Review and Giveaway: Sunrise, by Susan May Warren (Sky King Ranch #1)

BNR Sky King Ranch

 

About the Sky King Ranch series

Meet the boys of Sky King Ranch! The Kingston brothers are back in town, and you can read their stories in the Sky King Ranch series books Sunrise, Sunburst, and Sundown by USA Today bestselling author Susan May Warren.

About book one: Sunrise

  • Series; Sky King Ranch
  • Christian Fiction / Romance
  • Publisher: Revell
  • SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!

Sunrise: (Publication Date: January 4, 2022, 352 pgs) Pilot Dodge Kingston has always been the heir to Sky King Ranch. But after a terrible family fight, he left to become a pararescue jumper. A decade later, he’s headed home to the destiny that awaits him.

Praise for the entire series:

  • “Warren proves yet again why she is a master in the genre.”–Booklist, starred review on Sunrise
  • “International intrigue and adventure paired with a simmering romance equals one fast-moving story you won’t be able to put down!”–Lisa Harris, bestselling author of the Nikki Boyd Files series, on Sunburst

Buy, read, and discuss this book (or the others in the series):

Baker Publishing GroupAmazon | Barnes & Noble |  IndieBound | Christianbook.com | LifeWayOther Baker Publishing Affiliates | Goodreads


About the author, Susan May Warren Author Photo Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly 90 novels with more than 1.5 million books sold, including the Global Search and Rescue and the Montana Rescue series, as well as Sunrise and Sunburst. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan makes her home in Minnesota.

Connect with Susan:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | BookBub

 

XTRA ad Sky King Ranch


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I’m always excited to read the first book of a series, especially when I know at least one sequel is already available. Jumping into Susan may Warren’s Sky King Ranch series with the first book, Sunrise, was the start of a wonderful adventure, that – in this case Alaska – made me want to jump on a plane and visit (though maybe not in winter). In fact, the only real problem I had with this novel was that a plane ticket was not included.

All gushing aside, I was completely hooked from the beginning of this novel to the end. While the focus of this novel is on Dodge Kingston, unwillingly returning to run things while his father cannot, the story is as much about the female lead, Echo, his childhood friend and former girlfriend, herself a rugged Alaskan in her own right, working as a musher (dog sledder) and researcher. It’s also the story of her friend Peyton, in Alaska on a grant to research wolves.

As this is a romance-adventure, I expected it to exist in a heightened reality where the men are more rugged and the women are more daring than people tend to be outside the pages of fiction, and I was not wrong. Heroic actions are frequent, even as the characters – especially Dodge – are adamant that they are not heroes. Still everything was grounded in the kind of emotional truth that makes even the most reluctant reader willing to suspend disbelief. For me, there wasn’t much suspension required, but that’s probably because I grew up on PBS nature films and am addicted to shows like Gator Boys and The Amazing Race, and follow alligator wrestlers and bear wranglers on Instagram.

The romance part of this novel was brilliantly handled. Dodge and Echo (I love that name) have a rocky past, but neither ever got over the other, and  watching them take two steps forward and one step back for most of the meaty three hundred sixty-eight pages of this book was both heartwarming and frustrating – often simultaneously. I really liked that they had issues and tried to deal with them rather than just falling into old patterns, and I felt their relationship with each other and with their respective friends and families really grounded the story, so that bush piloting, dog care, and other danger-fraught situations felt plausible within the world of the novel.

As an animal lover and conservationist, I was as interested in the parts of the book about bears and wolves, as well as the tribulations of owning livestock that is at risk from several kinds of wild animal, as I was in the romance and adventure, and author Warren did an excellent job of integrating the flora and fauna of Alaska into her plot.

This book is marketed as a Christian romance, and as someone who does not identify as Christian, I was concerned that it would feel preachy. Rest assured that it does not. Mentions of faith are organic and feel true to the characters, and struggles with faith are handled honestly. I feel that readers of any background will enjoy this book, and I’m personally looking forward to the next two in the series.

Overall, Sunrise is a masterfully written novel with the perfect balance of sizzling romance and gritty outdoorsy adventure.

Goes well with: venison stew, cooked over an open fire.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
ONE WINNER:
Receives a set of the Sky King Ranch Books &
Northern Nights of Alaska Necklace.

(US only; ends midnight, 12/09/22.)

Giveaway Sky King Ranch

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check Out the Other Great Participants on This Tour

Visit THE LONESTAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE for direct links to each post on this tour (updated daily), or visit each blog directly.

11/29/22 All the Ups and Downs Series Spotlight
11/29/22 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Promo
11/30/22 It’s Not All Gravy Review Book 3
11/30/22 Stories Under Starlight BONUS Review Bk 1
11/30/22 LSBBT Blog BONUS Promo
12/01/22 Shelf Life Blog Review Book 2
12/02/22 Bibliotica Review Book 1
12/03/22 Carpe Diem Chronicles Excerpt, Book 1
12/04/22 StoreyBook Reviews Excerpt, Book 2
12/05/22 Sybrina’s Book Blog Excerpt, Book 3
12/06/22 The Book’s Delight Review Book 1
12/07/22 Reading by Moonlight Review Book 2
12/08/22 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review Book 3

 

 

LoneStarLitLife

blog tour services provided by

LoneStarBookBlogTours sm

Review: BlackTold: 33 Dynamic Essays from Andscape edited by Steve Reiss

About the book, BlackTold: 33 Dynamic Essays fron Andscape Blacktold Essays

Publisher: Hyperion Avenue (October 4, 2022)
• Hardcover: 304 pages

ESPN’s website, The Undefeated, publishes content that explores how race and identity impact American culture. This will be a collection of the best articles published on the site. Timely and relevant, BlackTold will cover current events such as the BLM movement, the Covid-19 pandemic, race and the NFL, and more.

