Year-end Teasers: The 2016 spotlight


Your favorite bestselling authors have been very busy over the past 12 months. Altogether, BestSelling Reads member authors have published 46 titles. Here’s a quick look back at all the great reading available for your enjoyment this year.

Claude Bouchard

Scott Bury

Barb Drozdowich

Julie C. Gilbert

DelSheree Gladden

Emily Kimelman

Emily’s Sydney Rye Kindle World also launched in May 2016.

Seb Kirby


Toby Neal

Renée Pawlish

Kathleen Valentine

Even though Kathleen passed away at the end of October, she published two books in 2016:


Tribute Thursday: Kathleen Valentine


This week, we are again paying tribute to Kathleen Valentine, who passed away on October 29, by reprising an excerpt from one of her best-loved books, The Crazy Old Lady Unleashed, Volume 3 in Kathleen Valentine’s Beacon Hill Chronicles.

In an effort to rid the Thorndike townhouse of spirits, Vivienne Lang, accompanied by Joe and Tom Quinn, go in search of an exorcist they’ve heard about.

“I think we’re almost there,” Tom said. “Brother Gregory said it was just past the old fort.” He pointed. “There. I think that’s it.”

At the top of a hill overlooking Boston Harbor, a weather-beaten salt-box style house next to a long greenhouse sat surrounded by vast, tidy gardens.

“It’s beautiful,” Viv said as she got out of the car and stretched. “What a view!”

“No kidding, huh?” Joe got out, shaded his eyes with his hands, and pointed. “That’s Boston Lighthouse right in front of us but see that light farther out?”

“Yes.” Viv followed suit, shading her eyes. “Where is that?”

“That’s called The Graves Light. It’s nine miles out from Boston.” He turned and pointed in the opposite direction. “See that?” He pointed toward a flicker in the loom above the water.

“Another lighthouse?”

“Yeah. That’s Minot’s Ledge. I bet on a really clear day you can see all the way to Provincetown.”

“I’m going to go knock.” Tom and Joe turned back to the house but Viv, enthralled by the view, wandered down the driveway, both hands shading her eyes.

“You must be the brothers Quinn.” The screen door opened and a stocky man in baggy jeans and a dirt-stained sweatshirt crossed the porch. Except for the tonsure on his head he looked like any other middle-aged man. He held out his hand. “I’m Brother Gregory Aston. Welcome.”

“Hi, I’m Tom Quinn. And this is my brother Joe.” Tom glanced backward. “What happened to Viv?”

“She’s still wrapped up in the view. What a place you have here,” Joe said to Brother Gregory.

“Who’s Viv?” Brother Gregory asked.

“Joe’s fiancee,” Tom said. “She’s the one who needs to talk to Brother Maksim.”

“Oh dear.” Brother Gregory frowned. “Bringing her here without warning might not have been a good idea. Brother Maksim is a difficult person under the best of circumstances but he’s got a lot of problems with women.”

“Oh shit, is that him?” Joe turned and, as they watched, an enormous man rose up from one of the gardens.

“Yes.” Brother Gregory cupped his hands around his mouth and hollered, “Brother Maksim!”

The giant strode toward Viv.

“Crap. Viv’s not a good person for men with issues about women to be around.” Joe broke into a run.

Brother Maksim either did not hear his name being called or chose to ignore it. He reached out as he neared Viv and grabbed her arm. In a flash, she turned, slammed her heel into the back of his knee and brought her elbow down in the middle of his back, sending him sprawling, face down in the grass.

“What the hell..?” Tom stopped dead in his tracks as Joe grabbed Viv and pulled her into his arms.
Brother Gregory glanced at her, a look of total bafflement on his face. He dropped to his knees next to the fallen man.
“Brother Maksim? Are you all right?”

The huge body began to shudder and shake.

“Brother Maksim?” Brother Gregory put his hands on the massive shoulders and tugged. Brother Maksim rolled effortlessly onto his back and lay in the grass laughing hysterically.

“What just happened?” Tom asked stopping beside Joe.

“Viv doesn’t like surprises,” Joe said, grinning. “That’s my baby.”

“I’m so sorry,” Viv said. “He scared me.”

“And you taught him a lesson about scaring women,” Joe said.
Brother Maksim pushed himself to his feet, still laughing. “I like her,” he boomed.

“I’m so sorry.” Viv disentangled herself from Joe’s arms and turned to face Brother Maksim. “You shouldn’t have grabbed me like that.”

Brother Maksim put his hands on his hips and grinned down at her. He stood at least half a foot taller than Joe—who was taller than everyone else in their group—and was half-again as wide. His wild, thick hair, except for where it was tonsured, was a mix of black and gray, and he wore an equally gray beard. The left side of his face was a mass of long-healed scars but, judging by the right side, he must have been a handsome man at one time.

