Times Have Changed—and a Giveaway!

Dorothy H. HayesDorothy Hayes, a staff writer for local Connecticut newspapers for five years, received an honorary award for her in-depth series on Vietnam Veterans from the Society of Professional Journalists. Prior to that she was a Language Arts teacher. A staff writer for a national animal protection organization, for six years, she wrote her first novel, Animal Instinct, in 2006. Dorothy lives in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband, Arthur. She also raised four children, and is the mother-in-law to three, grandmother to fourteen and great-grandmother to Bella.

Her other books in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series are: Murder at the P&Z, 2013 and Broken Window, 2015. Her short story, “Back from the War”, was published by Mysterical-E, December 2016.

She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime-Tri-State Chapter, and Mystery Writers of American. Visit her at dorothyhayes.com.

When I was a kid, I had a dream, I wanted four children and to write books.

I’ve been blessed with both. A have a grown son and three daughters. With my latest book, Keys to Nowhere, I’ll have four published books.

Life seems normal with my children around me.

I was a stay at home mom and they were my life for twenty years. I think back on those years with my four babies as the blossoming spring of my life. I was twenty-seven. Family surrounded us; we were lucky for we had loving mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides.

Nobody moved away in those days.

It was my former husband and I that were the first of our family to move from the Northeast when we ventured to the Southwest. It was a corporate ladder move to Tucson, Arizona. We stayed for six and a half years. With the next corporate move, we returned to the Northeast, to Connecticut, but my son, then a college student, refused to leave. He had fallen in love with Arizona in those formative years and Arizona was home.

I hadn’t known, however, I often tell him, that people lose children along the corporate path, I would have said no to the original move. But my son still sings the praises of Arizona and we all love our visits to the desert paradise.

My children are wedded to wonderful mates.

Years ago, when they were just married, my three daughters lived in Connecticut. Their children, ten all together, were born here and I felt as if I had my babies back and more, I was blessed to be present at the hospital when they were born. Lots of family gatherings followed and we supported the new moms and dads and their newborns. So for years, we had ten grandchildren nearby. By then I was working as a writer for local newspapers; that was after the divorce and I was remarried to my husband, who is also a writer and supports me as a novelist.

My Ohio daughter visits often, thank heavens, and my daughter’s children in South Carolina come back home to visit grandma where, “nothing ever changes.” My daughter and family in Manhattan keep me happy year round on birthdays and holidays and until we’re all together again. We gathered together four times this year for various occasions. In the meantime, technology keeps me in touch with all of them, a text here and there exchanging expressions of love.

Did I mention that we have fourteen grandchildren in all?

We have a great granddaughter?

Did I mention that my kids and grandkids write book reviews and hold book-signing parties for me?

Two of my daughters are my beta readers?

Life is good.

Although, like a mama bear, I’d love to have all my children nearby, where I can sigh with contentment at the sight of them for life seems to make the most sense when I’m in their presence for they are the fruit of my life.

keys-to-nowhereBut times have changed.

On a day-to-day basis we all have to live our own lives and they are not here. So I had a choice, I could spend my days in longing for these precious beings, waiting to see them again, or I could have a full life in between our incredible visits.

I chose the latter.

When I was a kid, I had a dream—I was going to write books and I was going to have four children. I was blessed with both. Now my dream is to write my next book, sing my heart out in my church choir, all with the full knowledge that my sweet family members are in the midst of seeking their dreams and they will be with me again, maybe not everyday, but always in my heart and for our next visit.


To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Keys to Nowhere by Dorothy Hayes
just leave a comment below. The
name will be drawn on
Friday night, February 3rd. This
is open to residents of the US.

Book Review: Jadeite’s Journey by Lucinda Stein



Title: Jadeite’s Journey
Author: Lucinda Stein
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing

Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult



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jadeites-journeyJadeite’s Journey
Lucinda Stein
Inkspell Publishing, January 2017
ISBN 978-0-9976212-6-6

From the publisher—

When romance turns deadly…

Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.

Book covers DO make a difference, don’t they? It certainly did for me this time—as soon as I saw this one, I just had to know more so kudos to the cover artist, Najla Qamber.

