Cover Reveal: River, Sing Out, by James Wade

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About the book, River Sing Out

  • Categories: Contemporary / Literary Fiction
  • Rural Fiction / Crime Fiction / Coming-of-Age
  • Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
  • Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 315 pages

Cover Hi Res River, Sing Out_rectangle“And through these ages untold, the river did act as the lifeblood of all those things alongside it.

Jonah Hargrove is celebrating his thirteenth birthday by avoiding his abusive father, when a girl named River stumbles into his yard, injured and alone. The teenager has stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of meth from her murderous, drug-dealing boyfriend, but lost it somewhere in the Neches River bottoms during her escape. Jonah agrees to help her find and sell the drugs so she can flee East Texas.

Chasing after them is John Curtis, a local drug kingpin and dog fighter, as well as River’s boyfriend, the dangerous Dakota Cade.

Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in violent fashion as all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.

With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into the sinister world of the East Texas river bottoms, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.

Pre-order this book:

Blackstone Publishing | AmazonBooks-a-Million |Indie Bound | Downpour | Hudson Booksellers

Watch the trailer for this book:

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River, Sing Out – Book Trailer from AV FILMS on Vimeo.


About the author, James Wade

James WadeJames Wade lives and writes in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Jordan. He has had twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and journals. He is the winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. All Things Left Wild is his debut novel.

Connect with James:

Website | Blog | Facebook | YouTube | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Connect with Blackstone Publishing:

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Spotlight: Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe, by CP Ward

Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe

 

Christmas me profile-001About the book, Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe

When downtrodden checkout assistant Bonnie Green receives a letter from a mysterious uncle, she can hardly believe her eyes.

Gifted a hundred-year lease on a famous cafe situated in the middle of a mythical theme park, Bonnie sets off with her best friend Debbie on an adventure to a hidden valley in the Lake District where they will find new friendship, love, and happiness, all set against the magic of Christmas … and more marshmallows than they can possibly eat….

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase | Goodreads


About the author, CP Ward

CP Ward is an author from Cornwall in the UK.

Connect with CP:

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Review: The Square Root of Texas, by Rob Witherspoon

BNR Square Root of Texas

About the Book The Square Root of Texas

The First Calamity of QED Morningwood

  • Genre: Satire / Humor / Absurdist Fiction
  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Date of Publication: September 26, 2018
  • Number of Pages: 181 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Hi Res Square RootQED Morningwood is a liar, braggart and teller of tall tales. When he shows up at the domino parlor with a mysterious Russian crate in the back of his pick-up truck, he confides to the players he is a ‘Shadow’ member of the NRA, not on their official membership roll, and has a load of rocket propelled grenades – all lies. The news spreads to the real Shadow NRA, the FBI and Homeland Security. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Cultural Preservation sends an agent to retrieve the crate, the actual contents known only to the Russians.

The Russian agent, an FBI team, a DHS undercover agent and a Shadow NRA hit team arrive in Heelstring, Texas looking for QED and his crate. Their convergence is followed by interrogations, seduction, lies, arrests, jailbreak, kidnapping and rescue – along with car chases and explosions. If not for Cotton Widdershins, an ancient black man with secrets of his own, who acts as QED’s mentor and savior, the Morningwood line would be doomed to end, or at best spend life in a federal penitentiary.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Rob Witherspoon

Author Pic WitherspoonRob Witherspoon was born and raised in rural Texas. He earned a BA in Physical Education, UT Arlington 1985 and a BS in Aerospace Engineering, UT Arlington 1990. He worked in the aerospace industry for 30 years before retiring in 2018. He lives in north central Texas with his wife and youngest daughter and has spent much of his life in rural communities and on the ranch. He combines his love for Texas, lying, the outdoors, engineering, and his children in his writing.

Connect with Rob:

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  | TWITTER AMAZON  GOODREADS  | YOUTUBE 


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellFrom the very first scene of Cotton Widdershins and the other menfolk in this story playing dominoes and drinking coffee that might or might not not be ‘just’ coffee, I was hooked on The Square Root of Texas.

