Davenport House Prequel: Debutante
Marie Silk
Publication date: April 21st 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

The family saga begins in Debutante, a prequel to the best-selling Davenport House series. A life of luxury for the Davenports means drudgery for the servants on the grand country estate. This is their story in 1909 America, six years prior to the events of book one.

While her father is away on business, sixteen-year-old Mary Davenport feels confined and alone, despite her privileged life at the family’s mansion. As the day of Mary’s debutante ball draws near, the servants are conflicted by instructions from Mary’s mother to starve her until she fits into a gown that was made too small. Mary is also under pressure to act the part of society while being forbidden from seeing her only friend, the servant boy who works in the stable.

In a shantytown hours away, a young girl called Abigail is hired to sew a gown for a dressmaker’s wealthy patron. Abigail gives up her education in order to provide for her impoverished family. Neither she nor Mary is aware of how connected their futures are destined to become.

Goodreads / Amazon

Special release price of 99¢!

AND: Each book in the series will be on sale for 99¢ between April 22-27!

 

Author Marie Silk

Marie Silk has enjoyed writing stories and plays since childhood. She lives with her family in the United States and travels the globe as often as life permits. She is an admirer of history, antiques, and architecture. Marie is the author of the best selling Davenport House family saga.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook

 

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice.

 

This is a really fun meme!

The only rules are to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader and find a sentence or a few (no spoilers) that grabs you and post it.

Then go over to Freda’s Voice and leave your link so we can visit your 56!

My 56 for this week is from:

 Ararat

  by Christopher Golden

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Genre: Horror / Thriller

 My 56 from the hardcover.