No disease, no crime, no poverty, no death. Sounds great at first, right? No plants, no animals, all made extinct because they serve no purpose. No unproductive people allowed to exist. No right to decide who sits next to you. Maybe the positives of this society aren’t so positive after all but if you’ve never known any other way….

At first, I couldn’t get a clear idea of the time frame and the history leading up to Jadeite’s period with relation to our own time—the numbers didn’t seem to work—but I decided that wasn’t so important. I also found it troubling that the still remaining signs of pre-United Society civilization existed so closely to her sheltered environment but she nothing of it, seeming to contradict her persona as an intelligent, curious young lady. How is it possible that crumbling buildings and roads from our own time are within a brief shuttle ride and, yet, she had no idea? Leaving these issues aside, though, I was quite taken with the world Ms. Stein created with her attention to small details such that I could picture myself in Jadeite’s environment.

Jadeite herself is an appealing protagonist as are her family and her friend, Electra. Mattie, on the other hand, starts showing his questionable side early on and I would like to think such an intelligent girl would see through him but, alas, she falls for the surface as so many girls do. On the positive side, Jadeite soon begins to acknowledge her own doubts concerning facets of the United Society’s dicta and its harsh laws.

What Jadeite will do with the shocking things she learns is, of course, a large part of her story and I found myself intrigued with this girl’s life journey.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

About the Author

lucinda-steinA school librarian for over twenty years, Stein now writes fulltime. Sanctuary: Family, Friends, & Strangers was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Three Threads Woven, was a 2010 WILLA Finalist. Her story, Sulfur Springs, won First Place in the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction competition. Her stories have appeared in Pooled Ink, The South Dakota Review, Fine Lines, and Women Writing the West online.

When not writing, she hikes desert canyons and alpine trails. She loves anything vintage, her shelter-rescued dog, Opie, and, most of all, her husband, Rob.

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Book Review: Without Annette by Jane B. Mason

without-annetteWithout Annette
Jane B. Mason
Scholastic Press, June 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-81995-4

In an attempt to help her girlfriend, Annette, escape from a drunken, abusive mother, Josie Little decides they should both apply to Brookwood Academy, an elite boarding school in Connecticut. Besides getting Annette away from her mother, Josie believes she and Annette can live as roommates and as a couple there without the constant scrutiny of the folks in their small hometown in northern Minnesota.

However, nothing goes as Josie plans. They are assigned rooms on separate floors with different roommates. Annette falls in with the elite, snobby group of girls who run with her roommate, Becca. Josie becomes more and more morose and feels she’s losing a part of herself as the school year goes on and Annette drifts further away from their lesbian relationship.

Growing up in a house full of brothers, Josie easily befriends a group of boys who are searching the tunnels under the school for a shrunken head of legendary importance to the school’s history. One of the boys falls for Josie and further complicates her adjustment and her relationship with Annette.

The story is told in first person by Josie and is full of inner-speak and teenage angst. The romance here is between two girls, which puts a new twist on the jealousy and growing apart that accompanies romance novels, but the processes of breaking up, coming of age, and understanding oneself are universal. All the characters are believable and as fully developed as they can be from a story told entirely from one, first-person point of view.

I found it hard to read the graphic descriptions of sexuality between the young (starting at age twelve) girls, and I grew tired of the constant second-guessing and profound inner-thought written in language beyond most fifteen-year-olds. The author wanted to be sure her readers understood the message. However, the lessons Josie internalized apply to all kids, no matter what their sexual preferences.

The book is appropriate for young girls coping with their own homosexual preferences and for older teenagers to understand that lesbian girls have the same feelings, intellectual abilities, and choices in life management as everyone else.

Reviewed by Joyce Ann Brown, November 2016.
Author of cozy mysteries: Catastrophic Connections, Furtive Investigation and Nine LiFelines, the first three Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries.

Book Reviews: Rescued by Eliot Schrefer and The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Eliot Schrefer
Scholastic Press, May 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-65503-3

Every child wants a pet at some time or another.  A dog, kitten, pony or orangutan.  Maybe orangutan isn’t typical, but if you grew up watching BJ and the Bear or Every Which Way But Loose, you may see the simian sway.  Whatever the animal, it is almost always up to parents to make the decision.  Children don’t always know what is best.

