Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Lost Until You by Kimberly Daniels (VBT: Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Goddess Fish Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Lost Until You by Kimberly Daniels!






Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews Kimberly!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

My name is Kimberly Daniels and I just released my debut contemporary romance, Lost Until You. I am currently a teacher in addition to launching my writing career. I am also an avid reader myself, I enjoy getting sucked into Netflix, and running my kids to every activity they convince me they need to do. My husband is the most understanding and supportive man I know as he deals with the random story ideas that I blurt out.


Interview Questions:

1) How long have you been a writer?

I like to joke that I began writing when I was eight years old and my short story was selected to be in the school library. Really, ever since then, writing has been an important part of my life. So, it seems I have been writing for 28 years!

2) Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?

I am a middle school English teacher. It’s a career that has always inspired me and to be able to share the love of reading and writing with my students is a real blessing.

3) What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

Writing has always been a hobby, something I would do daily in my life. My former grade partner read this story in its infancy and pushed me to get an agent. Fast forward 4 years and I no longer have the agent, but I have a published novel. That former grade partner is still a great friend and remains the best beta reader I could ever have.

4) Please give a brief description/storyline about Lost Until You.

It explores the idea that love can set you in the right direction. That certain people you meet in life will be the ones that ultimately help you find your true self.

5) What was the inspiration for this story?

Watching my husband struggle with the death of his dad, this whole idea of losing something you love and finding it again through love came to mind. The original idea morphed into something so large that I had no choice but to write it! 

6) How did it feel to have your first book published?

This whole process has been surreal. Having my characters and story live with only me for so long, I never could imagine what it would be like if they were released into the world. I have a hard time believing it actually happened. Sometimes I search my book on Amazon just to make sure I was imagining everything!

7) Do you write books for a specific genre?

So far I’ve only written contemporary romance. However, I would love to write a historical fiction romance one day and I did promise my daughter I’d take a stab middle-grade or pre-teen story.

8) What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

I love contemporary romance through and through. The Thoughtless series is by far my favorite new adult romances. Kellan Kyle has stuck with me for years, becoming the hardest book boyfriend breakup in history!

9) Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?

Since I write a lot early in the morning or late at night, I find that being in my bed is most comfortable. I love writing when I am at the beach. It’s the one place where my body automatically relaxes and I am easily inspired.

10) How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

I blame it on my overactive imagination. I usually see something when I’m driving or hear something in a song and this whole plot unravels in my mind. It’s really a crazy thing!

11) When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

A little bit of both. I try to put words down every day, even if it’s only one paragraph. However, I really cash in on those times where inspiration hits and I allow myself to run away with my characters.

12) What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

I love writing from the first point of view. I feel like it’s a challenge as I, in a way, have to become that character, but it’s so much fun being someone else for a little! I struggle with time the most. Finding time to write, edit, and outline can be challenging with my schedule.

13) What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

My two daughters are my life outside of teaching and writing. So I am often found at dance recitals, gymnastics meets, softball games, field hockey matches, horse shows. Wow! My kids do too much! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also like to sneak a date night in there with my very loving and understanding husband.

14) What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

The best advice I received is to keep writing no matter what. This business is so tough and subjective that it’s easy to fail or give up. However, going back to why you began writing really puts everything in perspective.

15) What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

Finding readers who personally connect with a character or a subject in my story is the most gratifying thing I’ve experienced so far. I love hearing that my story gave them comfort or inspiration.

16) How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

I am on many social media platforms and try to visit on a daily basis. I also have a few signings scheduled, which is really exciting!

I absolutely love when I get an email or comment on social media that something I wrote hit close to home for them. I recently had someone, who just lost her own mother a few years ago, find peace in Camryn’s mom’s letter in the story. I felt so amazed that my words gave her comfort through a tough time.

17) Is there anything in your book based on real-life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

Gavin, the young child is a real reflection of my own two children. I wanted him to be a “real” kid when I wrote him. The setting is also based off a real place, even though it has a fictional name. It reflects my three favorite beach towns growing up, Ocean City, Sea Isle, and Long Beach Island. I am lucky enough to own a summer home in Ocean City, NJ now.

18) What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

A.L. Jackson writes beautiful stories and her writing is simply poetic. S.C. Stephens wrote my all-time favorite romance series, Thoughtless, Effortless, and Reckless, and those inspired me to share my own stories.

19) What is your definition of success as a writer?

I believe being able to share your stories with others defines my own success. Just getting them out there really is what leads to being known as an author. Evernight Publishing took a chance on a debut author and provided that outlet for my stories.

20) Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

Yes, I am almost finished writing the first draft of the sequel to Lost Until You. It’s going to explore Cole and his story in more detail. It continues a few months after the end of this one, but you will see a lot of flashbacks to his past.

Thank you, Kimberly, for spending time at Jersey Girl Book Reviews and letting the readers get to know you!




About The Author




Kimberly Daniels is a middle school English Teacher who took the advice of her students to pursue her writing hobby as a career. When she’s not at her laptop dreaming up new happily-ever-afters, she can be found glued to the TV or Kindle consumed with a new show or book addiction. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the suburbs of Philadelphia, spending weekends at basketball games, softball fields, and dance recitals.

