January 22, 2017

A Ghostly Reunion Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway

A Ghostly Reunion

by Tonya Kappes

on Tour January 16 - February 17, 2017 

 

A Ghostly Reunion (Ghostly Southern Mysteries #5)
Author: Tonya Kappes
Genre: Cozy Mystery/Paranormal

A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya KappesPublication Date: December 27, 2016
Published by: HarperCollins / Witness
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 006246695X (ISBN13: 9780062466952)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Synopsis:

 
Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.

There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.

But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.


Sexy isn’t a firm fanny in a thong, ladies.”
Hettie Bell didn’t seem so sexy in her hot pink leggings and matching top as she gasped for breath in her downward dog position in the middle of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky. Her butt stuck straight up in the air, right there on display for everyone to see. Her black, chin-length bob was falling out of the small ponytail on both sides and her bangs hung down in her eyes.
“Sexy is confidence and self-acceptance. It’s exactly what yoga provides.”
Hettie Bell curled up on her tiptoes with her palms planted on one of the mats she provided for us. The rickety old floor of the gazebo, in the middle of the town square, groaned as we all tried to mimic her pose. “Yes!” Beulah Paige Bellefry hollered out like we were in the first pew of the Sleepy Hollow Baptist Church getting a good Bible beating from Pastor Brown himself.
“Amen to a good pose!”
Beulah continued to adjust her feet and hands each time she started to slip. If she wasn’t a bit overweight, I’d say it was her eighties silk sweat suit that was slicker than cat’s guts giving her problems. Or it could’ve been those pearls around her wrist, neck and ears weighing her down. Beulah never took off those pearls. She said pearls were a staple for a Southern gal.
“You said it, sister,” Mary Anna Hardy gasped. She teetered side to side, nearly knocking into Granny. Her sweat left streaks down her makeup. Who on earth got up this early and put makeup on to do yoga? Mary Anna Hardy, that’s who.
“God help us!”
“That’s it.”
I pushed back off my heels and crossed my legs, staring at all the Auxiliary women’s derrieres at my eye level.
“I’m here to do some relaxing, not Sunday school.”
Sleepy Hollow was smack-dab in the middle of the Bible Belt and if God wasn’t thrown in our conversations, then we weren’t breathing. But the last thing I wanted to think about was my butt stuck up to the high heavens and everyone up in the Great Beyond looking down upon me.
 
Tonya KappesTonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

Catch Up with Tonya Kappes on her Website, Twitter, & Facebook

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Tonya Kappes and Witness Impulse. There will be (1) US winner of one PRINTED set of The Ghostly Southern Mysteries #1-5 by Tonya Kappes. The giveaway begins on January 15th and runs through February 18th, 2017.

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January 21, 2017

Spotlight + Giveaway: The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

The Wicked City
Author: Beatriz Williams
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow

Description:

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family.

When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.

In 1924, Geneva "Gin" Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.

As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too...
 


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30037728-the-wicked-city
 
A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons.

She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Her books include Overseas (2012), A Hundred Summers (2013), The Secret Life of Violet Grant (2014), Tiny Little Thing (2015), Along the Infinite Sea (2015), The Forgotten Room (2016), and the forthcoming A Certain Age (June 2016) 

*Author biography and photo taken from author's website.*

Author Links:
http://beatrizwilliams.com 
https://twitter.com/bcwilliamsbooks 
https://www.facebook.com/beatrizwilliamsauthor 
https://www.instagram.com/authorbeatrizwilliams
 Thanks to the wonderful people at William Morrow, I have (1) finished copy of the book to give away! Open to US only!







 

Book Blitz + Giveaway: It's You by K.P. Kelley


 

It’s You (It’s You #1)
Author: K.P. Kelley
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: January 3, 2017


Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Katy Regnery comes her first duo of paranormal romances!

ONCE UPON A TIME…
the most beautiful boy in the world kissed me.
I’ve never been able to forget.
Perhaps it was his jet black hair,
or the changing copper-color of his eyes,
the intense way he looked at me…
or the fact that he awakened my passion for the first time, at once otherworldly yet heartbreakingly real.
But after that kiss, I never saw him again.

