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.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring In Snow Valley Anthology Collection (Book Review)

Spring in Snow Valley  

Spring in Snow Valley Anthology Collection by Cindy Roland Anderson, Jeanette Lewis, Cami Checketts, Taylor Hart, Kimberley Montpetit, Lucy McConnell
Publisher:  Pepin Publishing Company 
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Format: eBook - 605 pages
               Kindle - 3996 KB
Genre: Christian / Inspirational / Contemporary Romance

Buy The Anthology Collection:

Buy The Snow Valley Romance Anthology Collection Series:
Spring in Snow Valley
Summer in Snow Valley
Christmas in Snow Valley

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher / authors in exchange for my honest review and participation in a Book Review Program hosted by I Am A Reader Book Blasts and Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Operation—Kiss the Girl, Cindy Roland Anderson

Ivy Baker is doomed to marry a man she only pretends to be in love with to save the family ranch. Since she isn’t marrying for love, Ivy secretly creates a kissing wish list composed of scenes from the romance books she loves to read. She hopes to experience at least one kiss from her list before she becomes officially engaged and seals her fate. When she travels to Snow Valley to help her aunt recover from knee surgery, Ivy finds herself falling for Kellen Thomas, an irresistible cowboy she should avoid. By chance Kellen finds Ivy’s list, and decides to make it his mission to help her fulfill her bucket list, turning her world upside down and making Ivy want to choose her heart over duty.

Love Coming Late, Jeanette Lewis

Cynthia Eddington never thought she'd return to Snow Valley after a string of bad luck forced the sale of her beloved farm there. But here she is, about to start a new life with her children, Jackson and Anoria. Cynthia plans to focus on her career and her family; she's not looking for romance and she's definitely not looking for sexy cowboy, Colby Schroder.

Running from the Cowboy, Cami Checketts

Missy Horman escaped an abusive marriage and returns to Snow Valley to help her father deal with her emotionally disturbed mother. Volunteering to teach a youth Sunday school class seems like a good way to get out of her comfort zone—until she ends up kissing Porter Wilson in front of a bunch of teenagers. Embarrassed, and secretly thrilled, by the kiss, she writes Porter off as a playboy. But, Missy wasn't the only one affected and Porter's new mission in life is to prove that there's more to him than flirting and world-tilting kisses. He wants to show her that a true cowboy knows how to treat a lady and, if Missy can't keep her wits about her, she might just let him.

The Bet, Taylor Hart

When Destiny Morningstar gets blackmailed into spending her spring break in Snow Valley, the last thing she’s looking for is a date, especially not with Adam and Chase Moon—two attractive and athletic brothers. But soon she finds herself tangled up in a dating spree that includes a flag football game, swinging around the barn dance, and hiking to Snow Valley's romantic hot springs with the town's most eligible bachelors. At every turn she's within kissing distance of one of the delectable Moon men. When she discovers she’s been part of some bet fueled by sibling rivalry and overactive egos she has to make a decision—forgive them both or miss out on the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

Sealed with a Kiss, Kimberley Montpetit

Jessica Mason and Pastor James are struggling to make their long-distance relationship work between Snow Valley and New Orleans where Jessica dances with the local ballet company. When April Murphy, a war widow with a child, shows up in Snow Valley, James reluctantly begins to wonder if he and Jessica are really meant to be. April would make the perfect pastor’s wife and he’d have an instant family and the stability he craves. But he can’t get the spitfire Jessica out of his mind and when she returns to Snow Valley to accept an inheritance, her male ballet partner in tow, the love triangle takes on a new edge. Can Jessica and James figure out how to create a family while living in two different states—or do they allow their hearts to move on and forget the passion they once shared?

Romancing a Husband, Lucy McConnell

Natalie Lawson is at a crossroads. Her husband is down on his luck and some days he’s just plain down while Natalie is moving forward, gaining promotions and starting new adventures. In some ways, they’ve grown apart and Natalie can’t help but wonder if her path through life will always include Eli. When tragedy throws them together, Natalie learns a profound lesson that may save her marriage and provide the key to romancing a husband.

My Book Review:

Spring in Snow Valley is an enjoyable Inspirational romance anthology collection that will tug at the heartstrings. Set in the small town of Snow Valley, Montana, the reader is easily swept away by these six lighthearted novellas that features hunky guys, sweet girls, and clean romance.

I really enjoyed reading Christmas in Snow Valley and Summer in Snow Valley, the first two anthology collections in this series, so I was excited to read the third anthology collection, Spring in Snow Valley. The authors provide the readers with another delightful collection of romantic stories that features characters from the previous collections while adding in new characters. These inspirational stories flow easily from one to another with a variety of different life and relationship situations, the continuity of these stories easily kept me engaged and turning the pages. 

Spring in Snow Valley is the perfect romantic anthology collection that the reader can enjoy reading on a lazy spring day.


About The Authors

Cindy Roland Anderson writes clean, contemporary romance with a combination of humor, romantic tension and some pretty great kissing scenes. She and her husband, John, live in northern Utah, and have five amazing children. Their family has expanded by adding a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren. She is a registered nurse and has worked in the NICU as well as the newborn nursery. She loves to read, almost as much as she loves writing. And she loves chocolate, probably a little too much.

Cami Checketts is married and the proud mother of four future WWF champions. Sometimes between being a human horse, cleaning up magic potions, and reading Bernstein Bears, she gets the chance to write fiction. * Cami graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Exercise Science. She teaches strength training at her local rec and shares health and fitness articles at * Cami and her family live in the beautiful Cache Valley of Northern Utah. During the two months of the year it isn't snowing, she enjoys swimming, biking, running, and water-skiing.

Author Website

Taylor Hart is a best selling amazon contemporary romance author. Taylor has always been drawn to a good love triangle, hot chocolate and long conversations with new friends. Writing has always been a passion that has consumed her daydreams and forced her to sit in a trance for long hours, completely obsessed with people that don't really exist. Taylor would have been a country star if she could have carried a tune--maybe in the next life.

