Book #Review and #Giveaway: Watermelon Tattoo by Tony Burnett

CBNR Watermelon Tattoo

 

About the book, Watermelon Tattoo Cover Watermelon Tattoo 1

  • Genre: Psychological Thriller / Suspense
  • Publisher: Watertower Press
  • Date of Publication: February 14, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 300 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Naïve but charismatic farm girl, Jacquelyn Benderman, has her life perfectly planned until her town blames her for the accidental death of the local high school’s star running back. Feeling like a pariah, she flees to Austin, Texas where her luck seems to change. Her rapid rise to stardom as a blues diva is derailed when an anonymous stalker begins systematically murdering her associates, leaving the police to suspect her.

As Y2K approaches, she wrestles with the guilt of falling for her roommate, a Romanian folk singer who survives as a call-girl, while the show band she sings with rehearses for a national tour.

Can she protect her new lover from danger? Will the world end at midnight? Is there no hiding place when everyone knows who you are?

Praise for this book:

“Burnett has created an unconventional and magnetic character who makes a memorable first impression.” Kirkus Reviews

“Bodies, wrecked and loved, Wiccan handfasting, sex work, guns, watermelons, and music—lots of music—light up this thrilling nail-biter.” –Lesley Bannatyne, author of Unaccustomed

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonB&NBookshopWatertower Press | Goodreads


About the author, Tony Burnett Author Photo Burnett

Award-winning poet and songwriter Tony Burnett is the Executive Director of Kallisto Gaia Press. He served as President of the Writers’ League of Texas from 2013 to 2017. His poetry, short fiction, and environmentally focused nonfiction appear in over 70 publications. His previous books include the story collection, Southern Gentlemen and a full-length poetry collection, The Reckless Hope of Scoundrels. He resides in rural central Texas with his trophy wife and several rescue dogs who pay him no mind unless hungry. His hobbies include poking wasp nests with short sticks and wandering aimlessly about. He hopes you enjoy meeting his imaginary friends.

Connect with Tony:

Facebook | Instagram  | TwitterAmazon | Goodreads

 

 

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Watermelon Tattoo, the new novel from award winning poet and songwriter Tony Burnett, is probably the most intense book I’ve read this year. It’s gritty. It’s earthy. It’s sex-positive and some of the humor is scatological. It’s set against Y2K so there’s no texting culture. It’s also poignant and engaging, and at times it’s even heart-warming. It’s the kind of novel only a musician could write, because it takes many seemingly discordant notes and combines them into a distinctly American – distinctly Texan – symphony.

This novel gives us a dynamo of a lead character in Jaqui Benderman. She’s the only daughter of a widower who is renowned for the Black Diamond watermelons he grows, and while she wants to be a dutiful daughter, she also wants to live her own dreams of being a singer, and I love that she took ownership of those dreams early in the story. Yes, there are times when she’s still a bit of a lost little girl, but she always has her vision.

Her childhood friend Langley provides the countermelody in the story, adding another perspective but never taking over the lead. He’s important to the plot and important to Jaqui and her growth as a person and an artist, but he’s definitely a supporting player, not the lead.

Then there’s Sarge – Jaqui’s father. He drinks too much and is still mourning her long-dead mother, but his heart is in the right place. When Jaqui eventually introduces him to her Romany girlfriend, Katrine, his acceptance of their relationship is beautifully written, resoundingly real, and a model for the way every parent should be when their child finds love.

While there is a mystery (albeit not a terribly cryptic one) that runs through Watermelon Tattoo, of “who wants Jaqui dead,” the real draw – for me, at least – is just following Jaqui’s journey and seeing the behind-the-scenes parts of the Austin music industry. Even though Jaqui prefers torch songs (same, girl, same) to head-banging metal, this story has a strong sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll vibe.

If you haven’t grasped that this novel is absolutely meant for adults, let me make it plain that it is. There is a lot of alcohol use, both recreationally and as a form of self-medication for both Jaqui and her father. There is drug use. There is a lot of sex (m/f and f/f).  Another author may not have handled this much material so deftly, but Burnett has a coherent vision, and has composed a story that is so well-grounded in emotional truth that this ride, while wild, is worth every breathless second.

Goes well with: tequila-soaked watermelon cubes served with mint and lime.


Giveaway

THREE WINNERS:

Signed copy of Watermelon Tattoo

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 6/9/23)

Giveaway Watermelon Tattoo

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for Watermelon Tattoo, for links to each blog, updated daily, or visit each blog directly:

05/30/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
05/30/23 Hall Ways Blog Spotlight
05/31/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
05/31/23 LSBBT Blog Spotlight
06/01/23 Reading by Moonlight Review
06/02/23 The Real World According to Sam Review
06/03/23 Jennie Reads Review
06/04/23 The Book’s Delight Spotlight
06/05/23 Forgotten Winds Review
06/06/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Spotlight
06/07/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
06/08/23 The Clueless Gent Review
06/08/23 Bibliotica Review

 

 

 

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW

 

 

#Book #Review and #Giveaway: Ghostly Bugles by Max L. Knight

BNR Ghostly Bugles

 

About the Book, Ghostly Bugles Cover Ghostly Bugles

  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Texas History
  • Publisher: Wild Lark Books
  • Date of Publication: February 23, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 210 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

Do the souls of the dead reach out from beyond the grave? Do echoes of the past resound through the ages? Are such insights a privilege or a curse? An old man grapples with these questions and his own mortality as he re-examines one of the most famous battles in history – the Alamo.