His name was Jack Beauloup.
Jack, my “Beautiful Wolf.”

Twenty years passed. He has returned. For me.





It’s You (It’s You #2)
Author: K.P. Kelley
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: January 17, 2017

Description:

The thrilling conclusion of Katy Regnery’s first paranormal romance series!

HAPPILY EVER AFTER… To some, they’re just words signifying a fairytale ending. For me, Jack Beauloup, they represent an unyielding desire: Forever with Darcy Turner, the unexpected love of my life. A love that has placed her human life in danger.

According to Pack Law, my binding is an abomination that must be severed. It’s ignited a fiery hatred that I must confront and control.

But what is bound cannot be broken. I will keep Darcy safe. Even if it means giving up on my dreams. Even if it means giving up my life.



Darcy put her hands on his face and tilted it to the side, leaning forward to press her lips against his. His mouth was hot and soft, but he didn’t respond to her. He was pouting. He was telling her how much it bothered him that she wanted to go home. She laced her hands around his neck, pulling him down to her, rubbing her body against his, gently wiggling her tongue between his lips.

She heard his keys fall to the floor as his arms swooped around her, lifting her off the ground, into his arms, flush up against his body. He sighed into her mouth, his tongue stroking hers with the same rhythm he’d used to make love to her, and she felt her hunger for him pooling, throbbing and insistent, below her waist.

Sounds of passion escaped her throat as he grappled for the button of her jeans, urgently unzipped them, then pushed them down. She unbuttoned and unzipped his pants as fast as she could, freeing his hard, ready sex. Without breaking contact with her lips, he put his hands under her arms and lifted her against the back of the front door, holding her hips with his hands and sinking without warning into her wet, waiting body, thrusting upwards as she cried out his name.

She felt vulnerable and confined, at his mercy, which she found incredibly hot, and she wound her hands in his hair, throwing her head back against the door as he plunged deeper and deeper into the recesses of her body, his pelvic bone rubbing the nub of sensitive flesh over her entry. The sharp sweetness of their mating became more and more tightly coiled until—

“Jack…Jack…Jaaaaaaaaaack!” Her head fell forward on his shoulder and her body convulsed around him as he thrust into her one final time, emitting a loud, roaring growl from his throat and howling her name, “Darcy!” as they climaxed together.

K.P. Kelley is the paranormal-writing alter ego of New York Times bestselling author Katy Regnery.

She has only read two paranormal books: Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness, both by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. K.P. has absolutely no idea if she’s doing the “paranormal thing” right…if she is, your encouragement would be much appreciated.

Her first two books, It’s You #1 and It’s You #2 will be available on January 3rd and 17th because K.P. hates cliffhangers and doesn’t think a reader should have to suffer through them for more than two weeks.

You can find K.P. hanging out with contemporary romance author, Katy Regnery. They share a brain.







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January 20, 2017

Spotlight + Giveaway: The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

The Fire by Night
Author: Teresa Messineo
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow

Description:

A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.

In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.

Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can... and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.

When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.
  


Advanced Praise:

“Messineo is at her best when describing the squalid environment and psychological mayhem, creating an All Quiet on the Western Front from American women's perspectives… Jo's and Kay's devastating military experiences ring true. A vibrant telling of the nurses' nightmares during a brutal war.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Meticulously researched…Messineo has an eye for accurate historical detail and skillfully portrays her characters’ inner emotions; this story will stay with readers long after they have finished the book.”—Library Journal
 
“Messineo’s writing style, in which scenes often play out without extensive explanation but are later elucidated, adds to the feel of wartime chaos…The novel’s strength lies in how well it conveys—mostly without sentimentality—the selflessness and bravery of nurses during the darkest hours….Engaging.”—Publishers Weekly

“An epic story of love, loss and survival that weaves meticulous research together with the complexities of the human heart. This novel is not to be missed."
—Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of FLIGHT PATTERNS
 
“A luminous once-in-a-lifetime story of war, love, loss and the enduring grace of the human spirit. I can't remember the last time I was so deeply moved by a novel. You must read this book!”
—Lauren Willig, author of the Pink Carnation series and THE OTHER DAUGHTER
 