In this novel, Rob Witherspoon introduces us to QED “Kid” Morningwood, the town… well… referring to him as the town calamity would not be entirely inaccurate. It’s a good thing this book is both humor and satire because otherwise I wouldn’t sure whom to feel bad for: Kid, or everyone else.

Much of the story is told through the perspective of Cotton Widdershins, which is fantastic because he makes these seemingly commonplace observations that lend to both truth and hilarity, like telling everyone to look out the window at Kid and his blazing (literally) truck in the beginning of the novel, because Morningwood won’t be satisfied if there aren’t witnesses to his disaster of the moment.

Witherspoon’s creativity isn’t limited to character names or situations, though. This novel takes place in an alternate version of Texas, where he’s changed the place names both to protect the not-so-innocent and just to be silly. And unabashed silliness is at the heart of this book. Witherspoon defies structure, eschewing formal chapters for suggested activities when we readers need a break (as someone who does a ton of reading in the bathroom, I mainly did laundry and got more coffee, but you are free to follow other ideas) and inventing a “mesologue” in the middle of the story.

It takes a special kind of brain – and a lot of bravado – to create something that meshes a fantastic (in all senses of the word) plot with instances of both black and conventional humor, but Witherspoon has done so with aplomb. That being said, I feel that there are things that I missed, because I’m not as steeped in Texas culture and lore as an actual native.

A short book at under 200 pages, The Square Root of Texas is fast, funny, and fabulous.

Goes well with coffee (with whatever additive you like) and popcorn, because this story is quite the show.


Giveaway

THREE WINNERS 

GRAND PRIZE (US only):

Signed Copies of The Square Root of Texas and Deus Tex Machina

2ND PRIZE (US only): Signed Copy of The Square Root of Texas

3RD PRIZE  (US Only): Kindle Copy of The Square Root of Texas

Giveaway ends midnight, CST, 11/20/2020

 

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Visit the Other Great Blog on this Tour

Or check out the tour page for this book at Lone Star Literary Life:

11/10/2020 Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
11/10/2020 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
11/11/2020 Review Max Knight
11/12/2020 Author Video StoreyBook Reviews
11/13/2020 Review Book Bustle
11/14/2020 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
11/15/2020 Guest Post Video Sybrina’s Book Blog
11/16/2020 Review Jennie Reads
11/17/2020 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
11/18/2020 Review Reading by Moonlight
11/19/2020 Review Bibliotica

 

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LSBBT BOOK REVIEW

 

Review: All Things Left Wild, by James Wade – with Giveaway

All Things Left Wild - banner

About the book, All Things Left Wild

  • Genre: Adventure / Rural Fiction / Coming of Age
  • Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
  • Publication Date: June 16, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 304 pages
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

All Things Left Wild - coverAfter an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb’s moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill.

Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice.

Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul.

Praise for this book:

  • “A debut full of atmosphere and awe. Wade gives emotional depth to his dust-covered characters and creates an image of the American West that is harsh and unforgiving, but — like All Things Left Wild — not without hope.” — Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Sarah BirdDaughter of a Daughter of a Queen
  • “James Wade has delivered a McCarthy-esque odyssey with an Elmore Leonard ear for dialogue. All Things Left Wild moves like a coyote across this cracked-earth landscape—relentlessly paced and ambitiously hungry.” — Edgar Award finalist David Joy, When These Mountains Burn

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon ┃ BookPeople ┃ Bookshop.orgIndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, James Wade

All Things Left Wild - authorJames Wade lives and writes in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He has had twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and journals. He is the winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. All Things Left Wild is his debut novel

Connect with James:

Website | Facebook | Blog | InstagramYouTube | Goodreads


My Thoughts

MissMelissHATMy first reaction to James Wade’s novel All Things Left Wild was that the writing was both vivid and incredibly lyrical. I could have easily read three hundred pages of James Wade just describing the scenery and been completely satisfied. But this is not a nature guide, it’s a novel, and the story was as powerful as the opening scene-setting was beautiful.