Author Website
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Book Review



Lost Until You by Kimberly Daniels
Book 1: Finding You Series
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Publication Date: eBook - April 24, 2018 / PB - May 2, 2018
Format: Paperback - 278 pages
               Kindle - 1569 KB
               Nook - 808 KB
ISBN: 978-1773396668
ASIN: B07CMXFGY1
BNID: 2940155212553
Genre: Contemporary Romance


Buy The Book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions.



Book Description:


Camryn Singer never imagined that she would return to the place where she lost everything. To grant a dying wish, she and her young son make the move back to the small Jersey beach town where she grew up, hoping to somehow find the missing pieces of her life. Determined to keep her heart guarded, the last thing she needs is the force that is sexy surfer, Cole Stevens, literally slamming into her life.

Struggling against growing feelings for Cole, Camryn tries to focus on life with her son. But when Cole picks the lock to her heart, Camryn knows he might be the one to change everything. Just when Camryn thinks she's finally finding her happiness, a ghost from the past comes back to haunt her.

Camryn must now decide between letting Cole stand with her in the fight for her life, or staying lost in the pain of the past.



Book Teaser:





Book Excerpt:



The walk home is spent talking about the normal things: work, surfing, summer plans. As we approach the end of our walk, three crazy people waving and yelling our names block the entrance to our houses. Gavin bolts toward us, jumps into Cole’s arms, and reaches one arm out for me to pull me in for a group hug. The change in his demeanor from yesterday is astounding, and I know the sight of Cole and me together is part of that. Surely Carter also helped by pumping him with junk food all night at their sleepover. Lila and Carter join the hug seconds later, making me feel like I can call this home again.

We break apart from our embrace with Lila begging for the scoop, Carter complaining of hunger, and Gavin bragging about winning his bet with Cole. Before I can answer anyone, Cole puts his arm around me and looks at Gavin.

“Gavin, I want to make sure that you’re okay with your Mommy and me spending a lot of time together.”

Gavin looks from me to Cole and replies, “Does it mean you’re gonna kiss each other a lot now? Because that’s kinda gross.”

“Well, I think you better get used to that.” Cole leans over and whispers to him, “Because your mom’s way too pretty not to kiss.”

With a disgusted look, Gavin yells out, “Eww, gross!” He then reaches around Cole’s neck again and says, “But it’s okay if you and Mommy see each other. Even if you have to kiss.”

“Aww, thanks, buddy.” Cole reaches his fist up to Gavin.

Gavin taps his fist back to Cole’s and replies, “You’re welcome, buddy.”

Watching the two of them interact like this creates a feeling of contentment and satisfaction that is so new and refreshing. Everyone starts walking toward the back deck while I take one more look out toward the vast stretch of sand. This beach town holds the reason for my nightmares and heartache. But today, it represents the birth of my new life, one that includes Cole. However, looking toward the water’s edge, my elation is quickly stripped from me as I stand staring into the aqua-colored eyes of my biggest fear.




My Book Review:

In her debut novel, Lost Until You, author Kimberly Daniels weaves a lighthearted romantic tale of friendship, love and second chances.

Set in the fictional beach town of Sea City Island, New Jersey, the reader is easily drawn into this witty and caring story as they follow a group of friends who help each other navigate the trials and tribulations of life and love.

After living in California for the past five years, single mom Camryn Singer honors the final wish of her late mom Milena to move back to their seaside hometown of Sea City Island, New Jersey with her five-year-old son Gavin. It is Milena's wish for Camryn to face her troubled past, consider the best interest for her son, move forward with her life, and take a second chance at finding love and happiness.

Five years ago Camryn's ex-high school boyfriend Todd Connelly made it clear that he did not want a child, and that he was going to pursue his law school dream. Completely broken and feeling abandoned, Camryn and Gavin moved from New Jersey to California to forget her past, but she has been haunted by the same nightmare, the fear of losing her son to Todd. With the support of her childhood best friend Lila Walters and fiance Carter Benson, Camryn starts to rebuild her life in Sea City Island, including a budding romance with her son's sexy surf instructor Cole Stevens. But just when Camryn and Cole find each other, Camryn's fear becomes a reality when Todd comes back into the picture and wants to get to know his son and a second chance with Camryn. Camryn is forced to face her fears and troubled past in order to move forward with her life ... but what will she decide to do?

Lost Until You is a wonderful story that will keep the reader engaged as they follow Camryn's story. I really enjoyed following Camryn as she struggled to overcome life issues and find the determination to move forward with her life. There was a great mixture of emotion, drama, angst, and humor mixed in this story, you can't help but feel compassion for Camryn as she faces difficult life decisions, but with the caring and protective support of Lila, Carter, and Cole, she is determined to move forward with her life and get that second chance at love and happiness. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I loved five-year-old Gavin, he is so adorable and his loveable antics made me laugh. Finally, as a born and bred Southern Jersey Girl (raised in Brigantine), I absolutely loved the beach setting and greatly appreciated the author's rich description of our beautiful shore towns (two thumbs up). I look forward to reading the next book in the series which the author says will delve into Cole's life story, as he has his own troubled past and demons that he has been dealing with!