Author Website

Jeanette Lewis is a bestselling author of clean romance novels. Dreaming up stories has always been one of Jeanette's favorite things. Other favorites include family, friends, crisp Autumn days, having adventures, and frozen gummy bears.

Author Website

Lucy McConnell is an Amazon Best Selling Contemporary Romance Author.

She started out as an editor at an advertising agency before moving on to teach in the marketing department of the local community college. She loved teaching and often misses the academic environment.

After her third child was born, Lucy retired from teaching and began to write. She has been published in national magazines, newspapers, short story compilations, and she writes cookbooks under the name Christina Dymock.

Lucy works as a Recreation Specialist, marketing copywriter, and author when she's not trying to keep up with her husband and four kids. If she's not at the computer, you can find her on the ski slopes, in a boat, in the kitchen, or in the stands watching one of her children bat, dribble, or play goalie.

Author Website

Kimberley Montpetit once spent all her souvenir money at the La Patisserie shops when she was in Paris--on the arm of her adorable husband. The author grew up in San Francisco, another swoon-worthy city, but currently lives in a small town along the Rio Grande with her big, messy family.

Kimberley reads a book a day to fill up her heart and soul with words and stories. She also loves to travel to new and exotic places. So far, she's stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland, sailed on the Seine in Paris, swam in the waters at Cannes, ridden a camel among the glorious cliffs of Petra, sunbathed on Waikiki, shopped the maze of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

She also publishes Middle-Grade and Young Adult novels with Scholastic and Harpercollins under the name Kimberley Griffiths Little. Find her here on Amazon and on her website: Kimberley won the Whitney Award, has been a Crystal Kite Finalist, a New Mexico Book Award Finalist, and included several times in the Bank Street College Best Books of the Year.

Author Website

Risen by Thomas Barr Jr (Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Risen by Thomas Barr Jr.

Book Review

Risen by Thomas Barr Jr.
Publisher: VIP Ink Publishing Group / Printhouse Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2016
Format: Paperback -188 pages
               Kindle - 537 KB
               Nook - 155 KB
ISBN: 978-0997001624
BNID: 2940157824976
Genre: Urban Fiction

Buy The Book: 
Barnes & Noble

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at 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 Pump Up Your Book.

Book Description:

The growth of "Mega churches" has risen considerably in the 21st century as compared to the past. Miami Urban Chronicles Volume I: Risen, seeks to set forth a fictional biopic of the rise of spiritual leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh of the Liberty City based movement the Nation of Yahweh, "Ben Yahweh's."

Chauncey Miller, the main character in the story is determined to be a success. He uses his natural skills of cultivating relationships and influence to draw his followers. Despite his meager rural southern background he dreams big and takes risks head-on in realization of his goals. It is significant in modern 21st century times that individuals take control of their life's path. The urban youth particularly need to realize by making deliberate decisions concerning their life they can live their dreams.

Chauncey meets a mentor whom cultivates his ideology and sharpens his mediation skills in working with people. He harnesses his skills by working with the youth ministry of a local church. As he attends college he learns the basics of economics and administration in his courses. He understands education is just one tool that can help him along his path. Individuals must utilize opportunities as they present themselves along life's path. The main character seizes upon this truth and follows it down the rabbit hole in a manner of speaking.

In most communities the Church is a place of worship, fellowship, family, communal meetings and refuge. Individuals seek comfort in its walls and the main character leverages this in amassing followers. Modern successful pastors have PhD's and fancy seminary school training. The main character can be viewed as the progenitor to the modern "Mega church" system. He is of the conviction that god must call a person to preach which is a spiritual mission.

The main character takes this mission on as any other profession and is determined to be a success as a spiritual leader, messenger of god, as well as a successful business entrepreneur. The main character goes from city to city while growing his followership and refining his professional talents. In addition his studies have led to him evolving his religious convictions.

The story enthralls with the turmoil of power, beliefs, sex, control, and all the human pitfalls that too often affect successful professionals. In desiring success and wealth upon any career path it is important to maintain composure. Chauncey, although a spiritual leader, is in realization of this truth.
In paralleling the lifestyles of the larger community many individuals become disillusioned and pigeonhole themselves. Only in selflessness can individuals walk a blemish-less path. Particularly urban youth must learn the lesson in traversing modern life goal paths in reaching their dreams.

This chronicle wraps with Chauncey answering to the communal guidelines of this prescribed society. All must answer to the allegations of their fellow community members and none is an exception to this rule. In acquisition of success and goal setting humility can be a lifesaver.

Book Excerpt:

Chauncey Miller was a Carolina native that grew up in the south and knew the hard work of the tobacco fields.  Raised in a Christian household he was fascinated with the bible and studied religion with a fervor.  Little did his contemporaries know that he would rise to the level of a spiritual leader commanding a multi-million dollar enterprise.  They surely wouldn’t realize that he was a megalomaniac capable of manipulating a band of killers.
It’s a sunny afternoon in 1976 and Chauncey was on the corner of 125th Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.  He had a stack of paper leaflets, as he is approached by pedestrians he offered a flyer to a man dressed in a black suit.  The man took the flyer and read it, mouthed the words soundlessly.        
“Do you believe in god,” asked the man in black.
“Surely I do,” responded Chauncey sternly. 
The man continued to look at the flyer; he wore iron rimmed glasses and had shiny black shoes. 
“I’m a history professor at the local community college and would like to have you join one of my focus group,” he asked. 
The man stood and looked Chauncey in the face awaiting an answer to his inquiry.  Chauncey had not expected such an immediate attention to himself and paused in response noting the man’s patient nature.
“I’m not sure what focus groups do but if you give me the address I’ll check it out,” said Chauncey.
The man pulled a business card from his blazer and handed it to Chauncey as pedestrians ushered pass them on the street.  No one seemed to notice the exchange between the two men and was oblivious of them obstructing the walk way as they chatted. 
“Don’t worry you’ll find out when you show,” the man replied. 
He placed the flyer Chauncey had been passing to people on the street in his coat and continued on his way.  Chauncey looked down at the flyers he had been passing out for the street team company. He had been working for the company weekends and at afterhours bar locations.  Exhausted he read it. It said, let me tell you why the white man is the devil.  Come hear CL Cayman speak truth to power at White Hall located on Jackie Robinson Avenue.   
Chauncey never took notice of the leaflets he passed along to pedestrians and this one had a very inquisitive message.  He wondered about the thoughts of the gentleman in which he had just met, had the message affected him so profoundly?  He took the business card from his pocket looked at the address and contemplated the location.  He had seen the address before on something he read at home and could not recall it do to his momentary failing memory.    
The stack of leaflets sat on the sidewalk near a lamp post.  A gust of wind arose that blew some of the top flyers into the street.  The sudden barrage of papers broke his thoughts and he scrambled to grab them as people continued to bustle past.
“Get out the street,” yelled a disgruntled driver.
            He blew his horn as he drove past and Chauncey continued to pick up the flyers ignoring the outburst.  Chauncey had hardened his feelings to ridicule and he believed with his ability to project an icy persona could ward off potential personal threats.  He had developed this ability while in grade school and used it throughout his young adult life as he entered his college years.  As a youth he had dealt with bullies and experienced being singled out for jokes among friends in the neighborhood.
            He decided he would attend the focus group the following day after his last class on campus and find out more about the strange gentleman that intrigued him on their meet.
Claude Donors was a tall wiry light skinned complexioned man with green eyes in his sixties and did social research on religions in historical contexts.  He was an eccentric man with a direct nature.  Chauncey’s curiosity of the gentleman had led him to the campus upon the issued invitation.  Chauncey entered his office at the university and was immediately stopped at the door by Donor’s secretary. 
“I’m sorry sir do you have an appointment?”  She inquired. 
The young woman was very pretty and Chauncey noticed that she had a curvy figure.  He could see that she was highly educated by the way she addressed him.  She was smartly dressed in a business suit.  She smelled of light perfume and mints.  Her hair was penned up into a bun and she sat positioned at her office desk.  He quickly handed over the business card given him and she looked at the back of the card for a moment.
“Have a seat Dr. Donors will be with you in a minute,” said the young lady. 
Chauncey took back the card he had given the girl and looked on the back of it as she did, his curiosity peeked.  Let this man pass, it said written in a very legible hand written signature.  He had not noticed it the entire time he had possession of the card and was surprised at himself for not realizing that fact.                
    As he sat awaiting Dr. Donors he noticed the office was cozy and decorated with plaques along the light blue colored walls.  The carpet smelled as if it was freshly vacuumed and it being in the late evening not much pedestrian traffic came in or out.  He noticed the young lady pick up the phone a number of times and she talked for just a few minutes on each instance.  He assumed it was Donors and thought if he made the right decision in coming.  Just as the thought popped in his head Donors brushed by him.
“Let’s go young man, we’re late.” He said. 
Chauncey was out of his chair and behind Donors as he strode down the hallway taking giant steps to quickly reach his desired location. 
“My focus group is designed to record the assumptions, thoughts and impressions of religion on the average working class individual,” he said as they walked. 
“By the way what’s your name?” he asked turning to look at Chauncey. 
“Chauncey Miller,” Chauncey replied.
“Well Mr. Miller you should find this to be very interesting,” he said as they entered a room with about seven people sitting around a circular table.  Upon introduction by the four males and three females it was noted two were teachers, one was a factory worker, two were students, one was a paramedic and one was a shop keeper.  The questions posed to the group were designed to elicit discussion and all responses were recorded by the professor.
The first question posed was do you believe in god followed up with what do you think about religion.  All the participants believed in god but it was interesting to see their apparent ambiguity in the actual practice of religion.  As the professor guided the group’s discussion a light bulb went off in Chauncey’s head.  He had wondered throughout his life what his purpose was in this world.  He had attended college and taken on various odd jobs to support himself in the city.  He’d bounced around in search of a career interest to no avail.  He was articulate and well regarded for his ability to persuade others.  In observing the professor’s research he saw a need and an opportunity that could possibly be exploited.  He decided from that instance he wanted to know more about the professor and the purpose for his work. 
The session ended after about an hour of discussion and all the participants departed leaving Chauncey along with the professor in the room.  As the professor put the finishing touches on the session notes Chauncey broke the silence which permeated the room after the last departed guest.

My Book Review:

Risen is an intriguing urban fiction story that is set in Atlanta and Miami that follows Chauncey Miller as he follows his dream of becoming a successful spiritual leader.

As Chauncey pursues his dream of becoming a successful spiritual leader, his ascension is riddled with the temptation of absolute control over his followers, power, and wealth at all costs. Chauncey's story explores the aspirations of an average person to embrace the doctrine of self-empowerment, and the serious trials, tribulations, and turmoil that followed his ascension.

Risen is a fascinating and fast paced urban fiction tale that easily draws the reader into Chauncey's story. It is a realistic and engaging in depth look into one man's personal journey of self-empowerment to achieve his dream. 


About The Author

Born in Lake City, South Carolina home of the 2nd African American astronaut, killed on the Challenger space mission, Dr. Ronald E. McNair.  I was the grandson of a share cropper whom taught me about hard work and education.  At age 17 I began college at Bethune-Cookman University and graduated Cum Laude with honors.  While in college I was inspired to write when I read the novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright.  I began writing short stories for campus publications and won a $500 dollar publication contest in a local campus circular.  I Entered the Air Force after college and spent two tours of duty in the gulf during the Persian Gulf War.  Upon leaving the Military I went back to school and completed graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio earning a master of public administration.  I began a career in government as an Intern with the Ohio legislature and later became employed with the Florida Senate as a legislative assistant.   I currently work for the City of Miami as a civil servant in administration.

