Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - April 30, 2013 Edition

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my TT is from a book I'm reviewing and which will be on tour here next week:  Always the Baker, Finally the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

From Page 186:

     At the same time, Jackson couldn't help counting off the list of things they'd give up if they decided not to sell the Tanglewood.  And the list grew pretty lengthy.
     No living in Paris for a year, he thought.

In "Always the Baker, Never the Bride," readers fell in love with Emma Rae and Jackson, and they've gotten more acquainted with them in the two books that followed.

But now it s time for the diamond to meet the road as Jackson fields an offer to sell The Tanglewood, a move that will uproot this high-flying family act once and for all. Get reacquainted with all of the lovable and quirky characters from the first three books as your favorite diabetic baker figures out if she'll achieve her greatest goal of all: Will Emma, at last, become FINALLY the Bride?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Virtual Book Tour for Security by Mandy Baggot

Welcome to my stop on Mandy Baggot’s Virtual Book Tour for Security.  Please leave a comment or question for Mandy below to let her know you stopped by.  


Guest Post - How to meet deadlines and remain sane!  by Mandy Baggot

You know it’s there and it’s looming. So why is it all you really want to do is watch You Tube videos of dancing dogs/talking cats/buff fire-fighters?  The key to meeting deadlines and staying sane is:-


At the beginning you have a deadline and it seems so far away. You have plenty of time, eons of it, you might even deliver early. But as life ticks on, time starts to slip away and you feel the ground being pulled from under you. Why does this happen? The reason I think it happens is because we’re far too hard on ourselves. For me the best option is little and often. Realistically I know I am not going to write a novel by blasting out 10,000 words a day for 8 days. I do know however that I should be able to write 1,000 words a day and still retain a grip on all the other jobs I have to fit in. Build a foundation and layer it up.


The worst thing to do is force yourself to write your book because of a word count fear. If things are getting sticky watch that You Tube video of buff fire-fighters or that re-run of Dallas. Stepping away from the situation for half an hour or so will mean you come back to the task reinvigorated. Treats are also a good way to get those words on the page. If you hit your daily word count – reward yourself. It might be a glass of wine or a bar of chocolate or whatever takes your fancy. Celebrate every achievement and it will drive you forward towards the bigger goal.

Share the experience

All writers have different methods for project planning. Try asking writer friends how they manage their workload and make sure they hit deadlines. You might find they have some helpful tips or just maybe you might realize their approach to deadlines is a lot worse than yours *smug face*.

Lock Down

This is the absolute last resort. If you’ve planned and written steadily and you still haven’t finished then you need a lock down! Take away ALL distractions – no TV, no internet, no music, no children, no phone – just you and your novel until it’s done. When you think about it, being locked in a room with your characters doesn’t sound too bad does it? You might not want to come out again!

by Mandy Baggott
Publisher: Saphire Star Publishing
Release date: April 1, 2013
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 354 Pages 

Buy Links:

Amazon Print     Kindle      Nook 

Book Description:

Autumn Raine is a pop vocalist at the very top of her game.  She's a style icon, the paparazzi's darling and everyone wants to be her friend.  But when her safety is threatened, her whole life starts to unravel.

Eluding kidnap and trying to stay alive, can Autumn find the strength to be the person she longs to be?  And can two people, poles apart, forge something strong enough to survive anything?


“Room service,” the voice called from outside in the hall.

“Please, tell me you didn’t order fucking room service,” Nathan hissed to her.

She was shaking, loitering by the bathroom door, not knowing what to do. She shook her head at him. His eyes were on her all the time. She’d not had the means to call room service even if she’d wanted to.

Nathan reached out and put his hand on the doorknob, preparing to open it. Autumn took a step back into the bathroom and squeezed her eyes tight shut. What should she do? She’d not been in a situation like this before. Should she pick up something to use as a weapon? There was a choice of a toilet brush or a razor she would have to unwrap from its plastic wrapping. She heard the door open, flipped her eyelids up and took a deep breath, waiting.

“Room service, Mr. Martin. Two full English breakfasts,” the voice announced.