Here’s a sample of some of the articles that will be included:

George Floyd’s mother was not there, but he used her as a sacred invocation. With his dying breaths, Floyd called for her as an assurance of memory.

The importance of Chadwick Boseman to African Culture
In many ways, Black Panther helped normalize African heritage and style in popular culture by truly celebrating it.

Naomi Osaka made sure Black lives mattered at the U.S. Open
She’s grown more sophisticated in how she discusses race, and more comfortable with doing so publicly

Can a black heroine fix the racist stereotypes infecting ‘King Kong’?
In new Broadway production, actress Christiani Pitts steps into the role first made famous by Fay Wray

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the editor, Steve Reiss

Steve Reiss is the Executive Editor for Culture and Enterprise at Andscape. He has held leadership positions at many of the leading journalism outlets in the U.S., including the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, Crain Communications, and ESPN. He has worked with several winners of the Pulitzer Prize and of numerous other awards. He is the editor of the New York Times bestseller The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up The World.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

This collection of essays from Black writers should be required reading for all non-Black Americans. It is poignant. It is powerful. It is honest. And it is beautiful.

Each essay exposes a different aspect of life as a Black person in America. Some of the themes, such as the fact that everyone calls for their mother at their last hour – are universal, though the essay about George Floyd was not.  It’s about more than just the facts of his murder at the hands of police, and it’s hardly the most difficult read in the collection, but it’s the first essay in the book, and that gives it extra impact.

Grouped into sections such as “Black Lives Matter,” “American History,” “Arts and Culture,” and “Sports” these essays run through every aspect of life, whether or not they’re about the Utah Jazz basketball players, identifying with Breonna Taylor, or talking about “Black Twitter” these essays are informative, thought provoking, and brilliant. As a recent emigre to Florida, the piece that struck me most was “The Gut-Wrenching History of Black Babies and Alligators, by Domonique Foxworth which not only discusses the way we weigh human life against animal life, but also talks about a particularly heinous piece of American history.

“Can you imagine an America when that was not true? Can you imagine an America when a child’s life was so insignificant that he was intentionally put into the pen of a dangerous zoo animal? An America when a child was intentionally placed at the edge of alligator-infested waters to lure the ferocious beast for hunters?” Foxworth writes, and then explains that using Black children  – Black babies – as gator bait used to be standard practice.

Overall, this collection, carefully curated from ESPN’s website The Undefeated gives us a much-needed look into the truth of Black life in America. Hopefully, we will learn from it.


Check out the Other Participants on This Tour: TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, October 19th: Instagram: @amysbooketlist

Tuesday, November 1st: Instagram: @naturegracereader

Thursday, November 3rd: Instagram: @kelly_hunsaker_reads

Monday, November 14th: TikTok: @thelife0fbooks

Thursday, November 17th: Instagram: @turnxthexpage

Friday, November 18th: Instagram: @shook_sbooks

Monday, November 21st: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, November 28th: TikTok: @storytimewithshelbs

Monday, November 28th: Instagram: @bathtubbookworm

TBD: Friday, November 25th: Bibliotica

 

 

Review: National Geographic’s Birding Basics by Noah Strycker

BirdingBasicsAbout the book, Birding Basics

• Publisher: National Geographic (November 15, 2022)
• Paperback: 256 pages

Targeted to beginners and beyond, National Geographic’s fun, inspiring guide to the art, craft, and science of bird-watching combines practical know-how and expert knowledge. Browsable and bursting with helpful illustrations and photographs, Birding Basics offers new ideas for when, where, and how to get to know the birds in your world.

Not a field guide but a primer in best practices, authored by birding expert Noah Strycker, this breezy book features easy-to-follow advice on what to look and listen for, how to use field guides and birding apps, the best equipment to start with, and ways to engage with other birders around the world. Filled with fun facts and seasoned advice, this useful book will help you attract birds to your backyard, master bird identification, name a bird by its song, and witness the magic of migration. Sidebars feature fun facts, identification tips, and easy projects for exploring the world on the wing.

For everyone who loves watching the birds, whether out the window or on the trail, this colorful, easy-to-use guide to better birding has everything you need.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


My Thoughts: MissMeliss

As with all books published under the National Geographic imprint, Birding Basics is a beautiful book with full-color photographs throughout. It could easily be a coffee table book, but it’s soft cover makes it a book that can more easily be used in the field. It is not a field guide, but a primer on birdwatching – where to start, what gear is essential or non-essential but nifty to have, and when the best birding is for various regions.

What I really appreciated was that this book included some useful tips on how to use actual field guides, and even recommended birding apps.

The language is accessible enough for readers of most ages, and I could easily see this book being at the center of family outings.

Goes well with: bottled water and trail mix.