Lost Until You is a lighthearted and sweet story that has enough emotional depth, drama, romance, and witty banter, that makes it a delightfully feel-good and entertaining must-read summer tale that romance fans will certainly enjoy!


RATING: 5 STARS 




Contest Giveaway

Win A $25 Amazon Or B&N Gift Card




Kimberly Daniels will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

June 25: Long and Short Reviews
June 26: Romance Novel Giveaways
June 27: Mixed Book Bag
June 28: Fabulous and Brunette
June 29: Straight From the Library
July 9: Nickie's Views and Interviews
July 10: Bookaholic
July 11: Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
July 12: Christine Young
July 13: Jersey Girl Book Reviews 





Friday, June 29, 2018

Preordained by David L. Wallace (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Preordained by David L. Wallace!






Book Review



Preordained by David l. Wallace
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: Paperback April 9, 2018 / eBook April 12, 2018
Format: Paperback - 345 pages
               Kindle - 1808 KB
               Nook - 358 KB
ISBN: 978-0997225723
ASIN: B07C9WVFY7
BNID: 2940159118530
Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural Crime Mystery Thriller


Buy The Book:



Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.


Book Description:

Art Somers is a detective in close-knit Murrell’s Inlet, S.C., a small-town, coastal community with deeply held spiritual and supernatural belief systems. A serial killer has shattered his peaceful existence by abducting multiple twelve-year-old boys within his county. Young thugs, backwater drug dealers, and the occasional murderer are the most Art’s had to deal with, but now he must apprehend a predator who FBI profilers can’t find.

He discovers he has a tie by blood to the case and uncovers evidence that calls into question his long-held spiritual and supernatural beliefs. Abraham, the father of faith, had to choose to either sacrifice his son or disobey a direct order from God. Art must now make a choice – sacrifice his soul to save his son.

“A riveting and intriguing read.” – Clarion Review
“Original and engaging.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“A gripping detective story.” – Kirkus Reviews


Book Excerpt:



Chapter 1

From his crouched position in the woods of rural Georgetown County, South Carolina, and under the echo of his heavy breathing in the night air, he watched his favorite family’s movements inside their small brown home.
After much thought about the impression his outfit would make, he’d decided it was festive enough for the occasion. The complete ensemble consisted of a red and black head mask, aligned perfectly to the holes for his eyes, nose, and mouth and a form-fitting, black bodysuit with white wings painted on the back.
For years, he’d contemplated a befitting name for himself and finally settled on Star of David killer. He liked the way the alias reverberated in his head. It revealed a lot. It concealed everything. It hinted at his purpose and yet – it withheld the true essence of his aspirations, keeping them covered in a shroud of secrecy. He hoped an insightful reporter would have an epiphany and bestow that nickname on him. It was far more interesting than the one his parents had given him at birth. He breathed deep and exhaled slowly, taking in the ambiance of the moment. He flexed his muscles. It was time to initiate the events that would lead everyone to recognize him by his self-appointed moniker.
He clenched and released his toes on each of his hospital footie–covered feet. Through the sheer curtains of the dimly lit dwelling, he watched the boy pick up the used plates from the table, which signaled the parents and their twelve-year-old son had finished their dinner. He knew them well. He’d cased their dwelling for years, observing every nuance of their behavior. He sat flushed as he watched them for the last time, shivering from time to time from the thrill of the thought of what he was about to do.
The music of the bullfrogs kept him company, along with the thought that all he’d longed for, all that he was meant to be, was about to be on full display on the world stage in a matter of hours. Like Heinz ketchup, he’d been waiting in anticipation for a long time for this moment.
He glanced at the scavengers in the clear sky above him, each casting its shadow across the moon as it circled. They were his favorite creatures—the redheaded, black-feathered, and partially white-winged turkey vultures of the Carolina skies. His outfit mimicked theirs. The birds squawked in the sky, seeming to know his plan for that evening. They’d followed his vehicle from his home until he’d parked, and now they circled directly above him. He could feel their hunger and impatience.
The boy walked outside his home and scraped the remains of their dinner plates into a slop bucket on the back porch. He picked up the hog’s food and headed out to the pigpen, which was located near the backend of their yard.
The Star of David killer watched the boy make his evening trek on pigeon-toed feet that turned inward with each step. Ever since the infant pigs were born, the boy fed the adult male hog an extra feeding at night to prevent him from dining on his offspring. That’s right, the daddy hog actually ate his own children. What a disgusting breed of animal.
The overhead undertakers began to shriek and shrill as the boy moved across his lawn, their voices echoing in the night.
The boy jumped at their sound and looked to the skies. He stared into the woods directly below them.
The Star of David killer remained as still as a stone as the kid’s gaze seemed to linger on him for a moment. The last thing he needed was for the boy to detect his presence and yell out for his daddy. The papa of the family had an itchy twelve-gauge finger that he didn’t want to deal with that evening.
Seemingly satisfied, the boy stopped searching the woods and continued his walk.
The Star of David Killer glanced overhead at the vultures, angry with them for almost giving away his position. For their carelessness, they wouldn’t be feeding on his handiwork that evening, and if they didn’t atone for their misstep, they wouldn’t partake in any of the festivities on his planned itinerary.
This was the first night—the evening of his coming-out party and the kickoff of his personal pilgrimage. It was the acknowledgment that the presence within him, who had compelled him to plan and now execute the initial steps of his mission, had chosen the right vehicle for the job.
He felt something biting him on his lower legs. Glancing down, he saw by the light of the rear porch that ants were advancing up his calves. He remained silent and didn’t move, not wanting to sound the alarm that he was out there in the dark. A small green garden snake slithered out of the brush toward him. He stepped on it and crushed its head.
The grunting male hog reveled in the slop the boy had dumped into his pen. The female hog stood to the side with her five remaining piglets cowering under her.
The killer frowned at the stench of the hogs. It wasn’t the last smell he wanted on his mind before he began his body of work. To get past it, he closed his eyes and thought of the fragrances inside the boy’s family home, smells that he knew all too well. He’d spent many nights there while they slept, enjoying their scents, with his favorites being the individual smell of each of their worn clothing. The laundry room was a treasure trove of delights. Each of the family members left their own unique and enjoyable stains in their underwear. He’d gotten to know the other families in just as much detail, meticulously taking in their routines and schedules, getting to know every nuance of each of them.
He removed his blade from his waistband and watched Rueben, his first victim, as he rinsed out the slop bucket with a water hose attached to the rear of his home. He squeezed the black-handled blade. The paring knife felt perfect in his hand, after having gone through an exhaustive testing process to find the right cutting instrument—one with just the right shape and size for optimal carving control against a moving body. He’d practiced his skills with it for many hours, initially on cantaloupes, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables, until he’d graduated to successful tests on small gerbils, kittens, and puppies he’d purchased at various pet stores.
Finally, the lights went out in the shack. It was time. As usual, Rueben’s parents were more than likely already fast asleep. Rueben, on the other hand, should be wide-awake in his darkened room, surfing Internet porn sites by the light of his laptop. The little fella loved to look at online pussy, but he wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy any.
As the final step of his preparation process, he extracted a bottle of removable glue from the front waistband of his outfit and placed another coat over his hands. It was an additional layer to guard against him leaving fingerprints behind, but he knew he didn’t need to worry on that score. Over the past year, he’d used razor blades every month to remove the top layer of skin on each of his fingertips, making them as smooth as a baby’s ass.
He had no fingerprints.
He could’ve easily used gloves, but he wanted to touch them, to feel his prey with his bare hands. He blew on the glue until it dried. Satisfied, he stood, stretched his legs and approached Rueben’s home on silent feet.
He hadn’t troubled himself to brush the ants from his lower torso. The stinging sensation of their bites would serve as a reminder that before that evening, he was once human.
***
Excerpt from Preordained by David L Wallace. Copyright © 2018 by David L Wallace. Reproduced with permission from David L Wallace. All rights reserved.



