside…a slice of spirit, a piece of pride, a chunk of heart, until one day there’s nothing left but a walking around shell to do the cooking and laundry…thus begins the story of Abigail Anne Lannigan, a willful daughter determined to overcome the past.

Leaving the Shenandoah Valley of the early 1900’s behind, Abigail finds a way to survive in a world of joblessness and speakeasies. Now, at the tail end of her years, her best friend is accused of embezzling one million dollars and Abigail is helpless to save her. She knows the truth of what happened, but will never have the chance to tell.

Reminiscent of Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes” the May-December friendship of these two unforgettable women is sure to settle in the soft spot of your heart.

The Twelfth Child, told in the timeless tradition of Southern Fiction, is a novel rich with emotion, humor, and tenderness. A Historical Mystery set in the 20th Century, this is a story of love, friendship and one woman’s struggle to survive America’s Great Depression.

Winner of: FPA President’s Book Award Silver Medal, the Royal Palm Literary Award for Women’s Fiction, and the National Association of American Pen Women Fiction Award.

My Review

Growing up with a father who preferred her twin brother, Will, Abigail Anne Lannigan was continuously trying to win her father’s love, but he had a heart of stone.  After Abigail’s mother passed away, life became increasingly hard for Abigail.  Her father wanted her to quit school and take care of the household chores, and marry someone of his choosing at a young age.  Abigail Anne had bigger plans and, with the help of her teacher, found her way to Richmond, Virginia.  The woman she lived with and worked for passed away and she was expelled from the woman’s home by the probate court.  Life grew tougher as she tried to eek out a living as a dancer at a speakeasy during the Depression years.  A tough, courageous, and determined woman, Abigail Anne faced many trials and tribulations during her lifetime and became successful in her own right.

When Destiny Fairchild, with her heart of gold, moved in across the street the two formed an unlikely friendship, given their age differences. It is their friendship that gives heart to this story.

The ups and downs of Abigail Ann’s and Destiny’s story will keep you turning the pages.  Their saga is well fleshed out with real-to-life situations.  Their characters are undeniably plausible and equally loveable.  Another character is Elliott Emerson who is nothing but bad news.  I disliked him from the moment he appeared.  He personifies greed, dishonesty, and all else on the ugly side of human nature.

As with all the books by Crosby, I thoroughly enjoyed THE TWELFTH CHILD.  Her style of weaving warmth, a bit of cozy mystery, and a touch of fantasy into everything she writes makes Bette Lee Crosby one of my favorite authors.  As I say after reading each of her books, this is my favorite. But the truth is, they are all so good it is impossible to choose one book over another.  Reading Crosby’s books, one gets the sense that you are sitting in the room while the author tells the story.  She writes with a soothing Southern voice that brings a sense of realism to her fiction.

About Bette Lee Crosby

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby’s books are “Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Midwest Book Review

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby’s writing is, “A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures.”

Samantha from Reader’s Favorite raves, “Crosby writes the type of book you can’t stop thinking about long after you put it down.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery, and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include The Royal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Crosby’s published works to date are Beyond the Carousel: A Southern Saga (2017), Silver Threads (2016), The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (2016), Baby Girl (2016), What the Heart Remembers (2015), The Loft (2015), Memory House (2015), Passing through Perfect (2015), Wishing for Wonderful (2014), Blueberry Hill (2014), Previously Loved Treasures (2014), Jubilee’s Journey (2013), What Matters Most (2013), The Twelfth Child (2012), Life in the Land of IS (2012), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2011), and Spare Change (2011).

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The Case of the Brown Scraggly Dog

Davey & Derek Junior Detectives – Book 4

By Janice Spina

 

Book Blurb

Davey and Derek Donato are at it again in this new book. In this case they come across a brown scraggly dog with blood on its paw but when the boys try to stop the dog, it runs away.

Aunt Gigi is here once again to assist the boys with their magic and provide some new spells.

Clues surface that suggest that someone may be injured and in need of help. The boys will have to use their skills and a little magic to solve this case.

Blurb was taken from Goodreads.

My Review

Junior detectives, Davey and Derek Donato, are off again to solve another mystery with the help of Aunt Gigi’s magic and Mianna, the cat in Aunt Gigi’s crystal ball. The boys get into mischief as they try to discover what happened to the scraggly dog and how it’s paw got blood on it.  The ending was a wonderful surprise and the kind of ending any child would love.