The 1836 siege and battle as well as current efforts to restore Alamo Plaza to hallowed ground and create a world-class attraction unfold as the old man tries to make sense of his memories, dreams, and perceived outreach by the dead whose souls cry out to him for inclusion and recognition. Beyond the myth and the legend are their stories as well as his own.

Ghostly Bugles is a fictional re-creation of the Alamo story, rich in historical detail with a unique paranormal element. The narrative combines elements of the traditional storyline with contemporary efforts to “Re-imagine the Alamo”. The dual timelines balance our understanding of this world- renowned event and provide new perspective and appreciation for the courage and sacrifice of everyone involved – Texian and Tejano defenders, and Mexican soldiers

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

AmazonWild Lark Books | Goodreads


About the Author, Max L. Knight

Author Photo Max Knight

MAX L. KNIGHT was born in Panama and grew up in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas, where he and his wife reside. In addition to degrees from Texas A&M University and Campbell University, Max served twenty-four years in the United States Army (1973-1997), retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

He became the first Alamo Docent in 2004, but the tragic events of 9/11 compelled him to reactivate his security clearance and, when the approval finally came through, he returned to work in support of U.S. Counterintelligence operations. A stage IV throat cancer diagnosis in 2014 abruptly ended that phase of his life, and he turned to writing to help him get through the chemo, radiation, and surgeries. Max is currently cancer free.

His other works include Silver Taps, Palo Duro, and Tarnished Brass.

Connect with Max:

WebsiteFacebook | LinkedIn | AmazonTwitter | Pinterest | GoodReads

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My Thoughts

MissMeliss

The first thing that struck me about Max L. Knight’s latest historical novel, Ghostly Bugles, was the language. It’s gorgeous. Every word feels like it was carefully chosen, and the overall effect is that the reader feels immersed in the story – even the grimmer bits, because, this is, after all, the story of the Battle of the Alamo, and there is no small amount of discussion of dead bodies and battle victims, though, it should be said, there is no glorification of death in this story.

This novel is far more than that, however. It’s a deep exploration into people that are just names in history books for most of us: Santa Anna, Bowie, Crockett, Travis, the thirteen-day siege that was a defining moment in Texas history, the 90-minute battle, the aftermath, and the way it all echoes into modern times, including current restoration and development efforts.

Fictionalizing a real event requires great knowledge and great craft, and in this book, author Knight displays both. He uses a contemporary character known only as The Old Man to ground the story in the here and now, and we are left wondering if he is dreaming or actually remembering the events of 187 years ago, and the people involved.

Aside from the brilliant use of language, what I really liked is that Knight turned these historical figures into dimensional people. I did NOT grow up in Texas (though I ultimately lived there longer than anywhere else) so I don’t recall a lot of time spent on the Alamo in my history classes, but it was certainly mentioned, especially in California, which also shares a border with Mexico. So it was only in this book that I learned of Bowie’s failing health, or that Crockett and Travis were at odds with each other, and had supporting factions who were equally so. I also hadn’t realized that Travis was known for his oration skills. It’s this humanization of legends that really made this story sing for me.

Or maybe it wasn’t singing, but the sound of the eponymous ghostly bugles. As someone who has a visceral reaction to the sound of “Taps,” the title evoked the realities of battle as much as the story it introduced.

Overall, this is a richly descriptive story, fictional, but based in truth. It’s a compelling read, but it also sent me on a hunt for non–fiction accounts that were deeper than what’s in a grade school or high school textbook. I love it when a novel provokes that sort of response in me, and I suspect other readers will, as well.

Goes well with: chicken quesadillas and Shiner bock.


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS:

Signed copy of Ghostly Bugles

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/25/23)

Giveaway Ghostly Bugles

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for this book, with links updated daily,  or follow the links below to visit each blog directly:

05/15/23 The Clueless Gent Review
05/15/23 Hall Ways Blog Review
05/15/23 StoreyBook Reviews BONUS Stop
05/16/23 Guatemala Paula Loves to Read Review
05/16/23 Writing and Music Review
05/16/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
05/17/23 Bibliotica Review
05/17/23 Book Fidelity Review
05/18/23 Shelf Life Blog Review
05/18/23 The Real World According to Sam Review
05/18/23 All the Ups and Downs BONUS Stop
05/19/23 Forgotten Winds Review
05/19/23 Reading by Moonlight Review

 

 

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