For so long he had believed himself next to fearless, but this fear bit as deeply into him as the mountain chill.

~~~~~

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. The artifact tempts their professional curiosity; so they break it open. Inside, they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver—not the holy man that they expected, a hideous creature with horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain…but they are not alone.

Amazon

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Leave your link and I’ll drop by your 56.

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

You can find a list of my reviews HERE.

For a list of free eBooks go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Ashes banner

Title: THE ASHES
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publisher: Bear Media
Pages: 277
Genre: Thriller/Horror/Romantic Suspense

The Ashes (The Rebecca Underhill Trilogy Book 2) by [Zandri, Vincent]

My Review

I wasn’t prepared for this one. I was expecting a creepy read. What I got was a dark, psychological nightmare. Loved it too.

As I got into this story I suspected there might be a book before this one. The author relates a huge event in the past that comes back to haunt Rebecca, her best friend, and their children. A psycho killer has escaped from the asylum and is coming for them, bent on finishing the job his cellmate started all those years ago.

You’ve seen the movies or read the books with similar scenarios. What will get you is how the author turns it darker, more horrifying. I’m warning you right now, don’t expect happy endings for everyone. This killer is cunning, patient, and doesn’t even seem to be entirely human. He’s like a spider. He spins his web and waits for the prey to get trapped in it.

I questioned some of the actions, especially Rebecca’s and her boyfriend Sam’s. They knew the killer was out there somewhere. Knew there was a threat, especially to the children. And hesitating at some crucial times wasn’t something I imagined I’d do. I’d be screaming for the police at the top of my lungs. I know, that’s easy for me to say. I’m not the one being hunted. But, then the story wouldn’t be so intense, wouldn’t get those gut reactions I suspect the author was going for. Sure got them out of me.

This is a hair ripping, wild look into the mind of a monster, and the struggles his victims go through to escape his killing web. I mentioned earlier that I suspected their was a book before this one. There is. The Remains. While I read this book first and got information about the earlier story, I plan to read it and expect to get just as much enjoyment out of it even though I have an idea how it ends.

If you love psychological thrillers with a large dose of horror, you’ll want to read this book.

5 Stars

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Synopsis

HORROR IN THE DARK WOODS

It’s been eight years since artist and single mom, Rebecca Underhill, was abducted and left to die in an old broken down house located in the middle of the dark woods. But even if her abductor, Joseph William Whalen, has since been killed, another, more insidious evil is once more out to get her in the form of the Skinner. The son of an abusive butcher, Skinner intends on finishing the job Whalen started but failed at.

How is he going to get to Rebecca?

He’s going to do it through her children, by luring them into the cornfield behind the old farmhouse they live in.

HORROR IN THE DEPTHS

Now, armed with the knowledge that the Skinner has escaped incarceration at a downstate facility for the criminally insane, Rebecca must face the most horrifying challenge of her adult life: Rescuing the children not from a house in the woods, but from the abandoned tunnels that run underneath her property.

But the Skinner is watching Rebecca’s every move.

Horrifying question is, will she live long enough to save the children?

For More Information: Amazon / Goodreads

Amazon

 

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Check out the Excerpt:

Albany Police Department

South Pearl Street Precinct

 

The old homicide detective sits behind his metal desk surrounded by the cold quiet of the early morning, staring forlornly into the radiant screen on his department-issued laptop. He’s been using the laptop, which is integrated with the department’s web server, for years and years now, but he still fondly recalls the days when his desktop supported only a telephone connected to an old fashioned landline and beside that, an IMB Selectric typewriter. And how could he ever forget the old two tiered Inbox/Outbox?

He glances at his inbox and the two dozen or so new emails that have come his way since he last checked it the previous evening. He scans the emails for their importance, relegating most of them to routine, until he comes to one marked, “URGENT: Serial Murderer Hanover Escapes Custody.”

The detective, whose name is Nick Miller, is a tall, wiry, white-haired man. He has been on the force for more years than a man should be. Or so he’s been told countless times by his peers inside the department. But he’s a widower who can’t seem to get over the fact that his wife is gone, even years after her untimely death on an operating table after suffering a burst aneurism. It also explains why he’s sitting behind his desk, suffering from the pangs of a whiskey hangover, on a quiet Sunday morning.

He opens the email.

“To Whom It May Concern,” reads the department wide message. “The former cellmate of New York State registered sex offender and convicted murderer, Joseph William Whalen, has escaped from the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, New York while en route to a routine medical review at an upstate facility. Lawrence Frederick Hanover, 69, Caucasian, was convicted on several counts of murder in the first degree and is considered extremely dangerous. Both guards who were assisting with the transfer were killed during an apparent violent exchange with Hanover, aka Skinner, or The Skinner. His present whereabouts is unknown.”

 Miller exhales, sits back in his swivel chair.

The email originates not from the FBI but from the state police, most notably, the Rensselaer County Division. He recalls Whalen as the maximum security inmate who, not long after his release, attempted to abduct and kill the same woman, Rebecca Underhill, whom he’d abducted back when she was a little girl in 1977. Her twin sister, Molly, was also the target of his attacks. Although Molly has since died, Rebecca, still lives in the area with her son.

The email comes with several pictures of Hanover, including his most recent mugshots and psychiatric facility photo records. The small, bald, scraggily faced little man doesn’t seem like he could hurt a fly much less another human being. But Miller wasn’t born yesterday and he knows that even a little man can kill as efficiently and quickly as a big, monster of a man. Perhaps even more quickly and efficiently.

Sitting back up, he scans the rest of the email.

“While state police have issued state-wide APBs and launched a task force to hunt for Hanover’s whereabouts, we are asking that police cooperate in every way possible to ensure the quick, efficient, and otherwise discreet apprehension of the serial murderer. All communications should be delivered directly to this office via the email/phone number listed.”

Once more Miller sits back.

“The quick, efficient, and otherwise discreet apprehension of the serial murderer,” he whispers. “Somebody fucked up and that somebody doesn’t want the press to get ahold of this story.”

Sitting there, alone in the quiet office, Miller feels a distinct and very unpleasant chill run up and down his backbone.

“What would a schooled Statie or FBI pathologist have to say about this rather delicate situation?” he whispers quietly to himself. “That a killer as skilled and hungry as Hanover is gonna slip up and be found sleeping in some crappy hotel somewhere? That they can then slip him back inside his rubber room at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric, like he’s some two-bit bank robber?” The detective laughs aloud. “I’ll tell you something right now. If the Skinner doesn’t want to be found, then no way in hell he’s gonna be found. Simple as that. He didn’t escape to be free. He escaped to kill, to butcher, and that’s all.”

His bloodshot eyes once more focused on the laptop screen, the old detective shifts the curser so that it clicks on the Action Taken box beside the open email. He clicks on Saved Mail.

Closing the laptop lid, he finds that his hands are shaking. He opens the bottom desk drawer, pulls out the bottle of Jack Daniels stored inside it. Pouring a generous shot into his empty ceramic coffee cup, he drinks it down.

“Skinner,” he whispers. “Who will you flay next? Whose flesh will you feast on?”