“You must have the wrong room. I didn’t order breakfast, and I’m here alone. The name’s  Shepherd,” Nathan replied.

“Oh, I do apologize, sir. I’ll go check the order with the kitchen. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

“Not a problem.”

She heard the door close and Nathan practically ripped the bathroom door from its hinges as he came to find her.

“We’re leaving. Get everything you came with. Leave nothing,” he ordered. 

He’d noticed the black transit van pull into the car park earlier. Two men had left it. One returned fifteen minutes later and had been sitting in it ever since. The man seemed to be reading a newspaper, but he also kept looking at his watch and checking his rear view mirror. It wasn’t normal behavior for a normal person. It was, however, normal behavior for someone in a similar line of work to his. 

Autumn was counting aloud as she checked and re-checked the small room. She didn’t have anything apart from that bloody purse and the stupid fucking designer hat, but he had to ensure she was alert to everything he said. The next time he asked her to get her stuff together, it might be a life or death situation. For now, they only had time against them.

She muttered to herself, breathing like an exhausted greyhound, gripping the purse as if it could save her life just by being close to her chest. Suddenly, he felt sorry for her. Yes, she was an irritating spoiled bitch, but looking at her now, all he saw was a terrified young woman. A beautiful, terrified young woman.

“Now, you do exactly what I say, is that clear?” he barked at Autumn as they waited at the fire exit that led out toward the car park.

Her head was spinning, she felt sick, and she had a run in her stockings. She couldn’t stop looking at it as it seemed to be growing by the second.

“Autumn, you need to listen to me if you want to stay safe.” Nathan took hold of her wrist.

She raised her head to meet his eyes with hers, and she nodded like a programmed robot.

“Right. Now, when I open this door, I want you behind me, holding on to my belt, head down, making for the car, okay? Don’t look up, just walk quickly and keep hold of me,” he said.

“You think there’s someone outside, don’t you?” Autumn asked through chattering teeth. “That’s why you were looking out the window.”

“That’s my concern, not yours. Head down, make for the car, keep hold of me,” he said again.

He took her hands and pressed them to the leather belt at his waistband.  His shirt wasn’t quite tucked in properly, and her fingertips touched the skin at his back. She shut her eyes and bit her teeth together, preparing herself for everything and nothing, all at the same time.

She felt him push the bar on the door, then, all at once, he strode off. The speed of his movement surprised her. She clung to his belt and tried to keep up with his pace.

She kept her head down, looking at the ground as Nathan hurried them toward his car. Paving stones turned into gritty tarmac. Her fingers chafed on the leather belt she suspected wasn’t really leather, and her heart beat a fast flamenco in her chest.

She heard the car door open. Nathan turned to face her, took her hands off his waistband, and pushed her down into the car. She clutched her purse and blinked to refocus on the outside.

Suddenly, a flash went off in her face, and a camera appeared at her passenger window. She let out a scream of terror, her hand instinctively reaching for the lock on the door. She couldn’t breathe, and her heart was racing again, but she watched as Nathan tackled the photographer to the ground and drew his weapon.

The paparazzo looked terrified. His eyes bulged, and with Nathan’s left hand around his throat and his right directing a gun at his temple, it was hardly surprising. But Autumn looked again at the photographer, and this time recognized him. He was paparazzi. He’d photographed her many times, and he was one of the faces she saw in the crowd at all her personal appearances.

She unlocked the car door and tentatively stepped out. “He’s a photographer,” she stated to Nathan.

He had his knee in the middle of the poor man’s chest, probably cutting off his air and crushing his rib cage.

“Having a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. Get in the car, Autumn.”

“I’ve seen him before,” Autumn said as she leaned over him. “He’s paparazzi. He’ll have ID. If you get off him, he can show you.”

He attempted to nod his head despite the restrictions on his neck, but Nathan held firm.

“Let him go, for God’s sake, you’re hurting him,” Autumn said.

The photographer was starting to splutter, and his face was turning an awful shade of mauve.