The author’s goal in writing books for children that bring to light life lessons that the children can learn from.  These lessons include politeness (Davey and Derek are both polite boys), kindness (they are kind to the dog and to his owner, as well as to family and friends in this story), and sensitivity (they are concerned that their friend Mickey isn’t left out and that their mom doesn’t worry needlessly about them).  Janice Spina accomplished her goal with The Case of the Brown Scraggly Dog.

This book is sure to delight. I highly recommend The Case of the Brown Scraggly Dog to young readers.

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review.

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About the Author

Janice Spina is an award-winning author with eight children’s books, Louey the Lazy Elephant, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon, Jerry the Crabby Crayfish, Lamby the Lonely Lamb (won the Silver Medal from MOM’S Choice Awards), and Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear, Broose the Moose on the Loose and Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey, and Colby the Courageous Cat. Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series (Book 1, 2, 3 & 4) is a middle-grade/preteen series. Book 1, The Case of the Missing Cell Phone won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Awards. Book 2, The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 3, The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant, also won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award.

Janice has published two novels under J. E. Spina, Hunting Mariah, a thriller/mystery and her paranormal/mystery/romance novel, How Far Is Heaven, is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is working on two children’s books, a short story collection, and book 2 of Hunting Mariah and a mystery series for YA girls will be written in 2017. Her husband is her illustrator and cover creator.

She has written over a hundred poems and two other novels. The two novels need editing before publishing. She plans to write a preteen series for girls next year. Janice says, “There is always another story swimming around in my head. If I don’t write them down they are lost forever.”

Her logo is JEMSBOOKS for all ages on which is her motto:
“Reading Gives You Wings To Fly!”

Janice’s and John’s joint goal is: To encourage children to read and to instill this love of reading in them to carry them through life and thus giving them ‘wings to fly!’

She loves to hear from readers and appreciates reviews. She says, “It’s like Christmas each time I receive a review!

Author Biography was taken from Goodreads.

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Blog – Jemsbooks (on WordPress)

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A CRY FROM THE DEEP

By Diana Stevan

 

A Cry From the DeepAbout The Book

Despite a near death diving accident years before, Catherine Fitzgerald, an underwater photographer, embarks on a journey to cover the find of the century, one of the lost ships from the Spanish Armada. But before she goes, she buys an antique ring that triggers nightmares and visions of a young woman searching for someone on an old sailing ship caught in a storm. When Catherine sets out to discover the young woman’s identity, she discovers a connection that will change her life forever.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP is a romantic adventure novel, set in Provence, Manhattan and Ireland. Interwoven with this story of love and loss is the drama that takes place in our oceans, where salvagers continue to wreak havoc on the environment and steal cultural treasures. It’s also about fate and the mystery of how we find love and how it finds us.

 My Review

I didn’t know what to expect of A CRY FROM THE DEEP, but soon found I was immersed in a mind-tingling mystery of two different times.  One event occurred in 1878 off the coast of Killybegs, Donegal Bay, Ireland, when Margaret O’Donnell married James Gallagher after his cargo ship the Alice O’Meary returned from India.  Her father gave Margaret her mother’s wedding band to wear.

Fast forward to 2010 in Provence, France.  Catherine Fitzgerald was working in her lavender fields when she received a phone call from her old boss.  He was offering her the opportunity to come back to work as an underwater photographer at National Geographic. She would have to return to New York so her ex-husband could look after their daughter while she photographed the deep-sea dive of an ill-reputed treasure hunter. Her job was to photograph everything during dives and to make sure all recovered items were recorded as required by law.  It was a dangerous job, and she hadn’t been back in the water since she had nearly drowned on another job several years before.

Once in New York, Catherine, with her ex-husband Richard and their daughter Alex toured a street market where Catherine purchased a peculiar gold ring.  Was this ring responsible for the nightmares she started having?

Catherine was to work alongside Daniel Costello, a nautical archeologist, who was a very experienced diver and would ease Catherine back into the deep. Daniel was engaged to be married after the salvage project.

Was there a connection between the event of 1878 and Catherine in 2010?  You’ll just have to read to find out.  No spoilers here.

