Monday, September 1, 2014

Interview with Nancy Coco-To Fudge or Not to Fudge

Please welcome to the blog author Nancy Coco who is here today to talk about her new Allie McMurphy Mackinac Island Candy Coated mystery. Please enjoy our little chat, get to know a little more about the series and about Nancy too!

  • ISBN-13: 9780758287120
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Series: A Candy-coated Mystery Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352

With summer in bloom and tourists afoot, Allie is out walking her pup, Mal, when the curious canine digs up a bone from under a flowering lilac bush. The bone leads to a toe that's missing a body. For the successful confectionaire it's only the first in a series of sour events in the middle of the island's Lilac Fest. 

Read an Excerpt:

"A lilac by any other name still smells as sweet."

"Mal, get out from under that lilac bush," I called. It was almost time for the Lilac Festival, and my bichon/poodle puppy Marshmallow had fallen in love with the thick mulch that was spread under the lilacs. For some reason she found the bushes next to the Town Crier, Mackinac Island's newspaper, to be the most enticing.
I tugged on her leash. Mal dug in her heels and refused to budge. Like a fisherman fighting a hook, I reeled in the leash. This served to pull on her pink harness and drag one stubborn doggie out from under the bush one inch at a time. "Come on, Mal, let's at least pretend I'm in charge," I muttered and pulled harder.
As the proud yet harried owner of a 121-year-old hotel and fudge shop, I'd walked down to the newspaper to place a want ad for a part-time maid to help fill in during the busy times. Mackinac Island was known for its quaint Victorian feel. There were no cars. In fact, they were banned from the island. Only bicycles and horse-drawn carriages filled the streets.
Mal was a gift from my dear friend and reservation manager, Frances Wentworth. The puppy was supposed to keep me safe from evildoers. She had done her job well last month when I found myself investigating my grandfather's best friend's murder. I kind of had to as he had been murdered in my utility closet.
Still, on the days when she wasn't protecting me, Mal had a tendency to boss me about. Especially when it came to doing things she was interested in doing ... like sniffing under lilac bushes—instead of what I was supposed to be doing ... placing an ad in the paper.
"Come on, Mal, I need to get this errand done before noon." I yanked on the leash. Suddenly she popped out from under the bushes with a bone in her mouth.
I did a double take. Was that a sock hanging from that bone?
Surely not, but on close inspection it had an argyle pattern like a sock. It was knitted like a sock. Okay, so there was a huge hole in what appeared to be a heel like a sock. But then Mal loved socks. Maybe other dogs did too. Maybe, just maybe, some dog buried their bone in their favorite sock. It could happen, right?
I mean, what were the chances that the sock belonged to the bone? Slim to none. Right?
Mal proudly dropped the sock-wrapped bone at my feet and nudged it as if to show me what she found. Her little stubby tail wagged.
"I sure hope that's not what I think it is." I poked it with my white Keds. There was no way I was going to pick it up.
She pushed the bone toward me, wagged her bobbed tail, and darted back under the lilac bush. "Mal, come on, I have work to do." I yanked on her harness only for her to prance out from under the bush. This time she had what looked like part of a shoe in her mouth. She shook the shoe as if to kill it. Dirt and mulch went flying, along with hard pieces that hit my legs with athump, thud, thump.
Those hard pieces had toenails painted a neon orange.
The spit dried up in my mouth. Adrenaline washed through me. I did what any sane person would do. I scooped up my dog, yanked the shoe out of her mouth, dropped it next to the sock bone, and ran straight into the Town Crier.
There was no way I was going to be alone outside with portions of a dead person. I mean really, what if whoever it had been had been attacked by a wild animal and dragged under the bush to be saved for a later meal? Or worse. What if the animal was a rabid creature using the remains as bait? It could be true. There was no way I was going to hang around and find out.
"Dogs aren't allowed in here," said an older gentleman with a white beard, a balding head, and reading glasses perched at the edge of his nose.
"Right." I faced him and held the door closed with my body. Mal leapt out of my arms and sat down to stare at the old guy as if to dare him to kick her out.
He stared at me. "The dog ..."
I found my voice. "Just dug up remains from under your lilac bush."
He drew his bushy white brows together over his dark brown eyes. "Excuse me?"
I swallowed and cleared my throat as I fumbled for my phone. "Call 9-1-1. I think there's a dead guy under your lilac bush."
"A dead ... what?" He stood and took a step away from me, using his desk as a shield between him and the crazy woman at his door. It would have been funny if I weren't the crazy woman.
"Person," I said. "Well, not a whole person. A part of a person who wears argyle socks and leather shoes ... oh, and paints their toenails orange."
He picked up the phone and hit a single button. "Hi, Charlene," he said. "Get Officer Manning over here, will ya? There's a crazy woman in my office. No, she doesn't appear to have a weapon, just a small white dog. Um, hmm, hold on. Are you the McMurphy girl?"
"Yes," I said, my hands fumbling with my phone. After last month's trouble I had Officer Rex Manning's number on speed dial; I hit the button.