See website for more details.

Virtual Book Tour

Click on the above link for the schedule of tour participants.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Magic Wand Ranch (Book Review)

Magic Wand Ranch by Caroline Mickelson
Publisher: Bon Accord Press
Publication Date: June 22, 2015
Format: Paperback - 139 pages / eBook - 94 pages
               Kindle - 510 KB
ISBN: 978-1514646908
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a book review program hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Fiona Cantrell is a woman on a mission. More aptly put, she's a Fairy Godmother on a mission. Her dream of moving to London is about to come true now that all that stands between her and her new job is a few unpacked suitcases. Or so she thinks until her old boss shows up with one more little task for her to complete before she leaves for Europe. Her new assignment involves a handsome cowboy named Cody, his two rascally nephews, and a mountain of laundry...all of which would be no problem for any self-respecting Fairy Godmother.

While Fiona manages to handle the laundry and the boys, she quickly learns that she's not immune to Cody's considerable charm. It takes everything she's got to stay focused on completing her task so she can head to London. But when tragedy strikes, Fiona realizes that it will take more magic than she has to try to save a life and mend her own broken heart.

My Book Review:

Magic Wand Ranch is an enjoyable romantic comedy novella that will make you smile!

Author Caroline Mickelson weaves a sweet romantic comedy that follows Fairy Godmother Fiona Cantrell as she embarks on one final assignment before she moves to London. Fiona's assignment is to babysit two little boys at their uncle Cody's ranch. So what's a girl to do when she unexpectedly finds herself falling for a handsome cowboy?

This was a delightful romantic comedy that was such a fun read. I was thoroughly entertained by the quirky mixture of romance and witty comedy in the story, it is filled with enough humor, drama, and romance that is sure to leave a smile on your face. You can't help but get drawn into Fiona and Cody's story, it will keep you laughing as two cute little boys' crazy antics help spark magic into an unexpected romance between Fiona and Cody, providing them with a chance at finding true love.

Magic Wand Ranch is a lighthearted romantic comedy novella that is perfect to read in one sitting.


About The Author

Caroline Mickelson loves her family and loves to write. She also loves a good adventure, among her favorites thus far were attending graduate school in a Scottish castle, riding a camel around the Pyramids in Giza, and taking a best-in-a-lifetime road trip to Graceland. Caroline lives in the American southwest with her husband and their four children, affectionately known as The Miracles.

Author Website

The Avocadonine and Spring Stone by Patrick Barnes (Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Avocadonine and Spring Stone by author Patrick Barnes!

Book Review

The Avocadonine and Spring Stone by Patrick Barnes
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Format: Paperback - 334 pages
               Kindle - 976 KB
               Nook - 305 KB
ISBN: 978-1507736371
BNID: 2940046544183
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Buy The Book:

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book.

Book Description:

Praised by many as one of the best YA fiction books you’ll ever read.

Rey Naresh, a likeable kid worth rooting for, is going into the ninth grade at Pemota High.  He’s not sure what to expect being fresh off a visit with a gypsy who may or may not have been psychic, but he’s hoping in ninth grade he’ll get to meet his crush, the pretty green eyed, Christy Lane.  He’s wanted her to notice him since sixth grade and keeps a letter to her in his backpack.  The school bully, Huxley Core, and his friends, who call themselves Nadine’s Puppies, threaten to publish something about Rey in their libelous newsletter.  As Rey looks up at the stars one night he realizes he will have to confront Huxley and be man enough to make Christy fall for him.

One day, on the bus, fellow ninth grader, Ryan O’toole, says to Rey that there’s something wrong with something the students are drinking and that electronics are making a humming sound when he’s near them.  It sounds to Rey like looney toons, but are other students having a similar problem?  Rey and Christy unite and embark on a quest that seems to have to do with mind control by an evil administration and provides a quandary for philosophical thought.  A mystery seems to have taken hold of Pemota High, one that may stretch back generations to a malicious woman and a story of her relationship with a student named Spring Stone.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 17

Rey got Isabel to make the call to Jocelyn Stone.  Her caretaker picked up.  Isabel explained that they had some information about Jocelyn’s late daughter Spring, and Rey and Christy wanted to speak to Jocelyn.  As it turned out, Jocelyn had had a stroke and was unable to speak.  Her chances of recovery were small and the caretaker didn’t want anyone to say anything to her that might upset her.  Isabel said that she understood and she’d tell Rey.  Rey said they were going to make the trip to see her anyway.  It was a forty-five minute drive.
The BMW 3 Series Compact had a sun roof open and it was freezing.  Tristan had explained to them what happened yesterday with the three lemon trees.  He told the two of them that he and Roach had brought garbage bags and a chainsaw to the trees.  Holly North had been outside the school.  She told them she planned on screaming to everyone coming out of the school that the Nadine’s Puppies article wasn’t true as they handed out Hochus Mochus and Mountain Springs.  By the time she was through, only twenty-five people made the walk to the trees.  They all ended up finding the trees cut down and the lemons missing.
Tristan had a lot of questions and Rey told him they would explain things to him on the ride down.  It was 9:45 a.m. and Christy told Brianna that it might be a day-long excursion so Brianna decided not to accompany them.  Brianna said she had something to do before work anyway.  When Christy asked her “what,” Brianna said she had to visit a friend.
The expressway was smooth and after Tristan closed the sun roof the drive was enjoyable.  When they arrived at Sea Eagle Watch they saw the high-end homes, all clad with porches and well-kept lawns.  They turned into Jocelyn’s driveway thankful for Tristan’s Mom’s car’s GPS, and sat in the car nervously waiting, trying to think of how best to proceed.  Tristan said they should just be honest and explain things to her.  Rey had brought the article Aba Brule had sent, “Track Star Doesn’t Go to State Championships,” and the letter sent from Aba Brule as well.  If worst came to worst, Rey said, they would just ask the caretaker if Jocelyn had any of Spring’s old possessions and look for clues.
They walked up the steps and rang the doorbell.