Check Out the Other Participants on This Tour TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, November 15th: Instagram: @beachesandreads

Wednesday, November 16th: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, November 18th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, November 28th: Instagram: @readinggirlreviews

Tuesday, November 29th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Wednesday, November 30th: Stacy’s Books

Thursday, December 1st: Instagram; @delightfully.Brittany

Friday, December 2nd: Jathan & Heather

Friday, December 9th: Instagram: @thebookend.diner

TBD: Thursday, November 17th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

TBD: Monday, November 21st: Bibliotica

TBD: Tuesday, November 22nd: Instagram: @stumblingintobooks

Review: National Geographic’s Stargazer’s Atlas

About the book, Stargazer’s Atlas National Geographic Stargazer's Atlas

• Publisher: National Geographic (October 25, 2022)
• Hardcover: 432 pages

Richly illustrated with luminous photographs and informative maps and graphics, this expansive book is the perfect guide for everyone discovering the wonders of the night sky, from those just learning the constellations to dedicated telescope observers.

Combining science, exploration, and storytelling, National Geographic Stargazer’s Atlas invites readers to roam the night sky for constellations, planets and moons, eclipses, comets and meteor showers, auroras, and deep-sky treasures including nebulae and galaxies—many visible to the naked eye and all with binoculars or a backyard telescope.

Beginning with basic space science and including a complete set of night sky maps for all four seasons in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, this fascinating book guides the reader toward the most rewarding observations. A unique chapter on astrotourism highlights ancient observatories, dark-sky preserves, and other global destinations for the sky-seeking traveler; a final chapter details current and future space missions and what they might discover.

Richly illustrated with awe-inspiring imagery—including photos from space missions and telescopes, science-based artists’ interpretations, and explanatory graphics—the book also contains 170 maps and charts of planets, moons, and constellations, from Earth’s moon to moons of Saturn. Practical advice throughout helps readers see what they have been reading about, building key observational skills such as “star hopping” from easy-to-find stars to fainter deep-sky objects and focusing on “deep sky treasures:” areas rich in observable phenomena.

Approachable and authoritative, gorgeous and fascinating, National Geographic Stargazer’s Atlas will intrigue all who love to gaze up in wonder at the night sky—and find themselves wanting to know more.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Disney Publishing | Goodreads


My Thoughts MissMeliss

As with all National Geographic books, this coffee table-sized tome is a work of art, with gorgeous photographs and artist’s renderings. This book also includes one of my favorite features from the magazine: maps. In this case, they are maps of the night sky for each hemisphere in each season, so it’s really easy to go outside and compare your own starry night to the information provided.

The information in this book is well organized, and has tidbits of data that lead down wonderful rabbit holes of exploration. The astrotourism section was one of my favorites, but as a new telescope owner, I really loved being told where to go and how to point my device for the best results.

A young friend of mine leads star parties at his university, and I feel like this is a book he’d love to have in his personal library, but it’s by no means only for academics. Rather, it’s an easily accessible guide to the night sky, that presents science fact but leaves from for pure, unadulterated wonder. However, it should be noted that it’s sheer size makes it impractical as a field guide.

Goes well with: a clear night, an elevated location, and hard cider to toast with.


Check Out the Other Participants on This Tour TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, October 25th: Instagram: @tarheelreader

Wednesday, October 26th: Instagram: @addictedtobooks86

Sunday, October 30th: Instagram: @kelly_hunsaker_reads

Tuesday, November 1st: Instagram: @mariasbookshelves

Wednesday, November 2nd: Instagram: @nurse_bookie

Thursday, November 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

Friday, November 4th: Stranded in Chaos

Saturday, November 5th: Instagram: @thereadingchemist

Monday, November 7th: Instagram: @thebookend.diner

Tuesday, November 8th: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, November 11th: Instagram: @bookbruin

Monday, November 14th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 17th: Instagram: @pattyisbooked

Friday, November 18th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, November 21st: Write – Read – Life

TBD: Friday, October 28th: Instagram: @gracesbookblog2

TBD: Wednesday, November 9th: Instagram: @readinggirlreviews

 

Review & Giveaway: The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch, by Julia Brewer Daily

BNR 5th Daughter of TR

 

About the book, The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch

  • Genre: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Western / Family Saga
  • Publisher: Admission Press
  • Pages: 322 pages
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2022
  • SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!

cover 5th DaughterEmma Rosales is the heiress of the largest ranch in Texas—The Thorn. All the responsibilities of managing a million acres now fall into her fifth-generation hands.

A task Emma could handle with her eyes closed…if The Thorn were any ordinary property.

The Thorn is home to many things. Clear, cloudless skies. Miles of desert scrub and craggy mountains. A quiet disrupted only by whispers of the wind. And an ancient web of secrets won’t let Emma out alive without a fight.

The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is a family saga as large as the state of Texas.

Praise for this book:

  • “A delight to read.” Theresa Kadair, Seattle Book Review
  • “Julia Daily builds a captivating world by letting her imagination lead the way. The result? A unique story that’s a little Wild West, a little old Mexico, a little ancient history, and a lot rebellious.” –Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials
  • “A novel that combines mystery, suspense, adventure, and a romance that neither hardships nor time can erase between the main characters.” –Debra Holt, award-winning, multi-published Texas author of series such as The Tremaynes of Texas and The Lawmen Series.
  • “A dignified, passionate, and layered tale in a rugged yet picturesque landscape… This book testifies to the rewards of fighting for enduring connections between family members and home.” –RECOMMENDED, The US Review of Books

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Watch the Trailer for this Book:

 

 


About the author, Julia Brewer Daily Author Photo Fifth Daughter

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.