"Get in the car, Autumn.  That's an order."  Nathan spat, turning to face her. 

About the Author

Mandy Baggot is a self-confessed Twitter addict who likes to sing on You Tube. She regularly guests on book blogs and is a featured author on the innovative website loveahappyending.com. She is also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Mandy lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

Twitter Handle: @mandybaggot


My Review

A pop music diva, a government agent turned body guard, and a terrorist group looking for leverage, are all part of Mandy Baggot’s  romantic suspense, Security.  Well developed characters, good dialogue and plenty of action, kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next.  After all, it’s not every day you get to see inside the life of a pop star – even if she’s just a part of fiction.

Autumn Raine appears to have it all; a successful career as a pop star,  money and two nominations for music awards.  She’s also got a demanding mother, a publicity hounding assistant and a boyfriend who wants her to help him promote his album.  She hadn’t planned on getting death threats thanks to her mother’s job as a member of the British cabinet.  Hiring another bodyguard wasn’t on Autumn’s to do list, at least until she meets Nathan Regan, the government agent assigned to take charge of her security.

A government agent brought in when things get dicey, Nathan Regan isn’t thrilled to be tasked with guarding a “Pop Diva”.  Especially one who keeps telling him she doesn’t need his help.   When Nathan realizes the threats are real, and are being issued by a terrorist organization he’s dealt with before, he’s determined to keep Autumn safe and bring down the terrorists while he’s doing it.

The scenes between Autumn and Nathan are fun, full of sexual and emotional tension, and also have plenty of action.  When things get really rough, Autumn and Nathan will have to put their differences aside to make it out alive.  They’ll also have to decide if their physical attraction is worth giving into.  Ms. Bagott does a good job developing her characters and dealing with their emotional issues.  I especially liked how much Autumn grows through what she and Nathan are forced to go through and how Nathan is forced to realize that loving someone is worth the risk.

Will Autumn and Nathan be kidnapped and survive, or will one, or both of them end up making the ultimate sacrifice?  Read Security  to find out.  I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 Crowns

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Friday, April 26, 2013

Virtual Review Tour and Giveaway for Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush

Welcome to my stop on Holly Bush's Virtual Review Tour for Reconstructing Jackson.  Please leave a comment or question for Holly below to let her know you stopped by.  Holly will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  You can follow her tour here, the more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.  

Reconstructing Jackson
by Holly Bush

Publisher: Bookbaby 
Release Date: September 25, 2012 

Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 191 Pages

Buy Links:

Amazon      Nook          ARe

Book Description:

1867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.

Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.

Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle's courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.


Reed awoke from a troublesome sleep that night to crying and moaning outside of his window. There was no moon and Reed could not see the source of the noise, but heard movement in the hallway. He pulled pants on and lowered himself into his chair as he wiped the night from his face. On the porch, Reed heard Beulah’s voice, low and comforting in the still air. “Miss Beulah,” he whispered.

“Go back to bed, Mr. Jackson.”

Reed heard a moan and Beulah’s pleas to someone. “What is it?” he asked.

Beulah rose from the walk and Reed saw her eyes, angry, through the spindles of the porch. “None of your concern.”

“For God’s sakes, woman, tell me who cries so piteously.” Reed realized the moaning had stopped.

Beulah looked down and back to Reed. “She needs no more of your help, Mr. Jackson.”

Reed froze and the blood drained from his face. He wheeled down the ramp and to where Beulah held Belle Richards in her arms. “What happened?” he asked.

“I don’t know. She fainted or . . . died before she could she say.”

A lump of terror balled in his throat for a woman he barely knew. He forced words from his mouth. “Check her pulse.”

“Faint. But there.”

“Then hurry, Beulah,” Reed rushed on. “Can you lift her?”

“I was a slave, Mr. Jackson. I carried baled cotton on my back . . .”

“Enough with the lecture on the evils of slavery. She may die as we speak,” Reed hissed.

AUTHOR Bio and Links: 

Holly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject. 

Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.

Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, has been an active member of her local library board and loves to spend time near the ocean. She is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.

