Jaime Reviews... Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

By Kate Watson
Published on May 16, 2017
Published by: Flux
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, the Bertram's son Oliver. If she could just take Oliver's constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she'd finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater.

When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door to the Bertram's, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver's stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic, and thoroughly unimpressed Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he seeks to win her, the harder he falls for her.

But Finley doesn't want to be won, and she doesn't want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver's heart—and keep her own—she'll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.
 


Seeking Mansfield...

This is not really my kind of story, usually. I am not a huge Broadway person, haven't been to a play since I was a little thing. But for some strange reason, I find myself stepping out of my comfort zone more and more lately and this one was a bigger step than usual. Thankfully, it paid off.

After Finley's dad, a huge movie star, passes away and she is jerked out of the home she lives in with her mother and brother due to abuse, Finley ends up living with her Godparents. She has been there for several years, but she still feels like she doesn't quite belong. She is always doing everything to show her appreciation to her family, and prove to them that she is worth it. Oliver, their son, is her best friend in the world, and the only one besides her brother who makes her feel safe.

Oliver has loved Finley from the minute she moved in. He wants to help Finley see how wonderful she is, and to help her overcome her past and her fear. So he hides his feelings for her down deep, to protect her. He is also trying to figure out what HE wants in life, and if the expectations from his family override his own dreams.

When two young movie stars move in next door, everything simple gets thrown out the window. New relationships form, and Finley and Oliver's relationship changes into something new. Finley is becoming more assertive every day, starting to realize her worth. And Oliver is happy with Emma, more than he ever thought he could be. He is starting to realize that his desires matter. So why do they both sometimes wish for something different?

I really enjoyed this book. I actually really liked the little tid-bits of acting and plays thrown into the mix. There are all the right kinds of emotions, some laughter and definitely some tears. The characters are very well-rounded and relateable, and easy to care fore. The story is a little on the slower side as far as pacing, but that never made my interest wane. I was invested until the end, and I really enjoyed the ending a lot.

All in all, Seeking Mansfield is a great romance. I love the themes of friendship in the story. I might not be a Broadway Baby, but this book definitely made me curious to know what else might be out there in this realm. And the cover is really pretty, too! Definitely have no problem recommending this one.


Jaime Lynn

Release Day Celebration and Giveaway ~ Sherlock Bones series by Lauren Baratz-Logsted






I am so excited that the SHERLOCK BONES series by Lauren Baratz-Logsted releases today and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about these wonderful books by Author Lauren Baratz-Logsted, be sure to check out all the details below.


This blitz also includes a giveaway for a pair of Great Dane socks and Dog or Cat treats for your Fur Babies, US Only courtesy of Month9Books. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Title: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK BONES: DOGGONE
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Pub. Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 150

The Adventures of Sherlock Bones turns snooping on its floppy ear when one day, Dr. Jane Catson, a surgeon injured in the Cat Wars has an afternoon nap interrupted by a most unusual occurrence.

On the front lawn of her home, rather loud footsteps disturb her peace as Sherlock Bones, a Great Dane in a deerstalker claiming to be the greatest detective in the world arrives.

After a quick critical examination of the intrusive dog whose enormous body blocks the entire sun from view, Catson has her doubts. But that’s not all. The monstrously-sized creature makes an even more astonishing claim. He has come to live with her!

Before Catson can collect her thoughts into an intelligent rebuttal, Sherlock Bones has made himself quite at home, inventing things like a jetpack for her Castilian housekeeper-cook, a turtle named Mr. Javier and placing his gigantic food and water dishes next to hers.

But there’s no time for protest. The great detective and Dr. Catson have caught themselves their first case: A suspiciously dead human in a nearby abandoned building. Can Sherlock Bones and Dr. Catson crack the case before the killer strikes again? Or will their differences get in the way of solving Case File No. 1? One thing’s for sure, that would be a doggone shame.


Title: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK BONES: DOG NOT GONE
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Pub. Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 150

After being introduced to Sherlock Bones, the Greatest Detective in the World, in Case File #1: Dogged to Death, Dr. Jane Catson - surgeon and veteran of the Cat Wars - is back to share an all-new mystery adventure with readers. Despite all of Jane's resistance, Bones is now living with her and her housekeeper/chef, the turtle with a jetpack, Mr. Javier. This time out, the mismatched duo's investigations lead them to a case involving murder, of course, and - wait for it! - Utah. If there's one thing readers can be certain of it's that in this world, the animals are always smarter than the humans. Also, did we mention...Utah?