She has been a Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS.

She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart.

As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.

She is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas, the Women Fiction Writers’ Association, Women Writing the West, and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club.

A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.

Connect with Julia:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Amazon

XTRA RecAd1-Fifth Daughter


My Thoughts

MissMelissMy previous experience with Julia Daily’s powerful prose was in the intimate and very serious novel, No Names to Be Given, which I also reviewed. This book, The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is a departure from the other work in tone, and in setting. While it still deals with serious issues – land ownership, animal care, medicine, and culture – it does so by wrapping them in a family saga as vast as the Southwest Texas ranch at the center of the story, then adding in a touch of magical realism and spicing it with a romance.

At the heart of this story is Emma, recently returned from college, where she studied veterinary medicine, and ready (or nearly so) to take on her role as the latest Rosales daughter to become matriarch of Thorn Ranch.  Her parents, Josie and John, are also present in the novel, as are several ranch staff, like Flora and Pedro, and a would-be-suitor, Jeff, all of whom form a tight community, though not everyone sees eye-to-eye about everything. There is a second community that Emma discovers quite by accident, centered around the elderly Chatpa and his adult grandson Kai, but to say more would be to reveal too much about the secrets in this novel – secrets that must be read to be understood.

And of course, the land – Thorn Ranch and the mountains beyond – are as much characters as places, for without Daily’s vividly described landscapes and dwelling spaces, this book would not feel rooted.

Several reviewers have compared this novel to Outlander and Yellowstone, two disparate properties that do bear superficial resemblances to some of the details in this book, but The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is really its own genre-defying tale, mixing a western adventure, Mexican-American and Indigenous People’s history, family drama, and romance into a cohesive whole that draws you in and keeps you enchanted by excellent storytelling and perfect pacing. The author has left the story open-ended enough that a sequel would be possible, should she choose to write it, but it also has a satisfying – and even happy – resolution.

I really loved the way the Rosales family had Spanish words peppered into their mostly-English language, and the subtle nuance that it was the women’s family name that was associated with Thorn Ranch.

I would saddle up a horse and take a ride through another of Daily’s creations any day, and I’m looking forward to learning what she writes next.

Goes well with:  Arrachera tacos and Indio beer.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

ONE WINNER:

Receives a $100 Amazon or Bookshop Gift Card

(U.S. only; ends midnight, CDT, 11/11/22.)

 

Giveaway Fifth Daughter

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check Out the Other Participants on This Tour

Click to visit THE LONESTAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE for direct links to each post on this tour, updated daily, or visit each blog directly:

11/01/22 Hall Ways Blog Bonus Promo
11/01/22 Julia Picks 1 Review
11/02/22 Sybrina’s Book Blog Notable Quotables
11/02/22 The Book’s Delight Review
11/03/22 Jennifer Silverwood Review
11/04/22 The Clueless Gent Author Video
11/04/22 It’s Not All Gravy Review
11/05/22 Jennie Reads Review
11/06/22 All the Ups and Downs Scrapbook Page
11/07/22 Shelf Life Blog Excerpt
11/07/22 Bibliotica Review
11/08/22 Rox Burkey Blog Character Interview
11/09/22 StoreyBook Reviews Review
11/09/22 Reading by Moonlight Review
11/10/22 Rainy Days with Amanda Review
11/10/22 Boys’ Mom Reads! Review

 

 

 

LoneStarLitLife

blog tour services provided by:

LoneStarBookBlogTours sm

Review: National Geographic’s Food Journeys of a Lifetime, 2nd edition

About the book, Food Journeys of a Lifetime, 2nd Edition Food Journeys of a Lifetime

• Publisher: National Geographic (October 18, 2022)
• Hardcover: 320 pages

Few experiences are as satisfying as a chance to explore the world through food. Compiled from the expert travel writers at National Geographic, Food Journeys of a Lifetime scours the globe for the world’s best dishes, markets, and restaurants that are worth traveling far and wide to savor.
In this fully revised and updated edition, find the best of the best, including:

• Tokyo’s famed fish market and its 226 Michelin-starred restaurants–the most of any city in the world
• The ultimate Philly cheesesteak from the city of brotherly love
• The perfect cup of tea in China
• The spice markets of Marrakech
• The juiciest cuts of beef in Argentina
• The freshest pasta in Italy
• And the ultimate Swiss wine route

Featuring more than 60 new bites and destinations, this book is the key to building a foodie traveler’s ultimate bucket list. Within the flavors and tastes of every cuisine, you’ll find unique stories about the places, cultures, climates, and chefs that produce these extraordinary dishes. A wide selection of recipes invite you to try new cooking techniques and obtain flavors from abroad at home; top 10 lists offer side trips from chocolate factories to champagne bars.

Filled with a dazzling array of diverse recommendations, each page of this inspiring book will make your mouth water–and spur your next gourmet vacation.

Purchase and discussion links for this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Disney Books | Goodreads


My Thoughts

MissMelissI love these “coffee table” books from National Geographic, because they’re not only incredibly informative they’re also just beautiful. After all, they feature photographs from some of National Geographic’s best photographers, and articles from some of their best writers. This book, the second edition of Food Journeys of a Lifetime, is no exception. The photographs are not just of food – although many of them are – but also of fabulous food markets and unique restaurants. All are eye-catching. Some are mouth-watering.