Stevan created characters and a story that kept me in my chair all day reading A CRY FROM THE DEEP from beginning to end.  The amount of material she researched is mind boggling, but her diligence resulted in a believable story with characters so well developed, I had no trouble visualizing any of them. Before long, I felt I knew everyone personally, and was deeply engrossed in one of the most fascinating tales I’ve ever read.  This book absolutely merits 5 stars.

 About the Author

Diana Stevan

Diana Stevan took many detours to get to the writing phase of her life. After marrying at 19, she received a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics and a Master of Social Work, both with honors, from the University of Manitoba. She moved to B.C. in 1979 with her husband and two children. As a clinical social worker, Diana spent over twenty-five years in the field, working in a variety of settings—psychiatric, child guidance, cancer agency, and private practice.

She’s also worked as a teacher, professional model, actress and a sports writer-broadcaster for CBC television. Writing has been her passion, even though it was relegated to the back seat while her children were young. She’s published fitness and travel articles for newspapers, poetry in the U.K. journal, DREAMCATCHER and a short story in ESCAPE, an anthology published by Peregrin.

Diana has traveled widely and uses her experience to color her stories.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP is her debut novel. She now lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia.

You can visit her on her website and social media:

http://www.dianastevan.com

https://www.facebook.com/dianastevan.author

https://twitter.com/DianaStevan

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8420679.Diana_Stevan

Chapter Three

It was as if she’d never left. Driving over the Queensboro Bridge with Alex and Richard in his BMW, Catherine feasted on the Manhattan skyline. Even though the absence of the twin towers brought tears to her eyes, the majestic spires of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings still stirred her like no other buildings could.

Richard glanced at her. “It still haunts, doesn’t it?”

She nodded as she looked again at where the towers once stood. She said nothing more until they’d crossed the bridge and a man yelling at another man on the street got her attention. “Are you still dealing with some of those patients you took on back then?”

“A few are still coming.” He pursed his lips. “I wasn’t much fun, was I?”

She shrugged. “It wasn’t a fun time.” Richard’s sadness over his patients’ misfortunes had crept into their relationship. Like a fog that showed no signs of letting up, a pall had settled over their union, to the point where even lovemaking became a chore. She couldn’t remember when they’d stopped doing it altogether. Instead of sex, they had each gone to bed with a book, as if reading would squash any desire.

They rode the next few blocks in silence. The rush of cars and pedestrians on East 60th and Park Avenue reminded Catherine of a Pollock painting with its kinetic frenzy and streaks of every color. The yellow cabs and street vendors brought back more memories. She remembered the times they had tramped across town to Greenwich Village to hear some jazz musician, or to an art gallery that had sprung up overnight in Chelsea. They’d had their happy moments.

But after her scuba diving accident, everything had changed. She got depressed, and Richard, being a psychiatrist, started treating her like a patient. And even when she decided to see a therapist, he couldn’t keep his hands off. He called her shrink periodically to give his unsolicited opinion until Catherine found out and insisted he stop. That only added to the strain between them. By that time, she was pregnant.

Catherine looked over at Richard. He was focused on driving. He was still a handsome man with his prematurely silver hair and soft blue eyes. And when he smiled, his face shone in a way that made her wonder why she’d ever left. Perhaps they were too much alike. They both needed to be in charge. One thing, though. They had their differences, but they never fought. Instead, they had drifted apart, each trapped in a bubble. It had been no surprise that their divorce turned out to be an amicable one. Richard hated scenes and because of Alex, Catherine was forever grateful.

They had stopped at a light. She said, “How’s the rest of your practice? Still turning heads inside out?”

“Not much has changed. I’ve got the usual assortment of the too thin, too rich, and too…” He glanced back at Alex, whose face was pressed against the side window. “Too forked.”

Catherine said wryly, “Forked?”

“You know what I mean.”

Alex groaned and gave her mother an oh, brother look. Catherine couldn’t help smiling. Alex was at the age where you couldn’t get much past her.

It was too bad she and Richard couldn’t have made it. Especially for Alex’s sake. When Richard had showed up at arrivals to greet them, Alex had run to him shrieking with delight.

He had swung her around and said, “Look at your legs! You’re getting so tall.”

Catherine always got a lump in her throat at these times. She still blamed herself for dragging their daughter so far away. When he had put Alex down, she and Richard had hugged awkwardly, as if they’d never hugged one another before. It was strange how intimate they’d once been. That alone made her wary of any future attachment. You love someone one day, and the next, you’re both strangers.