“THE FIRE BY NIGHT is quite simply historical fiction at its best: a genuine page-turner, with vivid language and rich, unforgettable characters. But more than that, it’s a startling anthem to the service and sacrifice of women in World War II.”
David Gilham, author of THE CITY OF WOMEN
 
“With strong, sharp characters, explosive situations, marvelous detail, epic sweep, this fine first novel of war and friendship has it all.”— Laird Hunt, author of NEVERHOME

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30037785-the-fire-by-night

Teresa Messineo spent seven years researching the history behind THE FIRE BY NIGHT, her first novel. A graduate of DeSales University, her varied interests include homeschooling her four children, volunteering with the underprivileged, medicine, swing dancing and competitive athletics. She lives near Philadelphia with her family.






 Thanks to the wonderful people at William Morrow, I have (1) copy of the book to give away! Open to US only!











 

Cover Reveal: Walking the Divide by Martine Lewis

 Walking the Divide (Gray Eyes #3)
Author: Martine Lewis 
Genre: Upper YA/Coming of Age/Contemporary Romance with a touch of Paranormal 
Publisher: BMJ Chanapi Press  

Description:

Elyssa Thompson, wealthy Manhattan upper class girl, wants something more from life, something meaningful beyond the drunken rich kid parties and shallow talk about clothes and makeup. Zander Fredrick, street kid, victim of a broken foster care system, survives with the help of his power to project feelings onto other people. When he sees Elyssa in Central park one day, he feels a pull toward her, something beyond attraction, something that promises of home and happiness.  

Can Elyssa and Zander cross the divide of social class to be together?

     
Martine Lewis is a forty something who was born and raised in the French speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived. 

Her first written endeavor was a 200-page handwritten Duran Duran bandfiction which she wrote when she was eleven years old. Of all her written work, this is the only one she no longer has. 

All throughout high school, Martine wrote more bandfictions and some original work, then she went to write fanfictions in the Star Wars, Buffy and Harry Potter universes. Her fanficiton in the Potterverse are mostly centered on characters of her own creation and can be found on fanfiction.net

Following her viewing of Roswell on Netflix in 2012, Martine wrote book two and three of the Gray Eyes Series, then went on to create the Gray Eyes Series universe in which she has been playing ever since. She writes contemporary coming-of-age romance fiction (young adult/new adult) with a twist. 

Martine is an avid reader and rollerskater. She loves sushi, hot chocolate on a cold day, and the beach. But what she loves above all else is to curl on her chair with her computer and write more stories for her readers. 

Martine currently lives in Houston TX with her two cats. 

Author Links: 
Website: www.martinelewisauthor.com 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/martinelewisauthor 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/authorMartine 
Instagram: www.instagram.com/martinelewisauthor 
Goodreads author page: www.goodreads.com/martinelewisauthor 
Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/martinelewis 
Amazon sell link: http://goo.gl/DJ2w6n






 

Friday Reveal + Giveaway: The Tick Tock Man by R.M. Clark

Today R.M. Clark and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THE TICK TOCK MAN which releases May 2, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!


A quick note from the author:


The Tick Tock Man is my first foray into the world of speculative fiction. Here in New England, we are fortunate to have many wonderful clocks around. We have clocks in church steeples, parks, above banks and other locations. My idea for this story came from a simple "what if". What if there were a community of "clock people" who kept all these great clocks running? Furthermore, what could go wrong? Then I made something go wrong and the story "clicked." The Tick Tock Man takes place primarily in this fictional clock world, but the issues, conflicts and resolutions are not unlike those in the real world.


THE TICK TOCK MAN
Author: R.M. Clark
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: TantrumBooks
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 237

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Description:

When the clocks in town stop, thirteen-year-old CJ discovers an unusual "clock world" where most of the citizens are clock parts, tasked with keeping the big clocks running. But soon the seemingly peaceful world is divided between warring factions with CJ instructed to find the only person who can help: the elusive Tick Tock Man.

With the aid of Fuzee, a partly-human girl, he battles gear-headed extremists and razor-sharp pendulums in order to restore order before this world of chimes, springs, and clock people dissolves into a massive time warp, taking CJ's quiet New England town with it.


Chapter One

Something wasn’t right.