The door opened and Miss Shumana stood there frowning, as if the last person on earth she wanted to see right now was Brianna Lane.  Brianna felt they were on a first name basis.
“Hello Evelyn.  It’s been a long time.”
Evelyn Shumana looked from right to left as if someone was hidden in the shrubs.  Then her eyes came to rest on her recently purchased Mercedes E Class Sedan in the driveway.  She looked down for a few moments.  Then said, “Come in.”
She closed the door and revealed her living room -- a stark contrast with the run-down exterior of the green Cape Cod home.  Brianna sat down on one of her top-of-the-line leather sofas.
“What do you want?”  Evelyn said.  “Don’t tell me you missed me.”  She took out a box of cigarettes, and lit one up.  Then she removed her red hair -- it was a wig.  She shook her blond hair free, then took off her black glasses, and sat across from Brianna.
“I have the non-prescription ones also,” Brianna said.  “Although I think while I’m reading my diploma, you’re going to be driving up past the Canadian border in that practically stolen Mercedes.”
Evelyn breathed out a stream of smoke.  “You’re not exactly an angel yourself, Brianna.  I think I saw you more during your senior year than any other student.  Only girl I ever caught having sex in the janitor’s closet.  I take it you’re still a drug abusing slut.  Or did Leander turn you into an Amish princess?”
“A Queen, really.”
“Oh.  Still at Lots for Littles?  Using Skywarriors to get students to rebel against authority figures?  I sure know you don’t buy them.  Could get you fired pretty easily.”
“Perhaps, we can reach an understanding.”
“We’ll be in school for another week.”  Evelyn dropped some ashes into a tray.  “Every parent of practically every student has been taken care of.  We’re paying them a million dollars to help further the development towards the archetypes.  If anything goes wrong, Alexa has a helicopter waiting for us to be taken away to wherever we want to go.  The chemical has a psychic property.  It’s Spring, but it’s also whatever you believe it is.  So if the meaning changes for Pemota High, it changes for everyone.  So now that we understand one another, what would it take for you to,” she took another drag off her cigarette, “help us with something that looks great on a college app.”  She put the cigarette out and raised her eyebrows.


“Well, we think she needs to see us,” Rey said.  “See, the entire ninth grade at Pemota High is going to want to know what happened between Jocelyn and Spring.  Just give us five minutes and if she doesn’t want to talk to us, we’ll leave.”
The caretaker, Marie, looked back into the home wrestling with this.  “She can’t talk.  She has damage to the left side of her brain.  Spring was a long time ago.  Jocelyn has had three kids since.  I think it would be best if you left.”
A thumping sound from down the hall caused Marie to run back inside.  They stepped into the foyer and closed the door behind them.  They stood on the oriental carpet listening to Marie’s hushed whispers from down the hall.  Christy took her shoes off and gave Rey and Tristan a look.  They both reluctantly removed their shoes and Rey placed his backpack beside his.
Marie returned.  “Come with me.”  Marie walked down the hallway and they followed.  “This is her second stroke,” Marie said.  “Jocelyn is lucky enough to have the means to afford in-home care.  Her chances of recovering are better that way.”  They stopped in front of a door.  “She can’t talk.  And she usually doesn’t understand language.  But you can try.”
Jocelyn lay in bed, white sheets covering her, and surrounded by equipment.  She had short blond hair, and dim blue eyes in an exorbitantly wrinkled face.  She saw them and a fearful look came into her eyes.
“Hi, Miss Stone,” Christy said.  “My name’s Christy.  This is Rey and Tristan.”
Rey withdrew the article from his pocket and the letter from Aba Brule.  He handed them to Jocelyn.  “Miss Stone,” Rey said.  “We need to talk to you about your daughter, Spring.”
Jocelyn looked at the article then tossed it aside.  Then she looked at the letter from Aba Brule.  She let it drop on the bed sheet.
“She can’t understand it,” Marie said.  “She can’t read or write.”
“How faraway is she?”  Rey asked.
“A part of her brain has been compromised.  Sometimes people make full recoveries,” Marie said.  “But I think all you’re doing is upsetting her.”
“I have the syringe in my backpack,” Rey said.  “We could just put the chemical in some water.  It’s worth a try.”
“If it kills her, it’s murder,” Tristan said.
“There’s a chemical,” Rey said.  “It doesn’t kill anyone who ingests it.  It’s just lemon juice and purple dye.  But it has an effect on brain chemistry.  I just want to give her a little of it.”
Then something extraordinary happened.  Jocelyn turned to them and spoke.  “I want you to do it.”
Marie was stunned.  “Miss Stone?”
“Is it okay?” Rey asked.
“Miss Stone?”  Marie said again, now at her bedside.  They all stared at her.  She was silent.  “It’s okay,” Marie said to Rey.
Rey went and got the vile of purple fluid.  Jocelyn had a glass of water by her bedside and Rey poured a small amount of the fluid into the glass.  Jocelyn picked up the water glass and drank it.  They waited for almost a full minute for a reaction.  Then Jocelyn turned to them and her eyes seemed to come to life.
Marie brought in two more chairs and they all sat and stared at each other.  “Tell her about what’s going on,” Christy said to Rey.
Rey told Jocelyn the whole story -- everything that had happened, from Aba Brule to Inez Castel.  “We want to know about Spring,” Rey said.
Jocelyn seemed to become aware that she was uncomfortable.  She tried to lift her pillow up.  Tristan stood up and helped her.  She sat up.  Then she spoke.  She was clear, lucid even.  “I knew this would happen.  I always knew I’d hear about this again.”
“Tell us,” Christy said.
“I’ve read that article.  Many times.  The story starts the year Alexa became principal at Pemota Regional High School.  In 1975.”