My Book Review:


In Preordained, author David L. Wallace weaves a riveting paranormal/supernatural crime mystery tale that follows Georgetown County S.C. Sheriff's Office Detective Art Somers as he investigates and tracks down a serial killer called the Star of David Killer, who has been kidnapping and murdering twelve-year-old boys throughout the county.

Author David L. Wallace provides a complex and multi-layered storyline that interweaves a gritty crime murder mystery with a supernatural/paranormal twist and biblical references in a classic battle of good versus evil. This fascinating tale has enough mystery, suspense, drama, treachery, secrets, and intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing while weaving an intricate and complicated web of what the motive of the murders could have been, and how Detective Art Somers' troubled past is tied to the murders.

Preordained is an exciting crime murder mystery story that will keep the reader guessing the identity of the Star of David Killer, while the supernatural/paranormal twists and biblical references enhances the intrigue and engages the reader to follow Detective Somers as he tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together and solve the serial killer case before the number of murdered twelve-year-old boys increase, including his own son!

This story has rich descriptions of the South Carolina Lowcountry setting; a realistic cast of characters; and a fascinating intertwining of police investigative techniques and supernatural twists that immediately draws the reader in until the pieces of the murder investigations puzzle comes together and is solved.

Preordained is the kind of supernatural crime murder mystery that easily keeps the reader captivated, guessing, on their toes, and wanting more!


RATING: 4 STARS  

          






About The Author




Before publishing his debut novel in 2016, David L. Wallace served over 27 years as an information technology professional working initially for the US Navy, and then the Department of the Navy and various fortune companies. He’s a UCLA writing program alumnus who writes mystery thrillers and children stories. He has three wonderful kids who he enjoys immensely. Writing is his passion and his goal with each story is to capture the imagination in the opening pages and keep it engaged to the story’s riveting conclusion.


Author Website
Amazon Author Page
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Goodreads




Contest Giveaway

Win A $30 Amazon Gift Card


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David L Wallace. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2018 and runs through July 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.
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Virtual Book Tour



Tour Schedule:

05/29 Interview @ Blog Talk Radio

05/29 Review @ Just Reviews

06/01 Interview @ BooksChatter

06/02 Showcase @ Bound 2 Escape

06/04 Showcase @ Tome Tender

06/05 Review @ Wall-to-wall books

06/06 Guest post @ Quiet Fury Books

06/07 Guest post @ Writers and Authors

06/07 Showcase @ Let's Talk About Books

06/08 Showcase @ Mythical Books

06/09 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

06/11 showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge

06/12 Showcase @ 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News

06/13 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

06/14 Interview @ The Reading Frenzy

06/15 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner

06/18 Showcase @ TFaulc book reviews

06/19 Showcase @ Stacking My Book Shelves!

