The Journal of Angela Ashby
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: September 25th 2018
Genres: Middle-Grade, Paranormal
A Middle Grade “Death Note”
“With great power comes great responsibility.” ~Voltaire
I have great power.
That’s what she told me. The old fortune-teller at the school carnival.
I thought I was doing the right thing … with the magic journal she gave me. But nothing could prepare me for what happened next.
Or, for what I unleashed.
At a school carnival, a mysterious fortune-teller gives twelve-year-old Angela Ashby a journal and warns her to use it wisely. Nothing prepares Angela for the journal’s power—when she pours her heart onto its pages her desires come true.
She tests the journal by conjuring a gnome, a unicorn, and a farting fairy and then uses it to stop the school bullies in their tracks. But the unintended consequences alienate her best friend and puts her favorite teacher in danger of losing her job.
After she shares her deepest desire of all—that her parents get back together—her adversary steals the journal, and Angela fears she will use it to bring mayhem to the entire school if she doesn’t get it back.
In the middle of the layout the Ace of Spades drew me in. Smoke from the candles created a foggy layer and the image wavered and morphed into a winged hooded figure carrying a scythe through a graveyard. The angel of death. I blinked and ran a hand over my eyes. Once I lowered my hand, the card showed the black spade and letter ‘A’. Nothing else. Not even a gravestone.
I didn’t imagine it. Or maybe it would be better if I had. I gazed back at Madame Vadoma.
“You will gain power beyond your wildest imaginings and need to use it wisely.”
Yeah, right. What twelve-year-old ever had power? We were back to the usual phony reading. I settled back into my chair to wait for the line about the dark stranger.
Madame Vadoma narrowed her eyes. “Young lady, this is not trick done for amusement. I give you caution. You would be wise to pay heed.”
Was she reading my mind?
“You have struggles ahead as you learn to use your power. Temptation will beckon and you will want to use it for ill. You must resist. Down the path of ill-will lies destruction.”
Weren’t these things supposed to be light, fluffy readings about finding love and fortune? Ill-will and destruction were not supposed to be part of the deal.
Her amber eyes bore into mine. “You have choices to make about the power of your heart. Casual choice makes trouble. Be cautious with desires. The right choices will lead you to happiness and fulfillment.”
A shiver ran through my body and goose pimples dotted my arms. The words sounded like the usual trickery. Besides, I could hear the same lecture from my mom. Make the wrong choices and you get in trouble. Make the right choices and you’ll be happy. Big deal.
So why were the hairs standing on my arms?
Madame Vadoma grabbed a thin leather book lying on the table beside her. She ran her hands over the cover and mumbled words I didn’t understand. Her claw-like hands grasped the book as she stared at me. Her gaze penetrated my soul and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t look away.
Her eyes widened at something behind me. With one hand she clutched the book closer to her body, then blew twice in rapid succession on the fingertips of her other hand. Tingles ran down my spine and I snapped my head around to look over my shoulder. Nothing was there. Creepy.
She closed her eyes and the tensions drained from her arms and shoulders. Taking a deep breath, her lids fluttered open and she met my gaze. Madame Vadoma grunted and gave a nod, which sent her hoops swinging. “I give you this. It is for you to write what is in your heart.” She handed me the book. “Remember your heart has power. Use it wisely.” She stood. “Keep your heart pure, and you will do no harm.”
Things were getting a little too freaky. Hugging the book to my chest, I shot out of my seat. “Um, thanks for the reading.”
Backing up a few steps, I turned and bolted through the curtain.
Liana Gardner is a two-time teen choice award-winning author of the Misfit McCabe series and finalist in 2018 International Book Awards for Children's Fiction. Daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana Gardner combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface. Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but allows her imagination to take her wherever she wants to go.
She fostered her love of writing after reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and discovering she had a great deal in common with the character Jo. The making up of stories, dramatic feelings, and a quick temper were enough for her to know she and Jo would have been kindred spirits.
Liana volunteers with high school students through the International Trade Education Programs (ITEP). ITEP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, ITEP helps young people "think globally and earn locally."
Her debut Middle Grade novel, 7th Grade Revolution, launched 10/24/2017 and will be followed by The Journal of Angela Ashby out 9.25.2018. Currently she is working on a chapter book series as LK Griffie, with creator Luke Matthews and co-authors Olivia Claire and Jared Cross, entitled Timmy and the Golden Lion Tamarin. In addition to the children's book series, she is working on a Middle Grade series which will be released under the name Liana Gardner, with the first book titled, The Star Warriors and the Secret of the Red Key. Her most recent YA novel, Speak No Evil, will also be released under the name Liana Gardner.