I’d planned on sleeping in Thanksgiving morning because, hey, it was Thanksgiving, and that meant no school and no stupid alarm to wake me up. Well, that was the plan.

At precisely eight a.m., the clock sitting a mere two feet from my head wailed.

Thunka thunka thunka thunka.

Stupid clock. That wasn’t even a real alarm sound. It was just an invented strange noise to annoy me. I checked the buttons on top. No alarm set and no radio. Maybe it was a dream? Just to be sure, I gave the clock a good whack.

All was well. Back to sleep.

Bonka bonka bonka bonka.

Now it was nine o’clock. I sat up and grabbed the clock with every intention of tossing it against the back wall. What a pleasure it would have been to see it smash into a million pieces. I win!

But, this clock was a birthday present from Uncle Artie. He’d said it was “a special clock for a special kid.” I didn’t like being called “special” because that had a different meaning at school. But it was a cool clock.

Until now. I mean, what kind of noise was that? Certainly not the alarm sound I was used to.

I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t help but wonder what crazy not-real-clock noise Uncle Artie’s “special” clock would make next. So I got out of bed.

Since it was Thanksgiving, I was not at all surprised to see my mom up and in the kitchen. The turkey was on the counter in a large pan. Her arm was halfway up the turkey’s you-know-what. Not what I wanted to see this early in the morning, thank you very much.

“Good morning,” Mom said. “You’re up early.”

“Couldn’t sleep.” I wanted to mention the special-but-stupid clock that made strange noises at weird times, but she had grabbed another handful of stuffing and stuffed it “up there.”

“We’ll need a few guest chairs from the basement when you get a chance. Nana and Papa are coming over, of course. Plus Grandma and Grandpa Boyce. And Uncle Artie too.”

“Sure thing, Mom.” I was barely awake and she was already asking me to do math. Nobody was coming over for quite a while, so I wouldn’t need the, let’s see, two-plus-two-plus-one chairs for several hours. I had tons of time.

What better way to spend it than on the couch watching TV? It would probably be the most fun I would have all day, with both sets of grandparents coming over. It was annoying enough that they had different titles: “Nana and Papa” on the Barnes side, “Grandma and Grandpa” on the Boyce side.

Then there was Uncle Artie. He wasn’t really an uncle but that’s what we always called him. I’ve also heard him called a “distant cousin,” whatever that means. He said his job as an “importer” took him around the world to some pretty exotic places such as Vienna and Timbuktu and South America. No matter what faraway land he went to, he almost always brought us back a clock. We had wooden clocks, metal clocks, cuckoo clocks, and some that were just too odd to describe. Mom would open a package from him and say, “Hey, look. It’s a clock. Imagine that.”

Each clock came with a wonderful story, so my parents loved to get them for just that reason. Unfortunately, both of them hated having all those clocks, with their constant ticking and chiming, so we kept them stashed away in the spare room upstairs until Uncle Artie came to visit. And since he was on his way, I sat up, knowing what was coming next. In three … two … one.

“CJ! Your Uncle Artie’s coming over, so you’ll need to set the clocks out.” Mom could sure belt it out when she needed to.

I knew the drill. I went to the spare room, pulled the special box out of the closet, and lugged it down the stairs. The crescent moon clock went in the living room, replacing a family portrait, which was fine with me since I looked like a dork in that picture, anyway. There was a special cuckoo clock for the bathroom that was pretty cool. The doors on the upper level opened at the top of the hour, revealing either a boy dancer or girl dancer. I set the correct time and adjusted the weights at the end of a long chain to keep the gears going. Six clocks later, I had completed the task, finishing it off in Dad’s basement shop with a clock made from a circular saw blade.

Uncle Artie’s favorite saying was, “You can never have too many clocks.” On this Thanksgiving Day, it was certainly true, even though I was sure my parents would disagree. Not me. Although I never paid a lot of attention to the clocks, I felt something strange as I took each one from the box and hung it in its rightful spot. The crescent moon clock had two huge eyes, one on the crescent side and the other on the orange side that completed the circle. The eyes were painted on but I swear they followed me as I moved around the room.