What I liked was the way Wade depicted the pain that Caleb clearly felt. Whether riding a stolen horse through the dry Texas landscape or sharing his theory about why people really wear black at funerals, Caleb’s words express unwritten pain and unspoken longing, though it’s not always explicit what he’s longing for. Conversely, Shelby is much more what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Sure, he’s the older brother and guiding force, but he’s just as broken as his younger sibling, though he expresses it differently. Wade’s craft really shows in both the similarities and contrasts of the Bentley Brothers.

As to the villain of the story, Dawson could easily have been a cardboard figure, only existing to provide the boys with an impetus to run, but in Wade’s care he becomes equally vibrant and dimensional as the boys. His story, of course, is more mid-life crisis than coming-of-age, but it’s still a story of the way environment and experience change us, no matter how old we are, or what our lot in life might be.

Overall, this is a story that has several gritty elements but is elevated to literary fiction by the quality of the writing and the well-paced plot. Wade never lets us get bored, and while he may linger in a scene  from time to time, letting us watch a hawk take flight, or feel the hot and dusty wind, that propensity for description only makes the novel seem more real.

Goes well with: steak cooked over an open fire, and a shot of whiskey.


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TWO WINNERS: A signed copy of All Things Left Wild

JUNE 18-28, 2020

(US ONLY)

 

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6/18/20 Author Video StoreyBook Reviews
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6/19/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
6/19/20 Scrapbook Book Fidelity
6/20/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading
6/21/20 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
6/22/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
6/23/20 Review The Page Unbound
6/23/20 Guest Post KayBee’s Book Shelf
6/24/20 Top Ten The Clueless Gent
6/25/20 Review Book Bustle
6/25/20 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
6/26/20 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
6/27/20 Review Max Knight
6/27/20 Review Bibliotica

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LSBBT BOOK REVIEW

Review: Covey and JayJay Get Educated, by Shelton L. Williams – with Giveaway

BNR Covey and JayJay GE

About the book, Covey and JayJay Get Educated

  • Genre: Murder Mystery / Social Thriller / Amateur Sleuth
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 209 pages
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

CoverAmateur detectives, Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls, are drawn into a triple murder on the campus of Baker College in West Waverly in the Texas Hill Country. Both end up taking positions at the college: Covey as an adjunct instructor and JayJay as a visiting actor.

Initially they believe that money is the motive for the murders, but over time they learn that the college is a cauldron of political and social intrigue. The college’s new president and his beautiful wife, various staff members, a prominent trustee, and parties not associated with the college have the motives, opportunities, and wacky agendas that might implicate them in the murders. It turns out that a white nationalist group may be using a college house for its nefarious activities, but are they more talk than action?

The West Waverly police are little to no help in the investigation, and Covey himself has to depart the college to deal with his father’s death. JayJay takes over and makes a critical breakthrough. Upon Covey’s return, the couple must rely on deception, a bit of luck, and martial arts skills to solve the crimes and to try to prevent a high-profile assassination.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Shelton L. Williams

Author Pic Shelton WilliamsShelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the BloodSummer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

Connect with Shelly:

Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI did a spotlight on the first Covey Jencks novel last year, so the name of the amateur sleuth was not unknown to me, and neither was his creator, Shelton L. Williams, but all I had time to read at the time was the excerpt I posted in the spotlight. While I’m sure reading book one would have benefited me, jumping into book two, Covey and JayJay Get Educated, didn’t make me feel lost or confused at all.

In fact, I was delighted by Williams’s storytelling and his funny, smart, snarky characters from chapter one, where Jenks muses, “How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? I don’t know. How many can you afford?”

No, I was more than merely delighted. I was hooked. This story has everything… drama, romance, a murder mystery (as Jay Jay, Jencks’s “partner in business and in life” asks when she first steps onto the page, “Does everyone you know get murdered?” (Apparently not quite…)), the politics of academia, and of course humor.

I’ve read a lot of mysteries over the years, but this is the first book in a long while that has felt so refreshing. Yes, Covey and JayJay are handling serious issues, but they do it without ever taking themselves too seriously.

