Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Blitz: The Girlfriend Series by Jodie Esch and a Giveaway!


Little White Lies (The Girlfriends #1)

In Little White Lies, Book # 1 of the Girlfriends Series – eighth grader Rachel Scott finally has the perfect boyfriend. He’s good looking, athletic and wealthy. The only problem is he doesn't actually exist. Rachel’s escape into her fantasy world worries her parents and they insist she meet with the school counselor. Frustrated with her life and without her best friend’s approval, Rachel heads down a dangerous path, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Little White Pills (The Girlfriends #2)

In Little White Pills, Book #2 of The Girlfriends Series -Tenth grader Steph Baxter has it all, perfect looks, perfect grades and a perfect life. She’s a model high-school student and a member of the cheerleading squad. But in her quest for excellence, she makes dangerous choices. Soon her simple solution becomes a complex problem. Follow Steph and her best friend Rachel as they cope with Steph’s unexpected journey. Can Steph find support before it’s too late?

Little White Magic (The Girlfriends #3)

In Little White Magic, Book #3 in The Girlfriends Series – Tenth grader Rachel Scott is sent to work at a remote summer camp with her best friend Steph. Hoping to find a boyfriend, she enlists the aid of a Tarot card reader. The cards lead her on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. Will the girls’ friendship survive as Rachel becomes obsessed with her mission to save a new friend?

Little White Castles (The Girlfriends #4)

All Rachel wants is to unravel the mystery of her missing mother. Why did she disappear over a decade ago without saying goodbye? With the support of her friends, Steph and Dylan, and the guidance of her Tarot cards she must decide if the explanation lies in a faraway town. A family emergency and her mother’s odd behavior threaten to disrupt her quest. But the Tarot and a new friend with psychic powers gives her courage to find the answers that really matter. Can the truth transcend Rachel’s fantasies?


Little White Lies Chapter 1
My name’s Rachel and I invent stories. My parents call me a fibber — a liar, to be exact. Lying makes me feel better. To me it’s just pretending. A designer home, trips to Maui and Disney World and, of course, my imaginary boyfriend, Walker Johnson. We met at summer camp. My imaginary summer camp.

“Liar, liar pants on fire,” I hum as I push open the door to the school counselor’s office for my weekly meeting. Her small room has one dirty window. Books and black binders line the shelves in the corner. The smell of sweat fills the room. Four boys from my class have just finished talking with Ms. Paxton. Probably fighting at lunch again. I sigh as I slump into my usual place at the round table.

Ms. Paxton leans forward, clasping her hands together. I try not to stare at them, but I can’t help myself. They’re spotted with freckles and veins that pop up. I never want to have hands like that even when I’m old. But she has a kind face and I like her.

Last week my best friend, Stephanie, and I saw Ms. Paxton jump into a Mercedes convertible after school. A good-looking man was in the driver’s seat. We almost died. Who would have thought Ms. Paxton could be hot?

“Rachel, how’s your week going?”

“Great.” It’s only Tuesday, not many things have gone wrong yet. What does she expect me to say? “Not much to report, Ms. Paxton.”

She leans back in her chair and waits. She knows me. After all, I’ve been coming to her sessions since the beginning of the term. My parents make me. They say I have issues. Some days, like today, my issue is being in this room. Great!!

“Tell me about your weekend.”

“Same old, same old.” I wince when I realize I sound like my dad.

Ms. Paxton’s eyebrows rise. That’s her signal that she needs to hear more.

“Well, I hung out with Steph. We burned some CDs, watched dance shows on TV and ate junk food. I made a ton of popcorn. We added half a pound of melted butter and Parmesan cheese. Then we finished with bowls of chocolate ice cream and some vinegar chips.”

Ms. Paxton’s eyebrows lift another inch.

The last time we talked, I whined about my weight. I’m supposed to be following Weight Watchers, but I can’t seem to stick to the program. Why shouldn’t I reward myself every once in a while?

“I got another great e-mail from Walker.”

“What about?”

“He wants me to join him in Vermont next summer.”


I listen carefully to the tone of her voice. I think she’s still a believer.

Little White Pills
My fate is the Land Of Perfection. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect life. But I’m faltering. I’m not who you think I am.