But this book is more than just pictures. It has pages that describe the best-know foods from individual U.S. states, and various countries around the world and has fascinating supportive text. Did you know that real wasabi (not the fake stuff we Americans get most of the time) has antibacterial benefits? I didn’t until I read this book. No, it won’t kill all the parasites in raw fish, but sashimi fish isn’t truly raw in the sense that it’s untouched. It’s just not cooked. (Also parasite-ridden fish isn’t served.)

The other thing I loved about this book is that, as much as it’s a work of art, it’s also a reference guide. I would rank it right next to one of my favorite foodie resources, The Flavor Bible, in its usefulness to anyone who wants to improve their home cooking. Health experts tell us to “eat the rainbow.” With Food Journeys of a Lifetime you can broaden the number of colors, and enjoy vicarious travels at the same time.

This book is great if you read it from cover to cover, but perfectly suited to pick up now and then, or skip around in.

Goes well with: eggplant caponata and crusty sourdough baguette.


Visit the Other Great Stops on this Tour TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, October 18th: Instagram: @kelly_hunsaker_reads

Wednesday, October 19th: Instagram: @jessicareadsrunbooks

Thursday, October 20th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, October 24th: Instagram: @nurse_bookie

Tuesday, October 25th: Instagram: @readingfortheseasons

Wednesday, October 26th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Thursday, October 27th: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Friday, October 28th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 3rd: Instagram: @itsbibliotherapy

Friday, November 4th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, November 4th: Instagram: @thereadingchemist

Sunday, November 6th: Instagram: @addictedtobooks86

Sunday, November 6th: Instagram: @thebookend.diner

TBD: Friday, October 21st: Instagram: @mariasbookshelves

Review & Giveaway: Liberty Bell and the Last American by James Stoddard

BNR Liberty Bell

 

About the book, Liberty Bell and the Last American Cover Liberty Bell

  • Alternative History / Science Fiction
  • Pages: 347 pages
  • Publication Date: April 4, 2021
  • SCROLL DOWN FOR A GIVEAWAY!

Americans love their Constitution. In seventeen-year-old Liberty Bell’s era it has become a myth.

Centuries after the Great Blackout obliterates the world’s digitized information, America’s history is forgotten. Only confused legends remain, written in The Americana, a book depicting a golden age where famous Americans from different eras lived and interacted with one another during the same time.

Raised on the stories and ideals from The Americana, Liberty Bell joins secret agent Antonio Ice on a quest for her country. But in the Old Forest, forgotten technologies are reawakening. Historic figures such as Albert Einstein, Harriet Tubman, and Thomas Jefferson are coming to life.

The source of their return, a mystery hidden since before the apocalypse, lies waiting for Liberty. Her knowledge of The Americana holds the key to unraveling the riddles of the past.

Will the American continent return to the freedom of Liberty’s forefathers? Or will it descend into a dark age of tyranny? The choices she makes will determine its fate. For, as The Americana says, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it—and forfeit all coupons, discounts, and travel miles.”

Filled with quotations from exceptional Americans, here is a humorous and poignant celebration of America and its Constitution.

Purchase and discussion links for this book:

Paperback | Kindle | Goodreads


About the author, James Stoddard Author Photo James Stoddard

James Stoddard’s short fiction has appeared in science fiction publications such as “Amazing Stories” and “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.” “The Battle of York” was included in Eos Books’ Years Best SF 10, and “The First Editions” appeared in The Year’s Best Fantasy 9 from Tor Books. His novel, “The High House” won the Compton Crook Award for best fantasy by a new novelist and was nominated for several other awards. He lives with his wife in a winding canyon in West Texas.

Connect with James:

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

XTRA Liberty Bell


My Thoughts MissMeliss

The blurb for Liberty Bell and the Last American calls it “a humorous and poignant celebration of America and its Constitution,” and there is no more accurate description. Part speculative fiction, part romance, part action-adventure, part coming-of-age novel, and all heart, this book is a pun-filled romp through a version of American History that might be seen through a fun-house mirror from a thousand years in the future, and I loved it.  Sure, the puns (Liberty Bell, the young protagonist, is from the Southern Bells, and her siblings include her sister Tink, short for Tinker) and pop-culture references (going to hell in a walmart cart) fly freely, but consider: if someone from that far in the future peered at us, then added a global Black Out and took away all context, they’d probably come up with similar references and turns of phrase. It’s important to note: this novel is much closer to Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy than it is to Piers Anthony’s Xanth books, but could be considered a descendant of both.

In Liberty Bell, author James Stoddard has given us a vibrant young woman, traveling away from home for the first time and getting thrown into a series of adventures that include plummeting from a moving train, showing off the kind of survival skills that would impress any Girl or Boy Scout, and holding her own in both political and philosophical dialogue with characters who are all her elders, though some are older than others. (There’s really no way to give any level of detail without risking spoilers.)

Stoddard, like Adams, has also made this novel, in part, a book about another book. In this case that’s The Americana, which seems to be a combination of commonplace (though many of the quotations are mis-attributed, out of context, or just altered) and historical commentary about the (fictional) world these people inhabit. (Note to the author: Publishing that as a companion to this story would be awesome.) Some of the quotes and comments are hilarious, others are provocative: where did the author of The Americana get that story or piece of data?