~~~~~

Author Vincent Zandri

Ashes author

Winner of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback Novel, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE No.1 bestselling author of more than 25 novels including THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT WEEPS, EVERYTHING BURNS, and ORCHARD GROVE. He is also the author of numerous Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA among them. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out Books, Thomas & Mercer and Polis Books, while his foreign publisher is Meme Publishers of Milan and Paris. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. Recently, Zandri was the subject of a major feature by the New York Times. He has also made appearances on Bloomberg TV and FOX news. In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named Zandri’s, THE SHROUD KEY, as one of the “Best Books of 2014.” Recently, Suspense Magazine selected WHEN SHADOWS COME as one of the “Best Books of 2016”. A freelance photo-journalist and the author of the popular “lit blog,” The Vincent Zandri Vox, Zandri has written for Living Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more. He lives in New York and Florence, Italy.

Website & Social Links:

Website / Twitter / Facebook

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Ashes giveaway

Vincent is giving away ten Kindle e-copies of The Ashes!

By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.

Ten winners will be chosen viz Rafflecopter.

This giveaway ends midnight May 31st.

Good luck everyone!

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie
Jake Wolfe Book 1
by Mark Nolan
Genre: Thriller, Crime Mystery
 
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A mysterious killer who calls himself The Artist is assassinating
wealthy lawyers in San Francisco. When war veteran Jake Wolfe
accidentally takes his picture during a murder, The Artist adds Jake
to his kill list and he becomes a target in a deadly game of cat and
mouse that only one of them can survive. How far would you go to
protect your loved ones from a killer? Jake wants to leave his top
secret, violent past life behind him. But the reluctant, flawed hero
can’t ignore his duty and his personal moral compass.
This gripping thriller is full of suspense, plot twists and surprises. It
features a cast of interesting characters, including several
strong-willed women, two wise-cracking San Francisco Police Homicide
Inspectors, one highly intelligent dog, and a philosophical killer
who shares Jake’s admiration for Van Gogh paintings but still plans
to kill him anyway. As Jake gets closer to unraveling a merciless
conspiracy, his life gets turned upside down and the danger level
increases, adding to the growing suspense. This entertaining
page-turner starts out as a murder mystery and then shifts gears into
a high-speed action thriller that takes you on a roller-coaster ride
to the riveting ending. A good read for those who enjoy mysteries,
suspense, action and adventure, vigilante justice, unique characters,
witty dialogue and a little romance too. Now on sale in over a dozen
countries around the world. Be the first among your friends to read
it.
 