I double-checked the time on the cuckoo clock in the bathroom and admired the details in it. The entire clock was a house from a German village, with people dressed in lederhosen on the lower level. Lucky for me it was the top of the hour and the clock chimed, revealing the bird from a door at the top and children dancing in the two small doors just below it. Why hadn’t I noticed that before? What awesome detail!

I completed the clock replacement task, storing the non-clock items in the same box and returning it to the spare bedroom. That practically wore me out, so it was back to the couch. The smell from the great stuff Mom was cooking drifted into the room, reminding me I hadn’t eaten yet.

“I made you some scrambled eggs.” Mom smiled as I entered the kitchen.

“Thanks. I’m starving.”

She held out a plate then pulled it back, still smiling. “Just as soon as you bring up the chairs from the basement.”

This wasn’t fair, but it was the second time she’d asked. The third time would not be as charmed. On my way to the basement, I realized my early morning math was wrong. There were four chairs already in the dining room, so I only needed four more. I could easily get them all in one trip.

I passed Dad’s shop right at 10:30 and the heard the blade clock begin to make noise. I turned on the shop light to get a good look and, sure enough, the blade was slowly turning. Clockwise, not surprisingly. Even stranger was that the numbers never moved as the blade turned. A few seconds later, it stopped and went back to normal. Another clock I had never paid much attention to was suddenly freaking out. I hurried back upstairs with two chairs on each arm.

I got my scrambled eggs, finally.

***

At 11:00, things got even weirder. Dad was up by now, sitting in front of his computer, but that wasn’t the weird part. When the hour struck, the crescent moon clock made a strange clicking noise, and those crazy eyes began to wink at me. The painted-on lips between the four and eight went from a Mona Lisa smile to a full-blown grin. I wanted to say something to Mom or Dad, but who would believe me? I went into the bathroom, and the boy and girl dancers in the German village twirled next to each other while the bird stayed home. This was quickly moving into “bizarre” territory. It didn’t help when my watch— another gift from Uncle Artie—started chiming a sound I had never heard before. I took it off and stuffed it in my pocket. Problem solved.

***

I played video games in the back room, trying my best not to look at or listen to any of the suddenly crazy clocks in the house. It was working too, as I finished off another level of Mortal Warfare IV.

“CJ,” my mom called. “Please set the table.”

“Okay. Just one more level.” I sat up as the battle intensified.

“Now would be better. They’ll be here in less than an hour to watch the football game.”

“I’m on it.” I made it past the gatekeeper to complete the level, which allowed me to save my spot in the game.

I grabbed plates and set them out on the table. I took one plate and placed it on the TV tray next to the window. That’s where I would sit. The rule was: adults at the big table and kids somewhere else. Sometimes it was a card table when my cousins showed up. Since I was the only kid this year, I would have to settle for a TV tray.

My mom’s cell phone rang, and she talked with the phone squeezed against her shoulder as she mixed something in a large bowl. She stopped mid-mix and put the bowl down. “I’m sorry to hear that.” Her voice was all serious. She walked out of the room before I could hear any more of it.

I returned to my table-setting duties, grabbing forks, knives, and napkins. The smell of turkey and all the fixings hit me hard as I placed the silverware around the table. Maybe all this work would be worth it. I took another whiff. Maybe.

Mom returned to the kitchen, put the phone down, and stopped stirring.

“Mom, you okay?”

She looked up at me with moist eyes. “Uncle Artie is in the hospital and can’t make it for Thanksgiving. He hasn’t missed one since your dad and I have been married.” She dabbed her eyes with her apron. “Fortunately, it’s nothing serious and my parents are heading there right now, so they can’t make it until the weekend. I’d better go tell your father. Looks like we’ll only need five plates at the table.”

No Nana and Papa Barnes? No Uncle Artie? I truly hoped Uncle Artie was okay, but this was my big chance to sit at the head of the table, something I’ve always wanted to do. The head chair was bigger and had arms, and it felt like a throne. Uncle Artie always got the honors while I was stuck with the TV tray under the window.

I followed Mom out to the garage where Dad was cleaning out the van, getting it ready for our traditional late-afternoon drive. Dad didn’t seem too bummed to hear the news about Uncle Artie or his in-laws. He barely looked up as he polished the dashboard. “Yeah, well, sorry to hear about Uncle Artie. He’s never down for very long.”