Contact Links:




My Review 

To change the future, you must first learn from the past. You need to face your fears, be willing to ask for and grant forgiveness and work hard to change the future. Author Holly Bush reminds us of this with her Civil War historical romance, Reconstructing Jackson.  Part history, part social commentary and part second chance romance, Ms. Bush's characters captured my attention from the first page and never let go.  

Two years after the end of the Civil War, southern lawyer Jackson Reed travels to Missouri to start over.  Wounded, and now crippled, Jackson is bitter about the changes which have taken place in his life.  Hoping to etch out a living, Jackson is sure he'll face the rest of his life alone.  After all, what woman wants to marry a man who's now less than what he was?

Poor and uneducated, Belle Richards is stuck taking care of a drunken father and two older brothers.  Even though she's abused, Belle has a dream to change her future.  She wants to learn to read and marry a man, who will give her love and a home and family of her own.  She won't let being born in the wrong side of town stop her from doing whatever it takes to get ahead.

While the war between the states is over, the future is still uncertain.  When the lives of Jackson, Belle, and Beulah, a former slave teaching Belle to read, collide; they'll change the world they live in.  Ms. Bush does a wonderful job developing their characters, giving us glimpses into their pasts, and a view into the building of an uncertain future.  At times very frank, Ms. Bush doesn't sugar coat our country's shameful past, or the language of the times.  

While the primary characters are the focus of this romance, the secondary characters are well developed and all make important contributions.  I especially loved Beulah, who's story is heartbreaking, Henry and Mary Ellen Ames, Jackson's progressive relatives, and Brother Freeman and Nathan Black.  The villains of the story are also well written and are very easy to hate.  I particularly liked how Ms. Bush sees to it they eventually get what they deserve.

Will Jackson and Belle be able to make a bright future together in the new and uncertain world they live in?  You'll have to read Reconstructing Jackson to find out.  This is the third novel I've read by Ms. Bushand I can't wait to read what she writes next.

My Rating:  5 out of 5 Crowns    

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Don't forget to leave a comment or question for Holly below to let her know you stopped by.  Holly will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  You can follow her tour here, the more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - April 24, 2013 Edition

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that highlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This weeks pre-publication "can't wait to read" selection is One Dead Cookie (A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #4) by Virginia Lowell

One Dead Cookie
by Virginia Lowell 

Publisher:  Berkley Publishing
Expected Releases Date: July 2, 2013

Pre- order Links:  Amazon Print         Kindle 

Book Description:

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But a dead body on their front porch might put their bake shop in a truly sticky situation…

Olivia is busy baking up special cookies for Maddie’s upcoming engagement party when soap star Trevor Lane shows up unexpectedly in town. It soon becomes clear that Trevor, who grew up in the neighboring town of Twiterton, left behind a number of enemies with long memories. Even Trevor’s assistant and childhood friend, Dougie, seems to harbor a grudge against him.

Soon after his arrival, Trevor is found dead on The Gingerbread House porch, his handsome face branded with the image of a cookie cutter. When their friend Stacey is implicated in the murder, Olivia and Maddie rush to find the killer. Because it seems someone in Chatterley Heights has a sweet tooth for revenge...

Why I'm waiting on this book:

1. I have the first three books in the series in my tbr and plan to read them back to back
2. Love the premise
3. Cute, cozy mystery cover

What's your "waiting on" pick this week? 

Want to participate? Grab the logo, post your own WoW entry on your blog and leave your link below or if you don't have a blog, leave it below in the comments.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Virtual Book Tour - The Mickey Tussler Series by Frank Nappi

Welcome to my stop on Frank Nappi's Virtual Book Tour for The Mickey Tussler Series.  Please leave a comment or question for Frank below to let him know you stopped by.  Frank will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  You can follow the tour here, the more often you comment, the better you rodds of winning.   

Guest Blog Post - Why Autism? by Frank Nappi

Baseball and Autism? As the author of The Legend of Mickey Tussler series, novels that feature as their protagonist an autistic teen blessed with a killer fastball, I have come to understand just how powerful the blending of the two can really be. While the two subjects might appear at first glance to be unrelated, one only need observe the two together to see that this union has the unique power to engender awareness, understanding, tolerance and ultimately acceptance.

My novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, is the story of a 17 year old autistic kid who is mired in the obscurity of a small farm in Indiana in 1948. In addition to his “condition”, which of course has no name at the time, Mickey possesses the remarkable ability to throw objects (most notably apples) with extraordinary velocity and precision. It appears that his life will never amount to anything more than the day to day toiling on the family farm under the cruel and watchful eye of his cantankerous father Clarence when a most fortuitous encounter with baseball manager Arthur Murphy, a man who himself is struggling with his own demons, alters the trajectory of each of the character's lives forever.

I wanted to tell a baseball story -- the genesis of the endeavor is my pure love for the game of baseball. I always thought that to combine my first love, which is baseball, with my passion for writing, would be a wonderful creative amalgamation. However, I did not want to re-tell the classic, trite tale that has been told before -- you know, the young talented nobody who is discovered and then makes good on the diamond. So that was a real impediment. However, I soon had the epiphany that if my character were unique -- special in another way too -- that would add a compelling wrinkle to the tale that has never been attempted. Conceiving Mickey Tussler as an Asperger’s kid was what unlocked the whole story.

I first became involved with a group called Best Buddies when I came to Oceanside High School as an English teacher. I was intrigued by how this club was able to foster awareness and acceptance for kids with special needs. My school district’s Best Buddies chapter is just one of the almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Our building’s group meets weekly – and promotes the spirit of the organization – pairing students with special needs with a student buddy to help foster socialization and acceptance for all involved. My work with this amazing group helped me to really bring my main character to life. After I began writing my first Mickey Tussler novel, I immersed myself even further in the culture of the Oceanside Best Buddies chapter – to ensure that I would do justice in my representation of a young man with autism. I have never looked back.

For those of you not familiar with my Mickey Tussler series (The Legend of Mickey Tussler and the sequel Sophomore Campaign), the novels chronicle the coming of age of young Mickey Tussler – a pitching phenom with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Mickey’s struggle for acceptance on a minor league baseball team during the 1940s helps to shape a story about overcoming obstacles, self-discovery, and the human condition. The first book, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, was adapted for the movie “A Mile in His Shoes” (starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder) which aired on cable television last year and is now available on DVD.

Working so closely with children with autism and teens and getting to know their families has been more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. My character Mickey is the embodiment of all the magic I have witnessed over many years and has become a wonderful vehicle for me to further connect with families of children with special needs and teens.

The Legend of Mickey Tussler
by Frank Nappi
The Legend of Mickey Tussler Series, Book 1 
Publisher:  Sky Pony Press
Release Date: March 21, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 316 Pages
Buy Links:
Amazon    B&N   
Book Description:

In the late 1940s, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey’s autism—a disorder still not truly understood even today—has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey’s powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.

The mailbox outside the farmhouse was beaten and weathered, a gray wood container nailed to a crooked stake with the name “Tussler” barely visible through all of the chips and cracks. He followed a narrow, winding path that led him past a tiny field with slanted gravestones overrun with cucumber vines and crabgrass that eventually gave way to a small stable.

“Hello,” he called out. “Anyone home?”

He stepped forward and opened the doors, looking curiously at the scene inside. Two horses, a couple of chickens nesting in the corner and a few pigs eating quietly from a trough.

“Not much of a farm,” he thought.

The animals seemed to be just as unimpressed with him. They barely stirred, and probably would have remained completely still had it not been for the sudden thumping from behind the far wall. He followed the sound around the stable until he found its origin. He stood, with his back and left foot flat against the side of the stable, watching in amazement at the young farm boy, standing next to a curious pattern of crab apples in the dirt – six rows across, five apples deep – firing one at a time from one hundred feet away into a wine barrel turned on its side.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Stunned, Arthur watched as the boy shifted his weight back, cocked his right arm, then exploded forward, splitting the center of the barrel every time. He didn’t have much of a windup, and the mechanics were awkward, but it was the most astounding display of power and accuracy he had ever witnessed.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

He was about to walk a little closer when he stopped suddenly, taken back by an unusual, spastic motion the boy was performing. His throwing hand, curled into a fist, was buried inside his other and he was rolling his arms violently. Arthur watched as each elbow rose and fell rhythmically, over and over again, until at last the boy stopped just long enough to reach down in front him in order to resume the awesome exhibition.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Three more strikes. Then came the rolling of the arms. Arthur stared as the powerful young man repeated the process, time and again.

