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The Life of Colin Phelps Cover

Publication Date: June 2019
Paperback ISBN: 978-1099239151
Paperback Trim: 6" x 9" - 248 pages


The Life of Colin Phelps

By Kevin Kelley

A sweeping historical novel tracing a boy’s journey into manhood. Set against the backdrop of poverty in 1855 London to America where Colin is shaped by forces leading up to and including the Civil War. Slavery, shipwrecks, treachery, murder, and enduring love. A book to be savored and enjoyed.

"You will laugh out loud and you will most certainly cry." 
—Sheila V.


"I loved this story and didn’t want it to end so quickly!"
—Kindle Customer

"Kevin Kelley has an ability to pull you right into the story and not let you want to go." 

—Amazon Reader

All proceeds from the sale of this book will be divided equally between two Colorado charities:  TGTHR , which has provided care and guidance to homeless and at-risk teens in Boulder, Colorado, for over fifty years, and the Colorado Women’s Education Foundation (CWEF), which provides scholarships to women who are non-traditional college students, often single mothers or the first woman ever to enter college in their family.


London, 1855

The cobblestones felt cold and damp under Colin’s thin knees as he crept quietly under the flower stand. It wasn’t open yet. The vendor wouldn’t arrive for another twenty minutes, so it provided good cover as the boy approached a bread cart from behind.

Stealth was a talent Colin had fashioned into a true art form. By his tenth birthday he’d learned to be invisible: knew how to sneak in and out of almost any building, how to find food in any season.

He watched a large horse-drawn carriage approaching, knowing it would distract the baker, timing his moment. The vendor never noticed the boy’s swift actions as he helped himself to an armful of freshly baked goods. 

Pigeons took flight around him as he turned and darted down a stone stairway to the river. He felt they were escaping together, wished he could fly. 

On his right a barge drifted slowly down the Thames, its stove lit at center deck. He inhaled the scent of coffee and bacon from onboard and watched men warming their hands by its fire.

Colin had that thought again, Someday, I’ll ride down the Thames and board a real ship to Australia or New Zealand. Maybe even America.

He slowed to a brisk walk, glanced over his shoulder, breathed in the rich warm odor of fresh-baked bread and bit into the end of a loaf, savoring its taste.

Day by day, Colin made it through the winter of 1855, subsisting on what he could steal and on dreams of ocean voyages. His father had gone to sea years ago, on a trading vessel bound for New York. The boy didn’t understand why he hadn’t returned, why he wasn’t there when his mother died. Sometimes he looked expectantly at ships as they approached. Mostly he resented them and fumed at being alone.

Life of Colin Phelps 3d Covers


I loved this story and didn’t want it to end so quickly! I really cared about the characters and appreciated how the author wove in interesting facts from history that I hadn’t known. I highly recommend this work of historical fiction and I’m hoping the author will write more such fiction. 

—Kindle Customer

This is my second read from this author. It is very different from his other spy-type action novel (although that one is a bit historical in nature too). I liked this book. It is a historical fiction about a boy who is orphaned in London in the 1800s. It follows him as he struggles to survive, eventually making his way to Boston at seventeen. There he is thrown into a country on the brink of civil war. The author created a likable character and does a great job of painting the historical backdrop. I found the story and plot interesting, entertaining, and heartwarming. —Tricia Copeland Brzostowicz

Last Saturday I sat down for a few minutes to begin to read this book. And I will admit to totally binge-reading it over the weekend. From the first minute I met Colin on the streets of London I
wanted to know his story. From England to Boston, through the Civil War and beyond, you follow
this boy’s complex journey to manhood. The story has several twists and turns, yet
the author intertwines the main characters and their supporting cast beautifully.
You will laugh out loud and you will most certainly cry. Personally, I think this story would make a great mini-series. I also want to add, that I love that the author, Kevin Kelley, is donating the proceeds from this novel to charities that are most certainly changing lives, Attention Homes and Colorado Women’s Education Foundation. A great read and meaningful donations! The very best combo of all! —Sheila V.

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