 
.
Mark Nolan began his writing career as a successful entrepreneur who
created news stories for businesses that were featured in The Wall
Street Journal, National Geographic, Parade, Reader’s Digest and The
Associated Press. Nolan was born in San Francisco, grew up in the Bay
Area of California, and has also lived in the Pacific Northwest and
Hawaii. He has raised two great kids and one very smart retriever
dog. Right now he’s busy writing the next book about Jake and Cody
(Book 2), but he also tries to make time every day to answer emails
from readers. You can reach him at marknolan.com/contact

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

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I’m so excited to share this book with you.  Check out my 5 Star review of Mama’s Knight. And enjoy the interview with Author Aurora Whittet.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

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Interview with Aurora Whittet, author of

Mama’s Knight: A Cancer Story of Love

 

There are many books out there about cancer. What makes yours different?

The big difference with Mama’s Knight, is that it is personalizable. No matter what type of cancer you have, breast, brain, thyroid, this book can help your children understand what is happening. Mom can write in her diagnosis and symptoms. Put in photos of her child and find activities based on mom’s energy level. Most books are concentrated on one type of cancer, but I wanted to create something that any mom with any cancer could find hope and help.

 

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing stories since I was about eleven or twelve years old. Naturally those ones were terrible, but my friends enjoyed them at the time. I continued writing, and one day when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I realized I needed to start pursuing publishing now, because tomorrow wasn’t a guarantee. I published my first novel in 2013, and have since finished the entire Bloodmark Saga series, followed by Mama’s Knight: A Cancer Story of Love. It has been an amazing and creative journey. I’m currently in edit for a new novel, illustrating the daddy version of the cancer book, and writing and illustrating a children’s picture book about monsters. I am endlessly creating something. Keep an eye on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates and Cover Reveals.

 

Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?

I like to listen to the same song on repeat every time I write on a book. Sometimes with longer novels, that can be three or four different songs based on the mood of that section of the book, but whichever song it is, that one is on repeat. It helps me set the tone, return me to where I was the day before, and drown out any distractions, while not becoming a distraction itself.

 

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I would go back to the moment that the doctors told my mom she had cancer again and I would buy us tickets for a week in somewhere amazing and take that moment. I would take her on a trip. I would help her see all the things she dreamed. I kept saying when she’s healthier we’ll go, but she never got better. Sometimes you truly must live in the moment, because tomorrow is never a promise. I would go back to that moment and I would help hug her. What I wouldn’t give for one more hug from my mom.

 

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

You know I don’t think it’s about me. I’m just a mom who writes books. What I want readers to remember is to always love, forgive, find grace, make time, be kind. Be there. Be present. Take the photo of your kids, but also put the phone down and just play. Make the wonderful homemade meal, and make the dinner from a bag. Don’t live by someone else’s standards, make your own rules and find happiness. Life is unexpected and chaotic and there is an ever-present unknown expiration date, so don’t put off the fun and hugs and life for tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come, so love hard every day. And one must always hold the door for the next guy.

Mama's Knight

Genre: Children’s Book / Interactive / Non Fiction

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My Review

Families coping with cancer will find this book invaluable. It’s an interactive book designed to be personalized with children’s names and family pictures, and includes activity plans, and cute, colorful pictures to help a mother with cancer explain treatments and symptoms with their young ones.

I especially liked the idea of coupons the kids can fill out choosing who will help them with an activity when mother is too tired or ill to participate. This is just one of many helpful ideas.

I can honestly say I’ve never come across a book like this before. Very helpful and one of a kind.

5 Stars

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Synopsis

Once upon a time . . . It’s how all heroes begin their story, and you’re a hero, too! Your mama has cancer, and it’s a scary journey, but you can help your mama just by being you—special, wonderful, YOU. Your mama loves you just the way you are. You are your mama’s knight.

Mama’s Knight: A Cancer Story of Love is an emotional toolbox that can help kids and parents communicate about what it means for Mama to have cancer. The book is filled with tools and activities designed to make coping with illness easier on both parent and child, and can be personalized for each child.