Excerpt:

“You can’t be serious!” I practically shouted, outraged.

If a murder really had been committed, I couldn’t believe he wasn’t going to do anything about it. I also couldn’t believe that I was arguing with him about this. I’d never wanted to get involved with him and all his craziness in the first place.

“Oh, but I am, my dear Catson.”

My dear … Who did this dog think he was?

“And why is that, Bones?” I demanded, determined not to let my right eye squint.

“Because I am tired of not getting credit.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Here’s how this kind of case always goes: a crime, usually murder, occurs. The professional, public detectives—the so-called ‘experts’—are called in. They fail to solve the case. Then I am called in. I solve the case, but they take all the credit. End of story.”

As he spoke, his eyes shifted sadly from me to the floor to studying his toenails.

I found myself, for the first time, starting to feel sorry for him. Then:

“Wait,” I said, this time letting my right eye go ahead and twitch. “You’re not going to investigate, you’re going to let a murderer run free—because your feelings are hurt? Because you feel you don’t get enough credit?”

“Well,” he said, now looking slightly embarrassed, “yes, that is exactly what I plan to do. Or rather, not do.”

“You can’t be serious! If you think you can help, it is your duty to do so!”

“I suppose … ” His eyes met mine. “Do you want to come with?”

“Come with where?”

He eagerly un-crumpled the crumpled piece of paper.

“There,” he said, pointing to an address.

I thought of my lunch, which was still sitting on the table. I thought longingly of the cushion in front of the bay window, my nap long overdue. And then I thought of the adventure of potentially aiding to solve a murder. I must confess: I was curious. It also occurred to me that perhaps since returning home from the Cat Wars, my life had been a little dull.

“Fine,” I said, mildly exasperated with myself.

“Great,” he said, all smiles once more. “I’ll go get my hat.”


About Lauren:



Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 25 books for adults, teens and kids, including The Sisters 8 series for young readers which she created with her husband and daughter. She lives in Danbury, CT, with that husband and daughter as well as their marvelous cat, Yoyo.















Giveaway Details:

(1) winner will receive a pair of Great Dane Socks (pictured below) and a Bag of Wellness Brand Dor or Cat treats, US Only.



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The Wish Granter (Ravenspire #2) by CJ Redwine Spotlight Post & Giveaway...



By C.J Redwine
Published on February 14, 2017
Published by: Balzer + Bray
An epic, romantic, and action-packed fantasy inspired by the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from C. J. Redwine, the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen. Perfect for fans of Graceling and the Lunar Chronicles.

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop.

Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown. 

So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself. 

But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.


About Book #1...



The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1)

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.


About the Author...



C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. To learn more about C.J., visit her website at www.cjredwine.com Where you can find C.J.:


Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | GR



Giveaway...

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Tour Schedule...
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Week One:
2/6/2017- Zach's YA ReviewsGuest Post
2/7/2017- FiktshunReview
2/8/2017- Novel NoviceGuest Post
2/9/2017- BookCrushinReview
2/10/2017- Ya and WineGuest Post

Week Two:
2/13/2017- A Backwards StoryReview
2/14/2017- YA Books CentralGuest Post
2/15/2017- Mundie MomsReview
2/16/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
2/17/2017- The Best Books Ever Review

Jaime Reviews ~ Chameleon by Zoe Kalo

By Zoe Kalo
Published on February 2017
Genre: YA/Gothic/Ghost/Multicultural
Source: Author
An isolated convent, a supernatural presence, a dark secret…

17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia. 

When, yet again, Paloma holds a séance in the hope of contacting her father, she awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. And then, the body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out…Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions? 


Chameleon...

 I will admit that "isolated convent" drew me in to this story. It just lends itself to spooky, and as we all know, spooky is my jam. Unfortunately, the spook factor was teeny tiny, but the story itself was a pretty good one. 

 After being caught holding a seance, trying to connect with her father, Paloma is sent to a convent by her mother and stepfather. Paloma is angry about it, and doesn't feel like she deserves it, but the choice is no longer hers. After arriving at the convent, Paloma makes friends with a group of very.... interesting girls, and starts seeing and hearing things that might or might not be real. There is the ghost of a little girl haunting her, and she must figure it out before she ends up in a place worse than the convent. 

 Chameleon was a good story, with a decent plot. I flew through the book in a day. The pacing was good, and the characterization and world-building were definitely the best parts. I enjoyed the uncertainty, not knowing what to think about anyone in the story. Paloma is a good MC. She is tough sometimes, weak at others, but she is always trying to do the right thing. The other characters in the story made an interesting character study in sweetness, kindness and deeply disturbed. 