The time was right to pounce. “Mom? Dad?”

Dad turned toward me and nearly bumped his head on the visor. “Yes?”

“I wish Uncle Artie was coming today, I really do.” I tried my best to act like I was crying. It must have worked because I felt my throat tightening. “His are some tough shoes to fill, but I bet he’d want me to sit in his spot at the head of table. After all, he gave me this watch for my birthday last year.” I pulled it out of my pocket to show them. “And we have the same middle name and everything.” I, Carlton James Boyce, was merely guessing at his middle name, hoping neither of my parents knew the truth. “Please? I think I’ve earned it.”

Neither of them thought about it for too long. “It’s all yours, kid,” Dad said as he leaned on the roof of the van.

“Remember your manners at the table,” Mom said. “Uncle Artie would want it that way.”

Manners? Oh, please. Uncle Artie smoked a lot, drank a lot, and sometimes swore a lot. In spite of all that, he was my favorite relative. Over the years, besides the watches and clocks, he had given me several toy cars, baseball cards, stuffed animals, and even a five-dollar bill. These gifts were always “our little secret.” Plus, he told the greatest stories.

Grandma and Grandpa Boyce arrived a little later, and each gave me a quick hug. It’s a terrible thing to say, and I know I’m supposed to love my grandparents without question, but Mom’s parents—the “good ones” who actually liked me—weren’t coming. If Mom and Dad ever found out I felt that way, I’d be grounded for a month—Dad’s typical punishment.

Dad and Grandpa went to the living room to watch the game while the women got the food prepared. I tried to help, but I mostly got in the way.

Everything was ready just before two o’clock, and I grabbed the spot at the head of the table, with Grandma and Grandpa to my right and Mom and Dad to my left. Everyone sat down except Grandpa. He placed his hands on the table and leaned toward my dad.

“I guess this doesn’t rate as a special occasion, eh, George?”

“How’s that, Pop?” Dad said.

“The Hoffhalder. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition, isn’t it?”

“You bet it is.”

The Hoffhalder was a large mantle clock that sat in the corner of the dining room on what mom called the buffet. The Hoffhalder had been in the family for decades, and Dad would only wind it on special occasions. Uncle Artie always had the honors when he came over.

“I’ll do it, Dad,” I said.

“Can he handle it?” asked Grandpa. “He’s just a child.”

I’m right here! I thought. And I’m not a child anymore. I’m thirteen.

“Sure he can,” Grandma said. “Now, make Uncle Artie proud.” She gave me her patented don’t-screw-it-up look.

“CJ, just be careful, okay?” Dad said.

“Sure thing.” I had seen it wound a thousand times. I took the key from the drawer of the small desk nearby, carefully opened the glass in front, and put the key in the keyhole near the number four. There was another near the number eight. I knew it wound clockwise on the right and counterclockwise on the left.

“Whatever you do, don’t overwind it,” Grandpa said. He gave anyone who ever got near the clock got the same warning.

I started winding. One turn. Two turns. Then it started to get tight, so I stopped. I placed the key in the left hole and began to turn in the other direction with my left hand. One turn. Two turns. It wasn’t getting any tighter. Three turns. That was odd; it usually tightened up by now, but I figured it had just been a while. Four turns and still not tight. I switched to my right hand to finish it up. Five turns. Surely it would start to get tight. Then I heard a faint click, and the key wouldn’t move anymore. Uh-oh.

“Everything all right?” Dad asked.

I pulled the key out and put it back in the drawer. “Everything’s great.” I looked at my watch, and then spun the Hoffhalder’s minute hand around until the time was five minutes until two. After closing the glass, I gently moved the large pendulum at the bottom, and the Hoffhalder began to tick. Whew! All was well.

When the Hoffhalder chimed, it made a beautiful sound. In fact, it seemed to be the only clock sound my family liked. It was a perfect combination of bells and gears and springs working in harmony. We now had three minutes until it would chime on the hour, and everyone at the table waited patiently for the moment to arrive. As the last thirty seconds ticked off, Grandpa nudged Grandma. “Here it comes,” he said in a low voice.

