I have a bit of a thing for tennis balls. I know you might not have noticed, but it is true. She is pretty good at throwing them for me, and keeps me well supplied, but no matter how many balls I have in the toy box, there is only ever one ball in play.
This ball has been with me a while, in fact, I think I have had this one a couple of years now. ‘Course, it doesn’t bounce since I managed to chew a hole in it. But she kept threatening to put it through the washing machine… even though I groom it regularly! So the hole stops her from doing anything drastic like trying to clean it.
She’s given me lots of balls… and Santa brought me a whole tree full of them! That was really exciting! But I love my old ball the best. Some things just can’t be replaced… especially with things. It’s like her… I mean, I know I complain about her a lot, but… well, could I get another one to replace her? Prob’ly not. Apart from anything else, look how long it would take to train another two-legs!
Orly, who looks after Amy M. Reade, seems to feel just the same way…it really is simple when you think about it. All those long Christmas lists? No, Orly gets it right… there is only ever one gift we need…
Orly’s Christmas Haiku
Christmas is coming
My people think I need gifts.
Their love is enough.
Find and follow Orly’s two-legs
About the author
Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, and recovering attorney. But she also writes (how could she not write with that last name?) and is the author of The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross), three standalone books (Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade), and a cozy mystery (The Worst Noel). She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.
Books by Amy M. Reade
(The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series Book 1)
Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love, and joy, but for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.
As a single mom, small business owner, and president of the local Chamber of Commerce, the last thing she needs is to find a dead body on the floor of her jewelry shop on the busiest shopping day of the year. And as if that isn’t enough, Lilly has to deal with a deadbeat ex-husband, a mother with declining mental health, and two teenagers.
But when a second body turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. Can she figure out who killed the victims before she becomes one herself? And will her family’s Christmas be merry…or scary?
Murder in Thistlecross, Book 3 of the Malice Series
Eilidh Cameron comes to Wales from the Scottish Highlands following a tragic and bitter divorce. As the house manager for a centuries-old castle in the village of Thistlecross, it’s her job to make sure the three sons of Annabel Baines are comfortable and entertained while they and their spouses visit Annabel. And as Annabel’s friend, it’s her fear that Annabel’s sons are hiding something. From the moment the first son arrives with his wife, it’s clear there are tensions in the family that will have to be resolved for the sake of peace in the castle. And when a shocking murder takes place, Eilidh feels it is her duty to remain at the castle to help Annabel through the painful aftermath. But Eilidh’s fierce devotion to Annabel may prove to be more dangerous than she could have imagined.
It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.
Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.
Trading the urban pace of Edinburgh for a tiny village overlooking a breathtaking blue loch was a great move for budding photographer Sylvie Carmichael and her artist husband, Seamus—until a dangerous crime obscures the view . . .
Sylvie’s bucolic life along the heather-covered moors of the Highlands is a world away from the hectic energy of the city. But then a London buyer is killed after purchasing a long-lost Scottish masterpiece from Seamus’s gallery—and the painting vanishes. As suspicion clouds their new life, and their relationship, Sylvie’s search for answers plunges her into an unsolved mystery dating back to Cromwellian Scotland through World War I and beyond. And as she moves closer to the truth, Sylvie is targeted by a murderer who’s after a treasure within a treasure that could rewrite history . . . and her own future.
“You are not wanted here. Go away from Hallstead Island or you will be very sorry you stayed.”
Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead. But her first sight of Hallstead House is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming. Watching eyes, veiled threats. . .slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House. . .
Praise for Amy M. Reade’s Secrets of Hallstead House
“Danger, mystery, a brave but resilient heroine, and a hero at her side, coupled with a house that is almost a character in its own right: these classic gothic romances are all to be found in Amy Reade’s debut novel.” —heroesandheartbreakers.com
“Do you know what stories Sarah could tell you about the things that happened in these little cabins? They’d curl that pretty red hair of yours.”
Outside of Charleston, South Carolina, beyond hanging curtains of Spanish moss, at the end of a shaded tunnel of overarching oaks, stands the antebellum mansion of Peppernell Manor in all its faded grandeur. At the request of her friend Evie Peppernell, recently divorced Carleigh Warner and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house to refurbish the interior. But the tall white columns and black shutters hide a dark history of slavery, violence, and greed. The ghost of a former slave is said to haunt the home, and Carleigh is told she disapproves of her restoration efforts. And beneath the polite hospitality of the Peppernell family lie simmering resentments and poisonous secrets that culminate in murder—and place Carleigh and her child in grave danger…
A dark presence had invaded the Jorgensens’ house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting . . .
An Invitation from the Small Dog
If you would like to help Ani make her advent calendar this year, send your letters to Santa, festive memories, short stories, flash fiction or poems to the Small Dog. She will post them every day through December until Christmas…and there are still spaces left!
She would especially like to hear from her four-legged or feathered friends (she has a special place very close to her heart for turkeys)… but she says that two-legs are better than none, so she will accept submissions from humans too (and even no-legs if there is the odd literary snake out there…). To get in touch, please use the form on the contact page or email Ani at email@example.com