"The one who found Joe Jessop dead in a utility closet?"
"Yes." I put the phone up to my ear and listened to it ring.
"It's the same crazy woman," the man said into his phone. "Right. Okay. Bye." He hung up the phone and sat down slowly, watching me with narrowed eyes as the ringing on my phone dropped me into Rex's voice mail.
"Hey, hi," I said into my cell phone. "I hope you're on your way to the Town Crier. I'm pretty sure Mal dug up a dead person."
I hit the END CALL button. The old man studied me, and I studied him. He reached into his desk drawer and pulled something out. Then he slapped it down in front of him. It was a rabbit's foot. Ew. Okay, I'd seen enough disembodied feet for one day, thank you very much.
"What is that?"
He raised his right bushy eyebrow. "If you don't know I bet the dog could tell ya."
I sighed and crossed my arms. "It's a rabbit's foot. I know what it is. I wanted to know why you got it out."
"Because I don't know how to make an evil eye." He tipped back in his chair, and it squeaked.
"An evil eye?" I shook my head, dazed. "I don't get it."
"It wards off bad omens and such," he said and reached over to adjust his placement, ensuring the rabbit's foot sat square between him and me.
"Um, okay. I'd join you behind your rabbit's foot, but I'm currently busy making sure the door stays closed."
"Now why would you be doing that?"
"Because there is a killer out there. It might be a wild animal. It might be a serial murderer. Either way, there is going to be a door between me and it." I hated to sound smug, but really, a strong wooden door was a lot better at keeping a rabid animal away than a rabbit's foot.
"Well, there, see, that's where we disagree."
"We do?" I scrunched up my eyebrows.
"As far as I can tell the bad luck is already inside with me."
"What? Where?" I glanced around, but there were only three of us inside: me, him, and Mal.
"I'm looking at it." His gaze was steady on me.
"You mean me?" I pointed to my pink polo shirt.
"You're the only one in this room that finds old men dead and seeing as how I'm an old man ..."
"But you're not dead," I tried to reason with him.
"Thus the rabbit's foot."
"Okay, seriously, I don't know what you heard, but I did not murder anyone."
"I didn't say you did."
"But you just said ..."
"That you have been known to be alone when you find old men dead." He shrugged. "I'm hedging my bets."
I didn't know what to say to that, so I simply glared at him. He glared back. Mal sneezed and we both jumped.
"Does the dog bite?" The man finally broke the silence.
"Mal? No, she's a puppy." I picked her up and decided to play nice. I stuck out my hand. "I didn't properly introduce myself. I'm Allie. I run the McMurphy."
"I know." He sat back carefully, still wary. "Charlene told me."
"Right." I pulled my empty hand back.
"Besides, I'm a reporter, not much escapes my notice." He crossed his arms over his wide chest.
"Except a dead body under your bushes."
"I thought you said it was a sock and shoe."
"With bones and toenails." I hugged Mal until she squeaked.
"Orange painted toenails." He pursed his mouth. "Yep, you told me that part, Ms. McMurphy."
"I'm not crazy," I said in my own defense.
"There are people on this island who would disagree with that." He watched me from over the top of his eyeglasses.
"There are people on this island who think we should allow cars. Everything people think is not always right."
"Well, you have me there." He leaned back. "I'm Angus MacElroy."
"I'd say it's very nice to meet you, but right now I'm not so sure." Mal wiggled, but I held her tight. Her fluffy fur was a comfort.
"Why'd you come here, Ms. McMurphy?" Angus asked.
"I came over to place a want ad, but instead it seems I've uncovered a dead body or possibly a murder victim." I tilted my head and studied him as if he were the perfect suspect. For all I knew, he was. "Being a reporter, you probably have seen a million dead bodies."
"Only ten and they were open-casket funerals," he admitted, his brown eyes twinkling. "A murder victim? Isn't that jumping to conclusions?" he asked in a calm manner—too calm, if you ask me.
"It looks like murder to me unless you purposefully buried someone under your lilac bushes."
He leaned back, and the squeak of his chair reverberated round the room. "I didn't bury anyone under the lilacs. There's a law against that, you know."
"Grandpa, are you scaring away customers?" A woman about my age stepped out of the back room. She had dark brown hair, a heart-shaped face, and soft blue eyes. She wore cargo pants and boots and a pale blue tank top under a red, white, and blue plaid shirt.
"She's not a customer," he glanced at me. "She's a crazy woman who won't leave the door. She has some ridiculous notion that holding the door will keep a wild animal from bursting in and killing us."
"Don't be silly." She bussed a kiss on his grizzled cheek. "It's more likely she's afraid to get near you." She stepped around the desk. "Hi, I'm Elizabeth MacElroy. Everyone calls me Liz."
I shook her hand. She had a nice firm grip. "Allie."
"Hi, Allie, who's this sweet puppy?" She leaned in, and Mal jumped into her arms and kissed her. Liz laughed and stood holding Mal. "Aren't you the sweetest?"
"Oh, no." I tried not to panic. "Don't let her kiss you."
"Why not? I love doggies." Her blue eyes twinkled in delight as Mal proceeded to wash her face.
I winced. "She may have dead-body breath."
"What?" Liz froze.
"That's what I told you." Angus leaned back with a smug smile. "Ms. McMurphy seems to think she found a murder victim hidden in the lilacs. Anyone you know missing?"