Author Williams is deft with language, and even better with using his characters to comment on culture and regional idiosyncrasies. Examples include a remark about JayJay being black, and whether that’s an issue for Covey in their town of Odessa, Tx, and JayJay commenting about never having seen a basement. (Having lived in Texas for fifteen years now, I can vouch for the latter: basements here are a rare thing. I can’t speak to the climate of Odessa, though, I’ve never been there.)

But there are other characters beside those listed in the title. Jencks has associates, and there’s a b-plot with M.A. and her partner Beth that is easily as interesting as the main story. As well, this story is incredibly relevant to real life, as it addresses white nationalism as part of the on-campus mystery Covey and JayJay must solve.

Along with his skill at writing dialogue, Williams is adept at pacing, as well. As much as I enjoyed the banter between Covey and JayJay, it was the mystery they had to solve that kept me reading. Each twist and turn was well plotted, and when the ending came, as much as I was satisfied with a well-told story, I also wanted more time with these characters. (I know, I know, I can go back and read book one.)

If you love a mystery, and also love banter worthy of a classic Hepburn and Tracy film, Covey and JayJay Get Educated should be your first choice. Unless you haven’t read book one. Then buy both.

Goes well with: a barbecue bacon burger and a Shiner bock.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

FOUR WINNERS!GRAND PRIZE: signed copy of each of the author’s books

SECOND PRIZE: signed copy of both Covey Jencks and

Covey and JayJay Get Educated

THIRD PRIZE: Audio book of Covey and JayJay Get Educated

FOURTH PRIZE: Kindle version of Covey and JayJay Get Educated

DECEMBER 10-20, 2019

(U.S. Only)

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Check Out the Other Blogs on this Tour

12/10/19 Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
12/10/19 Notable Quotable Kelly Well Read
12/11/19 Review Librariel Book Adventures
12/12/19 Author Interview The Page Unbound
12/13/19 Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
12/13/19 Playlist Chapter Break Book Blog
12/14/19 Review Bibliotica
12/14/19 Excerpt Part I The Clueless Gent
12/15/19 Excerpt Part II All the Ups and Downs
12/16/19 Review Forgotten Winds
12/16/19 Notable Quotable Hall Ways Blog
12/17/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
12/18/19 Scrapbook Page StoreyBook Reviews
12/19/19 Review Book Fidelity
12/19/19 Review Reading by Moonlight

 

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Review: The Haunting of Paradise House by Killian Wolf (with Giveaway for UK Readers only)

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About the book, The Haunting at Paradise HouseThe Haunting at Paradise House eBook

 

  • Series: Reapers of the Veil (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Grim House Publishing LLC (October 6, 2019)
  • Scroll down for Giveaway (UK only)

 

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House. Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves. Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Watch the Trailer

 

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About the author, Killian Wolf The Haunting Author Photo

Killian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

Connect with Killian:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

This first novel in The Reapers of the Veil series by Killian Wolf is an engaging delve into contemporary fantasy. It opens with two reapers, Ambrose and Deacon, the former of whom has botched a collection. It then jumps to the apartment of lead character Addison, a young woman looking for work as a nurse. When a live-in position falls into her lap, she is trepidatious, but accepts the position anyway, and then strange events begin to occur.

While some of the setup was a bit implausible (nurses rarely have to seek employment in modern America) and some of the plot twists were a bit trope-y (I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the story), Wolf’s inclusion of the Reapers and their culture turns what could be a fairly predictable story into something fresh and unique.

I really enjoyed some of the details – grace notes, really – that Wolf included in her story: Addison’s love of Cuban coffee is one, the scent of Cuban cigars in Dax and Orlando’s mansion is another. These specifics made Wolf’s version of Florida feel more vivid and real, and were lovely accents, especially set against the creepiness of the house itself – especially the doll room. As well, while I liked Dax and Orlando as characters, I loved that the mansion was also a character, in a sense.

Part family drama, part haunted house story, part fantasy epic, this is the first novel in a series, and while it is a satisfying story on its own, I look forward to what comes next.