He was captivated. Once the pristine rows of projectiles had vanished, Arthur walked over to the boy. The kid was bigger up close. His face was youthful, round and fleshy, with sandy brown strands of hair that barely concealed a dark purplish line under his right eye. He must have been at least six foot five. His legs looked like two oak trees and he had the biggest hands Arthur had ever seen.

“Excuse me,” Arthur said. “Hello. I had a little accident with my car. Do you live here?”

The young giant was startled and tense. He began to chew his lower lip. His eyes darted wildly.

“I live here,” he answered.

“Is there someone who can help me with my car? I mean, your parents. Is your dad around?”

He didn’t answer. He was just standing before him, his glance shifting from Arthur’s hat to his shoes and all points in between.

“I didn’t mean to bother you son,” Murph said, holding out his hand. “I’m Arthur Murphy. My friends call me Murph.”

The boy’s expression softened. He pushed away the wisps of brown hair that hung carelessly in his eyes.

“Michael James Tussler, sir,” he answered, pulling awkwardly at one of the straps of his overalls. “Folks ‘round here just call me Mickey.”

“Mickey, huh? Say, that’s quite a shiner you got there,” Murph said, pointing to the boy’s eye.

“How’s that?” he responded.

“Your eye. I was talking about your eye. How’d you get that?”
The boy fidgeted.

“Aw, don’t reckon Mickey remembers,” he answered.

Arthur smiled softly.

“Well, that’s alright now. It’s nice to meet you Mickey. You’ve got quite an arm there.

Really. I was watching you from over there. How old are you?”

The boy was biting the inside of his cheek.

“I got me some pigs sir. Want to see my pigs?”

“Uh, sure. Maybe later.”

“I got six of ’em. My favorite one is named Oscar.”

Arthur studied the boy. He was certainly in amazing shape. A fine athletic specimen. But there was something about him. A vacuity behind his eyes that seemed to overshadow everything else.

“Well, that sounds very nice son. Say, how old did you say you are Mickey?”


“Ever play baseball?”

Mickey just looked at him.

Murph thought again about Dennison’s ominous admonition and how desperately grave his situation with the ball club had become.

“You, know. Baseball. Three strikes. Home run. All that good stuff.”

“I don’t reckon I have. I’ll show you my pigs now. I got six of ‘em.”

Then Mickey placed his hands together and began rolling his elbows once again.

“Yeah, yeah. Okay Mickey. In a minute. But first, how’s about waiting here while I run to my car. Then maybe you can show me that neat trick of yours again-- you know, throwing those apples in the barrel?”

Mickey nodded blankly. Murph was gone and back in a flash, fearful that the boy might change his mind. With his breath short and erratic, Murph reached down to pick up one of the wormy specimens that had managed to fall outside the original makeshift grid. He tossed it in the air a couple of times. Then he reached into his pocket with his other hand and presented to Mickey a beautiful new baseball.

“What do ya say kid?” he prompted, holding out both his hands. “They’re almost the same exact size. Except mine is real clean and smooth. Go on. Have a feel for yourself.” Murph watched as the boy’s hand swallowed the ball.

“Pretty neat, huh?” he asked.

Mickey ran his fingers over the laces.

“Mickey likes it sir,” he replied.

Murph smiled. His heart beat on.

“How about giving it a toss Mickey?” he asked. “You know, right over in that barrel.

Just for laughs.”

The boy nodded.

“Can I show you my pigs now?” he asked.

“Well, sure you can son,” Murph answered. “But first, I’d love to see you toss that baseball into that barrel.”