Grandma's Million-Dollar Fudge
4½ cups of sugar
1 can of evaporated milk
½ cup butter
4 large (4 ½ ounce) chocolate bars
2 packages of chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1 pint marshmallow creme
2 cups nuts

Butter an 8" x 8" x 2" pan, then line with wax paper or parchment.
Boil together sugar, milk, and butter for approximately 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Place candy bars and chocolate chips in a large bowl and pour sugar mixture over candy. Beat well. Add marshmallow creme and nuts. Beat until cool. Spread in pan. Let cool and cut into squares.
"Ewww." Liz held Mal out at arm's length.
"Sorry." I scooped up the pup. "This is Marshmallow. She sniffed out a bone from under the lilacs. I wouldn't think that much of it, but it had a sock attached."
"Oh." She wiped the back of her hand across her lovely mouth. Her gaze sparkled, and she laughed. "Joke's on me then."
"We called the cops," Angus said.
"Well, what are you doing sitting here?" Liz put her hands on her hips. "Let's go out and contaminate the crime scene like any good reporter would." She opened the door, and I followed her out. There was supposed to be safety in numbers, right?
Officer Rex Manning walked up to us. The police station was practically across the street. "Liz, Allie." He nodded his greeting. "What's this about a dead body?" Rex was a stocky man with wide shoulders and biceps to match. He looked good in fresh starched blues. His baby blue gaze was serious. He wore his trooper hat over his shaved head. Rex was all no-nonsense and efficient movement with competent hands.
I had a bit of a crush on him. It was hard to think beyond the flutter I felt every time I saw him. "Mal dug up the evidence," I said. The words came out breathless, and Liz glanced at me a little too aware. I told myself not to blush or I would give everything away. For someone as pale skinned as me, not blushing was as difficult as not sneezing.
Luckily Mal barked and jumped out of my hands, distracting everyone from my hideous attempt to hide my emotion.
I loved Mal—for a puppy she was brilliant at keeping me safe. She went over and sat next to the sock-covered bone. A single bark, and she put her white paw on it.
"What's this, little girl?" Rex squatted down next to her and examined the bone. He took out a pen, and using his cell phone, took a photo.
Liz kept an arm's distance back but also squatted to get a better look. "Is that argyle?"
"That's what I thought." I got down next to Liz.
"What made you think it was human?" Rex asked behind his camera. "Besides the fabric?"
As if on cue, Mal jumped up, grabbed the tattered bit of shoe, and shook it. A bit of bone flew out and hit Rex in the face.
"Ow." He rubbed his cheek then grabbed the shoe from Mal. At least I thought of it as a shoe. It was actually only the shredded toe of a shoe.
"Is that a toe?" Liz looked at once horrified and fascinated.
I picked up a twig and pushed at the bits that had flown out earlier and hit my shin. They were scattered in a small arc. "Yes," I said. "I don't know of any wild animal that paints its nails orange." I pointed at the flakes of polish, not wanting to get any closer than necessary.
"Cool." Liz pulled a digital camera out of her cargo pants pocket and snapped a photo.
"Stop." Rex covered her lens with his hand.
"Hey." Liz glared at him.
"I'm declaring this an official crime scene. That means it's closed to photographs."
"I don't think so." Liz lifted her camera and snapped a photo of Rex, momentarily blinding him. He did what anyone would do: put his hand across his eyes to block it.
She was fast. I watched with amazement as she snapped a couple more pictures of the bits of toe and of Mal sitting proudly next to the sock-covered bone.
Rex swore something dark and dangerous under his breath and reached for the camera. Liz ducked out of his way and rushed back inside the newspaper office.
I watched while Rex debated whether it was more important to follow her or to stay with the evidence. Tilting my head, I smiled. "It seems I'm not the only troublemaker on the island."
"Reporters," Rex mumbled and went back to his investigation.
It was then I noticed that Mal had disappeared back under the lilac bush. "Oh, no," I said and stepped forward to get her.
Rex stopped me with a hand on my arm. "Don't move. You're not trained in crime-scene investigation."
"Neither is Mal and she seems to be doing fine." I crossed my arms over my chest. Mal popped back out with another bit of bone in her mouth. She dropped it at his feet and gave a short bark before running back to the bush.
"I'll get her," he strode to the bush and got down and pulled Mal out from under the bush. She rewarded him with a lick on the cheek.
"Ha!" Liz said, coming out of the Crier sans camera. "Someone else getting dead-body kisses."
"Don't wipe it off," I warned him with a grin. "It could be evidence."
"It's not evidence," he grumbled and raised his hand to swipe it off.
"It could be DNA evidence," I said, holding up my hand in a stop motion. "Or soil evidence. Do you really want to take the chance of ruining microscopic clues?"
"Oh, for the love ..." He strode my way, his sexy eyes stormy. My heartbeat picked up, but I stood my ground. "Here," he said and handed me Mal, his cheek clearly dirt-smeared from her kiss.
"This is definitely nail polish on this toenail," Liz said as she studied the bit of bone. "These must be female bones."
"How do you figure that?" Rex asked.
"Do you know any men who paint their toenails?" Her blue gaze teased as she raised one winged eyebrow.
"You can't assume anything," Angus said as he strolled over to her. "Huh, it does look like a toe. Came out of the shredded shoe, you said?" He shoved his hands in his brown corduroy pants. He tilted his head and studied the bits.
Mal squirmed in my arms and gave a short bark. I jumped. It still startled me when she barked out of the blue.
"Dog says yes." Angus nodded. "So, Manning, looks like there's a body under the lilacs. What are you going to do about it?"


Friday, August 29, 2014

Going on Vacation


Happy Friday Peeps those of you in the US are settling in for a long Holiday Weekend so stay safe and have fun! And have a –

Next week I'll be taking some time off but have no fear in between Sleeping in

A little Retail therapy-

Enjoying lunch with friends- 

A bit of recreational gaming :) 

Dining out with the Hubs-

A little culture


And of course reading

I'll still be posting just not responding as much as I usually do! But have no fear I will get to your comments and then I'll be back wide eyed and ready to go the following week. Okay well I'll be back anyway! :)

Today's GoneReading item is-

“The Reading Woman” Boxed Notecards

Perfect for catching up on your correspondence
while taking some well deserved time off!