06/26 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews

06/29 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

08/13 Blog Talk Radio w/Dellani Oakes





Monday, June 25, 2018

Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky (VBT: Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky!






Book Review



Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky
Book 1: Clare Carlson Mystery Series
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Format: Paperback - 352 pages
               Kindle - 2106 KB
               Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 978-1608092819
ASIN: B07BJC5NV3
BNID: 978-1608092826
Genre: Mystery



Buy The Book:


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest book review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.


Book Description:

A classic cold case reopened—along with Pandora’s box ... 

When eleven-year-old Lucy Devlin disappeared on her way to school more than a decade ago, it became one of the most famous missing child cases in history.

The story turned reporter Clare Carlson into a media superstar overnight. Clare broke exclusive after exclusive. She had unprecedented access to the Devlin family as she wrote about the heartbreaking search for their young daughter. She later won a Pulitzer Prize for her extraordinary coverage of the case.

Now Clare once again plunges back into this sensational story. With new evidence, new victims and new suspects – too many suspects. Everyone from members of a motorcycle gang to a prominent politician running for a US Senate seat seem to have secrets they’re hiding about what might have happened to Lucy Devlin. But Clare has her own secrets too. And, in order to untangle the truth about Lucy Devlin, she must finally confront her own torturous past.


Book Excerpt:



PROLOGUE

School was always special to her. Some children hated to go to school. But she always looked forward to going back to school each morning. She loved her friends. She loved her teachers. And most of all, she loved to learn. For her, it was a time of excitement, a time of adventure, a time of new beginnings each day she sat in the classroom—like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon in a field of flowers underneath a blue, cloudless sky. And so, on this sunny morning, like so many others, the mother and daughter leave their house and walk together toward the school bus that will pick up the little girl. “What about your lunch?” the mother asks. “I’m buying it at school today, remember?” “Do you have enough money?” “Yes, you gave it to me last night.” “Right,” she says. The mother knows that, but she’s forgotten. “And remember to come home right after school.” “You worry too much, Mom. I’m not a baby anymore.” That’s all too true, of course. She is growing up. Just like they all do. But today she is still her little girl. The mother hugs her and puts her on the school bus, watching her in the window until the bus disappears from sight. A little girl who has everything in the world ahead of her. A lifetime of memories to come. And all the time in the world to enjoy it.

OPENING CREDITS

THE RULES ACCORDING TO CLARE

I always tell the same story to the new reporters on their first day.
It goes like this: Two guys are sitting in a bar bragging about their sexual exploits. As they get drunker and drunker, the conversation becomes more outrageous about how far they’d be willing to go. Would you ever have sex with an animal, one of them asks? Of course not, the other guy replies angrily. What if someone paid you $50 to do it with a dog? That’s ridiculous, he says. How about $500? Same answer. Okay, the first guy says to him, would you have sex with a dog for $5,000? The other guy thinks about that for a while, then asks: “What breed?”
The point here is that once you ask the question “what breed?” you’ve already crossed over a very important line and can never go back.
It’s based, I suppose, on the famous old Winston Churchill story. They say Churchill was seated at a dinner party next to a very elegant and beautiful lady. During the meal, he turned to her and asked if she’d be willing to have sex with him if he gave her $1,000,000. The woman laughed and said sure. Then he asked if she’d have sex with him for $25. “Of course not, what do you think I am?” the indignant woman replied. To which Churchill told her, “Madame, we’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”
This is a crucial concept in the news business where I work. Because there is no gray area for a journalist when it comes to honesty and integrity and moral standards. You can’t be just a little bit immoral or a little bit dishonest or a little bit corrupt. There is no compromise possible here.
Sometimes I tell a variation of the dog story. I call it the Woodstein Maneuver. The idea is to come up with a new scenario for the Watergate scandal. To speculate on what might have happened if Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (“Woodstein!” in the Robert Redford–Dustin Hoffman movie) had not written their stories that led to Richard Nixon’s ouster, but instead gotten hush money to cover up the scandal. What if Nixon had paid them to make it all go away?
I ask a new reporter to put themselves in Woodward and Bernstein’s place and think about what they would do if offered such a bribe.
Most of them immediately say they would never take money under any circumstances to compromise a story. I’m not sure if they say it because they really mean it or simply because they believe it’s the answer I want to hear. A few laughingly say they’d go for the money, but I’m not sure I believe them either. I figure they’re just trying to be outrageous or different. Only a few reporters ask the key question. The “what breed?” question. “How much money?” they want to know. Those are the ones I worry about the most.