As they drove on, she was glad that Alex—after taking a recess—was back at entertaining her father with tales of Disney World. Her incessant chattering left little room for small talk or any uncomfortable silence.

Richard turned on to Central Park West, where the traffic had slowed to a crawl. Up ahead, there seemed to be an accident. It was bumper to bumper as one driver after the other swiveled to find an opening. They inched forward. It seemed to take forever before Richard was able to turn left at West 75th Street and then right on Columbus Avenue. It was still slow, but better slow than stuck in the midst of steaming New Yorkers. On the other side of the road, an outdoor flea market, one city block long, was in full swing.

Alex rolled down her window. “Mama, can we stop, please, please, please?”

“Oh, Alex,” said Catherine. It’d been hectic since they’d left Provence and the last thing she wanted was a stop at a crowded marketplace.

“Well…?” asked Richard. “You better make up your minds fast.”

Catherine threw up her hands. Parking was always a headache. “Suit yourself.”

Richard gamely looked for a spot. He could never say no to Alex.

“Looks like you’re going to get your wish,” said Catherine.

“How about I drop you both off, and I’ll come and find you?”

Catherine scanned the throngs weaving past the various stalls and spotted a canopy with lettering: Hats by Helene. She checked her watch and then pointed at the sign. “How about we meet at eleven by that hat table?” Maybe the market wouldn’t be so bad. She could always use another hat.

 ~~~

Catherine and Alex had walked the entire circuit—of antiques, homemade foods, and old photographs of once-famous stars­—before Richard caught up with them at the hat table. Catherine was trying to decide whether to buy a black wool one with a brim and a braided ribbon around the crown. It reminded her of the hat Diane Keaton wore in that Woody Allen picture decades ago. Some things never went out of style.

“Looks good on you.” He smiled approvingly.

“It does, Mama.”

Catherine checked her image in the hand mirror on the table. She liked what she saw and pulled her wallet out from her bag.

Richard took out a roll of bills from his pants pocket. “Let me get it for you.”

“Absolutely not.”

“It’s only a hat, Catherine.”

She hesitated and then said, “If you’re sure.” She grinned as he paid the seller. “Thanks. You’ve always been generous.”

“You’re welcome.” Richard put a hand on Alex’s shoulder. “What about you, cookie? Did you find anything?”

“Yes.” Alex opened a plastic bag she was holding and took out a small stuffed blue and yellow rabbit with a white bow on each ear. “She’s my lucky rabbit foot.”

Richard and Catherine laughed as Alex hopped around holding up her new purchase. Is this what it would’ve been like had she stayed? Would they be this perfect family?

Richard looked at her as if he was thinking the same thing. But maybe the thought was too dangerous, because he said nothing and turned away.

Alex stopped hopping by a booth featuring antique jewelry. She fingered some bracelets and then settled on a blue suede jewelry case with a twirling ballerina inside. Richard came up behind her to see the tiny plastic dancer spin slowly to one of the pieces from The Nutcracker. “Can you make her go faster, Papa?”

While Richard attended to Alex, Catherine admired a display of rings on a black velvet cloth on the same table. The bands were the usual sterling silver, some carved, and some set with turquoise, black onyx, or malachite stones. She tried on several, but nothing seemed special. The vendor, a woman with frizzy, red hair partly covered by a paisley scarf, watched Catherine for a few moments before bending under the table. She brought up a small wooden box and opened it, revealing a slightly tarnished gold ring.

Fascinated by the design—two hands holding a heart—Catherine tried the ring on her right hand. It slid on easily with no room to spare.

“This is nice, huh?” Catherine said to Alex.

“Oh, that’s so cute!”

The redheaded vendor tucked her hair behind her ear. “It’s a Claddagh ring. Very old Irish wedding ring. More than a hundred years old.”

Catherine raised her hand, allowing the sunlight to bathe her fingers. The heart with the crown on top glistened in the light.

“Why don’t you buy it, Mama? It’s so pretty.”

“It’s a wedding ring, Alex. I don’t need a wedding ring.”

The vendor said, “You can buy it for good luck. Everyone needs good luck.”

“But it’s not a good luck ring.”

Alex looked closer at it. “Maybe it is, Mama. I have my rabbit’s foot. You can have a ring.”

Catherine took the gold ring off, and examined the inside of it. There was some kind of hallmark, followed by numbers that were too small to make out. She put it back on the velvet cloth and looked at the others, but her attention kept coming back to the Irish ring. “Can I ask you where you got it?’

The vendor shrugged. “In an estate sale. The guy who died was an Irish immigrant. A fisherman. He apparently found it in a large cod caught off the coast of Ireland.”