Click HERE for the Buy Page
And Don't forget to use the coupon
code DEBROCKS10 for your 10%

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Interview with personal favorite Deborah Cooke-The Frost Maiden's Kiss Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on The Frost Maiden's Kiss Blog Tour
I'm so happy to welcome back to the blog a personal favorite author of mine one of a very few whose every novel is a must read for me, Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix. My stop features an interview with Deb/Claire today about her new Medieval romance Frost Maiden's Kiss. Fans will recognize the family and some settings but she's incorporated a bit more fantasy in this new spin off series.

So Enjoy a trip back in time!!


She enchanted him with a kiss—but winning her love would demand all he possessed.

After eight years abroad, Malcolm returns to Scotland with a fortune, a companion even more hardened than he and a determination to restore his inherited holding. But when that companion falls into peril, Malcolm seizes the chance to repay an old debt, trading his own soul for that of his doomed comrade. Knowing his days are limited and determined to leave a legacy of merit, Malcolm rebuilds Ravensmuir with all haste, though he fears he will never have an heir.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interview + Review Pam Jenoff - The Winter Guest

Please welcome to the blog a new to me author whose WWII novel The Winter Guest made me an instant fan and her life experiences made my jaw drop. Enjoy our chat and then my review of this engaging novel by this amazing woman.

  • ISBN-13: 9780778315964
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/26/2014
  • Pages: 352


A stirring novel of first love in a time of war and the unbearable choices that could tear sisters apart, from the celebrateD author of The Kommandant's Girl
Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in their village a spy, and turned neighbor against neighbor. 

Read an Excerpt:

Poland, 1940
The low rumbling did not rouse Helena from her sleep. She had been dreaming of makowiec,the poppy seed rolls Mama used to make, thick and warm with a dusting of sugar. So when the noise grew louder, intruding on her dream and causing her hands to tremble, she clung tighter to the bread, drawing it hurriedly to her mouth. But before she could take a bite, a crash rattled the house and a dish in the kitchen fell and shattered.
She sat bolt upright, trying to see through the darkness. "Ruth!" Helena shook her sister. Ruth, who was curled up in a warm ball with her arms wrapped around the three slumbering children between them, had always slept more soundly. "Bombs!" Immediately awake, Ruth leaped up and grabbed one of their younger sisters under each arm. Helena followed, tugging a groggy Michal by the hand, and they raced toward the cellar as they had rehearsed dozens of times, not bothering to stop for the shoes lined up at the foot of the bed.
Helena scrambled down the ladder first, followed by Michal. Then Ruth passed five-year-old Dorie below before climbing down herself, the baby wrapped around her neck. Helena dropped to the ground and pulled Dorie onto her lap, smelling the sour milk on the child's breath. She cringed as the inevitable wetness of the muddy earth seeped through her nightclothes, then braced herself for the next explosion. She recalled the horrors she'd heard of the Warsaw bombings and hoped that the cottage could withstand it.
"Is it a storm?" Dorie asked, her voice hushed with apprehension.
"Nie, kochana." The child's body relaxed palpably in Helena's arms. Dorie could not imagine something worse than a storm. If only it were that simple.
Beside her, Ruth trembled. "Jestes pewna?" Are you certain there were bombs?
Helena nodded, then realized Ruth could not see her. "Tak." Ruth would not second-guess her. The sisters trusted each other implicitly and Ruth deferred to her where their safety was concerned. Michal leaned his tangle of curls against her shoulder and she hugged him tightly, feeling his ribs protrude beneath his skin. Twelve years old, he seemed to grow taller every day and their meager rations simply couldn't keep up.
Ten minutes passed, then twenty, without further noise. "I guess it's over," Helena said, feeling foolish. "Not bombs, then."
Helena could sense her sister's lips curling in the darkness. "No." She waited for Ruth's rebuke for having dragged them needlessly from bed. When it did not come, Helena stood and helped Dorie up the ladder. Together they all climbed back into the bed that had once belonged to their parents.
Helena thought of the noises early the next morning as she made her way up the tree-covered hill that rose before their house. The early-December air was crisp, the sky heavy with foreboding of the harsher weather that would soon come. It had not been her imagination—she was sure of that. She had heard the drone of the airplane flying too low and the sound that followed had been an explosion. But she could see for miles from this vantage point, and when she peered back over her shoulder, the tiny town and rolling countryside were untouched, the faded rooftops and brown late-autumn brush she had known all her life showing no signs of damage.
She was halfway up the hill when a rooster crowed. Helena smiled smugly, as though she had outplayed the animal at its own game. Pausing, she turned and scanned the horizon again, gazing out at the rolling Malopolska hills. Beyond them to the south sat the High Tatras, their snowcapped peaks obscured by mist. She gazed up at the half crescent moon that lingered against the pale early-morning sky. The wind blew then and the moon seemed to duck behind some silvery gray clouds, casting light around the edges.
Helena bent to untangle the frayed hem of her skirt from the tops of her boots with annoyance. Her eyes dropped once more. Biekowice was just one of a dozen or so villages surrounding the larger town of Myslenice, spokes on a wheel fanning across the countryside. The entire region had been part of the Austrian empire not thirty years earlier and the latticed, red roof houses still gave it a slightly Germanic feel. There was one road into town, feeding into a cluster of streets, which wound claustrophobically around the market square like a noose. Another road led out just as quickly. A patchwork of farms dotted the outskirts, gray smoke wafting from their chimneys to form a halo above.
Shifting the small satchel she carried, Helena continued along the western path, a pebble-strewn route that climbed upward toward the main road. In the stream that ran alongside the path, water gurgled. Her footsteps fell into an easy rhythm. Despite her mother's admonitions, Helena had escaped to the woods frequently as a child. In the confines of their small cottage, she bounced about restlessly like a rubber ball, with nowhere for her energy to go. But this was the one place she could be by herself and truly feel free.