I stroke the side of the plastic vial of little white pills, considering what to do. I twist off the cap, pop one down my throat and gulp some water. It’s all good. They’re prescription, you know. Not mine, of course, but legal. Just something to take the edge off my day. I tuck my secret deep in my pocket and get ready for school.

I’m the girl you love to hate. I have it all. Brains, looks, friends. My best friend Rachel says so and she’s right about everything. So I’d like to agree with her – but most days, about this particular topic, I think she’s wrong. So what if I’m pretty, get straight A’s and have a ton of friends? None of that makes me feel good.

I’m only in the tenth grade and Dad and Mom keep asking what I want to do with the rest of my life. My life. I tell them I haven’t a clue. What I do know is I plan to be ultra-careful about the path I choose. I won’t follow my dad.

I don’t want to spend my life hating what I do. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and think ‘Is this all there is?’ I need to discover what’s out in the world at my own pace. That’s the problem. My parents are fast-track kind of people, looking for the best, wanting the most expensive stuff. Every day they push, push, push. Push themselves. And push me.

My grandpa wanted Dad to be a lawyer. So he went to Harvard Law School. But now he’s a busy orthodontist in Portervale, north of Seattle. I have no idea why he changed his mind. Now he spends all day making smiles sparkle. One day I wish he would make me smile.

My mom used to be a model. But then she got married and had me. I wasn’t part of her plan. I think she’s still recovering from the fact she got pregnant. Now she’s a home stager. She gets to spend other people’s money to make their houses look fabulous in order to sell them. The owners then move on to their next fantastic place.

I think her work is boring. Everything is super organized and the sofas look like you shouldn’t sit on them or they’d bruise. The designer kitchens shine but never have a yummy smell. So Mom fakes it. She uses a mini Crock Pot and chucks in some gingerbread goop. This aroma makes the house feel homey so clients will fall in love with the place. I suppose it works because she’s always busy. She loves ‘decluttering and neutralizing’ a home, as she calls it, to help buyers see its full potential. But she should look carefully at her daughter’s potential.

Me? I’m Steph, Child Number One of the Baxter household. Actually, I’m the one and only, and this is my story. 

Little White Magic

Normally I love a Tarot card reading, but today something is wrong, wrong, wrong. Madame Ariana’s azure eyes skewer me like a laser.

I shrink back in my chair. “What do you see?”

In the silence, her silver bracelets jingle as she places twenty-two cards in a circle, her long fingers caressing each one. I know what she’s doing—the Soul Mate spread. I’ve studied the cards throughout my senior year. She points to the card in the middle.

“The King of Wands,” she says in an ominous tone.

“What does that mean?”

She spins one of her five rings slowly with her left thumb. I stare at the largest ring, the one with the dragon. My stomach plummets. I’ve always hated dragons. There’s something about the blood-red eyes that is beyond scary. I make an effort to refocus.

“Does that card represent the past?”

“Be patient, Rachel. The cards will let you know.”

I’m here to find out if Channing really loves me or if this is just a summer romance. I guess I’m nervous because he’s my very first real boyfriend. I’m not counting my neighbor last year who I thought might be interested in me. Channing could have any girl in Camp Winnoski. Every day I wonder why he chose me.

The neglected cottage has thick purple curtains and black walls. Three plump crystals dangle from glossy beaded strings in the window. Good. Three is my lucky number. A dusty stench thickens the air. Even though it’s late in the afternoon, it’s so dark outside it feels like midnight. Another summer storm is brewing.

Madame Ariana talks about the past. But I don’t want to think about my mom abandoning me, dad always working, changing schools. Not today. I want her to tell me about Channing. About the future.

“You are ready for a deeper connection with your soul mate. But I see confusion and conflicts. The King of Wands will be your mentor. He will inspire you. In time, harmony will rule.” She leans across the scarred pine table and whispers, “You will be two jewels polishing each other’s rough edges.”

That sounds cool, but …

The lights flicker and thunder rolls in the distance. Raindrops drum on the tin roof, making my heart beat faster. Madame Ariana’s blue shawl rises and falls over her bony shoulders as she arranges a new spread. “Ah, the King of Wands again.”

I study the card. The regal figure is sitting on a fancy throne, wearing a robe and crown and holding a wand with a bunch of leaves sticking out the top. I wish I could remember its significance. I’ll check it out later in my favorite Tarot book.

“But he’s reversed,” I add.