PART I

LUCY

CHAPTER 1

“It’s the fifteenth anniversary of the Lucy Devlin disappearance next week,” Maggie Lang said. “Little eleven-year-old girl leaves for school and just vanishes into thin air. It’s a legendary missing kid cold case. We should do a story for the anniversary.”
“Lucy Devlin is old news,” I told her. “The girl’s never been found, Clare.” “And after a while people just stopped caring about her.” “Well, you sure did all right with it. You won a damn Pulitzer.” Maggie Lang was my assignment editor at the TV station where I work as a news executive these days. She was a bundle of media energy—young, smart, ambitious, outspoken, and sometimes a bit reckless. I liked Maggie, but she scared me, too. Maybe because she reminded me of someone I used to know. Myself when I was her age.
Back then, I was Clare Carlson, award-winning reporter for a New York City newspaper that doesn’t exist anymore. When the paper went out of business, I moved on to a new career as a TV reporter. I wasn’t so successful at that. They said I came across as too intense on the air, too grating, too unlikeable to the viewers. So, they offered me a job in management. I was never quite sure I followed the logic of that, but I just went with the flow. I started out as an assignment editor, moved up to producer, and then was named news director for Channel 10 News here in New York City. It turned out that I really like telling other people what to do instead of doing it myself. I’ve always been a bitch. I guess now I just get paid for being one.
Maggie looked over at the Pulitzer Prize certificate I keep prominently on my desk at Channel 10. Hey, you win a Pulitzer—you flaunt it.
“You helped make Lucy Devlin one of the most famous missing child stories ever in New York City fifteen years ago, Clare,” she said. “Imagine if we could somehow find her alive after all this time . . .”
“Lucy is dead,” I told her. “How can you be so sure of that?” “C’mon, you know she’s dead as well as I do. Why else would she never have turned up anywhere?”
“Okay, you’re probably right. She is dead. And we’ll never find the body or catch who did it or know anything for sure about what happened to her.”
“So, what’s our story then?” “There’s a new angle.” “Believe me, I covered all the angles on this story a long time ago.”
“Anne Devlin, Lucy’s mother, is telling people she has some new evidence about the case,” Maggie said.
“Anne Devlin always claims she has some evidence. The poor woman has been obsessed with finding answers about her daughter for years. I mean, it’s understandable, I guess, given all the pain and anguish and uncertainty she’s gone through. But none of her so-called evidence ever goes anywhere.”
“Doesn’t matter. We go to the mother and say we want to hear about whatever new evidence she thinks she’s come up with. I tell her we want to interview her about the case for the anniversary. That maybe someone will see it and give cops some new information. It’ll be great TV. And that video—the heartbroken mom still pleading for someone to help her find out what happened to her daughter fifteen years ago—would go viral on social media.”
She was right. It was a good idea. A good TV gimmick. A good social media gimmick.
And that was my job now, whether I liked it or not. I was a long way from winning Pulitzer Prizes or writing thoughtful in-depth journalism. In television, it was all about capturing the moment. And an emotional interview like that with Lucy’s mother on the anniversary of her disappearance would definitely be a big media moment.
I looked out the window next to my desk. It was early April, and spring had finally broken in New York City. I was wearing a pale-pink spring pantsuit to celebrate the onset of the season. I’d bought it at Saks one bitterly cold day during the depths of winter to cheer myself up. But right now, I didn’t feel very cheerful.
“Okay,” I finally said reluctantly to Maggie, “you can reach out to Anne Devlin and see if she’ll sit down for an interview with us.”
“I already did.” Of course. Knowing Maggie, I should have figured she’d already set it in motion before checking with me.
“And?” I asked her. “She said yes.” “Good.” “Under one condition. She wants you to be the person who does the interview with her.”
“Me?” “She said she’d feel more comfortable talking to you than some reporter she didn’t know.”
“C’mon, I don’t go on air anymore, Maggie.” “She insisted on talking to you. She said you owed her. She said you would understand what that meant.”
I sighed. Oh, I understood. Anne Devlin was holding me to a promise I made a long time ago.
It was maybe a few months after Lucy was gone. Anne had become depressed as people stopped talking about the case. The newspapers, the TV stations, even the police—they seemed to have given up and moved on to other things. She felt so alone, she said. I told her that she wasn’t alone. I told her I’d always be there for her. I made her a lot of promises that I couldn’t keep.
“Let’s make a pact,” she said, squeezing my hand on that long- ago night. “If I ever find out anything, you’ll help me track Lucy down, won’t you, Clare?”
“I promise,” I said. “No matter what happens or how long it takes, you can’t let people forget about her.”
“No one will ever forget about Lucy.” I thought about that long-ago conversation now as I sat in my office looking at the Pulitzer that had come out of my coverage of the Lucy Devlin story in what seemed like another lifetime ago. That story had been my ticket to fame as a journalist. It made me a front-page star; it catapulted me into the top of the New York City media world; and it was eventually responsible for the big TV executive job that I held today.
“She said you owed it to her,” Maggie said again. Anne Devlin was right. I did owe her.