Pine needles crackled beneath her feet, breaking the stillness, their scent mixing with more than a hint of smoke. What brush or refuse could the farmers be burning now? Everything, even items once discarded, might have some use. Leaves and twigs could, if not fuel a fire, at least make it burn longer, stretch the logs or make them hotter when the wood in the pile was damp. She scoured the ground now as she walked, looking for dropped berries or nuts or even acorns that might be used for tea. But the earth here was picked bare by the animals, as ravenous and desperate as she.
The war had broken out more than fifteen months earlier, and for a while, despite the warnings that crackled nonstop across the radio, first in Polish and later in German, it seemed as though it might not have happened at all. Though their small village was less than twenty kilometers from Krakow, little had changed other than the occasional passing of military trucks on the high road outside town. It was the blessing, Helena reflected, of living in a place so sleepy as to be of no strategic value. But the hardships had come, if not the Germans themselves: herds of cattle and other livestock disappeared in the night, reportedly over the western border. Coal stores were requisitioned and sent to the front to help the war effort. And an unusually cruel summer drought had contributed to the misery, leaving little to be canned for winter storage.
She reached the paved road that led toward the city. It was deserted now, but exhaust hung freshly in the air, suggesting a car or wagon had passed recently. Helena's skin prickled. She could not afford to encounter anyone now. She looked longingly back toward the trees, but taking the steep, winding forest path would only slow her down.
As she started forward, Helena's thoughts turned to the previous evening. "Don't go," Ruth had begged as they readied the children for bed. They'd worked seamlessly in tandem as they'd completed the familiar grooming chores, like two appendages of the same body. "It's dangerous." She accidentally pulled Dorie's braid too hard, causing her to squeal.
Ruth's objection was familiar. She had fought Helena since she'd first proposed going to the city, continuing Tata's weekly pilgrimage after his death. It was not so much that the half-day trek was physically demanding; Helena had navigated the steep, rocky countryside with her father all her life. But the Nazis had forbidden Poles from traveling beyond the borders of their own provinces without work passes. If they noticed Helena and asked questions, she could be arrested.
"What other choice do we have?" Helena had asked practically, pulling the nightdress over Karolina's hair, savoring her freshly washed smell. They did baths twice a week, Karolina first, then the older children and Ruth and finally Helena, scrubbing as well as she could in the cool, filmy water after the rest had gone to bed. "We have to make sure Mama eats." And is not mistreated, she added silently. The care at the sanatorium was minimal, the resources scarce. She hadn't told Ruth of the times she'd turned up to find their mother missing her socks or lying in her own excrement, risking infection of the bedsores she persistently developed from not being turned.
Ruth had not answered, but continued unbraiding Dorie's hair, lips pursed in conflict. Helena knew that Ruth found the notion of Mama shut away in some city hospital alone unbearable, and that Helena checking on her each week gave her some comfort. Ruth feared the outside world, though. She had responded to everything that had happened by closing off and drawing within.
Helena, on the other hand, wanted to see the world. Her mind reeled back to an earlier trip to the city. It was a fine fall day, some leaves still orange on the trees, others giving a satisfying crunch beneath her feet. She had passed the turnoff for the city and it was a good two kilometers down the road before she realized she was on the path that would lead away from Biekowice for good. Ruth's face had flashed in her mind then and Helena had stopped, guilt-stricken. She had been distracted, she told herself, and accidentally missed the turn. But she knew it was something more—for a moment she was actually leaving, without looking back. She had not taken that path again, but each trip she stopped and looked longingly down the road, wondering how far she could actually go.
Helena was jolted from her thoughts by a loud noise, a giant's foot crunching down on a house. Ahead, a German jeep, machine gun mounted on the front, blocked the roadway. Helena leaped back into the roadside brush, catching her hand on something jagged. She stifled a cry as a thorn cut through her worn glove and into her skin.