Buy the Book:  Author’s Website

Author Aurora Whittet

Aurora Whittet

Aurora Whittet started out as a wild red-haired girl in Minnesota dreaming up stories for her friends to read. Today, she has completed Bloodmark, Bloodrealms, and Bloodmoon of the Bloodmark Saga trilogy and started her journey into children’s books with Mama’s Knight in honor of her own mother who lost her battle with cancer. She’s a national award-winning graphic designer and birth doula in her day jobs. Aurora lives with her family in Minnesota.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Follow The Tour

April 3 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway

April 4 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway

April 5 – Cheryl’s Book Nook – review / author interview / giveaway

April 6 – Books, Dreams, Life – review / author interview / giveaway

April 7 – 100 pages a day – review / guest post / giveaway

April 10 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway

April 11 – Heidi’s Wanderings – review / giveaway

April 12 – Fantastic Feathers – review

April 13 – ReadingBifrost – review / giveaway

April 14 – T’s Stuff – review / guest post / giveaway

April 17 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review

April 18 – Deal Sharing Aunt – review / giveaway

April 19 – FUONLYKNEW – review / author interview / giveaway

April 20 – Book Room Reviews – review / guest post

April 21 – Kristin’s Novel Cafe – review

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to The Kid’s Korner.

I decided to do this feature as I have so many great children’s books to share. From picture books, to books for beginning readers, to middle graders, I have plenty of fun ones.

Today’s I have some very different books to share with you.

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Breakfast Doodles #1

Written & Illustrated by Donovan Scherer

27726561

Age Range: 9 – 12  years / Grades: 4 – 8

Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Art

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My Review

I couldn’t resist when I read the blurb for this book. I wish there had been ones like this when I was a youngster. Being a kid at heart, I had a crackin good time.

Lots of fun ghoulish illustrations are followed by short captions, kind of one or two sentence stories to go along with the pictures.

Some of my favorites are Workin’ Cats about Area 51 and Monster Monday and the Black Lagoon.

It’s all in fun and this ghoul wanted to grab a sketch pad and pencil and try some of my own. The author should make this a coloring book. Now, that would be even more fun.

3 Stars

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Synopsis

Breakfast Doodles are the daily drawings of Donovan Scherer, author and illustrator of the Fear & Sunshine series and more. Created as a reason to get out of bed and make some art before heading off to the day job, this morning routine has quickly become a horrible addiction of our dear artist, leading to strange creatures and cats with workplace depression. Join him as reality spirals out of control in this first collection of artwork and stories.

This work is originally published daily online but collected here for convenience and because he thinks it would be cool to say he publishes a book every month. And since you ought to know just what you’re getting into, here’s your Breakfast Doodle Menu:
Monday – Monsters
Tuesday – The Art of Fear & Sunshine
Wednesday – Childhood Adventures
Thursday – The Rise of the Deadish
Friday – Free for All
Saturday – Workin’ Cats
Sunday – Adventure Quest Land

As an added bonus, Volume 1 was created during October 2015 while Inktober and Drawlloween were happening. Inktober is an annual event where artists around the world work to create a new inked illustration each day of October. Drawlloween offers Halloween-themed suggestions for artists to choose from. This month’s Breakfast Doodles combines them both (along with the regular menu).

Hope you like it!

Amazon

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Be sure to hop over and check out my review of Mama’s Knight, A Cancer Story Of Love. It’s such a unique book and there’s also a giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy! Click on the cover below to read my review and enter.

Mama's Knight

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Partners In Crime Tours

Bone White

Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Mass Market
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062349775 (ISBN13: 9780062349774)
Series: Mundy’s Landing #3 (Stand Alone)

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My Review

It starts with a note, “We Shall Never Tell.” Emerson, a Mundy family descendant, travels to Mundy’s Landing to discover what terrible secret from the families past has come back to haunt her and her relatives.

It’s been a year since the Sleeping Beauty murders were solved and Sully has changed places, now working as a detective on Mundy’s Landing’s police force. She’s looking forward to quieter times, but it isn’t long before she’s smack dab in the middle of another murder investigation. Someone’s determined to killed the Mundy family, one by one.