Goes well with Cuban coffee and a chocolate croissant.


Giveaway: UK Residents Only

Giveaway to Win a paperback copy of The Haunting at Paradise House (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The Haunting at Paradise House

Review: Genny’s Ballad (The Sisters #5) by Becki Willis (with Giveaway!)

BNR The Sisters, Texas PNG

About the book, Genny’s Ballad

  • Genre: Cozy Mystery / Romance / Women Sleuths
  • Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
  • Date of Publication: October, 2017
  • Number of Pages: 258
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Genny Cover2018 Best Mystery Series, Texas Association of Authors

By all accounts, everyone loves Genny.
So why does someone want her dead?

There’s something special about Genesis Baker, owner of The Sister’s popular New Beginnings Café. With her dimpled smile and twinkling blue eyes, Genny has practically the entire town eating from the palm of her hand. But Genny is hiding a secret. Despite her sunny disposition and golden touch, there is heartache in her past, and heartache, they say, comes in threes.

Heartache Number One: An unwelcomed customer shows up at New Beginnings. Apparently, the restraining order has lapsed.

Heartache Number Two: Genny’s arch nemesis from high school returns to town. Twenty years has done nothing to mellow the bitter feud between these two women.

Heartache Number Three: As Genny finally acknowledges her feelings for a younger man—sexy firefighter Cutter Montgomery—memories of her first love come back to haunt her.

On top of it all, someone is stalking Genny, determined to make her life miserable.

As it turns out, being kidnapped is only the beginning of her troubles… 

Book Five of the award winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, voted Best Mystery Series by the Texas Association of Authors, three years in a row!

Buy, read, and discuss this book – and the whole series!

Buy the book on Amazon! $0.99 Kindle Countdown promotional pricing 6/22 – 6/28!

Buy all or part of The Sisters series from the author’s website | Check the series out on Goodreads


About the author, Becki Willis

LinkedIn ║ BookBub║ Amazon Author PageBecki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of ’13, that dream became a reality.

Since that time, she has published numerous books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction, Best Women’s Detective Fiction, and Best Audio Book, won the 2018 RONE Award for Paranormal Fiction, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, Writer’s League of Texas, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

Connect with Becki

Website | Twitter | Goodreads  | Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube | LinkedIn  | BookBub | Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellCreepy ex-boyfriends, layers of mystery, hunky firefighters, supportive female friends, a cozy small-town setting, and apple turnovers – Genny’s Ballad, book five in Becki Willis’s The Sisters Texas Mysteries has all of that and more.

What more? How about a compelling plot that opens with bumps and grunts in the night and said hunky firefighter coming to the rescue. But while that’s a good beginning, a novel needs more than just an opening scene. Fortunately author Willis delivers. This is no ordinary cozy mystery. It’s got layered stories and nuanced characters, and it deals with the reality that the hopes, dreams, and loves we have when we’re young are not necessarily the hopes, dreams, and loves we get to keep, or choose to follow through with as we mature.

While I enjoyed that one of the many subplots involved the main character Genesis “Genny” Baker’s best friend Madison going through the joys and perils of her home (and life) being featured on a reality show about remodeling (and, by extension, Genny herself and many of their other friends) a scene I found particularly delicate and touching was one with an aging teacher who was clearly suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Working that into the story in a way that felt organic but still respectful of real people who live with such conditions speaks a lot to the author’s talent for writing believable characters.

I also  liked that Genny was flawed. She didn’t like asking for help, and that meant that she put herself in harm’s way. It’s easy to write a protagonist who is perfect. To write a character who is imperfect and still really likeable, someone we want to root for, takes real craft.

And I did root for Genny to resolve her issues, and for Madison to resolve her cases, just as wanted all of the various romances to end successfully, because in a cozy mystery you get to solve the crime and have the perfect kiss, if the author has done her job, and Becki Willis has absolutely done her job. (Similarly, I wanted the less savory characters to get their comeuppance. I’m looking at you in particular Pembroke. You really annoyed me.)