“Come.” He gestured toward the house. “We’ll have tea. I want to get to know this woman.”

About The Crazy Old Lady Unleashed

Beacon Hill Chronicles: Volume 3: Two years have passed since the horrible events in the Thorndike brownstone on Beacon Hill. Viv and Joe are recovering. Mattie and Stan have Adam, the little son they both adore.

But strange things are going on in GrammyLou’s townhouse; realtors refuse to show it because they say it is haunted and prospective buyers are being frightened away. Mattie hires a Salem ghost-hunter named Destiny Starlight, but though she identifies three distinct spirits haunting the old ballroom, her bungling only makes matters worse.

With the help of Calista Defarge and Anteus Roosevelt Jones, an elderly historian, Viv discovers an ancient secret the house conceals. Guided by a mysterious Romanian monk, Brother Maksim Gromyko, Viv makes a terrifying journey that could end her relationship with Joe—and possibly her life.

About the author

Kathleen Valentine - authorKathleen Valentine was the author of four novels including the award-winning The Whiskey Bottle in The Wall: Secrets of Marienstadt; the Amazon Best Seller in Psychological Horror, The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic; its sequels The Crazy Old Lady’s Revenge and The Crazy Old Lady Unleashed; as well as numerous short stories and novellas.

She passed away in her home in Gloucester, Maine in October.

Visit her



Monday Musings: The Best of Kathleen Valentine


KV-300pxBestSelling Reads’ most prolific blogger, Kathleen Valentine passed away suddenly on October 29. In honor of her memory, we’re reprising some of her insights over the past couple of years.

On why she read what she read

The first thing I look for in a book is either a setting or a subject matter, or an era that interests me. There are eras that I am drawn to (the Gilded Age, the 1920s in Paris, the Vietnam War era), there are places I am drawn to (South America, Scandinavian countries, islands), and there are nearly too many subject matters to list. Those are the things that will get me to pick up a book in the first place. But to keep me reading I need more.

On reading more than one book at a time

I love Melville and have read Moby Dick at least four times. It is the sort of book you can re-read and discover something new every time. However, I had never read his first book, Typee, so after I finished Montillo’s book I downloaded (for 99¢) Herman Melville: Typee, Omoo, Mardi and started reading it. The first story, Typee, is based on Melville’s own adventures when he worked on a whaling ship and decided to abandon ship on a south Pacific island. Halfway through the story, I could not believe I had missed this wonderful adventure. I was also reminded of another book I keep meaning to read.

Somewhere on my bookshelves was Paul Theroux’s The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific. I located it, poured myself an iced tea, and took it to my back porch—my favorite reading spot. One hundred pages into it, I had the same reaction I had to Typee, “why have I never read this before?” As he island hops the south Pacific in his collapsible kayak, Theroux mentions several times that he is reading The Sexual Life of Savages: Argonauts of the Western Pacific by Bronislaw Malinowski. Naturally, I went looking for it and found the Kindle copy which was also 99¢. I bought it and—sigh—here I go again.

GhostsLighthouse-2vThis is how my mind works—it isn’t easy being this curious. Right now, I am juggling these three books—all of which are over 500 pages. Right now, I am reminded of another work I read but now want to re-read: House of Skin, Cannibal Nights, Opium Dreams: Prize-Winning Pacific Island Stories by Kiana Davenport.

What am I doing in the south Pacific? I have no business being here when I should be writing about Halcyon Beach, Massachusetts? But the mind of a writer is both curious and a curiosity …

I have no idea why these books are calling to me right now but I am not going to fight it. It is a nice day here on this north Atlantic island and I’m going to finish writing for the day then retire to the porch with my Kindle, the Theroux book, my reading glasses, and iced tea, and travel to the islands of the south Pacific. It’s a good day for traveling through space and time—who knows where I might end up?

On writing to appeal to readers

Kathleen Valentine

I believe that the more visual we can make our writing, the more we can keep our readers engaged. Thanks to the internet we now have more resources than ever to help. It is fun and it certainly fires up the creativity….

… As an exercise … I decided to spend some time looking at the bushes that separate our backyard from the cemetery beyond them. This is quite a large bunch of bushes that have grown up over the years that run the length of the yard. From the ground they are towering and many people do not even know there is a cemetery back there, but from my perch on the second floor the view is different.

As I studied the bushes, I immediately picked out the multiflora rose bushes that smell so lovely in spring, then the privet bushes with their lacy leaves. Other than those I counted the wild choke cherries that the squirrels get drunk on and stagger around the yard. But there were more. By the time I got done, making note of differences I’d counted a total of seven different bushes, some which I cannot identify. It was a good exercise and I learned that, though I’ve looked at those bushes for years, I’ve never really seen them.