The Hoffhalder struck two and began to chime. Once. Then another.

But the second chime lingered way too long and the pendulum began to swing wildly, knocking into the side walls. The chime sound turned into a grinding noise, and the pendulum stopped.

“CJ!” Dad yelled. “What have you done to my clock?”

“He overwound it,” Grandpa said while making a turning motion with hand.

“Clearly,” said Grandma. “And I’ll bet Uncle Artie is rolling over in his grave as we speak.”

“Artie’s not dead,” Mom said. “Just in the hospital.”

“I’m sorry, everyone,” I said. “I didn’t mean to. Honest. It was an accident.”

“You’re grounded,” Dad said.

“For how long?” I asked.

“A month.”

“A month? Mom?”

“Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?” she said.

I looked around the table, and three sets of eyes were on me. Mom reached out and touched my hand. At least someone was on my side.

“That clock’s been in the family for four generations,” Grandpa said. “Built by the finest clockmaker in Germany.”

“And smuggled out on a steamer ship during World War I,” Grandma added. “Truly one of a kind. Irreplaceable.”

I knew the details by heart, and it just made matters worse. “I’ll get it fixed, okay? I have some money saved up.”

“Sounds like you snapped the mainspring,” Grandpa said, adding a “break in half” motion with his hands.

Grandma leaned over and got as close to me as she could. “It’ll never be the same.”

“A month,” Dad said. He put a finger in my face to make his point. “For breaking my clock.”

He continued to glare at me as Mom began to serve the turkey. We ate in near silence.

I had ruined Thanksgiving.
R. M. Clark is a computer scientist for the Dept. of Navy by day and children’s book writer by night. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.

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(3) winners will receive an eGalley of THE TICK TOCK MAN. Open INT!







 

January 19, 2017

Spotlight + Giveaway: Dawn of Spies by Andew Lane

Dawn of Spies (A Crusoe Adventure #1)
Author: Andrew Lane
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Retelling
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Adaptive Books
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

Description:

An exciting YA re-imagining of the characters from the original Robinson Crusoe.

Rescued from a deserted Caribbean island, 17-year-old Robinson Crusoe and his female friend, Friday, find themselves in late 1600s London, a bustling city that proves as treacherous for them to navigate as the remote island they just left behind.

Thanks to their honed survival skills, Crusoe and Friday are recruited by a young writer named Daniel Defoe to work as agents for Segment W, a covert spy group that reports directly to the Crown.

Crusoe, Friday, and Defoe must rescue the Countess of Lichfield from a kidnapping plot. They discover that a mystical and mysterious organization known as the Circle of Thirteen is plotting to destroy Segment W and change the course of history through a royal kidnapping.

With an illustrious cast of historical characters including King Charles II and Sir Isaac Newton, Dawn of Spies is the first installment of a series that thrusts a young Robinson Crusoe into a new world of espionage, intrigue, and peril.
  


Day of Ice (A Crusoe Adventure #2)
Author: Andrew Lane
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Retelling
Release Date: February 21, 2017

Description:

Months after their rescue by the government agency Segment W, Robinson Crusoe and his friend Friday have proven their skills as secret agents. They’re now climbing the ranks of this exclusive group of spies who reports directly to the Crown. Suddenly, in the dead of winter, Friday is shocked to see her father, who once tried to kill her, walking the streets of London. She tries to elicit the help of Segment W, but they are preoccupied with the continued investigation into an organization that staged a kidnapping of the king’s daughter. What will she do? As Friday’s past comes back to haunt her, she, Crusoe, and Daniel Defoe must uncover the mystical Circle of XIII’s sinister plans to recruit new members into the society using dangerous and magical means. How does her father fit into all of this? Will they be able to escape unscathed?

Day of Ice is the second installment of a series that thrusts a young Robinson Crusoe into a new world of espionage, intrigue, and peril.
Andrew Lane has written some thirty-odd books, ranging from fiction to non-fiction and from science fiction novels based on popular TV series to adult crime novels. He has also written nearly 30  short stories which have been published in various magazines and anthologies. His best known work to date is the highly successful Young Sherlock Holmes series of YA novels, of which eight have currently been published.
(1) Winner will receive print copies of both books - Open to US only!