“Yes.” Madame Ariana stares at me. “The energy of the card is blocked.”

Wonderful. I peek at my watch. My best friend, Steph, is waiting outside. She must be wondering what’s taking so long. I want Madame Ariana to hurry, because I need to shower before dinner. The line for the camp washrooms is ugly if you don’t arrive early. But I want to hear that Channing is The One!

She leans forward and speaks carefully into the microphone on the table. “The vision is still taking shape.”

I get to keep the tape. When I return to camp I’ll have to dredge up a tape player. That will be a pain. Camp Winnoski has almost zero technology. We’re allowed brief emails to our parents in the office on Sunday afternoons with mega supervision. What a drag. I’m still in withdrawal from saying goodbye to my iPad and iPhone. I mean, that’s punishment!

As Madame Ariana taps the card, I notice the tattoo on her wrist—a snake curled around something I don’t recognize.

“Yes, still taking shape,” she murmurs. “The cards say you must confront your strengths and weaknesses. Show neither doubt nor fear. The vision indicates you will be strong.”

“What vision?” I suddenly have my own vision. I can see my hard-earned money evaporating.

“You must put forth effort and legwork,” she continues.

Hmm, sounds like school. And this is my summer to be free. Well, sort of. Working as a camp counselor isn’t exactly a holiday.

Annoyance chokes my brain. “Is my boyfriend, Channing, the King of Wands?” Obviously, I have to be specific.

“Does he inspire you?”

Well. All I know is that he’s one hot guy who is attracted to me—and I’m wondering why.

Madame Ariana delivers vague suggestions and I try to concentrate. She isn’t giving me answers and this session is costing me a lot. My dad and stepmom would come unhinged if they found out that a large part of my salary is going to a Tarot reader. I can hear my dad’s voice: “Rachel, I can’t understand why you believe such nonsense.” I love him, but he’s way too practical. He doesn't believe in coloring outside the lines, if you know what I mean.

Raindrops splatter and slide down the grimy windows, leaving spidery trails. Can’t Madame Ariana read the disappointment on my face? Surely if she understands the universe, she knows what I want to hear.

“Trust your instincts. The answers will come.” She switches off the recorder and hands me the tape. “I’ll tell you more next time.”

Or not. I pay her sixty-five dollars and leave. As I open the door, sunlight and fresh air stream into the room. The storm is over. Steph, wet hair clinging to her face, grabs my hand and we begin the thirty minute hike back to camp. Our sneakers squish through the muddy puddles on the winding path in the Vermont forest.

“What took so long? What did she say?”

“She told me lots of things about myself I already know. There were clues about the future, but she didn't tell me what will happen. Just that there will be conflicts.” Simply saying that word makes me shudder. I reach inside the pocket of my cargo pants and touch my special comfort stones. My tourmaline for compassion, my amber for protection, and my malachite for spiritual guidance.

“Oh, that sucks. I know you wanted to hear about Channing.”

Steph grabs me around the waist. I put my arm around her and we lope along like we used to when we were little. We were experts at three-legged races.

“There’s something that really bugs me. Apparently I will meet my mentor, the King of Wands. Madame Ariana wouldn't say who it is. But I can’t afford to go to her again. I wonder if she’d lower her price if I cleaned her cabin. The place is disgusting. It smells like my brothers’ socks.”

“Okay, girlfriend, I recognize that look,” Steph says. “What are you plotting?”

I give her shoulder a squeeze. “I’m going to find the King of Wands.”
Little White Castles 
In the middle of a Saturday morning, two days after Christmas, my dad launches a thunderbolt into my world. My mom, who evaporated when I was four, has sent me a letter.

As he hands over the promised message, his eyes brim with tears. He moves closer on the couch in our family room and gently squeezes my shoulder. Dread saturates my brain now that the moment is here. Maybe reading this is one giant mistake. All I know is that once I open the letter, my life will change forever. Finally, I’ll understand why she disappeared. I’ve imagined every possible reason. But now is the moment of truth.

Taking a gulp of air, I rip the envelope open and study the shaky handwriting. Forcing the words from my throat, I read aloud so that my best friend Steph and my stepmom Diane, who are sitting on the other sofa, can share in the news.