 I did have a few issues with the book. First, it felt like parts of the story were missing. I don't know if this was an editing thing, or just the way the story was written, but it felt choppy at times. The other issue was the very ABRUPT ending. I was reading, thinking I had another few pages to go, and then there were no more words. Not even an To Be Continued. I am really hoping there is a second book, otherwise I might get a little frustrated. NOTHING WAS RESOLVED. 

 So, all in all, not a bad story. This would be a great read for the younger YA crowd, especially those who are attempting to jump into the Spooky Story World but are hesitant.

Jaime Lynn 


Release Day Celebration ~ Embers in the Sea (Fire in the Woods #3) by Jennifer M. Eaton



I am so excited that EMBERS IN THE SEA by Jennifer M. Eaton releases today and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Jennifer M. Eaton, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), and an Alien Charm Necklace US Only courtesy of Jennifer & Month9Books. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Title: EMBERS IN THE SEA (Fire in The Woods #3)
Author: JenniferM. Eaton
Pub. Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Alien scientist David has dealt with disappointment his entire life, but failing to breathe life into the planet Mars is his greatest regret. Out of options and in need of a new home for their people, the alien Caretakers rekindle their plan to inhabit Earth. First they will have to eliminate the human race, including Jess, the only human David holds dear.

Humanity has one final chance at survival. David needs to emulate Earth’s precipitation on Mars. But the catalyst to make it rain lies in the fathomless depths of Earth’s ocean.


The clock is ticking down to humanity’s last hours as Jess and David face a world more alien than either of them can imagine. The sea hides secrets, but some secrets don’t want to be found.


Excerpt:

We rattled, cascading and spinning. My sight blurred. My breakfast threatened a reappearance. I closed my eyes and prayed David and Edgar could bring us under control. The tiles rumbled beneath my cheek before we collided to a stop.

My body left the floor before slamming back down once again.

Oww.

I blinked until I could focus. David lay across the side of his seat, his head dangling near the floor.
“David!” I dragged myself from the unforgiving tiles and sat him back in his chair. His head lolled back, his mouth slightly open. “Oh, God. David, please wake up!”

Pressing my fingers against the side of his neck and his wrists, I sought a pulse. I couldn’t find one, but relief flooded me as his chest rose and fell in a shallow breath. I glanced over each shoulder, and toward the back of the ship, looking for what, I didn’t know.

Why hadn’t the seats come to life and protected us?

I grabbed the edge of David’s chair, pulling him from the seat and into my arms. “David?” I kissed him and ran my fingers along the side of his face. “David, please … ”

I would have felt less empty if part of my chest had broken off and floated away into the abyss. I didn’t care that we’d crash-landed again. I didn’t care that the marine floor was probably more alien than the green planet we’d been marooned on. I didn’t care that the pressure of an entire ocean weighed down on us. And I didn’t care that he left me alone for two years.

He was here. Now. And hurt. I fisted my hands and pushed with my mind. If he needed strength, maybe I could send it to him.

His lashes fluttered. His eyes opened, but didn’t seem to focus. “Jess?”

I gulped back a sob. “Yeah. I’m here.”

He tried to sit up, but frowned and relaxed back into my arms. “Are we okay?”


“I don’t know.”


About Jennifer: 


Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her. While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)
During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are always a short shuttle ride away.

Who knows where we’ll end up next?


Giveaway Details:

(1) winner will receive a Perfectly Posh, Posh To Meet You Set ($20 value), US Only.

(1) winner will receive an Alien Charm Necklace, US Only.

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Tantrum Books/M9B Friday Cover Reveal & Giveaway ~ The Tick Tock Man by R.M. Clark...


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


A quick note from the author:



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


Title: THE TICK TOCK MAN
Author: R.M. Clark
Pub. Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: TantrumBooks
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 237
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

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

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



Excerpt


Chapter One

Something wasn’t right.

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

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

Thunka thunka thunka thunka.

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

All was well. Back to sleep.

Bonka bonka bonka bonka.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thanks. I’m starving.”

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

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

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

I got my scrambled eggs, finally.

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mom, you okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How’s that, Pop?” Dad said.

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

“You bet it is.”

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

“I’ll do it, Dad,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Everything all right?” Dad asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re grounded,” Dad said.

“For how long?” I asked.

“A month.”

“A month? Mom?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had ruined Thanksgiving.




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



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