On inspiration

Of all the writing books I own, the one I most often take down to peruse is Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. In it he says, “Work. Don’t think. Relax and work.” It’s hard to add anything to that.

On why she was a writer

This is what I believe: we are all called to do certain things in life and we have to do them. We can push ourselves to do other things, of course, but the thing we were meant to do won’t let us alone until we do it. Maybe you were meant to paint, or dance, or cook, or raise chickens. You can do other things, but it is the thing that you cannot NOT do that is crucial. You can think about writing but, if you are a writer, you’ll write regardless of anything else.



In memoriam: Kathleen Valentine


It is with great sadness that BestSelling Reads announces the passing of Kathleen Valentine, one of the earliest members of the group.

Author, graphic designer, crocheter and irrepressible commentator on politics, society and culture, Kathleen was the main force behind BestSelling Reads’ Monday Musings blog, always a source of edification as well as humor.

Kathleen grew up in St. Marys, Pennsylvania in the Allegheny Mountains. She attended Pennsylvania State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After working as a graphic designer and typographer, she started her own design firm in Gloucester in 2003.

She began publishing her fiction in 2011. Two of her short works, The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic and Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter reached #1 in their categories on Amazon in 2011. Her fiction has won a number of awards.

A prolific writer, she published four novels, five novelettes, one novella, and some 38 short stories. Among her best known were the novel The Old Mermaid’s Tale, the Beacon Hill series (The Crazy Old Lady series), the Halcyon Beach series of stories and the Marienstadt series.

All the members of BestSelling Reads considered Kathleen a valuable colleague and to many, she was a friend.

Kathleen Valentine passed away in her home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on October 29. She will be missed.

BestSelling Reads members send their sympathies and condolences to Kathleen’s family.


Thursday Teaser: The Monday Night Needlework and Murder Guild


by Kathleen Valentine

You could WIN a free e-copy of The Monday Night Needlework and Murder Guild. Find out how at the end of the excerpt.



Around the time that I received my invitation to join Miss Serena’s guild Edgar Harrison had a massive coronary and kicked the bucket. It was a great shame because he wasn’t even sixty. He left behind a widow whose grief was considerably soothed by the fortune he also left. Their two daughters were grown, married, and living in other parts of the country. Poor Eulalia was not the sort of woman who could function on her own, fortune or not. She had been a member of Miss Serena’s guild for several years, and we all did our best to comfort her once Edgar was gone. We invited her to lunches and tried to involve her in fundraisers for the high school sports teams or in political canvassing, but Eulalia just wasn’t the community-minded type.

How do you stand it?” she said to me late one Saturday afternoon as we packed the leftover books from the library’s weekly yard sale into cartons.

Stand what?”

Well,” she studied me, “I know you’ve been a single lady all your life but you have had gentlemen friends, haven’t you?”

I kept my eyes on my work to hide my smile. “I’m not exactly sure I’d call them gentlemen.”

Listen to you!” She giggled. “You know what I mean.”

I shrugged. “I like men,” I said as frankly as I could. “I just never met one I wanted around full time.”

She caught her breath. “What a thing to say! Surely you’re joking. Why, you’re not a bad looking woman. My Edgar said you were downright handsome. You’ve got beautiful hair. Edgar was always after me to let mine grow long. If it was me, I’d have it colored but it’s beautiful the way it is anyway.”

My hair, which hangs nearly to my waist when it’s not twisted up in back, started turning gray when I was thirty and has been nearly snow white for the last two decades.

I consider it my one good feature,” I told Eulalia.

You’re just too modest. I have always had a lot of admiration for women with a good, sturdy figure. If you fixed yourself up a bit I bet lots of men would like to spend time with you.”

I folded in the flaps on a box and stacked them with the other boxes to be put back in the library’s storage space.

The problem with me,” I said, “is that I get bored easily. I’m always thinking about what I’d rather be doing. You don’t know how many times I’ve sat in a restaurant across the table from some man who was going on and on about his job or his plans for retirement, just wishing I was at home in my pajamas with a glass of wine and my knitting.”

She stared at me and then laughed. “My goodness, Cece,” she said, “you do have a sense of humor.”

Win a free e-copy of The Monday Night Needlework and Murder Guild by describing the worst lothario experience you’ve ever had in the comments below. The author will select a winner.

About The Monday Night Needlework and Murder Guild 

Over fifty years ago Miss Serena Pitts founded the Monday Night Needlework and Murder Guild in the town of Pitts Crossing, Massachusetts. Members got together every week to share cookies and gossip while they did their needlework and discussed the latest murder mysteries. But when an unscrupulous lothario starts seducing and fleecing some of its members, the guild begins falling apart. That is until retired teacher, Miss Cecelia McGill, decides this cannot go on.