“In a fish?”

“That’s what the seller said.”

“Strange.”

Alex screwed up her face in distaste. “Ooo. The fish ate it? Does it still smell?”

Catherine laughed and put the ring up to Alex’s nose.

“It doesn’t,” said Alex, wide-eyed.

Catherine said, “It’s a beautiful ring. How much is it?”

“One hundred and fifty dollars. You won’t find another one like it. It’s a genuine antique. You’re lucky, it already fits. You won’t have to have it sized.”

Richard turned to Catherine. “Do you need another ring?”

She hated when he used that tone. As if she were a child. It was her own fault. She shouldn’t have asked for his opinion. She glanced down at her finger again. “I’ll take it.”

The vendor got a small paper bag from under the table, but Catherine had already slipped the ring on. “It’s okay. I’ll wear it.” She figured she could use some luck.

 

Self-published

Printed by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Charleston, South Carolina.

Distributed by Ingram Book Company

ISBN:     eBook          1-4975-36634

              Paperback   978-1-4975-36630

CIP data on file with The National Library of Canada

Release Date:  October 15, 2014

378 pages

BISAC FIC027000

Now available on Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Kindle, Coho Books, Campbell River, Chapters-Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and Google Books

An e-copy of A CRY FROM THE DEEP was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Emerson’s Attic Series

Books One and Two

By Kathleen Andrews Davis

The Blue Velvet Book One – THE BLUE VELVET

In Book One we meet Emerson Mcbride, a typical American teenager who does the same things any other teen would do. That is, until she is sent up to clean the attic. What happens there will surprise you.

Emerson finds herself on her back in a large room, not her attic.  A strange voice keeps telling her to wake up and is calling her Emma. Lizzy is a housemaid in Harrington Hall.. Though Emerson is confused about everything, Lizzy helps direct her through her household chores and daily life in this huge manor..

Emerson is living in another time and has no idea how she got there, or how to get back home.  What’s more, she is becoming suspicious of the eldest son of the owner of the Manor.

Book Two – SMOKE AND MIRRORSSmoke and Mirrors

In Book Two, Emerson is late getting home from school, and her best friend Sarah is supposed to come over so they can work together on their science.  When she walks in the house, her mother tells her Sarah has gone upstairs to the attic to find a Halloween costume.  Panicked that something similar to what happened to her will happen to Sarah, Emerson dashes upstairs just as Sarah put an orange wig on her head.  She was too late.  She reached for Sarah and the next thing they knew, they woke up in a strange place, in an earlier time, and everyone was calling them Lily and Faith.  They were suddenly circus performers.  Both of the girls made the best of the situation, all the while trying to figure out how to get back home.  This adventure takes them further and further away from their hometown by way of the circus train.  Why is Emerson here with Sarah?  The two have quite a journey and end up solving a mystery before they return to their normal lives.

The characters in both books were believable in spite of the fact that they were time travelers.  They were smart and able to put clues together to solve the mysteries they were entangled in. Emerson finds out a little more about herself in each adventure.  I will stop at that to keep from giving away any spoilers.

The plots of the books were equally engaging, even though the first book was much shorter. They were well thought out and executed.  The author did a fantastic job of pulling everything together at the end.

I loved both books.  No, just so you understand, let me repeat myself.  I L-O-V-E-D these books. I couldn’t put them down.  I would highly recommend this series to any middle grade girl (age 9-14).  A boy could certainly read them, but I think they are written more to a girl’s interest.

First Chapter The Blue Velvet:

Consequences 

“It’s not fair.  It’s just not fair,” Emerson mumbled lumbering up the steep attic stairs with broom, dustpan, and trash bags in hand.

“Why am I always the one punished when Adam is the troublemaker?  No one should have to deal with little brothers!  No one! Why can’t he clean the attic!  He started it!  Mom always takes his side!”

By the time she reached the top step her long, chestnut hair had let loose from the hair clip and her bangs were pasted to her forehead with sweat.  “Humph…” She looked around the dirty attic.  Bookcases piled with old books, Time Magazines, National Geographics, and some old newspapers.  “Just what am I supposed to do with those?”

Straight ahead ice skates hung from the rafters along with tennis racquets and snowshoes.  Abandoned skis, a snowboard, and golf clubs leaned against the wall, dropped there by someone moving onto the next sport season.