On top of that, Sully’s old partner, Stockton Barnes, shows up on her doorstep looking for a place to crash. He’s evasive about why he’s there and Sully can tell he’s in trouble.

And something weird is happening with Ora Abrams, curator of the Mundy’s Landing Historical Society. It gave me some eerie vibes.

As much as I enjoyed the other books in the series, this one is my favorite. From the 1600’s to the present, and from the West coast to the East, it’s a convoluted series of events and crimes. There are some new characters to contend with along with some favorites. The author fleshes them out and tangles their lives together. It’s up to you to sort out who did what, and she doesn’t make it easy.

Numerous plots abound in this mystery and it’s a race to the finish line, with no easy answers and plenty of intrigue. And you won’t see the end coming. I couldn’t read this fast enough and wished it were longer.

5 Stars

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Synopsis

In Mundy’s Landing, bygone bloodshed has become a big business. During the rigorous winter of 1666, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Accused of unimaginable crimes, James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children survived, but the couple were later accused of murder and executed. Left to fend for themselves in a hostile community, their offspring lived out exemplary lives in a town that would bear the family name. They never reveal the secret that died with their parents on the gallows… or did they?

“We Shall Never Tell.” Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy has flown cross-country to her ancestral hometown in hopes of tracing her ancestral past—and perhaps building a future. In Mundy’s Landing, she discovers long lost relatives, a welcoming ancestral home… and a closet full of skeletons.

A year has passed since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, apprehended a copycat killer, and made a fresh start in the Hudson Valley. Banking on an uneventful future in a village that’s seen more than its share of bloodshed, Sully is in for an unpleasant surprise when a historic skull reveals a notorious truth. Now she’s on the trail of a murky predator determined to destroy the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.

Amazon / B&N / Goodreads

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Enjoy this glimpse inside

Chapter 1

 

July 20, 2016

Los Angeles, CA

 

We shall never tell.

Strange, the thoughts that go through your head when you’re standing at an open grave.

Not that Emerson Mundy knew anything about open graves before today. Her father’s funeral is the first she’s ever attended, and she’s the sole mourner.

Ah, at last, a perk to living a life without many—any—loved ones; you don’t spend much time grieving, unless you count the pervasive ache for the things you never had.

The minister, who came with the cemetery package and never even met Jerry Mundy, is rambling on about souls and salvation. Emerson hears only We shall never tell—the closing line in an old letter she found yesterday in the crawl space of her childhood home. It had been written in 1676 by a young woman named Priscilla Mundy, addressed to her brother, Jeremiah.

The Mundys were among the seventeenth-century English colonists who settled on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about a hundred miles north of New York City. Their first winter was so harsh the river froze, stranding their supply ship and additional colonists in the New York harbor. When the ship arrived after the thaw, all but five settlers had starved to death.

Jeremiah; Priscilla; their sister, Charity; and their parents had eaten human flesh to stay alive. James and Elizabeth Mundy swore they’d only cannibalized those who’d already died, but the God-fearing, well-fed newcomers couldn’t fathom such wretched butchery. A Puritan justice committee tortured the couple until they confessed to murder, then swiftly tried, convicted, and hanged them.

“Do you think we’re related?” Emerson asked her father after learning about the Mundys back in elementary school.

“Nope.” Curt answers were typical when she brought up anything Jerry Mundy didn’t want to discuss. The past was high on the list.

“That’s it? Just nope?”

“What else do you want me to say?”

“How about yes?”

“That wouldn’t be the truth,” he said with a shrug.

“Sometimes the truth isn’t very interesting.”

She had no one else to ask about her family history. Dad was an only child, and his parents, Donald and Inez Mundy, had passed away before she was born. Their headstone is adjacent to the gaping rectangle about to swallow her father’s casket. Staring that the inscription, she notices her grandfather’s unusual middle initial.

 

Donald X. Mundy, Born 1900, Died 1972.