My Book Review:

In The Avocadonine and Spring Stone, author Patrick Barnes weaves an intriguing coming of age, young adult fiction tale that follows the investigative adventures of ninth grader Rey Naresh and his first girlfriend, Christy Lane, as they stumble upon a conspiracy at his high school. Rey and Christy embark on a quest to the uncover the truth behind the conspiracy plot that goes back generations to a malicious Russian woman and a girl named Spring Stone. Something strange is in the water that the students are drinking that enables someone to control their minds, it is a conspiracy that the whole town and the school administration have been involved in for decades. Rey and Christy have to figure out who is behind the evil plot, and find a way to put a stop to it. 

The Avocadonine and Spring Stone easily draws the reader into Rey's story as he tries to fit in with his classmates, while embarking on a quest to uncover the mystery that revolves around avocados and the evil ideological intentions of mind control. This is an interesting story that has an interwoven mixture of mystery, magic, humor, and realistic coming of age issues that will keep the reader engaged and following along as Rey and Christy unravel the mystery and figure out who is behind the plot.

The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is a fun story that fans of young adult fiction will surely enjoy. 


About The Author

Patrick Barnes lives in Charleston, South Carolina.  The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is his second book.  It has been awarded a five star review from Readers Favorite, and a four and a half star average among critics on  He has a Bachelors Degree in Film and Writing from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters in Library Science from the University of South Carolina.  He has won first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing at the Yankee Penn Journalism Conference, and has worked as a Librarian at the Folly Beach Public Library.  When he’s not writing, he likes to walk on the beach with his dog, and watch movies.

For More Information:

Click on the above link for the schedule of tour participants.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Between Black and White by Robert Bailey (Book Release Day Promo Event / Author Interview / Book Review)

In association with JKSCommunications, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book release day event for Between Black and White by author Robert Bailey!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Robert!

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

I live in Huntsville, Alabama with my wife, Dixie, and three kids (ages 11, 10 and 5).  I’ve been an attorney for the past sixteen years with the law firm of Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne, where I primarily handle medical malpractice cases from the defense side. I am a graduate of Davidson College (best known now for being the alma mater of NBA MVP, Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors) and earned my law degree at the University of Alabama. 

The Professor, my first novel, is an Amazon bestseller and won the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for legal thriller of the year. My second novel, Between Black and White, which comes out on March 15th from Thomas & Mercer, is the sequel to The Professor.   

How long have you been a writer? 

I started writing short stories in college in 1995/1996, but didn’t begin The Professor, my first novel, until 2000/2001.

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

I am an attorney with the law firm of Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne in Huntsville, Alabama.

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

I have enjoyed stories since I was a little boy and have loved reading since I dove into the Bobbsey Twins series in the fourth grade. The first stories I wrote were in a creative writing class in college.  My critiques were positive enough to make me think I might have a knack for storytelling.  More importantly, I loved it!  Probably my favorite class in college.  I think at that point I knew I was going to write a novel one day.  The idea for The Professor hatched during a law school day dream: What would happen if a law professor actually had to try a case?  At first, the idea was just a smart aleck thought but it never went away and, over the course of the next few years, the idea evolved into a story featuring a legendary law professor that played football for Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant who returns to the courtroom to help a young former student. One night, I sat down and wrote the prologue to The Professor, and showed it to my wife.  She loved it and encouraged me to write the whole thing.  Eight years, three re-writes, and thirty eight drafts of the final re-write later, and we had a publisher.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Between Black and White?  

In Between Black and White, Tom McMurtrie and Rick Drake travel to Pulaski, Tennessee to defend their good friend, Bocephus Haynes, on charges of capital murder.  Bo is charged with brutally killing Andy Walton, the man believed to have led the lynch mob of Ku Klux Klansmen who killed Bo’s father forty-five years earlier. 

What was the inspiration for this story?

I was in the middle of writing the second draft of The Professor, and, during a difficult day of revisions, I started thinking of new ideas for novels and the following situation popped in my head:  A five year old African American boy watches his father murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and grows up to be a lawyer whose quest is to bring the men who killed his father to justice. 

How did it feel to have your first book published?

It was surreal.  I remember a photograph my wife took at Barnes & Noble with our kids right after The Professor was released.  They were standing at the display rack and gesturing at my books.  My books?!  I still could hardly believe it. 

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

The Professor and Between Black and White are both legal thrillers.

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

I love all variety of thrillers.  John Grisham’s first five novels were a huge influence--I think I was in a cold sweat after reading the first ten pages of A Time to Kill.  I love Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer series, as well as the John Sandford “Prey” novels and Greg Iles’ Penn Cage series. 

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

In our house, we have converted an upstairs attic into a small writing studio, which is where I do most of my writing these days.

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

I’ve always been a big day dreamer, and sometimes situations will pop into my head, i.e. what would happen if a law professor had to try a case?  I normally will write the situation down, and, at least on two occasions, these notes have evolved into novels. 

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

I try to write every morning from around 5:00 am to 7:00 am.  For me, the best writing happens when I’m in a nice routine of making steady progress each morning.

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

My favorite thing about storytelling is setting up the characters:  their motivations and the nuances of what makes them who they are.  The thing I struggle most with is taking a lengthy first draft and revising it into a tighter finished product. 

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

Spending time with my family is number one.  My boys are knee deep in sports, and I love practicing with them. I also love taking family trips.  And I have always loved to read.  Just finished The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, and The Stranger, by Harlan Coben, which were both fantastic.

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

“Read a lot, write a lot.”  This is from Stephen King’s memoir on writing, and he calls it “the Great Commandment” for every prospective writer.