CHAPTER 2

Lucy Devlin disappeared on a sunny April morning.
She was eleven years old, and she lived on a quiet street in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan with her parents, Anne and Patrick Devlin. That last day her mother had helped her get dressed for school, packed her books in a knapsack that hung over her back, and then kissed her goodbye before putting her on the school bus.
As far as anyone knew, she was with the other students on the bus when they went into the school. The first indication that something was wrong came when Lucy didn’t show up in her classroom for the morning attendance. The teacher thought she was either late or sick, reporting it at first to the principal’s office as a routine absence. It wasn’t until later that police began a massive search for the missing eleven-year-old girl.
The disappearance of Lucy Devlin exploded in the media when the New York Tribune, the newspaper I wrote for, ran a front-page story about her. The headline simply said: “MISSING!” Below that was a picture of Lucy. Big brown eyes, her hair in a ponytail, a gap between her two front teeth.
The story told how she was wearing a blue denim skirt, a white blouse, and cork sandals when she was last seen. It said she loved reading; playing basketball and soccer; and, most of all, animals. She petted every dog in the neighborhood and begged her parents to get her one. “She was my little angel,” Anne Devlin said in the article. “How could anyone want to hurt an angel?”
The whole city fell in love with her after that. The Tribune story spared no emotion in talking about the anguish of her parents as they waited for some kind of word. It talked about their hopes, their despair, and their confusion over everything that had happened.
I know because I was the reporter who wrote it. With my help, Lucy Devlin—just like Maggie had said— became one of the most famous missing person stories in New York City history. Posters soon appeared all over the city. Announcements were made in schools and churches asking people to look for her. The family offered a reward. First it was $10,000. Then $20,000 and $50,000 and as much as $100,000 as people and civic groups pitched in to help the Devlin family. For many it brought back memories of the tragic Etan Patz case—a six-year-old boy who had disappeared from the streets of New York City a quarter century earlier. Little Etan became the face of the missing child crisis all over the country when his picture was the first to appear on a milk carton in the desperate search for answers about his fate. In that case, the family had finally achieved some closure when a man was eventually arrested and convicted for their son’s murder. But there was no closure for Anne and Patrick Devlin.
I sat in the Devlins’ apartment—crying with them, praying with them, and hoping against hope that little Lucy would one day walk in that door.
I’ve never worked a story before or after where I identified so much with the people I was writing about. My access to the parents gave me the opportunity to see things no one else did, and I put every bit of that into my stories. Everyone was picking up my stuff—the other papers, TV news, and even the network news magazines like Dateline and 60 Minutes.
Yes, I did win a Pulitzer for my coverage of this story. The Pulitzer judges called it “dramatic, haunting, and extraordinarily compassionate coverage of a breaking deadline news story” in giving me the award. That was nice, but they were all just words to me. I wasn’t thinking about a Pulitzer or acclaim or my career when I covered the Lucy Devlin disappearance. I just reported and wrote the hell out of the story, day after day.
Eventually, of course, other stories came along to knock this one off the front page.
All the reporters moved on to cover them. In the end, I did, too. It wasn’t that easy for Anne and Patrick Devlin. The police told them that Lucy was probably dead. That the most likely scenario was she’d been kidnapped outside the school that day, her abductor had become violent and murdered her. He then must have dumped her body somewhere. It was just a matter of time before it turned up, they said.
Anne Devlin refused to believe them. “I can’t just forget about my daughter,” she said. “I know she’s still alive. I know she’s out there somewhere. I can feel her. A mother knows. I’ll never rest until I find her.”
Her obsession carried her down many paths over the next few years. Every time a little girl turned up murdered or police found a girl without a home, Anne checked it out. Not just in New York City either. She traveled around the country, tracking down every lead—no matter how slim or remote it seemed.
There were moments of hope, but many more moments of despair.
A woman who’d seen the story on TV said she’d seen a little girl that looked like Lucy at an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. She was standing with a man holding her by the hand near the roller coaster, looking confused and scared. At one point, she tried to break away, but the man wouldn’t let her go. The woman told one of the security guards that there was something suspicious about the man and the little girl, but never found out what happened. Anne went to Ohio and talked to everyone she could find at the amusement park. She eventually tracked down the security guard and finally the little girl herself. It turned out that the man was her father, and she looked scared and tried to run away because she was afraid to ride the roller coaster.
Another time a group of college coeds thought they spotted her in Florida during spring break. Some fraternity guys who tried to hit on them had a young girl in the back seat of their car, and she seemed out of place amid the beer-swilling Neanderthals partying up a storm in Fort Lauderdale. The coeds told Anne they were convinced it was her missing daughter. That lead turned out to be a dead end, too. She was the daughter of a woman the fraternity guys had picked up the night before. The woman had passed out back in their hotel room, and they were just driving around with the girl because they didn’t want to leave her alone.
And then there was the time the body of a young girl about Lucy’s age and description was found alongside a highway in Pennsylvania. The state troopers found Lucy’s name on a list of missing children and contacted Anne. She drove ten hours through a blinding snowstorm to a morgue outside Pittsburgh, where the body had been taken. The entire time she had visions of her daughter lying on a coroner’s slab. But it wasn’t Lucy. It turned out to be a runaway from Utah. A truck driver had picked her up hitchhiking, raped and killed her, then dumped the body alongside the road. Anne said afterward she felt relief it wasn’t Lucy, but sadness for the family in Utah who would soon endure the same ordeal as she did.
Once a psychic came to Anne and said she’d seen a vision of Lucy. Lucy was living somewhere near the water, the psychic told her. Lucy was alright, but lonely. Lucy wanted to get back to her family, but she didn’t know how. Eventually, the psychic said she saw a sign in the vision that said La Jolla. La Jolla is a town in Southern California, just north of San Diego. The psychic offered to travel with Anne there and help search for her. They spent two weeks in La Jolla, staying in the best hotels and running up big bills at fancy restaurants. The psychic found nothing. Later, it turned out she just wanted a free trip to the West Coast and some free publicity for her psychic business.
Worst of all were the harassing phone calls. From all the twisted, perverted people in this world. Some of them were opportunists looking for extortion money by claiming they had Lucy. Others were just sickos who got off on harassing a grieving mother. “I have your daughter,” they would say and then talk about the terrible things they were doing to her. One man called Anne maybe two dozen times, day and night, over a period of six months. He taunted her mercilessly about how he had turned Lucy into his sex slave. He said he kept her in a cage in the basement of his house, feeding her only dog food and water. He described unspeakable tortures and sexual acts he carried out on her. He told Anne that when he finally got bored, he’d either kill her or sell her to a harem in the Middle East. When the FBI finally traced the caller’s number and caught him, he turned out to be one of the police officers who had been investigating the case. He confessed that he got a strange sexual pleasure from the phone calls. None of the others turned out to be the real abductor either. But Anne would sometimes cry for days after she got one of these cruel calls, imagining all of the nightmarish things that might be happening to Lucy.
All this took a real toll on Anne and Patrick Devlin. Patrick was a contractor who ran his own successful construction firm; Anne, an executive with an advertising agency. They lived in a spacious townhouse in the heart of Manhattan. Patrick had spent long hours renovating it into a beautiful home for him, Anne, and Lucy. There was even a backyard with an impressively large garden that was Anne’s pride and joy. The Devlins seemed to have the perfect house, the perfect family, the perfect life.
But that all changed after Lucy disappeared. Anne eventually lost her job because she was away so much searching for answers about her daughter. Patrick’s construction business fell off dramatically, too. They had trouble meeting the payments on their townhouse and moved to a cheaper rental downtown. Their marriage began to fall apart, too, just like the rest of their lives. They divorced a few years after Lucy’s disappearance. Patrick moved to Boston and started a new construction company. He remarried a few years later and now had two children, a boy and a girl, with his new wife. Anne still lived in New York City, where she never stopped searching for her daughter.
Every once in a while, at an anniversary or when another child disappeared, one of the newspapers or TV stations would tell the Lucy Devlin story again.
About the little girl who went off to school one day, just like any other day, and was never seen again. But mostly, no one had time to think about Lucy Devlin anymore.
Everyone had forgotten about Lucy. Except her mother.