What I really loved about this book is that beneath all the puns and preposterous situations, there’s a close look at the true meaning of patriotism and what it means to be an American, and what the constitution really says. The author notes that this was written before the 2016 election and is not meant to endorse or criticize any party,  which is true, but it’s also true that the real love story isn’t Liberty Bell and her accidental partner in crimes and misdemeanors with a cause, but the author, the reader, and their love of country.

This book is written in an easily accessible style, the story is well-paced and the plot makes sense, but I feel the best audience for this novel will be those who have a better-than-average knowledge of American history, because the references are much more enjoyable if you are familiar with the source material.

Goes well with: grilled freshly-caught fish and clear spring water.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

THREE WINNERS:

2 winners each receive a Signed Paperback copy of

LIBERTY BELL AND THE LAST AMERICAN

1 winner receives a $25 B&N eGift card

(U.S. only; ends at midnight, 11/4/22.)

 

Giveaway Liberty Bell

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit the Other Stops on This Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life tour page for direct links to each post for direct links to each post on this tour, updated daily,  Or visit the participating blogs directly.

 

10/25/22 Hall Ways Blog Author Audio
10/25/22 The Page Unbound Notable Quotables
10/26/22 Bibliotica Review
10/26/22 LSBBT Blog BONUS Promo
10/27/22 It’s Not All Gravy Guest Post
10/27/22 Boys’ Mom Reads! Review
10/28/22 The Book’s Delight Excerpt
10/28/22 Reading by Moonlight Review
10/29/22 StoreyBook Reviews Review
10/30/22 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
10/31/22 Shelf Life Blog Review
11/01/22 Forgotten Winds Author Interview
11/01/22 Jennie Reads Review
11/02/22 Rox Burkey Blog Review
11/03/22 Chapter Break Book Blog Review
11/03/22 Book Fidelity Review

 

LoneStarLitLife

blog tour services provided by

LoneStarBookBlogTours sm

Review: An Open Door, by Anne Leigh Parrish

An Open DoorAbout the book, An Open Door

  • Paperback: 270 Pages
  • Publisher: Unsolicited Press (October 4, 2022)

It’s 1948 and the freedom granted women by the Second World War is gone. Edith Sloan, earning her doctorate, is told by her law student husband to cancel her academic plans. His bright future requires a certain kind of wife: one in the kitchen making dinner for important guests. Frustrated and defiant, Edith leaves him but returns when his begging letters become too much. Trapped by marriage and her husband’s ambition, Edith struggles to find her footing and the means to her own survival.

Purchase and discussion links for this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Anne Leigh ParrishAbout the author, Anne Leigh Parrish

Anne Leigh Parrish lives in a forest in the South Sound Region of Washington State. She is the author of the moon won’t be dared; a winter night; what nell dreams; maggie’s ruse; the amendment; women within; by the wayside; what is found, what is lost; our love could light the world; and all the roads that lead from home.

Connect with Anne:

Find her online at anneleighparrish.com.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I haven’t read an Anne Leigh Parrish book since I read By the Wayside in 2017, I’ve been reading a lot of novels set during World War II, lately so the first thing that I really appreciated about Anne Leigh Parrish’s most recent novel, An Open Door, is that it’s set in 1948 – after the war but before the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. This is a period that isn’t tackled a lot in fiction, and it should be, because it’s such a complex period.

Also complex is the main character of this novel. Edith is another of author Parrish’s strong female characters, and this novel is very much about her awakening. It’s not a coming-of-age story – Edith is an adult when we meet her – but she’s working in a government office, and has a boyfriend studying law at Harvard on the G.I. bill, and, like many young women, she’s caught between what society (and Walter) expect from her, and what she wants for herself.

Parrish’s characters are her strong point. Every one of them is dynamic and dimensional, but what I really loved about this book is that her prose – whether dialogue or description – is very graceful. Fluid, even. At 270 pages, this isn’t particularly short, nor is it overlong, but the language sings on the page, and that made the story really enjoyable. Also brilliant are the little nuances she puts in every scene, making the simple act of turning off a hot plate and forgoing a cup of tea an expression of Edith’s dissatisfaction. “Well-crafted” does not begin to describe this story.

Overall, I feel An Open Door is just that. This novel opens the door, for Edith, and for us as readers,  to feminism, to self-worth, and to what one really desires out of life. I recommend this to anyone who was raised on novels like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which the author has Edith considering in the opening chapter. It’s the perfect blend of social commentary, gentle sarcasm, and a compelling and interesting story.

Goes well with: a standing rib roast, creamed spinach, and potatoes au gratin, which Walter didn’t get to eat.