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

I love hearing a reader describe how he or she has been entertained or inspired by my novels.  Several readers have commented that they have been sad to get to the end of my story, because they enjoyed it so much.  As I have had that feeling myself many times as a reader, it is incredibly gratifying to think that I have made someone else feel that way about my characters and story.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

In person at book club events (The Professor was picked by over twenty book clubs), signings and speaking gigs.  I also regularly interact with readers on my Facebook page and website

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

Between Black and White is a purely fictional story.  However, the town of Pulaski and the restaurants and history set out in the story are very much real.  I did a good bit of research on Pulaski so that the scenes in the book would be more authentic.

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

Harper Lee,  John Steinbeck, John Grisham, Greg Iles, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Steve Martini, Brad Meltzer, Harlan Coben, J.K. Rowling, and Stephen King are just a few of the writers who have been huge influences.

What is your definition of success as a writer?

Wow, I don’t know.  I can tell you that my goal is to be #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and for my books to be made into movies. I guess that sounds crazy, but I haven’t placed a ceiling on my writing. After The Professor came out, my son Jimmy (9 at the time) asked me what my dream was in writing, and I told him that I wanted to be walking down the beach and see someone huddled under their umbrella and reading my book. A few months later, after a signing in Seaside, Florida, we were relaxing by the shore and my wife snapped a picture of someone reading The Professor under their umbrella. So…since I’ve realized that dream now, why not shoot for #1?   

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

Yes!  I am about forty pages into my third book in the McMurtrie & Drake series.  The working title is The District Attorney, and the story will pit Tom and Rick against their old friend, Powell Conrad, the newly elected district attorney of Tuscaloosa County, in a murder case with ties all the way to the Governor’s mansion…

Thank you, Robert, for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and for providing us with a glimpse into your life and writing career!

About The Author

From the time he could walk, Robert Bailey has loved stories, especially those about the legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and his beloved Crimson Tide football team at the University of Alabama.

Bailey was born in Huntsville, Ala., in 1973. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Davidson College in North Carolina and graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1999. In law school, Bailey was honored with the Award for Outstanding Achievement at the American Judicature Society Interscholastic Trial Competition. He made Law Review and was a member of the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society. Somehow, between studying and preparing for the bar exam, Bailey managed to watch every home football game.

Bailey practices law as a civil defense trial attorney in Huntsville at the law firm of Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne. In addition to representing health care providers and nursing homes in medical liability cases, he defends trucking companies, insurance carriers, insureds and businesses in injury-related lawsuits.

Bailey is admitted to practice before the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court – Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama and Western District of Tennessee – and in all Alabama state courts.

He is a member of several professional associations including the International Association of Defense Counsel, Defense Research Institute, Alabama Defense Lawyers’ Association, Huntsville-Madison County Bar Association and the Alabama Bar Association.

Bailey’s first novel, The Professor, was published on Jan. 28, 2014 by Exhibit A Books. His second book, Between Black and White will be published on March 15, 2016.

Bailey is married with three children. When he’s not writing or practicing law, he’s playing golf, coaching his sons’ little league baseball teams and, of course, cheering on the Crimson Tide.


Book Review

Between Black and White by Robert Bailey
Book 2: McMurtrie and Drake Legal Thrillers Series
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Format: Paperback - 398 pages 
               Kindle - 2138 KB
ISBN: 978-1503953079
Genre: Legal Thriller 

Buy The Book: 

Buy The Series: McMurtrie and Drake Legal Thrillers Series
Book 1: The Professor
Book 2: Between Black and White 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book release day promo event hosted by JKSCommunications.

Book Description:

After the success of his bestselling debut legal thriller, The Professor, civil defense attorney turned author Robert Bailey is returning with a new story brimming with suspense, courtroom drama and turbulent racial tensions in the Deep South in Between Black and White.

Set in Pulaski, Tennessee, Between Black and White tells the story of Bocephus Haynes who, as a young boy, witnessed the brutal murder of his father by 10 local members of the Ku Klux Klan. As an African American lawyer practicing in the birthplace of the Klan years later, Bo has spent his life pursuing justice in his father’s name. But when Andy Walton, the man believed to have led the lynch mob 45 years earlier, ends up murdered in the same spot as Bo’s father, Bo becomes the prime suspect. 

Retired law professor Tom McMurtrie, Bo’s former teacher and friend, is a year removed from returning to the courtroom. Now McMurtrie and his headstrong partner, Rick Drake, must defend Bo on charges of capital murder while hunting for Andy Walton’s true killer. In a courtroom clash that will put their reputations and lives at stake, can McMurtrie and Drake release Bo from a lifetime of despair? Or will justice remain hidden somewhere between black and white? 

Between Black and White is Robert Bailey’s second novel featuring the dogged legal team of McMurtrie and Drake. His debut novel, The Professor, won the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for legal thriller of the year and was an Amazon bestseller, spending several weeks at #1 in the legal thriller category.

Book Excerpt:


Pulaski, Tennessee, August 18, 1966

The boy sat on the floor in the den of the two-bedroom shack, listening to the Cardinals game on the radio and practicing his only vice—chewing a big wad of bubble gum. His mother was still at the Big House, cleaning up after the party, but his father had just gotten home, his job done for the night. The boy lay on his back, blowing bubbles and throwing a baseball up in the air and catching it with his mitt.

The gunshots startled him.

They came from outside the house. Two blasts from a twelve-gauge. The boy was only five years old, but he knew what a shotgun sounded like. His father had taken him hunting several times, and he had fired one himself the last time they went. The boy scrambled to his feet and looked out the window.

He saw a wooden cross. Like the cross behind where the preacher spoke at church. It was on fire. Behind the burning cross were men dressed in costumes. Long white robes covered their bodies, and white hoods masked their faces. Holes had been cut out of the hoods for their eyes. All of them held shotguns across their body. One of the men stood a couple feet in front of the others and wore a darker hood than the rest. In the glow from the burning cross and the half moon above, this man’s hood appeared to be red.