To the right she saw piles of cardboard boxes, old furniture, lamp shades, a discarded ironing board, an old fashioned tall mirror in a standing frame, and the headboard of a bed propped against the chimney.  Everything was covered with a thick layer of dust and cobwebs stretched from every corner of the attic, between the rafters, and across the windows.

“I don’t know where to begin,” she said, brushing cobwebs off her jeans and out of her hair.  “I wonder where the spiders are that made the cobwebs.  I’m pretty sure we covered spiders in science class.”  She should have paid more attention to that chapter.

“First things first.  I can’t stand these cobwebs!” She dropped everything to raise the broom and wipe down the cobwebs.  “Crap!” she yelled.  Dust cascaded down on her while the cobwebs stuck to the broom.

As she wiped her face with her sleeve, light streaming in from the back window caught her attention.  There, beside the window in a rainbow of color was Grandpap’s old easy chair covered with a sheet.  “I need a break.”  She headed for the chair and took off the dusty sheet.

Sitting down she pulled her feet up onto the chair seat and wrapped her arms around her knees.  She breathed deeply, well as deeply as anyone could breathe in this stuffy old attic.  She moved her eyes around slowly.  There were four windows:  One looking out onto Elm Street,   the second looking out the side to the neighbor’s house where John the bully lived, the third looking over the garage and driveway, and the last overlooking the back yard where the grass always seemed to need mowing.

She couldn’t help wondering why her parents liked this big, old house.  She wanted to live in a new house, in a development with a pool, and lots of kids her age.  Well, not exactly her age of fourteen, but maybe a few years older.  Especially if there were boys!

As she sat wondering how all this stuff had gotten here she felt the warm sun on her face.  Closing her eyes she leaned back in Pap’s chair.  It rocked gently.  Pap’s name was John Forest McBride, but his friends called him Jack.  He was gone now, but she remembered his strong arms holding her safe and warm when she was small.  They would pretend they were riding the train where Pap had worked as a fireman until he retired.  She sat on his lap and he would tell her stories of the places he had been.  Emerson could see him as if he were here now.  Tall and thin, with the same dark chestnut colored hair she had.  His eyes were dark brown while hers were green, she guessed from her Mom’s side of the family.  He had a big moustache with which he would give her “moustache kisses.”  She could almost smell his cherry pipe tobacco.  “Boy, I miss you Pap,” she sighed drifting off to sleep.

“Emerson Amelia McBride!”  Her mother’s voice interrupted her nap. “What are you doing up there?  You’re supposed to be cleaning.”

Emerson jumped up, “Oops, sorry Mom, I’m on it!”

‘Whew, that was close. Does that woman have super hearing or what?  How does she know everything that goes on in this house? Now, I really do have to dig in.’

She brushed down cobwebs, dusted off some old boxes and moved them out of the way so she could sweep.

“What’s this?” she whispered as her broom bumped against an old steamer trunk.  “Looks interesting.”  She pulled the trunk out from under the eaves and opened the lid to peer inside.  Old clothes.  Not just old clothes… old shoes, dresses, hats, and even some men’s clothing.  “Who did these belonged to?  They’d make great stuff for Halloween.”

“Well, well, looky here.”  Emerson reached into the trunk and pulled out a very large hat.  “How weird!”  Putting the hat on her head she stood up and looked for the mirror she had seen earlier.  She walked over and looked at herself.  Not quite right.  She twisted her long hair up under the hat.  “Much better!” She turned this way and that.  “Not bad, not bad at all, if you like the style.  But who would wear a crazy hat like this?”  The hat was made of faded blue velvet with big flowers and some kind of gauzy fabric wrapped around it and tied into a huge bow on one side.  “Where’s the bird’s nest?” Emerson asked the mirror with a wink.

Looking in the mirror more closely she realized her face looked pale.  She felt beads of sweat building on her brow, she was hot, her stomach was queasy, she felt dizzy… “Oh crap, I think I’m going to throw up.”  And then, everything went black.

Kathleen DavisAbout the Author

I wish I could tell you that I am a New York Times Best Selling author or at the very least an award wining author, but alas that is not the case.

I live in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania with my husband and a horde of white tail deer who insist on annihilating all my attempts at gardening.  We are empty-nesters with two grown daughters and two beautiful grandchildren.