Of course, I have to mention that Genny’s Ballad  is book five in an ongoing series, in which book eight has just been released. While it’s completely satisfying as a stand-alone read, it would be even more enjoyable within the context of the series at large.

Cuddling, coziness, and creative crime solving by strong women characters – Genny’s Ballad has it all.

Goes well with apple turnovers and fresh coffee.


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GRAND PRIZE: Signed Copy of Wildflower Wedding + $20 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card

June 20-30, 2019

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Check Out the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

6/20/19 Chicken Scratch, #1 StoreyBook Reviews
6/20/19 When the Stars Fall, #2 Tangled in Text
6/21/19 Stipulations & Complications, #3 Max Knight
6/22/19 Home Again: Starting Over, #4 Reading by Moonlight
6/23/19 Genny’s Ballad, #5 Bibliotica
6/24/19 Christmas in The Sisters, #6 The Clueless Gent
6/25/19 The Lilac Code, #7 Hall Ways Blog
6/26/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Book Fidelity
6/26/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Carpe Diem Chronicles
6/27/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Chapter Break Book Blog
6/27/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 The Librarian Talks
6/28/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Forgotten Winds
6/28/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Nerd Narration
6/29/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 That’s What She’s Reading
6/29/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Sydney Young, Stories

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Review: The Quintland Sisters, by Shelly Wood

The-Quintland-Sisters-coverAbout the book, The Quintland Sisters

• Paperback: 464 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 5, 2019)

“A historical novel that will enthrall you… I was utterly captivated…” — Joanna Goodman, author of The Home for Unwanted Girls

For fans of Sold on a Monday or The Home for Unwanted Girls,Shelley Wood’s novel tells the story of the Dionne Quintuplets, the world’s first identical quintuplets to survive birth, told from the perspective of a midwife in training who helps bring them into the world.

Reluctant midwife Emma Trimpany is just 17 when she assists at the harrowing birth of the Dionne quintuplets: five tiny miracles born to French farmers in hardscrabble Northern Ontario in 1934. Emma cares for them through their perilous first days and when the government decides to remove the babies from their francophone parents, making them wards of the British king, Emma signs on as their nurse.

Over 6,000 daily visitors come to ogle the identical “Quints” playing in their custom-built playground; at the height of the Great Depression, the tourism and advertising dollars pour in. While the rest of the world delights in their sameness, Emma sees each girl as unique: Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Marie, and Émilie. With her quirky eye for detail, Emma records every strange twist of events in her private journals.

As the fight over custody and revenues turns increasingly explosive, Emma is torn between the fishbowl sanctuary of Quintland and the wider world, now teetering on the brink of war. Steeped in research, The Quintland Sisters is a novel of love, heartache, resilience, and enduring sisterhood—a fictional, coming-of-age story bound up in one of the strangest true tales of the past century.

Buy, read, and discuss The Quintland Sisters:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Shelley-Wood-AP-Tyler-DyckAbout the author, Shelley Wood

Shelley Wood is a writer, journalist, and editor. Her work has appeared in the New Quarterly, Room, the Antigonish Review, Causeway Lit, and the Globe and Mail (UK). Born and raised in Vancouver, she has lived in Montreal, Cape Town, and the Middle East, and now has a home, a man, and a dog in British Columbia, Canada.

Connect with Shelley:

Find out more about Shelley at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Reality television – or any television – hadn’t been invented yet when the Dionne Quintuplets were born in Canada in 1934, but if it had been, their lives wouldn’t have been any less tragic, or crazy.

Their story, as told by Emma Trimpany, a seventeen-year-old midwife-in-training, is the dichotomy of the the fish and the fishbowl. Inside, Emma sees each of the five “Quintland Sisters”  – ripped from their family by the doctors who saw them as a means to fame and fortune – as a unique person, each with a name, a personality, her own personhood. But to outsiders it’s the similarities that attract, and people come from miles around to gawk at the girls in their specially-built playground.