With one arm the man with the red hood raised his shotgun and fired twice more in the air. The boy jumped back, then knelt to the floor and crawled closer to the window, peeking over the edge of the sill. As he did, Red Hood spoke.

“Roosevelt Haynes, get your ass out here!”

The voice, rough and deep, sounded familiar to the boy, and he felt the hair on his arms begin to rise.

“Roosevelt, I know you’re in there!” Red Hood continued, taking a step forward. “Don’t make us tear down that door!” The voice was louder. Closer. And the boy definitely recognized it.

“Daddy?” the boy called out, his heartbeat thudding in his chest. “Daddy, what is Mr. Walton—?”

A large hand clasped around the boy’s mouth, drowning out his words. The boy started to scream but then relaxed as he heard his father speaking softly in his ear. “Easy now, Bo, let me see.”

Then, slowly removing his hand from the boy’s mouth, Franklin Roosevelt Haynes peered out the window.


It was only a whisper, but the boy, who was kneeling just inches away from his father, heard it. “Daddy?” the boy whimpered.

Roosevelt ducked down and brought his index finger to his lips, shaking his head at the boy. Then he peered over the sill again. This time he said nothing, but his shoulders slumped, and a noise escaped his lungs that sounded like the moan of a wounded animal. Barefoot and shirtless, crouching below the window in the red pajama bottoms he wore every night at bedtime, Roosevelt covered his face with his hands and mumbled something that the boy couldn’t understand.

For the first time in the boy’s life, his father—a stocky, barrel-chested man who could handle cows and other livestock like they were rag dolls—looked small. Fear slithered up the boy’s chest and took hold of his heart like a boa constrictor. “Daddy?”

Finally, Roosevelt removed his hands from his face and turned his eyes toward the boy. With their heads almost touching, Roosevelt spoke into the boy’s ear. “Bo, I need you to promise me a few things.”

The boy started to cry and turned his head away from his father.

“Damnit, Bo, look at me.” Roosevelt grabbed the boy’s shoulders and shook them, and the boy did as he was told. “Bo, this is goin’ be hard on your momma. Promise me that you’ll take care of her.”

Roosevelt stole a glance out the window, and the boy heard Red Hood’s voice again.

“Roosevelt, you got twenty seconds! Ten we set fre to the house.”

The other men began to chant something in a low hum, but the boy couldn’t make out what they were saying. His father faced him again, still holding tight to his shoulders.

“Promise me, son.”

The boy’s teeth chattered. It was ninety-five degrees outside. Deep in the dog days of August. There was no air conditioning in the shack, but the boy was freezing. His tears had dried.

“I promise, Daddy.”

“Promise me that you’ll make something of yourself, son, you hear me? Make something of yourself.” His father shook him, and the boy nodded.

“All right, nigger!” The voice was even louder. Closer to the house. “Ten seconds!”

His father didn’t budge, his eyes focused on the boy. “Bo, you probably goin’ hear things about this. About why they done this. Don’t believe ’em. Not a word. You promise?”

“Ten! . . . nine! . . .” Red Hood began the countdown, but Roosevelt still did not move, waiting for Bo to answer.

“I promise, Daddy.”

“One day your momma . . . she’ll tell you everything, you understand?”

Bo nodded, and his father hugged him hard—so hard it hurt a little—and kissed the boy on the cheek.

“Six! . . . Five! . . .”

Roosevelt stood and took two steps toward the front door.

Fighting back fresh tears, the boy lunged for his father, grabbing him around the ankles and squeezing as tight as he could. “Don’t go, Daddy. Please don’t go.”

Roosevelt knelt and gently removed the boy’s hands, holding them in his own. “Bo . . .”

The boy looked up into his father’s eyes.

“I love you, son.”

“Three! . . . Two! . . .”

“I . . . I love you too, Daddy.” The boy choked the words out as snot began to run out of his nose and his eyes clouded over with tears. “Please . . . don’t . . .”

His father grabbed the doorknob and turned it. “All right now, I’m coming out!” Before he shut the door behind him, Roosevelt Haynes looked at the boy one last time.

“Don’t watch this, Bocephus. Whatever you do, don’t watch this.”

If only the boy had listened . . .

My Book Review:

In Between Black and White, the second book in the McMurtrie and Drake Legal Thriller Series, author Robert Bailey utilizes his extensive legal knowledge and experience interwoven with his passion for his alma mater, University of Alabama, to weave an unforgettable legal thriller that will captivate the reader's attention from beginning to end.

Between Black and White is a fast-paced and riveting story about one man's forty-five year quest for justice. This classic legal chess game is set in Pulaski, Tennessee, where law partners Tom McMurtrie and Rick Drake defend local attorney Bocephus Haynes, a friend and fellow Alabama alumni, when he is arrested for the murder of Andy Walton, a former KKK Imperial Wizard and successful businessman. The seasoned legal professor and his young protegee hunt for the real killer in order to exonerate their friend in a powerful and compelling story that has enough gripping thrills and chills interspersed with drama and suspenseful twists and turns that easily keeps the reader guessing until the surprising conclusion.

The author does a wonderful job of interweaving his legal experience and passion for 'Bama football with a richly detailed and factually descriptive references that easily transports the reader to the small Tennessee town that was the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, for a gritty dark tale that interweaves the turbulent racial tensions in the Deep South with one man's personal quest for justice.

With a complex and realistic cast of characters; witty dialogue and dramatic heart pounding interactions; and a fascinating legal thriller storyline that flows seamlessly from beginning to end; Between Black and White is an exceptional legal thriller that will resonate with the reader for a long time.

Between Black and White is the second book in the McMurtrie and Drake Legal Thriller Series, and can be a stand alone read, but do yourself a favor and read the books in sequential order, you won't be disappointed!