***
Excerpt from Yesterday's News by R.G. Belsky. Copyright © 2018 by R.G. Belsky. Reproduced with permission from R.G. Belsky. All rights reserved.



My Book Review:

In Yesterday's News, author R.G. Belsky weaves a riveting mystery tale that easily draws the reader in as New York Channel 10 News Director Clare Carlson revisits the missing child cold case of eleven-year-old Lucy Devlin on the fifteenth anniversary of her disappearance.

The story begins with the disappearance of eleven-year-old Lucy Devlin on her way to school in Manhattan. Clare Carlson was a reporter for the New York Tribune at that time, and she won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the disappearance. But with little evidence, Lucy's disappearance became a cold case until fifteen years later when her mother Anne Devlin receives an email with new information and possible leads on the case. Anne is dying from lung cancer and has little time left, and her last hope is to find out what happened to Lucy before she dies and she needs Clare's help. Clare embarks on an investigative journey and a race against time to find the answers for this heartbroken dying mother.

As Clare delves into the investigation she finds that there are more questions than answers, a growing list of suspects, deeply buried secrets, and her own dark past that comes to the surface. So what happened to Lucy fifteen years ago? Is she alive and somewhere out there in the world, or is she just another dead missing child cold case statistic that is yesterday's news?

Yesterday's News is a captivating and gritty mystery tale that is rich in detail and vivid descriptions. It has enough intriguing and suspenseful twists and turns that leaves the reader with no other option than to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. As a diehard fan of mystery tales, I must admit that this story exceeded my expectations. The dark intensity and complexity of the cold case and Clare's investigation kept me thoroughly riveted and so engrossed as Clare tried to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

With a complex and realistic cast of characters, the author does a phenomenal job of transporting the reader into this fast-paced white-knuckle storyline. The thrilling cat-n-mouse game engages the reader to guess what actually happened to Lucy and who was responsible for her disappearance, but the jaw-dropping surprise ending will leave the reader completely speechless. It just doesn't get any better than this!

Yesterday's News is one heck of an adrenaline rush that is a must-read for the true diehard mystery junkies!


RATING: 5 STARS 





About The Author




R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. Belsky’s crime novels reflect his extensive media background as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News. His previous novels include the award-winning Gil Malloy mystery series. Yesterday's News is the first in a new series featuring Clare Carlson, the hard-driving and tenacious news director of an NYC TV station.


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