X marks the spot.

 

Thanks to her passion for history and Robert Louis Stevenson, Emerson’s bookworm childhood included a phase when she searched obsessively for buried treasure. Money was short in their household after two heart attacks left Jerry Mundy on permanent disability.

X marks the spot…

    No gold doubloon treasure chest buried here. Just dusty old bones of people she never knew.

And now, her father.

The service concludes with a prayer as the coffin is lowered into the ground. The minister clasps her hand and tells her how sorry he is for her loss, then leaves her to sit on a bench and stare at the hillside as the undertakers finish the job.

The sun is beginning to burn through the thick marine layer that swaddles most June and July mornings. Having grown up in Southern California, she knows the sky will be bright blue by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow will be more of the same. By then, she’ll be on her way back up the coast, back to her life in Oakland, where the fog rolls in and stays for days, weeks at a time. Funny, but there she welcomes the gray, a soothing shield from real world glare and sharp edges.

Here the seasonal gloom has felt oppressive and depressing.

Emerson watches the undertakers finish the job and load their equipment into a van. After they drive off, she makes her way between neat rows of tombstones to inspect the raked dirt rectangle.

When something is over, you move on, her father told her when she left home nearly two decades ago. She attended Cal State Fullerton with scholarships and maximum financial aid, got her master’s at Berkeley, and landed a teaching job in the Bay Area.

But she didn’t necessarily move on.

Every holiday, many weekends, and for two whole months every summer, she makes the six-hour drive down to stay with her father. She cooks and cleans for him, and at night they sit together and watch Wheel of Fortune reruns.

It used to be because she craved a connection to the only family she had in the world. Lately, though, it was as much because Jerry Mundy needed her.

He pretended that he didn’t, that he was taking care of himself and the house, too proud to admit he was failing. He was a shadow of his former self when he died at seventy-six, leaving Emerson alone in the world.

Throughout her motherless childhood, Emerson was obsessed with novels about orphans. Treasure Island shared coveted space on her bookshelf with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

She always wondered what would happen to her if her father died. Would she wind up in an orphanage? Would a kindly stranger take her in? Would she live on the streets?

Now that it’s happened he’s down there, in the dirt … moving on?

She’ll never again hear his voice. She’ll never see the face so like her own that she can’t imagine she inherited any physical characteristics from her mother, Didi—though she can’t be certain.

Years ago, she asked her father for a picture—preferably one that showed her mother holding her as a baby, or of her parents together. Maybe she wanted evidence that she and her father had been loved; that the woman who’d abandoned them had once been normal—a proud new mother, a happy bride.

Or was it the opposite? Was she hoping to glimpse a hint that Didi Mundy was never normal? Did she expect to confirm that people—normal people—don’t just wake up one morning and choose to walk out on a husband and child? That there was always something off about her mother: a telltale gleam in the eye, or a faraway expression—some warning sign her father had overlooked. A sign Emerson herself would be able to recognize, should she ever be tempted to marry.

But there were no images of Didi that she could slip into a frame, or deface with angry black ink, or simply commit to memory.

Exhibit A: Untrustworthy.

Sure, there had been plenty of photos, her father admitted unapologetically. He’d gotten rid of everything.

There were plenty of pictures of her and Dad, though.

Exhibit B: Trustworthy.

Dad holding her hand on her first day of kindergarten, Dad leading her in an awkward waltz at a father-daughter middle school dance, Dad posing with her at high school graduation.

“Two peas in a pod,” he liked to say. “If I weren’t me, I’d think you were.”

She has his thick, wavy hair, the same dimple on her right cheek, same angular nose and bristly slashes of brow. Even her wide-set, prominent, upturned eyes are the same as his, with one notable exception.

Jerry Mundy’s eyes were a piercing blue.

Only one of Emerson’s is that shade; the other, a chalky gray.

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Author Wendy Corsi Staub

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New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels.

Wendy now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.

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