00-tlc-tour-hostVisit the Other Great Stops on This Tour:

Monday, October 3rd: @spaceonthebookcase

Wednesday, October 5th: BookNAround

Thursday, October 6th: @thebphiles

Monday, October 10th: Girl Who Reads

Tuesday, October 11th: @mom_loves_reading

Wednesday, October 12th: @suzylew_bookreview

Thursday, October 13th: @fashionablyfifty

Monday, October 17th: @lindahamiltonwriter on TikTok

Tuesday, October 18th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, October 19th: @nurse_bookie

Wednesday, October 19th: Books, Cooks, Looks

Thursday, October 20th: @pickagoodbook

Friday, October 21st: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, October 24th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, October 25th: @cmtloveswineandbooks

Wednesday, October 26th: @wovenfromwords

Thursday, October 27th: Run Wright

TBD: Monday, October 3rd: @whatlizziereads

TBD: Thursday, October 20th: @tammyreads62

Review: Where the Echo Calls by Steve N. Lee

Where the Echo CallsAbout the book, Where the Echo Calls (Books for Dog Lovers #3)

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Blue Zoo (October 14, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 283 pages
  • Series: Books for Dog Lovers

He’d lost so much he wanted to die. But a stray dog changed everything.

Left for dead in the gutter, Rio struggles to his feet and lurches into the shadows for a place to hide. Life has always been brutal, thanks to a monster of an owner, but at least he’d had food, a bed, a place to call home. Now…?

Ben’s life ended when he lost his family. Drink no longer dulls the pain; therapy is a joke; friends have moved on. He’d had everything, yet now…?

But when the broken man meets the broken dog, they discover something neither had ever dreamed could exist… a reason to go on.

In a story as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking, Where the Echo Calls explores how hope can be found in the most unexpected of places if only we have the courage to look for it.

Praise for the Books for Dog Lovers series:

  • “Emotional, heart-wrenching and heartwarming. I was lost in this story from the very beginning. It’s beautifully written and will stay with me for a long long time.” Curled Up With A Good Book (book blog)
  • “So Tear Jerkingly Beautiful” Janice Kujawa, Amazon
  • “A great story with a beautiful, heartwarming ending.” Tom Kiker, Amazon
  • “Thought provoking and well written. [I] loved it so much I’ve bought 2 paperbacks to give as Christmas presents! It’ll break your heart and rebuild it again.” C. Johnson, Amazon
  • “A story that is equal parts intense beauty and heart wrenching agony… I know I’ll still think of this story years down the road.” Insatiable Readers book blog
  • “A heartwarming, touching, and poignant novel about the love between a dog and a young girl.” Paula, Amazon
  • “A perfect book for dog lovers. It is a story of courage, determination and love.” Library Lady, Amazon
  • “I almost laughed myself into an asthma attack during certain scenes and cried at the end of this book, all the while wondering if this is how my own dog perceives me.” Kathy Banfield, Goodreads
  • “[I] highly recommend it especially if you like books like Marley and Me, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and similar stories.” Storeybook Reviews book blog

Purchase and discussion links for this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Steve LeeAbout the author, Steve N. Lee

Steve has three passions: anti-heroes, animals, and travel. To date, he’s visited 60 countries and has adopted five homeless cats, but he’s yet to prowl the streets in the dead of night to beat up bad guys (though he still daydreams about doing so, but who doesn’t?).

In pursuit of adventure, he’s cage-dived with great white sharks, sparred with a monk at a Shaolin temple, and explored exotic locales such as Machu Picchu, Pompeii, and the Great Wall of China.

Fortunately, his passions fuel his fiction. He loves to pepper his action-packed thrillers with the exotic places he’s explored and the unusual encounters he’s experienced, while his dog stories glow with the love and companionship that will warm the heart of any animal lover.

More recently, while on his travels, Steve came across two true stories from the Holocaust which moved him so deeply, he has based two novels on them, both of which will be released in 2023.

He lives in the North of England with his partner, Ania, the great-granddaughter of the 1924 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and two stray black cats who visited their garden one day and liked it so much, they moved into the house. Luckily, they graciously allowed Steve and Ania to carry on living there, even allowing Steve to continue paying the mortgage to give him a sense of purpose.

If you love stories of four-legged heroes, tales from histories darkest hour, or books with pulse-pounding action, you’ll love Steve’s three series. He wrote them for book lovers just like you!

Connect with Steve:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissI’ve been a foster-mom to more than twenty-five dogs, and all the dogs I’ve ever kept have been rescues, so it’s no surprise that I’m a sucker for a good dog story. Where the Echo Calls is not merely a good dog story, though; it’s a fantastic dog story that really puts you inside the head of the dog at the center of the book. Rio (nee  Razor) is a shepherd mix used as a fighting dog. When we meet him his owner is abandoning him on the streets. We travel with him through his confusion, heartbreak, and steadfast determination. We get to learn about the “messages” dogs leave in their p-mail. Hope finally comes when he’s brought to an animal shelter, only to have his first adopter betray him. Back at the shelter, Rio, like many dogs in similar situations – and I’ve seen this first-hand – Rio begins to shut down.

Finally Ben comes into the story and Rio is safe, but it’s not that simple. Like Rio, Ben has a tragic history. Not only does he have to learn to trust Rio, but Rio must learn to trust him.

I really loved seeing the inner workings of Rio’s brain. I’ve heard that well-trained, well-socialized dogs have an understanding of human vocabulary roughly equivalent to a human five-year-old, but we really never think about the fact that our pets are bilingual, in a sense, because their first language is one that combines scent, body language, and vocalizations (barks, growls, yips – my bigger dog is part Catahoula, and he sings.). They learn our language, and adapt to our lives. We don’t do the same.  But Steve Lee gets it. And he writes the path to doggy comprehension amazingly well. Rio learns that “pocket-meat” (bacon) is for treats, and then he learns how to get it.