What struck me about this book, which is a fictional retelling of a true story, is how much the Dionne Quintuplets’ story is so similar to the stories we see today – the OctoMom media frenzy ended up with similar product placement opportunities, and, while not precisely the same, the Hensel twins (the famous conjoined twins) have likewise been media darlings their entire lives.

Wood does an amazing job capturing the period, the Dionne family’s distress and confusion – sure, they’re uneducated and poor, but that doesn’t make them unfit parents. The juxtaposition of Depression-era austerity with the lavishness given to the girls, and not their parents was also quite well shown. I liked the device of using Emily as the point of view character, as she was closer in class to the Dionnes and closer in education to the doctors… she was the perfect betwixt-and-between person to let us see all perspectives.

Overall, I found the story to be unsettling, but I believe that was the intent. It should be unsettling to read about children being treated more like an exhibition than people.

Goes well with tea and strawberry cupcakes. Carnival food.


https://tlcbooktours.com/2018/02/karen-karbo-author-of-in-praise-of-difficult-women-on-tour-march-2018/Tour Stops for The Quintland Sisters

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Spotlight on Covey Jenks, by Shelton L. Williams – With Excerpt

CoveyJenks Banner

 

About the book, Covey Jenks Covey Jenks Cover

  • Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
  • Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
  • Publication Date: February 10, 2018
  • Number of Pages: 229 pages
  • Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutes
  • Audio Book Narrator: Kathy James
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another!

Praise for Covey Jenks:

Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

Read an Excerpt from Chapter 45 of Covey Jenks:

When I am in one place, I often think of what is happening at the same moment in another place I used to be. Like, when I walked to work in D.C., I often saw this seemingly homeless guy playing chess with multiple persons near the fountain in DuPont Circle. I saw countless persons get up and walk away from his games with defeated looks on their faces. Is that still going on? Or, is some freshman in my old dorm room at Luckett finally settling into the pace of college life? Or flunking out? Who is wearing number 63 for Permian this year? They are very good again and will soon play another powerhouse, Converse Judson, I think, for the state championship. Does that guy start? Is he a good student? Why do I care?

I think I care because I am fascinated by connections, my connections, in life. Our shared connections and shared patterns must result in similar outcomes and similar life lessons, no? Or not, I guess, depending on parents, experiences, and mental capacities. Useless thoughts really, but what about the Gladstone boys? We had so many connections and shared patterns, but we simply did not see the world in the same way. We grew up in the same town, played the same games, went to the same schools, had the same friends, had the same kind of uneducated, racist parents, and dated the same girls. The similarities no doubt did not end there, but in the end the differences became the defining connection.

Buy, read, and discuss Covey Jenks:

In Print | In Audio | Goodreads


About the author, Shelton L. Williams Shelton L Williams

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the BloodSummer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

Connect with Shelton:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


About the Narrator, Kathy James

Kathy JamesMy first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.


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Visit All the Blogs on This Tour

11/27/18 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
11/27/18 Excerpt Bibliotica
11/28/18 Audio Review Hall Ways Blog
11/29/18 Guest Post Max Knight
11/29/18 Playlist That’s What She’s Reading
11/30/18 Audio Review The Book Review
12/1/18 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
12/1/18 Character Interview The Clueless Gent
12/2/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/2/18 Scrapbook Page Book Fidelity
12/3/18 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/4/18 Audio Review Missus Gonzo
12/5/18 Excerpt The Page Unbound
12/6/18 Audio Review Forgotten Winds
12/6/18 Review Rainy Days with Amanda

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Review: Leave Tomorrow, by Dirk Weisiger – with Giveaway

Leave Tomorrow

About the book: Leave Tomorrow: My Ride to the Bottom of the World

Leave TomorrowScroll down for giveaway.

  • Genre: Memoir / Travel / Inspiration
  • Date of Publication: October 27, 2017
  • Number of Pages: 232

After building a successful business, Dirk Weisiger was ready for something new. But he wasn’t sure what. Maybe a motorcycle adventure, I’ve never done that! 

What followed was a fourteen-month, solo motorcycle journey from Austin, Texas to Ushuaia, Argentina, filled with unexpected adventures, surprises, and lessons about life and travel.