As blood seeped through the wool, Helena berated herself silently for her carelessness in not clinging to the cover of the trees that lined the road. She crouched low to the ground, not daring to breathe. But it was too late: the gun mounted atop the jeep turned toward her with a creak. A soldier stood behind it, his gaze seeming to focus just above her. He shielded his eyes, searching the forest. This was the closest Helena had come to the war and, despite her terror, she found herself studying the man. He was ruddy faced and ordinary; save for the uniform and gun, he might have been one of the loggers down at the mill.
The soldier's eyes narrowed, a mountain wolf hunting its prey. A hand seemed to grip Helena's throat, squeezing. Would he arrest her or shoot her here? She was suddenly desperate to be in the house that an hour ago she had so eagerly escaped.
Her heart pounded as she imagined her death. Ruth would be sad, or maybe cross. "I told you so," her twin might say if she were here now, a smug smile playing about her full lips. Ruth liked to be right more than just about anything and Helena seemed to always give her reason by spilling or breaking something. Helena pictured Michal, wise beyond his years, comforting his sisters. But the little ones were closer to Ruth, depended on her for their care. And they had been so battered by the loss of their parents that they might weather this additional blow without much grief.
Helena felt against her side the cool metal of the knife she'd taken from Tata's hunting kit and tucked in the waist of her skirt. She carried it in case she encountered a wolf, but now an image seized her of drawing it and slashing the German's throat.
A minute passed, then another. Finally, the man sat down and started the ignition. As the jeep started in the other direction, Helena slumped against a tree, trying to catch her breath.
When the sound of the engine had faded, Helena stepped out from the bushes and scanned the now-deserted road. She didn't dare continue this way now. Perhaps Ruth had been right about the danger of the trip and she should return home. But she imagined Mama alone in the hospital and knew that she had no choice. She doubled back to the path where it emerged from the woods. Steeling herself, Helena stepped into the forest and the welcome shelter of the trees that loomed overhead as she started toward the steep pass over the hills.
At the sound of the door clicking shut, Ruth snapped her eyes open and tightened her arms around the children. She strained without success to see in the darkness, instantly struck by the sense of emptiness beside her. The bed was a bit cooler and the mattress did not sink as heavily as usual. Helena was gone. She had left for the city, this time without nudging Ruth as she usually did. And she had gone earlier, though perhaps that was not so strange, given the shortening days and the need to get back more quickly before nightfall.
Ruth shifted with effort, weighing the void she always felt in Helena's absence. Michal's head was on her shoulder, Dorie holding to her ankle and Karolina flung across her chest. The children seemed to gravitate toward her instinctively, even while sleeping. They were curled around her like puppies now, sweaty fingers clinging to her arm, cold toes pressing against her side. They had slept like this since their parents had gone, not only for warmth and to comfort the little ones, but also to keep everyone near in case of bombs like the ones Helena thought she had heard the previous night, or God only knew what else. Usually she found comfort in their closeness. But now they seemed cloying and heavy, making each breath an effort.
Disentangling herself carefully, Ruth donned her housecoat and slippers. She made her way to the kitchen, savoring the easy movements of her now-free limbs. She pulled back the shutters to watch as her sister climbed the hill. Her stomach fluttered anxiously. She had never quite gotten used to Helena's absences. They had always been together, and in some hazy memory she could remember looking up from her mother's breast to see the roundness of her sister's head, eyes locking as they fed. Being without her was an appendage missing.
"Don't go," she wanted to shout as Helena grew smaller. They had sworn to Mama that they would keep the family together, and each time Helena ventured out to Krakow, risking arrest or worse, they were putting that promise in jeopardy. Her mind cascaded, as it always did, to the worst-case scenario: without Helena, Ruth would not be able to sustain the family and the children would have to be placed in an orphanage, where they would surely remain because no one was taking on extra mouths to feed these days.
As Helena disappeared, seemingly swallowed by the thick pine trees, Ruth was struck by an unexpected touch of envy. What was it like to just walk away, escape the house and the children and their needs for a few hours? Generally Ruth liked the comfort of their home with all of its memories and had no interest in venturing beyond the front gate. But now she imagined striding through the brisk morning air, arms free and footsteps light. Did Helena ever want to keep going and not come back?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy Monday-Some cool GoneReading Book Shaped Items

