A lively mystery with a touch of spookiness, an intriguing setting, an appealing family dynamic, and an enterprising Latina...


A girl tries to break the curse of a legendary Demon Cat in this debut middle-grade novel.

Things are going from bad to worse for Fina Mendoza. After losing her mother to a terminal illness, Fina, a 10-year-old Latina, and her older sister, Gabby, moved from California to Washington, D.C., to live with her kind but preoccupied Papa, a first-term U.S. congressman. One afternoon, while in the deserted, history-filled, basement-floor Crypt museum under the Capitol rotunda, Fina hears odd noises; spots a giant, feline-shaped shadow; and catches a “flash of yellow eyes.” A Capitol policewoman informs her that anyone who sees the fabled Demon Cat of Capitol Hill will be cursed with bad luck. Is that why small disasters are piling up? There’s Abuelita’s broken leg; an injury to the dog Fina was hired to walk; a fight-provoking, shattered spaghetti sauce jar; Gabby’s car mishap; and more. Determined to protect her family from anything worse happening, Fina sets out to learn all she can about the Demon Cat and break the curse, even if no one else believes in it. Engaging authenticity is the hallmark of this well-crafted mystery by Felde, an award-winning public radio journalist, prolific playwright (A Patch of Earth, 2014, etc.), and host of the Book Club for Kids podcast. Fina’s first-person view of Washington, especially the colorful, well-informed environs of Capitol Hill, where her father serves on the Rules Committee—and where she spends her time after school until Papa is done working—rings true. So do the three-dimensional characters: Fina, her warm extended family, her busy but caring Papa, and, through the girl’s memories, her vivacious and loving mother. The author deftly wraps Fina’s quest to solve the Demon Cat mystery into the story of family members doing their best to deal with loss in their separate ways, which are grounded in a strong foundation of love and understanding.

A lively mystery with a touch of spookiness, an intriguing setting, an appealing family dynamic, and an enterprising Latina heroine.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68433-223-6

Page Count: 185

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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