While much of this novel deals with serious things – depression and loss for both man and dog – there are some fantastic light moments that not only break the tension, but also warm the heart. Rio loves chin-tickles but pretends to only “allow” them in order to protect his tough-dog persona, and the bit with him eschewing, then secretly using, his “princess” bed is just hilarious.

I should note that though this is the third novel in a series, and characters from previous stories have cameo appearances, it’s absolutely self-contained, and readers should not worry if they haven’t read the first two. (That said, go read the first two, as they’re equally wonderful.)

Overall, this is a totally plausible, thoroughly engaging story told (mostly) from the dog’s perspective, and a copy of this novel should appear on every dog-lover’s bookshelf or e-reader. I laughed and cried and had to stop reading more than once to cuddle my own dogs. You will, too.

Goes well with: Bacon! And cool drink of water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review and Giveaway: The Covey Jencks Mysteries Omnibus Audiobook by Shelton L. Williams

BNR Covey Jencks Audio Omnibus

 

About the book: The Covey Jencks Mysteries: Love and Murder Deep in the Heart of Texas Cover Audio Love and Murder

  • Narrated by Stephen E. Lookadoo, Jr.
  • Mystery / Amateur Sleuths / West Texas
  • Listening Length: 17hrs, 44 minutes
  • Publication Date: July 27, 2022
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Shelton Williams’s book The Covey Jencks Mysteries: Love and Murder Deep in the Heart of Texas is more than a collection of mysterious tales of murder and investigation. By bringing to life these characters, the author has highlighted the global issues of racism, drug abuse, political extremism, and women trafficking.

In the midst of it all is our protagonist, hell-bent on finding out what secrets he may find out if he stepped into the dark shadow of Odessa.

This omnibus edition of the Covey Jencks Mysteries includes newly edited versions of Covey Jencks, Covey and JayJay Get Educated, and The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts. It also includes a new preface from the author and foreword by Charles E. Morrison.

Buy, listen to and/or read, and discuss this book:

Audible | Amazon Audiobook | Amazon Paperback | Amazon Kindle | Author’s Website | Goodreads


About the author, Shelton L. Williams Author Pic Shelley 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 Blood, Summer of 66, and now the three books in the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

Connect with Shelly:

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

XTRA ad 1


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Having read the original Covey Jencks novel, which I did not review, and the second, Covey and Jay Jay Get Educated, which I did, I was curious to hear the audiobook, with all three books narrated by the same person, and presented in one, neat, bundle. I was not disappointed. While I’m a rare audiobook-listener and generally only listen to books I’ve read in print, I’m falling more in love with the medium. As I had not read the third book in this collection, The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts, I was a bit concerned about following the plot, but these books are so perfectly paced and well plotted, and balance humor and more serious scenes so well, that I had no issues.

As a refresher, the first book introduces us to Covey Jencks and his partner in solving crime (among other things), JayJay Qualls and sees them solving a case in Jencks’s hometown of Odessa, Texas where he recently returned. It involved Mexican gangs and a Boston mobster, and set the tone for the sarcasm-laced, deeply respectful and affectionate relationship between the two leads. The second book sees Covey and JayJay  finding the truth behind the death of one of Covey’s friends as well as other mayhem on a college campus, and the third involves a trip to China to solve a murder that involves characters there and in the USA, including a group of Chinese gangsters.

What all three novels have in common, aside from Covey and JayJay, are the deft uses of language, and the way author Williams imbues his stories with social consciousness and uses them to discuss everything from immigration and racism to sexism and sex trafficking. He does this while never making the reader – or listener – feel hammered to death by a cause, or overdoing the darker aspect of these subjects, but wrapping them in mysteries laced with humor and wry turns of phrase that are completely engaging.

As audio books, each of these has been released on its own, albeit with diffrerent narrators. What makes this omnibus audiobook edition so special is that the same narrator is with us all the way through. A good narrator can make or break and audiobook. In this case, Stephen E. Lookadoo’s folksy warmth only enhances the source material. He sounds like someone Covey Jencks would know; he sounds like someone the author would know. He has that kind of familiar voice that makes you think you’ve heard him before – and maybe you have – but even when he’s playing a down-home hick he never seems uneducated. He also used just enough accent and pitch change to evoke the different characters without sounding forced or fake. A lot of male narrators turn female characters into caricatures; Lookadoo does not.

The combination of Williams’s vivd storytelling and Lookadoo’s narration gives the listener the perfect blend of substance and style. The vocal performance is perfectly matched to the relatively quick pace of these novels, and you never feel breathless from trying to keep up, or bored because things are too slow.

At nearly eighteen hours, this omnibus is a meaty undertaking. Personally, I prefer longer audiobooks because I can live with them for several evenings and really absorb the story. In this case, that time gives us three distinct, yet still connected, mysteries that were fantastic in print, an even better in this format.

Goes well with: cold beer – Shiner is good – and a plate of ribs, cole slaw and mac-n-cheese.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

THREE WINNERS:

Each receives an audiobook edition of

THE COVEY JENCKS MYSTERIES:

LOVE AND MURDER DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 10/31/22.)

 

Giveaway Covey Jencks Audiobook

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check out the Other Participants in This Tour

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR PARTICIPATING BLOGS.

 

LoneStarLitLife

 

blog tour services provided by

 

LoneStarBookBlogTours sm