When John casually notes the potential appeal of ape ownership while watching an old movie, he was not actually asking for a pet.  His dad could dig the draw when he recognized the leading “man” as an orangutan because sometimes the adorable orange creatures would wander around his company’s plant in Indonesia.

In fact, he returned from a business trip bearing a baby-orangutan-in-a-barrel.  John was beside himself with wonder and joy.  His mother was also struck with wonder; but hers was the “in doubt” version, much different than the “filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel” version that burst from her son. John’s wonder won and Raja became the newest member of the family for four rambunctious years.  Until divorce divided them.

The two year separation of John and Raja was torture; for both boy and beast; but paled in comparison to their last days together leading up to their final farewell.   This relationship is written so well, it is as if I actually witnessed it.  The fondness, understanding, patience, support and tolerance between the “brothers” is palpable.  The range of emotions that rocket through John as he blindly battles the hardest decision of his entire life build the ultimate reader’s rollercoaster and recalling that this is a sixteen-year-old-boy, ties a knot and truly tugs the heart-strings.

I thoroughly enjoyed each and every bit of this tiny tome and would be remiss if I did not highly recommend Rescued to those searching for reads.  While the book may  technically tip into the Middle-Grade category (for the 12-year-old and older readers), I have no doubt that there are many Teen-Aged, Young-Adult and Not-So-Young-Adult readers that will love Raja’s story as intensely as I do, and I’m confident that I’m not the only reader to learn a lot from it.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2016.


The Game of Love and DeathThe Game of Love and Death
Martha Brockenbrough
Arthur A. Levine Books, May 2015
ISBN 978-0-545-66834-7

The Game of Love and Death is positively packed with particulars to ponder.  Love is a man, Death a woman. Each chooses a competitor, a term I use loosely; the chosen do not actually compete.  Most people are unaware of the Game, even while participating.  Virtually no rules, a victor is declared; but the win seems superfluous.

Flora, an amazing aviation mechanic, is also a phenomenal pilot, possibly rivaling Amelia Earhart.  It is 1937 and she “has the brown skin, and here in America, (you) pay so very much heed to that.” Besides, she can trick herself into believing that she was meant for something else.  The death of her parents created a void she valiantly tried to fill with the jazz nightclub she inherited.  Flora chose work over a high school diploma, believing “…the club was her future and most white folk were hell-bent on keeping colored folk in their place, even if they were polite about it.”

Henry hasn’t had it easy, but he is a white male.  His dream is simple: eke out a living with his beloved bass.  Instead, he works for the newspaper of his almost-adopted family, often accompanying Ethan on interviews.  When Henry sees Flora working on a plane, it is as if he had been sleep-walking through life and is just now completely awake.

The harrowing story of Flora and Henry in the The Game of Love and Death is enriched by the secondary characters.  Ethan isn’t the golden boy he seems, and his secret struggles would tarnish his image if revealed; although there is nothing to be ashamed of.  Simple spoken statements throughout, “there hasn’t been a white newspaper that’s written about the likes of us unless some sort of arrest was involved,” reiterate bigoted opinions; making the book more than just entertaining to thought-provoking, too.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2016.

Book Review: Practical Sins for Cold Climates by Shelley Costa

practical-sins-for-cold-climatesPractical Sins for Cold Climates
A Val Cameron Mystery #1
Shelley Costa
Henery Press, January 2016
ISBN: 978-1-943390-41-0
Trade paperback

Val Cameron is a senior editor with a NY publisher in a bit of financial trouble. The story opens with Val on her way to Canada to persuade an author to sign a contract they hope will be lucrative. The Canadian island resort she lands in is nothing like she expects, or like her boss, who owns a house there, has indicated. Far from luxurious and barely accessible, she immediately runs into violence at a community meeting she attends, hoping to meeting her author. Everyone on the island has an agenda. Those who want to preserve the land as pristine wilderness. Those who want to exploit the island’s resources. Those who barely eke out a living and want jobs.

And worse, the first thing she discovers is an old, unsolved murder that overshadows everything and everyone to this day. Including the widower with whom Val immediately forms an attraction, and the author she’s been sent to find.

The book is well-written, well-plotted, and quite literary in texture, with plenty of twists and turns. These aren’t characters who immediately endeared themselves to me, but that’s not to say others will have the same reaction. I liked the setting and the ecological aspects of the story. I did wonder why, although the murdered woman was always on Val’s mind, after two years and the death going unsolved, nobody else seemed terribly concerned or anxious.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2016.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.