The monotony of the conversation sank into a vague haze through which Murph’s glittering visions persisted. He placed his hand on the boy’s back and nudged him gently. “What do you say son?” he prodded. “Will you do that for me?”

“Okay Mr. Murphy. Mickey will do it.”

Murph watched with immeasurable fascination as the boy held the ball, brought his hands together, and rolled his arms. Then, like a bolt of lightening released from the heavens, the ball took flight, a streak of white radiance that cut the air with a whizzing sound before landing directly in the center of the barrel, splintering the wood. Murph’s eyes widened like saucers. His breath was gone again. Then, in the flatness that followed the euphoria, Murph knew, just knew, that he had stumbled on something special.

Sophomore Campaign
by Frank Nappi 
The Legend of Mickey Tussler Series, Book 2
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: March 21, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 280 Pages
Buy Links:
Amazon     B&N
Book Description: 

It’s 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey’s proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season’s violent conclusion, his manager—and now surrogate father—Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy’s performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.

“What the hell is wrong with Mickey?” Murph asked. “Did something happen out there?”

“I think it was Lefty,” Danvers said. “That jackass was jawing at him from the dugout, and making all kinds of gestures. I put a stop to it but I think it may have rattled him.”

Murph saw the boy struggling, and was quick to intercede. “Hey, Mick, what’s going on pal?” he said. “Everything okay?”

The boy did not move. Just stood there, catatonically, his fragile soul naked in his glassy eyes. He was remembering the last time he saw Lefty. And he could still hear the assailant’s voice, cold and vituperative, and the pathetic cries of Oscar, his favorite pig, after Lefty plunged his boot into the porker’s side, killing it instantly. Then there were the hours that followed, with Sheriff Rosco, and all the questions. So many questions. The recollection was overwhelming. Frightening. He just wanted it to all go away.

“‘Slowly, silently, now the moon, walks the night in her silver shoon…’”

“Mickey, come on now. We’re not doing that now. There’s no need. You’re home here. We’ve got a game to play here. Hear that crowd? Listen to them. They all came for you.”

The boy’s affectations were unchanged. He continued to stare vacantly, rocking back and forth, trying desperately to drive the hateful memories out of himself.

“This way and that, she peers and sees, silver fruit upon silver trees.”

Murph put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and squeezed gently.  “Hey, Mick, you’re okay. Save that poem for home. Come on now.  Just you and Boxcar. Like always. Focus on that glove. Nothing else. Toss that apple right to the glove. Just like you used to do for Oscar. Right to the target. Can you do that for me?”

Maybe it was his manager’s touch, and the way Murph’s urgency flowed through his fingers and into Mickey’s body like some electrical charge. Or maybe it was the mere mention of the name Oscar, said out loud, that made the difference. Maybe it was both. Whatever it was, the boy began to free himself slowly from the demon that had seized him. He blinked several times, as if cleaning the lens to his mind’s eye, and stopped his recitation of the poem.

“Oscar didn’t like Lefty, Murph,” he said. “No sir. Mickey don’t like him much either.” Murph grinned and shook his head. “Don’t sweat it, kid. Nobody here does.”

The Brewers took the field moments later, led by their ace and fan favorite, Mickey Tussler. The crowd was bristling with an untamed enthusiasm, waving placards professing their unconditional love for the “Baby Bazooka” and chanting his name. In the wake of his superhuman exploits on the field, and all of the misfortune and injustice that had befallen him elsewhere, Mickey had become a cult hero of sorts.


Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story "A Mile in His Shoes" starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, including Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the just released thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. Frank is presently at work on a third installment of his Mickey Tussler series and his next thriller. He lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.


The Legend of Mickey Tussler/Sophomore Campaign book trailers:



Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrankNappi

author website http://www.franknappi.com/

author facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorfranknappi

author goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/589342.Frank_Nappi

Don't forget to leave a comment or question for Frank below to let him know you stopped by.  Frank will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  You can follow the tour here, the more often you comment, the better you rodds of winning.