My darling daughter Rachel,

I tried many times to connect with you. But I couldn’t do it. Years have passed, I know. I don’t expect you to forgive me. I can’t forgive me., I’m ready to explain. I’ve spoken with your father. Hopefully he can arrange the details. Right now, I’m living in Prickly Pear Junction, Arizona. I’m looking forward to seeing you.


I stare at Dad, searching for his reaction, and he pulls me into a hug. Memories from the past float through my mind.

“Rachel, I thought this letter was important and that you should know where your mother is living. She phoned me last week. We’ve talked, but I haven’t made any firm plans. I wanted to speak with you first.”

His eyes are red and he turns away to wipe his face. I slowly re-examine the note, inspecting each line for a clue. A bubble of annoyance expands in my brain. This letter tells me nothing. Absolutely nothing.

How can she do this to me? I’ve waited years to hear from her and now all I have is this meaningless bunch of sentences. Why didn’t she say something that would help me?

Steph shoots across the room and pulls me to my feet. “I’m so sorry—I know you expected more.”

“Yeah,” I mutter as I race upstairs to my bedroom, abandoning the letter, just like my mother abandoned me.

Steph follows, grabs my shoulders, and gives me a shake. “Talk to me, Rachel. What are you thinking?”

“I just want to understand. After twelve years of waiting to hear something, I need to know what’s going on with her. Is that too much to ask?” I collapse onto my bed and pound the pillows in frustration. “I don’t want to wait. I want to talk to her today.”

“Rachel, get up.”

I turn over and look at her through bleary eyes. “And don’t think that food will be the answer to this. I’m not always starving.” Well, not always, but most of the time.

“I know you. Eating won’t solve this problem. But what can I do to help you feel better?” She crosses her arms and gives me one of her serious, no-nonsense stares.

I sit up slowly and hug my knees. “Here’s the thing. I thought—I mean I really, really believed—I’d discover something new about what happened when she lived with Dad.”

“Maybe today isn't the day.”

“You've got that right,” I say on a sigh. “I can’t imagine their conversation. My mom’s disappearance hurt him, too. Even after all these years, some days he can’t hide his resentment.”

Steph sits next to me. “Listen, nothing has really changed. You knew she was out there somewhere.”

“But things are different now. Fiona or my mother—I never know how to think about her. I can’t remember much of my life with her. Now she wants to meet me. Why? After all these years! What does she want from me? I thought I was ready for this moment. I dreamed about this moment. But now that it’s here, I’m a mess.”

“Well, at least we know your mother is somewhere in Arizona.”

“Right. Dad thought she was living in New Mexico. But I guess not. All I've heard is that she moves around a lot. She works in restaurants. That’s all I know.”

“Don’t you want to meet her? This is just nerves, Rachel. You’re in shock.”

I shake my head. “I don’t know what to think. I’m stunned that she wrote to me. I mean, I wanted her to write, but it’s going to take a while to sink in.”

“Hey, turn around. How about one of my famous neck massages?”

As Steph vigorously kneads my tight muscles, I let my mind wander. What would happen if I went to Arizona? What would that accomplish? So, I would meet my mother. Then what? I've always considered the meeting, but I've never thought about what would happen next.

“Rachel, let’s look up this Prickly Pear place and find out some information. That might help you make up your mind about whether or not you want to go.” Steph slides her phone out of her pocket. “I've never heard of the town.” She taps the name into Google. “Woo-ee! Check this out. You won’t believe it. You’re totally going to adore this.”

“Read it to me.”

I flop back onto the bed and close my eyes. Steph’s voice drones on and on about the vegetation, the weather, the hiking trails, and the Jeep tours available at Prickly Pear Junction, just outside of Phoenix. Yeah, yeah.

Suddenly my eyes fly wide open. Wide, wide open. “Read that part again, please.”

“Sure. ‘This sleepy town is more new age than Sedona. Tourists will discover opportunities for aura readings, crystals, vortex information, flower essences, the Tarot, and other occult practices. Explore the events of the past and their influences on the present. Open your mind and spend your holiday in Prickly Pear Junction.’”

“Steph,” I shriek. “I’m meant to go there. I know it. I know it.”


Jodie Esch lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, dog, cat, chickens and alpacas. When not living in her fictional world, she spends her time as the ‘Waste Management Queen’ picking up manure on the property. She is passionate about words and is obsessed with writing and reading.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for high-lighting my books. Looking forward to receiving feedback from readers.


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