Book Review: Tangle of Strings by Ashley Farley


Title: Tangle of Strings
Series: Sweeney Sisters #4
Author: Ashley Farley
Publication Date: December 2016/January 2017
Genres: Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction



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Other books in the series:

her-sisters-shoes-2     lowcountry-stranger-2     boots-and-bedlam


tangle-of-stringsTangle of Strings
Sweeney Sisters #4
Ashley Farley
Leisure Time Books
Print December 2016, Ebook January 2017
ISBN 978-0998274119
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A nearly tragic accident leads to a discovery that rocks the Sweeney family’s world.

Some families never resolve conflicts. Not so with the Sweeneys. Their sense of family, their love for one another, and their willingness to forgive have always triumphed and brought them back together. Until now. The latest crisis threatens to tear the family apart and crumble the foundation that has always proved itself rock solid.

At the heart of the matter are sixteen-year-old Annie Bethune and her boyfriend, Cooper. At stake are their dreams for the future. As to these dreams, no one in the family holds back when asserting an opinion.

Annie soon begins to feel like a puppet on strings with all those she loves telling her what to do. When those strings become tangled and a family feud develops, Annie, unable to bear the pressure, runs away. Straight into the arms of danger.

That’s an interesting title, isn’t it? I can see two ways of interpreting it—the tangle of strings represents the tangled web resulting from lies and poor choices or perhaps it’s an allusion to the various threads of life, both everyday and unusual, that so often create chaos at some level. I’ll leave it to you to decide once you’ve had a chance to read Tangle of Strings.

Ms. Farley continues the story of Annie who came to be a part of the extended Sweeney family with all her emotional baggage but who found a haven with this loving group of people. At the center of this family are three sisters—Jackie, Faith and Sam—who are typical siblings with their squabbles, their worries and, ultimately, their love for each other and everyone else in their circle. Annie could not have found a safer or more welcoming home.

Escaping her past is not so easy, especially when her mother, Heidi, comes to town. Heidi, who abandoned Annie as a child to pursue her dream of stardom, is one of those narcissists who see nothing beyond their own perspective. She has no understanding of how badly she hurt her daughter and behaves as though Annie should welcome her back with open arms, something this teen is not willing to do, and fleeing from her mother leads to a very bad car crash.

Emotions run high as one issue mingles with more, leading to what can be considered a real crisis. A troubled young romance, Annie’s accident and resulting injuries, Heidi’s unwanted intrusion into Annie’s life, a pair of criminals and, above all, Annie’s and Cooper’s unplanned pregnancy put so much pressure on this young girl and her surrogate family that it’s almost certain relationships and feelings will change. As in so many family situations, everyone has his or her own opinion about what needs to be done and too many forget that pushing their own agendas doesn’t really help. In fact, they come close to being that stereotypical family that can be really overbearing while the intentions are well-meaning. When all is said and done, though, the story boils down to an exploration of the relationships between parents and their children, biological or not, and the importance of truly listening to one another.

Tangle of Strings is another fine episode in Ms. Farley’s engaging series but I do suggest the series be read in order because each book builds on the one before and it’s the best way to fully understand the Sweeneys and other people in their lives. I’m sorry to say this appears to be the end of the Sweeney family saga but Ms. Farley has at least left us with the possibility of future installments and I’ll be very happy if that happens.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

About the Author

Ashley Farley 2Ashley Farley is the author of the bestselling series, the Sweeney Sisters Series. Ashley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you’ve read the last word, then she’s done her job.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshiped, the man she could not save.

Ashley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.

Ashley loves to hear from her readers. Feel free to visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ashleywfarley or twitter.com/ashleywfarley.

Catch up with Ashley



Follow the tour:

January 21st: Launch

January 22: Reading Is My SuperPower & Katie’s Clean Book Collection

January 23: Christy’s Cozy CornersMel’s Shelves, & Zerina Blossom’s Books

January 24: Mythical Books & Falling Leaves

January 25: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium & Nicole’s Book Musings

January 26: Buried Under Books

January 27: Grand Finale


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Waiting On Wednesday (59)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Continue reading