Happy Monday Peeps I had a free day so I thought I'd bring you some really cool book shaped items from GoneReading.
As You know I've recently partnered with GoneReading the philanthropic e-commerce reading accessory website and these items really made me smile so I thought I'd share it with you too!
Remember to use the coupon code DEBROCKS10 for a 10% discount off of any regular priced item.
Enjoy the show!

Book Club hostesses set a book themed table with these fabulous items from GoneReading you'll be the envy of all!

Book Shaped Saucer & Cup

If you love to read, then you’ll love this Book-Shaped Saucer & Cup!  Simple, elegant and unique.  Your friends will love it the next time you host book club!
Safe for dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use.
Made from porcelain, bright white in color.

Book Shaped Saucer & Stackable Cup

If you love to read, then you’ll love this Book-Shaped Saucer & Cup!  Similar to our other Book Shaped Saucer & Cup but with a different cup that easily stacks, making it ideal for smaller cabinets.  Makes the perfect gifts for readers and book lovers! Safe for dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re great for entertaining or everyday use. Made from porcelain, bright white in color.


Book Shaped Plate – Small

Be the envy of your book club with these book shaped plates!  Beautifully made from porcelain, these bright white plates will dazzle your bookish friends and family for decades to come.  Served in high-end restaurants and tea rooms around the world.  Safe for use in dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use. Measures 6.5″ x 6.5″ with a depth of 1″ at its deepest point. As seen in The Daily Candy!    $9.99

Book Shaped Plate – Medium

What book club can go without these book shaped plates from GoneReading!  Made from porcelain, these bright white plates will dazzle your bookish friends and family for decades to come.  Served in high-end restaurants and tea rooms around the world.  Safe for use in dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use. Measures 8.5″ x 8.5″ with a depth of almost 1.3″ at its deepest point.  $12.99

Book Shaped Platter – Medium

This Book-Shaped Platter will be the talk of your next book club or gathering of friends!  Normally used in high-end restaurants, these book shaped platters are sturdily made for either commercial or home use.  Safe for dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, they’re perfect for entertaining or everyday use.  Made from porcelain, bright white in color. Measures 11.75″ x 8.0″ with a depth of 1″ at its deepest point.    $24.99

Click HERE for all the Book Shaped items

Click HERE for a selection of book club gifts