Get it for your Kindle or Nook.

About the author

KV-300pxKathleen Valentine was born and grew up in the Allegheny Highlands of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in The Arts and worked for over twenty years in the art/marketing departments of high-tech corporations. Since 2003 she has run her own design business, She is the author of “Fry Bacon. Add Onions”, a cookbook/memoir of growing up,Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as 4 novels, several novelettes and short story collections, and knitting instruction books. She has been listed as an Amazon Top 100 Author in Horror. Her novellas, The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic and Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter were Amazon Top Ten Best Sellers in Horror and Ghost Stories for over 20 weeks.

Visit Kathleen’s


Teaser Thursday—The Legend: A Marienstadt Story


By Kathleen Valentine

You can win a free paperback copy of this new book. Read the excerpt to find out how.

TheLegend-Marienstadt“Got us a new boarder,” Andy said, hanging up the phone, one morning when Kit came into the stable’s office. “The owner just called and said she talked to our vet and checked our references. Nice lady. She came by the other day and Giselle showed her around.”
“Good,” Kit said. “Are they bringing the horse over or should I go pick him up?”

“She’s riding him over this morning. I told her we could give her a ride home, but she said her husband would come for her.” Andy grinned a mischievous grin. “We’re in for a treat with this one. Ever seen a Friesian stallion?”

“No. What’s that?”

“One of the most beautiful breeds of horse that you’ll ever see. Black as coal, every one of them, and powerful. They’re an ancient breed of draft horses so they’re all muscle, but every one I’ve ever seen is as graceful and nimble as a show horse.”

Kit’s eyes widened. “No kidding?”

“Missus St. Clair said the horse was a gift from her husband. He’s some kind of big shot financier—worth a ton of money. She said they had a big place out in the country where she could take care of the horse herself, but her husband is selling it so they can move into the city. She didn’t sound real happy about that.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because people have their heads up their asses.” Andy stood up and reached for his hat hanging on a wall rack. “It happens too damn often. A horse is a twenty-five to thirty year commitment. These people with more money than brains buy one because mommy and daddy didn’t let them have a pony when they were little, then a few years later they can’t be bothered. It pisses me off.” He shouldered into his jacket. “Giselle needs me out in the north pasture. Can I count on you to stick around here?”


“Her name is Amelia St. Clair. I’m sure you’ll be more charming than I am. She sounded upset. I’m not real good with upset women.”

Kit kept his amusement to himself as he watched Andy take the reins of the horse waiting for him, mount it, and ride off like a disgruntled old gunslinger tired of shooting people for their own good. An hour later Kit was crossing the driveway between the office and the house when he spotted a horse with rider galloping through the south pasture toward him. He stopped in his tracks and stared. There was no mistaking this creature—he had never seen anything like it. The horse was both powerful and graceful with an elegant neck and a long, thick mane that blew about in the wind like billowing smoke. Its deep black coat gleamed and long feathers puffed out around all four lower legs with each step. As horse and rider drew closer, the animal slowed to a beautiful, high-stepping trot. Kit looked up at the rider whose face was shaded by the brim of a dark fedora. He raised his hand in greeting.

About The Legend

The Legend continues the story of the Wilde family from The Christmas Daughter: A Marienstadt Story. Boone Wilde’s life is busy as he continues to run the hotel and tavern his parents started, raise his daughter, Charity, who is now fourteen, and romance Grace Winter. Then on a snowy winter morning his brother Kit returns to Marienstadt to enlists Boone’s help. Kit tells him about Sultan, a magnificent Friesian stallion, that was removed from the Kentucky horse stables where Kit works. Sultan belonged to a woman named Amelia and for three years she has been searching for him. With the help of a motorcycle club called Durga’s Dogs, whose mission it is to rescue fight dogs, Kit has a lead to Sultan’s whereabouts, but he has to hurry before the horse is sent to slaughter. This is a story about failure, last chances, redemption, and the love between brothers.

Get it as an e-book or paperback on Amazon—or leave a comment about your favorite horse and we’ll pick one at random for a free paperback. Don’t forget to leave your email address so we can contact you when you win!

About the author

KV-300pxKathleen Valentine was born and grew up in the Allegheny Highlands of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in The Arts and worked for over twenty years in the art/marketing departments of high-tech corporations. Since 2003 she has run her own design business, She is the author of “Fry Bacon. Add Onions”, a cookbook/memoir of growing up, Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as 4 novels, several novelettes and short story collections, and knitting instruction books. She has been listed as an Amazon Top 100 Author in Horror. Her novellas, The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic and Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter were Amazon Top Ten Best Sellers in Horror and Ghost Stories for over 20 weeks.

Visit Kathleen’s

and follow her on Twitter @Kathleen 01930.