​During my long and varied working life I did business writing including everything from press releases to policy and procedure manuals.  I served as managing editor of an in-house newspaper where I enjoyed every aspect of production including writing, photography, and even layout.  From there, I wandered into marketing pieces and business plans.

My favorite adventure, however, was fourteen years in the Bed & Breakfast industry.  This was my passion.  When we left our lovely, old Victorian, it left a hole in my heart and I found myself with an indistinguishable yearning.  I needed more.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew I wasn’t done yet!

Having done business writing and enjoying it, the light bulb finally came on and illuminated the fact that, if I liked commercial writing, surely I would like creative writing.  Right?  Well, some of us are simply slow learners.  Once that thought penetrated, ideas for stories started popping into my head.

Coming from a family of artists and authors, and being considered a creative person in my own right, it should have been clear long before this that writing was a pond into which I should dip a toe and test the water.

Being a grandmother was the fuel that fed the fire, and I decided to leave my grandchildren a legacy of words that would outlast any other inheritance I could give.  I wanted to write wholesome stories where the characters would have to use their brains instead of computers and cell phones.  They would have to think on their feet.  They would have to take responsibility and make decisions on their own.  And, they would just be darn good kids.  I wanted to challenge readers to read more by including titles of other books and alluding to their messages.

Emerson’s Attic opened a world of possibilities and I dove in with gusto.  The first draft of The Blue Velvet seemed too fast and easy, and of course it felt that way because it was just the very beginning.  I had, and still have, a lot to learn about writing but with the encouragement of friends and family it’s coming along.

​In the meantime, the knitting needles have slowed, the flower beds (or what’s left of them) have weeds, Emerson’s dollhouse remains unfinished, and my fishing rod leans lonely in a corner of the garage, but I just can’t get enough of “Emerson,” the real one or the character.

Website:  www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com

Blog:  http://www.dollhousesmemoriesandmore.com

 

Kathleen Andrews Davis, author and publisher.

Titles:  1.  Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet

Cover by:  James Browne

Published July 2013

Page count:  112

  1. Emerson’s Attic, Smoke and Mirrors

Cover by Heather Jo Wingate

Published July 2014

Page count:  133

 

Books are available in print and e-book through Amazon.com

Autographed copies soon to be available through Etsy.

 

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hopapril-2015

Spare Change By Bette Lee Crosby

Spare Change
Ethan Allen Doyle had a tough life. His mother was so wrapped up in herself, and his father had a mean streak. He had more on his plate than any eleven-year-old should ever have, and then, he witnessed a brutal murder. Fearing for his life, he takes off in search of his grandfather, known only to him by the Christmas cards he received.
Olivia Westerly is settled into her single life when she meets Charlie Doyle, who sweeps her off her feet. Her married life quickly takes a turn to the unexpected, and Olivia was forced into a situation that causes her to re-evaluate her life. Through various events, the most important of which is having the care of Ethan Allen forced upon her, she finds all of her preconceived notions of the kind of person she is, are no longer applicable.
SPARE CHANGE is a murder mystery. The storyline drew me in quickly with its superstitions, mystery, romance, friendship, humor, and its flawed characters that are so realistic that every reader can find them believable. The story moves quickly and is told from several different points of view. It’s about how we deal with life’s challenges and the power of love in changing who we are.
When I first started reading SPARE CHANGE, I thought I wouldn’t like it very much, but once into a few pages, I was captivated by the story, the writing style, the author’s voice, and the characters. I am amazed that so much emotion, mystery, and story is found in just 280 pages. It is a book I heartily recommend to all readers in every genre. I look forward to reading more of Bette Lee Crosby’s work.
According to Amazon, SPARE CHANGE is their number one bestselling historical mystery and the winner of five literary awards.
You can find out more about Bette Lee Crosby on these websites:

 

Her website – Bette Lee Crosby Words, Wit & Wisdom

Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Buy SPARE CHANGE and Bette’s other books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powells, BooksAMillion, or your favorite Indie bookstore.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.