In this book, you’ll not only enjoy Dirk’s adventure and insights, but find inspiration for your own journey.

Praise for Leave Tomorrow

I may not ride a motorcycle to the bottom of the world, but my soul comes alive when I hear about people smashing fear and following their dreams. This book will truly inspire you. –Abigail Irene Fisher, traveler and speaker

Leave Tomorrow is a fun, engaging, and thought-provoking read. If you are looking for a blend of humanity, culture, scary moments with a medicine man, military police, attempts at extortion, and unexpected challenges–along with insightful observations and humor, this book will definitely spark your imagination to “live your own movie.”  –Steve Scott, business coach and author of Wings to Fly

This inspiring and entertaining book is just the tonic needed to get you up out of your chair and ready to “Leave Tomorrow.” –Julie Mundy, Guidebook Author and Travel Blogger, Australia

For everyone thinking of a new adventure, a new life, or even a new venture: DO IT. –Jim Rogers, bestselling author of Investment Biker and Street Smarts 

This is not the first book I’ve read on riding to Ushuaia, but it is probably the most enjoyable. Dirk writes about his experiences in an upbeat manner, taking each experience and each day in perspective. –Muriel Farrington, Ambassador, BMW Motorcycles of America

Buy, read, and discuss Leave Tomorrow

(A portion of proceeds from this book help sponsor children at the Colegio Bautista El Calvario private school in Managua, Nicaragua.)

Purchase | Goodreads


About the author, Dirk Weisiger

Author Pic Dirk_previewDirk Weisiger is a travel trekker, trick roper, and storyteller. He’s the author of the new book, Leave Tomorrow: My Ride to the Bottom of the World. Dirk has always enjoyed speaking to groups, spinning tales, ropes, and offering lessons he’s learned in adventures of life and business. He’s traveled to five continents and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Most of all, Dirk loves people and believes that making new friends is the best part of travel.

Connect with Dirk:

Website | Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellWhen I saw the sign up for this blog tour, I begged to be one of the reviewers of Leave Tomorrow, because something about the description spoke to my inner nomad. Now, having read it, I’m glad for the experience, because I enjoyed it on many levels.

First, it’s a fun read, and if you get nothing out of it other than ‘this guy rode  motorcycle from Texas to the end of South America’ you’ll have had an enjoyable experience with this book as a travelogue.

But it’s more than that. It’s a guide for taking the chances most of us think we can’t do, or think we shouldn’t, or just don’t. Sure, some of author Dirk Weisiger’s decisions seem impulsive, but they tend to pay off in rich, organic experiences of the kind that you can’t get from a guidebook or a package tour.

This book spoke to me on yet another level, because my parents emigrated to Baja California Sur, Mexico, about eighteen years ago. Unlike a lot of American ex-pats, they’ve made a point of becoming integrated into their community. Their friends include local Mexicans, Canadian and American snow-birds, and people from a variety of countries (Columbia, Israel, France, Switzerland) who have also chosen to live in a foreign country.

Like my parents, like the author of Leave Tomorrow, I love meeting the people who really live in the countries I visit. I’ve impulsively invited stranded travelers home with me, and I’ve been a traveler invited to a local’s home. Both experiences have their pros and cons, but I would never trade either.

Weisiger’s writing is immediate and accessible. Reading it, you feel like you’re sharing a drink with him, while he’s telling you the story of his latest adventure. You may not decide to leave tomorrow, but you’ll definitely feel inspired to make a change or take a trip in the near future.

Goes well with street tacos and Mexican beer. I like Indio.


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Visit the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

2/21/18 Author Video StoreyBook Reviews
2/22/18 Guest Post 1 Texas Book Lover
2/23/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
2/24/18 Guest Post 2 Forgotten Winds
2/25/18 Trip Pic Books and Broomsticks
2/26/18 Review Missus Gonzo
2/27/18 Trip Pic A Page Before Bedtime
2/28/18 Guest Post 3 The Librarian Talks
3/1/18 Review Bibliotica
3/2/18 Review The Clueless Gent